Essential Survival Gear for Kids [15 Items to not Forget to Pack]

by Oliver Guess | LAST UPDATED September 10, 2021

Survival gear for kids
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Outdoor activities are a great way to spend some time with your kids. They get to enjoy all of the beauty nature has to offer, and you get to join them as they experience this adventure first-hand and see them turn into experienced campers.

Spending some time in nature is also a great way to get them used to using their hands and not always rely on everyday comforts. This helps them develop some pretty useful survival skills and allows them to become a bit more self-reliant.

However, before you can go on any outdoor adventures, you’re going to need a bit of equipment. Luckily, there’s plenty of great survival gear for kids available online, and we’ll help you go through some essential items that we think are mandatory inclusions.

Before we get started, though, bear in mind that you’ll want to give the survival kit to your child and not just carry it yourself. This way, they can feel a bit more independent, and they’ll likely have more fun on the trip as well.

Survival Kits

If you’re not too well-versed in this particular topic but would still like your child to have the best in survival tools, we’ve got some ideas up our sleeve that might vibe with you.

Suppose you don’t like any of our options. In that case, you can easily find kits of all shapes and sizes on Amazon that have everything in them, from basic outdoor survival gear to more specialized items like crayons or water paints targeted towards younger children.

The advantage of packages like these is that they provide you with everything you might need in a single set, which skips the necessity to cobble together your own camping gear package.

The downside of these packages is that they include too few or too many items, with no in-between. It’s rare to see a small package that isn’t missing a few important items that might appear on lists like ours, and it’s equally as rare to see a large package that doesn’t come with a lot of useless junk (like plastic spiders and bugs).

Even the smaller packages are a bit on the pricier side, so it’s not ideal for spending more money on additional necessary survival tools that don’t come in the set.

On the other hand, the large survival packages are so big and so full of unnecessary items that you need to remove gear just so a child can actually lift the backpack. This means intentionally leaving out items that you paid for.

We’ll admit that there is no exact list of survival items you need for a camping trip. They’re all replaceable to a certain degree, but picking the items individually will ensure that you get exactly what you bargained for. So here are the 15 top items to add to your kid’s survival gear bag. 

1. Backpack

Before you start assembling your child’s bug-out bag, the first thing that you’ll need to get is a backpack made out of some sturdy materials.

The most important factor is size. Of course, you’d want to fit the backpack to the size of the kid, so make sure it’s big enough to fit all of the most important items, but not so big that it hits them in the back of the knees while backpacking.

You might also want to make sure that the straps are adjustable but comfortable and that the backpack has a connecting chest latch between both straps, which helps add a bit more carry support. This one also has a whistle on the chest strap, which is a great feature! It is also water and tear-resistant, which is ideal when doing anything outdoors. 

Our choice would be the Venture Pal Ultralight backpack since it checks all of the boxes that we just mentioned, but you can feel free to find something that your child might like better.

2. Knife

Giving a knife to a child is always stressful, regardless of how responsible they may be. To alleviate some of your worries, we have three points that you should follow when picking out a knife for your child.

First, don’t get anything with a push-button release like a switchblade since that’s just asking for an accident to happen.

Second, if you get a knife that opens and closes like a swiss army blade, make sure that the closing mechanism isn’t too stiff, and there’s no chance that the blade can accidentally close on someone’s fingers.

Finally, make sure that the knife has a case where it should be kept at all times when not in use.

The K-Sheath, 550 Paracord is probably the best choice since it has a good grip, doesn’t have any mechanism and comes with a sheath that makes it easy to carry.

3. Binoculars

While this may not be the first item you think of when you imagine wilderness survival situations, it’s probably one of the most useful gadgets to include in an explorer kit.

You can use binoculars to get a better view of your surroundings, scout the area if you happen to have gotten lost, or maybe even log some bird-watching hours.

There isn’t a lot you can get wrong when buying binoculars, so as long as you make sure that they have a cord that goes around the neck so that they don’t accidentally drop on the ground and break, you should be perfectly fine with any model that you go for.

