Building a Quality Survival Kit on a Budget: Part 6

It's time to add up to $25 worth of goodness to the budget survival kit. This month I'm suggesting a few options for some basic cutting and other related utilities.

In the last post of this building a quality survival kit on a budget series, we explored adding some calories or cash to acquire calories to the survival kit. Given that the kit now has items to deal with injuries that may be immediately life threatening, something to mitigate exposure to the elements (life threatening within a few hours), tools to help gather drinkable water (life threatening within a few days), and ability to provide calories (life threatening within a few weeks), we can now turn the attention to adding some utility. While we have added items to deal with basic threats, most of those items are consumable and will eventually need to be replaced. The need for replacement may take place before one is safely located where the basic threats to survival no longer exist.

In terms of utility, I like to refer to a concept coined as the 10 C’s plus one. They are:

  • Cutting (tools)
  • Combustion
  • Cordage
  • Container
  • Cover
  • Compass (maps)
  • Candle (lighting)
  • Casualty care
  • Combat
  • Communications
  • Calories

Essentially, all items in a survival kit fall into those categories. Some of the items included in previous posts fall into those categories, other categories have not yet been filled. I will go down the list of categories in the next few posts in order to increase the utility of the survival kit while making every effort to stay true to the budget. This post will start with “Cutting”.

The “cutting” category is named this way to make it easy to remember, but it really addresses tools in the kit. Generally speaking, most people immediately turn to blade as the first tool in the kit. This is with good reason as cutting is an essential utility used in a myriad of fashions. Personally, I can go several ways with this.

The first suggestion is a good fixed blade knife. The first quality budget friendly fixed blade knife that comes to mind is a Morakniv Companion fixed blade knife. It is hands down the best knife for the money. A knife like this will work for many camp and bush crafting functions without breaking the bank. The downside is it doesn’t offer much more than that. I will say that I keep one of these in every vehicle and often give them out as gifts since they are just very functional and cost effective cutting tools.

Another option is to go with a multitool. However, staying within the $25 budget options are limited. A good multitool that I also tend to throw in vehicles and give out as a gift frequently is the Gerber Dime. This multitool is small, but provides ten different tools: needle nose pliers, wire cutters, blade, package opener, scissors, flat screw driver, Phillips screwdriver, bottle opener, tweezers, and a file. None of the tools are particularly excellent, but the capabilities are broad. As such, this is another good option.

The last option I will suggest here is the one I’m going to go with. It’s a Victorinox Tinker Swiss Army Knife. There are some other Swiss Army knife models in this price range that could work as well, but I’m a fan of the Tinker. This knife provides two different blades, can opener, Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, awl, can opener, toothpick and tweezers. In many ways it’s very similar to the Gerber Dime, but I like the larger blades in the Swiss Army knife..

At the end of the day, the decision comes down to you. Some folks prefer a dedicated blade, others prefer a multitool. Most, including me, will throw both a fixed blade knife and a multitool in their survival kit. Personally, if I wasn’t going to, or couldn’t, include both in my kit, I would opt for a multitool and my budget friendly preference leans towards the Swiss Army knife.


    1. Thanks! Although, the “10-Cs of Survival” isn’t my concept. I first heard of it from Bear Independent ( who I think calls it the “10-Cs plus one”. I think this list was expanded the list from other survivalists who started out with 5-Cs. Regardless, it’s a concept that struck a cord with me. I use this concept to organize and prioritize gear for most of my load outs for various activities (deer hunting, range trips, training courses). Take a look at the Deer Hunting Load Out post for an example (

      Also those Moraknivs are awesome and a great value.

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