Out in the wilderness, your wits aren’t enough to keep you alive. Nature can be harsh and unforgiving- that’s why you need everything from rope to solar fire starter survival tools if you’re going to make it back in one piece. Here’s a few other tools that will help you along the way.
1. The Infamous Duct Tape
Duct tape has a million practical uses–several of them involving outdoor survival. Just as an example, you can fix a tear in your tent, fix your sleeping bag, a busted water bottle, tears in your clothing, and even repair a broken fishing pole. You can even use it as a band aid for cuts, in a medical emergency.
Similar to duct tape, rope is a tool that has several different uses, most of which apply to wilderness survival. With a rope, you can tie down a tent, tie down objects, use it to pull heavy objects, get up and down the side of a cliff, or even make a ladder.
A knife is perhaps one of the most important and vital tools you can have at your disposal, if you find yourself stuck in the wilderness. A knife can be used as a digging tool, a weapon, in hunting, a hammer, a stake, and it can also be used to help construct shelter on the fly.
4. Compass and Map
When you’re dealing with outdoor environments that can be unfamiliar, you’re going to need a reliable compass and map (along with the knowledge of how to use them) if you plan on surviving. Using a map and compass is an essential skill if you have a pre-designed course, that you want to take in the wilderness. Lost proofing is more about awareness of your surroundings, but when you have certain places you want to go and things you want to see, then knowing how to use a map can be really important.
5. Solar Fire Starter
If you’re going to be outside for longer than a single night, you’re going to need a proper tool that will allow you to quickly and easily get a fire started. Solar fire starter survival tools are extremely helpful for when you’re either in an area where kindling isn’t readily available, or if you find yourself in a damp area where branches and other sources of wood can’t easily catch fire through friction.
6. Head Lamp
Has navigating at night ever been a hassle? What about reading a map in the dark? You’ve got your flashlight in one hand and you’re trying to do everything else with the other hand. Or you’ve had to enlist a friend to hold your light, while you do the work and that light is never quite pointed where you want it. Well, there’s a solution for that problem. It’s a headlamp. Don’t go out in the wilderness without one!
7. Portable Water Filter
The portable survival water purifier helps campers or backpackers use whatever water source they can find and turn it into drinkable water. To have a trusted water source, you must carry the water with you or have a portable water purifier, which cleans any water, include sea and stagnant water, in just a few minutes. This way a person does not need to carry heavy water bottles, especially when they are in the wilderness for several days.
Those are all very important tools to have. Of course, it should go without saying that using a light at night can also be dangerous if you’re trying to stay hidden. Maybe you could put a filter on it so it isn’t as bright.
When in the military, though, I often had to navigate land at night. It wasn’t easy. You had to learn how to walk so you wouldn’t trip over roots and rocks. And even after you knew what you were doing, it wasn’t fool proof.
Most if not all survival situations occur without foreknowledge. IE; you don’t plan on getting stuck out there. If you did plan on getting stuck out there you’d either not be in a survival situation- that’s called camping or you would stay home. So……
What you need for survival is things you will have with you all the time and not sitting in a closet.
The headlamp is fine but a l.e.d on your key chain is something you’ll have.
Same with the knife. A good quality small key-chain knife is a whole lot better than that great looking survival knife you show if the 12″ knife is sitting at home cause it so damned heavy.
The solar fire starter is just BS. Probably works great on a nice sunny day in Arizona. When you really, really need a fire it’s cold, wet and windy The sun is up there somewhere but you can’t prove it, or it’s night and you’re shivering too much to hold anything steady. Bring a Zippo for Pete’s sake.
The Kid that works and plays in the wilderness year ’round would agree with everything on the list but the fire starter. He’s got a lot more stuff in his ‘short excursion’ pack than this. A couple of things in there are an emergency blanket and high calorie bars. He also has a small wet stone for sharpening his knife and a basic first aid kit. But we are talking priorities here, you’ve done a good job Mason!
Good basic list, thanks.
I might quibble with the order, that’s about it :) I’d move a good non-Rambo knife to #1 or #2. Instead of the parabolic reflector, I carry a few credit-card-size Fresnel lens magnifiers. (I mostly use them to read small print on menus in dimly-lit restaurants, but you get the idea.. :) )
@Josh: if you want to “tame down” a flashlight/headlamp/etc. check the automotive aisles at your local megamart for a “Taillight Repair Kit” – basically a big sheet of sticky back red plastic. Makes the light a bit harder to see at a distance, and won’t mess with your night vision as much. Works great on a vehicle’s dome light, too. Let’s you read a map, and still be able to see the road when you turn it off. :)
Agree 100% ExPat. I do always have a headlamp with me somewhere. The knife is ridiculous – better off with a good locking folder and stone. I’ve started countless fires in the rain with a bic lighter – night or day, rain or clouds. The big cumbersome solar fire starter should stay on the shelf in somebody else’s garage. A few matchstick sized pieces of pitch wood, some kind of water bottle/ canteen, a few small snares should be there too. Otherwise – pretty good list!
Very good list Mr. R…and each of us have our favorites for when we’re going to be “out”, and several of our items ride in our emergency bags in both vehicles. One of our favorite fire starters though is a bic lighter with a “sleeve” of bicycle innertube cut it’s length. Very slow burning, but is a bit smoky at first. Figure if it’s safe to start a fire it’s safe to have some smoke :-)
I gotta agree with the comments on the firestarter choice. Bic lighters are cheap and are time proven to work in most disasters.
As far as the credit card Fresnel magnifying lens, don’t count on it to start a fire! My tests with the flat lenses has shown that it takes one as large as a sheet of paper to really be effective at starting a fire in most sunlight.
My personal two favorites are a weatherproof butane lighter or maybe a Zippo, and a flint and steel striker set on a cord.
The Zippo has the ability to be refilled easily, only today’s blend of gasoline doesn’t work as well as the older blends, if substituted for fuel in a pinch. It also doesn’t work if it gets real wet. That’s why I prefer the weatherproof butane lighter.
One’s choice for a firestarter is a personal one based on what you like. The main thing is to try it out under different conditions BEFORE you make a choice. You’ll be glad you did!
That’s not a bad idea. Seems better than what I was doing. I would color in plastic wrap with a red sharpie marker, unscrew the lens cover and wrap it around the lens. It wasn’t fool proof because if you touch the marker while wet, it doesn’t’ stick all that great. It got the job done, but I like your idea better.
Cool list for a beginner like me. I have most of these on the list. I would recommend the lifestraw for water filtration. It’s small and can take the ugliest mucky water and you can drink right from it with the straw.
I like the solar fire starter…although of course you want to have a lighter as well. I don’t know if you guys have ever used one of the solar fire starters, but it’s pretty amazing. We are talking about 5-7 seconds to get a nice little coal burning, even if the kindling is a bit damp. You can’t do it that easy with a lighter. It is not large either, it looks a lot bigger in the image and since it’s round it really doesn’t take up a lot of space.
I am a fan of a good Swiss army knife as well. It is small and you can do so much with it.