The best survival gear, or rather the best outdoor gear, comes in many shapes and forms. Often, they include tools or equipment, which improve safety, health, and resourcefulness while out in the wilds. During our 10 hour search, we looked for some of the most practical gear options like emergency supplies, food, and water options, and more. Every piece of gear or equipment we chose will vastly improve the survivability of anyone carrying it.
Our top pick, and the number one item that everyone should consider owning, is the Kosin 18-in-1 Emergency Survival Pack. It includes just about anything one would need to stay safe while out in the wilderness, during an emergency, or in a survival situation. It may even save your life. Our “honorable mention” is the TG USB Flameless Arc Lighter because it can reliably create fire even in inclement weather or extreme conditions. Keep reading to learn more about other high-grade survival gear available for purchase.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: With this equipment set in hand, you would need to add very little to your outdoor gear collection. It has everything from knives to fire starters and medical supplies, and it all tucks neatly inside a hard protective case.
This gear pack includes everything one might need while out in the wilderness, SOS supplies too. A high-quality cold steel tactical knife and several credit-card-sized knives offer a bevy of applications — like cleaning fish or cutting rope. For regular supplies, there’s a flint fire starter, multi-function scraper, tactical pen, a tactical flashlight, a compass, a wire saw, and a screwdriver. Emergency supplies include a thermal blanket, a whistle, band-aids, gauze, a bandage, a needle, and alcohol pads — basically, a mini first aid kit.
It’s truly a comprehensive survival kit, and it’s all packed into a hard plastic and waterproof case. When fully packed, the entire set weighs just over 1lb so it’s relatively lightweight and easy to carry, and should fit nicely inside any pack or handbag. The steel survival knife is worth it, alone. This kit gives you one of the best survival knives, plus anything else you’d need to handle any outdoor emergency.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Fire is essential for cooking, sanitation, and warmth, and this electric lighter ensures it’s always possible to create. It’s weatherproof, has built-in short circuit protection, and has a rugged, rubber shell.
This lighter offers one of the most reliable fire tools you can find. An electric arc lighter can create a flame even in the rain because it’s essentially flameless. The shell is made of tough rubber, giving it an added level of durability. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket, a handbag, a backpack, and much more.
It charges via USB and takes 2 hours to fully charge, which means either you need to charge it fully before you leave, or you need to keep a portable battery pack in your bag. Regardless, it’s an excellent survival and support item and it should be a staple in everyone’s outdoor equipment set. You might also want to add a set of the best compact binoculars to your collection of outdoor supplies.
Award: BEST WEATHER PROTECTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: There’s nothing worse than being caught out in the wilds, with no shelter and no place to hide away from inclement weather. This useful tube tent is waterproof and windproof, offering safe, dry shelter for up to 2 people at a time.
Sometimes, while outdoors, it’s necessary to have a temporary shelter option, whether it’s to stay dry and get out of the rain, or to get warm in cold climates. That’s precisely what this tube tent offers. Bear in mind, it’s not meant to be a long-term camping tent or shelter, but merely one for quick refuge. It’s easy to set up and only takes minutes, thanks to the included paracord. The material is similar to a heat blanket, and it’s weatherproof, so it will keep the body dry and warm in extreme conditions.
It’s ultra-lightweight so it won’t bog you down during treks, and it compacts nicely into a carrying bag. Moreover, it comes with the 550lb nylon paracord, which can be used for other things too, like securing gear. A bonus emergency whistle is also included, but it’s unnecessary since most resourceful trekkers likely already have one in their camping or outdoor equipment set. You might also find our guide to the best emergency blanket helpful.
Award: BEST ILLUMINATION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Every bug out bag or camping pack should have an adequate light source inside and these lanterns are an outstanding choice for that. They last for up to 90hrs on 3 AA batteries, which are included, and feature super-bright LED illumination.
It can be nearly impossible to get anything done in the dark, which sometimes happens when least expected thanks to dense tree cover or bad weather. These outdoor-friendly lanterns will illuminate the surrounding area thanks to super-bright LEDs. They’re compact, lightweight, and easy to carry or pack away. Plus, they have a waterproof case and a nigh-indestructible design — they can survive a 10-foot drop.
The lanterns run on 3 AA batteries, which are included. That’s enough energy to deliver 90 hours of use per lantern. Needless to say, that’s quite impressive and even without a spare set of batteries they should remain working for a long time.
Award: BEST FOR SUSTENANCE
WHY WE LIKE IT: Outside of water, food is essential, especially for trips that are going to take days or weeks. This food kit includes a bevy of ready-to-eat packs that are easy to prepare, they only need water and will store for years at a time.
