My Budget Possibles Bag, by Liber T.Y.

I have a couple of provisos before beginning. First off, I have a different definition of a “budget” that most people because I’m 13 years old and I don’t yet have a job. Due to that, not everything contained herein is of the highest quality or fits in with the “Two is one, one is none, and three is just enough.” philosophy. One of the things that I believe is that it’s better to have something rather than nothing.

I am compelled to note that my inspiration for this bag was the chapter The Escape Bag Blueprint written by Jason Hanson in The Election Year Survival Guide Laissez Faire’s 2016 Guide to Happiness. However I only actually have five of the things he suggests in my bag so it’s more of useful information in my case (by the way his suggestions are excellent, just too expensive for me).

Some of these items I don’t know the price of because they were gifts or I made them but if I know the price I paid for it I’ll mention it.

Also please note that I receive no compensation for recommending any items contained in this article.

My Bag

As you can see from the photos my bag is not a backpack like most bug-out bags, but is instead a satchel. There are a multitude of reasons for this. One reason is that my gear fits perfectly into this. Another would be that it fits (somewhat) easily under a car’s seat as it looks something like a purse and I don’t want it to be stolen (though this is something like starting with a solution and finding a problem).

The bag is advertised as a “Polish Military Surplus Shoulder Pack Gear Bag Satchel w/Strap 2 Cell” on eBay and is only $9.99. It is very durable. I say this from experience as I’ve had it since May and it has showed no signs of breaking yet. It also has two loops to put a belt through and when one uses this feature it bumps around a good deal less. It only comes with one clip instead of the two pictured (I added one because the original is very hard to open).
Bug Out Bag - SatchelInside, the bag is separated into two main areas with one having a loop of material that I use to hold a hatchet (more on that later). Separating the two areas is another small pocket that one could hold a USB drive in. There are also two other pockets, one on the inside that I use to hold books and a map and another on the outside that I use to hold a flashlight and a pair of small binoculars.
It is 11 inches tall, just under nine inches wide, and a little over three inches deep (not counting how far it can stretch).
With my gear inside, it weighs 6lbs 2ozs, which is extremely light. As a result, any aches on your left shoulder would be extremely minor and would only appear after a long time of continuous wear (it’s happened to me that’s how I know).


Survival BandanaThe accompanying picture is a blaze orange survival bandanna that I got at a hunter safety class (I’ve written an article about this on Survival Blog). I’ve included it because I can use it to strain water, signal (it’s blaze orange remember), or use as a tourniquet.



First Aid

First Aid KitI have a 66-piece first aid kit that is sold on Amazon for $9.95 in the succeeding picture. It contains:

  • One pair of scissors
  • Eight alcohol prep pads
  • Four antiseptic cleaning wipes
  • One pair of tweezers
  • Ten large PE adhesive bandages
  • Ten small PE adhesive bandages
  • Ten round PE adhesive bandages
  • Five safety pins
  • One roll of non woven tape
  • Four packets of burn gel
  • A first aid guide

Not an extremely impressive first aid kit, but it’s better than nothing. It’s not like you can treat bullet wounds with it (not a real trauma kit),  but for minor burns and cuts, it will suffice.

Fire Starting

I also carry two different ways to start a fire. The first is some flint and steel. I personally have never started a fire with it but it’s included because it may work in a pinch if the next item gets wet.

The other way to start a fire would be with 34 matches that are in a small black box.
I also have a quart zip lock bag of dryer lint to be used as tinder due to the fact that it is extremely flammable (and this way I don’t have to deal with wet tinder).


I have an extra pair of my normal socks included so if my feet get wet or if it gets really cold I can change them to prevent various foot diseases or frostbite.


Paracord is pretty self-explanatory. I’ve used this for all sorts of things and as a plus 550 paracord can hold 550 lbs. It’s also compact so the 50 ft that I have fits in pretty nicely.


