Being prepared is the most important item when it comes to survival no matter the situation. First, this list is by no means the be-all-end-all list of best survival kit items. Keep in mind the more items you take with you the more difficult everything becomes to carry. Some areas of the wild will require these items plus more or even less. That’s why being prepared is key so you have something for every scenario. (This list assumes you’re wearing the proper clothing for your environment!)
Below is a list of the 15 best survival kit items. The top nine items should always be carried no matter the situation:
#1 – Cell PhoneDepending on where you are you may not be able to get service, however having a means of communication is a must if you run into trouble and and need assistance. If you are able to get your hands on a satellite phone that’s even better! This budget friendly(ish) DeLorme Two-Way Satellite Communicator might do the trick. If money is no object check out this bad boy!
#2 – Means to Make FireDon’t take chances with this item. You’ll wan’t to carry at least three fire lighting tools, should any fail, break, or go missing. #1) Matches in a waterproof container with an “O” ring seal. #2) A striker #3) A lighter. Always supplement your three fire lighting tools with your choice of tinder and fire lighting aids. Be sure to read my best fire starter kit guide!
#3 – Carbon Steel Survival KnifeYour choice of a good survival knife is crucial! My How To Choose The Best Survival Knife Guide teaches you what to look for in the perfect knife. That said, you can’t go wrong with either the KA-BAR BK-22 Campanion or Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife. The carbon steel blade is strong and comes razor sharp. You can wear on your hip or attach to a string and wear it around your neck.
#4 – Pealess Plastic WhistleAlways carry a whistle and have it around your neck for easy access. Pealess is recommended so the whistle won’t freeze or clog when you need it the most. This bright orange micro whistle is field tested and even works when wet! For more information read how to choose the Best Survival Whistle.
#5 – Personal First Aid KitNo matter where you travel you should carry a personal first aid kit at all times (this includes keeping one in your car too!). It’s a basic but critical item that should not be left out of reach. Be sure to carry extra pressure dressing to stop the bleeding from any large wounds.
#6 – Signal MirrorA high quality glass signal mirror is recommended however can easily be broken. This lightweight acrylic mirror can do the trick.
#7 – Compass
A quality compass is an essential aid to navigation. GPS is nice but what if there’s no service and/or the battery dies?
#8 – Strong RopeAt the very least carry two sections of 3m long high quality nylon rope. If you can carry more, do it. Lightweight should be okay but always go for quality. Grab 30m of rope in almost any colour you can imagine here.
#9 – FlashlightA small yet bright LED flashlight like this Bell And Howell Taclight is perfect so you can see where you’re going at night and use as a signal. Be sure to carry some inexpensive mini flashlights as backups and don’t forget the batteries! Be sure to include a hand-crank flashlight in your arsenal just in case all your batteries die.
Best Survival Kit Items
The below items you can live without but are difficult to replicate in the wilderness, however if you foresee an extended stay in the wild (especially in the cold) you’ll have a tough time without them.
#10 – Cooking PotA decent cooking pot with lid and bail handle will make all the difference in a survival situation, especially in winter. If this isn’t an option for you (it’s not the easiest to carry around) then having a single-walled wide mouthed metal water bottle instead of a plastic one will be okay.
#11 – Bow SawA bow saw will make any cutting situation easier and could mean the difference between life or death if stuck in the cold. The bow saw is better than an axe or hatchet since it’s lighter, easier, and requires much less effort and energy to use.
Preparing for Complications
These next four items will save your life in critical and/or unforeseen situations or complications. If you or a companion falls ill, gets injured, or unable to light a fire, you’re screwed. Make your life easier and more comfortable with these items below:
#12 – ShelterTake a shelter appropriate to the weather and conditions. Winter shelters require wood or snow to build along with proper tools. In the warmer months you can use a poncho as an excellent improvised shelter or carry along a tent when you know you’ll need to stay awhile.
#13 – Sleeping BagA quality sleeping/mummy bag with waterproof cover will keep you warm without a fire and/or in a snow shelter in harsh conditions. A sleeping bag is a lifesaver if you are injured or unable to light a fire. Over the long term the added comfort will allow you to get more uninterrupted sleep at night which leads to more productive days. If you expect to be caught in the extreme cold this TETON -37C rated sleeping bag may be worth it.
#14 – Self-Inflating MattressA self-inflating mattress will insulate you from heat loss due to conduction, add insulation to or completely replace an evergreen bough bed.
#15 – Backpack or Waterproof ContainerLast but not least a backpack or waterproof container large enough and sturdy enough to carry the above listed items. Waterproof the items inside that need it and/or cover your backpack with a waterproof poncho.
Live Easy in the Wild
These extra items will come in handy and make for a more comfortable and easier survival situation. These include:
- high energy food source
- extra layer of warm clothing
- water purification gear
- leather gloves
The only thing that should stop you from taking more of these items is the overall amount of weight you can carry.
Why These 15 Critical Items?
It’s imperative that every item you take is actually useful. Most think a dinky survival kit will suffice when in reality they should properly prepare by organizing critical survival items. Some fishing line and a Swiss Army Knife is lovely in a few limited situations, but it will be proper clothing, matches, a survival knife, a whistle, and a First Aid Kit that will save your life.
As my final word you must keep in mind that nothing beats being prepared and using your brain. Common sense can only get you so far so be sure to check out the list of survival training classes available throughout Canada to find one near you. And at the very least study some published survival books and guides in your spare time.
What are your most important survival kit items? Would you take more or less? Leave a comment below and share.