The vast majority of wilderness trips go smoothly, but accidents do happen. Unexpected severe weather, a wrong turn, or an injury miles from civilization can all turn a blissful hike into an emergency—and having the right tools can make all the difference.
Fortunately, survival essentials don’t weigh much or cost much. Here’s how to get outfitted for the unexpected.
Beyond the 10 Essentials
It’s smart to carry the 10 Essentials on any dayhike or multiday trip. With the 10 Essentials, you already have some of the most important survival gear, like navigation tools, light, food, water, firestarter, extra layers, and a first-aid kit. But a true survival kit might include additional items, like a fixed-blade knife, signaling tools, and emergency fishing equipment. Consider what you already regularly pack when you’re assembling a survival kit. You won’t need to take an emergency bivy sack, for example, if you already plan to bring a tent for a backpacking trip.
Survival gear is designed to take care of your basic needs in case of a wilderness emergency. Here are your most critical needs in a survival situation and the gear that will get the job done.
One of your top priorities in any emergency situation is to find or create a shelter. Hypothermia might be the most immediate threat, so you want to stay dry and warm(ish).
- An emergency blanket is a lightweight, compact sheet made of plastic. Its shiny surface reflects body heat back to you, providing crucial warmth. Many are bright orange, which makes you more visible to rescuers, and will protect you from wind and water. Blankets are the smallest, lightest (just a few ounces), and cheapest options.
- One step up is an emergency bivy sack, which is basically an emergency blanket made into a sleeping bag for more warmth. Bivy sacks cost and weigh more than blankets.