Top 25 Survival Gear Must Haves

Survival can be a simple concept that is made complicated by the many ways you can do it. This is further complicated by the multitude of choices you have when prepping your survival pack.

multitool, knife, first aid kit, metal water bottle, carabiner, two types of rope, and fishing gear
various survival items: multitool, knife, first aid kit, metal water bottle, carabiner, two types of rope, fishing gear, flashlight, and a folder

In fact, those who are new to prepping can actually spend a ton of money unnecessarily trying to buy every type of supply they will need. It’s actually more important to get the most bang for your buck.

You want gear that can perform multiple jobs and stuff that is reliable over the long term.

These items are broken up into categories based on what you will need to survive out in the wild.

Heat And Fire

These items will help you stay warm and get a fire started for cooking or drying your clothing. Fire is essential for life and should be one of your top priorities in a survival situation.

Ferro Rod

Uberleben Zunden Ferro Rod
Uberleben Zunden Ferro Rod

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  • This is a small fire starter with a metal rod for striking against the ferrocerium rod.
  • The waterproof storage compartment will keep your tinder dry and is large enough to store four cotton balls comfortably.
  • Its lanyard cord will keep the device close to your body. The emergency whistle attached adds extra safety.
  • Besides assisting you in building a quick, robust fire, this fire starter comes with a land-to-air rescue and SOS instruction booklet, to make sure you get help as soon as possible.
  • The device is water-resistant, sturdy and carries a lifetime warranty.
  • A smooth, sweeping motion is recommended when starting a fire with this device. This allows for greater friction against the fire steel and more chances of getting a spark in seconds.
  • Before first-time use, be sure to strip the rod’s black outer coating away to expose the metal beneath.

Wood Burning Camp Stove

This camp stove is easy to maintain and provides the benefits of both a power charger and a light-weight camp stove, enabling you to charge key items while your meal is cooking.

  • All you need to do is collect twigs or kindling as fuel because it’s able to operate on any biomass available. Say goodbye to heavy, expensive gas that pollutes the environment, weighs down your pack, and may be very hard to come by when SHTF.
  • It’s quick to light, boils fast and is easy to use. This highly efficient stove uses proprietary thermoelectric technology to covert heat to electricity.
  • At maximum burn, the fire can boil a 1-liter pot of water in only 4 minutes.
  • The heat from the cooking fire converts into usable electricity, allowing you to recharge your LED lights, cell phones, USB-chargeable devices and other gizmos while you prepare a hearty dinner. Twenty minutes of charge time gives you 60 minutes of talking time on most smartphones.
  • Camp stoves like these make use of renewable sources for fuel and decrease your carbon footprint, without relying on solar power.
  • When SHTF and the power lines are down, you’ll be happy you chose this fuss-free cooker. Plus, you can sit around it and toast marshmallows, if the mood strikes you.

Waterproof Matches

These are the superheroes of matches. Weather-resistant and reliable, they’re a must-have for any bug out bag, get home bag, or even EDC.

selection of strike-anywhere matches
selection of strike-anywhere and various other matches for survival purposes
  • Even in bad weather, these strong-lighting matches won’t lose their glow. They’re packaged in a water-tight tube, which includes a waterproof coating and a striking surface.
  • The matches have large heads for maximum burning time and lighting efficiency, even when damp. These aren’t your typical birthday candle lights: they are designed to continue burning until the fuel has been exhausted, so don’t expect them to be easily blown out.


Firelaces are a great example of having gear that can perform more than one task. Essentially they are boot laces with ferro rods built into the end of them. You can use the included tool to strike the ferro rods and light a fire in an emergency situation.

  • Can be used as shoe laces and a firestarter
  • Waterproof ferro rod can always be in inclement weather
  • Doesn’t add any bulk to your pack, making it a portable solution

Water Filtration

Water is needed for survival and you can’t last more than a few days without it. Here are some inexpensive gear that can help you purify water in a survival situation.

Personal Water Filter

Lifestraw water filter
the Lifestraw personal water filter

First sold in 2005, the Lifestraw portable water filter won Time Magazine’s ‘Invention of the Year’ and is used by leading NGOs for global humanitarian relief.

