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#134570 - 06/03/08 12:20 AM Wallet Survival Kit
Raspy Offline

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 351
Loc: Centre Hall Pa
Wallet Survival Kit
Rich ďRaspyĒ Shawver

Everyone in the preper community eventually tries their hand at building a pocket survival kit. Quite a few of us start with a crude version while in the scouts. Do to the sharing of information on the Internet particularly as seen on the many forums. Also combining the natural competition and one-ups-manís-ship of mines better than yours. Many of the Altoid tin based ones have become very sophisticated in their nature. These small cans can be crammed with an amazing number of items covering an incredible variety of tasks that can be preformed. Many of us even carry one around with us daily.

So why did I defy conventional wisdom and go a different route? Part of it is my contrary nature. But then again many go with different style and sized containers.

Why a wallet? The wallet form was chosen for a number of reasons. It started innocently enough. I stuck one of the very early model multi-function pocket tools in my regular wallet. It is something better than 30 years old. It consists of a slab of metal about the size of a credit card only somewhat thicker. Holes and shapes are cut into it so that it can perform a number of tasks including turning nuts, bolts and screws, opening cans and bottles, even do some cutting after a fashion. Then a Brunton Life Card was added. That was the original name of the Brunton Pocket Survival Kit. And then I acquired a Toollogic card. Finally there was a health issue. Like many men I started to develop back and leg problems. This was because of sitting at an angle from having a wallet in one hip pocket. So I decided to even the playing field. I add a second wallet dedicated to survival gear. Believe it or not balancing the scale does help.

Using a wallet has some advantages but also some disadvantages. You can carry some items that are larger and bulkier than in a normal pocket kit. Because you will be sitting on it you have to make sure that the flexing and crushing forces it will face wonít damage what you put in it. Something like a fire steel goes along the edge and signal mirrors that are relatively unbreakable.

Almost any wallet can be used. Your choices range from one picked up at a local mart store to super fancy models from outfits that supply tactical gear over the Internet. It can be made from leather, fake leather, ballistic nylon or some other high tech futuristic material.

There are a couple of useful dimensions to consider when making a wallet survival kit. A dollar bill is 3 X 6 inches. A standard credit card is just a bit over 2 inches tall and just over 3 ľ inches long. Basing your items around these sizes will help make things fit into the standard slots and compartments of any wallet.

So, What do you put into something like this? In separate articles Iíll cover how to make some of the more unique items. A few DIY items you can add to any type or style of kits. These will be:

Cheat sheets Cooking pot Cordage kit
Duct tape packet Fishing kit Sewing kit
Sharpening card(s) Snare wire kit Tape kit

The first place most start putting a kit together is with something to cut and shape the world around them. Traditionally this has been a single edge razorblade. A step up is different shaped Exacto knife blades. A higher quality set of blades is surgical scalpels. You can shape an expedient handle for the last two types in the field. But all three are only good for very light cutting chores. At the top end for this application are the Spyder Card, the Swiss Army Card and the Toollogic.

The Spyder card is a folding knife made like a credit card. A very nice tool within the limits imposed by the size restrictions. It is about the most impressive blade that would fit into a wallet. Being made of all metal it should withstand the abuse by design it would see being carried in a wallet.

The Swiss Card I would rate as barely adequate. For the quality of most of their products the blade is little more than a sharpened letter opener. Yes, it is better than a razorblade but not by all that much. Reports that I have heard are that the package doesnít take well to being sat upon.

Personally Iíll stick with my Toollogic for a recommendation. I got it long before either of the other two came on the market. Sure it is a gadget. So I like gadgets. Iíve sat on it for years and it is still in good shape. Along with the blade it has a can opener, screwdriver, toothpick, plastic tweezers, a very small compass and a small magnifying lens. They have a more recent model that replaces the lens and compass with a red LED light. Your choice of what would be more useful. The blade is very impressive for itís size. It has a handle much like a push dagger. Yet it still has a 2-inch blade. The back 2/3rds to 3/4s of it are serrated with a straight edged tip. The handle is much like they put on a push dagger. While I wouldnít chop down a tree or split logs with it. It would serve very nicely for even some fairly heavy cutting duties in an emergency. Would it replace a good sheath knife or even a pocketknife? When the laughter settles down. The answer is no. But considering itís size it is very adequate to the tasks it could face.

