Basic survival tools you should always have with you

You can have all of the survival backpacks and bug out bags that you want, but the fact of the matter is that you never really know when you could end up in a survival situation.

This is why it is wise to carry at least a few basic but useful survival tools with you at all times so that you will always be at least somewhat prepared for a survival situation regardless of when it occurs.

Here are some essential survival tools that you should always carry, in alphabetical order:


A compass is a must-have in wilderness
A compass is a must-have in wilderness

When you head out into the wilds without at least some form of navigational equipment, you are at an immediate disadvantage.

Fortunately, the compass is among the handiest of navigational tools, and it can be very easily carried around in your pocket in your everyday life as well.

However, you should avoid cheap compasses. They simply aren’t as precise and don’t work like a high-quality compass can.

Serious survival situations require serious tools, and the el-cheapo compasses that come installed on whistles or similar devices won’t cut it.

Instead, buy a more durable and high-quality compass from a reputable company. The compass is a classic survival tool that has been around for ages, and it’s easily the best tool when it comes to finding your direction so you can walk out of a survival situation alive.


Yout don’t want to get lost in the dark without a flashlight
Yout don’t want to get lost in the dark without a flashlight

You’ll never regret carrying a flashlight when you need it. The best flashlights to have are those that are compact and yet powerful so that they can be easily carried but emit a bright light in total darkness as well.

In addition, it is highly recommended that your chosen flashlight be powered with AA batteries. This is because AA batteries are cheap and highly available, meaning you can easily find replacements when your current batteries run out.

Some flashlights can be easily carried in your pocket, while others are a little larger and need to be carried in a pouch that loops over your belt.

Folding knife

We’re talking about something more than just a simple Swiss Army-type knife. We’re talking about a folding knife with a larger blade that can be applied to serious self-defense and heavy-duty work purposes if needed.

A good knife
A good knife

There are certain qualities that your everyday carry knife must meet. First, the blade should be sharp and lock into place when opened so that it can essentially become a more robust fixed blade knife.

Secondly, the handle has to feel highly ergonomic for you so that your knife feels like a natural extension of your hand. If a knife doesn’t feel comfortable in your hand, forget about it and move on to something else.

Last but not least, your knife should have a sturdy clip installed on it so it can hook onto the inside of your pocket for quick access.

Hand sanitizer

Keeping your hand clean is important even in the wild
Keeping your hand clean is important even in the wild

Personal hygiene is crucial in a survival situation, and a single pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer will go a long way to keep your hands clean and to fight against catching a potential illness or infection.

Beyond that, it’s highly flammable and an excellent way to get a small fire going when needed. Combine hand sanitizer with your lighter and notepad, and you could get a small fire going almost immediately.


A lighter is not just for lighting cigarettes
A lighter is not just for lighting cigarettes

Lighters are commonly associated with smoking, but in this case they aren’t for smoking at all. Fire is absolutely imperative in a survival situation because it provides you with warmth, protection/security, and a means to cook food.

A lighter provides you with an instant flame so that you can start a survival fire at any time or give yourself an emergency source of light. Furthermore, lighters are very compact and lightweight. You can easily forget about them with one in your pocket.

Notepad and pen

It’s really important to take notes when you’re in a survival situation
It’s really important to take notes when you’re in a survival situation

Many people don’t carry a notepad or pen these days because they figure that they can just jot down notes on their smartphone or tablet. But what if that smartphone becomes broken, runs out of battery, or is lost?

That’s why a classic notepad and pen is still perfectly relevant today in the 21st century and should be carried with you at all times.

In a survival situation, a notepad can help leave notes for those searching for you and allow you to take notes as you move, and the paper can be used as emergency fire kindling.

Paracord bracelet

Paracord bracelet is a great way to always have a rope on you
Paracord bracelet is a great way to always have a rope on you

Rope and cordage are extremely versatile in a survival situation.

It gives you a means to construct/repair a shelter, to set traps, to establish a perimeter around your camp area, and to repel down a cliff or a steep mountainside, among other things.

But it’s also impractical to carry around a full length of rope with you, which is why the paracord bracelet was invented.

Paracord bracelets have become significantly more common in recent years and with good reason.

They simply wrap around your wrist without hindrance like any regular bracelet but can be unraveled into smaller cordages and strands that can then be applied for survival.


If you’re stranded out in the woods, have fractured a bone, and need help now, a whistle may be the only chance of gaining the attention of passing hikers or drivers.

With this in mind, in addition to the fact that whistles are incredibly small and lightweight, there’s practically no reason not to carry one on you.

The best way to call for a help
The best way to call for a help

Any one of these survival tools will go a long way to making your survival experience easier, which is why you would be wise to carry as many of these items on your person as you can each day.

They are also all small and commonplace, so you’re not drawing attention to yourself by carrying these items with you.


nick-oetken is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival