By Just In Case Jack |
Last Updated: May 31, 2016
The Ultimate Survival Gear List to Help You Build Your Arsenal Of Survival Tools
How can you be absolutely certain you have all the critical gear you need for survival?
To be confident there are no more survival items left to acquire.
You can’t – unless you have The Complete Survival Gear List.
An extensive list to ensure you don’t overlook any life-saving gear.
While it’s unlikely anyone forgets a survival knife, there’s lesser-known survival gear you’ve likely overlooked.
That’s why we created The Complete Survival Gear List.
It’s a list to start, track and grow your survival tools and equipment. A list to help you build your complete survival arsenal.
To be 100% confident you’ve got everything you need for a survival emergency.
However, this survival gear list will only cover gear and not supplies.
What’s the difference? Supplies are items you use up or consume – supplies are not tools and they’re not gear. For example, food is a survival supply, while a knife is survival gear.
This list will also only cover gear that’s portable. So while some may consider a piece of gear large home generator “survival”, we probably added that piece of gear to our Prepper’s Checklist.
So make sure to read our Prepper’s list and our Bug Out Bag Checklist for items in those categories as well.
Want a Downloadable and Printable Version Of This Survival Gear List? Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.
WATER FILTRATION & PURIFICATION
As always, we start with water because it’s a player in nearly all major emergencies.
So you need gear to turn questionable water into drinkable thirst-quenching H2O.
The good news is this one is straightforward; we recommend getting a Sawyer Mini Water Filter.
1. Sawyer Mini Water Filter
I’ll keep this one short and sweet.
You never want to be forced to drink nasty water. We’re talking sewage-filled, bacterial laden water that can make you sick.
Talk about a bad survival situation…
Instead, grab a couple Sawyer Mini portable water filters.
They’re designed to remove microscopic particulates and dangerous bacteria from suspect water.
Couple one with some water purification tablets and you’re ready for most water-related emergencies. Drink with confidence.
For even more detailed information check out Sawyer Mini review video below.
2. Water Bottle
If you ever need to survive in the wild or on the move, you’ll need to carry water with you.
When you get to a water source, you’ll want to filter it, purify it, and put some in a bottle. Because you rarely know how far the next water source is and a water bottle keeps you hydrated between sources.
Get a metal one with a single wall only (no double-wall insulated ones).
Metal allows you to boil water over a fire in a pinch but heating up a double-walled bottle can cause an explosion!
Want a Downloadable and Printable Version Of This Survival Gear List? Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.
Occasionally, water takes a back seat to shelter.
Extreme temperatures and weather make finding shelter your number one survival priority.
So you can either pray you’ll stumble across a natural survival shelter (or an abandoned cabin in the woods) or you can get invest in some lifesaving shelter gear.
3. Survival Tarp
Tarps are an excellent shelter option.
But a cheap tarp will not do.
You should invest in a high-quality, waterproof, rugged, ripstop survival tarp with ample anchor points.
A good survival tarp allows you to structure different shelter setups to keep wind, rain, sleet, and snow off of you.
For even more detailed information check out our post on survival shelters, where share more tarp shelter configurations.
4. Cold Weather Tent
OK, if you live in cold regions a tarp might not work well in the dead of winter.
Instead, you might want to upgrade to a cold-weather tent or a canvas tent.
These tents are not the lightest piece of survival gear; heck most will be over 10 lbs, but it will keep you warm and alive in even the worst of conditions.
These are the tents extreme mountain climbers use to keep safe at high altitudes.
For even more detailed information check out our cold weather tent post – as well as our survival tent post.
5. Survival Hammock
Hammocks are not just for the beach; they can also be for survival.
These keep you up off the ground so you could sleep high up in a tree if need be.
Some can be rolled up into a compact ball and don’t weigh much.
A hammock tent is an excellent option between a full tent setup and a survival tarp.
6. TACT Bivvy
Finally, there’s the TACT Bivvy. It’s an emergency blanket (or bivy sack) that can be added to any of the above shelter options. This piece of life-saving gear weighs under 5 ounces.
