15 Camping Survival Kit Must-Haves to Prepare for Every Emergency
A camping survival kit keeps you prepared to handle unexpected outdoor emergencies. Check out these products to get started on yours today.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Camping is a fun way to relax with friends and spend time in nature, but it’s important to recognize and be prepared for potential risks. Even short-distance camping excursions can quickly turn into life-threatening situations if you become lost, injured or affected by unexpected weather. To ensure that you’re prepared for any scenario, it’s essential that you have a camping survival kit on hand.
The contents of your own personal camping survival kit is ultimately up to you, so take the time to consider the items and tools that would be most helpful to your specific trip. We’ve assembled the following list of options to get you started, focusing on products that are both extremely useful, as well as compact enough to be convenient to carry.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
The LifeStraw personal water filter removes 99.999% of waterborne bacteria, making it an essential piece of a camping survival kit, even for beginners. It can filter up to 1,000 gallons of water, and the straw-style design lets you to drink directly out of natural streams or lakes, so there’s no need for a separate drinking container. It weighs just 1.6 ounces, making this camp water filter well-suited for those who want to maintain a lightweight pack.
“The design of the filter ensures that you’ll never have to worry about sucking up any dirt or other contaminants, and the flow rate is fast enough that you’ll never have to wait long for your water. The water tastes GREAT!” writes five-star reviewer, NC Jack.
Shoreline Marine Safety Whistle
This ultra-loud whistle allows you to alert others of your location, and for a super-affordable price, it’s definitely worth adding to your cart. Since it doesn’t require an internal “pea” to create sound, this whistle just as effective when wet, so you can bring it canoeing, kayaking or rafting. It’s also durable enough to withstand the wear and tear that accompanies outdoor activities, and the bright orange color makes it easy to find when you need it. Consider it a must-have piece of emergency gear.
“This can save your life. It is a no-brainer addition to any boater/fisherman’s safety kit, not to mention you can also take this with you camping, hiking, skiing, etc. For a few bucks, this could be the difference in someone finding you in time, or not,” shares verified purchaser, PeteInRealLife.
Atomic Bear Paracord Bracelet
A paracord is a great all-purpose survival tool, and these bracelets from Atomic Bear allow you to keep 10 feet of it on your wrist at all times. The clasp also provides a fire starter and striker, as well as an emergency whistle and basic compass. The adjustable design makes it usable for both kids and adults.
“This product combines a safety whistle, fire starter, compass and fire starter in one apparatus. AND you get two. Size adjustable and in his/hers colors. Great value, arrived fast,” writes Matt Kruskie, a five-star reviewer.
Midland ER40 Weather Radio
Severe weather can sneak up on you, making a weather radio a valuable addition to your camping survival kit. It can be powered by replaceable batteries, a solar panel or a hand crank, so you’ll always be able to receive National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather alerts. Its compact size and light weight make it extremely portable, and the USB port allows you to use it as a power bank for your mobile phone, too.
“For the size it plays really well, flashlight not the brightest but works well also,” writes verified purchaser, Clifford Gray. “Wanting something compact to take with me when I go camping as I don’t have cell phone service and this fits the bill well…”
Adventure Medical Kits Watertight Kit
We’re big fans of AMK medical kits, and this one is designed specifically for outdoor adventures. Its soft-sided construction makes it easy to cram inside your weekend bag, and it’s available in several different sizes. In addition to useful first aid kit items, like moleskin pads for blisters and tweezers for splinters, it also includes a quick guide to wilderness first aid. Here’s what to know about assembling and storing emergency go bags.
“My son and frequently take weekend camping trips, and I needed a lightweight, waterproof kit with all of the essentials. This was the perfect fit for my gear bag,” notes QuasiMotard.
Eyeskey Multifunctional Military Compass
While the GPS on your phone is a smart tool, a compass is a necessary camping survival item to have on hand in case you need to help navigate your way home safely. This multifunctional military tactical compass features a fluorescent light so you can read it at night. Plus, it’s also waterproof and shakeproof.
Five-star reviewer, Robert, writes, “This compass is built like a tank and well made with attention to detail.”
Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
Complete darkness can disorient even the most experienced campers, and a reliable headlamp ensures that you’ll be able to continue traveling safely. This Petzl model generates 450 lumens and can either be powered by three AAA batteries or the included rechargeable battery pack. It also allows you to go hands-free, unlike flashlights.
“I was exclusively using Black Diamond headlamps until I picked up this Petzl headlamp,” writes Mike Leebron, a verified purchaser. “Recharging is simple, and the batteries seem to last quite a while before depleting.”
Anyoo Waterproof Rain Poncho
Make sure to include a waterproof poncho in your camping survival kit. In the event of an unexpected downpour, this poncho will keep you and your gear dry, and the hood keeps rain out of your face. It’s lightweight, so you can pack it in with the rest of your supplies, and eyelets on the hem allow you to use it as a shelter or ground sheet.
