The Ultimate Survival Gear List

Once you’ve begun to stockpile survival gear, it can be hard to determine what you’re missing from your list. As a result, we’ve taken the time to create as much of a comprehensive list of all the different types of survival gear as possible.

Of course, every survivalist is different and has different needs. Thus, no two survival gear stockpiles will look the same. Some will undoubtedly want to stay away from purchasing battery or electricity dependant gear, for instance, while others will undoubtedly want to go the hyper-minimalist route, only buying what they think they will really need (and perhaps be able to carry in a single backpack). Don’t feel pressured into extending your list of survival gear by buying something you don’t really think you’ll use. Instead, scan this list for items that you might have forgotten or think would really compliment your needs as a survivalist.

I’ve taken the time to organize the gear into different categories for your convenience: to make browsing much easier. Check out the list and tell us if there’s anything you think you should add to your own personal list of survival gear!

Also, please let us know in the comments if there are any pieces of survival gear we’ve missed and you think should be added to the list. I’m sure there are plenty of value items we’ve forgotten!

urban prepper gear checklist

1. Survival Gear List of Tools

Most of the items on this list are must-have survival gear pieces. With the proper tools, you can typically make your own shelter in case you need to, or fix one that you already have. Good survival tools can also help you to gather wood for creating fire for heat and to cook with, which is why tools are the very first thing on our list.

Knives

Illumination

Bags/Packs

Other Survival Tools

urban zombie survival gear list

2. Survival Gear List for Firecraft

The ability to make fire is exceptionally important in survival situations. Although you don’t need everything mentioned in the list below in order to make a fire, it might be handy to have a small variety of options as back ups, in case a lighter runs out of propane, for instance.

Fire Making

outdoor camping bushcraft survival bear grylls gearGerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife with Sheath – Amazon

3. Survival Gear List for Hydration

Whether you’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse or you’re an urban prepper preparing for an emergency, you’re going to need a way to collect and purify water. The survival gear below, therefore, will likely be stockpiled by all types of survivalists and preppers alike.

Water Collection & Storage

Water Purification

zombie apocalypse survival gear prepper

4. Survival Gear List for Thermoregulation

You’re much less likely to need the heat generation survival gear if you live in a desert state or a place that typically does not get cooler weather. That being said, this type of gear can still be helpful in case of climate change or especially cold nights.

Heat Generation

Water Protection

cool outdoor bushcraft survival gearCrosman Phantom .177 Caliber Break Barrel Air Rifle – Amazon

5. Survival Gear List for Nourishment

Planning out what to eat after an emergency situation arises is one of the first things survivalists and preppers typically do.  Although stockpiling is an excellent idea, it’s also great to have a plan for what happens if the emergency situation extends longer than a stockpile will last. Fishing and hunting outdoor gear, in this situation, will prove very valuable.

Hunting

Fishing

Gathering

  • Bag/basket

Gardening Aids

Survival Food & Consumables to Stockpile

Cooking & Eating

best prepper gear list

6. Survival Gear List for Shelter

As mentioned before, you can technically build your own shelter if you have the proper survival gear tools at hand. That being said, it’s always nice to get an upper hand on shelter, as it will also help you stay warm and dry in case of an emergency or survival situation.

Shelter

must have wilderness survival gear checklist

7. Survival Gear List for Medicine & First Aid

Prepper gear should also include at least basic first aid and medicine. Though the medicine you can stockpile will not be enough to fix every situation, having a basic first aid kit and some standard medicine will typically get you through a great deal of difficult situations.

Medicine

  • Advil
  • Aspirin
  • Imodium
  • Antihistamines
  • Tylenol Cold & Flu
  • Benzocaine gel (for toothaches)
  • List coming*

First Aid

best survivalist gear listFenix LD20 180 Lumen LED Flashlight – Amazon

8. Survival Gear List for Rescue

If you’re planning on getting rescued, or if you’re at all interested in navigation, communication, or really any way of knowing what’s happening in the outside world after the shit hits the fan, you might be interested in adding a few of the survival gear items below to your stockpile. Though not every survivalist/prepper will be interested in staying connected if the SHTF, if this is important to you, make sure you have a way to do it!

Navigation

Communication & Rescue

emergency camping survival gear

9. Survival Gear List of Clothing & Apparel

There’s a wide variety of survival clothing that would be helpful in emergency and survival situations. On top of your day-to-day clothing, you may want to be sure to include at least a few of the items below in your clothing/apparel prepper gear stockpile.

