Oftentimes we are asked, "What are the most important survival essentials?" When you are considering what to bring on a trip or how to prepare for a possible survival situation, it helps to start with the most important gear. Though what you ultimately choose to pack will depend on specific conditions and situations, there are survival essentials that should always be considered.
The Bare Essentials
The four basic needs of nearly all survival situations are a shelter, water, fire, and food. The following gear assists with meeting the needs of these four priorities. The order of importance for the following essentials is determined by the needs of a given situation.
Shelter - a light-weight tarp, tent, or extra large rain poncho can provide emergency protection from the wind and rain
Insulating Layers - warm layers of wool or synthetic clothing, rain gear, a warm hat, and gloves assist with regulating your body temperature
Water Container - having a vessel to transport water is key - metal water bottles can also provide the opportunity to heat water over a fire
Water Purification System - a good water filtration pump or purification tablets allow you to have clean drinking water
Fire Starting Tools - carrying at least three different ways to make a fire such as a lighter, waterproof matches and a magnesium flint and steel, in a sealable plastic bag with dry tinder material, will assist in fire-making
Food - snack bars or dehydrated food can provide a boost in energy in survival situations
Knife - a quality, fixed blade knife is a core tool for numerous survival tasks
Navigation Tools - topographical maps and a compass, signal mirror, and GPS unit will help you navigate
Sun Protection - sunglasses, a wide-brim hat, and sunscreen help protect you from sunburn
First Aid Kit - one that includes a variety of supplies such as sterile gauze, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, bandages in various sizes, tweezers, safety pins, scissors, Benadryl, ibuprofen, and any personal medication you may need will allow you to address most first aid situations
Illumination - a flashlight, preferably a headlamp with extra batteries, can allow you to travel or work on survival tasks into the night
Miscellaneous Tools - strong rope, a sewing kit, multi-tool, and whistle can assist in many situations
Though these items are great to have prepared and ready to go, the most important survival essentials are your skills and knowledge of how to survive. There are two major ways that survival knowledge is essential: knowing how to effectively use survival gear and having the knowledge to improvise without gear. Any tools, gear or materials you might have as part of your survival essentials must be used properly in order to serve your needs best. Practice using all of your essentials, and get comfortable with them. Do not leave your gear unopened and unused until a survival situation arises.
Consider this: using a lighter or matches to start a fire in the comfort of your own home is not the same as trying to start one with the same materials while the wind is blowing and the rain is coming down hard. Be sure to practice in all conditions. Similarly, improper use of a water-filtration system can allow contaminants into your drinking water, which could potentially make a survival situation much worse. Understand your gear inside and out. Again, it is vital that you are familiar with how to utilize all of your essentials and be comfortable using them in a variety of conditions. What if one or more of your survival essentials are forgotten, become lost or break? What then?
Wilderness Survival Skills
This is where your knowledge of wilderness survival skills becomes essential. If you end up losing your knife, map, compass, and fire making tools your challenges may have greatly increased! With some wilderness survival training, you could learn how to make a primitive knife, travel using aidless navigation, and make friction fire using wild harvested materials. Then you can manage just fine without the store-bought gear. Even someone with all the necessary tools for survival can still get into dangerous situations through their lack of knowledge and experience in the outdoors. Practice using all of your essentials under a variety of conditions. Start with the setting most comfortable to you, and practice in increasingly more challenging conditions. Survival situations demand that you be flexible, adaptable and skilled with utilizing what you have. Resourcefulness is a key to survival, and an attitude of being open to possibilities can be very helpful as well.
While keeping the essentials on you for survival is important, I`ve found a few additional products that could be handy in an emergency situation:
1) Attmu High Visibility Reflective Wristbands, Pack of 2
These are great to have if you`re doing any sort of construction work, bike riding, etc. because they help you become more visible and lessen your chances for being in danger. These wristbands can be seen by motorists over 700 feet away because of the reflective design! Even a handy thing to have when camping our out in the wilderness in case you become lost to help you become more visible to a search team. These are well made and rather durable - which is perfect for someone who uses reflective products on a regular basis. They are made of elastic with a velcro hook on one end and loop on the other. These are easily adjustable so one size should fit most. I found they fit comfortably and didn`t make me itch as some other similar products do.
2) Attmu Outdoor Survival Paracord Bracelet with Fire Starter Scraper Whistle Kits, Set of 2, 2 Colors
I am absolutely in love with this tool! Once I learned what the paracord bracelets were about I really fell in love with them. Well, this one stands out from others I`ve seen or even used because of the features that this particular one offers. This one is designed around 220 catties per single rope, 3mm in diameter, and suitable for wrist sizes that measure between 7-9 inches in size. The stretch bracelet umbrella rope is about 3.5 meters to 4 meters long. Other than the typically designed paracord bracelet this one has the additional features of a whistle, flint fire starter, and scraper. The scraper can be used as a knife as well. The teeth of the scraper work well as a cutter and could cut the rope with some effort. It`s definitely not of the equivalent of using a knife or scissors, but it could prove invaluable in an emergency situation. At first it was kind of difficult to make a spark with the flint (a cylindrical piece in the center of one side of the buckle), but eventually, I got it done by striking it repeatedly on the metal piece on the other buckle. It gets easier once it`s been used a bit as well and you get more familiar with the product. You use the scraper quickly along the rod and throw sparks onto your shavings pile. This pile will ignite, and for a brief time will burn very hot. If you have your tinder and kindling ready, this is a fantastic way to build a fire and this works in adverse conditions including wet weather. The other method is to prepare tinder and throw sparks directly into/onto it. This works well in dry weather. You DO need to have the serrated portion of the scraper pointed toward you and thus away from the tip of the fire steel rod. If these teeth are turned out, it won`t spark so making a fire wouldn`t be happening. The whistle also worked decently, although not really loud as other emergency whistles would, again, it could be quite useful in the time of an emergency. The only downside I found was that this doesn`t come with instructions to help you learn about all the cool features. It`s no big deal but certainly would have been helpful. Overall I love the bracelet and all the cool features of it. It`s unique, durable, and definitely functional!
3) Attu Restore Multi-Grip Stretch Strap, Black
These straps can definitely come in handy with being stretch grip straps. These measures 49 inches in length and have 10 fixed grips throughout the strap. The straps are made of high-quality heavy-duty nylon which is great for Yoga and Pilates because they help improve flexibility, range of motion, as well as aid in muscle recovery. These are thick, durable, and well made. I was able to successfully use these as was my husband without the straps breaking or even getting slightly torn. When we were done you couldn`t even tell the strap was used. In all honesty, these would also be great to use in a survival situation if need be as well. Can you tell who`s been watching "I nearly died" type shows on Netflix about survival?! Those shows really get you thinking. But seriously, these I believe have more than one use for them. While intended for exercising and stretching, you could easily find other uses whether around the house or in an emergency.