Answer: I recommend the following:
■ A quality full-tang knife and/or a multi-tool. Locking blades are an important safety feature.
■ Extra-large garbage bags for shelter, for water storage, to protect moisture-sensitive items, etc.
■ An emergency space blanket.
■ Water purification tablets.
■ Tinder. I like cotton balls coated with Vaseline. They catch a spark easily, and can also be used to stuff a wound, treat chapped lips and dry skin or lubricate a bow-and-drill socket.
■ Fire starters. Ferrocerium rods create a spark of 5,400 degrees to ignite tinder. A cut piece of hacksaw blade can be used as a striker and a saw. Wrap waterproof matches in some plastic wrap or store them in a case. A lighter with a clear housing tells you how much fluid is left. If the fluid runs out, you can still use the sparking element to start a fire.
■ A bandanna. Use it as a sling, make a basket by tying knots in the corners, make a wound dressing or shred it for tinder.
■ Genuine 550 paracord.
■ A button compass.
■ A credit-card-size fresnel lens. Use it to start a fire, inspect a wound or identify plants.
■ Heavy-duty tin foil can be used to make a cooking/storage container, a cup for boiling water or a reflective signaling surface.
■ A small LED light that has both a pressure-sensitive intermittent on/off pad and an on/off button.
■ Snare wire to catch small game, and for binding or making repairs.
■ Signal mirror with sighting hole.
■ Small plastic, pea-less whistle.
■ Small spool of dental floss to use as fishing line or sewing thread.
■ Small fish hooks and sinkers.
■ Heavy-duty rubber bands for improvising traps or a slingshot.
■ A few heavy-duty sewing needles to use as primitive weapon tips or fishing spears (magnetize them to make a field-expedient backup compass).
■ Safety pins to make a treble-hook, for gigging, to secure items and for medical uses.
■ Duct tape.