The scary thing about a survival situation is that you never know when you will end up in one. That’s why it never hurts to be prepared. Even if all that you have on you is what is in your pockets, that’s better than nothing.
1. A knife or other cutting tool. A knife is probably the simplest and least likely to raise any eyebrows. While a fixed blade made of high carbon steel would be preferred, a sturdy folding knife made from quality steel will certainly fit most needs in a basic survival situation or other emergency. It can be used to split kindling, self defense, skinning small game(including fish) and more. It is probably one the first items many people will suggest you have on you.
2. A fire starter/waterproof matches. The ability to keep warm or start a fire to cook, boil water, or dry wet clothes, can be the difference between life and death if you find yourself stranded in the wilderness, even for a single night. Having something that will reliably give you a spark/flame to ignite kindling, especially if you don’t know how to start a fire with sticks or using a lens can be essential.
3. Water purification tablets. This is another simple and small item that you can easily keep with you for a “just in case” scenario. Of course there are more advanced water filtration systems that are portable, but the tablets are cheaper, and can be used as a backup even if you have a water bottle with built in filtration.
4. Space blanket. In case you can’t manage to find kindling or can’t get a spark to catch, a space blanket will keep you warm in an emergency. They can also be used as a reflector to signal for help, or reflect more heat onto you once you do have a fire going in more extreme cold. They can also be used to create a solar still to collect drinking water. Like most the other items on this list, it is multipurpose, lightweight, fairly cheap, and takes up almost no space…in fact carry a couple of them just in case.
5. Paracord. Paracord has multiple uses. It can be used simply to secure sticks, branches, etc for a more sturdy emergency shelter. You can use it to tie food up in a tree out of the reach of predators. It can be used as a tourniquet if you find yourself with a serious cut. It can be used to help make a splint if you happen to break a bone. It can be used to help climb or descend rougher terrain. You can even pull it apart and use the inner threading for stitches, a snare trap, and much, much more.
These 5 items can cover almost all the basics of survival. They can be used to help create a shelter, provide safe drinking water, provide heat, and be used for self defense or hunting small game and even signal for rescue. These are, of course, suggestions and you may find that you can think of other options that will do more or work better for your own kit or likely situations. However, these items are all small enough to fit into a purse, small backpack, or can even fit in your pockets or attach to your keychain (fire starters/pack of waterproof matches), which means you can literally carry these on you at all times without walking around with a huge gear bag. This is not intended to be a complete list, and adding others is always a good idea, but these five will give you a great head start.