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Preparing an emergency survival kit – supplies needed for the ultimate bugout bag.

Introduction to survival kits/bugout bags

The environment you will wilderness_1operate in is key to the types of items you will need in your survival kit and how much equipment you put in it depends on how long you will be required to survive using the items in your bugout bag.  Make sure you keep important life-saving items on your person in case you lose your bag.  For instance, a compass, water bottle, knife, fire starter, and maps should also be carried on your person and not in your bag.

Note that this list of survival supplies differs slightly from the list of supplies required for a backpacking or hiking trip.  Compare the two lists and choose the best of both to build your perfect survival supply kit.

Preparing your survival kit

Survival_kit2When preparing the survival kit, the weight and size of the items is very important.  Look for items that are compact and lightweight but durable.  You will need backup or redundant supplies for some items.  For instance, both a lighter and magnesium bar with dry tinder can be carried and used to start a fire (while a lighter can also be used as a signaling device).

The case itself will typically be a backpack.  The backpack should be light, water-repellent, and durable with plenty of pockets.

Survival Kit Supplies

Your kit will include items divided into the following categories (in order of importance):

  • Water and water procurement
  • Fire starting items
  • Shelter supplies (tent or components required to build a shelter)
  • Food
  • Medical and first-aid supplies
  • Signaling devices
  • Miscellaneous

The following are examples of items that should be carried in your kit:


  1. Water purification tablets
  2. Non-Lubricated Condoms for carrying water
  3. Bleach
  4. Povidone-iodine drops
  5. Sponges
  6. Rubber tubing
  7. Collapsible water bags


  1. Lighter
  2. Waterproof matches
  3. Magnesium bar
  4. Candle
  5. Magnifying lens


  1. 550 lb. parachute cord (para-cord)
  2. Large knife
  3. Machete or hatchet
  4. Poncho
  5. Mylar blankets
  6. Wire saw


  1. Knife
  2. Snare wire
  3. Fishhooks
  4. Bouillon cubes or soup packets
  5. High energy food bars or granola bars
  6. Nets
  7. Aluminum foil
  8. Freezer bags


  1. Oxytetracycline tablets (to treat diarrhea or infections)
  2. Surgical blades
  3. Butterfly sutures
  4. Lip balm
  5. Safety pins
  6. Sutures
  7. Antidiarrheal medication (Imodium)
  8. Broad-spectrum antibiotics (rocephin and zithromax)
  9. Broad-spectrum ophthalmic topical antibiotic
  10. Anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen)
  11. Petrolatum jelly
  12. Gauze
  13. Soap

Signaling Devices

  1. Signaling mirror
  2. Strobe light
  3. Pen flares
  4. Whistle
  5. Bright orange scarf
  6. Flashlight
  7. Laser pointer
  8. Solar blanket


  1. Compass
  2. Needle and thread
  3. Money
  4. Extra eyeglasses or contacts
  5. Knife sharpener
  6. Cork
  7. Survival manual

Whether or not you should carry weapons (i.e. firearms) in your survival kit is up to the individual.  Some local laws may prohibit carrying of weapons but regardless, most survival kits do contain a weapon of some sort (e.g. pistol).

More extensive survival kit

A long-term survival kit may contain much more supplies than your basic survival kit and indeed, you may choose to include some of these items in your kit. A more extensive survival kit may contain the following,


  1. Coffee filters
  2. Clear baggies (for storing bait, waterproofing items, collecting and storing plant food)
  3. Container cut from milk jug or collapsible bucket (for bathing and dirty water use)
  4. Container(s) for water (bladders for packs, small liter bottles, large liter containers – plan for 3-5 liters water usage per day/person)
  5. Surgical hose (for slingshot repair, siphon gas, etc.)
  6. Extra gas containers
  7. Water purification tablets
  8. Water filter pump


  1. Flint, tinder, lighters, matches


  1. Nylon string, 250# test.
  2. 550# parachute cord. Good for rope but also can be unraveled to get nylon thread.
  3. Mylar survival blankets
  4. Rain poncho
  5. Tarps – Tyvek house wrap is hard to tear but easy to cut and is lightweight.
  6. Thick clear plastic sheets.
  7. Sleeping bag and sleeping bag pad/mat
  8. Tent (one per tent)


  1. Wire for snares, hanging cooking utensils. 20 or 24 gauge brass (may break too easily) or steel wire works well. Picture hanging wire or other soft wire is good.
  2. Fishing hooks
  3. fishing line
  4. Small lures
  5. Portable pole (or can just use stick)
  6. Can opener (may be on multi-tool)
  7. Tin or metal cups. The metal is needed so they can be heated (e.g. use them to boil water in).
  8. Metal pan or pots for cooking and boiling water.
  9. Soap bar and small amount of liquid soap for getting grease off
  10. Scrub brush and sponge pads
  11. Small waterproof tackle box (for matches, flints, fishing supplies, and other small items that will not be stored in pots or pans)

Medical and first aid

  1. Band-Aids
  2. Antiseptic
  3. Tweezers
  4. Burn gel packets
  5. Gauze
  6. Ace bandages
  7. Wire mesh splint
  8. Baking soda (also for toothpaste)
  9. Toilet paper
  10. Alcohol
  11. Hand sanitizer
  12. Cotton balls (also used for tender, cleaning wounds, and hygiene)
  13. Vaseline – thin coat is good for lubricating and protecting metal.
  14. Hand sanitizer
  15. Handiwipes (for bathing, cleaning)
  16. Salt, generic spices for flavoring food – 1/4 teaspoon/liter of water will replenish body
  17. Toilet paper, paper towels


  1. Mirror or shiny metal for signaling
  2. Flashlight


  1. Sewing kit to repair clothes. No fancy colored thread. Keep lots of thread and needles. Buttons too.
  2. Compass
  3. Maps – aviation maps or “sectional” charts are very good and show landmarks, radio towers, altitude, etc.
  4. Heavy duty garbage bags
  5. Handkerchief (not for nose, for covering face protecting from dust, etc.)
  6. Clothe towels or rags (for collecting water vapor)
  7. Paper, pens, journal
  8. Plant and animal recognition cards or book
  9. Personal items such as deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving razor and shaving cream, brush, hair gel, dental floss, contact solution and cases, extra glasses, sunglasses
  10. Flip flops (camp shoes)
  11. Dry bags (2.5-5L for personal items, 5-10L for food for 3-4 days, 20L for clothing, blanket, towels). Storm makes good dry bags (heavier vinyl) and dry sacks (lighter coated cloth but less durable). Will need bags for each person on the trip although some items will only require a single bag for the group. Bags needed for:
  12. Superglue (for quick repairs)
  13. Tenacious Tape or Tear-Aid Repair Patch (for sleeping bag and tent repairs)
  14. Seam Grip (for tent repair)
  15. Maps and paperwork (one per group)
  16. Two way radios (short distance), vhf radio (longer distance) or shortwave radio (very long distance).
  17. AM/FM radio, preferable with weather band. Long battery life is key.
  18. Batteries and chargers
  19. Solar powered charger
  20. Various batteries as needed
  21. Extra cell-phone batteries (for GPS, survival notes and books)

Weapons and Tools

  1. Knives (folding and hunting).  Stainless steel to avoid rusting.  KA-BAR and Mora make good survival knives.  Machetes are useful too.  You don’t need the hollow handle knives – most of the supplies are limited or not practical.
  2. Blade sharpeners (one for each knife).
  3. Gerber multitool
  4. Folding slingshots
  5. .9mm pistol
  6. .22 pistol (for small game)
  7. Axe
  8. Drywall hatchet (hammer on one end and hatchet on the other)
  9. Measuring tape
  10. Square
  11. Chisel
  12. Extra hammer
  13. Saw
  14. Drawknife
  15. Spokeshaves (for making curves in wood)
  16. Files
  17. Shovels (either compact or full size – full size takes more room but can be repaired if the handle breaks)
  18. Sharpening stones (various grits)
  19. Magnifying glass (for examining items close up and to start fires)
  20. Binoculars or monoscope
  21. Wristwatch – can be used for navigation and recording time (along with movement) in your travel journal.

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