PREPS

10 Most Popular Tools For Outdoor Survival

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The following is a list of 10 popular ‘tools’ (things, items) (in order of popularity) to be used for outdoor survival. The list is based on input from preppers themselves, from a poll conducted awhile ago.

These might be part of what you might keep in a bug out bag, or what you might consider taking with you during a wilderness excursion, camping, or whatever else…

 
Interestingly, within the list are tools which cover the 5 C’s of Survivability (Cutting, Combustion, Cover, Container, Cordage) as outlined by Dave Canterbury years ago.

Here’s the overall list:

 

Tools For Outdoor Survival

1. KNIFE: Folder, Full-tang, Machete

Related: Survival Knife with Fire Starter and Sharpener

2. FIRESTARTER: FireSteel, Lighter, Matches, Magnesium, Magnifier, Fire Kit

Related: Fire Starter Kit List

3. RIFLE: .22, Handgun, Carbine, your choices?

Related: Only One Firearm in a Survival Situation

4. TARP: size? Emergency blanket

Related: How Many Gallons of Rainwater Collection from a Tarp

5. HAND AXE: size & weight constraints?

Related: Tools for the Woods

6. PARACORD: 550 Paracord, Tarred trot-line cord, Fishing line

Related: Five Benefits of Paracord

7. WATER FILTER: Lifestraw, Sawyer mini, Katadyn hiker, purification tabs

Related: 10 Benefits of the Lifestraw

8. STAINLESS STEEL POT: Mess Kit, SS Canteen

Related: Small Cooking Pot for Camping

9. SAW: Bow, Folding

Related: Chainmate Survival Pocket Chain Saw

10. MULTITOOL: Leatherman, etc..

Related: Survival Kit List Of 10 Essential Items

 
Surely there’s more that could be of value for outdoor survival. However this list is pretty solid based on a previous reader poll. What do you think?

Of the categories listed above, do you have a particular favorite or suggested type, make/model?

For example, within the ‘water filter’ category, which do you use or prefer? Etc..

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45 Comments

  1. Full tang Air Force Survival Knife with saw back and sharpening stone
    Matches, Bic and Fire steel (redundancy)
    Henry AR-7 carbine w/ 100 rds .22LR (in addition to my side arm)
    8×10 tarp and rain poncho
    Small single bit hatchet
    50’ paracord
    Sawyer Mini and (25 aquamira purification tablets)
    Esbit alcohol tabs stove and pot w/ 10 Esbit tabs
    Gerber Folding saw with both bone and wood blades
    Kobalt Multi-tool

  2. I carry a folding pocket knife always! And, thanks to a previous post from Ken, I now keep a BIC lighter on me at all times! Funny side bar, my DW saw the lighter one day and got worried I had taken up cigarettes again! After almost 20 years, I’m glad I am done with those! :)

    MERRY CHRISTMAS KEN!!! Thanks for all you do for the community!

  3. Since you included firearms, can anyone recommend the smallest, lightest, with perhaps a shorter barrel shotgun? My thanks.

    1. Was going to add Bass Pro used to have one called JIC-Just in Case”. Seems they do not make it anymore

    2. – Try a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 with an extra riot barrel (18″) and add the pistol grip without the rest of the stock. That is about as short as you will get and remain legal. Do be advised, they are not the easiest to shoot accurately. You will need a couple of boxes of shells before you will be able to hit any resembling accurately with the thing beyond about 15 feet.

      1. Great! I have a moss 500. I’ll change the barrel and work on the rest. I’m always meaning to get around to this stuff, but the days just go by so quickly. My thanks Papa Smurf!

      2. Adding to Papa Smurfs Mossberg 500 comment, Mossberg also makes the Maverick 88 pump 12 gauge, less expensive than the 500. The 88 racks a little stiff, but does the job when needed. To me Mossberg pumps are gravel-crunchers, some grit and woods crud in the action is not a big deal. FWIW, 2.1 cents I guess.

        1. I have had a Mossberg 500 for about 20 years. It has had a rough life and has never failed. I used it to teach both of my boys to hunt. I have 3 different chokes for it to suit whatever we are hunting. Everything from bird shot to buck shot to slugs. If I could have only one gun this would be the one I choose.

        2. – FWIW, I believe the “JIC” mentioned above was actually an 88 with the equipment mentioned.
          – Papa S.

          1. Remington and mossburg both have 14 in shotguns that are atf approved as pistols and you can get them boxfed

      3. Some time ago I converted my old Mossberg 500 to a short barrel and pistol grip. Nice home defense with bird shot. There’s nothing like that sound of cycling the action – which ‘should’ set any ‘bad guy’ to running in the other direction…

      4. I have that exact combo for home defense. ( the Mossy 500 ) I live in the mountains and if I need to go out at night due to a noise it could be either a bear or mountain lion so I don’t take a handgun. Be advised though IMHO this is not a fun gun to shoot. Get a good grip to take up impact. I take it out every time I go shooting and put a few rounds through it to keep in practice but running 25-50 rounds through it will kill my wrist for a couple of days. Aside from that I don’t think there is a better short range weapon made.

