bob-cooper-survival-kit_400Well a couple of weeks back I had the opportunity to review Bob’s book “Outback Survival”. Today I’m going to be reviewing his Survival Kit which is in use by Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel, government agencies, pilots and mining companies as well as prepared people like me. Bob originally developed the prototype for this kit back in the late 80’s. He’s also personally tested it out on a 10 day, 160 + km trek through the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia. This current kit is the result of Bob’s extensive testing and refining.


Let us first take a look at the container. It is made of sturdy, durable aluminium with a water-resistant seal in the lid.  You can see the Bob Cooper Outback Survival branding on the front. The container is designed for cooking in which is one big plus in my opinion. The total weight of this kit is 434 grams. The dimensions of the container are 130 x 95 x 43mm – small enough to fit inside a pants pocket.

The kit contains 32 fantastic components – the absolute bare essentials for surviving out in the bush:

  • Compass, flint and hacksaw blade
  • Cotton pad, whistle, knife and plastic mirror
  • Tweezers, and plastic bags
  • Needle, fishing line, hooks, swivel and sinkers
  • Trace wire, cord and pencil
  • Stock cubes, tea bag, coffee and glucose
  • Puritabs, Condy’s crystals and paracetemol
  • Scalpel, bandaids and alcohol swabs
  • Antiseptic wipes (contains iodine)
  • Pencil and instruction sheet
  • Magnifying lens and multi tool
  • AAA Torch and playing cards
We will now take a look at each of the contents individually:

Folding Knife

Included in this kit is a decent fine-edge folding knife: a Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops. It’s one of my favourite folding knives and is excellent at what it is capable of. A knife can be used for cutting, digging, prying and heaps more. The Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops knife is suitable for some light bushcraft tasks as well such as carving the end of a long stick into a spear. Due to Australia’s rigorous knife laws, the thumb stud was removed before importing it to Australia as it would be categorised as an “automatic” or “assisted-opening” knife – which is quite annoying to say the least!


Inside this kit is a good quality flint and steel with an attached hacksaw striker. I have successfully used this firestarter to produce some of the biggest and brightest sparks I have ever seen amongst a selection of different firestarters I have tested. Unlike some other negative reviews on the internet about the flint/steel included in Bob’s kit, it actually does work – I’ve started several fires using just this firestarter and a humble cotton pad using only a single strike every time. I am very happy with it needless to say. The hacksaw of course can be used for cutting through metal and also wood which can be handy in both wilderness and urban survival situations.


A nice little button compass is included in this kit. It does its job of pointing north every time and I didn’t see any air bubbles inside. It would have been nice if the compass had a lanyard though for securing it so it doesn’t get lost due to its miniature size.

2x Cotton Pads

Just some of your regular Swisspers brand cotton pads. These can be used as reliable dry tinder to start a fire. My suggestion is to add a small dab of petroleum jelly or Vaseline to each and put them in a little ziplock bag. The petroleum jelly or Vaseline acts as an accelerant and allows the cotton pads to burn longer (usually 2-3 minutes). I have successfully started large fires with a simple cotton pad and just one strike of a flint and steel.


Appears to be a lifeboat type whistle. Ear piercing loud. These things are great for signalling. Three short sharp whistle is an internationally recognised signal for distress. Use it for signalling land search and rescue (SAR) teams.

Plastic Mirror

Nice quality. This mirror is designed for signalling and can also be used for hygiene purposes.


For removing splinters, ticks etc

Plastic Bags

Two large, thick plastic bags. They have a multitude of uses including as a transpiration bag, rain poncho, groundsheet, tarp, solar still, gear carrier, flotation device – you name it.

Mini Sewing Kit

Includes a needle, different colours of thread, a safety pin and a couple of buttons. Similar to the ones you get from hotels and on 1st class flights.

Fishing Kit

Includes 15 m of standard fishing line, several hooks, swivels and lead sinkers.

Trace Wire

Setting snares and traps to catch small critters and rodents for food.


Cordage is one of the most difficult and time-consuming things to improvise in a survival situation – mighty glad Bob included it in this kit. The cord in this kit is just some standard army grade hootchie cord. I would replace this with FireCord or at least paracord. That way you have heaps more cordage at your disposal due to paracord having 7 strong inner inner strands as opposed to hootchie cord where you only have the one strand.


A small pencil for writing notes, SOS messages etc.

Instruction Sheet

Written by Bob himself, it is based on his proven Big 5 priorities of survival. The back of this sheet can be used to write notes, SOS messages etc although I’d add a small sheet of paper for this purpose.

Soup Stock Cubes

Just your standard supermarket-bought stock cubes – nothing special about them really. With these you can make yourself a hearty bowl of soup using the survival kit tin. You’ve got two choices: chicken and beef. Even the smallest sliver of a stock cube can go a long way. The biggest downside to these stock cubes is that they contain MSG which I’m not a big fan of as that stuff is pretty bad for your health but having said that, in a survival situation it would be better consuming that than nothing at all!

Tea Bag

In my kit this was just a Lipton Black Tea. I’ve seen some older versions of Bob’s kit with Dilmah brand tea bags. Tea is a morale booster and a diuretic.

Coffee Satchet

Nescafe brand. Coffee is also a morale booster – especially for you coffee lovers. It’s also a diuretic.

