“Build the Perfect Survival Kit”, by John D. McCann: Book Review

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Build the Perfect Survival Kit, by John D. McCannDo you need to put together a survival kit for your Everyday Carry, Bug Out Bag (BOB), an upcoming backpacking trip or your vehicle, to name just a few possibilities? I have an excellent resource to help you: The book Build the Perfect Survival Kit, 2nd Edition by John D. McCann.

A recognized expert in the fields of self-reliance, survival, and emergency preparedness; the author considers himself a student, life-long learner, and practitioner. McCann has written a great book for anyone who needs to build a survival kit for virtually any purpose, from the seasoned expert to the beginner / novice.

This down-to-earth, practical writer divides his book into four easy to navigate sections:

  1. The Basics
  2. Components
  3. The Kits
  4. Appendix (Including Survival Kit Checklists)

The Basics

In the basics section, McCann, whose tone of writing is easy to read and digest, provides the reader with an understanding of what a survival kit is all about and why they are important for everyone, not just the outdoor enthusiast. He also lays the foundation for any kit based on the Rule of Threes, the intended adventure or purpose, seasonal and environmental factors, as well as the minimal functions that each component should provide.

Components of a Survival Kit

The author covers the basic elements of a survival kit in great detail:

  • Fire and Light
  • Signaling
  • Navigation
  • Shelter and Protection
  • Water Purification and Containers
  • Food Rations and Collection
  • Cookware and Stoves
  • Knives and Tools
  • Medical Components
  • Multipurpose Components
  • Modifying Your Gear

In each chapter, McCann goes deep, detailing a wide variety of gear pertinent to each topic both in words and comprehensive accompanying photos. He provides a clear and concise explanation of the item, its basic use, and his recommendations.

Types of Survival Kits

The author gets creative taking the vast array of components and combines them into a wide variety of possible kits, from small everyday carry (EDC) to highly tailored specialty kits:

  1. Everyday Carry and Get Home Kits
  2. Containers for Survival Kits
  3. Mini and Small Sized Kits
  4. Medium and Large Sized Kits
  5. Kits for Vehicles
  6. Specialty Kits for Evacuation and Bug-Out Bags

John’s Survival Kit Checklists

Lastly, in the appendix, McCann provides his suggested components for each type of survival kit in a simple itemized format. Basically a checklist, making it oh-so-easy for the beginner to follow or veteran to quickly review.

The Focus

One word of warning, this book focuses on building custom survival kits and details the possible components to be used. The author does not focus on explaining, to the nth degree, exactly how each of the various components should or could be used, including multiple functions for each and every item. Rather, McCann provides a great show-and-tell treatise on the creation of each type of kit.

This 254 page book is a must-read resource for those truly interested in creating practical, usable survival kits. Profusely illustrated with detailed black and white photos (I wish they were color!), this is an easy to read and reference publication, available in both paperback and kindle editions.

With over 35 years as a multi-disciplined outdoor guide, participating on many rescues where the victim(s) would have benefited from having even the rudiments of a survival kit, and having read my fair share of survival books,  I consider this volume to be the bench mark by which all other books covering the building of survival kits should be measured. I wish it had been available to me when I was getting started as a fledgling guide, putting my first kits together. I highly recommend this book!

Additional Information

John D. McCann’s…

Amazon Page



YouTube Channel

Other Books by the Author

Stay Alive!: Survival Skills You Need

Practical Self-Reliance:Reducing Your Dependency on Others

Bug-Out: Reality Vs. Hype

Wake-Up Call 

The Layers of Life: Thoughts on Nature,Living, and Self-Reliance

All images courtesy of Amazon.com

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Robert Camp

Robert Camp turned his love of the outdoors into over 35 years of professional guiding and outdoor leadership. He has helped develop programs, lead trips, and taught for juvenile diversion programs, the U.S. military, The Sierra Club and many others.

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