“This poncho was perfect this week on my trip to Cape Cod and Martha’s Vinyard. It rained off and on for two days with sporadic downpours the second day,” adds AnotherView, a five-star reviewer. “It comes with a lightweight easy to carry carry case, which is what I wanted because I didn’t want to carry an umbrella.”
Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets
An emergency blanket will help you retain body heat in survival situations. This emergency blanket is waterproof, windproof and moisture-proof to help you stay dry in damp, wet, rainy and cold environments. It can also work as a ground cover or sleeping bag liner.
“From the natural disaster you didn’t expect to the camping trip gone wrong, the multitude of various uses these blankets can provide is abundant, to say the least,” says verified purchaser, Braxton Aldrich. “Love that they can be cut, arranged, and utilized to individual needs and scenario.”
Sirius Signal for Life Electronic Signal Kit
No one pictures themselves getting into a life-threatening situation, of course, but if it were to happen, this electronic signal kit will come in handy. This gadget satisfies the U.S. Coast Guard distress signal requirements, lasts up to 60 hours and is visible up to 10 miles. It can be used beyond a boat, so consider adding it to your camping survival kit.
“No more flares! Need I say more? Buy this! You will not regret it!” urges Chrisnelson1223, a verified purchaser.
Gerber Gear Ultimate Knife
A reliable knife should be added to every camping survival kit, allowing you to sharpen sticks, cut strings and rope for shelter and skin animals for food. This Gerber Gear knife includes a fire starter, sharpener and a nylon sheath for carrying. The 4.8-inch blade is long enough to be effective while remaining compact and lightweight.
“The quality and sturdiness of not only the knife, but also the sheath is excellent in my opinion. This is the all-around perfect straight blade for survival or outdoor camping,” confirms five-star reviewer, Denyse C.
Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag
Even a water-resistant backpack can eventually allow moisture inside, making dedicated dry bags invaluable for keeping all your important survival gear dry and safe. The Earth Pak model is available in several different sizes, and its backpack-style shoulder straps make it comfortable to wear. You also get an IPX8 waterproof cell phone case with a neck strap, allowing you to use your phone quickly and safely in an emergency. Considering the overall functionality of these bags for a variety of activities, they’d also make a useful gift for the outdoor lover in your life.
“Carried belongings through a rainforest tour in heavy rain. Items remained safe and dry without worries! Easy to carry and appreciate the variation of sizes available!” shares KJTx. “Bought one for myself and another for a family member! Recommend for sure!”
Exotac FireSleeve Waterproof Lighter Case
If you don’t want to worry about waterproof matches or flint fire starters, consider adding this waterproof lighter sleeve to your camping emergency kit. You’ll have to supply your own lighter—a small investment—but you’ll have a reliable flame any time you need it. The orange color makes it easy to find in your pack, and a specially designed rubber strap holds down the lighter button, allowing you to use it hands-free. Even if you’re hiking close to home or glamping in a relatively safe environment, having easy access to fire is always convenient.
Verified purchaser, RossYoung, writes, “You can spend a lot of money to get a waterproof lighter, or you can buy this. You can find a Bic lighter almost anywhere to use with this product. In the long run this is going to save me sooooo much money on all my backpacking trips.”
Olight Baton3 Rechargeable Flashlight
Any camping survival kit needs to have a flashlight, and the light weight and compact size of this Olight model makes it ideal for camping and hiking. It’s capable of generating 1,200 lumens, and in addition to five brightness settings, offers a strobe mode for signaling other parties. The double-sided pocket clip also allows you to easily attach it to a hat brim for hands-free use.
“I have had this thing about a month now, and I am impressed. It is tiny and lightweight. Sometimes I forget it is in my pocket, having to check through the laundry basket to see which pair of pants I left it in,” notes Spidermac, a five-star reviewer.
Datrex Emergency Food Ration Bars
These emergency food bars are specifically made for survival situations, providing you with 200 energy-boosting calories a pop—2,400 calories total per pack of 12. They’re a great value at about $1.25 per bar, and the vacuum packaging ensures that they won’t get damaged by moisture. They’re approved by the U.S. Coast Guard too, which is the reason we chose them over similar options. Best of all, with a five-year shelf life, you can toss them in your pack or glove box without worrying about when they’ll get eaten.
“These things are really pretty tasty. Kinda like cinnamon hard cookies. But they don’t make you ridiculously thirsty. They are small, very well packaged and not too costly,” confirms verified purchaser, Moose.
Shop smarter with our expert recommendations for tools, gear and money-saving deals on can’t miss DIY and home products. Sign up for the Stuff We Love newsletter.