It can be used for signaling. This is really just a toy whistle so you could easily get better ones but this one is still pretty shrill.


This is very important for getting your bearings so you can navigate with topo maps. There is a map in my bag (more on that later) but even for maps that you find you’re still going to have to know which way is north. This one is cheap but it still points north which is kinda the point (I’ve even gotten it soaked in water and it works fine).

Emergency Blanket

This is just the cheap reflective Mylar blanket you’ll find anywhere but it still folds up into a small space so it can be carried in the bag. Besides the possibility of being kept warm by it it also reflects the sun so someone may be able to find you easier (this could be a pro or a con depending upon what you are doing but I need some sort of shelter like item in my bag and this fit the bill).

Fishing Kit

See the medicine bottle in the picture? That’s not medications it’s actually a fishing kit. It contains:

  • Two fish hooks,
  • Two sinkers,
  • One bobber, and
  • A spool of monofilament fishing line

I have never had to use this so I cannot vouch for it’s effectiveness but remember this is a last ditch attempt to get some sort of food. I have also put in some dryer lint for more tinder and to cut down on the rattling because it does a lot of that without the dryer lint stuffed in it. These, along with the sewing kits that I will discuss later, are generally put in Operation Christmas Child (OCC) boxes. Many people have had this idea it seems, so I have no idea who thought of it initially. The type I make only cost 75 cents each (you do have to buy larger amounts of materials, but you know what I mean).

Cable Lock

I got this from a hunter safety class and supposedly you can get a free one through Project Child Safe.
This is useful because of how my bag latches. If you unlock the gun lock and thread it under the little metal bar on top and latch it again you can’t get it open without getting rid of the lock (according to one of my instructors at the hunter safety class they are easy to cut off with bolt cutters but if someone’s using bolt cutters they can probably just cut open your bag with something else). I’ve used this at a summer camp where I didn’t want anyone in my cabin to get into it and to my knowledge no one took anything contained in it.


This one was really fun to get because my dad and I actually forged it (one of my dad’s hobby’s is blacksmithing). We specifically made it to fit in my bag due to the fact that my bag is rather small so a normal sized hatchet would not have fit. It weighs just under a pound so it’s light enough to be swung for a while. It’s about ten and a half inches tall from top to bottom and about four inches wide from the back to the front. We also made a Kydex sheath for it which adds about half an inch to the latter measurement. It’s a nice hatchet for all around light camp work.

Water Filtration

Bug Out BagWhy is being able to filter water important you might ask? Well one can only survive for three days under optimal conditions without water and if it’s a survival situation it’s probably less than optimal conditions.
In the next photo you’ll see an item that looks kind of like a Life Straw. I bought it from eBay and it’s advertised as “MS® Purifier Straw Water Filter Personal Survival Kit Emergency Gear Top Quality”. The maker claims it can filter 1,000 liters of water normally and filters to 0.2 micron. According to Boston On Surviving Y2K And Other Lovely Disasters, no single-celled bacteria is smaller than 0.2 micron. I bought this for $9.48 but they seem to have raised in price to $11.98. I bought this one in particular because, besides being inexpensive, it will filter out bacteria and this way I can get fresh drinking water even if it’s not a brand name item.

Four-in-One Tool

The object in the top middle is a four-in-one tool. This was gotten for me as a gift at Custer State Park but I’ve also seen them for sale at the Science Museum of Minnesota so I’m sure other places have them too. The compass doesn’t work and the mirror isn’t great so why do I have it? It’s because of the other two features. They are a magnifying glass and binoculars. The magnifying glass is useful to start a fire or look at small details; and the binoculars would be a helpful aid in identifying land marks. Considering it’s small size there wasn’t really a reason not to throw it in.


I normally carry these around in my pocket, for when we go to historical reenactments. I sometimes forget hearing protection and you can only hear for so long after prolonged exposure to loud noises (the green earplugs are the best in my opinion). I figured it never hurts to have extras around in case others need a pair or I drop one.


