Take notes. These are not the lessons they teach you at school. These are the lessons taught from the experience of everyone who has ever been in trouble. The lessons that can save your life.
Accidents and disasters happen all the time, to everyone, everywhere. Still, that does not mean that we cannot prepare for them and do what our nature has driven us to do for millennia – survive.
Disasters come in many forms and what you need in order to survive depends on a number of factors. People in California and Katmandu do not face the same dangers, nor do the people who live in a desert and those who reside in a metropolis. Still, no matter where you are, what you do, where you go or whom you see, you are not immune to the dangers that come from the world around you.
The solution to this problem is to be prepared. Prepared at any time and any place. We are here to show the ultimate list of items necessary for survival.
Human beings have several basic needs that need to be fulfilled in order for them to survive. These include oxygen, water, food, and adequate temperature.
After 3 minutes of not breathing, humans suffer serious brain damage. Three days without water usually lead to death. It is possible to survive for 3 weeks without food, but not without some serious consequences. The importance of oxygen, water, and food cannot be stressed enough.
The same goes for temperature. Temperatures that are too low or too high can have a deadly effect on the human body, which is why thermoregulation is crucial for survival.
Of course, all of these are only related to maintaining the most basic human functions. In the real world, there are multiple other factors that influence the chances of survival. In this section, we shall take a look at the items that should always be kept at hand, regardless of the conditions.
- Water Bottle
Having in mind that humans can only survive for around 3 days without water, it makes sense that a water bottle is the first item on our list. Carry one with you at all times.
- Water Filter
A bottle of water can only take you so far. With a magical device that turns any kind of water into drinkable liquid, the sky is the limit. Click here to jump to our review of the best backpacking water filters on the market.
Use a lighter to light a fire and stay warm, cook food or boil water. You can also turn it into a mini survival kit with a piece of duct tape and tiny tools like fish hooks, fishing lines, and sewing needles.
Never rely on only one source of fire. If the lighter fails you for whatever reason, including lack of fuel, matches can save the day – just keep them in a waterproof container.
- Space Blanket
A thermoregulation essential, a space blanket keeps the heat in, making the temperature underneath it just right. Plus, it’s super light and easy to pack.
- Food Kits
Neatly packed and lightweight, food kits can help you satisfy hunger in any situation and they are incredibly easy to use – just add water. Interested in food kits? Check out our review of the best emergency food kits!
- Can Opener
Because most survival food kits come in a can.
- Pots & Pans
It is hard to cook without at least one of these. Extra tip: if you haven’t got any, make a disposable pot out of a can.
- Butane/Propane Stove
One of these stoves can help you cook anywhere, especially if lighting a fire is not an option.
- Hand Sanitizer
During emergencies, you cannot afford to risk an infection, which is why a little handy pack of hand sanitizers is a crucial part of any survival kit.
This is particularly important if there are any medications you need to take regularly. Painkillers should also be kept at hand.
- First Aid Kit
From cuts and bruises to various other medical issues that can come up, a first aid kit can save you a lot of trouble when an ER is wiped out of your list of options. You can find our review of the best first aid kits right here.
Wet wipes and other toiletries can help you keep your hygiene in check, for both comfort and health purposes.
Lost at sea or anywhere else, you can help someone find you with a signal flare. An extremely useful item under numerous circumstances.
- Pepper Spray
Not really the happiest of thoughts, but you never know when a self-defense item like this can come in handy. Dangerous times we live in.
- Insect Repellant
Insect bites can get real nasty, which is something you do not want to deal with under extreme circumstances, with no doctors around.
- Sewing Kit
Clothes tear, tents too, and in some rare but real situations, you just have to get creative and make your own clothes.
Great for romantic dinners, even better for dark, scary places with no electricity.
This is possibly one of the most useful items you can have in any situation, from cooking to hand-to-hand combat.
Otherwise known as portable light source that helps you watch your step and even scare some critters away.
- Duct Tape
Whoever invented duct tape (you’re googling it now, aren’t you?) is the Prometheus of the modern age. You can fix everything with duct tape, from clothes and water bottles to broken bones. If you have time on your hands and a whole lot of duct tape, you can even weave a blanket.
- Thermal Blanket
Warmth is the synonym of coziness, not to mention how much desired it is in cases when the weather is harsh and there is no heating.