Clothing & Apparel

10. Survival Gear List of Power & Electricity

Some survivalists will, no doubt, want to stay as far away from these items as possible, as most of them will, over time, become useless in a state of complete apocalyptic devastation. That being said, for short-term prepping emergencies, at least, these items are likely to come in very handy, especially in our power/electricity driven world of today.

Power Back-Up

urban prepper gear zombie survival listSpyderco Endura 4 FFG Folding Plain Edge Knife – Amazon

11. Survival Gear List for Car Emergency

In case you don’t have a car or vehicle, or don’t plan on using one in a survival or emergency situation, you can completely ignore this list. If a vehicle is in your emergency preparedness plan, however, you’ll want to make sure you’ll have these items at the very least.

Vehicle

12. Survival Gear List for Safety

In survival and SHTF situations, you’ll want to make sure to defend yourself and your family against both other people and animals. There are a variety of ways which you can do this, although of course some work better than others. Certainly look into attaining a firearm if this is legally permissible in your locality, and if you ever consider you may like to have it as a backup option. If you are interested in firearms, make sure to learn about them and train with them prior to an emergency situation. You can’t expect to be good with a firearm you first time shooting.

Self-Defense Weapons

outdoors camping wilderness survival gear

13. Survival Gear List for Important Documents & Finances

Whether or not you plan on bugging out in an emergency SHTF or survival situation, you definitely want to have your important documents and some healthy finances on your side. Tradeable goods are also extremely helpful post-SHTF, which is why they’re on this list. It may be more beneficial to stockpile urban survival gear that will actually be of use to you and those around you in a post-SHTF situation, but in case there’s something you forgot or ran out of, tradeable goods are definitely an asset.

Important Documents

  • Personal identification papers
  • Passports

Finances

  • Extra money
  • Credit cards

Tradeable Goods

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Cigarettes
  • Toilet paper
  • List coming*

14. Survival Gear List for Educational Resources

The items on this list are of course not a must-have, but they’re great to have on you in case you need some help and aren’t quite sure what to do. Stock a Kindle e-book reader, tablet, or Chromebook full of useful survival books and resources and you’ll have a hell of a lot easier time if there’s something you haven’t let learned how to do or need to do for the very first time. It would also be beneficial to keep a few biology survival books, ones that will let you know what’s edible and what’s not: because you definitely don’t want to be nibbling on poison plants you thought were fine to eat in a survival/SHTF situation.

Electronics

Survival Books

  • List coming*

essential bushcraft survival gear checklist

&&: If you found this article useful, you may also be interested in taking a look at our other survival gear and survival food item lists. Starting with this article, The Ultimate Survival Gear List, we also have an article about The Best Survival Foods: Non-Perishables That Can Outlive You, one on Winter Emergency Supplies, as well as more to come.

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About Elise Xavier

Spyderco diehard and shutterbug. Into prepping and self-sufficiency.
Coauthor and photographer of survival blog More Than Just Surviving.

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Comments

  1. The NiteCore P12 and the Fenix PD35 flashlights both use CR123 batteries. I haven’t found those batteries in any Big Box store or in any kind of rechargeable version. Would we be safer with equipment that uses rechargeable AA’s? All of my solar rechargers are configured for AAA, AA, C, D, and 9V batteries. I can’t recharge CR123’s.

    Take a look at the Gerber 22-80016 Recon White, Red, Blue, and Green LED Flashlight that runs on a single rechargeable AA battery: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0006TU75I

    100 Hour Plus Emergency Candle can be replaced by a wick and a small mason jar filled with olive oil.

    Rather than a Lifestraw that filters 265 gallons, how about a Sawyer “million-gallon” filter? You can care for an entire community with one of those.

    Rather than MRE’s, check out your local LDS/Mormon “Bishop’s Warehouse” for cans & Mylar bags of bulk and dehydrated foods. The cans are designed for 30+ year storage and the Mylar bags are perfect for hiking, camping, and survival. They are a lot cheaper than MRE’s. You can even buy some Mylar bags and make your own “meals in a bag” for even less money.

    A Swing-A-Way Can Opener for $6? Let’s get two can openers for $1.25 instead.
    http://www.amazon.com/P-38-Can-Opener-P-51/dp/B0078WMSZ8/

    Keep a bottle colloidal silver in your First Aid bag too. It’s an antifungal, antibiotic, antibacterial… It’s a miracle, and Youtube will show you how to make it yourself by the gallon.

