Essential Survival Tools for Braving the Wilderness
Whether you are going on a camping trip or preparing for the worst, being ready for survival comes down to the tools and gear you have on hand. Understanding what it is you need to survive in the wilderness comes down to practicality and personal needs. Sure, it is nice to have fancy multi-tools and radios, but do you really need them?
Today, we will look at the most essential survival tools for taking on the wilderness and thriving. From the absolute essentials to the nice to have, we’ll cover it all. Every tool and piece of equipment we talk about today will fill a certain gap in your survival needs and come in useful when you least expect it. Take the time to read this article and reflect on how you can make the most out of these tools and be prepared for anything.
Your Best Friend: The Knife
Whether you are going on a hike or looking to escape to the forest for a week, the most important thing to have on you is a good knife. A knife is one of the most versatile tools you can have as just a simple blade can do so much. Every survivalist from military troops to Bear Grylls carries a strong knife, so you should do the same.
Most survival experts will recommend a fixed blade knife made of durable steel for strength and effectiveness. You want a knife that feels natural in your hand and that you feel suits your survival needs. Don’t be fooled by the fancy multi-tool and folding knives, as they lack the durability and raw power of a single, fixed blade design. The way a knife inserts into its handle can differ greatly, and a blade that has a full tang will exhibit the best resilience as the blade goes into the grip.
The versatility of a well-made hunting knife will allow you to use it for any number of tasks. Use it to cut, dig, make things, and take care of any other number of survival needs. A good knife may cost a little bit more than the folding variant, but you won’t regret the extra money when you are in desperate need of food and fire and your knife is your only companion.
The Essential Living Tools
Now that you have a faithful knife, you will need to consider some more essential tools for survival. This first category of kit is going to be the essential tool for staying alive and well. These are the things that are going to keep your body in running order and will allow you to spend more time in the wilderness than you would without them.
Just like Tom Hanks jumped for joy at his first fire on the big screen, you will be equally thankful when you remember to pack some fire starters in your survival kit. Whether you are trying to stay warm on a cold night or are looking to cook up your latest hunt, a fire will be your key to survival. You can try and start one on your own, but a fire starter will make the process much easier and less of a worry.
There are many different fire starters from matches, lighters, to the classic flint and steel. Ideally, you would want to have two methods of fire lighting in case one fails. Matches work great during normal circumstances, but they can be almost impossible to use if wet or it is raining. Standard lighters are fast and efficient, but they only work when the lighter fluid is at a comfortable temperature. Ideally, you would want to carry waterproof matches and maybe some flint and steel to be safe for a good chance of being able to start a fire.
Considering how much of your body is composed of water, it is clearly an essential thing to be able to access. However, even the clearest spring water in the wild could potentially be harboring deadly bacteria. Because of this, you will need some way to sterilize the water to make it safe to drink.
Thankfully, there are many ways to go about sterilizing your water. The easiest and lightest method is water purification tablets. You simply add these to the water you want to drink, and it will make it drinkable. You can easily store hundreds of these tablets, but once they run out you will need other methods. These pills also have a lifespan that you need to be aware of. The popular water filter straw and bottles are a great option for drinking on the go and are very easy to use. Be aware that the filters on these will need to be replaced as they do not last forever.
If you run out of these two supplies, you can try and use your fire to boil the water. Boiling water can deactivate most bacteria if done properly at the right temperature. It is not ideal, but it is a great alternative if you run out of filtering supplies and already have your fire-starting gear.
First Aid Kit
The last essential we think you should have that falls under the need for keeping yourself safe and healthy is a first aid kit. Not only does this kit have the most supplies that you would already need for survival, but it has the things that will help you recover on your own when you can’t reach help. A good first aid kit will have the necessary supplies to cover and protect a wound as well as some relievers to help the paid fade away.