“Lifesaving,” you ask…absolutely. When you hop in this TACT bivvy, it traps your body heat to keep you warm even in frigid temperatures.
I tested one during freezing temperatures outside and was sweating after just a few minutes. The internal temperature in the Bivvy reached the mid-70’s!
I wish every car and truck manufacturer put one of these TACT Bivvys in everyone’s glove box. It saves lives when people get stuck overnight in blizzards.
Here’s my video review of the TACT Bivvy.
Want a Downloadable and Printable Version Of This Survival Gear List? Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.
Next up is survival weapons. Wait! Are weapons considered gear?
In my opinion, YES.
Self-defense IS survival.
These weapons are not survival supplies (however, ammo is). So let’s cover some common and some lesser-known survival gear you can use to protect and defend yourself.
7. Survival Firearm
We’ve discussed survival firearms many times on this site (survival guns/survival rifles). And while there is no such thing as one single “best” survival gun, there’s a lot to think about and consider.
Weight, ammo availability, accuracy, ruggedness are variables you must take into account.
Just make sure you have enough firepower to protect and defend yourself and your family.
8. Bore Snake
While a bore snake is not a weapon, it does belong in this category.
It’s a must-have for anyone who owns a firearm.
If you want your weapon to fire when you pull the trigger and maintain its accuracy, you got to take the time to keep the bore clean of build-up.
9. Homemade Weapons
Instead of listing all the homemade weapons you could make and build, I just added the entire category to this list.
I’ll also point you to a homemade weapons post that goes over many homemade weapons you can create.
From homemade flamethrowers to homemade stun guns and shivs.
10. Survival Bow
When hunting or defending; silent and deadly = awesome.
Don’t get me wrong, you gotta have firearms but if you’re in a survival situation where stealth is crucial, then give me a good survival bow.
I like having the option to shoot wild game (or dangerous threats) silently if need be.
The “thump” of an arrow release is a whisper compared to the “bang” of a rifle.
Here’s a post detailing 16 reasons why you want a survival bow.
11. Survival Crossbow
Maybe I’m just a sucker for good survival movies and TV shows, but I love the idea of owning a crossbow.
You get all the benefits of a survival bow with the benefits of trigger shooting.
A solid choice and a worthy addition to a survival gear list.
12. Tactical Pen
Not my personal “go-to” weapon of choice, but I’m also not a tactical pen-wielding master.
I’ve seen videos on tactical pens being used for self-defense, and they are lethal in the right set of hands.
I do keep one in my everyday carry pack as a backup.
I hope I never need to use it, but I know it’s close by just in case.
Plus, at the time of writing this post, you could pick up a FREE tactical strike pen if you chip in for shipping.
Click here to see if the deal is still available.
Here’s our guide to using and finding a tactical pen.
12. Stun Gun
Stun Guns are becoming a popular non-lethal self-defense weapon.
If you hit someone with a high voltage stun gun they’re going down hard and fast.
They won’t know what hit them and you’ll be able to neutralize the threat or escape to safety.
A worthy piece of survival gear for the list.
13. Pepper Spray / Mace
Earlier this year, I read an interesting news article. It was about a man hospitalized after eating one Carolina Reaper.
It said to be the hottest chili pepper known to man – at around 2,000,000 Scoville Heat Units!
This pepper causes intense dry heaves, blinding headaches, and some near-stroke symptoms. But what if the “pepper” in a pepper spray was that powerful?
FOX Labs is measured at 5,300,000 SHU – an astounding 265% hotter than the Carolina Reaper!
It can spray this blinding defense up to 17 to 20 feet. FOX Labs Pepper Spray is used by Police, Law Enforcement, Security, and Military agencies worldwide.
It’s one of those self-defense weapons everyone should own.
FIRE STARTING SURVIVAL GEAR
Firestarting and survival are basically one and the same.
Starting a fire in calm dry conditions is one thing. Starting a fire in a blizzard or torrential downpour is a whole different ballgame.
You need the gear to help you get a fire started no matter the conditions.
The good news is you have a lot of choices in survival lighters.
