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Backpacker Magazine – October 2008

Survival Gear: Ultimate Survival Kit

Want to make it out alive? Consider packing these 17 items carried by a veteran Yosemite search-and-rescue ranger.

by: Casey Lyons

The undisputed experts when it comes to key survival equipment? The rangers who save hikers who go astray. Jeff Webb, a SAR ranger at Yosemite National Park, has worked on more than 200 rescue missions. The 38-year-old has also seen action in Big Bend, Yellowstone, Canyonlands, Joshua Tree, and Rocky Mountain National Parks. This is the emergency kit he crams into the lid of his pack whenever he heads out into the wilderness.

Bic lighter
"Cheap and small," says Webb. $2; widely available

Brunton 15TDCL compass
Webb doesn't cut corners here. This compass has a signal mirror and a built-in sighting line. $81.20;

CamelBak Omega Reservoir
This convenient water carrier comes in four different sizes. Webb likes the 35-ouncer. $20;

Cell phone
Webb says cell phones are "pretty much mandatory" as survival items today. They're lighter, cheaper, and less bulky than satellite phones. Just don't rely on a cell alone to save you, he cautions. You might not get a signal.

Coghlan's Emergency Tinder
It burns readily, is easily portable in an empty pill bottle, and so light and small there's no excuse not to carry a few. $3.50;

Coghlan's Magnesium Starter
A cheap, widely available backup for the Bic lighter. Webb recommends having redundancy in firestarters. $9;

GU Energy Gel and Clif bars
Together they have enough punch to aid in muscle recovery and deliver a nice energy jolt. $1,; $1.50,

Homemade first-aid kit
Webb's includes an aspirin- and ibuprofen-filled pill bottle wrapped in duct tape and medical tape, a couple of gauze pads bound in a rubber band, and a standard gauze roll and a Kerlix gauze roll. It's enough gear to "stop a bleed and wrap it tight with the tape, or wrap a sprain and take the pain meds," he says. Webb packs it all in a Norelco shaver case.

Klean Kanteen
Indestructible stainless steel 27-ounce water bottle. Webb brings an empty one along as a backup. $33;

Nike Lance 4 wristwatch
Webb recommends a watch with altimeter, barometer, and compass. The readings give you a good reference point, he says. $259;

Patagonia Houdini
Webb calls this 4-ounce shell "a good all-around windbreaker that's also ultralight." $125;

Petzl Tikka Plus
This compact LED headlamp has four settings, including strobe. It's great for emergency use, he says, but not bright enough for bushwhacking at night. $35;

Potable Aqua iodine tablets
Lighter than a filter, and if you're really thirsty, you won't mind the taste. $6;

Small tea light candle
Set one up under wet wood to speed drying, Webb says. $1

SmartWool Trekking Heavy Crew sock
Webb carries an extra pair of wool socks because they stay warm when wet. $18;

Smith and Wesson Baby SWAT knife
Sharp 2.5-inch half-serrated blade locks open to prevent accidents. $30;

Heatsheets Emergency Bivvy
Having spent several uncomfortable nights in space blankets, Webb opts for this one, which is preformed into a sleeping-bag shape. The wind can't catch the edges and you don't come unwrapped. $15;

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Jun 03, 2014

Add super glue to first aid kit.. Great for sealing small cuts on fingers etc. Disappointed heavy mil trash bags aren't on the list, possibly one of the best survival items you can have after fire starting stuff.

Feb 01, 2014

Lots of good comments. Know where you are going and let somebody know too. I'd only have to hold out for a day or two worst case. I take what I know how to use. Fire - I go with BIC, cotton balls and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. As a back up I bring along yellow & paper birch bark. I tested both. Have to say I even soaked the bark in water and in a second it still took a flame. A space blanket, a small tarp and a fire in a pinch will get me through most nights.

Feb 01, 2014

Lots of good comments. Know where you are going and let somebody know too. I'd only have to hold out for a day or two worst case. I take what I know how to use. Fire - I go with BIC, cotton balls and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. As a back up I bring along yellow & paper birch bark. I tested both. Have to say I even soaked the bark in water and in a second it still took a flame. A space blanket, a small tarp and a fire in a pinch will get me through most nights.

Jan 30, 2014

Great article - short and sweet. Although I'd add a tube tent like the ones in the packs at in case you get stuck overnight. Not just for protection from rain and snow, but it keep the heat in if you pitch near a fire. Just my two cents.

Ryan Zombie
Oct 27, 2013

Prepping for any emergency is important. <a href=""">Emergency first aid kits</a> are part of the survival plan for backpackers.

Nothing like being prepared for anything..

Ephraim Lowe
Aug 30, 2013

It is a pretty good survival kit.

Az Hiker
Jun 15, 2013

Day-hikes can be the most dangerous because hikers usually carry minimal supplies. Learn what to pack for a day-hike, what to do if you get lost, how to get rescued, and survival packing (the list includes a whistle for every hiker!) just in case you end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors. Read "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart" (Amazon). Learn how to orient yourself using a compass, a compass and a map, a map and no compass, no compass and no map. A compass doesn't need a signal, satellites, or batteries and works in all types of weather, day or night, but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking. Learn how to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. This book is for all ages. It’s only 34 pages and illustrated. Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart."

Mar 26, 2013

I agree with the comments about the whistle -- needed for rescues -- wear one around my neck with the compass.

I have used the Vaseline and cotton balls and they make an effective fire starter. The only problem is that they leak liquid Vaseline when they get warm and, even in a film canister (remember film?), they can make a mess in your survival kit.

Mar 21, 2013

im reading all the comments and i have hope for the world again, we are all so awesome.

Dec 04, 2012

The list is pretty good. You HAVE TO have a good whistle. I keep the compass and the fire starter in a lanyard around my neck so I can't lose them. If you are (1) dressed appropriately (2) have some food zipped in a pocket and (3) a good knife strapped can survive.

I am pretty good in the woods but still have been caught unprepared so you have to keep the bare minimum on you without fail. It doesn't matter how good your kit is if it isn't tight against your body in the clutch.

I like the Best Glide site for proven survival goods too.

Nov 11, 2012


Oct 31, 2012

fuck you my wife died

Aug 12, 2012

It's a reasonable kit, although there are some peculiarities that are more suited to an SAR Ranger than a typical hiker / skier / hunter / etc. I definitely agree that a whistle is a cheap, light, and valuable addition. He doesn't mention any cordage, and I'd never leave with less than 10' of 550 Paracord. I think the knife is adequate for emergency-only use - he probably has a more substantial EDC knife, at least I hope so. Bear Grylls' kits are OK, but a tad pricey, and and must have a mark-up of about 500%. Their kits aren't bad, but prices are WAY high. Mess kits and stoves are for camping, not survival, and I'll be happy to eat any food I come by with my bare hands, thanks.

The compass depends on the situation. If you have a good topo map and reasonable orienteering skills, a good compass can be worth its weight in gold. Without a map, a 20mm button compass is perfectly adequate to keep you pointed in the right general direction to find major landmarks like roads and rivers.

Adventure medical is fine, too, but also pricey. I can improve on their $80 pocket-plus version for less than $30, no sweat. With a little thought and effort, you can easily save 50% on these prepackaged kits. Shop your local grocery, hardware, department, and drug stores for many of the items or equivalents, and I've had great luck with for decent prices on specialized items. Amazon is a good place to look for the best prices on some of them, too. Better to use the kit lists as inspiration and build your own - much cheaper, and then you know every item in your kit. And yes, you do have to practice with some items if you expect to be able to use them in a survival situation. Getting lost in the woods may be impractical, and many survival actions may not be legal in many places, but you can practice tying knots, starting a fire, signalling, etc.

Also suggest a look at Many of the survival kit offerings are laughable, but if you scan through a few dozen, you'll get lots of good ideas, too.

