Whether you’re off for a leisurely weekend in the countryside or a 10-day hike in the mountains, it’s important to pack these outdoor essentials. While you may not access every one of them on each trip, you’ll thank your stars the day you do
1. Pocket knife
As the name suggests, a pocket knife is a foldable knife – with one or more blades – that fits in your pocket. An essential part of the outdoorsy survival kit, it is a handy tool that can be used in preparing food, working with cord, getting a fire organised, first aid, self-defence and more. Pick a knife that’s small enough to slip comfortably into your pocket; yet large enough to have utility value. A stainless-steel blade of length 2 to 6 inches should serve your purpose.
From serving as an equipment holder and a clothes line to bridging gaps between crevasses and rescuing someone, a rope is the most versatile piece of gear in your kit. Choose one made of paracord – a lightweight nylon kernmantle material used in parachutes – ideally, 25-50ft long. The material was originally employed by airborne defence units. It has the breaking strength of 250kg (approx), can withstand extreme temperatures, and is flame-resistant. Did you know that paracord can also be used in emergency snares, fishing lines, as dental floss and to suture wounds, among other things?
PRO TIP: Knowing your knots could possibly be a lifesaver. If you haven’t learnt the skill at an outdoor course, take a crash course online to make sure your knot tying game is tight.
Here too, the name says it all. It’s pretty much a flashlight affixed to a headband that you can wear. This means your hands are free to do whatever you please – like rummage through your backpack for a midnight snack or pee, stress-free, in the dark! Seriously though, headlamps are most needed while trying to find your way in low-light areas like caves or foggy places, and for post-dusk activities. Features to consider include: beam type and distance (flood/spot, combination), light output and brightness levels. Pick a headlamp that is lightweight and waterproof with a good run time. Don’t forget a spare set of batteries!
4. Outdoor Survival Bracelet
Long before paracord bracelets became trendy fashion accessories, they were worn by the outdoorsy community as part of essential survival gear. Gutting the cord will give you plenty of feet to use for a range of things – from fishing and sewing to building shelters and rescue operations. Today, these nifty items come customised for specific activities, packed with add-ons like hooks, whistles, fire starters, compasses and much more.
5. Compass & Map
The original Google Map, a compass will work long after high-tech navigation gadgets have run out of juice. A topographic map is essential for any adventure that deviates from a clearly visible trail. This combined with a compass is an invaluable guide in case you get a bit lost. A standard baseplate compass is lightweight and durable. One with the added feature of a sighting mirror will offer precision navigation while off trail. As a bonus, it can be used to flash sunlight to draw a rescue helicopter’s attention in case of an emergency.
6. First Aid Kit
Getting yourself a pre-assembled first aid kit will save you the guesswork of figuring what goes into it. Make sure you customise your kit based on individual medical needs like allergies (if any). Basics for any kit include treatments for blisters, a set of adhesive bandages and gauze pads, disinfecting topical applications, and pain relief medication.
Where to Buy
Check your neighbourhood outdoor gear store. Here are a few to get you started:
- Adventure 18
- Outdoor Travel Gear
- Kosha Travel Wear
- Zen Mountain Gear
- MSA Gears (Rental)
- Campingear (Rental)
- Bragpacker (Rental)
- Renta (Rental)
Tell us about the handiest thing in your outdoor survival kit right here in the comments section below.