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Survival Gear: 27 Life Saving Must-Have’s

Do you have the right gear to survive emergencies and natural disasters?

I seriously doubt it.

Most hikers, adventurers and survivalists weigh themselves down with useless garbage and forget to add the survival gear that really makes a difference in a life threatening situation.

Read on this page:

You’ll learn what survival gear is truly important in a life or death situation and which small, unexpected items can have a big impact on your chances of survival.

Do yourself and your life insurance company a favor: Add some gear from the list below to your backpack.

It’s better to complain, moan and nag about your heavy bag than to be six feet under.

Rescue

Unless you’re preparing for the collapse of civilization your first priority should always be to get rescued.

A team of park rangers and paramedics with a helicopter are better suited to get you out alive than yourself and you might be too incapacitated to do much surviving yourself anyway.

Like this guy who had to amputate his own arm because he was trapped under a boulder and nobody knew where he was.

So how can you improve your chances of getting rescued?

#1 Personal Locator Beacon

Imagine you’d press a button and a team of experienced rescue operators, the police and your family knew that you’re in danger and where you are.

As in exactly-meter-accurate where you are.

Personal locator beacons (also called emergency or distress radio beacons) used to be expensive because they require a satellite connection and complicated technical parts.

These days though you can get the real deal for less than $150.

Most PLB’s are lightweight, water proof and can be used for years.

They work anywhere in the world and as soon as you activate it a local search and rescue team and your family will be notified automatically.

Best: ACR PLB-375 ResQ Link ($238.44)

More Affordable: Spot Gen. 3 Satellite Messenger ($149.95)

#2 Cheap Mobile Phone

If you’re too stingy for a PLB or don’t plan to venture too far into the wilderness a cheap mobile phone will do the job as well.

Phone coverage has improved greatly over the last few years and in a country where you’ll never be further away than 107 miles (172.2 km) from a McDonald’s you’ll be hard pressed to find a spot without coverage.

It’s important that you buy a cheap prepaid style phone though.

Most smartphones barely have enough battery power to last for two days but many $20 keyboard phones can last for two to three weeks when used sparingly.

Even better most cheap phones come with a decent flashlight you can use in a pinch.

Buy: BLU Zoey II Quadband Unlocked Dual Sim Phone ($22.04)

#3 Survival Whistle

Dozens of people die every year because they were almost rescued.

The search and rescue team passes within earshot but still can’t find the injured person. There is too much ground to cover or the bush is too dense.

When you’re injured or can’t be seen from a distance, because you got caught in a landslide, earthquake or by a falling tree, a whistle is your best friend.

A good emergency whistle can be heard from a mile away and makes it easy for a rescue team to locate you.

They’re also cheap, small and it’s great fun to use them to wake up your children 6 am in the morning.

Buy: UST Marine Hear Me Whistle ($2.99 for two)

#4 Compass, Area Maps And GPS

A real ranger knows how to navigate the wilderness by the moss growth on the trees.

Me on the other side I have a hard time knowing left from right. That’s why I always bring gear to navigate and find my way back to civilization.

What you should bring really depends on your path finding skills and your location.

Buy a compass at the very least.

An area map that mentions landmarks will go a long way to secure your survival.

And if you have no clue what-so-ever you can always carry a GPS or install a GPS app on your smartphone.

Buy: Waterproof Military Compass ($19.33)

#5 Binoculars

Ever hiked five miles up a mountain just to stand in front of an impassable cliff, drop or landslide and had to backtrack?

No serious adventurer should leave his house without binoculars.

Binoculars help you to determine where to go, find landmarks to orientate yourself (remember that area map?) and finally they keep you from panicking when you can spot water, shelter or civilization from afar.

There are binoculars for any budget and the good ones fit in your jeans pocket.

Buy: Vortex Optics Diamondback Binoculars ($194.97), expensive but oh so worth it.

More Affordable: Bushnell Falcon Binoculars ($25.75)

Survival

To be rescued is no good if they can only find your limp body.

While you wait for that posh helicopter to bring you back home you might find yourself in danger from your surroundings. Or maybe you’re just hungry.

Anyway, a couple of small items can really save your hide in that situation.

#6 Survival Knife

A good survival knife is a survival kit on it’s own.

It’s amazing what you can do with nothing but a knife and some survival skills:

Cut wood and start a fire, build shelter, hunt, trap and fish for food and – yes – you can even dig your very own outdoor latrine or kill your nagging wife after you’ve dragged her into no mans land.

Survival knives are expensive and it’s an art in itself to choose a good one.

That’s why I’ve written the ultimate guide to survival knives:

Or you can just buy my favorite survival knife, the Fallkniven A1.

#7 Fire Starter Or Lighter

No matter how much wood you cut:

Without a spark or flame you’ll die cold and miserable.

To know how to start a fire is so important that I’ve written a guide about it:

How To Start A Fire In 3 Easy Steps

A cheap fire starter combined with your survival knife will give you an unlimited amount of super hot sparks to light as many fires as you want.

You can also build a giant bonfire which is fun and helps other people notice you when you’re lost.

When you’re away for only a couple of days a cheap BIC lighter might do the job but for any longer trip make sure you get a decent fire starter.

Buy: Light My Fire Original Swedish Fire Steel ($15.73)

#8 Vaseline And Cotton Balls AKA “Waterproof Tinder”

It’s hard to start a fire:

Don’t fall for the myth that the ground will provide you with everything you need.

Yes there are leaves, grass, shrubs and saplings everywhere but in most cases you’ll have to start your fire under imperfect conditions.

There’ll be heavy wind, cold ground and rain. Even a damp morning on a beautiful day can make all the tinder you can forage unusable.

Don’t believe the boy scout myth that you can make a fire with a DIY drill bow unless you got more time than brains.

Instead soak a dozen cotton balls in Vaseline and seal them in a plastic bag.

These babies are waterproof, ignite in unfavorable conditions and deliver a hot six inch high flame that burns for up to a minute.

And of course you can use the left over Vaseline to entertain yourself viciously. It might be your last time mate.

Read: How To Start A Fire In 3 Easy Steps

Buy: Vaseline ($3.99) and Dynarex Cotton Balls ($12.28 for 1000)

#9 Non-Lubricated Condoms (Or Empty Water Bottle)

Condoms are amazing. And not just for sex:

When SHTF they’ll become a valuable trade item.

Nobody wants to end up pregnant when things go downhill and keeping busy with your wife while you wait for rescue isn’t that bad either.

Condoms can help you carry around large amounts of liquids like water or fuel.

You can fit a dozen of them in a tiny space but once inflated each holds up to a gallon of water. Just make sure you buy the non-lubricated variant or your water will taste a bit weird.

They’re also great to waterproof dry items like tinder and you can make funny balloons out of them for your kids.

If that sounds a bit too greasy to you just bring a plastic water bottle or a metal canteen instead.

But in the end condoms provide the best weight and volume to usefulness ratio of any storage container you can carry around.

Read: 11 Ways A Condom Can Save Your Life

Buy: Atlas Non-lubricated Condoms ($14.90 for 100)

#10 LifeStraw Or Water Purification Tablets

You need at least one liter of water each day to survive.

If you plan to hike or bug out better make that 2-3 liters a day.

Even under the best circumstances you’ll exhaust your water storage within a day or two and need to find a fresh water source to quench your thirst.

To find a fresh water source in the wilderness is hard. But the real problems only start after you’ve found water.

Even the most pristine lake, puddle, river or waterfall is going to be contaminated with dangerous toxins and microorganisms.

If you drink bad water you will get sick:

Symptoms include violent diarrhea, vomiting, fever and tiredness. When you’re already in a survival situation you really don’t need that.

The simple solution is an invention called a LifeStraw.

It looks and is used like a regular straw but filters most dangerous toxins, bacteria, parasites and all the other nasty stuff from your water.

Just plug it into your water source and suck.

If you don’t want to carry around a LifeStraw (and I wouldn’t know why you’d be so stupid) make sure you carry some water purification tablets and a way to boil water with you.

Read: How To Purify Water: 7 Ways To Make Clean Drinking Water

Buy: LifeStraw ($17.96) or Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets ($16.50 for 100)

#11 Snack Food

It sucks to be hungry. Seriously.

If you’re lean and expend more calories than you consume your body will shut down rather quickly.

Yes, you can survive three weeks without food, but vigorous activity and starvation will lead to unpleasant side effects within 24 to 48 hours:

Constant pain, headaches, muscle aches and – maybe worst – a disastrous reduction of your mental capacities.

Bring a snack and be on the safe side:

Your body stores most vitamins and minerals over days or weeks so you don’t have to be picky with what you eat.

As long as it’s light and delivers an ample amount of energy it’s a great survival food.

Snickers bars or peanut butter make great snack foods. And if you’re health conscious you can pack trail mix, nuts or beef jerky.

Read: 41+ Survival Foods, Prices, Shelf Life & Checklists

#12 Flashlight

To run around outside after dark is just plain stupid:

You might trip, fall, slice open your equipment on a tree branch or poke out your eyes.

