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#249826 - 08/14/12 03:39 AM If you have a Altoid tin type PSK, throw it away..
Stephen Offline

Registered: 04/09/12
Posts: 177
Loc: Canada
Well.... at least if you do anything where getting wet holds high possibility.

I posted about the kits I made on another topic earlier for those who may have read it.

I recently wanted to give the whole PSK thing a fair shake. After reading about all the "awesomeness" of a kit utilizing a small metal tin to hold all the contents I decided it was the way to proceed. My goal was to make a kayak survival kit I could have in the pouch of my vest in case I was separated from my kayak(where most of my gear is stowed obviously) and which would contain the basics needed to spend a night or two if left with no other options.
I purchased the items, prepped the kit(s) place one in my vest and hit the river for a couple of days. Epic fail I am afraid.


I was doing my post exercise gear checks a while ago and discovered the inside of the tin was full of water, and all items drenched. All metal components were starting to rust. The tin had a lid that snapped in place and I had this sucker wrapped tight with gorilla tape (about 3-4 complete wraps around the seam) Regardless, the water eventually found its way in. It always will after all.

Things I learned on this trip:

1. Altoid tin type PSKs are totally &*%$#*& useless around water.

2. Lofty Wiseman was wrong about his SAS combat survival tin (unless the SAS no longer trains around water)

3. Pelican cases kick serious a**. The ONLY stuff that survived the submersion and constant rain were the things packed in Pelican cases. The stuff in the expensive dry sacks was also drenched.

4. Tomorow begins phase two of the PSK saga, in which they too will find homes in said Pelican cases.

5. Altoid tin type PSKs are totally &*%$#*& useless around water.

A PSK in a inferior metal tin just isn't going to hold up to the elements. You may as well wrap everything in paper towel.

If anything folks, Check your gear and check it often. If the items in mine were in such a state after only 2 days you can imagine what they would look like after several weeks. Just my opinion, but anything placed in a tin not designed for such abuse will fail. It's so obvious now looking back I should slap myself upside the head. Should have gone with the proper gear strait from the start.

It was a fun trip though.



Edited by Stephen (08/15/12 11:48 PM)

#249827 - 08/14/12 04:25 AM Re: If you have a Altoid tin type PSK, throw it away.. [Re: Stephen]
widget Offline

Registered: 07/06/03
Posts: 550
In some defense of old Lofty, the SAS tins have a rubber gasket and if taped tightly closed they stay fairly dry.

If you recall in your other post I had recommended a plastic waterproof case, not a Pelican but a Witz because it is lighter than the Pelican. I bought some various size Pelican cases for a planned two week trip to the jungles of Borneo, they are great but heavy and bulky for a pack, at least. The cases never were packed up and the Borneo trip was not to be afterall.

Good luck with the revised kit, I am sure a canoe/kayak kit for a PFD will be much more secure in a Pelican.
Looks like a fun trip in the pics! Cheers.
No, I am not Bear Grylls, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night and Bear was there too!

#249828 - 08/14/12 08:19 AM Re: If you have a Altoid tin type PSK, throw it away.. [Re: widget]
frediver Offline

Registered: 05/17/04
Posts: 213
Loc: N.Cal.
A mini Trangia mess tin might be a better choice than the Altoid type tin, The hinges are the weak/leak point. IIRC the SaS kits use a hinge-less tin that are easier to seal.

#249830 - 08/14/12 10:13 AM Re: If you have a Altoid tin type PSK, throw it away.. [Re: Stephen]
Phaedrus Offline

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2103
Loc: Great Plains
I'm not a fan of the Altoids kit, either, but to be fair it's a simple matter to vacuum seal it. That fixes the problems with water leaking but not, of course, the issue of size.
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

#249831 - 08/14/12 12:07 PM Re: If you have a Altoid tin type PSK, throw it away.. [Re: Stephen]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3593
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I'm a fan of pelican cases, and use one for my psk. I do use an altoids tin for my emergency fire kit. I wrap it in duct tape (good tinder in it's own right!) and then a ziplock and more duct tape. It hasn't failed me yet but it's a one-use kit when it comes to water proofness.

