Pocket Survival Items And Their Unbelievable Uses

survival gear laid out on wooden backgroundSurvivopedia – by THERESA CROUSE

If you ask a woman to empty her purse or a man to empty his pockets, you’re going to find a few quirky things unique to the individual but you’ll also likely find some common items that most people carry around with them.

What may surprise you is exactly how many survival uses those common items have. If you’ve ever watched McGyver, you know that these items can be used to make just about anything with a little ingenuity.  

Today we’re going to talk about these pocket survival items and their unbelievable uses.


Just about every woman over the age of 14 will have at least one tube of lipstick in her purse. In addition to making herself beautiful while she kicks ass, she can also use it to start a fire because its main ingredient is petroleum. Other uses include:

  1. Writing a rescue or location message
  2. Lubricant
  3. Barter
  4. Sunscreen (many lipsticks have sunscreen in them but even the colored ones will block the sun mechanically in an emergency)
  5. Lip balm
  6. Waterproofing small items such as matches


Many people don’t think much about how to use a car key or a house key for anything other than its intended use but a key can be used for a few different survival tasks including:

  1. A hand weapon – put the key between your fingers when you form a fist and you can do serious damage. Just be sure that the key is flat between your fingers. If you have the teeth facing your skin you’ll do damage to yourself, too.
  2. Scratching messages – if you need to leave a message for somebody, a key will scratch concrete, wood and even glass.
  3. Pry tool
  4. Directional marks – if you want to leave a mark somewhere so that your family will know where to find you, a key will mark a tree without being too obvious. Make this part of your meet-up plan.
  5. Emergency saw – it won’t hack through much but a small branch or rope won’t be much of a challenge for a key.


This is an item that both men and women often carry and is an essential for your bug-out bag. Condoms have many uses and take up very little space so keep a few on hand even if you don’t need them for their “intended” purpose! The unlubricated kind may be best.

  1. Water containers. Condoms can hold up to two liters of water if you handle them correctly. Because they’re so delicate, put it into a sock to give it protection and stability before you fill it. You’ll do best if you can find a source of downward-running water such as a small waterfall.
  2. Keeping your matches or tinder dry. Just be careful not to break the condom and your stuff will be ready for a fire when you are.
  3. Tinder. A condom is extremely flammable and will burn hot for several moments; long enough to get your fire going.
  4. Thumb loops to put pressure on the top of your hand drill to give enough pressure to start the fire while you’re spinning. Use either end as thumb loops and place the middle on top of the stick.
  5. As the elastic in a slingshot – use 3 stuffed inside of each other on either side of your missile launcher then duct tape or zip-tie them to the fork and the missile launcher.
  6. Rubber glove.
  7. Protect the muzzle of your weapon when crossing streams of wading through mud.
  8. Fishing bobber
  9. Tourniquet


If you get rid of your pre-conceived notions of tampons, you’ll realize that they’re just lengths of extremely absorbent cotton tied to a string.

When you think of them that way, I’m sure that a million purposes pop into your head.

Here are a few:

  1. Packing wounds
  2. Stopping nosebleeds – particularly effective if you spray them with a bit of Afrin before stuffing them up there.
  3. Plugging bullet wounds to stop bleeding
  4. Filtering water
  5. Making fletching for your arrows or blow darts
  6. Packing a dental injury
  7. Plugging a hole in your boat or roof temporarily
  8. Tinder. They’re extremely flammable. Add some petroleum jelly to really get your fire going.
  9. Candle wick. Just lay it in your fat, oil, sap or wax and leave the string sticking out to light.
  10. Cordage. A tampon string consists of several pieces of 4-6” string. That can be useful!

Hand Mirror

OK so this is mainly a girl thing but if you’re a guy, you most assuredly have a mirror above the visors in your car or truck, so they’re accessible. Here’s what you can use them for:

  1. Signaling using the sun
  2. Checking to see if somebody is breathing – place it under their nose and watch for it to fog
  3. Starting a fire. Focus the sun onto your tinder and leave it there until it starts a fire.
  4. Weapon – a piece of mirror with a broken edge is extremely sharp and will cut through flesh in an emergency
  5. Cutting rope – again, it’s sharp

Bank Cards

Bank cards are just pieces of plastic when you think about it. They do have several uses though so don’t ditch them when you run.

  1. Removing stingers. Just slide the card in the opposite direction than the stinger went in and it will pull it right out.
  2. Starting a fire. They’re flammable and will burn for a few moments
  3. To cover a sucking wound: tape it down securely over the wound and it’s just as good, or better than, plastic wrap
  4. Finger splint: cut it in half lengthways and tape it to either side of your finger

Reading Glasses

Especially if you’re getting a bit older, reading glasses should be an integral part of your survival kit. They have a few more uses than just reading though!

  1. Reading directions, maps, med bottles, etc
  2. Starting a fire – use sunlight through the lens. They are, in essence, magnifying glasses.
  3. Signaling
  4. Eye protection


Frankly, I feel kind of silly even mentioning this because it’s such a well-known survival item but I would be remiss to skip it! Here are just a few of the reasons why you should have a few bandanas in your survival kit.

  1. SlingBandana survival
  2. Water filter
  3. Face mask
  4. To carry items
  5. Wash cloth
  6. Tourniquet
  7. Bandage
  8. Sweatband
  9. Cleaning your gun
  10. Toilet paper
  11. Feminine hygiene
  12. Keeping your neck warm
  13. Pot holder
  14. Keeping cool – soak it in cold water and place it on your neck/forehead

In addition to these carry-around items, there are also a few uses for clothing items that may be useful in a survival situation.


These accessories are good for way more than holding your pants up!

  1. Tourniquet
  2. To choke or hit somebody
  3. To tie somebody up
  4. To strap items together

If you have a survival belt made from paracord, your uses for your belt just quadrupled so think about getting or making one of those!


Yep, they keep your feet warm but socks have many other uses as well.

  1. Filtering water
  2. Holding your condom so that you can carry water
  3. Bandages
  4. Keeping your hands warm
  5. Carrying stuff
  6. Potholder
  7. To lash things together
  8. Hair tie
  9. Stuff it with leaves and use it for a pillow
  10. As a mask


Though they’re great tools for their intended purpose, bras have a few other uses if SHTF, too.

  1. They make good air filters. The bigger the better!
  2. Water filters
  3. Face masks
  4. Underwires are good for fishing hooks or even weapons
  5. Earmuffs
  6. Elbow or knee pads
  7. A baby’s hat (don’t laugh – it would work!)
  8. The elastic can be used for any number of uses
  9. Bandages

As you can see, there are many uses for the things that you carry around with you daily other than just the uses that they were made for! If you can think of any other pocket survival items with unbelievable uses, tell us about them in the comments section below!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.


4 thoughts on “Pocket Survival Items And Their Unbelievable Uses

  1. the right kind of lipstick can be used as a flame extender

    Bandana, cotton- make char-cloth for easy future fire ignition.
    -signaling for rescue
    -ghillie suit material/concealment

    Bank cards- filed down on a sandstone rock makes a razor blade.
    -great as is for popping door handles on houses/rooms

    bras as ear muffs…noted. lol

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