Epic trails, scenic mountains, thundering rapids, a peaceful campsite – you are up for it all. Anything that gets you outdoors and in the thick of nature is where you want to be. Whether you’re hiking the Appalachian trail or camping in Acadia National Park, carrying the right tools and equipment is critical for a successful backpacking trip.

Your personal preferences and needs will dictate the specific items you take. The weather, difficulty of the trip, its length, and the distance you’ll cover all play a role in determining what you need.

What should you have in a survival backpack?

No matter the situation, these backpacking essentials are a suitable place to start. You can then tailor your bag around your needs.

Sun Protection

Your survival backpack should have items to make your excursion easier, but the essentials should be tools to keep you safe and healthy. Any time you spend outdoors in the sun, sun protection is necessary. In fact, sunscreen should always be a part of your daily routine.

Pack a sunscreen with a high SPF, as well as sunglasses. A lot of outdoor clothing now comes with built-in sun protection, so if your adventures are more warm-weather, consider investing in this type of clothing.

First Aid Supplies

Pre-assembled first aid kits provide the basics for treating minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Make sure your kit is stocked with various size bandages and gauze, adhesive tape, OTC pain medication, and disinfecting ointments. You can then add in other first aid tools to personalize your kit.

Two key points – before embarking on an outing, make sure you know how to use each item in your first aid kit. And it behooves you to include a compact guide on how to deal with the types of emergencies you may face on an outdoor adventure.

first-aid-kit

Knife or Multitool

If you’re reading this article and don’t already own one, now is the time to invest in a durable knife. A good knife is the most versatile item in your survival backpack. It can be used for everything from preparing food to first aid, repairing equipment, and protection from threats.

A single, foldout blade is a classic, popular option and more than enough to get the job done. Multitools are another excellent choice. These usually include not only a knife, but other tools such as a can opener, screwdrivers, foldout scissors, and pliers. 

tactical-knife

Navigation Equipment

When driving these days, most of us ditch the traditional, foldout map for our smartphone’s GPS and map app. But when your adventures take you off the beaten path and into the wild, it is a good idea to compliment your GPS with a topographic map of the area you are navigating.

It can be easy to become disoriented in the wild, especially without landmarks to help you. A compass is a crucial tool to include in your survival backpack. As with GPS, your smartphone has a compass feature, but if your phone runs out of juice, you’re in a bit of a jam. A physical map and compass, as well as a headlamp for navigating in the dark, are backpacking essentials.

headlamp

Shelter and Fire

Even if you are not planning an overnight excursion, things happen. You get lost or injured. An emergency shelter will protect you from wind, rain, and other elements in case you become stranded.

Pack at least two fire starting options in case one doesn’t work. Waterproof matches and disposable butane lighters work well. If wet conditions are forecast, a fire starter that ignites quickly and sustains heat is necessary. 

man-starting-fire

Extra Food and Water

Whether you are going away overnight or taking a day trip, packing extra food and water is essential. Non-perishable food items that are high in protein work best. Think nuts, dried fruit, jerky, and energy bars.

In terms of water, make sure you have enough drinking water, as well as extra water to cook and clean with.

What goes in a survival backpack is determined by the type of journey you are going on. The backpacking essentials listed above are an ideal jumping off point for a fun and successful outdoor adventure.