Before we go through the list of top ten survival items, we must establish a few ground rules:
Multi tools and kits do not count as a single item.
Actual food and water substance does not count.
Electronic units (like cell phone or gps or personal locator) do not count.
Clothing and backpack is already included!
Now that that's understood, let's begin!
Knife- Uses include: Building shelter, starting/making fires, use as a weapon for self defense or catching prey, cutting materials to be used for first-aid or cordage. These are just a few general uses of a knife, if I got more specific I could write a book... or another article about Survival Knife Uses!
Flint Striker- Any fire starting tool is great, and you can even start a fire without one, but the flint striker has many advantages. First: it is easy to start a fire with a flint striker and can save a lot of time and energy rather than starting a fire from scratch. Second: It virtually won't run out like a lighter or matches would.
Water Filter - Water is always a prime concern, and drinking bad water will likely kill you in a survival situation. We recommend an actual filter bottle rather than tablets just because it will last longer if needed and it also provides a container for your water. Although if you don't know how to found sufficient water in the wilderness then this tool is useless. Learn how to find water here.
Rope/Cordage - Uses include: Building shelter, building rafts or boating, repelling/climbing, setting traps for prey or predators, first-aid uses, and more. These are only a few general uses. Read more uses for Paracord here.
Rechargeable Flashlight - I know we said no electronic devices, but we made this one an exception. It's not really cheating. Having light in the dark is crucial, especially if there is no fire going. But even with a fire, you may need to wander away for reasons, or you may need light quickly and don't have a fire ready. Often times people underestimate how fast the dark approaches, or they take longer than expected to prepare a fire. The small, rechargeable flashlights won't get in your way and will last virtually forever.
Emergency Blanket - No we're not talking about a big bed quilt. We are talking about a tiny compact plastic-feeling bivvy that can fit in someones pocket. These little survival blankets are way warmer than people think and that extra warmth in cold environments or when it's raining can save your life. It can also be used for shelter, collecting rainwater, first-aid, or just extra clothing.
Signal Mirror - It seems hard to imagine this could come in handy. I mean what are the odds you will be rescued by aiming a beacon of light into someone's face from miles away? Well it happens often enough that it is always worth the try. In addition, a signal mirror can be used to make fires and examine your body for cuts, injuries, ticks, and make sure your hair looks good for when you get rescued and a camera crew is present.
Signal Whistle - Sometimes people just aren't looking your way. In that case, sound is the best way to get attention. Most people don't realize that a whistle travels much further than a human voice. You may think you can get louder or as loud as a whistle, but that doesn't mean the sound travels. I could get in to the physics of sound waves and explain why, but this is an outdoor survival article, not a science class.
Flares - Flares are great, and probably more effective than any other signalling method, but the reason it comes after the mirror and whistle is because they can run out and are a bit bulky. Regardless, a flare can easily save your life if used at the right time. Click here to learn how to properly signal for help.
Survival Guide - Knowledge is everything, right? RIGHT! This should almost be the first thing on the list. You may think you already know all the basics to survival, like how to start a fire, find food, get clean water, build a shelter, and so forth. And that may be true, you may know a lot already. But I guarantee if you think hard enough, you can come up with something you are a bit hazy on. Whether it has to do with proper rescue signals, which plants are edible and not edible, how to purify water, first-aid procedures, or even a map (I guess we can consider that a survival guide) there is some type of information that you can bring with you for reference.
Have any recommendations for this list? Give us some input on the comments section, we would like to hear your feedback and perhaps even our other readers would appreciate your input!
Thanks to one of our readers, we would like to mention we did not include a compass as one of the top 10 survival tools. Although this is debatable, the compass would definitely have been item #11 if the list kept going. The reason we excluded a compass from this top 10 list is because we feel there are enough ways to navigate and set your bearings without the necessity of a compass, although they can certainly help and make the task much easier!
outdoor jackDate 8/7/2011 4:24:01 PM
I prefer water tablets over the filtration idea... not all filters can get everything, bacteria and virus wise. but that is a good point about the container.
lisaDate 8/8/2011 9:06:42 PM
Actually jack, there are some filters that can... depends on the system used but of course it goes up in price the better it gets
HenryDate 8/9/2011 10:30:11 AM
You know I think this article was very good. But the most valid point is using the signal mirror to make sure your hair is ready for rescure! lol but seriously good article and I can't wait to read more!!
john buckDate 10/25/2011 1:11:27 PM
What about a compass? I think it should be there somewhere... maybe instead of light? or blanket? you can always come up with another way for light and warmth
-army issue can opener P38, get them at pretty much any military surplus
-army issue canteen cup, there stainless steel and great for boiling water