This wilderness survival guide wouldn't be complete without acknowledging this; hands down, skills are much more important than gear when it comes to wilderness survival. You can buy and collect all the best gear in the world, but what happens if you forget it? Or lose it? Or use it up? Then you'll be relying on yourself - your skills. With that said, it is still good to learn about wilderness survival gear and put together a wilderness survival kit. Just don't' depend on it.
I don’t know how much you guys weigh, but ideally the total load you’re carrying should clock in under 1/3rd your body weight. Add to that the fact that you might have to carry the kids for a bit, and you may want to shoot for 1/4 body weight. Since you do have kids I imagine you have a some type of stroller or wagon or some such. Might not be a bad idea to put extra water and consumables in there and tow it instead of carry it. It’ll save you calories, help to keep you from having to carry the kids when little legs get tired, and allow you you to pack a little extra. Shoot for something like a baby jogger though, so it’s at least equal to the same terrain as your kids are.
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Nice list. Its uncanny that I myself have most of the same exact gear. Even so I would like to give all my gear a cold weather weigh in as I live up north. I have warm and cold weather kits and the cold weather kits get heavy quick since the sleep systems are so darn heavy. Havent done a weigh in for a while, made me think. I cant carry what I used too a decade ago.


I originally had a SOL Breathable Emergency Bivvy but I absolutely cannot sleep in it. It’s WAY too restricting if you’re broad-shouldered. You could try one and see if it works but if it does, you need to hit the gym bro. I almost packed it regardless because it would have been ok to bring along as a pad I could fill in with leaves etc but that put me over my 25 pounds so I dropped it from the list.
You might be surprised to see food so low on the basic survival skills priorities list, though we can survive for much longer without it as compared with shelter and water. Remember "The Rule of Threes": humans can survive without food for roughly 3 weeks (though I'm sure you would not want to go that long without food!). Thankfully, most natural environments are filled with a variety of items that can meet our nutritional needs. Wild plants often provide the most readily available foods, though insects and small wild game can also support our dietary needs in a survival situation.

I have to admit it, I LOVE wilderness survival. I first began learning wilderness survival out of a deep, primal need to feel in my bones that I could provide for my most basic human needs directly from nature. It seemed crazy to me that my life was totally dependent on a complex system of grocery stores, polluted highways, telecommunication systems, electric grids, modern structures, water treatment plants, and more. I mean, shouldn't we all be able to be in direct relationship with our most primary needs? Perhaps idealistic, but that is what inspired me to begin my journey to become a wilderness survival guide over a decade ago.
So despite the impression many people got from my “50 Items” article, I don’t think you should pack your bug out bag with as many items as possible. In fact, I think you should check your bag for any non-essential items with a large weight-to-space ratio and remove them. To that end, here’s a list of survival items I’ve seen in various lists online that, in my opinion, you don’t really need in your bug out bag.

The 5-in-1 paracord bracelet slips on with ease and stays fashionably in the background until or unless the situation on the ground takes a turn for the worse. That’s when they spring into action. Should you need to get a fire going in a hurry there’s the fire starter kit comprised of flint and scraper. While you’re warming up by the fire take the lay of the land with the mini compass. There’s also what must be the world’s most compact emergency knife and should you need it a powerful emergency whistle that will project up to 100 decibels of life saving sound. Essential survival gear especially if you have the kids with you.
What I don’t have shown is a list of emergency numbers, frequencies addresses, account numbers, etc., because that’s now in my wallet. If you don’t have that on you, you should have that in your pack. I also didn’t show a map because I don’t have one for the area around here. If I were going somewhere, I’d get a map first and put it in something waterproof.
Mylar emergency blankets are great survival gear but sometimes you need more than that. The Coleman North Rim Extreme Weather Bag will keep you cozy warm when the air temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit. In temperatures like that you can lapse into hypothermia quickly especially if you’ve been slogging through the woods all day and are sweaty. Just crawl in the North Rim bag and pull the drawstring to lock in the warmth. The cover is durable rip-stop nylon so you can lay it on the ground if need be and there are snag free dual zippers so you can get in and out quickly and easily. Must have survival gear for winter adventurers.
First off good write up! Secondly for those that live in places with woody (haha) surroundings, a hand drill with a somewhat lengthy , thick drill bit (roughly 3/4 inch-ish) would would most certainly come in handy. It will also take place and save some room vs the stove. Cosidering if you already have a means to cut wood you could also make a stove out of a small log. Its an easy to contain/maintain and less conspicuous way of boiling water or heating food. It is aslo very easy to extinguish if the need arises.

Ideally, when traveling in the wilderness, it is best to carry multiple fire-starting tools, such as a lighter, matches, flint and steel, etc… Even with these implements starting a fire can be challenging in inclement weather. We highly recommend practicing fire starting in different weather conditions within different habitats. Good fire-making skills are invaluable. If you were to find yourself in a situation without a modern fire-making implement, fire by friction is the most effective primitive technique. Popular friction fire-making methods include bow drill, hand drill, fire plow, and fire saw.
Stewart views fire building in terms of four key ingredients: tinder bundle of dry, fibrous material (cotton balls covered in Vaseline or lip balm are an excellent choice, if you’ve got them) and wood in three sizes—toothpick, Q-tip, and pencil. Use a forearm-sized log as a base and windscreen for your tinder. When the tinder is lit, stack the smaller kindling against the larger log, like a lean-to, to allow oxygen to pass through and feed the flames. Add larger kindling as the flame grows, until the fire is hot enough for bigger logs.
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