The spectrum of survival can be broken down into a pie that shows 10% of your survival is based on your equipment, 10% on your knowledge or kills, and 80% on your will to survive. Having the right tools will help keep your mind right and positive in order for you to walk out of a deadly situation alive. So here are some must-have survival items that you cannot leave behind on your treks into the backcountry.




Humans cannot survive without water, we can last months sometimes without food and we can gut out some pretty extreme weather conditions as long as we can stay properly hydrated. So no matter where you are going in the backcountry, make sure you bring water. Now of course water is bulky and heavy so you need a sustainable means to drink clean water. Bring along a water filtration system like a life straw or a gravity fed filtration system. This will allow you to turn almost any filthy water into safe and clean water. There are water bottle systems that include water filters that allow the end user the ability to drink clean water as well. This way you cut down on weight but also always have options for water. That is of course if water is available to you. If not you need to plan ahead and bring enough or have another alternative.




Shelter not only gives us protection from the elements it also gives us mental security. We like to have walls around us protecting us, so even having a small rain fly with you or a trap could mean the difference between you sleeping in the elements and sleeping under a roof. This is something you should include with you even on day hikes because you never know what can happen. Even if you are bringing a tent, a rain fly or tarp can really augment a camp and for those times you don’t feel like hassling with a tent, a fly works well for a lean-to.




You need a means to start a fire if you plan on surviving. Fire not only is essential for our mental stability in a harsh survival situation, it is a means to treat water, to cook food (scavenged, gathered, trapped, hunted, caught), provide light in the darkness (more security) it also serves as a means to signal to others our location. Smoke can be seen for miles and flames can be seen clearly from the sky at night. So bring along matches and lighters but know they both sometimes fail, get wet and won’t help you. So always keep an alternative means of starting a fire like a flint and steel or a fire starting rod. These will help give you a sustainable means to start and maintain a fire.




Most people in survival situations are only days away from rescue, so make those hard days about survival, and not about enduring by bringing these tools with you.

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