But for a modest price, you can pack an amazing amount of useful survival gear into two Altoids tins (1 survival gear + 1 first-aid kit), then carry a basic kife and a rain shell and/or "space blanket" bivvy sack, and you can survive the 1-3 days in which period most rescues are made it a wide variety of wilderness situations.

Lastly, the guy who said that you never hear about anyone with a well-prepared survival kit winding up in a survival situation is not far off the mark. People who have the forethought to prepare such a kit usually manage to avoid survival situation.

Mar 18, 2012

The only thing I really dispute on the list is the knife. Its absolute junk, when I was young in the military I bought one and the blade fell out of the handle.

But I read that many of you commented on the signal mirror on the compass isn't enough. Well I'm guessing those who said that has never had any sort of survival training. That mirror is adequate. You are taught to use anything that projects a flash of light for a signaling device in SERE school.

As far as firestarting a magnesium block is excellent and a BIC is the most reliable lighter on the market. Yes you have to waterproof it just as you do with matches. Put it in a bag, just like you place matches in a waterproof container.

The tinder he uses is also good, Ive used it. And yes Vaseline and Cotton balls are a cheaper alternative. But thats his personal preference.

This gentlemans gear is expensive, but look at it like this. This is his profession, rescuing people out of dangerous situations. You would want your mechanic to have quality tools. Why cant he?? I could survive with the items listed above until being rescued. And if you cant maybe you should attend a survival school or read a book. This is not a BOB list which I see many of you posted. So look at it as a list of what one man prefers.

Asa Foley
Feb 15, 2012

Love the posts - everyone has great ideas for them - I am buying my PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) Next week - Bear said a photo of family helps moral. When young I went dangerous places - now I go safe places - it causes less stress. Last year, five miles in, broke my ankle in 6 places, no emergency kit, bring your brain and then engage it when the emergency happens and you will make it out. My wife is still happy about my getting the PLB and when she is happy, I am happy.

Feb 06, 2012

Great comments here. I concure that there were a few items missing. A whistle can save your life. As an Eagle Scout, I can't imagine venturing off the highway here in Colo without a minimal survivial kit. Besides the obvious, I carry a Leatherman, whistle, compass, mylar sleeping bag (not blanket) magnesium starter and waterproof matches and purification tablets. Getting wet makes surviving difficult. I carry these things as a minimum at all times.Its easy and it will save your life and the people who venture out with you.

Jan 30, 2012

One thing i would also suggest to pack is a sharpie and a poster ofJustin Beiber to draw on when you need a good laugh. :P

Donald Hendrick
Jan 30, 2012

Bear Grylls has certainly simplified a lot of this lately. You can check out his Ultimate Survival Kit here:

And here is the man himself giving a nice quick video demonstration of it:

Bobby J.
Jan 18, 2012

I got one of those rugged survival kits - the hiker one. The best part is its under a pound. Has 2 ways to purify water, two ways to start a fire, two ways to signal and a bunch of other good stuff like a knife, emergency blanket (not the thin silver one either), etc. I checked the rocky mountain site too. That thing must weigh 10 pounds. It has a chain saw chain in it. WTF? Seems people are confusing camping stuff with a survival kit.

Jan 16, 2012

i pack chuck norris and thats all i need

Jan 15, 2012

Hey I like this site lots of good info. I would add a small light weight cooking system. Small mess kit (hey it beats eating your grubb off a piece of bark or worse)The wet fire stove by ultimate survival is: collapsed dimensions small-L-3 1\8 x W-1 1\4 x H-1 3\4 and Wt=0.46 ounces. Uses most fire tinder like Wetfire cubes, cotton/waxed cubes, those tri***oxollean somethings? well you know what I mean I hope. Last of all a "Spork" works great and most important of all "A nice word to the Almighty to get you there and back safely would compliment anybody's survival kit. Thanks

Jan 02, 2012

Good grief. The article is for a survival kit, not something you need a mule to carry. Grab a Hunter or Hiker kit from ** ** as it has everything you need and none of the crap you don't. Chem lights, change of clothes, winter gloves, really??? And take the Bic lighter, dip it in some water (like you would when you drop it) and try to light it. You'll die before it works.

Nov 04, 2011

A few comments -
One MAJOR thing I Do NOT see on any list, is a Good, LOUD Whistle! A whistle is Louder than you (Anyone!) can Yell, the Sound is more 'Penetrating', and can be heard from MUCH further away, and Whistles Do NOT get Hoarse! Even when weak and/or injured; A Whistle Works! The "Storm Safety Whistle" is THE Best, Under $10 at Amazon, and the "Fox-40" series of Whistles are also Very Good - I ALWAYS have my Fox-40 Micro with me, even at my office!
A Compass is useless unless you have the skill to use it properly, and a LOT of Practice!
Doug Ritter is a Survival Expert who has designed an Excellent 3.9 ounce 4"x5"x0.652" Mini-Kit that is Under $30, called the "Adventure Medical Kits Pocket Survival Pak™", and an 'Enhanced Version', the "Adventure Medical Kits Pocket Survival Pak PLUS" for Under $60, that adds some Excellent Extras, still under 10 ounces, for you 'Gram-Weenies'!
ps - Practice with Any and All 'Survival Gear' BEFORE you Need it, particularly Compass Navigation Skills and Emergency Fire Starting!

Nov 03, 2011

oops sorry I miss read Brices comment and thought it was part of the artical. my Bad

Nov 03, 2011

oops sorry I miss read Brices comment and thought it was part of the artical. my Bad

Nov 03, 2011

You never hear of someone getting rescued with a well stocked survival kit because they make it and don't need rescuded. I think it is reckless of a ranger to sugest not to buy a comprehensive kit. Its reckless for anyone to venture into the wilderness without one. I've practiced survival since I was a little boy living in Alaska and I am in my 50s now survival has been my life. There are some very good and practical survival kits out there. Check out there kits come in drop leg pouches and messanger bags both of which are easy to access while wereing them and are very well put together. No kit can cover everything but these are well thoughtout practical kits. What the ranger needs to say is it is reckless to venture into the wilderness without a kit. Its no more likley that someone would be carrying a homemade kit than any other kit. The point is CARRY one if you vernture behond the city limits period.

Sep 07, 2011

The funny thing about survival kit lists, the really big kits are cool looking, but in reality they are impractical. Survival situations happen when you least expect them. You never hear of someone put into a survival situation with a well supplied kit. Survival in essence is the ability to survive with what you, and what you can find. Its great to be prepared, but what if you got separated from your $500 survival kit? Then what? The bigger the kit, the better the chances of being separated from it in reality. Im sure it gives a lot of comfort carrying the extra weight!

Tim Ralston
Jul 29, 2011

One Life..One Tool..One Chance

Tim Ralston
Jul 29, 2011

One Life..One Tool..One Chance

Jul 23, 2011

Don't forget bag balm- many different uses

Jul 23, 2011

I am a person who is parinoid about not being ready for disaster,so I copied it down and printed it out...Thanks!(:

Jul 10, 2011

Gauze Pads with Petroleum Jelly also work well as fire starter. Will light with magnesum block and striker if need be. Pre-burning the pad in a small area before storage seems to make them light even better in the field. Never used the cotton balls but I would think that the gauze pads would burn longer. 20 years ago you could buy them already prepped in aluminum pouches from medical supply.

May 30, 2011

Question: Do folks who like "survival gear" and carry "survival kits" try to get lost in the wilderness in order to test them?

