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While there are a multitude of complete survival kits available for you to buy online or at a sporting goods store, the truth is you will be better served by creating a customized survival kit by purchasing each of the items separately.
This way, you can become more inherently familiar with each item that is in your survival kit, and you can also confirm that you actually have everything that you need. The truth is that many of the ‘complete survival kits’ don’t have everything that a survival kit should have, and furthermore, the items that are within those kits may not be of the highest quality in order to cut down on price.
Therefore, taking the time and spending the extra money to put together your own survival kit by purchasing the items separately wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Let’s go over the best survival tools that are absolutely necessary to be included in your kit.
Presented in alphabetical order:
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Table of Contents
The bandana is perhaps the most classic survival item of all and with good reason. At minimum, include two bandanas in your survival kit. You can use them for the following purposes:
- Cool Compress
- Gun Rag
- Shelter Building
- Signaling (if brightly colored)
- Toilet Paper (last resort option)
BONUS TIP: in the morning, tie bandanas to your ankles and walk through a dewy field to collect water.
What would the world be like without duct tape? Okay, obviously things would be fine without it, but you get the idea: duct tape is highly useful and can be used to fix just about anything.
In a survival situation, you can use duct tape as a sling, to fasten splints to injured limbs, as a makeshift bandage, to wrap a knife to a pole to make a spear, or to help build shelter.
Extra clothing will take up space in your survival kit, but it’s also important in order to stay warm and to change into something else if the clothes you have on you presently get wet.
The three most important extra clothing items to include in your survival kit will be a warm jacket or coat, a warm hat, and an extra pair of socks or two. If your socks get wet and you continue to stomp around in them, trench foot can set in, and it can be devastating and possibly result in amputation if it goes long enough without medical attention.
Fortunately, this can be remedied by simply changing into a dry pair of socks.
Fire Starting Devices
Of course, building a fire is a top priority in any survival situation. In fact, getting a fire started is arguably more important than building a shelter in most circumstances. Sure, a shelter can protect you from the elements, but it’s a fire that can keep you warm, enable you to cook food or boil water, or help you see in darkness.
The more fire starting devices you have in your survival kit, the better, and the top three best fire starting items to include will be a box of waterproof matches, a magnesium flint striker, and a waterproof lighter.
First Aid Kit
A complete first aid kit is a must in a survival kit. Don’t buy a cheap $5 first aid kit that doesn’t even have each of the main essentials. Just as you want to buy each of the items separately in your survival kit, so you will want to do with your first aid kit as well.
Even the smallest of injuries in a survival situation must be treated with the absolute strictest of attention. Just a tiny cut or a scrape on the knee can result in an infection setting in that lowers your chances of survival, and since you won’t have access to professional medical help, it’s up to you to take care of yourself and whoever you are with.
Here is a list of first aid items that are a must have:
- Alcohol Prep Wipes
- Elastic Bandage
- First Aid Manual
- Gauze Pads
- Prescription Meds (if necessary)
A flashlight is a must for the sole reason that it can help you to see in darkness. One of the best flashlights on the market is called Maglite. These are duty flashlights that are primarily designed for military and law enforcement use, and they are among the most durable flashlights in existence to the point that they can be doubled as defensive clubs as well.
Maglites are available in a wide variety of different sizes; the lighter and compact sizes would probably be preferable for a survival situation in order to save on weight and space. Including an extra set of batteries will also be vital.
Food may not be a ‘tool’ per se, but it’s still an important item to include in your survival kit. While you can last for three weeks without food, you will feel hungry and an intense drain of energy in less than 24 hours without it.
The best kind of food to store in your survival kit will be food that is nutritious, portable, and that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Protein bars and energy bars will be your best bet.
Garbage Bag (Orange)
A garbage bag is perhaps the most overlooked survival item in existence. In a survival situation, a garbage bag can be used as a poncho (cut holes in the top and sides), for rainwater catchment, for a solar still to collect condensation to drink, for keeping clothes and other items dry, or if it’s bright red or orange, as a signaling device.
A solid argument can be made that a hatchet is even more essential than a knife. That’s not to say that a knife isn’t worth including in your survival kit (on the contrary, it fully is), but it is to say that a hatchet cannot afford to be overlooked.
