5 C’s & 10 C’s Of Survival | Dave Canterbury Recommends…

The original 5 C’s of survival and later the expanded 10 C’s of survival stand the test of time. The principle is useful to newbies AND seasoned survivalists. Especially as it pertains to building 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 categories for survivability. It will help determine what product you might choose to fulfill the categorical purpose of each “C”.

The choices are up to you. But the 5 C’s and 10 C’s of survival are great guidelines. I will list them here with examples, and will also include a few videos of Canterbury talking about the concept below.


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 with you.

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. I recommend a full tang knife (for strength).

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

[ Read: How to Baton Wood and Why ]


Morakniv Garberg full tang knife

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.

[ Read: Fire Starting Kit List of Essentials and More ]

>> FireSteel – World’s Best Firestarter Rods
(view at FireSteel.com)


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 Survival Blanket
(view on amzn)

Heavy Duty survival blanket


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 750 LB

750 pound paracord

10 C’s of Survival

These are the expanded elements of survivability that you might consider to augment your survival kit even further.


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

[ Read: Headlamp vs Flashlight | The Pros & Cons ]


Petzl Actic Core 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″)

Large 27 x 27 inch bandana


A quality compass for navigation.

Military Lensatic Tactical Compass
(view on amzn)

Lensatic Sighting Compass for Hiking

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:

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.