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The 10 Most Coveted Survival Essentials

man sitting in the bush cooking food for survival

Preparedness is a wonderful goal, but it can become an overwhelming affair. When trying to determine the necessities for survival, many enthusiasts make the mistake of overestimating how many items they need. In the context of essential survival gear, less is often more. There are a few distinct reasons for this.

First, it is better to have the basics than become wrapped up in expensive or complicated gimmicks. Second, weight is not your friend in a survival situation. Given these factors, the list of items needed for survival can be impressively short. Not only can the wilderness survival essentials fit into a small pack, but they can also be acquired with a small budget. Here are the ten items you shouldn’t be without.

Duct Tape

At this point, the ubiquity of duct tape almost seems like a cliche trope. However, there is a reason why this fix-all has stuck around for so long. Originally developed for water-proof military applications, duct tape has seemingly limitless uses in a survival context. You can fasten sticks for shelter, repair gear, or even make improvised shoes.

RediTape Travel Size Pocket Duct Tape Colors 2-Pack | for Repairs, Camping, Emergency, EDC, DIY, Crafts | 1.88 inch x 5 Yards per Flat Pack (Twin Silver)

Recently, many new variants of duct tape have emerged that are superior in many ways to the World War II original. T-Rex and Gorilla are two popular brands, and they both have a myriad of advantages. These newer types have the same versatility as the old stuff but are stronger, more UV stable, and tear easier. Whicher brand you buy, duct tape should be on your shortlist for basic necessities for survival.

Paracord Bracelet

If you ask seasoned survivalists about their favorite pieces of kit, paracord is sure to be among the finalists. Paracord is a type of rope originally used for skydiving, but it has evolved to be a catch-all among nature lovers. Paracord is lightweight, incredibly strong, and imminently flexible. The usefulness of this wonder material is hard to overstate. Paracord can be used to build shelters, trap animals, administer first aid, and so much more.

iHeartDogs Never Forgotten Paracord Bracelet - Tactical Survival Bracelet for Men with Bronze USA Flag - Helps Pair Military Veterans with a Companion Dog

Paracord can be purchased in a variety of forms, but many enthusiasts prefer the convenient form factor of a bracelet. Day to day, a paracord bracelet simply looks like a fashionable accessory. Yet, when the need arises, it can be untied into a very long length of life-saving rope. It’s cheap, useful, and versatile. Paracord should certainly be among your wilderness survival essentials.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Experts may argue about certain aspects of survivalism, and not everyone carries the same opinions regarding gear, techniques, or strategies. However, there is one thing that every expert is certain to agree on: nothing is more important than water. If you ever find yourself in a survival situation, access to clean water is often the difference between life and death.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness

Unfortunately, dirty or contaminated water is abundant in nature, and consuming infected or unclean water can make your situation disastrously worse. You need a reliable method of finding clean water, and nothing is more efficient than a LifeStraw personal water filter. They take up less room than a permanent market, but they are capable of removing 99.9% of bacteria, making almost any water source safe to drink. If you include nothing else, make sure a water filter is among your necessities for survival.

MyMedic MYFAK First Aid Kit

If you are lost or otherwise stranded in the wilderness, even a simple injury can be devastating. Whether it be cuts, sprains, aches, or burns, an untreated wound can hamper your strength and mobility and make escape impossible. Your health is crucial, and a first aid kit should absolutely be a central component of your wilderness survival items.

My Medic The RangeMedic First Aid Kit - Bandages, Burn Aids, Medication, Stainless Steel Instruments - for Hunting, Shooting, Emergencies, Accidents - Basic, Coyote

Although any first aid kit is better than none, we recommend seeking out a kit designed with a survival situation in mind. These backpacking kits are compact but contain enough components to deal with most situations. Always keep a first aid kit with you, and always make sure it is fully stocked. This is not an area where compromise is acceptable.

Ka-Bar USMC Fighting Knife

Anyone who has spent extensive time in the wilderness will tell you that a good knife is an indispensable asset. The ability to cut and carve in precise ways is critical in any number of survival moments. Any knife is better than none, but a high-quality survival-oriented knife can easily be the key to your success in a survival situation. Few groups are more prepared or trained for tough moments than the United States Marine Corps, so it stands to reason that the knife they choose is going to be a top-quality item.