Mom & Adventurer

You can find me on YouTube here:

#249835 - 08/14/12 02:31 PM Re: If you have a Altoid tin type PSK, throw it away.. [Re: Stephen]
nursemike Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 788
Loc: wellington, fl
With all due respect to the OP, IMHO:
One of the special things about this forum is the ethic of speaking about disagreeable things without being disagreeable, or, in general, without resorting to comic book conventions to express profanity.
The altoid tin PSK is a tradition in the prepper world. It is not a sacred object, a Platonic ideal, or an approved school solution. It is a candy box.
It is unsuitable for a variety of applications, including water submersion, exposure to corrosive gases, and high levels of magnetism. If your survival scenario is under water, on an iron-cored asteroid, or in a planet with a chlorine atmosphere, it is a poor choice. It is probably a poor choice if you do not care for minty-fresh breath.

All should feel free to continue to use their altoid tins, or any other desired container...provided that they periodically make a sacrifice of tinder quik in front of their DR bobblehead shrine. YMMV

BTW, OP-excellent pics.

Edited by nursemike (08/14/12 02:32 PM)
Dance like you have never been hurt, work like no one is watching,love like you don't need the money.

#249836 - 08/14/12 03:15 PM Re: If you have a Altoid tin type PSK, throw it away.. [Re: Stephen]
chaosmagnet Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2893
Loc: USA
Where do I get my DR bobblehead?

#249837 - 08/14/12 03:18 PM Re: If you have a Altoid tin type PSK, throw it away.. [Re: Stephen]
Stephen Offline

Registered: 04/09/12
Posts: 177
Loc: Canada
Widget - yes you did, But I already had everything packed at that point. Some lessons you just have to learn the hard way. In fairness though, I have tried the Witz "see it safe' type containers before and they leaked as well. No much but enough to dampen the items inside. Borneo... That would have been a nice experience.

I know lofty Wiseman has forgotten more about the subject than I will likely ever know, I just don't like the idea of anything sealed with tape anymore. Not around water anyway. I am sure taped tins would be sufficient for "drier" activities.

Freediver - The tins I used actually had no hinges. They were Altoids type(general term) but not actually for altoids. They actually snapped together rather well. No rubber gasket however.

Phadrus - That would work, but I would go through a lot of sealing bags. It seems that I am changing/replacing/swapping/re-arranging things every day in these PSKs. At least with the Pelican I can open and close it as I please.

BPJack - on dry land I am sure it works fine. In all fairness I was in the water a fair bit. It was a new kayak as well so I purposely dunked over several times to practice self recovery before heading out. The PSK was under water a lot.

Nursemike - So long as you brought up the topic of ethical speaking on this forum help me out here. Is blatant sarcasm more or less disagreeable than comic book conventions to express profanity ?? I am still new here after all, but with respect it apears as if the pot is calling the kettle black on this one.

I wish I could have taken better pics but as the clouds show it wasn't long before the rain started and my camera isn't waterproof.

#249839 - 08/14/12 04:18 PM Re: If you have a Altoid tin type PSK, throw it away.. [Re: Stephen]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4765
Bottom line: for some applications an Altoid tin is perfectly adequate, for other applications, not so much. Anyone can see at a glance they'd be useless if dunked in water.

I use an Altoids for keeping some small items in a form that's easier to not get misplaced. My EDC items are pocket carry. No Altoid tin means no tin to leak wink

OTOH a small bit of tape used in the right places and a ranger band can do wonders for keeping wet stuff out.

#249841 - 08/14/12 04:41 PM Re: If you have a Altoid tin type PSK, throw it away.. [Re: Stephen]
Alex Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 1034
Loc: -
Originally Posted By: Stephen
Well.... at least if you do anything where getting wet holds high possibility.

I think that happened because of water pump "effect", as in the tight pocket of a safety vest the tin will be often compressed and expanded as you move, thus sucking water in by a little each time. So to fix the problem - stuff the tin really tight and wrap with the tape over the lid too in order to minimize the play of the lid and walls.

Also the Gorilla tape is not really a good option for sealing, as it's not as sticky (gooey) as the regular ducttape (which is really waterproof because its original purpose is to quickly seal leaking pipes).

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