Best Survival Tools

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Fenix Led Tactical Flashlight
Test Winner: Fenix Led Tactical Flashlight
Amazon Link
Have you ever wondered how you would survive if you were stranded in the woods for days on end before you were rescued? Given that it’s unlikely and an unsettling thought, it’s understandable if you’ve avoided putting much thought into it. However, anything can happen in the wild and it’s best to plan for this sort of contingencies so that you can handle things if the situation goes awry. The list of things you need to survive this sort of situation can be quite extensive, so for this guide, we’re going to just focus on survival tools. Even if the likelihood of becoming stranded is slim, it’s still possible and you need to plan for it.

Standout Picks

Granafors Bruks Hunters Axe
If you stop and think about it, is perfect really achievable? Honestly, nothing in this world is but if something is as close to perfect as humanly imaginable, then it deserves to be classified as so. As you may have guessed, the Hunters Ax from Gransfors Bruks is just that.
Amazon Link
Fenix Led Tactical Flashlight
A flashlight may not be the first survival tool you think of, but it is important. In pitch darkness, what are you going to achieve if you can’t see your right hand from your left? Thankfully, Fenix solves this issue for you as their Tactical Flashlight is the Da Vinci of flashlights.
Amazon Link
Victorinox Swiss Army Knife
No journey is complete without a swiss army knife and in particular the model from Victorinox. With 14 different functionalities, this bad boy will come in handy in every situation that you could ever imagine.
Ka-Bar Fixed Blade Knife
Even though the previously documented swiss army knife comes with a blade, sometimes you need more force and sustainability. For the ultimate weapon in the wild, one that could both save your life and provide you with food, the Ka-Bar BK2 Fixed Blade Knife is an ideal choice.
Amazon Link
$85.49
Lifestraw Water Filter
Hopefully, if you do ever run into a scenario in which you need to use your recourses to survive, you will be able to find a body of water. Because, if you do, this Personal Water Filter from LifeStraw is indeed a lifesaver.
Amazon Link
$14.83
Zippo Emergency Fire Starter
All alone in the wild, the only source of heat that you can rely on to cook your meat and provide you with warmth is a handmade fire. Well, one of the best ways to create a fire is with a fire starter. As you will soon find out, Zippo’s is not only practical but also highly convenient.
Amazon Link
Go Time Gear Life Bivy
A bivy, a blanket, a sleeping bag, and a shelter all in one. This one-person bivy from Go Time Gear is a great piece of equipment to have in an emergency situation. The bivy is made from weatherproof and abrasion-proof mylar material. Additionally, an emergency whistle and paracord are also included.
Amazon Link
$19.95
Carson Flip-open Pocket Magnifiers
If you are an old-school individual, you may want to create heat with nothing more than a magnifying glass and the giant ball of fire in the sky. While it is trickier, as long as you have access to the sun you can pull it off (making it fairly reliable).
Amazon Link
$10.35
Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets
Water purification tablets are the back up which you need when you need larger volumes of water. To carry the water purification straw and tablets means that wherever you go you are able to get the right amounts of life-saving liquid hydration. The rules are very clear, no water equals not surviving.
Amazon Link
$8.12
Kelty Noah Tarp
While nearby trees may provide some shade in the sun, they don't help much in regards to rain. This goes especially for colder weather, as being wet in cold conditions puts you at an increased risk for hypothermia. This is why a tarp is an important piece of survival gear; it protects you from the elements. One of our favorite picks is the Noah Tarp from Kelty, and we explain our decision below.
Amazon Link

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Portability

If you are in a real-life situation where you are required to survive with what you have, you are not going to want to lug around incredibly heavy and bulky items. Depending on how prepared you are, you should have an adequate shelter so you can store all the belongings there.

However, if you need to hunt and track food and move your set-up, you want it to be as lightweight and portable as possible. Hence, all the tools that secured a spot on this list are designed to be very portable. Obviously, tools such as flashlights, swiss army knives, and fire starters are as portable as they get.

But, when you think about weapons, such as airguns, crossbows, and fixed blades, if they have an exposed blade, to aid in safety when transporting they should have included sheaths. But, no matter what you intend on bringing with you camping, backpacking or hiking trip, your intentions should be portability in the first place. Preparing for a potential survival situation should be no different.