A hatchet is an excellent tool that can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including: hacking ice, chopping firewood, helping build a shelter, getting a fire started (hack the edge of a blade across a rock), or as a close quarters self-defense weapon. Furthermore, some hatchets come with a hammer install on the opposite side of the blade, which will also be highly useful.
Of course, you expected to see the knife included in this list. The knife is an absolutely imperative survival item and a top priority to include in your survival kit due to the fact that it is one of the most versatile tools in existence. From self-defense to cutting/splitting wood to cleaning game to getting a fire started with a magnesium flint striker to carving tools, the knife can do it all.
Specifically, you should include two knives in your survival kit. The first should be a fixed blade knife in a sheath that you can keep strapped to your side. The military KA-BAR knife is an excellent example of a high quality fixed blade knife.
Make sure that your fixed blade knife is a full tang knife with the blade extending into the hilt for added durability. The fixed blade knife can be used for fastening to the end of a pole to make a spear, for splitting firewood, and for defense,
The second knife should be a smaller folding tactical knife that you can clip to your pocket. This knife can serve as a backup to your full tang fixed blade knife or for purposes where a large knife simply isn’t necessary. Examples of things you can use a smaller knife for include getting a fire started or carving wood.
A metal container can be used for cooking food or boiling water over a fire. Any metal container that’s of decent quality will work here.
Rather than include heavy and bulky rope in your survival kit, carry the lighter and just as useful 550 paracord instead. Paracord is a highly useful survival item because it will be invaluable for building shelters or rappelling down steep cliffs. A convenient way to carry paracord will be in the form of a paracord bracelet.
Personal Hygiene Items
Personal hygiene and sanitation is not something to overlook in a survival situation, even though it commonly is. You want to keep yourself as clean as possible in order to keep infections at bay.
With that in mind, here are the top personal hygiene items to include:
- Chap Stick
- Deodorant (travel sized)
- Hand Sanitizer (can also be used to help get a fire started)
- Shampoo (travel sized)
- Soap Bar
- Toilet Paper (at least 1 roll)
- Toothpaste (travel sized)
As long as you have a garbage bag for the task, then carrying a poncho may not be necessary. That being said, having at least something to use as a poncho will be imperative to keep you as dry as possible from the rain.
This one is debatable. On one hand, a shovel takes up a lot of space and weight in your pack, even if it’s a folding model.
On the other hand though, it’s incredibly efficient for digging holes and trenches (which can be good for everything from disposing of human waste to building shelter), and it can also be used as an effective self-defensive weapon as well. Some also come installed with a serrated blade for defense or for cutting through wood.
A tarp is very bulky even when folded and will take up the most amount of space in your survival bag, but it’s simply so useful that you can’t pass it up. There is no better shelter building in existence than a simple tarp.
In fact, with nothing more than some poles you find in the woods, some paracord, and a tarp, you can get a lean-to or A-Frame shelter built in less than thirty minutes easily. You can also use a tarp as a blanket/sleeping bag, as a mattress, or to catch rainwater.
As with food, water may not be an actual survival tool, but it’s still incredibly important to have with you because you simply can’t live without it.
Always carry water in a metal canteen/container (for durability). You can only survive for a maximum of three days without water, and you’ll start to feel the negative effects of dehydration (pounding headaches and a severe loss of energy) in less than twenty four hours. This means that carrying water, with additional means to procure more, is absolutely necessary.
A personal water filter that will allow you to drink water directly from the source is a definite must. The best personal water filter on the market is the LifeStraw. Even though it costs less than $20, it will remove 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and filter up to 1,000 liters before needing to be replaced.
Water Purification Tablets
In addition to a water filter, you will need water purification tablets as well in order to make the water extra safe to drink. Never attempt to drink water directly from a natural source in the ground without first filtering or purifying it (or both).
It’s simply not worth the risk and drinking contaminated water can sometimes be even more dangerous than not drinking any water at all. Purification tablets such as AquaTablets will purify water in less than 30 minutes and make it safe to drink.
All in all, the above items are each fully necessary to be included in your survival kit due to their usefulness and their versatility. Sacrificing any of these items in an attempt to save weight or space could ultimately play against you in a true life-or-death survival situation.