There’s nothing like spending a few weeks out in nature with nothing but the stars and surrounding wilderness to keep you company. There are many fantastic memories that can be made from being a survivalist, but with that comes a lot of risk. Beautiful as it is, the most predictable thing about nature is that it’s unpredictable. Here are our top 10 survival gear essentials that you should always bring before embarking on a trip in the wilderness.
Shelter can be a lifesaver when you’re out in the wilderness, especially if you plan to survive on your own for more than a week. Packing a tent is a given, but you also want to make sure you cover all the basics: a rain fly (unless your tent already comes with one), a sleeping bag, and a sleeping pad.
Staying warm and dry is another crucial element of survival. Thus, we highly recommend that you carry a tarp. Tarps can be helpful when you need to set up a last minute shelter or guard your gear from the elements. We also suggest you carry a survival blanket in case of emergencies. Hammocks can also be used for shelter if you have a sleeping quilt, a rain tarp, bug netting, and extra straps.
First Aid Kit
We hope you never have to use one, but accidents can happen when you least expect it, especially in the wilderness. Nature is beautiful, but it can also be unforgiving. With that said, you should always carry a first aid kit, even if you’re only going for a day hike. For extended trips, make sure your wilderness first aid kit includes the following materials:
- Various types of bandages
- Extra sunscreen
- Antiseptic wipes
- Burn cream
- Antibiotic ointment
- Eye bandages
- Medical tape
- Single use saline
- Sting wipes
- Basic, over the counter medications (ibuprofen, aspirin, sinus medicine, e.t.c.)
Water Filters and Food
When surviving in the backcountry, you won’t have access to clean water. Clear, mountain lakes are tempting to drink out of, but it’s never a good idea to risk ingesting a nasty bacteria. You also won’t have access to food, resulting in reduced energy and malnutrition.
To prepare for your trip, make sure you pack water filters. These can come in the form of pump filters or purification tablets. While hydration should be your first priority, it’s important to get enough nutrients in your body. For food, make sure you pack freeze-dried foods, ration bars, and other miscellaneous snacks. You can never carry too many granola bars for quick, easy boosts of energy!
A multi-tool can save the day during a sticky situation. Plus, their compact size makes them very convenient for backpacking or extended wilderness trips. Choose a multi-tool that meets your needs while covering all the basics at the same time. They come in many forms that range from traditional designs to multi-tools concealed in pens. Add a whistle and a signal mirror along with your multi-tool to fully prepare yourself for any emergency.
If you don’t pack a headlamp, at least carry a flashlight. However, we’re partial to headlamps for their convenience. Regular flashlights are fine for weekend camping, but headlamps are fantastic for survivalists. The reasons for this have to do with their ability to produce light without needing to be carried. This may not seem like much of a difference, but when you need to start a fire as the sun begins to set, you’ll want to have both hands available.
A solar power battery charger can help you find out about severe weather conditions, charge your phone, or other miscellaneous items like flashlights and heated blankets. You can also purchase a radio powered by solar energy, which is especially helpful for offgrid survivalists. In the case of an emergency, modern technology can help use solar power to contact first responders or prepare for weather.
While you should always give loved ones a definitive timeline of events and how long you plan to be gone prior to leaving, have at least one communication device on hand. We highly recommend sticking with a shortwave radio, preferably powered by a hand crank or solar power. This can allow you to contact first responders in the case of an emergency without relying on cell phone service. Radios are especially helpful for offgrid survivalists.
Fire should be one of your top priorities out in the wilderness. It’s every survivalist’s go-to resource for warmth, cooking, light, and wildlife protection. Even if you don’t have any of the other items on this list, a fire could potentially save your life.
Fire starters don’t have to be fancy, it’s merely up to preference. You can stick with good, old-fashioned matches, but they have a higher risk of getting wet. If you’d like to go with more reliable fire starters, consider purchasing flint or carabiners with built-in blades that automatically produce sparks.
Make sure to pack personal toiletries and hygiene items. Anything that’s travel-sized and easy to pack will be enough to keep you comfortably clean during your trip. Make sure to include hand sanitizer, lotions, and toilet paper. Pack plenty of extra clothes and footwear. Nothing’s worse than wet, damp clothes while you’re trying to get warm. Try your best not to overpack, but have a few extra pairs of clothes when you run into rain, snow, or mud.
Always have a navigation system handy in case you get lost. This can come in the form of a water resistant, tear proof map, a compass, or a GPS system unrelated to your phone. For extreme emergencies, a SPOT locator gives first responders coordinates to your location immediately. No matter what, have at least one of these items with you at all times, even if you’re knowledgeable about the area.