We’d go for the Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars since they come with adjustable sights, hooks for a neck strap and are remarkably sturdy and waterproof thanks to the rubberized coating.

4. Firestarter

A firestarter is essentially a small piece of metal that you can strike on a larger metal rod to produce sparks that you can use to start your fire.

All you really need to do to start a fire is lay down some tinder, like some dry branches and leaves, for example, and then place the rod right on top of the material and use the smaller metal striker to produce sparks by hitting the rod. 

The Bayite Ferrocerium Drilled Flint Fire Starter is a good example since they come with a small thumb-sized piece of striking metal and a 4” metal rod. The rod doesn’t have any coverings, but the striking metal has a useful rubber handle that you can hold it by, and both of these elements are held together by a sturdy paracord.

5. Headlamp

A headlamp is simply a flashlight that’s more convenient to use. This is an essential item for camping since it can help you do everything from reading a book to going to the bathroom at night while leaving your hands completely free.

When buying a headlamp, you can go for one of the products specifically marketed towards children and have some sort of animal on the headset, or you can get something a bit simpler that will last them into their teenage years.

We’d suggest trying to find a headlamp that’s rechargeable rather than one that runs on batteries, but that’s not a deal-breaker.

Additionally, you could also bring a few glow sticks with you if the headlamp gives out or if you just want to have a bit of fun at night and put on a light show.

6. Emergency Whistle

Like it or not, you can’t always keep your kids within your sight at all times when you’re out in the wilderness, and you might get separated from one another at some point. An emergency whistle can help put your mind at ease and ensure that you’ll easily be able to find out where your child is if they ever get lost.

7. First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is yet another vital addition to any survival gear for kids that you’re putting together. You essentially have the choice to either get a commercially available first aid kit that includes most of the items that you might need, or you can cobble together an emergency preparedness kit on your own.

Your choice will largely depend on how seriously you want your child to take the responsibility of carrying something like this. Very young children should only be given a few basic items like bandaids, disinfectants, and so on. Adults should carry any crucial medication or any supplies for emergencies.

Kids who are a bit more mature could be allowed to carry the actual first aid kit you brought with you, but they should still be supervised and made aware that they shouldn’t use any of the items inside unless you approve.

8. Food Bars

Bringing along emergency food on a short camping trip might not be all that crucial, but it’s still a good idea for a few reasons.

If you’re planning on going hiking or going to be on the move for the majority of the day, you might not be able to find a convenient location where you can set up camp and have a full bonfire and a meal. In situations like those, it’s convenient to have a few nutrient bars that you can eat to keep your strength up and allow you to keep moving after a short break.

If you’re not hikers, then you can still get a few bars with you and have a snack in between meals for a bit of an energy boost. Just make sure that the food bars that you buy have a long shelf life since there might be a gap of a few months between when you rang those bars on the market checkout and when you brought them on your trip with you.

9. Water Bottle

You’re very unlikely to bring along multiple small water bottles with you on a camping trip to act as your primary water source since a large container is much more convenient to transport. On the other hand, the bigger bottles are much heavier and much more cumbersome to carry.

So, instead of bringing many small water bottles or a really heavy one, you should probably consider buying something like a stainless steel permanent bottle.

You can constantly keep filling this item up if the camping area has a clean water source, or you can fill it up by using a larger container of water that you’d have brought along.

You also have the option of buying a water filter straw and simply purifying the water from a nearby river, but the filters that actually work are a bit costly, and—in all honesty—a simple camping trip really doesn’t require this sort of prepper-level bushcraft gear.

10. Sleeping Bag

A sleeping bag needs to be big enough to allow your child to sleep comfortably but small enough that it can fit in or over the backpack that they’re carrying. We’d suggest going for something like the Yordawn Sleeping Bags since they come in various sizes suitable for both kids and adults, so you can get a matching set if you want.