You can go cheap with a standard BIC lighter, or you can go high-tech with a Tesla lighter. Or go with anything in-between like a zippo.
The choice is yours. We like the Tesla lighters for survival since they work in wet and high wind conditions.
But you should always have 3 ways to start a fire…
15. Fire Striker
Do you know what the biggest downside is of any of the lighters mentioned above?
They all require fuel; lighter fuel or battery power.
These can run out or go dead just when you need them most.
Instead, why not also have survival gear that will almost never run out.
Get a quality Ferro rod.
This Ferro rod has 12,000 strikes! That’s a lot of fires.
Using one takes some practice, but they are worthy of a spot on your gear list.
16. Permanent Matches
Permanent matches are another form of fire-starting because you can never really have too many firestarters.
If you just have regular matches in with your survival gear, you’re making a mistake.
If regular matches get wet, they are worthless.
However, a permanent match can get wet and will light no problem. If you are going to have some survival matches (and you should), then you need permanent ones.
Firelaces are one of those pieces of gear you can wear every day.
These are shoelaces with mini Ferro rods at the ends.
Just loop the striker into the laces, and you’re shoes become a survival tool in their own right.
Your shoelaces now double as a survival fire starter.
18. Tinder Box
The real secret to starting a fire is not the sparks or the flame, it’s the tinder.
Fine, dry tinder makes fire starting a breeze no matter which tool you use to light it.
So you need a piece of survival gear that allows you to make tinder.
This tinderbox has a fine shredder you can use with dry sticks to create tinder.
Just rub some downed sticks across the grate and you have tinder; genius!
BLADED SURVIVAL TOOLS
19. Survival Shovel
Some people swear by owning and using a survival shovel, while others see it as unnecessary.
But a shovel can do one task that no other bladed tool can do (at least not nearly as well).
It can dig large holes and move lots of dirt.
A knife cannot do that; a tarp can’t do that; a stick can’t do it.
When you need to dig a trench or a foxhole, only a tactical shovel will do.
Check out our Best Survival Shovels Guide for even more information.
20. Survival Knife
It’s safe to say a fixed blade survival knife is the most popular survival gear for most people – as it should be.
The knife is so versatile and can accomplish so many survival tasks.
It’s one of the first pieces of survival gear most people get – and serious survivalists own several.
Another type of bladed tool you might want to add in addition to a survival knife is a survival machete. It’s an extremely versatile tool/weapon.
21. Survival Hatchet / Axe
Survival hatchets and survival axes are similar in shape and function but not in size.
The hatchet is shorter and tends to weigh less, while an axe is longer and has more heft.
But both of these pieces of gear perform critical survival functions.
They fell trees, and they split wood.
And while you can split wood with a good survival knife by batoning, it’s not something you want to do in large quantities.
I recommend getting a hatchet with a pickaxe built-in for even more versatility.
Also, check out our Best Survival Axe Guide and Survival Hatchet post.
22. Survival MultiTool
I’m a fan of survival multi-tools with a great set of pliers (ones with needle nose pliers preferred).
Pliers are another one of those survival tools that cannot easily be replaced by other devices.
Being able to grip an object with powerful force and pull or twist can be essential but cannot be replicated using your fingers.
Check out our Survival MultiTool Buying Guide.
23. Survival Credit Card Tool
This credit card survival tool has 14 tools at a very reasonable price.
The biggest downside is that it doesn’t have a set of pliers.
But for those who would rather have a thinner credit card knife or survival multi-tool – you can’t do much better.
Get a FREE Rescuecard™ today when you simply cover the reasonable S&H.
If, for whatever reason, the Rescuecard™ isn’t for you, check out The Survival Business Card which is an 11-in-1 survival tool that you can get for FREE +S&H. Here is a video review of The Survival Business Card:
24. Blade Sharpener
You have to have at least one good knife sharpener.
What good is a dull blade? Close to worthless. You might as well be carrying a spoon around if your blade is dull.
So grab this blade sharpener and add it to your survival gear.