But then you might not have much choice when it’s late and you haven’t found shelter or need to escape a pack of hungry wild pigs.

As Wikipedia states: “Although not true carnivores, pigs are competent predators and can kill and eat helpless humans unable to escape them. A number of animal trials in the Middle Ages involved pigs accused of eating children.”

If you own a mobile phone with a flashlight app, why would you need an extra flashlight?

Well you don’t want to drain the batteries of your cellphone and be lost without a way to communicate.

Flashlights are cheap, weigh next to nothing and there is simply no excuse not to have one.

Buy: Dorcy Waterproof LED Flashlight ($6.98)

#13 Bear Spray

This is one of my favorites!

If you’re a hiker you might not want to bring a gun or hunting rifle on your trek.

But bad things happen to good people.

It feels comforting to be able to defend yourself from wild animal attacks or thugs trying to mug your camping spot in the middle of nowhere.

The world is a dangerous place:

There are serial killers that roam the forests and national parks for no other reason than to kill innocent backpackers. Like Ivan Milat.

Bear spray is statistically more effective than firearms to prevent injuries from animal attacks. It’s also non-lethal to endangered animals, cheap and can be bought legally in most states.

But what if you have to fend off humans?

A can of bear spray shoots to distances as far as 30 feet (9 meter) and packs a serious punch: It’s about a 100 times as strong as regular pepper spray, literally burning your opponents face off.

See what this guy from Ohio State Police has to say:

“One of our SWAT men volunteered (he was the guy that walks around with the big red “S” on his chest all day). I gave him a one half second spray on the side of the face only for a simple test. The skin immediately blistered and he had to be taken to the hospital.”

Buy: Frontiersman Bear Spray ($32.01)

#14 First Aid Kit

There’s nothing worse than to bleed to death from a minor injury that you could have fixed with a simple bandage.

You can buy “done for you” first aid kits pretty cheap or make your own. They’re one of the most essential survival items that you should always carry around.

Stop bleeding wounds, mend broken bones temporarily, prevent infections – these are real life saving skills anyone can learn in a couple of hours.

If you make your own first aid kit bring at least the following things:

  • Bandages and some cloth tape
  • Antibiotics and pain killers
  • Antiseptic wipes (or anything to sterilize a wound)
  • Tweezers

Buy: Ultra-Light & Small 100 Piece First Aid Kit ($31.99)

#15 Hygiene Items

More people die from disease in armed conflicts than from physical injury.

Germs, bacteria and parasites are everywhere: In the water, in the soil and all over you and your food.

If you get infected expect to get weak and feverish within one day.

Bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer (or rubbing alcohol) and some toilet paper at the very least.

Just because you’re in the wild doesn’t mean you have to behave like a barbarian.

Wiping your ass with leaves is much less enjoyable than it sounds and not brushing your teeth on a multi day hike is nothing short of disgusting.

Shelter

When rescue is not an option your first priority should be to seek or build shelter.

Cold temperatures and rain can end your life within twenty minutes.

Hypothermia is no joke:

First you start to shiver while your movements become slow and uncoordinated. Then you’ll feel confused and disoriented.

If you haven’t got a fire going within a few minutes after that your limps will start to freeze off and you’ll die in excruciating pain.

In case you don’t carry a tent around you’ll have to build your own survival shelter.

It’s possible to build a comfy shelter with nothing but a survival knife but I would highly recommend that you also pack at least some of the survival gear mentioned below.

#16 Space Blanket

Space blankets are a marvelous invention:

They keep your body heat trapped inside, the cold outside and they are waterproof.

If you plan on a multi day adventure you will fare better with a sleeping bag but even then have at least one or two emergency blankets stuffed in your backpack.

You can use a space blanket as an improvised tarp or a clean surface to prepare food but it’s usually better to use them for what they’re made for (trapping body heat) and to bring the next item on this list with you instead.

Buy: Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets ($8.49 for 10)

#17 Plastic Trash Bags

You can buy expensive tarps online to build marvelous survival shelters but I prefer plastic trash bags.

They’re cheap and a pack of fifty fits into any backpack or cargo pants pocket.

Make sure you choose the big ones so you won’t have to pin multiple bags together for a roof.

Even better a creative survivalist can come up with a myriad of clever applications for trash bags:

You can make waterproof boots to brave a swamp, use them as extra storage space for what you forage, waterproof your sleeping bag or store water.

These are real life savers.

And if you don’t get into a dangerous situation you can always use them to take out the trash.

Read: 32 Survival Uses For Trash Bags

Buy: Hefty Trash Bags ($0.25 each)

#18 Paracord, Rope or Flexible Cable Ties

To build a comfy shelter you have to make many individual parts like sticks, saplings and your plastic bags stick together.

You can use rope of course but rope is heavy and bulky so better invest in some good paracord.

Paracord is amazing:

It’s lightweight, cheap and you can use it for about nine gazillion other survival and DIY projects.

Make sure you buy brightly colored yellow or orange paracord so you won’t trip over your own creations at night.

And if you’re the lazy type who doesn’t know how to make any knots add some flexible cable ties to your shopping list.

Read: 39 Emergency Uses For Paracord

Buy: Paracord Planet Nylon Paracord ($6.59 for 50 feet) and Joy Fish Nylon Cable Ties ($1.17 for 100)

#19 Gear Repair: Superglue, Duct Tape & Safety Pins

There’s nothing worse than to break your survival gear when you really need it.

Try to carry your gear after your backpacks fabric tore apart (hope you brought some plastic bags) or walk in shoes without soles.

The solution to broken gear and accidents is to always carry a small DIY survival gear repair kit with you.

You can make almost anything hold together for at least a few more days – which is hopefully long enough to get back home safe.

There are only three things you really need:

Superglue, duct tape and safety pins.

These are all cheap and lightweight so there’s no excuse for you not to bring them along.

Even better, you can use the duct tape to shut up your nagging wife after you’ve lost your way in the forest.

Buy:

Clothes

In most cases it doesn’t really matter what you wear on your trip.

Cargo pants store more gear than jeans and a long sleeve shirt can protect you from mosquitoes but in general your choice of apparel has only a small influence on your chances of survival.

There are a couple of exceptions though:

#20 Bandana

A bandana – sometimes called a kerchief – is a triangular or square piece of cloth you tie around your head or neck.

Used by soccer fans and Muslim girls alike, bandanas are cheap, light and don’t take up any space in your pack when you wrap them around your head, arm or leg.

The best thing about bandanas is their versatility, which is only rivaled by a good survival knife.

Cover your head or neck against sunstroke, filtrate muddy water, use it as an emergency tourniquet or bandage, cleaning tool, reusable toilet paper (ewww!), dust mask or about a million other things.

Having a bandana and some creativity goes a long way to survive a dangerous situation.

Read:

Buy: Kilofly Multi-purpose Bandanas ($14.75 for 8)

#21 Raincoat / Wind Breaker

This is probably THE most underrated survival item you can wear.

It can and will rain almost anywhere unless you’re in the desert.

To get yourself or your survival gear wet is a real danger that you have to prepare for.

Cold water and wind will drain your body temperature incredibly fast: If you’ve ever been swimming in cold water and felt hungry afterwards, that’s the same effect.

To be wet or damp and surrounded by chilly air will make you burn trough your food at highly accelerated rates, make you susceptible to illness and get you into a really bad mood.

If it rains you’ll want to find shelter.

But what if there is no shelter or everything you could use to build shelter is already wet?

In that case a good raincoat makes the difference between falling asleep and freezing to death or waking up the next morning unharmed.

Buy: Columbia Men’s Watertight Hooded Rain Jacket ($51.45 for large size)

#22 Wool Socks

Another item you don’t usually see on survival gear lists are wool socks or wool clothes in general.

There are tiny air pockets in between wool fabric that help you to stay warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.

Clothes made from wool stay warm when they’re wet, are fire retardant, mold resistant and make for great tinder.

Wool is just a superior survival fabric compared to cotton or polyester.

It’s light, strong and flexible and you’ll finally have an use for that ugly wool sweater your grandma gave you last Christmas.

Buy: Merino Wool Socks ($26.90 for 4 pairs)

#23 Survival Or Tactical Backpack

You can carry around your survival gear in your daughters Hello Kitty schoolbag.

But the wilderness is unforgiving and many backpack manufacturers try to skimp on the materials.

There’s a certain combination of convenience and ruggedness that you can only find in good tactical backpacks.

Tactical backpacks have lots of pockets to organize your gear, are waterproof and don’t break easily. And even if they break you can usually fix them easily with your DIY gear repair kit.

They’re also expensive.

But ask yourself: Do you really want to carry all your shit over the mountain in a plastic trash bag, or worse have to leave life saving gear behind, just because you were too cheap to invest in a good survival backpack?

Read: Top 3 Survival, Military & Tactical Backpacks

Buy: 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Hour Backpack ($148.00)

Often Forgotten

Most websites and companies just want you to buy their ridiculously overpriced survival-something.