The white container is a coin tube for one ounce silver coins. It currently contains only one ounce of silver that I bought for $18.95 but it can hold ten such coins (which would bring up the total weight of the bag by nine ounces). Silver is a good item for storage of wealth so it could be worth more than what you might have in your wallet depending on the crisis. Besides the above it frankly makes the most sense for me to keep it in my bag as I don’t have a safe and this way I don’t lose it. It should also be noted that this should be the last item you put in your bag since the other stuff is far more important.

Sewing Kit

As noted above, this is something people generally put in OCC boxes. Mine has:

  • Two small buttons
  • Four large buttons
  • One spool of black thread
  • One spool of white thread and
  • Two needles threaded through a piece of felt

This is not supposed to be a “make a quilt in the middle of the woods” type kit. It’s just supposed to be for mending minor rips and tears. Remember “a stitch in time will save nine”.

Map and Books

Yes, books. I do have books in my bag. I’ll get to that in just a second but first the map.
The map is a basic highway map of Minnesota that I got at a parade. It has all the highways and the larger streets of the metro areas. It’s there because everyone needs a good map. Even though it’s not extremely detailed in most areas it will at least tell me that town I’m approaching.

Now on to the books. One of them is a reprint of FM 21-76 The US Army Survival Manual and the other is The Official US. Army Illustrated Guide to Edible Wild Plants that I got for $7.72 online. The first book is useful because it has all sorts of information about surviving nearly everything, including nuclear fallout. The second because, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know every single edible plant and this will give you a lot of common ones (note: mushrooms are not included).


Bug Out BagThis is a very nifty little piece of equipment. It is in the blue container at the upper-right. I won it at a camp I attended and it’s very useful. The clear plastic part opens up to show six screwdriver heads, three flats and three Phillips (I lost two flats so that’s why it only shows four heads in there). You stick the heads into the ends of the screwdriver and they are magnetically locked there. This magnetism also extends to the ends of the heads so screws that you take out stick to it. The only complaint I have with it is the clear blue part’s hinges broke off but this is negligible because I put it in a plastic bag. Screwdrivers are useful for anytime one needs to take something apart and a magnetic screwdriver in particular is handier than you would think.

Notepad and Pens

Pretty self explanatory. I can use this to write down all sorts of stuff (email addresses, websites, license plates etc.). Dollar store pens work great for this (you aren’t writing under water or in zero gravity right?).

Sources of Light

I have two in my kit. One is a headlamp and the other is just a standard flashlight. Conveniently they both run on AAA batteries which I keep separate from the light sources to prevent corrosion. I also have a change of spare batteries. Technically fire is also a light source but it’s still different so it got it’s own section.

Zip Lock Bags

For anything in my bag that I don’t want to get wet (or is just loose) I keep in Zip Lock bags. I also have two additional  Zip Lock bags in there. As a result I’ve gotten my bag soaking wet with no apparent damage to anything on the inside.


While this would not be a great bag for surviving forever in the middle of nowhere that really isn’t what it’s meant for. It would however be an excellent camping bag, hunting/hiking bag, or very short term disaster bag. It just depends on how you’re using it. This would probably also be a great bag for anyone (especially a kid) just starting to prep as well.


  1. What a great article! I like your concept that something is better than nothing, and indeed started my prepping twenty years ago with just that idea in mind. Back then, a lot of my ‘collectibles’ were sourced at thrift shops and flea markets. To this day, I find things at yard sales that would come in handy in a post-civilized world, including hand tools and books.

    Also, being a person who eats mostly organic, I would no more eat a can of pork and beans today than I would eat a can of cat food, yet I have quite a few cans purchased for 38 cents at my local supermarket canned goods sale. I remember what hunger feels like… I also have lots of cheap white rice packaged away, at a price of 25 lbs. for just over 9 dollars. I wouldn’t eat it now because I’m picky about organic, but for the price it’s a huge amount of carb calories and ‘something is better than nothing.’

