by Diane Spicer
A hiking survival kit is not a first aid kit.
First aid supplies allow you to deal with cuts, burns, scrapes, bruises, broken bones or other trail medical problems.
A survival kit gives you the technology to survive temperature extremes and other unpleasantness until either help arrives or you can get to a source of help.
The beauty of putting together or purchasing a hiking survival kit?
You can keep it in your car and use it to deal with natural disasters (tornado, hurricane, flood, wind storm, blizzard) that catch you away from shelter.
Outdoor skill building is something a dedicated hiker pays attention to whenever time allows.
But one of the most basic things you need to do as a hiker: Rig the odds in your favor in case something goes wrong on your next hike.
Your physiology as a human being requires you to maintain a constant body temperature, replenish lost fluids (water intake), and eat every 24 hours at a minimum.
Can you push those numbers?
Yes, in an emergency, but time is against you, depending upon your situation.
FYI, here are some tips for those scenarios:
A basic kit can help a hiker until conditions become more favorable for moving, or until help arrives.
The bare essentials in your survival kit include materials to battle your main problems in a survival situation:
To reduce this list even further, think about conserving your body heat, and minimizing dehydration.
In other words, be able to provide yourself with shelter and potable water.
Find a waterproof, lightweight, small container or pouch that you can fit easily in your backpack.
Waterproof and lightweight are important words, so don't "make do" with a flimsy plastic bag that will rip and expose your survival kit contents to rain, mud or wind.
What do you already have that would meet the challenges outlined above?
A whistle, a lighter, a mini flash light, a signal mirror, a roll of dental floss or fishing line, a heavy duty garbage bag, some duct tape - those might be easy to find around the house.
Water treatment tablets, a mylar emergency blanket, fire starters (or just coat a few cotton balls with petroleum jelly), those might take some forethought and a trip to a gear store.
Another approach to clean drinking water: a personal water filter called a Lifestraw. Read my review.
And I would be remiss if I neglected to remind you of the importance of carrying the ten essentials in addition to your survival gear.
One more thought: It's possible that if you're in a survival situation you are also in pain.
Carry pain relief on every hike, to allow your thoughts to be as unclouded as possible as you deal with your circumstances.
By putting together a survival kit AND carrying it with you on every hike, you've demonstrated some smart behavior.
It also makes sense to use the materials in your immediate vicinity to augment your survival kit if you get into a survival situation.
Take a careful look at your surroundings, with an eye for how to survive a cold, wet, dark, unpleasant night.
Think: What do the animals who live here do to stay warm and dry?
Here's a bare bones, inexpensive, lightweight and compact kit to throw in the bottom of your pack without worrying about it getting wet or left behind.
And here's a list of your additional "cushion" of survival items:
There's no reason you can't add these items to your own survival kit, but life happens.
We get busy.
We even get a little arrogant (it will never happen to me thinking).
Maybe asking for one of these ready-made, good-to-go survival kits as a gift is the perfect solution for you.
Or buy one for yourself as one step toward strengthening your outdoor skill set.
It's an inexpensive investment in your hiking well being.
And between you and me, I just feel better when I carry a survival kit. I know that I'm as prepared as possible to take care of myself.
Regardless of whether you make or purchase a hiking survival kit, become familiar with every item it contains.
Don't hope the day never comes to use the items. That's setting yourself up for disastrous panic.
If you've become deeply interested in surviving outdoors, the Equipped To Survive website is for you.
Taking responsibility for your safety on a hiking trail is one characteristic that distinguishes a trail hardened hiker from a casual hiker.
Carrying a survival kit in the outdoors is one way to take responsibility and keep yourself, and your trail buddies, from escalating a bad situation into a disaster.
Questions about what you've read? Use this link and I'll get right back to you.
Outdoor survival is something every hiker needs to take seriously, right? I'm here to help!
Women hikers have hygiene issues that men don't have to deal with.
Ladies, you know what I mean!
Put together a female hiker hygiene kit using these tips.
It's just another skill in your outdoor skills set, making you a rock solid hiking woman.
Hiking Survival Kit
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Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer.
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