The average ammo can, whether new or military surplus, usually holds .50 caliber ammunition and averages close to the same dimensions—11 inches long, 7 inches tall and 6 inches wide. Can you pack a 72-hour bug out survival kit into such a small area? Sure you can! Working with a small space means you eliminate heavy and unnecessary items. When you gotta get outta Dodge quickly, food, water and shelter are your main priorities. These three essentials, plus a few extras all fit in a .50 caliber ammo can.
Why an ammo can? Ammo cans take up little space, be stored virtually anywhere and are stackable. I have seen ammo cans used as center consoles in vehicles and as alternative to saddlebags on motorcycles. An ammo can, be it metal or plastic, can withstand temperature extremes and have water-resistant O-ring and gasket seals. So storing them in basements, attics, crawl spaces, and even buried underground means the gear inside stays dry. Metal military surplus ammo cans are durable, while new plastic ammo cans are untraceable to metal detectors—in case you want to cache your gear.
Multi Purpose Gear
Fortunately, there is plenty of compact survival gear that performs double duty. For example, a three-pack of double-sided insulate emergency blankets not only keep you warm and prevent hypothermia, but two of them together will also make a shelter. They come packed folded up equaling about the size of a deck of cards.
Another item that serves multiple purposes is Goghlan’s stainless steel camp cup. It holds two cups of liquid and will withstand the direct heat of an open flame. Further, you may use it to gather water from a variety of sources.
Even though the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate survival knife is not as compact as the other items, it serves multiple purposes. At 10 inches overall, it has a 4.8-inch partially serrated blade and includes a sheath with blade sharpener, fire starter and an emergency whistle.
Water is bulky and can take up a lot of room. Obviously, you will not fit enough water to survive in your ammo can. Throw in the Aquamira Frontier emergency straw that allows you to drink straight from a questionable water source. It kills 99.9% of Cryptosporidium and Giardia—two contaminants that will make you very sick. When not expanded, the straw is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket.
Though you would not want to depend on the Millennium energy bars for too long, the 409-calorie-packed bars will sustain you until you can secure a better food source. If you still have room in your can, you can add a package of Mountain House food. Fold and tape down the top of the package and it takes up 6 by 8 inches of space.
To heat up food, you will need a compact emergency stove and fuel. The military-issued foldable stove includes three packs of gel fuel that is odorless, smokeless and lightweight.
Five more things make you kit complete:
The CRKT Eat’N Tool is flat and not very long. Choose between two sizes, the smaller original Eat’N Tool and the XL Eat’N Tool. The small tool is only 4-inches long. The small model has a fork/spoon, screwdriver blade/pry tool, bottle opener and gear clip. The XL tool has the same fork/spoon utensil plus a box wrench, driver/pry tool, can/bottle opener, and gear clip.
A basic first aid kit such as the Adventure first aid kit 2.0 includes everything to treat minor aches, cuts and burns. It even includes a compass. Packed all together it will take up 6 by 8.5 by 1.5-inches of room. Some of the items in the kit might be unnecessary, so you can pick and choose what you need to cut down space.
Last, throw in 50 feet of paracord.
Emergency lighting, such as glow sticks, guarantee light without the extra weight and space for batteries.
Extremely important is a box of self-defense ammunition for your carry weapon.
Copies of important documents, identification and insurance cards should be included in all of your bug-out kits. I recommend scanning each document, such as deeds to your house, car titles, insurance cards, social security cards and other identifying information into your computer. Back up those files on a flash drive. Put the flash drive, along with some cash in a waterproof bag and put in your ammo can bug-out kit.
Quick Buy Check List
- Emergency Blanket
- Coghlan’s Jumbo Sierra Cup
- Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife
- Aquamira Frontier Emergency Straw Water Filter System
- Millennium Energy Bars, 10 Pack
- Mountain House Chili Mac, Chicken Ala King, Beef Stroganoff
- U.S. Military Gel Fuel Stove
- CRKT Eat’N Tool
- Adventure Medical Adventure 2.0 First Aid Kit
- 6″ Green Light Stick
- Texsport 3-Piece Waterproof Pouch Set
Recommended Ammo Cans
- MTMCase-Gard survivor burial vault with liner bag and desiccant
- M2A1 .50 caliber metal ammo can with lockable, lever-lock lid
- Smartreloader polymer .50 caliber ammo can with three organizer trays
- MTMCase-Gard .30 caliber tall plastic ammo can with lockable lid
For more ammo cans, click here.
What other items do you think would fit in an ammo can? Tell us in the comment section.