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I’ve been making survival kits for somewhere over 40 years now and if there’s anything I’ve learned in all that time, it’s that no survival kit, no matter how well crafted, is big enough. I actually get a bit of a chuckle out of some kits, like the ones built into an Altoids tin. Granted, having that kit is better than having nothing; but at the same time, if you’re going to go through the trouble of carrying a survival kit, why not carry one that’s going to be big enough to really help you?
Don’t take this as me just spouting off, please. I’ve gone into the woods and survived for days on what I could carry on my belt; so I have experience in many such situations. What I’m saying here is this: it is certainly possible to survive with a minimum of equipment, assuming you have enough know-how to do it. Nevertheless, there’s no reason to intentionally limit yourself to that if you don’t have to.
A Mega-Size Survival Kit Is More Than Just A Bug-Out Bag
Many people’s answer to this is the bug-out bag, which is essentially nothing more than an enlarged survival kit with three days worth of food included. Granted, some people beef up the survival gear in their bug-out bags (mine is this way) but not everyone does. Many bug-out bags are more along the lines of what you can find on the ready.gov website than what I would call a true survival kit.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a bug out bag; you should. And that bag should be built along the lines of your personal bug-out plan. For some, this will mean that they don’t need a lot of survival gear because their plan is to go to their cousin’s place in the next town. Yet, for those who don’t have a convenient location like that to go to or a fully-stocked cabin in the woods, a mega-size survival kit is needed.
What do I mean by a “mega-size survival kit?” To start with, it’s got to have at least a week’s worth of food. It also needs to have enough survival gear for the entire family, not just for one person. This is the kit that you’ll grab if you’re suddenly faced with an unexpected survival situation that forces you to abandon your home. You may grab your bug-out bag as well, but this one’s going to have more gear in it to augment what’s in your bug-out bag.
Start A Mega-Size Survival Kit With A Mega-Sized Container
If you’re going to create a mega-size survival kit, you have to start with an appropriate container. Most survival kits are built this way; you start out with a container that you want to put the kit into, then you gather gear to fill it up. I have yet to see a situation where there is space left over in any survival kit, no matter the size. This is simply because there’s always a need for more gear and supplies.
When I’m talking large, I’m not talking about an ammo can or even a five-gallon bucket. I’m talking about an industrial-sized trash can on wheels. Another possibility might be a military duffle bag as those are strong and hold a lot. A third idea is a large suitcase on wheels or even a mega-size, heavy-duty plastic tote on wheels.
Note that there are three things in common with all of those ideas: they’re big, they’re heavy-duty, and almost all of them have wheels. You’ve got to assume that if you’re going to be in a survival situation, it’s going to be rough, and so you want something strong. Wheels just flat out make your kit easier to move.
You may be able to use your car for this evacuation, so make sure that your container will fit in the trunk or cargo area of your vehicle. While we definitely want to go big, going so big that it doesn’t fit isn’t much help.
Filling Your Mega-Size Survival Kit
Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to fill the kit. I’m operating under the assumption that we’re building a survival kit for a family here, not for an individual. That’s an essential part of why we’re trying to build such a big kit.
Even so, we absolutely need to have the same basic gear that we’d store in any other survival kit. The one big difference is that to make it useful for a family, we’re going to either need larger items or multiples of some items. This will mean that some things we would normally include in a smaller survival kit will be left out and replaced by others, just because they aren’t enough to meet a family’s needs.
I’m leaving self-defense out of this kit because I don’t like the idea of leaving guns sitting around in a survival kit. However, if any of your family members carry concealed weaponry, I’d recommend adding a box of the appropriate caliber ammunition to your kit.
Keep in mind that weight is an issue. Whenever possible, select lightweight versions of items that you would use for backpacking. Obviously, your kit can’t be any heavier than you can carry, regardless of whether you will transport it by yourself or with the help of anyone else. But remember, you may have to carry it some distance.
Our number one survival priority is maintaining our body heat and keeping warm. That’s accomplished through a combination of shelter and fire. Shelter blocks out wind and rain and fire provides us with heat to warm ourselves. You should include the following items in your mega-size survival kit:
- Enough rain ponchos for everyone in the family
- 2 – 3 large tarps; enough to build a shelter for the whole family – I’d stick with ultralight tarps
- At least 100 feet of paracord
- Duct tape
- Enough emergency sleeping bags for the whole family
- Around 10 emergency space blankets (they’re lightweight and useful for making shelters)
This is probably the only area where your mega-size survival kit is going to look anything like a normal one as one fire is enough for the whole family.
- Primary fire starters – I recommend going with a stormproof butane lighter for this. Disposable lighters aren’t effective in the wind or cold
- Another primary fire starter – Waterproof or stormproof matches, either homemade or commercial
- Secondary fire starter – A sparker of some sort, such as the Blastmatch or a Metal Match
- 50 Tinder/accelerant (take plenty) – Either commercially made fire starters that will work in wet weather or make your own out of cotton balls and petroleum jelly
Providing your family with enough water is going to be your single biggest survival problem. It’s impossible to carry enough with you, even in a car. You’re going to have to plan on regular resupply of water to keep you going.
- A couple of gallons of water – This will get you started and the containers can be refilled
- Enough stainless steel water bottles for the family – Each person should carry some water and stainless steel bottles can be put in the fire to purify water
- A bag-type water filter – This will allow you to filter water to refill your containers
- Spare filter element (if your filter requires it) – Remember, you’ll be going through a lot of water for a family
- Bleach and an eye dropper – The most effective chemical purifier; you only need 8 drops per gallon, so a quart or even a pint will purify a lot of water
Compared to shelter, fire, and water, food really isn’t a big deal; you can survive at least a month without it. However, if you don’t have it, your family will feel like it is a really big deal. I’d recommend going with freeze-dried foods to save weight. You can get family-sized portions of this. If you can, take a week’s worth. If you have space for more, then take more.
With more space, you can carry along more survival gear than you would be able to otherwise. Nonetheless, be careful here as this stuff can get heavy quickly. Think through what you take and make sure you have an actual use for it.
- Camp hatchet or machete – For cutting limbs, both for firewood and shelter
- Folding pruning saw – The best survival saw around
- Folding camp shovel – For digging latrines, drainage channels around your shelter, and seeps for water
- A good sheath knife – The most important survival tool
- Honing stone – To keep your knife sharp
- Several tactical flashlights & extra batteries – For the obvious use; you might want to consider a headlamp as well, as that leaves your hands free
First-Aid & Hygiene
There’s always a chance that someone might get injured along the way. Even if that doesn’t happen, cleanliness is essential for good health and to prevent infections. This may seem like a miscellaneous section, but it’s not.
- A good, basic trauma kit, like a military IFAK – For major injuries
- Adhesive bandages & antibacterial cream – For small injuries
- Elastic bandages – Useful for sprains and broken bones
- Antibiotics – To fight infection
- Antihistamine – There’s a good chance you’ll end up fighting allergies, being out in the open
- Anti-diarrhea medicine – Just in case
- Specialty prescription medicines that family members have to take
- TP – You can use leaves, but…
- Compressed towels – They expand in water and make cleaning up much easier
- Toothpaste & toothbrushes – Enough for the whole family
- Deodorant – You’ll be glad you did
- Compass and topographical maps – Basic land navigation
- Solar charger – For your phones
- Assorted plastic bags – Always useful for storing things
- Radio, preferably solar powered or hand-crank – For getting the news
- Baby supplies – If needed
- Pet food – If needed
You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Teaching Your Children Survival Skills
Do you have any other suggestions on how to create a mega-size survival kit? Let us know in the comments below.