The second you get in the wilderness, the rules change for how you can best survive. Suddenly, an event that might seem minor in the modern world (cold rain, a twisted ankle, or torn clothing) can become a matter of life and death. Without the right outdoor survival gear on hand, you can find yourself in big trouble.
The good news? There are more options for quality outdoor survival gear than ever, making it easy for you to source what you need to be prepared for every situation.
There’s a lot to consider when looking for the right outdoor survival gear. Because you can only carry so much supplies in your pack, it’s important to seek out light, compact items, preferably ones that have multiple functions. Buying the best quality you can find is also essential. Otherwise, you risk having your crucial tool break down right when you need it most.
Not sure how to prioritize your packing? Consider sourcing outdoor survival gear that fits in three main categories: food, water, shelter, and cutting/ self-defense. By ensuring that you have supplies on hand that can meet your needs in each of these categories in a survival situation, you should be setting yourself up for the best chance of success.
Top 30 Outdoor Survival Gear Items You Must Have
Looking for some insight before you start putting together your collection of survival supplies? This buyers guide of outdoor survival gear is the perfect place to start. Pack as many of these items as you can on your next trip, and you will be better set for surviving any emergency situation that you find yourself in.
You never know what your sleeping situation might be when you camp, which is why the Survival Frog emergency sleeping bag is a must-pack item. Made with HeatEcho thermal reflective material, this ultra-light compact sleeping bag weighs less than five ounces, and it compresses into a small stuff sack. The bright orange color makes you easy to spot in an emergency, and the incredibly durable material is designed to withstand rainfall, wind chill, and tears.
Don’t be caught unprepared. This 3-in-1 survival tool will let you make a fire in any condition, even in heavy rain or wind. The large magnesium fire starter and metal scraper should last for thousands of strikes, ensuring you won’t be caught without a working tool. Beyond fire, this device contains a piercingly-loud emergency whistle and fail-proof magnetic compass to help you guide yourself out of a tricky situation.
You’ve never seen a paracord bracelet quite like this. This multifunctional piece of jewelry has five survival tools in one, including a quality compass, flint fire starter (can be used as an emergency knife, emergency whistle, and, of course, the military-grade 550 parachute cord. You can choose from 4 fixed sizes to get the bracelet that fits you best, making you the envy of everyone else on your camping trip.
Never worry about running out of water again by carrying the LifeStraw with you. This award-winning personal filtration system can filter up to 1000 liters of unclean water without the use of chemicals, batteries, or moving parts. You’ll efficiently remove up to 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, ensuring that your water meets EPA standards for cleanliness. Best of all, this filter allows you to drink right from the source, removing the tedium of treating all your water.
Are you ready to have a real backcountry experience? Bushcraft 101 is the bestseller you need to take along with you. Within its pages, survivalist Dave Canterbury teaches you how to make the most out of your time in the outdoors by educating you on the five C’s of survival: cutting tools, combustion devices, cover, containers, and cordage. This is a piece of survival gear you won’t want to go without.
You don’t want to deal with broken cookware in the backcountry, so invest in this quality piece of outdoor survival gear instead! This FDA-approved non-toxic cook set can conduct heat across its surfaces quickly, helping you cook your meals fast and efficiently. The entire collection packs up small, so you won’t have to worry about it taking up valuable space in your backpack. And with MallMe’s 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, you can take any concerns directly to the company.
Don’t let the cold keep you down in the wilderness this year. This full face mask is the ultimate in warmth and comfort. It’s crafted from thick, anti-pilling polar fleece and can be worn as a hat, hood, scarf, or full mask. You can protect your face from the frigid weather while camping, biking, fishing, skiing, or during any other outdoor activity. You won’t want to leave it behind.
Does going into the wilderness make you worry that your valuables will be stolen? Then you need this crucial piece of outdoor survival gear. Designed to look exactly like a regular Sprite can, this secure safe has interior dimensions of one inch by three and a half, making it the perfect place to stow some money and your keys.
