A Good KnifeA knife is by far one of the most useful tools that man has invented. It can be used to as anything from a weapon to a cooking utensil. A standard fixed blade knife should be full tang. That is, it is one piece of metal from tip to hilt. There is no separately attached handle. The tang should be overmolded with a tough non-slip material that is impervious to the elements. A so-called "survival knife" with a hollow handle and screw top is a gimmick for amateurs. Be sure to find the right knife such as those by a Benchmade knives dealer.
CordageIn the hands of an expert, cordage can be used to lash together a lean-to shelter or to set a trap to catch food. It can be used to tie a knife to a stick to make a spear. The uses for cordage are endless. The type of cordage most often preferred by survivalists is simple parachute cord. Long lengths of it can be braided or wound, which makes it easy to carry. It is extremely lightweight and strong making it highly valuable in any survival situation.
Fire StarterEven those who have started hundreds of fires using bow drills and other primitive methods still benefit from having fire starting materials as part of the basic three tool survival kit. Nature is not going to guarantee dry tinder to easily get a fire going to ward off dangerous hypothermia. Fire steel in a kit with chemically-laced fire starting tinder that burns even when wet, can save a life in a bad situation.
These tools work together to make it possible to build or make other things necessary for survival. This is the goal of every piece of survival kit that is carried. Each piece needs to be able to accomplish multiple things or initiate something, such as fire, that provides multiple benefits. People build homes and communities to more easily support and maintain life. A survival situation is a breakdown of that support structure. A true survivalist can use skills and a few tools to rebuild the basic infrastructure needed to stay alive.