Packing survival gear will never be the same now that we have the VSSL, it’s waterproof, compact, durable and will hold more than you expect. Whether you are putting together a first aid kit, some day hike essentials or a minimalist survival kit, the VSSL can hold it all and do it in style.

vssl cache

The VSSL (‘vessel’) is a 9 inch by 2 inch, finely machined aluminum tube with a compass on one end, a high powered LED flashlight on the other and storage space in between. It’s built like a tank, weather proof, and flat out cool.

The VSSL Cache model retails for $49.95 which is a pretty good deal considering it has a quality flashlight and compass built in. I also got some of the VSSL tins which you can buy on the site, $2.50 for the small and $4.50 for the large.

The whole system is small and practical so you can stash it in your backpack or glove box for emergency use, which is frankly… kind of boring.

Why have a cool piece of gear that you hope to never have to use?

vssl cache

You don’t have to! Pack your VSSL with any small pieces of gear you might need for a day hike, paddle, over-nighter or extended stay trip. Use it as a food container (oreos fit perfectly as my 7 year old son discovered), a first aid kit, a camp tool box or a true survival kit (I named mine ‘The Castaway’). You can use the tins that come with The Cache or find creative new ways to pack it.

vssl supplies

A brand new VSSL is the ultimate challenge for a gear head. How can I fit as much as possible in this 8 inch by 2 inch space between the flashlight and the compass?

vssl cache

BUY YOUR VSSL HERE


​You will be surprised at how much it will hold and the combinations and configurations you can come up with. ‘The MacGyver‘, ‘The Feedbag‘ and ‘The Castaway‘, (complete with Wilson stand in) are just a few that I came up with.

You can read more about all of them below.

Rummage through your junk drawer or medicine cabinet. Stroll the aisles of your grocery store, dollar store or Walgreens. Swing by an REI or Gander Mountain. Borrow crayons from your kids, a candle from your wife and a lighter from that chain smoker at work (you’ll be doing them a favor).

Everyday items you find can be used to start a fire, mend a tent, catch a tasty bass, signal for help, light your path, purify your water, keep you dry, and satisfy your hunger.

Don’t want to wear paracord on your wrist? No problem, stash it in your VSSL.

I found over 50 items to pack in my VSSL and could have easily found 50 more.

50 ways to pack your VSSL

VSSL – Fire

  • Mini Lighter
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Cotton Balls/Vaseline
  • Dryer Lint
  • Matches
  • Flint​
  • Vodka​

VSSL – Light

  • Glow Stick
  • Candles
  • Crayons​

VSSL – Tools

VSSL – Fishing

  • Line
  • Hooks
  • Bobbers
  • Panther Martins
  • Soft Plastics
  • Wine Bottle Cork​

VSSL – First Aid

  • Vet Wrap
  • Bug Bite Cream
  • Waterproof Band Aids
  • Tweezers
  • Neosporin
  • Alcohol Wipes​

VSSL – Water

  • Purification Tablets
  • Flavoring Packets​

VSSL – Hygiene

  • Baby Wipes
  • Toothbrush
  • Dental Floss

VSSL – Food

  • Peanut Butter Packet
  • K-Cup
  • Nuts
  • M&M’s
  • Craisins
  • Clif Bar​
  • Oreos​

VSSL – Gear Repair

  • Zip Strips
  • Super Glue
  • Duct Tape
  • Needle and Thread
  • Adhesive Gear Patches​

VSSL – Entertainment

  • Dice
  • Lego Guy
  • Waterproof Paper / Pencil
  • Scotch​

VSSL – Other Gear

My Custom VSSL Packing Lists

Time to start packing!

With all my supplies ready it was time to start packing the VSSL. What would I need on a day trip? An extended trip of several nights? An outing with my kids? If I were stranded on an island in the South Pacific?

I came up with 7 packing lists for the VSSL cache…


The MacGyver

If MacGyver had a VSSL, his packing list would look something like this and he could probably craft a makeshift Honda and a deer snare from it. But for regular guys like me it’s a collection of practical, multi-use tools and supplies that come in handy when you hit a snag and are looking around for a fix. Of course with my limited handyman skills, maybe I should call it the MacGruber.

VSSL cache - The Macgyver

1. Multi Tool
Pliers, screw drivers, a knife, a bottle opener, a file and more. The Gerber Dime packs quite a punch with a small profile.

