Book Review: Build the Perfect Survival Kit by John D. McCann 2nd Edition

Build the Perfect Survival Kit by John D. McCann is notable not for its kit instructions and lists in the later chapters but rather for its descriptions and assessments of the items that go into said kits in the early chapters of the book.

The book itself is 254 pages and the text is divided into 20 chapters and an appendix.  There is no index.  Mr. McCann is the owner of Survival Resources, a company that not only sells survival related items but also posts plenty of survival related articles on it’s website.  Mr. McCann is also a survival instructor.

The first chapter is a good summary of the author’s philosophy behind building survival kits.  Chapters 2-13 cover components and component modification.  Chapters 14-19 discuss various kits and how to construct them.  Chapter 20 is the conclusion.

The first thing about kits, and the author explicitly recognizes this, is that no two kits will ever be the same for two different people.  Kit make-up depends on the skill and knowledge of the user and it is silly in the extreme to include an item in your kit that you do not know how to use.  I agree 100% with that sentiment although I would probably use stronger language.

I really like the chapters covering components.  Many different items are discussed along with their strengths and weakness in different situations.  The discussion of knives was very good.  I get the impression that most people think they will be knife fighting there way out of a survival situation, and that is probably not true. He does a very good job of showing why knife selection should be based on what practical things you can do with a blade and why selection of a quality blade or blades can be the difference between life and death.

One thing I have an issue with is the contention that aluminum foil makes a suitable water container.  I have yet to actually try this but logic says that is garbage.  Foil may be good for boiling water once or twice and is probably a good item to include in a kit envisioned for short term use I just don;t see foil being a viable solution for anything long-term and I am doubtful of its short-term utility as well.  He addresses this thought by pointing out that for most water containers you can purchase for survival use there is also a cup otion.  He specifically cites Army canteen cups and the cups sized to fit around the increasingly popular Nalgene bottles.

The kit descriptions in the book are informative and gave me plenty of food for thought as I look forward to modifying the contents of my kits.

All-in-all this is an excellent book and well worth purchasing for the component descriptions and assessments alone.  I recommend this book as a useful addition to your survival library.