Wallet First Aid Kit

Since we were talking about cutting things our hide might fall some where on the list. So we might just as well talk about first aid supplies to fit into a wallet. Face it we are not talking a trauma kit. There isnít enough room. That would be more of a BOB item rather than a pocket kit.

Pills, you might as well forget them. Shortly they would be a powder after you sat on them a few times. For them get one of those metal capsules that go on your key ring. Those foil packets of antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly would pop under the pressures and make a mess.

About the best you can hope for are 1 or 2 gauze pads or a few Band-Aids. If you go with Band-Aids I would recommend the fingertip and knuckle types. They can do the same thing, as straight strips yet are more flexible in where they can be used. The hands are the most likely to be nicked up. If you want antibiotics on a cut some Band-Aids have it already on the pads.

You might get by with a couple of alcohol or iodine wipe pad. The alcohol ones could also be a source of tinder.

Cooking Pot

Here is an idea that I picked from Origami.
Start with heavy foil. Like those disposable oven liners the ones that look like a cheap cookie pan.
Take a piece 13 X 13 inches.
Clip a Ĺ X Ĺ inch square out of each corner.
Fold each edge ľ inch twice to form a rim.
This gives a 12-inch square.
Now you need to put in the creases to form the box.
Fold in 1/4 or 3 inches of one end and crease.
Do the same for the other side.
Unfold and rotate 90 degrees.
Take the other two sides and repeat the creases.
This forms a crease pattern of a 6-inch center square
4 3-inch squares at the corners.
The sides are then 3 X 6 inches.
Now you fold the large square diagonally.
But you only need to crease the portion that crosses the corner 3 X 3 square.

For carrying you fold in the 4 sides to form a 6-inch square and the fold it in half. This gives a packet 3 X 6 inches, which happens to be approximately the size of a dollar bill. Making just right to slip into the bill compartment of a wallet.

To set up you unfold the packet. Using the diagonal creases you form triangles at each corner. These start at the base of the box and extend out 3 inches at the top. Two of these triangles are then folded along the same side. The other two are folded along the opposite side. The tops of these triangles are tucked under the folded under the rims to help hold them in place. Making the box more ridged.

This gives you a 6 X 6 inch pan 3 inches deep. The box is 108 cubic inches or almost 60 fluid ounces. Which is almost 2 quarts. Not bad for something that fits into a wallet.

You can also slip a couple of paperclips over the ends to make it more solid.

Yes, repeated folding and unfolding plus the wear and tear from the friction in a wallet will eventually open holes and cause leaks. And once used will accelerate the deterioration. But because of the heavier gauge of the pans they last much longer than aluminum foil. Iíve gone through a couple both carrying and testing. They have lasted for several years or a half a dozen reuses before they became iffy.

Duct Tape Packet

Since most duct tape comes in 3 inches wide this makes an ideal packet to fit in the bill compartment.

Cut a piece of waxed paper 3 inches by 6 inches. This is to keep the inner 2 wrappings of the tape from sticking together and being wasted.

Each wrap around this piece of waxed paper gives you a foot of usable duct tape. I usually go with 6 feet. Much more than that and it gets to bulky to fold the wallet.

From experience I have found that such packets will last 6 months to a year. After that it starts to break down. So I change it out to ensure I have good tape when I need to rely on it.

Credit card blanks

When using old credit cards or those blanks that companies send you in the mail. Although now days many send cardboard replicas. The cardboard ones can still be used they are not as ridged as the plastic ones and donít last as long. There may be a slight problem. They are embossed. In making use of these generally this is not a real big deal. But in some cases it can be annoying. In a worst case it can interfere with placement of items placed on the card. Add a little heat, just enough to soften the card, will cause the raised letters to shrink back flat. Be careful not to apply too much heat or the card will sag, run and distort. It can even catch fire and burn. Not what you really want. Besides destroying the card you could start a much bigger fire.

