Survival success depends on three things: your knowledge, your skills, and the tools at your disposal. That’s why you try to learn and put that knowledge into practice as often as you can. However, you don’t have to hoard and keep just about every “useful tool” out there in your bug out bag.
Sometimes all you need are these 4 essential tools for survival:
Multitools are good as everyday carry (EDC) devices, but they’re even better in a survival situation. Multitools have been around since the late 1800s, when Victorinox first came up with the Swiss Army Knife. Since then, the multitool has been a fixture in survival and prepping circles, undergoing many transformations in the process.
The multitool was created with efficiency in mind; it’s basically a toolbox that can fit in your pocket. This compact contraption includes several tools like pliers, scissors, bit drivers, and even serrated blades.
Some multitools, like the Leatherman Signal, are specially designed for the great outdoors. Aside from the standard tools, it has a semi-serrated blade that can double as a small saw, a removable ferro rod for firestarting, a diamond file sharpener and a whistle. You can use this multitool to make shelter, cut cordage, prepare food, light a fire, fix broken gears and lots more other things.
Never underestimate the humble sleeping bag. It’s one survival item that’s pretty hard to duplicate using natural materials. As Survival Lilly quips in this video, it’s pretty easy to make cordage from natural materials like vines and plants, but it’s pretty darn difficult to make your own sleeping bag from scratch. A sleeping bag would not only keep you relatively comfortable, but it also ensures that you are not in direct contact with the ground. This way, you’re less susceptible to hypothermia.
Select a sleeping bag that is lightweight and not too bulky. Also, take note of its temperature rating. If you’re living in a cold climate, it may be best to choose a winter sleeping bag that can tolerate temperatures 10 degrees Fahrenheit and lower.
While primitive fire-starting methods look cool, they also take a lot of time. By the time you’ve managed to create sparks from your bow drill, it might be well after dark (especially if you’re still a beginner working on your skills). This is why you should always carry a modern fire starting tool like a ferro rod or fire steel in your pack. Here’s a good description from Blades and Bushlore on how ferro rods work:
“Ferro rods create fire by scraping a striker along the length of the rod to remove fine metal shavings. The friction generated by this action causes the shavings to ignite, creating hot sparks and molten metal.” This way, you save time and energy—which are precious resources in a survival situation.
Stainless Steel Water Container
Like the sleeping bag, don’t underestimate the water bottle or canteen, especially in a survival situation where hydration is of utmost importance. Go three days without clean water and you’ll be in big trouble. Also remember that even when appearing clear, outdoor water sources can still be contaminated so it’s always wise to purify them. Boiling is the most effective way of water purification as it kills almost all microorganisms present in the water. That being said, it’s important to always include a water container (preferably stainless steel) in your pack. You can use this to boil and store your water. This way, you’re safe from dehydration and water-borne diseases.
When it comes to tools, it pays to keep them simple and straightforward. Expertise in essential tools like these can lend you a better chance of survival than a bug out bag full of fancy bells and whistles.
Of course, preference also matters. Some preppers prefer cordage over sleeping bags, while some may pick portable water filters over a canteen. It really depends on your priorities and skill set. Now, if YOU have to pick 5 tools to stake your life on, what would they be? Let us know in the comments below!