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Wilderness Survival Kits


What should you have in a wilderness survival kit? That depends on what environment and what season you'll be backpacking in. Weight of the items is also a concern for ultralight backpacking. Compile a kit of items from the following possibilities, but be sure to always have first aid supplies and a way to start a fire.

Survival Kit Items

Signal Mirror
LED Light
Foil Blanket
Sun Block (Small packet)
Sewing Kit (Needle and thread)
Water Purification (Iodine or other tablets)
Waterproof Matches (At least 20)
Bullion Cubes (2 or 3)
Fishing Line (30 feet, 15# test)
Split Shot Fishing Weights (2, small)
Fish Hooks (2 or 3, size #4)
Orange Flag Tape
Nylon Cord (20 to 30 feet)
Plastic Bags (One small, one larger)
Zippered Plastic Bag (For water)
Duct Tape (20 feet)

First Aid Items:

Gauze Pads
Soap Towelettes
Adhesive Bandages
Butterfly Bandages
Knuckle Bandage
Dental Floss (30 feet)
Triple Antibiotic Ointment
Burn Ointment
Pain Reliever
Safety Pins
Medical Tape
Snake Bite Kit

Where can you get survival and first aid kits? There are a number of good sources online. Then there is another option...

Make Your Own Wilderness Survival Kits

There are many good survival kits out there for under $100 that come more or less complete. You may have to add one or two things for your own personal needs. You can also put together your own wilderness survival kit. In fact, you can even make some of the items in it.

A signal mirror, for example, can be a CD. They are highly reflective, and have a hole in the middle for aiming. You can dip matches in wax to waterproof them. You can make your own emergency fire-starter by soaking crumpled pieces of brown paper bags in wax (these will light when wet).

You can package many items yourself to save money, space and weight as well. Wrap 10 feet of duct tape around your lip balm container instead of bringing a roll. Find the smallest containers you can to bring small amounts of sun-block, pain killers, and iodine tablets. Cut your pencil down to the smallest usable size.

Depending on what you decide to put in it, the whole kit should fit into a heavy-duty zippered plastic bag. If you are just backpacking, wilderness survival kits should generally be under a pound. My own is a few ounces. If you are experimenting with lighter than ultralight backpacking (like my pack-less trips), you may have to beef up the survival kit with things like a 4-ounce plastic bivy sack, a lightweight hat, and a pair of dry socks.

Back to: The Wilderness Survival Guide.


The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Wilderness Survival Kits