RESCUE SURVIVAL GEAR
25. Survival Whistle
Earlier we covered some of the highest priority survival items (water, shelter, self-defense) but what about rescue?
Sometimes the top priority is to get the attention of others who can provide rescue or medical assistance.
A scream whistle will travel a very long distance and get lots of attention for miles. Much further than your voice can carry alone.
At the time of publishing this article, you could get a FREE scream whistle from Survival Frog – just help out with shipping.
Click here to see if the deal is still available.
Also, take a look at all the Best Survival Whistle options in this post.
26. Signal Mirror
A signal mirror can serve two vital survival purposes.
First, a mirror can signal help to a rescue plan or helicopter.
Using the power of the sun to shine a glare towards a rescue team is an excellent way to gain attention.
The other survival use of a small mirror is to create a fire.
It’s not the easiest way to start a fire, but a focused beam of light on dry tinder will burst into flame.
Plus, they are lightweight and take up very little space. Underrated little tool to add to your survival gear list.
27. Survival Radio
As anyone from a military background knows, intelligence is everything in emergencies.
Without critical information such as weather conditions or roadblock locations, you may find yourself moving in the path of danger – or moving when you should be staying.
The more intel, the better.
But you shouldn’t put this intel advantage in the hands of electricity or battery technology.
Instead, get a hand crank radio so you can generate your own power on demand.
Crank for a few minutes, and you’ll be able to tune into any available intel being broadcast over the radio waves.
You can’t go wrong with the Eton Scorpion II hand cranked radio.
Here is a video of our Jason (Skilled Survival’s gear expert) reviewing a similar hand ranked rado:
28. Walkie Talkies
If you’re in a survival group, then you should have a plan to communicate with this group at a distance.
Whether you’re talking perimeter security or setting up an ambush – walkie talkie’s are a significant survival advantage.
These walkie talkies have a range of up to 2 miles.
ILLUMINATION GEAR FOR SURVIVAL
29. Tactical Flashlight
A prepared survivalist is not 100% ready for an emergency without a means of illumination.
Proper lighting is necessary – from moving at night to seeing what you’re doing in a dark basement.
Having a tactical flashlight in your pocket is one piece of survival gear that’s NOT optional, it’s essential.
For A Limited Time Only: Get a FREE FireHawk Tactical Flashlight For Visiting Skilled Survival! Just pay s&h. Click Here To Learn More.
30. Survival Lantern
“Don’t underestimate the power of the light side…”
Ok, bad terrible joke but it’s true.
Illumination should never be underestimated and you should have at least one survival lantern.
You might want to get a solar lantern and avoid dealing with batteries.
31. Survival Headlamp
I promise this is the last illumination gear on the list. But a quality headlamp provides illumination in a way that a flashlight or lantern cannot.
They allow you portable, focused, hands-free illumination.
I can’t think of a way this wouldn’t be a huge advantage in a survival situation.
MISC SURVIVAL GEAR
32. Survival Watch
Nowadays, there are many impressive survival watches available.
Ones that provide more than just time, they can also provide intel such as temperature, altitude, heading, etc.
Plus, we like the survival watches that are tough enough to deal with even the worst of elements like the Rangeman Master of G Series.
Check out our Survival Watch Guide, for even more information.
33. Survival Stoves
Do you need a survival stove? No.
Stoves are nice, they can make survival situation easier, but you can cook survival food over a regular fire just as well.
However, with that said, there are some impressive portable survival stove options available on the market and worth a look.
For example, this bio stove allows you to generate some electricity with a survival stove is a bonus.
Read about all 15 survival cooking options here.
You might also be interested in getting a tent stove for portable heat in the winter.
34. Survival Bike
One of the most overlooked items for survival.
If there’s an EMP strike or a disaster with massive fuel shortages, you’ll need a form of alternative transportation.
A rugged mountain bike with some panniers or even a small trailer is a good survival idea.
Here’s more information about bikes for survival.
35. Survival Bandana
How much space does a bandana take up in your bug out bag or pocket? Very little.
How much does one weight? Very little.
However, this often overlooked piece of gear has many survival uses.