Look for a first aid kit with supplies you can find multiple uses to save weight in your survival kit. For example, if the first aid kit comes with a thermal blanket and sterilization equipment, those are two fewer things you have to carry in your kit. A first aid kit can come with 20 pieces or 200, so find the one that you think will best suit your survival needs.
Just like the old days of camping in your back yard and on trips with friends, setting up some sort of camp will allow you some peace of mind and shelter when surviving. It can be a tree with some cover or an entire campsite depending on what you need.
Nothing makes a campsite feel like home like having a roof over your head. When you keep a solid and durable tarp in your survival kit, you open up many doors to how you can customize your campsite. A tarp can be used as an overhead projector for rain, it can act as a floor, and you can make it into a quick jacket on the fly.
Protecting yourself and your supplies from rain and the outside world with a trap will keep you feeling more at ease and calm when trying to survive. If you have space, multiple tarps and rope can create a sturdy roof and floor for a wilderness campsite.
Saw or Hatchet
Making your fire or shelter can be done with your pocketknife, but a saw or hatchet will make it much faster and easier. Having a larger surface area and more power, these tools are perfect for setting up a covering for your sleeping area or can construct an effective fire space.
Depending on the First Aid kit you buy, you may already have one of these. An insulating blanket, also known as a space blanket, is designed to keep your body warm and stable during cold conditions. AN insulated blanket can be the difference between a cold and dangerous night and one where you can sleep comfortably. As an added bonus, you can use these blankets as a floor if you want to sit down and rest for some time.
Stove and canteen
If you have space and want some “luxury items,” consider packing a small stove and canteen for your meals. Whether you are hunting for food or packed some MREs, having a small stove to cook with and a canteen to eat out of will make eating a much simpler process.
With all o the essentials out of the way, we can now look at some bonus supplies for wilderness survival. These are some things that are nice to have, bot you can get by without them.
Even if you are trying to stay off the grid, having some sort of phone may allow you to reach out to others for help. A satellite phone is much more powerful and effective than a normal smartphone as it uses more powerful communication and battery life. This phone can often be chare with solar power or winding mechanisms, so you can most likely make the calls you need to when surviving.
If you would rather carry a cellphone, remember to keep a small solar charger with it for optimal performance. It may not have the same range and power of a satellite phone, but it can often make up for it with added features and usability when you need it most.
If you know how to use it, a compass can be a great way to navigate your surroundings without needing any technology. If you have a general idea of where you are looking to go, a compass can be just what you need to ensure you are going in the right direction towards your destination. Like many of the other items on this list, a compass can only be truly effective if you know how to use it. Taking the time to learn how to use a compass before setting off into survival mode will serve you well.
Just like the hatchet and saw options, having a machete can come in handy for certain scenarios. The machete is large enough to work as a saw and has the cutting potential to get rid of the need for a hatchet. If you don’t have a digging tool handy, a machete can work as a makeshift shovel with its long surface area. If you live in an area with lots of shrubs and small vegetation, a machete can be your best friend for cutting away branches and shrubs with ease for better mobility.
If you like to be active at night when surviving, a flashlight can help you see more than ever before. The main reason this tool is only a bonus tool is that while they are effective, flashlights have a limited usage time and do not always hold up in extreme conditions. If you are looking for a flashlight, look for one that is bright with a battery that can last for many hours of operation. Some flashlights are able to be charged with solar power, but they tend to lack the raw power and performance of a battery-operated unit.
If you find yourself lost in the woods and needing help, it is often the simplest tool that can save your life. A small mirror can be all it takes to have helped find you in the wild. The way a mirror works to signal for help is it reflects the light from the sun and has the mirror act as a signal to the sky. Pilots can often see these lashing signals from the sky and can allow you to be seen or communicate with people coming to rescue you.
Surviving in the wild always comes down to how prepared you are to deal with what the world throws at you. Having the right tools is half the battle and knowing how to use the tools will ensure you are ready for anything. With the tools we mentioned above, you will have a very broad and comprehensive list of survival tools that will keep you going and thriving in any situation that you are thrown into.