You can go for a brand that you might have a bit more experience with if you’re choosing a sleeping bag, and the only thing you need to look out for is making sure that you have a decent amount of padding and that the material is waterproof.

Keep in mind that winter sleeping bags are going to have very different requirements, but we doubt that you’ll take your kids camping in the winter months right off the bat, so you can probably just stick to the standard type of sleeping bag for now.

11. Tent

The only requirements when looking for a tent are to make sure that the bottom is waterproof and won’t let any moisture seep in, the top is similarly water-resistant and will keep any rain out, and that the tent is sturdy enough to keep most of the wind out.

Depending on how you want to play this, you can either get a single tent that both you and your child can share or get a small tent you each sleep in separately.

Getting two small tents usually costs more than getting a single moderately-sized one, and you’ll get a lot more room to move around in on the inside as well.

On the other hand, if you’re not all that bothered with spending a few bucks more, your kids might appreciate the extra little bit of camping immersion that they might get from having a tent of their own.

12. Emergency Blanket

Emergency blankets are those foil blankets that you might have seen on a few tv shows or movies. Their design is meant to give you a fully functional thermal blanket that you can carry around with you in your pocket essentially.

The blankets are thermally insulated, and they’re designed to reflect 90% of your body heat at you and keep you warm if the temperatures at night dip a bit more than you were anticipating.

Items like the Oceas Outdoor Mylar Emergency Blankets come with a 4-pack of pocket-sized portable blankets that you can carry around with you in the small case they come in.

When they’re taken out of their case and the bag that they’re kept in, the blankets can be unfurled to cover their full 7x5 dimensions, and they can easily be used to cover both you and your kids from head to toe.

13. Rain Poncho

A rain poncho is much more useful for camping than something like an umbrella. You’ll be able to keep your hands free while on the move, and there's less chance of running into trees if you’re going through a forest while the rain starts pouring. The ponchos are also incredibly cheap as well, coming in at around $10 a piece.

Additionally, these items also come in a vacuum-sealed pack that hardly takes up any space in your backpack and that you can easily open and put on in a matter of seconds as soon as you feel so much as a drop of rain on your head.

14. Gloves

Most camping spots are near mountains or mountainous areas, so temperature drops during the night are pretty standard and eventuality you need to prepare for.

You’re naturally going to want to bring some thicker clothes and maybe a jacket (even if camping during the summer), but you should also seriously consider taking along a pair of gloves as well.

The standard type of gloves used for camping are fingerless gloves since they can keep your hands warm while still allowing you to use your hands. However, if you want to be able to use your hands and also make sure that you can cover your fingers when it gets really cold, then we’d suggest getting your children a pair of “convertible fingerless gloves wool mittens.”

You can also probably get away with bringing a few hand warmers with you as well, but they can’t replace the usefulness of gloves.

15. Survival Bracelet

The last item on our list treads the line between typical gear that a prepping enthusiast would like and an EDC (everyday carry) item.

A survival bracelet is essentially a length of paracord that was weaved in such a way that it can hold a few feet of cord that’s wrapped so tightly that it can fit on your wrist. Both ends are tied to a buckle that can easily be fastened and unfastened, and the cor can be detached and used for a variety of different purposes.

A lot of survival bracelets like the X-Plore Gear also come with a lot of additional items as well. This particular item for example, comes with a compass, an emergency whistle, and a firestarter striker.

Conclusion

There are a lot of different opinions when it comes to which items should or should not be included when talking about survival gear for kids. There are a lot more items that you would need if you were putting together something like an emergency survival kit for the wilderness, but that wasn’t our purpose here.

All we wanted to do is point out the most useful items that you can bring with you on a camping trip that you take with your child, and we stand behind all of our choices.

Oliver Guess
Oliver is an off-grid living enthusiast currently residing in the mountains of New Mexico. His interests in sustainability originally lead him down the path of an off the grid lifestyle. When he's not tinkering with his broken solar panels, Oliver enjoys searching out hot springs, whittling and cooking.

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