  • It’s compact and ultralight-weight, making it the most advanced personal water filter on the market.
  • There are no delicate moving parts, which means it’s resilient to damage and won’t break easily in tough terrain.
  • The device weighs only 2oz. It contains cutting-edge technology in the form of hollow-fiber membranes, small porous tubes that allow water to pass through, but prevents contaminants larger than 0.2 microns from entering.
  • It doesn’t rely on batteries!
  • LifeStraw enables you to drink right from water sources, such as puddles, streams and freshwater pools. Simply uncap the caps at each end and submerge the bottom end of the straw in water, keeping the mouth-piece dry. Allow the water to seep through the pores for half a minute, and then suck a couple times to get the flow going.
  • After each use, blow into the end of the straw, to clean and remove debris.
  • You’ll have fresh, bacteria-free water without the fuss. LifeStraw has been lab-tested and proven to remove a range of harmful water-borne bacteria, including Cholera, E.coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. There’s also no aftertaste when using LifeStraw.
  • Remember that LifeStraw does not desalinate water or remove dissolved chemicals and minerals. It is also not effective against viruses that may be present in the water source. Try treatment tablets if you suspect your water has been contaminated by a virus or human waste.
  • LifeStraw is the perfect device for the light traveler or backpacker, and is an ideal addition to your BOB.


It’s always a great idea to have multiple ways of purifying your water. In a perfect world, water filters are an excellent choice but if they get damaged or become frozen, it can really hinder the performance of the filtration system.

It could even become harmful if you’re not paying attention to if it’s working or not.

  • Aquatabs provide the same quality of water from a filter but they are in a convenient tablet form.
  • 1 pill can purify up to 0.75 of a liter of water, making it ideal for emergency situations.
  • They can generally make the water better tasting as well as cleaning it
  • To fully purify the water it’s best to leave it for 30 minutes

Water Purifications Drops

Water purification also comes in liquid form and is a solid third method of purifying water in a survival situation.

  • Chlorine dioxide ensures that all bacteria and pathogens are killed.
  • Designed to filter 1 liter of water per serving.
  • Takes a few hours for it to fully purify water, not good for quick needs.

Shelter And Comfort

Compact Blanket

Another BOB essential is a lightweight pocket blanket…

  • It’s compact enough to fit into a small bag or purse, yet stretches out to a substantial size of 55” X 44”. It even comes with an ‘easy-pack’ pattern which will guide you in folding the blanket back into its storage pouch.
  • The weighted corners keep it grounded in windy conditions, so you won’t have to worry about your blanket blowing away while you sleep.
  • It’s water-resistant to keep you clean, warm and dry.
  • The anti-puncture fabric will protect you from spiny twigs, thorns, rocks, sand and insects and ensure you have a comfortable night’s rest, even in the harshest conditions.
a Mylar space emergency blanket in Zipper bag
a Mylar space emergency blanket in Zipper bag

Space Blankets

  • These tightly-folded blankets are individually packed in Ziploc bags, making them compact and perfect for lightweight packs. When spread out, it expands to the size of a regular bed sheet.
  • Mylar is designed to keep your body temperature regulated, no matter what the environmental conditions.
  • Make sure you have a good supply of these emergency warmers nearby, because when SHTF, you may be exposed to the elements for hours, even days, before you can build or find shelter.
tarps and emergency blanket next to backpack
tarps and emergency blanket next to backpack

Survival Tarp

Shelter is incredibly important in a survival situation, especially in inclement weather. You can always build a shelter out in the woods but sometimes time doesn’t allow for that to happen. Having an emergency tarp that you can quickly pitch in a variety of settings and positions is a must have in your survival kit.

  • Waterproof and windproof shelter to help keep you dry and warm.
  • An inexpensive shelter that is small form and lightweight in your pack
  • There are an endless amount of tarp shelter configurations to keep you safe from any adverse weather

Emergency Bivvy

A bivy is like a sack that you can slip inside and be offered meager protection against the elements and temperatures.

