Emergency Essentials Kit

The purpose of the emergency essentials kits is to provide the highest priority, most critical survival gear in organized, modular kits to help you get home or get to the nearest help. The kits can be moved from one larger kit to another (i.e. transferring from your day pack to your backpacking pack or go-bag.) You want the essentials with you as often as possible.

Survival Essentials (Personal Kit)

There are three critical survival essentials pouches you should build or buy first. Since they are modular and portable they can be carried in coat pockets, purses, brief cases, day packs, go bags, etc. They are absolutely must-have and the gear should be considered critcal.

  1. Essential Gear - Contains the bare minimum gear to survive away from home in a pinch
  2. First Aid - Contains the bare minimum supplies and medications to fix up your body and keep you healthy
  3. Toiletries - Contains essential hygiene supplies

Each person in our household has their custom version of these three pouches. We also added a version of these three pouches to each vehicle including the ATV. Seems like a lot of duplicate gear but we always have supplies handy and we all know how to use them.

Recommendation: This is how I use my essentials pouches

I spend A TON of time outdoors. My annual goal is to have 120 outings per year (be on the trail 1 of 3 days) including hiking, biking, camping, fishing, ATVs, etc. In 2020 I surpassed 180 outings. Early in the morning or in the evening I'll grab the dog, a child, or my wife, and head out. In all of these outings I've relied on my survival gear more times than I'd like to admit.

I pack these essentials kits in my day pack, transfer them to the ATV when needed, transfer them to the backpacking pack on overnighters, transfer them to a waist pack when fly fishing, and so on. It's mind boggling how often I've needed to use something from those pouches. I've had to start fires, take allergy meds, use the Carmex, use the toilet paper, use the paracord, and so on. I consider my essentials pouches as required gear for all outings.

I admit that I don't have duplicate gear in my bug-out-bag but since these pouches are always with me, I replenish and maintain them regularly and I would have them ready to stow in my go bag. I even have reserved space to drop them in and go.

Survival Essentials Kit

About This Article

Content:
Scope:
Difficulty:

Survival System - Stage: 1


Table of Contents

  1. Survival Essentials
  2. Complete Survival Essentials Checklist
    1. Essentials Pouch: Gear
    2. Essentials Pouch: First Aid
    3. Essentials Pouch: Toiletries

Survival Priorities

The human body has certain requirements to survive. For example, we need clean air, water, food, etc. We also want our blood on the inside of the body. These human needs can be prioritized based on urgency (i.e. drinking water doesn't matter if we can't breathe, etc.)

We recommend gear based on our list of survival priorities. The gear we recommend at each stage will have these priorities in mind. We should purchase critical gear and supplies first and organize it so it's portable and accessible.

We also take into account the likelyhood of needing a particular item in most survival situations. While it's possible, the odds aren't high that we might need a facemask over a flashlight or multitool, etc. We do recommend some tools early in the checklist because they facilitate other higher priority items. For example, a good multi-tool can help out in so many ways. We push it toward the top of the list.

Our essentials checklist takes into consideration years of experience in the outdoors as well as the checklists provided by the Boy Scouts, military personnele we know and recommendations from first responders. 

We do urge you to customize your kits to tailor to your needs. Consider your common activities, health requirements, people in your household, etc.

Keep in mind, the emergency essentials are only Stage 1 gear. Other stages compliment and add to these kits.

Survival Priority List

Priortize your gear and supplies based on this list.

  1. Air
  2. First Aid/Mental Health
  3. Communication
  4. Tools
  5. Shelter
  6. Warmth
  7. Water
  8. Food
  9. Hygiene
  10. Self Protection
  11. Extra Clothing
  12. Container

Complete Survival Essentials Checklist

This checklist has everything you need for a complete survival essentials kit. We recommend you download and print out the checklist. Then below, shop for recommended products you need. 

Emergency Essentials Pouches

Pack highly effective gear for the critical functions of life. Gear should be organized in pouches or small containers. A sample of recommended survival items includes:

Survival Gear

  1. Flashlight
  2. Knife
  3. Lighter
  4. Paracord (50 ft)
  5. Blanket or Bivvy
  6. Water Filter
  7. Duct Tape
  8. Compass
  9. Molle Pouch
  10. More...

First Aid

  1. Wipes: Alcohol
  2. Wipes: Sting Relief
  3. Cream: Antibiotic
  4. Ointment
  5. Cream: Burns
  6. Cream: Sun Screen
  7. Insect Repellent
  8. Tabs: Antacid
  9. Tabs: Tylenol
  10. More...

Survival Toiletries

  1. Pocket Tissues
  2. Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  3. Travel Floss
  4. Camp Soap
  5. Sunscreen
  6. Chapstick
  7. Body Wipes
  8. Cotton Swabs
  9. Feminine Hygiene
  10. More...

Download

Survival Essentials Checklist

Emergency Essentials Checklist

Download Checklist

For personal use.

Recommended Survival Gear Essentials Kit Products

Explore recommended survival products for the Survival Gear Kit. Below we go through each checklist item and suggest highly-rated, quality products.

