Having the right gear with you can save your life in a survival situation. So what gear should you have with you? Here is our complete survival gear list that you can use to build your ultimate survival kit. With it, you’ll be able to make it through any survival scenario.
Surviving a bad situation usually relies more on your knowledge, resourcefulness, quick thinking and luck than on the equipment you carry with you. But putting together and carrying the right gear with you can make a critical difference in many SHTF situations.
If you find yourself lost or you happen to be injured, then having items that can help you get noticed and rescued quickly can end up saving your life.
So we have put together a comprehensive survival gear list so you start putting together your survival kit and not overlook any potential life-saving equipment. That way you can be sure that you have all the survival gear you need for whatever scenario you’re planning for.
Everyone has different survival requirements so no two survival kits will be the same. Use this list to customize your survival gear to match your preferences.
Make sure you know how to use the items you select for your survival kit – see our article “Have You Practiced Your Survival Skills Under The Right Conditions?“.
The list below is organized into sections to closely match a ‘systems’ approach – having dedicated kits that you put together to form an overall survival kit system.
Your pack is one of the keystones of your survival kit. It must fit comfortably and carry the heavy load.
Your pack should be able to hold your essential survival gear, clothing, food and water. But it shouldn’t be so big that you’ll be tempted to bring a bunch of unnecessary items.
Everyone has different tastes regarding the style of pack they want. Also, different scenarios may warrant different types of packs. (See our article “Essential Gray Man Gear” if you need to blend into the crowd)
Here are lists of packs you can use to carry your survival gear.
Samuel Funt at Survival-Mastery.com has a good article about how to choose the right pack for you: “Best Survival Backpack: Tips and Tricks on How to Choose The One for You”
Keep your gear organized with pouches so you can find them quickly in an emergency. These pouches are so versatile that they can contain your entire mini survival kit or EDC kit if that’s what you want.
Just like pouches, tins and containers will help keep your survival kit organized. If your kit is small enough, it’ll fit entirely into one of these tins. The great thing about having a metal container, it can be used for cooking or purifying water over a fire. Make sure you include these multi-functional items in your kit.
** Detailed lists of Survival Backpacks, Pouches, and Survival Tins coming soon.
You can do without a lot of things in a survival situation, but one tool you’ll miss quicker than anything else is a good knife. This is especially true in a wilderness survival scenario. Processing game, cutting cordage, working wood and providing protection, your knife is your workhorse tool.
You don’t need many tools in order to survive an ordeal. You’ll find many stories of people making it through days, even weeks, enduring terrible conditions without any tools at all.
But survival gear is about finding and carrying those tools that will make your life so much easier and make you so much more effective that it could actually make a difference in whether you live or die.
Cutting tools like knives, axes, saws, and multitools fall under that category.
A good survival knife is one that helps you survive. You can use it for cutting, splitting, food prepping, building shelters, fire making, hunting, self-defense, prying, hammering, crushing, digging and more. So make sure you have a high-quality survival knife included in your survival gear. (How to Choose the Perfect Survival Knife).
See our complete list of top pocket knives in The Best Lightweight Folding Pocket Knife For EDC.
(see Multitools below)
** More detailed lists of Survival Tools coming soon.
Which task takes priority in a survival situation has been debated forever. The reality is it just depends on where you are, what the conditions are and what you feel are going to be the conditions coming up.
Once you have calmed down you should assess your situation. This will help you decide what your priorities are going to be. They will shift depending on all the different variables you are facing.
Now, you already know you can survive a long time without food. You also know that water is critical and should be higher on your priority list.
You can last a long time without fire or even a proper shelter in many circumstances. BUT, if the elements are not in your favor, then a lack of shelter will kill you faster than anything.
In most cases, you don’t need anything fancy. Your shelter can be very simple and yet be very effective.
Here is a list of gear that will provide shelter or help you build one so you can protect yourself as well as your supplies from the elements.
** More detailed lists of Survival Shelter Gear coming soon.
It’s important to know how to build improvised shelters in case of an emergency. Here’s a great video that highlights several survival shelters that will help keep you warm, dry and alive.
