Finding oneself alone in the middle of nowhere, miles from help, is a possibility few people consider. It is, however, an unfortunate situation that thousands of travelers find themselves in every year. Keeping and maintaining proper emergency survival gear can mean the difference between spending an uncomfortable night in the wilderness and tragedy. This article details the ten essential components of a compact emergency survival kit.

No one expects to be stranded or lost in the wilderness. Whether you travel by car through remote areas or you enjoy a day hike in familiar hills, being prepared for an emergency survival situation can mean the difference between life and death. Here are the essential ten items to put in a lightweight backpack to ensure you have the best chance of surviving the unexpected.

  • Fire starting equipment
  • Tarp
  • 50 ft. of nylon rope
  • Knife
  • Water bottle
  • Lightweight cooking pot
  • Emergency poncho
  • Compass
  • Whistle and mirror
  • First-aid kit

Fire Starting Equipment

The ability to make fire tops the list because fire means the ability to get warm, dry and make water safe for drinking. Survival experts say you should always travel with at least two fire starting devices—at least one of which should be an all-weather fire-starting rod or, preferably, a metal match. Tinder cubes or cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly may also be a handy addition as they make fire starting possible in even the wettest conditions. A butane lighter or waterproof wooden matches in a plastic zip bag can serve as an easy flame source in dry.


Staying dry in the rain and out of the sun in the heat is critical to your health and stamina in a survival situation. Every survival pack should have at least one small tarp included with which to build a temporary shelter. A second tarp can add comfort to your shelter as a ground covering or a wind-blocking wall.

50 ft. of Nylon Rope

A sturdy length of rope can support your shelter, hoist your belongings and food out of the reach of bears and large cats and even save your life.


The most universally useful tool in a wilderness environment is the sports knife. A sturdy hunting or survival knife is not only useful to cut things such as rope and cloth, but also to dig holes, split kindling, hone wooden steaks, clean fish and help accomplish countless other tasks. A single-piece knife with a five-inch blade is the best choice. Choosing the right knife for you, however, can be nearly mind-boggling. While you could easily pay several hundred dollars for a top-notch survival knife.

Water Bottle

Water is life. The ability to store and transport water is a huge advantage in a survival Situation. Though plastic water containers will suffice, consider investing a metal backpacking bottle which can also be used to boil water if need be.

Lightweight Cooking Pot

Nothing replaces a small aluminum pot when it comes to boiling water and cooking on the go. Many different kinds of camp cooking pots are available at a variety of prices. Models with removable handles often provide the best storage options. Also, aside from its obvious job as cooking vessel.

Emergency Poncho

Extremely inexpensive, lightweight and incredibly handy: no emergency kit should be without an emergency poncho or two Staying dry while traveling is vital to your survival chances and the emergency poncho does a very effective job as an outside layer against precipitation and provide one more layer of thermal insulation in cold weather. Many pre-made survival kits come with emergency blankets as well. While, these space-age-looking metallic sheets can be fashioned into a decent rain guard and do a moderate job of retaining of heat as a blanket—many survival experts caution.


Unknowingly walking in circles has been the fatal mistake of many a lost wanderer. Having a compass means being able to travel in a straight line even in the thickest forests where the sky is nearly impossible to see. Even without knowing the lay of the land, the compass allows a traveler to fix the direction of a landmark from a peek or clearing and then follow that heading to a promising destination. A compass can also be vital in keeping travelers from becoming disoriented.

Whistle and Mirror

This is the nightmare reported by more than one wilderness survivor: imagine the experience of seeing and hearing rescuers looking for you but being unable to be seen or heard yourself. A signaling whistle can attract the attention of humans many times farther away than a yell and rescue dogs have been known to hear a whistle over amazing distances. Periodically sounding a whistle can also be a good way to alert bears of your presence when traveling in potential bear country as many bear attacks happen when the animal is startled by quiet travelers. A signaling mirror is crucial for being spotted by search aircraft. Pilots have been able to see the reflection of sun from even a very small mirror many miles away.

First-aid Kit

Even small wounds can turn septic quickly in unsanitary conditions and without the aid of running water. Any first-aid kit should be sure to include sterile alcohol wipes and a tube of antibacterial cream or ointment. The medic kit is also the place of choice for many survivalists to keep their water purification tablets. There are kits of all kinds available to purchase or you can make your

Other Stuff

Other valuable gear you may wish to consider adding to your survival kit include: Large garbage bags, duct tape, fishing line and hooks, toilet paper, survival books, dehydrated foods.

Once you have assembled your emergency survival kit, make sure to keep it in the trunk of your car when you travel. You will also want to periodically review your kit to make sure everything remains in good working order and to rotate in fresh water. Remember, keeping a properly stocked emergency kit will not only keep you more comfortable in a wilderness environment; it may just save your life.

Related Posts