But don’t think that if you have the right gear you’ll survive:

It takes much more than that.

An iron will, the right education and a good portion of creativity are far more important than the latest survival gimmick.

The truth is that some of the most important “survival items” are free and require nothing but your time.

Keep reading to learn how you can improve your chances of survival for free or at least crazy cheap.

#24 Have A Plan

The best way to ensure your survival is to prepare and educate yourself before you get anywhere close to danger.

Make sure you have an actual plan of what you will do when things turn ugly:

Sit down and create a mini bug out plan for your next trip.

Adjust your gear and knowledge to your location:

If you’re hiking in the mountains read up if there are any dangerous animals out there and where you can find the highest landmark so that a rescue crew can spot you easier.

Bring a boat when you want to cross a river or waterproof boots when you plan to walk through a swamp – don’t expect that you can make something up at moments notice.

Even if you don’t need your plan and your trip is safe you’ll sleep much better at night in your tent knowing that you’re prepared to get yourself and your family out of harms way if things turn sour.

Buy: An internet connection, paper and a pen. Oh wait you already got that stuff, right?

#25 Amazon Kindle

The most important survival tool ever is your brain and what you have stored in there.

Now it’s obvious that you’ll want to have some climbing practice before you head out to scale Mt. Everest but you can only memorize and practice so much stuff before your head is full. And most of us have a job anyway.

The solution is to bring an Amazon Kindle on your journey:

If you don’t know them they are like little tablets made only to read books.

The cheapest one will cost you only $79 and you can store thousands of survival books, manuals and checklists on it.

Since the device is made only for reading it’s batteries last for up to three weeks of continuous use.

Imagine your daughter broke her leg: What a horrible situation to find yourself in if you’re not a doctor!

But then you switch on your Kindle, open The Survival Medicine Handbook page 353 and have all the information you need to patch up your daughter at your fingertips.

Knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have the better.

So why wouldn’t you want to carry the knowledge of a thousand books around to where ever you go?

Even better, if you’re bored and waiting for rescue you can spend the time re-reading your favorite vampire and werewolf romance novel.

Buy: 6″ Kindle Touchscreen ($79)

#26 Companionship

What is better than a highly trained and educated survivor with the best survival gear money can buy?

Two survivors of course!

Broke your leg and can’t move around or carry your stuff anymore? You’re dead if you’re alone.

Fell into a raging current? Who will throw you a rope to get you out if you’re alone?

To have a dedicated companion you can trust and depend on is one of the most important things you can bring on any journey in life.

Most people die not because they are out of options but because they give up in their mind.

To have a close friend or family member with you in times of struggle will give you that little extra willpower that sets apart the survivors from the dead.

Just make sure you can actually trust your companion and that he won’t let you bleed out in the forest and steal your survival gear at the first opportunity.

But what if you want to spend some time alone in the wilderness?

Consider to take your dog with you:

Most dogs can feed themselves just fine and make great companions for hunting, leisure time and – if you really have to – you can always eat your dog if you’re starving.

Buy: You can buy “lady friends” at your closest brothel but I am not sure how helpful they’d be in a survival situation.

#27 Money

I remember how I stood before this convenience store thirsty like a desert nomad but I was out of cash.

I had to walk thirty minutes back to my place, get some money, walk there again and all that just to get some water.

Don’t underestimate the value of having some cash when you’re back in civilization.

It’d suck to finally get out of the forest after a three day hike and stand in front of a 7-11 and not be able to buy anything.

Money will also make people more susceptible to help you:

Like the guy giving you a ride to town on a lonely road, who doesn’t care if you starve to death on the side of the road but who does like your money though.

Always have a couple of twenty dollar bills rolled up and hidden somewhere in your pack. You don’t have to spend it and it may come in really handy some day.

Buy: If you don’t have any there’s always gambling, right?

Things That Didn’t Make The List

Multi tool: Pretty useless when outside of an urban environment. You don’t usually need a screw driver in the forest and you can do most, if not all, things a multi tool can do with your survival knife.

Gloves: Can be life saving in a cold climate and convenient when you have to do a lot of work with your hands but if you really need these you’ll have them packed already.

Guns: These are great if you plan to shoot someone but most trips don’t warrant the extra weight and hassle of carrying a gun, ammo and the necessary government permit up a lonely mountain. If you plan to hunt or to bug out then that’s a different story though.

To wrap it up:

Nobody can tell you what you should or shouldn’t bring on your next trip or adventure.

The truth is that what survival gear you’ll need depends on where you’re going.

Climbing gear is great for the mountains but not so useful in a swamp and you won’t need a fishing pole in the desert.

Make it a habit to plan and think about possible hazards before you leave and adjust your gear accordingly and you’ll live longer than the guy who just brings the fanciest stuff without giving it any thought.

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Bug Out Bag Checklist: 44 Essentials & Gear

When SHTF you want to be far away from the overcrowded cities:

Riots, looters or the government trying to “impose order”, it’s better to be somewhere safe with your family.

Somewhere you have supplies and don’t need to worry about people who were not smart enough to prep.

It’s a good idea to plan a retreat to a safe location out of the way and away from home, that’s called a “bug out location”.

There you can stack your supplies and don’t worry about “friends” that’ll come knock on your door once they run out of food or neighbors that want what you have.

But as your bug out location is far away from your home or the city, how do you get there?

Streets jammed with panicked people and public transport gone your only option is walking. For that you’ll need enough supplies in one bag to get to your (hopefully) secret hideout.

How To Make Your Own Bug Out Bag

There are three principles to a good bug out bag needs to adhere to:

  • Your bug out bag has to contain every essential item and survival gear to survive for at least 72 hours (that’s also the time estimate for how long it’ll take rescue organizations to respond after a major natural disaster).
  • The bag shouldn’t be too heavy. Be honest with yourself: Can you really walk for twenty miles a day, three days in a row with a 50 pound bag on your shoulders? You want to get away from danger so speed is important.
  • You don’t want to appear as a target. So keep it simple, effective and don’t bring your golden Rolex.

These principles are hard to unite.

How can you build the most effective bug out bag and what should you put inside?

First you need to choose the right tactical backpack to do the job for you.

I covered this in a separate article: Top 3 Survival, Military & Tactical Backpacks

Next you add the most important survival items to your bag.

The 44 Bug Out Bag Essentials

What’s important and what not? How do you decide?

It all depends on the type of emergency, your location and your surroundings.

To have an extra pair of socks can come in really handy when it’s cold but is pointless when you life on the beach in Mexico.

That said there are eleven basic categories of survival items that you need under any circumstance.

If you don’t pack at least one item for each category chances are good you won’t even make it trough the first night.

Remember:

Survival is about covering the basics. There’s no point to drive around in a tank with flame throwers and a bazooka if you don’t have any clean drinking water.

1) Water

You will die after three days without water. Less if you engage in strenuous activity.

Since you’ll walk to your bug out location you should assume that you’ll need two to three liters per day and person.

You’ll have to bring:

  • At minimum of three liters of bottled water for the first day.
  • A LifeStraw or at least some water purification tablets so you can purify water on the way to your destination.
  • Collapsible water bottles or non lubricated condoms to store extra liquids.

2) Outdoor Clothes

Without shelter and warmth you can die within a couple of hours when it’s cold (or get a sunstroke when it’s hot).

But without the right clothes you won’t even make it that far.

Based on your location you’ll want:

  • A rain coat or wind breaker. To be wet weighs you down, makes you sick and is unpleasant to say the least.
  • Wool clothes stay warm even when wet and cool when it’s hot. Dump cotton or polyester clothes. Wool is the survival fabric king.
  • A bandana to protect you from the sun and because you can do many cool things with it.
  • Sturdy boots to brave rough terrain.

Think about the terrain you’ll face and the weather in advance.

If you live in a place with seasons you should really have two separate sets of clothing for your bug out bag.

3) Light

You’ll never know what time of the day things go down the drain and you don’t want to have to run trough the night or try to locate a temporary shelter without an adequate light source.

Have two flashlights and a couple of spare batteries ready.

4) Gear

The most important thing to add to your bug out bag is the best survival knife you can afford.

A good knife will make everything else easier. From chopping firewood, building a survival shelter to self defense, a survival knife replaces a multi tool and half a dozen other survival tools.

You should also pack:

  • A whistle in case one of your family members gets lost or incapacitated and needs to call for help.
  • Money to barter or buy items when you come upon other survivors.
  • Repair supplies like super-glue, duct tape and safety pins so you can fix broken gear on the way.
  • Survival books to consult in case you’re not sure what to do. The Amazon Kindle holds up to three thousand books and it’s battery lasts for weeks.

Read: Survival Gear: 27 Life Saving Must-Have’s

5) Shelter

You don’t want to spend a night outside in the rain so you’ll have to bring equipment to build a shelter.