Your life depends on being able to stay warm when the environment around you gets cold. Nothing (besides suffocation or drowning) will kill you faster than exposure to cold temperatures and being wet. Make sure you have the proper gear with you depending on where you are, the time of year, and the expected weather conditions.
** More detailed lists of Survival Thermoregulation Gear coming soon.
Fire making is one of survival’s essential skills. It does much more than provide heat in the cold weather. You can use it as a rescue signal, cook food, boil and purify your water, provide light at night, and give you that psychological boost when you most need it.
Now, there are two schools of thought when it comes to fire making in a survival situation.
The first way is you should develop the skills to make fire using only natural materials available. That way, you don’t need to rely on or carry any fire making gear.
The second way of thinking is you may find yourself in a situation where you must make a fire in a hurry or don’t have the ability to make a fire bow. For example, if you’ve fallen into near-freezing water and you need to start a fire immediately before you become hypothermic, then having fire making gear with you can be a lifesaver.
Learning how to make fire without gear is a very important skill and I highly recommend you learn and practice this skill. But carrying some fire making items with you only makes sense.
You just never know what situation you’ll find yourself in, be it wet or humid weather conditions or freezing cold. The list below is a comprehensive list of fire making gear. You won’t need all of them. But the list does provide you with a bunch of options from which you can select a few items as part of your fire starting kit.
Take a look at our list for the Ultimate Survival Fire Making Kit.
The Rule of Three’s indicates that you can go 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food and 3 months without companionship. So as long as you’re getting air and you have taken care of your immediate safety, then you need to determine your next priority – finding/building shelter or finding water.
This decision will depend on your situation and location. The rule of three’s says 3 hours without shelter but that applies if the weather or temperature is not favorable.
You may want to put off shelter building in favor of locating water. Trying to function while you are dehydrated is not a pleasant experience. And it only gets worse, to the point of becoming incapacitated.
Also, keep in mind once you find water, you may need time to purify it before you drink it.
You need to find a clean source of drinking water as soon as possible. If it’s not a clean source, then you need to know how to purify it (filtering, boiling, distillation, etc.).
If you can’t find an obvious water source, then you need to know alternative methods for obtaining water (such as digging for it in low lying areas, collecting dew, creating vegetation stills with plastic bags, and finding water-containing plants).
We need about a gallon (4 Liters) per day. Here is a list of gear that will help you find, clean and carry water in a survival situation.
** More detailed lists of Water Collection & Purification Gear coming soon.
Typically, food is one of the first things people consider when they plan for emergencies. Truth is, in an SHTF scenario, food is one of the last things you actually need for survival. You can last up to 3 weeks without food. But to avoid that hardship, stockpiling food is a great idea.
So what happens after you run out packaged food? That’s when you need to have a plan for what happens next – procuring your own food. Hunting, fishing, and trapping are the most effective ways for you to procure food or supplement your supplies.
So you’re going to need to have the equipment and tools to be able to do this, along with ways to be able to prepare and cook this food. Here are lists of survival gear for hunting, trapping, fishing and cooking food you process yourself.
See “Weapons and Protection” below.
** More detailed lists of Survival Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping Gear coming soon.
** More detailed lists of Survival Weapons and Protection Gear coming soon.
It goes without saying, items in your first aid kit are amongst the most important in your survival kit. Your first aid kit should be tailored to the area you are traveling in. And you should know how to use each item you put in your first aid kit.
** More detailed lists of Survival First Aid, Medical Supplies, and Safety Gear coming soon.
The entire goal of surviving is so you can go home.
Let’s face it, in a real survival situation, you’ll be scared, cold, hungry and exhausted. So give yourself the best chance at ending the nightmare as quickly as possible. Signaling becomes a critical part of your survival kit to turn an emergency into a non-event.
Once you have secured your immediate safety, you need to get your signaling ready to go. The last thing you want is a potential rescuer passing by and you’re not ready to get their attention.
Here is a list of some signaling and rescue gear you should consider for your survival kit.
** More detailed lists of Survival Signaling and Communications Gear coming soon.
Should you stay or should you go? That is the big question when it comes to SHTF scenarios.
There are pros and cons to each. The prevailing wisdom in the survival community is to stay put, no matter what. But once you have assessed your situation, that might not be the best advice.