  4. I’m thinking the Kelly pot would be a good stove as it is not dependent on fuel canisters.

  5. My, “Tools For Outdoor Survival” that are no more than 50 feet away, or on person

    1. KNIFE: Folder, Ontario “Rat”, Full Tang, Schrade Schf30
    2. FIRESTARTER: 1/2X6” FireSteel, Bic-Lighter, Flint & Steel, Fire Kit including Vaseline Cotton-Balls and “Fat Wood”
    3. RIFLE: AR-15 with 200 rounds&5mags, Handgun XD-45acp 200 rounds
    4. TARP: 2-8X10 camo, Bivy Sleeping Bag XXX size hehehe
    5. HAND AXE: ‘Off Grid Tools’ Survival Axe
    6. PARACORD: 550 Paracord, 200 feet total.
    7. WATER FILTER: Sawyer mini,
    8. STAINLESS STEEL POT: Jet-Boil Flash cooking system
    9. SAW: Corona RazorTOOTH Folding Pruning Saw
    10. MULTITOOL: Leatherman Wave

    Of course only a few of the items in the GHB that’s again never more than 50 feet from my where-a-bouts or hanging in my pockets.

    1. I have a very sharp hand axe in the kitchen drawer. So far i have used it to half squash. Hope that is all I have to use it for.

      1. Old lady, I just laughed when I read this! I have 3 built-in shelves in my kitchen next to my patio doors. Top shelf: cookbooks. Second shelf: commonly used tools, including my hand ax! Oh, and my blade sharpening kit. Hadn’t thought about using that sucker to whack squash …a great idea! (3rd shelf: extra lamp oil, lamp wicks, flashlights, solar lights, candles, matches…) My preps are things that we can use in a hurry if power goes out.

  6. Good list, however having a hand axe and a saw sounds redundant. If Limited to 10 pieces, I’d lose the saw and add a signaling device like a 2 way radio, phone, or at least a signal mirror or whistle.

    1. I understand your reluctance to keep both handsaw and ax. As I use both, I recognize that sometimes one can’t do what the other can. I too was surprised when I didn’t see much on communication in this list, but then, it was a popularity list, right?

      1. Yes, it was based on popularity. No doubt that the longer a popularity list gets, the more you diversification would expect. At some point on the list I too would add something in the communications category (e.g. 2-way radio) though many people have their cell phone on them at all times these days anyway ;)

  7. Several years ago ‘BACKPACKER’ magazine took a poll from it’s readers as to what was the one most important item to take with them, when out in the woods.
    The result surprised me, as I responded with ‘Knife’. Wrong.
    The resulting #1 Answer : Rain Gear.

    1. Rain Gear (shelter category) very important to avoid hypothermia.

      I suspect that the original poll where I asked MSB readers (some time ago) inferred ‘tool’ assets. This may have blurred the notion for other things including clothes/outerwear, foods, and other items which may not immediately be thought of as tools.

      That said, rain gear (and any appropriate outerwear) is very important for sure!

    2. I’m always surprised by the amount of people who choose a knife as their top item, even survival experts. I usually choose a water bottle as my most important item, and rain gear as a close second. To each his own.

  8. Back in ‘Nam’, some 50+ years ago, one of the weapons I carried at times, was a Mossberg 500 pump.
    After I returned, I bought one, and had it ever since.
    Never failed to function.

  9. – I like the Stanley pot that comes with a lid and two cups for a small pot. I just stashed the two cups somewhere, and I added a no-name stainless steel cup from Wally World. It fits nicely on the outside of the Stanley cup. I also like the “True Vine” military model pocket chainsaw, mine has held up well despite 20 years of on again, off again use. My sidearm is a 4″ Ruger Speed-Six (.357, Fixed Sights, round butt) with two speed loaders in a case, and an MTM 12-round ammo wallet.
    I also have a Victorinox Swiss Army knife, a 24″ Cold Steel machete with a saw back, 200′ of paracord, 2 Vietnam era spools of snare wire with 2 small nails apiece, and the “Pilot Survival” M5 knife I was issued many moons ago. Add a small sewing kit, some fishhooks and line, and some assorted foods (jerky, lifeboat rations, dried fruit, a couple of cans of soup and one of peaches), a ‘penny’ stove and some methanol.
    A change of clothes, a military poncho, a poncho liner and that’s probably the most complete list I have ever made of my GHB. The truck has an entrenching tool with its canvas case available that I would probably take as well if walking was my only option.

