How to create a wilderness survival tool kit

You're camping: You get lost; it gets dark. And cold. You're hurt and thirsty. Don't fret — just whip out this trusty kit and you'll be safe and sound in no time.


Illustration, Julia Schwartz.

What you need:

Safety pins, for mending clothing, lost buttons, and tears in a tent or a sleeping bag.

Thin wire, for many purposes, from fastening to hanging items in trees (it can be rolled into a small circle).

Button compass, a small compass for finding your way.

Candle, the non-tallow durable kind to help you light a fire (you can cut it down to short pieces to fit).

Matches, the waterproof-windproof kind.

Magnesium fire starter.

Steel striker for starting fire.

Magnifying glass, for starting fires and getting tinder to smoke.

Two magnetized sewing needles, for sewing or making an emergency compass (floated in water on a leaf, the needle will face north).

Salt packets (essential in hot conditions, salt helps keep minerals in your body as you sweat).

Cayenne pepper in a plastic packet (it will help stop bleeding when applied to most wounds by equalizing the body’s blood pressure).

Antibiotic tablets and ointment, for when a cut is infected and medical help is far off.

Adhesive bandages in various sizes to cover cuts and blisters.

Water-sterilizing tablets, for when you aren’t able to boil water and make it safe to drink.

X-Acto knife blade or scalpel for cutting.

Pencil and small paper for making notes on directions, edible plants, etc.

Plastic bag for transporting water from a source or collecting wild edibles.

Two feet of aluminum foil folded over many times into a small square, for making a cup, signalling, cooking fish, etc.

Wire saw, for cutting through most things (will roll into a small circle).

Excerpted from Modern Pioneering by Georgia Pellegrini. Courtesy of Clarkson Potter.