Plan B Kit

Often called a Personal Survival Kit (PSK)

It’s wise to be prepared in case of an unexpected situation on an outing.  Bringing a few useful items can make a bad situation less so.  Make the smallest basic kit you’re comfortable with and add extra items according to your day’s travel plans. 

Here’s a basic kit.

  • Fill a small pouch with some of the smaller Ten Essentials items and keep it always in a pocket, shoulder bag or day pack on a hike.
  • A small zippered pouch approx. 3 X 4 inches
  • A small folding knife
  • A clear Bic-type butane lighter
    • A flint-based, non-piezoelectric one: it can still provide a usable spark even if it’s empty
    • A transparent lighter body allows you to check the butane fuel level
  • A small compass: preferable with a rotating bezel for easier navigation
  • A small LED flashlight using a lithium coin or AAA battery for leakproof long life
  • A small whistle: pea-less to prevent an annoying rattle being carried.


In total, this should weigh about 3-5 oz at most.

  • The complete five item kit

Be  sure to check the butane level and the flashlight battery strength before an outing


  • Bring a HEETSHEET emergency blanket ($7) or two big trash bags 


You can add more stuff, but at additional weight and  bulk


  • A length of paracord to form a lanyard for the whistle and other items.
  • A flat plastic Fresnel lens for solar fire starting
  • A few cotton balls / Tinder Quik for fire starting
  • A small mirror for solar signaling

Bring a Granola bar or candy bar for quick energy. Replace often to keep it fresh. DO NOT use dietetic stuff because it’s the calories you want in an emergency.

if you are proficient, you can substitute or supplement the butane lighter with a small ferro rod for backup.

Remember: these are TOOLS to supplement the survival SKILLS which you must learn. Tools are useless unless you know how to use them.  If and when your unplanned overnighter happens, these items will help make your stay an adventure rather than a miserable  memory.


Jim Yuen 12/31/2023


Personal PSK notes