Mar 26, 2011

My kit consists of:

Air Forice survival knife (Ontario Knife Company)
2.5" blade boot knife (dual edged, good for cleaning fish)
Multitool (I suggest either Leatherman or Victoranox)
DoD MREs (can be purchased at gun shows-I usually have 2-3)
2 one quart USGI Canteens and one canteen cup
USGI Poncho, with shockcorded tent stakes (
25-50ft of 550 Paracord
Chemlights (green and red-3 or more of each)
Basic 170 item First Aid kit, plus QuickClot
High Powered Slingshot and steel ballbearings (I prefer 1/2")
My homeade PVC tacklerod
Magnesium Block with striker (walmart, whereever)
Maglight Solitare (on my keychain), and Mini (my belt), as well as Utilitech 3-LED headlamp (with "night lights," means they glow green so not to hurt your eyes as much at night), flashlight (every bit as bright as ShureFire), and Lantern (picked 'em up at Lowe's on sale-multiple uses... the lantern alone lights up the whole camp!)
SOL Bivy (I plan to upgrade to the SOL Sports Utility Blanket as soon as I can)
Edible Plants of (insert location I'm headed here) Handbook (yeah, laugh all you want-at least I know what I can and cannot eat! I'll be laughing, you'll be DYING)

And most importantly-my WITS. I was raised an outdoorsman, and continue to live as such.

All of the above fits into a USGI Buttpack (quite tightly, but it DOES fit!), connected to my USGI Web belt. I have a compass pouch on my USGI Y-Harness right shoulder, and my survival knife on the left. God bless TA-50 Keepers!

Not so very many items, really. Using the above, I can live/survive quite comfortably for several weeks/months if I have to.

Mar 08, 2011

Here is my list of items: “Get out bag-GOB” or “Bug out bag-BOB” Optional Items List

Para 550 cord
Glow sticks
LED Flashlight w/extra batteries
Gun/Holster/belt w/Extra ammo
Mask M95 or better
Two days of water or Gatorade
Purification tabs for water/Aqua tabs
Energy bars / Cliff bars / Food
Toilet Paper
Heat thermal blanket / Emergency poncho
Glasses / eye drops / Visine
Lip Balm/Lip sun screen/Sun screen
First aid kit w/blood cot powder
Potassium Iodine Tabs
Duct Tape
Rubber Gloves
Digital thermometer
Rubber poncho
Change of clothes
Extra Socks, Underwear
Knife, multi tool
Fire starter /strike anywhere/ water proof matches/lighter/
Energy drink
Zip ties
30 gallon trash bags in zip lock
Gloves, Cap Hat
Water purifying Stick/Tablets
Mini laser targeting/blinding/ making others think you have a gun laser
Maps of bug out locations
Survival candle hard wax
Bug Spray or Wipes
Quick Blood Clot
Dental Emergency
Silk Scarf / Bandana
Baby Wipes or Sanitary wipes
MREs / Energy Bars / Food
Pen Marker / Sharpie
Hand Sanitizer
P38 can opener
Wrap pen or pencil w/duct tape
Small Note Pad
Tent stakes
Fishing kit in plastic jar
Basic Tool Kit
Sewing kit w/needles
Baklava Mask or beanie hat
Emergency Ponchos
Pilot / cold gloves
Tea / salt / sugar
Compass or temp gauge
Sterno Stove w/sterno
Foil paper folded up
Change of clothes rolled in plastic bag
Saw, chain or folding saw
Camelback water bag
Camo tarp
Bayonet/boot knife attached to bag
Camo hat / Scarf / netting
Bungee cord
Small towel rag in plastic bag
Toothbrush / Tooth paste
Soap to wash off chemical or contaminates
Cotton balls w/Vaseline (fire starter/kindle)
Mosquito net
Propel/Gatorade powder Crystal light water packs
Couple of tea bags
Mirror for clearing corners or signaling
Athletic tape for sprains
Ace bandage
Locator lights
Safety pins
Cold weather beanie
Crank/solar Radio
Crank/solar light
Net hammock doubles as fishing net or camo
Coffee filters to filter dirty water before tabs
Bic Lighter
Signal Whistle
Winter and Work Gloves
Small bottle of Chlorine Bleach

Feb 24, 2011

One thing I'd like to be added to this is a GPS Emergency locator beacon, like the Fastfind 210. I see stories about experienced hikers lost in the mountains, and 90% of them die due to lack of time for SAR response. In the Mt. Hood incident, they probably would have survived if they had one. Here is a link to the Fastfind. It might look expensive at first to some, but what is your life worth?

Jan 08, 2011

I have heard of a lot of people stuck waiting for rescue that see helicopters or planes but cant get noticed. I dont know how big a flare gun is but that probably could be handy for other things besides drawing attention when you need it most since yelling at powered aircraft doesnt seem to work.

Jan 02, 2011

I getting as many survival packs together with a little bit of everything. Every vehicle has one in it, along with canned food. I have backpacks loaded and ready to go for each family member if need be. You can never be too prepared.
In the 50's bomb selters were in and now in 2011 they are all the rave again. Of Course I'm hearing a lot of people saying the will be no survival of Dec.21,2012 that it will be too cataclysmic. I'll take my chances of being prepared and lose the hopeless thoughts that others except will be their time to die. Hopefully we all won't have to migrate anywhere for saftey. Our homes are our castles, so make that bomb shelter as deep underground as you can...I say!

Sep 28, 2010

All good suggestions, however instead of spending money on their tinder, you could just as easily save up drier lint, or get cotton balls and rub some Vaseline into them. Makes great tinder. Also, instead of that metal water bottle, I would recommend a canteen with a canteen cup. The cup is quite useful for boiling water or making a soup. You can get one at an army surplus for less than $10.

Sep 20, 2010

My view is that you need to be able to keep warm, have fresh clean water, and be able to eat. This means that in my humble opinion, one should buy the best knife that they can afford and always keep it sharp (no point in an emergency situation having it blunt)- water (a straw filter - about $30 which will give 1500 litres of fresh water) or tablets, and always a paclite waterproof - jacket - go for gortex if you can afford it. In addition to warmth something to light a fire, and a saber saw - to cut wood easily - they are the best. In addition - it is fun to build up a lightweight survival kit - get a good compass - around $45, and it is not silly to always notify someone when you ETA will be. Most people are embarrassed to say - hey I will be back in 4 days if I haven't called you by xyz then please call the emergency services.

Sep 05, 2010

I'll add a few that I like. A little $4 solar three LED light, never needs batteries just set it in the sun. Carry a Match Safe with strike anywhere matches. A good pocket knife and belt knife. 10 to 20 feet of cord. Extra Compass. Good watch with hands. Small signal mirror. A couple of emergency blankets. Water purification tablets.

Sep 05, 2010

I'll add a few that I like. A little $4 solar three LED light, never needs batteries just set it in the sun. Carry a Match Safe with strike anywhere matches. A good pocket knife and belt knife. 10 to 20 feet of cord. Extra Compass. Good watch with hands. Small signal mirror. A couple of emergency blankets. Water purification tablets.

Jul 11, 2010

One should keep in mind that an emergency is usually 1-3 days in duration while a disaster can be 3 days to a few weeks. However, there is the extreme with a disaster being weeks to years in duration. Your emergency gear is like an investment. When and if you ever need your gear it will be worth many times more to you than you have spent. Your gear can either make an emergency or disaster easy or hard and every penny spent will be worth it.

Jul 10, 2010

Very good items to have. And like what has been said before use your head. There are different types of emergencies and disasters all lasting different lengths of time. There are emergency kits designed and put together for short term maybe 1-3 days, then there are disasters that might last a week or two, then we get to the big daddy, survival lasting months and years. Everyone has opinions and mine is simply this, you can never spend too much for emergency or disaster preparedness. Your gear can either make your life miserable or very enjoyable. I take my gear as an investment and I can never spend too much. I might not draw interest money like a bank account however when and if the time ever comes my gear will be worth more than any investment I could have ever made in a financial institution. Just another opinion to consider. I hope this helps.

