Alpine. Forests. Or even that ever-popular “deserted island”: Whatever the territory, you just passed through the unimaginable — a multi-day backcountry emergency — unscathed. You can chalk it up to one primary reason: your survival pack.

Yes, you’re resourceful even without the tools it holds: You can tie knots with the best of ’em, start fires even with damp tinder and without matches, trained up on wilderness first aid, and can build a decent shelter — given the sufficient materials.

However, since life doesn’t usually hand over picture-perfect situations, especially in emergency situations, and since you’re the kind of person who doesn’t wait for the worst to happen before figuring out a plan, you pack a safety kit along on all your excursions. In addition to your first aid kit, the instruments it holds makes it easier to be self-reliant until help arrives.

Regardless of whether your backcountry ski trip went amiss or you’re confronted by a calamity at home, being ready with some key things will help your peace of mind — and perhaps others’, too.

What’s required for this safety kit? To keep the list at its most essential, carry these three things whenever you’re adventuring:

1. Cord

Must-have safety kit items - dental floss

Though it’d likely come in handy, you don’t need to pack webbing or rope in your safety kit. These items would add unnecessary weight and bulk to a kit you’re trying to keep portable. Instead, add tooth floss. Though it seems counterintuitive — because of its diminutive girth — dental floss is a strong, lightweight type of cord that can be used in many ways. Aside from the obvious task of keeping your teeth happy, tooth floss can be utilized to secure coverings like tarps, tie branches together, stitch wounds, help light fires (when set alight along with tinder), used as a sewing thread to fix apparel, and as a line to catch fish. Place a few packs in your pack; it’s compact and in emergencies, you’ll be thanking yourself that you gave yourself enough to have extra at your disposal.

2. A Strong Blade

Must-have safety kit items - knife

A durable blade will prove itself time and time again. Useful in a wide range of circumstances, including protection, food and tinder procurement, emergency signaling and helping in the creation of basic shelter. Search for a knife that folds into its own handle; this will help you save weight and protect your gear (and yourself) from unintentional cuts. The most dependable blades will be between 3/16 – ⅛ of an inch thick.

Investing in a proper knife will help guarantee that it will hold up to the many duties it might need to take care of in emergency and survival circumstances.

3. Fire Starter

Must-have safety kit items - fire starter

Helping make food and water safe to eat, assisting emergency personnel in locating you, and helping keep you warm: Similar to a decent knife, the ability to create and maintain a fire is necessary if you find yourself in an unfortunate predicament. Sure, you could pack a BIC lighter or matches to aid you in starting your fires, but those are quickly used up (or unusable if wet, as in the case of the matches). Instead, the preferable choice is an item that doesn’t rely on gas or dry conditions: magnesium fire starters. When doubled with easily ignitable tinder, these compact fire starters create a strong spark that readily sets fuel ablaze. Best of all, magnesium fire starters can be used hundreds of times and work in wet and cold conditions. You just need to train up on how to keep fires going.

Have additional or alternative items to pack? More ideas on how to use the above items in emergency situations? Let us know on Twitter!

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Although she’s a Florida girl, exploration called her away after the final bell of her high school career. Leaving home to journey westward alone, she chased the sun to Utah. Over the years, she was consumed with skiing, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and getting lost on back roads. But exploration continued to call. After closing her bakery — which funded college courses and adventure — she stored her possessions and hit the road again, on a quest to reach the distant places of North America. For three years she lived in her little Mazda 3 and skied the backcountry of Alaska, slept under the northern lights in the Yukon Territory, ice climbed Colorado's frozen canyons and rock climbed across the continent, photographed Nova Scotia’s coves, backpacked in southern US wildernesses and munched on sugared tamarindo in the jungles of Mexico. But living in a car started to feel limiting, so after seeing the many glories this continent had to offer, she chose the only place fitting for an explorer to spend a lifetime of wild wonder: British Columbia. Dual citizenship in hand, she settled along the Powder Highway in the Selkirks and is now making her home between four walls and deeply wooded mountains. When she's not playing the part of a photojournalist, Gina can be found collaborating with women worldwide through her nonprofit, Outdoor Women's Alliance, and working to improve her outdoor skills and wilderness safety certifications.

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