Wilderness Survival Kit List: A Complete Checklist

By James Barton โ€ข  Updated: 06/15/19 โ€ข  14 min read

Nothing can beat the fun of taking an adventure in the wilderness with family and friends. But your safety is the first thing that you have to take into consideration. You need to plan appropriately and carry all the items that you can use to stay safe from the varying weather conditions. Without a wilderness survival kit, you can end up contracting diseases instead of enjoying your stay.

So you need to be careful not to leave any of the most critical requirements. And without much ado, here is your wilderness survival kit list.

1. Firestarters

Regardless of the prevailing weather conditions, at some point, you will need fire to stay warm in the night, cook your meals, and also scare away the wild animals that might want to attack you in the night.

Kindling fire can be a tall order, especially when the weather is not favorable. So before you set off for the adventure, you need to learn different ways of starting a fire. Your ability to start a fire will determine the speed at which you can prepare meals and also get enough heat to keep you warm in the cold.

Better still; fire can also be used to signal for help. However, setting fire for emergency purposes is different from doing it for your cooking or warming needs. Getting yourself versed with these wilderness survival hacks will help you call for help during such times.

To make your fire kindling experience fun and easy, you need to try lighting fires under different weather conditions to see if you will be able to do it. Make sure you carry a striker, matchsticks, and a lighter when going to the wilderness so that you have different options to start a fire. Alternatively, you can also learn the traditional methods of starting a fire, which include:

a. Conventional lenses

This is one of the easiest traditional ways of igniting fire without using a matchbox or igniter. All you need is to have a binocular glass, magnifying glass or eyeglasses then hold them towards the sun while focusing on a small area and within a few minutes, you will have your firewood ignited.

However, this method only applies during sunny days.

b. Steel Wool And Batteries

If the traditional lens does not work for you, then you can try out the steel wool and batteries. Stretch a 6โ€ณ long and ยฝโ€ wide steel wool and rub your battery side against the wool until the steel wool ignites. Though you can ignite the fire with any battery, taking advantage of 9v cells will ease the process. Once it ignites, transfer your steel wool to your firewood as fast as possible before it goes off.

2. Maps And Compass

As you visit the wilderness, you may be interested in visiting some of the best sites within the region, and this might not be possible without the right tools. Many adventurous people have got lost in the wilderness as they search for specific landmarks just because they relied on the wrong tools.

Though a GPS can help you track places fast, if you are in a region where there is no proper connection, then locating sites can be hard. And this is where a map and a compass come in handy.

A map will show you the location of the landmarks that you are interested in and the compass can assist you in locating them. Carrying a map and compass means that you also have to equip yourself with map and compass reading skills to help you discover landmarks and find directions to them.

In case you do not have such skills, you can enroll in short courses that train people how to read and navigate maps. Ensure that you practice this before you go out into the wilderness so that you are sure you are good at it.

3. Necessary Clothing

Depending on the place you plan to visit, you need to have clothing that will protect you from the harsh weather conditions that might prevail there. In case you are visiting a hot place, ensure that you carry light clothing that will not make you sweat a lot. On the other hand, heavy clothing would be appropriate for a cold place to shield yourself from the cold that might make you uncomfortable and unable to engage in activities you might love.

Apart from the regular clothing, you also need to carry others like raincoats and the necessary clothing you need for various activities. In case you would like to day hike in the wilderness, always bring the safety clothing that you will need for such an event.

As much as proper clothing is essential, you should also determine the number of clothes you will need throughout your stay to avoid bringing more clothing that will add to the weight of your luggage. In case you are going into the wilderness for research purposes, you also need to carry with you the necessary protective clothing you will use during your research.

4. Emergency Survival And First Aid Kits

Top view of red first aid kit with cross symbol isolated on white background

As you move into the wilderness, you might not know what might happen to you. You might get lost or even get a bite from animals or even fall and injure yourself. In such a case, you need ways of ensuring that you help yourself fast enough.

A first aid kit is also of great importance when you are in the wilderness. One might fall or even get bites that may cause bleeding or general irritation and allergy to the body. Such circumstances require band-aids in your day pack before one can see a professional doctor who can offer further help.

As you carry the first aid kit, you also have to ensure that you are equipped with the first aid skills to help you in different situations. Carrying the first aid kit without the necessary skills would be meaningless. In case you do not have skills, you have to enroll in a first aid training course so that you get the skills that will make you save situations that can be fatal at times.

Calling for help in times of emergency can be a challenge. Worse still; your voice might not be loud enough to reach other people who might get to you for help. A whistle around your neck would be of assistance in such a situation.

Also Read: Survival Camping Ultimate Kit Checklist

5. Water Purification Tools And Skills

You might include a few bottles of drinking water in your list of items to carry, but you might never know when it will be over. Even when you run out of water, you still need more. Bringing water purification tools can help you just in case you run out of water. Also, carry a bottle opener as well.

However, to purify your water, you will need skills, or else your tools will be useless. With such tools, you can even extend your stay in the wilderness as long as there is a good source of water like a stream or a river. You can learn how to purify water through YouTube or even sites that have such useful information. You have to practice this before you go into the wilderness so that you do not make any mistakes that might affect your health.

But before you set off your foot for the adventure, it is vital to check for the availability of natural sources of water in the location. It will make your plan for your water needs.