Use

If you compiled everything you would really need to survive in the wild, it would be quite the long list. Decisions should be made beforehand on survival tools that you probably could do without. But, there are certain sections that you can focus on. When talking about tools, this could be your means of acquiring food (weapons), starting a fire, seeing in the dark, and hydration.

If you can manage to feed and hydrate yourself, in conjunction with keeping yourself warm, you can survive for longer than you may imagine. Each section is personal preference, though. For example, with weapons, crossbows, air guns, and fixed blades, they can all be used for killing and preparing wild game.

Then, your fire starters or magnifiers can start a fire so you can insulate your body and cook the meat. Also, tools such as filters and a swiss army knife can provide clean drinking water and ultra-convenience, respectively. To put it simply, if you think the tool will be useful for you, bring it.

Materials

Construction and craftsmanship are paramount for any consumer products but when a tool’s performance can be a matter of life or death, this becomes even more important. Now, the construction can be broken down into two sections: exterior and interior. Both are important, but it really depends on the type of tool you have to which one is more important.

Again, let’s take for example the weapons you will use to survive. For a specific example, let’s look at a fixed blade. In order for the blade to perform what it is designed to do, both the handle and blade need to be constructed efficiently. If the blade is not sturdy or coated well, rust can take over and it can be insufficient in cutting meat.

Then, you can take something like a water filter. The exterior, while important, is not as vitally critical as its capabilities to filter the water to ensure clean and safe drinking water
(which means the interior construction needs to be up to par). Think about it this way, a tool will only perform as well as the manufacturers design it to perform.

Features

The features of all the different survival tools are what differentiates a product from being decent or great. In this case, with so many different items, the features that we focused on for each product are different. If it a dangerous tool, we discussed how easy it is to store or use without harming yourself.

Additionally, if it is a weapon or tool that has a grip on it to make holding it more secure, we noted that as well. For other items, we commented on how easy they are to use or what other uses they provide other than the obvious. Each feature plays a large role in the overall ease of use, effectiveness, and safety of the product.

Value

Obviously, each item has a monetary price, but it's difficult to put a value on an item that could save your life. Depending on the type of adventurer that you are, some of these items may seem practical while others seem unnecessary.

To determine the overall value of each item, we took a look at both the impressive features and the downfalls of the item. We took into account its usefulness and durability and then compared these features to the price of the item. Some of these products cost a bit more than we would like to pay, but as we mentioned earlier, they could save your life.

Top 10 Picks

1. Granafors Bruks Hunters Ax

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Granafors Bruks Hunters Axe
Granafors Bruks Hunters Axe
Amazon Link

If you stop and think about it, is perfect really achievable? Honestly, nothing in this world is but if something is as close to perfect as humanly imaginable, then it deserves to be classified as so. As you may have guessed, the Hunters Ax from Gransfors Bruks is just that.

Read more

Portability
With a weight of only two pounds and an included leather sheath, transport is both easy and safe. The leather sheath covers the blade and prevents a serious injury in the case of an accident.

Use
No doubt, this was designed with hunters in mind. This is not your standard, everyday ax. Instead, the Hunters Ax can field dress, dismembers and flay small to large animals. In addition, both the handle and blade are fully equipped to handle cutting through light bones.

Materials
Outside of its overall durability, the poll is crafted in a way (being rounded and burnished) that will assist when you are removing the hide from an animal.

Features
The included sheath aids in portability and also safety. But, convenience is of the essence here. Due to the circular grooves of the handle, even in times where the conditions are wet or your hands begin to perspire, you can achieve a maximum grip at all times. Plus, the head and handle are angled in a way that allows parallel strokes with the belly of animals.

Value
Perfection is impossible to achieve, but good luck trying to find something else that gets closer than the Hunters Ax. With its magnificent combination of design, safety, and portability, this is the ultimate survival tool. This ax is quite expensive, but this multiuse tool is very handy to have in the wilderness.

Amazon Link

2. Fenix Led Tactical Flashlight

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Fenix Led Tactical Flashlight
Fenix Led Tactical Flashlight
Amazon Link

A flashlight may not be the first survival tool you think of, but it is important. In pitch darkness, what are you going to achieve if you can’t see your right hand from your left? Thankfully, Fenix solves this issue for you as their Tactical Flashlight is the Da Vinci of flashlights.

Read more

Portability
Excluding the battery, the flashlight only weighs 89 grams and is compact enough to take up little to no space in your storage.

Use
You can utilize several different illumination power settings, with the highest reaching 1000 Lumens. But, what is truly sensational, is this has a lifespan of 50,000 hours which should last you a long time.

Materials
Besides the lighting being sensational, the overall construction is beyond impressive. To start, the body is constructed of durable aircraft-grade aluminum with a hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish. Plus, it also is slip-resistant.

Features
When the battery needs to be replaced, an indicator light will notify you. In addition, when you turn the flashlight on again after using it previously, it is programmed to automatically remember your previous illumination settings.

Vaue
Some may take issue with the sheer amount of settings and buttons on the interface, but it does allow you to have full control over the amount of lighting that you want. Plus, you can’t beat the overall construction and craftsmanship. While this is priced high for a flashlight, you're not going to find a better companion for the pitch-black nights. Fenix offers a limited lifetime warranty with their Tactical Flashlight, ensuring you are covered in the instance of a defect or damage.

Amazon Link

3. Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

Where to buy
Victorinox Swiss Army Knife
Victorinox Swiss Army Knife
Amazon Link

No journey is complete without a swiss army knife and in particular the model from Victorinox. With 14 different functionalities, this bad boy will come in handy in every situation that you could ever imagine.

Read more

Portability
For a swiss army knife, this version is rather large but it is still compact enough to ensure that it makes a great companion for outdoor activities or survival situations.

Use
Among all the tools on this list, this swiss army knife offers the most functionality. With 14 different design functions, including a large blade, small blade, bottle opener, screwdriver, and scissors, this will come in handy for anything you can think of.

Materials
To provide an excellent amount of durability and sleekness, the swiss army knife is crafted from stainless steel and is encased in polished red (or any other color variation that you choose from) scales.

Features
What is not convenient about this tool? Each function offers a different amount of convenience and there are so many options that you may not even use them all.

Value
Anyone who has owned a swiss army knife will rave about their usefulness, as they are one of the most convenient tools (not only in survival situations) period. It also helps, however, that the construction is up-to-par. The best part about this tool is the fact that is quite affordable! In the case that you are sent a swiss army knife that has material defects, Victorinox backs this with a lifetime guarantee to ensure you are not responsible.

4. Ka-Bar Fixed Blade Knife

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$85.49
Ka-Bar Fixed Blade Knife
Ka-Bar Fixed Blade Knife
Amazon Link

Even though the previously documented swiss army knife comes with a blade, sometimes you need more force and sustainability. For the ultimate weapon in the wild, one that could both save your life and provide you with food, the Ka-Bar BK2 Fixed Blade Knife is an ideal choice.

Read more

Portability
As this is a fixed blade, it will not retract like a pocket knife. As such, Ka-Bar has included a black glass-filled nylon sheath for transport. However, the sheath is super tight when applied and you may need two hands to remove it.

Use
Ka-Bar designed their fixed blade knife to be highly versatile. With the incredibly sturdy blade, you can pry apart joints from wild game or split out small kindling to start a fire.

Materials
Strength and wear-resistance are two essential components for any kind of knife and the BK2 is certainly capable in this area. The blade is made from a low allow carbon steel (1095 Cro-Van) with vanadium and chrome carbides and a black epoxy coating.

Features
Again, the sheath aids in both portability and safety. Because the blade is exposed at all times and you can’t conceal it, the sheath provides ample protection in case you drop the knife accidentally.

Value
Expect nothing but quality and high craftsmanship from Ka-Bar’s BK2 Fixed Blade Knife. Its awesome construction and design are one thing, but it truly shines when you need it the most thanks to its blade. For a fixed blade knife of this quality, the price is fair.

Amazon Link
$85.49

5. Lifestraw Water Filter

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$14.83
Lifestraw Water Filter
Lifestraw Water Filter
Amazon Link

Hopefully, if you do ever run into a scenario in which you need to use your recourses to survive, you will be able to find a body of water. Because, if you do, this Personal Water Filter from LifeStraw is indeed a lifesaver.

Read more

Portability
For ultra-portability, this weighs in at only two ounces and is a great alternative to heavy purifiers. LifeStraw also ships a sealed bag with their filtration system to give you the means to store it.

Use
No batteries are required and there are no moving parts inside. Instead, you utilize it as a straw to suck the water in. The filtration system is able to filter 1000 liters of water without chemical or wait times.

