100+ Survival Gear Essentials

For Americans 

The Definitive Guide For 2018

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By James Emry

Updated 

A comprehensive list of survival gear for your bug out bag, hand selected for every price range and easy to buy online for you and your family.

  • High Quality Gear: Intended for long-term survival.
  • Varying Budgets: From families preparing with low income, to experts looking for the best survival gear money can buy.
  • Easy Ordering Online: Delivered straight to your mailbox.

(No Time To Read? Buy Survival Gear here.)

Chapter 1

Bug Out Bags

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Whether you call it a Bug Out Bag, Go-Bag, INCH Bag (for “I’m Not Coming Home” bag), Survival Kit or Emergency Preparedness Kit, this chapter covers a variety of bags used to carry survival gear by foot or by vehicle in the event of an emergency.

1. Bug Out Bags

The quintessential bug out bag is a heavy-duty backpack for carrying survival gear in an emergency scenario. Here’s 4 factors to consider:

  1. Don’t choose the typical 50 liter “3 Day Go Bag”—they’re just too small. Instead, consider a 70-100 liter pack, especially if you live in cold climates that require extra winter survival gear.
  2. A padded hip belt is crucial in keeping the majority of weight on your hips, not on your shoulders.
  3. Earth-tone or camouflage colored packs blend well into natural surroundings.
  4. A MOLLE backpack lets you customize with “MOLLE” pouches and gear, and also increase your pack’s capacity.

We’ve investigated many packs. There’s so many great options from brands like Kelty, Mystery Ranch, Eberlestock, Arc’teryx, Osprey, etc. Here’s our favorites:

ILBE Pack - Gen 2 Full Set

ILBE Pack - Gen 2 USMC Tactical Backpack
Ilbe Pack with included Assault Pack

For a Budget-Friendly Bug Out Bag, the fully-featured 82 liter “Gen 2 ILBE Pack” from the US Marine Corps is hands-down our top pic.

Why? It was designed by Arc’teryx, it meets said B.O.B. criteria, and best of all—as a used military surplus backpack it’s extremely affordable. We’re so impressed with the ILBE Pack we gave it 4.7 Stars in our Best Bug Out Bag Guide.

Budget: Low    Ideal As: Primary Bug Out Bag

Eberlestock Warhammer

Eberlestock J51 Warhammer holding a jerrican (not included)
Eberlestock J51 Warhammer holding a jerrican (not included)

For a Premium Hunting Bug Out Bag with impressive features, consider this tried-and-true combo: a 33-liter Eberlestock J51 Warhammer (with the new Intex-II frame instead of ALICE frame) combined with the 57 liter Super Spike Duffel plus the 5-liter FannyTop Pack for a total 95-liter capacity bug out bag.

We love the Warhammer’s barn-door-like compartments which completely open up the pack, enabling you to strap and carry large objects such as jerricans or elk quarters. Note this pack is for strong individuals only!

Budget: Big    Ideal As: Bug Out Bag + Hunting Pack

2. Car Emergency Kit

If I already have a bug out bag, why would I need a car survival kit too?
Most of us spend the majority of our day at work—yet we keep our survival gear at home. So what if a disaster happens and getting home isn’t an option?

Some would consider leaving the main bug out bag in the car, but that’s an extremely valuable item that could then be stolen. That’s where a Car Emergency Kit comes into play as a smaller, interim bug out bag.

Here’s 4 factors to consider when choosing a bag for your Car Emergency Kit:

  1. A “1-3 day” sized backpack (20 to 50 liters) is a good manageable size for the car and still has room for some essentials.
  2. The kit doubles up as a great roadside emergency kit should the car break down and you need to travel by foot or wait for assistance.
  3. Earth-tone or camouflage colored packs blend well into natural surroundings.
  4. We suggest a backpack rather than sling or messenger bag because backpacks distribute weight evenly on the shoulders—that’s important if you’re going to be wearing the pack long term.

Here are some different sized bags to carry your Car Emergency Kit:

25 Liter Bags for Car Emergency Kit

Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack
Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack

For a Budget Car Emergency Kit, we like the 24.5-liter ILBE Assault Bag that comes bundled with the ILBE Pack mentioned above.

But you could also consider the 24-liter 5.11 Rush 12 Tactical Backpack or the 25-liter Direct Action Dragon Egg Tactical Backpack.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Your Car Emergency Kit

50 Liter Bags for Car Emergency Kit

5.11 Rush 72 Tactical Backpack
5.11 Rush 72 Tactical Backpack

If you prefer a larger pack for the car, consider the renowned 47-liter 5.11 Rush 72 Tactical Backpack or the 50-liter Condor 3 Day Assault Pack.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Your Car Emergency Kit

For more on the topic of car safety kits, here’s an article from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Car Safety (opens in new tab), and from the Government of Canada here’s an Emergency Car Kit Checklist (opens in new tab).

Chapter 2

EDC Survival Kits

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EDC stands for Every Day Carry. EDC Survival Kits are compact and easily kept on your person in the form of a bracelet, necklace, belt or pouch, offering a lightweight redundancy to the bug out bag.

3. Pocket Survival Kit

A Pocket Survival Kit (PSK) is a small pouch containing a number of tiny survival essentials that comes in handy wherever the bug out bag is too hefty to go.

It can be worn on a belt while camping, hiking, hunting or fishing, thrown in the car glove box or stored in your travel suitcase. 

It can also be kept in your bug out bags and survival kits as a redundancy.

ESEE Pocket Survival Kit Advanced

ESEE Pocket Survival Kit - Advanced
ESEE Pocket Survival Kit - Advanced

We’ve explored a variety of pouches and loaded them with survival gear ourselves (a lot of work!) but in the end we were most pleased with the ESEE Pocket Survival Kit Advanced.

It’s also much cheaper to buy the kit than to buy and ship all the items individually. (Check the link above for full list of contents.)

Contents of the ESEE Pocket Survival Kit - Advanced
Contents of the ESEE Pocket Survival Kit - Advanced

How Many PSK’s Do I Need? It all depends on your needs. We throw a PSK in every bug out bag, car emergency kit, EDC belt as well as work and travel bags.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + EDC Belt

What’s Missing? Optimize your ESEE PSK by adding a small knife—we suggest the Spyderco Ladybug Pocket Knife, and small lights such as the Photon Freedom White & Red (red preserves night vision.) We also threw in a keychain ferro rod (not technically “missing” —we just wanted a bigger one!)

4. EDC BeltS

Just like a construction worker’s tool belt, the EDC belt gives you quick access to essential tools (such as knife, bearspray, PSK, etc). Here’s 2 factors to consider:

  1. Choose a rigid belt to carry EDC gear that won’t warp or bend and cause discomfort.
  2. Adjustable sizing is important for winter layering as well as slimming down due to lost weight during an extended survival scenario.

Condor Tactical Belt

Condor Tactical Belt
Condor Tactical Belt

For a Budget EDC Belt we like the one size fits all Condor Tactical Belt, because it’s cheap, well-made and it works.

(Note that these 2” thick belts may not fit your standard belt loops, but if it’s intended to carry gear it doesn’t necessarily need to.)

Budget: Low    Ideal As: An EDC Survival Belt

5.11 Brokos Belt

5.11 Brokos Belt
5.11 Brokos Belt

For a Premium EDC Belt built to handle a much bigger load, plus customizable MOLLE attachment points, consider 5.11 Brokos Belt.

The Brokos is truly unique and versatile: you can expose MOLLE rows for MOLLE gear, as well as the inner belt for Non-MOLLE gear like leather knife sheaths, bear spray, etc.

(Note that this belt does require an inner belt, sold separately, such as the previous belt or a Cobra-style belt.)

Budget: Big    Ideal As: An EDC Survival Belt

What goes on the EDC Belt? Anything that’s important to you, such as bushcraft knife, multi-tool, ferrocerium rod, Pocket Survival Kit, medical kit, hatchet, bear spray, etc. 

5. EDC Neck Lanyard

We believe in redundancy when it comes to survival gear.

Should you lose your Bug Out Bag you would rely on your EDC Belt, but if that’s lost too then your EDC Neck Lanyard becomes your lifeline.

The lanyard offers a place to hang a few vital essentials on your body.

Noreast Whips Paracord Lanyard

Paracord Neck Lanyard with S-Biner
Paracord Neck Lanyard with S-Biner

Our top choice is the Noreast Whips Paracord Lanyard (choose 24” XL) mainly because of the high quality breakaway buckle—crucial to avoid mishaps like getting caught on a tree!

Couple the lanyard with a Nite Ize SlideLock Carabiner Size #2 which works as a locking attachment point for hanging your gear. (Included in the link above.)

Budget: Low    Ideal As: EDC Neck Lanyard

What goes on the EDC Neck Lanyard? Just a few small survival essentials such as a pocket knife, whistle, fire steel, mini flashlight (red & white) etc.

6. Paracord Survival Bracelets

Paracord survival bracelets have become bit of a survival fashion accessory, but it actually serves a very important function. Here’s how:

Paracord Survival Tip

The Lifesaving Benefits of Paracord:

First we’ll cover some background regarding water and we’ll come back to paracord in a moment:

We can all agree that water is crucial for survival. It’s commonly understood that we can live 3 weeks without food, but only 3 days without water.

In the backcountry, unpurified water can make you very sick, and if you don’t have a modern purifier your last resort is to boil it. The EPA recommends boiling water for at least 1 minute to kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses and protozoa (3 minutes at high elevations).

But boiled water requires a fire, and what if you don’t have a lighter, or fire steel handy? As a last resort, you can always turn to the ancient art of the fire bow drill (as demonstrated by BlackScout Survival in this tutorial):

To make a fire bow drill all you need is a knife, the right woods, and some sturdy cordage such as paracord. With that you can start your fire, boil your water and go on to live another day!

And that’s why we love paracord in all it’s forms. Yes, it has many other functions, but providing safe drinkable water is perhaps the most important.

We use it anywhere we can: as an EDC Neck Lanyard, to replace our shoelaces, and in this next case: as a bracelet.

Friendly Swede Trilobite Paracord Survival Bracelet

Friendly Swede Trilobite Paracord Survival Bracelet
Friendly Swede Trilobite Paracord Survival Bracelet

For a Budget-Friendly Paracord Bracelet we like the simplicity of the Friendly Swede Trilobite Paracord Survival Bracelet.

It’s available in sm/md/xxl sizes and contains around 10 feet of paracord when unstrung.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag, Car Kit, EDC Belt

Two-In-One Paracord Survival Kit Bracelet

Paracord Survival Kit Bracelet
Paracord Survival Kit Bracelet

If you’re looking for a paracord bracelet that has a survival kit built into it, consider the beefier Paracord Survival Kit Bracelet which comes with 12-16 survival items like fishing gear, ferro rod, fire striker, tinder, safety pins, compass and more. (Also a great gift idea.)

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag, Car Kit, EDC Belt

Chapter 3

Knives, Axes, Saws & Tools

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Forbes calls the knife the “most important tool of all time” because knives “help feed us, shelter us, defend us and assure our survival. It’s the most reliable, useful and important tool in human history.”

7. Bushcraft Knifes

The Bushcraft Knife is typically worn on the belt and used for wilderness woodworking tasks such as fire-craft (notching for bow drills, making kindling, feather-sticking, light batoning), craftwork (carving spoons, making camp furniture, carving traps), food prep and in some cases skinning.

Mors Kochanski—world renowned wilderness instructor—defines the perfect knife as follows:

  • Blade Length: about the width of your palm (4-6”)
  • Blade Shape: a continuous blade curvature that follows to the blade tip is preferred because it cuts well and is easiest to sharpen
  • Blade Thickness: thick enough to take abuse (we recommend 1/8″ or more)
  • Tang: full-tang ensures the knife won’t break easily (so even if the handle breaks you can always fashion a new handle in the wild, unlike partial-tang)
  • Handle Materials: should be tough enough to be hammered on
  • Steel type: carbon steel is preferred as it holds an edge well, is easier to sharpen, and can be used as a striker for ferro rod fire starting
  • Geometry: The overall knife design should be clean and simple—no unusual geometry or protrusions
  • Blade Grind: Mor’s bushcraft knives typically feature the Scandinavian grind AKA “Scandi grind”—known for durability and ease of sharpening.

Morakniv Companion Knife

Morakniv Companion Knife
Morakniv Companion Knife

For a Half-Tang, Budget-Friendly Bushcraft Knife that’s made of high quality steel and great for practice, consider the Morakniv Companion Knife.

Mors Kochanski is known for being a huge fan of Mora Knives. The Companion is made of high carbon steel, featuring a 4.1” Scandi-grind blade, and it’s super affordable.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + EDC

Condor Bushlore Knife

Condor Bushlore Knife
Condor Bushlore Knife

For a Full-Tang Entry Level Bushcraft Knife with high-carbon 4.3” Scandi grind blade that won’t break the bank—consider the Condor Bushlore Knife.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + EDC

Spyderco Bushcraft Knife

Spyderco Bushcraft Knife
Spyderco Bushcraft Knife

For a Premium Bushcraft Knife with 4” Scandi grind, fully-tanged high carbon “O1” tool steel, consider the Spyderco Bushcraft Knife.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + EDC

Bark River Bushcrafter II Knife

Bark River Bushcrafter II Knife
Bark River Bushcrafter II Knife

For a Larger Premium Bushcraft Knife—consider the Bark River Knives Bushcrafter II with it’s 4.69 inch Scandi-Convex grind blade made of carbon “CPM 3V” super-steel.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + EDC

We suggest keeping a bushcraft knife or survival knife in your Bug Out Bag, Car Emergency Kit and EDC belt—carefully sheathed of course!

