V enturing out into the wilds can be one of the most breathtaking and rewarding experiences you can ever have. Whether you are staying in a lodge and setting out for only an afternoon hike, or backpacking deep into the wilderness for many days, two things are absolutely essential. They are, survival skills and top quality gear -- in case all doesn't go well.

Now we all have vastly different levels of survival skills, but even experts will agree that the most important skill for even the novice explorer is.... "BE PREPARED for the UNEXPECTED". Many things can happen, and being prepared is the first law of survival. Weather can change very rapidly, a simple injury can quickly become life threatening, and even simply losing your way can become perilous. On this page you will find things that can help you to be prepared, and also help you to survive if the unthinkable should happen.

Of course there are other tools that a good outdoor lover will always have with them whenever hiking, camping, horseback riding, biking, or just about any means of getting into the wilds. Most of what we will be concentrating on here, are items that are easily carried on your person.

Survival Knife

P robably the most important tool you can have on every trip you take into the wild is a well made survival knife.  This does not  mean that you have to carry one of those oversized movie style Rambo fighting knives.  Much of what you will be needing a knife for will be more delicate than a large blade is suited for.  A well designed and moderately sized full tang  knife is our choice for survival needs.  The Ultimate Knife by Gerber and Bear Grylls is an expertly crafted tool.  It also incorporates some additional features, not found in ANY other, that make this survival knife a great choice.

Navigation Tools

I t is always a good idea to have a topo map of your area, a sense of which direction you will be going, and which way help might be found.  In today's technological world a trustworthy waterproof handheld GPS is a great tool.  Two of the most accurate, durable, and feature heavy units are the Garmin Oregon 550T and the Magellan eXplorist 710 .  As a backup, you should at least keep a Military Style Compass with you at all times.

Safe Drinking Water

O ne of the most pressing and continuous concerns in any survival situation is your supply of clean drinking water.  We recommend that you always carry a Military Canteen a Canteen Cup and a Canteen Pouch that will hold both.  You can easily use the cup for cooking or to boil water for drinking if necessary.  However, a much faster and simpler purification method is with the SteriPEN compact handheld UV water purifier with solar charging case.   As a backup we also recommend that you carry Disinfectant Crystals for treatment.  To remove any particulates and unwanted tastes, a handy shirt pocket sized Water Filter is also a good idea.  For the more discriminating who want the very best, check out the Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter .


First Aid

Y ou should never venture anywhere without at least a basic first aid kit, and there are literally thousands to choose from.  The size and complexity will ultimately be determined by what you believe is necessary and what you wish to carry.  A good place for you to start would be with the Total Resources 130-Piece Outdoor Kit .  I like to add some extra hold  flexible fabric adhesive bandages for longer wear.  You may wish to include a few Quikclot Advanced Clotting Sponges and some CELOX Blood Clotting Packets for more serious mishaps.

Making Fire

T here are numerous reasons you will need to make fire and a good survivalist will learn as many ways as possible.  Most will agree that you should always have at least three different ways to do this.  With your Ultimate Knife you will have the most reliable means right there in the sheath -- fire steel.  You should also have a disposable butane lighter and some Uco Stormproof Matches  tucked away.  Another very dependable and fun to use fire tool is a Custom Fire Piston .  Discovered in southern Asia over 150 years ago, it will work with many different materials found in nature, such as punk wood or dry tree fungus.  You can also easily make your own char cloth  or char rope  in advance to keep with you.


Emergency Shelter

E ven if you hadn't planned on staying out overnight, sometimes emergency situations arise that mean you have to.  A lightweight and compact Emergency Reflective Tube Tent can provide much needed temporary shelter.  You may also need an Emergency Reflective Sleeping Bag and, depending on the weather, Emergency Thermal Blankets.


Emergency Food

H unger is the second biggest drain on your energy levels.  It is very easy to carry enough emergency food with you for 72 hours.  Datrex 3600 Emergency Food Bars are probably the easiest and lightest staples you can pack.  However, for surviving in style you may wish to take along the Mountain House 72-Hour Emergency Meal Kit .  For an extra boost along the way you can always include your favorite trail mix and jerky.  The main thing is, to survive, you have to keep up your strength.

Night Survival

D arkness can be an enemy, especially if you are disoriented or hurt.  With 60 lumens and up to 160 hours of battery time the Petzl E99 Tikka XP 2 Headlamp is one of the most powerful compact tools for after dark duties.  It can reach out to 197 feet and weighs only 3.1 ounces including batteries.  You should always carry a tough compact LED flashlight as well.  Capable of over 20 hours of continuous lighting, the 21 LED Special Forces Extreme Beam is virtually indestructible, water resistant, bright, and long lasting.  To keep the batteries in these and other devices at peak power the Wagan 2053 Solar ePower (4) Battery Charger is a great source of FREE  energy.

Finding Help

F inding your way back or alerting searchers is the end goal of survival.  A lightweight yet powerful 10x25 Alpen BAK4 LE Waterproof Monocular is great for surveying your surroundings. This Nitrogen filled fogproof rubber covered gem boasts an ergonomic design and weighs in at under 6 ounces.  With your Ultimate Knife you will already have a loud survival whistle.  You also need to carry a good quality Military Glass Signal Mirror and Signal Mirror Pouch for signalling that reaches up to 25 miles.  You may also choose to carry a Model 210 Personal Locator Beacon in case you are totally incapacitated.  It transmits an emergency signal on both 406 MHz Satellite frequency and 121.5 MHz homing beacon frequency.


Necessary Gadgets

S mart tools to always include in your gear might include a Para-Cord Survival Bracelet which will give you 9 feet or so of durable chord.  You should also consider a Pocket Size Fishing Survival Kit .  However, fishing may not always be allowed so be aware of local regulations.  For any other odd jobs along the way a well designed multi-tool is indispensable.  If size and weight is a deciding issue but you still want complete functionality then the stainless  Compact Gerber Multi-Plier Tool may be for you.  However if what you demand is a full size Ultimate Multi-Tool With Nylon Sheath then Gerber and Bear Grylls have done it again.


Books To Help

A  great Survival Handbook is always a good thing to have around and to memorize.  Two of the most widely followed survivalists and writers to host their own TV shows are Bear Grylls (Man vs. Wild) and Les Stroud (SurvivorMan) and much can be gleaned from their knowledge.  Also, learning some Primitive Skills can be both fun and very valuable when it comes to Wilderness Survival .