If you are the kind of person who likes to always be prepared, then you need to keep some survival tools on hand so that you aren’t caught unprepared in the event of an emergency. You never know when you might get stranded in a snowstorm or get injured on a hiking trip. Or you could find yourself in an emergency situation where you need to purify water so you don’t have to choose between dying of thirst or drinking dirty water full of gut-irritating microorganisms.
For your peace of mind, here is a comprehensive list of the 21 most important survival tools to keep in your survival kit.
Essential Fire Starting Tools
A camping toolset like the one linked above can come to your rescue in many emergency situations. A survival hatchet can be used to cut into wet wood to find dry kindling, to quickly kill an animal you’ve shot or trapped for food, and can be heated and pressed to the skin to cauterize a bad wound.
The additional knife could be used in a similar way and/or for finer duties such as cutting cooked food, slicing roots or fruits, or removing excess banding material when wrapping a wound.
Waterproof Fire-Starter Kit
This all-in-one fire rod, flint, and steel tool comes with 3 feet of ignitable paracord rope. When you strike the flint and steel, the motion sends a spark onto the paracord or other tinder, which will catch fire fast even in cold and wet weather conditions. The cord is long enough to provide more than three hours of continuous burn time or thousands of single-strike uses.
Because this tool automatically covers a significant length of the wick, that part of the wick at least will stay dry even in the rain or snow. But since the rest is left out uncovered, you may need to keep it in a dry place to ensure you’ll be able to use it all if you end up needing more soon.
GoFire All-Purpose Fire-Starters
These eco-friendly, non-toxic fire-starter packets never expire. While they are meant to be used individually to start a fire, which will then grow to consume larger pieces of kindling, each packet can hold an 8-10 inch flame for ten minutes on its own. If you’re having trouble finding dry wood, a bag of these just might get you through the night.
These packets don’t have a smell, don’t create any waste, and make almost no smoke. And this set comes with three bags of 20 packets, for a total of 60 packets altogether.
Few experiences are more frustrating than agonizing over a tiny flame only to have it wiped out by the wind the moment it starts growing. You can find a natural windscreen like a large boulder, or you can dig a trench and try to start a fire inside it, or you can build your own windscreen out of smaller boulders or logs to try to protect your fledgling fire from the wind.
But you can save time and effort by packing a fireproof windscreen specifically made to protect your stove or campfire from being wiped out by the wind. The Ohuhu campfire windscreen is made of ten panels that can be removed and added back in as needed to achieve the right length. At its full size, it’s 33 inches long and 9.5 inches tall. When it’s folded, it’s still 9.5 inches tall but only 4 inches wide. And since it’s made of aluminum, it’s so lightweight you won’t even notice it in your survival kit.
Best Food Preparation Tools
Portable Frying Pan
Odds are you’ll need to cook up some food while you’re hiding out in the woods, so you’ll want a portable, lightweight pan that’s safe to use over a fire and takes up as little room as possible. The skillet linked in the heading above fits all of these requirements.
The handle folds over into the pan to make it easier to store inside a backpack or to tie to the outside without the worry of snagging on overhead branches. Its durable carbon steel body makes it safe to use over the fire. It’s also non-stick and scratch-resistant, which means it will be very easy to clean and you won’t have to waste excessive amounts of your precious water stores on cleaning it.
Folding Campfire Grate
Since you’ll also need something to set that skillet on, consider adding a folding campfire grate to your survival tools list. The grate linked in the heading above is lightweight, folds flat for easy storage, and has a small enough grid that you could even cook directly on it if your skillet were to become out of commission.
While it is small and portable, it’s long enough to fit two of the skillets described above, or one skillet and another container for purifying water or making coffee.
Multi Tool Tongs
The more uses one tool has, the better. Especially when you’re carrying everything on your back. These tongs can be taken apart to serve three additional purposes. One side is a flat, serrated spatula, and the other side is a spoon and fork combo, or a spork.
