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How to Make a Survival Kit: A Complete Checklist

How to Make a Survival Kit: A Complete Checklist
A survival kit should be considered mandatory equipment for any outdoor enthusiast. Lackluster planning and poor preparation can lead you straight into an undesirable path; however, one can avoid such dangers by creating a well-conceived survival kit. Experienced hikers always recommend customizing one's kit to suit each specific need and the circumstances one will likely face. Different locations, climates, levels of experience, and group sizes call for varying survival gear and customization.
Our team has carefully curated the ultimate survival gear list from first aid kits to waterproof matches to meet all of your assembling needs!

POST SPONSORED BYMontem Trekking PolesMontem Trekking Poles

Basic Survival Kit Supplies

The essentials are always a good place to start. From the east to the west coast, the Himalayas to Sahara, these are the survival gear must-haves:

1. Tools

2. Illumination

  • Tactical flashlight
  • Two sets of extra batteries
  • Emergency candles
  • Small mirror

3. Clean water

  • Water purification tablets
  • Water filtration devices

4. Cordage and Tape

  • Duct tape
  • 200 feet of Paracord
  • 100 yards of monofilament fishing line

5. Fire-Starting Kit

  • Flint or magnesium fire starter
  • Water-resistant matches
  • Emergency tinder
  • Magnifying glass

6. Keeping Warm

7. Basic First Aid / Medical Kit

  • Band-aids
  • Gauze
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment

8. Rescue Signals

  • Signaling mirror
  • Whistle
Being a survivalist means adapting to any situation with the right tools, tips, and survival hacks. Various sites will recommend slightly different items for your essential survival kit, but the items listed above are the most commonly used.

Customizing Your Kit

Now that you have the essential items required for your survival kit ready, you may want to examine your specific needs and customize the equipment accordingly. You can begin this process by asking yourself the following five questions:

1. How many people will be sharing this survival kit?

It is vital to tailor your survival kit to the number of people who depend on it. A solo trip will typically require less gear than an 8-person camping trip. If the hiking party size increases, some gear will need to increase directly proportional to the number of people hiking, while others can remain the same. For instance, the whole group can use one fire starter, while space blankets cater to more individual usage.

2. What sort of emergency might you face?

Different potential emergencies will arise depending on the activity. If you plan to travel in the forest or the desert, the former calls for tick-removal ointment, while the latter calls for a sunburn cream. Every scenario will have its unique risks; sitting down and assessing these risks when building your survival kit is critical.

3. Where will you be using the kit?

Different locations present climatic challenges, which you will want to factor into your survival-kit-making decisions. For example, trips across the northern latitude will typically cause you to confront frigid temperatures. This weather may steer you into being more inclined to purchase emergency hand warmers and space blankets.

4. How much experience do you have outdoors?

Generally speaking, the more outdoor survival skills you master, the fewer items you need in your survival kit. Those who are quite skilled at starting campfires may not need to bring matches and emergency tinder, as a simple fire starter will suffice.

5. How long are you likely to wait before help arrives?

A state or local state park emergency would probably rescue you in a matter of hours. However, if you are trekking through the Yukon or trying to cross the Darien gap, you may need to wait weeks for rescue teams to reach you. The amount of time required to wait for rescue is also a good indicator of how much food or water one should pack.

Additional Considerations

Winter Compass
In addition to the considerations listed above, you may also want to add a few more essential survival items when stocking your kit:

Medical Conditions

If you take daily medications, packing an extra set in your survival kit is a possibility worth considering. Hiking trips are known to extend themselves for various reasons. Thus, it is always good to be fully stocked and ready to go! Over-the-counter medications, like high-altitude medicine, are also highly recommended by doctors for certain patients. Ask your medical provider for personal recommendations tailored to your health history.


Unfortunately, some outdoor enthusiasts are threatened by nefarious people or dangerous animals. This leads some to keep a weapon or self-defense tool in their survival kit as a precautionary measure.
A survival knife is a crucial instrument for self-defense. The best survival knife is characteristically sharp, has a non-slip grip handle, and is folding friendly. Experienced hikers highly recommend having one of these always at hand. Just be sure to follow all local laws and regulations before packing any weapon or self-defense tool in your survival kit.

Cash or Currency

Local towns and service stations may not take cards. Thus, you should take the necessary precautions and pack a small amount of money to help solve imminent problems and allow you to get back home if needed.

Communication Devices

Typically, survival kits are designed to help you get through a situation where help cannot be secured. However, if you equip yourself with a satellite phone, prepaid cell phone, or two-way radio, you can contact support quickly and efficiently.

A Word about Redundancy

In an ideal world, a hiker would bring along duplicates for every item in their survival kit. This way, if one breaks, they would have a backup at the ready. “Two is one, and one is none,” as the saying goes. But in the real world, outdoor activities will place weight and space restrictions on the size of your survival kit.
This is why items with multiple purposes are crucial. For example, duct tape is often included to repair clothing or camping gear, but you can also use it as a band-aid in a pinch. Safety pins are another good multi-purpose supply, as they can be used for clothing repairs, bent into fishhooks, or used to sew up a wound if need be.

How Should You Contain Your Survival Gear?

Camping Fire
Now that you’ve assembled an assortment of supplies and tools, you’ll need to contain them in a sensible and efficient way!


  • Backpacks are large and offer plenty of capacity which is great for keeping everything tidy and in one place. The downfall is it is too large and bulky to move agilely through the terrain. Understanding one’s own body and its limitations are the first steps to understanding which backpack is the best fit for you!

    Soft-Sided Carrying Case

  • Usually made from fabric and equipped with a single zipper, soft-sided carrying cases are probably the most popular containers for survival kits. Soft-sided cases are lightweight and easy to store. The only issue that arises with soft-sided carrying cases is that they don’t offer much protection for the fragile items inside. Thus, it is recommended to pack fragile items strategically.

    Rigid Carrying Case

  • Rigid carrying cases typically feature plastic or metal sides. While they are heavier, bulkier, and more difficult to pack than soft-sided cases are, they better protect the gear.

    Float Bag

  • If your adventures will take place on or near the water, the float bag/waterproof bag is highly recommended. Often, it will make the most sense to store your survival kit in a small carrying case, which is then placed inside a float bag, but you could just use the float bag if you prefer. Once again, circumstance will dictate the gear of best fit!


Stocking a survival kit is a very personal procedure that requires the utmost care and precision to detail. The gears chosen for your kit are the tools that will assist you in surviving and thriving in any situation. Our team hopes this article is a good starting point for many safe yet exciting adventures to come!