Does it make sense to assemble your own survival kit? That depends upon how much you value your time and how picky you are about what is in the kit.
Assembling your own gives you absolute control over what is included. It also takes a good deal of time, especially if your aim is to save as much money as possible or to include superior quality gear. Just how much money you'll save and whether that is worth it is debatable.
The suppliers of the top rated kits reviewed here buy at or near wholesale for a lot less than you would typically be able to, even if you are a good bargain shopper. Many items are unavailable in small quantities, so you have to be very resourceful or be prepared to buy more than you need for more than you'd like to spend. They do have to cover their labor to assemble the kits, overhead and the like, but when all is said and done, you'd be hard pressed to save more than 20% - 25%, no matter how hard you try (the grossly overpriced kits are another matter). Some things may come even harder, like the vacuum packing that is standard on some survival kits, unless you or a friend already own a home vacuum packaging machine.
I put together my own survival kits and when all is said and done, I don't doubt I saved some money, but I also spent a lot of valuable time for the relatively small savings. However, the kits are pretty much exactly like I want them, which was important to me. Being a "gear guy," I also enjoyed the process. In that regard, it is a lot like building a homebuilt aircraft or boat, where the process is as important as the outcome. I've also added to and improved the kits over time, a little bit here and a bit more there, constantly upgrading, something you can do with any kit.
If your aim is to get a decent survival kit before you end up needing it, you are probably better off to start by buying a good kit. With a solid start you can always add to it later if you want, or to suit a particular climate, and you won't waste much, if anything. This approach probably makes the most sense in both the short and long term.
If your aim is to get a kit as cheaply as possible and you are willing to spend the time and effort required, you can save some money doing it yourself. Just don't expect to buy much more than a few lunches or a tank of fuel with your savings, depending upon the size and quality of the kit.
If doing it yourself sounds like what you'd like to do, check out the contents of "Basic and Wilderness Survival Equipment Evaluations" on this Web site. The information here will give you a better understanding of the issues involved in selecting equipment and supplies for your survival kit, as well as ideas and resources for what you need. Enjoy!
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Revision: 01 May 21, 1996
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