Emergency bivvys are lightweight alternatives to emergency blankets and function just as a vivy would. They are small enough to fit in with any kit and are a great last resort in a survival situation. You can check out an emergency bivvy here.

  • They act like a mylar blanket to keep the heat in. Emergency bivvys also include a hood that you can draw over your head.
  • Waterproof seams keep all forms of precipitation out to make sure you stay dry.
  • They can be brightly colored so that in a rescue situation you are highly visible to everyone


Paracord “Grenade” Survival Kit

There are plenty of these going around.

  • The survival kit above contains your basic essentials: fire starter, alcohol pad, tinder, aluminum foil, a fishing kit (including lines, hooks, weights and swivels), a knife blade, and 500lb of Paracord – depending on which one you get. These basics are the hardest to improvise when you’re stuck in the wilderness, so it’s a good idea to have them ready to go in an emergency.
  • Paracord can be lashed, tied or pulled apart to serve a number of nifty uses. Create a sling, use it to tie firewood together, pick it apart for some fishing line or create a pulley line with it. The possibilities are almost endless.
  • Aluminum foil is a survivor’s best friend, and can be used for signaling, cooking, and reflecting heat.

550 Paracord

United States Army standard parachute cord
United States Army standard parachute cord
  • This very sturdy paracord contains 7 inner threads, each of which are made up of 3 strands.
  • With a diameter of 1, 8’ and an impressive load-bearing capacity, it is far stronger than the commercially-available 550 civilian cord.
  • It’s easy to cut when needed and the ends can be melted to combat fraying.

Tactical Pen

They do say that the pen is mightier than the sword. This has never been more true for a heavy-duty writing tool like this one.

two Stinger tactical pens
two Stinger tactical pens
  • The high-performance pen is not only a tool for jotting down important survival notes; it’s also a self-defense weapon.
  • It has excellent anti-skid properties, complete with a diamond thread designed handle and effective tactical action.
  • The body is made from aviation aluminum material, making it practical and durable.
  • The cartridge is a common size, making replacements easy to come by.
  • It is fully retractable with no mechanical glitches and there is no risk of it leaking even when securely clipped to clothing or belts.
  • This is a solidly-built pen, so it may take some practice to master its textured grip and weightiness.

Swiss Army Knife

Swiss army knife
a Swiss army knife
  • This iconic knife comes with a lifetime warranty and the superior quality of Swiss precision engineering.
  • Its 33 dynamic tools can be used for a myriad of activities, from scaling trout to rewiring an electronic device.
  • The variety of implements, including blades, openers, pliers, scissors, files and saws will cover you in any sticky situation. It even includes a pressurized ballpoint pen.
  • The 3-and-a-half-inch knife fits beautifully into a jacket pocket or BOB, equipping you to take on any challenge the great outdoors throws at you.

Small Back-Up Knife

Along with your main survival knife, you should definitely consider a smaller EDC knife – just in case something happens to the larger one.

  • This 7-inch, full-tang stainless steel blade is perfect for cutting robust paracord, as a spear head, or for splitting kindling. Plus, it comes with a fire starter, so you’re good to go!
  • The magnesium-alloy fire starter is a small steel rod which can be scraped with the knife blade to create a spark.
  • If your new knife is a little on the blunt side, simply sharpen it with a pocket sharpener.

Hand-Crank Chainsaw

cutting a small tree with a hand-crank chainsaw
cutting a small tree with a hand-crank chainsaw
  • Hand-crank chainsaws are typically lightweight and compact – perfect for your bug out bag or INCH bag.
  • It can come really handy if you need to cut out a thicker branch to clear your way while bugging out.

Sharpening Stone

In order to keep your knives, machetes, and axes all sharp you’ll need a sharpening stone. You can’t do much work with a dull blade and keeping them sharp ensures the integrity of the blade stays strong.

You can use a rock in the wilderness for sharpening but you’ll find the quality of the sharpness will suffer.

  • Sharpening stones come in a variety of grits that give you an idea of how coarse the stones are
  • Using a sharpening stone that has multiple grits on it is a great way to keep your blades razor sharp
  • Choosing a sharpening stone that needs to be lubricated with oil could affect sharpness if you don’t have any. There are others that just need to be soaked in water to work well.

