What would MacGyver pack in his survial kit?
October 16, 2007 12:17 PM   Subscribe

Aside from the everyday Emergency Kit contents, what are some useful items to have during a long term emergency? What would MacGyver pack in his long term emergency survival kit? Extra points for creativity, cheapness (in cost, not quality), and simplicity.

In particular, I'm thinking multi-purpose utility stuff, like high strength fishing lines, parachute cords, superglue (which can be used to seal wounds in a pinch), or high value tools like Leathermans and magnesium firestarters.
posted by jytsai to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
My usual pet peeve about survival lists is those what overlook an instrument of trade. If your outlook is grim, pack a few silver or gold coins; if not, stash away some dollars (I bet the ATMs weren't fully stocked as Katrina approached). Good proxies for money are cigarettes, coffee, and bourbon.
posted by rolypolyman at 12:28 PM on October 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

This thread has a ton of ideas.
posted by honeyx at 12:28 PM on October 16, 2007

One of these UV water purifier things from REI or similar (plus some extra batteries, of course). Not cheap, though. A small camp stove + fuel + a pot would be good if power/gas are out for a couple of days - I live in earthquake country, so having no electric or gas for longer than a few hours is a possibility.
posted by rtha at 12:30 PM on October 16, 2007

- strike anywhere matches
- led flashlight & batteries (leds use less power; batteries last longer)
- hand crank radio (may also have flashlight)
- oil lamp & oil, candles (heat & light)
- ramen noodles, peanut butter, oatmeal, rice, dried apricots, cooking oil, honey, canned soups, canned tuna, hard candies and other foods with high calorie density that keep very well.
- dental floss
- 1st aid kit
- whistle
- cash
- at least 1/2 tank of gas in the car
- spare glasses & meds
see this thread
posted by theora55 at 12:31 PM on October 16, 2007

- Plastic bags cut into strips can be used to tie splints to broken bones. They spread out more and thus put less pressure on blood vessels.
- If you have a favorite survival manual, make copies of the most important pages (diagrams that are hard to memorize, etc.)
- If you don't have a favorite survival manual, a survival manual. (I have my Boy Scout Handbook and How to Stay Alive in the Woods
- A knife or multi-tool for certain, and something to sharpen it, and something to clean it.
posted by mkb at 12:33 PM on October 16, 2007


posted by JakeLL at 12:39 PM on October 16, 2007

Plastic dropcloths or tarps, the thicker the better, are fairly useful. As is plywood, but it's a pain to store. (If you have room, I'd suggest keeping around enough plywood to cover all the doors and windows of your house. If you put it down on the floor of your attic, it probably wouldn't take up too much space, and you could get to it with a few hours of work and a few people.)

Also, batteries. Lots of batteries. In any situtation where there isn't reliable electrical power, D and AA cells are worth money.

Good nylon rope is also handy, and tough to find when you need it. I'd get some parachute cord (nice because you can use the 'guts' for fishing line and other little tasks) and then also get some 1/4" dia nylon static line for heavier tasks.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:43 PM on October 16, 2007

Thinking longer term, an axe would be crucial. It's difficult to cut firewood otherwise.

Apparently, Christopher McCandless only brought a machete, which subsequently broke, with him to Alaska. This may not have been what killed him, but it certainly couldn't have made his last days any more comfortable.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:52 PM on October 16, 2007

Geez, if you honestly think things are going to get this grim, I'd suggest you include a few guns in your planning, too.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:04 PM on October 16, 2007

Fire piston. Incredibly simple and they actually work.
posted by trinity8-director at 1:15 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

MacGyver would pack his Swiss Army knife.

That is all, his surroundings would provide the rest.
posted by MrHappyGoLucky at 1:20 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

MacGyver wouldn't even pack that. All he needs is a toothpick and a stick of gum.
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 2:15 PM on October 16, 2007

Sewing needles, .45 cal bullets, sharpies.
posted by JJ86 at 2:25 PM on October 16, 2007

sturdy leatherworking needles and lots of fishing line. you'll have to patch your shoes eventually.

duct tape.

can opener.

a space blanket for warmth.

a couple of pots and pans, a ladle and a pair of tongs (heck, two pairs of tongs. you can use those for almost anything.)
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:26 PM on October 16, 2007

and a belt. you'll lose weight.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:26 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Shovel unless you intend to fast. A clamp or 2 will act as a second person when setting up a tent or shelter. Ditto on the trade issues, money or canned goods or spare box knives to exchange for ...... ?

