A container that can help boil water is essential. So the billy tin, or bush pot is ideal and it can double up to hold survival items as well. The humble billy pot can be an excellent way to carry your bushcraft and survival kit. It is sturdy enough to protect and hold valuable items, and useful in its own right.
The bushcraft and survival kit billy can has a lot of advantages and a few drawbacks, which we will cover later on in the article.
Above image: Billy pot, fatwood, water transportation bags, signal mirror, headlamp, mosquito head net, candle, cargo tape, SOL survival blanket, Bic lighter, snake bite compression bandage, jute twine, magnifying glass, button compass, Ranger band, bank-line, bandana, whistle, matches.
What to put in the survival kit tin?
Everyone will have different preferences, but items that help with shelter, water, fire, food, signalling, navigation and first aid items are worth considering putting in the kit.
Another way to think about it is:
What equipment helps me keep my core body temperature comfortable? (Gear that can help with shelter, hydration and fire.)
What items help me if I am injured? (First aid kit items.)
What kit can help me signal for rescuers? (Whistle, phone, signal mirror, emergency locator beacon, signal panel, bright bandana, etc. Ways to light a signal fire.)
Or help me navigate or self-rescue if I have to? (Compass, map, GPS.)
A list of items that could be considered are: knife, cordage, cover element like an emergency bivy, small tarp, quality space blanket, container, lighter, matches, ferro rod, fat wood, tinder, candle, compass, headlamp, torch, bandana, whistle, signal mirror, first aid items, etc.
Tailor the gear for your environment.
The kit should also be tailored for your environment. An example could be, in a hot and arid climate, water is going to be a big priority. So additional items that help; (Apart from extra water carried.) collect, contain, filter and purify water might be included in the kit. Such as, water collection bags, water filter, water purification tablets, ways to start a fire to help boil water, etc.
Likewise in cold weather climates, items to help you light a fire in wet conditions, protect you from wind and rain could be included. Like a lighter, matches, dry tinder, poncho, emergency bivy or tarp, etc.
Your skill level should also reflect what you put in your kit. There is no sense putting in a flint and steel kit, as your only means of getting a fire going, if you aren’t proficient with it.
Above picture: Paracord, jute twine, Ferrocerium rod, Vaseline coated cotton pads, Bic lighter, bandana, water storage bags, Silva Ranger compass, SOL survival blanket, mosquito head net, headlamp. Note: Fixed blade knife will go on belt, or in back pack.
Bushcraft and survival kit billy tin ideas.
The container doesn’t just have to be a billy pot. Above in the middle is the Pathfinder 48oz stainless steel nesting cup with lid, it is big enough to hold some essential items. A large coffee tin, or canned fruit tin can also be used as a makeshift survival billy can.
Here are a few examples, options and ideas on what could go in the billy tin.
It is not a complete list, just some ideas that you may add or subtract items to it. Having extra additional items in your pockets and belt pouch is also good insurance. An example could be a lighter, hank of cordage and Leatherman tool, etc.
Above image: headlamp, frennel lens, lighter and fire-kit, cargo tape, pocket knife, survival blanket, cordage, flint and steel tin, Zebra Billy Pot, Ranger bands. (Flame extender.)
Above pic: Kookaburra bush pot, orange bandana, ferro rod, tinder fire-kit, mini blade saw, cargo tape, paracord. Back pack with Mora Companion Heavy Duty knife and ferro rod attached, waterproof jacket, Nalgene water bottle.
Above: Pathfinder 48oz stainless steel nesting cup containing, old style Opinel Number #10 pocket knife, SOL emergency bivy, paracord Jute twine, and fire kit containing Bic lighter, matches, candles, Swedish Light My Fire ferro rod, cotton buds coated with petroleum jelly.
Image above: Billy can, paracord, Sawyer mini water filter, pocket knife, ferro rod, mini Bic lighter, water purification tablets, Fire strip roll tinder, headlamp, bandana and yellow dry bag.
