Survival Kits 101

Last updated on December 18th, 2017


The simple idea behind having a survival kit or emergency kit is to have at a moments notice – the basics for survival. Although the specifics will vary, some of the basic essential categories will remain the same.

If you are new to the concept of a survival kit, here are some basic principles:

Regardless of how long you wish your survival kit to extend your survivability, a survival kit should contain the basics.



The most important item to have is water. At a minimum, consider 2-quarts per day per person – while 1 gallon per person per day is the general rule of thumb (given the variability of environmental conditions and your personal needs).

It is generally accepted that we cannot survive much beyond 3-days without any water whatsoever. This is a critical thing to always be aware of.

If you are in a region where water is plentiful, you will need a means to purify it to avoid the likelihood of becoming ill from drinking contaminated water (even though it may look sparkling clean).

Boiling water is the most sure way of purification.

An alternative and energy efficient way to purify water is a portable water filter. There are many to choose from – so don’t ignore the necessity.

Having to do with water, and within your kit should be a metal container (e.g. Stainless Steel or Aluminum water bottle). It can be used for water procurement directly from rivers, streams, lakes, etc., and you can boil water directly in this container for purification.



We can survive for (weeks?) without food, although it would be highly uncomfortable and debilitating after a day (or two) without food.

There are many choices at your disposal for food, each with their pros and cons.

Plan on having 2,000 calories per person per day to maintain enough energy under normal conditions.



Shelter and protection from the elements is crucial, especially in harsh or dangerous conditions. This includes a literal shelter as well as the clothes (and outerwear) on your back.

There are a variety of ways to enable ones-self to build a shelter, be it primitive or otherwise. The options are yours.

Consider some of the tools (gear) which will help in this area, such as cordage (paracord, etc.), a knife (too many uses to list), tarp (stay dry), blanket, emergency Mylar blanket (stay warm), rain gear (poncho?), etc.



The ability to make fire is also a critical and basic element to any survival kit.

Fire will provide heat, it will provide security, and it will enable you to purify water and cook food.

Keep more than one method of creating a fire. Matches, a lighter, a magnesium firestarter. Keep them in a water-tight container or plastic Ziploc bag.

Consider bundling up a bit of tinder to be used for starting a fire. Also keep it in a waterproof containment.




The basics listed above are essential considerations. Here are just a few more ideas to keep you going…

Flashlight, headlamp, extra batteries. Use LED flashlights because they stay energized much longer due to their low power demands.

Map and Compass
Have a map for your region, and a compass. Know how to use them (otherwise they are useless).

First Aid
Basic first-aid items and supplies. The smallest injury could turn into a large problem if not treated promptly.

Toilet paper, hygiene products, hand-towel, liquid soap, etc.

Extra Clothing
Walking-Hiking shoes, extra socks, a change of clothes in case you get wet, additional outerwear layers for added warmth if needed.

Portable AM/FM/Shortwave/NOAA Weather radio, perhaps a hand-crank powered model, and extra batteries. A signal mirror.

Sun protection
Sunscreen, a brimmed hat, a bandana, will help prevent a painful sunburn if out in the open for long periods of time. Sunglasses will provide critical eye protection, comfort and visibility, particularly if over water or snow.

The suggestions could go on and on. There are many additional useful and practical items for one’s survival kit. You will get ideas while reading the lists of others while formulating your own requirements. All it takes is to start thinking about it and imagining your use-case scenarios and you will be on your way towards making you own survival kit.

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