Throughout our lessons and blogs, we continually remind readers that the best chance you have of surviving extreme circumstances is to be prepared. And being prepared means not only having the right knowledge and skills to deal with the unexpected but to be carrying the right equipment too. With the warm summer weather encouraging more people outdoors, if you are heading on a wilderness trip, whether hiking, biking or doing some wild camping, what exactly should you be carrying?
We’re not intentionally discriminating against any naked ramblers here but by advising you to wear clothing, we mean the correct clothing for the environment you are heading into. Wearing the right clothing is the first line in protecting yourself from the elements and is key to keeping you warm, dry and alive. Lots of lightweight layers, making sure that the layers nearest your skin are breathable and wick sweat away from your body. Top your outfit off with waterproof and wind-proof outer layers with sturdy, comfortable footwear. Don’t forget gloves and hat. Even in hot weather, night temperatures can drop heavily.
We’re not doubting that the internet and smartphones are amazing inventions of the 21st century, but they are of absolutely no use if you lose the signal, the battery life or the phone itself. GPS devices are very useful guiding tools but they can still fail too. Learn how to use a magnetic compass and always carry one with you, even if you are following familiar trails. A sudden change in weather can disorient you as fast as you can fall down a mountainside.
You know that being able to get a fire going will help keep you warm, enable you to heat food and keep wild animals away. So make sure you have the means to start one. Whichever method you favour, carrying a selection of different starters may be useful, such as matches, a flint or magnesium fire-starter and even a magnifying glass. Don’t forget extra tinder material to make your life easier.
If you are just planning on going out for the day, it might be easy to forget this one, until you are lost in the dark. Pack a bright but lightweight torch and don’t forget spare batteries!
Invest in a good quality multi-tool with a decent knife blade. Keep all parts clean, mobile and sharp at all times. The last thing you want in a survival situation is to find your multi-tool seized up.
6. Water Purification Tablets
Survival myths that we have seen bounced around time and time again include the notion that still water sources are dangerous and running water sources are safe. As well as that clear water must be safe to drink and discoloured water is not. Both are wrong, although there is some truth to avoiding stagnant water. Your best bet to finding safe drinking water? Purify it properly before drinking it.
7. Space Blanket
Nope, not your child’s favourite comforter but a very lightweight metal foil covered sheet which are excellent at reflecting heat. Meaning that wrapping one around you will keep hypothermia at bay but takes up minimal room in your pack.
8. First Aid Kit
Being able to treat any wound immediately and properly, whether it is minor or serious, is essential to surviving. Even minor wounds can allow dirt, parasites, bacteria and viruses into your body, further threatening your life and sapping your strength very quickly. A previous Wild Survivor blog [add link here] talks you through what should be included in a basic first aid kit.
Even though we have recently blogged about various ways of making shelter, it is definitely much simpler when you have a large waterproof tarp at your disposal.
If you have the tarp, then bring the cords to tie it down with! The cords can also be useful for a multitude of other uses. Parachute cord, or paracord, is a very strong but lightweight nylon cord which won’t break easily. Aim to pack around 200 metres of it.
When you have built your shelter, got your fire going and have rested and warmed up, you will want to heat a drink or some food. That is not the time to find out that you have absolutely no container that you can put over the fire. Pack a metal pot or large metal mug and you’ll be able to have that well-deserved cuppa.
12. Food & Water
It should go without saying to pack enough food and water to reasonably last for the duration of your planned trip. On top of that, it is wise to carry some emergency rations to last at least another day.