Knives of Alaska Magnum Alaskan SureGrip
A standard multi-tool is fine for weekend camping trips, but extended stays in the backcountry demand a knife that can take a little more abuse—and dish it out if need be. “You want a knife you can literally pound on—something you can hit with a rock in case you need to split wood,” says Gantenbein. That rules out most folding blades. The Magnum Alaskan SureGrip offers a rugged, reinforced handle and a razor-sharp 4.5-inch drop-point fixed blade to help you cut through anything from gauze to game and even the occasional tree limb.
Ultimate Survival Technologies StrikeForce Fire Starter
You don’t want to rely on a dwindling supply of matches when the weather turns sour. “And not many people have the skills to start a fire with a couple of sticks,” says Gantenbein. “You need something that creates a spark.” Ultra-portable and less than 4 ounces, the StrikeForce fire-starter is an all-weather, flint-based system that provides more than 4,000 strikes and produces a 1,300-degree spark (three times hotter than a match).
Fenix HL21 LED Headlamp
Headlamps keep your hands free for more important tasks, like erecting shelters, gathering wood, starting fires, and otherwise going about the process of staying alive. Stay away from lights with incandescent bulbs, which drain batteries quickly. Instead, “opt for lights with LEDs, which don’t need as much energy,” says Labov. The HL21 can shift between 3 levels of brightness, and includes a special SOS mode to attract attention when you can’t. It also earns bonus points for running on a single 1.5-volt AA battery.