Jul 10, 2010

Excellent list and discussion in the May 29 posting above from Mr. Egger, the fella' who was rescued out of Big Bend. Couldn't agree more- keep you emergency pack small and in your pocket at all times, ergo "Emergency Pack." Don't have to have extra clothing [although it is always nice to change socks]. Keep it real, think of it as what you have to have if you loose your backpack, get lost, and don't have any of your typical trail gear on you. BTW I was Military [EOD & lots of tactical Op's] for a lot of years. In the field this is what we did.

Larry Beckwith
Jan 17, 2010

Wow! great reading. I can't wait to get started building my survival kit. So many great ideas. I have heard stories of people actually ditching backpacks and survival gear because they panic. Remember STAY CALM.

Jan 12, 2010

I agree with Striker...a fixed blade with no serrations made of carbon steal is indispensable and preferable. My suggestion is a Mora knife. They're basically indestructible, can be sharpened with a rock to the level of razor sharpness and costing only $10, making them e a no-brainer, must have. Anyone that's serious about surviving in the wilderness should have one.

Jul 01, 2009

WOW, some great info. here thanks! I agree on the knife...high carbon, fixed blade (full tang), include also a multi-tool, and a small mention of it, but DO NOT FORGET A SMALL KNIFE SHARENER OR 2...a small stone and a medium diamond stone will be just grand!

lady of the woods
Jun 18, 2009

Great discussion! in addition to everything else you folks carry, I always bring my chapstick for wind and sun protection. Not much cell phone coverage where I go, sometimes not even text messaging. It is all about location isn't it?

Jun 17, 2009

Bic Lighter -
I agree with carrying a butane lighter, just not the "Bic Lighter".
You want a butane lighter that is transparent so you can actually see how much fuel is in the lighter. Bic's are opaque and you never know how much fuel is left. Nothing worse than getting to the point of needing a flame and you are out of gas.
Usually a little less expensive than a Bic.

Coghlan's Emergency Tinder -
Why pay $3.50 for something you can make BETTER at home.
Petroleum Jelly soaked cotton balls. Just coat the outside of a cotton ball with a Vaseline and store them in a 35mm film canister. You can get the film canister from any film developing store (Walgreen’s, WalMart,etc.) for FREE. The cotton balls are like $1.00 for 250 balls. You can get 5 -7 balls in the film canister.
These little dandies will burn for 5 minutes or longer.

The only thing I would add is 2 - 55 gallon drum liners. Can be used as a poncho or as a makeshift tent.

Bill Egger
May 29, 2009

My philosophy is that you need to be able to: (i) let people know you are screwed so they can come track you down and find you; and (ii) "keep it together" and stay alive until they rescue you--which with a PLB can be within 4 or so hours (and should be within 24 hours even under really challenging circumstances).

1. PLB (I think ACR rules--it worked for me in Big Bend--where I was the first PLB rescue in Big Bend National Park about 3 years ago); 2. Whistle (Fox,ACR, etc., pea-less, LOUD, emergency whistle) worn around your next on a strong cord--you can only shout so much. Blowing that whistle is more or less effortless (will also help scare away some apex predators); 3. Spark-Lite fire kit (a small flint wheel on a plastic tool that creats sparks that WILL UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES ignite the tinder plugs included in the kit) When you are cold, even a small fire will improve your outlook in unbelievable ways.; 4. Signal Mirror (there were bogus knock offs on the market for a while--make sure you get the real deal); 5. AMC Bivy ( while the heatsheets blanket works well--and probably saved my life--I think that having a bivy that completely wraps around you would be way better, and easier to use when the wind is blowing 50mph+: 6. 8 oz "cheap, Nestle's or Wal-Mart) plastic bottle of water and some trail mix in a zip lock--keep this on you at all times--if you get stuck, this will improve your attitude; 7. Durable Gloves--if your hands get messed up, you are truly screwed; 8. Combat tourniquet; 9. Hemostatic sponge to quickly stop bleeding; 10. A real good, and sharp, lock blade knife; 11. Photon LED Freedom light--probably the smallest, brightest, most reliable light you'll ever find.

I've also got other stuff in my kit, but these things seem to me to be the ones that are the most important.


By the way, Jeff was one of the dudes who rescued me. Hi, Jeff!

May 07, 2009

Lots of great advise, but I think people have forgotten the basics. Be able to stay dry, (rain coat and pants) matches or lighter plus some type of starter, a couple of enrgy bars, a whistle to signal for help and a good reliable flashlight. Anytime you are above 3000' the weather can change quickly. I also always carry a compass and a topo map. Ad of course sigh out at the ranger station let a friend know hwere you are bound and when you do get lost sit down and wait for help. The further you walk the further you are from getting help.

May 01, 2009

Two kits, keep one on your person the other with your gear. Specifically your medical kit should cover every basic need. Even keep spare room for any navigation equipment. Double line with plastic, and you have waterproof matches. Color code your essentials for fast recognition.

Apr 30, 2009

I forgot to add, but I agree some way to boil water is a must, and in my opinion it should be some way to cook rice or ramen too (like the canteen cup the guy below mentioned) I will also always have at least one ramen or small baggie of rice in my survival kit from now on as well.

Apr 30, 2009

I forgot to add, but I agree some way to boil water is a must, and in my opinion it should be some way to cook rice or ramen too (like the canteen cup the guy below mentioned) I will also always have at least one ramen or small baggie of rice in my survival kit from now on as well.

Apr 30, 2009

I have been camping for most of my life, but went on my first backpacking trip last summer in Montana. We planned a 40 mile trip across a mountain range to do in 4 days; all 4 of us were newbies, and flatlanders from MN (yikes elevation effects!) During the trip, we decided to go on a day trip to a lake with no trail going to it, and had to climb up and over a mountain to do it (2800 feet up and then down from our campsite). We now look back and yes we realize, it was dumb. We left at 11 am, with almost no gear except our headlamps, fishing gear, and what we now know were practically useless survival kits. It's a long story, but with a storm coming, and the way we came to the lake being way too much for our extremely tired bodies to handle again, we decided to hike all the way around the mountain back to our campsite (9 miles, almost all of it bushwacking without a trail) We only made it about half the way, but got off the mountain and into a little lower elevation next to the stream just after dark. So, we had to spend the night (we ended up making it back to camp at 11 the next morning-a full 24 hours) None of us were wearing anything more than zip off pants and tank tops. We were super exhausted, cold, and a little worried especially after one guy fell in the stream. The temp dropped to the low 30s that night like it had the whole trip, but never ended up raining thank God. We tried to build a little lean to next to our fire (one guy did have his folding saw), and somehow shivered through the night.

As can be imagined, we are all now much more knowledgeable and prepared for such an event. So I would like to throw my 2 cents in. I would definately add parachute cord to the survival kit list, for all of its uses. One of us was carrying 20 feet of it and it was extremely helpful in building the lean to, and I'm sure there's a ton of other applications. Also, a way to cut branches either with one of those emergency hand chainsaws or leatherman saw blade really helped us with the lean to. We had one space blanket to go around, and it was all but useless. We tried sleeping as close as we could, but it did very little if anything. So I would say he's right on with the space blanket bivy sleeping bag style; I will be buying one for this year's trip. Also always make sure to bring some extra clothes like at least the windbreaker he recommends-we found that out fast. I've done a lot of looking around and scrutinizing survival gear since then; keep in mind a lot of stuff is maybe good in theory but sucks in practice. I will be buying Ultimate Survival Technologies survival kit; it looks very practical and high quality.

So after learning the hard way about the need for quality practical survival gear, please do what we didn't do and take the time and money to get it right (we're college students so thought we'd be ok skimping) Believe me, it sucks being in an actual survival situation like that, and I will do my damndest to never make those mistakes again!

Apr 29, 2009

Check out the new sec candle on ebay, survival emergency camping candle. 29.00 looks like it will do the job.

