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Survivalist Essentials

From a minimalist shelter to the ultimate blade, five key items that will keep you alive in the most extreme camping conditions

by Graham Hiemstra in Tech on 12 July 2011

Call it apocalyptic fantasy or a primitive urge, the allure of relying on little more than wit, instinct and a few essentials in the wild brings out the inner Bear Grylls in all of us. (For those who prefer leaving the survival adventures to the folks on TV, check out our weekend and car camping features.) What follows is the best gear—from the newest to the most obscure—to round out the kits of more enthusiastic explorers .

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Possibly the most important tool you can have when put in the situation of man vs. nature, a rugged hunting knife plays a critical role in building shelter, feeding yourself and most importantly protecting yourself. Helle's Amazon where most Helle knives sell for around $100.

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Designed as an all-encompassing survival tool, the Eton Raptor Solar USB Charger and Weatherband Radio holds nearly all one would need to survive a lengthy stay away in the wilderness. Included in the design is a compas, LED flashlight, digital clock, bottle opener and NOAA weather alert radio, among others. Find the impressive tool from Amazon for $95.

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Described by the United States Army as "the finest single source for self-reliance for all extreme circumstances," the Survival Field Manual has you covered with essential instructions from how to treat polluted water to making traps and snares to preparing and preserving wild game, as well as all types of fire making techniques. Straightforward text and user-friendly illustrations make the guide helpful even in situations of low mental capacity. It's available through Amazon for $11.

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No matter the season, packing a solid waterproof shell when venturing into the unknown is a wise move. We picked Westcomb's Apoc jacket, a lightweight shell that comes in both male and female specific cuts. Most importantly, it's entirely constructed out of the most breathable waterproof fabric available on the market today, the new Polartec Neoshell. Check retailers for the Apoc jacket ($480) once fall rolls around.

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Most claim the key to survival is a strong will and a proper shelter. Cascade Design's compact and lightweight E-wing helps save your precious energy for the mental game. The waterproof canopy—weighing just one pound— can be pitched using two trekking poles or simply strung up on nearby tree limbs, each allowing for different architectural options, a bare bones option that's ideal for summer trips to the bush too. It sells for $150 through Cascade Designs webshop.

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