Survivalist's Toolkit 101

Posted by jack ma on

An excellent survival kit is one that is well-organized, lightweight, efficiently packed and suitable for a variety of environments and situations. To some extent, the contents of your ideal kit will vary depending on where you live and the sorts of emergencies you think are most likely, and this list is by no means exhaustive. Still, some tools are widely useful and can justify the space they take up in almost any kit.

A High-End Survival Knife
This is arguably the bread and butter of any good survival kit. With an excellent knife, you can dress game, defend yourself, and craft many other helpful tools. Buy the best knife you can — a great one will justify its cost many times over. Shop Tactical Knives

Fire-Starting Tools
You'll want several different kinds so that you can have warmth, relative safety and cooked food in (almost) any environment. Waterproof matches, a focusing lens and either flint and steel or a magnesium striker comprise a solid trio. These items are small, nearly weightless and enable you to start a fire using several different methods.

Starting a fire with materials you scavenge in the wild can be surprisingly tricky. Put a handful of cotton or dryer lint in a waterproof bag and you'll have enough tinder for about half a dozen fires.

Medical Supplies
It's a good idea to be very selective when it comes to medical supplies. They can take up a lot of space, and advanced medical equipment isn't helpful unless you're trained in its use. Consider packing your bag with only the bare essentials: a suture kit, a tourniquet, a hemostatic agent, bandages, iodine or alcohol, pain medications and broad-spectrum antibiotics if you can get some. These items are small and lightweight, and they generally don't require much training to use effectively. Shop First Aid

A Versatile Multi-Tool
Many survival situations involve building and fixing things. A space-efficient multitool, like a good knife, easily justifies the space it takes up in your bag. Shop Multi-tools

Water Purification Tablets
Drinking untreated surface water is never ideal; even finding water in a survival situation is a skill in and of itself. Water purification tablets are tiny, and you can purify many gallons of water with a single bottle of them.

It's always good to have some extra water around. A solid canteen is an indispensable tool to have in your survival kit. Consider a collapsible model that takes up minimal space when empty.

A mix of nylon rope, paracord and thread with high tensile strength will help ensure you're ready for a variety of climbing, hauling, sewing and tying needs.

Fishing and Hunting Supplies
At minimum, a fishing kit should contain a few different gauges of line, hooks, a small net, and a few lures and weights. For both fishing and hunting, you'll want a few small knives for dressing, skinning, and deboning if you can spare the space in your bag. If not, your survival knife will do.

Waterproof Paper and Pencil
Being able to sketch maps, draw diagrams and take notes is always helpful, even in the wilderness. If possible, make sure your paper and pencil are waterproof — you never know what the weather is going to be like.

Light Sources
Stock your bag with a hand-crank or battery-powered flashlight, a few road flares, and some glow sticks. The flares can also be used to ward off animals, signal for help or start a fire if other methods fail. Glow sticks are a great alternative to flashlights when you need reliable, low-intensity light that doesn't depend on bulbs or batteries. Store the glow sticks in a hard plastic or metal case so they don't crack in your bag and become useless. If you're not sure which light to use, check out our guide on how to choose a tactical flashlight. Shop Flashlights

Signaling Mirror
A small mirror can be used to signal other people or to start a fire by focusing sunlight. It's a simple yet very effective tool that doesn't take up too much space in your survival kit.

Hand-Crank Radio
A radio that doesn't rely on batteries is a good way to monitor broadcasts that may contain useful information. However, these devices tend to be bulky and heavy compared to most of the other things in your survival kit, so depending on your forecasted needs, a radio may not be essential.

Hand-Crank or Solar Charger
Assuming your phone or GPS will still be functional in the thick of an emergency, you'll need to keep them charged. Hand-crank universal chargers are labor-intensive and inefficient but are very reliable and don't depend on any other energy sources. Solar-powered chargers can charge more easily and efficiently, but of course, they require sunlight.

Lightweight, Nonperishable, Nutrient-Dense Rations
Once you've packed your survival bag with all the other items you'll need, it's a good idea to fill any remaining space with food. You never know what you'll be able to hunt or forage, so any food you can carry with you is vital. Prioritize calorie-dense, protein and fat-rich foods that don't spoil easily, such as beef jerky, peanut butter, and nuts. Pack your bag with as much food as you can without making it too heavy or unwieldy.

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