Wilderness survival kits are a good idea for everyone who enjoys camping in the great outdoors. There are about 2,500 search and rescue missions in national parks every year, usually to help people who are exhausted and exposed to the elements. While 92% of people are rescued within the first 24 hours, some needed to wait a week or longer for help. It's always good to be prepared in case you need to wait, and there are some key items to have in addition to your camping normal gear.
Basic Camping Survival Kit Components
Some items are universal, regardless of the climate. For example, a good knife and some matches always come in handy. You can make a basic camping survival kit that will help you create shelter, navigate, and fish or trap food. You should also have the following additional items in your kit in case your camping trip takes an unexpected turn.
First Aid Supplies
You'll also need a first aid kit specific to outdoor actives. Beyond the Tent strongly recommends buying a complete first aid kit instead of going to the expense and hassle of assembling one. Bandages, wraps, ointments, and more are needed beyond just bandaids. The Reebow Tactical Kit, which retails for about $20, has everything you need to treat cuts, scrapes, and medical emergencies.
Water and Food
Even in the remote wilderness, you can't rely on finding potable water. Instead, bring some water purification tablets, such as Katadyn Drinking Water Tablets, or a filtration device like a LifeStraw water bottle. Add some compact, high-protein meal bars, such as ER Emergency Ration Food Bars, in case your fishing and trapping supplies fail to deliver a meal when you really need one.
Specialty Additions for Specific Climates
Those basic items will go a long way towards keeping you alive and well for weeks or even longer, if need be. However, there are additional items you may want to add for camping in specific climates.
Desert Camping Survival Kits
Naturally, the most important concerns for survival in arid climates are hydration and sun exposure. Include the following if you camp in the dessert:
- Plastic bags - These pack down small, but you can use them to capture what little moisture there is by wrapping them around tree branches or building solar stills.
- Folding trowel - You can also use a trowel to dig for water in the inside curves of dry riverbeds. You may also want to read up on which local cacti are suitable for extracting moisture using the trowel or your knife.
- Cap with neck flaps - If you're not in the habit of wearing a wide-brimmed tropic hat, a simple cap with a flap covering the neck can go a long way to protect you from heatstroke.
- Sunscreen - Replace this from time to time to make sure it doesn't expire.
- Snake bite kit - Don't forget about desert rattlers. Get a snakebite kit and practice, but make sure to do some research beforehand as some kits are more effective. The Extractor Bite and Sting Kit is highly rated on Amazon and small enough that it doesn't take up too much room in your pack.
Forest Survival Kits for Camping
Water is more readily available in the woods than the desert and finding shade is rarely a problem. Bugs, rain, and poison ivy are another story, however. Gather these items to keep in your kit if you camp in the woods:
- Tick tweezers - Ticks carry disease and have few redeeming qualities, so bring tick tweezers to keep these nasty things off you.
- Plastic poncho - A plastic poncho can be used both on your person and to reinforce your shelter.
- Insect repellant - Mosquitos aren't usually a life and death issue, but it's far easier to keep your mind focused on survival when you aren't being eaten alive.
- Topical treatment for contact dermatitis - Anti-itch cream won't make the difference between life and death either, but it can help you keep a cool head.
- Snake bite kit - Depending on whether snakes are an issue in the area you camp, a snake bit kit is a good addition.
Cold Climate Camping Kits
In a cold climate, the ability to make and maintain fire is of utmost importance. That's why you want to add some additional fire starting tools to your arsenal. Gather the following additional supplies if you plan to winter camp in the wilderness:
- Fire starter tablets - These little pellets, such as Esbit Fire Starter Tablets, contain concentrated fuel that will get a fire started quickly if you can't find dry kindling.
- Disposable lighter - This will work as another option for starting fires if your matches get wet.
- Cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly - This low-tech alternative to fire starter tablets works as a great back-up if you need to light a fire fast.
- Calorie-dense food/snacks - Caloric intake is important to keep your metabolism and body heat going, so make sure to bring high-calorie, protein-rich, foods or snacks with you.
- Survival blanket - A thermal survival blanket, such as the Space All-Weather Blanket, can help you survive even brutal dips in temperature if your sleeping bag isn't keeping you warm or your camper motor won't start.
Peace of Mind
Whether you prefer to camp in the Arizona desert, the remote Appalachian forests, the frozen tundra of Alaska, or another lovely part of the world, it's good to be prepared for an emergency. You'll find that a good kit will give you the peace of mind you need to relax and enjoy the peace of the wilderness.