Wilderness injuries can quickly become concerning without the right equipment. This fast-acting QuikClot clotting sponge relies on zeolite to help your blood clot up to three times faster than it would on its own. The super-safe clotting beads are contained within a sterile mesh bag that won’t stick to your wound, making the bag both easy to apply and remove. QuikClot is a top of the line product that has long been trusted by the military and healthcare experts.
If you could bring just one piece of outdoor survival gear into the wilderness with you instead of several, wouldn’t you? The ChinLin entrenching snow shovel is entirely multifunctional, making it ideal for taking out in the harshest winter conditions. The non-slip handles and rust prevention blade means you can rely on this shovel for years to come, and it also acts as an emergency hammer, fire starter, bearing screw, knife, shovel, pick, hoe, bottle opener, saw, whistle, and clipper.
In the case of a real emergency, food can be hard to find. Be prepared for the worst by pocketing some Grizzly Gear emergency food bars. These hefty bars provide nine pre-measured 400 calorie portions, which is enough food for one person for three days. A pleasant lemon flavor makes them almost too easy to eat, and the bars are designed to withstand extremes in temperature.
Don’t let lousy weather contribute to you failing to make a fire when you need one. UST WetFire tinder is actually designed to burn longer when wet, and it’s unaffected by wind, water, or other challenging conditions. Each bit of tinder is packaged in individual cubes to help maintain freshness, and the material can be extinguished quickly if necessary. To start a fire, just scrape a small bit over a spark striker or match for quick and easy ignition.
When emergency strikes, you don’t want to be caught with a dead phone battery. This solar power charger can get you out of a fix. Simply place the panel in direct sunlight for 24 hours to fully charge it up, which should charge your phone about two times without issue. The slim design can fit into small spaces in your backpack, and the ability to switch out the universal USB connector for any other size ensures you can charge whatever style of device you need.
You’ve heard about the power of a paracord bracelet, but what about a paracord… grenade? This incredible piece of outdoor survival gear provides you with a 48-piece survival kit in one small package. Containing about 45 feet of paracord, a compass, LED flashlight, pocket knife, signal mirror, fire starter, fishing line, fishing hooks, can opener, and so much more. Best of all, the entire grenade comes with a lifetime guarantee so that you’ll always be prepared.
Few things can take you down faster in the backcountry than bad water, which is why it’s so important to always keep a purification treatment in your survival gear. These portable tablets will treat fifty quarts of water, and they work in just thirty minutes, making them ideal for situations when you want to pack light.
Rain protection and emergency shelter all in one? It’s possible! This lightweight rain poncho will keep you covered in rainy weather, and it can comfortably be propped up to make an emergency shelter when necessary. This poncho measures approximately five feet by four feet, and it can be opened up to form eight feet of coverage for a tent, ensuring you have an extra layer to keep you dry.
Don’t compromise on the quality of your paracord this year; your life might someday depend on it. Titan 550 paracord is renowned for being extremely strong, and it meets or exceeds all MIL-C-5040-H specifications for quality. Add this 100 percent cord to your survival gear, and you won’t have to worry about being unprepared. From outdoor tent support to tying up bandages or tethering boats together, bringing 100 feet of paracord on your next trip is a good idea.
When the time comes to make a fire, you DON’T want to be caught empty-handed. This handy piece of outdoor survival gear will provide you with everything you need to get that campfire lit, and it comes with numerous other benefits besides. The survival hand saw is the perfect tool for cutting off small limbs for feeding the fire, and the built-in compass will allow you to direct yourself out of a tricky situation. If you prefer to be prepared, this pocket chainsaw is essential.
Don’t depend on messy and expensive propane for your wilderness fires! This wood burning camp stove will let you cook your food from the heat of leaves, twigs and dead wood instead. You’ll save space in your back without carting around fuel canisters, and you won’t have to worry about running out. The entire stove is designed to be compact, lightweight and flexible, making it easy for you to pack it wherever you want to take it.
