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Camping Survival Kit

A small and simple kit can meet all your camping survival needs. A camping trip can turn into a survival situation for a number of reasons. You could get lost, hurt, or fall into a cold stream and all of these situations could require a camping survival kit.

Survival kit
Camping survival kit

You may have parts and pieces of an effective kit already, like a survival knife, multitool, and emergency blanket. We are going to go over the gear you need when disaster strikes. Having the right gear is one thing but knowing how to use it to save yourself or others is just as important.

Camping Survival Kit

Regulating Body Temperature

One of the biggest threats to your overall safety when camping is regulating your core body temperature. Most of the time this has to do with staying warm but it might also be about staying cool. We will focus on gear to keep you warm.


Outside of layering quality clothing in the cold, the Bivvy sack is how you get the best bang for your buck when it comes to regulating your body temperature with a piece of gear. You climb into these bags and seal them up to keep as much of your heat in as possible.

I have never climbed into a Bivvy sack without sweating, despite the temperature outside.


In a camping survival kit you should have a couple of types of firestarters but focus on lighters, at least 2. Lighters are the best way to get fire in a hurry. Ferro rods are fun, matches work well but you need lighters to give you a flame.


I carry one kind of tinder all the time. It’s dryer lint. It’s in my camping survival fire kit. I also stir that dryer lint into melted wax to make an even more effective tinder. With your lighter, you can make fire very quickly in many harsh environments.

Treating Illness and Injury

Injury or unforeseen illness can turn a simple hike in a camping trip into a serious survival situation. Having a quality first aid kit and the skills and knowledge to go along with it is critical.

Have a quality first aid kit
Have a quality first aid kit

ACE Bandages

One of the simplest and most detrimental injuries that can affect your ability to cover ground can be a bad sprain. If your ability to walk and hike out of the wild is compromised then it can avalanche from there. Over-compensation can lead to more severe injuries.

Having a means of bracing those sprains can be a real game-changer when you have a lot of ground to cover on your camping trip.

Stop the Bleed Kit

An accident with a survival knife, an ax, or taking a serious fall, can all result in a life-threatening wound. Do you know how to deal with life-threatening bleeding? Having a stop the bleed kit will give you all the things you need to deal with bleeding in a camping survival situation.

The Bearfak IFAK by Refuge Medical is one of the top IFAKs on the market right now with an emphasis on things like tourniquets and quick clot rolled gauze among other things. These IFAKs are also made in the USA.

Bushcraft First Aid Book

You should carry some kind of first aid reference in your camping survival kit. This can make all the difference if you have a first aid kit full of things you have never used before. These books are also great at helping you diagnose what might be wrong with you or someone in your party.

Dave Canterbury Bushcraft First Aid is my first choice.

Stay Hydrated

In the warm weather, it can be imperative that you stay hydrated. You can easily become overheated or over-exerted. If you get lost in the woods one of your first concerns is going to be hydration. You can only last three days without a drink of water.

Hand Pump Water Filter

The hand pump water filter, like the Katadyn hiker Pro, is a camping survival kit essential. This water filter allows you to refill water bladders and water bottles at a water source. You do not want your only hydration option to be drinking directly from the water source.

Single-Walled Steel Water Bottle

Most steel water bottles have an insulating layer to keep your beverages hot or cold. A single-walled steel water bottle can be filled with water from a creek or stream and placed over the fire. This water can then be brought to a boil and kill all the dangerous pathogens that may exist in the water.

Pathogens are microorganisms that could make you sick.

Purification Tabs

If you are on the go or if you cannot get a fire started you can drop a water purification tab into your canteen or water bottle and kill the harmful bacteria in the water you have sourced and are now carrying in your water bottle.

These tabs need to be shaken up and given time to act. They take between 15-30 minutes to work.

Hydration Powders

While water helps, your body needs electrolytes to truly stay hydrated. There are some great little packs of hydration powder that you could buy and store in your camping survival kit. I prefer a brand called Liquid IV.

Stay Fed

It’s easy to stay fed if, even during a wilderness emergency, you pack the right foods.

A homemade survival food bar
A homemade food bar

Survival Food Bars

There are lots of healthy bars and snacks that you can pack on your camping trip but when it comes to camping survival kits just pack a calorie-filled survival bar like those made by Datrex. They are a tasty block of calories that will be there in an emergency.

Datrex bars come in 3600 calorie 72-hour bars that are all you need in an emergency.

Land Navigation

Most of the time people get 100-200 feet off the trail and start to panic. They get themselves really lost due to panicking and walking miles in the wrong direction. The first step is to pull out your land navigation tools and determine your current location.

Paper Maps

If you can find your location on a map then you will be able to get back to civilization. it is simply a matter of reading that map and using a compass, or even the sun, to stay on track.

Paper maps for where you will be traveling are absolutely essential in a camping survival kit.


Lots of survival gadgets come equipped with a little button compass. Forget about that! You need a real compass that you can depend on when you are lost. Pack a durable compass into your kit and make sure you know how to use it.

Combined with your paper maps, this compass can help you find your way back to camp or back home safely.

Signal for Rescue

If you simply cannot find your way back to the trail then you are going to have to signal for rescue. Your survival gear should include these items for use in emergency situations.

Signal Mirror

A signal mirror is an affordable piece of gear to include in your survival kit. These signal mirrors can reflect the powerful sun to other hiking parties, air rescuers, or nearby roads. All of which could provide you with help or rescue.

Emergency Whistle

I personally never adventure into the woods with my kids unless they have an emergency whistle around their neck. Whistles are a great way for a party to communicate and even better if someone gets lost.

Using your whistle to blow out the S.O.S morse code could be very helpful if you find yourself lost in the woods during a camping adventure.

Personal Locator Beacon

Our GPS technology has made such incredible advancements over the last decade that we are now capable of taking actual GPS locator beacons into the woods with us. These beacons are powerful and can find you even when you are deep in the woods.

A Garmin inReach Explorer+ 2-Way Satellite Communicator is a great addition to your camping survival kit
A Garmin inReach Explorer+ 2-Way Satellite Communicator is a great addition to your camping survival kit

The personal locator beacon sits in a very different price range than the signal mirror or emergency whistle. In fact, these beacons are gonna cost you right around $250-$300. The personal locator beacon will cost more than anything else in your kit and probably more than your other survival camping kit items combined. However, it will assure you can be found in the worst-case scenario.

Peace of Mind

For the most part camping trips go off without a hitch. You come away with some great memories, some takeaways and hopefully feeling a bit refreshed. Whether you include things like fishing, hiking, hunting, or swimming on your camping trip, there is always the chance for an emergency.

Building your camping survival kit can give you peace of mind. You will know that you at least have the gear and the skills necessary to address the most serious circumstances.

Remember, it costs your state lots of money and resources if they have to come out and rescue you. You should do everything in your power to self-rescue and having a kit with these items in it can make a huge difference.