Toolbox Survival Kit: 12 Items to Include, How To

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By Bryan Lynch •  10 min read

Back when I first got involved in emergency preparedness and survival topics, I researched a lot of different gear and supplies for putting together my own kits. 

Medical kits, fire starting kits, tool kits, etc. After getting the supplies that I wanted the kit was ready to go, except for one minor detail, the container. 

From bags to hard case containers there are many different options a person can choose from to store their emergency supplies in. Some are cheap and some are incredibly expensive. I am a bit of a penny pincher at times, so I began experimenting with containers I found around the house.

Several containers that I tried were a no-go for various reasons, but then I ventured out into my garage and found something that soon became one of my favorite containers, a toolbox.

Toolbox Pros and Cons 


Different Options Available  

Toolboxes come in all different shapes, sizes, and price ranges. This gives you a lot of options for personalizing the kit to your needs.  


I do not know about you but sometimes I have a difficult time staying organized. Organization is key for keeping emergency supplies readily available and a toolbox offers collapsible trays, individual compartments, zippered pouches, and a secure lid. This keeps all the supplies neatly and safely organized. 


Many toolboxes come with a way to lock them, such as a hasp for a padlock or attachment points on the lid where a padlock can be placed. Larger toolboxes like those on wheels, often have internal keyed locks for additional security.


Unless you have a large, heavy-duty box that stays in the shop, toolboxes are usually moved from one work site to the next. To make this easier they come with carrying handles, shoulder slings, or sit on wheels to effortlessly pull them around.   



While toolboxes can come with locking mechanisms it does not mean they are one hundred percent secure. Cheaper and smaller toolboxes can still easily be broken into or simply carried away. 

Not Discreet

Toolboxes are often a target of opportunity for thieves because they contain valuable tools, and they are not usually difficult to break into. For this reason, it is best to keep your toolbox out of sight. 


Toolboxes are meant to stay in one place or to be transported a short distance. They can be clunky, awkward, and uncomfortable to carry over a large distance.  

Choosing a Toolbox 

The first thing to do is to choose what kind of toolbox you want to use. How to choose will depend on several factors such, what will be in the survival kit, where the kit will be kept, how small or large you want the kit to be, and your budget.

There are many different toolboxes to choose from but pictured below are two common examples.

Metal Toolbox 

The toolbox is quite large and is entirely constructed from metal. It has a carrying handle, a hasp for attaching a padlock, and a top removable tray.

The metal construction makes it very durable and offers an extra layer of protection to the items inside.

When the box is empty it is on the heavy side. This is a pro and con. Once items are stowed away inside, their weight will make it less desirable to continuously carry. On the other hand, since it is heavier, it will be less likely to up and walk away with someone else.  

Plastic Toolbox 

This toolbox is entirely made from plastic, has a carrying handle, a removable tray, and a separate, sealed compartment on top of the lid. 

Being made from plastic makes it much lighter and easier to move around. The downside is that plastic will not hold up as well in certain conditions, such as cold temperatures. It is also more prone to cracking if subjected to rough use. However, the box will provide reasonable protection for the items inside. 

Additionally, on the exterior of the box, there is a spot for attaching a small padlock to help keep items secure. But since the box is so lightweight and made from plastic, a small padlock will not keep someone from getting side.  

Loading it Up 

This time around I decided to go with the plastic toolbox. My intention for this kit is to have it sit on a shelf at home for emergencies, but I also wanted the option to quickly transport it into a vehicle if need be. 

The size of this kit would work well for being kept in a vehicle permanently, but I am not a fan of leaving toolboxes in a car for reasons noted earlier in the article.

Since this is going to be a home or vehicle kit, I decided to pack it with general emergency items. 

On the top of the main lid, there is a smaller snap lid that offers quick access to whatever is inside. The one item I wanted to make sure that was in this compartment was a flashlight. When the power goes, a flashlight is an important tool that you want readily available. 

