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Camping Survival | 13 Items You Need to Build the Best Summer Camping Kit

July 15, 2021 10 min read

camping survival

You’ve been craving to get out into the great outdoors as of late and reconnect with nature.

Taking a look at your tent and camping survival gear you last used years ago for your previous weekend retreat, you think you’ve got everything you need.

So you make your way into the wild green yonder to set up camp.

Nightfall is around the corner and after hours of hiking, you believe you’ve found the perfect spot.

But after you open up your pack to set up, you realize that you’re severely unprepared.

Your survival gear is old, incomplete, and broken.

The tent has holes and you’re starting to see the errors of your ways.

The darkness of the night is here and you don’t have the supplies to make a fire. You want to head back but you don’t remember the way back.

You pull out your phone and discover you have no signal with no connection to GPS.

This night could have gone so much better if you had prepared for the journey and packed the right summer camping kit.

Packing an essential survival kit is more important than keeping you alive.

If you’re camping with a group, then your foresight may be what keeps them safe and alive as well.

Of course, it is always better to share your knowledge before the trip than to share your limited suppliers during it.

Because an emergency is always a possibility. You never expect it to happen, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Everyone believes they can confidently use their own two feet to walk.

But how many times have you seen Aunt Ginny take a nosedive after tripping over seemingly nothing?

A sprained ankle may not be an issue when moving from the kitchen to the living room, but when you’re 25 miles into the thick of it it becomes a real issue of thinking on your feet.

Knowledge Above All Else

monkey thinking

They say “the tools make the man." Wrong!

The wilderness isn’t your garage and nature isn’t your personal toolbox. The greatest tool you will ever use, camping or otherwise is your intelligence.

Having a firm understanding of the terrane, local wildlife, and your survival gear is of the utmost importance.

Knowing how to properly use them, and what to do in an emergency is a critical key to your adventures.

If you can learn how to identify and prevent a situation before it even occurs, you’ll be leagues above the rest of the people out there.

It doesn’t matter if you have the finest gear and the best stockpile of medical supplies in your tailor-made Gucci bag.

If you don’t know how to use them properly or what to do if an accident occurs, you’re absolutely useless.

So, first and foremost, learn about the area. Learn about everything you need to bring.

And, learn precautionary measures to survive before taking on mother nature.

Clear communication and establishing a backup plan with your group can avoid a lot of dumb decisions from occurring during your trip.

Do you know the person who dies first in action survival movies?

Why do they die first?

Because they don’t listen and they panic when it hits the fan.

Or, they simply eat it on a walk because they didn’t pay attention to the areas where rattlesnakes like to rest.

There are countless sources of information to use for your benefit.

Wilderness Medical Guides, Outdoor Emergency and Injury Tips, and Injury Treatments are all available online to read and print off for your carry-on pleasure.

There is also a wealth of wilderness survival books out there to read and pack with you.

Plus, if all else fails, an old trusty Eagle Scout survival book can provide some valuable insight and carry on the three promises of the Scout Oath.

The Right Pack to Have Your Back!

backpacks for camping

Believe it or not, selecting the right survival pack is as important as the summer camping gear you bring along!

Like I mentioned before, your Gucci bag may make you the prettiest of all the boys in the yard, but it won’t do you any favors in the wilderness. (and if you are the type to own and bring a stylish bag along to go survival camping, then survival camping isn’t the thing for you).

Now, I know you may think the military sack you own is your favorite and stand-all storage piece for tough wilderness excursions, but you may be finding yourself impotently spending energy at the cost of your lower back at the same time.

In order to protect your back, the best options are packs that include these features:

  • Lots of storage space and compartments for organization
  • Reinforced frontal straps to provide additional spinal support
  • Sectioned spacing for proper weight distribution.
  • Flexible straps on the top and sides for additional supplies
  • Cushioned central padding for comfort and back protection
  • Made of durable, lightweight, material
  • Breathable compartments for drying damp materials
  • Waterproof compartments for damageable valuables and electronics

Survival packs are also best in brighter, solid, colors with reflectors and other eye-catching designs.

Not eye-catching in the sense that they belong on a runway.