8. Survival Knifes

While the “Bushcraft Knife” tends to be a finer wilderness woodworking tool, the military-inspired “Survival Knife” tends to be a general all-purpose blade that takes more abuse and is better suited to chopping and hacking tasks.

Gerber StrongArm Survival Knife

Gerber StrongArm Survival Knife
Gerber StrongArm Survival Knife

For a Budget Survival Knife consider the tough as nails Gerber StrongArm.

Featuring full tang, 420 HC stainless steel, a 4.8” blade and a durable MOLLE sheath which offers a variety of different attachment styles.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + EDC

ESEE 4 Survival Knife

ESEE 4 Survival Knife
ESEE 4 Survival Knife

For a Mid-Range Survival Knife we can’t recommend the ESEE line of knives enough.

The ESEE 4 Survival Knife is very robust, full-tang, 4.5” coated 1095 high-carbon steel blade that comes with an amazing Kydex sheath at a very affordable price.

Despite its heavy duty nature, the 4.5” blade is still small enough to handle some finer woodworking.

ESEE knives come with a lifetime warranty.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + EDC

Fallkniven F1D Survival Knife

Fallkniven F1D Survival Knife
Fallkniven F1D Survival Knife

For a High-End Survival Knife consider the Fallkniven F1D with CoS Steel.

The F1 started its roots as the official survival knife of the Swedish Air Force and has remained a goto knife by survivalists today.

The knife construction is full tang and features 3.8” convex CoS steel blade that’s great for survival as well as bushcrafting.

The sharp 90° angle spine showers ferro sparks right out of the box.

The Thermorun handle remains grippy when wet, and warm in winter.

Includes a Zytel sheath that’s immune to the elements.

Check out this fun and comprehensive review by Micky & Maarten from Dutch Bushcraft Knives:

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + EDC

9. Large Survival Knifes

The Large Survival Knife is similar in size to a Machete and serves as a viable alternative to the axe or hatchet.

The large survival knife is hefty enough for delimbing, heavy-duty batoning and processing wood for fire, yet still functionally sharp enough for some finer cutting tasks and craft work.

Schrade SCHF45 Bowie Knife

Schrade SCHF45 Bowie Knife
Schrade SCHF45 Bowie Knife

For a Budget Large Survival Knife consider the super cheap full-tang Schrade SCHF45 Bowie Knife.

It’s 10.35” blade is made of titanium-coated 8Cr13MoV high carbon stainless steel.

It comes with a decent nylon-fiber belt sheath.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car

Esee Junglas Survival Knife

ESEE Junglas 10" Survival Knife with Kydex Sheath
ESEE Junglas 10" Survival Knife with Kydex Sheath

For a Premium Large Survival Knife (without the premium price tag) the Esee Junglas Knife is our absolute favorite go-to large survival knife and has served us well for years.

Gideons Tactical referred to this blade as the “Wilderness King” after a full year of use in a variety of conditions, and we couldn’t agree more.

The Junglas features a powder-coated, flat grind, 1095 carbon steel 10.38″ blade, with removable canvas Micarta handles, and a hammer pommel.

It comes with a premium MOLLE Kydex sheath that can be worn comfortably on your person or kept in your Bug Out Bag.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car

10. Multi-Tool

The multi-tool is essentially a swiss-army knife with pliers and screwdriver all-in-one.

Leatherman Charge TTI

Leatherman Charge TTI Multi-Tool pliers
Leatherman Charge TTI Multi-Tool
For a Budget Multi-Tool, avid campers and survivalists will agree one of the best multi-tools is Leatherman’s flagship Wave Multi-Tool. But if you have a bigger budget read on: For a Premium Multi-Tool, the Leatherman Charge TTI outperforms even the Wave as a survival multi-tool—here’s why:
  1. The knife blade on the Charge TTI is made from S30V steel, known for edge retention that’s superior to the 420HC of the Wave—a crucial factor in a survival scenario.
  2. The Charge TTI has all 17 tools of the Wave (including pliers, knives, saw, scissors, can & bottle opener, screwdriver and more) but also includes a gut hook and crimper—very useful tools for survival.
Ourdoor Gear Lab calls the Leatherman Charge TTI the “Best Overall Multi-Tool” and stated “In our testing, no other tool came close in overall performance.”

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + EDC

11. Spear-Knife

Cold Steel Bowie Bushman

Cold Steel Bowie Bushman
Cold Steel Bowie Bushman

The Cold Steel Bowie Bushman is a specialty spear-knife combo with a hollow handle that can be fashioned to a long stick to create a spear in the wild.

In an emergency this could be a great tool for hunting small game or even fishing.

As well, as a standalone blade in hand it can be used for skinning and bushcraft tasks.

It comes with a quality plastic sheath with a small built-in ferro rod.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

12. Pocket Folding Knife

A pocket folding knife can be your total last resort knife for times when you lose access to your primary blades. Small as they are, they’re still very capable for a survival scenario.

Spyderco Ladybug

Spyderco Ladybug Pocket Knife
Spyderco Ladybug Pocket Knife

The Spyderco Ladybug is one of the finest EDC pocket knives we’ve ever seen.

We hang them on our EDC neck lanyards, on keychains and keep them in all our survival kits.

Budget: Med   
Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + PSK + Belt + Lanyard

13. Knife Sharpening StoneS

A knife sharpening stone is essential for keeping your knife blades fully functional in the wild. There’s a saying “you’re only as good as your sharpest knife.”

When your blade dulls you can expect the time you spend cutting, carving and slicing to increase exponentially, and that can also lead to dangerous accidents.

Fallkniven DC4 Sharpening Stone

Fallkniven DC4 Sharpening Stone
Fallkniven DC4 Sharpening Stone

For a Pocket Sharpening Stone that’s extremely low maintenance (no oil or water required) we highly recommend the world-famous Fallkniven DC4 Diamond Ceramic Two Sided Sharpening Whetstone (roughly 1×4”).

Use the 800 grit diamond side to restore the knife’s profile, and the 14,000 grit ceramic side to polish razor sharp.

(Watch this video with bushcraft expert Ray Mears showing his preferred method of sharpening with the Fallkniven DC4)

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit + EDC Belt

Fallkniven DC521 Large Stone

Fallkniven DC521 Large Sharpening Stone
Fallkniven DC521 Large Sharpening Stone

For Sharpening of Larger Knives we recommend the bigger (roughly 2×8”) Fallkniven DC521 Diamond Ceramic Two Sided Bench Stone.

The 25 micron diamond-side is roughly 800 grit equivalent, and the 7 micron ceramic side is about 6000 grit equivalent.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Naniwa Chosera Japanese Whetstones

Naniwa Chosera Japanese Whetstones 400, 1000 & 3000 Grit
Naniwa Chosera Japanese Whetstones 400, 1000 & 3000 Grit

For Professional Knife Sharpening at Home—to give your knives that hair-popping, razor sharp treatment—Maarten from Dutch Bushcraft Knives recommends at minimum a set of Naniwa Chosera Japanese Whetstones in 400, 1000, and 3000 grit.

Maarten says “It’s the most versatile combo and together with a strop you can really achieve a lot.”

Also, don’t forget a sharpening stone holder such as the rubberized Steelex D1091—very affordable.

(Note the Japanese stones are too big and heavy for a bug out bag so we recommend these for knife prep at home only.)

Here’s a video with Martin using his Chosera whetstones—we love his easy relaxed approach to sharpening:

(NOTE: We suggest skipping to 3min. and 48sec.)

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Sharpening at home

14. Rust Protection & Lubrication

The knives and axes on this list contain carbon steel which means they’ll tend to rust if not properly cared for.

Sentry Solutions TUF-CLOTH
Sentry Solutions TUF-CLOTH

TUF-CLOTH

Prevent rust with a light application of dry film rust inhibitor such as Sentry Solutions TUF-CLOTH.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

15. Leather Strops & Compound

The Leather Strop serves several functions in the sharpening process:

  1. Removes the microscopic burr of the steel that comes after stone sharpening.
  2. Quick blade restoration: If your blade has lost its shaving-sharpness over time it’s very easy to restore with just a few passes over the stop.
  3. When coupled with a polishing compound the result is a much sharper blade than what stones can do alone.

Watch how the Maarten from Dutch Bushcraft Knives uses a leather strop:

(Start at 14 sec. if you want to skip the intro)

Here are some well priced high quality strops and compounds:

Flexx Pro Field II Strop - FLX02

Flexx Pro Field II Strop - FLX02
Flexx Pro Field II Strop - FLX02

For a Mid-Sized Field Strop that’s ideal for field-sharpening your EDC knives consider the Flex Strops – Pro Field II FLX02.

This double sided strop comes preloaded with 3000 grit (black) and 6000 grit (green) compounds.

The strop does not contain any rigid wood and is instead made of flexible leather, making it ideal for storing in a bug out bag.

It comes in at roughly just under 9”x2”x0.75” and weighs 12 oz.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Flexx Rudi's Paddle Strop - FLX04

Flexx Rudi's Paddle Strop - FLX04
Flexx Rudi's Paddle Strop - FLX04

For a Larger Strop for use at home consider the Flex Strops – Rudi’s Paddle FLX04.

This large double-sided strop at roughly 22″x3″x1″ inches is great for maintaining all sizes of blades including machetes and large survival knives. It features a wooden base with a handle lanyard.

We recommend storing it at home as it would take up too much room in a bug out bag.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Home Use

Woodstock 1-Pound Extra-Fine Stropping Compound

Woodstock 1-Pound Extra-Fine Stropping Compound
Woodstock 1-Pound Extra-Fine Stropping Compound

For an Inexpensive Stropping Compound to rejuvenate your strop consider the Woodstock Green 1-Pound Extra Fine Buffing Compound.

At 1 pound it’s so big you could break it into smaller bars for your bug out bags and kits.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

16. General Forest Axes

The General Forest Axe—also known as a “Three Quarter Axe” or “Hudson Bay Axe”—is a mid-sized general purpose axe intended for processing firewood for camp, limbing logs and other chopping tasks.

The heads are 2-3 pounds, and the handles are between 18-28” inches long. Essentially it should match your arm’s length, or the distance between your armpit to the palm of the hand.

For some individuals the 3/4 Axe is the ideal size and weight for strapping to a bug out bag, but others would find it too heavy. But at very least this axe can be kept in the car.

Husqvarna 19" Carpenter's Axe

Husqvarna 19" Carpenter's Axe
Husqvarna 19" Carpenter's Axe

For a Budget-Friendly Axe consider the Husqvarna Carpenter’s Axe, known in the wilderness community for its unusually hefty power due to it’s beefy head.

Some even favor this axe over premium axes because of this unique head.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag or Car Kit

Wetterlings 23" Hudson Bay Axe

Wetterlings 23" Hudson Bay Axe
Wetterlings 23" Hudson Bay Axe

For a High-End Axe, the Wetterlings Hudson Bay Axe is a beautiful, high quality axe made by a tried-and-true manufacturer that’s been around since 1880.

It features a 2 ½ lb sharpened Swedish carbon steel head, with 23″ hickory handle and includes a leather sheath.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag or Car Kit

Gränsfors Bruk 25" Scandinavian Forest Axe

Gränsfors Bruk 25" Scandinavian Forest Axe
Gränsfors Bruk 25" Scandinavian Forest Axe
For a Premium Axe consider the 25” long, 2.6 lb Gränsfors Bruk Scandinavian Forest Axe with hickory handle and leather sheath.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag or Car Kit

17. Felling Axes

A monster axe for monster trees—the Felling Axe is a necessity for downing large diameter trees which is usefull for serious shelter building and fire wood.

They’re known for their heavier 3 lb heads and larger 30” to 36” handles.

An axe of this size is clearly too hefty for a bugout bag and is therefore ideal for keeping in the car.

Hults Bruk Atran Felling Swedish Axe

Hults Bruk 32" Atran Swedish Felling Axe
Hults Bruk 32" Atran Swedish Felling Axe
For a Budget Felling Axe consider the Hults Bruk Atran Felling Swedish Axe with its 32” hickory handle and 3.5 lb. head.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Keeping in your Vehicle

Gränsfors Bruk American Felling Axe

Velvicut American Felling Axe
Velvicut American Felling Axe
For a Budget Felling Axe consider the Hults Bruk Atran Felling Swedish Axe with its 32” hickory handle and 3.5 lb. head.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Keeping in your Vehicle

18. Hatchet / Pocket Axe

The hatchet is essentially a small axe that’s well suited for hanging on your EDC belt or outside your bug out bag. It serves a similar function to the fixed blade survival knife with more features such as hammer, wood splitter and skinning tool.

Here’s two excellent options depending on your budget:

Husqvarna Hatchet
Husqvarna Hatchet

Husqvarna Hatchet

For a Budget-Friendly Hatchet consider the Husqvarna Hatchet with Leather Sheath.
Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + EDC Belt
Gränsfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet
Gränsfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet

Gränsfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet

For a Premium Hatchet consider the Gränsfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet with Leather Sheath.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + EDC Belt

Want to hang your hatchet on your belt? Consider a Leather Axe/Hatchet Holster.

19. Axe Sharpening Stones

The axe sharpening stones tend to be rounded as opposed to the more rectangular knife stones, though you could use either in an emergency.

