What is a Survival Kit?

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What is a survival kit? This article is going to go in depth into what a survival kit is, the types of survival kits and what items you should have in your survival kit. Whether its a hurricane, nuclear war, earthquake or you're just lost in the woods having a good survival kit on you might just save your life. We've all seen the articles that talk about what to put in your bug out bag, the ones that describe the different types and the ones that talk about what to include in one. In this article I'm going to do my best to include everything about survival kits making Preppers Unlimited your one time stop for anything related to what a survival kit is.

So What is a Survival Kit?

I did some research and a lot of people have the question "what is a survival kit". Survival kits are classified as being any package such as a bag that is prepared in advanced and contains the necessary items and essentials to keep you alive during a survival situation. These items might include tools, water, food, and other supplies. Not every survival kit is the same they can be geared or prepared to serve a specific purpose or situation. For example a nuclear survival kit will not include all of the same items that a hurricane survival kit would, although they may contain the same basic survival items. Survival kits also come in a variety of sizes ranging from the pockets in your pants to a 4000 cu in. Badlands bug out bag. The size of your survival kit is totally up to you and what you think you need for some people they may only need their hands and wits to get them out of a sticky situation I however prefer to have a couple extra provisions.

What are the Types of Survival Kits?

When talking about survival kits we often refer to them as tiers or levels. The First Tier refers to the basic bare essentials you would need to survive in the wild. Another name for this tier of survival kit would be EDC or everyday carry gear. Second Tier survival kits often are waist packs or small backpacks. These survival kits will provide a little bit more depth and give you more options when you need them. Now the Third Tier is the biggest of the three tiers these survival kits are otherwise known as bug out bags, 3 day packs, 72 hour bags, GOOD bags, etc.  The last survival kit is the Tier 4 kit or bug out vehicle. These are the largest kit and can can hold the most gear, and are able to carry the other three tiers of survival kits. These kits give you the best shot at survival as they contain more essential items and have extra gear that you normally wouldn't carry in a Tier 1, 2 or 3 survival kit. Let's go a little more in depth and answer the question as to what these survival kits are.

Tier 1 Survival Kit Items List:

stylus pro tier 1 survival kit

The stylus pro is a great choice for your EDC and sells on Amazon for about $18

Since these are going to be the items that you carry on a normal day to day basis you're going to want some smaller items but ones that serve a purpose or even multiple. The first thing I recommend for your EDC gear is a pocket knife I like the Ka-Bar Dozier myself. The Dozier was designed by Bob Dozier and comes in a variety of colors. The Dozier features a 3 inch blade and weighs 2 oz (perfect for EDC)  and its made of AUS 8A stain less steel. The next thing I think people should have in their Tier 1 survival kit is a means of fire. Having a lighter or matches would be fine you could also carry a flint striker as well. Having a small flashlight is also handy if you need to do any type of work in the dark you'll be able to see. I have a Streamlight Stylus Pro and I think its awesome its small and slender and fits really well in your pocket in fact I'm always worried that I'll run it through the washer because I forget its there. Although I have a friend who has the shorter version called the Streamlight MicroStream and he did run his through the washer but it still works like a charm, because Streamlight puts an O ring in their lights to prevent water damage. Personally I like both of these lights and would recommend them to anyone. Another item you might consider carrying is a small coin sized compass just in case you need to get your bearings.

Tier 2 Survival Kit Items List:

Little bear survival kit

The Little bear waist pack offers a good amount of storage and is sold on Amazon for around $40

​Tier 2 survival kits offer a little more space than what you would normally carry. The benefit to having a Tier 2 survival kit over a Tier 3 is the fact that its smaller this means you could take it to work or have it in your car with out drawing much attention or taking up a lot of space. There are a couple of waist packs that I would like to cover that you could use for your Tier 2 kit. The first one is the ALPS Outdoorz Little Bear this is a great waist pack for your Tier 2 survival kit. The pack comes in Realtree brush camo and has a removable chest harness which I think is really cool. It offers a main compartment, front pocket, two side pockets and two waist belt pockets for a total of 500 cu in of storage. Weighing 1lb 9 oz total this is a great pack to have for your Tier 2 kit. The next pack I want to talk about is the Everest Hiking  Sports Dual Bottle this pack is about half the size of the Little Bear but its still a good pack it offers 280 cu in with the main compartment and 2 front pockets. I like that it comes with two water bottles and a pocket for both of them. You can find these for about $20 which is a pretty good price and if this 280 cu in works for you then I suggest going with this pack.

