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Pine Mountains, Utah

Best Survival Equipment Made in the USA

By Matt Mullins   Last updated: December 6, 2023

This list includes the top gear I personally use for my own survival kit as well as some good affordable alternatives. If you’re looking to be prepared in an emergency with high quality survival gear, you’ve found the right place. Even the affordable options are excellent and proudly made by craftsmen and women in the USA, being priced to compete with the flood of cheap and lesser quality imports.

Why Trust Me?

I know how hard it is to find honest recommendations on American made gear. That’s why I started American Gear Guide which other sites are now copying. I take my recommendations seriously and only recommend the best of the best. Of course this is my subjective opinion but I’m confident that you won’t be disappointed. Here are a few reasons to trust me:

  • I make independent recommendations based on personal experience (not paid to endorse a product).
  • I’ve hunted, fished, gathered, and gardened since childhood. I fill my freezer with meat via rod and rifle.
  • As an avid outdoorsman that reviews gear for a living, I also actually own and use all American made gear.
  • My background includes 10 yrs working with the US Forest Service as a Hotshot Firefighter, Ranger, Wildlife Crew-Leader, and Forest Ecologist. I’ve been certified as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). I’ve backpacked extensively throughout the USA and 34 countries including in the Middle East, Central & South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. See About page for more.
  • I attend industry trade shows like Outdoor Retailer to stay informed on the latest innovative gear.
  • I value continuous learning and self improvement, so I welcome your criticism. If you think I missed anything then please leave some helpful suggestions.

Top American Made Survival Gear for 2024

Bushcraft Field Knife by Ontario Knife Co.

This knife has all the right features for an excellent bushcraft knife: full tang, sharp 5″ 5160 carbon steel that’s easy to sharpen in the field, flat blade grind, sharp spine to spark ferro rods, and a comfortable walnut handle. Priced around $70, this one is a steal compared to most overpriced junk survival knives on the market. Maintain the blade with a little mineral oil and you’ll have a lifetime companion knife better than that of any famous mountain men of old.
Last observed price range: ~$71


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Atwood Rope 550 Paracord

Anything that can be tied or lashed needs good cordage. Paracord can be a lifesaver and Atwood makes the best 550 paracord. I always carry some in my backpack. Examples of how I have personally used paracord: securing game meat to a backpack frame, field boot laces, knife handle, building shelter with a tarp, securing my chainsaw to my ATV, strapping skis to my backpack while mountaineering (forgot my removable ski side straps).  The inner strands can be separated as micro cordage too. 
Last observed price range: ~$10


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SAS Survival Handbook

Survival gear isn’t going to do you much good if you don’t know how to use it. The most important survival tool isn’t a physical tool at all; it’s your knowledge and mental preparation. This book includes tons of useful survival info for practically any scenario and climate. Like every comprehensive survival book out there it shares the same fault… No one book can cover every subject in depth. Regardless, I find this book to be one of the best and most comprehensive on survival. My recommendation is to start with this book and follow up on any subject you’re interested in, like trapping, with a specific book dedicated to that particular subject.
Last observed price: ~$16 paperback


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Sawyer Micro Squeeze Filter

Sawyer’s newest Micro Squeeze Water Filter has caused me to retire my good old Sawyer Mini Filter for backpacking and any other adventure. It has certainly earned our Editor’s Choice Award. The Micro weighs just 2.5 oz, has a much better flow rate than the Sawyer Mini, is easy to use and to clean, is very affordable, has standard water bottle threads (like SmartWater bottles), and it’s rated to filter up to 100,000 gallons! It’s so light that I take it places I normally wouldn’t carry a filter, like mtn biking, small hikes, fly-fishing, even trail running. It’s awesome to drink out of any stream you come across, without worrying about the animals upstream. Long ago I used to carry pump filters, then progressed to water-treatment drops, or tablets when going ultralight; now I usually carry the Micro Filter. You’ll likely want to buy a good squeezable water pouch like the 2L Platy to go with this filter. 
Last observed price: ~$29


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Exotac nanoStriker Fire Rod

A cool, compact fire rod you can carry anywhere including your keychain and pocket, at the ready to start a warming fire. I keep my Exotac nano in my backpack along with a cheap Bic lighter. This waterproof fire rod can be struck up to 3000 times with its replaceable 1/4″ ferrocerium rod.
Last observed price range: $26 – 33


