Do you have what you need to survive? We’re sharing our 10 must have pieces of outdoor survival gear to get you through any emergency.
For non-survivalists, emergency gear is only for serious adventurers or those anticipating end-of-days both for the earth or just in terms of capitalism. But survival gear isn’t limited to this very niche market. It’s something everyone should have even if your greatest adventure is a walk in the woods.
Every year, 150 people in the United States die on expeditions in our national parks. Meanwhile, thousands find themselves in trouble in America’s backcountry regions and require help from professional rescue teams.
By now we probably sound like doomsday believers ourselves, but we’re not trying to scare you. It’s just that there are more reasons to invest in survival gear than you think – even and especially if you don’t intend to leave your home.
Putting together a survival kit is a straightforward process. In this article, we’ll share both our methodology and our top picks so you can be sure you’re truly prepared for all occasions.
How to Build a Survival Kit from the Ground Up
Survival kits are focused on preparedness for anything and everything – it’s the foundation of the entire kit. The premise of preparedness should underline the way you buy the equipment found.
In other words, start with the gear directed at caring for your basic needs and scale from there.
For example, don’t worry about a generator large enough to power a working farm if you haven’t yet bought a water filter or shelter.
Your massive generator won’t shield you from the rain or provide clean drinking water – two essential things required for survival.
Our list incorporates the idea of basic preparedness to the extreme. It ranges from 1 to 10 to cover the ultimate essentials up to bigger more nice-to-have outdoor survival gear in the event an emergency draws out into an ongoing crisis.
10 Must Have Outdoor Survival Gear Pieces for Emergencies
Let’s get right into the list.
1. Basic Emergency Kit
There’s a bunch of bits and pieces that should be mandatory for every backpacker or household.
From knives to compasses, these tools can get you out of virtually any scrape without a scratch.
Rather than buying them all individually, consider buying them in a kit.
We recommend Sealed Products Complete 12 in 1 Survival Kit.
It’s pocket-sized and lightweight while still carrying 12 essential tools including:
- Storm-proof box
- Wire saw
- Universal paracord bracelet and whistle
- Emergency blanket
- Tactical pen
- Folding knife
- Multi-purpose credit card tool
- Gold compass
- Firestarter flint
- Firestarter stone
- AA battery
We like this product because it emphasizes our philosophy: it even comes with batteries, so you don’t need to make a second purchase to make the kit work.
2. Emergency Food
Stocking up on food doesn’t just mean filling your pantry, particularly if you’re one of those people who likes to “do things on the weekends” like visit a national park or go hiking.
We recommend the Sustain Supply Co. Essential 2-Person Emergency Survival Bag/Kit. It offers enough food to sustain you for up to three days, and it comes with an extra survival kit.
Inside your backpack, you’ll receive:
- 12 bottles of water
- Sawyer mini water filter
- 2 x 2400 calorie food bars
- MoraKniv knife
- 4 Cyalume Snaplights
- Pack of bath wipes
- 50 ft. of Paracord
- LED Lantern
- 41-piece first aid kit
- 2 reusable blankets
Sustain Supply Co. thinks of everything, and it never hurts to find extra blankets and light sources even if you already have your own. Plus, it’s easy to carry around with you or just leave in your vehicle in the event you find yourself stranded.
Now, you need shelter.
Survive Outdoors Longer offers a two-person emergency bivvy that’s 70 to 90% heat reflective and made from waterproof materials.
Unlike ultra-cheap bivvies, it won’t shred, and it’s reusable, which means it’s easy to pack it up and move it to a new location.
Weight only 3.8 ounces, it’s easy to toss it into any rucksack or even a handbag if you’re really on the run.
4. Emergency Blankets
They get lost; they tear; they’re sometimes single use.
They’re also small and easy to lose.
We recommend these Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets from Swiss Safe.
There are four in a pack, so you can use them for each member of your party or split them into bags, cars, and emergency kits in your garage.
It also comes with a bonus space blanket that’s only half the size of the other four blankets when its folded.
What’s more, drinking unclean water could reverse the effects of hydration by passing on chemicals or even living things that poison you.
Thus, water filters are an essential piece of outdoor survival gear. You should never hit the trail without one.
You’ve got two options for hydration. Straws are the more popular choice because they’re small, cheap, and easy to carry.
We like the LifeStraw: it’s well-reviewed by thousands of customers, and it does everything you need while remaining very portable.
But it’s also good to have a larger one to keep at home or bring to a campsite. After all, straw-size filters only produce enough water for one person, which is obviously problematic in the event of a wider emergency.
The Survivor Filter PRO is our choice for a large filter. It’s a manual filter that tests for viruses and heavy metal and includes a carry case, hose, clip and even a cup. The Survival Filter PRO offers three stages of filtration to create EPA-approved drinking water.
6. First Aid Kit
While these are handy, and it never hurts to have more gauze, you shouldn’t go without a premium first aid kit.
The Be Smart Get Prepared First Aid Kit is a 250 piece kit that surpasses OSHA regulations and suitable for scenarios where 50 people are involved.
We like it because the case is compact and includes a wall mount and the interior is fully organized.
In our opinion, a well-organized first aid kit is one of the most overlooked pieces of kit: in a life or death scenario, you shouldn’t be digging for a tourniquet.
7. Battery Charger
The technology available on battery chargers has changed dramatically, and the cheap version of this product is only slightly better than having no charger at all.
ALLSOLAR offers a solar power bank that charges several smartphones at once.
We recommend a solar power bank because it charges itself in emergencies.
It’s also water- and shock-resistant and dust proof with a lifespan of 500 recharging sessions.
It’s time to start thinking and buying long-term.
A camping stove is a great addition to your survival gear because it serves several purposes. Camping stoves provide heat, ways to cook, and a way to boil water if your other methods of filtration fail.
Consider the Solo Stove & Pot 900 Combo.
It’s a very light cooking system that burns wood and fits in your backpack. We like it because it burns wood – you can run it with your fire starter – and doesn’t require hunting down liquid fuel.
Toilet use in inevitable, but it’s also an easy way to contaminate your drinking water and spread disease.
That’s why a portable toilet is a good investment for outdoor survival gear.
Camco’s Standard Portable Travel Toilet comes in a 2.6 or 5.3-gallon size, allowing you to relieve yourself discretely and then dispose of the waste every once in a while instead of a few times a day.
10. Communication Devices
Maybe the cell towers are down – maybe there aren’t any around. The solution? Satellites.
Communication is key in an emergency, but it’s not always easy.
Investing in an off-grid communication device will allow you to use your phone even when you don’t have service. We recommend the goTenna, which keeps your phone’s GPS on and allows you to text no matter where you are. The device uses an off-grid network that allows you to talk to your contacts or nearby users.
It’s also sold in pairs so you can communicate with other members of your party if you get separated.
There you have it!
That was our 10 must have pieces of outdoor survival gear to get you through any emergency. Make sure to work your way up starting from number one.