Runaway Survival Gear

by The Runaway Guide on December 2, 2012

run-away-gear-1Here 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.

Just so you know, if you do buy anything, from travel gear to travel insurance, through my site, I receive a small commission and it will help me keep doing what I love…traveling the world!


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

A space blanket always seems to come in handy especially in the bitter cold. It is super light weight and will give you that extra bit of warmth on those cold nights.

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!

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt August 17, 2014 at 8:45 pm

I backpack on the coast and always carry a small spool if fishing line, and some hooks, dont take up much room and have given me many a great meal. I now eat fresh fish for free, plus i can sometimes make a buck selling it at the local fish markets


The Runaway Guide August 18, 2014 at 10:59 am

Hey Matt, that’s a great idea! I should add that. Can you recommend one for me?


A.K. August 8, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Could you give a Educated guess as to how much all this might cost?


The Runaway Guide August 25, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Honestly, you really just need a backpack. But if you want to sleep rough a sleeping bag and tent or even tarp as well. You can probably get it all for around 300$.


eddie January 3, 2014 at 7:28 am

and dont forget! ipod xD music, music everywhere!


The Runaway Guide January 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Definitely, I use my phone for that. I have about 15,000 songs. I was a music addict as a kid.


Ron | Active Planet Travels July 19, 2013 at 3:34 am

Great list, I’m always carrying a lightweight towel with me too, helps out greatly for those rainy nights! ;-)


The Runaway Guide July 22, 2013 at 10:15 am

Hey Ron, thanks! Sham wow type towels are great, I should def add it. Cheers!


Ray March 12, 2013 at 7:41 pm

God if only I could follow this list. Evreytime I plan going anywhere I pack way too much. So many clothes!! Lol. I guess I’ll have to work on it if I’m indeed going to travel.


The Runaway Guide March 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm

I hear ya. Next time I think I will go even lighter. I only every wear the same clothes everyday.


Stardust March 2, 2013 at 10:50 am

Great list man! The only thing I would add is a packet of cards. Not essential for survival, but I have met so many people and made new friends just through having a pack of cards or Yahtzee dice. And, as you know yourself, making contacts in a new city is great. I spent a long flight playing cards with a Japanese guy who didn’t speak a word of English and I spoke no Japanese, yet with cards, sign language and a pen and paper for drawing we spent eight solid hours communicating. It was awesome! :D


The Runaway Guide March 3, 2013 at 9:15 am

Hey, that’s a great idea. I should add an optional entertainment list or something. That’s awesome, love me the Japanese!


Jade Johnston - February 18, 2013 at 10:37 pm

I LOVE my steri pen – it is the best thing ever! I dont mind carrying around the battery charger for it either cause I know I will never run out like with the tablets.


The Runaway Guide February 22, 2013 at 8:10 am

Hey Jade! Hope you’re well. Yea, that thing is really effective. Saved me a lot of pain :)


mariek February 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm

do you know about the Leathermans? I reckon they are handier and stronger (for the expensive ones) than the swiss army knives .
I must admit I don’t really know about the cheap ones though because I haven’t used any.
but here’s an example of a cheap one, thank’s to amazone !


The Runaway Guide February 22, 2013 at 8:24 am

Hey, yea, those things are great. Thanks for reminding me. Yea, amazon is great but you can find even cheaper ones of fairly good quality in china town


ata February 12, 2013 at 9:15 am

Hi, do you think 60L Karrimor rucksack is the right choice for long duration of traveling?


The Runaway Guide February 13, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Yea, that looks like a good pack to me. I would def try it out first if you can.


Hanna January 29, 2013 at 12:29 am

Any idea on how much clothing I should pack?


The Runaway Guide January 30, 2013 at 6:37 pm

As little as possible. I’m working on an article now on how to pack for any continent.


Carol December 29, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Everything looks very useful and necessary!

Is the swiss army knife really that necessary for fending off robbers and if yes, in what countries have you had to do that exactly? And in what countries don’t you have to worry about that?

That gets me a little nervous, but I definitely see how you might need it for a bottle of wine! LOL


The Runaway Guide December 30, 2012 at 11:22 am

Haha, it’s really not very dangerous unless you’re sleeping on the street in a bad part of town in the middle of the night. It’s mostly for wine these days.


Joey December 27, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Hey, two things, when you talk about using bags as an extra insulating layer, thats actually a bad idea if it is reallllly cold, because if you sweat, which we all do, the sweat wont be able to escape and will make you colder. What works the best is newspaper! Oh and the rope you talk about i agree, is the perfect rope out there. 550 cord is great because the normal load is 550 pounds, but if you take out the inner strings you can use it for other purposes where you dont need thick rope.


The Runaway Guide December 30, 2012 at 11:16 am

Hey Joey,
I hear what you’re saying but I prefer plastic bags.
I survived a winter in France with them and they served me well.
Yea, that rope has many uses.


Carlo Cretaro December 2, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Nice stuff man. I like the space blanket idea – very functional for sure. Never know when you might need it, and takes up zero space. Hope your keeping well :)


The Runaway Guide December 11, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Thanks Carlo, I love this gear, especially the swiss army knife.