2. Can Opener
It opens cans, it opens bottles it has a spoon on one end.

3. Tampon
Yes, that’s right. A tampon. Use it for tinder or a makeshift gauze pad. It’s actually quite useful and I bet you have some in your medicine chest.

4. Zip Strips
I like having these on hand for gear repair or lashing just about anything to your pack or belt loop.

5. Adhesive Gear Patches
Whether its a tent, a boot or an inflatable, these patches are hard core. They stick quickly and last forever. Perfect for when you are in a pinch with a hole in your gear.

6. Rubber Bands or Bongo Ties
Typically, I will pack a few Bongo Ties for their versatility. If not, I opt for these large rubber bands which are tougher and more versatile that their smaller brethren. They can strap down large loads and pack inside one of the VSSL tins.

7. Compact Camp Saw
Easily cuts through sapling size branches for your fire or if you need to build a shelter.

8. Needle and Floss
I prefer dental floss for it’s strength and durability. If you need to stitch up a tear or repair a strap these heavy duty needles can get the job done.

9. Super Glue
I’ve used this to fix just about anything that’s broken including a fishing rod.

10. Duct Tape
No explanation needed here, it has so many uses I could write a book. To fit the tape in I wrap it around a smaller spool that can actually hold other gear inside it.

11. Mini Lighter
Packs easily in the VSSL and actually lasts a long time for such a small package.

12. Paracord
I’ve used paracord as a makeshift belt when my leather broke, a repair solution for one of the lines on my rain fly and more. Very useful and easy to stash in the VSSL.

The Castaway

Should you find yourself stranded on an island somewhere in the South Pacific, pull out your trusty VSSL which is packed with survival items for just such an experience. You may not have a volleyball, VHS tapes and ladies ice skates but my packing list is just as good, and a heck of a lot more practical including the built in SOS signal on the flashlight and my version of ‘Wilson’.

VSSL cache - the castaway

1. Flint
Last a lot longer than a box of matches and is easier than rubbing two pieces of wood together to get your tinder to light. My favorite to use is the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter.

2. Crayon
If you plan on tracking moon cycles on the wall of your cave or just need a backup candle, a crayon comes in handy.

3. Fishing Kit
You could spend your time honing your fish-harpooning skills, or pack some line, hooks, bobbers, plastics and go fishing.

4. Lego Guy
A little company can be nice when you’re away for a while. Smaller than a volleyball and doesn’t require a bloody hand print. You don’t have to name him Wilson. In fact, this guys name is Gene.

5. Water Purification Tablets
Maybe it’s just me but I’ve never been a fan of uncontrollable diarrhea, so clean water is a must have. You can boil it or use purification tabs.

6. Compact Camp Saw
Easily cuts through sapling size branches for your fire or if you need to build a shelter.

7. Waterproof Paper and Pencil
This paper can stand up to the elements so you can pen your thoughts while in the wild. It’s waterproof and packs easy in the VSSL.

8. Duct Tape
No explanation needed here, it has so many uses I could write a book. To fit the tape in I wrap it around a smaller spool that can actually hold other gear inside it.

9. Needle and Floss
I prefer dental floss for its strength and durability. If you need to stitch up a tear or repair a strap these heavy duty needles can get the job done.

10. Mini Med Kit
Waterproof Band Aids, Neosporin, pain relievers and bug bite cream round out this little kit.

11. Multi Tool
Pliers, screw drivers, a knife, a bottle opener, a file and more. It packs quite a punch with a small profile. We figured out which is the best multi-tool here.

The Medicine Ball

The VSSL is an ideal container for a first aid kit (hence the reason VSSL sells one of their own) as it keeps supplies dry and protects them from getting crushed. My list has everything you might need to patch someone up and relieve their pain with Motrin, or a little dose of vodka (use only as directed). From band aids to bug cream I tried to think of items you might need for outdoor cuts, scrapes and burns.

VSSL cache - the medicine ball

1. Neosporin
Quick clean for cuts and scrapes. With kids, some Neosporin and a Bandaid can stop the tears.

2. Vet Wrap
Self adhesive bandage that can wrap a wound or a turned ankle. Vet wrap is the duct tape of medical supplies.

3. Alcohol Wipes
Quick cleaner for scratches and scrapes. These small packets are the perfect compact VSSL supply.

4. Vodka
When you run out of alcohol wipes a little vodka will do the trick. Take a sip or two for the ultimate pain relief.

