The Best Survival Kits and How to Choose one
Survival kits are essential for anyone participating in outdoor recreation. They’re a safety net in case you find yourself in a life or death situation. I think the best survival kits should include a variety of different tools and items because more variety means better flexibility and you’re less likely to have that one missing thing that could have saved you. Survival kits must also be
practical since most people are less likely to take it along with them on an excursion if the kit itself is too much of a burden. Lastly, these kits should match the situation as best as possible. This means that certain items should be included for specific outdoor activities. As an extreme example, you wouldn’t take an emergency fishing kit when hiking out in the desert. The last time I went portaging in the Algonquin back country, my canoe sprung a major leak. I was glad to have packed a tube of marine glue and some patching material otherwise it would have been a nearly impossible task to get back to safety. Aside from the core items, every survival kit should match its usage. A camping survival kit will be slightly different from a hunting survival kit, and both might be different from a car survival kit. Best practice is to identify the most likely scenario where an emergency might take place and plan your survival kit accordingly. Every good survival kit should have items that provides you with the core necessities needed to survive. Let’s go over each core necessity before picking out some awesome kits.
Common knowledge dictates that humans can go three minutes without air. This of course is a general assumption for survival situations as humans have been known to survive without breathing for much longer than three minutes. For simplicity sake, we will carry on with this number in mind. Most kits that include items for air are somewhat limited. They are limited because in the vast majority of survival situations, air is always available. With that being said, kits can still include items like masks or some sort of minimalist air filtration. The popular choice for use in emergency kits will be the N95 mask. It’s possibly the best overall mask to prep in case of emergency. If you have a need for a more sophisticated mask with filtration, you’re free to buy one and put it in your kit, but for the purposes of this article, a simple N95 will be enough.
Shelter is an easier survival necessity to prepare for. In survival situations, having shelter should be a priority in the short term. Having shelter early on will ensure you’re alive to eat, drink, and find a way to get help. Depending on the environment you plan to venture out into, different types of shelter will work better than others. A basic tent should keep the wind and rain off and depending on the environment, different materials may be needed to regulate temperature. Other shelter items include things like emergency blankets or sleeping bags. These items are for warmth and in many survival situations warmth is more important. Sleeping in shade is ok even on the hottest days and nights but sleeping in the cold can easily lead to hypothermia. A great skill to learn is to know how to make simple shelters out of materials found in your environment. One of the best field trips I had when I was a kid was out to a nature center where they had us build lean-to shelters. A simple shelter like this utilizes branches and small logs along with pine needles as bedding. Having a small tarp in your survival kit will give this shelter extra warmth and protection from the rain. A good amount of paracord is also a shelter necessity as it will allow you to tie logs together, or to string your tarp. Also, under the shelter category is a way (or multiple ways) to make fire for cooking and warmth. Survival kits should include waterproof matches and fire-starting material in addition to other fire-starting tools like lighters or flint and striker.
When purchasing a survival kit, make sure there’s some food in there to tide you over until help arrives, and at the very least, a way to acquire food. Some kits will include a few bars of food for a day to a few days, some won’t include food, but will include a means to acquire food. Look for things that will compliment the activity you’re participating in. Fishing items like some line, lures and terminal tackle are great for camping survival kits, or hiking survival kits. I’ve even come across collapsible .22lr rifles with a bit of ammo in the stock. These rifles are excellent in survival situations as they are great at taking down small game like rabbits, squirrels and birds. Some remote cabins stock these types of guns in case people that are lost happen to stumble upon the place. For most survival kits however, a couple ration bars or MREs are preferred. The average human can go three weeks without food, so most kits don’t pack more than a few days of food, if that.
Water is the easiest to prep for, and for good reason. Most humans can only survive three days without water. If you’re in a survival situation water is crucial. Thankfully there are many items included in kits that ensures you have drinking water. There are many kits out there that include water purification tablets. Some kits include a filter as well, but if you’re going to use a filter, you might as well buy a product like LifeStraw. I say use LifeStraw because it is the most comprehensive solution for making drinking water out in the wilderness. Purification tablets, boiling, and UV wands will kill bacteria and microorganisms, but the dead particles stay in the water. This is why a filter is preferable, to filter out these microscopic organisms. For emergency situations, you’ll get by with old fashioned purification tablets.
Figure 1:Paracord Survival Grenade
First up is a very nifty looking survival kit great for camping, hiking, hunting or any outdoor activity near or around water. The Paracord Survival Grenade is a compact survival kit geared specifically towards all outdoor activities where being able to fish for food can save your life. The kit itself is extremely compact and can be clipped to a keychain. My only issue is that I won’t be able to re-tie the paracord to look like a grenade, because the kit itself is inside this cool grenade-looking braid of paracord. It is also a great addition to any existing survival kit you own. What you can expect out of this kit is a cheap, convenient way to ensure you have the ability to catch fish in a survival situation. Also included in this kit is a basic fire starter and some tin foil to cook the fish, which I think is a very cool addition.
