Camping & Survival

Mission Ready Personal Survival Kit — SEAL Approved

Bug out bags came in all shapes and sizes. No matter how much you stuff inside, there will never be enough and you can justify most anything. However, that does not mean you need it all. There is much to be said for the minimalist approach and its motto of doing more with less. However, it is hard to say exactly what the minimum should be.

In looking for the ultimate minimalist survival kit, I was offered a virtual peek inside what the Navy SEALs carry through government procurement documents. Will your kit measure up?

The hard case of the kit shall measure 4 x 2 x 1/2 inches. There will also be a soft-sided case. Both should be constructed of a “subdued desert color.”

Here are the requirements from the government white papers.

Hard Case Requirements

  • Capable of limited cooking without effecting the container finish (i.e. paint bubbling)
  • Capable of being used as a limited digging implement without affecting its ability to house contents (simultaneous function of digging and housing not required).
  • Shall have a weather-resistant gasket able to keep out water during minor water immersion (i.e. river crossings, swimming)
  • Shall have a fastening system that is reusable and secure to prevent accidental openings
  • Top surface of kit must have permanently affixed a 2” x 3” piece of loop fastener (i.e. soft side of velcro)
  • Ruggedized to take heavy abuse while carried without damage to inner contents
  • Case shall securely hold all items below without rattling or other noises.

Hard Case Contents


  1. Stainless Steel
  2. Pliers
  3. Wirecutter
  4. File
  5. Awl
  6. Packaged so as to not rattle in case

Button Compass

  1. Quality AA
  2. 14mm
  3. Liquid dampened
  4. Minimum 8 hour luminous

LED Squeeze Light

  1. Red
  2. Continuous or Momentary Switch

Fire Starting Kit

  1. Ferrocerium rod not to exceed 3”L x 8mm W
  2. Tinder tabs (4) packaged in reclosing bag.

Water Storage Device

  1. Two-liter capacity
  2. Able to hold all contents of the kit
  3. Must be sealable and reuseable
  4. Must be odor-proof

Water Purification Tablets

  1. 40 tablets
  2. Packaged in amber, medical-grade borosilicate

Electrolyte Tablets

  • Two tablets

Signal Mirror

  1. 2 x 3 inches
  2. Non-mirrored side covered with an IR reflective material
  3. Mirror side must be protected to prevent scratches. Protective cover must be able to be removed with one hand.
  4. Must have an aiming hole

Thermal Blanket

  1. 21” x 56” x .05 mil
  2. Polyester, aluminized
  3. One side silver, the other side orange
  4. Packaged in plastic with easy tear pre-cuts

Kevlar Line

  1. Yellow or green in color
  2. 188 lb. test
  3. 15 feet in length
  4. Packaged in plastic with easy tear pre-cuts

Safety Pins

  1. Two #2 (1.5” steel)
  2. Two #00 (.75” brass)
  3. Packaged in plastic with easy tear pre-cuts

P-38 Can Opener

  • Packaged so as to not rattle while in case.

Stainless Steel Wire

  • 24 inches of 20 gauge

Duct Tape

  1. Brown or Green in color
  2. 26 x 2 inches

Fresnel Magnifying Lens

  1. 4x power
  2. 3.25 x 2 inches

Waterproof Note Paper

  1. Four sheets
  2. Desert tan color
  3. 3.5 x 2 inches

Ink Pen

  1. Pressurized ink cartridge
  2. Black in color

Broad Spectrum Antibiotic Ointment

  • 1/32 oz foil pack

Cotton Pad

  1. 100% Cotton
  2. 2 x 2.5 inches
  3. Packaged in plastic with easy tear pre-cuts

The contents of the soft storage case will include:

Hacksaw Blade

  1. Carbon Steel
  2. 24 tpi
  3. 2.75-inches Long
  4. Hole in one end for a lanyard
  5. Opposite hole end, sharpen down reverse tanto-style end

Ceramic Razor Blade

  1. One or two sides sharpened
  2. Packaged so as to not accidentally cut anything or dull

Moleskin Adhesive Patch

  1. Heavy duty
  2. 1.75 x 2.5 inches

Kevlar Thread

  1. Green or yellow
  2. 100-200 lb. test
  3. 24-inch length
  4. Packaged in plastic with easy tear pre-cuts

Fishing Leader/Downrigger Cable

  1. Multi-strand
  2. Stainless steel
  3. 50 lb. test
  4. 24-inch length

Suspended Navigation Magnet

  1. Identifiable north painting feature
  2. Magnet suspended from thread/string
  3. Packaged in plastic with easy tear pre-cuts

