Top Survival Items

Survival supplies are essential if you are hiking, skiing, backpacking and out in the wilderness. This is a list of the most important survival items to have with you when you are outdoors. Many outdoor enthusiasts love to agonize over what belongs in their survival kit. Here are the top supplies that we think belong in a small pack for quick trips into the wilderness. Of course, a GPS unit and a satellite phone would be handy, but this collection is meant to be a cheap backup for times when those items are damaged or inaccessible.

Main Survival Items to Have

Fire Starter Kit

A fire provides warmth in the cold, heat to cook food and purify water, and a potential rescue signal. Survival experts will tell you that a fire is also good for helping you to keep a positive mental outlook.Aside from your first aid kit, any backwoods hiker should also pack a fire-starting kit. Get a waterproof box and pack it with a couple of lighters, some weatherproof matches, a flint and steel or magnesium fire starter, and a small magnifying glass lens. Another good thing to keep on hand in the event of wet conditions is some wet fire tinder. It’s inexpensive and burns at a scorching 1,300 degrees in almost any conditions. The magnifying glass lens can be used to concentrate the sun’s rays into a fire-starting beam. The flint is used with a stone to make a spark. Even if you’re just a car camper, pack a fire kit and practice starting fires without using your lighter and wax fire log.


Some mirrors are specially suited for signaling rescue and include sighting holes that allow you to more accurately aim the reflection. They better ones are typically made of something besides breakable glass, like Lexan. And some of them float so you won’t lose it in water or have ties you can tether to a backpack. But in a life-or-death situation any kind of mirror will do. The great thing about signal mirrors is that size doesn’t matter. Even a small 2- by 3-inch mirror flash can be seen during the daytime from about 100 miles away. They work best in good sunlight, but they also work on overcast days and can reflect headlights, flashlight beams and even bright moonlight. You can also use it to check your face for injury or simply to admire the beard you’re growing.

Water Purification

Humans can only live a few days without it, and that’s in ideal temperatures and conditions. You can live without food for up to a few weeks as long as you have water. If you’re planning on going on a wildlife adventure, you should have more than one way of purifying water available to you. Water filters come in all shapes, sizes and prices. You can choose anything from one no bigger than a fat drinking straw for emergencies to a pump model that screws onto your water bottle. These can filter a quart of drinkable H2O in just a few minutes. Make sure your filter takes care of cryptosporidium and giardia, two of the most common parasites.

To be on the safe side, you should pack some water purifier tablets or solutions as well. They’re generally made of iodine or chlorine compounds. If taste matters to you, go with the less offensive chlorine. It’s also a good idea to pack them in different areas in case you become separated from your backpack. Put the larger filter in your backpack and your tablets and emergency filter in a waist pack, or even carry them on your person.

First Aid Kit

Start with a nice supply of medications — some wound cleaner, antibiotic ointment, alcohol, pain reliever, antacid, aspirin and antihistamine. Throw in some tweezers, gauze, bandages and eye wash. If you have particular needs, like allergies or diabetes, be sure to keep emergency supplies in your kit. Pack some hydrocortisone cream for rashes and burn ointment in case you get too close to the fire.

If you go with a small pre-packaged kit, be sure to include these extra items: superglue to use for wound closure, inflatable splints and trauma dressings, and a venom extractor kit for snakebites. But remember — if your extractor isn’t handy, the venom will probably take its toll before you can get to it. The last thing you should pack is a travel-size first aid manual to guide you through the best steps to take in the event of an accident.

Rope and Fishing Line

This essential tool will always surprise you with how many ways it can be used, including securing equipment, making traps and shelter construction. Also pack a spool of snare wire and a small reel of fishing line with a hook. And if you don’t know how to tie a few basic knots, you’re almost better off leaving the rope at home!

Emergency Blanket

One of the greatest challenges you’ll face when caught out in the open is conserving body heat, especially when lack of food may make it harder to stay warm. Lying unprotected on the ground also exposes you to heat-sapping moisture and all types of unsympathetic creatures. You can easily hold on to your own warmth with one of the latest survival blankets or bivvy sacks; the latter are essentially ultralight sleeping bags that offer even more efficiency with little extra cost and about the same load. Whatever you choose, it should be both thermally reflective to conserve body heat and light reflective to double as a visual location tool.


Now you can have dependable, portable light by taking advantage of high-efficiency LED lights that provide nearly equivalent illumination for much longer stretches with lighter batteries — or even forget about batteries altogether with the latest hand-crank lights that never need any power but elbow grease. One of the coolest new survival light sources combine the electroluminescent (EL) technology used in chem-lights with super-efficient energy consumption and control. These lights can double as both a focused utility light source and an emergency locator flare. I vote for the hand cranked lighting.

A Good Knife

When choosing your knife, go with one that includes a blade that is 4 to 6 inches long, 5/32 to 8/32 inches thick, and made of high carbon or stainless steel. Some people give a thumbs down to partially serrated blades because they’re hard to sharpen. But they can be handy. There’s also the option of a tough butt cap for hammering and defense, and a well-designed, non-slip grip is essential. High-quality blades hold their edge under rough treatment, but it’s a good idea to have a handy, easy-to-use sharpener on hand just in case.

Basic Food

Peanut butter and honey, energy bars, canned food. I’d like to make a suggestion here and that is to learn the basics of edible plants and berries in the woods. Some we can eat and some are poisonous so know the difference.

Fishing Supplies

To use as a food source

Compass or GPS

So you know where you are and if you have a map you’ll know what direction to go. A GPS can take coordinates of your exact location and if your cell phone works you can call for help.


So you can see and to be rescued


For making noise to be rescued

Survival Items For Home

Basic Handcranked / Solar Device

This is an AM/FM radio, flashlight, cell phone charger combined. Small and portable for emergencies

Good Bicycle

If the power goes out and we can’t get gas for our cars then a bicycle will be a good way to get around.

Seed Supply Kit

Keep a supply of seeds to plant for a food source. You can grow your own vegetables and survive.

Backup Generator

For power. You can get solar powered, battery, gas or diesel generators

Water Supply

Find a local stream or river and boil the water. You can dig a well. Stock up on water bottles and jugs.

Food Supply

Have a good supply of canned goods, flour, sugar and items that you have canned (and sealed). Get the survival seed kit to grow food.


For planting and growing things.

Basic Tool Kit

You will need basic tools to survive, fix things and create new things you might need


So you can cook outdoors in a fire pit or on a wood stove

Backpacker Hammock

Easily fits in your backpack and can be used to set up for sleep.

Plastic Trash Bag

Catch rain, make a rain poncho or windproof your shelter.

Be prepared at all times.

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