The 13 Essentials (of Wilderness Survivaling)

The 13 Essentials (of Wilderness Survivaling)

Before looking at the 13 Essentials (of WIlderness Survival), Here is a little background on the concept.

You are probably familiar with the traditional “10 essentials” (originally formalized in the 70s byThe Mountaineers” 

  1. Map 
  2. Compass 
  3. Sunglasses and sunscreen 
  4. Extra clothing 
  5. Headlamp or flashlight 
  6. First-aid supplies 
  7. Firestarter 
  8. Matches 
  9. Knife 
  10. Extra food

… Later expanded to the following “Categories”

  1. Navigation: Map and compass, [GPS device], [satellite communicators], [extra batteries or a battery pack]
  2. Headlamp: Plus extra batteries
  3. Sun protection: Sunglasses, sun-protective clothes, and sunscreen
  4. First aid supplies, Including foot care and insect repellent (if required)
  5. Knife: Plus repair kit
  6. Fire: Matches, perhaps a lighter (and tinder?) – Possibly a stove too.
  7. Shelter: Some sort of shelter – even a light tarp or emergency bivy
  8. Extra food: Beyond minimum expectation
  9. Extra water (or a means to purify water)
  10. Extra clothes: Beyond minimum expectation

.. And then we have “The 10 C’s of Survival” (Promoted and taught by Dave Canterbury)

  1. Cutting Tool. …
  2. Combustion Device. …
  3. Cover. …
  4. Container. …
  5. Cordage. …
  6. Cotton Bandannas. …
  7. Cargo Tape. …
  8. Compass. …
  9. Cloth Sail Needle. …
  10. Candling device. …

The “10 Essentials” was geared towards Hikers, Climbers .. and to a lesser extent, to Backpackers.

The “10 Cs” are more generally related to Outdoor Survival .. and trekking.


Here we begin a quick overview of:

The “New and Improved” 13 Essentials (of Wilderness Survivaling)

Whether you are facing an Emergency ”Bug-Out” situation .. Or are just wanting to “Get Outa Dodge” for a few days, It is important that you have a few “Essentials” with you – to assure your Safety and/or Enjoyment for a reasonable period of time.

What we are going to be looking at here, will be “The 13 Essentials of Survivaling” – The 13 categories of items you would want to consider having with you, when venturing “Out There”, in order to assure your safety and comfort during Any situation. (to assure that you Come Home ‘relatively unscathed’ 🙂

 (1) Knowledge

This is probably the most important thing we want to stress — You really need to be familiar – and Practiced – with your “Skill-Set” and “Kit”, and with how to use each item therein,  in order to ensure your ability to survive.

An example would be “map and compass” .. Having a map and compass is of little help, if you don’t know how to use it for navigating your way from one point to another .. or even maintaining a direction as you Trek.

It is vital you have a basic familiarity/understanding of every single item in your Kit before you actually need them in a real survival situation.

 (2) Training

Whether you go to an established “Survival School”, or align yourself with someone more experienced than yourself, Anytime and Anywhere you can learn new Survival Skills is time well spent.You do need to be careful, to assure that the ‘Trainer’ actually has the skills they are purportedly ‘teaching’ you.

 (3) The “Bag” itself ..

Generally, a small to medium “Day Pack” will be the most convenient. Ideally, you will want it to Not have a Tactical look (such as Military or other Camo Bags, as in an Emergency situation, you will Not want to stand-out .. rather, you will want to blend in to those around you)

 (4) Safety – (Self Aid and First Aid Supplies and Skills)

Each person, going “Out There” should have their own First-Aid/Self-Aid Kit, and Must understand how each item in the kit should be used. From the most basic ‘kit’ (Some DuckTape, and some “Healing Salve”), to a Full-On Safety & Trauma Kit, The most important thing, is to Know how to use what you have (or what you can Improvise), to deal with the emergency at hand!

 (5) Navigation tools and skills

You should never rely solely on a GPS unit or App when in a survival situation, but also have with you a local map and a compass to help navigate your way back to safety, or help maintain your course.
It is a good idea to have both a road-type map and a topographic map available, just in case.

