Paring down a tool kit to its bare essentials
An emergency tool kit is not a “survival kit,” and it’s not a “bugout bag.” Nor is it the same as your common household tool kit. Rather, it’s a set of household tools (hammer, screwdriver, pliers, etc.) selected in consideration of your needs in an emergency situation. This can be very variable depending on your particular circumstances.
For instance, if you have a well-established bugout location, your tool kit might almost be a duplicate of the tools you keep at home. On the other hand, you might need to prepare a tool kit that is mobile, like a tool kit to keep in your vehicle, or even in a survival cache.
I’m calling this the tool kit “project” because we’re all going to work together on this. In this first article in the tool kit series, I’m going to show you the contents of my regular tool bag, and the objective will be to pare it down to suit various scenarios.
The idea for an emergency tool kit came up when I started packing for the Jack Phoenix movie shoot. I have a bag with my “comprehensive” tool kit, but it might be too bulky to take on a three-month movie project, so I’m looking at ways to pare it down. I’ve identified some ways to do it, but I’d love to hear your ideas too.
What’s in my everyday tool kit
My everyday tool kit is what I grab and carry to the shed or the car, or whatever is on the “honey do” list, or toss into the truck to drive up to Dad’s house and help with whatever. It is intended to cover almost any domestic situation, so it covers a lot of different situations, but it’s entirely too bulky to take on a bugout, so it would definitely need to be reduced.
You’ll see I use a lot of screwdrivers. Don’t get me wrong, I like the driver bit kits with a ratcheting driver, but it’s a lot quicker to grab the specific screwdriver needed for a specific task. With a big tool bag, it’s a luxury I can indulge. When it comes time to pare down the kit to emergency status, I’ll have to take a serious look at throwing out some screwdrivers.
Here’s an abbreviated list of the tools I have in the bag — watch the video for specifics:
- flat head screwdrivers
- phillips screwdrivers
- torx head screwdrivers
- driver and bit kit
- small socket set
- various pliers and wire cutters
- crimping tool
- electrician’s tool
- electrical tester
- nail set
- adjustable wrench
- wire ties
- utility knife
- butane torch
Making an emergency tool kit
As I’ve explained before, my house is my BOL of choice, so my bugout scenario involves an element of desperation. In the case I’d have to pack up and leave the house, I’d have to pack as much stuff as quickly as I can. For a tool kit, this means packing the stuff I’ll be most likely to need, and eliminating everything else. Sounds like a no-brainer, I know, but that is the essence of the matter.
So that brings up an important point — just how necessary is anything in my tool kit? I mean, if I could only take one thing besides my clothes, it’d be a knife. Then a flashlight. Then a gun. Everything else is, in a sense, a luxury.
My everyday tool bag has been assembled over a number of years, and its contents have changed based on my experiences. I found myself adding items that I used. If I have to keep running to the tool shop for a specific item, after a few trips I tend to just leave it in the bag.
Just looking at what I use the most is not quite enough — I also consider how critical a specific tool is for a particular task, even if you’ll need it infrequently. An extreme example is a retention spring tool. I’m not saying it will be in my emergency tool kit, but it illustrates the point at hand; you might only need this tool once in five years, but when you need it, it’s very difficult to do the job without it. Imagine sewing without a needle.
Recommended contents of an emergency tool kit
All that said, here is my proposal for an emergency tool kit:
- driver bit kit with a non-ratcheting driver (to eliminate a mechanical failure). Bits will include Phillips sizes 0, 1, 2, and 3; three sizes of flat head, three torx heads, three square tips, and at least three hex heads. I’ll also have a small assortment of standard and metric sockets.
- one large flat and one large Phillips demolition screwdrivers
- mini hack saw
- adjustable wrench
- needle-nose pliers with wire cutter
- medium channel-lock pliers
- three sizes of punches
- super glue
- one roll electrical tape