Minimalism and Survival

Hector Santana
6 min readMay 5, 2024


How It Can Help You Be Better Prepared.

Keep it simple as you make your way out.

One thing is clear, in a SHTF situation you cannot take everything with you. Getting it right can make the difference between life and death. Every prepper wishes for copious amounts of space to store goods for the apocalypse. But truth be told there is never going to be that much room and if there is you cannot carry it all with you. Learn to have three levels of equipment you may need for different scenarios. One for everything, one for half of that and another for ten percent.

Learning what to prioritize is an incredibly important skill. If you could only take ten items with you, what would those be? Think of the bare essentials needed to survive and you will conjure up images of scenarios where you will need something else you do not have. Fretting over what you will need is not a curse, it is simply a worry. What are you to do? Fear not, I have a list for you to consider, you may not like it, but it is practical, and you will need them.

Let’s start with a water filter. Water is life without it you will most assuredly die. Even the odds by having a water filter to help you procure water wherever you are. There are many filters to consider but keep it small. A Lifestraw is great as is a Katadyn Hiker or Pocket filter. Yes, you can carry bottles, but what if there was no other way than to filter water. Carry a water filter, end of story. You can always learn to make your own expedient filter.

Small and reliable water filtration is invaluable during your bug-out.

Nothing is worse than being lost during an emergency. Learn how to use a compass and always have one ready in your kit. DO NOT use a cheap counterfeit, always get a quality compass like a Suunto or a lensatic compass with iridescent dials. They are costlier but the return on investment cannot be overstated. But get some training because orienting is not something you learn on the fly.

A headlamp is one of those things you cannot live without. Of course, we can opt for the standard flashlight, however there is a better way to work than having to hold a flashlight while doing something that requires both hands. Get yourself a headlamp and leave your hands free to work or play. But get a good one with lots of lumens. The more the better.

A quality knife is a no brainer when it comes to gear. Do your research because there are many great knives.

A knife is absolutely one of those items you will need in your travels among the ruins. Yes, make it a quality knife with high strength metal. Too small and it will defeat its purpose, too big and it will become an obstacle. Keep it purposeful. Look for knives that serve multiple roles and your work will be cut in half.

Matches are something that none of us can deny we would need in a SHTF situation. I can give you multiple examples of how a pack of matches has saved countless lives. but I will not bore you with those details. Instead, I will recommend a couple of good brands that have worked great for me in my travels, some even in the rain. UCO is a great company that produces a variety of products that I enjoy. Among them is their waterproof matches. I have carried these for years and they always strike, no matter how long I have had them. InstaFire matches are also a great product and will last for many years. Try them out in the field and stick to the one you like.

These UCO matches are fire, they always light even in the worst environments. (UCO)

Food is an absolute necessity, but you have to be practical about how much you can carry. In terms of weight nothing is lighter than the freeze-dried variety. Mountain House has some extremely tasty offerings that have taste and calories to boot. Try them now and begin storing some for bug-out situations. Leave some in caches so that you can recoup them when needed on the go. Learning about edible plants is also a good idea. Do not rely only on what you have in the bag. Prepare your brain while you're at it.

A firearm can help and hurt. Especially if you do not know how to use it. Carry one only if you train regularly with it and it is legal to possess one in your state. Having a sidearm and rifle combination is practical only if you travel in a team because doing so alone will attract a lot of attention. Moving in the shadows is better.

Smaller is better unless you are with a team, keep it practical and concealable in a SHTF situation.

Shelter is critical when you are on the move. Don’t assume you will find shelter along the way. A shelter half or a small pack tent will go a long way when you need it. Keeping a low profile when you're getting some sleep is the key to survival, you can even use a Gore-Tex bivy cover for your sleeping bag and pass on the tent. That way it will be hard to spot you behind or under some bushes. Either one will do. Just make sure you don't snore.

A small backpack stove is essential for heating things up on the go. An MSR Pocketrocket or Jetboil are top choices. Both are the size of a large drinking glass and take up minimal space in your backpack. But their potential uses far outweigh any cons to carrying one. Do your research because there are dozens of choices on the market. Remember to keep it practical, stoves with multiple uses are better suited for this mission, keep that in mind when considering one.

First aid kits have been a top choice for preppers for decades. Simply because of their lifesaving properties. You may opt for a standard kit augmented with a vented chest seal for bullet wounds and a tourniquet, just in case. Yes, you should fret over the size of band aids. Keep a variety of sizes for larger cuts and bruises. Have gauze pads available as well as small bottles of alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. They have multiple uses and will always come in handy. A well thought out first aid kit is invaluable, so give it the thought it deserves.

Well, there you have it, a minimalist bug-out kit to get you to where you're going. It is practical and will allow you to do what you need when you need. You have everything to secure your water, fire, food, defense, and health. Remember this is a kit for instances in which you do not have a vehicle and are traveling alone or with another person. Yes, it would be great to include other items but then it wouldn't be a bare bones bug out bag, would it. Stay frosty…



Hector Santana

*Top Writer-Camping and Survival. I love to write about the great outdoors, survival and foreign policy. An avid outdoorsman and survival instructor.