​The gear in this survival kit will allow you to cover more of your survival needs. You may consider carrying a fixed blade knife on your Tier 2 kit, one knife I recommend is the Gerber Prodigy you can find this knife in drop point and tanto styles. It is made of 420 HC stainless steel and is coated in a black ceramic finish to give it more protection from corrosion. The knife also features a glass breaker on the end of the handle. It also includes a MOLLE compatible sheath and weighs 12.45 oz with the sheath included. Some other items you'll want to include in you Tier 2 kit would include a container for holding water, more means of starting fire, means of purifying water, a first aid kit, more cordage, a full size compass, an emergency blanket or two for keeping warm and can also be used for shelter, signalling mirror, multi-tool and energy bars.

Tier 3 Survival Kit Items List:

Paratus bug out bag

Paratus makes a great pack for your bug out bag or Level 3 survival kit and sells for about $75-$90

The third tier survival kit is where it really starts to get fun for me. I enjoy building a good a bug out bag if you need help getting started on yours check out our bug out bag starter guide. Let's take a look at a couple bags I would recommend for your Tier 3 survival kit. The first one would have to be the  Direct Action Ghost tactical bag. They offer ample room for all of your survival gear with about 31 liters of space. They come in some really cool colors as well. Made of 100% Cordura 500 D they are sure to hold up in any situation. The Ghost also has a really cool feature in some of the color options that prevent night vision detection! Overall this is a great pack and it proves you get what you pay for. The next pack I want to cover is the Paratus 3 day Operator's pack. This is an excellent pack for under $100 it comes in four colors grey, black, coyote tan, and olive drab one thing I like about the Paratus is the detachable deployment pack that's integrated into it. It's rugged and boasts some 600 D nylon material. It also has great storage capacity with a volume of 2890 cu in. Overall I would say the Paratus 3 day Operator's pack is a must have for your Tier 3 survival kit.

Now lets take a look at some gear that you should include into your Tier 3 survival kit. This kit is going to be your life line when bugging out and that's why it has to be geared appropriately. The other packs especially the first tier are more of a fall back option if something were to ever happen to your Tier 3. I've compiled a list of survival kit items that you may want to include into your bug out bag and out of this list I recommend that you carry at least one item from each category.


fire piston survival kit

Campfire hickory fire piston made in the USA

Ferro rod

Cotton balls- Covered in Vaseline works great

Emergency tinder

Flint and magnesium fire starter- Magnesium helps to ignite a hot spark

Fire piston





Great reviews on Amazon and sells for less than $20

Purification tablets- To treat water you suspect is contaminated

Filtration bottle

Filtration Straw- Allows you to filter water from streams

Container- Canteen, bottle, or bag to gather water when you find it

Water- Always carry water to use as you need it​


head lamp bug out bag

Outerdo 5000 lumen rechargeable head lamp for under $30

Flash Light

Head lamp- Gives you the ability of hands free lighting

Glow sticks- Can be used for signaling

Backup flashlight- Small light like an EDC flashlight


emergency food supply

Mountain house freeze dried food great shelf life

MRE's- An old military standby that lasts for months even years

Candy- Provides a little moral boost and can curb hunger short term

Energy bars- Have a good shelf life and provide good energy to keep you going

Jerky- Good source of protein that has a good shelf life


archer mummy bag survival kit

Archer mummy style sleeping bag has a survival temp rating of -22 F

Tarp- Works great as a canopy, ground cover or wind break

Tent- A no brainer if you have the space and can afford the weight

Sleeping bag- Could be lashed onto your pack adds weight but will come in handy on a cold night

Mylar blanket- Reflects body heat keeping you warm

First Aid:

first aid trauma kit

Great trauma kit includes bandages and quick clot to stop bleeding

First aid kit- A good start

Bandages- For wrapping cuts, scrapes and burns

Insect bite relief

Ace wrap- For adding support to sprains

Insect repellent

Pain Relievers- Tylenol, asprin and ibuprofen can be used to treat minor aches and pains



gerber mp400 best survival kit

The gerber mp400 is a great multi tool its compact, lightweight and durable its a great choice

Folding knife- Simple small and compact works as a nice backup

Fixed blade- Used for cutting, chopping, cleaning game and self defense

Multi tool

Hatchet- Lighter than an axe allows you to chop fire wood

Entrenching tool- Get one with a pick and saw to add extra functionality



emergency radio for bug out bag

The iRonsnow is a nice compact emergency radio for under $25 and offers 3 modes of charging

Emergency radio- Get one with multiple means of power

Walkie Talkie- Allows for communication between parties across a short distance

Signaling and Navigation:

fox 40 sonik whistle survival kit

The fox 40 comes in a variety of colors and is capable of producing sounds up to 120 db


