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.

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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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