But if your pack is lost, or even worse, you become lost, it’s going to be a lot easier to locate when it (or you) are being searched for.

The camo style is a popular favorite that fits the outdoors.

But, if you’re marching on terrain and the ground gives away, you break your leg and are incapable of movement, you’re going to want to stand out a hell of a lot more than blending into your surroundings when the search team comes looking for you.

Proper Weight Distribution to Make Your Spine Happy!

man hiking in backpack

The way you organize your survival gear is essential too!

Many campers and hikers make the common mistake of placing the heaviest objects on the bottom of the pack.

It’s a common mistake that even I have made in my novice days of camping.

I would always wonder why my lower back would begin to have problems after only a short time into my trip.

Proper weight distribution key to protecting your spine and conserving energy.

The best placement for items to distribute the most amount of weight evenly is to actually place the heaviest of your materials in the center of the pack closest to your back.

Then, surround the heaviest supplies with a cocoon of lighter materials.

This infographic gives you a brief example of proper survival gear packing.

By having the heaviest supplies centered against your back, the majority of the mass is closest to your center of gravity.

Therefore the weight is collectively fluent with your own body’s equilibrium.

When you pack it further away from your person, the weight is applying a backward pulling force against your natural posture.

Keeping the lightest options on the top and front of your pack is best for two reasons.

The majority of lighter items are the utensils you will be using most often.

Keeping them in the most accessible spots is going to keep you from rooting around the bottom of your pack and disturbing your organization every time you go to use them.

And, carrying the lightest tools on the top and front are going to keep them from banging against your head every time you look up to see that majestic Bald Eagle fly by or when you’re simply taking in the sights.

Distribute the medium-weighted items along the lower middle and side sections.

By cocooning these items around the heavier objects they join in assisting the proper weight distribution. These include things like clothing, tools, and slightly heavier supplies.

Their use is not as frequent as say, a topographical map, flashlight, or water bottle.

Therefore they remain out of your way while accessing the supplies you need more prevalently while still being accessible.

Lastly, the bottom of the pack should contain your sleeping bag.

Tightly packed out of the way of the rest of the supplies and your own two legs.

Because when it comes down to mobility, what option sounds more comfortable to come in contact with your lower back and sometimes your legs…

A hard pole from your tent or a soft sleeping bag?

Plus it lends extra cushioning when you lean against a log to take a break and re-energize.

What You Need to Wear

Clothing all in itself is a critical key to surviving the terrain.

There is a reason why you see the die-hard survivalist camping community wearing the same attire.

Clothes that are durable yet light enough to protect you from the elements will keep you the Alpha survivalist of the pack.

The clothes you wear should maintain sufficient enough coverage to keep you protected from the sun, insects, and terrain.

It should also be breathable enough to allow sufficient airflow to keep you from suffering from heat syncope and dehydration.

The outfit should also come equipped with a variety of pockets and compartments to allow ease of access to essentials. Items that you will often find yourself using i.e. compass, multitool, machete, water, etc.

The Essentials to Pack

But this isn’t a blog about summer camping wardrobe, it’s a blog about what survival summer camping gear you need to PACK!

So last but not least important, the essentials you need to pack.

The 13 tools you need to build the best survival summer camping pack!

1. Personal Single-Sized Tent

tent for camping

The best tents can be erected with either light small poles or strung up between the terrain you are camping in.

They need to provide sufficient enough shelter from the elements like rain or dew and enough protection from insects and dangerous critters.

2. Small-Medium Sized Tarp

tarp for camping

The tarp can provide coverage from above as well as below.

Not only can it keep you dry from a heavier rainstorm, but it can collect that same rainwater for you to purify and drink later!

It can also double as a poncho in necessary situations.

3. Lightweight Sleeping Bag

sleeping bag for camping

Sleeping bags have come a long way since the overstuffed monstrosities that I was used to.

These days, sleeping bags come in sleek lightweight designs that are easy to carry and compartmentalize in your pack.

Most are designed in a similar fashion to a space blanket in order to keep you warm and comfortable in near frigid conditions.

All while still having the ability to fit snugly into the bottom of your pack.

