The Top 10 For Your Survival Kit

The Top 10 For Your Survival Kit

What are the top 10 things that you should carry in your Survival Kit?

Before I begin describing the ten most important things that you should carry in your survival kit, I want to mention that this kit has been built for the Temperate Climate Zone, Canada.

This climate zone is located between 49° North Latitude and 60° North Latitude. I also want to suggest that this survival kit can be carried and used during all 4 seasons.

Even though I carry a version of this kit in the Canadian Wilderness, many of these items have a very broad and universal use.

My List of 10

Along with this ” list of 10 “, I will include how and why they are necessary.

The top 10 things that you should have in your Survival Kit are:

1 … A piece of waterproof material to build a shelter.

This piece of material should be approximately 3 meters x 3 meters and waterproof. I have chosen this size of material because it is very adaptable to making shelters in very diverse locations, and of various shapes, while still providing substantial coverage.

In addition to the above, I am considering weight and the ability to manage and construct a shelter in all weather conditions.

As soon as you realize that you will be spending the night out and are unable to reach the security and safety of your vehicle, cabin or friends, your first priority is to build yourself a shelter. This means protecting yourself from the wind, rain or snow.

It’s imperative that you maintain your core body temperature. This is in the 98.6° F or 37° C range. Even if you are not cold now, as the night progresses into the early morning hours, this will change dramatically!

Mountain Man, Fire, Snow, Campfire

2 … A lighter and a ferrocerium rod to build a fire.

Now that you have built yourself a shelter, and you are out of the elements, your next task is to keep yourself warm.

This means building a fire. Fires consume fuel and need to be controlled. Gathering firewood before darkness sets in is preferred, however, a good quality headlamp will enable you to achieve this task in total darkness.

In addition to (Bic-type) lighters and ferrocerium rods, weather-proof matches and magnesium fire-starters are also included in this group. Any 2 of these would be considered well-prepared, with the second piece being – the back-up.

3) … A metal pot for gathering and boiling water to make it safe for drinking.

If you have been out for the day, you most likely have brought water in a bottle. If you are carrying a water-bottle that fits into a metal pot or container – move to the head of the class; this will simply be a pleasant adventure for you.

Your hydration tools are well-taken care and you probably have water at hand.

4) … A knife.

A knife is a very common and useful tool to carry with you whenever you venture into the great outdoors. Keep it sharp and be especially careful when using it under duress … we don’t want to be digging into the first aid kit!

If you carry you carry a sharpening stone ( whet-stone ) or retractable sharpening rod … bonus points for you.

Depending on the time of year and your activities a small ax and a saw are useful additions.

5) … Rope .

Rope in 10 mm diameter ( 15 meters in length ), and 50-100 # test string ( 35 meters ), is extremely useful, easy to carry and very light in weight. (101 ) One hundred and one uses! You can also include some Duct Tape in this category.


6) … A compass.

A compass and map of the area your traveling in are a great benefit to your well-being and survival. After you’ve had a good night’s sleep, finding your way back should be a fairly easy task.

If possible, get a compass with a mirror, that can be used for signaling.

7) … A headlamp.

Today’s Headlamps have very high lumens outputs, are light-weight, comfortable and not very expensive. Buy a good one and don’t forget the extra batteries.

An excellent quality headlamp will turn the night into day – almost! The more weather-proof, the better your experience will be.

8) … A First Aid kit.

First Aid Kits come in many different sizes. A small kit and the ability to use it are never heavy to carry.

St. John Ambulance offers excellent ” day-long ” courses, which are certainly time well-spent.

9) … A Fishing kit.

A small and light-weight fishing kit is very easy to construct and can increase your ability to survive.

Twenty meters (20 ) of fishing line in 8 and 15 # test, a few hooks and lures, split-shot sinkers, and a float – throw in 1 small and 1 big sewing needle and you have a sewing kit included. Total weight – a few ounces.

Since this is the ” Food Section “, a few Energy Bars for snacks or bait.

10) … A whistle.

The whistle is for signaling attention to yourself.

3 – blasts signify a call for help should you hear anyone close by. Modern whistles can produce ear-piercing decibels and-and quite inexpensive and very light in weight.


Some tips to bolster your Survival Kit’s usefulness

  • wrap some Duct Tape around your lighter, many uses.
  • a small folding saw weighs only ounces
  • learn to use these items before you need them
  • learn to build a shelter in your backyard
  • no. 1 priority – keep warm!
  • relax and don’t panic – it will soon be morning


In concluding, I want to emphasize that the most important part of your Survival Kit, … is NOT in your kit ! … it’s in your head … it’s your BRAIN!

If you do get lost or are unable to make it to your vehicle, cabin or home, RELAX and DON’T PANIC! The morning will arrive soon … the sun will shine and you will live to experience a new day.

If you are an experienced woodsman or woods-women, I’d appreciate any and all of your comments and suggestions.

This kit can be built in the 1 -2-kilogram range, of very robust tools and pieces of equipment.

The great outdoors is attracting more and more people to it every year, so why not enjoy it being better prepared. Being properly equipped, and knowing how to use this equipment will increase your confidence and most certainly increase your level of enjoyment!


18 thoughts on “The Top 10 For Your Survival Kit”

  1. Wow cool, very bear grills style Paul;). I don’t know if you’ve heard of bear grills but I’m guessing you have! A compass is very important for navigation and I like the idea you said about waterproof material to build a shelter.

    Which of these would you say is the most important if you couldn’t have everything in a tricky situation?

    • Thanks, Josh, for dropping by.

      Your question is a good one. 

      My answer varies if I know about my situation. For example, if the weather is not cold, then I prefer a knife to a fire-starter. If I was trying to save a friend at the edge of a cliff, cordage or rope would be the preferred tool to have. 

      At the end of the day my preferred tool would be the knife. 

      The knife would be the hardest tool to build or reproduce in the wild. Although Obsidian Rock will produce a very sharp cutting edge, it is not always available. Obsidian rock is formed by quickly cooled lava and because of its very sharp edges, it is being experimentally used for surgical instruments.

      A well constructed knife and a good “Bic Lighter” will serve you well, … if you know how to use them.

      Do not forget that the knife can build a fire-bow and a fire-plow. 

      I have heard and seen Bear Grylls, however, I find that Dave Canterbury is more my style. There are many qualified “survivalists” out there. 

      If you focus on the “top ten” and learn to use them well, your survival will quickly become a pleasant night in the great outdoors.

      The most important tool in a tricky situation is a clear and relaxed brain!

      Being calm in the face of danger, is your greatest asset!


  2. Thanks, Jake. Your comments are greatly appreciated. 

    I do carry a LifeStraw. I love those little things. They are so useful. I have 2 main systems that I use for metal pots. One is the army canteen nestled in a stainless steel cup and the other is a SnowPeak titanium pot that nestles a 1-liter Nalgene bottle perfectly. The reason I always carry a metal pot is to boil water. I will also carry a few tea bags, coffee, and hot chocolate. A dehydrated meal in a bag is another reason to boil water. I have spent many days and nights in the Coastal Mountains and The Northern Rockies, often alone. 

    I am not one to carry a “sardine can” survival kit. I always like to be prepared and I find that this helps my mental preparation as well. A few extra pounds of really good quality gear is always more comforting when you’re on the side of a mountain in bad weather conditions. 

    Hope this helps. Where do you spend your time in the outdoors? A nice hot beverage can cut down the shivering and warm up the hands as well. Happy Trails and I hope to hear from you again and soon! 


  3. Hey Paul, awesome article! I really like how you are sure to emphasize that every ounce counts. What do you think about replacing the metal pot with something like the lifestraw for clean water? The lifestraw is lighter and can cut down on preparation time and energy, but metal pot can be useful in other areas of survival.

  4. Hey Paul,
    Awesome list, I can’t agree with you more on the med pack and knife. I was stranded on top of a tree once and my palm was bleeding bad and I had no way of covering it up.

    Leaves were dirty and I didn’t want it to get infected so I had to climb down WITH my bleeding hand and force myself through the pain. It was excruciating but it did taught me that this list of yours is pretty important no matter how cool we think we are without them.

    Keep writing these useful tips, I really appreciate them! Cheers!

    • Happy to hear that you find these tips useful Riaz, and that you were made aware of their importance on one of your recent outdoor adventures.

      You are especially attracted to the First Aid Kit and the Knife. While these 2 are classics, I would suggest to you that you take a serious look at the other 8.The Best Survival Tools , Part 1

      From your activities and the nature of your injuries, it appears that you spend a lot of time outdoors. With today’s lifestyle, many of us never leave home without the ubiquitous backpack. You probably carry one yourself, and perhaps always when you are hiking.

      Now you can see where I am going! Since you have the backpack/shoulder pack it becomes very easy to throw in most, if not all of the other items.

      If you were to choose 2 other items, which ones would they be?

      If you could only choose 1, which one would you feel the most secure with and why?

      If you have any other comments, suggestions or questions please drop by and I will be happy to reply and offer any help that I can to make your outdoor experiences safer and more enjoyable.


  5. Hello,

    Very cool page. You provide a lot of great information to use for reference as well as preparation.

    I really found value in your tips to bolster survival – with these three being the most important –
    learn to use these items before you need them
    learn to build a shelter in your backyard
    and emphasizing the no. 1 priority – keeping warm

    All the best,

    • Thanks Josh for your revealing commentary .

      Nice to see your appreciation of being prepared .

      The three items you list as your most important are good ones .

      Which items do you feel are the three next most important ?


  6. Excellent Article.

    The old adage applies here: that its better to have and not need than need and not have!

    We all enter the wilderness expecting to return without issue, but the unexpected can and does happen so pays to be prepared. There are a few items on the above list I don’t carry, but I will be doing from now on.


    • Great to hear that you travel prepared as well Steve .

      Whenever we participate in any activity long enough , something will eventually break , crack , twist or go wrong !

      Which items will you now carry that you did not before , and why ?


  7. Hi Paul, great article, very informative. I wish people would read information like this before they get in trouble. I live in Australia and often you’ll see on the news people being rescued who were totally unprepared for getting lost. No one wants to get lost but if it happens your survival depends on it! Thanks for sharing. Cheers

    • Great to hear from you , Diego . Not only does being well-prepared help in your survival , but it also fosters a greater confidence in your skills .

      This produces a more enjoyable and rewarding ” Nature ” experience .
      For myself , preparation permits me to relax a lot more in Nature . It also lets me venture further into the deep quietness of the natural world .

      Carrying this light and complete kit , often lets me spend an extra night and day in comfort and security , watching the sun set behind the mountains or listening to the loon’s cry on a lake .

      A campfire crackling , the stars and a full moon … you have to be there … and this can only happen through preparation .

  8. I never go camping without most of these things now. I was guilty of not doing that up until not long ago though. You just never know what you’re gonna need when you’re out in the middle of nature!

    My top three are
    1. A Knife
    2. A lighter
    3. Small fishing kit (if I’m going around water)

    You’ve got a tool, fire, and food 🙂 I’ve actually got a website about knives! I’m a collector and it’s my biggest hobby.

    • Good Day Koda – and thanks for dropping by .

      Your comments are greatly appreciated and also show your experience in the wild . Your top three are ALL excellent choices and your fishing kit can also be used to capture small land mammals and even birds .

      The ability to build fires and tools is the essence of survival . Shelter building and finding Safe drinking water are also very important .

      The time spent in Nature learning Survival Skills is easily transferred to every day life .

      A strong mind , and a strong body will always be useful .

      Good Luck in all your wilderness adventures !


  9. I was very impressed with this website and with the thorough details provided.
    Please understand, my idea of roughing it is one night without en-suite facilities. However, in this day and age, one never knows what the future may hold and I have started to squirrel away some foodstuffs – rice, flour, salt, bottled water – just in case. I am a bit of a conspiracy worrier and, for a few pennies per week, I have been able to build up a cache of reserves.
    I had never really thought about the next step but, after reading the guidelines on Paul’s site, I will now slowly and quietly build up a survival kit following his easy-to-follow instructions.
    Thanks for this Paul – you just never know!

    • Thanks for the visit Weemrst … it’s always more comforting to be prepared .

      No need to go overboard and live in a state of paranoia but a few staples and a little forethought go a long way to relieving a bit of stress .

      Water and water filtration is another area to look into .

      Go Easy !


  10. I have always loved Top Ten listings and this one is pretty good to have a quick idea of everything you need to survive in case you are in a camp or excursion where things can get extremely dangerous if you are not prepared. I knew of the most common sense ones but I haven’t considered the rope before or the whistle and now I’m glad I know this useful info. Thank you Paul hope you have a nice day

    • Happy to hear that you were aware and knowledgeable of these items Mike .

      I also like ” Top Ten Lists ” as well . They organize our lives a little bit and that’s always a good thing .

      You may even have a few items that I should consider .

      Drop by again with some of your suggestions .


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