    The one place I would not scrimp is on water purification. As unscrupulous as some manufacturers can be, the risk of drinking bad water is simply too devastating. Go with the tried and tested as soon as you can save up the money needed. Best of luck on your prepping journey!

  2. “Flint and steel. I personally have never started a fire with it but it’s included because it may work” Practice, Practice, Practice. It’s not that hard to get used to using it now, but when your life is in danger and you cold and wet it will be.

  3. This was a very interesting read and I must say that I’m impressed with the practicality of your kit build. Being in Ground Search & Rescue, I’m always thinking of how to improve my own kit that I haul on every operation. Your kit is well thought out and that makes it priceless! Thank you and don’t be afraid to start practicing with that flint and steel.

  4. Not a great bag for being in the middle of nowhere? With this bag, a good pair of sturdy leather boots, and a higher quality jacket and hat, you are light years ahead of 95% of the ADULT Sheeple that are out in public!
    I recommend adding duct tape, many uses, including covering a foot blister.
    One more pair of socks.
    A multi tool (pliers and knife and saw are very useful to help with fishing, among other things)
    Maybe one or two energy bars or carbohydrate energy ration, vacuum sealed.
    Don’t knock your age, LiberTY, you could teach a class!
    Keep up the good work!

  5. I’m not sure that silver will be especially useful in the immediate term of a disaster that requires you to Bug Out. Later, of course, silver and gold will be valuable. But most people will have some cash on them when the disaster occurs and won’t transition to a barter mindset until they recognize the backing of paper money no longer exists. That is likely to take days to weeks. During that period, the weight of silver outweighs the face value.

    Long term silver and gold are good. Short term, not so much.

    1. The silver is very valuable it can be used to sterilize water(a silver coin in the bottom of a cup was common in the past),with the addition of a power source(9v battery and 2 pieces of wire can produce silver colloidal water that is a universal anti-bacterial/anti-viral and perfectly safe). Another idea to supplement your first aid ability is a couple tampons(pack stab/gunshot wounds) and a few sanitary napkins(work for pressure bandages),a bag of instant potato flakes can work almost as well as the expensive blood quick clot. Finally if you contact the tourism departments of neighboring states they will gladly send you maps.
      Keep up the good work ,you are ahead of 80% of the population and practice,practice,practice.

  6. As a homeschool mom, I must say your writing skills are phenomenal for a 13 year old. You have a great start on your bag. It is very well thought out. I’d be anxious to hear how you build on it year to year. My kids enjoy doing this as well. Thanks for the article!

  7. well done and well presented..a little advice–buy a real tourniquet. Your bandana will not work and you (or whomever it is applied on) will bleed out and perish…There are a couple different options that work and are available at Amazon and quite affordable.

  8. Excelent article, well written. I am happy to see a person of your age learning to prep. A note on your zip lock bags, I had a friend who got turned around trying to find a horse that took off from hunting camp. She spent an overnight in the woods before she got back to a trail and got out. She said she was walking on a layer of downed tree tops but couldn’t access the water running under them. Now she carries a zip lock bag so she can slip it into small spaces and scoop up some water. She said that was the most frustrating part of her mishap. Keep up the good work.

  9. My compliments on your choices! Your bag is very useful, and still lightweight.
    I have just a couple suggestions for you. First, test your dryer lint, by lighting some of it with a match. If the lint is from natural fabrics, it will burn well, but if it’s from synthetic fabrics, it won’t. You want to be sure to have the natural stuff. Run to the dryer and get the lint from the bath towels; they’re usually cotton 😉
    Second, you might also want to carry a couple cotton balls soaked with petroleum jelly (Vaseline). They won’t add much weight, they catch sparks really well, and you don’t have to use much more than a pinch of the cotton to get your fire going. Just be sure to spread out the little fibres so they reach up to catch the sparks from your ferro rod.
    Third, you might enjoy watching some YouTube videos on firestarting – there are lots of them out there. One of my favorites is MegaWoodsWalker. He demonstrates lots of different ways of starting and building fires, and tests different kinds of tinder.
    Last, practice, practice, practice until you know what works best in various conditions. Firebuilding is fun, and an extremely useful skill.