This multi-purpose cooking and eating tool will make survival dining more convenient and enjoyable for you. And it’s only 10 inches long and 2.3 inches wide at its widest point, making it very easy to fit into a backpack.
Food Bag Suspension System
Everything you need to safely suspend leftover food comes in this pack. Just add a few rocks from the ground to the rock sock to make throwing the end over a branch easier, and then suspend the food bag using the ropes and carabiners provided. The whole set weighs just over half a pound (without the rocks) and fits easily into a survival gear backpack.
Hanging your food up not only protects it from ants, but also from bears and raccoons. Keeping your food out of reach makes your whole campsite safer both for you and for the local wildlife.
Necessary Water Purifying Tools
Water is essential to life. It’s even more important than food. But desperately drinking dirty water can cause more harm than good if you end up getting sick from microorganisms and throwing up multiple times. You’ll be even more dehydrated and weak on top of that. Your chances of survival diminish significantly in a situation like this, especially if you’re alone.
To keep yourself hydrated without risk of getting sick from the water, you’ll need a high-quality water filtration system. The water filter listed above can make clean water from any freshwater source, no matter how dirty. The carbon filter removes all organisms and particulates down to 0.2 microns, which eliminates the risky, stinky, or bad-tasting aspects of wild water.
About 2 cups can be pumped per minute through this filtration system, the filter is good for a total of 100,000 liters, and the whole thing weighs only half a pound. It’s safe to say that this water filter is essential in your survival gear bag.
For tips about finding bodies of water in the first place, check out this Survival World article.
Kettle for Boiling Water
If you will need your coffee to stay sane on your adventure, and/or if you are a germaphobe and would just feel a lot better boiling that filtered water to be sure you killed every possible germ, then a small hiker’s kettle is the thing for you. You already know you’ll have room for it on the campfire grate, and the one linked above comes with a nifty little cup and weighs less than half a pound.
Collapsible Water Bottle
This collapsable water bottle holds up to 26 oz at a time and can be collapsed a little at a time as needed as you drink water and need room for other items. You can even carry a few at a time by simply clipping the included carabiners to your backpack and if you don’t want to stop to filter and refill for a while.
Each water bottle weighs just over one pound when full of water.
Life-Saving First Aid Tools
Emergency Wound Closure
Standard first aid kits often don’t include more than bandaging materials for deep wounds. But in the event that you have a deep puncture wound or long animal scratch, closing the wound may be the only way to stop the bleeding.
Suture and a suture needle are one option, but if you’re on your own it could be too painful for you to sew yourself up. And it’s difficult to keep a suture needle clean if you’re having to use your hand to do it. An excellent substitute for this is an adjustable wound closure bandage.
Simply affix one piece of the bandage to each side of the wound and then adjust the connection to draw the two pieces of flesh back together. This tension will help slow bleeding and begin the healing process, but you should still seek medical attention as soon as possible as bacteria may have lodged in the wound and antibiotics may be necessary to fully regain your health.
Another useful medical object that is sometimes left out of first aid kits is splint wrap. A sprained wrist or ankle could severely complicate your backpacking time. And unlike a wrist or ankle brace that’s bulky and made specifically for one body part or the other, splint wrap can secure easily without having to be pre-made into a certain shape. Once you mold splint wrap around the injured area, it becomes sturdy and able to prevent painful movement.
For more first aid tips, check out these Survival World articles.
Crucial Shelter Tools
Emergency Thermal Blanket
A warming blanket could be the difference between surviving the night and succumbing to frozen temperatures. Choose a blanket that is not only well-insulated but also reflective like a space blanket. Reflective blankets actually reflect your body heat back at you, preventing heat from escaping as your body produces it. In the event of a natural disaster or other situation where you want to be found, the reflective space blanket surface can be turned to the outside to catch the sunlight and signal for help.
It’s also important that your blanket of choice be waterproof. Staying dry is as important as staying warm in an emergency situation. The blanket linked above is waterproof, large enough to be used as a tarp or shelter, and weighs less than a pound.
Full-Length Reusable Rain Poncho
You never know when weather conditions will deteriorate. They seemed to be most likely to do so at the most inconvenient times. So make sure you’re prepared to keep yourself and your supplies dry. A rain poncho is a better choice than a rain jacket for many reasons. A rain jacket is usually only waist-length, and even the longer ones are typically well-fitted. This presents a problem if you need to cover your whole body plus a backpack and allow ease of movement for hiking or biking.
A full-length poncho is rainproof and very roomy. It can easily cover your backpack and keep your legs covered even while you’re on the move. Choose a camouflage color scheme if you can to help you blend into the scenery in case you need to stay hidden.
Vital Communication Tools
Satellite phones are useful in the event of loss of cell phone reception, or if you’re in danger and need to avoid being tracked through your cell phone. They can make a call from just about anywhere. The downside to these though is that they are very expensive, and are not legal in some places. Check with the local law in the places you may be trekking through in order to determine whether it would be a good idea to include one of these in your survival kit.
Signal Flares or Mirrors
If you are in a situation where you want to be found, you may need to be able to signal to search and rescue teams or other individuals so they are able to find you. Reflective mirrors can be useful if they’re your only option or if it’s a particularly bright time of day, but signal flares are more visible especially in limited light and the aftermath of them will usually last in the sky for several minutes after one is shot.
Additionally, the noise from shooting a flare may help direct searchers’ attention your way more quickly. Maximize the usefulness of your survival kit by adding a flare gun and set of flares so you can be found if you want to be.
A Way to Carry It All
Once you’ve acquired all the necessary survival tools for your peace of mind should an emergency happen, you’ll need a good place to keep it all packed. A convenient bag that you can grab and run with if you need to.
The most obvious choice is a hiking backpack. Many backpacks come with a variety of survival tools already included in them, but we’ve linked to a high-quality, affordable bag that comes just by itself so that you won’t be paying for unnecessary duplicates of the items we’ve already listed for you. Before purchasing, consider choosing a more or less noticeable color based on whether you anticipate wanting to be found or wanting to stay hidden.
Once you select the perfect backpack for you, you can load it up with all the survival gear you’ve prepared for it. Try organizing things a few different ways until you find the most space-efficient method for making it all fit.
If you’re trying to be stealthy, a set of binoculars for spying on any pursuers or scouting the next ridge from a distance could be very helpful with avoiding unwanted attention. These pocket binoculars are a mere 3.8 inches wide when expanded and 2.2 inches wide when compacted, making them very easy to fit into your survival gear pack.
This may seem like a random addition, but you might be surprised by how much duct tape can come in handy when you need to jerry-rig a tool or other item. You can use it to make a makeshift tent out of your emergency blanket, rip out a stubborn splinter, cobble together a fishing rod, or even patch a hole in clothing or other materials. In desperate circumstances, it can be used for binding up wounds. Though it won’t feel nice when it comes time to remove it.
An entire roll weighs one single pound and the added creative potential it gives you for getting out of difficult situations is well worth the extra weight.
A flashlight could come in very handy as an additional signaller if you’re seeking to be found, or just to help you find your way in general in dim lighting. This set comes with two flashlights and extra batteries, for up to 20,000 hours of LED light time altogether. Both flashlights are waterproof and durable enough to survive being run over by a truck. That’s the kind of flashlight you’ll want to include with your survival gear.
Are You Ready?
Now you’re all prepared to go hiking or go into hiding, even in non-ideal weather conditions. And you can rest assured knowing that you did your due diligence and prepared for the worst-case scenario. We hope it never comes to that, but this curated list of survival tools should be useful to you for whatever circumstances you find yourself in.
If you have another use for one of the survival tools listed above, please share with us and other fellow survivalists your experience and skills in survival.