- Emergency Heating Source
Speaking of heating, in some cases, a thermal blanket simply doesn’t cut it. A steady source of heat can be a true lifesaver and there are some extremely handy portable ones, like propane heaters, which you can take with you anywhere, just in case.
- Battery Radio
No offense to our best technological friends, but cell phones tend to fail us when we need them most. Keep in touch with civilization with a portable battery radio. Don’t forget the batteries.
- Battery Lamp
Fear of the dark is so intense and real that it has sold thousands of records for Iron Maiden. Jokes aside, sitting in the dark is the last thing you’d want to do under unforeseen circumstances. A battery lamp is a great solution to this problem.
This is the kind of survival you often see on TV shows, but as it usually happens, it is not exactly as seen on TV. Bear Grylls may have some skills to show off, but real bears have them too and they’re not afraid to use them.
Even without large animals to worry about, the wilderness is as cruel as it is beautiful. In order to survive in nature, away from civilization, you need to gear up, pack right, and travel light. Some Boy Scout or Girl Scout tricks may come in handy, but with the benefit of living in the 21st century, it all boils down to the right tools and supplies. Here is a full list of items, categorized for your convenience, which can help you become the king of the jungle, pharaoh of the desert, and every royalty in between.
We have already mentioned some water-related items you should always keep in your backpack. However, different circumstances require different solutions and there are all kinds of situations that call for more than a water bottle. Here is our top selection of water items – nature survival edition.
- Water Collector
Ever heard of the saying desperate times call for desperate measures? When there is no source of water in sight, staring at the sky and hoping for a miracle probably won’t help, but a rainwater collector sure will.
- Water Bag
Durable, easy to pack, and germ-unfriendly, water bags take up very little space in your backpack and they are perfect for storing water or even food.
- Water Purification Tablets
Using these great tablets is the easiest way to purify water, especially if you are in a hurry or just like quick solutions.
- Rain Barrel
Another item from the reverse come rain or come shine collection, for situations where you desperately hope that what comes is rain, a rain barrel can help you collect the precious liquid from the sky and use it for multiple purposes.
Fire is one of your greatest allies in nature survival. From scaring away wild animals with a flaming piece of wood to turning raw food into something palatable and safe to eat, it helps you cover most of your needs and stay safe, warm, and full. We have already mentioned some items from this category when we spoke of survival essentials. However, nature survival requires more, especially if you are in for an extended stay in the wild.
- Lighter Fluid
Lighters quickly go from incredibly useful to utterly useless as they run out of gas. A high-quality lighter and enough lighter fluid can take many of your worries away.
- Fire Starter
This is a particularly useful item if you are in a hurry or you’re simply not that skilled at lighting a fire. Click here to take a look at our review of the best survival fire starters available.
Wet wood does not ignite easily. Whenever dry natural tinder is hard to come by, emergency tinder is a great, lightweight solution that can help you easily light a fire regardless of the conditions.
- Magnifying Glass
Without any of the previously mentioned items, lighting a fire may be hard but not impossible. With a magnifying glass, you can start your fire using sunlight.
- Flint & Steel
Especially when paired with a char cloth, flint and steel can be one of the most efficient, impressive, and fun ways to light a fire. Caveman methods never fail.
- Torch Lighters
The royalty of lighters, torch lighters are immune to wind, rain, and snow, making them more useful than any other kind.
- Disposable Cigarette Lighters
Cheap, handy, fit in a pocket. What more could you ask for?
You can learn a lot from The Rolling Stones and one of the key lessons they have taught the world is that whatever danger comes your way, your first line of protection is a good shelter. The kind of shelter you need depends on your location and natural and weather conditions. They are normally divided into forest, snow, jungle, and desert survival shelters. The following items allow you to have a portable shelter you can use for anything from camping in a nearby forest to butterfly hunting in Africa.
Great shelter for a vast range of situations, tents come in many shapes and sizes. Just one piece of advice: splurge on this one and thank yourself later.
- Bivy Sack
Small, lightweight, and waterproof, a bivy sack is a shelter you can easily carry in your backpack. It protects you from the elements and is surprisingly comfortable.
Versatile and durable, tarps are normally used for protection from wind, rain or sun. You can cover yourself or an entire stadium, depending on your needs and the dimensions of your tarp.