In theory a good survival knife is enough to build a makeshift shelter but after a days long hike you’ll be tired and the gear below will improve how fast you can set up camp and the coziness of your shelter.

  • A tent, tarp or at least some plastic trash bags as a roof.
  • Paracord, rope or flexible cable ties to make everything hold together.
  • Space blankets or sleeping bags.
  • Another waterproof tarp to cover the ground below your shelter.
  • Thin blankets and a teddy bear for your little ones.

Don’t skimp on your shelter.

You will be exhausted after a whole day of walking and you don’t want to be sleep deprived in a situation where you need your awareness and mental capacity to stay alive.

6) Fire

Shelter and warm clothes are great but sooner or later you want to cook some food, boil water (to purify it or clean wounds) or just be a little more comfortable.

To make a fire bring a fire starting rod or a regular lighter.

Don’t bother with waterproof matches.

They only limit how many fires you can start. Both fire starters and lighters are waterproof anyway.

Next on you need tinder.

The best tinder for survival situations are Vaseline soaked cotton balls.

Make two dozens of them and seal them in a plastic bag. They’re water proof, burn even in a thunderstorm and will give you a six inch high flame that burns for up to one minute. You won’t find a better tinder than that.

Read: How To Start A Fire In 3 Easy Steps

7) Food

You probably don’t want to go three days without food.

Three great foods that are cheap, healthy, energy dense and make good bug out bag food are:

  • Peanut butter
  • Trail mix
  • Homemade energy bars

Don’t bother with hunting or fishing equipment.

Rather try to set up food supplies or a renewable food source at your bug out location and make it your goal to get there as fast as possible.

Read more here:

Build Your Own DIY Survival Kit For Less Than $80 (#6 Food) 41+ Survival Foods, Prices, Shelf Life & Checklists

It’s also a good idea to bring some aluminium foil or aluminium trays for campfire cooking.

8) Navigation

Your primary goal is to get your family out of danger and walk somewhere safe.

That might mean you’ll have to avoid busy roads, bridges or urban areas and hike trough the wilderness.

To know how to get to your destination without getting lost should to be a major concern for you.

To reach your bug out location unscathed:

  • Have a travel plan ready. Take a map, plot a course and make sure you’ve actually walked that course at least once so you know potential obstacles.
  • An area map so you can switch course when necessary.
  • A compass or GPS to determine in which direction you should go when you’re lost (happens to the best of us!).
  • Binoculars to scout the way ahead and avoid obstacles that would force you to backtrack like an impassable mountain pass or a road block.

It pays to know how to read the sun and the star for directions.

If you depend on your gear alone you put yourself in a dangerous position. Your compass might break or you may lose half of your gear when crossing a river.

The best survival gear is always the knowledge in your head.

9) First Air

Hiking on rough terrain all day has great potential for injury. You can either buy a first aid kit online or make a cheaper, lighter version yourself.

The absolute first aid essentials you need are:

  • Bandages and cloth tape to dress injuries.
  • Antiseptic wipes or rubbing alcohol to sterilize wounds.
  • Pain killers (ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol) and antibiotics.
  • Cold and heat compresses.
  • A safety respirator.
  • Latex gloves.

Make sure you know what you’re doing. A first aid training course is a real boon. If you do first aid wrong you risk to make any injury worse rather than better.

10) Hygiene

You might think it’s only 72 hours.

But if you throw hygiene over board you dramatically increase your risk to get sick. You can’t walk a dozen miles a day when you’re incapacitated by fever, pain and weakness.

And it’s just disgusting not to brush your teeth for three days or not to have anything to wipe you bottom after you’ve shit in the forest.

To keep a modicum of civilization bring:

  • Enough toilet paper (seriously man)
  • Female pads / napkins
  • Toothbrush, paste and floss
  • Hand sanitizer and soap
  • A small towel

11) Self Defense

Let’s get this out of the way:

The best way to survive is to stay under the radar and avoid any encounters with other humans.

You do NOT want to run out of your office with a gun in each hand shooting left and right like James Bond. That’ll just get you killed.

Avoid violence at all cost. Only consider self defense if you can’t get away any other way.

It’s much better to take a less populated route to your bug out location than to go and expect trouble.

But if you do stumble over other survivors it’s good to carry around:

  • Bear spray because it’s great to deter both animals and unarmed humans.
  • A handgun and some ammunition for when you have no other choice than to kill or be killed.

These are the most important items to put in your bug out bag. It’s up to you to add more things just keep in mind that your bug out bag shouldn’t be too heavy.

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Top 3 Survival, Military & Tactical Backpacks

You push trough a thorny shrub, suddenly it makes zrrrrrg…

…and all your survival gear starts to fall out of your backpack into a two feet deep puddle.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast like me you’ll probably have lost more backpacks to nature than you can count and it’s a serious pain in the ass every time it happens.

The solution?

Invest in a tactical backpack.

Tactical backpacks are more expensive but in exchange they’re made from sturdy, water resistant fabrics and come with clever pocket systems that are really convenient in survival situations.

And there are even more reasons why you should buy a tactical backpack:

  • Savings: A survival pack repays itself quickly because you’ll lose fewer backpacks to tear and damage.
  • Convenience: The pocket system will allow you to access all your gear much quicker then if you’d use a standard backpack.
  • Comfort: There are special straps that’ll help to distribute heavy weights more evenly on your body. Carry more stuff without feeling more weight!
  • Utility: Most tactical packs come with a hydration compartment to store water, removable pouches or even hidden compartments.
  • Survival: They are made to dry quickly and withstand bad weather, extreme cold or heat and wear & tear situations.

There’s really no excuse not to get a good tactical backpack.

But which tactical backpacks are actually worth your hard earned money?

5.11 Tactical Rush Back Pack

The 5.11 Tactical Rush is probably the most expensive tactical backpack on the market but I think it’s worth the price.

This is one of the very few examples where the manufacturer didn’t skimp on the materials or the bags features to make a quick buck.

Right now the 5.11 Tactical Rush Back Pack costs $148 on Amazon and has a 4.8 star rating (for the 72 hour variant).

The Gist:

  • Comes in 72 or 24 hour sizes with a really convenient pocket system.
  • Looks great, many colors to choose from.
  • Made from water repellent, ultra-dense nylon.
  • Has all the straps to distribute the packs weight equally on your upper body.
  • Pretty expensive

Just see what this guy says about it:

“I’m an Army officer and this is one of the best packs on the market. It works as an all-purpose, large capacity travel bag and a rough tactical 3-day pack. The build quality is the best out there (1050 denier, stronger than 1650) with sturdy zippers. The multitude of zippered, mesh storage on the inside is GREAT. The cherry on top is its low profile when it’s not filled. If you are only carrying a few things the bag stays thin and doesn’t look like you are going camping at Starbucks.”

Click here to read more 5.11 Tactical Rush Back Pack reviews!
(or click here for the 24 hour version)

Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack

This tactical backpack delivers some amazing value for your money.

The Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack has a unique and super convenient removable bag system.

This pack is actually a combination from many smaller bags that you can take off or add on demand depending where you plan to go and how long you’ll be gone.

Strip it down to the bare minimum and it becomes a great college day pack. Pimp it up all the way and you’ll have a full fetched 72 hour hiking or bug out bag.

You won’t have to buy half a dozen different bags anymore to cover all your needs with the Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack as your all-in-one choice. How cool is that?

The Gist:

  • Unique removable pocket system let’s you vary this packs volume and size (“3 bags in 1”).
  • Made from good water resistant nylon material.
  • Looks amazing, great value for your money.
  • No sternum (front / chest) strap can make heavy bags uncomfortable to carry.

See what Scott had to say about it:

“This is one HECK of a backpack. I was looking for a BOB/Vehicle/Stuff all my SHTF items in and this pack is perfect. It keeps swallowing my gear with room for more. Material is top notch, as well as all zippers.”

Click here to read more Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack reviews!

Mil-Tec Molle Army Patrol Pack

There is not much to say about the Mil-Tec Army Patrol pack. It’s cheap, as in $41.73 cheap and checks all the basics you need for a fine tactical backpack.

The only downside is the really cheap material (it’s made from polyester).

If you need a cheap camping backpack or don’t wander out into the wild too often this pack has great value for it’s money.

But if you’re a seasoned outdoor veteran you’ll want to invest in one of the other backpacks because with polyester the question is not if it will tear but when.

The Gist:

  • Super affordable.
  • Has all the basics: Padded front and shoulder straps, rugged zippers, convenient pocket system.
  • Made from polyester.
  • Not really water resistant.

With an average rating of 4.6 on Amazon you can’t go wrong with this military backpack and this Amazon reviewer said it best:

“Solid construction, great organization capabilities. Good value.”

Click here to to read more Mil-Tec Molle Army Patrol Pack reviews!

As you can see there are good alternatives compared to your standard run of the mill hiking backpacks and they don’t even have to be expensive.