Materials
LifeStraw constructed this system to remove 99.99 percent of all bacteria and parasites that are present in water. It also exceeds EPA standards, which is an impressive feat.

Features
Because there are no batteries present, you never have to worry about the filter not working. As long as you have access to a body of water, this filter means you'll be able to have clean and safe drinking water, which is of the utmost importance in a survival situation.

Value
With an ultra-portable design and filtration that exceeds EPA standards, the LifeStraw water filter is going to be one of the most important survival tools you can bring with you. Sucking in water can take a lot of effort, but the end result of perfectly clean (and safe!) drinking water is more than worth it. After all, a little hard work goes a long way. For such a useful tool, we would have expected a much higher price tag. At this rate, you can buy one for the whole family!

Amazon Link
$14.83

6. Zippo Emergency Fire Starter

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Zippo Emergency Fire Starter
Zippo Emergency Fire Starter
Amazon Link

All alone in the wild, the only source of heat that you can rely on to cook your meat and provide you with warmth is a handmade fire. Well, one of the best ways to create a fire is with a fire starter. As you will soon find out, Zippo’s is not only practical but also highly convenient.

Read more

Portability
This is as lightweight as it gets. With a minuscule weight of only 0.09 pounds, this will not only take up little to no room but is also pathetically easy to carry.

Use
No matter the weather condition, even though an exposed fire will be extinguished by rain regardless, the flint wheel will deliver a maximum spark every single time for starting fires.

Materials
Inside the case, there are tinder sticks that are used to start the fire. With a water-resistant seal, they are kept dry. In addition, the entire case will float in water.

Features
Right from the get-go, you are provided with four tinder sticks (that are waxed for easier lighting) that can be easily torn for quick lighting.

Value
For a reliable accessory, it is priced fairly, if not slightly expensive. While not without its slight flaws, for example not the best seal and only being able to hold four sticks, it will come in handy in times where you do not have access to the sun for starting a fire.

Amazon Link

7. Go Time Gear Life Bivy

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$19.95
Go Time Gear Life Bivy
Go Time Gear Life Bivy
Amazon Link

A bivy, a blanket, a sleeping bag, and a shelter all in one. This one-person bivy from Go Time Gear is a great piece of equipment to have in an emergency situation. The bivy is made from weatherproof and abrasion-proof mylar material. Additionally, an emergency whistle and paracord are also included.

Read more

Portability
This is a great piece to have with you in many different circumstances. When it is all folded up and stored in its nylon stuff sack, it weighs only 4.1-ounces and fits in the palm of your hand.

Use
The Go Time Gear Life Bivy can be used as a bivy, a sleeping bag, a blanket, or as a shelter. One side is reflective. If you are stranded in a cold environment, you will want the reflective side facing you as it holds in up to 90% of your body heat, keeping you warm. If you are in a warm environment, you can set up the reflective lining the opposite way to reflect the sun and heat away from you.

Materials
The bivy itself is made from 26um extra-thick mylar that is finished with a durable coating that makes it wind and waterproof. It is also tear and puncture-resistant. The seams are sealed to ensure that no snow or rain can sneak in. Also included with the bivy is a 550lb nylon core para-synch technology drawstring that can be used to attach gear or build a fortress. All of this fits into the small waterproof nylon stuff sack.

Features
You can choose between orange or green with this one-person bivy. However, the orange color is much brighter and may be easier for rescuers to spot when searching for you. At the end of the durable paracord, there is a 120-decibel whistle attached. The sound of this whistle cuts through trees and wind and can be heard from a mile away.

Value
For such a useful product, it is priced affordably. It can be used over and over again and includes the waterproof stuff sack, whistle, and paracord. We must remind you that this bivy is made for emergency situations only and is not a posh camping item. There is no padding or comforting touches added, it is a thin, but durable, mylar fabric.

Amazon Link
$19.95

8. Carson Flip-open Pocket Magnifiers

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$10.35
Carson Flip-open Pocket Magnifiers
Carson Flip-open Pocket Magnifiers
Amazon Link

If you are an old-school individual, you may want to create heat with nothing more than a magnifying glass and the giant ball of fire in the sky. While it is trickier, as long as you have access to the sun you can pull it off (making it fairly reliable).

Read more

Portability
Whether you want to transport these magnifiers in your purse, bag, or backpack you can easily do so. They are super compact and ideal for any outdoor adventure.