A pen for self-defense? Yes, it’s possible. This BellFyd tactical pen is designed to fit subtly in your hand, but with a point sharp enough to make it a highly effective survival weapon when the situation calls for it. Made from military grade tungsten steel, you won’t have to worry about it staining, rusting or failing when you need it. Whether you need to break out of a car window or fend off an attacker, this tiny tool is well worth the space in your pack.
If you don’t think your wilderness experience can be enhanced with a grappling hook, you clearly haven’t given one a chance. This ultra-strong hook is just 11 ounces, but it can hold up to 170 pounds without effort. This multifunctional tool has a mechanical claw and a grappling hook, meaning that it grips tight to every surface for a tighter hold. You can use it for dozens of functions, from pulling a broken tree branch out of the way or as an emergency weapon. Keep it with you, and you’ll never need to wonder what could have been.
Don’t put yourself in a survival situation where hunger compromises your senses. MRE food is military grade and meant to last for decades without deteriorating. Leave some at home for worst-case survival scenarios, or pack some for your next outdoor trip to keep your experience pleasant for all involved. Note: each meal contains an average of 1250 calories.
If you ever need to travel at night without a light source, you will be grateful for this glow in the dark military-grade compass that will direct you where to go. The copper surface will withstand dents and tarnishing, and the watch-style flip top ensures it will stay safe in your bag. The vibrant glow in the dark coloring will make this compass easy to read in every setting, ensuring that you will always know how to head towards north.
For those who hate feeling caught without a weapon, this survival boot knife is the perfect solution. You can easily hide it within its sheath in your hiking boot, making it easy to pull out in a second if necessary. The durable construction means you won’t have to worry about it falling apart over time, and the knife also comes with a small rope so that you can wear it as a necklace as well.
You might feel prepared to take care of yourself in a wilderness survival situation, but what about in your own home? Having survival gear in place to make this transition easier is critical, and When the Grid Goes Down is the perfect book to keep on you. Survival instructor Tony Nester will teach you everything you need to know about home solutions for both short term and long term survival options, from creating a water map of your region to understanding the three essential food types to always have on hand. Add this invaluable resource to your bookshelf, and you certainly won’t regret it.
Don’t let your outdoor survival gear get compromised from being wet! This polycarbonate waterproof box is designed to withstand any challenge so that your valuables are protected. Use it to store your medical kit, fire starter, or even cell phone, and you’ll appreciate the extra protection that it provides. Best of all, the transparent casing makes it easy to see exactly what you have stored away, saving valuable time in a real disaster.
Ripped fabric is a fact of life, but it can make for a miserable camping experience if your tent has some tatters. Use this ultra-strong repair tape to fix your fabric, and rips, holes, and gashes will be nothing more than a minor inconvenience. Just peel off the adhesive and stick to the ripped surface, and you have a durable seal that should keep you protected.
You never know when a towel might come in handy, and these organic bamboo towels are the top of their class for versatility and portability. Each one packs down impossibly tiny in your pack, and you can bring it up to full size with a little water. You can use these towels for your first aid kit, preventing heat stroke, and cleaning out cooking equipment between meals. With a bit of imagination, you’ll soon wonder how you survived without them.
Don’t force yourself to sit in the dark for lack of quality lighting. This solar-powered LED light source is the perfect option for keeping you in plenty of light, and it can charge your cell phone and other electronics as well. An included smart chip protects your devices from overcharging, and the entire light is so weightless and compact you will forget that it’s in your pocket. For real emergencies, it even has an SOS signal feature so that you can get the attention of someone who can help you.
When you aren’t sure where you can sleep at night (or if you get caught in the wilderness as darkness sets in) a camping hammock is the perfect piece of outdoor survival gear to have on hand. Not only does it make for a versatile bed, but you can even wrap it around yourself as an emergency sleeping bag if the situation calls for it. Wise Owl Outfitters provides top quality hammock options, and they have plenty of color options to choose from.