Air Mask

Protect yourself from infection or filter smokey air and particulates with a light weight face mask. At this stage we're looking for effective yet light weight options. 

Required Attributes:

  • effective
  • light weight
  • compact
  • foldable

Reasons for Our Recommendation(s):

We like the N95/KN95 or certain cloth face masks equally. Government agencies (i.e. CDC, FDA), doctors, and the scientific community recommend N95 and KN95 masks for protection from infection as well as airbourne particulates. 

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Flashlight (rechargeable)

Stay productive or reduce fear at night or use the lamp as a signal. Having a quality, durable flashlight on hand is a huge help. Since a flashlight is critical in the essentials stage it might be your only option. We recommend having a rechargeable crank flashlight in this stage.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • rechargeable (preferably crank)
  • durable

Reasons for Our Pick(s):

In Stage 1 you have a choice to make: plastic crank rechargeable or sturdy tactical with an extra set of batteries. We prefer the rechargeable option (have you ever watched Cast Away?) because we include an extra flashlight in Stage 2 kits. We've needed to use the recharging crank on a couple of occasions - thank heavens we had it.

Survival Whistle

In an emergency communication can be critical. The human voice can travel a relatively short distance in good circumstances. The sound of a survival whistle can travel more than a mile. A whistle becomes increasingly important when you're cold and weak (remember Rose from the movie Titanic?). 

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • loud
  • durable

Reasons for Our Pick(s):

We prefer an aluminum option to plastic, especially the cheap plastic options. Aluminum is rust free and hard to smash, break.

Multi-Tool

A quality multi-tool may be the most handy and useful tool in this kit. In an emergency you may use it to build a shelter, cut food, administer first aid, cut paracord, open cans, fasten screws, etc. 

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • blades/tools: knife. optional: pliers, saw, screw drivers

Reasons for Our Pick:

At Stage 1 we like an option that is light weight, quality, and versatile. We've considered multiple Leathermans, Swiss Army Knives, and Gerbers. After hundreds of trail outings and Scout camps we prefer the Swiss Army Knife Fieldmaster, Leatherman Skeletool, and Leatherman Wave.

Our top pick for this Stage 1 is the Swiss Army Knife Fieldmaster. However, any of the three will work great. We like the Fieldmaster because it is much lighter than the Leatherman options. 

We like the Leatherman Wave for Stage 2 Go-Bags, which means we have two multi-tools in that stage - ideal.

Swiss Army Knife - Field Master

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Leatherman Skeletool

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Leatherman Wave

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Lighter

Ourdoor survival sitautions require fire for cooking and staying warm. A lighter is the best fire starter. It stays lit for a long time, it provides a great flame and it starts easily. For the trade off in very low weights it's the best option.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • lights quickly
  • stays lit
  • has a good flame

Reasons for Our Pick:

We like Bic lighters for this Stage. They are reliable, easy to use and very light weight. If you want a water proof option, consider the arc lighter which works by creating an electrical arc with the rechargeable battery.

Waterproof Matches

We consider our lighter at the primary firestarter. If it gets wet or broken we rely on waterproof matches. We like the self contained tinder as well.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • waterproof
  • strike anywhere

Reasons for Our Pick:

We like to have a backup for our primary resources. Waterproof matches are a great option for a firestarter.

Paracord

Lash items to build a shelter, secure gear, apply first aid, make a bow (for fire or hunting) and more with strands of Type 3 550 paracord. You want the real stuff so it's true 550 cordage. 

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • strong
  • certified
  • 50ft minumum

Reasons for Our Pick:

We choose Type 3 550 paracord because it's what the military chooses. It's strong and reliable. At this stage we carry 50 feet - it is a light weight amount and enough to get key jobs done. We also carry 15 feet of SurvivorCord. While we realize we might have to destroy the cord to get to one of the sub strands, it's justifiable because we rely on the standard 550 for most applications. The 15 feet of extra cord is light and justifiable.

Ear Band

Warm your head and ears in a cold setting. I'm surprised by how often I've used mine when caught outside longer than expected. 

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • foldable
  • insulated

Reasons for Our Pick:

Keeping warm is so important when caught outside without the right outerwear. An ear band should fold and fit nicely into a molle pouch or other small container.

Emergency Blanket or Bivvy

Keep warm with the radiant properties of a mylar blanket or bivvy. At this Stage we like the blanket but we carry a bivvy as well in many other packs so we have backup.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • right size

Reasons for Our Pick:

We've tested mylar products and they work well as radiant heating. They DO NOT work as insulation so make sure you are insulated by out clothing or keep off the ground. We like the light weight properties combined with the reflective heating.

Rain Poncho

Stay dry. Keep out of the rain, snow and other elements with a single use rain poncho.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • waterproof

Reasons for Our Pick:

Most rain ponchos get the job done. We chose this one because of its price and weight.

