If you plan to ride or camp in remote locations, you definitely need to be prepared for emergencies. But, even if you’re not planning on going deep into remote wilderness, a basic survival kit is still highly recommended.
It’s easy to put together and provides low cost insurance against emergency situations.
Survivalists And The Government Agree On One Thing
Jokingly, people refer to some “end of days” emergency situations as the zombie apocalypse. But, the reality is that emergency situations happen every year – hurricanes, power outages, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes.
Some people may consider survivalists “fringe” or fanatics. No doubt, some of them do take things to the extreme, however having a plan and preparing for emergencies is never a bad idea.
Survivalists recommend being prepared and prepped for all emergencies. Our own government through FEMA and Homeland Security recommend that every person and family make a plan and put together a 72 hour survival kit.
Some survival kits are call “bug out bags” or “BOB”. The BOB typically refers to survival gear that you would have pre-packed and ready to go in an emergency. People in the survival/prepping community recommend keeping a bug out bag at your work, house and in your car.
But out on the trail:
You Need To Do More Than Survive
ATV Survival Kit = Self Rescue + 72 Hours of Supplies
Build Your Survival Kit
A basic survival kit will have everything you need to survive for 72 hours. This may be fine if you’re at home in a blackout, but is way less than what you would need if you’re stuck half way up a mountain in a sudden late season snow storm.
So, the goal of the ATV survival kit will put a heavy emphasis on self rescue as well as survival.
Let’s break down the equipment you’ll need into three categories: ATV Tools, Survival Gear and First Aid Kit.
- ATV Tool Kit = parts and equipment you need to repair your ATV and keep it on the trail
- Survival Gear = focus on basic survival, self rescue and staying alive
- First Aid = detailed list of what you need for comfort, survival and injuries
ATV Tool Kit
Although this may seem like a lot of gear, most of this should easily fit in a small soft sided tool kit. The further you go off the beaten path, the more prepared and capable you need to be to self fix and self rescue in emergency situations. Your life may depend on it! So be prepared!
- Dealer Provided Make/Model Tools (most ATVs come with a set included)
- Allen Wrench Set
- Vise grips
- One changeable screwdriver flat head/phillips head
- One additional flat-head screwdriver (two flat-heads can be used to get a tire back on a rim)
- Swiss Army/Multi-tool
- T-Handle Socket Set
- Axle Wrench (with extension bar if necessary)
- Small high power flash light or head lamp (+ extra batteries)
- Tow Strap (and/or winch for extreme conditions or advanced riding)
- Extra hardware, nuts and bolts (they take up very little room and can come in handy)
ATV Tire Tools
- Tire Pressure Gauge
- Tire Plug Kit
- CO2 canister or 12 volt air compressor
- Duct Tape (Wrap some around a nail or pencil; you can also find small rolls online. Duct tape can also be used to create an emergency splint.)
- Zip ties
- Super glue (Can also be used to seal small cuts in an emergency.)
- Epoxy (like JB Weld)
Check out ATV Tool Kit for the top rated tool kits available on the market.
ATV Survival Gear
- Some of the many uses of paracord include: securing a tarp, building a lean to, tourniquet, ladders, food storage, making fishing nets and getting water. The main beauty of paracord is it’s strength to weight usage making it an essential part of any ATV emergency kit.
- Fish Hooks/Line
- Securing food is essential to survival, so a few fishing hooks and a good length of line is advantageous. Plus, they weigh practically nothing and take up virtually no space.
- Fire Starter
- Have two separate ways to start a fire. Lighter, waterproof matches, or flint – pick two. It’s also a good idea to have a strong initial flame to start your kindling. The easiest, best fire starter is to make one yourself – coat the outside of cotton balls with Vaseline and store them in a pill bottle. Here are some other great ideas: Homemade Fire Starters
- Topographic Maps /Trail Maps
- Mylar Bag/SOL Escape Bivy
- Mylar blankets and bags are multi-use, cheap and very light weight making them essential carry gear.
- Mylar helps preserve your body temperature while reflecting your body heat back to you. They help protect you from the wind and rain or snow, plus they can also be used to capture water or condensation. Bags in silver or orange also make very effective signal flags.
- One downside of Mylar is that it’s not breathable. Some companies have developed insulating bivy bags that combine all the benefits of Mylar with breathability. One of these bags is the SOL Escape Pro Bivy, here’s a link to check it our on REI: SOL Escape Pro Bivy. Of course, all this technology comes at a price. A typical Mylar bag can be purchased for well less than $30, while a SOL will set you back $125+. If you’re an avid outdoorsman with plans to travel extensively in remote areas, then the SOL would be a good investment. But, if you’re just looking for to put together a practical all around emergency kit, a cheap Mylar bag will get the job done.
- Large Knife
- Choose a good quality knife. Either a folding knife or one one with a sheath that can be worn on your belt in case you need to hike out.
- Muli-tool/Swiss Army Knife
- Small Ax
- An ax is important for self rescue. It’s primarily for cutting downed trees that may be blocking the trail, but it’s also handy for cutting fire wood
- Nylon Tarp
- A tarp can provide you with a quick easy emergency shelter and can also be used to gather water and harvest condensation. Choose a light weight backpacker type, not the heavy construction type.
- Single Wall Stainless Steel Water Bottle
- This is not a typical Stanley double wall insulating thermos, which is a nice piece of equipment, but not ideal for our needs. A single wall stainless steel bottle can be used to cook and boil water. Plus, they’re strong and virtually indestructible, so a nice one will last for years.
- A Few Tips:
- Choose a plain one with no powder-coating.
- Don’t overheat the thread section, because it can warp and then you won’t be able to put the lid back on.
- Don’t heat it with the lid on or it can explode.
- Choose one with a wide top. It’s better for cooking and easier to clean.
- Signal Mirror
- Water Bladder or Refillable Pouches
- Bear Spray (if applicable)
- Wide Brim Hat
- Safety Pins
I’m not going to go too much in depth here, but plan for 72 hours of food per person. A mix of ready to eat food/backpacker (add water) foods is ideal. Don’t forget a spork for eating.
- Peanut Butter
- Granola Bars
- Backpacker Meals
- Beef Jerky
- Foil Packs of Tuna/Chicken
- Trail Mix
- Energy Gel
- Foil Packs of Baby Food
- Dried Fruit
You can survive 3+ weeks without food, but only 3-4 days without water.
There are two options for treating water: water purification tablets and water filters. Tablets are inexpensive, small and easy to pack. Water filters are larger, more expensive but able to treat more water.
For most survival kits, tablets are the best choice, but for longer trips or large groups, a filter may be the best choice.
ATV First Aid Kit
Your best bet when putting together a first aid kit, is to buy a pre-assembled one and then modify it for your needs. This will be easier than putting one together from scratch.
Choose a soft sided one that will have most of the basics such as:
- Assorted Band aids
- Butterfly Closure
- Medical Tape
- Gauze Pad
- Gauze Roll
- Antiseptic Wipes
- Large Cotton Pads
- Antibiotic Cream
- Burn Cream
- Sterile Saline Solution/Wound Wash
- Hand Warmers
- Prescription Meds
- Pepto-Bismal Caplets
- Ace Bandage
- Triangle Bandage/Sling
- Hand Sanitizer
- Oral Rehydration Salts
- Glucose Gel (for diabetes and hypoglycemia)
Putting It All Together
This is a long list and it probably seems like a lot of gear, but it will all fit easily in a standard sized backpack. If you’re having to hike out, you’ll be leaving the tools behind, so don’t worrying about those fitting in the backpack.
Hike Out Or Stay In Place
If you’re forced to hike out, always stay on the trail. It can be tempting to take a short cut or hike free style down a mountain, but don’t do it. It’s way too easy to get injured or lost. Staying on the trail dramatically increases your odds of survival.
An average healthy person can hike up to 15 – 20 miles a day.
So, with a well designed ATV trail riding survival kit, you should hopefully be able to get to a trailhead or a more populated area within 3- 5 days.
In some instances, hiking out may not be possible or the safest option. In cases of injury, loss of daylight, extreme weather, desert heat or white outs, you may need to stay in place.
If you do have to hunker down, try to find a wide open area that allows for visibility from the sky. Start a smoky signal fire and secure a mylar blanket out to increase visibility.
Snow and lighting are very dangerous at higher elevation, so, if you are faced with either, descend down the mountain as quickly and safely as possible.
Lightening can strike from miles away and can be a lot closer than it seems, so don’t underestimate it. Lower elevations are always better for survival situation.
Plan ahead. Stay alive.