I am often asked, “Hey EJ, what do you carry every day?” or “What do I need to carry with me if I’m heading out the door and into the Wild?” or “What’s in your bag?” I am sometimes bewildered by it, but I get it because IT IS a Life-Saving Question! I have been through hundreds of setups over time, constantly tweaking what I carry, upgrading, completing redo’s, replacing lost items, or even a complete replacement because a bear ran off with it or a river claimed it.

All true, and many great stories attached to them; I probably need to do a Blog for you on them sometime. Now, whatever you walk out your front door with, you need to look at it as if the minute that door closes, you are in \”THE WILD\”…cause, quite frankly, you are! It\’s an uncertain world out there right now.

 Let\’s say you are heading for a nice long day hike, an outing in your canoe, heading to work or school, or just a trip into town for a meal or to shop. I hope that the “Survival Essentials” items (Self Defense Items will NOT be discussed here!) that I am about to impart give you the confidence that if anything goes wrong anywhere, you are ready!

It starts with the bag or means to carry the “Survival Essentials” in. It can be a standard everyday backpack, a sling bag, or I used to carry a waist pack with 2 Water Bottle Holders and a Large Gear pocket for items. You need to have something to easily house most of these items so that they are all in one area and ready to go, and even if it’s in a Gallon size Ziplock Bag, you can throw it into a backpack or pocketbook.


You can even purchase ready setup Survival Kits that come in a bag with everything you need and then some, like the Blackout Survival Kit, and add in the Water, Fire, and 1st Aid Kits and your set with no other shopping around involved. So, now let\’s get to the “Survival Essentials”:

  • SURVIVAL TOOL: You can have your tool of choice here, but I highly recommend a good, fixed-blade knife of 5 to 7 inches. It is the base for doing most survival tasks. I prefer 1095 High Carbon Steel because it will throw a spark for fire, keeps a good edge, and is durable.
  • WATER:  Water is Life\’s Blood! Water is essential to body function and health. You must stay hydrated! I recently did a Blog on my surefire way to stay hydrated that I use, and it\’s a 2 Water Bottle setup with One Grayl Geopress Water Purifying Bottle and One 32 oz Stainless Steel Water Bottle with a Cup so that you can boil water. Add 2 Bottles of Water purification tablets as an additional Back Up.
  • FIRE:  Fire is Your Friend! It is essential to survival for a lot of things. It can keep you warm, keep animals and insects away, purify water, cook food, provide light, and much more! You need to have ways to get it and maintain it. I recommend two lighters, some Stormproof Matches in a watertight container, and a good Ferro Rod.
  • PARACORD:  Cordage is suitable for many things like building shelter, traps, fishing lines, and other uses. A good 50 to 100 feet of it goes a long way!
  • FISHING KIT:  A small fishing kit with hooks, weighers, rubber worms, lures, etc. will be a good passive way to get a much-needed meal.
  • SNARE WIRE: Good .24 Gauge Wire is excellent for trapping, which is another good passive way to get food and other things.
  • EMERGENCY PONCHO: It folds up nicely, not taking up a lot of room, keeps you dry from the wet weather, and even traps you in body heat. In a pinch, it can be used as a makeshift shelter.
  • EMERGENCY SPACE BLANKET: It\’s a lightweight and a good way to keep your core body temperature in check and warm out there; it and doesn\’t take up much space.
  • NAVIGATION: A General Compass, like the Cammenga Military Style, is pretty easy to use. If you happen to have a Map of the area you are in, I\’d throw that in too! Orange Engineer Tape is a great way to mark your path and aid in not getting lost and can alert others where you\’ve been in case you are lost!
  • SIGNALING AND RESCUE ITEMS: Items that can help with rescue, like a Whistle, Signal Mirror, some Chem Lights, and even small pocket flares!
  • BASIC FIRST AID KIT: A simple Ziplock bag with a few items from this category can make a problem less of an issue. Fill it with simple first aid items like band-aids, Neosporin, aspirin, Tylenol, Motrin, bandages, etc. Even a bee sting kit and hydration salts.
  • EXTRAS: These items are things you use regularly or personal must-haves…like a Multi-Tool, Duct Tape, or anything else you may want.

       When YOU head out the door with these ESSENTIALS, you have a sense of confidence that you have your basics covered and a better chance at surviving should things go awry. The List is things I usually carry are just suggestions to use as a template for your Own “Survival Essentials” Kit. You can skin this Bear in many ways.

The main thing is that you have some kind of Kit to cover your bare essentials, and they don’t have to be as extensive or as many backups as I have; I\’d say mine is more the \”Bring on the Zombies!\” Kit, LOL! But look at your budget, look at the List, prioritize what\’s most important for you, and then tackle it. You can always start small and upgrade later. You can build them piece by piece if you want, buy several smaller kits and put them together (like get the Fire Kit, add a water kit, etc.), or buy one that\’s already set up for you, like the Blackout Survival Kit, if you don\’t want to spend hours looking and researching, or want to be done with it.

When looking for your “Survival Essentials” Kit, don’t be afraid to think outside the box when getting your kit together. I recently combed thru several dollar stores and tried to put together a Kit for $25 to $30 Bucks!!! (Blog and Video Coming Soon on this!) But in any case, get YOUR “Survival Essentials” Kit together before YOU head OUT THAT DOOR!!!!

Survive On! ~ EJ SNYDER


  1. Several things that I have to consider that some folks don’t have to worry about when prepping are my age, eyesight and small stature. I’m not built the size of a lot of Delta force, SEALs and SAS guys are. I’m under 5’9″ and have to consider every item I pack very carefully for size, weight and survival necessity. So I’ve tried to take some pointers from the Dual Survival guys from their TV series and it helps somewhat. Water is always hugely important but it can’t be compressed and its volume is always heavy. But, three days without water and you cash in your chips. Not good. Anyway, I just wanted to add my two cents worth from an older guy with physical limitations who still believes in being prepped to the max level necessary or possible. Great blog, e j, I’m glad you’re putting this info out there for everyone who’s looking around for tested and tried ways to be prepped.

  2. How long should you prepare for? Also, I’m assuming some sort of firearm or defense of tool would be wise. I have 4 backpacks with different items in each. I wouldn’t be able to combine all the items into 1 or 2 packs, any suggestions? I’m sure I can eliminate some items. If necessary, as weight can be a factor. Thanks for any tips!

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