  10. Love the polish surplus bags. My kids would attach them to thier bunk bed frame. Worked great for the top bunk and kept books and flash lights handy. Old surplus uses no noisey velcro making it ideal for hunting, or fleeing.
    Great article, looking forward to more.

  11. Fantastic spirit and practicality!
    Wash that orange bandanna a few times before planning to drink through it.
    A small steel box (like an Altoids tin) is a necessary part of flint-and-steel outfit, to char tinder in. Charred thistledown or milkweed fluff work as well as charred cotton cloth. I’d add a knife, and a 8″ pair of Vise-Grips.

  12. It sounds like you use a medicine bottle for your fishing kit. Why not use another med bottle/ vitamin bottle for your 34 matches, instead of a black box? I suggest filling a med/ prescription bottle with matches and a piece of the striker paper. It seals fairly water tight. I’ve done this with the long, wooden matches/striker from the brick style box to keep them dry.

    A couple granola bars/ sealed beef jerky or similar high calorie snack would help.

    Practice using your items. You say you could use the bandana as a tourniquet. Try it. Maybe the fabric is too weak/ stretchy/ short. Don’t assume. Assumptions could kill you. You say your lint could start a fire….try it!

    Keep your silver at home and put $20-$40 cash in the bag instead. I’d bet you’d rather lose the $20 cash via theft/ loss/ robbery than the $18 worth of silver you already have there. As the previous commenter said- ya won’t need the silver right away in a end of the world scenario. Good luck, Skywalker

  13. My heartfelt thanks to both SurvivalBlog and you for posting your thoughts.

    Your comments took me back many years to when I first started to think about preparing, and because of that I’d like to make a suggestion to further your education.

    Hopefully, you live in an area where the CERT program is taught and you have the time to participate in the training that is offered. It is a nationwide program to prepare individuals for emergencies. I do not believe that there is any age restriction to sign up for the classes that are taught, and the training, through experience, that you would receive would last a lifetime. It would enable you to help yourself, your family, and others in any emergency situation.

    The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) provides classes on:

    Disaster Preparedness
    Fire Safety and Utility Control
    Disaster Medical Operations
    Light Search and Rescue Operations
    CERT Organization
    Disaster Psychology

    As a final training exercise, there is a disaster simulation day that allows you the opportunity to use what you have learned from participating in the classes, as well as in the training exercises that immediately follow each class session.

    The CERT program is a National Program administered by FEMA.

    FEMA will probably not be there to help us in times of an emergency. However, the CERT training that it provides may help you to aid family members and others. Since it is available, why not avail yourself of the opportunity it provides to become trained in all that it has to offer.

    As part of the program you receive a kit of supplies, including a helmet, flashlight, gloves, vest, face mask, and other items to prepare yourself and to help others.

    A big plus! The CERT classes are free, as is the kit.

    I wish you well as you travel down this road of prepping.

    And again, thanks to you for submitting your article and to the editors of SurvivalBlog for the posting your article. They foresee the future.

    A Postscript:

    For more information on CERT, turn to your computer. There are many activities and drills available on You Tube to assist in the training of CERT members.

    A good overview of CERT is available on the site below:

  14. You’ve done well. You have the mindset, and have started down a good path. As others have said, the best prep you have by far is your brains. Learn how to master the use of all your items proficiently, find what works for you, and keep trying to think outside the box. There’s a world of information out there, not all of it accurate or useful; that’s also part of the learning process. As time goes by, you will come to realize how little you really need once you have applied knowledge to work with. Keep up the good work.

