Survival Items You Need To Have In Your Backpack


I have always felt that knowledge is much more valuable in a survival situation than survival items or gear. However, there are a few essential survival items that can mean the difference between life and death. Now, you have probably heard about the ‘Ten Essentials’ before. These essentials first appeared in Mountaineering circles and included a list of items considered essential to survive in remote areas. As a basic summary, the list includes items for navigation, light (headlamp), sun protection, first aid, fireshelter, knife, water, food and clothing.

This is a great list to consider if you have sufficient time to plan and prepare for a journey. However,  what items can you consider to take with you if you do not have access to all these items? The most valuable survival items for any situation are those that serve multiple purposes or those that guarantee you one of the four pillars of survival:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Shelter

These items do not have to be all that expensive, so you can probably get your top 5 put together for under $100. Here are my top 5 survival items in order of importance.

Full Tang Knife

A good knife is essential in a survival situation because of its versatility. You can use your knife for hunting, cooking, self-defence, building a fire, building a shelter, and even building other tools. A quality knife will comprise dense high-carbon steel. This will help it retain an edge while also allowing the use with a fire steel. The knife should be full tang meaning that the blade extends to the end of the handle with one continuous piece of steel. Folding knives are great for a backup blade, but they are never as reliable as a full tang knife.

Fire Steel/Ferro Rod

Fire is one of the most important focal points in any survival situation. This is again because of its many uses. Fire can help you purify water, cook food, keep away predators, kill bacteria, repel insects, and stay warm. There are dozens of tools that can help you make fire, but a good fire steel is the most reliable. Fire steels are windproof, waterproof, and require no fuel. This means that you will have fire as long as you do not lose it.

ALSO READ: Ways to start a survival fire

Filtered Water Bottle

Clean drinking water is essential to survive. Without it, most people would not survive for more than three days. You can always build a fire to boil and purify water, but it is nice to have a way to stay hydrated on the fly. There are plenty of different ways to purify water quickly, but I feel that a bottle with a filter built into the lid is the most convenient. You can dip it in a creek or pond, screw on the cap, and you are good to keep moving. Just clip it to your belt and take it with you. With a rolled steel bottle you can cook with it as well.

Tarp-Style Emergency Blanket

When the temperature is dropping, and you need shelter quickly, nothing beats a thick emergency blanket. You can throw up a shelter in a few minutes and be protected from the wind and the rain. These blankets also have a shiny side which reflects 90% of your body heat back to you. The blanket has metal eyelets along the edges to make it easy to tie off with cordage. You can also just wrap up inside the blanket if you do not want to take the time or energy to build an actual shelter. These can also be used to create a makeshift pack, to signal for help, or to smoke or hang meat.

550 Paracord

You can always make cordage in the wild if you need to, but having some on hand is helpful. 500 paracord is strong enough to hold a grown man’s weight but is thin enough that knots are easily tied. If you cut it open, you can remove the inner strands, each of which is strong enough for building a shelter, for trapping, or for fishing.

There are also several ways to carry it with you. I like to replace my boot laces with paracord, so I always have some handy. I also have paracord lanyards on my water bottle and pack. If I know I will be in the wilderness for several days; I like to take a spool of paracord with me (but that is probably an overkill). I completed my last four-day survival challenge with just the paracord in my boots and had more than enough to build three shelters.

Survival Items Supported by Knowledge and Skill

As you can see, having these five items in a survival situation can make a huge difference. With these items, you have an easy way to purify water, build a fire, build a shelter, and trap, hunt, or fish for food. However, knowing how to use them is just as important as having them with you. Take the time to practice with these items, and you will be that much more prepared.

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