Apr 28, 2009

Does anyone know of a store that has affordable but efficient camping/hiking gear?

Apr 28, 2009

Does anyone know an ultimate store for hiking and camping materials, that are affordable but efficient?

Apr 14, 2009

Lots of good ideas here for survival kits. I'm in the Army right now but you hikers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts always seem to come up with better stuff than we do, which is why I always come to these websites for ideas. One suggestion for the water boiling is the Army canteen that fits into a tin cup that has folding handles. It's compact, lightweight, cheap and are fairly easy to find. The canteen, tin cup, canteen cover and carry strap usually sells for about $20.00 max in any surplus store. Most of ya'll probably already are aware of this setup but I just wanted to pitch a good idea too. Keep the good ideas coming.

Mar 19, 2009

Hey to all you people that might be rolling your eyes at this kit, this is what WORKS FOR HIM IN HIS ENVIROMENT(i am not yelling at anyone, just making these words stand out as they are the main point of this comment. Please dont take offence.). We all have different opinions and different enviroment to handle, so we need to take some time to see what we can add and or take away in our situation. OH and use your brain to reason it out and even though you may be surviving, take some time to have fun and/or enjoy where you are because is that not what we came to do in the first place?!

Mar 13, 2009

I think everybody has their own opinion and tastes on what item/gadget they should bring when go for outing. For me, I'll bring along; Leatherman Wave,Petzl MyoBelt 5 headlamp,210 lumens Nuflare torchlite as backup,Garmin 60CSx gps,Buck CampAxe,Suunto compass as backup,...and sometimes 6 in Joker Hunting knive. Carmen,I agree with you...those item are just suggestions and we should respect others and we are not forced to follow.

Mar 12, 2009

If I hiked in Yosemite, the ranger's list would make a lot of sense. When I hike or backpack on Baffin Island or anywhere north of the tree line, many of the items would be useless and other essentials are absent. Survival kits have to suit the terrain in which you travel.

John P. Thompson
Mar 12, 2009

It seems that we've gotten used to the plastic,electronic gadgets of today and forgotten that the best equipment in a survival kit is one's brain. My own kit consists of a Swedish flint, a Workchamp Swiss Army knife,and a pouch containing a bic lighter,small fishing kit, motrin,duct tape, safety pins,space blanket,compass,chicken boullion cubes, a ouple of condoms(to carry water)and some potassium permanganate.
I have met tecno-campers who have the latest GPS units but can't read a map or compass. Some didn't know how to light a fire in the middle of a rainstorm, or build an expediant shelter. Ah, isn't progess wonderful.

Mar 08, 2009

agree with the comments about tailoring the kit to suit your needs. survival kits for the jungle, alpine tundra, desert and detroit would have few different things,

Feb 20, 2009

What you carry will/should be directly related to what your trips' purpose is. This "purpose" will define what gear you pack. Each of us have our personel favorites in jackets, knives, stoves, etc. I see this topic as being very simple; pack what you need, know what value each item packed brings to your trip, be able to use what you pack without hesitation, and know what your capabilities are prior to departing (experience, mental, and physical). Knowledge is the key. You must feel comfortable and have confidence with each item you've packed. Experience is making mistakes and learning from them,,, any "newbies" please make these mistakes in your back yard, day hike, or somewhere you're able to safely regroup.

Feb 19, 2009

Comments above are really on target. Need to base your survival kit on your situation. I wonder why Backpacker continues to publish this article considering that it has been so widely criticized both here and on the forums. I think the editors would do better to refer readers to Cody Lundin's book, 98.6. As for specific criticism, I'm certain you can find a far better jacket for $125, although it may weigh more and not be as "green". The S&W knife he suggests for $30 is junk. Even an expensive folder is held together by one pin. Think full-tang, fixed blade, preferable carbon steel so you can sharpen it in the field. Doesn't need a blade over 3.5 to 4 inches. Plain blades without serrations are usually best in a knife that size. Keep your multi-tool in your pack for it's various purposes, but keep the fixed blade on you belt or waist strap, so it's available in an emergency.

Feb 06, 2009

Boy, there are alot of strong feelings here as with all things we outdoor types are passionant about. I would remind you that like tents and packs, it is all about what makes you comfortable! I perfer a good fixed blade knife versus a folding, but that is just me. What is important is your mind set and your ability to use what you have. If you have a firestarter, try it out and learn how to use it. If you have to stop and read the instructions during a survival situation, then you are way behind the learning curve. The other and most important tool you have is your brain. If you think you will survive and decide that reguardless, you will survive... then you probably will. As the Safety Officer for a SAR team, that is the first thing we teach our members. Good luck and I hope you never need your kit, reguardless of what you have in it.

Jan 31, 2009

Are you having fun..? Even when the chips are against you, there should always be an element of enjoyment in the situation.."I am surviving when others wouldn't or couldn't" is how I always have thought of dangerous or potentially life threatening situations..Who cares what you carry-In the military a lot of what you're carrying is regulated, and the rest might be anything. Good Gear, Expensive or otherwise is a bonus, because the best gear you can carry is between your ears!! We all like the gadgets and the goodies, but that doesn't matter without the rest. However, having said this, I agree with "RR"from, have an option to carry a knife of choice, get a good one. If not then then one you have on you is the best survival knife in the situation

Jan 22, 2009

I wasn't going to write anyhting at first and then I read all of the negative comments. I too am a Search and Rescue professional with 12 years of experience, over 200 missions, and more than 700 nights in the wilderness under my belt. The items listed in the "survival Kit" are a list of recommended items to carry, not an absolute list. As one commentor suggested, you should use the idea of the item you don't need to use the actual brand of the item. For instance, I have tried many times, unsuccessfully, to use the magnesium starter on Webb's list, so I use something else that works for me. I also carry a couple lighters and a tube of fire paste. As far as some of the other gear, when your life depends on it no cost is too high. My raincoat is a Mountain Hardwear Epic ($100+), my boots are Vasque ($150+), my cold weather pants are Marmot ($275), my undershirts are Mountain Hardwear ($40)and my winter survival tent is a Mountain Hardwear Bunker ($400+), no tents in the summer but an Outdoor Research Bivy ($150+). I have rescued plenty of people who have tried to backpack on the cheap. Some of them nearly died as a result because their gear didn't work nor could it handle the unexpected early season blizzard. I have also saved people with a lot of expensive gear but they lacked the knowledge of how to use it. My pack looks a lot different than Webb's but it is what I have developed after all these years and it works for me. This type of article is for someone who has no idea how to assemble a pack but needs somewhere to start.

Jan 17, 2009

To all of those who have "a better kit" and an opinion, I would say "This guy has saved hundreds of people carrying his kit. How many have you saved with yours?" This stuff doesn't just work for THIS ranger, it works for every person he assists, confident that if needed, his emergency supplies are close at hand. What you might carry for YOU and you alone might be different, but don't knock what is actually working and in use helping save those who can't save themselves.

Jan 16, 2009

Great info for beginners like me. I'm getting a bivvy!

Jan 15, 2009

At least this guy is showing you brands that are available. You can add or subtract toyour hearts desire. Some people want to make some of their stuff and some just want to buy it. The important thing is geeting you to think, argue or just plain bitch....but you should be thinking of your own survival...He will come and find your butt. The shape he finds your lost ass in is up to your prepardness!

Jan 14, 2009

You don't need to carry a pot to boil water. The Klean Kanteen is stainless and can be put over a fire if necessary.

Jan 14, 2009

You don't need to carry a pot to boil water. The Klean Kanteen is stainless and can be put over a fire if necessary.

Jan 11, 2009

I like the SAR.ranger kit but it looks expensive.You can make a kit for about 40-50 bucks with a little work at home.The first artical I would add is somekind of pot to boil water.A tin can with a wire bail added to it cost next to nothing.But sure makes a big difference when your tierd and cold to make a cup of tea can sure lift your spirts.