Lansky Puck Sharpener

Lansky Puck Axe Sharpening Stone
Lansky Puck Axe Sharpening Stone

For a Budget Sharpening Stone with dual 120 grit coarse side and 280 grit fine side consider the Lansky Puck Sharpener.

While its fine side is not a very high grit we still managed to sharpen our axe with it.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Gränsfors Bruk Ceramic Axe Stone

Gränsfors Bruk Axe Sharpening Stone
Gränsfors Bruk Axe Sharpening Stone

For a Premium Sharpening Stone, we like the Gränsfors Bruk Ceramic Axe Stone because it has a 180 grit coarse side with the 600 grit fine side combo, as well as a rubber grip casing—making it easier and safer to work with.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Naniwa Chosera Japanese Whetstones

Naniwa Chosera Japanese Whetstones 400, 1000 & 3000 Grit
Naniwa Chosera Japanese Whetstones 400, 1000 & 3000 Grit

For Professional Axe Sharpening at home—we’ve already mentioned the Naniwa Chosera Japanese Whetstones for that razor-sharp treatment on knives—and the same is also true for axes.

And again for a very affordable, high-quality rubberized stone holder consider the Steelex D1091.

(Remember—these are too big for a bug out bag and are recommended for home use only.)

This short clip shows how Ray Maers uses his Japanese whetstones to sharpen his axes:

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Sharpening at home

20. Folding Saws

A folding saw is an excellent wood-cutting tool for the survivalist’s arsenal due to its small size, light weight, and aggressive cutting ability.

If you’ve never used a pocket folding saw you’d be surprised how quickly they’ll zip through branches and small trees—which is important for firewood, bushcraft and shelter building tasks.

Here are two of our favorite folding saws, each has their advantages:

Bahco Laplander

Bahco Laplander Folding Saw
Bahco Laplander Folding Saw

For a Budget Folding Saw the Swedish Bahco Laplander  is known amongst bushcrafters as the benchmark folding saw due to its robust durability and applications in wood-cutting, bone-cutting (good for hunters) and plastic-cutting.

We’ve tried several other brands and generally nothing was quite as light and strong as the Laplander (except for the Silky we’ll mention next).

Due to their affordability and high quality we keep one in every pack—Bug Out Bag, Car Emergency Kit, (optional for EDC Belt) and also for general camping use.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + Belt

Silky Super Accel 210 - Large Teeth Version

Silky Super Accel 210 Folding Saw
Silky Super Accel 210 Folding Saw

For a Premium Saw that cuts wood twice as fast, we highly recommend the Japanese Silky Super Accel 210 – Large Teeth Version.

The blade is longer, more flexible and with much more aggressive wood-cutting teeth than the Laplander.

Here’s a great video review from Feral Bushcraft explaining why he’s chosen the Silky Super Accel over the competition:

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + Belt

21. Large Hand Saws

While pocket folding saws will cut through branches and small trees, the larger Silky hand saws are excellent for larger trees. They’re even faster than axes.

Silky SUGOI 420 + Extra Large Teeth

Silky SUGOI 420 Large Hand Saw with sheath
Silky SUGOI 420 Large Hand Saw

For a Large Hand Saw that can be strapped to your bug out bag, consider the Silky SUGOI 420 with Extra Large Teeth.

It’s 16.5” curved blade is an excellent design in the way it “hugs” onto the tree while cutting with minimal effort. We’ve never seen anything like it.

Comes with a large plastic sheath with belt clip.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Silky Katanaboy

Silky Katanaboy Extra Large Folding Saw
Silky Katanaboy Extra Large Folding Saw

For the Ultimate Extra-Large Folding Saw we can highly recommend the Silky Katanaboy.

With a massive 19.8” blade that’s capable of cutting 10” logs, this is the biggest folding saw on the market.

We wouldn’t recommend it for a Bug Out Bag but this is great for keeping in your vehicle.

Here’s another great video from the Dutch Bushcraft Knives reviewing this amazing saw:

(Start at 30 sec. to skip straight to the review)

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Keeping in your Vehicle

22. Large 36-Inch Bow Saw

Take advantage of your vehicle to store large survival items you wouldn’t necessarily keep in your bug out bag such as the 36-inch bow saws.

36" Bow Saw + Spare Blades

Large 36-Inch Bow Saw
Large 36-Inch Bow Saw

We believe every vehicle should be fitted with a cheap 36” bow saw and spare blades.

The bow saw is a good investment for processing wood in the event of a winter power outage as well as roadside emergencies.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Keeping in your Vehicle

23. Glass Breaker & Seat Belt Cutter

Resqme Glass Breaker

Resqme Glass Breaker
Resqme Glass Breaker

The Resqme is a tiny glass breaker and seatbelt cutter that can help you escape a vehicle in the event of a serious accident.

The glass breaker will shatter vehicle side windows, but not front windows. Simply push into a window corner and in a moment the glass will shatter.

In a vehicle accident you might not be in reach of your Car Emergency Kit, so don’t forget to keep an extra Resqme in your vehicle’s glove box and/or center console for immediate access at all times.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Your Car Emergency Kit

24. Aluminum Snow Shovels

Another useful item to keep next to your winter roadside emergency kit.

AAA Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel

AAA Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel
AAA Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel

For a Budget Aluminium Snow Shovel with rave reviews consider the AAA Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Keeping in your vehicle

Voile T Wood Shovel

Voile T-Wood Shovel
Voile T-Wood Shovel

For a Premium Aluminium Snow Shovel with a 10 inch saw built into the handle consider the Voile T Wood Shovel.

The 10” saw attaches to the long handle for extra leverage and can be used to cut snow, ice and wood. It neatly stows into the neck of the handle when not in use.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Keeping in your vehicle

25. Bear Spray

For any trip to the woods where bears inhabit, bear spray is hands down the most effective bear deterrent.

According to statistical evidence published in the “Journal of Wildlife Management” bear spray is known to have “a better success rate under a variety of situations … than firearms.”

7.9 oz. Frontiersman Bear Spray with Hip Holster

7.9 oz. Frontiersman Bear Spray
7.9 oz. Frontiersman Bear Spray

We like the 7.9 oz. Frontiersman Bear Spray with Hip Holster for easy access from the hip.

This bear spray is maximum strength with a 30-foot range.

Frontiersman products are certified by the EPA and Health Canada.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + EDC Belt (avoid hot sunny days in the vehicle!)

Bear Safety

TIP 1. Learn To Use Bear Spray Effectively:

When using bear spray, pay attention to the wind and it’s direction. The bear must come within the spray range to be effective, so don’t spray prematurely.

There’s lots of videos on how to properly use bear spray:

TIP 2. Beware: Bear Spray Can Freeze!

Bear spray won’t function properly in freezing temperatures, so keep it warm by wearing close to the body, under the jacket—less accessible we know, but at least it won’t freeze!

Chapter 4

Clothing

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From clothing essentials and hiking footwear to extreme cold survival gear—this chapter has you covered!

26. Rain Gear

We’ve found there are 2 great options for rain gear—each has their advantages:

  1. The full coverage that comes with your standard “rain jacket & rain pants combo” vs
  2. The dual-purpose versatility that comes with the “rain poncho-tarp”

We generally recommend rain jacket and pants for a bug out bag as they provide full body rain protection, not just from rain and snow but also as a wind block. (Wind alone can suck the heat right out of you, leaving you vulnerable to cold injury.)

And we save the lighter smaller poncho-tarp for the throwing into the car kit since it’s so convenient and inexpensive.

Important Note On Sizing: We suggest large sizing that can be worn over your winter layered clothing, not your usual sizing. You never know when you’ll get caught in a cold, wet survival scenario that requires both waterproofing and insulating layers.

Marmot Precip Jacket & Pants

Marmot Precip Rain Jacket & Pants
Marmot Precip Rain Jacket & Pants

For Budget Rain Jacket & Pants the Marmot Precip Jacket & Pants have been around for years and are still known for their excellent value at an insanely affordable price point.

This jacket won the award repeatedly for “Best Buy” on OutdoorGearLab, where they said “Top notch hood and cuff closures, along with superior breathability for its price range and solid ventilation features are what set it apart from the similar…” They also said said it “…delivers the most bang for your buck”.

It features an extremely lightweight and compressible design, as seen in this video by Go Outdoors:

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

Arc'teryx Beta SL Jacket & Pants

Arcteryx Beta SL Rain Jacket & Pants
Arc'teryx Beta SL Rain Jacket & Pants

For Premium Rain Jacket & Pants with excellent durability, light weight and packability, consider the Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket & Pants.

Made with GORE-TEX Paclite shell with tough 300 denier nylon, with high pockets so they’re not obstructed by the hipbelt of your bug out bag.

This jacket currently holds the OutdoorGearLab “Editors’ Choice” Award, stating “It scored the highest… in all of our comparison categories and offered exceptionally versatility. It had the best in review mobility, featured a fantastic hood design, and provided exceptional storm worthiness at a below-average weight, all while maintaining a high-level of durability.”

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

Mil-Tec Rain Poncho / Tarp

Mil-Tec Rain Poncho / Tarp
Mil-Tec Rain Poncho / Tarp

For an Affordable Rain Poncho-Tarp, that’s even cheaper than the budget rain jacket, and also doubles up as an emergency shelter, consider the Mil-Tec Waterproof Ripstop Nylon Rain Poncho / Tarp.

It folds into a small package that’s ideal for a Car Emergency Kit, work bag or travel bag.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Your Car Emergency Kit

27. Shirt

If you could only choose one shirt, here are 4 factors to consider:

  1. Long sleeved and loose fitting—so it breathes well, provides shade from sun, and leaves room for some under layers in colder temperatures.
  2. Made of robust materials and reinforced seams.
  3. A collar is ideal—not only does it provide protection from the elements, but it sends a trust signal. People are more respecting and feel safer when they meet a stranger with a collar.
  4. Button pockets are great for storage.

5.11 TacLite Pro Long Sleeve Shirt

5.11 TacLite Pro Long Sleeve Shirt
5.11 TacLite Pro Long Sleeve Shirt

For a shirt that meets all the above criteria, consider the 5.11 TacLite Pro Long Sleeve Shirt (available in men’s & women’s cuts).

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

28. Pants

Here’s 4 important factors when choosing a survival pant:

  1. Full length, loose fitting pants—again, so they breathe well, provide shade from sun, as well as leaving room for some under layers in colder temperatures.
  2. Again, made of robust materials and reinforced seams.
  3. Reinforced knees—so they’ll last longer.
  4. Cargo style pockets—so you can carry extra gear.
  5. Optional: Adjustable waist size—in case you lose weight and don’t have a belt.

5.11 TacLite Pro Pants

5.11 TacLite Pro Pants
5.11 TacLite Pro Pants

For Budget Pants that meet the above criteria consider the 5.11 TacLite Pro Pants (available in men’s & women’s cuts).

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Big Bill 18 Oz. Merino Wool Cargo Pant

Big Bill 18 Oz. Merino Wool Cargo Pant
Big Bill 18 Oz. Merino Wool Cargo Pant

For Budget Wool Pants with—dare we say—premium materials and design, massive cargo pockets, at an insanely affordable pricepoint, consider the Big Bill 18 Oz. Merino Wool Cargo Pant. Hand’s down our top pic for a survival pant.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Fjallraven Vidda Pro Pant

Fjallraven Vidda Pro Pant
Fjallraven Vidda Pro Pant

For a High-end Bush Pant the Fjallraven Vidda Pro Pant is an excellent option.

We love all the pockets, the heavy duty “G-1000” fabric, as well as the double-reinforced rear & knees.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Filson Mackinaw Wool Field Pant

Filson Mackinaw Wool Field Pant
Filson Mackinaw Wool Field Pant

For a Premium 100% Wool Hunting Pant the Filson Mackinaw Field Pant is simply as good as it gets.

Wool naturally self-regulates temperatures and humidity. It also stays warm when wet.

Wool won’t catch fire as easily as synthetic fabrics, and sparks that land on it tend to just go out.

Wool doesn’t retain odors (unlike synthetics that can begin to smell within hours).

Wool has properties that make it self-cleaning when left in the sun, and therefore doesn’t need to be washed as often.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

29. Sun Hat

Sunburn can occur in less than 15 minutes, so we suggest you keep a lightweight, wide-brim sun hat in your Bug Out Bag and Car Emergency Kit.

We don’t recommend baseball caps as they don’t provide enough face and neck coverage.

Columbia Bora Bora II Booney Sun Hat

Columbia Bora Bora II Booney Sun Hat
Columbia Bora Bora II Booney Sun Hat

For a Budget Sun Hat we like the lightweight, 100% nylon Columbia Bora Bora II Booney Sun Hat with mesh vent panel and adjustable chin strap, rated at UPF 50 sun protection.

This hat is well-reviewed on Amazon with over 1,400 reviews averaging 4.6/5 stars on Amazon.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

30. Cotton Scarf

Shemagh

Shemagh - Cotton Scarf
Shemagh - Cotton Scarf

A large, pure cotton bandana or “Shemagh” is traditionally used in arid regions to provide shade from sun and protection from sand, but you’ll be amazed at the number of survival applications for this simple scarf: you can make char cloth, an arm splint, a filter for debris in water, a camo cover, and much more.

Here’s 10 reasons to carry a shemagh from the RevHiker channel on Youtube:

Safety Warning: Try to choose a solid color like the one pictured left rather than one of the checkered patterns which can be associated with trouble!

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

31. Bug Head-Net

Excellent for use in insect infested areas, it will keep off the mosquitoes & other critters so you can sleep or navigate the bush without losing your sanity.