- Mosquito Net
With all the itching and scratching, mosquitos can be the cause of many sleepless nights. They can also be the cause of a painful death, with all the diseases they transmit, including malaria, Zika fever, various kinds of encephalitis, and other diseases with long and ominous names. Make your life simpler and longer with a mosquito net.
In nature, meat doesn’t come in steaks neatly packed in protective wrap. If you want to eat meat, you have to hunt an animal down, kill it, remove fur, feathers or scales and bones yourself, and only then do you get to the cooking part.
The hunting down and killing part is trickier than others and you need to have the right gear to make it happen. Here is what you need in order to turn an animal into a dinner. No, it’s not cruel, it’s survival.
- Rifle & Ammo
- Hunting Knife Set
- Snare Wire
- Air Rifle
If you are out on a fishing trip but have delicious dinner waiting for you at home, regardless of whether you manage to catch anything, then you can do just fine with a fishing rod, line, and a piece of bread on a hook.
However, when your livelihood depends on the success of your fishing venture, you sure as hell want to have every single helpful item at hand. Tom Hanks may have caught that fish in a single throw of the spear, but not on his first day on the island and not in real life.
Here is a full list of items you need in order to regularly have Little Mermaid’s friends on the menu. Again, not sadistic, just the law of nature.
- Fishing Rod
- Fishing Line
- Fishing Lures
- Tackle Boxes
Nature offers many edible gifts and in the case of food kit deficiency, these gifts can be your only way of getting enough nutrients to keep your body in good shape. However, before embarking on a berry-and-mushroom-picking journey, it is not only wise but necessary to study up and find out exactly which of nature’s gifts belong to the edible variety. Once you have enough knowledge on the subject, here are the basic items you’re going to need for your gathering expeditions.
Gardening can be a relaxing hobby or means of survival, depending on the circumstances. Before your food supplies begin to dwindle, it is smart to start growing food for future use. You may be familiar with all the items on this list, but take it as a useful reminder of all the tools you need in order to successfully grow your survival garden.
- Digging Spade
- Budding Knife
- Watering Can
- Fruit Picker Basket
Cooking outside your fully-stocked kitchen can prove a bit tricky. No microwave, no oven, no blender, no appliances of any kind. Not to mention the absence of all the goodies you have in your pantry. However, survival cooking is far from haute cuisine and you can do a lot with little. You just need to make sure you have brought all the basics with you. Here are all the items necessary for cooking outdoors.
- Portable Wood Burning Stove
- Cooking & Eating Utensils
- Broiling Rack
- Salt & Pepper Shaker
- Food Thermometer
- Hand Wipes
- Disposable Knife, Fork & Spoon
When you are fighting for your life, it is easy to forget about the simple things that help you stay healthy. However, it is the simple, basic, everyday hygiene and health habits that actually keep you alive and well. Sunburns, infections and neglected scrapes, cuts, bruises, and blisters can turn into serious complications in the wild, which is why you should have the following basic items with you at all times.
- First Aid Book
Sending out signals can be your only ticket out of the wild if ordinary means of communication are not available. Light and sound travel fast and far, making it possible to send a call for help to someone who is miles away. These items can do the trick.
- Signaling Mirror
The woods may be lovely, dark, and deep, but the scary eyes of forest residents staring at you with a flame of hunger and hostility in their eyes do not make a pretty sight. The same goes for any other natural surroundings where you may be considered an intruder by either animals or humans. Sometimes you can outrun or outsmart the opponent, but for all other situations, here are the items that can save your life.
- Bear Spray
- Tactical Flashlight
- Gun & Ammo
- Bow & Arrow
- Sling Shot
When categorization gets too tricky, people tend to reach out to tags such as miscellaneous and we are no exception. This category features a wide variety of useful items, from coffee filters with dozens of uses, such as water filter and tinder substitute, to a headlamp that provides a source of light without keeping your hands occupied. What all of these items have in common is their usefulness in nature survival.
- Coffee Filters
- Portable Cooler
- Light Sticks
- Waterproof Watch
- Waterproof Document Pouch
- Waterproof Bag
There are items that are surprisingly useful in nature survival and then there are those whose usefulness is far from surprising. This section features the latter, including tools that are specifically made for survival in nature. From sources of light to handy weapons, these are the tools we recommend you take with you on your next trip into the wild.
