Survival Saturday: Altoids tin survival kit (from MTJS blog)


I don’t know about you, but I have dozens of Altoids tins laying around. They are good for more than sorting washers, screws and “Curiously Strong” breath mints. (Photo MTJS)

I have been toying with the idea of starting a new feature “Survival Saturday” to put a focus on Survival, Bushcraft, and the like. Even a bit of light prepping. Nothing too extreme or focused, rather looking at items and areas that are likely to have a significant overlap with the interests of our readers, even if it isn’t specifically about knives.

I admit that part of this is self serving.  First, I hate when a knife violence post is on the top of the page. It is also nice to have a theme post for the weekend (like our Sunday Funnies) that I can be on the lookout for over the course of the week. If I am highly motivated, I can even get it written up before the weekend and take a day off.

It is only fitting that we kick things off by sharing a post from our friends at More Than Just Surviving. They are among the handful of sites that are the Gold Standard for the genre. They also do some pretty nice knife reviews as well.

There are many posts about Altoids tins all over the survival-blogosphere. I actually came across one this week that motivated me to kick off this new feature. I just didn’t think it was nearly as good as I remembered this one from MTJS being. 

What I really like about Thomas Xavier’s post (he and his wife are the purveyors of MTJS Blog and we are proud to say TTAK readers as well), is that he really explains the “why” of what he is doing:

“The core issue with the pre-assembled crap is primarily this advertising gimmick that’s typically played: packing in more items (in terms of sheer number) than the competition, rather than focusing on providing good tools, even if they’re less in number, that would prove extremely useful in survival situations. A good example would be throwing in a dozen band-aids and a razor blade instead of the far more useful single large wound dressing plus a small quality pocket knife.

Obviously, commercial survival kit assemblers have economic realities and can’t offer the best tools without jacking up the price considerably, but at the end of the day, this is precisely why I encourage everyone to assemble their own survival kits.

All this to say – if you want your own small survival kit, you’re going to want to make it yourself. Not only to save on cost, but also to be able to control the quality of the products that you’re supposed to be trusting your life with!”

Author WEB Griffin once said “The mark of another man’s genius is how much you agree with him”. Let’s just say I consider Thomas and Elise to be Mensa members by this metric. The above blockquote is a good example of why.


Thomas’s kit. (MTJS)

Thomas’s kit contains more than a dozen items, including a tiny bit of fishing tackle, super glue, a ferro rod, first aid items and more. Even the tin itself is an item, which can be used for making charcloth for firestarting or used to boil-purify small quantities of water.

I am not going to describe each item in detail, you can see for yourself here.  Thomas does a great job of explaining the uses and rationale for each item chosen.

He summarizes his kit thusly:

“The point of a kit like this is to be used – in my opinion. Saving them for an emergency is great. Not using them in an emergency because you’re saving them for a really big emergency – kinda pointless in my opinion. If you need something – use the item and replace it if it was a band aid or pill or something along those lines.

Ate something that’s not sitting well with you? Slip out your emergency Altoids kit and pop an Imodium. Cut yourself accidentally? Clean that cut and bandage it up! Don’t let the cut get infected because you were “saving” the contents of your Altoids tin survival kit for a “bigger emergency.”

Its all about real world situations and being prepared for them. I am a firm believer that having an inconvenient kit, one you wouldn’t want to open and use, is nearly as bad as not having a kit in the first place.

Again, I would rather understand the thought process going into a kit than simply see a list of items. That is why I am sharing this post and not the one that inspired my doing so.

I don’t have a formal survival tin per se. I do carry one full of first aid supplies when I guide or hike, to compliment the much more comprehensive one in my truck. It is stored in a small waterproof pouch with a lighter and the one item that I think I would add to Thomas’s kit.


I need a Judge’s ruling as to whether or not mine counts.

My kit contains about 2-3 feet of duct tape wrapped around a dowel (at the moment) or preferably a common nail. Thomas’s kit contains first aid tape, but I just think that duct tape is more versatile in any number of situations.

Have you ever made a kit like this? What changes would you make to the MTJS kit?



  1. Robert Evans says:

    I have a small Altoids tin kit that I carry in a belt pouch, it includes a small Swiss Army knife (Wengers fit, Victorinox doesn’t), whistle, compass, butane lighters and firestarters.

    The Art of Manliness website did an article 22 Ways To Reuse An Altoids Tin.

  2. Robert Evans says:

    By the way, the belt pouch I mention in the reply above is high quality and can be found at Atlanta Cutlery.

  3. Elise Xavier says:

    I think Survival Saturdays is a great idea (though we’re definitely biased considering our love for survival-related stuff ;]).

    Thanks for the shout out; honoured to have the first article in your new series be one of our posts! And yes, we definitely are huge fans of TTAK over @ MTJS.

    I’d say your Altoids tin definitely counts as a survival tin considering, as Thomas mentioned in our article, a lot of people in the survival industry end up carrying one Altoids tin full of first aid items and another for survival items. Definitely wise to carry what you feel you’ll use the most!

    Looking forward to next week’s post! 🙂

  4. sagebrushracer says:

    I’m down with Survival Saturday, keep up the good work!

  5. Pantera Vazquez says:

    Survival Saturday……Great idea.

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Survival Saturday: Altoids tin survival kit (from MTJS blog)

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