Ferro Cerium Rod

  • 1.75” L x .125” W

Cotton Ball

  1. Impregnated with wax
  2. Packaged in a reclosing bag

Bobby Pins

  1. Spring steel
  2. two small
  3. One large
  4. Black in color

Handcuff Shim (Pick)

Universal Handcuff Key

  • Non-metallic resin material

Unless you add a survival expert to the kit—or can fit him or her in your pocket—the kit will be of little use unless you know how and when to use it. Carrying a handcuff key is great. However when the SHTF, you had better already have a plan in place to secure the key and keep it from being discovered before you need it. A compass is of little use to someone who does not know how to navigate with a map or shoot a back azimuth.

How did your list stack up? Tell us in the comment section below.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (11)

  1. The first thing, is to understand the intent. The following survival kit is the adventurers’ last resort and not for a light hike or other hurried adventure. The kit, however, is light for travel and inexpensive to put together; so it may be a useful addition to a bag.

    1) matchbox filled with 3 analgesics, 20 strike on box matches, and 2 rubber lures with hooks inside of them; this is sealed with duct tape; 2 razor blades and 2 extra strike pads are taped on the back
    2) 6 tampons isolated in the tied fingers of 2 polyvinyl gloves
    3) 1 butane lighter rolled judiciously with duct tape
    4) 2 week supply of water purifying pills, sealed
    5) 2 bright cotton handkerchiefs covering a mylar sheet, folded and placed into a resealable plastic baggie
    6) heavy sewing needle wrapped in 3 layers of cotton thread and stabbed inside a tube of lip balm, rolled up in a resealable plastic baggie
    7) small compass/thermometer combo wrapped with fishing line
    8) multi-strand steel wire
    9) stainless steel whistle

    A list of everything in the kit is placed inside the lid of a wide mouth aluminum thermos. In addition, aluminum foil is wrapped with lightweight chord around the thermos, leaving a loop that can be hooked.

  2. Joshua V- Not over reacting but I do agree with the rest of what you said. That was my point. Pick and choose for what is right for you. This is just a possible starting point among many other lists.

  3. Boomer- I think you’re over-reacting a little to faultroys over-reaction. He does have some valid points on fitness levels, he also brings up a good point about using tools you can use and not just grabbing the latest “must have”. For instance, none of the multi-tools you might consider would be adequate for my needs.
    I’m more mechanical and as such I like multitools that include a range of screwdrivers and the biggest pliers that can be managed. I want to take apart a car on the side of the road, you might want to snag a hare or something. I also like particular 4″ sawzall blades – small, cuts metals or woods. Maybe you’re living in the forest when the SHTF, but I probably won’t be. Prepare for your anticipated environment.

  4. I believe you are correct Hide Behind. I don’t know what Faultroy’s point was but it for sure was not constructive. More like a sneer. A snarky smarmy sneer. Kinda what an anti-gun liberal might say.

    A BOB is going to be different for everyone obviously. I think publishing this list of SEAL gear is great. Yes; we should pick and choose which items might be best for us or our family members personally.

    For civilians it’s usually best to hunker down in their homes where their stores are. The BOB is for when that option has been taken away for whatever reason or if their safe place is somewhere other than the home.

  5. Good reference read, and I believe that was intent while pointing out hi tech and low tech survival means carried by pros.
    Preppies are hopefully not going into combat or just wandering hills looking for something to kill and then come home once again to a good meal after the deed is done.
    Preppies may have kids are already stuck into a survival situation that they did not chose to enter nor had a planned entry and an exit as well.
    Any quality multi-tool is a must, fire start hi tech low tech also a must; water protection and catch capability a must and while

