Survival Gear 101

Survival Gear Essentials

Maybe you pride yourself in being a survivalist who knows how to make it through anything. When things go wrong, others count on you to get things together, keeping peace and order.

If you call yourself a survivalist, then you’ve got to keep up on the best and latest gear to help you through the next survival situation.

This is a simple list of what you need, and why. We’ll run through each piece of gear so you know what to use, and when.

What Does “Survival Situation” Mean?

A survival situation is one in which there is an elevated risk of injury or death. For some people, this may be their philosophy for everyday living. In reality, that is simply not the case.

Of course, anything can happen at any time. You could be facing illness, car trouble, or home-maintenance issues. While these may seem like catastrophic events, they are more likely just a part of the ebb and flow of normal life. These are not considered survival situations.

A true survival situation is one in which you find yourself completely disoriented. These are severe situations in which you find yourself wondering where you will find your next meal, shelter, or medical assistance.

These events range from natural disaster to economic crises which make it really feel like your world is upside down. The possible scenarios on this list is seemingly endless.

These situations require a survivalist/s knowledge and resourcefulness. If you are in a survival situation, you will know almost immediately. But, what good will it do you to simply know that your situation is a matter of life or death? Knowing is not enough. You have to be prepared.

A true survivalist never wants to be in these situations, but they sure are prepared for them!

Why You Should Care and Prepare

It doesn’t take much thought to understand why survival skills are beneficial to just about anyone. You don’t have to be an outdoor enthusiast or extreme survivalist to benefit from these potentially life-saving skills. By familiarizing yourself with survivalist gear, you just might thank yourself the next time you find yourself in a pickle. What’s more, you might even get to help someone else. Here are a few reasons for you to care about this list of survivalist gear:

1.     Helping others and protecting yourself By preparing yourself ahead of time, you will not be alarmed or overcome with panic at the first sign of a survival situation. By learning about survivalist gear, you will grow to understand the severity and austerity of survivalist scenarios. You will also be able to help others under duress. Many people in this world don’t spend time thinking about the “what ifs.” Fortunately for them, you do! You never know how many people you could help, or how many lives could be saved by your survival knowledge.

2.     Keeping your homestead The gear on this list will help you to protect the life you’re hoping to return to after the crisis is over. Most of the time, survivalist scenarios are not long-term. However, if you do intend to return home after the survival situation comes to an end, then you’ll need to familiarize yourself with this list.

3.     Maintain order in chaos From staving off hunger to calming others, your survivalist know-how will help to maintain order in chaotic situations. In survival situations, hungry people are anxious people. If you’re prepared with the proper gear listed here, you’ll be able to help your loved ones stay comfortable and well-nourished in times of trouble. Every survival scenario needs someone to be the pillar of calm. That could be you, if you study up beforehand.

Survivalist Gear Essentials

Survivalist situations are greatly varied depending on geography and climate. By grouping the gear into subcategories, you can be prepared for any situation, any time, anywhere.



These tools have seemingly endless uses. They are relatively lightweight and are excellent as a travel-friendly tool. Use a hatchet or axe to collect fire wood, build a makeshift home away from home, and make other hunting weapons. You could also keep your axe or hatchet handy for peace of mind/self-defense.

Make sure that your axe or hatchet is sharp enough for use. You don’t want to end up stranded in the woods with a dull axe, and nothing with which to sharpen it! Many sporting goods stores will offer you blade maintenance/sharpening at little or no cost.

You will get a lot of use out of your hatchet. This is an item you’ll only need to purchase once if you make the right choice.

Pocket Knives

This is the survivalist’s best friend. Pocket knives can be used to open food containers, fashion other tools, and clean up whatever you caught for dinner. You could use it for cutting material to make shelter bandages, and who knows what more!

Make sure you invest in the best quality pocket knife you can afford. Going cheap with a knife will leave you high and dry when it comes time to use it in a survival situation. You should have several knives per group. Ideally, everyone in your group should have one (except children and those who do not practice proper knife safety.)

Pocket knives come in a variety of designs and sizes. You should choose a knife which is suited to your personal comfort to ensure proper use and safety.

Water Filtration Systems

Here is something which can truly be a life saver, for obvious reasons! You’ve got to be sure your water source is safe for consumption. There are large and small water filtration systems. You will need to make your purchasing decision based on the size of your group and the likely duration of your survival situation.

For individual water filtration systems, try the LifeStraw. This will filter whatever water you drink through it, regardless of the size of the container. It is perfect for keeping on yourself if you’re on the move, as you can use it with any water source. Plus, when you buy a LifeStraw, a child in need will receive clean water for a whole school year. That’s a purchase you can feel good about in ways more than one!

You can also try using a water filtration system which works by using gravity. This method is much slower, but will help you save lots of water for later use. You can do other survival activities while the gravity-fed system does its job. Better yet, bring both systems! Then, you can use the individual filtration system while you’re waiting for the gravity-fed one to do its job.

