Surviving in the wild isn’t easy, and even though the most important tool you take with you is your knowledge, you will need a few tools. What I mean by “need” is the average person cannot survive properly without these essentials. Can you walk out and survive a few weeks in the woods without anything? Yes, maybe, but why take a chance?
I have spent hundreds of hours in the wilderness and I love to pack light. Everything I carry is essential and even though I may change some of these items, depending on “how long I plan to survive in the wilderness” and “where I plan on surviving in the wilderness,” these are the basic items I always take.
- Knife – Taking a knife with you is always essential. If you only plan on bringing only one, make sure it’s a top-quality knife. If you bring a machete, you won’t be able to use it as a spear. If you bring a tanto blade, you won’t be chopping a path through the brush with it. So, really, think about where you are going, and what you will do if you can only bring one knife to try and survive in the wilderness. If you can bring more than two, consider choosing a long knife and a survival-type knife that has a sharpening stone. Dull knives are the ones that usually cut you!
- Cordage – If you’re camping or are on a wilderness survival hike, you will almost always need some sort of cordage. My top choice for cordage is 550 cord, but you can choose from an array of cordage. Again, depending on what you will be doing, you may need a heavier cord like repelling rope. I really like taking 550 cord because you can pull out the separate strands and even use it for snare traps and fishing lines. While I’m talking about cordage I have to say you should practice your knots. Having 3-4 knots under your belt will make you more efficient at knot tying. You may even need to make your own cordage. Learn how to make your own cordage here.
- Fire starters – It’s impossible to live without fire for very long. If you have ever been in a wilderness survival situation you know how important fire is. Fire offers you safety so you feel more secure at night. You can cook food over it, disinfect water to drink, and warm yourself. You have all sorts of choices of fire starters like flints, matches, magnifying glasses, etc. My choice will always be lighters. This won’t mean I don’t carry a flint or two, but the lighter is the most efficient way to start a fire in the wilderness. I always pack a few lighters! Then, just find dry tinder or some pine sap. If you don’t know how to start a campfire, you should not go out into a wilderness survival situation.
- Metal water container – Always take a stainless-steel water bottle when going out in the wilderness. Stainless steel bottles can be used to disinfect water easily by placing the water close to the fire or on the hot coals. After you get a rolling boil cook it for one minute and all the pathogens will be killed. Put a few pine needs in to make a heartwarming tea in the worst of situations.
- Tarp – This really comes in handy while in the woods. Tarps are one of the most flexible wilderness survival items in your pack. You can use them as a hammock by tying the ends of both sides (use a rock and fold the ends of the tarp over them then tie the rope trapping the rock in the tarp for a secure hold) and hanging from two trees. They also work great as tents. Just string a rope from tree to tree and dangle the tarp over the rope. Pin down the sides with rocks to give you the tent shape. I also like to fold the tarp to use it as a picnic blanket or use it to collect food and water. Carrying 2 tarps is better than one because I can make a hammock and then put the tent over myself using both tarps.
- Medical kit – Carry a medical kit and have it fully stocked. I always get some sort of cuts, pricks, or sprains, and so will you. I recently got a prick in my head by a thorn. By morning my hand hurt so bad I could barely use it. Somehow, I didn’t notice it, and it got infected. You could really be diminished with a smashed hand or twisted ankle. Keep a medical kit with bandages, ace bands, painkillers, tweezers, and alcohol. The more you have the better off you are; just don’t make your pack too heavy.
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These are the top 6 wilderness survival tools you would want to have with you while in the woods. I really enjoy my time outdoors, but I want to have the things I need to be comfortable and safe. Overall, these items should keep you alive.
These tools can also be used in more ways than one. It’s really important to keep your pack as light as it can be (more weight means more calories burned) while making sure everything is as useful as possible. Practice using your tools or they won’t do you any good when you’re in the woods and can’t use them. It may sound silly, but you should even know how to use your knife and care for it. Having bad knife skills will frustrate you, and may even end up cutting you.
So, if you ever have to encounter a wilderness survival scenario you should have the right tools and know how to use them. Don’t wait until you reach into your pack and have it full of the wrong items. The right tools keep you alive.