Outdoor Research Bug Bucket Hat

Outdoor Research Bug Bucket Hat
Outdoor Research Bug Bucket Hat

For an Affordable Bug Head-Net the Outdoor Research Bug Bucket Hat is excellent and comes attached to a lightweight sun hat.

(The hat portion is soft and thin-brimmed so we recommend it in addition to your sun hat, not as a replacement.)

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

32. Work Gloves

To protect the hands during laborious outdoor activities, a pair of heavy-duty work gloves is a must have item.

Husqvarna Xtreme Duty Work Glove

Husqvarna Xtreme Duty Work Gloves
Husqvarna Xtreme Duty Work Gloves

We like the original Husqvarna Xtreme Duty Work Glove: affordable, well made—much tougher than your everyday garden glove and also lighter.

We keep two pairs in the Bug Out Bag, and one pair in the Car Emergency Kit.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

33. Knee Pads

Knee protection is especially important when wearing a heavy pack. But also for a survival situation where you’ll be working on the ground starting fires, building shelters, collecting plants, etc.

Pro-Tec Street Knee Pads

Pro-Tec Street Knee Pads
Pro-Tec Street Knee Pads

For a Budget Knee Pad, consider the heavy duty, low-profile Pro-Tec Street Knee Pads.

Pro-Tec has a reputation for making excellent protective gear for sports and military for many years.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Arc'teryx Knee Caps

Arc'teryx Knee Caps
Arc'teryx Knee Caps

For a Premium Light-Weight Knee Pad, we absolutely love the Arc’teryx Knee Caps.

They’re comfortably flexible, incredibly lightweight at only 7.9 oz and have a have slim profile which makes for easy packing.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

34. Leather Boots

Taking good care of your feet is vital which is why choosing footwear for a survival scenario is serious business. There’s so much consider such as build quality, longevity, repairability, water-proofness, breathability, ankle support for heavy packs, 4-season capability, etc…

Sounds expensive right? It doesn’t need to be! But first let’s cover some essential footwear criteria:

Leather Footwear Tip

Choose Leather Footwear, Not Synthetic!

It’s unfortunate that today’s footwear industry is flooded with man-made plastics, faux leathers and engineered moisture-wicking materials that are intended for short-term luxuries and fashion, and were never designed for long-term daily wear.

Here are some tips for choosing the ideal footwear for a longterm survival scenario:

1. Avoid Seams & Synthetics
Modern footwear uses complex designs with excessive seams and synthetic materials. The more seams the more prone they are to damage, and what’s worse is they’re especially difficult to repair with as they don’t provide much substance for sewing.

2. Look For Traditional Leather Boot Designs
Try to choose full leather footwear, inside and out, with just enough seams in all the right places. These kinds of boots have the potential to last much longer. Even when they take damage they’re much easier to repair by sewing and gluing means.

Footwear Sizing Tip

Go Up 2 Sizes!

We recommend buying boots at a full 2 sizes bigger than normal to accommodate two pairs of heavy wool socks. Yes, you heard us right, 2 sizes bigger! This serves two functions:

  1. Prevents Blisters: The two socks divert boot friction away from your skin. The wool layers wick moisture outward, keeping your feet dry—a major factor in preventing blisters.
  2. Winterize your Boots: You can wear heavy wool socks and felt liners in colder seasons, and reduce as needed in warmer seasons—achieving a true 3-4 season boot (depending on your tolerance).

With that out of the way lets explore some excellent footwear for survival:

Canadian Army MK3 Combat Boots

Canadian Army MK3 Combat Boots (Used)
Canadian Army MK3 Combat Boots (Used)
For a Budget Leather Combat Boot: the used Canadian Army MK3 Combat Boots are incredibly affordable, high value boots made with heavy duty leather. Don’t Forget: Choose two sizes bigger to accommodate two pairs of wool socks for winter seasons. We’ve worn this combo year round through all four seasons and found them comfortable. Also consider adding a Sorel Felt Liner for winter seasons.

Budget: Low    

Filson Uplander Hunting Boot

Filson Uplander Hunting Boot
Filson Uplander Hunting Boot

For a Premium Leather Hunting Boot, consider the time-tested, oil-tanned full-grain cowhide leather Filson Uplander Hunting Boot.

The genius is in it’s simple design with fewer components, meaning there’s less to go wrong and less to repair.

(Again, consider larger sizing as mentioned above. We know we’re repeating ourselves but we can’t stress this enough.)

Budget: Big    

Now couple your boots with a pair of gaiters and you have the benefits of a long-boot without all the extra weight:

34. Leg Gaiters

Leg Gaiters will turn your hiking boots into a long boot that protects your pants from long brush in dense forests, helps prevent bites from ticks, and keeps out the snow in the winter with minimal added weight.

Black Crystal Leg Gaiters

Black Crystal Leg Gaiters
Black Crystal Leg Gaiters

For a Budget Leg Gaiter consider the Black Crystal Leg Gaiters which come with all the essentials including:

  • 3 layer waterpoof breathable upper and tough 1000D CORDURA waterproof nylon fabric lower
  • Metal hook that fastens onto the bottom of your laces
  • Tough reinforced instep straps
Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Rab Latok Alpine Gaiters

Rab Latok Alpine Gaiters
Rab Latok Alpine Gaiters

For a Premium Leg Gaiter, Outdoor Gear Lab stated that the Rab Latok Alpine Gaiters are “by far superior to every other model we tested and well deserving of our Editors’ Choice award.”

They feature everything from the previous pair but they’re made with high-performance materials.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

36. Winter Base Layers

From mountaineering on cold mountain peaks, to static military operations in frigid winters—survival in the extreme cold is largely dependent on the on this tried-and-true layering system:

  1. Base Layers
  2. Mid-Layers
  3. Insulative Outer Layers

The US Military’s extremely affordable winter layering system was made to do just that. It’s called the “Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System” or “ECWCS”. (Find out more in our ECWCS Level 7 Review).

Let’s begin with the Base Layers: lightweight warming layers worn next-to-skin, providing the first level of moisture-wicking from skin outwards.

Gen III ECWCS Level 1 - Base Layers

ECWCS Gen III Level 1 - Base Layers (Surplus)
ECWCS Gen III Level 1 - Base Layers
For Budget Synthetic Base Layers consider the GEN III ECWCS LEVEL 1 Lightweight Undershirt and Drawers.
Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Woolpower Technical Lite Shirt & Long-Johns

Woolpower Technical Lite Shirt & Long-Johns
Woolpower Technical Lite Shirt & Long-Johns

For Premium Merino Wool Base Layers with excellent body temperature regulating properties consider the Woolpower Technical Lite Long Sleeve Shirt & Long Johns.

Again, while synthetic next-to-skin layers can start to smell within hours of wear, the natural merino wool can last days without any smell.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Now that we’ve covered base layers lets explore mid-layers:

37. Winter Mid-Layers

The mid-layer is worn over the base layer, intended to provide thick insulating air pockets that aid in the moisture-wicking process and provide significant warmth.

We’ve discovered first-hand that the secret to warmth in coldest of temperatures is to trap body heat in pockets of air—that’s why fuzzy materials like wool and fleece are so effective in combating the cold and moisture management.

Gen III ECWCS Level 2 & 3 - Mid-Layers

ECWCS Gen III Level 2 Mid-Weight Shirt and Drawers (Surplus)
ECWCS Gen III Level 2 Mid-Weight Shirt and Drawers
ECWCS Gen III Level 3 High Loft Fleece Jacket (Surplus)
ECWCS Gen III Level 3 High Loft Fleece Jacket

For Budget Synthetic Mid-Layers consider the GEN III ECWCS LEVEL 2 Mid-Weight Shirt and Drawers combined with the GEN III ECWCS LEVEL 3 High Loft Fleece Jacket.

(While the ECWCS are definitely the most affordable bang for your buck, we do recommend the premium Woolpower tops and bottoms for those that can afford it as no synthetic garment can compete with real merino wool garments.)

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Woolpower "Ullfrotté" Mid-Layers

Woolpower Ullfrotté Mid-Layer Tops 400/600 Gram
Woolpower Ullfrotté Mid-Layer Tops 400/600 Gram
Woolpower Ullfrotté Mid-Layer Long-Johns 200/400 Gram
Woolpower Ullfrotté Mid-Layer Long-Johns 200/400 Gram

The amazing Woolpower “Ullfrotté” wool blend material was developed with the Swedish Military in the 1970’s, and is still one of the top wool garment producers today.

While merino wool is an excellent temperature regulator on it’s own, it doesn’t naturally have great wear resistance. That’s why Woolpower “Ullfrotté” uses one-third synthetic materials to strengthen the wool and provide an ideal blend.

We’re very happy with our Woolpower garments for several reasons:

  1. Woolpower wool is stretchy, so it always wears comfortably and layers well too.
  2. It’s not itchy at all, in fact its soft and cozy to the touch.
  3. The wool uses a very loose terry-loop weave which helps trap warm air to provide massive insulation and wicking.
  4. It’s extremely well made. When you put it on it you can just feel the quality workmanship.

For Premium Merino Wool Mid-Layer Tops consider layering both the 400 & 600 Gram Woolpower Long Sleeve Shirts.

For Premium Merino Wool Mid-Layer Bottoms consider layering both the 200 & 400 Gram Woolpower Long Johns. (The men’s come with fly and women’s without fly, but are otherwise virtually the same.)

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Now that we’ve covered mid-layers lets look at the insulative outer layers:

38. Winter Parka & Trousers

These high-loft compressible parka and pants are the ideal insulative outer layers for a bug out bag because they provide crazy warmth with minimal weight and packing size.

We’ve found that even smaller individuals who find they get cold easily loved wearing these.

Gen III ECWCS Level 7 - Parka & Trousers

ECWCS Gen III Level 7 Military Parka Jacket & Trousers
ECWCS Gen III Level 7 Parka & Trousers

For an excellent set of Budget Winter Parka & Trousers, look no further than the ECWCS Level 7 Parka and Trousers.

We’re huge fans of this system and we wrote all about it in our ECWCS Level 7 Review.

Halys Sekri PCU Level 7 Parka - Type 2 Long (Surplus)
Halys Sekri PCU Level 7 Parka - Type 2 Long (Surplus)

Alternatively if you find you’re someone who really needs that extra length and warmth in the jacket, consider the longer Halys Sekri PCU Level 7 Parka (Type 2 Long Version).

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Winter Car Kit

39. Wool Socks

Want to know the secret behind blister-free hiking boots?

By following the wool sock layering principle you can prevent the clammy feet and friction that leads to blisters. Here are the 3 vital components:

  1. Light Liner Sock: Backpacking boots should always be worn with a next-to-skin merino-wool liner sock to move the moisture outwards, keeping your feet dry. This component is key in the whole system working properly.
  2. Mid-Layer Sock: We couple the wool liner sock with a thicker sock (such as a 600 gram merino wool sock) to prevent any boot friction with your feet and to continue the moisture wicking outwards.
  3. Heavy-Layer Sock: For extreme cold add a thick sock (such as an 800 gram merino wool sock) for extra warmth, or if it’s really cold wear 2 thick pairs and drop the mid-layer.

As you can see the sock plays such an important role with hiking footwear, so we recommend getting at least 2 pairs of each thickness to double their life-span.

(Of course none of this will be possible without having boots a couple sizes larger than normal to accommodate all these socks… Sorry, we just had to say it again!)

SmartWool Socks

SmartWool Hiking Socks
SmartWool Hiking Socks in varying weights

The SmartWool Hiking Socks are excellent quality and very affordable:

  1. For Liner Socks we recommend the SmartWool Hike Ultra Light Crew Socks
  2. For Mid Layer Socks we recommend the SmartWool Hike Medium Crew Socks
  3. For Heavy-Weight Socks we recommend the SmartWool Trekking & Mountaineering Heavy Crew Socks

(The link at above contains all of these socks.)

We’re happy to say these have lasted us years and they’re still going strong, showing only minor wear-and-tear. They’re so comfortable we even wear them in the house on cold winter days.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Woolpower Ullfrotté Socks

Woolpower Ullfrotté Socks
Woolpower Ullfrotté Socks in varying weights

And for the cream of the crop: the Woolpower Ullfrotté Socks have done it again with their “Original Ullfrotté” materials that provide an amazingly insulative and flexible sock.

  1. For Liner Socks we recommend the Woolpower Classic LITE Socks
  2. For Mid Layer Socks we recommend the Woolpower 600 Gram Socks
  3. For Heavy-Weight Socks we recommend the Woolpower 800 Gram Socks

(The link above contains all these socks.)

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

40. Winter Moccasins / Mukluks

If you’ve only ever worn heavy stomping winter boots you’re in for a treat! We’ll explain what makes winter Mukluks are like no other:

Lure of the North Winter Moccasins

Lure of the North Winter Moccasins
Lure of the North Winter Moccasins

The Lure of the North Winter Moccasins (mukluks) are extremely light-weight, soft and flexible boots that make walking on snow feel heavenly…

Your feet are completely free to experience all the subtle nuances of the ground as you walk, just as the indigenous did for thousands of years. Once we tried them we couldn’t go back.

They’re made of natural breathable materials so you don’t sweat, and they fold up easy for storage in your bug out bag.

And Lure of North isn’t just a footwear company, they’re a highly experienced, family business that specialize in traditional winter travel courses, crafts and skills from their wilderness base camp located in Canada. “Our desire for good quality winter clothing and equipment has led us to now produce much of this [gear] ourselves.” Check them out if you want to attend a course!

