In your quest for preparedness, understanding what items to include in a basic survival kit is crucial. From natural disasters to unexpected emergencies, having the right tools and supplies at your fingertips can make all the difference. So, whether you’re venturing into the great outdoors or simply seeking peace of mind for unforeseen circumstances, this article will guide you through the must-have essentials for your survival kit.


Tarp or tent

When it comes to prioritizing your survival needs, shelter should be at the top of your list. In a basic survival kit, it’s essential to include a tarp or a tent. These items provide protection from the elements such as rain, wind, and cold temperatures. A tarp is lightweight, versatile, and can be set up in various configurations, making it an excellent option for emergency shelter. On the other hand, a tent offers more stability and can provide a comfortable sleeping space. Regardless of your choice, having a reliable shelter will greatly increase your chances of staying safe and comfortable during an emergency.

Sleeping bag

Coupled with your shelter, a high-quality sleeping bag is another must-have item in your survival kit. A good sleeping bag will help regulate your body temperature and prevent hypothermia, ensuring a restful night’s sleep and the energy needed for survival tasks the next day. Look for a sleeping bag that is lightweight and compressible, as it will be easier to carry in an emergency situation. Opt for bags with synthetic insulation or down filling, as these materials offer excellent warmth retention properties, even in wet conditions.

Emergency blanket

In addition to your sleeping bag, including an emergency blanket in your survival kit is a wise decision. Emergency blankets, also known as space blankets or Mylar blankets, are made of a durable, heat-reflective material that helps retain body heat. These blankets are lightweight and compact, making them convenient to carry in your kit. In case of an unexpected night outdoors or a sudden drop in temperature, an emergency blanket can provide an extra layer of insulation and keep you warm. It’s a small item that can make a big difference in your overall comfort and well-being.


Lighter or matches

Fire is not only a source of warmth but also a means to cook food and purify water. Including a reliable lighter or waterproof matches in your survival kit is crucial for starting a fire quickly and efficiently. Opt for windproof lighters that are refillable or waterproof matches that come in a waterproof container. It’s a good idea to have multiple ignition options in case one fails or gets lost. Keep these fire-starting tools in a dry, easily accessible place within your survival kit to ensure you can create fire whenever needed.


While lighters and matches are excellent for igniting a fire, having a firestarter in your kit can significantly increase your chances of success, especially in challenging conditions. Firestarters come in various forms, such as solid fuel tablets, fire starter sticks, or paraffin wax-coated cotton balls. These compact items are designed to ignite easily and burn for a sustained period, giving you time to build up your fire. Consider including a few different types of firestarters in your kit to account for different scenarios and weather conditions you may encounter.


Water bottles or hydration pack

Water is essential for survival, and having a means to carry and store it is vital. Including water bottles or a hydration pack in your survival kit ensures access to clean drinking water when needed. Choose durable, BPA-free water bottles with a capacity that suits your needs. Hydration packs, worn like a backpack, offer hands-free access to water and are especially convenient for on-the-go situations. Aim to include at least one liter of water per person per day in your kit, and remember to regularly rotate and replace the water to keep it fresh.

Water purification tablets

While having a supply of water is important, it may not always be feasible to carry enough for an extended period. In such cases, water purification tablets can be a lifesaver. These tablets effectively eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses from water, making it safe for consumption. They are lightweight, compact, and easy to use, making them an ideal addition to your survival kit. Follow the instructions on the packaging for proper usage and dosage. By including water purification tablets, you can confidently collect and purify water from natural sources, increasing your chances of staying hydrated in a survival situation.


Non-perishable food items

Sustenance is crucial in a survival situation, as it provides the energy required for physical exertion and mental clarity. Non-perishable food items should be a staple in your survival kit. These foods have long shelf lives and can be eaten without the need for refrigeration or cooking. Consider including items such as dried fruits, meal replacement bars, jerky, nuts, and granola bars. Aim for food that is lightweight, nutrient-dense, and includes a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These snacks can keep hunger at bay and provide a boost of energy when needed.

Canned goods

While non-perishable snacks provide quick energy, including a few canned goods in your survival kit can offer a more substantial meal option. Canned foods, such as beans, soups, and vegetables, are packed with nutrients and can be eaten straight from the can or heated over a fire. Look for cans with easy-open lids or include a compact can opener in your kit. Canned goods add variety to your meals and can provide a comforting sense of normalcy during challenging times.

Energy bars

When planning for your survival kit, energy bars should definitely be on your list. These compact bars are specially designed to provide a concentrated source of energy and nutrients. They are easy to carry, have a long shelf life, and can be consumed on the go. Energy bars are typically packed with carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats, which are essential for sustaining energy levels and keeping hunger at bay. Choose bars that suit your dietary preferences and consider including a variety to prevent taste fatigue during extended survival situations.



