5 Must-Haves for Long-Term Wilderness Survival

So it’s the end of the world as we know it, and you must pack up all you own and flee into the wilderness to escape the shambling hoards of slavering undead and roaming bands of raiders—or, maybe you are just going on an extended camping trip. Either way, you aren’t alone in your desire to get away. The Outdoor Foundation reports that about 38 million Americans traveled more than 200 miles to spend time camping in 2012. Whether it’s the apocalypse or a long camping trip, even the most serious outdoorsman can overlook several key items for extended survival in the wild. When planning your long-term escape, don’t forget these five things:

Top-Quality Shoes

A good pair of survival shoes are comfortable but sturdy enough to survive constant abuse, and should be slip and tear resistant. You need a pair with thick soles (so they aren’t easily punctured) and a waterproof but breathable material such as Gore-Tex. Hiking boots are strong contenders, and boots like the La Sportiva Omerga GTX by Gore-Tex provide durable comfort meant to last. Steel-toed work boots might sound like the best choice for kicking your way through a horde of zombies, but the truth is, you’ll likely spend more time scrambling through rough terrain than fighting.

Ferrocerium Rod

The ability to make fire is essential. While lighters and matches are popular choices, both have their drawbacks. Matches have to be carefully stored or they become useless, and lighters rely on fuel that may be difficult to find in a survival scenario. Ferrocerium rods, often simply called firesteels or ferro rods, are compact and reliable, and they operate without any fuel or chemical reaction that can be damaged by exposure to the elements. A good stock of firesteel from a seller like Firesteel.com can help create life-sustaining fire for years to come.


If you’re looking to create a home in the wilderness for a long time, a generator is a must. Capable of running everything from electric stoves and water heaters to lights and more, a generator can last for years and provide you and your family with long-term survival options (as well as modern conveniences). Companies like Sunbelt Rentals offer a wide selection of generators in various sizes ranging from portable 2.5kw generators to massive 500kw generators. Get familiar with your electricity needs now and plan for the future.

Ham Radio

Chances are that after any major disaster, most forms of communication we take for granted will be inoperable. Cell towers, land lines and the Internet will likely be unreliable if even available in most survival scenarios. Ham radio, however, has tremendous operating range, is well-organized, reliable, fairly cheap and easy to learn. In a survival scenario, a ham radio antenna made of wires can be easily concealed. For those inexperienced or just entering into the world of ham radio, a starter kit like the one available from BTWR Industries is a great start.

Water Filtration

Gravity filters make excellent options for camping and outdoor survival, but halogen-based filtration is the best for cleaning large amounts of water at a time. Remember that most filters can’t kill viruses in water, so it is important to bring along iodine, a UV light generator or chlorine dioxide tablets to ensure your water is free of protozoa, bacteria, and viruses.

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13 thoughts on “5 Must-Haves for Long-Term Wilderness Survival”

  1. Okay, Items 1 and 2 make sense, but 3 and 4 are nonsense. Item 5 returns to reality. Generator and HAM radio for WILDERNESS survival? Really!?

    Uh, how about a knife? Rain shelter? Warm coat, or clothing? First aid or medical kit? Rations? Some means of procuring food, like fishing line and hooks?

    In the wilderness it is back to basics:


    Take them with you, and the means to get more.

  2. Too many generations have lived in the wilderness without electricity or electrical devices to ever consider them essential. As a member of the slide rule generation (that sent man to the moon) you can have your iphones and ipods. Nice fluff.

  3. All –

    It is extremely encouraging to see the criticism of this list. You are 100% correct!! I don’t agree with everything submitted nor published and this is a good example. My own list would be quite different.

    Good job policing the content of this site! Keep it up.


  4. I definitely agree more with Left Coast Conservative than the author of this article. Ideally, if my family had to flee our home in a big hurry, we already planned and packed our 5 items. Each member has: 1)Rifle or shotgun. 2) Handgun. 3) Bug Out Bag (mainly food and clothing). 4) Backpack/Rucksack (outdoor/camping items). 5) Web gear (belt, vest suspenders with pockets, buttpack, canteens with covers & cup, ammo pouches). Actually, this set up is a survival kit by itself. If we could each only take 5 individual items. I would divide the 20 most important things to have among us. For instance, I might grab my Mini-14, a machete with saw back, an All Weather Blanket, a 2 quart canteen and a case of MREs. My wife could take the first aid kit, a military poncho, a hatchet, 100 feet of 550 cord and a handgun. My oldest son can have the .12 gauge autoloader, the ammo can, a 2 person bivy, a multi-tool and survival manual. The youngest gets the Ruger 10/22 Takedown, the sanitation kit (soap, toilet paper, H2O purification, personal hygiene items), poncho liner, camp cook set plus another canteen. How’s that?

    • I like your thinking Irish-7. Curious – how many rounds do you have in your mag pouches? Are these standard military AR mag pouches?

  5. I built our web gear/Load Bearing Equipment with the standard military pistol belt and the vest type suspenders (that have the ammo pouches on the vest). I hung the standard (3x30rd mag) ammo pouches on the belt, so I could stuff the ammo pouches sew into the vest with survival supplies. Until very recently (when I obtained the 20rd M16 magazines), I used only 30 round mags for my M4 and all 20 round magazines for my Mini-14. I did not want the other members of my family confusing which mag went in which weapon (even though I put tape on the bottom identifying either “M4” or “Ruger”. Now that I have a bunch of 20 round M16 magazines, I am putting them in ammo storage cans. So, my M4 LBE has six 30 round magazines and my Mini-14 webgear has six 20 round magazines. The other 2 sets of webgear have the same pouches, but they are stuffed with shotgun shells.

  6. My top 5 items:
    1: 12 days worth of freeze dried rations and water purification methods. This will hold you over when wild food and fuel is scarce.
    2: Recurve bow, spare strings, and a full quiver of arrows. Arrows break, but can be recoverable and are easily made. Always take more than you think you’ll need, especially at the start. A bow will never become useless if you run out of ammo for the reason stated. Even crude arrows can be effective. Strings and bows also break. A recurve can be simple to make if the right wood is around. Test various woods to find the right one before yours breaks.
    3: Wood burning camp stove. Your fuel is all around you. These may never wear out, and will allow you to use any cookware you bring to cook your meats. Otherwise, you can also use a stick or plank for cooking.
    4: Automotive upholstery thread and needles. Your textiles will wear out before this thread does. Useful for clothing repairs, binding fletching, or stitching wounds. Usually comes in large spools that will last a while, and is relatively lightweight.
    5: Comprehensive first aid kit. It won’t do anybody any good if you die from an infection out there.


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