Note that these mukluks are only intended to be worn in freezing temperatures when there is no slush or moisture.

And as always, be sure to choose 1 to 1.5 sizes larger than normal shoe size to accommodate 2 pairs of heavy wool socks (we promise that’s the last time we’ll remind you!).

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly alternative, we’ve heard the Wellco N-1B Extreme Cold Weather Mukluks are good but haven’t tried them ourselves yet.

That said, we do still recommend the army boot and wool sock combo as a primary all-around survival boot—worth exploring.

41. Winter Gloves / Mittens

When camping in the dead of winter it’s always surprising how debilitating the extreme cold can be. Everything you do gets sloooowed right down, easily 2-3 or more times slower.

You’ll no doubt want the most warmth you can get out of a mitten, but if you’re busy around camp with chores or food prep you’ll also want the finger dexterity that comes from gloves. Here’s a perfect solution to achieve both:

U.S. Air Force N-4B - Extreme Cold Weather Mitten

U.S. Air Force N-4B - Extreme Cold Weather Mittens
U.S. Air Force N-4B - Extreme Cold Weather Mittens

For a Budget Mitten we’re very pleased with the U.S. Air Force N-4B – Extreme Cold Weather Mitten with 100% wool liners. They run large so they have room for an inner glove (not included).

Similar to the layering philosophies already mentioned, the military has done it again with a bullet-proof, flexible layering mitten system for cold weather survival. It goes like this:

  1. An Inner Glove (not included) is worn as the base layer—this glove makes your fingers available for fine detail work where mittens are too clunky.
  2. A Large Outer Mitten is worn on top of that glove for increased warmth. The outer glove is actually made up of 2 parts: a 100% wool liner, and an outer shell made of leather (on the hand) and nylon (on the arm). The outer layer is so large (like a massive gauntlet) that it rolls over your jacket sleeves, sealing off any heat loss and preventing snow from entering.

When you need the dexterity of your individual fingers just throw the mittens off, hang them over your shoulder (tethered by cord so they stay close by) to reveal the inner gloves and continue working without ever exposing your bare fingers to the cold. Amazing how much thought goes into it.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Lure of the North Buckskin Mittens

Lure of the North Buckskin Mittens
Lure of the North Buckskin Mittens

For a Premium Mitten consider the handcrafted Lure of the North Buckskin Outer Mitten.

The mittens are made to be paired with the Lure of the North Wool Inner Mitten Liners (sold separately but included in the link above.)

These offer a similar system to the military approach mentioned above, but not sized to be worn with additional glove base layers.

(If you do still want to achieve that layered effect make sure to scale up the sizing appropriately.)

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

42. Winter Fur Trapper Hats

In the blistering cold, no hat is as effective as the fur-lined trapper hats that fully wrap around the sides of your face and under your chin. We absolutely love them!

Accept No Substitutes! Advances with synthetic materials and faux furs have been made for warmth, but they’re still not nearly as warm or as breathable as real fur. All the hats we suggest here are lined with real rabbit fur.

(For extra neck coverage add a balaclava or neck gaiter.)

Original Mad Bomber Hat

Original Mad Bomber Hat
Original Mad Bomber Hat

For a Budget Trapper Hat consider the Original Mad Bomber Hat.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

100% Leather Aviator Hat

100% Leather Aviator Hat
100% Leather Aviator Hat

For a Premium Trapper Hat we love the 100% Leather Aviator Hats (from Mad Bomber, Crown Cap & Zavelio).

They feature beautiful classic designs that are extremely warm and functional.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

43. Snow Goggles

In the event of an emergency in the extreme cold it’s important to have Snow Goggles to protect your eyes from snow blindness, snowfall and harsh winds.

Bolle Mojo Snow Goggles

Bolle Mojo Snow Goggles
Bolle Mojo Snow Goggles

For Budget Snow Goggles consider the Bolle Mojo Snow Goggles.

They’re extremely well reviewed, featuring a classic design at an affordable price point.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

OutdoorMaster Ski Goggles PRO

OutdoorMaster Ski Goggles PRO
OutdoorMaster Ski Goggles PRO
For a Frameless Snow Goggle with 100% UV protection and ample space for wearing with prescription glasses, consider the OutdoorMaster Ski Goggles PRO.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

44. Climbing Helmet

On rough terrain with a fully loaded bug out bag it’s easy to lose balance and hit your head. That’s where a lightweight climbing helmet comes in handy.

“What about my bicycle helmet” you ask? While bike helmets are made to absorb and crumple from a SINGLE IMPACT, the rock climbing helmet is made to deflect MULTIPLE IMPACTS.

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet
Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

For a Budget Climbing Helmet consider the time-tested, ultralight, super robust Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet.

Here’s a short video from a Whittaker Mountaineering Guide on why she chooses the Black Diamond Half Dome:

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Chapter 5

Sleep & Shelter

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4 Season Sleep Systems, Tarps & Wool Blankets

45. Military Sleep Systems

US Military Sleep System (MSS)

US Army 4 Piece Modular Sleep System (MSS)
US Army 4 Piece Modular Sleep System (MSS)

The US Military Sleep System is an excellent extreme cold weather sleep system that has become our all time favorite survival sleeping bag.

Available new or used depending on your budget, though we’ve had no issue buying used and can highly recommend them.

The sleep system includes:

  • 2 x Sleeping Bags (of light and medium weight) which combine to become heavy fill.
  • 1 x Camouflaged Gortex Bivvy which acts as a vapor barrier against the rain and snow to keep you dry. This amazing seam-sealed bivvy can stand alone as a waterproof shelter and as a last resort—stuffed with foliage to insulate against the cold in a survival emergency.
  • 1 x Compression Stuff Sack to cinch the bag down small while carrying in your bug out bag.

When All Three Layers Combine with insulative winter clothing (such as ECWCS), they are said to provide an overall temperature rating of -50º F (-50º C).

The US Sleep System uses synthetic-fill which stays warm when wet—a requirement for a survival scenario where you can’t always guarantee a dry sleep.

(We don’t recommend down-fill bags because they provide no insulation once wet and is difficult to dry.)

Watch as James Yeager, MFCEO of the Tactical Response training company does an excellent, no-nonsense video review on the MSS (mature language warning):

(Note he reviews the newer system which, with the exception color, the bags are completely identical.)

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

46. Sleeping Bag Liner

Is your sleeping bag still not warm enough?

Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme Thermolite Liner

Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme Thermolite Sleeping Bag Liner
Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme Thermolite Sleeping Bag Liner

For smaller, colder individuals where added warmth is needed, we’ve had good experience with the Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme Thermolite Liner.

It adds 25º F (14º C) warmth to your sleeping bag, but packs small and lightweight. (We just keep ours rolled up with our sleeping bag and don’t notice it.)

It also acts as a “sheet” to keep your sleeping bag clean – always a plus!

Unfortunately this is an expensive item and we haven’t found any budget-friendly alternatives, but it does it’s job well and we’re still happy we have them.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

47. Tarps

A lightweight personal tarp is ideal for setting up a quick shelter on the go. And we’re not talking about those low quality industrial tarps you get at your local hardware store…

Aqua Quest “Guide” Sil Tarps

Aqua Quest “Guide” Sil Tarps
Aqua Quest “Guide” Sil Tarps

For a Tarp to store in your Bug Out Bag we recommend the ultra light Aqua Quest “Guide” Sil Tarps in large 10×13’ (for couples) or medium 7×10’ (for individuals).

Both are excellent quality, light-weight and compressible.

Ben from the Living Survival Youtube channel does a very informative review on this tarp and adds it to his “Bens Best” collection, which he states “simply stands out above the rest”:

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Aqua Quest “Defender” 70D Tarps

Aqua Quest “Defender” 70D Heavy Duty Tarps
Aqua Quest “Defender” 70D Heavy Duty Tarps

For a Tarp to store in the Vehicle we recommend a heavy-duty tarp since weight isn’t an issue. The tough build quality of the Aqua Quest 10×13’ “Defender” Large 70D Tarp is outstanding.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Keeping in a vehicle

Mil-Tec Poncho Tarp

Mil-Tec Rain Poncho / Tarp stowed in pouch
Mil-Tec Rain Poncho / Tarp stowed in pouch

For a Dual Purpose Wearable Tarp, consider the Mil-Tec Waterproof Ripstop Nylon Poncho Tarp that we mentioned previously under #26. Rain Gear.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

48. Wool Blanket

It’s always good to have a wool blanket in the car in case of break down on a cold day.

80% Wool Blanket

80% Wool Blanket
80% Wool Blanket

Not all wool blankets are created equal, there’s a lot of knock-offs on the internet. As a rule, we don’t settle for less than an 80% Wool Blend Blanket.

Wool fiber is naturally fire retardant.

A wool blanket can used as a makeshift cloak in an emergency as demonstrated in this video from Forrester Bushcraft:

(In the video he uses rocks and string but it’s a lot easier with a cloak pin.)

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Your Vehicle (but much too bulky for a Bug Out Bag)

Chapter 6

Food Gathering

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The resources you need to forage, procure, and prepare your food in a long-term survival scenario.

49. Cooking Pot

The cook pot is a staple survival item for any outdoor enthusiast. It’s a means to purify water through boiling, melt snow for drinking, steep teas and heat food.

We attended a workshop where Mors Kochanski spoke highly of the value of the survival pot. Mors believes that over time, with the right skills and experience, we may learn to live in the wilderness with not much more than a pot and some survival essentials stuffed inside. This is congruent with Mors Kochanski’s “The More You Know, The Less You Carry” philosophy to survival.

Four Dog 1.8 Liter “Mors” Camp Pot

Four Dog 1.8L “Mors” Camp Pot + Lid
Four Dog 1.8L “Mors” Camp Pot + Lid

For a Budget Cook Pot we’re big fans of the super-robust, USA-made, time-tested Four Dog 1.8 Liter “Mors” Camp Pot with Lid—which Mors Kochanski believes is the ideal size and expects will last a lifetime.

It’s total weight is 11 oz.

Watch a clip where Mors speaks about his pot along with his 2 kilo survival kit:

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Snow Peak Trek 1400 Titanium Cookset

Snow Peak Trek 1400 Titanium Cookset
Snow Peak Trek 1400 Titanium Cookset

For a Healthy Cook Pot the Snow Peak Trek 1400 Titanium Cookset is excellent option.

Made of pure Grade A Titanium in Japan. Titanium doesn’t leach into food like other metals when scratched.

The cookset includes a 47 oz. (1.4 liter) titanium pot, a titanium lid that doubles up as a small frying pan, and a nylon mesh storage sack—coming in at only 7.4 oz.in total weight. We absolutely love ours!

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

50. Cooking Stove

The fold-up cook stoves produce a concentrated heat source for cooking and boiling that can actually be stronger and steadier than freestanding fires, while requiring far less wood.

Emberlit Fold Up Stoves

Emberlit Stainless Steel & UL Titanium Stove
Emberlit Stainless Steel & UL Titanium Stove

For a Budget Fold-Up Cook Stove we recommend the original Emberlit Stainless Steel Stove.

Weighing in at only 11.3 oz.—Emberlit puts it best: “When you compare that to a full canister of fuel and burner, the difference in weight is astounding!”

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

For a Premium Light-Weight Cook Stove we recommend the Emberlit-UL Titanium Stove.

Weighing in at less than 7 oz. means it’s about 40% less weight than the original stainless steel version!

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

51. Brass Snare Wire

Strong, malleable wire for snaring small game such as rabbits, and also comes in handy for fixing gear.

24 Gauge Brass Snare Wire

24 Gauge Brass Snare Wire
24 Gauge Brass Snare Wire

The 24 Gauge Brass Wire is sold in 100 foot bundles that are easy to dispense.

Considering the value of trapping small game we suggest getting as many as you can in your Bug Out Bag & Car Emergency Kit. (We put 8 rolls in each of our bags.)

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

52. Snares

Thompson SK1 Survival Snare Kit - 4 Traps

Thompson SK1 Survival Snare Kit - 4 Traps
Thompson SK1 Survival Snare Kit - 4 Traps

For a Reusable Small Game Snare with high quality components, we like the Thompson SK1 Survival Snare 4 Pack.

Comes with two 1/16” snares and two 1/32” snares for rabbit, squirrel, weasel, birds, etc.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

53. Survival Fishing Kit

Best Glide Survival Fishing Kit

Best Glide Survival Fishing Kit Tin
Best Glide Survival Fishing Kit Tin

The Best Glide Survival Fishing Kit Tin contains all sorts of hooks, leaders, bobber, lines, jigs, flies, bait, etc… packaged in a water-resistant taped reusable tin.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

54. Automatic Fishing Reel

Mechanical Fisher's Yo-Yo Fishing Reels

Automatic Yo-Yo Fishing Reel
Automatic Yo-Yo Fishing Reel

Also referred to as a Yo-Yo Fishing Reel—just set the hook and bait in the water and walk away.

When it snags a fish it automatically pulls the fish up and holds it there until you come back.

At just a few bucks each the 12 pack is most economical and makes them easy to share among your Bug Out Bags and Car Emergency Kit.

IMPORTANT: Get the “flat trigger” model (which we’ve linked to), not the “wire trigger” as the flat trigger is much more robust. And always check local laws before using.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

55. Fishing Gill Net

The gill net is an amazing tool because it has the potential to catch multiple fish repeatedly with minimal effort.

Just setup the gill net in an area that fish frequent and check the catch several times a day.

