Even if you are not a Boy Scout, I think “Be Prepared!” is still a good motto to have. Being able to survive without modern conveniences is a lost art, but these skills can be life-saving. There are countless survival guides online, so it can be tricky to tell what you actually need.
However, all survival experts agree that a few certain things are critical for surviving in any situation, and you can add other items to your list depending on your climate. Every modern day survivalist should make sure that they have these essential items to be prepared for any sort of situation.
An Outdoor Knife for All Situations
A knife is absolutely essential to outdoors survival because it can be used to help you to make food, shelter, and fires. While a pocket knife is definitely handy to have, I think a fixed blade outdoor knife is more versatile.
This type of knife works equally well while gutting fish, carving a weapon, or chopping up sticks. I personally like the Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife, but really any type of knife that is roughly 4-5 inches long with a sturdy, steel blade will do.
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Flashlights Provide Reliable Lighting
Most survival guide lists jump immediately into items that start fires, but flashlights are a better option than torches or candles when you need to see in the dark. Whether you are lost in the forest or just dealing with a minor power outage, a flashlight will be extremely useful.
A relatively small flashlight is great for portability, but a good, heavy Maglite flashlight is great since it also doubles as a baton in a tense situation. Regardless of what type you pick, make sure that you remember extra batteries.
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Basic Paracord Rope Proves Surprisingly Useful
It might not seem essential for survival, but rope is actually needed to build shelters, create animal traps, subdue attackers, carry large bundles, or many other things. You could improvise with strips of cloth or grass, but that is very inefficient.
Most survivalists recommend that you include at least 50 feet in your survival kit so that you do not run out of rope. Rope has proven so beneficial in survival situations that some companies market bracelets made out of paracord that will be with you at all times.
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Paired Down First Aid Kits May be Lifesaving
You might not have space for a full box of medical gear, but even a smaller first aid kit is useful. Just make sure that it includes some bandages, antiseptic ointment, pain killers, butterfly stitches to close wounds, and any prescribed medicine that you need.
If you do not want to make your own personalized kit, you can find some excellent mini kits from Johnson and Johnson. These contain basically everything you would need to deal with small wounds or minor injuries.
A Good Waterproof Tarp Makes Shelter So Much Easier
If you love learning about survival methods like I do, you have probably learned several methods of making shelters from grass, sticks, mud, or even snow. These shelters may be useful, but in an emergency, you might not have time to make them.
A simple waterproof tarp allows you to quickly set up a shelter in extreme conditions. You can layer natural materials over for insulation so that you stay warm and dry. Choose a smaller tarp so that you can pack it easily.
Have Several Fire Starting Methods to Avoid Problems
At the very least, you should have a decent amount of waterproof matches in your survival kit. However, many survival gear list mention that it is useful to have a backup. Other handy fire starters include lighters, flint and steel, and magnesium strips to create a flame.
You want as many choices as possible because a fire can be necessary for survival in colder climates. Even if you are not in danger of freezing to death, you can use a fire to cook meals, boil water, or scare away predators.
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Pack At Least a Little Fresh Water
Though you do not want to be lugging around pounds of water, you still want some drinkable water in your survival gear kit. It will get you through small emergencies or help you survive while looking for another source of water.
Doctors recommend that grown adults drink at least a gallon of water each day during emergencies, so try to at least have one gallon in either individual bottles or a jug. After you drink the water, you can use the container to transport more.
Carry an Axe To Collect Wood
You do not need to drag around a massive axe capable of chopping down trees, but a small hatchet is a great tool to have. You can split dry wood into easily usable logs or chop green wood for a shelter.
Axes are also great because they can quickly break through larger items. In an emergency where another person might be trapped by a fallen wall or tree, you can use the axe to rescue them.
Find Your Way With a Compass
It may be possible to navigate with the stars or the sun on a clear day, but this will not always be an option for you.
If you get stuck in a blizzard or lost on a downcast day, a compass will keep you from wandering in circles for hours. Make sure you choose a waterproof one.
Ziploc Bags Provide Easy Waterproofing
These little plastic bags can be used for more than just storing sandwiches. They fold up easily to fit in any bag, and they can be used to protect tinder from rain, carry water from a creek, or keep your emergency radio dry. Pick the freezer Ziploc bags for their extra thick, durable plastic.
Get Water Purification Tablets For Reliable Hydration
In most survival situations, you can find a source of water, but it is not always going to be clean drinking water. Fortunately, a lot of companies make small tablets that can purify water of most harmful microorganisms.
To use these tablets, all you have to do is stir in a tablet and wait the recommended amount of time for it to work. The Potable Aqua tablets are great because one tiny bottle treats 25 quarts of water which will last you a while.
Pack Basic Tools to Get Food
In long term survival situations, feeding yourself will become increasingly important. If you have the space, include some small, lightweight tools used to catch or identify food.
Good choices include an edible plant booklet to forage for items, a hook, lure, and fishing line to catch fish, and a pellet gun to catch small game.
Stay Warm or Cool With a Reflective Thermal Blanket
In survival situations, extreme temperatures can become life-threatening. The main use of a thermal blanket is wrapping yourself up and trapping body heat, but you can also put it on top of a tent to reflect the sun away and keep your camp cool.
These lightweight blankets are very small, but they have many uses. The reflective surface can be used to signal for help, and the waterproof material will help to keep shelters dry.
Large Steel Containers Help to Cook Food
A big thermos, canteen, or cup can double as a cooking pot as long as it is made from steel or another fireproof material. Heating food will help to raise your body temperature and kill any dangerous microbes while you are living in survival situations.
Cooking might not be a main focus in short term survival scenarios, but it becomes increasingly necessary as time goes by. A steel cooking item is definitely worth adding to your survival gear even though it slightly increases weight.
A Big Rain Poncho Prevents Hypothermia
A lot of the focus in survival situations will be protecting yourself and your gear from the water and the cold. A large rain poncho can keep you dry on the move, and it can also double as a sack to carry things or part of a shelter. Pick one made out of thick fabric for extra durability.
Secure Items With Duct Tape
Duct tape has a variety of uses in repair and construction, so I was not surprised to see how many survival experts recommended it. This tape is fantastic whenever you quickly need to secure an item, and it can even be used to create new things.
Duct tape can be used to repair tears on any material, create a sling or splint in a medical emergency, hold together broken tools, or stop leaks. Duct tape is also rather flammable, so it can be used instead of tinder in a pinch.
Contact Others Through Radios
A ham or C.B. radio will keep working even if satellite signals fail or power outages occur during an emergency. This makes them a great way to talk to others during emergencies if you have people close by. With emergency backup battery power, radios can work for several days.
Bring Many Extra Tools Along With a Single Multi-Tool
Most survival gear needs to be lightweight and portable, which can really limit your space. That’s why I really like the many great multi-tools that are being developed.
These devices are like a bigger, better version of the classic Swiss Army pocket knife. A good multi-tool can include pliers, tweezers, wire cutters, files, screwdrivers, and scissors in a single compact item.
Being Prepared for Any Type of Emergency
You may already have a few of the items on this survival gear list, but now is a great time to make sure that your survival gear is up to date and complete. Since most of the items are so small, you can even pack them together in a portable bag to make a handy survival kit.
Remember that you probably don’t need every single item on this list immediately. Depending on where you live and what type of situations you get into, some of these may never be necessary. Feel free to start small and begin by picking out the items that seem most useful to you.