    I would be terrified to have a BaoFeng radio is a crisis of survival. Spend money on a real survival radio like a Yaesu FT60r. Compare the radios and you’ll happily spend the extra money to buy the Yaesu.

    I prefer the Eton FR 350 radio over the Ambient Weather Emergency Radio. The problem is that neither radio can really take the beating of a survival situation, and the price of the FR 350 has become ridiculous since they were discontinued. We have a money-making market available for anyone who can produce an emergency radio that uses alternative power sources and is built to withstand a real crisis.

    I can’t afford a personal locator beacon. I had to settle for a lifejacket strobe light that can be seen even in the daylight. It runs on 2 AA rechargeable batteries. Amazon has several different kinds available.

    Why would we carry gold? I can understand the importance of silver because it it $20 an ingot and can be used for trade and barter. Gold is a whopping $1,250 a coin, and no one in a SHTF crisis is going to have change for a purchase.

    An HP ChromeBook? With Google in it? Google works for the NSA. Load Ubuntu or Fedora into last year’s laptop and learn how to use it.

    • Thomas Xavier says:

      Howdy Phil, thanks for your input (and great tips).

      CR123 batteries pack a lot of power in a small package, and the lithium ones have a shelf life of 10 years, which is why they’re up on the list. You can also purchase rechargeable ones (here, for example) that you can charge with your solar panel array. At the end of the day, 3.7 V will always be a lot more versatile than 1.2 V batteries because you can always lower current (make it dimmer), you can’t increase it (make it brighter). 900 lumens to the face is an extreme force multiplier.

      Using a mason jar filled with olive oil instead of a emergency candle is an awesome idea! I love dual use products- ill have to give it a try, thanks for the tip!

      Didn’t know of Sawyer’s million-gallon filter! It looks awesome for home + camp use, but if I’m on the move I’d prefer a straw rather than fiddling with bags. So I can hydrate on the move in creeks and brooks. Definitely a plus to have one of each, though! I’ll see if I can get one to review.

      The P38 can openers, in my experience, are finicky and not as easy to use as the Swing-A-Way, but personal preference here. If I had to rely on a P38 or a the can opener on a swiss army knife for extended use I think I would go crazy!

      With regards to the HAM radio, I honestly have very little experience with them, so I’ll defer to your opinion.

      In the real world, economic collapse won’t necessarily present itself overnight, and for those who don’t want to live in the woods, being able to transfer large sums of wealth from one country to another is a perfectly viable option. Obviously, for bartering, silver, alcohol, cigarettes, toilet paper, etc. are better options. Gold should just be viewed as a sort of insurance policy for monetary collapse, not for teotwawki.

      As for the Chromebook, it is extremely durable with no moving parts or vents (no screws either) and Google works for itself (chasing those green dollars), I am not too concerned about the NSA in a post collapse world.

      I use my chromebook to store a few survival docs, topographic maps and personal data on it and charge it on the move using external power pack or a solar phone charger (it uses micro usb which is just awesome). IMO it rocks but I can understand your reservations.

  2. Hellava list, Elise! Way too much for my brain to handle. :) The Mora Companion goes with me in the woods as a neck knife and for finer bushcraft tasks. Though it’s not full tang, mine has taken a lot of abuse and keeps performing admirably. I plan on shaving with it in the bush one day.

    Keep Doing the Stuff,

    Todd

    • Elise Xavier says:

      Hey, Todd! Yeah it’s a crazy list for sure. Took forever to compile! Definitely don’t expect anyone to look up every single item recommendation, I’d expect people to just check the items they have off the list and then maybe look at some recommendations for items they don’t have or don’t have much experience with.

      Mora’s are such reliable knives – it baffles me how something so affordable can take such an insane beating.

      Keep up the amazing work on Survival Sherpa as well! You’ve been doing some really interesting posts lately!

  3. the only item i would add to this list would be a decent crossbow. depending on the post SHTF situation it works wonderfully if you dont want to draw attention to your hunting activities. it is quiet and simple to operate and you can make replacement bolts for it from straight sticks if things are really awful. but as with the pellet rifle you want to practice shooting with it long before your situation devolves to life or death as accurite shooting takes practice!

    • Elise Xavier says:

      A crossbow is an excellent recommendation! You’re right, it’s perfect for hunting quietly.

      And yes, you’ll definitely want to practice shooting long before the SHTF. (Almost) no point in having a rifle/gun if you have no idea how to shoot properly with it.

      It’s the same with quite a bit of the gear on this list as well. Sure it’s helpful to have a firesteel, but if you don’t know how to make sparks from it, it’ll be rendered practically useless. You’ll want to at least test out a lot of the gear you have to make sure you’ll know how to use it when you need to, and you’ll also want to use the gear enough so you’re sure it won’t break on you when you need it the most.

  4. Any clue as to how much this would all weigh, should one have to carry the items on thier backs? This is a fairly large list, and some of the items could be this, OR this, OR this… A few things to add or coment about:
    – Mora knives are spectacular – look at them, in the event that you can’t find one, check out a local bait/tackle shop, chances are there is a knife just like it there – same sheath and all (I just found this out after owning a tom of Moras, and the steel is just as good, with a slightly thicker blade..)
    – You mention a lighter, some sort of wind proof thing. They are cool, but they also take a special fluid to use, so you would have to carry that along on a forced hike, where as a standard old Bic will be good enough AND if the fluid does run out, you still have a bunch of sparks left from the flint in it. When I have people come to my bushcraft classes, they bring the strangest stuff, iron strikers and flint, bow drills… I break out my 59 cent Bic (in cammo though) and light my fire in about 10 seconds….
    – Medical stuff – take the Quick clot off, I’m trained in how to use it, and I have had it used on me – it can cause more harm than good, the mil is taking it out of our IFACs because of this -use good old tampons and maxi pads instead.
    – CAT tournies, get the CAT II, the twist stick will be made out of billet aluminum and it way better than the plastic one on the CAT 1
    – Intel – I just started using my old $80 Kindel to put my documents on (PDF) kind of a great idea – it also lightens the load. A great book to have – The BSA’s Field Manual (not the promotion stuff, the camping, first aid, survival stuff). At the end of the day, I want something a kid can understand…
    -CR123 batts… Some love them, some hate them.. I’m indiferent because I get them issued to me for now, but I have to be honest, none of my personal items take them. I don’t even carry extra batteries for AA – I just find a yard with cheep sloar lights and trade them out. Power output vs. longevity divided by ease of finding extras, I always go with the standard. Plus, 2 years ago, there would have been a few guys who could have told you what most peoples reactions are to 900 illume light being strobed in some ones face – it can and is being trained against and it’s super easy to defeat – don’t rely on it as a security measure – there is only one flash that is definate…
    – I am still waiting on some nerdy folks to make and Instructable (sweet site if you’ve never been to it) to show me how to build a cheep solar array.
    – Wigwam socks… I am a Marine… I am a grunt.. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I own nothing but Wigwam socks..
    – Bates Light series are nice, like putting your foot in a baby seal, but if you have high arches, get some good support – they also run narrow… Try on before you buy. – Bates also need very minimal break in time – IF you can afford them, always go with Danner brand combat boots – the USMC RAT boot is the tank of footware, they are pricy (all mine are issued :) ) but well worth the cost.
    – So many things to talk about on this post, so little time, I have to go show some folks how to shoot their rifles!!
    Semper.

    • Elise Xavier says:

      I don’t think it’s possible to carry all these items on one’s back! Maybe you could manage carrying them all in a vehicle, but even then it might be pushing it. Definitely the list is meant to be picked and chosen from, and a lot of the items are redundant; as you said “this or that” rather than “have one of each.” I just tried to make the list as all-inclusive as possible, just as a reminder that some things are available, even if they’re not particularly ideal/portable, or what most people would choose to have.

      Moras are amazing. They’ve always impressed me – especially since they’re available for such low cost while they’re so damn valuable! Bics are perfect as well, and also bang for buck, you’re right they’re phenomenal and perform perfectly for lighting fires. Wigwam socks: doubt I’ll ever buy any others again. Socks made of anything but wool get ruined so damn easily.

      Thanks so much for your input! Really helpful advice. Stop by again when you get the chance. :)

  5. Lillian Delaughter says:

    Under the tool list you have plastic tubing, what is that for? Also I have a survival wire saw that takes up less room. Also I didn’t see light sticks.

    • Elise Xavier says:

      Plastic/rubber tubing is good for slingshots, tourniquets, can be used as a straw to draw water from holes in the ground, etc. Wire saws are good, too. Though of course they can’t do everything a regular saw can, their portability, your right, makes them a huge asset.

      Lightsticks, yes! Forgot to add those, definitely. I’m thinking of republishing this with all the ones I forgot, so thanks for the suggestion.

