How to Prepare an Outdoor Survival Kit

Posted on October 27, 2015 by Kim Bagley | 0 comments

If you enjoy spending time hiking, biking, or camping you most likely prepare for your activities by making sure you have the supplies you need and you are properly dressed.  This level of planning is just part of the fun of spending time outdoors.  Preparing an Outdoor Survival Kit is taking planning to the next level.  Normal preparations include thoughts of what do I need for my trip.  Survival planning includes thinking through the possible things that could go wrong while you enjoying the great outdoors and making sure you are ready for the worst case scenario.

                Take some time to think about what you need to survive.  The first thing that often comes to mind is water and food.  In survival training there is a rule of threes that teaches:

  • A severe injury can cause death in less than 3 minutes.
  • In extreme weather conditions, death from exposure can occur in as little as 3 hours.
  • Dehydration can cause death in about 3 days.
  • It takes at least 3 weeks to die of hunger.

This rule is important to keep in mind as you prepare as you make your outdoor survival kit list.  You probably noticed the first thing that comes to mind, actually is not the most important concern when considering survival.  When planning for a homemade outdoor survival kit you want to make sure you prepare for injuries, shelter, water, and lastly food.

                Since injury is the quickest threat to your survival, first aid needs to be your first concern when preparing and outdoor survival kit or a camping survival kit.  A good first aid kit should include items for wound care, medications such as aspirin and Benadryl, gloves, and a pocket guide that gives basic information on first aid.  Wound care would include bandages and gauze; antiseptic sprays, creams, or wipes; and scissors.  Beyond basic bandaging need you may also want something you could use to make a tourniquet or splints for more serious injuries.  Aspirin has been shown to help especially in cases of heart attacks and Benadryl is a must for anyone with allergies.  Medication is also a place where you can and should personalize your kit.  You can make sure you have any medications you use regularly, an epi-pen for extreme allergic reactions, hard candy for a diabetic low – you know your medical needs best so make sure your kit reflects your needs.  Knowing CPR is definitely beneficial, but a basic first aid information guide can remind you or someone who is helping you know what to do in a stressful and emergency situation.  Your kit does not have to be like the big one you keep at home, you can find a small one that can attach to belt loop or you can simply pack the items in a baggie and place it in your own homemade outdoor survival kit.  


                Exposure actually is the number one killer of people stranded in the wilderness.  Most the time when you are hiking you just consider the immediate weather, but if you get stranded weather can change quickly and so it is important to not become complacent when planning for your hike.  Even in camping you want to consider the elements both for while you are at your campsite and if you are away from your campsite.  Your outdoor survival kit list should include a tarp, a blanket, multiple ways to start a fire, and signaling items.  Building a shelter out of surrounding materials is not always practical so a tarp can quickly be set up to protect you from winds, freezing rain, or sun exposure in extreme heat.  A blanket is also helpful to have fore unexpected weather.  For both of these items you can think small; find items that can be folded to a small size that can fit in your homemade outdoor survival kit.  Believe it or not a heavy duty trash bag can actually work as a tarp or even a sleeping bag that helps keep your body heat in.  So you may use something simple to meet your basic survival needs.  Fire meets the obvious need of staying warm, but it can also be used to signal others of your whereabouts, and can be used for boiling water and cooking as well.  Since fire is so important in survival situations you want to make sure you have more than just matches in your survival kit.  Lighter or flint are other quick ways to get a fire started.  You can stuff some dryer lint in a toilet paper roll, this actually serves as good kindling for a fire and is really light weight.   Signaling items are items that would help searchers find you.  Hopefully you are already a wise outdoors person that always lets someone know where you are going and when you are returning, so if you get stranded someone is going to come looking for you.  Whistles and mirrors can help you send signals to people who are going to come searching for you.  Aluminum foil is another simple survival item you can put on your outdoor survival kit list.   It is reflective so it can be used to signal, it can also be shaped into rudimentary cookware.  Obviously you don’t want to pack a tent, or tons of layers of clothes for a simple hike but a few well thought out items can easily be carried with you and protect you from exposure.


Water and food are important survival items too, so they last things you will want to account for in your homemade outdoor survival kit.  Water is one of those items you probably packed as part of your basic preparation for your outdoor activities, when packing for survival it is wise to pack an extra bottle or two of water for yourself as well.  More importantly you will want some items in your survival kit that will allow you to collect water.  It is also important to pack something that can purify water just in case the water you are able to find is contaminated.  You can use items to make your own distiller, such as the aluminum foil from above, if you are the MacGyver type or you can simply pack a small container with bleach or water purification tablets.  The OKO H2O Odyssey 6-in-1 Water Bottle would be a great addition to your survival kit, because it is a way for you to collect and purify water, with the added benefit of being a flashlight.  Food really is the least of your worries, but if you want food in your survival kit it should be non-perishable and high in protein.  Tuna fish, beans, and energy bars would be good choices.  If you pack canned goods a can opener or a Swiss army knife would be good to have on hand in order to open your cans.  Since you want you outdoor survival kit to be ready to easily carry with you light weight items like fishing hooks and twine and a knife would allow you to catch food if you were stranded for a prolonged period of time.



Hopefully this helps you think through what you would need to survive in a worst case scenario and how to pack a homemade outdoor survival kit accordingly.  If you don’t want to make you own you can also buy survival kits.  Most are backpacks or fanny packs already loaded with most of the supplies mentioned here.  If you are looking to buy a survival kit, The Yukon Outfitters Survival Kit is a great choice.  It is a backpack that is stocked with 58 items that provide shelter, utility tools, and emergency preparedness.), water purification tablets, a blanket, mosquito netting, and a survival guide.  It is lightweight and still has room for you to pack survival gear specific to your situation.

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