Water is essential for preserving your life in a wild situation. Make sure you don’t skimp on supplies, here!


This one is self-explanatory. Where will you set up shop for the night?


This is the most essential shelter for the survivalist. Make sure you get a tent suited to the number of people with you. You will be saving yourself from all sorts of trouble by packing a tent. Whether it’s raining, snowing, or clear and sunny, you’ll have a safe and dry home away from home.

A tent will also help to preserve your psyche while you’re out on your own. If you can set up a place which serves as home base, you’ll be able to keep a sense of routine. In times of chaos, sticking to order and routine is crucial to maintaining order and sanity—whether alone or in a group.

When selecting a tent, be sure to check the label for any hazardous materials involved in the manufacturing. Many tents nowadays have a cancer warning on the label. This is because many tents have a material which is flame-resistant. While this protects you from fire, it can be very bad for your health.

If you must buy one of these tents, make sure that when you’re inside you have some ventilation. Also, try not to touch it with your bare hands, or walk around in it barefoot. This lessens the harmful effects.

Sleep Systems

Your body must have temperature regulation at night if you are to be remotely comfortable in your survival situation. While sleeping under the stars sure sounds wild exciting, your back will ache and your immunity will suffer. The ground just about anywhere gets very cool at night, and so you must have a proper sleep system to stay warm.

You can also get a sleeping pad which will help to further insulate your body from the cold of the ground. This will be important in staying strong and energized for the next day. Nothing throws off your survival energy like a bad night (or nights) of sleep!


Here’s a surprising item on this list! Often thought of as only for vacations, a hammock can keep you very safe at night in the wild. Hammocks can be used to keep you high up while you sleep, but they can also be used to keep your supplies out of the wrong hands!

You’ll be safe from many animals and even other people by sleeping in a hammock. Height has long been a survival technique of many animals. You’ll have a safe place to get some sleep, along with an excellent perch with a view of all the activity below you!


It sounds redundant, but this is like having supplies for your supplies. Keep everything in order with these items!

Silicone Bags

These reusable food storage containers are excellent for saving everything from food to trash and wet items. You can keep some leftovers in a bag and keep it in your bag for the trail as a snack. You could also keep waste items in it as a way of reducing your footprint/evidence of habitation. By leaving wet items (with a smell) or food improperly stored, you’re asking for the attention of a bear or other curious nighttime critters.

High Denier Nylon Drawstring Bags

If you know how thread count works for bedsheets, then you should have a pretty good grasp of what a denier rating is. Denier defines how thick the outside of a bag is and is essentially the same as a thread count. Just as with bedsheets, you’ll want to look for a higher denier count. A solid denier nylon drawstring bag could save your precious supplies from the elements. You could keep small, precious items safe in these. For example, it you have to leave home quickly, you might have cash or jewelry on your person. Keep it in a high denier nylon bag for ultimate preservation.

All-Weather Back Packs

Waterproof backpacks are a must-have! You will keep your goods safe from water damage. You wouldn’t want to eat a soggy sandwich, or put on soggy socks, would you?

In fact, keeping your clothes dry is essential to your survival. Something as simple as fresh, clean, dry socks can help to regulate your body temperature at night. Your feet sweat an awful lot, and when temperatures drop at night, you can be sure that your cold feet will be bad for your immunity.

Keep your clothes like socks and underwear and other emergency items in your waterproof backpack. You’ll thank yourself after the first rainfall. Make sure your backpack is waterproof on the interior and exterior.

Gun Holsters

You may want to carry a side arm for your protection. Proper storage and carrying is crucial to protecting you and your loved ones with you in this survival journey. No matter what type of weapon you carry, be sure you have it properly covered and stored. It could save your life. All it takes is tripping over a tree root or slipping on a rock with a loaded weapon, and you have an accidental fire. This is so preventable! Do yourself and everyone else around you a favor. Practice gun safety by keeping your weapon in a good quality holslter!

Reusable Water Bottles

So, you’ve filtered your water. Now, what? Keep it in an airtight, reusable bottle! Plastic bottles can release chemicals over time which are hazardous to your health. In a survival situation, you need to take every measure to preserve your immune system. Plastic bottles might be easy, but they do more harm than good in the long haul.

Invest in an aluminum or stainless-steel water vessel. This will also help keep your water at the temperature you prefer! These bottles are very durable, unlike plastic bottles.

You’ll also be able to stash up the water you filtered with the gravity-fed system. If you find yourself in a pinch, you’ll be able to rely on your back-up supply.


Why bring lights in the wilderness? Here’s why: you’ll be able to stay up a bit later and perform more survival expert hacks by extending your day. You’ll also be able to check for hazards such as animals, bugs, etc. in the wee hours.

LED Lanterns

This is an essential survival item whether you’re stuck without power at home, or you’re out in the woods. They extend light like no other, covering a wide radius. You could light up your whole tent or workspace with just this one light!

