Articles, Culture

8 Pieces of Survival Gear to Actually Buy, and Which to Avoid


1. Sawyer Micro

Twice as effective at filtration as Lifestraw. and includes a few handy accessories… for about the same price or cheaper. Plus you won’t have to stick your head in a puddle to use it. I have one spliced into the line of my Camelbak and another in my go bag. Buy one.

Avoid: Lifestraw

Sawyer Micro

2. Classic Bic Lighters

They work in the cold, in the wet, in the heat, and cost next to nothing. Store them in your pack, tape them to your keychain. Unlike Ferro rods, they don’t require extensive tinder prep to use. Just flick and go. If the gas runs out, the striker will still throw a spark. Unlike Ferro rods/firesteels, you won’t accidentally knock over your tinder trying to light it. When the idiot with a Ferro rod is still gathering tinder and flogging at his rod like a pervert, you’ll already have a fire going.

Avoid: Blast Match, Generic Ferro rods, Firesteels, Weatherproof matches

Classic Bic Lighters

3. Nymphs and Streamers

Flies aren’t just for fly rods – in fact, they work on just about any fishing rod. Natural bait is best, but if you can’t find any worms, grubs flies are a close second. You can even put a small piece of bait on the hook and have the best of both worlds. Good ones are expensive, but weigh almost nothing.

Avoid: Powerbait, heavy jigs

Nymphs and Streamers

4. Fluorocarbon Leaders

Fishing lines spook fish… if they can see it. A 4′ length of clear leader material will dramatically increase your chances of hooking something delicious for dinner. I use a 2lb line on my tenkara rod, but 4-10lbs is usually more than enough for most applications.

Avoid: Ultra heavy fishing lines over 20lbs. You’re fishing, not winching up a truck.

Fluorocarbon Leaders

5. Berkely Alive Maggots, Waxworms, etc

Simply put, they work. And for a wide range of species from trout to panfish (which are delicious, BTW). Unlike regular bait, they stay viable for a long time in your go-bag.

Berkely Alive Maggots, Waxworms, etc

6. Tenkara/Keiryu Rods

Cane pole meets fly rod, these are lethal for trout and panfish, with some even being able to handle carp. They pack down smaller than a conventional rod, and weigh in at only a few ounces. Much more delicate presentations and sag free drifts are possible with these rods… which means more fish on the table. They will also protect lighter fishing leaders, which will also allow you to catch more fish. Win win, right? is an awesome source of information on the subject.

Avoid: Slingshot fishing rods, pen rods

Tenkara/Keiryu Rods

7. Silky Saws

They cut through wood like, well… a saw. The lighter ones are less than half a pound and are more than capable of building shelters, limbing trees for firewood, and even some carpentry. If the wood you are cutting is slightly shorter than the saw blade, you can cut it (unlike a bowsaw which tends to get in its own way).

Avoid: Sven saws, bow saws

Silky Saws

8. Bahco 24″ replacement saw blade (Dry Wood)

For ten bucks and maybe an ounce of pack weight, you can have all you need to build a full sized buck saw. Either pack it flat in your bedroll or curl it up into a circle and throw it in the bottom of a bag. Survival Sherpa has a great how to on how to build a bucksaw from some scrap lumber, but it also works with sticks gathered from the woods.

Bahco 24" replacement saw blade (Dry Wood)


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