27 September 2016

Guest Post: Jack Neely; 7 Must Have Items for Wilderness Survival

 You need more than just your wits around you to survive the treacherous terrain and obstacles that the wilderness will throw to you. Time and again, we have been regaled with stories of campers and hikers who succumbed to the adversity of the wilderness after things went downhill and the unexpected happened.
Life has a way of throwing mean curve balls at us, so if you're planning for such an excursion you wouldn't want to be caught in crosshairs of fate by stepping out without these 7 items. 

A Survival Knife

This one should be a no-brainer, really. A good, sharp knife will come in handy in a number of hiking and camping activities such as cutting ropes, pruning off branches, cutting bandages, building emergency tents and shelters, opening packages among others. If possible, look or buy a fixed blade knife as they are often more durable and resilient than folding and conventional knives. 

As you probably already know, you have to keep your knife prime and ready all the time by cleaning and sharpening it frequently. The last thing that you would want is a rusty, blunt blade in the face of an emergency.

A Water Bottle

There is nowhere the phrase; "water is life" applies better than in the wilderness. The scorching sun coupled with a rugged, vicious terrain will without a doubt do a number on you. In fact, more campers die or succumb to dehydration than to anything else; you don't want to be one of them.
Among the first things you should remember to pack in your campers bag has to be a stainless steel water bottle. Avoid plastic or aluminum bottles as they will be rendered useless as soon as your water supply runs out. With a steel bottle, you could even boil the little water you come across in the wild to disinfect it before using it.

Fire Matches - Has to be Waterproof

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After water, fire and warmth are the next vital things you wouldn't want to miss in the wilderness. As far as this goes, box strike matches that you use in your kitchen are as good as the next blade of grass as they will be of no use to you as soon as they become damp.
 Instead of these, carry magnesium starter matches that can still work properly even when drenched in jungle dew. But even then, make sure that you store the matches in a waterproof bag just to be safe.

A Compass

Don't count on your phone's GPS to guide you back to civilization when you're setting out for that desert challenge hike. Chances are, it will be dead even before sundown of the next day. And even if you think you know the hiking direction, remember that walking in a straight line in a place with no distinctive landmarks (like in a dense jungle or a bare desert) is often impossible. And as the rule of the thumb, a nautical compass works hand-in-hand with a geographical map.

A Flashlight

Just in case you get lost - as it often happens - a tactical flashlight will help your rescue time spot you when they start combing the area in search for survivors. Additionally, flashing the light from such a torch around is a good way of keeping wild animals away especially if you can't make or maintain a fire, maybe due to stormy or windy weather. You can read more about this here.

Versatile Ropes and Cordage

A paracord bracelet or simply a folded up rope can be a very useful accessory in a wilderness survival situation. Such ropes are pivotal in a variety of activities such as constructing an emergency shelter, making bow drills for fire-starting or just for crafting up primitive traps.
While you might argue that you can make cordage easily out of natural inner barks of trees or various wild herbs, such makeshift ropes are not as strong as industrial cordage. Furthermore, you will end up consuming a lot of time and energy that could have been used doing something else better.

A First Aid Kit

On this, you don't have to carry the whole kit especially if you're going to hike for a long distance and plan to travel light. Instead, make sure that you have just the basic items such as plenty of sterile gauze, tape and band aids. While at this, if you have the time, it is advisable to come up with your own makeshift kit, rather than buying prepackaged kits. Not only will you know the exact first-aid accessories you have packed with you, most importantly, you will also know how to use each item contained in the kit.

About the Author

Jack Neely is a fitness expert, survivalist, and world traveler. He’s been in several life or death situations, and he’s making an effort to spread his knowledge around the web to help others survive these situations as well. He’s also on the content team at The Tactical Guru.


  1. I like seeing your pics represent the needed items, very nice.

  2. First off, I'm a big fan of this site. I genuinely enjoy the ramblings. This article, however, really missed the mark... BIG TIME.

    It appears many folks are stuck in a perpetual state of fantasy, as is apparent by the article.

    To begin, keep in mind I am homing in on the word survival in the title. That simple little word causes the ENTIRE article to fall apart.

    First off, a survival situation is "An immediate threat to life." The way these articles are written assume it is all based around a lost person, for some insane reason. Life threatening situations in, the back country, can also include, heart attacks, strokes, accidents, fractures, breathing problems, etc.. I don't know about anyone else, but if I am having a life threatening emergency, I don't want to play Daniel Boone. I'd like to be rescued. As such, the simple fact some sort of PLB is not included in this article, instead of a knife is asinine. I am sure any of these survivors would argue the viability of a knife over a PLB. https://www.acrartex.com/survivors/

    This article doesn't even cover protection against exposure, or even food to keep one mentally and physically acute. Instead, we get a first aid kit, which by and large is contradictory with the rest of the article. How so? Well, I saw some trauma items in there, BUT no way to call for help because of the medical emergency. Instead there is a knife, so those who may be suffering a heart attack, stroke, immobilized because of exposure, to sick to walk, etc, can play Daniel Boone.

    There is a compass included... WHY? When in the world does one walk a straight line in the wilderness? There are obstacles to navigate; ravines, gorges, rivers, thickets, etc. How is it that one picks an arbitrary direction and decides to walk a straight line without knowing what's in that direction? Why would a compass be more important than a PLB for a life threatening situation?

    So, now lets talk about Jack's bona fides. Here's a guy whom, according to him, is ex-law enforcement... Check Out Blue Goat tactical. He claims to have been in several life or death situations. My guess is they had nothing to do with Wilderness Survival, rather LEO related. That said, even LEO know there life line is communication. How can someone that lived life as a LEO, forgo how important communication is? None of it adds up.

    Sorry this article stinks to holy hell of bull shit.

    1. Alan,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      As a note of reference, the images were my own supplied as additional context for Jack's commentary. So some of the IFAK contents were/zre specific to my own kit and not necessarily representative of the 'booboo' kit Jack described.

      I had perceived the article as an intent of 'if you're going out, at least have the following basics. I do not disagree with your commentary regarding PLBs, they certainly have a place in some kits.

      As soon as I ties up some loose ends we'll be back to the 'un-regularly scheduled ramblings'.

      Thanks for the years of reading!


  3. Nice article and I particularly like the image of the stainless steel water bottle next the fire.

    One thing that I would like to mention in regards to the flashlight is that it is nice to have one that can double as a headlamp like in the image that you have. There are quite a few headlamp/flashlights on the market that have a right angle flashlight attached to a headband. These lights can be used hands free in the headband or by a pocket clip on a backpack shoulder strap and they still do a great job as handheld lights.

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  5. It is very important that the first aid kit is as complete as possible

  6. These are very nice items for us to make a wonderful survival trip through the wood. Thanks jack and American Grouch for providing a so useful experience. Cheer

  7. The pictures really tell the story