The following post on the 5 C’s & 10 C’s of survival is timeless. I originally posted this years ago. However I’m re-posting the list as a refresher. It may be especially to new comers who may be wondering about the basics for a survival kit.

These elements of survival basics are well worth remembering (and practicing).

Dave Canterbury, author of “BushCraft 101” and “Advanced Bush Craft”, first came up with the concept which he calls the 5 C’s (and then the 10 C’s) of survivability.

When putting together a minimalist (or any) basic survival kit, consider these underlying categories for survivability. You might fulfill the recommended requirements in a number of different ways. That’s up to you. But it’s a great guideline.


5 C’s of Survival

Before listing the 10 C’s of survival, these first 5 are the core elements of survivability. They are categories/items that would be difficult to reproduce in an outdoor situation if you didn’t already have them.

Cutting Tool

The most difficult thing to reproduce in an outdoor situation. A high quality knife, preferably in a sheath and strapped to your belt. Full tang for strength is a great idea too.

I’ve written a number of articles on the survival knife, including this one about “batoning” wood:

How to Baton Wood and Why

Morakniv Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife
(view on amzn)

Combustion Device

You need ‘something’ that will start a fire, whether the environment is wet or dry. And the ability / “know-how” to do it. (Articles on Fire Making)

FireSteel – World’s Best Firestarter Rods
(view at


Cover & Shelter to protect you from the elements. This could be a wool blanket, a tarp, Mylar foil blanket, etc. Even your clothes and outerwear are considered among the “shelter” category once you start digging into it.

Maintaining a safe body core temperature is paramount to survival.

Heavy Duty Emergency Survival Blanket
(view on amzn)


A container capable of boiling water (such as single walled stainless steel), or cooking. Enables water purification and cooking of foods.

Stainless Camp Cooking Container


Paracord, rope, twine, etc. will facilitate building shelter and other uses.

Paracord | Genuine Mil Spec Type IV 750lb

10 C’s of Survival

These are the expanded elements of survivability that you might consider.


Flashlight or a Headlamp (LED) for hands free operation. Here’s a related article:

Headlamp vs Flashlight | The Pros & Cons

( amzn)

Cheaper but Very Popular Headlamp

Cotton Bandana

Any cotton material (~ 3×3 feet) can be used for head-cover, cleaning, filtering water, making char-paper, etc.

Military Army Trainmen Paisley Large Bandanas (27″)


A quality compass for navigation.

Military Lensatic Tactical Compass
(view on amzn)

Cargo Tape

Also known as Duct tape. For repairs, making things, and a zillion other uses! Wind up your own mini-roll for your kit.

You can’t beat this stuff:
Gorilla Tape | Black Duct Tape

Canvas Needle

A heavy duty needle for repairs, sewing, and many other uses.

Leather | Canvas Needle

5 & 10 C’s Video

The following two videos are Dave briefly explaining the 5 C’s and 10 C’s of survival.

I have no affiliation with Dave Canterbury. Though his advice is sound. I first saw him back in 2010 on the Discovery Channel TV series ‘Dual Survival’ (he was on 2 seasons). Canterbury is currently the owner and one of the instructors at the Pathfinder School in southeast Ohio.

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