Repurposing containers is sort of my passion. So, making a small survival kit out of an Altoids tin is right up my alley.
In case you don’t know, Altoids are tasty mints that can be picked up wherever candy is sold. If you have never tried them, I suggest picking up a pack the next time you are out.
If you have tried them, you know they come in a sturdy little tin with a hinged lid.
After the contents have been eaten all up, people either throw the tin away or use it for storing loose change in their car.
But another popular option is to use the tin as an easy and discreet way of carrying a small survival kit.
What You Should Know About Small Kits
There are a lot of these types of kits floating around out there and while I like them, I also dislike them.
It is not so much that I dislike the items in the kit as much as I dislike the mentality of these as survival kits.
I do not like to think of these as survival kits but rather organizers.
No way no how should anyone think they are prepared by setting off into the woods, or any other environment, with this as their primary source of gear. That kind of mentality is a disaster waiting to happen.
For me, these little kits are a backup to my backup supplies or a means of carrying a small amount of items in an organized fashion all of the time.
For example, when you go out for a night on the town you will most likely not be carrying your BOB on your back, although it is a good idea to carry supplies in a vehicle.
But a kit like the Altoids tin can help to serve small scale needs.
Deciding On What Type of Kit
As I said earlier I prefer to call these organizers but for ease of conversation, I will stick with the word kit.
Two types of kits can be made from this tin. A general-purpose kit or a single purpose kit.
General Purpose Kit.
A general-purpose kit is going to be a mixture of items that will serve a broad range of uses.
Single Purpose Kit
While the items in this type of kit can be used for other purposes, the overall goal of this kit is to be used for a specific purpose.
Making The Altoids Tin Kit
To give you more options, I will be making both types of kits. A general-purpose and a single purpose kit. But I will also be offering several different versions of a single purpose kit to give you more ideas of how to make your own.
I wanted to start by offering the dimensions of the tin to give you an idea of the scale. It is approximately 3 ½” long by 2 ¼” wide by ¾” deep.
I should also note that Altoids now come in two different sizes. A mini tin and a larger one. I will be using the larger tin as it offers more space.
General Purpose Kit
Below are the items I was able to fit into this tin to help serve me across a range of tasks, and the reason for why I chose what I did.
- Several water purification tablets. For cleaning water.
- 6 large Band-aids. You never know when you will get minor scrapes or cuts.
- One gel pack of antibiotic cream. For those minor cuts.
- Sewing Thread and Needle. This item can serve multiple purposes, primarily taking care of small gear repairs. I packed one standard needle and roughly 10 feet of black thread.
- Duct Tape. Can be used in getting a fire going and for patching materials. I folded approximately 2 feet onto itself to create a flat triangle.
- Ferrocerium Rod. I opted for a miniature ferrocerium rod over a butane lighter, which I almost never do. But depending on environmental conditions the inside of this tin could get very warm and hot temperatures are not good for the longevity of a pressurized lighter.
- Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. Most people agree a knife is one of the most important tools to have. I was able to fit a medium size model, The Officer’s Knife, inside.
- Fishing Supplies. Can be used for gear repair, trapping, and of course fishing. I was able to pack approximately 30ft of monofilament line and one hook.
- One resealable plastic bag. This can be used in a variety of ways, such as keeping items dry or as a container for collecting water.
Single Purpose Kit
I chose not to add a butane lighter in the general-purpose kit but if the kit is not subjected to temperature extremes you can place one in this kit.
- One large butane lighter
- 10 stormproof matches
- 10 strike-anywhere matches
- One ferrocerium rod
- 10 ft. of jute twine. To be used as fire tinder.
- One metal striker. To be used with the ferrocerium rod.
- Four replacements strikers. To be used with the matches. In this kit, I left two strikers sealed in their plastic bag and put two on the interior of the lid. These can be glued to the lid to offer a solid striking surface.
Considering that fishing line and hooks are all you need to effectively fish, this little container is great because a lot of both can be packed inside.
But to make the kit a little more well rounded I did add a few other items.
- 100ft of 40lb braided fishing line
- 50ft of 20lb extra monofilament line
- 30ft of 20lb monofilament with a hook attached
- An assortment of 30 fishing hooks in a small resealable bag.
- 2 small floats
- 2 small weights
- Small bag with assorted lures
- One homemade fly made from paracord
What goes into this type of kit depends on the type of gear you have and how you choose to repair it. But here is what I was able to fit into this little tin.
- Duct Tape. I folded up two feet of tape but looking back I would probably add at least another two feet of tape for this kit.
- Sewing Needle and Thread. I prewrapped and threaded roughly ten feet of sewing thread on two standard needles.
- An assortment of Needles. A variety of small and large ones.
- Nylon Thread. This white thread is a mixture of lengths of paracord yarns. Rather than throw them away after completing a paracord project I keep suitable yarns specifically for this purpose. What is great about them is that a whole yarn can be used or broken down into finer thread size.
- 100 ft of 40lb braided fishing line. I add this in because it is similar to sewing thread in size but very strong.
- Small Swiss Army Knife. The small model fits well in the tin and offers a pair of scissors for cutting.
The size of this tin is not going to allow for large injuries to be taken care of. But a variety of items will help to take care of small discomforts for the short-term.
- Band-aids. I was able to pack three different kinds. 5 large, 5 medium, and 3 used for around the knuckles.
- Antibiotic cream. One gel pouch.
- One 2” X 2” gauze pad.
- One burn gel pouch.
- One sting relief pad.
- One tube of Chapstick.
- One antiseptic towelette.
- One clean towelette.
- One alcohol prep pad.
Altoid Tin Modifications
Here are a few more ideas to get the most out of this tin.
This container is not watertight but it is pretty darn close. There are only two weak points that need to be shored up, the seam around the lid and the hinges.
Luckily, there is a cheap, simple modification that can be made that will further protect the contents from moisture.
After the kit has been filled with the items of your choice, take a piece of heavy-duty duct tape and wrap it around the entire seam of the lid being sure to cover the hinges.
This may not be a permeant barrier should the container become submerged for a long time.
But I once dropped this exact setup into a puddle of water without knowing about it. The tin had been submerged for thirty minutes before I found it. I peeled the tape off and the contents inside were perfectly dry.
Seal It Part 2!
Another popular way of sealing the lid is with ranger bands, which are thick circular pieces of rubber.
This doesn’t seal the lid like the previous example, but it certainly helps to keep the top firmly shut, especially if there are too many items inside.
The bonus of this method is that it allows for several ranger bands to be easily carried.
Though I will admit I have used rubber bands in the past with similar effects.
Make Char Cloth!
Altoids tins make excellent containers for making small batches of char cloth.
Simply poke a small hole in the lid, load in some 100% cotton material, and bake over a fire.
- Incredibly compact and lightweight
- A small container option anyone can afford
- A great organizer for small survival gear items
- Can be highly personalized
- A discreet way of carrying items almost anywhere
- Not a true survival kit
- The tin is sturdy but can be easily dented or punctured
Wrapping It Up
Remember that no matter what type of kit you decide on these are meant to be personalized with items you are familiar with and will use.
The items I chose are going to be different than what you may choose and that is perfectly fine. Part of the fun is making it your own!
Overall, the goal of this article was to show what can fit into these handy little tins and how well they keep items organized.
What would you put into an Altoids Tin? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know! Thanks for reading and stay prepared!