Build the Perfect Survival Kit (2nd Edition) by John D. McCann

Posted on: April 16, 2014

The first edition of Build the Perfect Survival Kit was one of the very first books I ever reviewed here. Long time readers may recall just how much I raved about it. The new edition adds about 25% more content (256 pages vs. 192 pages in the original).

This is a dangerous book, to be honest. I’m sure I’m not the only one who recalls how, as a child, the day the Sears or JC Penney Christmas catalog arrived in the mail was truly an event. I and my friends would spend hours going through the toy section of the catalog, making lists on top of lists of what we wanted. Build the Perfect Survival Kit is sort of the Christmas toy catalog for preppers and survivalists. I can all but guarantee that within a few minutes of sitting down with the book, you’ll want to grab a piece of paper and a pen to start a wish list of gear and supplies.

Build the Perfect Survival Kit covers all of the necessary components to a kit:

Fire & Light
Shelter & Protection
Water Purification & Containers
Food Rations & Collection
Cookware & Stoves
Knives & Tools
Medical Components & Kits
Multipurpose Components
Miscellaneous Components

For each category, McCann offers a dizzying array of products as well as some of his own innovations. One thing I really appreciate about this book is that McCann has obviously field tested every item he recommends. Another thing I like is how he offers DIY solutions in addition to commercial products. For example, in the Cookware chapter, he talks a bit about the use of a foil mini loaf pan for boiling water and cooking, rather than buying a full set of camp cookware, a set that you’d never squeeze into a small survival kit. The foil pan can fold up flat and fit almost anywhere.

McCann also includes a short chapter on modifying your gear. Here, he gives detailed instructions for several projects he has completed, such as modifying an old military canteen cup so it can be easily suspended over a fire as well as fashioning a cover for it.

After covering all the kit component sections, the remainder of the book is how to put it all together and actually make the kits. Here, McCann illustrates in great detail what can be put into kits small enough to fit into your pocket and all the way up to full-blown bug out bags.

Examples of mini kits include those made using cigar cases, waterproof pouches, and the venerable Altoids tin. From there, the kits grow larger, from belt pouches to day packs, safari vests to shoulder bags and beyond. The idea here isn’t necessarily to just duplicate the kits shown but rather to give the reader suggestions of what can be included in each size container, including as many of the necessary components as possible. Customization is the key to building any survival kit.

As with the first edition, this isn’t a book of survival skills. While there are certainly little tidbits of bushcraft and such scattered here and there, you aren’t going to learn how to set snares and such. For that sort of information, check out McCann’s Stay Alive! book. What Build the Perfect Survival Kit will do, though, is get you thinking about all the different types of kits you can make yourself.

Build the Perfect Survival Kit (2nd Edition) is highly recommended for both newbies and those who have been prepping for decades. Pick it up here on Amazon.

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