Best Glide Adventurer Survival Gill Net

Best Glide Adventurer Survival Gill Net
Best Glide Adventurer Survival Gill Net

For a Budget Fishing Gill Net consider the Best Glide Adventurer Survival Gill Net.

The gill net measures 12′ x 4′ with a 1.5″ mesh. Made of high quality materials, packs small and reusable if well maintained.
(Check local laws before using.)

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

56. Rimfire Rifle

The small calibre .22 LR take-down rifle is great for hunting small game.

It’s one of the most common calibers to find, it’s lightweight, and it’s much quieter when compared to the larger game calibres.

Note that you’ll need your license to buy and use any firearm, and always check local laws before hunting.

Henry AR-7 US Survival .22 LR Rifle

Henry AR-7 US Survival .22 LR Rifle
Henry AR-7 US Survival .22 LR Rifle

For a Budget Semi-Auto Rifle we can highly recommend the Henry AR-7 US Survival Rimfire Rifle.

The barrel, action and two eight-round magazines fold down incredibly compact into it’s own rifle stock (perfect for a backpack).

It weighs only 3.5 lbs and even floats in water!

Henry Rifles have established an excellent reputation that have been around since the 1800’s.

If you didn’t know, a semi-auto utilizes pre-loaded “magazines” that allow firing in rapid succession without needing to stop to reload between each shot.

Check out hickok45’s review on this rifle on YouTube:

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Chiappa Little Badger .22 LR

Chiappa Little Badger .22 LR Rifle
Chiappa Little Badger .22 LR Rifle

For a Budget Single-Shot Rifle with a simplistic rock-solid design, the .22 LR Chiappa Little Badger is another favourite amongst survivalists.

The single-shot rifle means you have to stop and reload between each shot, but you can expect this rifle to last a lot longer than a semi-auto due to less moving parts and simpler design.

At 2.9 lbs it’s even lighter than the Henry, and it too folds down making it ideal for a backpack.

Check out the features in this video from Kentucky Gun Co:

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Hoppe’s Boresnake 22 Rifle Bore Cleaner
Hoppe’s Boresnake 22 Rifle Bore Cleaner
Otis 22 Tactical Cleaning System
Otis 22 Tactical Cleaning System

Firearm Maintenance

Always Clean and Oil Your Rifle for Longevity

Budget: Varies    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

57. Compact Folding Bow

While a rifle may eventually run out of ammo, the bow’s arrows are reusable, and in an emergency you could even fashion your own arrows in a pinch. A bow is also quieter than the .22 rifle.

We’ve explored many of the popular survival bows on the market, but one clearly stood out from the rest:

SAS Tactical Survival Bow

SAS Tactical Survival Bow
SAS Tactical Survival Bow

For a Tough-As-Nails Survival Bow weighing only 2.2 lbs consider the SAS Tactical Survival Bow.

We’re pleased to see this bow was specifically made for long-term survival by it’s maker, and is well reviewed by survivalists as such.

As a bonus, the hollow body riser of the bow was made with just enough room to store and protect 3 Full SAS Take-Down Arrows.

Watch this in-depth video by TWANGnBANG to learn more:

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

58. Slingshot

The modern survival slingshot is no toy—it has evolved as a means for small game hunting without nearly as much bulk or weight as a rifle or bow. And by using small stones or pebbles you always have a newable ammo source. Some can even handle arrows.

FlippinOut Scout Slingshot

FlippinOut Scout Slingshot
FlippinOut Scout Slingshot

For an Affordable Slingshot consider the FlippinOut Scout Slingshot.

At a mere 4.6 oz. in weight you get super lightweight firepower.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Chief AJ Elite Slingbow

Chief AJ Elite Slingbow
Chief AJ Elite Slingbow

For a Premium Slingbow that even fires arrows consider the 1lb Chief AJ Elite Slingbow.

It was unanimously voted the top sling bow by all 3 contestants on the “Ultimate Survival Tips” 5 part series entitled “Sling Bow Wars” on YouTube.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

59. Food Collecting Pouch

A rifle magazine dump pouch can be repurposed as a means to collect berries, plants, mushrooms, tinder, etc while on the go.

Just hang the dump pouch from your belt or pack to prevent your food from otherwise getting crushed in your pockets, AND free your hands for other tasks.

We’re sure there are many other functional uses for this heavy-duty belt-mounted bag.

Maxpedition Rollypoly Folding Pouch

Maxpedition MM Rollypoly Folding Pouch
Maxpedition MM Rollypoly Folding Pouch

We like the Maxpedition MM Rollypoly Folding Pouch because it’s made of tough 1000-Denier light-weight ballistic nylon, it easily closes with the adjustable drawstrings and velcro flap cover, and it can be attached via MOLLE attachment system or belt loops on your EDC Belt.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: EDC Belt

Chapter 7

Water

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Water is life. It strengthens muscle tissue, it flushes out bacteria and waste, it circulates nutrients that feed the body, it helps build new cells and studies show it even helps prevent cancer.

60. Water Canteens

A steel water bottle or military canteen is a great option for both storage and boiling water over fire.

The traditional water bottle is the simpler more affordable option, whereas the military canteen is more comprehensive, including: 1qt. (32 oz) steel water canteen, a steel cup with butterfly handles, optionally includes a lid, and optionally includes a MOLLE cover that can be hung on a MOLLE belt or backpack.

Bamboo Klean Kanteen Reflect

Bamboo Klean Kanteen Reflect
Bamboo Klean Kanteen Reflect

For a Classic Stainless Steel Water Bottle, we like the simple solid design of the 27 oz. capacity Bamboo Klean Kanteen Reflect which comes with a stainless steel bamboo cap.

It has no paint or plastic, just high quality food grade stainless steel, bamboo on the lid and a silicone seal.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

G.A.K Military Canteen

G.A.K Military Canteen
G.A.K Military Canteen

For a Budget Military Water Canteen Kit made of stainless steel, consider the 32 oz. capacity G.A.K Military Canteen which comes with the matching cup and surplus canteen cover.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Keith (Heavy Cover) Titanium Canteen Mess Kit

Keith (Heavy Cover) Titanium Canteen Mess Kit
Keith (Heavy Cover) Titanium Canteen Mess Kit

For a Premium Military Water Canteen Kit made of titanium consider the 37 oz. capacity Keith (Heavy Cover) Titanium Canteen Mess Kit.

Titanium is superior to stainless steel because it’s lighter and stronger, and also healthier for cooking.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Center Line Systems Mother Canteen Carrier

Center Line Systems Mother Canteen Carrier
Center Line Systems Mother Canteen Carrier

For a Premium Canteen Carrier Kit consider the heavy duty Center Line Systems Mother Canteen Carrier.

It comes with an adjustable shoulder strap, molle attachment points, and 3 compartments with space to store all kinds of survival gear goodies along with your water canteen.

(Note this is only the carrier, and does not come with a canteen.)

Watch Black Scout Survival review his “Mother Canteen Carrier” carrier coupled with the “Heavy Cover (Keith) Canteen Kit” (mentioned above):

(Note that this carrier is fully compatible with both previous canteens mentioned on this list, and not just the Keith Heavy Cover Canteens.)

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

61. Water Filters

If you drink contaminated water it can lead to severe illness or even death, so we take our water filters very seriously.

Here’s two excellent filters that we think are some of the best money can buy:

Sawyer Mini Water Filter

Sawyer Mini - Personal Water Filter
Bamboo Klean Kanteen Reflect

For a Budget Personal Water Filter: We heavily researched the two top contenders and nothing compares with the versatility, pocketable size, 100,000 gallon rating, and 0.1 micron filter pores of the Sawyer Mini Water Filter. It is hands down the best, most affordable pocket filter on the market.

The mini has another trick up it’s sleeve: it’s made to fit the mouth of your standard plastic bottle, so you can just fill the bottle and then screw on the filter. That means you don’t have to put your face in a pond and drink like a straw—as is the case with most other personal water filters. Now that’s multi-purpose survival gear.

Truly a life-saver in your pocket. Worth keeping in every bug out bag, EDC belt, Car Kit and even your Travel Bags.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + EDC Belt + Car Kit

Katadyn Pocket Water Filter

Katadyn Pocket - Family Water Filter
Katadyn Pocket - Family Water Filter

For a Premium Family Water Filter look no further than the Katadyn Pocket Water Filter.

It filters water incredibly fast at 1 liter per minute and features a heavy duty metal outer construction.

It’s also the only filter that comes with a 20 year warranty.

This is simply the highest quality, most robust survival water filter we’ve seen.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

62. Water Purification Tablets

There are essentially 3 common varieties of water purification tablets: Chlorine, Iodine, and our favorite Chlorine Dioxide tablets.

Chlorine Dioxide Water Purifier Tablets

Chlorine Dioxide Water Purifier Tablets
Chlorine Dioxide Water Purifier Tablets

While Chlorine & Iodine are cheaper and typically expire in less than 5 years only Chlorine Dioxide is able to last longer (if properly stored dry, airtight and away from heat).

Chlorine Dioxide is also the only tab that kills the waterborne microorganism Cryptosporidium—the leading cause of diarrheal disease from untreated water in the US.

It also effectively kills bacteria, viruses, most protozoa and Giardia.

It leaves a slightly unpleasant taste but is much better tasting than Iodine, no big deal.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + EDC Belt + Car Kit

63. Hydration Bladder

If you’ve ever gone backpacking you know how disruptive little things can be like stopping to unload your water bottle just to take a sip. That’s where the hydration bladder gives backpackers a convenient hands free drink on the go. 

Water is heavy, hydration bladders let you keep the water close to your back for better weight distribution.

Once the bladder is empty it’ll compress down—taking up less space, unlike bottles that always occupy the same amount of space full or empty.

Source Hydration Bladders

Source WXP 3L Hydration Reservoir
Source WXP 3L Hydration Reservoir

For One Of The Best Water Bladders On The Market, we recommend the 2 & 3 litre military-grade Source Hydration Bladders. They’re widely used in the military as well as by civilians, which means they’re compatible with many packs and carriers.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

USMC ILBE Hydration Carrier

ILBE Hydration Carrier - Front
ILBE Hydration Carrier

Need To Carry That Water Bladder Solo?
For a Budget 3 Litre Water Carrier that lets you wear your hydration bladder independently, we like the USMC ILBE Hydration Carrier which comes with shoulder straps as well as clips that can attach to MOLLE packs.

Note this isn’t by itself a water bladder, it’s a shoulder mounted CARRIER for a 3L Source water bladder. So get both if you need.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Chapter 8

Fire Starting

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Fire warms our bodies in the cold and lifts our spirits in times of adversity. It purifies water, it cooks our food, it aids in producing valuable tools. 

We cannot stress enough the importance of fire starting redundancy in your kits.

64. Ferro Rods

A “Ferrocerium Rod”, also called a “Fire Steel” is our favorite fire-starting tool to have in a survival situation. Here’s why:

  1. Ferro rods have no complex moving parts unlike lighters that can break down or get crushed and leak.
  2. Ferro rods are unaffected by exposure to water, unlike matches.
  3. They’re reliable in varying temperatures. Have you tried using a lighter when you’re hands are cold or wet? Not fun…
  4. They only require a 90 degree sharp edged surface—like the back of some knives—to consistently shower sparks.

Large 5"-6" Ferro Rod

Extra Large 5"-6" Ferro Rod
Extra Large 5"-6" Ferro Rod

For a Budget Ferro Rod we recommend Extra Large 5″ or 6″ Ferro Rods with no extras. The large, simple design is what makes them so effective.

We see a lot of ferro rods get covered up with fancy handles and contraptions, but all that does is take away valuable striking surface and add unwanted bulk.

We like to have several of these for the Bug Out Bag and Car Emergency Kits.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Mini Keychain Ferro Rods

Mini Keychain Ferro Rods
Mini Keychain Ferro Rods

For Small Keychain-Sized Ferro Rods, consider Mini Keychain Ferro Rods for all your smaller EDC survival kits.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: EDC Neck Lanyard + EDC Belt + Pocket Survival Kits

65. Flint and Steel

“Flint and Steel” fire starting is achieved by striking a hard rock against a piece of high carbon steel. When struck in just the right way they create fine sparks that can be used to ignite combustible tinders such as char cloth.

Why do I need this if I already have a Ferro Rod?
The Ferro Rod makes fire starting quick and easy but it won’t last forever, where as the traditional Flint and Steel can last a life time. 

  • The “steel” is much harder and longer lasting than the softness of a ferro steel.
  • The “flint” is easily replaceable: a chip off a rock can work as long as it’s hard enough to produce sparks.

Flint & Steel Deluxe Kit with Tin

Flint & Steel Deluxe Fire Starting Kit
Flint & Steel Deluxe Fire Starting Kit

For A High Quality Flint and Steel Kit, we like the Flint & Steel Deluxe Kit with Tin, which includes:

  • A large metal tin (to hold all the items but more importantly to make more char-cloth)
  • A large carbon steel striker
  • A real natural English flint rock
  • Char-cloth material (a super sensitive tinder source)
  • Assorted tinders (jute twine, etc.)

(UPDATE: We’re sad to say that kit pictured and mentioned seems to have discontinued, but we’ve found several great alternatives in the link above.)

Starting fire with flint & steel isn’t easy at first. Here’s a video from David Canterbury showing how it’s done:

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

66. Tinder Quick Tabs

The Tinder-Quick Tabs are an excellent waterproof tinder—used by the military for years.

They come compressed and look deceptively small in hand, but just a couple of sparks on the frayed end of a single tab can burn for minutes.

