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Top 10 Camping Survival Kit Essentials

March 11 2020

mountaineering
While people are stocking up for zombie apocalypses and nuclear holocausts, emergency planning is no joke. Even when basic tent camping out of your car, your vehicle becomes a basic survival kit to aid you in your camping experience.

And while this all may sound a little intense, it’s important to perceive all the things you bring on your tips as tools of survival. Whether you’re out for a weekend or survival camping for weeks on end, a little prep and knowledge can go a long way.

Contents:
  • The Ten Essentials
  • Additional Survival Kit Items
  • Necessary Skills
  • Other Important Considerations

The Ten Essentials

The ten essentials are a basic list of needs when outdoors. Some people carry more, others less, but you’ll probably recognize all of these items from any kind of outing you do.

compass and map
  1. Navigation: Map, compass, GPS, and orientation devices.
  2. Sun protection: sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.
  3. Insulation: long johns, extras socks, sweaters, jackets, beanies, gloves, and all layers for warmth.
  4. Illumination: headlamps, flashlights, and lanterns.
  5. First Aid: bring a first aid kit to prep for the worst (and maybe some bug spray). Here is a first aid kit we highly recommend due to its compactness and versatility.
  6. Fire: lighter, matches, and other fire starters.
  7. Repair Kit and Tools: patch kit, knife, duct tape, zip ties, etc.
  8. Nutrition: a balanced set of meals and some extras, for the worst-case scenario.
  9. Hydration: water, water bottles, and but water filtration systems. Great filtration systems come in all shapes in sizes, so we recommend both the straw and, for a group, a water pump filtration system.
  10. Emergency Shelter: tarp, tent, space blanket, sleeping bag, and a sleeping pad.

Additional Survival Kit Items

A whistle and mirror are very important for dire situations. A whistle alerts nearby trekkers and even rangers of your location when you’re deep in the woods. If they send air rescue after you, a mirror can help reveal your location to airborne crafts.

rope
A rope is handy in a multitude of situations. From creating shelter to hanging food to hunting, a rope is really the eleventh essential. For the diehard survivalist, we recommend the SurvivorCord, a multi-use utility wire.

knife
Additionally, the knife or mutli-tool can be extremely useful in a survival kit. While a knife is great, a solid multi-tool has a screwdriver, knife, scissors, a can opener, etc. for all your needs.

A bivouac shelter, also known as a bivvy sack, is great for extreme conditions. It functions like a tarp-bound mummy sleeping bag to give you shelter and sleep in any sort of weather.

While I normally chide the use of cell phones, they can make emergency calls and you can look up any kind of information, with service. On summer camping trip, we found ourselves shin-deep in snow and used Google Maps on our cell phones to see the trail in a satellite perspective, when the trail was photographed without the snow pack.

A more efficient method of making yourself found is the personal locator beacon (PLB). It sends out your location frequently and you can even send messages along with it. They can be pricey, but a little investment can go a long way for your personal locator beacon.

boots and socks
Solid boots & wool socks are also incredibly important, as keeping your extremities dry and warm are crucial. While we always talk about wool, getting a pair of boots that have great support and are waterproof in the right conditions can make a trip easier and keep your core temperature up.

Finally, a little extra food & an extra water bottle can help bridge the gap between hard days.

Necessary Skills

It might come as no surprise, but the ability to read a compass & map are very important. You can get turned around on the simplest trips, so be sure your topographical map is detailed and you know how to get your bearings.


First aid skills come in handy in emergency situations. Learning to make splint to knowing CPR to treating shock are invaluable, even beyond the outdoors.

One of my worst skills as a boy scout was my inability to tie knots. There are knots for every kind of instance, but the seven in the video below cover a lot of them.


Other Important Considerations

While simple, knowing your allergies and those of the people in your group can help you in knowing when to take some Claritin or administer an epi pen. Additionally, knowing anyone’s medical conditions, like asthma, can help you ensure the health of everyone in your group.

Physical fitness also seems like an obvious one, but being able to endure strenuous hikes up ridges and the ability to just keep moving is an important survival tactic. Additionally, mental fitness can fall into this category too.

Always bring a little money when you camp or backpack. While it’s never been such an issue for me, it’s always been great to get out of the woods and have a hot meal and cold beer afterwards.

The Rule of Three for Camping is pretty simple in nature: a person can go three weeks without food, three days without water, three hours out of their core temperature, and three minutes without air, in frigid water, and severely bleeding. While the last ones are more for life-and-death situations, the other ones are important to know when you’re on the trail in less than ideal conditions.


While all this can seem a little intense, it’s important to consider these points when backpacking and car camping. In some places, conditions can change quickly and drastically, and your measures must do so in tandem.

Remember that your pack is a survival kit and, even if you don’t need to use any of these items and skills, a little prep can be more than enough to aid you, even comfortably, on the trail.

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