Survival Kit In A Can

Coghlan’s Survival Kit-in-a-Can is a quirky product. It is a fun gift, a tin of trinkets and outdoors doodads that pour forth out of a type of vessel most often associated with sardines. Inside, there are “38 essential items for warmth, shelter, and energy in life-threatening situations.”

Indeed, in the tight space of the can you find a tiny compass, fire starters, utility wire, waterproof matches, fishing line, hooks, a needle, duct tape, a signal mirror, a whistle, and other items to help keep you safe in a worst-case wilderness scenario. Strangely, there’s also chewing gum and a single piece of hard candy.

The company ( touts the $13 tin of goodies as a serious tool for surviving in the wilderness in a worst case scenario. Just one problem: I peeled open a test tin last night, took out one of the most important items in there — the emergency whistle — and tested it out.

The result? Product failure.

While the whistle emitted a squeak, it did not register any shrill alert beyond a few decibels. It misfired, piffling almost no noise, and, theoretically, leaving a hapless hiker with two broken legs still stranded in the Sequoia Wilderness overnight and without rescue.

That’s a worst case scenario. But it could happen. My advice: if Coghlan’s is going to market the Survival Kit-in-a-Can as a true survival product — which it does — the company should look into better components. It’s irresponsible to skim with cheap products when customers plan to use them ostensibly in scenarios of life or death.

—Stephen Regenold writes the weekly Gear Junkie Scoop for and

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.


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