Whether you're interested in planning for the apocalypse, you're prepping for a natural disaster, or you want to spice up your life with a camping trip, you should be thinking about the ultimate outdoor survival kit. If you don't already have one to deal with life's seemingly endless surprises, it might be time to start one – just in case "The Big One" hits Los Angeles or another Hurricane Katrina moves through the gulf coast.
You may not already know what needs to go into your kit, but you'll be ready for anything with this list. Check out the top 10 things that are must-haves for outdoor survival.
Whether it's a Japanese tanto (long used for tactical gear) or a basic hunting knife, you need a sharp tool to handle the great outdoors. A knife can help you sharpen sticks for tent stakes, sever cord and rope for rigging your shelter, cut bandages if anyone's injured, and skin and clean animals that you've hunted.
The ideal knife should be full tang, lightweight, and easy to maintain. You don't want to pack a knife only to realize later it's already dull after just a few days in the bush!
Map & Compass
While technology is an amazing tool if you're stranded, you can't always rely on cell service and GPS. You'll need a backup just in case service is down, batteries are drained, or your tech tools just don't work. Pack a compass in your survival kit along with detailed maps of your local areas. Consider city maps as well as maps of local trails, mountains, and preserves to ensure you're ready for anything.
First Aid Kit
Injuries are an inevitable part of life, and a basic first-aid kit can go a long way to keeping everyone healthy. Pack these first aid essentials, and you'll be able to provide immediate assistance for most minor injuries:
Antiseptic cream and alcohol wipes
CPR pocket mask
Pain medication and anesthetic spray
If you're stranded anywhere when it gets cold outside, you'll need to be able to start a fire. A magnifying glass could be enough for starting a fire during the day with the right tinder, but you should also plan for other situations with matches, a lighter, a striker, and some dry tinder. With all these backups, you'll have something that works if one fails. You'll also want to store all of these in waterproof bags to protect them from rain, river crossings, and any accidents.
Remember, the average person needs two quarts of water per day to survive. If you're planning on staying put the entire time you're outdoors, you can stock up on some water bottles in long-term storage containers—but you may also want to make sure you have a water purification system in case you need to move. Most systems will include two bags and a filter, so you can capture water in the "dirty" bag before running it through the filter and into the "clean" bag.
Dirty or contaminated water can cause life-threatening illnesses like giardia, typhoid, cholera, and dysentery, making a clean supply of water absolutely crucial.
Sometimes, you can't start a fire. Other times, you'll need to keep moving at night. Having a flashlight or headlamp makes navigating your landscape much more manageable. It also makes camp setup after dark possible. You can buy flashlights that are solar powered to save on weight and space or pack extra batteries for more traditional flashlight configurations.
You might have an RV or other camping vehicle when you're in survivalist mode, but you can't count on a car in every environment. You also can't expect any old backpack to do when you're carrying 20-40 lbs of gear and essentials.
A survival backpack ensures your gear is protected and you're able to stay mobile no matter what you're carrying. Some of the best packs come with hip and shoulder straps to help disperse the weight of your equipment more evenly, and many have exterior pockets and additional straps for everything from water bottles and snacks to sleeping bags and inflatable pads.
Hypothermia is a real concern in the outdoors – even if it's just 50°F outside! If you're wet once the temperature drops, you need a way to get dry and heat up fast. A solar blanket is a lightweight piece of equipment that can keep you warm when sleeping bags and liners just aren't enough.
You may not want a heavy piece of rope like the one you climbed in middle school gym class when you're out on the trails, but cordage is a survival essential. It's versatile and flexible enough to handle a variety of situations, from making a fishing line and triggering traps to hanging food out of reach of animals and climbing steep topography. Consider paracord, which can handle up to 550 lbs. of weight.
Basic Fishing Gear
Even in ideal situations, hunting with a crossbow, gun, or knife isn't easy. And unless you're an expert, you run the risk of going hungry without easier tools for gathering food. A fishing line and hooks are lighter than any other hunting tool and offer a passive way to hunt while you work on other essential survival tasks – like building a shelter or starting a fire.
Picking A Place To Start
When starting your survival kit, you can find plenty of ready-made packages that claim they have all the equipment you need, but it's best to gather your tools to ensure their durability, effectiveness, and longevity. You should also consider practicing with each tool in your kit to guarantee you know how to use it when the time comes.
There's plenty of other gear that can make surviving in the outdoors easier, including tents, all-wool socks, dehydrated food, and eating utensils—this is the bare minimum you'd need to stay alive. What else would you put in your kit?