Survival Kit List of 10 basic essential items

Looking for a survival kit list? Here are 10 essential items which you might choose as a minimum to start any survival kit. Then build up the list and tailor the kit from there depending on the specific purpose for the kit, your personal preferences, needs, methods of carry, etc.


When making your own survival kit list and deciding what to include, first think about where and how you might use it, or it’s purpose as it relates to your activity.

Is it for your car? In your backpack on a day hike? A week-long camping trip? A bug-out bag with 72-hour provisions? This will alter what you might choose to include.

Also think about the resources that may already be available in the area where you plan to be or where you might be using your kit. This again will affect the decisions that you make as to what to include in the kit.

The following survival kit list of items is intended to present ideas to spark your own thoughts:


Survival Kit List of basic items and uses


Fire-starter / Matches

Every single survival kit list should include a means to make fire.

Magnesium Fire Starter and /or FireSteel

The Magnesium fire-starter is a very popular survival kit item. Be sure to practice with it after you buy one!

A FireSteel is an awesome little gadget which generates copious sparks when scraped (e.g. with a knife).

‘Strike Anywhere’ matches are the kind with the white phosphorus tip. Store them in a water-tight case or bag and consider including a ‘striker’, perhaps an emery board or women’s nail file.

Keeping an ordinary BIC lighter in addition to matches is a good idea too.

Consider adding a mini fire-kit with tinder for building a fire.

Related article: A Fire Starter Kit List

Related article: The Best Knife For Batoning Wood



What survival kit list isn’t complete without a knife?!


You should include a fixed-blade knife or a cutting tool of some sort. Perhaps a pocket-knife suits your needs well enough. A multi-purpose tool with a knife might be useful.

I personally like the fixed-blade style knife (and sheath) for it’s size and blade options, strength, and multipurpose uses more than that of an ordinary pocket knife. However I do always carry a pocket knife.

There are MANY knife makes, models, and manufacturers to choose from. It can become overwhelming while deciding on what knife to get. It really is a personal choice.

Consider sticking with name brands including but not limited to CRKT, Gerber, Buck, SOG, Spyderco, Kershaw.

Related article: Your Favorite Small Pocket Knife


Maps & Compass

Do you know where you’re going? Can you get somewhere that you’ve not gone before? Can you navigate there without a GPS?

Keep a hard-copy map of the region you’re in. Keep a topo (topographical) map if you’re off-road, and a road map otherwise; or both.

Know how to read and navigate with maps. The basics are simple. Complimentary with the map, a compass will establish bearings.

Related article: A Good Compass For Map Reading And Navigation


Cordage, Paracord

Cordage. There are lots of choices. Paracord is one that I like.

ROTHCO 550 Paracord

Keep a length of ‘550 Paracord’ (or other cord of your choosing). A minimum of 10-20 feet seems reasonable for starters and for most ordinary uses (lashing, etc.). I prefer to keep a bit more than that in a general purpose survival kit if space permits.

Here’s an interesting and apparently stronger alternative cord:
TOUGH-GRID 750 Pound

Related article: Five Benefits Of Paracord


Flashlight, extra batteries

A survival kit list without a flashlight?? That would be unheard of…

LED flashlight and/or headlamp. A LED flashlight, preferably a head-mounted style (for hands-free), is an ideal choice.

Keep an extra set of batteries even though LED flashlights consume relatively little power.

Here’s a review I did a while back: Best Flashlight

I currently use that flashlight, and others, although there’s really no such thing as ‘best’ – it’s subjective and dependent upon one’s personal needs and preferences for any given situation.



Typically for a survival kit, a good easy choice is the food bar. Calorie-dense food bars are convenient for short-duration kits.

One of my favorites is the CLIF Bar because they taste good and they are more calorie dense than many others. Your chosen quantity, food type, and packaging will likely depend upon the kit purpose (day-pack, overnight backpacking, vehicle kit, etc..).

Related article: The CLIF Bar Might Be The Best Choice For Your Survival Kit

MRE’s are another consideration for suvival kit food. There are lots of practical choices in this category…


Extra Clothing

I added this category to consider the seasonal extremes. Even during summertime, hypothermia can become a risk during a cool rain or at night without the proper clothing or gear.

Consider whatever may be appropriate for your kit: Perhaps a knit hat, a rain coat or jacket, sweatshirt, a pair of gloves, etc.. You can always ‘layer’ your clothes and better to have too much on hand than not enough.


First Aid Kit

You might not think that you’ll ever need it, but having a basic compact mini first aid kit within one’s general purpose survival kit is a very good idea.

One particular small first aid kit (tin) that contains at least the most commonly used components (which you could add to) is the following Coleman:

Coleman 27 Piece First Aid Kit, Mini Travel Kit

You can also easily assemble your own custom made First Aid Kit.


Mylar Emergency Blanket

A mylar ‘space blanket’ or emergency blanket will serve multiple uses including warmth (wrap yourself in it to reflect your body heat back to you), and potential shelter similar to a small tarp.

They fold up small, so keeping several will hardly take any room at all in your kit.

TITAN 2-Sided Emergency Mylar Survival Blankets

Related article: Uses For A Space Blanket – Emergency Blanket.

The ‘original’ space blanket manufacturer now makes this:
Heavy Duty All Weather Blanket (Made in USA).


Stainless Steel Water Container

Not only can you bring water with you, if you get the right kind of water container it will also serve as a vessel to boil water for safe drinking from questionable water sources.

Consider the kind with a screw-on lid, purposely made for hiking. If you might ever use it to boil water, get the single-walled type and one that’s not painted (get stainless steel).

Klean Kanteen 18oz Classic (w/Loop Cap) Brushed Stainless

Since we’re talking about water, a portable drinking water filter is advisable too. The LifeStraw or the Sawyer Mini are both good choices (and not expensive).

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
LifeStraw Review – 10 Benefits – And The Newer ‘LifeStraw Go’

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System
Related: Review of the Sawyer Mini



Note: There are LOTS more items to consider for a basic (general purpose) emergency kit.

This list of ten survival kit items (10+) is meant to give you ideas as a starting point for putting together your own kit.

These items will easily fit into a backpack. Adjust the contents as you see fit, as any such list is variable depending on it’s uses and your preferences.

Related article: The 10 C’s Of Survivability

Instead of me listing another ten items (or more!), let’s hear from you:

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