  15. Wonderful job! It is exciting for me to think about the leader you are becoming. Keep up the good work. You are more important than you realize. Many blessings to you.

  16. I wish more kids today had your common sense and foresight, you are way ahead of 95% of the adult population! Go by the dollar store and pick up a pair of work gloves. I also agree with everybody else to add a few high calorie protein bars which you could rotate out as needed. Your most important asset, your brain, is already on the best possible road for further learning and adapting to our changing world. You give me hope for our future.

  17. Nice start! I would recommend 2 additions; 1st a good knife, such as a Swiss Army knife or Scout knife. The basic Victorinox Tinker will do very well and is not very expensive, about $21 on Amazon. 2nd, get a sealed-in-plastic two-pack of Bic lighters. Much, much easier to start a fire with than flint and steel.

  18. Hey Liber T.Y. you are way ahead of most people. Your next step is to take your bag inventory and make sure that the things you have in the bag really work for your location. Toss a larger [black plastic heavy duty] contractor trash bag in there and you have a way to expand your carry capacity and also use that a poncho is you need it. good luck, there’s a great video by Grey Beard Green Beret you might like on U tube to calibrate your approach. Regardless, you are probably way ahead of the majority of the East Coast and right in the hunt for the rest of the country. Good luck !

  19. Parallels what I have, but I have much in my pockets and buy clothes where I can keep things (multitool, tiny sewing kit, etc.)

    I use three basic layers. The first is what is in my pockets (you don’t want to know all the details). The second would be in my version of this bag but I’m a bit more high-tech. The third – and I wouldn’t expect him to do this – is in the (removed seat, replaced with a tiered storage box) console, and the larger one in back.

    I’ve used some vacuum bags to shrink things like my very insulated overalls which I have not needed yet.

    The idea is there are some things I need on me, but if it isn’t an immediate problem, I can get to my bag, or get to my vehicle, each with greater storage capacity.

  20. Dump the matches and buy the UCO hurricane matches. They even burn underwater! (I’ve tested!) The matches come with a match case, extra striker, and some cotton tinder. About $9 if I remember correctly. For firesteel, I recommend the Doan magnesium bars. (Also $9) These are the Mil-spec versions. Others are to be avoided, as the magnesium allow may not burn. Pack a couple of the Coghlan’s fire starter sticks. I’ve easily been able to start them with the mag bar, and they burn for a surprisingly long time for their size.

    I’d switch to a Sawyer water filter. They will screw on to various soda/water bottles. I keep two 1 liter bottles, one Mt Dew, and the other Aquafina. I use the green Dew bottle for dirty water, and the clear bottle for filtered water. Also keep a couple of coffee filters in your pack to prefilter your water.

    For your fishing kit, get a small bottle of Gulp! and a few small rubber worms. Gulp! on a bait will drive panfish into a feeding frenzy, and even previously caught fish will re-bite the bait.

    Every kid needs a pocket knife! I recommend a Leatherman Super Tool or Wave. I recently gave one to my missionary student from Belize for his graduation. At first he didn’t know what it was. Once he figured it out, it became his most prized possession! Remember this, a helpful person is listened to, a Leatherman helps make you helpful. The same is true when spreading the Word. If you just preach, they won’t listen, but if you help them, they’ll listen.

    Do make an emergency fund for yourself! If you get a couple of large bills, tuck them away where you can’t see them, and believe they don’t exist! I carry 2 $100 bills in the wallet to get me home or a room if I get caught in a storm or something. Also at home, I keep twenty of each denomination of bills in case I can’t get to the bank. In both cases, rebuild your fund as soon as possible. Pay cash, and collect the change. Separate out the pre-82 pennies and nickels, and check the dimes and quarters for silver. (you still find some out there) When you get enough change built up, cash it in for bills, and use it for your emergency funds. For me it takes about six months to build up $200 in change.

