What Are the 10 C’s of Survival?

In a world increasingly detached from nature, developing wilderness survival skills may seem like a quaint, if not unnecessary, pastime. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Building survival skills isn’t just about preparing for dire circumstances – it’s about building resilience, confidence, and adaptability in the face of uncertainty. Today, we dive into a cornerstone of survival knowledge: the “10 C’s of Survival”.

The 10 C’s of Survival

Coined by survival expert Dave Canterbury, the 10 C’s of Survival represent ten critical categories of gear that can aid in survival situations.

What Are the 10 C's of Survival?

These aren’t just arbitrary items, but thoughtfully selected tools and materials that address a broad range of survival needs. So, let’s venture into the wilderness with these survival essentials.

Cutting Tools

A sturdy, reliable cutting tool is a must-have in any survival situation. From constructing shelters and preparing food to creating other survival tools, the uses for a good blade are almost limitless.

Consider the story of Aron Ralston, the intrepid hiker who, trapped under a boulder, used a dull pocketknife to amputate his arm and save his own life.

While this is an extreme example, it underscores the importance of always carrying a cutting tool in the wilderness. Whether it’s a multipurpose knife or a compact hatchet, choose a cutting tool that’s durable, sharp, and comfortable to handle.

Combustion Devices

Fire is a pillar of survival. It provides warmth, purifies water, cooks food, signals for help, and wards off potential threats. Without a means to start a fire, surviving in the wilderness becomes a much grimmer prospect. That’s where combustion devices come into play.

Be it waterproof matches, a lighter, or a flint and steel, these devices can mean the difference between life and death. Understand that skill is just as important as the tool itself – so practice your fire-making regularly, under various conditions.

Read: What Is the First Rule of Survival?

Cover Elements

Exposure to harsh elements is one of the most immediate threats in a survival scenario. From blistering sun to freezing snow, the elements can quickly turn lethal. Therefore, having reliable cover elements to protect against the weather is essential.

This could be as simple as a tarp or an emergency blanket, but it also means knowing how to use natural elements to construct a shelter. As with all survival skills, practice is crucial, so take the time to learn various shelter-building techniques.


While less flashy than a blade or fire starter, a good container is an unsung hero of survival gear. Containers allow us to carry and purify water, store food, and even cook meals.

A stainless-steel water bottle is an excellent example of a versatile container. When selecting your container, consider its durability, capacity, and versatility.


Cordages, or ropes and lines, are yet another versatile addition to the survival toolkit. Whether it’s tying down a shelter, setting up a snare, or simply hanging clothes to dry, cordages have a multitude of uses.

Natural fibers can often be used in a pinch, but having a good supply of strong, durable cordage like paracord can make a big difference.

Read: 100+ Survival Movies Netflix

Cotton Material

Cotton material, often overlooked, is a multifunctional resource in survival scenarios. A large cotton bandana, for instance, can be used for filtration, first aid, signaling, and even char cloth for fire-starting.

Keep in mind, though, while cotton material is great for gear, it’s not the best for clothing as it retains moisture and draws heat away from the body.


Despite advances in technology, traditional navigation tools like the compass remain invaluable for wilderness survival.

When GPS fails or batteries die, understanding how to navigate using a compass and map can get you where you need to go.

Regularly practice orienteering skills to keep them sharp, and remember that a good compass is one of the few tools that can’t easily be replicated in the wild.

Read: How to Build a Comprehensive Survival Kit

Candling Device

Even with a roaring fire, having a portable source of light—a candling device—can make survival situations more manageable.

A simple LED flashlight or headlamp can make tasks easier and safer in the dark. In choosing a candling device, prioritize reliability, battery life, and weight.

Casualty Care

Being able to address medical emergencies in the wilderness is a vital survival skill. At a minimum, your survival kit should include basic first aid supplies: bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, medical tape, and painkillers.

More importantly, you should have the knowledge to use them properly. Regularly review first aid procedures and consider taking a wilderness first aid course.

Communications Devices

In today’s age of technology, communication has never been more important or achievable, even in the wild. A reliable communications device is key to ensuring you can call for help when you need it most.

While mobile phones are the most common, their usefulness is limited in remote areas with no coverage. That’s why it’s smart to carry a backup, like a satellite phone, personal locator beacon (PLB), or even a simple whistle for close-range signaling.

Understanding the limitations and functionality of your communications device is paramount. A device is only as useful as the person using it – knowing how and when to use it is critical.

Regularly update emergency numbers, maintain battery life, and understand the range and limitations of your device.

In survival situations, effective communication can be the difference between life and death, so invest time in learning how to communicate in the wilderness effectively.

Your Personal Survival Toolkit

Remember, the 10 C’s are not a rigid checklist, but a guide to help you prepare for various survival scenarios. Your personal toolkit should be tailored to your skills, the environment, and the specific journey you’re embarking on.

A well-prepared survivalist is not one who carries the most gear, but one who knows how to use their gear to its maximum potential.

So, prepare wisely, learn continually, and face your adventures with the confidence that comes from self-reliance.

Dr. John

About Dr. John M.

Dr. John Miller, a dedicated physician and prolific writer for HealthandSurvival, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. Residing in the bustling city of New York, Dr. Miller is not just a medical professional but also a doting father of three. His writings on the website span a wide range of topics, from the intricacies of mental health to the nuances of beauty aesthetics and the importance of physical fitness to the essentials of survival.

He believes in a holistic approach to well-being, emphasizing the importance of mental, physical, and emotional health.

Beyond his professional achievements, Dr. Miller's life in New York is enriched by the joys and challenges of fatherhood. His experiences as a parent often provide him with unique insights into health and wellness, which he generously shares with his readers.

In a complex world, Dr. John Miller stands as a beacon of knowledge, guiding his readers toward health, survival, and overall well-being. Whether through his 8 years of medical practice or his enlightening articles, he remains dedicated to enhancing the lives of those around him.

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