Map- Get a map of your area so you can plan and travel


Whistle- Allows you to be heard over a distance


titan paracord great for survival kit

Titan paracord is a great choice for cordage in your survival kit and it comes in a variety of colors

Cable ties- Make for great tie downs

Duct tape- Fixes everything

Needle and thread- Repair clothing

Paracord- Make shelters, traps and repairs


mess kit for survival kit

Stansport makes a nice stainless steel mess kit that comes with boiling pot, frying pan, and plate

Penny stove- A cheap lightweight stove

Fuel- For your stove of choice

Spork- The best of the spoon and fork

Gel fuel stoves- A gel fuel that you can cook over

Mess kit


solar power bank best survival kit

A great choice for power on the go this power bank is capable of charging itself in the sun

Batteries- For any electronics you might have such as you flashlights

Battery bank- Allows you to carry power and charge when you can

Solar- Use the power of the sun to charge you batteries and power bank

So like I said before you should carry at least one of these items from each category. Although it wouldn't be very practical to have a sleeping bag and a tent because that would take up a lot of space and weigh you down. Instead maybe pick one or the other. Now in the fire category for example you may choose to carry every item and in my opinion that would be a good idea. Lets take a look now at some situation specific survival kits you might want to assemble.

What is an Earthquake Survival Kit?

earthquake survival kit

When making an earthquake survival kit you're going to be gearing for more of a bug in type situation as well as a bug out. In this survival kit you're going to want plenty of food and water to last you at least three to five days. When a large earthquake happens it isn't uncommon to see water lines break leaving lots of people without fresh water. You'll also want family photos this can help search and rescue personnel find any missing persons if that were to happen. Making copies of all your identification papers is also a good idea and carry around a hundred dollars in cash of which fifty should be in small denominations. You should also pack some heavy gloves, goggles and respirators to help against dust and debris. In addition to these items you'll want to include items from your basic survival kits such as flash lights, first aid kits, means of fire, etc. So to answer the question what is an earthquake survival kit it is basically a basic survival kit modified or geared more towards surviving an earthquake.

What is a Hurricane Survival Kit?

For a hurricane survival kit you'll make it very similar to an earthquake survival kit. A hurricane survival kit is going to be geared specifically towards hurricanes though. Make sure you have an emergency radio so that you can listen to updates on the weather. Being wet can lead to hypothermia if your core temp drops so be sure to have spare clothes in dry bags just in case. You'll also want to have a couple flashlight around that are water resistant and spare batteries for them and your emergency radio. Also be sure to have prescription medications that you need on hand.

What is a Nuclear Survival Kit?

nuclear survival kit

The NBC kit offers a lot of gear for a nuclear survival kit including a radiation filtration straw

Hopefully no one would have to use this kit but with all the tension in the world with North Korea and Iran it might very well be a reality before too long. For your nuclear survival kit you'll want some potassium iodide for sure it works by blocking the radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid gland. Some thing else you might consider is a radiation filtering straw these work by filtering the radio active iodine in the water. You'll also want plenty of food and water again. There are also nuclear survival kits made by NBC prep it includes a lot of cool items made to help minimize the effects of nuclear radiation I can't say that I've reviewed this product but it might be worth checking out. Their kit also includes a washing solution to get rid of any contaminants that might be on you. The radiation detector that comes with it seems like a pretty cool thing and I'd like to give it a try. The kit also comes with potassium iodide, towelettes, a twist bag, face masks, vinyl gloves and more. Something else I would include in my kit might be seeds for growing vegetables and fruits if I ever found some ground to plant them that would be really handy since a lot of places might not be able to grow food because of fall out.

What is an Altoids Survival Kit?

Altoids Survival kit

Altoids survival kits are great I like them because they're small and compact which means I can carry them on my Tier 1 kit. You can also include them in both Tiers 2 and 3 and I would recommend that you do. Altoids survival kits are a lot of fun to make to, seeing how much survival gear you can pack into a little tin. I like to put a small knife in mine, I also include some matches fishing hooks, fishing line, paracord, bandages, and spices. If you take a straw and cut it into several sections about 2 inches long and heat one end with a lighter melting it closed, this allows you to fill it with spices and other things. Then all you need to do is heat the other end up and melt it closed too. You can make different types of altoids survival kits geared for specific situations as well.

To sum up the question "what is a survival kit" it is any kit that is geared to help you survive in any situation these survival kits can be geared to more specific scenarios if you choose. Hopefully after reading this article I'll have answered your question as to what is a survival kit, how to assemble one, the types of survival kits, and what to include in your survival kit. Just remember the best survival kit is the one that's geared for your own situation and needs. Thanks for reading check out our blog for more articles coming soon. If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them down below.

-Brady S.