This pencil case survival kit might just save your life


It might be hard to believe but yes, the contents of this pencil case survival kit might just save your life.

In these uncertain times where you wonder if people are actually joking about heading bush to leave the societal ship, then survival tips can’t go astray. Now, at the moment, most of us shouldn’t be going anywhere but good advice never gets old. This survival kit is easy to store and carry in a backpack and currently has applications everywhere for when we can all head out again.

The Australian outback is as unforgiving as it is beautiful, and the vast distances between population centres mean that if you experience an emergency situation, help may take days to reach you. You need to be able to sustain yourself in order to give rescuers the best possible chance of finding you alive.

Here we show you how to put together a rudimentary survival kit that will fit into a small container (such as a pencil case), that you can easily take with you on your travels.

Survival in the Australian Outback requires five essential elements


Most medical experts agree that a healthy human being can survive up to three days without water; however, that can depend very much on the weather conditions and the age of the person concerned. If you’re over the age of 60 or you have a pre-existing medical condition, and you’re stranded without water in the extreme heat of the Australian desert, you could be dead within hours.



Exposure to the elements – particularly the sun, wind and cold – will cause a variety of life-threatening health conditions. Having some form of shelter to shield you from the worst of those conditions can greatly increase your chances of survival.

Survival Remote Area Sign
Don’t ignore this sign. You need to be prepared for the worst.


If you have a sufficient supply of water, you can survive for many days without food; but the physical and emotional effects of extreme and prolonged hunger can reduce that time considerably. Being able to find small amounts of food can sustain health and strength, which are vital in an emergency situation.


Assuming you have logged your travel plans with a family member or with the local police, there is a good chance your absence will be noticed and a rescue operation will be launched. If you haven’t told anyone about your plans, it could take days before an alarm is raised. Either way, you need to give rescuers every opportunity to find you.


No-one ever died from a paper cut in the office; however, in an extreme environment, even the smallest of wounds can get infected and lead to a range of health issues. A major wound can result in excessive blood loss. Basic first aid knowledge and equipment can save or prolong life.

Survival Pencil Case
It’s amazing how much stuff you can fit inside a pencil case.

Used properly, the contents of this pencil case will assist you to survive for several days (possibly weeks), greatly increasing your chances of being found alive by rescuers. Many of the items have multiple uses, which makes this survival kit very efficient. It is based on similar kits supplied to Special Forces around the world and all the items can be purchased cheaply from camping stores and/or chemists, or collected from around the home.



Not for what you’re thinking! They can carry and store up to two litres of water. Can be used as sheaths to cover wounds.


Made from a block of magnesium with a built-in flint. Shave some of the metal block onto kindling using a knife or stone, and strike with the flint. Magnesium burns bright and hot. The bright flame can be used to signal rescuers.

Survival kit fire starter
These magnesium fire starters are effective in getting kindling alight.


Used to attract the attention of search planes. The reflected sun can be seen from great distances.


The larger the better. Place bags over the foliage of nearby trees and tie the ends up tightly. Water will evaporate from the leaves into the bags. They can also be filled with sand and charcoal to construct a rudimentary water purifier.

Water Filter
Making a rudimentary water filter using charcoal and sand and a plastic bag.


Made from strong lightweight reflective material, these help preserve body warmth. Can also be used as a temporary shelter. Laid out on the ground, they can be seen from the air by rescuers.


A compact wire saw can be used to cut branches for building shelters or for gathering firewood.


Wire can be used to help build shelters or construct traps to catch small animals for food. Safety pins can repair clothing or be used as emergency sutures for large wounds. Rubber bands can be used to help seal plastic bags when extracting water from foliage,
or to secure wound dressings.

Plenty Highway
Remote area travel is exciting and challenging.


A selection of small hooks, sinkers and some fishing line can be enough to catch small fish from streams and rivers.


Used to purify water for drinking.


A selection of painkillers and antacid tablets can help ease discomfort. If you need special medication for a pre-existing condition, include a supply of that as well.


A small selection of different sizes to help keep minor wounds clean.


Used to treat fungal infections, disinfect wounds, and treat dermatitis and tropical ulcers. Can also be used to colour snow to make a signal visible from the air.

survival situation burnt out trailer
When disaster strikes and you lose everything, your survival kit may just save your life.


These matches have large heads and are covered in a thin film of wax. They are very effective at lighting a fire in windy or damp conditions.


Used as a fire starter in difficult conditions. The wax can also be rubbed onto the surface of wound dressings to aid in waterproofing.


Used for providing light at night or to signal rescuers.


Many options available; however the type with integrated pliers is the most useful.

Survival skills shelter
A rudimentary shelter made from tree branches, some wire and a thermal blanket.


Used to mend or make clothing or wound dressings. Stitch items together to make a shelter. Also used to stitch large wounds.


These are small and extremely sharp. Multiple uses including skinning animals caught for food.


Used to help navigate around your position.


These contain alcohol and can be used for cleaning wounds and surrounding tissue; as well as sterilising needles for removing splinters or stitching cuts.

Note: Make sure you check the contents of the kit regularly and replace medications or other items that may have passed their ‘use-by’ date.

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list. You could easily add more items if you use a larger container. And now we’d need the hand sanitiser and possibly an N95 mask too. Still, the beauty of this kit is that it is small enough to store in your vehicle (or your day pack). Remember, you want to be able to grab it in an instant.

This kit is great but it’s no good if you don’t know how to use the items to best effect. We highly recommend becoming familiar with the basics of bush survival, particularly in the Australian outback. The Internet is full of information while physical first aid courses may be on hold for a while.

Stay safe and well!

Read next: How to prevent broken wheel studs




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Google’s latest Chromecast makes media streaming easy

The incident that proved the worth of my Clearview mirrors