The best survival kits are chock-full of indispensable items that get you through an emergency, but when you head out into the woods, it's crucial that your kit is also compact and easy to carry. Every hiking adventure calls for at least a basic survival kit, but more comprehensive kits can keep you and your buddies safe even during excursions that take you far off the beaten path.
Lifeline Ultralight Survival Kit
A mere $15.00 is all you need to spend for a basic kit that could come in handy on a short trek. Lifeline's Ultralight Survival Kit comes in a compact waterproof case that tucks neatly into your backpack, and includes an essential informational guide. Use the map compass to find your way back when you're lost, or signal for help with an emergency whistle. Keep warm with the generous emergency blanket, or start a fire with the kit's waterproof matches. The kit includes fishing line, hooks, sinker weights, and aluminum foil in case you get hungry, and you can rig up a variety of useful aids with lengths of snare wire, emergency cord, duct tape and safety pins. A reusable zipper-lock bag gives you a place to store water or keep your gear dry, and wound-closure strips take care of minor injuries. Pick one up at REI.com.
Lifeline Hiker in a Bottle
Another compact kit available from Lifeline, the Hiker in a Bottle stashes all of the essentials inside a 32-ounce BPA-free water bottle. The included waist pack gives you a place to store the contents when the water bottle is in use, and you'll be relieved to have the included multi-function whistle/compass, pocket knife, headlamp, carabiner, poncho and 20-piece first aid kit when you need them. Grab one and go for $29.99 at LifelineFirstAid.com.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit
Known for its ingenious multi-tools, Gerber offers a utilitarian survival kit that actually includes one. The compact tool features a lanyard ring and does a variety of duties with an all-in-one screwdriver, pliers, wire-cutter, knife, bottle opener and tweezers. A ripstop nylon bag stores the multi-tool along with survival guides, waterproof matches, a fire starter, blanket, mini-light, signaling mirror, handsaw, wire, cord and waxed thread. Fishing and first-aid kits are also included. Get this 9.4-ounce powerhouse of survival for $49.99 at Cabelas.com.
MayDay Deluxe Emergency Backpack Kit
Weighing in at eight pounds, this extensive survival kit comes in its own backpack and includes everything you need for a longer hike, and then some. Set up camp with the MayDay tent and stove, and stay safe and secure with the included flashlight, AM/FM radio, whistle, light stick, waterproof matches, nylon cord, knife and first-aid supplies. This kit also comes with a blanket, poncho, dust mask and leather palm gloves to protect you from the elements, plus pouches of water, a high-calorie food bar and water purification tablets to sustain you until help arrives. The suggested retail price of a one-person kit is $73.95, but you can get yours for $56.95 at JackBGoods.com. Larger MayDay survival kits include enough supplies to sustain two, three or four people in an emergency.