This massive bundle of individually-wrapped MREs, or meals-ready-to-eat, offers enough food for up to 60 servings. To prepare each meal, only a small amount of water needs to be added, and there’s no cooking required. That makes them an excellent option for when you’re on the trail, or somewhere without access to fire or ovens. The food has a 25-year shelf life which means, as long as they are sealed and stored well, they will last for a long time.
What makes them particularly excellent for outdoor use, is that the packages are lightweight and relatively compact. You can fit several in a bag for emergencies, or just for regular snacking. There are a variety of entrees from cheesy lasagna to chicken noodle soup but be warned that some taste better than others. If you need an easy way to collect firewood, you might find our guide to the best hatchet helpful.
Award: BEST FOR HYDRATION
WHY WE LIKE IT: When it comes to survival, water is more vital than food, and this unique device allows you to safely drink from any source, even contaminated. It removes up to 99.9% of contaminants including bacteria and parasites.
Rather than carrying tons of water bottles with you, take this straw. You use it just like any other straw, as well, by submerging the front in water and sucking through the back. It filters most contaminants including bacteria, parasites, and other harmful substances. Although it’s not suitable for drinking water that has harmful chemicals or human waste in it. The natural filtration system will deliver clean, neutral-tasting water almost every time and it lasts for up to 1,000 gallons per unit.
The straw is super small and lightweight so it’s perfect to keep in a bug out bag or camping pack. It only takes a moment or two to create suction, but the process of getting it started can make you winded. It’s not an issue, just keep in mind water breaks might be a little longer than usual with one of these. If you like this water bottle, you might also be interested in our best survival saw.
Award: BEST FOR NEWS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This multi-purpose radio has AM and FM bands built-in for listening to what’s happening, as well as NOAA weather alerts. Better yet, it has extra functions like a flashlight, and it serves as a portable power bank.
Award: EASIEST BACTERIA FREE H20 PURIFICATION
WHY WE LIKE IT: These small capsules can be added to water to help purify and remove toxins. They take about 35 minutes to clean water and will treat 1 quart at a time, making them ideal to be stowed away as a backup.
When a water filtration system isn’t possible, or on hand, these small capsules will do the trick. Each one will treat about 1 quart of water, and there are 25 tablets per bottle. This pack includes 2 bottles for a total of 50 tablets. They’re small and lightweight, so they’ll fit into any pack. Also, they’re super easy to use, just drop them into a water bottle, tank, or bucket. After about 30 to 35 minutes the water is safe to drink.
They are designed to treat bacteria-infested water or sources that have Giardia lamblia cysts. Stronger types of bacteria, like certain viruses, and cryptosporidium contaminated water require different treatments, so keep that in mind. They won’t change the taste of the water either, which can be good or bad depending on the source. If you’re worried about a food source, check out our guide to the best disaster food kits.
Award: BEST NO POWERED NEEDED LAMP
WHY WE LIKE IT: When traditional light is unavailable, these light-up sticks are an excellent alternative. They store easily, they’re lightweight, and they also have a long shelf life.
It’s not always possible to use a lantern or flashlight for illumination, especially when they run on batteries. These glow sticks are one of the best alternatives. They’re relatively bright, giving off a vibrant glow, and they last for over 12 hours at a time. In comparison, most glow sticks last for about 8 hours maximum. They’re waterproof, non-toxic, and non-flammable so they can be used just about anywhere.
A single pack comes with 12 sticks total, which should last for about 144hrs, which is about 6 days worth. Each stick is individually wrapped, and they’re lightweight and don’t take up much room, perfect for tossing into a backpack. The foil wrapper works fairly well to keep them protected, so there’s less worry they’ll be damaged or activated early. If you’re worried about being injured while you’re on your hike, you’ll also want to look at our guide to the best disaster first aid kit.
Award: BEST ON A BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: For the times when a rope is necessary, you want something super-strong and reliable and that’s going to come from a paracord like this one. It has a heavy-duty construction for multiple-applications and comes with a metal carabiner.
It’s available in 30ft or 100ft sizes and a variety of colors. A reflective orange color, for example, makes it highly visible while outdoors and even better as an emergency tether, or for alerting search and rescue. Because it comes apart in strands it can also be used for crafts, like making a paracord bracelet, knife lanyard, or something similar.
While choosing survival gear, the most important thing we considered was each item’s usability or primary application. Does it serve a particular and necessary purpose and does it do so well? Every item on the list will do exactly what they’re meant to, with a high degree of reliability. Moreover, many of the items include additional uses, whether that’s by offering compounding functions or because they come with additional tools and accessories.
Each item we looked for had to be fairly lightweight and easy-to-carry. Not everything you see here is going to come packed neatly inside a case or go bag, but that’s okay. What’s most important is that they will fit inside a backpack or similar pouch, and they won’t bog you down much.
We also stuck with items that fit the essentials criteria. In other words, everything you see is something you’ll definitely need to have packed. We’re talking about things like food, water, fire starters, shelter, and more.