Mini PSK Tutorial
A guide for assembling your own Personal Survival Kit ...

Le 7 juin 2004, par SgtMike88Ret

An excellent article on a do it yourself, modern, and versatile survival kit.

I’ve been a student of personal preparedness since 1978, when an unfortunate incident left me stranded overnight in the Adirondack north woods. Not quite lost, but as Daniel Boone once described, “...a bit bewildered.” Being the invincible 19 year old that I was, I’d gone hunting in those unpredictable and potentially hazardous woods with only my rifle, a knife, a packs of smokes, and a cigarette lighter. Had it not been for that knife and lighter I’d have probably succumbed of hypothermia that night. I remember sitting on some pine boughs that night, thinking constantly, “If I only had ...”

Once I made it back to my truck late the next morning, I recalled that “If I only had ...” list that I’d made earlier. I vowed not to be without those items again, Ever. Memories of cold, thirst, hunger, fear, and a nagging chronic medical condition hardened my resolve. My quest began.

My knee jerk reaction was quite comical. I threw everything but the kitchen sink into a rucksack and called it my survival kit. After toting that ruck during my next hunt, reality set in - finally. I realized that I needed to trim down on gear and refresh some long forgotten and/or rusty skills. Reassessment in order, the question became, “Where do I start ?” The key proved to be those memories of the events and pains of that cold October night in the Adirondacks.

- I was cold. I could feel the heat radiating away and everything I touched sucked the heat from me. Cold was quickly sapping my energy and nearing the point where clear thinking would be impaired. I needed the ability to quickly and efficiently make shelter & fire.
- I was thirsty. I could have easily obtained water, however, fear of contamination kept me from doing so. I needed the ability to effectively store & purify water.
- I was essentially lost. I needed to promote rescue or find my way back.
- I needed medication. Not only did I not have medication, I didn’t have a 1st Aid Kit and it had been a few years since I’d taken a 1st Aid Training Course.
- I needed training and supplies to maintain a healthy condition.
- I was hungry. I’d not eaten all day. The workout from the day’s activities, the cold, and the stress were taking their toll. I needed to obtain food.

After categorizing my needs, it was time to shop for the right gear to suit those needs. I decided that any gear selected needed to be :

- Field proven reliable,
- Waterproof / water resistant whenever possible,
- Compact and lightweight,
- Easy to see / find (high visibility),
- Reusable whenever possible, and ;
- Capable of one hand deployment / use whenever possible.

Although the gear selected has been revised over time, below you’ll find a compilation of my needs assessment and the gear selected to meet those needs to be included in an everyday carry “support / survival” kit.

Shelter & Fire :

- Victorinox Classic pocketknife
- Mini BIC lighter w/ cable tied actuator to inhibit leakage
- Sparklight and TinderQuik
- Fresnel Lens
- 20’ Cortland 135lb test planer tow line
- 6 1.5” hard wire nails

Store & Purify Water :

- MicroPur Purification Tabs
- Gerber Milk Bags

Promote Rescue / Find my way back :
- Victorinox / Recta Compass
- Post It notepaper
- Pen (Victorinox mini refill w/ heat shrink tube body)
- Bison Designs small cylinder whistle
- Victorinox signal mirror
- 12’ Orange surveyor’s tape
- AT&T 60 minute phone card
- Spare Photon Batteries

Maintain Health :

- Bandaids
- Alcohol preps
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Sewing Kit
- Personal medications

Obtain Food :

- Snare Wire
- Fishing supplies
- Seasonings

Selections assembled, I needed to find an appropriate means to carry them conveniently. I’ve settled on a small Otter Box. The Otter Box provides waterproof storage with excellent crush protection. I added a rubber ranger band and a replacement Velcro type watchstrap to the exterior of the box. They not only minimize the potential for accidental opening, they have value as connectors or tinder. I also replaced the box’s issued lanyard with a lanyard made of 550 cord - which, in a pinch, provides me with up to 10’ additional cordage. The lanyard is equipped with a GlowRing so as to be able to be seen at night or in the dark. Lastly, I added strips of electrical tape to the container’s lid - Hey, ya never know ...

The beauty of such a minikit is that many of the items have multiple uses, limited only by the stretch of your imagination. Loose muffler on your car ? You’ve got wire to secure it temporarily ! Just be sure to replace that which you use ! Also, I strongly recommend making a habit of carrying a high quality fixed blade or folding knife and a decent quality flashlight on a daily basis.

My best advise ? Do your own personal needs assessment and obtain the gear you prefer to meet those needs. Keep in mind, however, if it’s too big, sooner or later, it’ll be left behind. Keep it simple and keep it small. Also, having tools to promote survival is one thing. Being able to effectively deploy them in an emergency is altogether different. Take a “time out” in the backyard or other controlled environment to learn how to properly use the equipment you select for your kit before hand.

Need training in a weak area ? Seek it now and keep it updated. There’s a host of info on the internet and lots of books in the library to help you. There’s also a host of professional instructors, too. If you’re cheap like me, another avenue might be local agencies like the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, Boy Scouts, and Royal Rangers.

As the great Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "By failing to prepare, You’re preparing to fail."

par SgtMike88Ret



Le 22 juin 2004

Nice review, but I would add a survival cover sheet to keep you warm if you fail to find anything for a fire, it’s light and takes no room, even in the otter case.

