One such ubiquitous item which makes me laugh is the pocket knife. How is the average person who ventures into the woods only once a year going to warm himself, obtain water, or signal for rescue with that? A folding pocket knife with a non-locking blade used by a person who normally only opens cardboard boxes with it is dangerous, and more likely to result in a cut finger than tinder for starting a fire.
Lists are useful for suggestions of what to bring, but carefully evaluate each item. Instead of thoughtlessly following a list, think of the priorities in a survival situation, and take the items which will enable you to adequately address each of these priorities quickly, even if partially incapacitated by illness or injury.
Survival priorities are best remembered as a generalized rule of threes. A person can live:
3 seconds without blood
3 minutes without oxygen
3 hours unprotected in cold or heat
3 days without water
3 weeks without food
3 generations once rescued from the situation
Note that once you've addressed your immediate threats, your next priority is signaling for rescue. Always make adequate signaling equipment a top priority. The best way to ensure someone will find you is to let family, friends, and park officials know where you are going and when to expect you back! Signaling for rescue can often be done while working on one of the priorities, such as stopping to blow a whistle every few minutes while building your shelter for the night.
Address each of these priorities for yourself by:
1. Bring the items which will allow you to address these priorities. (See Equipped To Survive)
2. Obtain knowledge of how to properly use the items.
3. Practice using the items in extreme conditions.
Once you've done all of this, you now have the survival kit which is perfect for you!