12 Survival Essentials
Ever find yourself wondering ‘What should I bring on a trip?” Whether you head out on the trail for a day or a month, take part in Adventure Racing or explore a new city in a far flung country, pack your bag full of these 12 essential items for survival and enjoy the ride.
Keep a pack full of these items in the trunk of your car before setting off on a road trip – you never know when the car’ll break down in the middle of nowhere.
12 Survival Essentials
- Map or Guidebook – Getting lost in the wilderness can be exhilarating– but remaining lost causes panic, disorientation and often leads to disaster.
Best travel with an updated map of the area you plan to explore – or bring a GPS device – learn how to read your map or GPS device beforehand. When exploring a new city, it’s OK to bring a guidebook, despite the stigma of looking like a lost tourist. However, remember that some of the best itineraries are not in the guidebook. Try plotting your route before you leave the hotel, but keep your guidebook in your pack for future reference.
- Compass – Before there were GPS Devices, there were compasses. Find north and find home. Used with a map it can help you orientate and get you back on track.
- Flashlight – Always tuck a small lightweight flashlight into your pack such as a Pak-Lite flashlights. You may even need a flashlight in the city; when you explore an area, you never know where you’ll end up. If you plan on hiking at night, bring a headlight to keep your hands free. And remember to bring extra batteries.
- Food – Duh? Anyone heading out on a hike without extra food is asking for trouble. Without food you quickly run into trouble. Hiking zaps your energy. Bring fuel food – you’ll burn off those extra carbs before they have time to nest on your thighs or gut. If space is a problem, pack a simple trail mix full of nuts and fruit – there’s no need to buy expensive pre-packaged foods when you can make your own cheaply at home.
- Water – Again, this should be a given. Unfortunately many people neglect to bring enough water with them. In the city you can always purchase extra water but on the trail, a corner store may not be that readily available. Bring a water filter or tabs to purify stream water – never drink stagnant water – and never assume that fast flowing water is safe to drink.
- Clothes – Accidents happen, maybe you fall in the river while you’re fetching extra water. Or you get caught in a mudslide. Bring layers you can remove if you get too warm or put on if you get too cold. Bring wool socks to keep your feet dry at night, waterproof socks for day treks and as your mom probably told you, a pair of clean underwear in case you get in an accident.
- Sunglasses – Protect your eyes. Wear glasses that wrap around your face and either a strap to keep them on or wear them tight enough so that they don’t slip off. Wear sunscreen even in winter. In the city, concrete deflects as many sun rays as sand and you may end up with a burn even in the dead of winter. Bring a bandana to protect your neck – it can also act as double agent to clean up spills or wipe away sweat from your brow.
- First Aid Kit – Nothing fancy, the small drug store kind will do. Bring any prescription medication with you and warn others that you are taking meds in case you are in a situation where you cannot speak.
- Pocket Knife or Multi Tool– Great for slicing through bandages, branches or cutting your sandwich in two. A good multi tool should have all the things you need from pliers to a small saw to a screwdriver to fix your sunglasses in case they break on the trail.
- Matches – While you may not need to start a fire in the city, matches or a lighter can literally save your life in the wilderness. Fire keeps you warm, dries your wet socks and cooks your food – never leave home without a fire starter of some kind.
- Whistle – Whistles scare away wild animals, potential muggers and can signal your whereabouts should you get separated from the pack on the trail. Simple yet essential, you never know when the outcome of your trip may depend on a whistle.
- Tarp – No one likes to sleep under the rain, no matter how romantic it looks in the movies. Bring a tarp to shield your tent and some space blankets to keep you warm. These small yet practical additions to your pack can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and a lot of grief.