  21. Excellent work, not just for assembling your kit but for writing it up. You’re ahead of most of the people in my Oath Keepers group! If you lived on my street I’d hire you for yardwork so you could advance your gear.

    I knew what the comments would be before I started scrolling down; 50% supportive and 51% know-it-alls. When things go pear shaped, American society isn’t going to be acting mutual assistance groups but guys opining about the best way to start a fire while they grow cold.

    But one bit of solid advice mentioned above is don’t trust anything you haven’t tested yourself. That also gives you operational knowledge.

  22. Great write-up! Looks like you are on your way. Keep honing your skills especially the fire making. Bic lighters are cheap and are best to use when you’re cold and wet. Keep at the flint and steel. Know that some steel files can make the best strikers for your flint and can be found real cheap at auctions. I hope your Dad passes on to you his knowledge of forging. All the best to you!

  23. First off thank you all for the comments! I will definitely take them all under advisement.
    I would however like to address a few of the comments in particular.
    Didi (and Capt Nemo) I am planning on getting a better water purification source don’t worry, but thanks for the suggestion!
    Wingfootjr thank you, but in reality I wrote: “While this would not be a great bag for surviving forever in the middle of nowhere…” not that it wouldn’t be a good bag for a shorter period of time.
    OldParatrooper et al. The reason I have silver instead of money in my bag is because I don’t actually have a better place for it (no safe or anything like that) and I generally have my money on me (no job so not a lot of it) and therefore did not include it in the article.
    Thank you VT for the tip it sounds very interesting.
    Thanks VCC for the way to use the zip lock bags.
    Ma G: I have tested the drier lint before and it worked well. Thank you for the other suggestions.
    Pocahontas Patriot et al. Thank you for the knife suggestions. The reason I don’t currently have a knife in my bag is because I try to carry one around anyway though it’s on my list.
    The CERT training sounds very interesting and we do have a program near us. Thanks Hiram!
    The reason I don’t have a Bic lighter in my bag is because my dad doesn’t want me to have flammable liquids in it. Otherwise great suggestion!
    Just in case anyone is wondering there were more pictures that didn’t get posted (I probably sent too many in) and that’s why some things I refer to are not pictured in the article.
    Thank you all again for your wonderful comments!

  24. Well written! Bravo. I too have a 13-yo and we have gone over having 5 different ways to make fire because of how important it can be.

    Just like all fire talks I have with them: Know how to put it out before you start it. Have a shovel full of dirt, a bucket of water, rock edge… something to control that fire before you ever attempt to start it.

    The trick for that flint and steel is to keep the steel stationary and move the flint over it. Not the other way around. The motion looks like pulling a rope while starting a push lawn mower or chain saw. Then put that down and just use the matches.

    Ask your parents for the 9-volt battery they’re about to discard from replacing them in your house smoke detectors. Wrap the +/- leads securely in black electrical tape and keep it in a bag with some steel wool. To ignite pull a section of steel wool apart and loosen it then join the 9-volt battery to the steel wool. Or a pair of wires smartly attached can run a spark. (tape both ends btw) Consider grabbing a AA battery and a chewing gun packet wrapper does the same thing.

    To double your match count, If you have the paper-matchbook type, you can tear them apart right down the middle leaving a 1/2 chemical bulb on each side. Don’t try this with wooden matches because then you just have a pile of regret and sadness. Or you can dip the match head in wax, do as described above, and have a waxy pile of regret and sadness. My biggest beef with wooden matches is the striker face on the box. Don’t get that wet either.

    It’s easy to come up with a lighter. Oops, dad said ‘no’ and it’s wise to honor that.

    Keep in mind, dry tinder can be found just under the bark of most fallen trees. When it rains it only rains on the outside. I can walk into any woods during a rain storm and find dry tinder. Generally, about a week after nice weather. The back edge of my pocket knife also works as a ‘steel’ or the edge of a hatchet or sharp ax would also do.

