An occasional look at products the travel industry insists we need.

WHAT: Mini-survival kits.

AIMED AT: Travelers to the great outdoors who are short on both space and survival skills.

HOW MUCH: $6.95 -$8.95 per kit; options are fly-tying, candle, compact cups , poncho, etc.

BUT DO THEY WORK? We love things that come in small packages. And if they can save us from freezing, dehydrating or starving, we will happily give up anything larger than a soap box. Labrador Outdoor's palm-size kits are at turns cute and purposeful, and cute and pointless. The pair of collapsible cups (pictured), plus hydration manual, makes sense. There are some good tips -- and sips. We also appreciated the waterproof matches that came with the candle. And while the hooded poncho is needed for any hike, a book on how to wear it is not. Most entertaining -- and functional -- was the fly-tying kit. We built our own nymph with just a hook, string, Hungarian partridge feather and some lint-looking material (all included). Now we just need a mini-kit with a net, or a trout.

-- Andrea Sachs

Labrador Outdoor kits are available through the company at 800-345-5359,, or online at