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The $80 DIY Wilderness Survival Kit

To make your own survival kit is a real challenge:

The kit has to be light and small enough so you can carry it round the clock but also contain all essentials needed to survive an earthquake, riots, being lost in the wilderness or any other emergency.

Most survival kits you can buy online are crap.

They contain the doubtful items – like fireproof matches or a fishing kit – so manufacturers can market their products as “survival kits” to an unsuspecting audience.

Worse, a good survival kit depends on your location.

In North Canada an additional pair of socks might safe your life but would be of no use to an earthquake survival kit made for southern California.

The best solution is to make your own survival kit.

It’s cheap, personal and nobody deems your survival more important than yourself.

Warning: This guide focuses on real emergency survival. Yes, you can spend less and make an useless kit or spend more and end up with a shitty kit anyway.

  • If your kit is too heavy or bulky you will fail to constantly carry it around.
  • Weather, season and your nearby environment must influence your kit.
  • Think quality not quantity. Don’t add thinks you might need, only what you will need. If you want to spend more money it’s better to upgrade what you already have than to add new unnecessary items to your kit.

Ok, enough rambling :-)…

To assemble your DIY survival kit follow these ten steps:

#1 Choose The Right Container

The container is like your survival kits backbone:

Choose the wrong one and you’ll end up with a broken kit, lost items or injure yourself.

You want something sturdy, possibly water proof or at least water resistant and not too bulky so you can carry your kit around in your car or your briefcase at work.

Avoid plastic zipper bags and leather pouches. They tear too easy.

What works well are either tin cans with a screw or plastic cover or Tupperware made from sturdy HDPE.

DIY survival can kits definitely have the “cool” factor:

You can buy new tins (screw or plastic) or use any old can, grate away the serration on the sides and add your own cover. Imagine your friends faces when you show them a can of beans and out comes a fully fetched survival kit.

Make sure you add some fasteners or your can will open too easily. Rubbers work well but so does duct tape.

Tupperware is less cool but oh so amazing. It’s almost unbreakable, comes in many different sizes and shapes, is water proof and nobody will bat an eye when they see you walk around with some Tupperware.

What more could you ask for?

Buy: Rubbermaid Food Storage Container Set ($9.99 for a set of 18 pieces) and some rubber so the boxes won’t lose their lids too easy.

#2 Survival Knife

Most “ultimate” survival kits include a multi tool, screw driver, hand saw and other survival tools.

I say that’s all bullshit.

That many different tools will weigh down your kit and you’ll either have to invest a fortune or buy shitty crap from China that’ll break on first use.

Instead just add a good survival knife. With some practice your knife can do everything a multi tool does plus so much more.

There’s no substitute for a good knife in your survival kit and if I had to decide between a run-of-the-mill kit and a knife I’d always choose the knife.

Knives are so important I’ve written a guide just about them:

Read: The Best Survival Knife: A Matter Of Life Or Death

For a survival kit I would recommend a shorter 4 inch knife (most survival knives are longer) so your kit won’t get too bulky.

Buy: Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty ($18.88)

The Morakniv Companion is short, cheap, incredible sturdy (compared to it’s price tag) and simply the best knife for an affordable DIY survival kit.

Check out my Morakniv Companion review here.

#3 Shelter: Space Blanket

You need something to keep you warm and dry at night (or cool at day).

There’s no better makeshift shelter, sleeping bag and emergency cover than a space blanket.

These are the same as the ones in your car’s first aid kit.

They are cheap, light, waterproof and have two reflective coatings on either side:

One to keep the heat in, the other to keep the cold and wet out. Or turn them around and they keep the cold in in and the heat out. They’re so useful it’s best to bring a couple of them.

Buy: Mylar All Weather Blanket ($0.85 each)

#4 Warmth: Fire Starter And Waterproof Tinder

You want to be able to start a fire.

This is handy when you want to prepare food, are cold or need to build a bonfire to alert rescuers. Also great for shameless naked dancing around the fire to celebrate your new post SHTF freedom (hey why not?).

Here most survival kits, even the expensive ones, fail horribly.

I assume you’ve seen kits with waterproof matches before. But let me set you straight: Only idiots carry around waterproof matches. Because…

First, the amount of fires you can light is limited. Got ten matches? You’ll maybe get three fires out of it. If you’re lucky and have good tinder.

Second, every fire starting method is waterproof except regular matches. It’s like crossing a river in a rubber dinghy and choosing your dinghy because the salesmen said its waterproof. But being waterproof is the basic requirement for a rubber dinghy. If you’re smart you’ll rather want some paddles and life vests too.

There are two routes you can go here:

BIC lighters are cheap, last ages are waterproof and you can empty out their fuel for other uses. Don’t believe me? Throw your lighter in the toilet, fish it up, shake it a couple of times and you’re ready to make a fire.

Just ask yourself: If you’re in an emergency would you rather have ten matches… or a lighter?

Buy: BIC Classic Lighters ($1.19 each)

For a couple more bucks you can upgrade your standard lighter to a Zippo. The’re sturdier, last longer and come with a windproof design that makes it easier to light a fire in a real world setting.

Buy: Zippo Brushed Chrome Pocket Lighter ($9.76)

Fire starters (or fire steel) are the ultimate solution for your survival kit. They’re also the most expensive and you need a knife or a flint to use them.

That said the’re just as bulky as a lighter and you can start thousands of fires with them.

A common misconception is that it’s harder to start a fire with a fire steel because they only shoot off sparks. The truth is that these sparks are about 3.000 degrees hot (compared to maybe 800 degrees for a BIC lighter) and will ignite dry tinder like it’s gasoline.

Buy: Light My Fire Original Swedish Fire Steel ($18.40)

To start a fire you’ll always need a heat source and some tinder.

Read more about it here:

How To Start A Fire In 3 Easy Steps

You won’t always be able to find dry tinder in an emergency. You can always find something to burn from old furniture, chopped off branches to your stained underwear.

Most bigger things are hard to ignite though and when it rains you got a real problem

It’s much smarter to carry some Vaseline soaked cotton balls in your kit.

They’re waterproof, ignite even in heavy rain, snow or wind and you can jam two dozens into a tiny plastic zipper bag.

Be careful when you ignite them though. They’ll burn in a six inch high flame for up to one minute.

Perfect to incinerate anything from a campfire to your neighbors garage.

Buy: Vaseline ($3.99) and cotton balls ($0.014 each)

#5 Water: Bottles & Filtration

Now that you’re cozy and warm you’ll get thirsty:

The human body can survive for three days without water but symptoms will gradually appear after a couple of hours and include nice things as tiredness, headache, dizziness, fever and seizures.

You really don’t want to get anywhere near that third day.

There is a simple solution to your water problems and it’s called a LifeStraw.

The LifeStraw is a water filtration device you can stick into any source of water and clean, purified water comes out when you suck on the other end.

This filtration technique works flawless to protect you from water contamination, bacteria and other things you don’t want to end up in your body.

You could probably suck water from an outdoor toilet or muddy puddle with your LifeStraw and the water would still be cleaner than what comes out of your tap.

A single LifeStraw filters up to 1000 liters (~264 gallons) of water which is enough to survive for about two years for one person.

Buy: LifeStraw Personal Water Filter ($17.96)

If you’re a Cheap Charlie you can always go for water purification tablets instead. Be wary though because they’re not as safe as you’d think and you’ll have to use them like they’re intended to.

Buy: Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets ($0.17 each)

Read: How To Purify Water: 7 Ways To Make Clean Drinking Water

#6 Food: Peanut Butter, Trail Mix & Energy Bars

It sucks to be hungry.

Yes, you can survive without food for three weeks. But after just two or three days you’ll start to feel symptoms like weakness, dizziness and reduced alertness.

Because your kit has to stay light so we need to pack foods that give a lot of energy without taking up too much space.

And since you’ll only use your survival kit for the first few hours or days until you got home to your bug out bag we don’t have to choose super healthy foods.

That leaves you with three easy choices:

Peanut Butter

My favorite is an often overlooked super survival food:

Cheap, versatile and loaded with 17 out of 21 essential vitamins and minerals you’d only need 12 ounces (340 grams) of peanut butter to feed a fully grown man for a day (on a 2000 calorie diet).

Even better the calories in peanut butter come mostly from fat. In a survival situation fat is king.

A generous portion of fat compared to carbohydrates will keep you full longer. You’ll also feel more awake and alert because there won’t be any spikes in your blood sugar.

Store your peanut butter either in a small plastic jar with a spoon or stuff it in a plastic wrapper like the sauce’s you get from Asian take out places.

Buy: Jif Creamy Peanut Butter ($5.48) – refill in your own jar and devour the leftovers! Mmmmh!

Trail Mix

If you don’t like peanut butter there is always trail mix.

It’s called trail mix because people have used it to stay fed while hiking and traveling since ancient times.

Since it’s made from dried fruits and nuts it’s healthy and energy dense.

And who doesn’t love cranberries?