A great companion item for your ferro rods.

Tinder Quick Tabs

Tinder Quick Tabs
SOL Tinder Quick Tabs

We recommend getting a few of the Tinder Quick Tabs 12 Packs to divide up amongst your Bug Out Bag, Car Emergency Kit, EDC Belt and Pocket Survival Kit.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car + Belt + PSK

67. Char Cloth Tin

Steel Hinged Tin

Char Cloth
Char Cloth
Steel Hinged Tin
Steel Hinged Tin

Char Cloth is typically a cotton-based tinder that’s extremely combustible, moreso than anything you would find in nature. Char cloth is well suited to catching finer sparks from flint and steel due to having undergone the process of “pyrolysis.”

A Char Cloth Tin is just a closeable steel hinged tin like an Altoids Mints tin. The tin is used to make char cloth over fire using cotton fabrics such as old jeans or rags. The tin also doubles up as a space to store small survival gear items such as flint & Steel.

(If you already purchased the “Flint & Steel Deluxe Kit with Tin” you likely won’t need this tin though.)

While you can buy premade char cloth (linked above) even more valuable is knowing how to make your own in the wild.

AlfieAesthetics does a really nice short 2 min. video on how to make char cloth:

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

68. Fire Pistons

The age old fire piston has been used since the 1800’s. It essentially creates fire by compressing air in a small chamber to ignite char cloth and other tinder into a burning ember. It’s incredibly efficient and requires only a tiny peice of char-cloth.

"Campfirepiston" Hickory Fire Piston

Hickory Fire Piston
Hickory Fire Piston

For a Budget Fire Piston consider the U.S.A-Made “Campfirepiston” Hickory Fire Piston.

It features a very classic and effective design.

Comes with a bag of char-cloth.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Numyth Vulcan Fire Piston v2

Numyth Vulcan Fire Piston v2
Numyth Vulcan Fire Piston v2

For a Premium Fire Piston the hard-anodized aluminum Numyth Vulcan Fire Piston V2 is an excellent choice.

Comes with a small storage slot for keeping char cloth.

Here’s a video walkthrough from the maker himself at Going Gear:

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

69. Magnifying Glass / Fresnel Lens

A magnifying glass is great for inspecting slivers, cuts and bites but can also be used as a fire starter by magnifying the sun’s light.

Fresnel Lens

Fresnel Lens 4-Pack
Fresnel Lens 4-Pack

For a Budget Plastic Fresnel Lens, consider the credit card-sized Fresnel Lens 4-Pack.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

SE Folding Pocket Magnifier

SE Folding Pocket Magnifier
SE Folding Pocket Magnifier

For a Budget Glass Magnifier consider the SE Folding Pocket Magnifier.

Featuring a swivel design with thick glass and a hard plastic protective sleeve.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

70. Beeswax Candle

Beeswax is said to burn longer and hotter than paraffin wax, and is completely non-toxic.

Both the pleasant aroma and the candle’s flame are known to boost morale and reduce stress in an emergency.

Beeswax is also edible (but don’t expect it to taste like honey!)

UCO Beeswax Candles

UCO Beeswax Candles
UCO Beeswax Candles

For Affordable Beeswax Candles we like the UCO Beeswax Tea Lights & Large Candles.

A single tea light burns 3-4 hours, and the large candles burn 12+ hours.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Fire Survival Tip

Make Fire with Everyday Objects!

Grant Thompson – “The King of Random” shows us how to start fire with a sandwich bag:

Did you know you can make fire from a chocolate bar and a soda can? Here’s how it’s done:

Chapter 9

Cordage

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Cordage has hundreds of survival applications. To name a few: creating tools, building shelters, trapping, stitching repairs, and starting fires with the bow drill technique we mentioned earlier.

71. Paracord

The legendary 550 Paracord cordage was used since WWII for parachute suspension lines. It is the quintessential cordage used by the modern survivalist.

With a breaking strength of 550 lbs this ultra-tough cordage is well suited to shelter building and other load-bearing tasks.

Every foot of Paracord contains 7 feet of inner strands which can be used for lighter tasks such as clothing repairs or trapping.

550 Paracord

550 Paracord Type III 7 Strand 100 foot bundle
550 Paracord Type III 7 Strand

Watch out for Paracord knock-offs on the market. The 550 Paracord Type III 7 Strand from Paracord Planet is 100% authentic.

It comes in a variety of colors and lengths. We generally recommend a few hundred feet per bug out bag.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

TITAN SurvivorCord

TITAN SurvivorCord with fishing line, copper wire & jute
TITAN SurvivorCord with fishing line, copper wire & jute

For Premium Paracord with an additional strand of waxed jute (fire starter), a fishing line, and a conductive copper wire, consider TITAN SurvivorCord.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

72. Bankline

Bankline, also referred to as Tarred Twisted Nylon Twine, has a 100lb breaking strength and offers a thinner alternative when paracord isn’t needed.

The black “tarring” makes bankline much grippier than paracord so it’s excellent for bow drills and holding small knots.

Bank Line (Tarred Twisted Nylon Twine)

Bank Line - Tarred Twisted Nylon Twine
Bank Line - Tarred Twisted Nylon Twine

For a Spool of Bank Line that’s just the right size for a bug out bag, we like the 395ft Bank Line Spools from Catahoula.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Chapter 10

Lights

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When choosing a survival flashlight keep in mind batteries will be hard to come by in a survival scenario, so it’s important to choose a flashlight that’ll run on the world’s most common battery—the AA battery.

That may mean lowering your standard if you’re used to high lumen output, but it’s better to have sustainable light than no light at all.

73. AA Headlamp / Small Flashlight

Headlamps are great for keeping your hands free during night activities such as map reading, navigating and cooking.

Zebralight H52 - AA Headlamp

Zebralight H52 AA Headlamp with headband, belt clip and spare o rings
Zebralight H52 AA Headlamp with headband, belt clip and spare o-rings

The Zebralight H52 is compact, lightweight, and runs on a single AA battery.

At its lowest setting it can last up to 3 months on a single charge.

Easily detaches from the headband to carry the flashlight in hand.

For more info and specs, we wrote a full Zebralight H52 Review where we explain why we think it’s the best survival headlamp and gave an overall score of 4.7 Stars.

Budget: Med   Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit + EDC Belt

74. AA Flashlight

For AA flashlights with a bit more punch—consider these excellent offerings from ThruNite and Fenix:

ThruNite Archer 2A V3 Flashlight

ThruNite Archer 2A V3 Flashlight
ThruNite Archer 2A V3 Flashlight

For an Extremely Budget-Friendly AAx2 Flashlight we recommend the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 with 500 lumens. (Runs on two AA batteries.)

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit + EDC Belt

Fenix LD41 Flashlight

Fenix LD41 Flashlight
Fenix LD41 Flashlight

For Larger AAx4 Flashlight consider the Fenix LD41 with 960 Lumens. (Runs on four AA batteries.)

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

75. Keychain Light

Photon Freedom Keychain Micro-Lights

Photon Freedom Keychain Micro-Lights
Photon Freedom Keychain Micro-Lights

We find these tiny Photon Freedom Keychain Micro-Lights absolutely indispensable for all your kits, keychains and lanyards.

White beams are best when max brightness is needed.

Red beams are best when you want to maintain night vision.

We suggest getting several sets of both for all your kits.

Stock up on Batteries: We also suggest getting extra pairs of cr2016 batteries (for the white Photon Freedom) and extra cr2032 batteries (for the red Photon light) and storing these in your Pocket Survival Kits.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + PSK + Car + Lanyard

Chapter 11

Solar

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By combining a solar panel, power bank, and battery charger you have a semi-sustainable power source for your smart phones, flashlights and batteries.

76. Solar Charger & Power Bank

The solar charger is made of foldable solar panels that can be hung on a tree or backpack on the go to collect and convert sun light into power for your devices.

Always couple the charger with a good power bank that can handle intermittent charging so you can save up that power for when you need it.

Never connect the charger directly to a device that can’t handle intermittent charging (hence the power bank).

A solar charger is a great option for trips in the outdoors as well as for vehicle breakdown where you may need to extend your phone’s battery life.

Anker 21W USB Solar Charger & 10,000mAh Power Bank

Anker PowerPort 21W USB Solar Charger
Anker PowerPort 21W USB Solar Charger
Anker PowerCore 10,000mAh Power Bank
Anker PowerCore 10,000mAh Power Bank

For a Budget Solar Charger consider the Anker PowerPort 21W USB Solar Charger. At only 14.7 oz it’s a good balance of power, weight, and doesn’t occupy as much space as other solar chargers.

And don’t forget to add a power bank to safely handle those intermittent charge cycles during cloudy days:

For a Budget USB Power Bank consider the Anker PowerCore 10,000mAh Power Bank to accompany your solar charger. It’s pocket-sized, weighs just under 7oz, and has enough power to fully charge an iPhone 7 around 3.6 times.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Emergency Kit

77. Rechargeable AA Batteries

As mentioned previously the AA battery is the world’s most common battery type. Other specialty battery’s like cr123’s won’t be easy to find when the SHTF, so we always look for devices that operate on the tried-and-true AA battery.

Panasonic Eneloop AA Rechargeable Batteries

Panasonic Eneloop - Rechargeable AA Batteries
Panasonic Eneloop - Rechargeable AA Batteries

For an Excellent Survival AA Battery, the Panasonic Eneloop AA Rechargeable Batteries are can be charged up to 2100 times.

They retain 90% of their charge after a year, and 70% after 5 years.

Unlike most batteries, Eneloops keep functioning at cold temperatures down to -4°F (–20°C).

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

78. USB AA Battery Charger

SunJack USB Battery Charger

SunJack AA/AAA USB Battery Charger
SunJack AA/AAA USB Battery Charger

We’ve looked everywhere for a USB Battery charger that can both charge individual AA batteries one at a time, as well as multiple AA batteries at different capacities with independent charging sensors to prevent damage from overcharging…

The Budget Friendly SunJack USB Battery Charger does just that for your AA and AAA Ni-Mh and Ni-Cd Batteries.

SunJack is a well-established manufacturer of Solar Chargers with a great reputation we’ve come to trust.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

79. Compass

The compass is vital for traversing large distances. The “Live Science” website states that “When lost in the desert or thick forest terrains devoid of landmarks people tend to walk in circles.

Blindfolded people show the same tendency; lacking external reference points, they curve around in loops as tight as 66 feet (20 meters) in diameter, all the while believing they are walking in straight lines…”

Suunto A-10 NH Compass

Suunto A-10 NH Compass
Suunto A-10 NH Compass

For a Budget-Friendly Compass that’s reliable and accurate consider the Suunto A-10 NH Compass.

The clear base plate and scales make it easy to use on maps, and at only 1.06 oz (30 g) it’s very lightweight.

We personally chose to get this one for our vehicle, and the more expensive one below for our Bug Out Bag.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit + EDC Belt

Suunto MC-2G Compass with Cover

Suunto MC-2G Compass with Cover
Suunto MC-2G Compass with Cover

For a Premium Compass consider the Suunto MC-2G Compass with Cover.

The MC-2G has received glowing reviews from the likes of experienced hikers and members of the military who say they’d trust their life to it after years of use. Here are some of the features:

  • The global needle swings very smoothly which makes it really easy to navigate while hiking without needing to focus too much on maintaining the base level.
  • The declination is very well designed: easy adjustments with the included micro screw driver (on the lanyard) locks it in place solid.
  • It makes altitude measurements which are great for checking the height of trees and mountains
  • The inclinometer is especially useful for preventing your vehicle tipping on steep angles, and also for navigating dangerous slope angles in avalanche territory.
  • It glows in the dark. Just give it a shot of your flashlight to charge up.
  • Excellent durability and quality design.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit + EDC Belt

Suunto M-9 Wrist Compass

Suunto M-9 Wrist Compass
Suunto M-9 Wrist Compass

Compass redundancy is important—that way if one fails you won’t get lost.

In addition to the larger primary compass we always keep a wrist compass such as the Suunto M-9 Wrist Compass and some button compasses in our kits.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: EDC

Compass Survival Tip

The instructions included with these compasses likely won’t provide the skills and confidence you’ll need in the event of an emergency.

We highly recommend watching compass tutorials or getting professional training at your local camping shop.

80. Monocular

The monocular is a hand-held optic—smaller and lighter than a bulky pair of binoculars—great for providing aid in trail finding and hunting applications.

Minox Minoscope 8x25mm

Minox Minoscope 8x25mm Monocular
Minox Minoscope 8x25mm Monocular

For a Premium Monocular that’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand consider the Minox Minoscope 8x25mm.

It features an 8x magnification and 25mm objective lens. It produces a nice bright image.

At a mere 5.4 oz it’s light enough to strap to your EDC Belt and hardly notice it’s there.

The build quality is outstanding—fully sealed construction, completely dust proof, fog proof and waterproof up to a depth of 5 meters.

Budget: Big    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

(We haven’t yet found a budget-friendly option that we’re confident to recommend. If you’d like to suggest one let us know in the comments.)

81. Space Pen

Fisher 400B Bullet Space Pen

Fisher 400B Bullet Space Pen
Fisher 400B Bullet Space Pen

The original Fisher 400B Bullet Space Pen has been around since Nasa first went to the moon.

It’s the ideal survival writing utensil—it writes upside down, on wet paper, in water, on greasy surfaces, and even in freezing temperatures where normal ink won’t go.

