5 Survival Items Every Hunter Should Carry

For many, hunting is a way to connect with the natural world and take a deep breath. However, no matter how relaxing hunting may be, emergencies do happen. Getting lost, injured, or stalked can make things get very serious very quickly. Luckily, with some basic preparedness, you can handle these situations. 

Keeping a few emergency items in your hunting pack can prevent tragedy. Many of these items are inexpensive and small, so there is little reason to not have them. 

While you can make a long list of potential emergency items, five remain particularly important. 

Map & Compass

Okay, technically, a map and a compass are two items. However, you need one to effectively use the other. Plus, both are extremely small and easy to use, so there is little reason not to have both in your hunting bag. 


Laminate the map to make it waterproof. The map should be related to the area you’re hunting in, of course, but it should preferably contain more than just the immediate hunting area you’re planning to use. After all, if the game animal you are hunting is injured and runs a fair distance, you may be tracking it into an unfamiliar area. Preferably, it should be a topography map. 


You may already have gear with a compass, like a GPS device or watch. However, having some redundancy regarding something as important as a compass never hurts. Getting lost is the main reason hunters do not return home as planned.


Tarps have tons of versatility. You can make a range of shelters utilizing only a tarp, and they can also be utilized for rainwater collection in a pinch. Get a lightweight tarp to save a few ounces and buy some small bungee cords to make hanging the tarp easier. Of course, building a shelter with a tarp takes a little know-how, so research some bushcraft and survival shelters before your hunt.. 

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Of course, this assumes you don’t already have some camping gear. If you’re also backpacking or camping while hunting, you probably already have a shelter handled. (However, even in this case, we would recommend still having a lightweight tarp for emergencies.)


If you thought getting lost during the day was easy, it’s even easier while wandering around at night. You will likely need to find your way back to camp or your vehicle after dark. Having a headlamp makes traveling at night much safer. Plus, headlamps are lightweight and relatively inexpensive. 

If your headlamp takes batteries, don’t forget to take some extras!

First Aid

Before you hit the trail, you need an IFAK – Individual First Aid Kit. We know from the Survival Rule of 3 that we only have minutes to survive from severe bleeding. We don’t recommend purchasing a pre-made kit. They often include things that you don’t need and low-quality gear. Instead, make your own. Here is a quick list of items you should have in your first aid kit:


  • Adhesive bandages
  • Gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Disinfecting ointment
  • Pain medication
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Tourniquet


Of course, you can also stock your first aid kit with other items. Be sure you know how to use everything in your kit, including the tourniquet. Consider taking first aid courses, like Stop the Bleed.



In a survival situation, fire plays a vital role. You need fire to boil water and stay warm. Fire can also be a signaling device if you get lost. Instead of a cheap butane lighter, we recommend a Tesla lighter or similar device. Butane lighters can leak and often aren’t made to be stored long-term. Therefore, you can’t just throw one in your bag and forget about it until an emergency. 

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Of course, a lighter is only half the battle. Finding kindling is also a challenge if you’re lost in the woods. Therefore, consider keeping kindling stored in a plastic bag. Drier lent, cotton balls, and similar items work well. You can even shove a bunch of cotton balls into an old pill bottle. 


What Next?

You should absolutely have these five items in your hunting pack whenever you go on your next hunting trip. However, you can add other items for extra preparedness. Water purification tabs, extra food, and extra clothes are recommended after you have the basic survival supplies listed above.