Buy: Planters Trail Mix ($0.44 / ounce) or Signature Trail Mix with M&Ms ($5.45 / pound)

Energy Bars

These are great for their versatility:

Peanut allergy? Have to follow a special diet? Just want some mashed cow brains in your survival snack?

With your own homemade energy bars you can have it all.

Energy bars are easy to make and with a little bit of practice they can be healthy and delicious.

Check out these 34 healthy energy bar recipes. They cover all categories from granola bars, to fruit, protein and nut bars.

The downside is that you’ll have to replace them often because they don’t last too long. But if you enjoy making and eating them that’s small price to pay.

You even could combine your survival kit with your work or school lunch box. This way you’ll never forget your kit at home.

These are my top three choices but there are obviously other foods that fit well into a survival kit.

If you’re a meat lover you can go for jerky, pemmican or even hard cheese without remorse.

Read: 41+ Survival Foods, Prices, Shelf Life & Checklists

#7 First Aid: DIY First Aid Kit

Bad news:

Real, professional, first aid kits weigh something like twenty pounds.

The wide array of diseases, injuries and other painful conditions our body can take on is dazzling.

We don’t want to carry that much though so we’ll have to decide what’s important and what we can leave at home.

The most likely medical conditions you may encounter after a disaster or outdoor trip are cuts, bruises, bacterial infections and fractures.

Therefor you’ll need at least:

  • Bandages ($0.33 each) and cloth tape ($4.92) to dress wounds.
  • Something to sterilize a wound, like antiseptic wipes ($0.07 each).
  • Ibuprofen to combat pain and fever ($0.38 for ten pills) and a good antibiotic (I’d take 3x500mg of Azithromycin but better to discuss that with your doctor).

You won’t need scissors (you have a knife, remember?) but if you have spare space in your kit bring a safety respirator and cold compresses. These can be real life savers under certain circumstances.

Don’t forget your personal medical conditions. If you’re allergic or got asthma don’t skimp on that.

The most important thing though is to know what the fuck you’re doing:

Read: First Aid Fundamentals for Survival (good summary) or The Survival Medicine Handbook (massive and very comprehensive).

#8 Rescue: Cheap Mobile Phone & Whistle

We’d all like to be a real survivor:

With no food except the occasional grasshopper we’d fight trough leagues of dense jungle or even amputee own arm to escape a boulder.

But the truth is that most survival situations end with you being rescued by professionals.

And we should be friggin’ thankful for that. Because when shit turns real it rarely is as much fun as in a TV show or a book.

To facilitate rescue always carry around a charged, old mobile phone.

One of the keyboard phones that people used like ten years ago. They cost next to nothing, keep their charge for two to three weeks if used sparingly and most come with a flashlight so you can hit two birds with one stone.

And no you can’t just use your smartphone. Modern phones run out of battery too quick and are much less sturdy than the phones of old.

Buy: BLU Zoey II Quadband Unlocked Dual Sim Phone ($22.04)

You’ll also need a whistle.

Many people have died just hundreds of meters away from a rescue team.

To locate someone in a big forest or under rubble after an earthquake is hard enough. But if you’re incapacitated all you can do is yell and your voice carries only ten to maybe fifty meters in most cases.

A whistle on the other side can be heard clearly over multiple miles and is a much better way to signal rescuers compared to obscure techniques like lighting a bonfire or using a signal mirror.

They’re cheap and tiny so there’s really no excuse not to bring one.

Buy: UST Marine Hear Me Whistle ($2.99)

#9 Navigation: Compass, Area Map & GPS

You’ll never know where it’ll hit you.

To build your own survival kit puts you’ll have to make difficult decisions.

You don’t know when, where or what is going to happen and you’d have to bring about a billion different things to cover all eventualities.

While most people think about when (flashlight at night) or what (bandages for injuries) they’ll often forget the where.

Nothing is more humbling than to stand in a large stretch of forest and realize that you’re lost.

There doesn’t even have to be an emergency. An exploratory spirit is admirable but can get you in trouble really quick.

The solution is to have a basic understanding of navigation.

Know how to read the sun and stars for directions, bring along a compass and a map of the area you’re in and you can almost always find a path back to safety on your own.

Buy: Classic Pocket Style Camping Compass ($3.63)

In case you’re not a skilled pathfinder you can bring a cheap GPS or at least download GPS app to your phone.

#10 Utility: Aluminium Foil & Large Plastic Trash Bags

The next two items don’t fit into any neat category but are just too useful.

You’d be crazy not to pack them.

Aluminium foil is the ultimate cooking utility. I see people bring cast iron pans and pots in their bug out bags. How ridiculous is that?

With aluminium foil you can boil water, fry meat, bake foraged root crafts in a camp fire or simply use it as a plate so you won’t have to eat from the ground.

You can put a huge amount of foil in a very tiny space and reuse it for… well forever.

Aluminium foil comes with an outer layer of aluminium oxide which prevents any form of corrosion (“rust”).

The only danger to your foil is when you tear it apart carelessly. To make your life easier you can buy extra thick industrial aluminium foil.

Buy: Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Foil ($3.49)

And there is so much more you can do with aluminium foil!

Read:

Plastic trash bags are another great utility item.

You can build a nice survival shelter from branches, saplings and leaves with nothing but a knife but it will rain trough your roof and it’s a lot of hard work.

With some plastic garbage bags you can stretch or clamp one over two branches and done is your survival tent.

They’re also great for all sorts of shenanigans:

So you couldn’t resist to loot that Seven Eleven? Carry more stuff around you didn’t plan to bring in your garbage bags. Use them like a carpet to keep moisture out of your survival shack or build a makeshift sleeping bag.

Buy: Hefty Drawstring Multipurpose Bags ($0.25)

Don’t buy the cheap and flimsy ones, leaf and compost bags are best.

Again, the survivors creative mind is rewarded with many applications:

Read:

Wow, well that was a long list but you have to remember that these items are only suggestions.

It’s crucial to tailor your survival kit to your unique location, the most likely emergency and your personal requirements.

There are huge differences between a Southern Californian earthquake kit and a Alaskan outdoor survival kit.

I tried to only include the most important survival items in this list that you’ll want to add to any survival kit. Start with that and then think about what else you might need or what you can omit.

Remember that your kit is for immediate survival as in the first 24 hours until you make it back home or get rescued.

Don’t make your survival kit too heavy or bulky because ideally you’ll want to carry it around where ever you go.

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41+ Survival Foods, Prices, Shelf Life & Checklists

Ever been on a diet?

Good. Then you’ll know how much it sucks.

In theory you can survive 3 weeks without food: This guy actually survived for 382 days without eating in a laboratory in Scotland.

He had “no ill symptoms” during the fast and lost 267 pounds (121 kg).

So why bother with survival food?

Starving affects your body from the very first day.

Within 24 to 48 hours you will start to feel dizzy, have flu like symptoms and lose strength. With every passing day thereafter you’ll be weaker, more exhausted and mentally fogged until you die.

But when you’re in a life threatening situation you will need all your physical and mental capabilities to survive.

Imagine you hadn’t eaten for five days and were just too exhausted to brave the very mountain that would bring you back to safety.

Second, TEOTWAWKI is always around the corner.

Our food supply system is incredible vulnerable:

One earthquake, chemical spill or flood can bring down the whole food chain.

Supermarkets stock only enough food for three days and will emptied by looters and hoarders within hours of an emergency.

To stock three months of survival food for yourself and your loved ones is the most important emergency preparation you can do.

You can avoid armed conflict, protect your family and property from natural disaster, but you can’t really survive without food.

And since everyone hast to eat survival food becomes one of the best trade and barter item in a world after SHTF.

What you’ll learn: There are eight categories of survival foods. To survive you’ll need to stock at least some foods from each category. You’ll learn what the best survival foods are, how much they cost and how to store them properly.

What makes a decent emergency food?

  • Health: You can’t survive on candy bars only. Your body needs vitamins, minerals and energy. If you deprive your body of essential nutrients you’ll become weak, slow, depressed and ultimately… die.
  • Storage: Survival foods need to have a long shelf life, low weight and volume and you shouldn’t need a degree in rocket science to store them properly.
  • Delicious: In emergencies food must be prepared quickly, without a need for fuel or appliances, but still taste good. Because your kids wont stay sane eating nothing but military MREs.
  • Cheap: Because we’re all honest folk here and no friggin’ bankers. Right? Keep reading to prevent your family from starving.

Energy: The 3 Best Staple Foods

  • White rice
  • Instant mashed potatoes
  • Steel cut oats or “Irish oatmeal”

BAD survival staple foods: Hard grains, wheat flour, pasta.

Nutrients: Fruits, Vegetables And Nuts

Some fresh fruits and vegetables can be stored for a surprisingly long time:

Fruits: Apples, oranges, pomegranates (citrus fruits in general)

Vegetables: Onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, squash (pumpkin, acorn, winter), celery, radishes, beets, cabbage shallots, raw green beans mixed with salt.