Use
The only aspect required to make a fire in conjunction with these magnifiers is the sun. If you have both, then you can utilize these in a way to start a fire.

Materials
Each separate magnifier glass, as there are four in total (if you choose the seller option), has a 1.6-inch diameter and 3-times power magnification.

Features
To protect each glass from accidental damage, each one comes with a built-in folding case.

Value
A magnifying glass is like a compass to a GPS. Will it do the trick and be more reliable (in terms of functioning)? Probably, but it is also a more difficult and less advanced version of modern technology. It is a simple tool and the price reflects that. These magnifiers are priced cheaply. If any of the magnifying glasses have material defects, Carson will be responsible thanks to their limited lifetime warranty.

Amazon Link
$10.35

9. Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$8.12
Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets
Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets
Amazon Link

Water purification tablets are the back up which you need when you need larger volumes of water. To carry the water purification straw and tablets means that wherever you go you are able to get the right amounts of life-saving liquid hydration. The rules are very clear, no water equals not surviving.

Read more

Portability
These tablets are potentially the most needed part of any survival kit. While water filtration straws like the LifeStraw do filter water to make it safe to drink, these tablets are designed to purify larger volumes of water. They come in a small durable container and are so portable you can carry them in any pocket.

Use
In survival mode you may well find a stream, river or other larger source of water but is it safe to drink? If you have brought your water purification tablets the water will be safe and you can fill a water bottle, drop in a tablet and you now are able to carry drinkable water while you are on the move.

Materials
Each purification tablets has tetraglycine hydroperiodide at 20mg. Carry the tablets in a sturdy small dispensing bottle, it is small enough to fit into your hand so it's very easy to stow away in any pocket.

Features
Each purification tablets has tetraglycine hydroperiodide at 20mg also called TGHP, when you drop the tablet into water it will release titratable iodine which will neutralize dangerous microorganisms so that after waiting for 35 minutes the water will be safe enough to drink.

Value
When you're unsure if the water is safe to drink, use the tablets, drop in a tablet and wait for 35 minutes, this is a survival treatment for water and not a product for long-term daily use. When you are out in the wilds back-packing, hiking or in a survival situation these tablets are incredibly useful. With 50 tablets per package, these are a steal! They are not expensive and provide you with clean drinking water.

Amazon Link
$8.12

10. Kelty Noah Tarp

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Kelty Noah Tarp
Kelty Noah Tarp
Amazon Link

While nearby trees may provide some shade in the sun, they don't help much in regards to rain. This goes especially for colder weather, as being wet in cold conditions puts you at an increased risk for hypothermia. This is why a tarp is an important piece of survival gear; it protects you from the elements. One of our favorite picks is the Noah Tarp from Kelty, and we explain our decision below.

Read more

Portability
Even some of the larger size options of this tarp pack quite nicely: the 12x12ft variant packs down to 12x10x3in, and weighing a little under three pounds. This makes it easy to pack and carry with you without weighing you down too much. The cut of this tarp allows for easy setup, so putting it up and taking it down is a quick process.

Use
This square tarp comes in four sizes: 9x9ft, 12x12ft, 16x16ft, and 20x20ft. Setting it up is a quick and easy process thanks to the numerous tie-outs on the edges of the tarp. However it doesn't come with poles, so you will need to purchase those separately.

Materials
Made with taped seams and a durable coated polyester taffeta fabric, the Kelty Noah tarp has a tight pitch and offers lightweight resistance from the elements. While the catenary cut means it has less room underneath it, this distributes stress evenly over the surface, further enhancing its durability.

Features
While this lightweight tarp may not withstand downpours or blizzard conditions, it is rated with twice the waterproofing as the average umbrella, meaning it will keep you dry and safe in light to moderate rain or snow. As stated above, the Kelty Noah tarp is easy to set up and take down and packs quite nicely for easy carrying.

Value
While it may not handle extreme weather well, Kelty's Noah Tarp series are durable and made to work well in light and moderate precipitation. The catenary cut design means easy setup and extra durability. The price is fair for such a functional piece of equipment. Kelty provides a limited one-year warranty for this product, and if it has a manufacturing defect they will either replace the product, repair the product, or refund you at their discretion. Hang onto your receipt; you'll need it for proof of purchase in the event you file a warranty claim. If you have additional questions about their warranty, or you aren't sure how to start the claim process, you can email [email protected] for further guidance.

Amazon Link