Researching Wilderness Survival Gear

Necessary Gear

Following table summarized from research in the sources below. Some of the items below are absolutely necessary, others would just be nice to have. The table below is my attempt to sort them into one or the other category.

Gear Research Sources

The Ten Essentials - REI

REI considers them as 10 “systems” to be prepared in the outdoors.

  1. Food - more calories than you expect to need.
  2. Water - both water carried in and water purification to get more. Ex: Iodine tablets for purification, ascorbic acid tablets for taste.
  3. Fire - Ex: small lighter, waterproof matches, little metal tin of tinder (such as cotton balls socked in petroleum jelly).
  4. “Fix-it” - Ex: knife, multitool, repair kits for anything you might need (like a sleeping pad patch kit).
  5. First Aid - need the kit as well as knowledge to use it. REI partners with NOLs to give a Wilderness First Aid class.
  6. Insulation - few more layers to get you through a sudden weather change.
  7. Illumination - head lamp and extra batteries. Taping extra batteries together is recommended.
  8. Sun - hat, sunglasses, sunscreen.
  9. Shelter - tent, or possibly an emergency blanket or bivy.
  10. Navigation - map and compass, possibly GPS. Need the gear as well as the knowledge to use it.
    • Also recommend to leave an itinerary of where you’re going and when you plan to be back with someone back home, in your vehicle, and on your person.

10 Backcountry Basics - Outdoor Life

  1. Tent - ultra-light three- or four-season.
  2. Backpack - comfortable, lightweight, internal-frame pack.
  3. Sleeping Bag - zero-degree down bag with watertight shell.
  4. Sleeping Pad - ultracompact inflatable pads make sleeping more comfortable.
  5. Cookset - compact stove with fuel, titanium pot, titanium spork.
  6. Water Purification - tablets, drops, or small mechanical purifier.
  7. Map & Compass - physical topo map and compass, because electronics can fail.
  8. Canteen - stainless Klean Kanteen. Boil water in it to purify.
  9. Fire Starter - both a weatherproof lighter and waterproof matches.
  10. Headlamp - compact LED light and extra batteries.

The Essential Backpacking Checklist - Backpacking TV

This list includes everything except the actual backpack and clothing. BackpackingTV’s clothing recommendations are discussed here.

  • Sleep and Shelter
    • 2-person tent recommended. Most common size and it can fit gear plus one person. Single-person tents generally cannot fit both a camper and the camper’s gear.
    • 3-season sleeping bag is most common and best place to start. Usually with a 15-degree rating.
    • Sleeping pad or mattress.
    • Clothing: rain shells, insulation layers, footwear, etc.
  • Nutrition
    • Eating bowl & utensils
    • Trail snacks like Epic beef jerky or protein bars
    • Backpacking dinners, oatmeal
    • General guideline: 2 lbs of food per day
  • Cook System
    • Stove or cook pot
      • Jet Boils - basic backpacking meals where you just need an efficient way to heat water
      • Pocket Rocket stove - actually cooking meals
    • Fuel - one small canister usually enough for 2-3 days of backpacking
  • Water
    • Bladders - collapse as you consume the water
      • Traditional water bladder - allows sipping throughout day. Less robust to leaking.
      • MSR Dromedary bags - more robust to leaking.
    • Bottles - do not collapse
      • Carrying one is recommended. Can heat the water and put it in sleeping bag at night to keep warm.
    • Filtration system
      • Grayl Water Purifiers - recommended, double as purification and transportation
      • Other options: aqua tabs, iodine tablets, chemical treatment, hand pumps
      • 1 or 2 dry bags - keep sleeping bag or other stuff dry. Separate dirty/clean clothing, etc.
  • Lumination
    • Head lamp - rechargeable batteries recommended
  • Medical kit
  • Poop stuff
    • Trowel
    • Toilet Paper - recommended to keep in zip lock bags
  • Sun Protection
    • Sun screen
    • Sun glasses
    • Ball cap
    • Long-sleeve shirts
  • Folding Knife or Utility Knife
  • Fire
    • Lighter
  • Paracord or Twine
    • Emergency situations or to string up food in trees
    • At least 20-30 feet, likely more
  • Duct Tape - recommend wrapping several feet around a nalgene bottle or other bottle.
  • Trekking Poles - reduce impact to body by a measurable amount.
  • Map, compass - no batteries, so will not fail.

First Trip Checklist - Paul Magnanti

A “suggested gear list” that works for three-season conditions.

  • Worn Clothing
    • Boots or hiking shoes
    • Synthetic T-shirt or long-sleeved shirt
    • Synthetic shorts or long pants
    • Wool or synthetic socks
    • Sunglasses
    • Sun hat, bandana
  • Packed Clothing
    • Rain jacket
    • Rain mitts/gloves
    • Rain pants
    • Synthetic or wool long underwear top and bottom
    • Fleece pullover or wind shirt
    • Lightweight puffy jacket
    • Wool or fleece hat
    • Wool or fleece gloves or mittens
    • One pair of hiking socks
    • One pair of sleep socks
  • Primary Gear
    • Pack with pack liner
    • Sleeping bag in stuff sack
    • Sleeping pad
    • Shelter (tent works best for first-time backpackers, remember tent poles and stakes)
    • Stove
    • Cooking pot (one liter for one person; two liters for two people)
    • Water treatment gear
  • Remaining Gear
    • Bowl (if not eating from cooking pot)
    • Spoon
    • Mug (optional, for hot drinks)
    • Small tube of sunscreen
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Toilet paper and trowel
    • Pocket knife
    • Lighter
    • Compass
    • Headlamp
    • 2-liter CamelBak or (2) 1-liter plastic bottles
    • Map
    • Compass
    • Small first-aid kit
    • Bug spray (or head net, depending on insect severity)
    • Mobile device
    • Battery pack
    • Food storage (bear canister and/or 50-foot cord to hang a food bag)
  • Food (for 3 days)
    • Three days of snacks
    • Two breakfasts
    • Two dinners