Glucose Tablet

Glucose can give you a major sugar hit. A 50/50 combination with Condy’s Crystals (aka potassium permanganate) can be used to start a fire when rubbed together with a knife blade (after the tablet has been crushed to powder first of course).

Water Purification Tablets

The ones in my kit were Aquatabs and there are four of them. So with these you can purify approximately 4 litres of water in total.


Excellent backup blade for cutting up things.


There are four of these in the kit for fixing minor cuts and abrasions. I replaced these in mine with much stronger fabric waterproof band-aids.

Alcohol Swabs

These are for cleaning small wounds before applying bandaids. Alcohol swabs can also be used to start a fire as alcohol is an accelerant.

Iodine Wipes

Wound cleansing – very important for preventing infection.


Not a bad multitool – but was pretty stiff when I first opened it up – you might want to oil it with some WD-40 or something similar. Has several different tools including a sharp blade, screwdrivers and pliers with a built in wire cutter (excellent for cutting barbed wire or fences) – I tested it out on some chicken wire and it did the job without any problems.

Small torch

A small torch that takes AAA batteries is included in this kit. Obviously it is for lighting but can also be flashed for signalling if required. I tried this torch out in a completely dark room at night and it does a remarkable job of adequately lighting it up. I put an extra AAA battery inside the kit just because there’s extra space for additions.

“Play Your Cards Right To Survive”

Bob got the idea of putting playing cards in his kit about 8 years ago. Playing cards is one way to boost one’s morale and a great way to pass the time whilst stranded out in the wilderness. These cards are unique in that they contain valuable life-saving survival information on them such as lighting fire, signalling and finding water etc, etc. Instructions for their use is provided on the instruction sheet written by Bob himself.

Fresnel Lens

A card-sized magnifying glass for using the sun to start fires. The trick to successful solar-firestarting is to magnify the sun’s rays onto a dark surface – I have done this many times. Char cloth is perfect for the job. A magnifying glass also has many other uses including first aid purposes.

A couple of things…

As you would have noticed, neither matches nor a lighter were included in this kit. Bob did this on purpose as he wanted to make this kit “air portable”.
Another thing is that Condy’s Crystals (see my article “6 Practical Uses for Condy’s Crystals“) is unfortunately not included in the kit – although it is marvellous and something that Bob highly recommends. I emailed Bob regarding this and he said that the reason for not including Condy’s in the kit was because he wasn’t sure about posting this chemical as it is classified as a hazardous material. Try checking your local chemist or pharmacy for potassium permanganate. Not all pharmacies stock it (at least my prominent local one didn’t). Instead, I found them available at ChemMart, a popular Aussie chemist for about $10 for a 50 g bottle. Be aware that you can only get Condy’s in limited amounts.  For the purposes of Bob’s kit a small but adequate amount of Condy’s can be stored in a small specimen bottle or tiny ziplock bag.


Bob recommends that you add the following to your kit:
  • Condy’s Crystals (aka potassium permanganate)
  • Antibiotic tablets
  • Diarrhoea tablets
  • Anti-nausea tablets
  • Antihistamine
  • Eye/ear ointment
  • Any special personal medications
He also recommends that you wrap duct tape or gorilla tape on the outside of the kit box for maximum waterproofness. Some people also like to wrap extra fishing line or cordage such as paracord or hootchie cord on the outside then cover with duct tape.
When overseas travelling in 3rd world countries, Bob advised me that he adds the equivalent of $200 in cash, a needle, syringe and suture kit to his survival kit

What I added to mine:

  • 2x antihistamine tablets
  • 2x Panadol tablets
  • Large waterproof bandage
  • Extra AAA battery (my brother added 2 to his kit along with the one supplied with the kit)
  • Condy’s Crystals
  • Going to add:  2x tablets of aspirin and 10x waterproof NATO or UCO matches with striker inside a small zip lock bag as well.
Along with this survival kit, Bob recommends that you carry an emergency mylar blanket with you as well. These are inexpensive and can be carried along with this survival kit inside a cargo pants pocket.
Of course how you customise your kit is totally up to you as no kit in the world can specifically cater to all environments, situations and terrains in the world whist remaining practical and minimalist. Our suggestions above are just a guide that should hopefully point you in the right direction.

Our rating

We rate the Bob Cooper Survival Kit at a full 5 out of 5 stars for its well thought out design, quality components and the fact that it has been stringently tested out in real life conditions. I also like the fact that each of the kits contents are easy to replenish after usage.
This survival kit is ideal for when you head off the beaten track next: 4WDing, hiking, camping, fishing – you name it. Never go anywhere without it – chuck it into your backpack or into your car but just don’t forget it! Just as it is foolhardy to venture off into the bush without an adequate supply of water and a first aid kit, it is also equally foolhardy to go without a survival kit as well.
I’ve made it a habit to carry a survival kit and emergency food and water rations with me whenever I head out bush and I reckon you should as well. Be prepared… because you just never know. Remember, it doesn’t take much to get into a spot of trouble.
Get your kit now! Visit to order and don’t forget to check out his other merchandise available.
Until next time, remember “Be Prepared, Stay Alive!”
~ OzSurvivalGuy