Having a safe and enjoyable wilderness trip starts by preparing both physically and mentally for the adventure ahead.
Wilderness backpacking and camping require knowledge and skills to ensure that you and your party will have an excellent experience. There are many sources of information available to the beginner and expert alike, from the library to the internet.
Once you have an understanding of what will be required, the next step is to select the appropriate wilderness survival gear and equipment that is best suited to your plans. As not everyone lives and works in the same environment or area of the country, the exact items in your wilderness kits will vary from person to person. You should evaluate your own situation, and prepare your kit accordingly.
Most will find that gear selection is largely a matter of personal taste and you will no doubt add and subtract from your list as time goes by. Choose your gear relevant to the environment you will encounter.
A day trip requires different planning and equipment than a week-long adventure, and foremost be familiar with all the equipment you select. Remember the time taken to select the proper gear for the situation and then learning to use it properly is definitely not wasted.
As a wilderness backpacker or camper you will need to start with the basics; a tent, a good quality backpack, a sleeping bag, compass, knife and a cook stove. As you will be using these necessities on every outing, plan to purchase good quality products.
Don’t forget that the wilderness survival gear that you choose for your backpacking adventures will also double as the basis of an excellent Emergency Preparedness Kit. Should a natural or man-made disaster strike your town or state, you are prepared for the situation with your wilderness survival kit.
Build your own Backpacking Kit
Many outdoor enthusiasts prefer to assemble their own wilderness kits and survival gear, as this affords the ability to design it to your personal preferences. Order the items that you require and supplement with products you already have.
If you wish to build your own survival – wilderness kits, this list comprises some of the basic items to consider.
Good Quality backpack: Options are many, from a regular backpack, rucksack to an all in one backpack and hydration pack. These can carry 3 litres of water very comfortably and eliminate the need to have a water bottle attached to your webbing.
Good Quality Compass: A good compass for everyday use and an inexpensive back-up.
A sharp folding pocket knife: This is the most essential item that you can have in an outdoor environment. If you wish you may also include a small Camp Axe.
Water bottle: Dehydration can occur quickly when we are engaged in strenuous activities. Drink water frequently to avoid this condition. Keep water with you at all times.
Water Purification tablets and a Water filtration system: Treat all water that you find in the wilderness, either by boiling, using purification tablets and/or filtering.
Tent: There are several styles that are well suited for backpacking and wilderness survival situations.
Sleeping Bag: Sleeping bags are rated for temperature in which they will be used. A 40-degree sleeping bag is good for summertime camping, but use a bag rated for 30 degrees or lower on trips in spring or fall.
Bivvi Shelter: A one person bivvi shelter can be used in place of a tent, keeps you snug, dry and insect free.
Sleeping Pad: Opt for a sleeping pad to soften those knobby tree-roots, stones and twigs. It will also keep body heat from being lost into the ground.
Small backpacking stove and can of fuel: When it is time to eat and prepare a hot drink forget the campfire and plan on a stove.
Cooking/ eating utensils/ Drinking Cup: These are available in kits to save space and weight.
Backpacking / Survival Food: There are many freeze-dried or dehydrated foods available to the backpacking enthusiast. These food rations also lend themselves to a survival situation.
Good backpacking food for quick, short-term energy are carbohydrates, starches, and sugars — such as bread, cereals, pasta, crackers and the like. You also need long-term energy, provided by proteins and fats, such as canned meat, cheeses, dried eggs, dried milk, cheddar cheese, chocolate, and nuts.
GORP, or Good Old Raisins and Peanuts as it’s known to many, is the perfect portable and power-packed snack for the trail. GORP provides a nutritional wallop in every handful. Remember, the best backpacking food is lightweight, tasty, calorie-packed and quick cooking.
Small flashlight with spare batteries: You may wish to opt for a head mounted light, points the light where you look and frees up a hand.
Signal Mirror: For long-distance signaling in an emergency.
25 ft of parachute cord: The uses for a good, strong cord are endless.
Plastic tarp: Can be used as a windbreak, ground sheet and provides extra protection when placed over the tent or bevvy in heavy downpours.
Loud whistle: Do not rely on yelling to attract attention; a loud whistle will get the job done.
Waterproof matches/ magnesium sparker / Bic lighter: Always have more than one fire starter option with you.
Tinder: An excellent fire starting tinder is WetFire. Easy to carry and lights in the rain.
A multi-tool: The uses are many; don’t leave home without it. Even the Survivorman has a Multi-tool.
Rain Poncho: Light and easy to pack. Also makes a good windbreaker.
Down Jacket: If the weather cools you will need a couple of extra layers. A good quality jacket is warm, easy to pack and when placed in a pillowcase makes a first-rate pillow. Add a hat and long-sleeved shirt.
Small Pillow Case: You know what this is for!
Camp towel and bar of soap: Being able to wash does wonder for the spirit and your friends.
Small first aid kit: A kit containing the essentials to treat minor cuts, scraps and burns. Include a few Butterfly bandages, Ibuprofen/Tylenol/Aspirin, Neosporin cream and any individual medical needs.
Insect repellent: To keep the little critters under control.
Sunscreen, sunglasses and Lip balm: You will be glad of these items when the sun comes out.
Vaseline: Many uses in camp including first aid for blisters.
Trash Bags and Ziploc bags: Remember Backpacking Etiquette; Pack It In, Pack It Out
Topographical Map of the local area: Could be very valuable in an unfamiliar area.
Cell phone: Can not be 100% relied on in every location, but worth the weight to have along with you.
If you plan on adding a GPS unit to your Wilderness Survival Kits, make sure you are familiar enough with it to use it competently. Practice with a new GPS unit it before you take it into the wilderness.