Having a map and a compass is one thing, But, you must also Understand how to read the maps, and effectively use the  compass. There are training resources that can teach you these skills, but there is no substitute for practice on your own.

Mapping Apps (Containing Topo Maps, Satellite Maps, GPS etc are Great, along with the many other benefits of having “It All” in the palm of your hand … but The minute your battery dies, You have Nothing .. Whereas, That Paper Mp and Actual Compass ‘might’ be a better overall option.

 (6) Fire

The ability to start a fire in the wilderness is one of the Basic Skills you need to have in your “Skill Set”: To be able to survive in extreme cold, Deter predators (‘tho fire and smoke Might attract them too), and to Purify Water and Cook your food.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know you should be equipped with necessary fire starting skills and have a means of starting the fire. This is where a trusty fire starter becomes the number one critical survival item to have on you at all times. It is advisable, to have at least three methods of starting a fire in your survival kit. You should not take chances with fire starters. I carry matches, bic lighter(s) and a ‘flint’ striker. Also, having some easily ignitable tinder with you. I carry all my fire starters in waterproof containers and store them separately and within easy access in my kit.

 (7) Water

Aside from “exposure”, Water will generally be your Number One Concern .. because you Will need to find or produce “potable” water within a relatively short period of time, regardless of the situation at hand.

The “Rule of Threes” indicates that you can only survive 3 days without hydration ..
So, Once your Immediate Safety is assured, you will need to have “Water” pretty much at the top of your list  of Priorities.

 (8) Food

Altho “Food” is often pointed to as being Far down on the Priorities list, If the Emergency/Survival situation is going to extend more than just a couple days, you are going to need to replenish the energy you are expending just getting by.

Having along with you, some quick energy food, will go a long ways in helping you get through the days and nights you are going to be struggling through.

I am a fan of “Clif Bars” (my favorite being “Cool Mint Chocolate” .. 250 Calories +44 grams of Carbs)

I also like having a baggie of GORP (Chocolate Covered Cashews .. Chocolate Covered Raisins .. and small pretzels)

As to What you can find to eat out there in the woods (Hunting, Fishing, Trapping, and Foraging) – That is a whole topic of it’s own .. that I will be covering in detail, in a future post.

 (9) Cooking

There are many ways ‘out there’ to heat water, cook/fry/bake/etc .. But, Having a well designed Cook Kit / Mess Kit will make your survival epic a lot easier

My favorite “Kit” is the “Pathfinder Canteen Cook Set” ..I have carried and used it since it first came out, and have No complaints at all.

 (10) Utility Tools

In addition to a good Knife, I would like to have with me my Cold Steel Kukri, and perhaps my USGI Entrenching Tool

 (11) Containers

Bags to carry different parts of your overall Kit (ideally sealable and water-proof) ,, Bottles/containers to store liquids .. a sealable waterproof container or bag, along with a length of rparacord to use for Hanging items you don’t want critters to get into.

 (12) Electronics / Tech

Being as this is the 21st Century, I think we can pretty much assume that the ubiquitous CellPhone/SmartPhone would be in our pocket. Depending on what Apps you have on your phone, It can take the place of Dozens of devices and tools .. from a Camera and Flashlight, to a library of information.

To keep the phone charged up, I have a 24 Watt Solar Panel that folds up to the size and weight of a large paperback book .. and I also have, and often carry with me, a 30,000 mAh battery backup.

 (13) Carrying

Having an extensive Survival Kit would necessitate also having a bag or pack to carry your ‘kit’ in

My current favorite ‘small/medium’ (Cheap) bag is the “Outdoor Products Quest backpack” 29 liter with MOLLE webbing and multiple ‘pockets’ .. Or, my MOLLE II (3-day) Asault Pack (Indestructable, but Heavy)

There can be “Kits”, from Small to Large .. and I will explore the several “kits” in a future post


One final item, that ’might’ sometimes come in handy for “spot coverage” (especially in a fixed camp) might be a simple Umbrella



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