    To give that dryer lint even more life and ‘burn time’ mix them with pop-sickle stick’s end-worth-of-Vaseline and keep them together with your battery and steel wool. Keep the stick with it. It weighs nothing and they often have a silly quote of encouragement written on them like: Klondike Bar. wait. those don’t come on sticks. Maybe write your parents phone number or the local sheriff’s number where you can send smoke signals via Morse code using green limbs and tires. No don’t do that. I actually don’t like the feel of Vaseline so I press the Vaseline laden lint (or cotton balls as in my case) into the brown toilet paper roll and cut it into 2 or 3 equal parts. For your trouble it makes a bit of a portable candle. Put all that inside the same zip lock bag.

    Speaking of candles. a small candle! keep it in a bag by itself as these are often soft and will melt into fabrics. I buy packs of 100 tea-light candles just so I can lose them in the garage and buy another pack of 8 at the dollar store.

    Speaking of fabrics. Never drink unfiltered water through a sock or a kerchief! Don’t do it. boil that water and live another day. If you must then be able to walk right into an emergency room within 2 days.

    You already mentioned the magnifying glass, but I have to say my patience level has never been ok with cheap glass, so I’ve actually used my own eye glasses and had better results. Reading between the lines: it doesn’t work at all. If that is your last option to make fire you are in trouble. You might be able to get it work, but a water bottle with just a little bit of water can become a lens. I can’t get the knack. Another one I can’t quite get to work is the polished concave end of a soda can. Try your hand at it.

    As for the flint and steel item: a ‘steel’ replacement. I HIGHLY HIGLHY recommend a Leatherman Wave. All of my kids have one. I carry one on my person, one in every car, one in every pack. I never buy them for retail $100 and it’s taken over 7 years to collect this many. I personally prefer the original model but they’re getting rare. The Leatherman company is based in Oregon and has a lifetime warranty. They recently changed their warranty to only 1st time buyers/ owners etc. People that don’t know sell them broken for a $40 bill. Depending on the level of abuse, I would consider buying them broken knowing it won’t be warranted. Leatherman has done very well by me and I have to drop a shout out-to-them. I use mine literally every day. I’m the guy at church when the techs need a pair of pliers or a screw driver, they all come find one of my kids or me. What sold me on my first one was hunting with a bow-hunter from Idaho during my rifle season. A man in our party, his brother, bagged a big elk and I watched in amazement the hands of a trained-surgeon quarter up that elk with only the tools available on the Leatherman wave. (and a sharpening stone.) Just like I don’t leave my house without my glasses (stupid glasses can’t make fire) I don’t leave without my Leatherman.

    Now you may be going to the public schools where the administrators, sigh… Don’t take your Leatherman to government school.

    People go on and on about how hard it is to rub two sticks together. Everything is hard when you don’t know how. When you know how you’re looking to create a small wood dust ember and that little notch right beside the spinning sticks or hte .. that is what it’s all about. study not-you-tube videos and watch the for the ember. magic.

    I love love love your article. I’ve read sections of it a few times. I’m so proud of you and the mindset you’re revealing. Don’t give up. You are a bright light in the Generation Z as seen from a Gen X’er.

    1. Thank you for the suggestions Jeff in Colorado!
      I would like to say that I was talking about straining the water through the handkerchief to get rid of pine needles and such not actually to purify the water!!!
      Don’t worry, I don’t go to public school. I’m homeschooled.
      Thank you for commenting!

  25. Out standing . Now I gotta get my old bag out and look/see what I missed. Thanks for the good info. You are well ahead of most people . With thinking like that you will do well in the if the SHTF happens.

  26. Great mindset for someone so young, Common sense and better to have something rather than nothing. You are way ahead of most people. You will find that your bag will evolve and change over time based on your location and needs. I love your article! Keep doing what you do! With odd jobs you can earn cash to upgrade your gear and add other essential items. As a mom of a son not much older than you, I hope you win this instead! Best wishes for you!

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