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Never head into the wild without planning and packing for the worst. Whether you're hitting the trail for an afternoon hike or planning to rough it in the woods for a weekend, your life could depend on your wilderness survival kit. Hopefully, you'll never need it. But, should you get injured or lost, you'll be glad to have every item on your wilderness survival list.
Basic Equipment List
Take a compass and map to help you find your way. Add a whistle and a small mirror for signaling in case you do get lost. Pack a waterproof case with strike-anywhere matches and a small lump of fire starter. The Iowa State University Outdoor Adventure Center suggests including a piece of emery board as a match striker. Add a flashlight or headlight, and pack an extra bulb and batteries.
Include sunblock, a knife with multiple tools and a foil space blanket. Space blankets are light and not much bigger than a deck of cards when folded. Add nylon tarp and cord for making a simple shelter. Take a folding shovel in the winter. If you can't see without your glasses or contacts, take a spare pair.
Take water--extra in the summer--and refill your bottles when you have the chance. Assume all the water you'll find is undrinkable, cautions Central Washington University, and pack water purification tablets or a small bottle of iodine. You can also use the iodine to disinfect wounds.
Pack lightweight, nonperishable foods such as energy and granola bars, trail mix, instant soup mixes and powdered meal replacements. Include tea bags or instant coffee. Add a few restaurant-style salt packets or bouillon cubes to replace your body's sodium. Take some wire snares or basic fishing gear--line, hooks and sinkers--in case you run out of food.
In an interview with Mother Earth News, Boulder Outdoor Survival School Director Doug Nelson suggests taking a Sierra-type camper's cup. You can use it for eating, drinking, cooking, boiling water and melting snow.
Make sure you have gauze, butterfly bandages, large band-aids and tape. Triangular bandages work well for slings and splints, according to the Iowa State University Outdoor Adventure Center. Add small containers of wound cleaner and disinfectant.
Add fever-reducing pain killers, upset stomach tablets, antihistamines and prescription medications. Take an elastic wrap and safety pins in case of a sprain, rubber gloves, a piece of moleskin for blisters and a snake bite kit. If you're knife doesn't have them, add tweezers and a tiny pair of scissors.
Take a hat no matter what. A hat protects you from the sun and keeps you body heat from escaping when it's cold. Wear layers and a waterproof watch. Even if it's hot outside, take rain gear. A nylon poncho works well, according to the Iowa State University Outdoor Adventure Center, because you can also use it to make a shelter. Choose a bright color--like orange--so you'll be visible to rescuers.
In the winter, pack gloves, extra socks and a warm jacket. Central Washington University suggests wool, because you'll stay warm even if it gets wet. If you're wearing snowshoes or skis, pack the supplies you'll need to repair them. Take sunglasses to prevent snow blindness.