With the plastic ones and heating you can do a bit of ersatz vacuum forming. This would allow you to embed metallic objects into the cards like fish hooks and needles. While you can simply tape them to the cards this would hold them better.

Wallet Fishing and Sewing Kit

Fishing and sewing kits are made the same way. The only real differences are the components used.

First you need to notch the upper third to half. Maybe a bit more depending upon the amount of space needed for the metallic components. These notches are to hold the thread or the fishing line wound around the card.

You can cut out the notches in several ways or shapes. They could be sliced or scraped out with a knife. Be nibbled out with nail clippers or side cutters. Or they could be sanded out with sand paper or a file. Any way that happens to be convenient. Finally they could be melted into plastic credit cards. This can be done with a hot soldering iron or with any piece of metal heater in a flame.

The notches can be simple V shaped, rounded, squared or rectangular. The size and shape would depend upon personal choice plus the type and amount of line to be wound around the card. For mine I used my soldering iron and are rounded semi-circles because it was convenient. Regardless of size or shape you want the notches to be as smooth as possible. This is so the line doesnít snag or is nicked, which would weaken it, on any sharp edges.

The number of notches would depend on the different weights of fishing line or the number of colored thread desired. Of course each notch is pared with a mate on the opposite end of the card.

The fishing card carries 5 sets of hooks. Though if you would cant them a bit more you could probably make it 6 maybe 7. But that would be really crowding things. The Idea came from Ron Hood. In his video he strings several hooks between two strips of masking tape. The idea is to lay the hooks spaced along the bottom half or so of the card. Then you cover them with tape to hold them in place. The choice would be masking, scotch or packing tape. This hold can be improved by heating the card and then vacuform it around the hooks. Even if you do this you would still want to cover them with tape.

As to the sizes of hooks chosen is a balancing act. The old saw is that you can catch big fish with big hooks but only small hooks will do for small fish. Yet you can still catch larger fish with small hook, to a point that is. Also since you are catching for food rather than some artificial size limit or trophy fish. A handful of fingerlings will feed you as well as a single big fish. The choices I have made are a compromise giving a choice of sizes and more hooks being available.

The set or assortment selected relies on the fact that if you use all the same style or model of hooks the progressively smaller ones can be nested inside the largest one picked. Using short rather than long shanked hooks will allow more hooks. The hooks can be lined up the length of the card. But since hooks are generally taller than they are wide if you rotate them so that the shank is more vertical. More can be fitted on the card. The sizes I have picked for my card are 6, 8, 10 and 12. With 5 sets on the card this gives me 20 different hooks. Plus I have variable sizes to fit the fish available.

I also include one ocean sized hook just small enough to fit on the card. This goes around the perimeter of the card. This hook is to act as a gaff hook.

For weight you could glue and/or tape a line of split shots along the card but that would be a bit bulky to fit in a card slot. I suppose you could field improvise by tying small rocks to the line. But I have found an interesting solution. I discovered a product that looks exactly like a book of paper matches. Inside of matches inside the pasteboard cover are two sheets on lead cut like paper the matches. To use you tear off a strip and twist it around the line. The two sheets will fit nicely and are taped on the back of the card. Because there would not be much of an access problem these extend up under the line wraps.

For expedient field floats small pieces of stick can be tied to the line. For carry along floats there are small plastic zip seal bags. Iíve seen them as small parts bags as small as 1 x 1 and up in various fractions of an inch both ways. To use you melt a small hole above the seal. The best way to do this is with a small nail or pin heated in a flame. Sure you could simply poke a hole in the rim but melting it makes the hole much stronger so less tear out. To use you inflate and seal the bag and tie the line through the hole. These are slipped under the wraps of the line.

You finally wrap the line or different sized lines around the card in the notches. The number and size of the notches determine the number of different sizes of lines or the amount the notch can hold. I use spider line because it is one of the strongest lines for its size. The stronger the line the less likely it is to break during use. Remember this is not for sport but for food. A broken line means the loss of a hook and maybe a missed meal.

