What are the 5 Cs of Survival?

If you like spending time out in nature, it’s good to have at least a basic understanding of wilderness survival. The 5 Cs of survival are an easy way to remember the basic equipment you need for survival situations out in nature.

Most people will never be in a wilderness survival situation. Most people would never want to be in a wilderness survival situation, for that matter. Of course, there are many who enjoy practicing outdoor survival skills. They simulate survival situations either for fun, or so that they’re prepared in the event they actually need to survive.

Here are the 5 Cs of survival. Make sure you carry an item for each category any time you head into the backcountry.


You can think of cover as shelter, but really cover is adequate protection from the elements. This will look different depend on the nature of your time outdoors. For example, you might pack an emergency blanket rather than a tent for your day hike.

Basically, your cover provides warmth and/or protection from the wind, rain, and sun.

Cover can be a:

  • tent
  • tarp
  • poncho
  • bivy
  • survival blanket
  • insulating or waterproof jacket
  • a lean-to

Cutting Tool

The most basic – and most portable – cutting tool is a knife. You need a cutting tool for wilderness survival because it can be used for most survival needs including:

  • first aid
  • building shelters
  • building fires
  • processing or preparing food


The ideal container for survival situations is a metal water bottle. A container – such is useful for survival because it allows you to carry or store food and water. A metal water bottle allows you to purify water by boiling it over a flame.


Fire is super important in wilderness survival. It provides warmth, a light source, protection, a means to cook your food, and it can help prevent hypothermia in wet cold, wet conditions.

Combustion tools include:

  • fire steel
  • lighter
  • matches
  • ferrocerium
  • flint and steel
  • bow drill


Cord can be used for first aid, shelter building, and catching food.  7-strand nylon paracord, or 550 cord, is the best cordage for wilderness survival. It’s incredibly strong and lightweight, and the individual strands within the nylon sheath can be used for gear repair, fishing lines, nets, and more.


It’s generally a good idea to carry at least one item from each of the 5 Cs of survival any time you head out in nature, even though you probably won’t find yourself in a survival situation. These things are practical and useful outside of wilderness survival. Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters for survival gear, or any outdoor gear in Northwest Arkansas!

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