Here you will find the essential survival gear I bring when I run away and travel the world. It is the cheapest, lightest and best quality equipment out there. I have used almost all of this gear on multiple adventures. Although I usually buy these items at retail stores in order to test them out first, I have found that Amazon consistently provides the cheapest prices. Each image below is linked to the item on Amazon where you can view the specifications and choose if you want to buy it.
1 Light Weight Tent
A tent isn’t always necessary, especially if you plan to stay around cities or don’t mind sleeping under a starry sky. However, for me, despite the extra weight, I really enjoy having a protective tent. The Kelty Grand Mesa 2 has been my tent of choice for some time now. It is not the lightest but it is very light for its price. It is compact and works well in all environments. It is very water proof and insulating when it needs to be. It can also be relatively cool and breezy in a hot sun. Since I am 6’2” I needed a tent that would be somewhat spacious and this one does the trick. It will definitely be accompanying me on all future runaway endeavors.
2 Light Weight Sleeping Bag
A sleeping bag is definitely a must have for any runaway or intense budget backpacker. You will need it to keep warm when you sleep outdoors and even in hostels or hotels that don’t provide blankets. Since I bought my sleeping bag 6 years ago, it is no longer on the market. However, the sleeping bag below appears almost identical to mine. I believe it might be the next generation. If it is, I can tell you that it is sufficiently warm, light weight and inexpensive. With the right combination of layered clothing supplemented with this bag, you will be comfortable in any cold temperature.
3 Space Blanket
4 Swiss Army knife
The Swiss Army Knife is your toolbox, kitchen, junk drawer and security guard on the road. It is essential for building forts, making spears, opening cans, and fending off robbers. Although it is probably the least versatile, one of my all time favorite models is the “Deer Hunter.” It contains a capable saw, strong knife, and can opener. I never run away without it.
5 Head Torch
I always bring a small battery powered head torch. Not only does it light up the night, making it easy to set up camp or navigate the woods, but it can also be used to signal for help and blind assailants. The head torch below, by Princeton Tec, is light weight yet durable, has a surprisingly long battery life, and can become extremely bright if necessary. I have always used cheap Chinese models in the past but have tested this one and found it to be exceptional. I will definitely be using it on my next trip.
5 Large Garbage Bag / Backpack Cover
A durable garbage bag is important for two reasons. The first being to protect your belongings from getting soaked in a heavy rain. The second being to disguise your bag. By covering your bag with a garbage bag, it decreasing the chances of it being stolen or tampered with. You can also put your bag in it to keep it dry in case you need to traverse rivers. Though I usually use garbage 0r other types of bags, I think I will opt for the proper backpacker cover below for my next trip. It comes in all sizes, is light as can be and as cheap as a box of heavy duty garbage bags.
6 Small Rope
Rope always seems to come in handy. It can help hold your backpack together when it rips or help you build a fort when you need to. I always find multiple uses for a bit of rope. The rope below is cheap and very strong.
7 Water Purification Tablets
Water purification tablets are a great idea to have if you plan on spending prolonged periods of time in the wilderness. They are also a good thing to have for travelers in developing countries where water quality is poor. They help prevent diarrhea and other water borne diseases. As I often travel through developing countries and sleep in the wilderness, I usually carry either water tablets or the purification system below.
8 Water Purification System
This system is more expensive but also highly effective. It not only kills bacteria but filters the dirt from water. It is battery operated which means you need to carry extra AA’s and it is significantly heavier than tablets. I have used this same system during my recent trip to Sudan and it worked flawlessly . I only time I got diarrhea was when I didn’t use it.
9 Travel Clothes
No matter what climate you are traveling in, nights in the outdoors will be chilly. A warm pair of long johns reinforced with a layer of plastic bags can be life saving. A light water proof windbreaker will help keep your body dry and warm. Finally, a beenie will not only keep your head warm but also block out the light or protect you from the glares of people. Although you can buy really expensive gear at retailers such as REI, you can find equally effective clothing at Walmart, Target, or TJ Max. Remember, the key to staying warm is to layer. As the Norwegian saying goes, “there is never cold weather, just inadequate clothing.” For more info on how and what to pack, check out How To Pack For Any Adventure.
10 My Backpack
The type of backpack you chose greatly depends on your body build. However, I have found that the smaller the backpacker the better, simply because they force you to pack lighter. I have used many different backpacks throughout my 8 years of backpacking. In the past I usually went with cheap packs from the army surplus store. However, these bags generally break down after 6 to 8 months of backpacking. These days I have been traveling with Black Diamond Packs. They are super strong, light, have many useful features and are affordable. Click here for a detailed guide on How To Pick Your Backpack.
What’s your favorite survival gear? Let me know in the comments!