5. Pain Reliever
I always carry Motrin or Tylenol for my middle aged aches and pains or for more serious pain relief.

6. Bug Bite Cream
Bugs will bite you and it will itch. A little cream will make the situation live-able.

7. Super Glue
I’ve used super glue to seal up cuts and patch cracked heels and feet. Be careful in how you apply it so your don’t end up with your fingers glued together.

8. Waterproof Band Aids
Fingers and hands are always getting beat up on hikes and outdoor trips and waterproof band aids hold their stick and keep you going.

9. Sunscreen
An emergency supply can come in handy so you don’t end up with a painful burn.

10. Tampon
An emergency gauze/wound cleaner and if you find yourself with a bullet hole it fits neatly in the whole.

11. Water Purification Tablets
Clean water is a must when cleaning off cuts in addition to the need to stay hydrated. No need to use dirty water which can make matters MUCH worse.

The Day Tripper

Meant to be tossed in your day pack, The Day Tripper has a little food, a little water and some ‘might need’ type stuff for a day trip. No need to pack fire starters unless you plan on getting lost which you won’t because the VSSL has a good compass.

VSSL cache - the day tripper

1. Water Flavoring
If you drink a lot of water and want to spice it up a little, pack lemonade or Gatorade packets to throw in your water bottle.

2. Clif Bar
An on-the-go meal that can be molded and formed to fit the VSSL. Plenty of flavors to choose from.

3. Rain Poncho
A trash bag rain poncho packs small and with three holes poked in it will keep you dry in a pinch.

4. M&M’s
A little sweet can turn the day around if you are day tripping with kids, we keep an emergency supply of M&M’s on hand all the time.

5. Craisins
The not-as-disgusting-cousin of the raisin, you would be surprised how many will fit in one of the small VSSL tins.

6. Waterproof Band Aids
Fingers and hands are always getting beat up on hikes and outdoor trips and waterproof band aids hold their stick and keep you going.

7. Neosporin
Quick clean for cuts and scrapes. With kids some Neosporin and a Bandaid can stop the tears.

8. Duct Tape
No explanation needed here, it has so many uses I could write a book. To fit the tape in I wrap it around a smaller spool that can actually hold other gear inside it.

9. Multi Tool
Pliers, screw drivers, a knife, a bottle opener, a file and more. It packs quite a punch with a small profile.

10. Paracord
I’ve used paracord as a makeshift belt when my leather broke, a repair solution for one of the lines on my rain fly and more. Very useful and easy to stash in the VSSL.

The Overnighter

When darkness falls, the fun begins. Pull the tinder from your VSSL (in this case it’s dryer lint), light the fire and pour yourself a scotch. It’s all inside. Plus a saw for cutting firewood, wipes if you need to poo in the woods and a glow stick to light your way.

VSSL cache - the overnighter

1. Can Opener
This 3-in-1 tool can open a can, your beer and even has a small spoon on the end just in case.

2. Candle
Fits easily into the VSSL and comes in handy on those calm, dark nights.

3. Lighter
More reliable than matches and easier to use than a flint. A simple lighter will fire up your tinder and your campfire.

4. Tinder
For this list I went with dryer lint which is in endless supply in our house. You can pack a ton in one of the tins and it’s great tinder.

5. Dice
If you’re a yahtzee person or prefer craps, a set of dice can help pass the time at the campsite.

6. Water Flavoring
Sick of water, water and more water? Add some flavoring and keep hydrating.

7. Scotch
Pour yourself a drink, you’ve earned it after a long day. Packs a lot and smaller than a six pack.

8. Multi Tool
The Gerber Dime has a pocket knife, spring loaded pliers, file, screw driver, bottle opener, etc. It packs a punch in a small package.

9. Paracord
I’ve used paracord as a makeshift belt when my leather broke, a repair solution for one of the lines on my rain fly and more. Very useful and easy to stash in the VSSL.

10. Wipes
Wipes can be a great refresher after a long day or a sophisticated upgrade to toilet paper.

11. Waterproof Bandaids
Fingers and hands are always getting beat up on hikes and outdoor trips and waterproof band aids hold their stick and keep you going.

12. Glow Stick
I prefer the white glow sticks, they last a long time and will light up your tent or your late night walk to the woods.

