Survival equipment must be very basic, limited to the bare essentials to ensure that you always carry it with you. SAS survival training recommends carrying a sealed-up tin of the sort used for pipe tobacco, containing a small compass, fish hooks and line, condoms (for carrying water), matches, a stump of a candle, water purification tablets and so on. A good penknife or multi-tool, a metal mirror (for signaling), high calorie emergency rations, and things like foil blankets add to the list – and the weight of things to be carried….
Precisely what you carry depends on the circumstances, but given that you hope never to use these items, it is important to pack them carefully, keep them in a pocket or place where they’re not going to be left behind or forgotten, and not make it too heavy or bulky. In addition to their normal rations, military people always carry 24 hours of high calorie emergency rations including water, so that if suddenly separated from their equipment, they can at least survive long enough to rejoin their fellows.
But outdoors and survival shops are rammed full of ‘essential’ items, some of which are as advertised and really well-designed; and other things which sound useful but aren’t. It can be difficult to tell, so this section aims to develop a list of genuinely useful items, starting off with things I’ve found useful.
I hope others will add their own recommendations of useful gear – including photos.