9ft of 550 Paracord
A small blade
Fire Starter Flint
2 pieces of fishing line
2 fishing hooks
2 fishing weights
1 piece of tin foil
1 piece of tinder
Figure 2:Echo Tactical Go Frag!
Keeping with our paracord grenade themed survival kits, we have the Echo Tactical Go Frag! Emergency Survival Kit. This kit is much larger and more comprehensive than the last, with plenty more items. Which makes it a great stand-alone kit to bring with you anywhere you go. There’s 50 ft. of paracord tied in the shape of a grenade to hold all the contents of the kit. A solid key ring makes this kit attachable to just about anything. The kit is suitable for just about any outdoor activity and small enough to fit in your glovebox. There’s a lot to this kit, I will list its full contents below, but there’s items for shelter building, food acquisition, and water purification and some basic first aid.
30’ Fishing line
3” Electrical tape
2 Bobby pins
4 Fishhooks and sinkers
Needle and Thread
4 Purification tablets
2 Safety pins
2 Split rings
8’ Metal wire
The LifeShield Warmth & Outdoor Shelter Kit is a usage specific kit geared towards survival scenarios where shelter may not be easily available. This compact kit provides both warmth and shelter and makes a great addition to bug out bags or any recreational activity where exposure can be a serious threat. In addition to the tube tent is a compact emergency sleeping bag and some thoughtfully included packages of body warmers. The sleeping bag self reflects heat and so the included body warmers will help keep you warm well through the night. The included poncho will help keep you dry and thus mitigating the chances of catching hypothermia.
2x 20-hour body warmers
1x 2-person tube tent
1 Emergency Sleeping Bag
First Aid was not specifically addressed earlier in the article; however, it is important enough to have it included in every survival kit, regardless of the recreational activity. I believe that every home, car, and outdoor recreationalist should have a first aid kit, and know how to use the items in the kit. When I was 12, I learned the value of a first aid kit. My dad had suffered a nasty cut while we were hunting and having a first aid kit to stem the bleeding made all the difference. A good first aid kit will have many different items to treat common injuries. Common items in every first aid kit should include bandages and antiseptic wipes, along with some medication. This kit is smaller and does not include as many items as the following kit, but it does include an N95 mask should you prefer that over a larger kit.
The Family First Aid kit is a great comprehensive first aid kit at a very good price for use as a general first aid kit for the home, car or any outdoor activity. Included is treatment for common injuries and a guidebook on how to treat those injuries. The kit treats bleeding, blisters/burns, fractures/sprains, wounds and bug bites. There are 78 items in this kit, too many to list here, but the full list and specs can be found here. Price: $34.97
Topping off our list of the best survival kits is the LifeShield All in One Bug Out Bag. This product is an assembly of the best kits mentioned earlier and it checks off all the core survival necessities. Housed in a cool tactical backpack, this 72-hour survival kit is great for any prepper looking to be survival ready without having to go out and get all the items individually. This kit has 6 survival kits included, some of those kits being previously mentioned. It has food provisions for 3 days, ready to drink water pouches, and a LifeStraw for obtaining drinking water while outdoors. There’s a first aid kit with an N95 mask included, along with some survival tools like knives, pliers, shovel and cooking pots and utensils. Also included, but not previously mentioned is an Emergency Light and Communications kit, which includes matches, flashlight, candle, glow stick and AM/FM radio.
Having so much variety when choosing a survival kit makes assembling the best kit a practical and affordable way ensure you’re well equipped in case of emergency. Anyone can make their own kit, and there’s no reason not to have one and all the reasons to own one. When it comes to survival, it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have. Most kits won’t include some form of distress communications due to their higher cost but having something like SPOT communication devices is invaluable in situations where cellular or radio communication is not possible. These devices will work anywhere and allow you to send text alerts to authorities along with your exact GPS coordinates.
Written by John Sader
From camping shoreside as a toddler while his father fished well into the night, to portaging through the backwoods of Ontario, John is an outdoorsman in every sense of the word. A natural Jack-of-all- trades, he is always outdoors doing anything and everything. John enjoys spending his weekends fishing, from a boat or through the ice, hunting for Turkeys and mushrooms in the spring, wing shooting in the fall and chasing deer until the last day of the season. He one day hopes to have his own homestead where he can enjoy the outdoors to it’s full potential. Follow along on his journey on Instagram @set_hook.