In a survival situation, having a versatile tool that can perform various functions is invaluable. A multi-tool combines numerous tools, such as pliers, knives, screwdrivers, and more, into a single device that can easily fit in your pocket. This tool allows for quick and efficient repairs, crafting, and other essential tasks. Look for a sturdy, well-built multi-tool with a range of features that suit your needs. Whether it’s cutting through rope, tightening screws, or opening cans, a multi-tool can be a lifesaver in times of need.


A knife is a fundamental tool in any survival kit. It serves a wide range of purposes, from cutting materials to preparing food and building shelter. Choose a knife with a fixed blade, as they are generally more robust and versatile than folding knives. Look for a quality knife with a sharp blade, a comfortable grip, and a sheath for safe storage. A well-maintained knife can be a true asset in a survival situation, becoming an extension of your hand as you tackle various tasks.

Duct tape

When it comes to versatility, few items can match the usefulness of duct tape. Including a roll of duct tape in your survival kit can help solve a myriad of problems. From repairing gear and creating makeshift tools to securing shelters and treating injuries, duct tape can be a lifesaver. Consider wrapping several feet of duct tape around a lighter or water bottle to save space in your kit. Its strong adhesive properties and durability make it an essential tool to keep on hand for any emergency.

Rope or paracord

Having a length of rope or paracord in your survival kit is an excellent idea. These items are incredibly versatile and can be used for various tasks, such as securing shelter, building a splint, creating a makeshift clothesline, or constructing a trap. Opt for high-quality, lightweight ropes or paracord that can withstand tension and is easy to handle. By including rope or paracord in your kit, you’ll have the means to improvise and adapt to different situations, enhancing your chances of survival.



In a survival situation, communication plays a vital role in attracting attention and alerting others to your presence. Including a loud, durable whistle in your survival kit is an effective way to signal for help, even in challenging environments. A whistle’s piercing sound can carry over long distances and is easily recognizable as a distress signal. Attach the whistle to a lanyard or keep it readily accessible on your gear to ensure you can quickly grab it when needed. Whether you’re lost in the wilderness or caught in a disaster, a whistle can be a powerful tool to convey your need for assistance.

Signal mirror

Another indispensable communication tool to include in your survival kit is a signal mirror. This small, lightweight mirror is specifically designed to reflect sunlight accurately, maximizing its visibility over long distances. By precisely angling the mirror towards your target, you can create flashes of light that catch the attention of potential rescuers or passing aircraft. Signal mirrors often come with sighting features to help target your signal accurately. Including a signal mirror in your kit greatly enhances your chances of being spotted in an emergency situation.

Emergency radio

Staying informed about ongoing news, weather updates, and potential rescue operations is vital during a survival scenario. An emergency radio ensures you have access to critical information even when other forms of communication are unavailable. Look for a compact, hand-cranked or battery-powered radio that can tune into both AM and FM frequencies, as well as NOAA weather channels. Some emergency radios also feature built-in flashlights and USB charging ports, making them even more versatile. By listening to emergency broadcasts, you can make informed decisions and stay connected with the outside world.

First Aid


In any survival situation, injuries are unfortunately a possibility. Including a variety of bandages in your survival kit will help you treat minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, and other wounds. Opt for adhesive bandages in different sizes, gauze pads, and self-adhesive bandage wraps. These items will help control bleeding, protect wounds from infection, and provide wound care. Consider including a small first-aid manual or guide to ensure you know how to administer proper first aid in different situations.

Antiseptic wipes

Maintaining proper hygiene is essential, especially when you’re in a survival situation where medical help might be scarce. Including antiseptic wipes in your kit allows you to clean wounds and prevent infection. These wipes are pre-moistened with antiseptic solutions that kill bacteria and reduce the risk of contamination. They are individually packaged, lightweight, and easy to use. By practicing good wound care and sanitization, you can minimize the risk of complications and ensure a safer healing process.

Pain relievers

In the event of injuries or other aches and pains, having pain relievers readily available in your survival kit can provide much-needed relief. Including over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen is a smart choice. These medications can help alleviate pain, reduce fever, and minimize inflammation. Keep these pain relievers in a waterproof container, and ensure they are not expired. However, always consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication, especially in a survival situation.

Medical scissors

Including a small pair of medical scissors in your survival kit can make a multitude of tasks much easier. These scissors are designed with blunt tips, making them safe for cutting bandages, clothing, or other materials close to the skin. Additionally, they can be used to handle small splinters, cut tape, or trim loose threads. Keep the medical scissors in a sheath or wrap the blades with duct tape to prevent accidental injuries. Their compact size and multiple uses make medical scissors an excellent addition to your first-aid arsenal.