4. Multi-Purpose Tool

A good multi-purpose tool should contain the main essential attachments you would need while camping.

  • Pliers
  • Knife
  • Scissors
  • Small Saw
  • Can Opener
  • Flathead and Phillips Screw Drivers
  • File
  • Strip Hook
  • Wire Cutters 

5. Machete

In order to get through the thick of the brush, you’re going to need to cut yourself a path.

If you dream of ditching the tent in favor of building your own form of shelter then you’re going to need to cut yourself some wood.

A well-made Machete is a must for any camping trip.

The fewer the number of items you need to pack the better.

That’s why it’s suggested to go for these combination tools to save on space while still getting the job done.

6. Paracord / Tape

A rope is essential to any mission, just ask the Boondocks brothers.

The endless applications paracord, rope, or tape can be used is what makes it such a versatile tool to have on hand.

Whether it comes down to making a splint, hanging your tent or clothes, or binding support for your camp this is an absolute must to bring along.

7. Fire Starting Tools

Having the ability to make fire is what makes you the master of the food chain.

Well, that and having opposable thumbs.

Having a flint striking stick to spark some thin tinder is the oldest and truest way to start your campfire.

However, a box of waterproof matches or a simple Bic lighter are also effective.

8. Metal Pot / Mugs

Without a doubt, you’re going to get hungry when you’re out in the wild.

Lots of hiking means lots of energy that you need to restore.

And unless you’re satisfied with snacking on the berries and leaves that are safe to consume, you’re probably going to want something substantial to eat.

Cast-iron pots /pans/ mugs are perfect for placing over a fire to cook your meals but they are too heavy and cumbersome for long hauls.

Suitable camping cooking ware is light, compact, and cooks over an open fire without warping from the heat.

Speaking of Food!

9. Emergency Food

long term food storage from Valley Food Storage

The food you bring along should not need refrigeration, that is basic knowledge.

Depending on the length of your trip, survival food is your best bet for your source of nutrition and food intake.

Make sure to keep it properly secured in its airtight packaging to keep the scent away from curious and hungry animals.

Freeze-dried or long term emergency food needs very little preparation to be turned into a full course meal!

10. Basic First aid / Medical Kit

Don’t go anywhere thinking you are impervious to the dangers of the area.

While your basic first aid kit won’t replace a proper doctor’s visit in the case of an extreme injury.

It can definitely do the job for a grand majority of common injuries and infections when you’re on the spot.

  • Band-aids of various sizes
  • Gauze Ace bandage
  • NSAIDs
  • Aspirin
  • Antihistamines
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Tweezers
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunblock Diarrhea medication
  • Splints and wraps
  • Disinfectant Alcohol

11. Water Purifier

Drinking water can be a rare source depending on your excursion location.

This valuable resource can be purified from its bacteria-ridden form with purification tablets, drinking straws, and more conventional methods like boiling.

Don’t drink from a strange water source directly, unless you want to die from dysentery as so many did while traveling on the Oregon Trail.

12. Multi-Purpose Solar Power Bank

Before you jump to conclusions, Solar Power Banks aren’t meant to charge your phone alone.

Certain Power Banks are built to be durable, long-lasting, sources of energy.

They are versatile enough to double as a light source while also charging supplies that you depend on.

The majority of us like to leave electronics behind to break away from nature, but some people will still need their phones to communicate with family or friends for important reasons.

13. Emergency Supplies

If you get lost out in the wilderness for one reason or another, you lose your compass and map, the trail back gets washed away, whatever…

You’re going to want search and rescue services to find you.

Whistles, long-range radios, reflective signals, a compass, wind-up signal/flashlight, and flares are just a few of the items that can assist in your recovery.

Plus, telling a professional the exact route and area on your itinerary is free insurance in case of an emergency.

There is Always More to Explore!

friends camping together

We hope you take this information here and build the best possible survival camping kit you can!

The world is a massive place full of things to experience and grounds to explore!

Become a master of the wilderness and be the Alpha survivalist of everyone you know.

Take the reigns of your next camping trip and guarantee your group knows what to pack, what to do to prepare, and what it takes to be a survivor in the wild!