Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Survival Kit - sounds like adventure, wilderness and independence. But not all survival kit owners are looking for a personal challenge away from civilisation. Survival kits help you in extreme emergencies by providing the necessary tools for survival.

With the big survival kit test 2021 we want to help you find the right survival kit for you. We have compared the most important survival kit types with each other and compiled their respective advantages and disadvantages for you.

In addition, you will learn about the most important criteria that your survival kit has to fulfil in order to protect your health and safety in the best possible way. This should make your decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • A survival kit helps you survive in an emergency situation by providing you with the necessary tools and equipment.
  • There are different types of survival kits that are tailored to specific emergency situations.
  • A good survival kit will allow you to meet your basic needs without outside help. These include food, water, warmth and safety.

The Best Survival Kit: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a survival kit

What is a survival kit?

The word 'survival' is English and means 'survival'. The word 'kit' can be translated as 'kit', 'equipment' or 'outfit'. It is therefore a set of equipment designed to ensure the survival of its owner.

If you are out in the wilderness, i.e. have to manage without outside help, a survival kit can be very valuable and practical. It contains all the utensils you need to meet your basic needs. It helps you find food, orient yourself and protect yourself from the cold.

Survival kit-1

The two most basic components of an outdoor survival kit: the knife and the compass.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Rastislav Zvolanský)

How much does a survival kit cost?

How much you have to spend on your survival kit depends a lot on what kind of survival kit you choose. First aid kits are rather cheap and start at around 20 euros. Most wilderness survival kits can be found within a price range of 30-60 euros.

Professional versions can cost up to 100 euros. Prices vary greatly depending on the manufacturer and quality of the survival kit. Disaster survival kits are not available for less than 100 euros. Particularly high-quality and comprehensive models cost a good 400 euros.

Who uses a survival kit?

Survival kits are designed for extraordinary situations. This can be an acute accident, an ongoing emergency situation or a planned or unplanned stay in the wilderness. The origin of survival kits lies in the military. If a soldier gets separated from the group, the survival kit is supposed to improve his chances of survival.

In the meantime, survival kits have also become widespread among private individuals. For campers, hikers, extreme sports enthusiasts or long-distance travellers, a suitable survival kit has long been part of their luggage.

What alternatives are there to survival kits?

As an alternative to a ready-made survival kit, you can of course put together your own survival bag. In this case, you have the advantage of deciding personally on the quality of each individual item. You can leave out things that seem unnecessary and add your own items instead. The result will meet your individual needs.

Survival kit-2

Whether you have professional equipment or not, you have to learn how to make a fire! So don't wait until the real thing to try it out! (Image source: pixabay.com / LUM3N)

But caution is advised. Especially if you have little experience with your planned trip/adventure/etc., it might be better to take a ready-made survival kit with you, or get advice from a professional. Otherwise you run the risk of leaving out important items of equipment.

Decision: What types of survival kits are there and which is the right one for you?

If you want to buy a survival kit, you can choose from the following survival kit types:

  • Wilderness/Outdoor survival kit
  • Disaster survival kit
  • special survival kits for the car or boat
  • medical first aid survival kit

Each of these survival kit types is designed for a different purpose and is therefore also different in terms of content. But they are all designed to help in emergency situations.

Depending on what you are planning, a different survival kit is recommended for you. We will now show you which one is right for you and what advantages and disadvantages the individual survival kits have.

What distinguishes a wilderness/outdoor survival kit and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The wilderness/outdoor survival kit is the survival kit in the classic sense. Its task is to satisfy your basic needs outside civilisation. Your basic needs include:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Heat
  • Protection

Accordingly, a wilderness survival kit always contains a tool to make fire. Fire is important for all four basic needs. It can be used to cook food and sterilise water. It generates warmth and promotes a sense of security through its brightness.

Advantages
  • Versatile
  • Mostly waterproof
  • Compact and easy to transport
  • Conveys a feeling of safety
Disadvantages
  • Possibly inferior quality of contents
  • Contents vary greatly depending on model
  • May need to supplement contents

The following list shows you the most important components of a good wilderness or outdoor survival kit and their use.

Tools Use
Folding outdoor knife/hunting knife chopping (fire) wood, food etc.
Compass orientation
Flashlight orientation in the dark
Fire steel with steel pin or flint make fire
Rescue/thermal blanket warmer in cold weather or exhaustion
Whistle signal to attract attention and get help
Tourniquet (support bandage) for initial treatment of more serious injuries
Tool card versatile multi-function tool for opening cans, as screwdriver or side cutter

What are the characteristics of a disaster survival kit and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Disaster survival kits are used, for example, in the event of natural disasters (snow disasters, floods, earthquakes, etc.) or the release of chemical or radiological hazardous substances. Some people find it useful to have such a disaster kit in the house. The kit is to help cope without electricity, heating, water access or shelter.

With the disaster survival kit, as with all other kits, it is important to learn or practice how to use the equipment.

Often such a survival kit is in the form of a backpack. This can be easily transported during an escape. This is often referred to as a "bug out bag", a 72-hour backpack. A disaster survival kit or disaster backpack generally contains:

  • Multi-function knife
  • Rescue blanket
  • Drinking water bag
  • Gas cooker
  • Protein bar
  • First aid kit
  • Breathing mask
  • Mirror and whistle for signalling
  • Compass
  • Water purification tablets
  • Matches
Advantages
  • Can easily be expanded for two people
  • Even cheaper models are convincing
Disadvantages
  • Must be adapted according to weather conditions
  • Can be heavy due to size

What are the special features of survival kits for the car or boat and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

A car survival kit makes sense for anyone who owns a car and does not travel exclusively in the city. You never know when or where your car might break down. Be it due to a flat tyre, an accident or adverse weather conditions. Winter can be particularly inconvenient when your car breaks down.

A car survival kit can make waiting for help more pleasant. What you need is the right tools to repair the damage and the right equipment to protect you and the passengers. Comprehensive car survival kits include a spare tyre, screwdriver and spanner, warning triangle and high visibility waistcoats.

In addition, a torch with batteries, connection cables and power supply units. Also a first aid kit. For those who live by the water, especially by the sea, or who regularly travel by boat, a survival kit for the water is indispensable. An emergency situation on the water requires special equipment.

Suitable signalling devices such as a flare to attract attention are particularly important. A good survival kit for the boat also contains drinking water, non-perishable food, life jackets, a waterproof torch, knife and compass.

Advantages
  • Meets special requirements
  • Compact and easy to store
Disadvantages
  • Takes up space in car/boat
  • Needs regular maintenance

What are the features of a medical first aid survival kit and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The medical first aid survival kit occupies a small special position, as it is the simplest kit. It has the smallest range of tasks, namely only the care of an injured person. All types of survival kits presented so far ideally already contain a small version of the medical first aid survival kit.

Survival kit-3

A first aid kit should always be well sorted so that the required item can be found quickly in an emergency. (Image source: pixabay.com / Hans Braxmeier)

However, if you have to or want to be prepared for a high risk of injury during your activity, an additional first aid kit is a good idea. With the help of the kit, you are prepared for a wider range of injuries, as it is much more comprehensive. Medical first aid survival kits contain, for example:

  • Painkillers
  • Bandages
  • antiseptic wipes
  • medical needles and sutures
  • antibiotic ointment
  • Tweezers
  • vinyl gloves
  • surgical tape
  • Scissors
  • Rescue blanket
  • Plaster
  • etc.
Advantages
  • Universally applicable
  • suitable for treating minor and major injuries
Disadvantages
  • Purely meidical care
  • Extensive kits have a large pack size
  • Often not suitable for outdoor use, as not waterproof

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate survival kits

In the following, we will show you which aspects you should pay attention to when choosing a survival kit. The criteria you can use to compare survival kits with each other include:

Number of parts

The content is of course the most important criterion for choosing a survival kit. As already mentioned above, all types of survival kits contain a basic set of equipment that is very similar or almost identical within its type.

The greater the number of parts, the more additional elements the survival kit contains. You must therefore consider how extensive your survival kit needs to be in order to meet your requirements. Is a basic kit enough for you or do you value more specialised equipment?

And remember: a more comprehensive survival kit is on average larger and heavier than one with fewer items. You can also buy individual items of equipment yourself.

Of course, it is not easy to make a decision at this point, as you have not yet experienced an emergency. It is helpful if you familiarise yourself as much as possible with the individual elements of the survival kit and understand how they can be used.

Quality of the contents

The quality of the contents is at least as important as their size. What good is a folding knife if it is blunt or even breaks after only a short time of use? The range of survival kits is large and the differences in quality are just as great.

Poor quality equipment will not help you in an emergency!

Especially when it comes to first aid kits, it is advisable to opt for tested quality and branded products. Cheap models are often useless because of poorly made scissors and non-adhesive plasters.

The same applies to emergency kits for the car. When it comes to wilderness and outdoor survival kits, military models are considered to be of particularly high quality. However, non-military survival kits also perform very well in product tests.

Another tip: Before buying, find out whether you can buy additional tools. This can be especially useful if you lose an item. In addition, such an offer indicates high quality.

Weight

Another important criterion when choosing a survival kit is the weight. Of course, weight is especially important if you plan to carry it with you. For survival kits that you keep in your house, car or boat, weight is less important.

Nevertheless, a lightweight survival kit can also be more comfortable here. Anyone who has been on a hike, whether on foot or by bike, knows that every ounce you don't have to carry around is valuable.

Being on the road with excessively heavy luggage is not only hard on your back, but also on your nerves. So you'd better make sure your equipment is as light as possible.

Wilderness/outdoor survival kits are around 300-500 g, depending on packaging and contents. Disaster survival kits or bags weigh considerably more due to their size. You have to reckon with 5-7 kilograms.

However, the weight is not a purchase criterion for this type of survival kit, unless it is intended for a child. Survival kits for cars and boats weigh between 800 grams and 2 kilograms, depending on the model. The weight depends greatly on the size of the kit. Medical first aid survival kits are available in a very wide range of sizes.

The smaller, lightweight first aid kits are the perfect companion when travelling. They weigh less than 100 grams. If the first aid survival kit is to have a permanent location, the more comprehensive and therefore heavier models are recommended.

Dimensions

The dimensions of your survival kit, like the weight, are especially important for travellers. Before a trip you will think about your luggage. Where do I put what? What goes in the bottom of the backpack and what in the top? If you are travelling by car or boat, the same question arises about the position of the kit.

A survival kit is best stowed in such a way that it can be reached quickly, easily and in any case. That means right next to your body. This way, even if you lose your backpack during a river crossing, you will still have the equipment you need to survive.

Real outdoor professionals always carry their survival kit directly on their body!

If you don't have to expect such an extreme case, the side pockets of your rucksack are also a good place to stow it. Provided your survival kit is small enough. In the car, the glove compartment can be the perfect place, as long as the dimensions are right.

But not only can smaller survival kits be positioned for quicker access, they also take up less space. This is equally useful in the car, in a backpack and in a boat.

Nevertheless, the following applies: content before pack size!

As has already become clear, survival kits have very different appearances. They can be a 30 litre backpack, as in the case of the disaster survival kit. They can be a box, as most outdoor survival kits are. But there are also survival kits that are just a can. No matter what form of survival kit you decide to buy, it will be worthwhile to pay attention to small dimensions.

Facts worth knowing about survival kits

Putting together your own survival kit

As already mentioned, you can also put together your own survival kit. This has the advantage that you can create an individual kit. The disadvantage, however, is that it is usually more expensive than buying a ready-made kit.

Especially if you are inexperienced, it is advisable to follow the steps below to put together a good survival kit:

  1. Research: Before you start your adventure, find out exactly what items are usually included in your type of survival kit.
  2. Inform yourself: Find out about the tasks and uses of each item.
  3. Planning and thinking through your own plan: Think about what equipment you might need on your particular adventure and talk to an expert about it.
  4. Decision: Dec ide on individual items of equipment on the basis of this knowledge.
  5. Don't rush: Take your time when choosing and buying the items.
  6. Packaging: Find suitable packaging in which the tools are stored safely and clearly.

If you follow these steps carefully, you will have the best possible survival kit. When putting together your survival kit, you may also find it helpful to read testimonials from professionals in the field.

Survival kits as gifts for every occasion

Survival kits can be helpful not only in the wilderness or in a serious emergency. Self-assembled survival kits for various "emergencies" in life are a popular gift. For new parents, for the 18th birthday, for a new job or for the bride, a small help package can be put together for any occasion.

In the following table, we have compiled some examples of suitable contents for special survival kits.

For whom? / Occasion? What 's in it?
New parents sweets for the nerves, calming tea, anti-stress bath additive, eye mask, voucher for drugstore, socks for parents, cuddly toy, voucher for child-free evening
18th birthday Bottle of schnapps, car parking meter, cookbook, condoms, toothpaste and shower gel
New job Coffee mug, chocolate, biros, handkerchiefs, small guardian angel figurine, small bottle of champagne
Bride Deodorant, hairspray, handkerchiefs, blister plaster, headache tablets, sewing kit, safety pin, spare tights, dextrose
Retirement Coffee, cleaning cloths for glasses, confetti, wrinkle cream, Kukident, crossword puzzle or Sudoku book

These are some suggestions, feel free to add more content that fits the personality.

Packaging

Your survival kit will be a real eye-catcher if you package it in an original way. The simplest option is to decorate a shoe box or use a gift box. If you need more space, you can also use a bucket or even a barrel.

Or how about choosing very small items and putting them all in a tin can? There are no limits to your creativity. Have fun putting them together and giving them away!

Image source: Belchonock/ 123rf.com

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