Proper lighting is crucial in survival situations, whether you need to navigate in the dark or search for items in your kit. Including a good-quality flashlight with extra batteries is essential. Look for LED flashlights, as they offer a long battery life and excellent brightness. Opt for models that are waterproof, compact, and have multiple lighting modes to suit different needs. A flashlight with a strobe or SOS feature can also be used as a distress signal. Make it a habit to check the batteries regularly, and keep spare batteries in your kit to ensure you always have a reliable source of light.


While flashlights are useful, having a hands-free lighting option can be incredibly convenient in a survival scenario. Including a headlamp in your kit allows you to maintain visibility while keeping both hands free to perform essential tasks. Headlamps typically feature adjustable straps to fit different head sizes comfortably. Look for headlamps that offer a wide range of brightness settings and have a long battery life. Whether you need to set up camp, repair gear, or navigate in the dark, a headlamp provides a reliable and convenient lighting solution.

Extra batteries

While having reliable flashlights and a headlamp is essential, they are only as good as the batteries that power them. Including a supply of extra batteries in your survival kit ensures that you can maintain illumination over an extended period. Check the battery requirements of your flashlights and headlamp to ensure you have the right types and sizes on hand. Store the extra batteries in a waterproof container or ziplock bag to protect them from moisture. By including spare batteries, you can avoid being left in the dark when you need light the most.



When you find yourself in an unfamiliar or challenging environment, having a compass in your survival kit is crucial. A compass allows you to navigate and maintain direction, even without access to modern technology. Opt for a high-quality compass with a durable casing and a clear, easy-to-read face. Familiarize yourself with basic navigation techniques and practice using a compass before venturing into the wilderness. By including a compass in your kit, you’ll have a reliable tool for orientation, ensuring you can find your way back to safety.


A map is a valuable tool for navigating and understanding the terrain. Including a detailed topographic map of the area you’ll be exploring or in which you live is essential. Topographic maps clearly show elevation changes, water sources, and landmarks, providing valuable information for route planning and identifying potential hazards. Waterproofing the map using a laminating pouch or a sealable bag will ensure its longevity, even in wet conditions. By having a map readily available in your survival kit, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and navigate unfamiliar territory.

GPS device

While a compass and map are reliable navigation tools, a GPS device can provide an extra layer of certainty and accuracy. Including a handheld GPS device in your survival kit allows you to pinpoint your exact location, track your movements, and mark important waypoints. Look for a GPS device with a long battery life, a clear display, and a durable construction. Consider including spare batteries or a portable power bank to ensure uninterrupted use. Utilizing the features of a GPS device can enhance your navigation abilities, especially in low visibility or complex terrain.


Rain jacket

Weather conditions can change unexpectedly, and staying dry is crucial for maintaining body temperature and warding off hypothermia. Including a lightweight, packable rain jacket in your survival kit is a smart choice. Look for jackets that are waterproof, windproof, and breathable, as they will keep you dry while allowing moisture to escape. Ensure the jacket is the right size and provides a comfortable range of motion. By having a rain jacket on hand, you’ll be prepared for sudden downpours and keep yourself protected from the elements.

Warm layers

In cold environments or during nighttime, having warm layers of clothing is essential. Include items such as thermal underwear, fleece jackets, insulating hats, and gloves in your survival kit. These layers trap body heat and provide insulation, ensuring you stay warm and comfortable. Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics that dry quickly, as they will help regulate your body temperature even when you’re perspiring. Remember to select clothing in the appropriate sizes and pack additional layers if you anticipate extreme cold temperatures.

Extra socks

Keeping your feet warm and dry is critical in a survival situation. Including extra pairs of socks in your survival kit will help prevent blisters, fungal infections, and frostbite. Choose socks made of moisture-wicking materials such as merino wool or synthetic blends, as they will effectively manage moisture and keep your feet dry. Consider packing different thicknesses to accommodate varying weather conditions. Having clean, dry socks to change into can provide much-needed comfort and prevent foot-related issues that could hamper your mobility.

In conclusion, a well-prepared and comprehensive survival kit should include a variety of essential items across multiple categories. By ensuring you have the necessary tools for shelter, fire, water, food, communication, first aid, lighting, navigation, and clothing, you greatly increase your chances of surviving and staying comfortable in challenging circumstances. However, remember that the contents of your survival kit should be tailored to your specific needs, the environment you’ll be in, and the duration of your adventure. Stay safe, be prepared, and keep exploring with confidence!

By avysurvival

Hi! I'm Avy, the author behind Survival Active. As someone deeply passionate about survival and preparedness, I'm here to provide you with the best tips, tricks, and gear recommendations to help you face any challenge that comes your way. My goal is to equip you with the knowledge and resources needed to protect yourself, your loved ones, your health, and all that you hold dear. With my thorough product reviews and expert advice, you'll feel confident and prepared in any situation. Join me on this journey to mastery and discover the secrets of survival at Survival Active.