Writing is essential for recording valuable info such as map coordinates, messages, or diagrams.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

82. Waterproof Notebook

3x5” Rite in the Rain Pocket Notebook

3x5” Rite in the Rain Pocket Notebook
3x5” Rite in the Rain Pocket Notebook

The Rite in the Rain Pocket Notebook is the perfect companion to the Space Pen that won’t get soggy when wet, even in a constant downpour.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag & Car Kit

Chapter 13

Signalling & Communication

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This chapter covers the tools to signal for help, to carry messages and for tuning in to local news and weather.

83. Whistle

Storm Whistle

Storm Safety Whistle
Storm Safety Whistle

The amazing Storm Whistle works when wet (unlike traditional pealess whistles), and is loud enough to be heard through walls and water.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit + Lanyard

84. Signal Mirror

UST Star Flash Signal Mirror

UST Starflash Signal Mirror
UST Starflash Signal Mirror

A signal mirror is used to signal potential rescuers far off in the distance by reflecting the sun’s light.

The UST StarFlash has a central opening to make aiming easier, and it’s made of materials that float in water.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

85. Crank Radio

Eton FRx2 Crank Radio

Eton FRx2 Crank Radio
Storm Safety Whistle

Tune into local news and weather on the radio during a power outage without the use of batteries by simply cranking a lever.

The Eton FRx2 Crank Radio is an AM/FM radio that includes a built in flashlight, a self-charging solar panel, a USB port to help charge a smart phone, and comes with a DC outlet.

Budget: Low    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

86. Smart Phone

Your smart phone is an easily overlooked multipurpose survival item. It can used to provide:

  • Maps
  • Compass
  • Survival Ebooks & Apps
  • Camera (to take photos of important landmarks, maps, or coordinates)
  • Location sharing
  • Emergency phone calls / text messages

Check out our list of Survival Books for ideas on Ebooks for your smart phone.

Chapter 14

Medical / First Aid

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It’s easy to get injured in the wilderness—even more so with hunger and fatigue in an already stressful survival scenario.

Without access to a doctor it’s up to us to develop the first aid skills and knowledge needed to care for ourselves and others.

87. Medical Kits

AMK Sportsman Bighorn Medical Kit

Sportsman Bighorn - Adventure Medical Kits
Sportsman Bighorn - Adventure Medical Kits

For a Medium-Sized Hunting First-Aid Kit consider the Adventure Medical Kits – Sportsman Bighorn as your primary medical kit for your bug out bag. (Check the link for full contents).

Designed to treat most wilderness injuries for up to 7 people, yet not too big for your pack.

This hunter’s first aid kit will even address gunshot wounds—a survival consideration even if you don’t handle firearms yourself.

Budget: Med    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag

AMK Ultralight Watertight Medi-Kit .9

AMK Ultralight Watertight Medi-Kit .9
AMK Ultralight Watertight Medi-Kit .9

For a Small-Sized First Aid Kit consider the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight and Watertight Medical Kit .9 for your Car Emergency Kit. (Check the link for full contents.)

This kit hits the sweet spot in terms of size and functionality for the vehicle while Providing treatment for up to 4 people.

(Larger families should consider the previously mentioned “BigHorn” kit).

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Car Emergency Kit

AMK Ultralight Watertight Medi-Kit .3

AMK Ultralight Watertight Medi-Kit .3
AMK Ultralight Watertight Medi-Kit .3

For a Pocket-Sized First Aid Kit consider the Adventure Medical Kits .3 Ultralight & Watertight Medical Kit.

With just a handful of essentials to treat yourself it is ideal in your EDC Belt, work briefcase, school bag, purse and travel bag.

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Car Emergency Kit

88. Emergency Mylar Space Blanket

Originally intended as a small but effective measure to combat hypothermia.

Mors Kochanski popularized the use of the Mylar Blanket in his original “Super Shelter” design. In it, he uses Mylar to line the walls and ceiling—reflecting body heat back toward the occupant.

Mors states that a super shelter small enough, or containing enough people, can be heated with human body heat alone by this means.

SOL Emergency Blanket

SOL Emergency Blanket
SOL Emergency Blanket

For A Budget Mylar Space Blanket, the SOL Emergency Blanket is an upgraded version of the original mylar blanket.

The one down side of the original Mylar blankets was how easily they tore, but SOL uses tear-resistant vacuum-metalized polyethylene which still reflects 90% body heat.

Blaze orange on the outer side helps you stand out in an emergency.

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

SOL Emergency Bivvy

SOL Emergency Bivvy
SOL Emergency Bivvy

For A Premium Mylar Space Blanket, the SOL Emergency Bivvy takes the Mylar Blanket to a whole new level.

It features everything from said SOL Blanket, but adds a closed-style “sleeping-bag” seam-sealed design—offering full body protection from wind, rain and snow.

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Here’s a touching review from a buyer on Amazon who was involved in a broken-leg incident with the SOL Bivvy:

Mylar Survival Tip

Mylar Blankets Can Be Dangerous:

Happypreppers.com perfectly describe one of the biggest downfalls with Mylar Blankets and how to avoid them:

“The condensation and moisture can stay trapped inside the mylar and cause you to chill, and for this reason you should add a layer in between you and the stuff. This can be dry leaves if you have nothing else! Never cover your entire body and face. Your breath [and sweat] will cause condensation and you could freeze to death!”

In other words take precautions to stay dry. Warm up your body and dry your clothes around a fire if needed so you can get back into some clothing or shelter as soon as possible.

(And remember materials like wool stay warm when wet, so only get undressed if it’s your last resort.)

89. Protective Skin Cream

Bag Balm Tin, 4 oz.

Bag Balm Tin
Bag Balm Tin

For a Protective Skin Cream consider Bag Balm.

It was traditionally used by dairy farmers to protect and moisturize severely dry skin from becoming chapped from hard work and harsh weather—since 1899.

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag

90. Clotting Agent

Quick Clot

Quick Clot
Quick Clot

For a Homeostatic Agent that stops bleeding fast consider Quick Clot.

(Doesn’t have any burning side-effects.)

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag

91. Israeli Bandage

Israeli Battle Dressing (IBD)

Israeli Battle Dressing (IBD)
Israeli Battle Dressing (IBD)

The Israeli Battle Dressing (IBD) is great for bandaging and stopping blood flow from traumatic hemorrhage wounds.

Packs light and small yet unwraps 6 inch wide by nearly 6 feet long—that’s long enough for bandaging nearly any part of the body.

Invented by Israeli Army and adopted by militaries around the world.

We recommend a few for the bug out bag and one for the car.

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

92. Anti-Diarrheal Pills

Imodium

Imodium Anti-Diarrheal Pills
Imodium Anti-Diarrheal Pills

Getting sick with diarrhea or stomach pain in the wild is no fun… Even worse, diarrheal dehydration can prove deadly.

We recommend anti-diarrheal pills like Imodium to help with diarrhea, gas, cramping, pressure, and bloating.

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

Chapter 15

Hygiene

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Hygiene is an important long-term survival factor that is often overlooked. Without proper hygiene we’re prone to all sorts of diseases.

Note that these hygiene products won’t last forever—they’re intended as a buffer until you establish natural means in the wilderness.

That’s why it’s so important to learn to make your own hygienic items such as natural soap from tallow and lye.

93. Toothbrush

Dr Collins Perio Toothbrushes

Dr.Collins Perio Toothbrushes
Dr.Collins Perio Toothbrushes

For a Long Lasting Toothbrush consider Dr Collins Perio Toothbrushes.

The monofiliament bristles clean deeper than normal tooth brushes, and they’re longer lasting (est. 2 years).

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag + Car Kit

94. Microfiber Towel

Large Packtowl

Large Packtowl
Large Packtowl

For an incredibly absorbent, lightweight, microfiber towel consider the Large Packtowl.

It comes in a variety of sizes, but we we like the “Large” because it’s a good balance of size, weight, and surface area—roughly half the size of a normal towel but much thinner and lighter.

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag

95. Soap

Sierra Campsuds

Sierra Campsuds Soap
Sierra Campsuds Soap

For an all-purpose, biodegradable, highly-concentrated liquid soap consider Sierra Campsuds.

It’s aggressive enough for cleaning dishes but soft enough for hair, face and body.

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag

Survival Tip

DIY Soap

Here’s a great DIY soap tutorial by Dave Canterbury on his Wilderness Outfitters Youtube Channel: (tutorial begins at 54 sec.)

96. Female Urination Device

Go Girl

Go Girl Urination Device
Go Girl Urination Device

The “Go Girl” is a medical grade silicone device that allows women to hygienically and discreetly urinate while standing.

With the Go Girl there’s no need to look for a bush to crouch behind just to get privacy.

These have been around for years and have become quite popular in the camping scene.

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag

97. Menstrual Cup

Diva Cup

Diva Cup Menstrual Cup
Diva Cup Menstrual Cup

Say goodbye to tampons with the award winning Diva Cup—a reusable medical-grade silicone cup that provides 12 hours of leak-free protection.

Doesn’t contain latex, pvc, or other harmful plastics, nor any colors or dyes.

It proved excellent in our testing. As well, Amazon has over 4,600 happy customers with a 4.3/5 star rating.

(Choose the right size for you.)

Budget: Med    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag

Chapter 16

Repairs

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Maintain and repair your clothing, footwear and gear on the go with these helpful repair kits and tools:

98. Sewing Repair Kit

Best Glide Sewing & Repair Kit

Survival Sewing & Repair Kit from Best Glide
Contents of the Survival Sewing & Repair Kit from Best Glide

The Best Glide Sewing & Repair Kit includes:

  • high grade kevlar thread with 50 lb tensile strength
  • MilSpec and military approved utility cord
  • various needles
  • heavy straight pins
  • assorted buttons
  • safety pins
  • heavy duty nylon thread
  • needle threader
  • metal thimble
  • cable ties
  • and more (check link for full contents)

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag

99. Spare Buckle Set for Bug Out Bag

Your pack manufacturer should sell replacement buckles in the event that you break your vital load-bearing buckles.

Namely, the large main bip belt buckle, as well as the medium and small sized buckles typically used forfor compression straps and closures.

ITW Nexus 16 pc ILBE Pack Spare Buckle Set

ITW Nexus 16 pc ILBE Pack Buckle Replacement Kit
ITW Nexus 16 pc ILBE Pack Buckle Replacement Kit

For Spare Buckles to the ILBE Pack consider the ITW Nexus 16 pc ILBE Pack Buckle Replacement Kit.

ITW Nexus has been in the business for over 25 years designing 100% U.S. Berry compliant buckles for military, law enforcement and civilians alike.

While this kit is intended for the ILBE, all the buckle sizes are quite standard so they may work for non ILBE packs too—check sizing to be sure.

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

Eberlestock Spare Buckle Set

Eberlestock Spare Buckle Set
Eberlestock Spare Buckle Set

For Spare Buckles to the Eberlestock Packs consider the official Eberlestock Spare Buckle Set. (These are the “Stealth” model buckles.)

Budget: Med    Ideal For: Bug Out Bag

100. Stitching Awl

Speedy Stitcher Awl

Stewart Speedy Stitcher Awl
Stewart Speedy Stitcher Awl

The Stewart Speedy Stitcher Awl is a handheld tool used to stitch and repair heavy duty materials like canvas and webbing (often found on packs and shelters) as well as thick leather (perfect for army boots).

It comes with high-tensile waxed thread and diamond point needles that sew a perfect lock stitch like a sewing machine.

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag

101. Super Glue

Gorilla Super Glue Gel

Gorilla Super Glue Gel
Gorilla Super Glue Gel

Super Glue is known for it’s powerful, quick drying bond to most surfaces (including skin cuts in an emergency).

But unlike traditional super glues that are thin and runny, the thicker Gorilla Super Glue Gel makes gluing jobs much easier.

Bonds leather, metals, wood, plastics, ceramic, rubber, paper, and more.

Note: The bottles containing the glue come just over half-full, so we buy a second one to top up the first one.

Budget: Low    Ideal For:  Bug Out Bag

Chapter 17

Books

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If you’ve come this far you’ll know how often we’ve mentioned how survival gear alone won’t ensure your survival.

Survival requires a knowledge base as well as a measure of first-hand experience that we earn from study and practice.

Books are a great way to stand on the shoulders of those before us.

102. Survival Books

Here’s some of our top recommended books in the areas of general survival, bushcraft, wilderness living, foraging (in US, Canada & UK) as well as medical related.

(Click the title under any book for more info and where to buy.)

What Now?

We hope you liked this survival gear list! If you did, share this with your friends and let us know in comments!

If you’d like to get shopping you can head straight to our shop page where you can buy any item from this list, easily categorized by topic.

And if you’re all set, don’t make the mistake of leaving all your gear in a closet without a clue how to use it… Don’t actually wait for the s**t to hit the fan… 

Develop Survival Skills and Knowledge

  • Learn what it takes to thrive in YOUR environment
  • Join programs, classes and trips with experts and like-minded friends and family
  • Study readily available information on youtube, books and apps
  • Get hands on with primitive fire-making techniques such as bow-drills and the flint and steel method
  • Practice your survival shelter building in warm as well as cold seasons
  • Learn the mindset of the proactive survivor
  • Study your local edible plants and discover nature’s grocery store

Take It To The Next Level!

Load up your bug out bag and go for a hike in a controlled, safe setting with friends and family. Put your skills and gear to the test—that’s the only way to really learn and improve.

And most importantly have fun—you’ll learn much quicker that way!

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100+ Survival Gear Essentials For 2018
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