10 Best Survival Items

What is the best survival tool you can have along with you? A lot of people are looking everyday for the best survival tool or best survival toolstools to have if things go wrong. Thousands of dollars are spent each month on the things we think will make us safe.  The truth is no one can have everything that you need in a compromised world nor would you be able to carry everything you might need when disaster strikes.  I believe that the best tool that we all have is sitting right between our ears.

By Chuck Savage, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Coming up with strategy and plans and having the knowledge to improvise as you go is your best bet. If you’re old enough to remember the show MacGyver, you’ll remember how he was able to come up with solutions to problems with sometimes not much more than his brain and a Swiss army knife.  However, in all survival situations a few basic tools and supplies are needed. My list includes the following:

1. Knife and Sharpener: This is where I can go overboard but a good quality folding knife with a 3 to 4 inch blade knife will Great Survival Toolswork. I prefer a fixed blade with a full tang for strength. This knife will be used for the normal cutting jobs but may be called on to split wood, fashion a shelter, remove splinters, prepare food and strike your fire steel. I carry a small sharpener to touch up my blade from time to time.

2. Fire Starter and Lighter: Being able to start a fire could be a matter of life or death. A fire can ward off hypothermia, cook food, make water safe to drink, and give encouragement.  Magnesium and a fire steel are great for starting a fire. They last a long time and can be used in damp conditions. Lighters are good to have but will eventually run out of fluid.

3. Cordage: 550 cord is great. I have a survival bracelet made with 550 cord that I wear everywhere. It’s good to keep a roll in your pack. Some people even replace their boot laces with 550 cord. Cordage has so many uses including making shelters, snares, repairs, or fishing line.

4. Poncho: This will keep you dry and warmer in the rain and wind or can water proof a small shelter.  Because wind will accelerate the cooling of your body and speed up the onset of hypothermia, a poncho is important.  I prefer a poncho because they have more uses than a rain suit and cover you.  Plus, they can be worn over your pack. A poncho can even cover your rifle and scope from the elements.

5. Wool Blanket/ Space Blanket: Wool blankets are water resistant and can provide heat when wet. They can also be tied Best Survival Toolswith cordage to make a jacket.  I recall pictures of soldiers during the Civil War wearing their blankets tied at the bottom and worn across one shoulder as a sash.  Wool blankets, however, can take up so much room that I carry a space blanket in my shoulder bag at all times. These are less than the size of my wallet and weigh even less.

6. Water Purifier: There are so many products out there to purify water.  There are drops, tablets, powder, filters, or boiling to name a few.  Finding a vessel to carry and treat your water is the trick.  Military canteens with built in water cups work well but are a bit bulky. Small portable purifiers are great and easy to carry.

7. Food Source: M.R.E.’s, freeze dried foods designed for backpacking and food bars are a few ideas. High energy snacks are good because they sustain your energy level longer than foods high in carbohydrates. Our bodies burn carbohydrates quicker than protein. I think of the word picture that carbs are like putting paper on a fire and protein is like putting a log on the fire.

8. Firearm and Extra Ammunition: I prefer a pistol that you are good with or possibly a light weight rifle. A firearm is not one of the most important tools but with good hunting skills, you can put food in your belly. Guns can also be used to signal for help. Three shots spaced evenly apart is the universal signal for help.

9. First Aid Kit: Careful as we may be, we will need a first aid kit at some time. Survival takes work and when you are working hard, it’s hard not to get cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Most important are wound control and splinting. If you are on medication, be sure to put some in your kit and rotate it out to insure freshness.

10. Flashlight and Batteries: A LED flashlight would be my choice because of the amount of light it gives out using less energy from the battery. I use a headlamp and small tactical flashlight. Be sure to buy the best quality batteries so they will last longer.

The Most Important Item

This list is the most basic of things a person might need to survive. Without the knowledge of how to use them though, they are doomsday preppersall but useless. Because we will all be limited on what we can take with us in an emergency or survival scenario, priorities need to be set.  If I could choose only five things, what would they be? I would take the knife, fire starter, water filter, space blanket and cordage. What would you pick?  These are tools and supplies for the short term but because the crisis may last far into the future, plans need to be made for sustainability. Food and water and shelter are the three main things you will need to provide in order to survive.

