What is a Pocket Survival Kit or PSK? A PSK is a small, pocket-sized survival kit that is typically contained within a small tin container. Altoid tins have maintained popularity over the years due to availability and cheap cost; however, nowadays there is a trend towards more expensive, heavy-duty, waterproof containers.
There tends to be some debate around the topic of pocket survival kits in regards to effectiveness, legitimacy, contents, etc. My hope is to address some of those areas and maybe clarify some things, or it may add to the confusion. Who knows?
DIY vs. Pre-made?
So, should you build your own PSK or buy one that is ready to go? That’s a good question and it depends on several things. Let’s look at a few of the pros and cons of each type.
When it comes to contents, there are pros/cons to each type. With a DIY kit, you have the availability to tailor the contents to match exactly what you want. If you have specific needs, those can be addressed. However, with a pre-made kit, you get what you get. There are not a lot of options that allow you to customize what you receive.
However, one of the downsides of building your own PSK is that sometimes you have difficulty finding specific items in small quantities. A lot of the smaller, more unique tools are either sold in bulk or they are really expensive if bought as a single. This can sometimes give the edge to a pre-made kit which may contain some of these harder to find items.
Because of some of the issues mentioned above, like sourcing hard to find items, building a DIY pocket survival kit will take a lot more time and effort if done properly. With that being said, this is not necessarily a negative. Some folks really enjoy this part of the process, and again, you are able to build exactly what you want.
Purchasing a pre-made kit is about a simple as it seems. Sure, there should be a little research involved, but it is minimal when compared to building a kit. So, if you don’t have the time or energy to go the DIY route, a pre-made kit may be for you.
When it comes to cost, a DIY can be a cheaper alternative. I say “can be” because this is not always the case. As with anything, the better the components, the higher the cost. If you end up building a kit sourcing high-quality gear, the cost will reflect that. However, you will have the confidence of knowing your tools should be good to go.
With a pre-made kit, the prices are all over the place. You can find uber-cheap kits on Amazon, eBay, etc., but you get what you pay for a lot of times. On the other hand, you can also find some pretty well-built kits with decent components. The cost will obviously reflect that.
Which is better?
That is the million-dollar question. Really, the question is “which is better for you”? Only you can answer that one. You need to take a look at all the things mentioned above, apply them to your specific situation and make a decision.
For me, there are a few factors that come into play when making this decision. I’m lazy and I don’t want to spend time sourcing specific items are the biggest two. Based on that alone, I went with a pre-made kit.
Embarrassing…I know. But, don’t lose faith. I plan on building a PSK to fill my specific needs and I’ve actually put my checklist together already. Now, I just need to take the time and start sourcing gear. It will happen and when it does I will let you know.
Could someone really survive?
Another great question…could someone really survive by using a PSK? There is really no way to answer that with any amount of certainty. However, I can say with some confidence that if the person has zero knowledge in regards to survival, how to survive, or how to perform any survival related skills, they are going to be in a tight spot.
In my opinion, knowledge far outweighs gear and one has to complement the other. Minimal gear in the hands of the right person is much more valuable than all the gear in the world in the hands of someone incompetent.
Is a PSK worth it?
Again, this is a very subjective question. If you are in a situation where you can’t carry something larger, and if you have the right kit and the right training, a PSK could be worth it. However, in most scenarios carrying a larger, more adequate survival kit makes more sense.
There have been very few scenarios where the only thing I could carry is a PSK. However, it does make sense if you are carrying the kit as a backup to your primary. If you have your PSK in a pocket and for some reason you lose your backpack or whatever, at least you have something to fall back on.
Again, based on my laziness, I went with a pre-made kit. My choice was the Best Glide ASE Adventurer Pocket Survival Tin. After performing a little research, and knowing my must-have items, this kit checked all the boxes in regards to a pre-made PSK.
You can check out the contents below:
- (1) Weather Resistant Tin Container with Rubber Seal (interior) and Vinyl Tape Seal (exterior)
- (1) Adventurer Button Compass which is NATO/U.S. Military Issue
- (10) All Weather Survival Matches (NATO/U.S. Military Issue)
- (1) Derma Safe Razor Knife (U.S. Military Approved)
- (1) Sewing Kit (Assembled in USA)
- (6) MP1 Water Purification Tablets (U.S. Military Issue)
- (1) Adventurer Survival Whistle (SOLAS/NATO Approved)
- (1) Mini Survival Fishing Kit Assembled in USA
- (1) Type 1A Utility Cord (U.S. Military Approved)
- (1) Brass Snare Wire for trapping and equipment Repair
- (1) Emergency Signal Mirror for Daytime Emergency Signaling
- (2) Beeswax Candles Made in USA
- (1) Compact Flint Fire Starter w/Striker
- (10) All Weather Survival Matches (NATO/U.S. Military Issue)
- (3) Fire Starter Tinder Tabs
- (1) Adventurer Fresnel Lens Fire Starter
- (6) Band Aids/Butterfly Bandages
- (1) Pocket Wire Saw Made in USA
- (2) Industrial Grade Tie Wraps
- (1) Water Bag
- (1) Survival Instructions Made in USA
- (1) Pencil
- (1) Silica Gel Desiccant
- (2) Survival Instruction Labels Made in USA.
I will do a full review of this kit in an upcoming article and let you know what I think of the quality of the individual components. Does this kit work, in theory, yes…in practical use, I have no idea. I hope I never get the chance to put this to the test in real life.
However, in the meantime, I plan on practicing as much as possible with my “test” kit so if it ever comes down to it I will hopefully have a little better chance.
Also, if you already have a PSK but you are unhappy with it or if it is too big and bulky, check out our article on How to Minimize your Personal Survival Kit – PSK.
What are your thoughts? Do you carry a PSK or do you think the idea is a total waste of time? If so, did you build it or buy it? Either way, shoot me a pic of your kit and maybe we can share it with others for some inspiration.