Remember, the night is dark and full of terrors, but the fire or lantern burns them all away.
Awaken your inner Thor and cut wood or anything else with this mighty tool.
- Swiss knife
The Jack-of-all-trades among tools, the Swiss knife has as many uses as you can think of. It is by far one of the most useful and easy-to-pack tools you can possess.
As deadly as the eponymous vigilante, it can help you cut your way through a thick forest or jungle or inflict lethal wounds.
Like the machete, just not as cool and suitable for cutting through materials other than metal.
Has as many widely familiar and creative uses as duct tape and a much longer history.
Being dressed for the occasion takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to nature survival. Aesthetics drop to the very bottom of your list of priorities and your basic needs become far more important than fashion.
Mother Nature can be rather cruel, sending scorching heat, rain, snow, wind or thunder your way and what can protect you best is what is closest to you – your clothes. These are the clothing items necessary for survival in all kinds of natural surroundings and weather conditions.
- Wool Socks
- Rain Boots
- Hiking Boots
- Rain Coat
- Jacket For Insulation
- Sun Glasses
- Shell Jacket
- Rubber Boots
- Rubber Gloves
- Waterproof Clothes
- Sturdy Gloves
We have said it once and we’ll say it again – extreme temperatures are not your friends. In fact, they are as deadly as a quiver of cobras hissing in your face. Whether it is too hot or too cold, your body is under attack and thermoregulation is the key to survival, especially in nature. These are the items you need in order to prepare for various extreme weather conditions.
- Sleeping Bag
- Butane/Propane Heater
- Rain Jacket
- Rubber Boots
- Hand & Feet Warmers
- Thermal Underwear
- Battery-Powered Fan
Roaming aimlessly through unfamiliar grounds can shrink your hopes of ever returning home to the size of a peanut. It is easy to get lost even if you are only a dozen miles away from your hometown and realizing that you don’t know where you are is one of the most terrifying thoughts that can occupy your mind. Luckily, this problem can be prevented rather easily with the most basic of items. Here is what you always need to keep in your backpack.
Communication is the key to a successful relationship as well as a way out of a life-threatening situation. Getting in touch with someone who could help you is not that easy in nature, without the Internet or cell reception. These are the items that can serve as means of communication when you are far away from civilization.
- Walkie Talkie
Stay in touch with your crew with this useful device.
- NOAA Weather Radio
A highly important piece of equipment, this radio broadcasts all kinds of alerts, from those weather-related to AMBER alerts and terrorist attacks.
A whistle is affordable, fits easily into your pocket, and with modest knowledge on signal whistle codes, it can get you out of trouble quickly, provided there is someone out there to hear your call for help.
A great way to send out signals and help others find you.
Power & Electricity
Unfortunately, outlets do not grow on trees (but there’s an idea for future advancements). When you find yourself outdoors, with no source of electricity, batteries and the Sun are your only allies in this department. Until a mad scientist finds a way to turn our brilliant idea into reality, here are the items you need to bring with you when you venture into the electricity-free parts of the world.
- Rechargeable Batteries
- Solar Charger (Battery & USB)
- Battery-Operated Torch
Surviving in nature was the tricky part; urban survival should be a piece of cake, with all the resources, right? Wrong. Just because there aren’t as many TV shows that teach you how to survive in urban areas, it does not mean that once you are in a city you are in the clear. The ugly truth is that people are usually better prepared for nature survival, seeing places away from urban areas as those that require better preparedness, without all the commodities associated with the modern, urban lifestyle.
Although there is no wildlife threatening your existence, there are many dangers that lurk from the shadows of urban jungles. Do not forget that nature controls the entire planet and the places redesigned by man are all the more dangerous. Being used to the benefits of living in the modern age makes things more difficult once these benefits are stripped away. Urban survival requires a special kind of preparedness. Here is a categorized view of survival items necessary for dealing with emergencies and disasters in urban areas.
When you are in trouble, it is pretty important to be able to send a signal, so people could know you are alive and where to find you. When other means of communication are not available, signaling can get you out of a tricky situation. These are the most common items that can be used for this purpose, especially suitable for urban areas.