Knowledge of planting crops, sustained water treatment and sewer treatment, renewable lighting sources are among some of the most important considerations. Long guns for hunting and traps will be useful in the future.  Keep in mind that being able to provide meat from a quiet means could be important. It may be good to be as silent and draw as little attention to yourself and your location as possible. Quiet sources to hunt with would be pellet guns, 22.cal using sub sonic ammo, bow and arrow, blowguns, sling shot and traps.

I am even preparing to set a trap line for squirrels using large rat traps attached to lower limbs of trees. Just drill holes on both ends of the wooden traps and secure with 550 cord or baling wire. Peanut butter is the perfect bait for these little critters as they can’t resist it!

I found that if you leave food out, it will not take long for your protein to find you. Our hunting camp became over run with raccoons and opossums this season because some in our camp had become careless with trash and left over food. They visited us every night just after dark.  Snares for rabbits and raccoons are easy to set. These animals are all good for adding protein to your diet.  Man cannot live on meat alone so I plan to have heirloom seeds to plant a garden. We just can’t stock or carry enough can goods to sustain us.

Another source of food is wild edibles. I admit that I am not an expert in that area. Because of the danger of getting sick or Best Survival Toolpoisoned, I would suggest that you learn what is safe from an expert in that field.  I was told that Native Americans learned what they could eat by observing what animals ate.  Sounds smart but I would rather be taught by an expert.  The bottom line is that we all need to be prepared for short term emergencies and work toward being able to live off the land for an extended time in the future. With all the hype and craze of prepping, use your most important asset, common sense, to guide you as you make decisions for preparing to survive.

Also Read: The Survival Edibility Test (Before You Swallow)

This list is by no means complete and I am sure that you would want to add or take away some of the items. I have made this list based on need and what I can comfortably carry in my shoulder go bag that goes with me every day, everywhere.
What is the best survival tool?  That is subject to debate but I think that without knowledge, they can all become useless. Learn how to use these tools and practice often with them.

Photos By:
15th MEU
Old Man Travels
Wilderness College

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34 comments… add one
  • Steve suffering in NJ March 18, 2015, 12:47 am

    5 items ?
    1) Military sleep system includimg waterproof bivy sack
    2) 4 piece fishing pole
    3) container to carry water
    4) Firesteal
    5) leatherman

    • Anonymous March 22, 2015, 8:59 pm


  • irishdutchuncle March 18, 2015, 3:58 am

    in the world of picture number one, (see above) an up to date tetanus immunization.
    good footwear. (but even the best boots likely can be punctured,
    if you step on a nail)
    common sense. (avoid the neighborhood in picture number two)
    wool socks. warm hat.

    • donnie March 31, 2015, 11:57 pm

      You need to leave all vaccines on the shelf, they have poison in them plus they don’t work. Take lots of vitamin C with you. Research mega-dose vitamin C. That will make your immune system strong.

      • irishdutchuncle April 1, 2015, 6:23 am

        OK, so if you get bitten by some critter, you’d refuse to take the Rabies vaccine? Mega doses of vitamin C, will prevent lockjaw? I’m not buying it.
        You would risk a case of the mumps, after puberty?
        you like your odds of surviving small pox? whooping cough? I hear shingles is pretty painful…
        have you already had chicken pox? measles? German measles?
        whatever autism symptoms I have, I don’t think it’s as bad, as dying from small pox, or paralysis from Polio. of course, YMMV.

      • irishdutchuncle April 1, 2015, 3:34 pm

        … and where am I going to find that much vitamin C after a SHTF event?

      • Anonymous April 3, 2015, 3:52 am

        … the internet however, does support donnie.

        I’m sorry for my gruff response.

        • jerry September 19, 2016, 2:04 am

          I can do brain surgery because I watched it on the internet and they said it was easy. Vaccines are safe, running around infecting people because you are an idiot will get you throat punchec

          • Bradr December 25, 2016, 9:08 pm

            Who is he going to infect? Only those that haven’t been vaccinated IF the vaccines work. So save your throat punch for the liars that sold you a bill of goods on vaccines

    • John Brown June 6, 2015, 12:05 pm

      You are correct on tetanus, it was a major killer in the Civil War, especially down south as soldiers would not die of their wounds, they would die of lock jaw caused by dirt in the wound.

      Most good chainsaw boots with steel toes come with steel sole plates to prevent nail and branch injuries, I know I have them. The higher calf ones might deter a rattler and mine have removable arch spikes so it makes standing on a log easier.

