We have published lots of kit lists over the years. There are 72-hour survival kits, auto survival kits, home survival kits, and dozens of evacuation packs. This list is just for surviving short-term (a few days) outdoor emergencies. First of all are the “absolute minimum” items that any self-respecting “survivor” should have at all times. Real survival/self-reliance people would not go out to empty the trash without this stuff! These are basically “pocket items” that you would have even if you are going to be out for only out a few hours and a few yards from the road.
1. A pocketknife (at least!) a knife gives you a huge advantage in every survival situation. Think about all the survival techniques you see on TV, in the movies and in books. How many can be done without a knife. Not many.
2. Waterproof matches and/or a small magnesium fire starter. Flint and steel or a fire-bow will be no substitute for having these.
3. Water and/or a way to purify it. Purification tablets or a filter straw may work but you still need a container.
4. A miniature flashlight. Uses are obvious
5. A loud whistle for signaling for help
6. Some form of shelter from rain and wind. This can be a Space Blanket ™, Rescue Blanket ™ or rain poncho, or even some plastic bags depending on pocket or pack space.
7. A cell phone. I don’t like to depend on technology, but not having one when it could save your life or someone else’s would be foolish.
A more extensive kit would be packed in a small backpack or fanny pack and would include:
1. A full size hunting/survival knife
2. A full size Space Blanket ™
3. Survival cards or a miniature survival manual
4. A metal cup for purifying water, boiling water and cooking food
5. Energy bars and jerky
6. A compass (a GPS too if you must)
7. A multi-tool or Swiss Army ™ knife
8. Extra socks
9. A wool cap
10. A dust-mask
11. Snare wire
12. Metal signal mirror
13. Paper and pencil
14. Smoke and/or flairs
15. A candle
16. Safety pins
17. 20’ – 50’ of HD nylon cord
18. A small first aid kit
19. A small role of electrical tape
Two items that cost very little take up almost no room. And weigh very little are plastic bags and heavy-duty aluminum foil. You can add these items to pockets or kits and they can substitute for several other critical items. Heavy aluminum foil can be used to reflect fire heat. Signal for help (as a mirror) , be formed into a water container to gather and boil water and even cover a wound. Large plastic bags can be fashioned into a rain and wind protective suit, made into a small shelter, used to gather water and even make a floatation device. In other-words they can save your life.