10 weird, but essential, additions to any survival kit


This story was originally featured on Field and flow.

If you run your favorite search engine and search for a list of survival kit components, you will find that most of them repeat the same things over and over again. Knife, fire starter, and rope are some of the most commonly suggested items, and for good reason, as each can prove vital in many situations.

However, there are a bunch of things that might be useful that not many people think of adding to their kit. They are not all real objects of life and death. On the contrary, they can help make the job of survival a little easier. When everything seems to be going awry, anything you can do to make things right, even a little bit, will be welcome.

Binder clips

Binding clips work great for building shelters and can be used over and over again. PublicDomainImages / Pixabay

These are commonly used in offices. They are much like paper clips on steroids and come in six sizes, from 1/2 inch to 2 inches wide, although the most common are 1 ¼ inches and 1 ⅝ inches. If you can get away from the office manager, these clips have several uses in the field. They work well for securing a tarp to a guy wire or for building other types of shelters. They can also help secure ropes to a branch or tree. The clips will rust over time when used in wet conditions, so it’s important not to leave them out for days or weeks at a time.

Zipped ties

These are another good helper for building shelters, although a bit more permanent than bookbinding clips. They can also be used to hang items in the camp overnight. Tie items to your bag to keep them secure or use one to “lock” the zippers on your bug out bag so no one can search it when you’re not around. If you plan to use snares or similar types of traps, a zip tie can keep the wire securely attached to a tree or weight. They can also be used to tighten pant legs to prevent ticks.

Dental floss

A case of dental floss.
In addition to keeping your gums healthy, dental floss can be used as essential string in the field. muklinika / Pixabay

Stringing is always useful for a variety of things, and adding dental floss to the kit is a great way to expand your supply. Although thin, it is very strong and has the added bonus of an easy to use container with a built-in cutter. Perhaps the most common suggestion is to use dental floss as a fishing line, which will definitely work. But, it can also double as a snare line, sewing thread, or even a tripwire, if you need some sort of primitive alarm system.

Garbage bag

Spend a few extra bucks on contractor grade bags, as they will be thicker and stronger than their kitchen counterparts. Use one to keep the contents of your bag dry on days when the rain doesn’t stop. Cut a hole in the bottom and one on each side to make a makeshift poncho. Fill one with pine branches, dry grass, and leaves to have a cushion against the ground. Or, cut one off completely and use it as a layer on the roof of your shelter to keep the rain out.


A metal pencil sharpener on a white background.
Make wood chips for the tinder with one of these. ajcespedes / Pixabay

In nature, you have to conserve your resources. This extends to the wear and tear of your equipment. Every time you use your knife the edge is blunt to some extent. Anything you can do to maintain this advantage is beneficial. For example, rather than cutting branches for the fire, wedge them between two trees and break them. A pencil sharpener makes wonderful tinder shavings without dulling your knife and adding almost nothing to the weight of your pocket or bag.

Deck of cards

An ace of spades on a pile of other playing cards.
A deck of cards will help the time pass as you plan your next move. PDPics / Pixabay

Everything in your kit doesn’t have to have a pure survival purpose. Cards are a great way to spend your time, whether playing solitaire alone or playing poker with the other members of your party. Of course, there are a number of specialty decks on the market that can provide more than just gameplay. A simple online search will find games devoted to wild foods, knots, animal tracks and similar topics. These bridges can then serve the dual purpose of educating and entertaining.

Notepad and pencil

These allow you to take notes, such as your observations or thoughts while on the trail. They also give you the option to leave someone a message or draw a map as you move, which helps you avoid wrong turns on the way back. Opt for a pencil rather than a pen as it will be less affected by temperature and weather conditions. You can easily sharpen it with the sharpener you already added to your kit. You might consider getting into a Rite in the Rain notepad, as they hold up much better than standard paper notepads.

Sewing kit

A little tear in your clothes, coat or tent will not stay small when you are on the go. Make repairs as soon as possible, before the damage gets worse. A small sewing kit like the ones sold for travelers is a great addition to your kit. If you are out of floss, you can use some of the previously mentioned dental floss. You don’t have to be a real seamstress to use a needle and thread, although a little home practice can help you learn the basics before you really need to know what you’re doing.


A roll of duct tape.
Duct tape has many uses, from fixing holes in clothing to starting a fire. WikimediaImages / Pixabay

It might be the heaviest item on the list, but in some cases it will be worth its weight in gold. You can reduce the weight by rolling it on a pencil or something similar, rather than wrapping the entire roll you bought at the store. Use it to patch a hole in your bag or even your pants until you have time to sew them properly. You can also use it to repair a cracked water bottle. Attach a ferrocerium rod to the sheath of your knife if it does not have an integrated loop. Speaking of which, duct tape happens to be very flammable, so you can even use it for tinder.

Morale booster

This is the most subjective on our list. Survival is as much mental as it is physical. Depending on what’s going on, you may want or need a little encouragement, something that will keep you going instead of giving up. It could be a photo of your spouse and children or maybe a pocket version of the religious text you have chosen. Anything that might bring a positive or more determined outlook will be welcome if you find yourself in a survival situation.


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