Picture of 10 Essentials for Wilderness Survival
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.

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Step 1: Knife.

Picture of 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

Knife maintenance:

- 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.

General safety:

- 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.

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darman12 (author) 1 year ago
Thank you everybody who is commenting, particularly those sharing tips and experience. Viewers will really benefit from all of your help! This kind of interaction is what makes the Instructables community so great, and I truly appreciate it :)
georion darman1210 months ago
what i love """"""everybody who is commenting, particularly those sharing tips and experience. Viewers will really benefit from all of your help! This kind of interaction is what makes the Instructables community so great""""""""
darman12 (author)  georion10 months ago
What do you mean?
847MicRoss5 months ago

Any water sac I had used eventually started tasting funny by the end of it's first season. (Yes I cleaned it)

I have a kleen kanteen now for water and or cooking

THE carabiner or some other type of attachment is a must. My water kanteens are on the outside left and right pockets of my bag and I dont want to loose them by having them fall out.

William!5 months ago
Awesome instructable! does anyone know what knife that is?
darman12 (author)  William!5 months ago

Thanks :) The knife was a gift a number of years ago, but I looked around and found it online:

alexmac1318 months ago
very nice - for the clothes spare a dry sack - you can haul extra water to camp - seal it up to hide food when tied up in tree
Ravirar10 months ago
Nice 'ible! You should maybe add weapon of some form that is lightweight and compact and is powerful enough to kill an animal for hunting purposes. You could also add a really loud pop gun or noisemaker to attract help or scare away animals. Also, have a rain proof jacket with hoodie that has elastic wrist ends. They will keep you dry and warm, and the one I have can fold into it's own pocket and has a strap design so that when you push the pocket then the jacket becomes a pouch. I got it for 8$ at a sports store. Another thing to add would be a means of finding food easily, like fishing gear or freeze dried packets, and a stainless steel pot.
Ravirar Ravirar10 months ago
I forgot to mention: GOOD SURVIVAL KIT DUDE! :)
darman12 (author)  Ravirar10 months ago
darman12 (author)  Ravirar10 months ago
Thanks for the comments :)
ParkerMansel11 months ago
I wouldnt call some of these "necesities" but they help out
eblackman11 year ago
Bang on. All are essential items, I would add food though, then again you can forrage if you know what to look for.
darman12 (author)  eblackman11 year ago
Thanks for the comment :)
Try wool, i have heard it can keep you warm even when wet.
poofrabbit1 year ago
Just wanted to say congratulations on being a finalists in the Great Outdoors Contest! This was a fantastic instructable! Good luck!
darman12 (author)  poofrabbit1 year ago
Thank you very much, I appreciate it :) There are 18 finalists and 18 prizes, so I have for sure won something! It's a first for me so I am super excited no matter what happens!
kouker1 year ago
I'd rather get a space blanket for $20. It's more versatile, much larger, lighter, warmwr, and sturdier than any garbage bags (I've tested many kinds of garbage bags myself).
I would like to SELL you a $20 space blanket. I find them under $5...But yes, much better than a 3 mil. garbage bag!
Ever try the 3mm contractor garbage bags? Those things are almost impossible to rip, as they're meant for hauling away huge amounts of sharp, heavy material created during construction.

The problem I find with expensive kit is that you tend to buy less of it, and therefore can get caught out. A $20 space blanket might be incredible as gear, but it's not going to be helpful if you only have 1 and it's not with you when the worst happens. At around 75 cents a bag for the 3mils, you can also afford to stash several in your backpack, car, etc. without breaking the bank.
Sure I did. The conclusion - too heavy and too bulky for EDC, as you need 2 or 3 to fit inside comfortably. For the toughness - that's true for hauling construction garbage, but in the real outdoors life the soft plastic durability is not that good. The surface is quite quickly absorbing the dust, what makes it really fragile with time, especially with help of the sun's UV radiation. Also it's stretching way too easily, so you will have issues tying it with a rope and keeping the shape under the stress. In fact, these bags are meant to be disposable, single use solution.

