No matter if you’re going car camping, tent camping, or RV camping, you include an emergecy kit when you pack your bags. Camping emergency kits provide life-saving help. They help get us back to safety when we are struggling, and far from outside assistance, and they are an important piece in the gear you should bring camping. The most crucial elements of an emergency kit include considerations involving essential needs. Considerations include water, food, warmth, light, communication, first aid, and basic tools. These generalized facets of an emergency kit all have to be present to provide you with vital resources in the event of an outdoor accident or disaster. To help, we’ve put together this guide with thorough information on how to compile a reliable outdoor emergency kit so you can stay safe on your next camping trip.

The Importance of Having an Emergency First-Aid Kit While Camping

To be ready for an emergency in an outdoor environment, preparing an excellent emergency kit is essential. Each year in the United States, there are over 2,000 search and rescue missions conducted in our national parks. To help prevent these scary situations, an emergency first-aid kit is a great first step. This guide explains the basics of an emergency kit and all of the essential components. Next time you go camping, you’ll have a better peace of mind knowing that your emergency kit is nearby and fully stocked. 

What Should You Include in an Emergency Kit?

An emergency kit includes a first aid kit, basic tools, a compass, and more. Continue reading to learn more information about essentials for your wilderness first aid kit. 

First Aid Kit

Not everyone is going to need every tool in their emergency kit due to the nature of camping. When preparing your kit, keep in mind the type of environment you’re going to be camping in, how long you’ll be camping, and other similar factors in order to pick the right things for your kit. For example, you may want to have equipment to treat burns while camping if you plan on making a lot of fires or plan to use a tent stove or camping grill on your trip. However, no matter what, every camper should have a first-aid kit.

The best first aid kits designed for the outdoors taken into account human injury caused by accident, allergic reactions caused by plant life such as poison ivy or poison oak and snake bite treatments. Don’t hesitate to tailor the kit to suit your specific needs, including adding your specific requirements to the list below (medication, inhaler, medicine to treat chafing, etc.). The components below are meant as a starting guide to help you choose basic gear for your emergency kit.

First-aid kits typically include things like:

  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Assorted bandages
  • Gauze pads in various sizes
  • Medical tape
  • Ibuprofen or aspirin
  • Insect sting treatment
  • Antihistamine
  • Tweezers
  • Multitool
  • Flashlight
  • Food and water
  • Navigational tools
  • Signaling equipment


Tools enhance your chance of altering the environment around you. When in an emergency situation, this can mean saving a life. Multitools have become a popular way of carrying a compact, multi-function assistance tool outdoors. You can decide to choose a multitool that includes everything from knives to pliers, or you can decide to carry separate tools. If you’re camping in a mountainous area, you may want to get some mountaineering tools, as well.

Multitools often feature large blades of varying texture, pliers and bottle openers. Other tools try to include as many features as possible. Popular tools include features that enhance usability, like safety controls. Finding multitools is easy with a quick search online or by going to your local camping store. 

A pocket knife is an essential tool when camping. When considering the type of knife to purchase, try finding one that’s small, lightweight, and made from high-quality materials so it doesn’t break. Small knives are more than adequate when addressing emergency situations in the outdoors. Though camping knife sets will benefit you when you’re at your campsite, larger knives are not needed and will weigh down your emergency pack. 

On a related note, the pocketknife should be comfortable to transport, so it should be light in weight. The durability and usability of the knife are important, so you should be sure it is constructed with quality stainless steel. 


An emergency can happen at any time, day or night. To be sure you have visibility when you need it camping to use your kit, it is imperative that you have illumination.

A flashlight provides adequate illumination for many circumstances. Of the products on the market today, hand-crank flashlights seem to be the smartest choice. They provide a continuous supply of light. Hand-crank flashlights eliminate the risk of running out of light because of faulty batteries. If you must bring an alkaline battery-powered flashlight, be sure to bring extra batteries in a waterproof container. 

In an emergency situation, you may also need traditional wick candles. Emergency candles should be low-odor and long-lasting. They should also be sealed in an airtight container. 

Stronger light sources may be needed if you are traveling on foot when an emergency strikes. A headlamp remains a great choice for its practical usability and hands-free nature. If you need to assist someone who’s had an accident, you will be able to do so with the use of both of your hands. 

A camping lantern can be a good way to ensure a small to medium sized area is well lit for a short period of time. This can help in assessing emergency situations, and when traveling on rocky terrain at night. Lanterns can be fueled by oil or battery, or function as a solar camping lantern. When choosing the best option for your kit, be sure to consider the weight, cost and usability of each type of lantern. For example, if you’re hiking for the majority of your outing, a lighter lantern would be more practical. 

Food and Water

Perhaps the most crucial of elements in a survival kit is food and water. A supply of water should be carried with you at all times outdoors to stay hydrated. When looking for water to drink outside, always be aware of your surroundings. No matter how it physically looks, water can prove unsafe to drink. Tactics to facilitate attaining this resource includes water purification tablets and water purification straws. 

Water purification tablets kill microscopic contaminants commonly found in freshwater. Microbiological elements that make water unpotable include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Purification tablets eradicate common disease-causing bacteria as well, such as E. coli and cholera. To choose a good water purification tablet, read the specific specifications closely. We think it’s best to purchase tablets that have been lab tested for efficacy and have a long shelf life. It’s also good to be familiar with other ways of purifying water while camping.

