13 Wilderness Survival Kit List Items [You Need to Pack These]

Did you know the average person can survive up to 3 weeks without food… but only 3 days without water and 3 hours outside of their core body temperature? Knowing this, what to include on your survival kit list and carry in your kit can literally mean the difference between life and death in just a few critical minutes or hours.

The good news is, you can greatly increase your chance of survival…if you have the right supplies with you (and know how to use them).

In this post, we’ll explore 13 important survival items you’ll need to help you come out alive on the other end of disaster or should you get lost in the wilderness.

In theory, the more critical survival items you carry with you, the easier it will be to survive…

However, the flip-side to that is the more items you include on your survival kit list, the more bulk/weight you add to your person. Obviously, you can’t carry every wilderness survival tool you come across as it would quickly become impossible to transport them all. In fact, depending on the season and situation you’re in, you may not even need every item either.

But that said, there are some core survival essentials that you should always have available in your survival kit.

Here’s my take on 13 important survival items you need to pack (including a couple really important bonus items to consider):

1. Fire Starter

Starting a fire in the wilderness is one of the most important things you need to be able to do if you’re to survive the cold, fight off hungry predators and cook yourself a meal. If you’re reading this, you probably already know you must be equipped with necessary fire starting skills and have a means of starting the fire. This is where a trusty fire starter becomes the number one critical survival item to have on you at all times.In fact, I recommend having at least three ways of starting a fire in your survival kit. You should not take chances with fire starters. I carry matches, a bic lighter and a striker. Supplement this by packing some tinder and other lighting aids such as InstaFire Fire Starter, too. I carry all my fire starters in waterproof containers and store them separately and within easy access in my kit.

fire starter_survival kit list

2. Survival Knife

Chances are, you will need to do a lot of cutting chores in a true survival situation, and a good, reliable survival knife will be a perfect fit. Choose a high-quality survival knife or a multi-purpose tool with a knife. Your survival knife should be able to skin your hunt, cut strings, and sharpen sticks among other uses. The ideal survival knife must be strong and razor sharp to cut through the toughest materials with ease.The same principle of redundancy applies here as well. “Where there’s two, there’s one — where there’s one, there’s none.” Should your knife fail you or you lose it, you’ll definitely want a reliable backup. Check out the Ka-Bar Becker BK2 for a great, full tang knife that will last.

survival knife_survival kit list

3. Map & Compass

You should not rely solely on GPS when in a survival situation, but also carry with you a local map and compass to help navigate your way back to safety.It is good to have both a road map and a topography map on you just in case. These are lightweight and easy to pack, so there is really no reason not to carry these with you in your survival kit.

Having a map and a compass is one thing, however, you must also take the necessary steps to know how to read and navigate maps and use a compass. There are trainings and courses that can teach you the basics of these skills so you can practice on your own.

In case you don’t have a compass, Suunto makes a great one.

compass_survival kit list

4. First Aid Kit

If you think you may need to head into the wilderness at a moment’s notice, be sure to have a first-aid kit on your person at all times.A first aid kit is a critical item that should be accessible at all times. Having a dedicated first aid kit for your vehicles is also a good idea.

General first aid kits can be a good place to start but be sure to supplement them with such items as pressure dressings to stop the bleeding in the event that injury may occur.

Adventure Medical Kits are a great place to start. Include a first aid pocket manual and familiarize yourself with it, especially if you aren’t formally trained or experienced.

first aid_survival kit list

5. A Bow Saw

A bow saw, as simple as it is, can make a survival situation on a cold night easier for you. Be sure to choose a durable, lightweight metal framed saw.

A bow saw can help you cut through logs and make firewood. It can also help you cut down big branches to make a shelter that your survival knife may have difficulty doing alone. If you manage to shoot a deer or big game, you will need to build a strong fire to roast your meat.

A bow saw not only gives you enough firewood, but also helps you set the fireplace for cooking your hunt.

6. Proper Clothing

When you head into the wild, even on a hot sunny day, you need to plan to dress for the worst.

Hypothermia kills more people in the wild than any other cause. The cold of the night must not be countered with fire alone, but also proper clothing. Always layer your clothes, remembering to wear loose, layered clothing with wool as your under layer.

Stay away from cotton as a general rule. It retains moisture which makes it less insulating, harder to dry out and heavier on the body. This has been known to lead to hypothermia, pneumonia, etc. Clothes made out of synthetic and wool materials are recommended for this very reason.

