Emergency Tool Kit Project

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.

Contents of the everyday tool bag

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
  • hammer
  • various pliers and wire cutters
  • crimping tool
  • electrician’s tool
  • electrical tester
  • tape
  • adhesives
  • nail set
  • flashlight
  • adjustable wrench
  • wire ties
  • utility knife
  • level
  • butane torch
  • solder

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
  • flashlight
  • mini hack saw
  • adjustable wrench
  • needle-nose pliers with wire cutter
  • medium channel-lock pliers
  • file
  • three sizes of punches
  • super glue
  • one roll electrical tape
Please share your ideas for an emergency tool kit in the comments, and I’ll follow up with another article.

21 thoughts on “Emergency Tool Kit Project”

  1. We have been working on a compact extended capability tool kit also.
    I know that multi-tool pliers are very popular but they sometimes seem like a "do everything poorly" option or as we call it the "wrong tool." It can work but it is never really the right tool. (Yes, I still keep one nearby if not for the "cool" factor alone.)

    Found this tool at Home Depot. It weighs not much more than than a large multi-tool. With little imagination it’s capability can partially exceed the "quick response" kit you showed in the video.
    86014 – THE QUAD 14-PIECE SAW/DRIVER SET http://www.generaltools.com/Specialty-Tools_c_11….

    This forms the backbone of my kit. It is able to hold both 1/4 inch hex ends and flat or round blades and bits.
    We were able to quickly fashion a few more bits like punches and by sharpening a small tool steel bar a sharp wood chisel that can also cut nails and sheet metal. We have also seen a line 1/4 inch hex end tools such as ratchets, open end wrenches and even a small hammer at home depot to add more compact capability.

    Great work on the Video: SNOMan’s Emergency Tool Kit Project. I look forward to learning from some of your solutions.

  2. For your file you should consider a 4 in 1 file.
    It is the same size and weight as a regular file, but it has four different grits, or surfaces (a quarter of the blade surface area for each grit)
    There is no handle and has grits to handle filing on metal, wood, plastics…just about anything you’d find you need in a pinch.

  3. I guess safety pins can come in handy, too. You’ll never know when your next "McGyver stint" would be. I fail in emergency took kit preparation. Without tool hire in Sussex, I would live in a despicable place.

  4. I highly recommend the Chapman Manufacturing Company multi tool set. I’ve used it for years and it is my goto kit for just about anything I need. It is incredibly compact, has a mechanical driver as well as a compact ratcheting driver if you wish. I’ve only broken one of the small Allen heads but I was using it as a pry and not for it’s intended use. I recommend the 8900 kit: http://www.amazon.com/Chapman-8900-Gun-Screwdrive?tag=survnewsonli-20…

    Plus it doesn’t hurt that it is made here in the good ole’ USA, precision crafted and made from steel can also be used for gun smithing.

  5. Agreed about the Square bits .. I do have some torx bits in my tool bag .. I just have a pill bottle full of various driver bits .. I also carry some basic stuff to do electrical repairs .. Wife strips, diagonal cutters, cable ties, and various terminal ends and pliers, automotive fuses, etc.. Because my thinking is a lot of people will abandon their vehicle because they can’t do a small electrical repair..

  6. Free FX Programming

    One thing that all new programmers must come to term with is the amount of time learning a programming language takes.

  7. Felix Gruenewald

    Plus it doesn’t harm that it is created here in the excellent ole’ USA, perfection designed and created from metal can also be used for gun smithing.

  8. I use photos from Flickr as part of my header image. The photos you will see appear are all licensed to be used under Creative Commons license. Here are the photos I use in my header.

  9. One thing that all new developers must come to phrase with is how long studying a development terminology takes.

  10. I would replace the flashlight with a compact headlamp. It’s miserable to have to hold a light in your teeth while under a car or sink.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top