A "minimal kit" should be sized so that it is light-weight and very compact. I carry my kit in two M-16 ammo pouches on a military pistol belt with a canteen and canteen cup. A less "military" option I discovered at Sam's is a "waist-pack" that has a pair of 1-liter water bottles attached to it. This gives me all the tools I feel are necessary to survive successfully, if not quite as comfortably as I might wish.
Looking at commercial kits, I felt the major source of bulk and cost were the consumable supplies -- food and water. Rather than including lots of prepackaged stuff, I decided to pack tools that could be used to gather and prepare supplies. There are plenty of ways to "make do" in the field so that you won't be stuck with a large kit. Fish traps and spears can be made from "found materials;" drinking water can be had from solar stills, transpiration bags, or boiling ground water; wire or cord can be stored compactly and be used to create snares. Once you figure out your imagination is yor greatest tool, you'll see multiple uses for everything.
This is what I keep handy as a "bare minimum" of a survival kit. This is the first phase of my 3-phase method of designing and building a customized survival kit. As time, money, and space permit, this basic kit is simple to augment through the addition of more tools and supplies.
|canteen, cup, water tablets||carrying and purifying water|
|snare wire/cord||gathering food, shelter lashing|
|fishing kit||gathering food|
|can openers (GI and "lever" type)||opening "found" foods|
|dipped matches||fire; cooking, signalling|
|Boy Scout "keyring" striker set||fire; cooking, signalling|
|emergency poncho||shelter, moving or stationary; signalling|
|space blanket||shelter; signalling|
|first aid kit||prevention/care for injuries|
|pocket knife||cutting, improvising tools|
|wire saw||cutting, improvising tools|
|orienteering compass||keeping direction|