Essential Survival Gear

By Robin Odach , last updated December 9, 2011

Having the right outdoor gear can help keep people from injury. Dr. Hassan Babaie, associate professor of geosciences at Georgia State University, takes a team of students into the field each year. His students are given a field guide with a list of essential equipment to bring. In this case, the “field” is the harsh terrain of Montana, where students encounter heat, cold, snow, and hail. They brush up against rattlesnakes, cacti, and sharp rocks. Dr. Babaie requires all students to be outfitted with necessary protective gear.

Hiking Boots

The safest gear for outdoor activities is 100-percent leather hiking boots. They may be the best piece of survival gear you purchase. Leather protects your feet and ankles when traversing rough, unstable terrain. They can be waterproofed for rain and snow. Leather protects your ankles from harmful snakebites, thorns, and cactus spines. Items that pierce sneakers and rubber easily will not penetrate leather. Keeping your feet comfortable is essential in the outdoors. Make sure the boots are broken in before you wear them into the field.


A good backpack with a chest harness and waist belt is necessary because it carries other essentials, including food, water, and first-aid equipment. Rain gear, toilet paper and everyday items are also carried in the backpack. Many reputable sporting companies such as REI and Northface have trained professionals to help you choose the pack that fits you the best. You must be able to carry the backpack for seven or eight hours without getting rub burns or aches. The backpack must be durable enough to hold up to being tossed around all day.

Water Containers

Water bladders or bottles are essential when hiking and camping. It’s vital to stay hydrated when working outside. A water bladder holds up to three liters of liquid. Nalgene bottles are easy to drink from, and they are virtually indestructible.

Outer Gear

Purchase synthetic, waterproof gloves to keep your hands dry. Make sure they are flexible enough to allow you to carry out fine motor tasks such as writing or manipulating small objects. Dr. Babaie recommends synthetic pants, shirts, and underwear. He states that denim performs poorly in the field when it gets wet or sweaty. Using synthetics helps prevent chafing. The synthetic materials need to be capable of drying quickly. Get a rain cover to keep the backpack dry during storms.

Sun Protection

Sunglasses protect eyes from both wind and sun. A good sun blocker or sunscreen does a decent job of protecting the skin, but it must be waterproof and sweat-proof. In addition, either a tie-down hat or baseball cap is necessary to protect the scalp, and the wider the brim, the better.

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is essential because people get scraped and bruised when they are active in the outdoors. Each kit is personalized because some people require bee-sting kits or other allergy medicines. All necessary medications need to be taken into the field. Dr. Babaie points out that it can take several hours for hikers to reach medical help. Some hikers purchase pre-made kits and add to them.

Resources and References
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