Waterproof Notebook

  • Every aluminum survival pen needs a handy pad of waterproof paper to complete it.
  • This pocket-sized paper pad serves as a preps check list, and is durable, waterproof and tear-proof.
  • Even if your notepad is drenched by a sudden downpour or a leak in your pack, it’ll stay usable, once the slight moisture has evaporated.
  • When SHTF, you’ll need to communicate with others, write inventories, keep logs and take notes on your surroundings. With a 50-page count and unmatched durability, this little notepad is the perfect writing companion.

Folding Shovel

  • This steel entrenching tool uses a tempered steel blade equipped with teeth for cutting and slashing.
  • It contains a compact folding shovel and pick, and comes with a nylon carry sheath.
  • When you need to move sand, snow or dirt to clear your path, dig a hole to dispose of waste or dig out a fire pit, a folding shovel is indispensable.
  • The triangular folding steel handle is designed to fit snugly in your hand.
  • In an unpredictable, constantly changing environment, this handy tool is both deadly and effortlessly easy to wield.


Small LED Flashlight

two small flashlights
The flashlight on the left is hand-crank, the one on the right runs on an AA battery.
  • This small flashlight does everything you expect from a mini light. Its miniature size, impressive brightness, and adjustable focus make it essential for your EDC or get home bag, illuminating the treacherous path ahead.
  • The design is scratchproof and waterproof.
  • The brightness output can reach around 500 lumens, giving off a blinding effect, a perfect deterrent for unexpected foes.
  • This can be recharged via USB, phone charger, so you can plug it into a small solar panel.

LED Headlamp

  • Equipped with 18 super-bright white LEDs and 2 red, this neat headlamp provides visibility and defense while out in the wild.
  • You can adjust the brightness levels and toggle between white and red lights.
  • It takes 3 AAA batteries, which are included.
  • The secure, adjustable head strap keeps the headlamp in place even during vigorous movement, such as running, gathering wood, or hunting.
  • It’s shockproof and vibration proof, which means you can do almost anything while enjoying reliable, long-life lighting. The high-end white LEDs, with advanced optical design, last over 30 000 hours!

Solar Lantern

Regular lanterns and headlamps take fuel or batteries which you can run out of in a survival situation. A solar lantern is great because it uses the sun to power its batteries.

  • Solar lanterns are usually powered by a lithium-ion battery which is long lasting and energy efficient
  • Using LED technology reduces power consumption which prolongs the life of the battery
  • Solar powered lanterns can take upwards of 80 hours to fully recharge the battery


Portable Solar Panel

  • A portable and consistently reliable power source, it will cover you when you’re off the grid by charging your small devices such as phones, tablets, emergency radios and flashlights.
  • Durable, flexible solar panels can be easily folded up in a BOB for effortless storage.

Solar + Hand-Crank Emergency Radio

hand-crank AM/FM radio and lantern
hand-crank AM/FM radio and lantern

These are multi-use survival items that let you communicate during any disaster or grid-down situation.

  • You’ll never have to rely on batteries again, because the Solar Handcrank Emergency Radio is solar or hand-powered.
  • It’s a flashlight, cellphone charger, AM/FM radio and alarm hybrid, with a beacon and siren thrown in for good measure: the ideal disaster preparedness gadget!
  • The compact, dependable device contains an integrated rechargeable battery that needs only the sun or hand cranking to charge.

Get These Sooner Rather Than Later

When you’re off the grid, having the best survival gear can make life a whole lot easier.

Even for the seasoned prepper, buying gear that’s right for your needs, environment and the kind of disaster you might face can be tricky terrain.

Can you think of any other survival gadget must-haves to add to the list?

1 thought on “Top 25 Survival Gear Must Haves”

  1. Not a bad list. Although I’d consider a few items as more convenience rather than essential. Another item that has served me well for years is the FM 21-76 Survival Manual. I keep a copy in my BOB for reference. Knowledge really helps keep you focused and calm when you’re in a bad situation. Survival tends to stress you out and knowing how to overcome it really helps keep your mind in the right place.

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