After raw fruits / vegetables expire you can make them last longer by:

  • Freezing
  • Canning
  • Drying

Also do / storage:

  • Plant a fruit tree / garden
  • Keep a good multi-vitamin supplement
  • Homemade jams
  • Nuts

Protein Sources: Meat, Fish And Beans

You’ll survive without carbohydrates but without protein you will die.

Protein is the most satisfying food group and proteins are essential for proper muscle and brain function.

Long term meat storage:

  • Frozen
  • Canned
  • Smoked / salted
  • Dried (beef jerky or pemmican)

Other great protein sources with a long shelf life:

  • Cheese
  • Beans, peas and lentils (dried or canned)

Condiments

Important for long term health, especially salt.

Salt is not as unhealthy as you think and probably the most scarce survival food in any long term survival situations unless you live by the ocean.

Without salt you die.

Salt is great for many other things like: Food storage, medical applications, homemade toothpaste, seasoning…

Other condiments you should stock:

  • Salt & pepper
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Alcohol
  • Dried herbs (pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, paprika…)
  • Apple cider vinegar (cleaning, cooking, antibiotic properties)
  • Baking soda (great for cleaning too)
  • Baking powder
  • Yeast
  • Cocoa powder or maple syrup
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Tomato paste

Best oils to store: Most oils store for a long time but coconut and olive oil are the healthiest.

Staying Sane: Comfort Foods

Reasons to stock comfort foods:

  1. The biggest danger in survival situations is not lack of food but going crazy.
  2. If you change your diet your body needs time to adapt.
  3. Some comfort foods are really great survival foods too!

Best survival comfort foods:

  • Peanut butter
  • Chocolate
  • Energy bars
  • Trail mix
  • Jello & pudding mixes
  • Candies

Beverages

Can be life saving if you’re injured and can’t prepare or cook anything. Offer a good weight to calorie to cost ratio.

  • Coffee / tea (caffeine addiction)
  • Instant milk
  • Powdered fortified juice (vitamins)

Livestock Food & Seeds

Sooner or later you’ll need a renewable food source. Livestock or a garden can will increase how long your survival food stock will last.

  • Pet food for dogs
  • Livestock breeding pairs, “livestock emergency food” and medicine
  • Seeds

Don’t Forget: Water

Often forgotten but oh so important.

You – hopefully – have a well in the garden, a river nearby and a couple barrels of stored tap water in the garage.

Why should you still have water tucked away in your pantry?

The pantry is the best place to store a small quantity of distilled water to have close at hand for emergencies that happen right there in your home.

Distilled water is basically a step up the ladder from purified water. You don’t usually drink that stuff but use it when you need to be absolutely certain that the water you’ll use is 100% free of any contamination’s.

You use distilled water to cool your cars engine. If you’d put regular water in your cars radiator you’d ruin your engine over time because non-distilled water still contains contaminants like lime or chlorine.

Why is this important?

People prepare for all kinds of doubtful disasters like bear attacks or tanks rolling down the street but often overlook simple and boring everyday emergencies.

Imagine your wife is giving birth due to a shortage of condoms and good TV shows. Do you really want to clean the freshly cut umbilical cord of your newborn baby with water from the river that contains God knows what?

Do you have enough of time to hike to the river, break the ice, bring the water home, boil it and then help your wife deliver the baby?

What if you break a leg fixing the kitchen sink and no one else is home? Do you really want to crawl to the damn well and purify some water to clean your wound?

Bottom line: Distilled water is cheap (you can even make your own), extremely useful and doesn’t need to be rotated in storage. You should keep at least 3 gallons (10 liters) handy in your survival food pantry.

More uses of distilled water:

  • Best cleaning agent for open wounds from minor injuries to major surgery.
  • Used to maintain and extend the lifespan of machine parts like cars, batteries or generators.
  • Safe drinking water when no other water source is available.
  • Helpful for everyday survival: Use it to cook without worrying about water contamination or fill your steam iron to flatten your Bug out Suit.

Now you know what to put in your survival pantry.

But why do I advise to store only enough food for three months?

The truth is that most people are way too obsessed about their survival food pantry.

If an emergency cuts your family off the food supply for longer than three months no amount of stockpiled peanut butter will save you.

In the long run you’d better get down to the grind of setting up a renewable food source like farming, hunting or fishing.

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How To Start A Fire In 3 Easy Steps

Fire gave rise to mankind.

Without fire we’d still crawl into caves at night, afraid of what lurks out in the dark.

Fire gives us warmth, light and let’s us cook delicious steaks and grilled potatoes.

Dare I say that without fire we’d all be a depressed bunch of mushroom eaters.

With all our sparkling toys like LED lights, electric stoves and warm water heaters we take heat for granted. But what if it’s not?

Why Build A Fire?

Once you’re somewhere cold and wet you’ll quickly realize that fire is something that has to be earned. Things don’t just start to burn.

To build, start and maintain a fire is a skill any outdoors-man and survivor needs to master before you heed into the wild. It’s the most basic way to bring a little bit of civilization into the woods and comfort and security to your bones.

You’ll want to know how to start a fire because:

Warmth: It’s not fun to freeze your love apples off.

Cooking: Prepare food to make it safe, digestible and tasty.

Water: If you forgot to bring a LifeStraw a fire is the most basic way to purify water.

Light: Save those precious batteries. A campfire illuminates your whole campsite.

Safety: Fire scares off many wild animals and can lead search and rescue teams to your location.

You’ll also be able to see your wife sneaking out of your tent to your neighbors tent.

Comfort: Let’s face it… most fires get built for the cozy effect. The crackling flames dancing in the wind, with a beer and a long haired fellow playing guitar.

Many of our best memories are made with friends and family around a campfire.

So let’s start to get these flames crackin’ eh?

What You Need To Start A Fire

To start your fire you need exactly four things:

Heat source:

Something that already burns, creates hot sparks or can somehow else ignite your tinder.

Examples include lighters, magnesium fire starters, flint and steel or a flame thrower.

Tinder:

Because wood doesn’t ignite as easily as you’d think you’ll need tinder.

Anything that burns easily works well. You can forage dry leaves from the forest or use paper and clothes when starting your own “I am a hobo, I need a fire in a barrel” project.

There is “survival tinder” you can buy online. But hands down the best tinder I can think of are Vaseline soaked cotton balls.

Take two dozen cotton balls, soak them in Vaseline and zip them up in a plastic bag. Each cotton ball will give you a six inch high flame for up to one minute once ignited.

Beats the shit out of dry leaves I tell you.

Kindling:

To burn wet or damp forest wood you need some serious heat. The water has to evaporate first because the wood will catch on fire.

Instead of trying to burn a feet long log you split the wood with your survival knife into many small pieces that catch fire easily. This is called batoning.

Finger length size works well but you can also work with whatever you find like small branches, twigs, dead saplings or dry bush.

Wood or fuel:

Once you got your fire going you’re ready to add wood or any other fuel have.

Make sure to collect enough wood before you start your fire. Once it’s burned out you’ll have to start over from the beginning.

Got everything you need? Good. Next you’ll learn how to build a fire pit.

How To Build A Fire Pit

You can’t just start a fire anywhere.

Where and how you start you fire will make all the difference between getting cozy in a few minutes or working for hours and the damn thing still won’t burn.

1. First, you have to find and prepare the right location for your fire:

Find a place that is sheltered from wind but allows some air flow.

A clearing in between trees is a good place. An exposed hill is a bad place (too much wind will blow your fire out), your tent is a bad place too (not enough air flow to keep your fire going).

Make sure you to check which direction the wind blows so you won’t make a smokestack out of your campsite.

2. Second, you want to build a foundation for your fire:

When it’s very windy you can either dig a small hole (no more than half a feet deep) and start your fire in there or create a wind barrier by laying rocks around your fire.

If the ground is very cold or damp it will be hard to ignite your fire. The ground will literally steal your fires heat. In that case build a foundation out of dry rocks on which you can start the fire.

3. Third, now it’s time to build your wood tepee:

Put a big log in the middle of your fire pit as a backbone.

Then arrange the tinder around the base of the log and nestle your kindling in a mesh like structure over your tinder.

Don’t cover your tinder completely. You want it to be able to “breathe”. Last lean more wood logs and branches on your backbone log in the form of an Indian tepee.

Once you’re done, that’s it. Congratulations! You’re ready to start burning the forest down.

The Best Way To Start Your Fire

Now how do you actually ignite your campfire?

Take your heat source and ignite the tinder. If you’ve done everything right that should be it.

If your tinder burns down without setting the kindling on flame you’ve either not used enough tinder, your kindling is too wet (or big) or your fire is not compact enough.

Add more tinder, place everything closer together and try again until it works.

When you can’t apply your heat source directly to the tinder under your wood pile (like flint and steel or a bow drill) use two piles of tinder. One below your wood tepee and another next to your fire.

Ignite the outside tinder first and then push it next to the other tinder inside your wood tepee.

A Million Ways To Start A Fire

I am sure you’ve been flabbergasted by all the fire making articles around the web lately.