An LED lantern is ideal for keeping an eye out for potential threats to your territory. Some are solar powered which will save you packing space, as you won’t have to worry about saving up batteries!

Many of these lanterns have extensive life, and will be the first light source you reach for at night.


Lighters will save you much time and effort. Start a fire for cooking, warmth, or keeping animals away. You won’t have to worry about rain-damaged matches! Try buying a multi-pack of lighters. Keep a few dispersed in bags, and one or two on your person at all times.

You could also use the light given off by the flame of the lighter to have enough visibility while still being discreet about your presence.

Tactical Flashlights

Why should you bother with a tactical flashlight if you’ve got a regular one? Well, it could serve to protect you in ways more than one.

These bad boys give off enough light to cause temporary blindness. They’re also usually pretty heavy, and could be used in a defensive situation. The are very powerful and can even help you see through fog-laden nights. Some of them come equipped to help you send a message for help if you are really in dire emergency. This could help you to flag down an emergency rescue vehicle.


Here’s an oldie but a goodie. Old school candles! These will help you with seeing around in the dark without making a scene. If you need to hide your light quickly, just blowing it out is a no-fuss way to quietly make your presence unknown. Candles will be your go-to in bad weather, when your LED lights just aren’t strong enough.

There’s a reason candles never went out of fashion. They are a quick, easy, and inconspicuous way to take care of your business.


On the run? Here is the gear you need in order to get yourself around in survival situations.

Survival Bracelets

You’ve probably seen these best-sellers at your favorite sporting goods store. Also known as paracord, these bracelets have many uses. It can be worn on your wrist or clipped onto your other gear until you’re ready to use it for real. These are surprisingly cheap-at just a few dollars. They have up to six yards of paracord. It is extremely versatile. You could create a clothesline, connect it to trees in order to drape a tarp for your shelter, make rope, and much more!

The multiuse quality of paracord bracelets landed them on this list. You could use them in emergencies and everyday activities, alike.

Emergency Flares

These are necessary in unexpected emergencies. Let’s say you are making your escape from a crisis at your homestead, and your car ends up off the road. You will need emergency flares. If the situation at hand is one which has resulted in emergency rescue teams on the ready, you’ll be out of your pickle in no time.

You could also end up getting the attention of anyone else who is on the run with you. Either way, you’re bound to find help soon. These are also excellent if you slip and fall somewhere out of common sight. If there is a park ranger on duty, you’ll have a much better chance of getting his/her attention and getting to safety very soon.

Inflatable Transport: Kayaks

Did you even know these existed? While it sounds like an outlandish item to have on your survivalist must-have list, this one could help you in the craziest scenario.

Just imagine: you’re in your survival situation. You’ve pitched your tent, cooked your first wild-caught fish dinner (with a weapon you whittled with your hatchet) and all is well. All of a sudden, it rains like crazy and the water level of the nearby river is rising quickly.

Get in your inflatable kayak and you’re good to go! Float away to safety! Okay, maybe this sounds a bit outlandish. However, inflatable kayaks are worth their high price in some cases. It is ideal if your survival situation is long-term, and you will need to be on the move.


Good boots are essential. Any former military person will know this well. Feet are very important when it comes to survival. You will be on them an awful lot! Carry a backup pair of insulated footwear in your emergency bag. You’ll be able to cover more ground over a long period of time if you have extra footwear.

Also, there may be times when you have to cross streams on foot. Or, it could rain or snow, and then your feet will be all wet and cold. This is not good for your health.

You’ll also protect your joints by having good support.

Comfortable footwear with insulation can keep your feet warm at night, which means you will be ready to go at any sign of a threat in the middle of the night!

Are You Ready for Action?

There you have it! Pack these items carefully, and accessibly. The way you pack your survival gear could effect your survival plan itself. Make sure you know your gear, how to use it, and where you packed it.

Remember your priorities. A hungry stomach is uncomfortable for a little while, but it won’t do you any good to have a full stomach and weak immune system.

Stay humble in your survival journey. No one will follow and trust a survivalist who only relies on their own way. Be open to suggestions! You might be stranded with a survivalist friend who has different ideas for how to use certain items on this list.

Remember to stay true to yourself. Know your weaknesses. All the gear in the world won’t help in a survival situation which involves one-track minded survivalists.

You don’t have to be perfectly comfortable all the time. As long as there is food, water, shelter, and situational safety, you’ll be alright to get through until the next day.

Do plenty of reading. Familiarize yourself with the many possible situations in which you could find yourself, and you’ll have lots of creativity with the tools on this list!

You could have an excellent time with your family by learning how to use this gear together. What is a fun bonding activity could turn out to be the cultivation of life-preserving skills.

It’s a crazy world we live in. can you ever be too ready? With the survival gear on this list, you’ll be ready enough!