Jan 10, 2009

The kit this guy has put together is great,but it looks expensive.Plus I think he left out something to boil water in.A simple tin can with a wire bail added to it.A cup of tea or soup can sure make you feel human again when your tierd and cold.

Jan 01, 2009

would y'all just grow up if you don't like the survival kit shut it and build your own.
dont gripe about it thosse are his fav things

Dec 26, 2008

People tearing this column a new one should take a chill pill. What you read are just suggestions from one man, ONE MAN! I bet if anyone of you put up something else, people would say the same thing. Instead of beating the dead horse, look at how a fellow enthusiast puts his pack together. The future brings many surprises, and having a subconscious knowledge of varying degrees is always good. If we are all better at suggesting a kit idea, then why aren't we writing it!

Get out, hike, and enjoy life. Leave the arguing for the politicians!

Dec 22, 2008

Alot of helpful (if too negative) comments here. As a complete noob I sure appreciate the suggestions. At least the so called pricey stuff is still cheap next to alot of other hobbies, cars for instance!

Dec 22, 2008

I think the mistake is most of the experts that commented forget to stop comparing his items with the personal items we carry in our packs when we go out for the day, weekend or the week. Different situations require different items. If you sit and think about each items use in an Emergency rescue situation they just might make sense. And if he buys better quality items that are not from Walmart that is because he might need to depend on it lasting more then a few hours and a walmart pouncho is great fr a few hours but try using it again and again. I personally use a Columbia Titanium foul whether jacket and would not trade it for anything from walmart not matter how inexpensive. Some items like ground cover, plastic bags and homemade trail food is where I save money. But on gear that my life might depend on I want to know its going to work when I need it.

Dec 18, 2008

Yikes, way too many opinions on what is right and wrong. I particularly appreciated the comment about women's magazines.
Keep in mind that these are just suggestions, not what you absolutely have to do to survive. If you hate them, then don't use them.

Mike A.
Dec 17, 2008

What is everyones problem towards this guy? It is what he wants to carry. He earned his own money doing SAR and he is spending it the way he wants to. If people would rather spend their money on expensive survival gear, than let it be. It's not like they're using your money. The bottom line is the survival. Some people travel into the wilderness and do just fine with a knife and flint. Others bring eveerything in a REI catalog. !@#$ happens! The question is, can you handle it when it does? With or without gear? Survival Education is the best asset anyone can have when they leave their couch. I have been through some military survival schools. The mission of all of them is Survival. Most of the time, in order to pass the course, you get dropped into the middle of nothing with nothing but the clothes you're wearing. If they don't hear from you a week they send the SAR team. The only way to pass is to make out. Gear can't replace knowledge. BUT it does make the situation more enjoyable.

As for the magazine comments.
How else do you think they pay for this great website and the ablility to keep the magazine on the stands with a low price for subscribers? SPONSORS/ADVERTISEMENTS!

Dec 16, 2008

Don't forget to include a deck of cards. When you're lost, sit down and deal a game of solitaire. Within 2 minutes, someone will appear and advise you to play the red jack on the black queen. Presto, you're saved.

Dec 16, 2008

most of the so-called experts don't have a pot to piss in and think that the inexpensive crap is the way to go. give me a break. just because some things cost some coin doesn't mean that they are worthless.

Another Dave
Dec 15, 2008

As a park ranger who's done a few SAR's, I've come to find that everyone has their own kit they like. Weather it's a store bought tender starter or a fancy watch (a wear a cheap Timex Ironman) every piece of gear you cary has to have a purpose or be useful in some manner. A few things I have that I will never venture out on a SAR without again... Flagging of some sort, used for marking trails, searched areas, evac routes or setting up an LZ for a medivac... Emergency blanket, the cheap ones great for marking ground to air references, and for a ton of other things. A head lamp and a back up flashlight. Compass/maps/GPS, yes all of them, nothing works alone, you need them all. Food, cause if you run out of energy, your mission is in jeopardy. As much water as possible, or if you know of water sources some way to filter/purify/boil that water to make it safe to drink. Cell phone/radio/sat phone - what ever is available, you need to communicate to be successful. Some type of first aid/rescue kit, heavily modified by the person who plans to use it. There is no set list of a persons personal gear list that is standard, everyone has their own way of doing things and experience helps. Every mission I participate in gives me more and more input on what I carry. I analyze ever piece of equipment after every mission, do I need it, did I use it, is there something else that would work. I'm big on multi use items like a multi-tool, or combo compass/signal mirror. Anytime you can find one piece of equipment that does the job of two or more other pieces of equipment with no compromise it's something to consider. What did I learn from this article? That this ranger has found a bunch of gear that does the job he needs to do, and that with experience he has a gear bag that works for him, mine is just as trim, but is very different. Put us together and we'll have pretty much everything we need to complete a mission I bet.. My message to the other readers complaining about this article, learn from it, but don't go out and buy everything the same as this list, it won't work for you.

Robert B
Dec 13, 2008

Cell phone? Parks in Canada are not that urban. Algonquin Park has no towers, but a sat phone would work.
You might want want a Rambo knife heavy enough to drown you to fell trees with a single stroke but a Gerber or Leatherman has far more uses.
Earplugs are compact. Waking up to 6-legged visitors in your head can drive you nuts.

The Ridge Runner
Dec 07, 2008

Okay, I have to agree to the points made about all the brand name stuff, the other issue I have is the knife, If Im making a survival kit (and I have made a quite a few)I would certainly not recommend the S&W Swat. Its a 440 stainless butter knife on steroids. Get yourself a good, fixed blade knife made by Bark River, Marbles, Cold Steel or even Gerber. If you can get one in carbon steel or a high quality stainless, all the better. I absolutly hate it when someone on these things basically says you have to spend a mint on wilderness gear.
One comment on the metal water bottle, I do agree with that choice. A metal water bottle, with the plastic stuff removed, can be used to boil water, and if its a cold weather situation, to melt snow or malt the ice block that happens when its cold outside. In fact, I choose a metal canteen over any other type for that reason.
So do yourself a favor, before buying all these high tech gadgets, figure out what you REALLY Need and then head to the surplus store.
Also, for easy to carry tinder: using a plastic prescription bottle, take cotton balls (REAL ONES) and dip them in Petroleum Jelly. Work the PJ into the cotton balls and then stuff them into the pill bottle. Do this until the bottle is full. Even a small tuft of this, ignited with a sparking rod, will burn for a long time, and hot enough to light your fire. Paint the pill bottle orange, green or black so that its not mistaken for a drug container, or, better yet, roll some duck tape around it, it will give you extra for emergencies.
Hope this helps

younis of arabia
Dec 07, 2008

I prefer "extreme" survival kit. It sounds as cool as wearing a $250 (?!) watch. Why does everything have to be the most expensive model, or close to it, available for that product?

I feel like I'm reading a Maxim that thinks the average Joe (not the plumber) wants to drop $200 on button up shirt.

preference schmeference. I wish backpacker would add a section to its gear review called "good gear even YOU can afford."

Dec 05, 2008

This magazine is done, so done, way done. Yep, the fork has fallen right out of the meat and now lies forever lost beneath the grease in the bottom of the pan.

Who writes this stuff? More to the point what kind of a SAR guy makes a list like this, or lets anybody attribute it to him? All name brand stuff? A metal water bottle? Two of 'em? Store-bought tinder?

This has become the Ladies Home Journal. The next "feature" will no doubt discuss appropriate music for the post-hike cocktail party.

I give up.


Dec 03, 2008

The articles in this rag are just ads . No help to anyone but the advertisers . Cancel my subscription .