Ten new ways to start a fire, with only ice, a spoon and a wolf pelt! Amazing!

There are about a million ways to start a fire once you understand the underlying chemical principle of exothermic reactions.

Every chemistry undergrad knows how to burn concrete, ignite steel or create a bonfire with nothing but water and an old mobile phone battery.

But why am I telling you this?

The truth is that you’re far better off to learn how to use one or two fire starting methods and become proficient in them.

The best way to start a fire is to use a lighter (get a Zippo if you can) or a knife with a fire rod.

Lighters are great for the short term while fire rods are great for longer trips where you want to start many fires.

I’ve read an article today about starting a fire with brake fluid and chlorine.

Apart from the fact that’d you probably create a mini Auschwitz that way… if you’re in a place with cars (like a garage) or places that stock chlorine (like a hardware store) you could probably find a lighter within two minutes.

Most manual fire making methods are way harder than you’d think. Making a fire with a bow drill or the back of a shiny surface can take hours.

And let’s be real here:

If you’ve lost your lighter, your knife AND your fire starter, how good are the chances you haven’t lost your magnifying glass and got enough sun to get a fire going?

Do yourself a favor and stay with the basics.

Always carry around a lighter (or two), the best survival knife you can afford, Vaseline soaked cotton balls for tinder and a fire starter and you’ll be all set.

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21 Survival Skills For Urban & Wilderness Survival

Surviving life-threatening situations comes down to two things:

What you carry and what you know.

Even the best survival gear doesn’t help if you don’t know how to use it. And if you know how to start a fire you won’t get far if you didn’t bring any tinder.

It’s their knowledge though, their survival skills, where most people fail. It’s easy to buy an overpriced survival something and be proud of yourself.

But studying survival books and practicing what you’ve learned? Shouldn’t that be reserved for school kids?

The truth is you could spend your whole life learning and still be a dabbler. There are hundreds of dangerous situations and a thousand ways to brace them.

But some skills are so critical to your survival that you shouldn’t even think about leaving your house before you’ve mastered them.

So what do you need to know before you next adventure?

Basic Survival Skills

To ensure your bare survival you need to know how to:

  • Find a good place to set up camp
  • Build a survival shelter
  • Start a fire from tinder and a heat source
  • Locate water and purify it to make clean drinking water
  • Be your own doctor (first aid)
  • Signal rescuers your location
  • Stay mentally tough in frightening or painful situations

Outdoor & Wilderness Survival Skills

If you plan for a multi day outdoor adventure you should know how to:

  • Navigate using maps, your compass and read the sky and stars for directions
  • Use a knife without injuring yourself
  • Make a basic weapon (wooden spear)
  • Tie useful survival knots
  • Forage for wild edible plants, tubers and mushrooms
  • Catch fishes
  • Snare trap, hunt and clean game

Long-term And Urban Survival

What if SHTF or your community got hit by a natural disaster? You better know how to:

  • Parkour and free-run to escape from immediate threats (riots, looters)
  • Defend yourself with a gun and hand to hand combat
  • Grow a garden
  • Keep small scale lifestock like bees and chickens
  • Steal a car to get away from danger quickly
  • Start prepping so SHTF won’t surprise you
  • Trade and barter with and for everyday items

Read more here: Urban Survival Tips

The more you learn the better the chance that you’ll know the right technique or skill at the right moment and make it through the day.

But since you can’t learn everything I’d advise you to always carry around an Amazon Kindle filled to the brim with survival books. This way you’ll have the knowledge of hundreds of experts at your fingertips whenever you need it.

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33 Urban Survival Tips You Should Know

Tip #23: Find abandoned places to create secure backup hideouts.

You can divide most preppers into two categories:

Outdoor experts and city dwellers.

But life is unpredictable and you’ll never know where you are when shit hits the fan.

All your preparations could be for worthless if you are caught in a bad situation you couldn’t foresee.

Most preppers will agree that it’s best to get out of the city as fast as you can once things turn ugly. But what if you’re stuck for some reason?

Maybe you got caught shopping at the big mall, have to aid relatives who live in the city or your bug out vehicle got stolen.

In these situations it pays to know as much about urban survival as possible.

To give you a head start here are 33 urban survival tips you should know:

Escape & Everyday Carry

#1 Move out of the city if you can. Your chances of surviving any disaster instantly increase tenfold.

#2 Have a get home or everyday carry pack with you all the time to make it safely from your work to your house on a weekday.

#3 Ccreate small “get home bags” for your children and your wife. Teach them basic survival skills and set a meeting point in case you ever get separated.

#4 Pack a bug out bag, create a bug out plan and buy a bug out vehicle. Be ready to leave the city at first signs of trouble.

#5 Move FAST: Don’t wait until someone declares a state of emergency. Trust your instincts. Better to have a three day vacation in the countryside for no reason than to be trapped in a city full of hungry, violent people.

#6 Know how to “bug in”: Don’t put all your chips into leaving the crowds behind. You might be forced to stay in the city. Have a plan ready to fortify your current location and hold out until the situation improves.

#7 ALWAYS have a PLAN. When you have to react quickly there is nothing worse than not to know what to do.

#8 Arm yourself. It’s better to be a threat than a victim. Stay away from conflict but own multiple firearms, knives and pepper spray. Just in case. Also learn at least one self defense martial art like Krav Maga.

#9 Don’t be a hero if the odds are against you. Contrary to what you see in the movies it only takes one bullet to kill you. Permanently.

#10 Trust no one. Your best friends can turn on you like rabid dogs when they are afraid of their own life’s.

#11 Always carry a handkerchief to protect yourself from smoke and tear gas. Or to comfort your crying woman ;-).

Your Apartment / House

#12 Choose the location and neighborhood of your apartment carefully: Make sure there are safe routes to get to and away from it. You don’t want to live next to crowded places like supermarkets.

#13 Know your neighbors. Living next to a friendly couple of preppers can safe your life. Living next to an insane asshat with a gun is a really bad idea.

#14 Secure your apartment: Locks, sturdy doors, tripwires, battery powered burglar alarms, a decoy safe and bulletproof or barred windows make it far less likely that you’ll ever have to deal with burglars or looters.

#15 Hide your stuff. Have a hidden gun safe, a storage room that has no obvious door and build a safe room your family can hide in when things get really ugly.

#16 Keep a dog to alarm you of and scare away intruders.

#17 Prep at least for the “big three”: Electricity (batteries, solar), water storage and survival food. If you can’t last at least seven days with what you have in your apartment right now, you are in deep trouble.

#18 Keep stocked up on hygiene items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Because, seriously, you don’t want to be boxed in your tiny apartment for weeks without a way to wipe your ass.

#19 Keep an Amazon Kindle ready for entertainment and to store survival books about topics too complicated to memorize like medicine or indoor farming.

#20 Keep your freezer full: The more packed your ice box is the longer it’ll stay cool after a brownout.

#21 Olive oil makes for a great light source (in candles) and a survival food that stores almost forever.

#22 Buy old, non electrical devices to combat brownouts. A hand crank generator is a real boon while an electric can opener is a REALLY bad idea.

#23 Find abandoned places around the city to create secure backup hideouts.

#24 Put a wireless battery powered camera into your apartment or your hideout so you can check remotely if it’s safe to go there.

Urban Survival Skills

#25 Be the “Gray Man“: Don’t stick out, don’t tell anyone about your preps. Dress simple, keep your survival gear hidden.

#26 Stay away from the crowds. Literally avoid crowded places like malls, subways, busy streets or places of worships. But also think outside of the crowd. If everyone does something, think very hard if you really should go along or if there is a better alternative.

#27 Know your city. Don’t trust your GPS. Know how to get from point A to point B anywhere in the city. Commit important routes to your memory and scout ahead for safe ways to get out of the city.

#28 Be fit. Go jogging or learn how to do parkour and free run. Traffic jams, fences and closed alleys will restrict your movements. You might need all the endurance your body can muster just to get home.

#29 Make friends. Not everyone is evil and wants to steal your stuff. You’ll need a second pair of eyes to keep watch while you sleep. Look for non preppers that you can help out once SHTF who can contribute to your own survival like doctors or Army veterans.

#30 Be a smart scavenger. Everyone will try to loot the big malls and supermarkets. Come up with looting targets that nobody else will think of early on instead like freight trains, cargo ships or fruit orchards.

#31 Identify nearby food sources: Are there ducks in the nearby pond? Doves on your neighbors roof? Or a zoo filled with goats?

#32 Learn how to grow stuff. Urban gardening, vertical farming, beekeeping: It’s hard to grow food in the city. Which only means you’ll have to work twice as hard.

#33 Cultivate a tough mindset that will help you to overcome obstacles. You can’t prep for everything. Learn how to not fall into panic and how to keep your mind sharp.

If you follow these urban survival tips I can guarantee you that you’ll be more likely to survive any catastrophe than any of your neighbors.

Don’t ignore the rules of urban survival: You’ll never know where you’ll be when SHTF.