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Your Homemade Survival Kit

Make your own backcountry insurance policy.

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For just a few bucks, you can build a “Lundin special” that’ll get you out of all kinds of trouble. Fold everything neatly, pack efficiently, and the whole 3 pound 14 ounce kit and caboodle will fit inside a standard fanny pack. The survival kit is intended to supplement the regular contents of a hiker’s pack. It should be worn at all times and separate from the backpack. Don’t leave camp without it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One each of gallon- and quart-size zipper-lock bags for holding water and building stills; the bags should have wide mouths so you can skim for water and reach into crevices.
  • Tincture of iodine to disinfect water; use five drops per quart.
  • 2 condoms to use as canteens.
  • Plastic drinking tube (3 feet long) for drinking from stills or crevices.
  • Orange flagging tape to mark your route or write a message.
  • Dental floss (100 feet); a tough string for many uses.
  • Duct tape (3 feet); get the strongest variety available.
  • Mini flashlight with spare bulb.
  • Extra flashlight batteries with date marked; replace every 12 months.
  • Magnesium block with striking insert; carry a minimum of three means of starting a fire.
  • Cigarette lighter; get a bright color so you won’t lose it.
  • Strike-anywhere matches dipped in paraffin.
  • Firestarters; cotton balls saturated with petroleum jelly and stuffed in a film container pack the smallest, but you can also use chips or other dry, fatty foods or even dryer lint coated with paraffin.
  • Magnifying glass for signaling and fire starting.
  • Glass signal mirror with sighting hole and a whistle.
  • Light space blanket for shelter and signaling.
  • Heavy-duty space blanket with grommets and reflective side for shelter and signaling.
  • Three heavy-duty, plastic leaf bags; use as a rainsuit, shelter, tube tent, tarp, or for collecting rainwater.
  • Military parachute cord (50 feet), 550-pound test.
  • Extra knife; should be all-purpose with a fixed, double-edged, carbon-steel blade that can throw a spark.
  • Brightly colored bandanna; doubles as a pot holder, hat, and water filter.
  • Basic first-aid kit; contains wound dressing, moleskin, antibiotic ointment, and other items.
  • Topo map and compass.

-Annette McGivney