How to make a 5 item outdoor survival kit for $5

survival-kit-for-kidsWe love getting kids into the outdoors! At Pit Stops for Kids, we’re fans of backpacking, camping, climbing, mountain biking, geo-caching…you get the idea. But as a one-time Search and Rescue volunteer who has spent countless hours teaching school kids how to stay safe in the woods, I want families to be prepared. Kids can occasionally get lost in the wilderness, but by heeding the following advice and being prepared, almost all are found almost immediately by their parents.

The best advice to give your kids: if you get lost, stay in one place. 


The second best thing to do: make your kids this 5 item outdoor survival kit for $5. These items fit easily into a waist pack or into any day pack.

5 item outdoor survival kit for kids:

1. Whistle

Go to your local sports equipment store or dollar store, and buy a cheap whistle. Let your kids know this is an emergency whistle: not to be used for play. The sound of a whistle in the wilderness carries 10x further than a shout or scream, and doesn’t wear down with use. Instruct kids to blow their whistle in blasts of three if lost.

2. Plastic poncho

Is an expensive jacket better protection than a dollar store poncho? Sure, but chances are, your kid won’t want to bring it along on a hot summer day. A plastic poncho fits down to the size of a fist (or smaller) and weighs almost nothing. When needed, it retains body heat well.

3. Glow stick

Grab a cheap glow stick and put it in your kid’s kit. Glow sticks don’t require any batteries, and will give off light in 360 degree direction. A glow stick will last 12 hours, getting  a kid through a night if necessary.

4. Bandana

Search and Rescue volunteers are trained to look for anything out of the element when searching in the wilderness. Therefore, a bright color, such as neon green or yellow, will stand out and alert searchers to the presence of a person. Instruct kids to hang their bandana on a tree limb, wearing it on their head, or spread it out in the open. Alternative item: a used or blank music CD or DVD can be used as a cheap reflecting device, often seen by spotters in helicopters.

5. Non-perishable snack

Why not water? Because for almost any hike or outdoor excursion, parents have already thought to pack a water bottle for their child. In addition to water, a non-perishable snack is cheap and light to pack. We keep a Nature’s Valley granola bar in each of our kids’ packs. Power Bars or other energy bars last a long time, too. Alternative: a bouillon cube.

99% of the time, kids are completely safe in the wilderness. But for piece of mind, the above items in your kid’s pack will go a long way. For more information on kids’ wilderness safety, check out the Lost But Found Search and Rescue program I’ve been a part of.