If you enjoy hiking, you probably want to be ready for anything nature throws at you. Problems can happen fast, and help can be many hours or even days away. Packing the right survival gear is key to making any trip a safer one.
- Water This is the biggie. A human being is only able to survive three or four days without water. This can be extended a tiny bit if you’ve packed lots of foods with high moisture content, like fresh fruit, but who wants to carry a watermelon up the mountain? More likely your food supply consists largely of light, dried items. One key item in your hiking and camping outdoor survival gear pack should be a way to get plenty of water. Hiking with a bag that holds a water reservoir is a great way to make sure you’re carrying extra. A variety of companies now make straws with a built-in filter that can handle hundreds or even thousands of liters before they need to be replaced. Water purifying tablets are another good choice.
- Food After water and shelter, food is another essential item. Although people can last about three weeks without food, no one wants to, and you’ll just get weaker and weaker as those days go by, decreasing the chance that you’ll be able to defend yourself from a wild animal, get to water, hike out, or even signal a helicopter or other search and rescue vehicle. Your emergency survival kit has got to include some emergency hiking food, preferably freeze-dried and high in calories.
- Shelter Even if you only plan to be gone for the day, the unexpected can happen and everything can get out of hand very quickly. In a harsh environment, people can only expect to live about three hours, so having some kind of emergency shelter options is a key element to your hiking and camping survival gear emergency kit. Depending on where you’re hiking, this could include a small tube tent, emergency blankets, or an emergency bivvy or sleeping sack.
- First Aid All the food and water in the world won’t do you any good if you’re too badly injured. First aid kits come very basic all the way up to pretty large and heavy. You should carry based on how many people are in your party and how much you can haul, but at the least you need a way to treat cuts, bleeds, bites, and sprains and have pain killers and special tools for doing things like removing ticks.
- Miscellaneous While perhaps not as immediately essential as water, food, and shelter, all of these items should come along on any hiking trip: a good knife, a signal mirror, waterproof matches or other reliable firestarter, hand sanitizer, flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries, and an emergency whistle.
The previous list was for survival gear you must bring on any hike or camping trip. There are some other great bits of survival gear that aren’t as essential but are great to have if you can carry the weight.
- Power A backup power source for your phone or GPS is a smart move. Even if you bring this, be sure to turn your devices off when you’re not using them to save power for an emergency.
- Camp stove A small and simple blended fuel camp stove can cook even in extreme cold, and they can be efficient, easy to use, and lightweight. This one never hurts to have in a pinch.
- Secondary Survival Gear There are some other things that will come in handy in a pinch, but which you may or may not need to worry about taking depending on what weight you can or want to carry and what your skill level is. These include a compass, emergency beacon, cookware kit, towelettes, rope, and a small roll of duct tape.
If you go out to the woods tonight, don’t go out without your survival gear. If you ever need it, the inconvenience of carrying it will be repaid many times over!