    1. – Failed to mention lifeboat matches, one of the Doan’s lighters with the sparking insert, another in the pocket of my M5 knife (with sand screen epoxied to the back of the sheath), and a Bic in my bag and my pocket.
      – Papa

    2. – Got interrupted on my initial post – I do have a 2 AA Mini Mag LED Pro flashlight as part of my EDC, I also have a Luci Light in my GHB; incase of an I try hard not to need either of those if I can avoid using them. I also have a Sawyer Mini water filter, and a Lifestraw for water filters (plural) if needed.
      – Papa

  10. I always have a pocket knife and one or two lighters on my person. And a weapon near by. If a light carry, additional mags are also carried. A tarp and cordage, be it even bailer twine…..ain’t that right, InPrepper?
    A blanket, even in the summer.
    And a Lifestraw, easy carry.
    A simple trash bag can be a poncho.
    Hatchet/ax, foldable shovel.
    And for —- sake
    Needed meds……..all your carry items don’t mean $hit if you don’t have your needed meds.

  11. DJ5280, you could always go with a Judge or Governor revolver that fires .410 shells. Doesn’t get much smaller than that!

      1. DJ5280;
        I carry a S&W Governor around the Homestead for the EDC.I had the Tarsus Judge, always felt like an inferior firearm (aka junk), sold it, plus it was only 5 shot.
        The Gov tis a little heavy, but I like the 6 rounds ranging from 2-#4 shot shell, 2-Defender 410 shot shell, than 2 45LC Bear Loads.
        I guess if I don’t stop em with that, welllllll I’m toast for sure

  12. For me it would depend on the time of year. Summer its in the 80s and in the winter I may have a couple of feet of snow. I always carry a lighter and a folding knife so I would opt for the machete as opposed to a full tang or a hatchet if I had to choose. I do carry both in my GHB. Large contractor trash bags would work to keep you dry,build a shelter and help keep you warm and would be lighter than a tarp. I’m not much for packing a stove along but some dry tinder to make sure I could get a fire going in wet weather is a must. I use homemade fire starters made fro egg cartons,wax and sawdust. Burn for about 10-15 min.

  13. The tools always available to us at home or away are multi-tool with blade, fix blade 3 inch Kershaw, mini mag light, mini Sawyer, firestarter and Bic lighter, mini first aid kit, stainless steel cook pot mini with stainless cup, small hand axe, tarp and paracord.

  14. I’ve carried a leatherman (wave, I think) on my belt, every day since the 80’s. I’m always grabbing for that thing. I only remove it when deer hunting and replace with fixed blade, an old western knife I’ve owned forever. Co-workers were always asking to use it or have me do some chore with it. On the rare occasions I don’t wear it, I still find myself grabbing for it.

    Out in the woods, I think the leatherman could stay home. A fixed blade is a far better tool. After all, not many wires or bolts or screws out in the woods. I’ve always considered a “hand chain saw,” but I’ve never actually used one. They look a little flaky. Will they actually work? Are they worth the weight? I mean hatchets are heavy, real heavy! Not sure they are worth the weight.

    My little backpack weighs in at 22 lbs. I really hate to add any more weight. I don’t plan to bug out anyway. Too old and besides, where would I go that would be better than where I’m at? I do frequent the woods all around me and enjoy the walk. That back pack gets heavy real quick. I rarely strap it on.

    Enough babbling, sorry!

    1. – Plainsmedic –
      Mine works well, not particularly slower than my stay-at-home bow saw. I do have a take-down bow saw i used to carry; I prefer the hand chain saw. I have cut up to 8″ logs easily with the thing. It is capable of up to about 18″ logs, should you have the desire, My bag weighs in at 27 lbs. which at 64, I find manageable. Of course, I do have a military background which probably implies a certain lack of common sense on how much I am willing to load myself up with.
      – Papa S.

  15. This is an interesting topic for a survey, as in it asks about Outdoor Survival Tools. I thought the results were pretty accurate as to what basics would really be needed, especially long term. Sometimes I’ve questioned why so many preppers put Paracord on their lists, until I Really thought about it. I guess I was figuring on getting to home base within 3-5 days, but for many in a Shtf scene, they may have no home base…

  16. Two things I rarely see on any “prep list” are ways to sharpen knives/axes and cleaning equipment for firearms. I have a very nice, and very old, Arkansas stone for the bladed items and a quite small cleaning kit for pistols/long guns, along with extra cleaning patches and gun oil/lube.

  17. Highly encourage all to check out Dave Canturbury, Author of several wilderness survival and bushcraft books. Not only does he go over woodland tools, but also all their uses and the many tools that have double or triple uses. In his words, every piece of gear you carry should provide at least 3 life-saving functions, with the exception of a lighter or other fire source, because with fire you can achieve an unlimited number of goals.

    In regards to firearms, his view is that there are two calibers that can kill anything in North America, 12 Gauge and .22. Some may disagree, but more emphasis should be put on skills, not only tools.

    Check out this lecture he gave at a preparedness show:

    https://youtu.be/Je_mEnfKNXU

  18. a folding shovel some sort of tubing to either used to suck up water or a way to drain water away fro something a plastic bag used to carry either carry plants or small game in fish hooks of some kind a small flashlight of some sort a small paper back book for down time thread and needle to either repair gear with or to stitch yourself up with

  19. Many good choices above. In my area (deep south),a hammock for sleeping as well as bug net are essential for sleeping outdoors long term. A machete instead of axe or hatchet.

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