Coghlan's new "5-1 Survival Aid"

I have tested Coghlan's "4-1 Whistle" for several years now in my RK Survival Kit (see my review of the 4-1 there). This year, Coghlan's has one upped themselves with a new "5-1 Survival Aid". I first saw this at the Bass Pro Shop in Cincinnati, Ohio and at a price of $3.49, I had to check it out.

Here's what you get:

  1. a liquid filled compass with luminous dial
  2. a waterproof match box (plastic with rubber o-ring)
  3. a signal whistle (ball type)
  4. a fire starting flint striker (3/4" long)
  5. a nylon lanyard (aprox. 42" in lenth)


6. a small 1" signal mirror! (inside the match box cap)

Maybe Coghlan's just mis-counted, but there is "SIX" pieces to this kit. Let's take a look at each one.


This compass is simple yes, but it is a good one and accurate enough for most common usages. The package says it has a "luminous dial" and the compass looks like it does, but the one I bought does not glow at all. Even when I put it up to a light bulb for a few moments. It would be nice if it did glow, but the compass is usable as is.

Waterproof match box:

It is approximatily 2 1/2" deep and 3/4" wide made out of PVC hard plastic. A very durable material and good in size. I got 19 of the 2 1/4" long "strike awaywhere" matches in it with one striker strip (from the side of the box), a needle and 5 of the small snelled fish hooks (in a little baggy) into the case and topped all this with one cotten ball (stuffed in for noise or tinder). You can decide what all you want in it, but that is what I got in there for reference. It seals good with the rubber o-ring and stays tightly shut till needed.

Signal Whistle:

It is a ball type whistle. Simple, yet effective, this whistle is fine for most needs. I did use a piece of leather to stuff into the "ball hole" to keep it from rattling.

Fire Starting Flint:

Okay, this is definately the "weak link" on this tool. The striker is 3/4" long and just about totally useless! I really can't get it to "spark" at all with this length. The kit does not come with a "steel striker" and I commend Coghlan's on saying this up front and not trying to hide it. Still, its too short to be used effectivily. I suggested to them to replace it with a "box of matches".

Nylon Lanyard:

This lanyard is approximatily 42" in length. The cord is a usable length, although I have no idea of the actually "tensil" strength of it. Its a little long for my taste, but I can deal with shorting the cord verses needing a longer cord in an emergency. I'd say that you have about 3' of usable length when tied off, so it will do in a pinch when you have nothing else for general tying needs.

Signal Mirror:

Not mentioned on the front, it is pointed out on the back of the package. This is a great idea! I have been putting these small 1" round mirrors in the tops of pill vials for years and they are perfectly protected there. If you take the time to learn how to use a mirror and your figures to signal with, this mirror will do the job.

There you have the Coghlan's new "5-1 Survival Aid". Even though the flint striker is useless and the compass doesn't "iluminate", this $3.49 tool is a good one. With a little work and a couple of additions like the ones above, you can easily make this into a cheap and simple pocket kit. No it's not perfect, but for most of us out there, this one does 95% of our needs for a "toss in the pocket" and go kit.


Oh, did I mention I wrapped the whole thing with about a 10" piece of duct tape?

Kurt Hoffman

Kurt Hoffman