Ziploc Bag Survival Kit: Why Use One, 11 Items to Include

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By Bryan Lynch •  7 min read

Everyone has a few items that they are really into and may even have a borderline obsession with. I am not one to judge as I certainly have mine. One item that I am particularly fond of when it comes to survival kits is a resealable plastic bag, like a Ziploc bag.

This often overlooked item is one of my favorite items to purchase because they are affordable and extremely versatile. I use them all the time to organize loose gear and as a cheap dry bag to keep gear and supplies protected.

But what about using the bag as a container to create a survival kit? The answer to that is the purpose of this article. Let me dive right in. 

Choosing a Size 

The first thing you are going to want to do is to choose what size of a bag you want. The nice thing about these bags is that they come in a variety of sizes. 

This gives you the option of choosing how big or how small your kit is. Need it to fit in your pocket, purse, glove compartment, or backpack? Not a problem because there is a perfect size for each of those places. 

However, in this case, I think bigger is better which is why I would suggest using a gallon size bag. 

Creating a Ziplock Bag Survival Kit 

Even a gallon size Ziplock is not going to offer a ton of space, so it is important to be thoughtful about what you decide to pack. 

You will also need to take into consideration any sharp or pointy objects. Items like these should be wrapped or placed into a smaller container within the bag to help prevent them from poking through and ruining your container.  

Here is a list of some important items I was able to get inside a one-gallon Ziplock bag.

Butane lighter

A lighter is the easiest way to get a fire going, be sure you always pack one. 

Ferrocerium Rod 

This is a backup fire starter that will last a long time. Because the scraper has sharp edges be sure to wrap it in a piece of cloth or place a layer of tape around it.

Cotton Bandana 

Another one of my favorite items because it has a ton of different uses. I suggest packing a brightly colored one so that it could be used as a signaling device. 

Small Pocketknife

A knife is a survivalist’s best friend, and one should always be packed. To save space and be multi-functional, I suggest a small multitool or Swiss Army Knife. 

Water Purification Tablets/Water Filter 

A person cannot go too long without feeling the effects of dehydration so a means of purifying water is a must.

Small Survival Guide 

Even the best of us sometimes forgets the rules of three in a stressful situation. A mini-guide can be used for reference and for making a rescue plan. 


Cordage is one of the most useful and versatile items you can have. By packing a one-hundred-foot hank of paracord, you will actually have eight hundred feet of usable cordage. 

Duct Tape 

Another incredibly useful item to have, duct tape can be used to start a fire, repair gear and it has a million other uses. 

Self-Contained Fishing Kit

Fishing kits are great because all you need is a fishing line and hooks. Those two items do not take up much space and can help you obtain food. Make sure to pack them in a separate container, like an Altoids tin, so the hooks do not puncture the bag. 

First Aid Supplies

No kit would be complete without having some medical supplies. I was able to fit a small first aid kit that included bandages, gauze, and a variety of prepackaged medications and ointments. 

Extra Zip Lock Bags!

Since they are so lightweight, compact, affordable, and versatile, why wouldn’t you put pack a few extra bags?

Why Use a Ziploc Bag?

At first, it might sound absurd to use a resealable plastic bag in this way. After all, it is just a thin plastic bag, but I have found them to be more useful and versatile than you might think.

Below are some of the versatile ways this container can be used and some characteristics I like about them. 

A General Collection Container 

Containers, especially waterproof ones are incredibly valuable items. They can be used to keep fire tinder dry, collect food, collect bait, and used as storage for anything else of importance you may find.

Water Collection Container 

Having a way to collect and transport water is critical in a survival situation. A gallon size Ziploc bag will hold just over a gallon of water, which is more than most water bottles. 

When the bag is not being used it collapses down to a compact size that can be carried in a pants pocket. 

Fire Starter 

Using a clear plastic bag to start a fire is a difficult task and requires a lot of patience! However, by filling the bag with clean liquid, it can be used just like a magnifying glass to focus sunlight. Speaking of a magnifying glass…

Improvised Magnifying Glass

Instead of using a bag with water to get a fire started it can also be used as a magnifying glass for reading small print or locating a splinter.

See Under Water!

Believe it or not, a plastic bag can be used as improvised goggles to help see underwater. Fill the bag with air and quickly seal it shut. Part of the bag can then be pushed below the water surface while you look through the top portion. 

This does not work nearly as well as goggles but it will give a clearer view of what’s under the surface. 

Improvised Glove 

Using the bag in this manner may ruin it for future use but it can aid as a barrier for the hand when dealing with unsanitary items. 

Bait Trap 

Have you ever seen goldfish being brought home in a plastic bag full of water? Well, with a lot of patience a bit of luck, a plastic bag can be used as a small dip net for catching minnows and other critters. 

Organization and Visual Access

One of the most frustrating aspects of a bag or pack is that items can become disorganized. This causes you to spend time digging and searching to find what you are looking for. 

A Ziploc bag keeps many items organized in one spot and because the bag is clear, you can easily see what is inside and access it quickly. 

Pros and Cons 



Wrap up

A resealable plastic bag kit can be carried by itself, but they work best when carried in a pack or stowed away in a vehicle. 

I hope that through this article I have given you a few ideas for using Ziploc bags, including the creation of your kit. 

Thanks for reading and stay prepared. 

What are your thoughts on using resealable plastic bags? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know! 

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.