When it comes to the best survival gear, fire, food, water, and shelter are top priorities. In our list of the top 10 survival gear products we’ve chosen tools that aid in fire, food, water, self-defense, security, stealth and shelter building.
At the same time, buying survival gear shouldn’t cost you a lot of money. Early Native Americans and other primitive cultures in the world survived without expensive sporting goods and outfitters, the REI’s and Cabelas.
We live in the modern age though — in many ways we have an advantage. Most people need those advantages because going from a wired world to the wilderness comes with a learning curve — one that can kill you if you’re not prepared.
Assuming the Worst – A Disaster Strikes
Each of these products assumes the worst — because that’s exactly when your life might be on the line and a product’s effectiveness and “Survival Power” come into play.
Fire: You want a fire when it’s cold and raining or you’ve just had to wade across a river or through flood waters and now you’re soaked and in danger of hypothermia. We recommend survival gear that can produce a rolling fire in no time and with little work.
Water: Though boiling and distilling are methods for safe drinking water, you can’t always rely on these methods, especially if you’re in a hurry and have to get out of a dangerous area or through hostile territory. You are going to want a way to quickly filter water and make it safe to drink.
Food: Freeze-dried food may fail you, especially if someone robs you for whatever food you have. A good survivalist will always have a “plan B” for feeding yourself and your family. Two products listed below will help you do just that. (Hint: These products make hunting easier, especially for beginners).
Shelter: Shelter-building is one of the first things a person will learn in survival — I make two recommendations for survival gear here, one might surprise you at the low cost involved.
Stealth: Sometimes you may not want to be found. Other times you may want to spot other people or wildlife before they know you’re there.
The Top 10 Survival Supplies That Can Save Your Life
When You Need a Fire
In this scenario, it’s not enough to just recommend a good lighter — what you need in this case is actually a provenfire starter — something that will help you get a fire going fast if you’re in an emergency that may end shortly in death by hypothermia.
For possible wet or cold weather conditions, start packing a butane torch with a flame that maxes out at 2500 degrees with 35 minutes of continuous burn time.
Let’s do the math: At 2500 degrees, you should be able to ignite your tinder bundle and start a fire within just a few seconds. With 35 minutes of continuous burn time, that means you should be able to start approximately 150 – 200 emergency fires with just one small bottle of butane fuel.
Easily refills with a standard butane canister.
Easy to light “trigger” mechanism: No need for a lighter or matches to light it. It lights itself when you pull the trigger.
NOTE — A “micro torch” isn’t a tool commonly touted by survivalists. But we live in the modern age — there’s no reason we can’t use modern tools. The Special Forces use a number of modern tools, as do professional explorers who climb the highest peaks, sail the largest oceans, and others who dive to the ocean floor. Besides — do you really want to count on a primitive bow drill or flint and steel coming through for you in an emergency?
REMEMBER — this is an emergency we’re talking about. High winds. Heavy rain. Flooding. Etc.
If you wade through a cold river (rivers are common in many wilderness areas), or find yourself suddenly in the rain and need to get a fire going quickly — get this fire going using a micro torch. You can even cook, right from the torch.
Survival Power: A micro torch can be an ongoing way to get a fire going fast. Saving time on fire starting is an asset if you are traveling by foot or even by boat (canoe, kayak, Zodiac, etc.)
NOTE — A micro torch relies on fuel; when your fuel runs out, you have no more flame. You need back-up fuel (butane in this case) if you want several month’s use in an extended survival situation. One thing to note: A canister of butane is cheap
and just one can go a long ways and is also easy to use). Consider both back-up butane and even a back up torch in case of rare equipment failure (or to even use as a bartering item; there’s a good chance someone else is going to want one after they see how easy it is to start a fire).
When You Need Water
There are a lot of portable water filters on the market. A popular brand can do a good job filtering water and withstand long term use, but they can be both clunky and expensive, well over $100, with several parts that need to be fitted together.
Then there’s the Lifestraw Portable Water Filter that comes in at just under $22; it’s not only a great portable water filter with a proven track record, it’s a Time Magazine Invention of the Year Winner on top of that. It’s been used by both backpackers and relief agencies in third world countries alike. It weighs only 2 ounces and is a perfect tool for extreme survival situations like wilderness survival as well as a tool for providing water safe to drink during an evacuation of a widespread disaster. It has a very simple construction with no moving parts — which means less chances of equipment breakdown.
Like other portable water filters though it has it’s limits — a Lifestraw can’t filter salt (to filter salt water you’ll have to distil it) or heavy metals, chemicals or viruses. In a survival situation or urban disaster you’ll have to use your head. Avoid drinking from ground water sources in a populated area following severe flooding or a massive earthquake. This ground water can be contaminated with chemicals and sewage. You’ll want to move further out of the area to a water source that is less likely to be contaminated with chemicals and sewage before using your Lifestraw.
