Nasa / Space

Geek Gifts 2011: Survival Kit in a Sardine Can

Whether your summer plans involve enjoying the outdoors or preparing for the apocalypse, ThinkGeek's Survival Kit in a Sardine Can is something you'll want, says former Boy Scout Edmond Woychowsky.

This might seem an odd admission from a geek, but I used to do outdoor activities -- some of which didn't involve Renaissance fairs. You couldn't tell by looking at me now, but I camped, went whitewater rafting, hiked, fished, and hunted... berries. I did these activities in the years commonly referred to as BC (before children), but I still remember that regardless of how well you plan, something can always go wrong.

This is why ThinkGeek's $9.99 Survival Kit in a Sardine Can intrigued me. To some, this might seem like a novelty -- after all how could the contents of a sardine can help anyone survive -- there aren't even any sardines in the can?-- but check out what does come in the can:

  • Aminofen (Acetaminophen)
    Credit: Edmond Woychowsky
  • Adhesive bandage
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Alcohol prep pad
  • One packet sugar
  • One tea bag
  • One packet iodized salt
  • One book of matches
  • One Tootsie Roll Midgee
  • One stick of chewing gum (cinnamon)
  • One cube fire starter
  • One pencil
  • One plastic zip lock bag
  • One large paperclip
  • One single-edge razor blade
  • One fishhook, appears to be number 8 or 10 size
  • One spool fishing line
  • One compass
  • One whistle
  • One safety pin
  • One piece duct tape
  • One set of instructions/first aid tips

Click the image to enlarge. (Credit: Edmond Woychowsky)

While some might laugh at the contents, each and every item is useful. Take the chewing gum, for example: You can chew it and then use it as an adhesive or as bait on the fishhook. I would, however, refrain from using the line as a hand line because it's too thin, and you'll end up needing to use the bandage; instead, you should find something else can be used as a fishing rod.

After you catch a fish, you can use the razor blade to gut it, and then use the can's lid to scale it. Next, you could use the matches and any dry wood that you find to create a fire. If there's no dry wood, then use the fire starter and green wood. It will be smoky, but you'll have one of the comforts that the human race has enjoyed for over a 100,000 years.

Geek gift bottom line

The majority of people will never need something like this survival kit, excluding those who survive the apocalypse. In the event of the apocalypse, even the zombie apocalypse, there is enough of a selection of items to tip things in your favor or at least give you peace of mind. And, really, what is peace of mind worth?

To put it in geek terms, having it and not needing it means you lose nothing, but not having it and needing it means that you could lose everything.

Geek gift score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: *
  • Geek factor: *****
  • Value: ****
  • Overall: ****

For more reviews of tech gadgets, gizmos, games, and books, download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2011.

14 comments
santeewelding
santeewelding

I solved the problem of how many and what kind of band-aids to carry by taking six months out of my life to study for EMT-B level. At one point I asked the instructor, former paramedic who had young children, what pediatric particulars in a kit she kept at home. "Nothing," she told me. "Just what I know. I can improvise all the rest."

larrsland
larrsland

Most camping stores or on-line, you can find the survival kit in a bottle. It is the basic survival kit in a Nalgene bottle. It keeps the contents dry and gives you a water bottle in an survival situation. I would also recommend getting some heavy string for basic shelter construction (Lumber section at home improvement center) and a solar blanket ($2).

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

The problem with pre-packaged survival kits of any kind is that survival means taking care of your needs, and the list of needs and rankings vary depending on the environment. Another issue is practice. Many have this sort of thing in the car, but in a real survival situation will be unable to use these things effectively. Even with good instructions, the knowledge that you continued existence depends upon your actions will make it almost impossible to comprehend instructions. Practice, even mentally in the comfort of your living room, will help, but the can is sealed making this impossible. I think this product is designed to provide false security to those the seller believes are unlikely to need it. This is incredibly irresponsible. If you put yourself in situations where you might actually need something like this (but one that works), have a look at this site http://www.survivaloutdoorskills.com and follow three basic steps: READ. Once you have educated yourself, you will know what you need and what you don't to survive. Remember to focus on needs or just rent a Winnebago. THINK. Figure out what you will need for an emergency based upon the likelihood of each event and how you plan to use it. Extra points for coming up with multiple uses for bits in your kit, but make sure you have enough for concurrent uses. PROCURE. Get what you need based upon what you came up with. Some stuff may need to be purchased, while some may be salvaged. As a side benefit, you will know how to use what you have because you have thought about it. As an example, will I need a camelback in the Olympic Rainforest? Probably not, but a poncho may be needed to prevent hypothermia. Here in Southern Colorado the needs are precisely opposite.