Above picture: Zebra billy can, lighter, bank-line, jute, tea light candles, whistle, UCO matches, button compass, signal mirror. Note: Klean Kanteen, tomahawk, Grabber All Weather Survival Blanket and Helikon poncho will go in the CampCraft XL haversack.
Above picture: Pathfinder stainless steel cup, paracord, GPS (Global Positioning System.) Walker Swiss Army Knife, micro torch, mini Bic lighter, compass, bandana, cotton buds coated with petroleum jelly, ferro rod.
Above image: 12 cm Zebra billy pot, lighter, jute twine, bank-line, lighter, safety whistle, UCO matches, yellow dry bag, cargo tape. Note: To go on the belt and backpack is the Mora Garberg and Cold Steel Frontier Hawk Tomahawk.
Place the billy in a dry bag and you have a bag to put items in when you are using the billy. The dry bag also protects the sooty billy tin from dirtying your items in the pack. Also with the dry bag, you have an extra bag for water storage, or a container when foraging for wild edibles.
Combine the billy pot survival kit with a decent fixed blade knife, adequate clothing, a larger shelter system like a tarp, water bottle and some extra items in your pockets and you have a great survival kit.
The billy tin has many other uses as well.
Food is probably the least important short term in a wilderness survival emergency. However, the billy can hold rice, oats, dehydrated meals, and some cooking gear. As the space is empty, a lot of hikers carry cooking stoves and food inside light titanium billy pots and cooking sets.
For those starting out, the classic coffee tin, (Or large fruit tin, etc.) can be a great makeshift bush pot and store survival items.
Remember to layer your survival items and have backups of essential items in case you lose items or they fail. For different options and ideas on layering your kit, see Bushcraft and survival kit layers.
The very knowledgeable, Mors Kochanski, has an excellent video below in which he uses the billy pot used as a container for his bushcraft and survival kit.
Clear large thick garbage bags might be included in the kit. As these have various uses, such as: water transpiration bags, storing extra water and can double up for a shelter element.
The larger models of the Pathfinder billy, Mors bush pot, and Zebra billy can, will hold a shorter fixed blade knife inside it.
Above: The billy won’t hold all these items above at once, but can help protect breakable objects. A bandana or mosquito head net can be wrapped around to safeguard fragile items like a, GPS, headlamp, mini lantern, water filter, from being banged about in the bush pot. Pictured above in the billy can is the Helikon poncho, which will fit in this Kookaburra billy tin. (It won’t fit in the 12cm Zebra billy pot though.)
As well as holding a bushcraft and survival kit with various functions, the billy might just be used to store one area or element, such as a dedicated survival fishing kit. The billy is ideal for storing a fishing gear as it can safely store hooks and a fair few spools of fishing line. You could store a survival fishing trotline in it as well.
Drawbacks of the billy pot.
You are limited to what you can put in the bush pot to a certain extent because of the size. However, this can be a good thing as it limits you from putting unnecessary items in it. It makes you think about what is important to include in the kit.
The billy tin kit can be limited in holding the cover element, like a shelter. A quality space survival blanket, or a small tarp can fit. However, bigger shelter elements like a 10 x 10 tarp would likely be too big. Another shelter item like a, mil spec poncho can fit, depending on size of the billy pot. The poncho can also be set up to capture rain water and funnel it into the billy tin.
The round shape of the billy tine can take up a bit more room in a make it a bit harder to carry, compared to say a survival kit in a belt pouch.
Ideally to carry the pot, you have to store it in a back pack, day pack, haversack or swagman’s roll.
(I am not 100 percent sure about this, but storing the compass for long time near types of certain metal, magnetic or electronics could cause reverse polarity. Some people have suggested it won’t affect the compass, others stated it can be an issue. For long term it might be worth it to store the compass away from metal, etc.)
Weight is another disadvantage of the billy pot. A trade-off for the stainless steel robust designs, are heavier weight.
Summary – The bushcraft and survival kit billy can.
Preparing a bush coffee, boiling some water, warming up a hearty stew, the billy pot makes a good cooking vessel. It can also carry a fair amount of useful bushcraft and survival items. In this regard it makes the billy can a versatile and valuable survival tool.
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