Whether you have planned to venture into the backwoods and made a wrong turn, or you are forced to bug-out to the backcountry due to urban unrest, you should always be prepared to survive off-grid for more than a few hours. Here are 10 must-have items to ensure your survival when lost in the woods.
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When exposed to the elements, fire means life. Even if temperatures are pleasant or even sweltering during the day, they can drop dramatically at night, especially if you are under the cover of trees where the sun barely reaches. You’ll also use fire for cooking and possibly sanitation, or you could even use it to be rescued if passers-by see the smoke. Carry some form of tinder at all times and try to keep it as dry as possible. Also keep a fire-starter like a ferrocerium rod with you to ensure you always have the ability to make this crucial survival need.
A tent is an obvious go-to, but to lessen your load, you might also consider hammocks or tarps that can be secured with paracord. Also, keep your eye out for natural shelter, such as a hollowed-out log, a cave or rock arch, or even a thick grouping of trees.
3. Food & Water
You won’t survive long without water, so bring a canteen or jug of it with you. If you want your load to be slightly lighter, opt for a filter or purification tablets you can use in any water source. Additionally, set up a plastic sheet to trap any condensation. You should also have on hand non-perishable meal replacement bars or MREs to get you through. If those run out, be prepared to trap, hunt or forage for sustenance.
You’ll have to sleep eventually, so bring items that will help you set up a perimeter around your campsite. Cans filled with pebbles or gravel strung up on wire or string make good alarm systems. Weapons will also help keep you safe in the unknown. Decide on a lightweight, reliable firearm as well as a knife that addresses both utility and self-defense. Additionally, your choice of weapon should also assist you in hunting and preparing your food sources.
5. First Aid
Injuries may occur that will prevent you from carrying out the tasks needed to keep you alive. A mini medical kit can make a huge difference in determining your survival. Carry gear to address everything from a sprained ankle to insect bites, lacerations and general sanitation.
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Adequate cordage can come in handy when setting traps for food or securing shelter. An easy carry option would be a paracord bracelet or keychain, some of which can hold 15 feet of 550-grade line.
You can never be sure of what obstacles will stand in your way when you’re traveling in the backwoods. Old, forgotten wire fences or branches may need to be cut down, or some of your equipment might need to be repaired. Carry a multi-tool with an adequate knife or saw, as well a screwdriver or wrench.
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You’ll want to conserve your energy and not spend it all hunting or foraging. Bring a series of nesting containers to store leftover game, nuts, berries and clean water that will get you through until your next hunt.
Being able to find north can be a lifesaver, especially if GPS signals are lost or familiar trails start to look different.
10. Rescue Signals
If your navigation skills fail you, carrying a whistle, a piece of white cloth or a small mirror could help you be found by search-and-rescue teams. You can use these items to signal your location across long distances.