The sewing card is made in much the same way. Except you use needles instead of hooks. The thread is wound as the fishing line. Instead of different weights you can use different colors of thread. Although matching color is not as important for field expedient repairs. Heavier thread is generally better than weaker thread.

Since you will not be engaged in fine needlework small sewing needles are not really needed. Generally you want larger needles with the largest eye available. This is so you can extend your sewing thread with other forms of cordage. These would be like dental floss, cordage teased from other cordage like the inner strands of 550 cord or field acquired fibers.

A couple of specially needles I have included in my kit are mattress or upholstery needles. These are curved needles used for sewing along edges and around corners. Then there is the needle from the stitch awl. This is like a heavy duty sewing machine needle. You could use a sewing machine needle instead. Another possibility is to include a leather stitching needle. I didnít.

Cordage, Tape and Wire Kits

The cordage and wire kits are notched just like the fishing and sewing cards. Only these would extend along the entire edge. This could be multiple notches for several different types or a larger rectangular one for a larger quantity of one type. Mason twine or dental floss make good choices for cordage. Masons twine is similar to the inner strands of 550 cord. While 550 paracord is nice it is a bit bulky for this application. It is better relegated to braiding watch fobs, lanyards straps or belts.

For the wire cards you can use standard brass wire to be used as snare wire. I prefer stainless fishing leader wire. It is not as easy to bend especially when forming small loops at the ends to form snares. But I carry a multi-tool, which helps. I like the leader because it is much stronger than brass wire. Therefore can be used for more things. But then again there is nothing that says you canít carry both. Either on the same card or 2 separate cards.

For the tape card the notches are not needed or desired. Since most small tapes are as a rule Ĺ to ĺ inches wide a standard credit card can nominally hold 3 strips that are simply would around the card. There are a number of choices of tapes. The best from my way of thinking are Medical adhesive tape, electrical tape and strapping tape. Strapping tape that looks like scotch tape but with strands of fiberglass running the length of it. This stuff is very strong and almost impossible to tear. Masking tape would be a fourth choice. But I donít think it would be very useful.

You must remember not to wrap too much on the cards. Making them too thick would keep them from fitting in the card slots. If they become too wide you can always trim down the edge of the card a bit.

Sharpening Card(s)

There are several commercial sharpeners and hones that are credit card sized available. However you can always make your own.

The idea is to use sandpaper cut the size of a credit card to form the grinding grit. Each card would allow 2 different grits to be available. Depending upon the stiffness of the paper backing two sheets can be simply glued back to back. If more stiffness is required they can be glued to either side of a credit card blank. Even though you could use almost anything for stiffness. This would include a thin sheet of metal.

Sandpaper designed for use on metal would have a great useful life. The grits selected would be what is most useful for your needs. I have seen and used grit that looks like small boulders. Conversely I have dealt with some stuff used for models that felt as smooth as glass and rated in microns.

Cheat Sheets
Information Packets

These are small cards similar to those found in the Brunton Pocket Survival Kit. These cards would contain various pieces of critical data or reminders to jump-start your brain.
These would be things like first aid. They could be things like trig tables and formulas. Maybe they could be miniature star charts. Useful things that would be hard to remember especially under stress. How about useful knots? Methods of cooking. Ways of procuring and purifying water. Dealing with hot or cold conditions. Among a host of other need or nice to know pieces information. What to include would be what is most important to you. Or they could cover the areas that you consider yourself light on.

To pack the maximum information the print and any pictures involved need to be as small as possible. This would make them difficult to read. So you need to pack a credit card sized Fresnel lens. This would not only act as a magnifier for reading but as a solar fire starter.