Thank you for sharing your experiments,

take care.


Le 6 juillet 2004
Excellent article, very well thought out and a well contructe kit. Very similar to my own emergency box, which I tend to carry in the top-most zip pocket on my bergen. The only things that I have which tend to differ are listed below ; and believe me, after nights spent wringing wet and shivering, thinking ’What if ?’ I heartily recommend them. You are probably going to laugh your heads off but believe me, definitely worth it !!!lol 1) 2 small tampons, sealed in a waterproof cellophane wrapper.(honestly, I am NOT a pervert !!!) Quite frankly, the best form of firelighting tinder ever. Lights first time with a spark, simply fluff the cottom wool with your thumb and forefinger before sparking. 2) small sections/slivers of rubber, matchstick sized from an old bike/car tyre. So inexpensive, and yet lightable with a standard cigarette lighter. Burns for a considerable time with a high level of heat so ideal in wet conditions, light and waterproof. Even better with a butane style ’jet’ lighter. 3) who can forget condoms !!! burnable, small light and ideal water carriers - issued as a standard requisite in the Royal Marine Commandos, and easily able to carry 2 pints per ’noddy’ ! The beauty is that you can actually drop these from waist height and they don’t burst, although drinkable, pure water tastes a bit odd if you carry for more than 24hrs !!!
Le 25 septembre 2004

Excellent Article. I recently completed a survival course with the New Zealand Air Force and I too used an Otterbox for storage. These boxes are excellent as mine was one of only 3, out of 12 boxes, which didn’t leak in the Sea Survival phase. The only thing I would say is that you can’t boil water in it.

As a step further from the tampon suggestion ; I suggest cotton wool balls coated with petroleum jelly (Vaseline). The jelly allows the cotton balls to burn for about 1 1/2 mins. Not bad. However if too much is used then it is difficult to start with a flint stick. Try it and see how you go.

Le 27 janvier 2006
What kind of knife and flash light are shown in the picture ? (The picture of just the knife, light, and space pen near the bottom of the page.)
Le 12 février 2006

Thanks to you all for your comments to date.

The Knife shown in the bottom pic is a Queen #11. The light depicted with the knife is a first generation ARC AAA.


Le 27 mars 2007
Replace the Otter box with an Altoids tin, the Spark-Lite kit with a Esbit tab broken in halves, the Victorinox knife (i have an Huntsman in my pocket on key ring) with an heavy duty razor and you’ll have my kit ! :-) :-)
Le 29 mai 2007
I’m new to your forum but think it is a good group with lots of experience. In my PSK I have addressed what I think is a weakness of all PSF’s I’ve seen. Most have not provided for easy/quick/expedient and PERPETUAL treatment of water. With the advent and use of the Gerber breast milk plastic bags they have addressed a method to hold/store water (nice for transport) but few have addressed the issue of a finite amount of Katahdin Micropure tablets one can carry. Consider a small glass bottle. For example a bottle used for nitroglycerin tablets...its capacity is approx 1/32ounce and holds approx 25 nitroglycerin tablets....readily available from a pharmacy (just tell the pharmacist to throw away the nitroglycerin, pay for the nitro just to get the bottle. In the empty bottle put in a small amount of potassium iodine crystals—yes the pure stuff. Then introduce water. The water quickly becomes supersaturated. The nitroglycerin will not pass through the glass but will pass through the metal lid, though (thankfully) the lid does have a teflon inner seal. In my PSK I’ve coated the lid with fingernail polish. In practice you use one lidful of saturated KI solution to 1 cup of water or 3 lidfuls per liter. You have to be careful not to spill the little bottles contents. You of course must NOT introduce the KI crystals into your Gerber breast milk bag or whatever you intend to treat the water in. The KI crystals will treat over and over and over and over again ! I cannot but guess as to how many gallons of water they will treat. Where to get KI crystals-pure crystals ? Search for Christopher Nyerges on the web. He runs a survival institute and sells vastly larger bottles of KI for the same purpose-water treatment.....the bottles he supplies are way too large for a PSK. I use the Ritter PSK and the small nitroglycerine bottles easily fits inside along with the Gerber breast milk bags. If this groups is still active (i just found it on the web) and this idea has found interest please e-mail me and I will join this group and contribute more. This is me : in the search field type in : Ripshinpaddler I have over 4000 miles of logged backpacking/hiking, 2000 miles of paddling/paddle camping and half that much not notated. I am also at : and (usually in the forum of hammock camping) If you like the idea of a micro KI bottle for water purification e-mail me at : and I will give more ideas of survival prepardness. Cheers !
Le 29 mai 2007

hello medecine man, thanks for the comments !

PS : do not forget the bulletin board :

Le 29 mai 2007
by the ritter psk- are you refering to the one on Doug Ritter’s equipped to survive site- the small see through plastic pouch ? Now marketed by Adventure Medical Kits Pcket Survival Pack by Doug Ritter-
Le 9 juin 2007
where I can find a spare watch band like this ?

Le site est affiché en français avec ses sections françaises seulement, sachez qu’il existe cependant beaucoup à découvrir dans la version Anglaise.

À propos de cet article

Dernière mise à jour le :
4 août 2006
Statistiques de l'article :
20987 visiteurs cumulés
Écrire une nouvelle traduction de cet article

Mots-clés :
, , , , ,

Dans la même rubrique