Survival Skills: How to Build a Survival Kit on a Budget

As with most consumer goods, the cost of survival gear is creeping upward. But don't let inflation stop you from being prepared for emergencies -- it's entirely possible to pull together some critical gear on a miniscule budget. Here's how to build a life-saving survival kit with just $10.
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Shelter, Water, and Fire**
There are three survival kit staples that should be considered mandatory, regardless of your budget: you need to be able to build shelter, procure drinkable water, and make fire. To satisfy these needs, I selected a space blanket, a metal cup, and a butane lighter. The space blanket was the easiest decision -- it's value-to-versatility ratio is off the charts. Bear in mind, though, that you will generally get what you pay for, so my $3 space blanket is smaller and less durable than a $10 model.

My $3 metal cup will allow me to boil water in order to disinfect it, and also make tea and cook a little bit. I selected the cup over a $6 bottle of purification tablets because the cup was half the price and more versatile.

Next, we come to fire building. There are many ways that we could have approached fire in an affordable fashion, but I believe that a simple butane lighter will serve us better than the other options. I could have gone with a $3 spark rod, which works well enough and should last forever. But the $1 lighter gives us an active flame (the spark rod doesn't), it's capable of lighting more fires than a box of matches, and it's waterproof.

Bonus Material
So far I've dropped $3 on a space blanket, $3 on a metal cup, and $1 on a butane lighter, and have $3 to spare. I'm going to add the $2 5-in-1 Survival Tool from UST. This brightly colored bargain has a match safe, compass, whistle, signal mirror, and spark rod. Though these parts are cheaply made, they are functional. I'll spend my last dollar on a container of dental floss. This high-strength cord can be utilized for scores of tasks (besides maintaining good dental health). And just to make sure my bases are covered, I hit up the guy at my local convenience store for a free book of matches. I cut the book up into pieces so it would fit into the tool's compartment.

There you have it: a $10 survival kit. It's not fancy. It's not high-end. But it is more than capable of changing a survival scenario into a success story, through the smart use of a few basic items.

Do you build your own survival kits? Tell us about your budget-kit contents in the comments.