“A survival kit? Really?”

Some people will think they will never get in a survival situation. They believe as long as they don’t do stupid things, they won’t get into trouble. But some things are just out of your control, and then you need to adapt to the situation. On my trips, I like to bring a few tools and items that can make a difference in a life-threatening situation. If you know how to use these tools, it will give you a major boost in your wilderness confidence and ability to adapt to unexpected situations.

I will talk about a lightweight and compact survival kit. It’s not our goal to live and thrive in the wilderness, so I won’t mention any tools such as axes or big folding saws. I actually use most of these tools, so they are not just packed away having no purpose.

01. Gorilla tape

This is a magic material. You can start a fire with it – if you don’t have any tinder material – you can fix holes in your tarp, fix your shoe, backpack or other items. It’s great, and it doesn’t take a lot of space if you wrap it around an old credit card.

02. Whistle

An item I always have on the strap of my backpack or attached to my body. This emergency whistle can be a life safer if you are injured and/or try to draw attention from someone. Screaming is exhausting and is often not loud enough, especially when you are in the mountains or in the open plains with a lot of wind. It’s probably so loud, that you’ll whistle yourself a permanent hearing damage. But hey, at least you survived.

03. Compass

This is mini compass is not meant to be used for serious outback navigation. But it can help you to find your reciprocal heading (the heading where you came from). For instance: if you enter an area from the West and walk towards the East (90 degrees), you need to know your reciprocal heading, which in this case is 270 degrees (West). There are many navigation techniques to get back to your point of origin, using handrails, backstops, or even using the sun to determine your North-South line. But if it’s cloudy or you are surrounded by tall trees, it can become quite difficult to find the right direction.

04. Knife

A knife is an essential cutting tool if you are in the great outdoors. In this case, I chose for the Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty. It’s a strong high carbon steel knife with a 90 degree spine and it doesn’t weigh much.

05. Firesteel

Also known as the ferrocerium rod, might be the most reliable way to start a fire. It’s durable, long-lasting and can be submerged in water and still be used. You do need an object with a sharp edge, such as the back of a knife with a 90-degree spine, to strike sparks from the firesteel. Of course, striking sparks on a piece of wood won’t start a fire, so you’d also need light flammable material (also known as tinder) to start your initial flame.

06. Magnifying glass

Depending on the environment you’re in, a magnifying glass can be an efficient way to start a fire. In this situation, I was in a desert environment with a lot of overhead sun and decided to take it with me. Within a few seconds you can ignite a tinder material such as char cloth or punk wood. It doesn’t weigh much and it’s very compact.

07. Candle

All these extraordinary fire-making tools look fancy, but the easiest way to make a fire, is with a lighter. But a lighter has limited fuel, and bringing a small candle can extend the amount of time that you can use a lighter. When you’re prepping for your adventure trip, ask yourself the question: what if I lose my lighter, what other tools do I have to make a fire?

08 / 09. Flint and Steel (+ char cloth)

A traditional fire-making method, used before the match was invented. Still reliable and a fun way of making fire. In essence, you strike a high carbon piece of steel against flint (rock). This friction will create tiny sparks that land on the char cloth and cause combustion. You can put the char cloth into a bird’s nest and start your initial fire.

10. Lighter

I don’t need to explain what a lighter is, but I find BIC lighters the most reliable. I usually take a bright colour so I can easily find it when it’s in a pocket or it fell on the ground.

11. Telescopic air blower

This thing is a game changer when it comes to recovering fires or keeping the fire going in humid conditions. I’ve made many fires in my fire career, and there is always that moment that you’ve to sit on your knees, bend over and blow as hard as you can to recover a fire. Smoke in your eyes, hot coals on your face, coughing, crying, burning eyes. It’s terrible. This tiny telescopic straw with make you smile again. Besides, it also holds moisture when you blow air out of your lungs, so the air is dryer won’t put moisture on your fire wood.

All items above (except the knife), fit in a 1 litre packbox from Snugpag.

Additional items

There are a couple of things that are important to have when you go into the great outdoors. I would always bring five metres of cordage (for instance 550 paracord). Cordage is very useful and can be used to replace your laces, bind wood together to make a fire tripod, secure items to your backpack, the inner strands from 550 paracord can be tied together and be used as a fishing line.

– Fishing hooks;
– cordage;
– tinder (fatwood, birch bark, or any fire starter);
– water purification tablets (14);
– shemagh (15);
– signal mirror (part of my wash kit);
– emergency blanket (I always bring one of those).

You can use the shemagh to filter water from debris or you can make char cloth from it. I always bring a stainless steel water container (12) with me with a fitting nesting cup (13). I can use the nesting cup to boil water or warm-up food. If need be, I can even use the stainless steel bottle to boil water. You can just put it in the fire and put some hot coals against it.

Of course, you can have all the tools, but if you don’t know how to use them, you’re basically carrying useless weight. Before you leave, go outside and practise your survival skills. I will try to help you as much as I can with my blog, but if you’re still struggling, consider doing a basic course in wilderness survival skills. It will make your journey much more pleasant!