Whether you are into survival tactics and training or not, if you are passionate about outdoor pursuits such as fishing, hiking, hunting, camping or all of the above; it is imperative that you acquire some basic survival skills and put together a basic wilderness survival kit.
It doesn’t take much research to find thousands of examples of people who did not think they would be put into a survival situation, but ended up encountering just that while enjoying their outdoor pursuits.
So my rule number one for survival preparedness is, do not ever think it can’t or won’t happen to you. If you look into these missing and injured outdoorsmen reports, you’ll find that plenty of people, who are more than capable, have met an unfortunate and untimely end in the backcountry.
Take this as seriously as if your life depended on it, because if you are underprepared with mindset, equipment, and skills that is what it could cost you.
WHAT SHOULD BE IN A WILDERNESS SURVIVAL KIT?
To start us off, First Aid. If you cannot care for yourself and others or have materials that allow others to care for you in the backcountry, you are asking for the maximum world of hurt should you encounter an accident. Make sure you take the proper precautions with injury risks.
Secondly, H2O. Water is our life blood in terms of consumption.
Water is the oil in our engine, if you run an engine without oil it eventually blows a gasket or blows up entirely. Your body without water is no different.
Third, a sturdy and large fixed blade knife. This incomparable tool needs no introduction if you’re familiar with outdoor activities and will be elaborated on in a later paragraph.
Fourth, fire starting equipment. If water is the oil of the body’s engine then the ability to make fire in a survival situation is the transmission fluid keeping the body not just functioning, but operating more smoothly.
Fire warms your body during the cold of night, it allows you to cook food, boil water, and does wonders for morale.
These are just a few essentials that will require equipment to ensure security of such needs when in the wilderness. We will be engaging other needed tools as well to have a truly proper wilderness survival kit.
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE SURVIVAL TOOL?
As I hinted at above, in my opinion the fixed blade knife is the most important survival tool in your kit.
This is an opinion shared by most of the survival community, and it’s pretty easy to understand why.
First, basic defensive applications – the knife is obviously a great weapon if you are required to fend off an attack.
Second, the knife can be used to hunt and/or process wild fish and game. This caloric boost can be the difference between making it through a rescue or not.
Third, the knife can be used to craft many things, but most importantly it can help you craft a quality shelter, which also can mean the difference between life and death in many climates.
That last statement is not hyperbole. As you’ll find out below you may have as few as 3 hours to get yourself a proper shelter made, depending on the conditions you’re dealing with.
These crucial reasons are on top of the more well known reasons knives are invaluable in the wilderness; tasks such as processing wood for the fire, or cutting rope for lashing a shelter or building a raft all can be accomplished by this one simple tool that has been around for ages.
SHOULD YOU CARRY A MULTITOOL?
If you are into rugged activities then you are likely pretty familiar with multitools.
Most of us have a leatherman or two and they are great little gadgets to have on you. There is some debate as to whether or not they are a wilderness survival kit essential.
My opinion is a little bit duplicitous, but I believe my reasoning and solution makes sense. I do not believe multitools are essential for wilderness survival or a basic wilderness survival kit.
That being said, it doesn’t make sense not to have one. Most models today are clippoint and lightweight. Just replace your EDC pocket knife with the multitool.
The pocket knife’s tasks can be picked up by the fixed blade knife you’re carrying or the small blade on the multitool. This opens up the pocket to carry a tool that has pliers, a file, scissors, wire strippers, and a small blade. This is a no-brainer.
So while technically you can survive without it. Make your life easier and just carry a multitool, (My personal favorite: The Leatherman Wingman Multi-tool) you never know when one of it’s more obscure applications will save the day.
WHAT IS THE RULE OF 3s?
A well known self-awareness system in the wilderness survival and military communities is the Rule of 3s. It is a very simple way to both understand your limits and prioritize your needs as it pertains not only to survival but basic human function.
This list actually adds one extra rule from the traditional list. My survival instructor, Craig Caudill of the Nature Reliance School is the gentleman responsible for this particular upgrade.
The Rule of 3s are:
One cannot go more than 3 minutes without proper oxygen and blood flow.
One cannot go more than 3 hours without proper shelter from harsh elements.
One cannot go more than 3 days without hydration.
One cannot go more than 3 weeks without food nourishment.
And, Craig Caudill’s addition:
One cannot go more than 3 months without human assistance/ cooperation.
This list gives you an idea of what we are capable of, but also how vulnerable we can be. As I mentioned above, this list will also select most of your survival priorities for you.
Packing luxuries along might be really nice if everything goes smoothly, but after consulting this list is it worth sacrificing first aid space in your pack to have them?
This is of course not to say that to be really “roughing it” you can’t carry some luxuries. It just means that you don’t bump equipment that is more important to your survival in order to carry those luxuries.
If you can fit seasonings or a camp stool into your loadout without sacrificing the items you’ll find on this list, more power to you!