The Jackal
Dec 02, 2008

Wow, I had no idea so many experts weren't paid to write for a magazine, but felt the need to jump on here and start dumping on the article. This is just the gear that the one particular guy carries. Why most of you are jumping on the author for reporting what someone else carries with him. Nobody is forcing you to carry a Camel Back or a S&W Baby SWAT knife. Get over yourselves.

Dec 02, 2008

Lots of opinions and negativity here...I for one appreciate different views on survival gear other than my own.

I would add:
a cheap whistle
more food/water treatment options
a multitool
karabiners - I constantly find new uses for them
some utility/prusik cord

All of these fit into anyone's backpack.

Peace to all.

Dec 02, 2008

Does anyone find it odd that the backsight mirror on the compass is described as a "signal mirror"!?!It makes one wonder if the editors have ever had a basic compass or an orienteering course. Certainly anyone with military experience would know this. It blows the credability of the entire magazine when inexperienced journalists pretend to knowledge and publish howlers like this. I wonder if they have the honesty to post this? Thank You.

Nov 30, 2008

For the ultimate survival kit that doesn't require you to spend a fortune, read Cody Lundin's 98.6 Degrees. It's a no nonsense, knowledge-based (i.e. by someone who lives this stuff) guide. The $100 for a compass/camelbak is a bit much, an over-kill. Stuff like that is for those of you who go in the woods once a year to look cool. The Kleen Kanteens are good (but I mainly use mine to replace using bottled water everyday), but a good military surplus canteen is also a must. Again, start with Lundin's book before anything else.

Nov 28, 2008

If you take the time to read all items mentioned in the comments concerning the article, you get a world-class selection of items to choose from for your kit: duct tape, band aids, dress for the expected weather, plastic poncho, full tang 2" blade, a head lamp, extra batteries, firearm, paracord, PLB, compass, bottle, 3 ways to make a fire, plastic sheet, signal mirror.

My personal favorite: PRACTICE YOUR SKILLS!! If you don't know how to use it, don't bring it along.

Two more things for me to add: learn how to tie 4 knots: half hitch, bend (tying 2 ropes together), fixed loop, adjustable loop. visit for the how-to, and a bandana for countless uses.

Nov 27, 2008

Like others, I too have my reservations about this being the "ultimate survival kit."
Seems like Backpacker Magazine is finally become a true female magazine and joined the likes of the womens' publicatons that have apparently lost the art of putting a magazine cover together without using the words: ":Ultimate Sex." We've finally come to the point where Backpacker Magazine Editors consider their readers total Morons.
Why else would anyone with even a little experience in the bush hawk a camelback as a "survival kit necessity"? Is it because backpacking magazine editors only drink EVIAN? -- A or Freezer Bag weighs far less and has multiple uses.
And a Lance 4 wrist watch? What the hell for?
And a compass with a sighting mirror? what for? Brunton sells an excellent beginners compass--with declination adjustment for $16 bucks and unless you are planning on a new military offensive and need to shoot a tight coordinant that is all you really need.
And why on earth would anyone in their right mind cough up $125.00 for a wind breaker when you can buy a $3.00 plastic poncho that will do the same thing and even more--perhaps like keeping you truly dry as opposed to merely keeping the wind off you? And, the Patagonia windbreaker is no better--or worse than a Walmart windreaker at less than 1/4th the cost.
And no one should rely on a folding knife for survival applications--especially when one can get an excellent survival sheath knife in a Mora for about $14.00--and it is a far better quality knife than the S&W one.
And a cell phone?--for a survival kit? What are you going to do--include a generator to keep the batteries oonstantly charged?

It's obvious that the author, Mr. Lyons owns substantial stock in the Gucci Company. He probably also lives on Rodeo Drive.

Nov 25, 2008

Lots of great input - though the old adage comes to mind (opinions are like @$$&0!!@s, everyone has one). Particularly like the one that thinks a 2.5 in blade is a Rambo knife. I do swear by the Taktikka headlamp - added feature of a red lens preserves night vision, belt case has room for extra batteries.

Nov 23, 2008

surviving a day or two in the woods waiting for rescue is different than traveling for a week or more while trying to AVOID contact with others. there are many different kinds of 'emergencies'. this guy may be an 'expert' at SAR or surviving until someone rescues you but his list wouldn't even scratch the surface of a REAL emergency kit.

while his list is ok for his limited role, it is lacking in many areas. for instance he lists virtually no food, no knife except a pocket folder, no water filter (tablets kill bacteria but don't remove chemicals), no firearm, no tools for acquiring food (emergency fishing and snare kits, wild food identification info, etc), no stove to cook on (or containers to cook in), no paracord or other line to hold an emergency shelter together, no tools to build such a shelter, no way to light a fire in wet conditions, etc.

the best advice is to consider everything that could go wrong and every bad situation you could find yourself in (including being pursued by the gvmt/authorities), and build your kit accordingly yourself.

Nov 23, 2008

Yeah, a sales pitch...

Kevin Stoltz
Nov 22, 2008

Wow! "The Ultimate Survival Kit" without the "Ultimate Rescue Device", a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)? If a cell phone is "pretty much mandatory" but you shouldn't rely on it to save you, why not mention a PLB (the 11th Essential)which actually can save you? They can be rented also.

Dale in TC
Nov 21, 2008

Whats wrong with a 2 quart nalgene bottle for your container? You could put in your Leatherman, parachute cord,water purification tablets,a $.99 poncho,Bic lighter, Cliff bars and how about a thin 9X12 painters drop cloth for shelter. Here in Mich. it might be a tad heavy for some of you ultralighters, but sure would go a long way to keep you dry,warm and hydrated.

Nov 21, 2008

As a guide and a SAR instructor, I know all too well that any discussion of survival kits brings out personal preferences! A kinife or multi tool is a must but I always have at least 3 methods of starting a fire ready to go. Extra batteries ... GOLD. They do no good back in the Jeep at the trail head. Think of the old Boy Scout list of "10 essential items". That list is not too different from what Riger required his Rangers to carry during the French and Indian War ... and just as important.

Nov 19, 2008

I would add a whistle to any survival kit. Really cheap, really light, and excellent for getting the attention of the SAR team out searching for your lost ass.

Oh, and you call that a knife? That's not a knife...

'SirVive' - CCSAR
Nov 19, 2008

I absolutly agree with those who pick the Light My Fire firesteel. I own several of these and they are the greatest.
To those who picked this to pieces.
Most of your comments are correct for most hikers. For SAR we are required to have a 24 hr. pack ready to go at a momments notice so this is really a small sample of what is usually carried in the field.
As always, pick and choose your own favorites and PLEASE! PRACTICE!!! KNOW HOW TO USE EVERYTHING YOU CARRY! In an emergency when you actually need it anything you don't know inside out WILL BE FORGOTTEN! A piece of gear you don't remember how to use is worse than usless.
S(earch)A(nd)R(escue) (For those who don't know what SAR is.)

oldtimer kinda
Nov 19, 2008

Backpacker doesn't sell "kit"; their advertisers do. It's a commercial venture, get over it.

There's nothing on that list I would be without in some way shape or form(except maybe the cell phone). I don't own the Patagonia jacket but I do take..a .. jacket..

Everyone's style and needs are different. I've been backpacking for over 30 years; I find this list useful and would recommend it to a beginner. However- if you take a tool like a compass, you should also take the skills to use it. That should be mentioned. I'm always amazed how few folks know what "variation" is, or how to calculate distance, or fix position, or even read a topo map.. all things anyone lost in the wilderness better be able to do. GPS is great, but batteries fail. Don't rely solely on it.

Nov 19, 2008

What bothers me the most is the knife. The one thing that should be the heart and soul of everything aside from training is a good knife. Yes a "rambo" syle knife is great and all but what about a a multi tool ex Leather Man or Gerber? Many situations arise when a good set of pliers is a god send.