There’s no good excuse not to include a survival bandana in your survival gear. Survival bananas are a high utility and little weight survival tool.
Get one. Or get an even better piece of cloth for survival called a neck gaiter.
Here’s a detailed post on survival bandanas and their many uses.
36. Gas Mask
There are a few emergency scenarios where a gas mask jumps all the way up to the number 1 priority.
If you can’t breathe, then you’ll die in minutes.
And if you can breathe but the air is deadly, then you may become a member of the walking dead.
Not the zombie variety but the sort where your death is coming soon, you just don’t realize it yet.
Think – nuclear fallout.
So get a good gas mask for each member of your family and get plenty of gas filters to go with it.
Check out our Gas Mask Buying Guide.
37. Snares & Traps
You can make your own deadfall traps and paracord snares, but it’s easier to snag a meal if you’re using gear designed for the task.
So it’s worth picking up a few wire snares and animal traps and learn how to use them.
38. Fishing Pole
Standard fishing poles are great. But for survival, I always try to find gear that’s lighter and more portable than regular gear.
So you should check out these alternative fishing pole options.
39. Fishing Tackle
Get a small fishing tackle box with a few essentials to catch some trout, bluegill, or bass.
A few crankbaits, some plastic worms, toss in some catfish stink bait, some lead, some hooks, a bobber or 2 and you’re all set.
And while those methods are fun to try – not one I’d be interested in relying on during a real emergency.
40. Perimeter Defense Alarms
Let’s say you’re thrust into an emergency situation where rescue is not desirable.
Let’s say you must avoid detection and roaming threats.
If you want to get some shut-eye, it would be near impossible without a perimeter alarm system.
You need something in place to warn you of trouble in the area.
That’s what these cool sound grenade devices can do for you.
Want to know about more homemade booby traps? Go here.
41. Compact Binoculars
Survival gear that can help you see objects, animals, or threats at a very long range.
That’s what I call a superpower.
Get a compact pair of high-powered binoculars and you’ll have a major survival advantage.
If you don’t have them, you’re at a huge survival disadvantage.
You likely have a survival knife but probably don’t have a fork and spoon.
So get this lightweight, highly portable spork so you can eat a meal with a bit of decency in a survival situation.
A low weight, low volume but high utility piece of survival gear.
43. Portable Solar Charger
Do you need electrical power in a survival situation? No, you don’t. However, it depends on the rest of the survival gear on your list.
For example, if you plan to use your GPS device or your smartphone as a survival tool, then you need a way to charge it outdoors.
Skilled Survival highly recommends the Anytime Charge Solar Power Bank.
Why? Because it’s one of the most durable, compact, and cost-effective portable solar chargers on the market today. But don’t let its compact size fool you, it’s also got a massive 10,000 mAh battery capacity!
The massive battery storage is enough to charge any of your devices multiple times. Plus, with dual charging outputs, you can power multiple devices at the same time!
Simply plug in your devices via the supplied USB cable (you can use any USB cable) and press the power button. Your device will begin to take power from the Anytime Charge right away.
Recharging the Anytime Solar Bank couldn’t be easier – just leave it in the sun and it will automatically fill the large battery bank back up ANYWHERE.
Plus, it’s splash resistant and comes with an emergency flashlight with a strobe function.
NOTE: At the time this article was published, you could snag some bonus Tactical Flashlights For FREE if when you buy multiple Anytime Solar Chargers. Click here now, to see if this deal is still available!
44. Survival Saw
A survival saw is a handy piece of gear to own.
These saws are lightweight and can help cut good-sized limbs fast in a pinch.
It’s a lightweight, useful tool so it on the list for those who want a way to cut through wood using a saw.
45. Survival Belt
If you’re like me, a belt is the one piece of gear I wear every time I walk out of my house.
So I always have a belt with me.
So why would I wear a regular belt of limited use?
Instead, you should upgrade this daily wear item to one that is has a ton of survival utility.
Check out our detailed post on the Best Survival Belts.
46. Survival Cup
A bit of a luxury item in a survival scenario but drinking water out of your hands is not convenient.