At 1,000 liters, you’ll get a lot of drinking water out of your “Lifestraw personal water filter”.
Survival Power: Portable water filters do not remove chemicals and so none are a complete solution to water. Outside of a city following a collapse local water sources may be contaminated with any number of chemicals as industrial run-off leeches into ground water, making this water unsafe to drink, even with a water filter. In a wilderness setting though, a Lifestraw should do just fine for you, and be a real life saver.
Tip: Have one Lifestraw for each person in your party so that you are not having to limit daily water use to small rations.
Update: Water filtration companies are now producing portable water filters capable of filtering larger quantities of water and selling for a similar price as the Lifestraw, including Lifestraw’s own version of its latest portable water filter (compare products, specs, and reviews to help find the portable water filter that best fits your budget).
When You Need Food
When choosing what rifle to recommend as one of the choices for Top 10 Survival Gear, I went to the experts at Outdoor Life. They know the hunting industry. They know guns. I have to say that the “Marlin 336XLR” comes in as a great choice for a hunting rifle specifically due to it’s accuracy. New hunters need as much help as they can get right? This “30-30” gets top billing for deer but in all actuality a 30.30. can take down just about any game animal in North America, including grizzly bears. Carry the right ammunition for the game you plan to hunt; don’t use the same ammo you would use to take down a deer (150 grain) as you would for a turkey or small game (100-125 grain). Cover all your bases and carry multiple sizes of ammo.
Survival Power: Though a Marlin 336XLR comes at a higher price, this rifle is suggested for people who haven’t spent a lot of time on a gun range — and again that is due to it’s higher accuracy, requiring less marksmanship skills to get your aim correct. There are rifles that do come in at a lot less cost; but with these rifles a lot more time should be spent learning how to shoot with a scope so that you can correctly hit your target.
Tip: There is no guarantee you’ll be in an area prime for hunting — not unless you do your research first and know where to enter the wilderness so that your journey takes you through remote areas where game is plentiful.
Following a collapse, expect a lot of people in outlying towns to significantly increase the “hunting pressure” in adjacent wilderness areas within the first few days. That means much of the local wildlife is likely to flee for more remote areas due to this sudden increase in hunting pressure. Study your maps and consider starting your wilderness journey in a remote area less likely to have any human activity — which means you may have to go several more miles than you may have initially considered. But the payoff for traveling a few extra miles to start your push into the wilderness will likely be worth it — hunting is likely to be best in remote areas with little or no human activity.
To keep “hunting pressure” to a minimum, consider bow hunting due to the fact that gun shots can spook wildlife. The draw back to hunting with a bow is that bow hunting requires a lot of time learning how to shoot correctly — but it can be done and may be well worth the effort in the end for long term survival.
One of the things a person will learn in U.S. Special Forces survival training is that squirrels, rabbits, and other small mammals can make a quick meal. In the wilderness, all you need to know is how to read the ground around you and recognize areas that small mammals are likely to travel. Then set up a number of small, simple traps around the area (dead falls, snares, etc) and simply wait for traps to spring.
Tips: You can increase the likely hood of a trap catching an animal by arranging logs, brush and large rocks to narrow a path that leads straight into each trap you set — from both directions in fact. Squirrels and rabbits and other small mammals can be “funneled” into any trap that’s been set.
If you bait these traps you have greater chances of not only catching an animal, but catching it faster than if you didn’t bait these traps. How would you like to check your traps the next morning and find a few animals snared, not just one (if you were lucky to get even one)? (Kaytee Squirrel and Critter Blend
provides natural bait for an “urban survival” or “live off the land” scenario).
Survival Power: Snare placement can be a key factor to whether or not you catch anything; your ability to know where to set snares relies on you learning and practicing basic trapping skills for capturing small game. Baiting traps with common game foods like nuts, seeds, and berries (and artificial baits) can help boost your snaring success.
When You Need a Knife
Let’s face it: This is a survival knife for a worst case scenario and you find yourself living in a lawless land and need a serious knife for self defense. The US Marine KA-BAR is designed for combat — and proven in combat — and carried by many U.S. Marines into past wars. Please note: This isn’t a survival knife for a weekend recreationist; a forest service official or fish and game warden will possibly confiscate it if they know you’re carrying it, so be sure to check local laws before simply packing one into the wilderness on your next backpacking trip. The good news about carrying this for a worst case survival scenario? Not only is it a knife proven in combat but something you can also use to gut big game or filet a squirrel, possom, trout, salmon or any other critter that you’re willing to eat to survive. (If this KA-BAR is a bit too military for your tastes go with a good folding knife
like this Kershaw
as a more civilian option and one you might buy for your teen kids as well.)…..Read more »