Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
A Portable Survival Kit That Most People Will Actually Carry.
Survival kits come in all shapes and sizes and some look like they could get you through Armageddon. The problem with many survival kits is that they get a bit bulky even when they’re trimmed down, and how often do we simply forget to take them along because we’re not going that far or our destination doesn’t seem all that threatening?
A good solution is a highly portable survival kit in a pill bottle that’s so easy to carry, there’s little excuse for not taking it with you even on a casual walk in the woods.
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Most people in a wilderness survival situation are surprisingly close to home or at least their campsite. It’s easy to get complacent when we don’t feel we’re going that far afield in the wilderness, especially if it’s familiar territory. Hikers are the ones that tend to find themselves in the most trouble, often due to getting lost.
And It’s Not Always About Getting Lost
Another statistic overrules the assumption that most people in a survival situation are lost.
In actual fact, the majority of people forced to survive in the wild are stranded due to weather, darkness, equipment breakdowns of a vehicle or boat, an accident, or injury. They know exactly where they are and which way to go to get out; they just can’t do anything about it in the short term.
The 2 Top Priorities
The most alarming statistics point to the cause of death or permanent injury as a result of a wilderness survival situation. The two most common causes of death are dehydration and hypothermia. Falling from a cliff or steep rock face is third, but hypothermia and dehydration point to the two most important prep factors for any survival kit: fire and water.
Fire and Water Facts
No one can survive 3 days without water. “No one.” We take it for granted and often don’t even realize how often we casually rehydrate, but our bodies simply won’t make it after 72 hours without water. Complicating matters are the number of people who have had to live with permanent kidney damage or brain damage as a result of coming close to death after surviving dehydration.
Hypothermia has its share of victims as well and many mountaineers have lost fingers, toes, even their hands and feet to severe frostbite. While it can be argued that hypothermia is seasonal to winter, and dehydration to summer there are plenty of mountains and deserts that can present these threats at any time of year.
And it doesn’t require an extreme location or weather to create a life-threatening situation. Anywhere, at any time of year can be a survival challenge, particularly if you or someone in your group is injured.
Assembling The Pill Bottle Survival Kit
The items in our pill bottle survival kit are easily found around the house, although you may have to make some modest purchases if you don’t have a firestick or water purification tablets.
There are also some simple modifications you can craft, like gluing a compass and reflective foil to the pill bottle cap and winding and taping some monofilament fishing line around the bottle itself.
If you have the time you can assemble a few of these portable kits so anyone else in the family that is active in the outdoors has one as well.
Pill Bottle Survival Kit Checklist
- Pill bottle with cap
- Small, resealable plastic bag for water collection (If you have room, pack two)
- 36 water purification tablets
- Firestick without a handle or with handle tab cut off to fit
- Knife blade
- 12 waterproof strike anywhere matches
- Miniature compass glued to the top of pill bottle cap
- Circle of foil or reflective material for a signal mirror inside the bottle cap
- 4 fish hooks and small sinkers
- 20 to 30 feet of monofilament fishing line wound around the bottle
Assembling Your Pill Bottle Survival Kit
Let’s start with the cap. We’re going to do two things:
1. Glue a miniature compass to the top of the pill bottle cap. They’re small, inexpensive, and usually sold in bulk but they work.
2. Glue a reflective circle of foil, metal, or a mirror into the inside of the bottle cap. The polished, concave bottom of a soda can is one option, or the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil. This is your signal mirror.
Now we have to do some work on standard items that just don’t seem to fit into a pill bottle,
Firesticks often have a tab or small handle attached to one end. That’s a good idea, but it makes most fire sticks too long to fit into a pill bottle.
Cut the small tab or handle off with a hacksaw to the size of your pill bottle. Resist the temptation to cheat by swapping out for an extra-large pill bottle. If the bottle is not small and easy to carry, we may choose to leave it behind.
You can buy miniature knives, but even the smallest knife will take up a lot of space in a pill bottle. In actual fact, the knife blade is what’s most important. Buy a pocket knife at the Dollar Store and break off the knife blade in a vise to a size that will fit in your pill bottle.
You can improvise a handle from a stick in the wild if you need to, but the critical thing is to keep things small and reduced to their basic function so everything fits. You will also use your knife blade to spark your fire stick.
Drop your water purification tablets into your resealable plastic bag. Potable Aqua is a well-known brand of water purifier. Carefully fold up and roll the bag (unsealed so you don’t trap an air pocket). You can store the excess tablets in the pill bottle as you continue the process of collecting and purifying water.
A way to hold and purify water is critical. It may be safe to assume that anyone out in the wild will be carrying a canteen for continuing water collection, but assumptions are what get most of us into survival situations in the first place.
If for some reason the bag gets torn, you can always improvise a cup or bowl from birch bark to hold and purify your water with the tablets. Then again, you could use some tape from the next step.
Press some fish hooks onto a strip of electrical tape and fold it over to keep the hooks contained. Drop some split shot sinkers on the tape as well and fold it over on itself.
You might want to fold over a small flap on both ends of the tape to make it easier to pull apart.
Fill the remaining space in your pill bottle with strike anywhere matches wrapped in foil.
The foil will keep the matches from rubbing and shaking against each other and igniting. Strike the matches on a rock or zipper to ignite them or use your backup fire stick to start your fire. The foil can also be used as a signal mirror.
Finally. Wrap about 20 to 30 feet of monofilament fishing line to the outside of the bottle and hold it in place with some surgical tape. Remember to fold over the outside end of the tape to make it easy to untape.
If you’re going to survive in the wilderness for any length of time, you have to find water; and if you find water you might find fish, so be prepared.
And while you’re at it, add a few extra wraps of the surgical tape over the fishing line. If you have to improvise a bandage you’ll at least have the tape and that’ll work to patch your water bag too.
Why Survival and Bush Craft Skills are Important
While the small tools in a pill bottle survival kit may seem sparse, even a fully loaded survival kit assumes some level of bushcraft skills. The only alternative is to walk around with a fully loaded backpack on your back and even then you would need to improvise from time to time.
Here are some fundamental things anyone active in the outdoors should know:
- How to construct a shelter from found materials.
- How to build and sustain a fire at all times of year.
- How to find, collect and purify water.
- How to improvise a torch from natural materials.
- How to wild forage for plants at all times of the year.
- Medicines and first aid treatments found in nature.
- Basic survival fishing skills.
- Hunting rodents, reptiles, and amphibians: the easy prey.
- Making survival hunting weapons in the wild.
- Cooking in the bush without pots, pans, or utensils.
- Crafting survival tools from tree bark.
- Survival signaling.
A Survival Kit is No Guarantee
Even with a survival kit, survival in a wilderness situation will be an on-going challenge. With any luck you’re in for no more than an unplanned night in the woods. Any duration beyond that and the challenges grow.
What’s critical is that you have the ability to build and start a fire and purify and hold water. Hypothermia and dehydration are the two most common threats to anyone in a survival situation, and a pill bottle survival kit can get you through both of them, and maybe a few more.
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