Three Things To Consider Before You Buy a Survival Kit

Whether you get caught out in the woods overnight or need to survive in place at home when storms threaten, a compact survival kit is a must. Here’s what to look for in choosing the best kits to meet any survival situation.

man standing in the woods
There's a survival kit sized for every kind of situation you'll need one it, from indivual kits that fit in backpacks to 4-person kits that are backpacks themselves.Kyle Glenn/unsplash

We’ve all heard the stories. Someone sets out with friends on a day hike. Somehow they get separated from their party, lost, and end up having to survive on their own until search-and-rescue finds them. Standing in front of the news cameras the rescued hikers talk about how hard a time they had, but many of their hardships could have been avoided had they been carrying a simple survival kit I their day pack.

From having to spend a night in the woods alone to being prepared to survive the aftermath of a hurricane, flood or earthquake, a survival kit can truly be a lifesaver. What you need, however, really depends on the kind of situation you may find yourself in. Backpackers and day hikers should always carry some form of individual survival kit that has the essentials to build a fire, signal for help and stay warm, while those who live in areas that are prone to natural disasters, like hurricanes, may need to consider kits that contain water and rations for several days along with medical essentials. With all of the various survival kit options out there, however, how do you choose the right one? Here are three tips that will help you narrow the field to find a kit that can handle any emergency.

Individual kits

Weyland Outdoors
Individual survival kits like this take up little room in a pack and contain the basics like an emergency blanket, firestarter, compass and whistle.Weyland Outdoors

Every hiker should carry one of these, just in case you get separated from your party and have to survive for a night or two until search-and-rescue finds you. Basics will vary from kit to kit, but a firestarter, knife or multi-tool, distress whistle, mini flashlight, and space blanket are all good things to carry. Extra batteries, some paracord to help fashion a shelter in a pinch, and a water purifying drinking straw are excellent items to add.

Home Survival

Ready America 70385 Deluxe Emergency Kit 4
Larger packs like this for the home include medical supplies, rations, and water. This kit even includes a hand-cracked charging device for phones.Ready America

A storm hits, trees go down, and the power goes out. Depending on the level of destruction, you may have to survive in place with your family for several days until utilities are restored. Larger kits designed for the home include more tools, water and rations for several days, and a good supply of basic medical supplies. Here again, some form of water purification device is a nice add-on.


KOSIN Survival Gear, 18 in 1 Emergency Survival Kit
This survival kit includes both survival and tactical items—perfect for when you need to bug out fast. Its waterproof case makes it ideal for boats as well.KOSIN

A bug-out kit is a great thing to grab and go if you get a notice to evacuate in the wake of a major storm, wildfire threat or should you have to leave in the aftermath of an earthquake. These kits include basics such as medical supplies and emergency drinking water, but those designed just for vehicle survival also add more auto-specific tools such as jumper cables and air compressors for quick tire fill-ups.