13 Essential Tools for Forest Survival Every Prepper Should Own

By James Barton •  Updated: 07/24/19 •  8 min read

If there are many forests in your surrounding area, you should get ready for all possible scenarios. Ending up in the woods without the essential tools will most definitely make your life much harder. This is exactly why you should be prepared to spend some time in the wilderness.

Where do you start? Which tools are essential? What’s more important: food, shelter, or clothing? These are just some of the questions that might rush through your head. To help you ease your mind, we have put together a list of 13 essential tools for forest survival every prepper should own.

A Good Old, Sturdy Paracord Rope

A paracord rope has proven to be an essential piece in a well-rounded survivor’s toolbox. Yes, paracord rope is really sturdy and can pull a lot of weight, but what brings it into focus is versatility. You can use it to create animal traps, build shelters, carry large bundles of firewood, and so on.

Make sure to have at least 50 feet of paracord rope in your survival kit. This way, you will not run out of rope. Paracord rope is very affordable, and getting one won’t hurt your budget. 

Also Read: Paracord: A Survival Necessity

Knife – Survival Knife

Survival Knife

If we take a brief moment to take a look at our history, one tool keeps popping out throughout the ages. History tells us the story about the knife being man’s quintessential tool. It is most commonly used for food, starting a fire, and shelter – the most basic survival needs. 

The story with the knife doesn’t end here. You can use a knife in countless activities. The blade is not only made for cutting. You can also use it for hammering, prying, digging, and carving. Make sure to go with a knife that has an overall length of 10” and a steel blade. 

With a survival knife, size matters. Don’t go with something too small because you won’t be able to perform rough tasks with it. On the other hand, something too big will make precision tasks much harder.

Axe – Small Hatchet


Imagine seeing someone in the woods with your surviving mode turned on, carrying a massive ax. What would you think? Unless you want to provoke those thoughts in people you might encounter in the woods, we suggest you stick to small hatchet. In any case, you will need an ax. It will make it easier for you to chop down trees, chop green wood to make a shelter, and turn dry wood into usable logs. 

When you’re in the woods, you never know when an emergency situation will come up. For instance, someone can get trapped by a tree or a rotten log. Having a small hatchet around can help you rescue them. 

Also Read: Is A Hatchet Better Than A Knife For Survival

Get a Radio

Many people think that, once a power outage occurs and satellite signals go down, there is no way to communicate. This doesn’t apply to radios. Get a radio if you want to be able to communicate with others during emergencies. 

You can’t make a mistake if you go with a C.B. or ham radio. Get one extra battery and make sure it is charged. With two batteries, your radio will work for a week. 


Many people with a survivor’s mindset think that there is no room for a flashlight in a forest survival situation. In the long run, this is completely true. Not only will you have to carry extra batteries, but with constant use, you are doomed to run out of them. Having a flashlight is great when you need light in emergency situations.

Get your hands on a small and light flashlight, and don’t forget to get some extra batteries. It will only add a few extra ounces to your backpack. 

Chem Lights

When it comes to forest-friendly lighting solutions, it doesn’t get any better than it does with chem lights. These lights don’t last long, which makes them useful for emergency situations. A high-intensity chem light, for instance, lasts for approximately 30 minutes. 

They can also work underwater, and withstand even an EMP burst. On top of that, you can use chem lights to make a trail. If you cut it open, the liquid that drips to the ground will continue to glow. 

Magnesium Fire Starter

Starting a fire in the woods is very tricky. Sometimes it is very hard to find dry materials. While there are plenty of ways to do it yourself, there is also an effortless shortcut – a magnesium fire starter. Starting a fire with magnesium is very easy and can be done in a few seconds.

All you have to do is shave off some magnesium and use the striker to generate sparks that will ignite the magnesium. Magnesium burns on very high temperatures, allowing you to get the fire going in wet conditions. On top of that, a magnesium fire starter is weatherproof.

While we are on the subject of fire, don’t solely rely on a magnesium fire starter. Have a backup solution as well, such as flint and steel, and lighters.



This may sound peculiar, but tampons can save your life in the wilderness. They are very small, light, and affordable. You have no excuse for not having at least a few of them in your survival kit. Why? Because they are one of those items that appear to have only one use case, while in reality, they are very versatile.  

You can use a tampon as a medical bandage (remember, it’s sterile), a crude water filter, a fire tinder (they are made of cotton), a candlewick, and a fishing bobber.

Make a First Aid Kit

There is no need to bring a full box of medical gear with you into the woods. It is too big and too heavy to be carried around. Instead, you should make a first aid kit of your own. First, make sure to bring all the prescribed medicine you and your loved ones need. If there is someone with asthma in your family, make sure to bring those pumps.

You first aid kit should also contain some pain killers and bandages. Feel free to put in antiseptic ointment and butterfly stitches. You never know when you might need to close wounds. If you don’t have the time to make your own personalized first aid kit, get a branded one. In any case, have one ready to go always.

Ziploc Bags For Waterproofing On The Go

Ziploc bags are true little helpers. No, they are not reserved only for keeping your food fresh and tasty. Ziploc bags are very light and they don’t use a lot of the space. They have dozen of use cases and can prove quite useful, especially once you cross your sword with mother nature. 

For instance, you can safely put your emergency radio inside one to keep it dry. You can also use these bags to carry water from a nearby stream or creek. When it’s raining, a ziplock bag can help you protect your tinder from getting wet.

Get A Compass


Even if you know your way around the forest, you should always welcome a little bit of extra help. Navigating by looking at the stars and the sun is easy. But, there is are two prerequisites – it has to be a clear day, and the forest should not be too dense. 

When on the clock, and running on minimum water and food supply, you need to get moving as fast as possible. This is why you need to invest in a compass. Since you are bringing it into a forest, you want to make sure that it is waterproof.

Also Read: Map and Compass Navigation

Tools For Catching and Identifying Food

If the emergency is a short-term one in nature, a few cans and snacks will get you through your stay in the forest. On the other hand, if you find yourself without food, you have to be able to find some, no matter how difficult.

This is why you should get an edible plant booklet that you can carry with you. For small game hunts, you can always get a pellet gun. Catching fish is also easy, as long as you have a fishing line, lure, and hook. 

Steel Containers

While in the forest, you will have to cook. Why? The hot temperature will kill dangerous microbes that can otherwise harm you. Also, your body temperature will rise. This becomes more important if you end up in the forest for longer than a couple of days.

Instead of taking a cooking pot with you, you should get a thermos, canteen, or cup made from steel. 


Chances are that you already have a few items on this list, but it is always good to stay proactive in life. Getting ready for survival in the forest will increase your odds of survival. The more information you gather, and the better equipped you are, the less stressful the entire experience will be for you. This is why we encourage you to start building your forest survival kit.

James Barton

James Barton

Hi, I'm James. I am the founder and main editor for The Survival Corps. I have been a part of the survival and prepping community since my mid 30's as I downsized and started to prepare to be self sufficient in a time of crisis.