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Small Game Snares

If you’re serious about survival preparation you had better have some snares for trapping game. The Vigilant Trails snare kit includes 3 small game snares suitable for game up to 25 lbs (think marmots or woodchucks, rabbits, bobcats, etc.) If you’re new to trapping then check out Dave Canterbury’s book “The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering, and Cooking in the Wild” which details a number of trapping techniques including snares.
Last price observed: ~$23


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Ontario Knife Co. Military Machete

This is the tough as nails machete issued to American military troops for jungle warfare. Its full tang phosphor zinc coated blade is made from high quality 1095 carbon steel that will last a lifetime of abuse. Consider the practical uses of a good machete and you’ll see it’s a near perfect survival tool for chopping and cutting, firemaking, and in case of emergency self defense. Ontario Knife Co.’s nylon sheath is sold separately for 10 dollars.
Last observed price: ~$26


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Brunton TruArc 3 & Glow Compass

The TruArc 3 is a reliable, no frills, lightweight compass. The TruArc 3 comes with Brunton’s Global Needle which won’t lose polarity and resists magnetic interference. If you’re going ultralight and only want a compass for emergencies, then take a look at the .95 oz Brunton Glow Compass
Last price range observed: ~ $8 – 10


TruArc 3
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Glow Compass
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DMT Survival Sharpener with Firestarter

An ultralight diamond sharpener to keep your blades shaving sharp in the field. This sharpener also includes a ferrocerium fire rod for building fires in an emergency. I personally like the Fine grit version best to touch up blades, keeping them sharp without taking too much metal.
Last observed price range: ~$16



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Princeton Tec Vizz

Best Value Headlamp

Princeton Tec’s latest Vizz hits all the right marks. It provides more than enough brightness with 550 lumens on high, good battery life, IPX-7 waterproofing, red LEDs to maintain night vision, a button lockout to prevent accidentally turning it on, and it uses just 3 lightweight and readily available AAA batteries. Thus, as a great all around performer at an affordable price, the Vizz earns our Best Buy Award.

Last observed price range: ~ $50

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Recon Medical Trauma Kit

This is a serious first aid kit. Perfect for a bug out bag, the Recon Medical Trauma Kit is a no-nonsense kit to stop serious bleeding. It includes a CAT style tourniquet, titanium trauma shears, trauma bandage, gauze, and an emergency blanket. After certifying as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR), I personally carry more medical equipment including an Israeli Bandage. I highly recommend taking a WFR course as a minimum to expand your medical skills.
Last observed price: ~$26


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Princeton Tec Remix

The Remix is an all around excellent headlamp that doesn’t break the bank nor add much weight to your pack (3 oz with 3 AAA batts). With features like 300 lumens, 150 hr burn time, and IPX4 water resistance in a small and reliable package, you probably don’t need more headlamp. All remix models have 1 white Maxbright LED and 3 Ultrabright LEDs, however some will have either white, green, blue, or red Ultrabright LEDs. I personally prefer the night vision friendly red LED option.

Last observed price range: ~ $30 – 35


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Grabber All Weather Blanket

This is the survival blanket I was issued on my Hotshot Crew and I’ve loved it ever since. Over the years I have used mine as a warming blanket, a tarp in down pours, and as a groundcover for sleeping. This thing is way more durable and helpful than the flimsy paper thin space blankets you most often see.
Last observed price: ~$15


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Leatherman Signal Multi-Tool

The Leatherman Signal has nearly everything you could wish for in a survival tool. In addition to your usual tools, this innovative multi-tool contains a fire starter and a diamond coated sharpener. The Signal features 19 tools including: Needlenose pliers, regular pliers, 154CM replaceable hard-wire cutters, wire stripper, 420HC combo knife, saw, hammer, awl w/ thread loop, can opener, bottle opener, 1/4″ hex bit driver, bit driver, 1/4″ box wrench, carabiner, 3/16″ box wrench, safety whistle, ferrocerium fire rod, diamond coated sharpener.
Last observed price: $99.85


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Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl

This sewing awl allows you to stitch those tough materials like leather and canvas. What could be more important for long term survival than being able to fix your own shoes, boots, saddles, sails, etc.? Last observed price: ~ $18