To make mine I use a screen capture utility. The utility captures anything on the screen. This can be either the entire thing or selected portions of the screen and saves it as an image. For manipulation I type what I want in word inserting and sizing pictures as necessary. I then capture the printed portion of the word doc. I then insert the resultant picture in another word doc. I then size the picture to the size of a credit card or roughly about ľ the original size. This reduces the print size to very small with a lot of information on the final card. I can then place several of these in a single word doc. With two-sided printing and a bit of finagling I can cut out several double-sided cards. These are then laminated and trimmed to size to fit the wallet. About 4 of these cards will easily fit a standard card slot.

OK, so most donít have such a utility. There is another way to do this but you do need word or some word processing program that allows insertion of and resizing of pictures.

Open paint or the Mac equivalent. Adjust the canvas size to 6 inches by 4 inches. These programs allow not only drawing but also you can insert, position and size pictures from outside sources. These type programs usually have the ability to type in words for captioning. This way you can create the needed images of the cards. These can then be inserted, sized and printed as I did.
When in danger or in doubt
run in circles scream and shout

And always remember TANSTAAFL

#134574 - 06/03/08 12:40 AM Re: Wallet Survival Kit [Re: Raspy]
red Offline

Registered: 02/24/07
Posts: 175
Oh great, just great...now I'm going to be absorbed with this new "project" until my DW gives me another ultimatum...
When the SHTF, no one comes out of it smelling pretty.

#134575 - 06/03/08 12:42 AM Re: Wallet Survival Kit [Re: Raspy]
red Offline

Registered: 02/24/07
Posts: 175
I'm still nervous though, that I'll forget something when I'm flying...any tips for avoiding this????
When the SHTF, no one comes out of it smelling pretty.

#134579 - 06/03/08 01:25 AM Re: Wallet Survival Kit [Re: red]
bmisf Offline

Registered: 03/19/03
Posts: 185
Nice post, Raspy. Pictures would be a fantastic addition, if you have any.

#134580 - 06/03/08 01:33 AM Re: Wallet Survival Kit [Re: Raspy]
Pansy Offline

Registered: 12/02/07
Posts: 18
Loc: Missouri
How do those Tool Logic Cards hold up to abuse... I have owned one of the Swiss Cards and(as mentioned in the original post) it did not hold up well. Any experiences with these or other brands of "Survival Cards" would be much appreciated.

#134582 - 06/03/08 01:37 AM Re: Wallet Survival Kit [Re: Raspy]
Pansy Offline

Registered: 12/02/07
Posts: 18
Loc: Missouri
Also does anyone have any links to any "Survival Cards" made from metal? Thanks

#134591 - 06/03/08 02:31 AM Re: Wallet Survival Kit [Re: Raspy]
OldBaldGuy Offline

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
'Bout 35 or so years ago I got tired of sitting on a lumpy wallet, so we went to a money clip, which goes in my left front pocket, and a "card case" which goes in my right front pocket. It carries my credit cards, insurance cards, etc etc etc, all thos pieces of plastic we have to pack around to survive in todays world. I guess I could make myself a wallet survival kit, but then I would have to get rid of the pocket packs of kleenex I carry in one hip pocket, and the note pad and bandana I carry in the other. Decisions, decisions...

#134597 - 06/03/08 03:25 AM Re: Wallet Survival Kit [Re: Pansy]
climberslacker Offline
Youth of the Nation

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 603
Originally Posted By: Drake
Also does anyone have any links to any "Survival Cards" made from metal? Thanks

yeah Right Here
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impossible is just the beginning

though i seek perfection, i wear my scars with pride

Have you seen the arrow?

#134668 - 06/04/08 01:10 AM Re: Wallet Survival Kit [Re: Raspy]
jasond Offline

Registered: 11/13/07
Posts: 52
Loc: North Carolina
I had one of the Tool Logic wallet cards and it did not last very long, I think about a year before it was craking and falling into pieces.

#134681 - 06/04/08 02:22 AM Re: Wallet Survival Kit [Re: jasond]
Raspy Offline

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 351
Loc: Centre Hall Pa
jasond you must have had bad luck. Or else the quality has dropped over the years. I've carried my tool logic for well over 20 years. It is still in great shape.
When in danger or in doubt
run in circles scream and shout

And always remember TANSTAAFL


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