Nonperishable food includes easy-to-carry items such as powdered food packets, canned goods and dried fruits. A three-day supply is necessary to carry for each individual in your group. If you are stuck in an emergency situation and cannot readily evacuate, a supply of food can sustain you until responders arrive. You should also be familiar with foraging for food in the wilderness, just in case rescue takes too long or you lose your supplies.

To evacuate from a situation and seek help, it is important to have proper navigational tools in your emergency kit. We consider the essentials to include physical maps of the area and a compass. 

Having a physical map of the area provides visibility in times of crisis. If you need to access an alternate route because of a natural disaster, or have to navigate quickly due to an oncoming storm, a map of your geographical location provides the answer. In choosing a map of the area, always consider looking in local venues first. Local maps promote situational awareness by pointing you toward sources of water, shelter and assistance. If you aren’t up to speed on how to read a topographical map, look up a guide to familiarize yourself with them. You can also download a survival app on your phone if it makes you feel more comfortable.

A compass for hiking goes hand-in-hand with a map. In order to properly utilize a map, you need to have it in the correct orientation. A compass gives you a heading to tell you which direction you are traveling. A compass also gives you its bearing to tell you which direction an object is from you. When looking for the best navigational tools to include in your emergency kit, a compass and map are essential. 

A Fire-Starting Kit

A fire-starting kit is a good thing to have in handy when your other resources are tapped or unusable. To build your kit, first include a fire source and friction source. Common fire sources include matches or lighters, and friction sources are often a match box or bow drill. 

Practice utilizing fire for outdoor use requires attention to detail and preparedness. Be prepared to provide warmth by keeping your kit dry and sealed. Pay attention to your surroundings to ensure you’re not in an area that’s in danger of wildfires. 

When looking for the best kit, consider simpler options for maximum usability and minimal carrying weight. If you want to expand your kit to include more items, look for compact, ready-made fire-starting kits in your local camping store. 

Camping heaters and camping generators can be a valuable tool for staying warm at camp, but they are less useful in an emergency kit, so save them for basecamp to conserve space in your kit.

Rescue Signals

Rescue signals provide visibility to first responders in an emergency situation. Popular rescue signals include the use of mirrors, flares, and whistles. 

A signaling mirror is a type of mirror that includes a built-in reflection aiming mechanism and alerts others of your location. Everyday mirrors are not as effective as signals because they cannot precisely be aimed or flashed at a target. When deciding what kind of signal mirror you’d like to include in your emergency kit, consider looking for products that are durable. Carrying a signal mirror in your car might not require reinforced laminated glass, but if you’re outdoors you may need this extra feature. 

Flares provide a fire or blaze of light that attracts attention and alerts others to your location. Because they are placed on the ground during use, they are most helpful when utilized on flat terrain or roads. And remember, this product always needs to stay dry in order to function!

Survival whistles produce a high-pitched sound that is audible across great distances. Survival whistles are a necessary form of non-verbal communication in emergency situations. 

Rain Jackets

Rain jackets provide an extra layer of protection in the outdoors. Wet gear, fires that cannot ignite, and water weighing your clothes down can put you in jeopardy. When looking for the best rain jacket for your emergency kit, make sure your jacket has the following features: waterproof outer shell, durable zippers, and light weight. Rain jackets are often graded on how many layers of protection they provide. Most jackets provide two to three layer construction. Choose the right amount of layers based on the probable severity of the weather in your outdoor climate.

Don’t Include Any Gear You Don’t Know How to Use

You need to be able to access and utilize your kit in emergency situations. Therefore, it is imperative that you know how to use all the gear you include. There are ways in which you can get up-to-speed on how to use each aspect of your kit. For example, first aid kits often include instruction cards on how to use the items. Reading survival books at your local library can also assist you on your pursuit. If you want to really understand how to use your tools and need some guidance, consider a wilderness first aid course.

A wilderness first aid course provides information for those who enjoy outdoor recreation in places where emergency response personnel cannot easily access. If you feel the need to expand your skillset and want hands-on experience with your first aid kit, consider taking a wilderness first aid course. If you need an introductory course, make sure to look for a class open to all experience levels. Most classes combine classroom and outdoor settings to maximize knowledge gained. You can find wilderness first aid courses at your local community center, outdoors store, or even the library.

Take Care of Your Emergency Kit After a Trip

Ensuring your kit is usable and reliable requires that you care for it after your adventures have ended. We recommend that you make sure all items are present, dry, and properly stored. 

Removed Expired Medicines

To provide effective treatment, medication needs to be valid. In addition to storing medication in waterproof packaging, it is important to check expiration dates and discard any expired medicines.

Replace Depleted Items

We recommend you replace exhausted items in your emergency kit after every outdoor excursion. To make it easy to remember, consider making a list of kit items that you keep at home. Then when you return from your trip, you can readily check each component. If a component has been used up entirely, replace it as soon as possible. The result will be a reliable emergency first aid kit that’s ready to go for next time!


A first aid kit is an invaluable resource when you’re in an emergency. Preparing for an emergency outside requires that you’re proactive about constructing an emergency kit. We hope this guide has given you the safety tips and knowledge you need to prepare for the great outdoors by going through every needed aspect of an emergency first aid kit!

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