** More detailed lists of Survival Navigation Gear coming soon.
Hygiene can often take a back seat when survival is on your mind. Once you have all your essential priorities taken care of, then don’t ignore your hygiene. It is important as it helps prevent infection, fungus, and disease. And your small cuts won’t become big problems.
Now hygiene products that you could include in your survival kit will be extremely varied. But there are some common items that would form the basis of most people’s kits. Here is a survival gear list of hygiene products that will help you get started.
An SHTF situation is stressful enough. Now imagine you’re lost, trapped or hurt and you watch the last light fade away. You can barely see your hand in front of your face and you have that sinking feeling that you’ll be in the blackness all night.
This is when you would welcome any kind of light source. Something as simple as a small flashlight on your keychain will be comforting. Just knowing you’ll be able to see what goes bump in the night.
Below is a list of items that you should consider as part of your survival kit.
** More detailed lists of Survival Flashlights & Lighting Gear coming soon.
Once your safety has been secured, then begins the wait. Are you going to be rescued in a few hours or will it be days? After the initial surge of activity to find water, build a shelter, collect firewood, make a fire, prepare for signaling, and find food, then what?
Well, that’s when you hurry up and wait. And… wait some more. Survival isn’t enjoyable. It’s hell. And part of what makes it hell is stress and monotony. So that’s why you should have a small comforts kit. This will help you get through the monotonous waiting. It will help you stay focused on what’s important – getting back to your family and friends.
It’ll also keep things like mosquitos from driving you absolutely nuts (if you live in mosquito or black fly country, you know what I’m talking about).
Now, this kit is about as personal as it gets, so it’s hard to put together a list. But here’s a starter.
A bushcraft kit is a hybrid kit containing many items from the lists above. Carrying a bushcraft kit allows you to easily make survival items out of wood and other natural materials.
This reduces your reliance on bringing every bit of gear with you. You bring a few select tools and you can simply make useful items as you need them.
These items can range from camp items like bowls and spoons; hunting weapons like a bow and arrows, to other tools like a fire bow or the more complex but efficient pump drill.
Here is a list of items that are key to any serious bushcraft kit. You can upsize/downsize any of these items which allows you to work larger pieces of material, or reduce the weight of your kit.
** More detailed lists of Survival Bushcraft Gear coming soon.
If you like to be prepared for anything, then your survival gear list also needs to include tactical gear.
If you believe the end of the world is coming, then you will need to defend yourself from just about anything. Even if doomsday isn’t coming, many scenarios will force you into dangerous situations.
You may need to hide from armed mobs, remain camouflaged while you bug out or defend your family from harm when the rule of law has broken down.
You may want to be sure to add at least some of these items to your survival gear stockpile.
** More detailed lists of Survival Tactical Gear coming soon.
One of the key things we miss the most in a black-out or emergency situation is power. It’s shocking how much we rely on electrical-powered devices. Make sure you don’t get caught unprepared for one of the more common emergencies – an extended power outage or blackout.
Also, much of the electronic equipment in this survival gear list uses batteries. From radios to GPS units, having a reliable power source to recharge batteries is essential.
Granted that this type of equipment is not meant for a long-term apocalyptic world as it eventually becomes useless. But for shorter-term prepping situations, it will give you the advantage others won’t have.
Know Your Power Priorities
Generators are sold by power output, as measured in watts. The amount of power they deliver determines how many lights and appliances you can run at once; the quality and consistency of that power determines how well they’ll run. Figure on about 5,000 watts to cover the basics.
Start by making a list of what you don’t want to go without while the power’s down, then add up their watts to get you in the right ballpark. Here are some rough numbers for common essentials:
Refrigerator: 600 watts
Sump pump: 750 to 1,500 watts
Portable heater: 1,500 watts
Window air conditioner: 1,000 watts
Lights: 60 to 600 watts
Computers: 60 to 300 watts
Courtesy of: Consumer Reports
So if you’re at home or on the move, make sure you have power sources. This alone can be a massive advantage over others who will be falling onto desperate times.
** More detailed lists of Survival and Emergency Power Gear coming soon.
What survival gear do you think is missing that should be on this list? Let us know by leaving your comment below!
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