Go Beyond the Survival Essentials

Having some basic survival essential items with you when you’re outdoors is a must and the key to outdoor success. The items you have with you should provide for your basic needs while out and about, both while things are going according to plan and when things get hairy. But the 10 essentials are the bare necessities and a good kit should carry you above and beyond the minimum requirements. Here, we’ll discuss what you should add to your outdoor kit if you haven’t done so already.

First, as a refresher, here’s the 10 essential survival items and what they are comprised of. Take note, a cell phone is not considered an essential.

  1. Navigation (map and compass, GPS with extra batteries),
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/ferro rod and striker)
  7. Repair kit and tools (tape, patching, thread, etc.)
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter (tarp, emergency blanket, bivy sack)

These items can get you to where you need to go and also get you out alive if something goes wrong. But there are some things to add that can aid in your endeavors whether it’s a day hike or a week-long trip.

  • Knife – This can be a fixed blade or a strong folder. This will help you with anything from building shelter, preparing firewood or self-defense. I prefer a fixed blade over anything and will also carry a folder at times. I don’t carry an axe or hatchet due to personal preference. A multitool of some kind will also aid you in making repairs to clothing, sewn gear and hardware. As with any addition to your kit, take weight into consideration when packing.
  • Communication – A cell phone will do as long as it’s only used for communication and not navigation, photography or light. Battery life can drain quickly if the phone is used for anything other than emergency communication. Consider an extra power source or solar charger for extended trips. If you’re far in the backcountry and cell service is out of the question, an emergency locator beacon can be a good way to alert emergency teams to your position. Satellite phones are also an option, albeit an expensive one.
  • Cordage – A good length of 550 paracord can aid in several of the 10 essential systems. The individual strands can be used for fishing line if needed as well as for sewing up torn items. 550 cord can also be used to securely rig a tarp shelter or tie a debris shelter together against an anchor.
  • Water Purification – If your water runs out, you may need more in order to make it out of a survival situation. Not taking proper care of your water will leave you exposed to illness. Carry at least one method of purifying and cleaning water whether it’s a chemical treatment, UV light or cook pot for boiling.
  • Add your own! Your adventure will require its own equipment. Take a look at your kit and see what can be added to help you in the outdoors. Let us know in the comments what you consider your essential survival items.