Ka-Bar 1220 US Army Straight Edge Fighting/Utility Knife with Leather Sheath , Beige, 7' Blade

Built by Ka-Bar, the USMC Fighting Knife has been used by the military for decades. Its versatility is unmatched, as this knife is designed to fulfill any role from combat to bushwhacking. The 1095 Cro-van steel holds an edge without rusting, and the leather wrap handle provides a comfortable grip even when wet. When assembling the most important survival items, this is an ideal knife to have by your side.

UCO Stormproof Match Kit

Learning to survive for yourself is a fascinating exercise because it forces you to analyze what elements of life are truly essential. When it comes down to it, humans need shockingly few things to live. Water, shelter, food, and warmth. Within this framework, fire is an essential element. When thinking about building fire for survival, many people instinctively consider using a lighter. This is not a bad idea by any means, and we wholly encourage adventurers to keep a lighter among their gear. Yet, lighters fail and run out of fuel. When this occurs, you want matches.

UCO Stormproof Match Kit with Waterproof Case, 25 Stormproof Matches and 3 Strikers

Don’t just reach for some strike-anywheres out of your kitchen drawer. Survival matches are a different animal altogether. Stormproof matches let you stay warm, cook food, and signal for help regardless of the environment. They burn brightly even when wet, and the long burn time gives you plenty of flexibility to ignite kindling. They’re cheap, compact, and they can save your life. Don’t forget these important survival items.

MECO Emergency Flashlight

Anyone who has never been lost in the woods at night has never truly experienced the inky darkness that pervades a barren landscape. Having proper illumination isn’t just a matter of comfort, it is a matter of safety. If you cannot see, you cannot cook, hunt, or navigate safely. Thus, having a source of light is a vitally important element of survival.

MECO Hand Cranking Solar Powered Rechargeable Flashlight Emergency LED Flashlight Carabiner Dynamo Quick Snap Clip Backpack Flashlight Torch Weather Ready, 8 Lumen - Green

There is no shortage of flashlights on the market, but the battery-powered options leave a lot to be desired. A hand-crank-operated light like the MECO gives you unlimited light without any concern for batteries. Further, the strobe feature is a great asset for signaling help. This light is easily one of the essentials for survival.

SE Military Sighting Compass

It’s hard to find your way to safety if you don’t know the direction. Having a high-quality compass is an absolutely essential item for any outdoors enthusiast, and this SE Military compass is a great example. It’s compact, affordable, waterproof, and incredibly high quality. Buy it, learn how to read it, and keep it by your side.

SE Military Lensatic and Prismatic Sighting Survival Emergency Compass with Pouch - CC4580

Swiss Safe Mylar Blankets

It is hard to beat mylar blankets in terms of bang-for-your-buck. These blankets are known by a lot of names, including space blankets and survival blankets. Regardless of the name, they keep you warm and dry while taking up almost no space in your pack. Not only do they provide warmth, but they can be used to build a shelter or even fashioned into a tourniquet. Even if you barely venture off the trails, there is no excuse for not having a mylar blanket or two in your gear collection.

Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets + Bonus Gold Foil Space Blanket. Designed for NASA, Outdoors, Survival, First Aid, Army Green, 4 Pack

Sven Folding Saw

Admittedly, a knife is a more crucial item. Thus, if you have to choose, the knife should be your choice. That said, a folding saw can make your life a great deal more comfortable and convenient if you need to use it. From breaking down firewood to building shelter, having access to a saw can be a valuable addition to your bag of tricks.

Sven Saw

The Sven is extremely sharp, allowing for fast and precise cuts. Despite its rugged construction, it still manages to be exceptionally lightweight and ergonomic to use. If you have the space, you won’t regret having it with you.


As you can see, the survival essentials do not need to be a long list. Despite their life-saving nature, every item on this list of survival necessities can be purchased for under $100. When outfitting your bug-out bag with things needed for survival, don’t fall for gimmicks or overpriced toys. Only a few survival essentials are needed to satisfy your survivalist needs. Assemble the basics, purchase high-quality items, and make sure you are always equipped to deal with whatever situation life throws at you.

Jared Russo
Hey, my name is Jared, a self-reliant expert and action taker. I hope you've enjoyed this article and found it informative. If you have please feel free to leave a comment below and share it with your friends and family, it would make my day!

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