If you like spending time in the great outdoors away from civilization, the gear you carry with you is crucial. While it will mostly come in handy to make your time in the wilderness easier and more comfortable, there are times this gear could be necessary for survival and just may save your life.
Outdoor survival gear is a collection of essential tools and equipment designed to help you survive and navigate through challenging outdoor environments or situations. These items are vital when access to basic necessities and modern conveniences is limited. While the specific gear you need can vary based on factors such as the environment, climate, and the length of time you’ll be spending outdoors, here’s a list of standard outdoor survival gear you should carry with you on your next expedition.
GPS device, compass, paper map
While having a GPS device or other navigation technology is incredibly useful to have, they aren’t foolproof. There’s always the possibility you could lose signal out in the wilderness or run out of battery. Remember to bring extra batteries and a paper map of the area as well as a compass as backup and learn how to use them.
Tent or tarp, sleeping bag, bivvy bag, emergency blanket
Whether you’re camping in the backcountry for a few days or want to be prepared for any survival situation, having a solution for shelter is crucial. A good shelter will protect you from the elements and insects. While you can always make a shelter with resources, it’s not the easiest to do, and it’s best to bring one with you. A tent or tarp is essential for protection while a sleeping bag is perfect in cooler climates and a bivvy bag will help reflect heat in high temperatures.
Waterproof matches, lighter, fire starter
Another essential part of survival is being able to make a fire. A fire will provide warmth, a means to cook food, a form of illumination, and protection from wildlife. You should always pack multiple forms of fire starters in case one gets wet or damaged. Waterproof matches are essential for starting fires while a lighter is always a reliable backup. You can purchase different fire starter tools such as tinder to help ignite fires in the wilderness easily. Check out our guide on how to build a fire.
Water filtration system, water storage, purification tablets
Water is essential for survival so you should always make sure to bring enough drinking water for your trip. However, in an emergency situation, you may be gone longer than you planned for so it’s important to be able to locate a natural water source or have tools to make water safe for drinking. A water filtration system and/or purification tabs are incredibly useful to ensure the water you find won’t make you sick, however, you should always boil water before drinking it to kill pathogens and bacteria. In addition, you’ll need something to store the water in so water bottles or a camel pack are important.
Food and cooking
Non-perishable food, compact cookware, portable stove
Another survival essential is food, as it provides the energy and nutrients necessary for survival. Some people may have the skills to hunt or forage, however, it’s always important to bring along non-perishable food items such as canned foods or freeze-dried meals for emergencies. Having compact cookware for cooking is also useful. While a portable stove isn’t essential as you can always cook over a fire, it can make life easier.
Medical supplies, SPF 30+, insect repellent
While we always hope for the best-case scenario, accidents do happen, especially in the wild where a lot of things are out of our control. Rough terrain, extreme temperatures, poisonous plants, unclean water, insects and other wildlife, and mis-footings or falls can all cause unexpected injuries and illnesses. However, in the backcountry, help isn’t always just a phone call away and you may be hours from conventional medical care, so it’s important to be self-sufficient. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial to pack a well-equipped first aid kit with all the essentials you may need while out in the wilderness. A standard first-aid kit should include bandages, antiseptics, pain relievers, and other medical supplies. You should also bring sun protection and insect repellent as well.
Multipurpose Knife or Tool
Carrying a multi-tool is one of the most useful tools you can have while out in the wilderness. The great thing about a multi-tool is you only need one tool that can easily be kept on you and it can perform a variety of tasks. A multi-tool can be used for preparing meals, building a shelter, removing hot pots from the fire, for first aid, sparking a fire, foraging for food, repairing other gear, cutting branches, etc.
Headlamp, flashlight, extra batteries
Far away from civilization, there is no light pollution from urban areas. If you’ve ever been out in the wilderness at night you know just how dark it can get. Having a form of illumination is incredibly important. Headlamps are great as they provide hands-free lighting so you can continue essential tasks after dark. Remember to bring extra batteries.
Whistle, signal mirror, flares, portable radio
In the unfortunate situation that you become lost or injured where no one else is around, having a way to communicate with the outside world can save your life. Whistles, signal mirrors, or flares can be used to attract attention and signal for help while a portable radio allows you to communicate and receive emergency broadcasts.
Paracord, utility rope
Paracord and/or utility rope is an essential part of any survival gear and also one of the most versatile as it can be used for many purposes. They’re useful for building shelters, setting traps, keeping food and valuables suspended off the ground, making a splint or a sling, hanging clothes, pulling heavy objects, or any other use you can think of.
While these items are an essential part of your survival gear, remember that the specific gear you need ultimately depends on the environment and the activities you’ll be partaking in while in the backcountry. It’s important to always do thorough research and tailor your gear to the conditions you expect to encounter. Additionally, it’s essential to know how to use your gear effectively and practice survival skills before you find yourself in an actual emergency situation. Taking a Wilderness First Aid course can be incredibly useful. You’ll learn how to identify, prevent, and treat a variety of common injuries and illnesses you may encounter in the wilderness as well as invaluable life-saving survival skills that just may save you or a loved one’s life.