  6. While knowing what is in a Seal Kit is academically instructive, it really has very little place in the civilian world. Note, for example, in what application you could possibly use Kevlar string? Or, for that matter a ceramic razor blade? As someone very interested in the subject of survival, I am amazed that the outdoors have become completely metrosexualized. What would be the point of a signaling mirror for a civilian bug out bag? The reality of any survival application is that man is a creature prone to use tools. But that means that you know how to use the tools that you have. Everyone–including Navy Seals–need to look at the question from the exact opposite perspective. One does not put a personal survival kit together based on what other people put into it, but rather what YOU need to survive as comfortably as possible. This means that YOU go into the bush on a regular basis and take what YOU think you need. Then, one comes back and inventorys what you did not USE and one eliminates it. Our military routinely carry about 100 lbs of gear for their missions–why?–because they are mission focused. You, on the other hand–being a civilian–are only focused on staying alive and as reasonably comfortable as possible. Your objective should be to carry your complete survival kit in your shirt pocket–comfortably– with room for chewing gum. Consider the fact that we are having an epidemic of obesity in this country in which the average person–yes, I’m talking about the average survival enthusiast–cannot even get off the couch to go to the bathroom without breathing heavily. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to look to Seal Teams for inspiration when you are completely incapable of even walking–let alone packing a 100 lbs backpack over rugged terrain days on end. The first rule of survival is to get healthy. The second rule of survival is to get into condition. You’ll know you have the right equipment when you can comfortably walk 20 miles with your backpack per day with all the “survival junk” you were told you need(by the way, this is the absolute MINIMUM. The average Roman Soldier was able to force march 75 miles with full battle gear–ready for combat–the average distance requirement for US Calvary during the Indian Wars was 40 miles per day–every day over rugged terrain. Once you’re capable of doing this, you won’t need anyone else to tell you what you need–because you’ll know what is right for you. As a starting point, you should look to carry no more than 20% of your body weight in gear. This alone will eliminate 90% of the survival nonsense that is currently being touted “as needed.” For those of you that think I’m exaggerating, try googling the number of injuries in the military because of overloaded packs and poor fitness. Note further, that by far the majority of police officers that die while on active duty do not succumb because of violent episodes, but because they are in such poor condition, have lifestyle related illnesses, poor eating habits, and obesity. And, You should know what the actual numbers are because your taxes are paying for the disabilities and survivor benefits to their families.–LOL!!!

    1. I think you are a little too focused in the wrong direction. No signal mirror? I guess when I, in my younger days, was hiking in the middle of a forest that stretched for hundreds of miles that being lost, stranded, or with a broken leg, that being unable to signal search aircraft, or even a logging truck across a valley, is of no use. That having a first aid kit, with a quarter ounce mirror inside makes sense to me. I’ve had one for 50 years.
      A few items are designed to go undetected, where a SEAL may end up. I don’t pack a handcuff key anymore. I figure the cops would assist me. Keeping most of that gear in your pack or vehicle makes sense. I carry a re-fitted GI aid kit (3-pouch-type) in case I come across other injured people. I’ve used it several times to help others. Knowing airway management alone has saved a couple lives. Make sure to replace your rubber gloves as they dry out and other people blood and puke is dangerous. I also carry a sleeping bag, and winter clothing (even in the summer) as anywhere can result in needing warm cloths.
      Since I am disabled, and spend too much time on the couch, I have other supplies available here. I still have my Becker Patrol Pack, stuffed and ready to go, even if I can’t carry it. If we are willing to prepare at home, and actually work with FEMA guided local groups, we will probably do well. I suggest everyone approach their local EM office and request to check out a CD with your counties EM plan. It will calm folks to see that there is a reason for mass graves, using local resources like churches and schools where large kitchens exist. In my area churches also have large supplies of food, as the county government maintain none.
      It’s not a good thing to LOL at those of us that gave a lifetime of service to our nation and communities. Yes, I get a disability pension from the state, and I hurt nearly 24/7. After 25 surgeries to fix injuries, I can’t run, carry a loaded pack, but I can help others in need. Some thin soup may help out a few neighbors in need. We face more threats in North Idaho, from natural disaster, especially weather. Urban areas face riot and revolution, we’ll stop ’em at the county line with our carbines. I can still shoot. Just put me in a hole and point me west.

  7. The pocket chainsaw is a good idea for wood but the hacksaw is still a good idea for cutting metal. May have to cut a chain link or something.

    Some people will soak cotton balls in vaseline instead of wax. I haven’t tried both to see if they work equally well for starting a fire but it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a few of each in a baggie.

  8. Quite frankly I think any of the Winchester hand/multi-tools and knives are over-weight pieces of S**t. Leatherman multi-tools are great, but the cost is over the top. I suggest Gerber. The quality and weight is good, but if you were to lose it you wouldn’t cry over it. For a sheathed straight blade Gerber is also my preference as well.

    The hacksaw blade is a good idea, but I would recommend a “pocket” chainsaw like this instead (

    And never buy a pre-made BOB. Most of the stuff with it will be crap that you have to replace anyway.

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