7. Emergency Survival Whistle

A plastic whistle kept around your neck is highly recommended just in case you get lost. Your voice might not reach far when lost, but blowing your whistle can help alert nearby people to your distress. Plastic whistles are recommended as they are lightweight, float and will not rust.
Emergency Survival Whistle_Survival Kit List

8. Signal/Hygiene Mirror

There are heartbreaking stories where search helicopters have passed over lost people too weak to signal. A signal mirror or heliograph should be carried with you. Storing it in your first aid kit is a good way to protect it from damage and locate it easily. These lightweight, compact tools can reflect light at long distances signaling people far away of your distress.

9. Cordage

Cordage is a common name used to describe everything from a metal wire to a nylon string. Cordage is one of the most important survival items when you need to climb steep places, drag game you’ve killed, tie bundles of firewood and much more. Cordage serves many functions like a fishing line, cloth line, food line and much more. Lightweight but high-quality cord can make all the difference in a survival situation. Titan SurvivorCord is a very unique multi-purpose paracord used by Special Forces and comes highly recommended for its range of uses.
titan survivorcord paracord_survival kit list

10. Water / Water Filtration

I said at the beginning of this article the average person cannot survive more than 72 hours without drinking water. Add to that, you need to plan on drinking at least 1 gallon of water per day. Even a few sips of clean water can mean the difference between life and death, but you want to be in peak performance when it counts, and that much water is too heavy to carry for anyone.Now, you can probably find some water in the wild, but it might also make you extremely sick coming straight from the source without proper filtration. Having a survival water filter with you can help a lot.Water filters are important regardless, but especially handy when on an expedition with a group of friends as you will go through water very quickly.

survival water filter straw_survival kit list

11. Flashlight / Torch

Few elements can disorient even the most experienced adventurer quicker than being shrouded in complete darkness. If you plan to venture out into unfamiliar territory or find yourself outside after dark, a reliable flashlight is a must have in any survival kit. The great news is flashlights have continued to get smaller and lightweight, and more efficient and effective in recent years. For one of my preferred flashlights, check out the Streamlight ProTac Penlight.
tactical flashlight_survival kit list

Survival Kit List ** Bonus Section ** :

Being in possession of the above critical survival items is just one step in surviving an emergency situation. You still need to know how to use them effectively.  You need to be prepared in the best way possible to be able to survive for days.  That said, two other critical elements needed to better your chance at survival are:

12. Knowledge

This can’t be stressed enough — You must know how to use every essential item in your survival pack in order to enhance your chances of survival. A good example is a map and compass. Having a map and compass will be of no help if you don’t know how to read it and navigate your way to safety.

Make sure you have a basic understanding of every item in your survival kit before you actually need them in a true-to-life survival situation. The best way to learn is to simply get comfortable with using the tools and equipment you assemble on your survival kit list. There are also many books and videos available for you to learn from as well. Just make sure the source of your information is from a legitimate expert that has the experience to back up their knowledge.

13. Physical & Mental Fitness

Just like fitness is important for self-defense, it is also crucial when it comes to survival in the wild. You will be far better off if you are physically and mentally fit to endure the stresses of survival. Setting up a fire and building a shelter all the while staying upbeat and positive can be quite draining, especially when you’ve not had a proper meal. Being physically and mentally fit will only help better your chances of beating the odds.


I know that’s a lot to cover in one sitting, but nothing should be taken for granted when it comes to surviving in the wild. You need to have all the critical survival items, know how to use them and be physically and mentally fit to endure the demands of taking care of yourself. Your survival kit may contain more items than the ones we’ve listed, however, these are the critical ones that you should not overlook when considering space and weight.

About Co-Author:

This has been a collaboration with Brandon Cox of Brandon is passionate about all things hunting and fitness. Through his hunting website, he shares tips & tricks, and the “finest tech that will excite all of the intricacies of hunting,” whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned professional. Go check out his website and if you enjoyed this article, please be sure to let him know in the comments below!

Did we forget anything? Obviously this is just short list to get you started… Let us know what’s on your Survival Kit List or if you plan to add something mentioned above as a result of reading this article. Thanks again!

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  • Luiz gustavo julio says:


  • SOS Products says:

    I absolutely loved this! I love how you included items that aren’t usually listed on most emergency survival kits. Quick question, what type of activities do you usually do to become physically and mentally fit?

  • Very Neice Information

  • Peter says:

    I have been prepping for 10 years or so and it has become an Important hobby for me. I am in the process of reviewing my gear! I’m using your listing of must have items items in my review comparing it with updating my current gear, and as important going over my Strategic Thinking, Strategic Relationships, and going over my Strategic Plan now that in here in Florida. I am re-reading Strategic Relocation by Joel M Skousen. I may have to re-locate again. So your my guide to create my Strategic Plan, review all of my gear to assure I have enough of the right gear, to give me and my family a fighting chance depending on the need. I find the average individual and individuals I know would not be able to find their way out of town, no disrespect intended. Thanks for the help, Peter

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Peter! I’m just a student of some really great minds that know way more than me on the subject. If Jim Cobb and Craig Caudill aren’t already on your radar, I’d definitely look them up as trusted advisors for all things preparedness and survival.

  • VKSU says:

    You have great sense of humor

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks! If you could tell that to my kids, I’d appreciate it!

  • Caeden says:

    Need lighter

  • Connor Surman says:

    how store the fresh water

    • Connor Surman says:

      And what about cooking the food

  • AmandaLynn says:

    Im using this site for an essay and i was wondering who the author and the producer are. I cant seem to find it on the site. I really liked the article though

  • dre says:

    this is so cool

  • Isabella Foehlinger says:

    This really helped me get ready to be in the woods for 5 days thank u

  • David Adams says:

    Thanks for this great and informational post. I completely agree with all list but number 10 is so essential for me. I have Katadyn Vario Water Filter and definitely, it is one of the best water filter on the market. A great product that I overpaid for. I saw this in a Canadian Tire a month after buying it for 50$ less than I spent. FML… But better I spent 50 extra than die from parasites or something scary with the word “bacterial” in it.

  • Saly says:

    Good things to survive.

  • McKenzie Loveday says:

    You should add a pot to boil water, a lighter, and a weapon to kill your food.

  • Jude Oputa says:

    After reading and watching some wildlife experiences l came to realize that it could happen to anyone.Hence my quest.

  • Pierce says:

    I’m not going to survive if I need knowledge.

  • Evelyn Taylor says:

    Thanks, this helped.

  • brant says:

    this was so helpful im going camping soon so this very helpful

  • Julia Mazur says:

    some sort of shelter such as a tent or tarp would also be included. your bug out bag depends on YOU, and these are the basics. you can add your personal items, too. this is helpful.

  • Vanessa T says:

    In these times I believe we are going back to the caveman days so Im getting things together to survive before that day gets here. Thank you for this important knowledge it’s been very useful God bless you Amen…Prayers are with you.. Vanessa T

    • mystery says:

      me too I’m building a kit to prepare

  • ....... says:

    This is great information. Thank you! I am writing a survival essay, and I needed to find somethings that my character found/needed. I am super happy I found this site. It helped me so much. I hope that I get a good grade on my assignment. This is valuable information. I have a suggestion. Maybe you could add, water-bottle or canteen because you need to be able to collect water.

  • Justin baker says:

    Thank you for posting this comprehensive list, Brandon (and the other folks at BOBA who collaberated!!). WOW! That’s all one can say when you see someone has taken the time to type all this out! I mean, I have my lists, but to share it with us all is awesome! It is in my opinion that buying or making your own prepping/bug out bags and kits is way more cost effective that buying ready-made kits. Not only can you source and procure items specific for your situation, skill level, and region, but you also have the comfort of knowing what you have and what you need, because you compiled the list yourself. I have multiple bags prepared, but there are consistent things I make sure each bag contains: a couple tubes of anti-biotic ointment, a blade, pen and paper, a bandana, some paracord, a fist-full of plastic zip-locking baggies, a pen light, some water purification tablets, and multiple forms of fire-starters. I do have the knowledge and practice of primitive ways of starting fires, but I am also practical and keep multiple fire starters in each bag AND in the glove boxes of my car and my wife’s car.
    -Oh, and thank you for adding ‘proper clothing’ to your list! Momma always said pack an extra pair of underwear in case of emergencies!!! 😉
    Thank you again for your article!
    Joy & Health to you,
    Justin Baker

  • Lyric says:

    This is really helpful for my Assignment I’ll probably get done way faster.

  • hello says:

    Could you add some more stuff?

    • Andrew says:

      Such as? What do you have in mind?

      • Bryan Handy says:


  • Tina says:

    I think that this text could not have been more helpful. My teacher assigned the right link for what we are working with.

    • Andrew says:

      Great to hear, Tina! I’m glad you found this information helpful. What class is this for?

    • Boby says:

      yaaaassss i agreeeee

    • Lyric says:

      Me too

    • brant says:

      good for you tina

  • Michael says:

    When was this Article written i am doing an essay on what to pack in a survival kit and i need it for my citation page

    • Andrew says:

      Hi, Michael. The article was written on 5/23/2017. Thanks for using it as a reference for your essay!

  • […] should never go wild without a survival kit. Bear Grylls may get by on little more than his own urine, but you don’t want to end up doing the […]

  • Antboss says:

    I love how many good items that are listed I recommen this website so all people

    • Andrew says:

      Thank you!