  6. Lillian Delaughter says:

    One book I have in my BOB is John Wiseman SAS Survival Handbook. It gives you a lot of information. I also have Joseph and Amy Alton” The Survival Medicine Handbook: A guide for when help is NOT on the way. Great for your 1St Aid bag.

    • Elise Xavier says:

      Awesome! Gonna look into those. I really need to start heavily reading books like that. Adding them to my reading list!

  7. Lillian Delaughter says:

    I have a heavy duty school bag that I designate as my !st aid bag. In it I have:
    MEDICAL SURVIVAL KIT (BUG-OUT BAG) CONTENTS LIST:

    Container
    Joseph and Amy Alton” The Survival Medicine Handbook
    Blood pressure cuff & stethoscope
    Oral thermometer (+ an anal thermometer if there are small children)
    Scissors (not needed if you have a surgical kit)
    Tweezers (not needed if you have a surgical kit)
    Small field Surgical Kit with hemostats (Can be purchased on-line for about $20.00)
    Needles (several sizes)
    Safety pins (several sizes)
    Nail clippers
    Eye patch
    Surgical masks
    Surgical gloves
    Compression (ACE) bandage
    Arm sling STRAP
    Water bottle sterile
    Matches or bic lighter (for sterilization of needles etc.)
    Tongue depressors
    Cotton balls
    Sterile eye wash
    Disposable razor (shaving hair from around wounds)
    Cling bandages
    Sterile gauze dressings 4″ x 4″
    Gauze Pads ( several different sizes)
    Waterproof “Band-aids” (several different sizes)
    Plastic (Band-aid) sutures (2 sizes)
    Surgical or medical tape
    Iodine
    Isopropyl alcohol ( individual swabs as well as a small screw on bottle full)
    Peroxide( small screw on bottle full)
    Neosporin (or equivalent)
    Vaseline
    Q-tips (Cotton swabs) in ziplock bag)
    Pain/fever medication (ibuprofen, acetaminophen etc.)
    Aspirin
    Antacids
    Antibiotics (penicillin if nothing else)
    Throat lozenges or small jar of honey
    Toothache medication or oil of cloves
    Calamine lotion (or similar)
    Aloe
    Duct Tape
    Tampons
    Maxi-pads
    Accu-Check Sugar tester with strips
    Imodium
    Ibuprofen
    Biofreeze creme pain reliever
    Plus some personal Rx needs

    FOR PERMANENT SURVIVAL LOCATIONS YOU MAY WISH TO ADD:

    Medical library
    More of everything on the main list
    Several different types of splints
    An advanced surgical kit
    Ether (be careful)
    Various different medications and treatments
    Back up diagnostic instruments
    Snake bite kit
    Dental kit

    -

    • Elise Xavier says:

      Thank you for this, it’s great. We’re going to be putting together a first aid/medical kit list sometime in the future, and I’ll definitely take that first list into account when we get around to posting that. It’ll be really helpful.

      Seriously, thanks for taking the time to write these out for me, Lillian. Appreciate your input! You’ve really thought this through; great to see people really taking prepping seriously!

  8. I prefer the Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System over the lifestraw. It’s rated for 100,000 gallons (provided you backflush it with the included syringe when it needs it) and it can be “hacked” for use as a gravity fed filter. If you’ve ever had to pump a filter for 5 or 6 hydration bladders you’ll REALLY appreciate this ability.

    I’ve also replaced all of my folding and bow saws with a pocket chainsaw. I’ve got videos of both my wife and 11 year old son using one so it should be almost foolproof: http://youtu.be/r3JskYk0UVA

    I also make and use colloidal silver but it needs to be kept from freezing or overheating and out of direct sunlight. This is what we used to buy before I started making it myself: Nano Silver Asap Health Max 30 Nano Silver Colloidal Silver 30ppm 16oz Bottle. Finest Nanosilver Available!

    • Thomas Xavier says:

      I can appreciate the flexibility of the Sawyer system, nice tip about the gravity fed filter hack! I really do like the Lifestraw for casual rambling in the wilderness based on size and weight (check out my review). Thankfully in Canada fresh water is never really an issue! ;)

      That pocket chainsaw looks pretty interesting, for smaller branches I think I would still prefer a folding “silky” style saw but for large diameter branches I can definitely see its potential!

      I have never made Colloidal silver, I think I sense an article coming up, Thanks for the suggestions!

  9. Lillian Delaughter says:

    I missed adding meat tenderizer to the list ,(it is the best for insect stings)

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