The backpacking season for many is probably over until the spring, but that probably won’t stop others from going out for weekend hikes regardless, or, at least, to start planning for next year’s incursions. Many of those who strike out next year may well be doing it for the first time, and for those fresh-faced explorers we’ve prepared a small survival kit guide for backpacking. It’s not exhaustive, nor should it be regarded as hiking gospel, but it can nevertheless get you started on your own plans for a survival kit.




Before we get started, let’s just mention this first of all. Remember that you’re going to be carrying this stuff with you during your hike, so keep the following advice in mind. All equipment you bring with you should be:

  • Light
  • Reliable
  • Portable
  • Essential

Don’t take anything with you that’ll just weigh you down, or take up space that could have been occupied by something that was actually useful. Also, remember that you may be walking far away from any sites of civilization. Make sure that whatever you bring with you can work even if you don’t have a power outlet nearby.

Carrying your items in a light, durable, and waterproof bag, such as the ones Adventure Lion sells, can help lighten the load.

Now, what sort of things should you bring with you?

Plan Ahead

An essential step towards constructing a survival kit for backpacking is to make sure you know about the sort of outing you’ll be undertaking. That is, you should already know details such as the route you’ll be walking, the sort of environment it is, nearby landmarks and geographic features, and any nearby population centres or waystations. Knowledge such of this will radically alter how your survival pack will look at the end of the planning stage.

For example, a six-hour trek through a fairly temperate, gentle trail that hugs close to a nearby town will need a very different survival pack to a trip that lasts several days through snowy mountain passes with, at best, only isolated ranger stations nearby.

As you plan your trip, make sure you do as much research into your journey as possible. Look up the local weather to see what you may be facing at the time of year you’ll be out there. Detailed weather forecasts aren’t possible until at least a week or so until you leave, but you’ll still be able to get an idea of the sort of conditions and average temperatures you could expect. Is there are any wildlife in the area that you should keep an eye on, especially predators such as bears, cougars or wolves? If you can, try to find any official trail maps offered by hiking groups or official sources. If you can get some advice from people who’ve hiked in the area themselves, even better – they can give a first-hand account of the things they encountered, and you can use this to build your pack.

Expect the Worst

If you find out that there’s a “chance” of rain during your hike, assume it will and plan accordingly. The same with any sort of weather or event. If you were planning on being somewhere at a certain time during your journey, anticipate a delay. Likewise, you should be prepared to travel along an alternative route if circumstances mean the original is no longer viable.

The worst thing a survival kit can do for you is to leave you unprepared. As such, always make sure you pack in anticipation of things that may occur. This should really require nothing more than things such as some extra food in case you need to stay out longer than planned, a spare cell phone, or some weather-specific equipment such as a plastic poncho or thermal socks.

Don’t Be Tempted by Flash

Your survival kit should, ultimately, be reliable and readily useable. As such, avoid the temptation to buy usefulness “modern wonders” that promise to make hiking comfortable or convenient. A lot of the time, these are just over-expensive gizmos that don’t work when you need them to. About the only really high-tech item you should really feel is necessary is your cell phone (and perhaps a cheap back up).

Remember that the simplest items are often the most dependable. Avoid items that require electricity to run (trust us, they’ll stop working when you need them), that have fragile moving parts (ditto), or seem perhaps a little too good to be true (they often are). You’ll probably find that the majority of the stuff you bring with you is fundamentally identical to the things used by wilderness survivors for decades or even centuries.

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