Compass too.
posted by Freedomboy at 2:39 PM on October 16, 2007

I carry a Leatherman with me all the time these days. Between the knife, scissors, and can opener, I use it far more often than I'd expect, and the pliers are useful fairly often, too. (You could always get pliers, a knife, scissors, and a knife for a lot less money.)

I find that I always need tape. Packing tape, masking tape, electric tape, and duct tape.

Bottled water! (Or water filtration, but bottled water might be best if you can't be guaranteed a supply of water.)

A flashlight. Get an LED one, or something powered by shaking it, so that you don't have to worry about short battery life. (But a little Mini Maglite is amazing, too.)

If longer-term, something to kill animals from a distance for food? A bow and arrow would probably be best. (A gun would be more efficient, but bullets are finite and not reusable, unlike arrows.) Maybe a slingshot.

As others have said, stuff for trade (money, cigarettes, etc.) is important. So isn't an axe or hatchet.

Flares / signal guns? A radio, both something like an FRS radio for contacting others (if anyone's listening...?) and a weather radio / FM radio for listening to the news.
posted by fogster at 2:58 PM on October 16, 2007

There are lots of disaster preparedness threads on here which might be useful . It's like a kind of obsession around here; probably there are deep psychological explanations. (And almost surely there are other similar questions I haven't linked here.)

These include handy links like Outdoors magazine's emergency kit; the NYC Go-bag checklist; author, EMT and former military guy Jim MacDonald on jump kits or go bags, a couple nice posts on these issues from Making Light.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:15 PM on October 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

SAS survival handbook.
A good, sturdy knife (I have a USMC knife that looks very cool)
A pocket knife in good condition (when the zombies come, you'll thank me you have a phillips head!)
A good stone to sharpen them, preferably one with two grades.
A machete. mine has a saw blade on the back of it. handy! You can also get "survival saws" which are kind of like chainsaw chains on rope for chopping down branches for firewood / shelter. very cool.
One of those forever torches. very handy.
A normal torch with a spare bulb and battery.
Half a dozen lighters, a refillable one with fluid, a half dozen packs of matches, and a few waterproof ones. seal em in a watertight bag. Maybe some zippos for trading.
Some firestarters, too.
A couple of flares, nightsticks, and some candles. Citronella are good cos they keep bugs away.
A good tent.
A hammock.
A radio scanner, and a pair of good walkie talkies (all with plenty of spare batteries)
GPS. expensive, but could be very handy.
Assuming you're in the states, a good 9mm handgun with plenty of bullets. Optionally a rifle as well, but if you're killing "game" chances are it'll be small stuff - so the best thing would be a slingshot. you can get some pretty scary looking ones at camping/army surplus stores, and "ammo" is everywhere. easy to take down a bird or small critter.
A tent.
A good, reliable car, and everything you need to maintain it, plus spare fuel, oil, spark plugs and a couple tyres, and big enough to carry even the most obsessive list of items.
A hammock. sometimes you want to sleep off the ground.
A good first aid kit. I mean, good. You can buy ones from the internet designed for large businesses. They will have a lot of good stuff in there, enough to last ages. Supplement it with a few goodies, good painkillers, condoms (duh!) any meds you're on (get extra, say you're going away on holiday and stash em)

Tobacco, filters, papers. Pre-rolled cigarrettes. alcohol. For yourself, and for trade.

Books. Some good books.

Water. A lot of it, and a good couple purifiers. Grab a charcoal filter, they don't need power to run.

and.. yes.. it is kind of an obsession round here. when the end of the world comes, i'll show you all! I'll be ready!
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 6:01 PM on October 16, 2007

oh yeah, and you might like some food in there as well, if you're the kind of person who likes to eat.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 6:03 PM on October 16, 2007

I'm surprised nobody's listed "a mirror" yet. Simple, yet essential for signaling aircraft or distant vehicles. I seem to recall from my Scout days that this was considered an essential item for even small, basic survival kits.
posted by neckro23 at 8:37 PM on October 16, 2007

Extra medication (non-perishable, obviuosly, and renewed periodically). A non-battery powered radio. Copies of your important documents (birth certs., deeds, wills, etc.). A pre-paid cell might be a good idea.
posted by Fferret at 10:40 AM on October 17, 2007

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