Having been camping since I was a boy, I've gained much experience in preparing for such events. Through this experience, I have developed a list of basic gear I bring so I will "be prepared" (BSA motto) if I am caught in a survival situation.
Please note, these items will not keep you comfortable, they will keep you alive. Feel free to add or change any of these items to suit your specific needs. As you gain more experience, you will begin to learn what does and doesn't work for you, and can adjust accordingly.
Step 1: Knife.
The number one most important thing I make sure to bring is a knife. They have so many uses in every day camp activities and life in general. If you find yourself in a survival situation, your chances of survival are infinitely increased with a knife. I always have a pocket knife on me for everyday use and camping.
Fixed blade knives are ideal. They are more durable and resilient than folding knives as they do not have mechanical movement. They are also better for cutting large objects such as branches. Folding knives are great for a backup and less demanding tasks.
- cutting rope
- creating weapons
- opening packages
- boredom relief
- creating fire starters (ie: bow drill)
- building emergency shelters (cutting branches, cutting tarp, etc)
- cutting cloth for bandages (if you don't have a first aid kit)
- cutting bandages
- so much more; you discover many more uses through experience
- If your knife becomes dirty during use, be sure to clean if off before you put it in your pocket. Ideally you would use a damp towel or rag, but if that is not readily available, I wipe it off on my pant leg. Never leave your knife wet as it may rust.
- Before I leave for a camping trip, I always check to make sure my knife is sharp. This will keep you safe during usage as you will not have to apply extra force in order to cut things. Dull tools are dangerous!
- Be sure that your knife blade is not loose (if it is a folding knife). Folding knives can loosen over time, and this dangerous. If your knife becomes loose, there should be a screw which attaches your blade to the knife housing. Just tighten this screw.
- Don't cut toward yourself
- Make sure people are out of your "blood circle". This is the area within range of your knife in hand while your arm is extended.