Part of being a man is preparing yourself for whatever life throws at you. For many of us, that means having at least a baseline idea of how to survive in the wilderness or what you’ll do after a societal breakdown. Whether you’re a dedicated Walking Dead viewer, a Bear Grylls devotee, or an overly prepared Y2K holdover—this article will show you the essential gear you should have prepped for your wilderness survival bag.

Knife (ideally, a fixed blade one)
Probably the first thing you think of when putting together a wilderness survival bag is a knife. Most likely that’s because knives are cool but also because there’s an endless number of practical ways one could save your life. You can use a knife for everything from gutting prey to building shelters to fashioning additional tools you will likely need. Essentially, having a knife is the equivalent of using one of your genie’s three wishes to wish for more wishes.

Paracord (or really any type of rope) is the next essential multi-tool you’ll need, regardless of the environment. You can use it to hang a tarp for shelter, make an emergency tourniquet, hang food out of the way of predators—you can even use it as fishing line in a real pinch. I recommend 550 paracord which has the added benefit of shrinking slightly as it dries so you can easily secure things by wetting the cord and then just waiting a bit.

Sleeping bag
There have been some incredible developments in the sleeping bag area in the last couple decades. If you have the cash to spare, you can invest in a quality one that will keep you toasty in subzero temperatures while also squishing down to the portable size of a brick. If not, you can even go for something as simple as a wool blanket, depending on the environment you’re in. Really, just something to keep you warm and give an extra layer from the inevitable cold (also wool dries well).

If you’ve got a tent that folds down well and isn’t too cumbersome, pack it up! If not, a big tarp will work miracles in nearly any climate. If you plan to hoof it across many miles, the tarp and paracord combo should get you pretty far.

Food & Water
This one is kind of hard to advise with specifics, since you’ll have to determine for yourself exactly what kind of food you’ll need, how much, etc. Canned food and bottled water will work fine if you’re stockpiling a remote but sedentary shelter—just be sure to bring a good frying pan along as well. If you’ll be on the move or unsure of your conditions, I recommend buying some MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), many of which come with limited water supplies and don’t even need heat to cook. If you’re near bodies of water that you know have fish in them, I recommend investing in a lightweight fishing pole and some tackle and figuring out a water filtration system for yourself. There are number of good options on the market. I’m also going to lump matches in this category because you’d likely want them to cook, although men tend to rarely forget opportunities to build fires...

Compass (& Maps)
A compass is essential to navigating in a land without cell service, but it is also essential to understand how to use one. Some quick googling will help you out here, but I also recommend acquiring maps of the region you’ll be in beforehand.

First Aid Kit
Duh. Don’t skimp here.

A Survival Guide
If you’re way out in the wilderness, odds are you won't have cell service and you’ll be dealing with a host of new problems along the way. I recommend the US Army Survival Manual for its field-tested guides to survival, covering everything from physical survival to how to keep yourself sane in the meantime.

Bug Spray
I mention this only because I grew up in the land where mosquitos were our official state bird, and I can’t imagine how annoying it’d be to be trying to survive and outwit a grizzly bear or whatever while also having to deal with constant, petty buzzing and bites from mosquitos or other pests.

A Way to Signal For Help
Unless you’re planning to go full Daniel Day-Lewis for eternity, you’ll probably want to able to signal your way out of this situation at some point. You’ve got a host of options that will work here (again depending on your environment): a loud whistle, a survival walkie talkie, even a flashlight could work. I personally have opted for a flare gun, knowing that getting to use it will brighten my attitude in my moment of need.

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