13. Compact Camp Saw
Easily cuts through sapling size branches for your fire or if you need to build a shelter.

The Extended Stay

Whether you are lost in the woods accidentally or on purpose, the Extended Stay is packed with items that last and will keep you going even when your pack starts getting light on supplies.

vssl cache - the extended stay

1. Flint
Once you get the hang of using one you will master starting a fire in any conditions. Here’s my favorite.

2. Tinder
There are so many creative ways to create tinder, for this list I chose cotton balls covered in Vaseline which burn long. Pack them in a tin so they don’t mess up your other gear.

3. Wipes
Like a sponge bath for your campsite, baby wipes have long been used by our military and work for me.

4. Bug Net
I hate bugs and usually have this in my pack anyway but it fits perfectly in the VSSL.

5. Zip Strips
Super versatile and useful for gear related repairs and on the spot handyman-type stuff.

6. Extra Batteries
The VSSL comes with 3 batteries so having an extra set along is a good idea for the extended stay.

7. Bug Bite Cream
If you prefer not to itch all the time it’s a good idea to bring some.

8. Paracord
Tough cord that can replace a busted shoe lace, gear strap, tent line or, heaven forbid, make a tourniquet in an emergency.

9. Duct Tape
No explanation needed here, it has so many uses I could write a book. To fit the tape in I wrap it around a smaller spool that can actually hold other gear inside it.

10. Toothbrush
Why walk around with yuck mouth. These small one or two use brushes will keep the breath fresh.

11. Fishing Kit
For those really extended stays when the food supply is running short, this all-in-one kit has everything but the rod which you can make from a stick.

12. Water Purification Tablets
Can’t live without clean water so having some purification tabs somewhere on hand can be a life saver, literally.

13. Pencil Sharpener
Turns small sticks into instant tinder, keep the blade sharp and it will keep cranking out good fire starters.

The Feedbag

Inspired by my 7 year old son who loves to snack as much as he loves to fish. He took one look at the VSSL and came up with this one on his own. Parents take notice. We took his packed VSSL with us on a fishing trip to our local lake, which I pulled out when his enthusiasm began to fade mid-morning. It’s amazing how some well packed Oreos and M&M’s in a cool container can turn a morning around so dad can fish for a couple more hours. The Feedbag abides.

VSSL cache - the feedbag

1. Peanut Butter Packet
Nice and thin and spreads well on your ritz. A quick protein shot to keep you going.

2. Crackers
The perfect compliment to the squeezable peanut butter.

3. Craisins
The not so disgusting sister of the raisin. You would be surprised how many of these you can cram in the small tins.

4. Clif Bar
Clif Bars are a staple in my diet and I prefer the chocolate chip. You can mold the bar in the package to a cylinder to fit perfectly.

5. M & M’s
My son would fill his VSSL with nothing but M&M’s but I talked him into a small tin for now. Nice to have something sweet in the heat of the day.

6. Oreos
It’s like they were made for the VSSL.

7. Water Flavoring
You have to have a beverage to wash down all this goodness. A little flavored water keeps you hydrated the right way.

Packing Tips

There’s a lot of gear on some of these lists and getting it all to fit takes some trial and error, packing and repacking to get all the puzzle pieces to fit. Here are a couple of tips for maximizing the space.

– Create small ‘kits’ of several pieces of gear in a unique and compact ways. My Mini-Med kit in The Castaway or the fishing kit in The Extended Stay are good examples. Wrap them or pack them tightly in one of the tins for maximum space usage.

50 ways to pack your VSSL

Utilize the ‘Chimichanga Method‘ of packing. Roll several pieces in paper, wipes, trash bag poncho or anything else that you can roll up like a chimi. It makes it much easier to fit them in a cylinder shape and they also come out of the VSSL easier when you need them.

50 ways to pack your VSSL

Finally, try to nest as many items as possible to avoid having any empty pockets, this also holds everything in place a little better

50 ways to pack your VSSL

Where To Buy Your VSSL

I definitely recommend Amazon. They have great prices and different styles and accessories to choose from like the VSSL Supplies, VSSL First Aid, VSSL Suunto edition, etc.


Show Us Your VSSL

Once you get your VSSL and start thinking ways of packing it for your next adventure, send us some pictures of your packing lists and we’ll post them on our site.

Have fun and get packing!