By the way, the ultimate DIY ground tarp option, which I have discovered so far, is Tyvek - amazing durability and extremely lightweight!
I'm very concerned with this, but will try and stay within the "be nice" policy.
First off, basic outdoor survival does not include "change of clothes" it should be correctly stated as "additional layers of clothing appropriate to the weather conditions expected/forcasted and should always include raingear.
Secondly, while I'm glad you talked about synthetics/avoiding cotton and the danger of moisture, you defeated having that information by posting a picture of all cotton clothing. Pratice "KISS" (Keep It Simple Stupid"). Use the "Cotton Kills" statement and tell people they could die by being wet. Wilderness temperatures are often 10+ degrees lower than "in town" and even the smallest "mountains" can have 25+ degree change above tree-line.
tneufeld1 year ago
As an outdoorsman myself I can say this is great advice.
darman12 (author)  tneufeld1 year ago
Thank you very much :)
darman12 (author)  tneufeld1 year ago
Thank you very much :)
tneufeld1 year ago
As an outdoorsman myself I can say this is great advice.
This was a very good show of being prepared. As a 67 year old Eagle Scout, I commend you. When you are in need of help there is no "re-boot button" in the forest. One item that is very handy and inexpensive: An old US Military tool: Google this: P51 Can Opener. These little guys can take on some pretty big jobs and they fit on a keychain.
P51 Can Opener.jpg
darman12 (author)  NebraskaBOB1 year ago
Awesome! Thanks for the suggestion :)
sadhbh1 year ago
Useful list, but although you advise against cotton clothing, you've a picture of jeans, possibly the worst clothes to get wet. Not only are they cold and take forever to dry, they get very uncomfortable and can be really difficult to walk in. Might be worth highlighting this in your text.
Dr Quinn1 year ago
DUDE!! I love a mate who can talk survival skills without sounding like a 'survivalist'!
Your instructable discusses substantial content, whilst maintaining the boyscout tone (lol i was a girl guide... in the 90s...Ha.) WITHOUT falling prey to the usual hard-talkin, war-gasm, feral-apocalypse-fantasy, bloodlust pantomime,
Im surprised you have even bothered with some of these nitpicking comments, which turn useful skillsharing into a **fantasy** pissing contest! Hahaha Losers.
Good On ya for not being a Loser.
darman12 (author)  Dr Quinn1 year ago
Haha, your comment made me laugh. Thanks :)
bookmanpc1 year ago
It is wise to be sort of selective, if possible in buddies... It does you NOT good to have to provide 150% for the TWO of you.
xarlock6671 year ago
I have never been able to get lost in the wilderness. The city is another question entirely... For signaling equipment, add 3 smoke grenades, red or orange. For the love of gods also take a cell phone! Even if you dont have service, any tower within range will send a 911 call, and they can be traced to your exact location in minutes. Modern technology rules. A handy whupass stick is also a necessity item in many areas for unpleasant varmits with teeth and bad attitudes. In some areas a pistol or rifle should be carried (anywhere in west texas for example). Good instructable!
bookmanpc1 year ago
You can stuff spare socks with a LOT of things for first aid, and they stow well.
bookmanpc1 year ago
IF this is a bugout bag sort of kit then buy some of the better, sealed in GLASS water purification tablet, wind the store bag around them for protection and use and simply drop them into the empty bottle. Once on the road you can put them in your pack if you want but when it s time to GO all you have to do is shake the bottle [gently], to make sure you HAVE the things. that little bottle won't get you far and you'll need clean water.
elizruge1 year ago
i've just signed up for an overnight basic survival course. it will be in some mountains nere Rome, Italy (have no idea where)...i'm going to use your advice unless the course says otherwise! thanks..voted for you :-)
darman12 (author)  elizruge1 year ago
Wow, that sounds awesome! Like the others said, don't wear cotton clothing, haha. That's all I have, so that's what I took a picture of. Also, read the comments, there are a lot of good suggestions on other stuff to bring.

Thank you very much for voting, it means a lot to me :)
kooter1 year ago
Good job on the intro to survival in the bush. I've been instructing in this field for some time and you covered a lot of the basics. I'd suggest a bottle of iodine liquid or tablets for water purification. Waterborne dysentery can be very nasty and lead to potentially serious dehydration. It also works as an all around disinfectant. Check out proper use before you try it the first time. Bouillon cubes and some dried foods are lightweight and easy to carry. Fixed blade belt knife and a Swiss Army knife on a lanyard, tied to my belt (safely stowed in my pocket) are with me when I'm out in the bush. A flint and steel with a couple of Bic lighters as backup. Cargo pants from a surplus or used clothing store and GOOD footwear is a definite must for me! Whether it's a compass, a knife or any other gear, practice is perhaps the most essential item of all. People get themselves into serious and potentially deadly situations many times out of simply not understanding how to adapt to the environment and the factors around them. Practice helps to eliminate uncertainty, provide a realistic level of confidence and prepare you to deal with whatever you may be confronted with. The most deadly and terrifying adversary is fear. It can be your most powerful opponent. Learning basic skills in a controlled and safe space helps you be and feel ready for the real thing. Get out there, have fun and come back safe!
darman12 (author)  kooter1 year ago
Thank you for your input :)
ETsCat1 year ago
A very good kit,I always Take a black garbage bag as a spare poncho as well as a shelter and its light & compact, also especially if hunting a couple tampons,old type, as tinder they are great as a bullet hole stuffing there is nothing better. A space Blanket is a good one.
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