Since there was not a lot of room in this compartment, I decided to fill it with some odds and ends that included:

Now, let us take a look inside the toolbox. I do not like to waste any space so underneath the main lid I have taped a list of emergency information. This list should be customized to your needs but general information should include contact information for:

Finally, the main compartment where the larger items and the bulk of the kit are kept. In this section I packed in the following:

First Aid Kit

This kit includes the normal assortment of band-aids, ointments, and medications, as well as a tourniquet and larger pads for dealing with more serious issues. 

Large Emergency Candle 

This can be used as another light source should the power go out. 

Duct Tape

Duct tape is great for temporary repairs and has a lot of other uses as well.

Sawyer Mini Water Filter

I love this filter because of its small size, and it can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. 

Signal Whistle

I am a big believer in packing signal whistles into emergency kits. You never know what you will run into and these whistles are extremely effective at alerting others to your position. In this box, I included a Hyper Whistle.

Emergency Bivvy

If you prefer emergency blankets you can use those instead or since they are so compact you can add a combination of the two.  

Neck Knife

I don’t see the need for a large knife since this is going to be a home or vehicle kit. Most people are probably going to be carrying a knife on them so the neck knife will act as a backup.


Again, considering that this kit will be for a home or a vehicle, having an assortment of tools available is a good idea. 

Wrench or Pliers

At the bottom of the kit, I included a larger wrench for turning off utilities if you are at home. Depending on the emergency you may need to shut off your water or gas.  

Battery Backup

The solar panel kit that I have is too large for the toolbox but I was able to put add in one of the battery packs. As long as I charge it periodically, it will be ready to go when I need it. Also, I threw in an extra phone charging cable with the backup battery. 


If technology fails, having a pad and paper will be helpful to keep track of important information and to leave messages and warnings.  

Deck of Playing Cards

I am not a fan of adding superfluous items to a kit, however, I think it is a good idea to make room for at least one. A deck of cards will help to pass the time and give your mind a break during an uneasy situation. Having an item like this is especially important if you have little kids around.   


  1. Here is a quick overview and shortened list of what I got into the toolbox. 
  2. First aid kit 
  3. Large emergency candle 
  4. Roll of duct tape
  5. Sawyer Mini Water Filter 
  6. Signal Whistle
  7. Emergency Bivvy 
  8. Neck Knife 
  9. Multitool 
  10. Battery Backup. 
  11. Notepad 
  12. Deck of Playing Cards 

Locking it Up 

As I pointed out earlier this toolbox comes with two small holes on the exterior for attaching a small padlock. Normally, this would not provide a lot of protection. 

However, since this is going to be a home kit it would not be a bad idea to add one, especially if you have curious little kids in the home. Just be sure to leave the key or combination in a spot that other adults know about. 


Are toolboxes waterproof?

Generally, toolboxes are not waterproof although some models may be. However, most toolboxes are highly water-resistant. As long as the toolbox is not subjected to excessively humid conditions or completely submerged in water, the supplies should stay dry.  

Should I use a plastic or metal toolbox in my car?

Either should be okay but if you live in a cold region, a metal box may better. Cold temperatures can cause the plastic to crack even if you are simply moving the box around in your car. 

What can I do to keep my toolbox from being stolen?

If you can put a lock on the box or it already has one, then use it. This will detour people from simply opening the toolbox and swiping supplies.

If you plan on keeping the toolbox in only one location, you can take more extreme measures and attach a cable lock to it.

You should not have to worry too much about this in your home, but if you keep the toolbox in your car, I always recommend putting valuables under the neat or covering it up with a blanket. Never leave valuables in plain sight when they are kept in a vehicle.   

Wrap Up  

A toolbox is an affordable and versatile container to use for creating a survival kit. They can be used at home, in a workshop, stowed away in a vehicle, or brought to a campsite.

You do not have to spend an arm and leg for a decent toolbox and in my experience, you will be happy with what this type of container has to offer.

I hope you enjoyed seeing what I could fit into this toolbox survival kit. Thanks for reading and stay prepared!

Do you use toolboxes to keep your supplies organized? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know about it!

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. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.