I’ve read dozens, and I mean dozens, of lists telling me everything I need to have with me to survive. Usually there are no surprises. This list of 13 survival must-haves has some genius suggestions for items your emergency kit might be missing.
I know a flashlight, pocket knife, and water are essential for my survival or emergency kit, but every now and then I come across some unusual piece of equipment that are brilliant but that I never would have thought of myself. Here are my 13 favorite survival must-haves that you also might not have thought of yet!
(NOTE: We’ve updated this list just a bit from an earlier version and added a few suggestions from readers.)
- Lightsticks. You can pick up one of these every time you wander into a Home Depot. They don’t need batteries and can be hung around the neck with a string making it easier to spot everyone in your party when it gets dark. An alternative is the UVPaqlite, which never needs batteries.
- Wool socks and sweaters. People have literally frozen to death wearing their layers of cotton knit tees and hoodies. Fun fact: It takes forever for wool socks to start smelling. On camping trips I have worn the same pair of socks for 6 days in a row, leaving them to air out each night, and in the morning they smell nearly as fresh as they did on Day 1. For true survival conditions, nothing beats wool. A set of merino wool thermal underwear is also a smart long-term investment to make, especially if you live in a colder climate.
- Upholstery needles and thread. What if a sleeping bag or tent rips and you have no way of mending it? Knowing basic sewing techniques are a valuable life skill to add to your survival plans.
- Roll of quarters. Handy for phone calls, although payphones aren’t as common as they used to be, and laundromats, but if you put it in a sock and wield it like a sling, you have a handy-dandy weapon! If the quarters are pre-1965 and 90% silver, you have a whole new type of currency.
- Pencils. Forget the pens. They can run out of ink and freeze in cold weather. With a pocket knife, you’ll always have a sharp pencil.
- Super glue. Professional hockey players always have this on hand to seal up small cuts, and the glue itself is harmless. Unless you get it in your eye, like I did. But that’s a story for a different type of post!
- Rubber bands. String just doesn’t cut it when what you really need is a rubber band
- A full-size sanitary pad or two to stanch heavy-duty bleeding from an injury.
- Paracord belt. It’s an accessory and survival tool in one!
- Waterproof wrist watch. Makes perfect sense, I had just never thought of it.
- Animal repellant trash bags. Use these when you’re camping and animals will stay the heck away from your trash.
- Safety pins
- Dental floss. Besides helping to keep your teeth clean, it makes sturdy thread for mending.
Suggestions from readers? There are plenty! Take a look at the comments below for more survival must-haves. Here are a few that we wanted to add to this list.
- A pair of pantihose to wear as an extra layer for warmth, reduce friction to avoid blisters and work as an emergency water filter for removing debris (not bacteria or other microbials). – Shadekat
- Vet wrap to use to hold a bandage or anything else in place. – Mona Baird
- Playing cards. – SgtRock
- One heavy-duty black trash bag for multiple uses, including an emergency shelter or rain poncho. – SgtRock