Survive like the SAS: Survival Tins

SAS survival tin and contents
The Survival Tin is by far the most popular personal survival kit. For good reason, its carried by some of the most elite soldiers in the world. You can span YouTube for hours looking at other people's take on this kit. John "Lofty" Wiseman describes this kit in the SAS Survival Handbook. We will focus on his recommendations from the book. All of the items listed below have been used and tested and Lofty says that some items prove themselves more valuable than others depending on the situation. 

The SAS kit is housed in a 2oz tobacco tin. The lid is buffed to a high polish to use for signaling. Waterproof the kit with a strip of adhesive tape. Pack all spaces with cotton for tinder.

Lofty recommends using strike-anywhere matches and to waterproof them with wax. Although none of the pre-made SAS survival type kits use these.

To assist with fire making. Also he suggest using a candle made from tallow to eat as fat and use for frying.

Magnifying Lens:
Used to start fires in bright sunlight and for searching for splinters. This is another item I don't find in commercial tins.

Because it will light many fires.

Fishing kit:
Selection of hooks, lead weights, and line. Can also be used to catch birds

Pack several needles and one large needle. Then wrap the thread around the needles to save space. Most commercial kits pack hotel grade sewing kits without large needles.

Button compass:
A luminous one; liquid filled.

Beta light(tritium light):
A continuous light source...good for tactical situations, where a strong light source may give you away.

Brass snare wire:
2-3 ft

Commando Wire Saw:
Advises to remove handles and make wooden toggles if needed to save on packing space.

Medical group:
Band-aids, butterfly sutures pain relievers, anti-diarrhea pills, antibiotics, allergy relief pills, water purification tabs, anti-malaria pills, and potassium permanganate.  Potassium permangante is multi use. Can be used as an antiseptic, water purifier, and mixed with glycerin to produce fire.
Scalpel blades-cutting implement
Condom-water carrier

As I've said before I'm not a big fan of tin kits. But most of today's personal survival kits are based on "Lofty's" SAS models. They have proven themselves among SAS. Although it takes a high level of training to survive long term on these items. A ordinary civilian with little or no training may need more equipment. Also this kit is designed for combat use. Notice there is not a big emphasis on signaling equipment. This would give your position away when working behind enemy lines. Anyway, I hope this breakdown is helpful to all of you that don't own a SAS type kit or the reference book.

You can check out Lofty at

John Wiseman, SAS Survival Guide. 1986.


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