Nov 19, 2008

Smith and Wesson Baby SWAT knife
Sharp 2.5-inch half-serrated blade locks open to prevent accidents. $30;

Nov 19, 2008

Dont bother with a Magnesium Block and striker. It takes up to much time scraping off Magnesium filings and trying to bundel them up so that a spark from your striker will hopefully land and get them lit.

If you want a good fire starter.
Get a "Light my fire" firesteel from: w w w. light-my-fire. se
The magnesium is combined in the stick with another agent to light and burn at an extremely hot temperature once struck.
It even works when wet and in high winds. Which is why I give it 8.5 out of 10.

To quote the website page: "Originally developed for the Swedish Department of Defense, Swedish FireSteel is a flash of genius. Its 3,000°C spark makes fire building easy in any weather, at any altitude.
Used by a number of armies around the world, Swedish FireSteel’s dependability has already made it a favorite of survival experts, hunters, fishermen and campers.
It has also found its way into cabins and backyards as a fool-proof way to light stoves and gas-barbecues."

Nov 19, 2008

While living in the wilderness many, many years ago I never left camp or went anywhere, and I mean anywhere, without a knife. Preferably a good sized on. Not even to go to the bathroom. Other than that I always dressed right and used as much common sense as possible. I was a little short on that at times. I would like to have all the other stuff but normally could not afford it or carry it all.

Nov 19, 2008

Well this list is crazy. If you have the money to waste on this list then you probably have fancy boots and equipment and probably stay on the trails. No the best survival kit is one you can fit into a pocket and that you take with you everytime you are out. Simple enough, something to signal with, a knife of some sort, maybe something to light a fire with, something to build a shelter with. You don't need to have a fire to survive, but it's nice to have. I had a survival kit that fit into a bandaid box that I sealed with para cord and ducttape. Never needed it though. It seems crazy to have a compass in a survival kit....the reason I say this is because how is a compass going to help you stay alive? If you know how to use a compass chances are you are good in the back country so you will already know what to do and how to do it to survive, as well as not being lost. If you don't know how to use a compass (first off shame on's easy to do and you can find classes to teach you how to use one) then having a compass will just get you more lost which is worse then not having one.

Nov 19, 2008

What a said before, you would need a truck to carry that crap. I'm not even going to get into it but everyone has different needs, this was definitely a sales pitch...very disappointing backpacker magazine....

W. Tegeler
Nov 19, 2008

When it comes to survival kits, everyone has their own list of must have items. If we are to assume this is the "Ultimate Survial Kit" it falls short. The basic weakness of this kit is signaling and cordage. It relies totaly on a cell phone. What happens when the batteries go dead or you are out of cell phone coverage? The inclusion of a cheap whistle, compact signal mirror and a 50' section of nylon cord would increae the odds of someone coming out of a bad situation alive.

not a soldier, not in iraq
Nov 19, 2008

come on, don't you know from watching Les Stroud that all you need is a broken down dirtbike and a harmonica? Actually I can kinda understand that from the perspective of Webb, the guy who recommended this stuff, that for a few nights these would probably be helpful. My only real gripe is that the called it the 'Ultimate Survival Kit'. We really need food, water and shelter, and a med kit, since the reason you may be stuck out there to begin with is that you hurt yourself. So to provide these necessities, your gear can be as simple or as complex as your personal level of comfort and load weight would allow.

Nov 19, 2008

Goodness! Does he get a commission from the sales or something?

Muds Langley
Nov 19, 2008

$631 in equipment, not counting the cell phone, the first aid kit and the energy bars. No fish hooks and line. No salt tablets. No butterfly bandages. No antiseptics. No anti-diarrheals. But make sure to pack a coat, a watch that cost more than my pack and tent combined, and two water containers--all of which I should be carrying anyway. Makes sense to me.

Nov 19, 2008

People that go out need to take the time to see what items work for them. Everyone is different and everyone has had (or should have) some form of training for such times. I'm an army brat so I carry things other would never think of, and vice versa.

Nov 19, 2008

This list is huge! you would need a ruck sack just to bring your survival kit, you need a kit that you can carry anytime you go out, you need to make it smaller and every tool needs a back up use if you can so you can get more use out of it. Lastly you need to be smart enought to able to use everything.

R.Baskin, Wilderness Safety Inst
Nov 19, 2008

I agree with many previous posts. This is a sales hit list not a compilation of survival necesseties.
I too was a search and rescue team leader for many years and participated in mutual aid calls in Yosemite NP. The first and foremost item that is not mentioned is a Trip/Hike Plan. Tell a responsible adult where you intend to hike and visit. Give an exact location with the proper name. Include your departure time/date and a return time/date. Include any gear you may be carrying and what, if any, prior experience and knowledge that you may have of the areas you intend to visit. Are you carrying necessary medications? Do you have a personal locator beacon with current registration? Do you own a SPOT messenger? Your Trip/Hike Plan should also include the names of persons in your party and a description (including license number) of the vehicle(s) you arrived in.
Remember, select a responsible individual to be your emergency contact. Provide them with accurate information. They are YOUR designated 'bacon saver' and will be questioned by law enforcement officials for info should 911 need to be called.
A call to 911 starts emergency resources heading your way.
Someone should always know where you are going and when your family can expect you home. We cant respond to your call for help if we don't know your missing.

Nov 19, 2008

paper bag and a stick!

Nov 19, 2008

Well I agree with double d, seems more like an article to sell kit rather then to highlight good gear to carry for emergences. And with 19 yrs service in the british army plus 18 years MRT tend to disagree with alot of choices.... But hey what do I know?!!!!!!!!

Nov 19, 2008

Yes, backpackers and hikers should be healthy and not have addictions to anything but the reality is many do. The last thing a stranded hiker needs to deal with when they need to keep their wits about them and be calm is going cold turkey because they didn't have gum, cigarettes, chocolate or whatever their "poison". If you need it at home, have some spare in your emergency kit.

Nov 19, 2008

What about a GPS? If you set it on track mode when you leave, you can backtrack out. If you put waypoints in, especially the trailhead, you can find your way out. Some GPSs even let you download topo maps for more detail. Bring an extra set of batteries.

Striden' easy
Nov 19, 2008

Iodine tablets work but so does Clorox bleach. Two drops per quart/liter if clear and 4 drops if cloudy and wait twenty minutes (longer if water temp is below 40 degrees F). And it's really cheap!

double d
Nov 19, 2008

Seems to me this article was designed to sell specific products sponsered by those companies. There are a lot of better gear choices out there.

don vito
Nov 18, 2008

A Swiss army knife (sak), adds a good blade, wood saw (great in the woods:), can opener, some models include a magnifying glass which can help in making a fire, a mini bic lighter is a must as well. the list can go on, but in the end it will depend on your skill, the area and duration of your trip, and the weight limit that you set.

Endless Runner
Nov 18, 2008

One more thing I would add is some p-cord, at least 50 ft. It weighs almost nothing, fits in your pocket, and has 101 uses.

Nov 12, 2008

Black Diamond makes a headlamp that gives plenty of light for bushwhacking. Its called spot or something like that. Its not heavy either.

soldier in iraq
Nov 09, 2008

a few items to consider:

flare gun, whistle, GI canteen, GI canteen cup (stainless steel), Magnesium Fire Starter, Map of the area you are operating in, GPS, Knife or Multitool and a whole lot of common sense!!!

Mr. Orchid
Nov 07, 2008

well. If he comes to rescue me I carry enough gear to help HIM survive.
Nice first aid kit.....sheeeeeesh

Nov 04, 2008

What about walking sticks or trekking poles? Highly useful.Helps you keep going.

Nov 02, 2008

I have two other items I feel are great additions to your survival kit. First is a trianglar bandage this will be able to stop most bleeding and can be used as an arm sling. The other is a small pot, combined with the rest of your kit it allows you to heat water. Without one makes cooking anything you come upon very difficult.


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