Five Essential Survival Items the Experts Use

By Suzanne Wiley published on in Blades and Knives, Camping & Survival

When considering what survival gear to purchase, you must feel confident the products are going to work reliably. A $30, or even a $5, small pocketknife is fine for EDC, but when your life depends on it, you don’t want to end up in Africa, naked and afraid with a broken knife.

It’s a fact that some of the cheap stuff works—Aron Ralston saved his life by using a crappy blade from a multi-tool to sever his arm. However, his story is rare and those who adventure without the right tools don’t always make it out when accidents happen. Equipment failure can kill.

To those who “survive” for a living—teaching, selling survival products, writing, or appearing on TV—not only are packing the right tools everything, but also is complete trust in those tools. Every survival and bushcraft expert has their tried and true favorite items that have, in all seriousness, helped save their lives.

All survival experts will tell you to carry a:

When asked, most of them will tell you what equipment they prefer. Knives, in particular, are a popular topic. In fact, many of them design, make, and sell their own knives, like Mykel Hawk, EJ “Skullcrusher” Synder, Ron Hood and Ray Mears. This is no wonder. A knife is an essential tool in building a fire, making a shelter and preparing food—three of the most important skills to survival and bushcrafting. And none of them recommend a cheap knife as their first choice.

Knives are certainly important, that is why they compromise half this list, but clean drinking water is also essential to survival and to many of us—so is a means of protection.

The following five items are some of the greatest survivalists’ favorite products:

Best Survival Tools

David Canterbury – Aquamira Water Filters

Black Frontier Pro water filter

Aquamira porous plastic microfilter removes 99.9% of Cryptosporidium, Giardia.

Army veteran Dave Canterbury owns the Wilderness Outfitters Pathfinder Training School, is the best-selling author of Bushcraft 101 and has appeared in Discovery Channel’s “Dual Survivor.” Canterbury practices and teaches what he calls the 5 Cs of Survivability—cutting tool, combustion device, cover, (a) container, and cordage. He depends on the Aquamira water filter for clean and safe drinking water while in the bush. Aquamira is the maker of the best-selling and top-rated Frontier water filter straw. This pocket-sized water filter allows you to drink straight from a water source. Aquamira also offers personalized water filter bottles, filters that fit on regular-sized soda or water bottles and purification tablets. All of Aquamira’s filters remove 99.9% of Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

Stainless steel Leatherman Wave multi tool with 17 tools

The Leatherman Wave multi tool is one of Les Stroud’s favorites.

Les Stroud – Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool

Les Stroud is probably the most recognized and well-known name on this list. His show, “Survivorman” aired for five seasons. He is also an award-winning professional musician. His gear changes depending on what scenarios he is surviving, but he does like Leatherman—the go-to brand of multi-tools. The Wave is one of his favorites. It has 17 tools including pliers, wire cutters, two knife blades, scissors, a saw blade, a can and bottle opener and screwdriver. The blades open one-handed and are outside accessible. The main plain and serrated blades are made from 420 HC stainless steel and are 2.9 inches long.

Mors Kochanski – Boker Fixed Blade Knives

Green-handled fixed blade Boker knife

Mors Kochanski names Boker knives as one of his favorites.

Mors “The more you know, the less you carry” Kochanski has been teaching bushcrafting and survival skills since 1968. He served in the Canadian Navy and was kicked out of the university for a “lack of direction,” but that did not stop him from becoming one of the most notable survival experts in our lifetime. He has used many knives throughout his career, naming Schrade and Boker as two of his favorites. He prefers a pry-bar blade, because he says those styles perform best on wood.



GLOCK 20 Gen 4 Semiautomatic Pistol

“It is hard to beat a Glock.”

Mykel Hawke – Glock

Hawke is a former combat vet who served in the U.S. Army Special Forces as a Green Beret. He appeared in numerous TV survival-style shows: Man, Woman, Wild, One Man Army, Elite Tactical Unit, and currently Lost Survivors. Hawke has been teaching survival skills for over 20 years. He has his own extensive product line, but when asked by the Daily Caller what his favorite firearm is, he answered, “It is hard to beat a Glock.”



Creek Stewart – Ontario Black Bird SK-5 Knife

Fixed blade knife with black handle

The Black Bird SK-5 is made from 154CM stainless steel and has a Micarta handle.

Stewart is the founder of Willow Haven Outdoor Survival Training School and the host of The Weather Channel’s survival show, “Fat Guy in the Woods.” His pick is a 5-inch spear-point fixed blade from Ontario Knife Company. The Black Bird SK-5 is made from 154CM stainless steel and has a Micarta handle. Designed by Paul Sheiter for no-nonsense utility, it comes with a MOLLE-compatible nylon sheath and is made in the U.S.A.

No matter what brands you chose or how much you spend on survival gear, always give the items a trial run before having to depend on it. Even the fanciest, most expensive gadget can fail you—especially if you don’t know how to use it.

For more about knives, click here.

For more on water filters and water purifications, click here.

To learn more about Glock firearms, click here.

What are your go-to survival items? Tell us in the comment section.


Introduced to shooting at young age by her older brother, Suzanne Wiley took to the shooting sports and developed a deep love for it over the years. Today, she enjoys plinking with her S&W M&P 15-22, loves revolvers, the 1911, short-barreled AR-15s, and shooting full auto when she gets the chance. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter, and the modern-day prepper. Suzanne is a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

View all articles by CTD Suzanne

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (19)

Leave a comment

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

%d bloggers like this: