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How To Create An Adventure Emergency Kit

Tom Malone/Adventure Tribune
Though every adventurer never hopes for the worst-case scenario, it's important to always be prepared, no matter how seemingly safe an adventure may be.


No matter what type of adventure you embark on, the potential for an emergency is always present. When you’re hiking or backpacking, you always run the risk of getting lost, encountering bad weather, or sustaining an injury.

Being prepared can mean the difference between surviving and making the evening news. But, remembering to bring all of the necessary survival emergency gear each time you leave on a hiking adventure is difficult.

Solution: create a small, lightweight, compact survival kit that you can grab quickly and bring with you on each adventure. You can grab it, stash it in your daypack, and never be without it while you’re adventuring through the wilderness. So, what do you need to include in your emergency survival kit?

1. Waterproof Container
This will serve as your container for your adventure survival kit. By keeping all of your equipment in a lightweight, portable, waterproof box, your gear will be protected from the elements when you need them most. Find a brightly colored container so you can use it to be spotted easily in an emergency situation. It’ll also help you remember to grab it on each adventure.

2. Knife
This is the most useful tool in your kit. You can use it for literally anything: defense, cutting wood for fire, rigging a shelter, cutting gauze, digging notches for fire-starting, etc. A sturdy two-inch blade should provide enough surface area while lessening your kit’s weight.

3. Compass
Include a compass in your kit to help you find your way on multiple occasions. If you know that you’re south of town when you get lost, you can use your compass to at least get you going in the right direction.

4. Multi-tool
Though you have your solid knife for rugged work, a multi-tool can serve its purpose in survival mode. Find one with pliers, scissors, corkscrew, and saw to maximize your survival potential.

5. Small Flashlight
Include a small, lightweight flashlight with lithium-ion batteries to find your way in the dark. Including a hand-crank-powered light would be even better. Make sure it’s small enough to fit into your kit, but powerful enough to help you find your way.

6. Flint
Your knife can help you start fires if you include a flint in your kit. Some flints are included in a lightweight fire-starting tool, which could be a good piece for your kit.

7. Waterproof, Strike-Anywhere Matches
If you're lost in an area with high winds, or you’re fatigued from your environment, you may not be able to start a fire with a knife and flint. Include waterproof, strike-anywhere matches in your kit so you can have multiple options to light a fire when you need it most.

8. Ultralight Thermal Blanket
Even when adventuring in warm weather, you’ll need warmth in an emergency situation. Carry an ultralight thermal blanket in your kit. Most come in small squares that can fit easily into your set of gear. You may consider packing two if you adventure with a large crew.

9. Small, Waterproof Tarp
It can’t hurt to include a small piece of waterproof tarp in your kit, which can come in handy when you’re trying to make a shelter in a rainy area. Avoid a massive tarp, as it will eat up too much space and weight in your kit, but a smaller, thinner piece will serve its purpose when you need it.

10. Nylon Rope
Another piece useful for building a shelter, a strong-yet-lightweight piece of rope can come in handy when you need it most. You may also find it useful in intense first aid situations.

11. SPF Lip Balm
Adding a small stick of lip balm with SPF can save your day. Obviously, you can apply it to your lips to avoid sunburn when you’re dehydrated and thirsty, but you can also apply it to your face when necessary to avoid detrimental sun exposure.

12. Whistle
A whistle is used to grab the attention of someone far away that can come to your aid when you need it. In survival situations, you may lose your voice or be out of breathe when you need help, so carrying a whistle can be your only option.

13. Aluminum Foil
Boiling water is always necessary when drinking water in the wilderness, so it’s imperative that you have the capability to do so. A steel cup or bowl would be to cumbersome to include in a small adventure kit, so pack a few sheets of aluminum foil to allow to boil water in a pinch.

14. Gauze
Adding a roll of gauze to the first aid portion of your survival kit will come in handy when you incur substantial bleeding while on an adventure. After cleaning you wound, wrapping the bleeding area in gauze can prevent further infection until you reach safety.

15. Bandages
Minor cuts can become infected and boil into a large issue if left as open wounds. Even for minor cuts, covering them in regular adhesive bandages will prevent further injury.

16. Triangle Bandage
In case of a broken bone, dislocated joint, or torn ligament, make a splint from a triangle bandage, which occupies little space in your adventure survival kit.

17. Antiseptic Towelettes
These small, folded towelettes are coated in antiseptic fluid that can sterilize a wound before applying bandages and gauze. Carry these at all times in your survival kit to avoid infection.

18. Triple-Antibiotic Ointment
This ointment can be applied to an open wound before it’s dressed in order to avoid further infection. Whether you go with a popular brand, like Neosporin, or a generic product, you’ll be better off with it.

19. Sting-Relief Wipes
In case of a bee sting, non-lethal spider bite, or plant scratch, carry sting-relief wipes to reduce inflammation and itchiness, which can lead to infection if left untreated.

20. Hydrocortisone Cream
This has much the same effect at an anti-sting wipe, but more general and widespread in its usage. Use it for any swelling, redness, or skin irritation.

21. Latex-Free Gloves
When you’re applying first aid to someone else, it’s important to protect yourself too. Carry latex-free gloves (an allergic reaction to latex in a survival situation would be detrimental) - these will help protect you while you save a life.

22. Imodium
In survival mode, maintaining a sufficient level of hydration is key; dehydration from diarrhea can be deadly. Carry a few pills with you in case you catch a bug from some unsanitary drinking water to ensure that you maintain your water intake.

23. Aspirin
Though commonly used for headaches, aspirin can ease pain and reduce swelling, which can be key in a survival environment.

24. Benadryl
Allergic reactions to the unfamiliar (or familiar) situation do occur; carry a few benadryl pills in order to prepare for the prevention of a possible allergic reaction to bees, plants, food, etc.

25. Multivitamin
If you’re lost for a few days, you’ll be deficient of nutrients no matter what. Prepare for this by bringing a few multivitamin pills in your kit so that you can maintain a certain level of nutrition, even in the harshest of environments.

That concludes our list of items to include in your adventure survival kit. Of course, you don’t need to include every single item on our list. Tailor your own kit to your specific types and levels of adventure. Even considering doubling up on some items if you often travel with the same crew.

If you include another item in your kit that we didn’t mention, let us know! And, in the meantime, be safe.

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Tom Malone is the Editor-In-Chief of The Adventure Tribune and author of adventure novels, like Across Americana. He is based in Denver, Colorado, where he adventures through the Rocky Mountains while not traveling abroad.
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