Tools to Try: When in the Wild


Kelsie V., Staff Writer

If you’re heading out on a camping or backpacking adventure, you’ve come to the right place! Listed below are 7 essential survival tools you’ll need if you ever find yourself in a tizzy.

  • Flashlight/Headlight

The wilderness is hard to predict, and you may find yourself at the wrong place at the wrong time. If you reach a campsite or area where you will sleep for the night, a flashlight or preferably, a headlight, will come in handy. Use this device to look under bushes or shrubs in your path for critters like snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, and other animals. 

  • Food & Metal Box

While camping or hiking for many days, you obviously need food. Yet, with no refrigeration, choosing food that will not spoil can be quite a task. Buy freeze-dried food, there are a lot of options available, with many meals to choose from. And trust me, these foods will not spoil, some can last for 20 or more years with no refrigeration at all. If you are heading to a camping site, most likely, rangers there will provide you with a solid metal-hinged box to put all your food in, but if not, you can also buy them online. Keep the box outside. This will keep bears, rats, and other animals away from your tent.

  • Water & Water Purification Tablets

Water is also essential, especially during the hot California summer that will soon come upon us. Be sure to bring ample water supply and have the right proportions for your trip. You should also try to bring the water in the most lightweight way possible, as it will be tiring for you to carry during hikes. You will also need water purification agents, just in case if the worst happens and you drink all your water, or it leaks. These can be purchased in a variety of different ways, ranging from tablets to drinking straws.

  • First-Aid Kit 

You should always have, really no matter where you go, is a first aid kit. This kit should be fitted with everything you should need, from antivenom for snake and scorpion bites to alcohol wipes and bandages. For a more in-depth explanation, check out this link from the American Red Cross about what to put in a first-aid kit.

  • Pot & Lighter

You must have a lighter and a pot with gas, so you can heat water during your camping trip. It’s important not to forget since hot water is necessary for freeze-dried food. Some of these pots and lighters are compact so you can easily fit them into your backpack. If you have parents who like coffee and siblings who like hot chocolate, this pot is a must-have!

  • Emergency Rescue Materials 

You must always be prepared, especially when you’re out in the wilderness. Try to keep some whistles, flares, or other materials if you have an emergency and need to signal a park ranger or family member. Signaling mirrors can also be used. Keep a GPS if possible and/or a satellite tracker. 

  • Bear/Mountain Lion Safety

If you are hiking in areas with bears, mountain lions, or other large mammals, keep in mind what to do if you encounter them. For bears, it is important to be careful and grab young children, but do not run. Stand your ground, and stay calm. For this very reason, it is vital to travel in groups. To learn more about what to do with an unexpected bear encounter, check out this link.

For mountain lions, also pick up young or small children, and look as big and menacing as possible. Once again, do not run, but stay calm. To learn more about what to do with an unexpected mountain lion encounter, check out this link.


Remember, the wilderness is completely unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared for the worst of situations. These are not all the materials you will need for a camping or backpacking trip, so make sure to check other resources. Make it a plan this summer to something fun outdoors with your family. As John Muir says, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”