The Silva Ranger 515 CLQ Compass bills itself as the “Pinnacle of Precision.” It delivers outstanding accuracy and heads you in the right direction fast, and the split-sighting mirror enhances performance when navigating on distant landmarks. It features three scales for quick and easy plotting with any topographic map. The geared declination allows you to set the declination for the area you’re in, ensuring constant compensation for this variable when taking bearings. The declination scale sets easily from the bottom of the compass. A clinometer lets you measure angles of inclination. This is the real deal. Buy one and learn how to use it—and you’ll have a very hard time getting lost. Estimated Street Price: $50.
Pelican L1 LED
The Pelican L1 LED flashlight provides illumination for up to 130 hours with fresh batteries. This bright, findable, yellow, water-resistant light weighs less than one ounce and measures a hair over 2.5 inches long, so there’s no excuse to be without several. Designed for close-quarters use, inside a tent, for instance, it delivers a brilliant 8.9-lumen stream of light and comes with red and blue night vision disks for signaling or other applications. Functional and highly compact, you can easily stow two or more in your kit—and you’ll never be left in the dark again. Estimated Street Price: $15.
The Petzl Signal safety light is visible over long distances and effectively announces your location for all to see. It emits a fog-piercing red light, in continuous or flashing mode, and delivers a 180º multidirectional beam that can be seen up to one kilometer away. The durable LED technology works in extreme temperatures (-22º to 140° F) and lasts 120 hours in flashing mode or 40 hours in continuous lighting mode. It’s waterproof and weighs about three-quarters of one ounce. Estimated Street Price: $15.
In the Knife/Utility Tool category, for less than $50 you can get the Gerber Suspension. It provides needle-nose pliers, a wirecutter, fine-edge knife, serrated edge knife, saw, scissors, Phillip’s screwdriver, small and medium flat-blade screwdrivers, can opener, bottle opener and lanyard access. The Suspension comes in a ballistic nylon sheath that clings close and out-of-sight. Each tool locks securely into place so you can use them all with confidence and safety. Estimated Street Price: $20.
You also need a pure blade. For the last year or longer, I’ve been carrying a Ka-Bar 4062 lock back, a lightweight folding knife designed by Bob Dozier and made of AUS 8A stainless steel. It can be easily opened and closed with one hand—an important feature for an emergency knife—but it’s street legal because it’s not spring-assisted and has but a three-inch blade. Ka-Bar made its bones as manufacturer of U.S. Marine Corps combat knives, and the 4062 lives up to its legacy. AUS 8A is a high-carbon stainless steel that offers the optimum compromise between light weight, durability and edge-holding toughness. Estimated Street Price: $25.
Dehydration is a killer. In the West, trailheads near major metro areas often have signs detailing the tragic demise of an unlucky hiker who ventured out for a day hike, became dehydrated and delirious, and expired, often painfully close to the parking lot. Obviously, a water bottle or hydration pack is a necessity. You can often find water in the field, but there’s a danger associated with drinking from ponds and streams. Potable Aqua Drinking Water Germicidal Tablets provide water purification in just 30 minutes. Small and easy to pack, 20 tablets will purify 20 quarts of water for just $12. The system has been proven effective against the flagellated protozoan parasite Giardia Lamblia when used as directed.