How to Build a Survival Kit

by Derrick | Last Updated: December 14, 2023

Building a survival kit can mean something different to different people, and there is certainly no shortage of opinions on what should be included. But before you can even begin to build your own, you have to answer what this kit is for honestly. Intention is everything in building a kit. A bush pilot needs a very different kit than the casual day hiker. Also, let’s not confuse survival with topics like bugging out. The two are very different scenarios. The basic wilderness survival kit should be based on the possibility of being in the wild for one to three days before being rescued or self-rescue. This is the common denominator.

These five priorities are not in any specific order because all are important, but they are the key five areas of concern.

1. Water

2. Signaling

3. Shelter/Temperature Regulation

4. First Aid

5. Navigation


Hydration is crucial because the body relies on water to function properly. Within 3-4 days without water, the body can perish. So, having a way to collect and drink water is paramount.

Water Collection Bag

Simple Filter

Metal Container (for boiling)


Having a way to signal to rescuers is paramount. Without a way to signal you may never be seen.

Extra cell phone battery


Signal Panel

Strobe Light

Shelter/Temperature Regulation

Shelter is more then just a way to keep you comfortable it’s a strategy to maintain your core body temperature. This becomes important so you do not slip into hypothermia (lose of body heat) or hyperthermia (overheating). Proper equipment to help you maintain your body temp can be lightweight and take up minimal space in a kit.

Space Blanket

Tarp or Large Contractor Trash Bags

Fire Making Kit (lighter, matches, ferro rod)

Bivy Bag

First Aid

Treating minor and not-so-minor injuries will prolong your survival time in the woods. Being able to stop bleeding, splint a break, or treat other injuries is something to be prepared for.

First Aid Kit


SAM Splint

Quick Clot


This component is slightly problematic. It requires some training and if not used properly, can get you into more trouble than you are already in. If you are experienced with navigation, then there is a good chance you will not be lost in the first place. Using navigation gear can be complex and requires practice.


Map of the Areas


One thing I did not mention is food. Food is a low priority for the human body, it can take up to 20 days without food before you perish. So, hunting or gathering food while being lost in the woods is a fantasy. You are much better off to focus on the above priorities.

Other items that can be added include cordage for aiding in setting up a shelter, a knife for building a fire, radio for communication and high-calorie snacks to help with hunger and provide a physiological boost.

Sample Basic Woodland Survival Kit

Waterproof Match Case with Storm Matches

Butane Lighter x2

Quick Tinders (fire starter)



Spare Batteries for Headlamp


Map of Area

Contractor Size Garbage Bags x2

Mylar Blanket

50 ft 550 Paracord

Extra Cell Phone Battery


Bandanna Blaze Orange

Trail Marking Ribbon



Gauze Pads (4×4)

QuikClot Gauze

Medical Tape



Blister Kit

Nitrile Gloves

Boo-boo Kit (bandages, ointment, etc.)

Whirl Bags (water collection)

Water Disinfecting Tabs

Water Bottle Stainless Steel


Wendell has been involved in outdoor activities as long as he can remember. From building forts in the woods with his buddies as a kid to hunting Pheasant with his Dad. When he grew up and moved away from home he started solo camping and backpacking and continued hunting upland game. Wendell currently runs the Youtube ChannelThe Prepared Wanderer