  • Mr.wilina suksana March 18, 2015, 12:03 pm

    Thanks for this ive been wondering what i may need, and i also love the best survival tool.For some reason the links to the compass and the first aid kit you recommended don’t seem to be showing up for me though. There’s so much information and varying opinions out there, thanks for presenting the facts and helping me to get a clear understanding of what I should be thinking about and considering for my first best survival tool purchase.Thanks again and keep up the good work.

    • irishdutchuncle April 3, 2015, 4:57 am

      don’t rush out and “buy” anything.
      Evaluate what you already have, where you already live.
      make your own First Aid Kit. prepare first for the problems you will face in everyday life. the compass can wait, a week. buy yourself a map, or two first.

  • A last Boy Scout March 18, 2015, 4:24 pm

    If a true SHTF develops consider this:

    Antibiotics you have in your pack may be the last antibiotics you will ever see.

    Antibiotics don’t weigh much, so have plenty of as many types as you can procure. Obviously, study up and seek help on how and when to use them.

    Let the know it all argue about resistance, expiration dates, immunity, folk remedies, herbs, silver, black boxes, voodoo, dangers, and how doctors are mostly incompetent.

    Cleanliness, and a bar of soap is a good thing, but different antibiotics in quantity is priceless. Those you possess may be your last.

    Old doc

  • lance March 19, 2015, 3:20 pm

    A helmet! Your best survival tool is in between your ears best keep it there. so here is my list,
    2Ferro rod,
    3helmet steel pot kind to protect your head you can also cook in it,
    5bow and arrow you can make arrows try making bullets without powder or primers, can also be used to fish with,
    6Eye wear, protect your eyes!
    7 something to eat for now,mres,hooah bars
    8foot wear most important in spring, winter and fall in summer I mostly don’t wear shoes anyway,
    9 VERY good first aid kit,
    10Trioxine tabs for fire starting
    My list is geared towards wilderness survival not really shtf,
    That list would be different.

    • irishdutchuncle May 1, 2015, 9:57 am

      I think I would skip the steel-pot, in favor of a good set of stainless cooking pots. you can buy them at almost any thrift store.
      you can have a steel helmet if you want one…
      I personally would go Kevlar if there is going to be shooting.
      you’ll still need head and eye protection while you’re trying to cook. is there one multi-sport helmet that works for kayak, bicycle, spelunk, skateboard, rock climbing…
      I think that would be a good investment if they made one.
      motorcycle, snowmobile, rally/race car, off road vehicle, would need something stronger. and, you need to protect your head, without getting your neck broken.

  • flowerman March 20, 2015, 10:21 am

    cucumbers…for making dainty cucumber sandwiches.

    chammomile tea.

    a pale yellow dress and matching hat.

    enuff said.

    stay sexy

  • Russell March 21, 2015, 9:01 pm

    All you really need is a knife.nature gives us all we need to survive.

    • irishdutchuncle March 22, 2015, 3:33 am

      yeh, but I don’t think I’d ever want to try it.

      there isn’t anyone I need to impress that much, any more…
      (she married me despite my shortcomings)