Plus, if you happen to have coffee, soup, or freeze-dried meals you’ll need a bowl or cup to eat these meals.
What’s nice is you can get a collapsible one, and they weight nearly nothing and take up minimal space.
I keep on in my backpack for my dog.
He can drink out of a collapsible cup but not straight out of a water bottle.
47. Battery Boost Charger
Dead batteries have thrown many people into survival situations.
If you’re out in a remote area and your vehicle battery goes dead, your only option is to start hiking.
OR if you had a battery booster you could bring the battery back to life and drive on home with no inconvenience.
It’s a piece of gear you don’t realize you need it until you really need it!
48. Bolt Cutters
Who knows what the world may look like in a major disaster. Survival is all about prepping, adapting, and overcoming.
A set of mini bolt cutters gives you the ability to overcome chains and padlocks.
Is it breaking and entering? Yes.
But if the world is in lawless chaos, there will be no police to arrest you.
Not a tool to be used lightly but if you ever have the need nothing can replicate it.
49. Sling Shot
Ammo is heavy.
Rocks and pebbles can be heavy too, but you don’t have to carry them. You can find them in nature.
So while I don’t support slingshots as real self-defense weapons, I do think slingshots have a place in a survival gear list.
They can get you a meal without wasting firearm ammo (with some practice) and to me, that’s worthy of a place on this list.
50. Survival Pack
Survival pack, bug out bag, inch bag, backpack – all different names for basically the same piece of gear.
A survival pack is a bag with straps so you can carry your survival gear on your back. That’s it.
Some packs are larger while others are smaller.
Others have extra pockets; while some have MOLLE. So choose a survival pack that works best for you.
See why we recommend The Combat Bag by EVATAC by watching the video below.
The uses for paracord is nearly endless.
It allows you to bind, cinch, tie, hang, attach, trip, etc. The bottom line is 550 paracord is one essential piece of survival gear.
Now, there’ are several ways you can carry cord.
One of the most popular ways is via a paracord survival bracelet.
But you can also create a paracord donut, or paracord “oh crap” jeep straps, paracord belts, dog collars, etc.
Choose your preferred method, and you’ll always have some cordage with you no matter where you go.
Here are 17 excellent paracord projects if you’re into making your own paracord items.
52. Survival Compass
Every true survivalist should own a high-quality military compass.
Forget ones where the needle hangs up or points the wrong direction have the time.
With a compass, you can prevent walking in circles and keep a straight heading.
If you add a map with a compass (and know how to use them), you’ll never get lost again.
53. Survival Poncho
What if it’s raining outside, but you need to keep moving.
Hypothermia is extremely dangerous.
And your hypothermia risk goes up exponentially when you’re in wet clothes.
You should add a survival poncho with a hood to wear in outdoor-related emergencies.
It’s your best portable shelter option in certain conditions.
54. First Aid Kits
You need to be able to treat some minor injuries in any situation.
Medical gear such as bandages, antibacterial creams, painkillers, blood clotting sponge, and a tourniquet.
Obviously, if you’re on the move, you need a small portable kit.
For a compact portable kit, I highly recommend The MyMedic Solo First Aid Kit.
However, if you’re preparing for at-home emergencies, you can load up on a more sophisticated medical survival kit.
Again, MyMedic has you covered with their Recon medium-sized First Aid Kit.
And here’s our detailed “how to build a survival medical kit” guide if you’d rather build your own from scratch.
55. Tactical Boots
When it comes to survival – your feet tend to take some serious abuse.
If your feet are sore or blistered good luck surviving or getting anything one.
So it’s worth every penny to invest in a quality pair of tactical boots.
DOWNLOAD THIS SURVIVAL GEAR LIST
Click here to get immediate access to the PDF version of The Ultimate Survival Gear List.
Remember: Prepare, Adapt and Overcome,
“Just In Case” Jack
P.s. Do you know where the closest nuclear bunker is from your home?
There are a lot of natural nuclear shelters in the US that are absolutely free. And one of them is near your home.
Click on the image above to find out where you need to take shelter.
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