When it comes to “survival” kits or anything related, opinions vary across the board. It’s rare to see eye to eye with someone else when you really dive into a specific topic or product. However, I’m going to do my best to give you an unbiased (which is impossible) review.
Today we are looking at the VSSL Supplies Compact Aventure Kit. I picked this kit up towards the end of 2018 and have spent some time carrying it for various applications. As a result, I’ve been able to form some opinions on the good, the bad, and the ugly.
However, before we get into those, let’s take a look at the specs.
- Weight: 15.6 oz.
- Length: 9″
- Diameter: 2″
- Material: Military-grade aluminum
- Colors: Silver or black
- Waterproof: Yes
- Warranty: Lifetime
- MSRP: $129
- Street Price: $124.99
Here is the description provided by VSSL:
We wanted a faster and more reliable way to prepare, organize, carry and access our crucial camp gear, so we made the world’s most versatile outdoor adventure kit. VSSL CAMP Supplies is perfectly stocked with over 70 pieces of essential outdoor gear. It’s like the multi-tool of camp lights, and it’ll change the way you prepare for outdoor adventure.
- Car camping
- Anywhere weight is not necessarily a concern.
VSSL has included a lot of items in this kit, so let’s take a look at all of them by category.
This kit comes with a 200 lumen LED light built into the cap of the container. It offers 4 modes of light: high, low, red, and SOS strobe. The unit is waterproof and claims an estimated burn time of up to 40 hours.
There is a rubberized activation switch on the side of the container just below the cap housing the LED’s. It activates the light by a “long press”, which should help prevent accidental activation.
Battery replacement is pretty easy. There is a slotted plastic cap under the head of the light unit that simply screws off. Once you screw it off it allows access to replace the three LR1 batteries.
Opposite of the light, is the integrated compass. It is an oil-filled unit claiming a reliable operating temperature of 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10C) to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (+50C). It has a pretty large display at 1.5″ in diameter.
The compass can be removed to be used individually, but the contents would be exposed and prone to falling out. I would only do this if I had to.
The rest of the contents are organized internally, with the aluminum container. The first we are going to look at is the mini first aid kit. This is not for major trauma…I think that goes without saying. It’s intended purpose is to take care of blisters and other very minor injuries.
The mini first aid kit includes (mine included some different items as pictured):
- 6 bandages
- 10 wound closure strips
- 2 antiseptic wipes
- 2 safety pins
Next in the lineup is the firestarter kit. Again, minimal in nature, but enough to make things easier when timing is critical.
The firestarter kit includes:
- 5 waterproof Tinder Quik fire starters
- 10 waterproof matches
- 1 striker
Rope + Razor
Moving on through the containers, we come to the rope and razor tin. This tin provides cordage and a way to cut the cordage. Razor blades are extremely useful for a number of tasks and cordage is always a necessity.
The Rope and Razor tin includes:
- 25 feet of marine-grade rope
- 250-pound breaking strength
- 1 razorblade
The fishing kit is just what it sounds like. Basic gear to get you going in a pinch. Again, this kit should be supplementing what you already have. Also, if you are going to be in a particular area, and you have specific knowledge regarding fishing there, you can always swap out some of the components to be more effective.
The fishing kit includes:
- 3 plastic jig bodies
- 6 hooks
- split shot
- Bobber (piece of foam)
- 35 feet of fishing line wrapped around foam bobber
This candle is made from pure Canadian beeswax with no additives or toxic hardeners. It has an estimated burn time of 4 hours.
This kit also includes a wire saw, which is the standard issue used by the British Military. It features a 60-pound working strength and has canvas straps on each end to aid in use or fashion into a bow saw.
A water purification kit is contained in this kit, which includes:
- 10 Aquatab water purification tablets for 7.5 liters of purification capability
- 1-liter Whirl-Pak water bag for transport or containment
What can I say? This stuff doesn’t really fit into the other categories and all lives together in the same tin.
The miscellaneous gear includes:
- Aluminum beadless whistle
- 2 gear ties
- Mini sewing kit
- P38 can opener
Tape and Cloth
As we start getting towards the end of the components, we end up with two final items.
The first is VSSL adventure tape, which is simply a strong multi-purpose tape to be used for bandaging wounds, marking trails or repairing gear.
To finish things off we have a bamboo cloth made from 100% biodegradable bamboo fiber. This cloth unfolds to a size of 12″x20″ and can be used for whatever your imagination allows.
The good and the bad
The kit has a lot going for it in my opinion. It covers the essentials in various degrees and gives you a lot to work with.
I like the compactness and how contained everything is. If real estate is at a premium, this allows you to carry quite a bit of gear without taking up a lot of room. The organization is spot on and everything is marked very well, which allows easy identification.
I like the layout and the utility of the container, which can be used to collect, purify water, etc.
The weight of this unit would be my biggest argument, but only within certain contexts. I am a big fan of hiking, backpacking, or whatever while being as lightweight as possible. I have been working hard to pair down my gear to cut weight. With that being said, there are a number of activities where I personally would use this kit due to its weight.
However, I do carry it in situations where weight isn’t as big of a concern. Car camping, ATV excursions, paddling, vehicle kit, and more, where I have more weight to work with.
Depending on your use and what you’re willing to pay for convenience, you may find this kit to be on the high end. At an advertised price of $129, some folks may take pause.
My only other concern is with the metal tins themselves. I can see how they may be hard to open with cold or wet hands where dexterity has been lost.
Differences with my kit
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I have had my kit for quite some time and there are a few changes/differences in what I have and what is now being offered. While most of the kit is the same, I figured I would highlight the changes.
So, with my kit, VSSL includes the can opener and water purification in one tin. That tin houses a pP38 can opener and 10 Aquatabs, as well as a set of instructions for using the tabs. I like the changes they have made above regarding water.
Also, I have a trail marker and whistle tin, which includes 30 thumbtack looking trail markers. Fifteen of the markers are reflective white and 15 are a reflective orange. This tin also houses whistle, which is attached to a split ring.
My beeswax candle appears to be larger and is not contained within a tin. It fits inside the container and slides in like the rest of the tins.
The contents of my other tins may vary slightly, but you should be able to see the differences in the pics versus what’s listed as being included.
The box my kit arrived in has some text on the front that states, “essential gear for short-term excursions”. I feel this holds true for this product.
Personally, it is too heavy for backpacking, hiking, or things like that where weight is more of a consideration. However, as stated above, there are definitely applications where weight doesn’t matter as much and this kit works fine.
When I do use this kit, I find it is great as a supplement to what I already carry. It is not my sole piece of kit. For instance, I always carry a flashlight. Just because this kit includes a light doesn’t mean I leave mine at home. I don’t believe its intent is to replace what you have but to add to the system you already have in place.
If this particular kit doesn’t float your boat, VSSL has other options you can choose from like camp supplies, first aid, and a flask, as well as an option to ‘Build Your Own‘.
If you have one, let me know what you think. If you don’t have one but are interesting in buying one, I’ve dropped a link below.