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Basic Wilderness Survival Gear – 10 Essential Items

The average person can survive up to three weeks without food. But you can only last 3 days without water and 3 hours outside of your core body temperature.

Knowing this information alongside what to include in your survival kit can make the difference between life and death in those critical few minutes or hours.

If you have the right supplies with you, you can increase your chance of survival when adventuring into nature. In this article, we are going to explore the basic wilderness survival gear that you need to come out alive from a disaster or from getting lost in the wilderness.

In theory, the more survival gear you have at you the more chances you have at survival, but there is also a flip-side to it. The more items you include in your survival kit, the more weight you have to carry. It’s obvious you can’t take with you every single survival gear you come across, as it will become impossible to carry. You might also not need everything with you, depending on the situation and season you are in.

Here are 10 essential things you should take with you in the wilderness:

1. Fire Starter

Having the ability to start a fire is one of the most important things in the wilderness. Fires help you cook food, survive cold, and keep at bay hungry predators.

You should take no chance with fire starters and carry at least 3 ways to make a fire in your survival kit. We recommend having with you waterproof matches, a Bic lighter, and a striker.

2. Survival Knife

There are a lot of chances that you will need to do a lot of cutting chores in a survival situation. A good reliable survival knife is a must in these situations.

Choose a high-quality knife that you can use for cutting strings, sharpen sticks, and skin your hunt among other things. The ideal survival knife must be razor-sharp and strong enough to cut through even the toughest materials.

3. Map & Compass

You shouldn’t rely only on your GPS for getting out of the wilderness. There are situations when electronic devices might not work, therefore carrying a local map and compass is a good thing. They are lightweight and easy to pack, so there’s no reason for not having them in your survival kit.

It goes without saying that you also need to take the necessary steps to know how to read and navigate maps with a compass. There are courses and training for this purpose.


4. First Aid Kit

A first-aid kit is one of the most important survival gear when you go into the wilderness. Make sure you always have one on your person at all times. There are adventure medical kits that are ultra-light and watertight that are made especially for adventurers.

Not being prepared to handle a medical emergency can quickly make things go from bad to worse. It’s also important to learn how to use the first-aid kit before going into the adventure.

5. Proper Clothing

When you head into the wild, always dress for the worst. Even on a hot sunny day, don’t count on fire alone to keep the cold of the night away. Always wear loose, layered clothing with an underlayer of wool.

Avoid cotton as a general rule, because it retains moisture and that makes it a poor insulator, heavier on the body, and harder to dry out. These factors can lead to pneumonia, hypothermia, etc. That’s why clothes made of wool or synthetic fabrics are recommended. GORE-TEX is the latest material you have to consider as clothing gear for outdoors.

6. Emergency Survival Whistle

In case you get lost, a plastic whistle kept around your neck is recommended. Your voice may not reach far, but blowing your whistle when you are lost can alert nearby people. Since they are lightweight, float, and do not rust, plastic whistles are the ones recommended to have in your wilderness survival gear.

7. Signal Mirror

When a helicopter is passing over you, the last thing you wish to happen is to not be seen. That’s why a signal mirror should be carried with you when you go into the wilderness.

They are compact, lightweight and they can reflect light at long distances. You can carry it in your first aid kit to find it easily and to protect it from damage.

8. Cordage

Everything from a nylon string to a metal wire can be described as cordage. Serving a variety of purposes, from climbing steep places to tying bundles of firewood, high-quality and the lightweight cord can make a huge difference in survival situations.

The utility of a cord is only limited by imagination, as it can be a cloth line, fishing line, food line, and much more. 550 cord (which is type-III paracord) is one of the most popular types of nylon ropes used as survival gear, originally used for parachutes. It has the minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds, hence the name.

9. Water Filtration

We mentioned at the beginning of this article that a person cannot survive more than 3 days without water. Besides this aspect, you need to drink at least half a gallon (2 liters) of water per day. Even a small amount of clean water can make the difference between life and death, but you need to drink plenty of it to be in peak performance, and that amount is simply too much to carry.

That’s where water filters come handy. You can get a water filter that acts as a straw and lets you drink safely from any natural source, which otherwise could make you sick.

10. Flashlight

The last piece of equipment that any wilderness survival kit should contain is the flashlight. Nothing can disorient an adventurer quicker than being surrounded by complete darkness.
If you plan to adventure into the wild and stay outside after dark, make sure you have a reliable flashlight with you. The great news is that, in recent years, flashlights have become smaller and more efficient.
If you don’t want to use a flashlight with batteries, you can try neodymium magnets.

These are the items that any adventurer should have in their survival kit. Make sure that the equipment is of high-quality and reliable because these are not the things you would want to fail.

Get all the knowledge you need to use all the items in the wilderness survival gear efficiently and prepare yourself mentally to face possible difficult situations. And remember, when it comes to your survival kit items, it’s better to have them and not need them, than need them and not having them.