      • Oleg says:

        these are some really good survival ideas, I had just signed up to get one of your survival booklets and I think that it will really help me alot

  • Will says:

    If you have the time, money or means to take a basic emergency medical technologist course I would recommend it. As a 22 year Army Combat Medic veteran knowing the basic medical knowledge can truly save lives.

    U.S. Army Ret.

    • Andrew says:

      Very true, Will. Thanks for sharing your advice and thank you for your service to our country!

  • […] 13 Wilderness Survival Kit List Items [You Need to Pack These] […]

  • […] is crucial to any survival kit, you can’t expect the price to be very high. In fact, if you go through any list of the most important items to a survival kit, you will notice that most things are […]

  • Angela Dorrell says:

    Great Information Thank You..This is something we rarely think about in our busy day to day, however times have changed and more people should take the time to educate themselves because really could mean the difference between life and death ..
    Lets face it people…I’m not anticipating a zombie attack as of yet.but my new car left me stranded in 9 degree weather, and we hit a deer in the middle of no where and no cell reception welcome to the Eastern Plains Co. Things can just happen

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Angela! And you’re right, stuff happens. Glad to hear you’ve persevered and you’re finding the site helpful. 🙂

  • […] there are a lot of “done for you” type products out there that just aren’t well-suited for a survival kit such as a bug out bag. The topic of First Aid could easily warrant several posts, but to keep it […]

  • Warren says:

    Reading all the articles,any knowledge is always helpful indeed.i truly believe we will see the time when this is thanks to all contributing,living in. Mississippi,to bug out is merely walking out the door.but one must be comfortable in the outdoors and their own skin to survive anywhere

  • Kelly says:

    Glad to contact you.

  • Richard says:

    Some of this stuff, compass and flashlight, and water filtration kit are optional. Good to have, but not vital. If I can start a fire, I can boil water. So in this case, a metal canteen is much more valuable to me than a filter that won’t lastindefanatly. And a flash light is situational at best. It can help you, and in the right conditions, get you killed. And either way, it isn’t absolutely needed to survive. It is a comfort item. Rest of this is relitivly accurate. I would add a minimum shelter kit, consisting of basically a tarp, because cold isn’t the only form of exposure. Heat, and precipitation can also be deadly. For the most part, you want to begin with a core on your bag. Absolutely nessisary items to survive first, luxury after. And bear in mind, much of the “luxury” items are actually situational, based on your climate and area. Might need to add a cold weather sleep system. Might not need a sleeping bag at all. These are things that can be added to or taken from your core kit. And that based on conditions you will encounter. Be smart. Be safe. Don’t buy snake oil. Get products that will last over the long term, and not be desposible. If you have desposible items be sure you got means to create alternatives in the environment your in. Such as fire starters.

  • Ed Bergen says:

    Great article two things I don’t leave the truck without is a whistle and a compass, and usually most of the rest of your list. I have slept out under the stars in -15c twice without ill effects not planned starlight motel stays. Cheap but educational. What you say is for anyone who leave town and walks away from civilization even a short distance. Fasteddyb a nick name given to me by a twelve year old when I was 40. Am 70 now. Great stuff

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks, Ed! With a nickname like that it sounds like you could outpace most of the youngsters here. 🙂

  • […] are a lot of “done for you” type products out there that just aren’t well-suited for a survival kit such as a bug out bag. The topic of First Aid could easily warrant several posts, but to keep […]

  • […] 13 Wilderness Survival Kit List Items [You Need to Pack These] […]

  • […] 13 Wilderness Survival Kit List Items [You Need to Pack These] […]

  • Jersey Jeepin Frank says:

    Bottom line; you can never be too prepared. And your efforts [in reminding/motivating] us are nothing short of noble.
    Just realize that: when someone sees my bugout bag in the back of my jeep, they look at me as if I were a “crazy man” – but if the Sh*t hit the fan, and those same people will look at me as a “genius”

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks, Frank! You’re absolutely right. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

  • Robert Karantz says:

    Please keep me at home, gps should read”gpsextrabatteries”.
    Rocky- 7 years with CO SAR

    • Andrew says:

      Can’t beat an old compass and terrain map. Thanks for your service, Rocky and thanks for reading!

  • Alex says:

    Thanks that this will come in handy

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks, Alex. Glad to help!

  • Patty says:

    Im only missing the map and some knowledge. Thank you.

    • Andrew says:

      Sounds like you are right where you need to be, Patty! Make sure your maps are up to date and you should be good. Thanks for reading/commenting.

  • Pat says:


    • Andrew says:

      You’re welcome, Pat! Thanks for reading.