We received an excellent question by email the other day on the topic of wilderness survival for students. Let’s take a look:
Sebastian’s Survival Gear Question
My name is Sebastian. I’m 16 years old and have a passion for going out in the wilderness from time to time, and usually stay there a couple of days. I’m mostly accompanied by my cousin, who like me also loves the peace out there. Anyways, I love your blog and I would like to ask: If you could make a survival kit for a young student like me, who doesn’t have enough money to buy the more expensive survival gear, what would you suggest as a budget survival kit? I’m especially interested in the best knife and tent for the money. Thanks!
Our Response: Student Survival Kit Recommendations
Questions about survival kits get asked pretty frequently around here, and although I do stress that you should always customize your survival kit to fit your personal needs and environment, there are some pieces of gear that will likely be useful just about anywhere.
In terms of building the best student survival kit, typically I’d suggest building a kit around 2 or 3 core pieces of gear, but you beat me to the chase and suggested you want to be working around two excellent ones: a knife and a tent. Other than that, you can adjust what you bring based on the trip you take, how long you’ll be there, where you’re going, how lightweight you’d like your kit to be, etc.
With that said, I’ve listed two different knife and tent combinations below, depending on which price bracket you find yourself most comfortable with. I’ve also recommended some add-on gear you might like to consider for expanding your kit later, depending on your needs and budget.
Mora 2010 Bushcraft Forest Knife – Amazon
Just The Survival Staples: Two Budget Options
1. Student Survival Kit Staples: Budget of $30
- Knife: Mora Outdoor Fixed Blade Knife (or pretty much any Mora for that matter)
- Tent (substitute): Texsport Reinforced Rip-Stop Polyethylene Tarp
The Mora series knives are classics. They’re honestly, bang for buck, your best bet if you’re on a really tight budget. They’re the go to knives for many survival and bushcraft experts and are worth their weight in gold. You’ll never regret getting one. They’re just too handy.
In terms of the tent, I haven’t managed to find a quality one for under $20, and since a simple tarp can provide adequate shelter with the right skills (rope + wood poles go a long way!), I thought I’d recommend exactly what I’d use if I was on a really tight budget. I would hands down prefer paying for a $15 high-quality, sturdy tarp that isn’t going to rip than pay the same price for a crappy tent that likely won’t even last me more than a night.
2. Student Survival Kit Staples: Budget of $50
- Knife: Mora Outdoor Fixed Blade Knife (or, again, pretty much any Mora for that matter)
- Tent: Mountain Trails Current Hiker 2-Person Dome Tent
Honestly, no point “upgrading” the knife to a different brand, though of course feel free to substitute that particular Mora for any other you find to your liking. If you have some extra money, it’s much better spent buying a quality tent than upgrading a Mora, since the Mora can take whatever hard use you might like to throw at it anyway. This particular tent likely isn’t going to last forever, but if you treat it well and don’t use it roughly, it’s unlikely to break or leak either.
Light My Fire Swedish Firesteel Mini – Amazon
Student Survival Kit Add-On Gear
On top the your knife and tent, if you wind up with some extra money to spend on gear, I’d allocate the rest of your budget to purchasing some of the items below:
- A sturdy backpack
(ex. Condor Compact Assault Pack)
- A good quality firesteel
(ex. Light My Fire Swedish Fire Starter)
- A reliable form of water purification
(ex. Portable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets)
- Some paracord or other cordage
(ex. Titan Genuine US Military Paracord)
- A basic first aid kit
I would suggest assembling this yourself; pre-made ones tend to be of dubious quality and usefulness. Will write a post on this soon for anyone interested.
- Some form of container
(ex. Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Bottle)
Anything else you need you should add as you go along, just to make sure you actually need it and aren’t just adding extra expenses and weight to your bag for nothing. Personally, I’d throw some spare socks, a blanket, and some artificial home-made tinder (like petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls) into my pack, but that’s just because I live in Canada. I can’t stress enough how important it is to adjust your survival kit to your needs.
That’s about all. Enjoy your time in the wilderness!
If you have a survival, preparedness, or gear related question you’d like us to answer, don’t hesitate to let us know! Find out how to reach us via the contact page. Although we don’t publish every question we’re asked on the blog, we try our best to respond to each and every one we receive.
In case you’re interested, you can also view our past responses to reader questions here.