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Council Tool Hudson Bay Axe

A handy sized camp axe with a classic 2 lb hudson bay style head. I like this style a lot and find it makes a fantastic budget bushcraft axe. Though shorter versions exists, I prefer the 28″ handle for chopping with two hands. The newer “Sport Utility” model has a better fit and finish than they used to have; especially using a wood wedge to tighten the head rather than the ridiculous aluminum single bit wedge that I quickly replaced on the older version.
Last observed price range: ~ $55 – 84


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Nalgene Bottles

Nalgene bottles have been a staple in the outdoors scene for as long as I’ve known. They’re made from a nearly indestructible polyester, though a curious bear did manage to puncture mine (see below). Regardless of bear abilities, I highly recommend Nalgene bottles. You can find them in a variety of colors and sizes, 32 oz being the most popular size.
Last price range observed: $10 – 13


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Nalgene bottle chewed on by a bear.
Apparently not bear proof. Culprit... a curious young Grizzly in the Absaroka Range.

Kershaw Link

Kershaw’s popular Link has recently been updated with premium CPM 20CV blade steel. Like the Knockout, the Link has a fast opening spring assisted blade. With CPM 20CV, the Link’s 3.25″ blade has some of the highest edge retention available while being highly corrosion resistant. The only downside is more effort sharpening.
Last price range observed: ~$89


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Hummingbird Ultralight Single Hammock

The Ultralight Single Hammock is, according to Hummingbird Hammock, “the lightest weight, smallest packing hammock on the market. It weighs less than a lemon and packs smaller than a coffee cup, holds up to 300 pounds, and is designed by an FAA Certified Parachute Rigger. It brings parachute technology to the hammock industry for the first time. The soft carabiners (included) are far stronger per ounce than a traditional carabiner and are impossible to cross load.”
Last observed price: $64.95


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Leatherman Rev Multi-Tool

The Rev is the best bang for your buck multi-tool available. It’s a high quality, fully functional multi-tool that thankfully doesn’t weigh you down like a brick in your pocket. If you’re looking for a one handed opening knife on your multi-tool, then step up to the slightly more expensive Leatherman Wingman.
Last observed price: $34.95


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​MSR Guardian Water Purifier

The MSR Guardian’s claim to fame is it’s ability to physically remove viruses that other filters can’t. It pumps at a quick 2.5 liters per minute, removes sediments, and self cleans. It’s also incredibly durable, and is the only filter unit here that could be frozen, thawed, and reused. If you’re in areas with viral contaminants then the Guardian is worth its price. That said, if you spend your time in areas without viral threats then I recommend the far lighter and cheaper Sawyer Micro Squeeze.
Last observed price: ~ $350


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MSR Whisperlite International Stove

The Whisperlite International burns multiple types of fuel, making it the best stove for high altitude, international travel, and survival preparation. It’s easy to maintain, has a great burner capable of simmering (thus real cooking), and weighs under a pound. Additionally, there’s the more expensive Whisperlite Universal which also burns butane fuel in addition to liquid fuels.
Last observed price range: ~ $110


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MSR Dromedary & Dromlite Reservoirs

Sometimes you need more water on you, sometimes a lot more. When fighting desert fires as a hotshot firefighter, I used a 10L Dromedary with a hydration kit bite valve. I easily finished the entire 10 liters plus multiple gatorades every day, no joke. A dromedary is a great survival item for staying on the move with lots of water. Dromedaries are also very durable; mine has withstood tons of abuse. The Dromlite is a similar reservoir which is slightly lighter but also slightly less rugged.
Last price range observed: $40 – 50


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Bucklite Max II Knife

Buck’s Paklite represents incredible value: packing a solid yet comfortable, lightweight (2.8 oz!), sharp design with a 3.25″ blade. Buck has mastered their BOSS heat treatment of affordable 420HC stainless steel, thus producing great knives made in the USA for unbelievable prices.
Last observed price: ~$26


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Aquatainer Water Container 7 Gallon

This 7 gallon Aquatainer doesn’t leak when rattling around in the back of a truck like many of the containers available. It has an easy on/off pour spout and doesn’t contain BPA. This water jug is actually made by our friendly neighbors to the north, in Canada, which makes it an anomaly for this site. I prefer this water jug and other Canadian made Reliance containers to any others.
Last observed price: ~ $15


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