Building a Coffee Can Survival Kit: 14 Items to Include and How-To Guide

If you have read any of my past articles you are probably aware that I am a big fan of repurposing items, especially containers. There are two reasons for this. 

The first is that I am frugal, a penny pincher, cheap. We work hard for our money so when we do not have to spend it then that is a plus, particularly during difficult times.

The second reason is I am not a fan of the throwaway mentality our world has become. Just because I am done with the item within the container why throw the container away when it can be used for something else? This also helps to reduce our impact on landfills. Reuse, recycle, and repurpose. 

Coffee Can Survival Kit

For this article, I am going to be discussing one of my favorite containers to repurpose. A coffee can. It is my favorite container because I drink a lot of coffee so I always have plenty of them around. And since many people drink coffee I would bet you have one of these at home as well. 

They can be used to hold extra paint, for cleaning up the garage by organizing all of the loose items around, for putting compost scraps into, and on and on the list goes. But today I will be focused on how to make a coffee can survival kit. So, let’s get right into it. 

Choosing the Coffee Can

Size

Coffee cans come in a few different sizes which are nice when deciding what you want to use the container for.

Generally, there are small, medium, and large sizes. 

The small size would work best for a simple kit that you would like to carry in a pack or in a vehicle when you are concerned with sacrificing space.  

The medium and large containers work best at home or in a vehicle when you do not mind giving up a little bit of space. 

Metal or Plastic?

Choosing between a plastic or metal coffee container is really up to you but to help you out, here is a list of pros and cons for each. 

Plastic Coffee Can Pros and Cons 

Pros

  • Do not have to worry about rust 
  • Generally, do not have to worry about sharp edges 
  • Lids are more durable and seal better
  • Can be used as a general collection container

Cons

  • Should not be placed next to a heat source 
  • Cannot be used for cooking or boiling water

Metal Coffee Can Pros and Cons

Pros 

  • Can be used to boil water in 
  • Can be used to cook in 
  • When the can is cannibalized, it can be made into a wood stove, cutting tools, signal mirror, fishing lures, fire transporter, and other uses. 

Cons

  • May have sharp edges
  • Can rust 
  • Lids are not as durable

The Coffee Can Survival Kit: What To Include

It would seem from the list above that the best choice would be a metal coffee can because the can itself has many uses.

And while I have used metal cans in the past I do not like dealing with the rust (oxidation). Because of this and I also already have one set up, I will be showing my survival kit in a plastic coffee container.

One last pro I wanted to add about coffee can survival kits is that it discreetly hides important items. The container can be in a vehicle or on the shelf and most people wouldn’t think twice about looking inside. Afterall, it is just coffee, right? 

Coffee Can Survival Kit Items

These kits can be personalized to your liking and the environment you will be using them in. Since there is room to spare, the kit can be heavier in some supplies over others. 

For example, it can be more of hunting, fishing, medical, fire, shelter, kit. The kit that I will be showing you will be more of a general survival kit that covers many bases. 

The one downfall of the container I am using is that it has a handle on the side. While this is nice for carrying it, it takes away space from the inside of the can that could be used for additional items. I would recommend using a can that does not have this and is rounder.

 Here are the items that fit inside. For reference, this container holds 1lb 8oz of coffee.

  1. Buck 110 Folding Hunter Knife: I like this classic knife because it is tough, sharp, and is a folder so it does not take up much space. If you are looking more for a multitool then I would suggest a Victorinox Swiss Champ
  2. Lighter: Any butane lighter will do but for the price, I think a Bic lighter is the best choice.
  3. 30 feet of paracord 
  4. Stormproof matches: UCO or Zippo stormproof matches are good choices. 
  5. Ferrocerium rod with fatwood lanyard  
  6. Water filter: Sawyer Mini water filter works very well. 
  7. Water purification tablets 
  8. Duct tape: I prefer Gorilla duct tape because it is so strong and forms a tight seal when applied. To save space this can be wrapped around a lighter or another item within the kit. 
  9. Fishing kit: Hooks and fishing lines are the minima that I always pack. For this kit I wrapped the line and attached the hooks to a small piece of cardboard. This makes it easier to fit inside while keeping the items organized. 
  10. Resealable plastic bags. Can be used as dry bags, general containers, and water collection. 
  11. First aid supplies that cover simple ailments. Bandaids, gauze, triple antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, antidiarrheal, etc.
  12. Emergency blanket such as a space blanket or an emergency bivvy.  
  13. Sewing kit: A couple of different sizes of needles and some strong thread is great for repairing clothes and gear.
  14. Compass 

If the kit you are making is meant to only be used in a true survival situation, consider wrapping a layer of duct tape around the lid of the coffee can. This will further waterproof the container and help it to float should it happen to fall in the drink. 


Wrapping it up…

Whether you use one that is metal, plastic, small, medium, or large, coffee cans make great containers for creating survival kits.

So the next time you take that last scoop of coffee from the can, think twice before throwing it away.

Have you built a coffee can survival kit? If so, what kind of items do you like to pack inside? Let us know in the comment section below and thanks for reading!



Bryan Lynch
Written by Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. Recently, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. Read more of Bryan's articles.

1 thought on “Building a Coffee Can Survival Kit: 14 Items to Include and How-To Guide”

  1. Hi Bryan,

    When my daughter was in 7th grade, every child had to take a survival class, make a survival kit in a 3-pound coffee can, then spend a night out in the wilderness (this was in Southeast Alaska, it rains) using only the clothes they wore and the contents of the can. You r article reminds me of what a great idea that was.

    Reply

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