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Emergencies have a way of arriving at unexpected moments, and outdoor enthusiasts can encounter difficulties even during casual day activities. A skier may find himself out of bounds and disoriented after taking a wrong turn during limited visibility conditions. A routine day hike can go wrong with an injury, a sudden weather change, or simply taking the wrong path. A sports fisherman may follow a winding stream one turn too far and have difficulty returning before dark.

The casual informality of short visits into nature makes it easy to overlook preparedness measures which we include in our packs or camping equipment when planning overnight stays in the wilderness. And preparedness kits can be too bulky or heavy to take in a small day pack. Yet since we take day trips into nature much more often than overnight stays, it’s even more important to bring along a lightweight, compact preparedness kit to ensure some degree of readiness should an unexpected setback occur.

Here’s a simple, inexpensive ‘ready-kit’ you can assemble yourself which covers the basics should you find yourself stuck overnight outdoors, or awaiting emergency rescue. This kit weighs less than 1 pound, and is compact enough to bring along even in small daypacks. Even if you are fortunate enough to never need this kit, having it in your day pack will make you feel more confident and help you enjoy the outdoors even more.

Also, by making your own kit, you can ensure that the components are high quality, unlike the poor quality items found in many store bought kits. And store bought kits often have items that may not be appropriate for your region or for your situation.


  • Space blanket – very compact and lightweight, yet has reflective qualities which help the body retain warmth.
  • Rain Poncho – compact and inexpensive, will help keep you dry. Can also be used as a water collector.
  • Package of Shake Hand Warmers – will keep hands warm up to 8 hours.
  • 20’ length of twine or light rope (nylon preferred).
  • Fire starter sticks.
  • Butane lighter.
  • Tinfoil – can be used as a cooking aid and as a signal reflector.
  • Knife (compact Swiss Army style).
  • Flashlight/glowstick/flashing beacon/whistle combo.
  • Whistle/compass/magnifying glass combo.
  • Adhesive tape – for sprains, dressing wounds.
  • Ibuprofin, 200mg – ten tablets.
  • Chewable Aspirin (For chest pains that could indicate an oncoming heart attack).
  • Lifestraw personal water filter – inexpensive and weighs only 2 ounces. LifeStraw purifies contaminated or suspect water for safe drinking.


This ready-kit will easily fit into a transparent heavy-duty Ziploc freezer bag. Before closing the bag, there is one last detail to attend: print or type a list of contents on a sheet of paper and tape the paper to the inside of the bag, with the printed list facing outwards. This enables users to see what is in the bag without having to shuffle through it during an emergency. And if you use up any of the contents, the list serves as a reminder of what may need to be replenished.

The bag can now be rolled and secured with a couple rubber bands.
One final note on preparedness: It is always the best judgement to have a trip itinerary form that you leave behind with someone you know who will be aware if you do not return on schedule. When a friend or family member is aware of your destination and the duration of your visit, the odds are greatly improved that emergency responders can be sent to your aid in a timely way.

You will be more likely to enjoy your next outing into nature even more with this simple ready-kit, and you will also be prepared to help others who may be in distress and without any means to help themselves.