Water Filter

Hydrate with a super popular, well tested water filter. Keep water on the go with the portable pouch.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • compact
  • effective to 0.1 microns
  • squeeze pouch

Reasons for Our Pick:

We like the HydroBlu compact water filter and the Sawyer water filter. They're both compact and very user friendly. We use the pouch all the time so we don't have to get too close to the water to drink. It's surprising how often we run out of water on the trail and rely on our filters. 0.1 microns filters most bacteria and protozoa. We've used ours dozens of times without any illness and trust them like many other people.

Duct Tape

Repair clothes, gear and shelter with ever-reliable duct tape. Have a small amount on hand for small repairs and solutions.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • travel size (not full size at this stage)

Reasons for Our Pick:

We like the small rolls for this Stage. We'ved used duct tape to repair tents, jackets, and shirts as well as to build a small water container. 

Compass/Magnifying Glass

Orient yourself with a compass and start a fire with a magnifying glass. Matched with a map you can stay on course when relocating.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • compass, magnifying glass combo

Reasons for Our Pick:

Pair with a map of the area to get to your desired location. Save matches and fuel on a sunny day by using the magnifying glass to start your fire.

Fishing Kit

Source food with an emergency fishing kit. Make sure you add the right bait to the kit before adding it to your Stage 1 kit.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • compact
  • has the right tackle

Reasons for Our Pick:

We like all three of these options. The Speedhook can let you do something else while it fishes for you. We like compact kits at this Stage.

Snares

Trap food. Definitely learn how to use a snare before packing it in your kit. 

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • real snare - so much better than a piece of wire

Reasons for Our Pick:

A real snare is so effective if used correctly. We recommend investing in small or medium size traps at this Stage. Many kits have wire anyway, we easily justify having real snares. The SurvivorCord we also recommended above has wire as well but it's not super thick and would require a braid, etc. to build a snare.

Molle Pouch

A molle pouch is a tactical container tha attaches to other packs and containers. Pack all of the gear in this kit in one molle pouch.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • pocket sized
  • plenty of dividers for the numerous items in this kit

Reasons for Our Pick:

This molle pouch might be a little large but all of the recommended gear at this Stage will fit. It is easy to transfer from one pack to another. 

Signal Mirror

Signal a passing aircraft if you are lost. For the tiny weight it's a handy signal device.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • non-glass

Reasons for Our Pick:

We like a non-glass reflective mirror for emergency signalling. If it breaks the risk of damage to gear and injury is reduced.

Pepper Spray*

Protect yourself from aggressive animals and people. One spray is enough to incapacitate anything with eyes.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • certified
  • easy-to-use
  • compact

Reasons for Our Pick:

We LOVE bear spray but sometimes it's too big to carry at this Stage. Having something is better than nothing. A small canister can be very effective.

Recommended First Aid (IFAK) Essentials Kit Products

Explore our recommended survival products for the First Aid Pouch (IFAK). Below we go through each checklist item and suggest highly-rated, quality products.

Personal First Aid Kit (IFAK)

Treat injuries or illnesses with your personal first aid kit. There are two options in Stage 1 depending on your lifestyle: 

  1. Personal first aid kit - meant for day to day use. Items like pressure dressing, tourniquet, and bleed stop are reserved for Stage 2.
  2. Field first aid kit - meant for outdoorsmen or people with a more aggressive lifestyle who are prone to more significant injuries.

 

1. Personal First Aid Kit

Choose one of the larger kits and place only the items you commonly need in a cosmetic pouch, ziplock, etc.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • compact, pocket-sized
  • contains bandages, meds, and other items for very common cuts, scrapes, etc.

Reasons for Our Pick:

If your lifestyle keeps you close to medical facilities and you're not too aggressive in your lifestyle you can get by with a minimal kit. Your go-bag at Stage 2 will have more robust first aid supplies.

 

2. Tactical/Field First Aid Kit

For aggessive lifestyles, choose the EDC kit and one of the larger kits. The EDC kit has a tourniquet, pressure bandages, compressed gauze, etc. You can add other common supplies from a larger kit to complete this kit for the field (see checklist)

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • compact, pocket-sized
  • contains robust first aid supplies in addition to items used in day-to-day activies.

Reasons for Our Pick:

The writers of this site spend a lot of time in the outdoors. We hunt, fish, shoot, off-road, hike, bike, climb, etc. We recognize the need for an advanced first aid kit for our essentials. We also carry additional gear in our go-bags as well.

Recommended Toiletries Essentials Kit Products

Explore our recommended survival products for the Toiletries Pouch. Below we go through each checklist item and suggest highly-rated, quality products.

Portable Toiletry Kit

Stay clean and comfortable with a personal, travel sized toiletry kit. A toiletry kit tends to be personal. Select travel versions of the items you select.

Required Attributes:

  • light weight
  • complete
  • compact

Reasons for Our Pick:

We recommend you purchase this kit and other products and then put them in a small cosmetics kit. It's surprising how often we need chapstick, a good toothbrushing after a camp fire meal, or the use of the pocket tissues for a trip to the outdoor bathroom.

Keep this kit with your other two regardless of the pack you're hauling.

 

 

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