      • flowerman March 22, 2015, 4:47 am

        you need my cucumber

  • David Davis March 22, 2015, 11:46 am

    Garlic is the best antibiotic

  • L . J . De Blaze March 22, 2015, 11:50 am

    Have taught junior scouts and youths in trouble with the law , also the odd young teens to early twenties how to survive in the out back here in AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND . T he bare basics that I’ve allowed them are listed below .
    No. 1 Leatherman , many uses .
    No. 2 Space blanket , 2 off as one can be used as shelter or groundsheet to stop dampness when prone or sleeping /sick wounded . and rain catching tool.
    No. 3 Fishing hooks and a good strong braided fishing line on a hand piece ( there are many good quality plastic hand lines in most tackle stores ) . Look at one for every person in your group , only you then make it two .
    No. 4 A good as you can afford fixed blade knife at least 12inches blade length , this will be used to split fire wood and as a hammer also to defend your self and your group . Fire starter ( Magnisium & Flint attached type )
    No. 5 A collasble water bucket available from any good camping store , a light aluminium 1 lt. or a strong plastic water container of 1lt. or 2lt. Also a water purifier straw .
    No. 6 A good set of clothes , light and wind resistant , also the best boots you can buy plus a extra set of shirt and heavey jeans or overalls ( these are good for the extra pockets they afford ) Also at least two pairs of EXPLORER socks , three if you can fit them in to you pack !
    No. 7 A good wide brim hat , sunburn is a killer and so is cold ( we lose more heat from our heads than the rest of our bodies )
    No. 8 Any medicine your on and as much as you can carry , plus a fair amount of extra strong .pain killers and bandages including a snake bite kit and sling (triangle ) . Female sanitation pads (extra absoebent ) to be used as wound dressings . (they are sanatiesed and dirt proof wrapped ) Have used them several times on glass and knife cuts / wounds , punture wounds ie’ bullet penatrating wounds .
    No. 9 As much as you can carry of freeze dried foods , meat ,fruit and greens plus rice/beans and salt , not nice to eat with out it on a long trip and sweat0ing d0ue to t0he hard work you will be doing .
    No. 10 Last of all study as much as you can on where you are heading as regards to food and shelter to be found there and along the way , also what is edible around you , plant and animals , even if you make a list and plastic seel it so as to carry it with you . MOST IMPORTANT , DO A FEW TRIAL RUNS BEFORE IT ALL GOSE ASRE UP , AND GOOD LUCK , YOU CAN DO IT IF YOU USE YOUR SENCES AND THAT GREAT TOOL BETWEEN YOUR EARS .

    • ArtEMouse April 1, 2015, 6:58 pm

      A good hat is a fine thing to have… but #7 is an ‘old wives tale’. Look it up…
      You loose heat equally from any exposed surfaces.

      • lance April 2, 2015, 12:30 am

        ArtEmouse is right about that old wives tail,
        But I’d prefer a German steel pot helmet that can be cooked in.

  • BamaMan March 23, 2015, 3:05 pm

    I had some gasoline in a plastic one gallon milk container(s) for some landscape work. I left one of the unused containers with gas and one with diesel in the container for about six months (keeping extra on hand). The plastic seemed to have weakened and lost some of its form. I used the gas/diesel and trashed the container. I had wanted to keep small amounts of diesel in something like a hotel shampoo bottle or mini of liquor. Any help on what will hold the gas or diesel without damaging the plastic? Thanks!

    • irishdutchuncle March 23, 2015, 6:35 pm

      I would try the bottle that Gumout “fuel injector cleaner” comes in.
      … unless you’re trying to get it past the TSA. in that case YOYO.

  • carol prosceno March 29, 2015, 9:34 am

    Thank for the tips you never know when you need them.

    • Starr June 23, 2016, 9:39 pm

      The Absent Gaw2;#8e30&Betmeen me and my husband we have owned additional MP3 players over the years than I can count, which include Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few a long time I’ve settled down to one line of gamers….

  • Baseyboy March 31, 2015, 9:48 pm

    I can’t believe that with all that experience out there no one has yet mentioned 1) duct tape (you name it), 2) a set of steel guitar strings (snares) and a variety of sizes of nylon wire ties (quick shelter set-ups & lasting gear repairs).

  • Black American April 1, 2015, 1:04 am

    Why is there a picture of black guys with bananas on their faces. Are you portraying us as the bad guys? I hope the author of this site isn’t a racist.

    • irishdutchuncle April 1, 2015, 5:24 am

      the guy with the mask, is awfully light skinned…

      what possible reason would SHTFBlog, have to be racist?
      I’ve been reading, and commenting here since the beginning.
      I’ve never seen any racisim from the staff. how could anyone possibly tell if a reader is “black”? black folks need to prepare just as much much as anyone else, maybe more…

      • lance April 2, 2015, 12:37 am

        No I don’t believe anyone here is racist, and I agree fully with Irishdutchuncle

      • lance April 2, 2015, 12:38 am

        No I don’t believe anyone here is racist, and I agree fully with Irishdutchuncle.

    • irishdutchuncle April 12, 2015, 2:03 am

      … assume the worst, for a moment, BA.
      decide that we’re all a bunch of racists here. does that mean that none of us could possibly be right about our preparedness ideas? there are no good sources for the information we need, that’s why we meet here. we’re left to mostly figure this all out for ourselves. (and time is short)
      Use this resource for all its worth.

  • Henry December 18, 2015, 10:34 pm

    Go for lansky pocket pal sharpener- Cheap, decent performance and fits in your pocket


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