6. Food

You cannot stay in the wilderness without food. You need to carry all the different types of foods that you need to take to stay active and healthy. As an adventurer, your body will require a lot of energy to carry out all the activities that you plan to carry out in the wilderness. So, they should be a part of your personal survival kit. Though food items are not survival tools, you still need to place them with your right survival gear.

If you are going to stay in the wilderness for long, ensure that you have foods that can last for such a duration of time. Some of the foods always go bad so fast and might not even last into the third day of your stay. You can use such foods during your first days of stay and also carry alternatives that can last longer than them to be used up to the last day of your visit in the wilderness.

When listing the foods that you will need for your stay in the wilderness, it is important to note their nutritional composition so that you do not leave the desert with some nutrient deficiency in your body. Also, ensure you carry foods that are easy to prepare. Those that can be prepared by making use of simple recipes can be ideal for such an adventure.

Also Read: How long do MREs Last?

7. Tent Or Tarp

It is not possible to spend the cold nights in the wilderness outside without any shelter. The shelter is also essential when you need to rest and stay away from rain or the hot sun and maintain body heat.

With such a facility, you will need to either buy one or look for places to hire in case you have never bought one before. Putting up a tent can be such a struggle if you do not have the necessary skills to do it. You will have to learn about it before you set out to go to the wilderness.

There are online courses that you can join to learn how to put up a tent very fast. Once you are done with the course, it is important to practice so that you do not make any mistakes when you are out in the wilderness, and no one is around to help you put it up. You can also include a sleeping bag to keep you warm in case you are visiting a cold place. Remember that temperatures can drop quickly in evening, so you should have sufficient skills to survive when you’re away from your loved ones.

Also Read: 15 Tips for Camping in the Rain

8. Source Of Light

Your movements in the wilderness might end up making you walk in the dark, and you will need light to see. Without a flashlight, it might not be impossible to achieve this. You might not even be able to cook your meals at night for fear of attack by wild animals.

When shopping for a flashlight, you have to pay close attention to battery life. You may not have any source of power where you can charge your flashlights in case they do not have long battery life. You can carry more batteries for replacement in case your flashlight drains power.

The brightness of the flashlight you choose is also a factor to consider. You have to be sure that it will not inconvenience you when you need to see things in the dark. Apart from battery life and brightness, you also have to consider its size. You do not want to walk around with a heavy torch that will inconvenience you.

The good thing is that flashlights have continued to be manufactured in convenient sizes. You can search for different types available in the market and choose the best one for you to use in the wilderness.

9. A Bow Saw And A Survival Knife

One of the activities you might probably get engaged in is hunting. You need to have a good knife that you can use to skin your catch and cut the meat into pieces for preparation. A survival knife enables you to do this as long as you have the skills to skin the animal well after a successful hunting expedition.

Apart from hunting, a survival knife can also be used to cut strings that you need when in the wilderness. When choosing your knife, it is important to ensure that it is razor-sharp and strong enough to cut the strings and skin animals that you might catch when hunting. It is also essential to carry an extra knife so that in case you lose the one you are using, you can be sure of a backup.

A bow saw comes in handy when you want to cut bigger logs to make a fire. It can cut bigger branches of trees that might not be possible to cut using the survival knife. In the wilderness, you are going to need to cut sturdy logs that will only be possible using the bow saw.

10. Security Tools

Your security in the wilderness is one thing that you cannot take for granted. You have to bring with you the proper tools that you can use to protect yourself from any form of attack that might occur.

As you try to quench your thirst for more adventure, you have to protect yourself from unnecessary attacks that can result in injuries or even death in severe cases. A short gun is one of the tools you can take advantage of to scare away the animals at night or during the day. Better still; a short gun can also be used in hunting in case you wish to take part in the activity while in the wilderness.

Your security in the wilderness is also defined by the manner in which you protect yourself from diseases. If you are visiting a cold, make sure you carry mosquito netting to protect you from mosquito bites at night. In any case, you plan to visit a region with bears; then you can also carry with you a bear spray to keep them away. So, pack your survival kits accordingly for your next adventure because you might have circumstances where you rely solely on yourself in cold weather or any other condition.

11. A Backpack And A Signal Mirror

wilderness survival kit

You will need a spacious backpack to carry the items that you will need to use in the wilderness. Before purchasing the backpack, it is essential to take count of all the things that you will need to put in it so that you know the best size to buy. You also have to ensure that it is strong enough to hold the items that you need in the wilderness.

The fact that you have a GPS (global positioning system) or a compass does not mean that you cannot get lost. Sometimes you can find it challenging to track your group members. At such times you need to call for help or signal others.

Research has shown that most lost people in the wilderness find it hard to call for help because they were not well versed with different methods to navigate through the problem. A signal mirror can also be of great importance for an outdoor survival situation.


The secret behind having fun and thrilling experience in the wilderness is to plan appropriately with survival gear. Our guide has everything for everyone, and if you follow it to the letter, then you shouldnโ€™t have any challenges.

Apart from getting the emergency survival kit, you also have to be sure that you can use your survival skills for their respective tasks. You should also gain valuable knowledge about life in the wilderness so that you can have the best experience when you set out for your adventure. So, grab your important survival tools and get started!

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.