nkfro
nkfro

The kits aren't intended to be bought by people with the gumption or time to make their own custom survival kit. If you want to make your own, just do it. Having been an electrician for more than 25 years, I know how some folks could screw up the simplest task like screwingt in a new light bulb. This kit is for THEM! ;)

Realvdude
Realvdude

The other posters are right, make your own. It will be much more useful and you won't have to kick yourself for having to break the seal on $9.95 + shipping for an aspirin or band-aid. As any Red Green fan, handy man or scout should know, duct tape makes a great impromptu band-aid. Seriously though, besides the many intended purposes, it could be used for things like a tourniquet, sling, or large bandage (gauze would help).

moores37
moores37

A survival kit can very handy..or save your life. In my area (Blue Ridge Mountains), people often get lost in a 10x10 mile area. They can stay lost for days. I agree with PineappleBob about using an Altoids tin and making it yourself. In my Special Ops days I carried a kit I packed in a freezer bag folded over. I still carry one in the bottom of my small backpack when I hike or fish. Would be interesting to assemble an urban survival kit.

PineappleBob
PineappleBob

You can put your own spin on what might be more appropriate to have handy for your geographic location. And put it all in an old Altoids tin. If you for "Altoid Survival Tin" you will find may links full of great suggestions. And it might be more geeky and fun to assemble your own, then carry it daily in your backpack, briefcase, whatever. Some call this "EDC" equipment, or Every Day Carry. As in what do you carry every day, just in case something happens. It is a great exercise and experiment to tinker with the itens and find what is perfect for you and your style.

Realvdude
Realvdude

I won't blame her for her response being posted here; though I'll bet she still keeps things on hand with kids, she just doesn't have them in a kit. Now kids in the great outdoors, that is a whole other kit/education need.

PineappleBob
PineappleBob

She may be an EMT but the rest of us are not, thus we might take some time to prepare a small kit of some basics to have handy just in case something happens that is minor. For example, my 9 year old son does not like cuts/scrapes to go uncovered, thus a few band-aids with me at all times allows for a quick covering of a minor scrape or such and his mind is at ease. Priceless. The cost of the few minutes to make sure I have such things and the cost of a few band-aids is nothing for what relief it gives him. Of course the EMT will "improvise", however her job will have many items at the ready, why should responsible adults not have some items handy just in case? Does she not have some kind of first aid kit in her car? Going beyond the small pocket size of an Altoids tin, I carry a half dozen bottles of water in my car trunk along with some other items. South Florida is my home and the heat can be a bear. Should I break down, a bottle of water, even if warm might be handy to refresh and calm down and to think. Or if I change a flat tire, the water can be used to wash my hands after changing the tire.

thomaskent
thomaskent

You might want to reconsider that poncho in Colorado. High deserts get pretty damn cold at night. Actually, more people have died of hypothermia in deserts than from the heat.

Fire2box
Fire2box

If they couldn't pack something like this themselves, then whats the odds they'll know how to best use the stuff and not simply break them? Plus i'd rather have a small roll of duct tape the a single 6 x 2 inch strip if that.

santeewelding
santeewelding

She did mention a turkey baster for oropharyngeal purposes...

santeewelding
santeewelding

I was not, either; past tense. Which was my point. If anything is "silly", it is your remark that is silly, silly.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

but a poncho will do you little good in the thin air where black body radiation (radiation as a form of heat transfer) is a real concern. Trade the poncho in for a coat, and grab the camelback, because you will need it up here.

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