- Laser Pointer
- Air Horn
As if disasters and large-scale emergencies aren’t bad enough themselves, they come hand in hand with higher crime rates. In a state of chaos, thieves and other criminals crawl out of their lairs and take advantage of the situation. You can never be too careful and you should definitely have something to protect yourself and your loved ones in case some invaders come to snatch away your possessions or attack you for no apparent reason – because that is how sociopathic mind works. These are the most useful items in such situations.
- Stun Gun
- Gun & Ammo
Miscellaneous is such a wonderful and useful word, especially since not all survival items are easily categorized. Here are the items that can come in handy in urban survival but do not belong to any of the categories we have listed so far.
- Entertainment (games)
You may think that when an emergency or disaster comes, there is no time to think about entertainment. However, sometimes you simply have to sit and wait for the dust to settle. A fun game can help you kill time until it is finally safe to return to your everyday life.
- Dust Mask
A dust mask can be useful in a vast range of scenarios, from a dusty shelter to serious air contamination.
Emergencies are times when most people like to go back to the fond memories of handymen fixing their appliances and doing all the dirty work for them for what at those moments seems like a ridiculously small amount of money. Having all the right tools may not seem that important right now, with your favorite repairman being just a call away.
However, believe us when we say that when an emergency happens, you are going to be happy you have made a sound investment and filled your toolbox on time. These are the items it should contain.
- Emergency candles
- Ice scraper
- Repair Kit
If there is anything we’ve learned from numerous B-production movies of varying quality, it is that bad things happen when people get lost in unknown areas without anyone nearby to help. Using more or less advanced means of navigation can help you avoid having your fun trip turn into the plot of a movie you wouldn’t want to see. What you would need is pretty basic and includes:
In case of an emergency, whether you need to call a friend or Ghostbusters, you need a device that can make it happen. Regular means of communication can be of use sometimes, but more often than not, you need devices that are independent from all the communication networks that can fail in case of any large-scale emergency. Here are the devices that can help you communicate with anyone who can provide help, including those in everyday use as well as emergency devices.
- Cell Phone
Your loyal companion, your best friend, it can be everything you need, provided that cell networks are working and your battery is charged.
- CB Radio
Short for Citizen Band Radio, this item is your new best friend in case the regular one fails. Suitable for both business and personal use, it can be a great means of communication when the most common ones aren’t available.
- Ham Radio
Communicate with people nearby, around the world, or even aliens with this useful device that does not rely on the Internet or cell networks.
- Satellite Phone
A great substitute for cell and landline phones when the networks are down.
Power & Electricity
It is hard to imagine life without electricity. However, when disasters occur, these unimaginable circumstances become the cruel reality. Without a steady source of power via outlets, you can quickly find out what life used to be like before Tesla came into the picture. The internet, the TV, the fridge, the stove, the water heater, and even light – poof, all gone in an instant. Unless… you have the following items at your disposal.
- Energy Bank
- Phone Chargers (Home & Car)
Car emergencies occur all the time, which is why it is extremely important to always have all the necessary tools in your car, in case you or someone else needs them. That is what trunks are for. Whether you get a flat tire, need to jump-start the car or run out of fuel with not a single gas station for miles, you can deal with these problems stress-free if you keep the following items at hand.
- Jumper Cables
- Cable Ties
- Spare Tire
- Tire Repair Kit
Before paying with paper and plastics was an option, people used to trade items and services, which in a way made much more sense. Large-scale disasters make paper and plastics go back to their original worth, which is practically nothing. In order to get someone to provide you with something you need, you have to give them something they deem valuable in return. These are universal trading items that can be used as currency in most situations.
Every item we have mentioned so far is only useful if you know how to use it. Your survival depends on the vastness of your knowledge on a multitude of subjects. Even with the highest-quality gear, your mind is still the most powerful tool you’ll ever possess. Luckily, there are people in this world who know how to deal with every possible situation and who are happy to share their wisdom with others. That is why this category features a single item:
- Survival Books
Not everyone in this world can survive on only the bare minimum. Fitness for survival depends on a number of factors, possibly the most important of which is age. In cases of emergency, it is not only your life you are responsible for but also the lives of those who depend on you. You need to keep in mind that their needs may greatly differ from yours and make sure they are met. Of course, the main categories of individuals with special needs are: