Survival is when things have gone not to plan. Suddenly you find yourself lost or perhaps not lost but in a situation that has gotten you disorientated. It's now dark and there is no way you are going to get back to camp tonight. Or you've had an accident.
It's at this stage where people make mistakes. They feel under pressure to get back at all costs (perhaps to their camp) and continue to blindly go on and it is now you have an accident like falling off a cliff or breaking a leg. The trick here is just to stop, understand the situation and deal with it the best you can. Wait to daylight and then work out where you are and continue or if you are completely lost you either do one of two things. 1/ activate your PLB ( however just because your lost now doesn't mean you are going to be in the morning, so only activate your PLB in an absolute emergency) or 2/ you make yourself as comfy as you can, get a big fire burning and wait for rescue and listen for help.
A PLB will save your life and is worth investing in. But only should be used in an absolute emergency.
If you are away with others and they are expecting you back but you haven't shown up, hopefully you told them where you are going so they will have atleast an idea of where you headed. They will come looking for you. probably yelling every now and then or using a whistle to attract your attention. Hopefully you have a whistle also so blow as hard as possible back giving them a chance to find you.
The same situation is if you haven't made it back and your person at home or the flat, could be wife, girlfriend, boyfriend or friend/flatmate you have left instructions with them as to where you are going, when you'll be back and what to do if you're not back by a certain time. They are to contact Police and advise them you are not back and they will start a search.
Now because you are now having to camp the night out 'roughing it' it is a good idea to look what is in your bag and what you have as survival gear. Your survival gear can be the difference between an OK night out in the open or a real crappy one.
Gear I carry in my pack which is always in there.
So let's have a look at what I carry for my survival gear. I have a good quality survival bag, a bright orange one with silver lining that reflect heat, it is big enough to get your entire body in, one like the SOL emergency bivvy bag. They are around $30 and worth it.
I also carry in the bottom of my pack a MSC (Mountain Safety Council) big orange pack liner. Again you can get right in if you need to and being bright orange make great markers for people to spot you (either by plane/helicopter or foot). They can also be used to make an emergency shelter.
Mountain Safety (MSC) packliners. Life savers. I carry one always in the bottom of my pack.
You might think of buying a emergency blanket, personally I think they are just a waste of time, just due to the less coverage than if you have a bag. Inside a survival bag you are protected from wind and rain and then all you need to do is get a fire on for warmth and get something like ferns or tussock to act as insulation to keep you off the cold ground.
Other items you might need is a fire starter, some will carry a magnesium fire starter and striker, they are ok but you need to practise to use them to get them to work. And in wet conditions they are pretty tough to get a fire going. Carry a good automatic firelighter and something to catch light like a piece of rubber, an old piece of bicycle tube works great as it's light and once on fire hard to put out.
Inside my survival/first aid dry bag. PLB, first aid/survival kit, SOL Emergency bag, OSM bars, piece of rubber as fire starter, toilet paper, back up beanie/gloves.
A compass is handy as long as you know how to use it and in conjunction with a map of the area you are in. However neither are of any use if you have no idea of where you are. Unless you can see points of reference to get a rough idea of where you are. Yes you can orientate your map and if you had some idea of where you were then you might be able to say, you are in this area and this is the way I need to travel to get back to camp.
Carry a map with you. In conjunction with GPS or Topo50s will give you a pretty good idea of where you are on your map.
The use of a GPS or even the likes of Topo50s app on your phone are both useful tools to show you your position and in conjunction with a map can give you your position pretty accurately. Having either is useful items to be carrying. If you are using electronic devises keep them in a dry bag to protect them from moisture or getting wet.( like if you have to cross a river)
There are other little things you can add to your survival kit but in reality most items you will never use. So keep it simple. You might carry a back up small knife, a small back up light, a candle, some hard boiled lollies like barley sugars. A few small pieces of lightweight Para cord is handy. A really loud pea-less whistle is a good thing to carry, you can whistle all day really loudly but you can't yell for help all day as eventually your voice will give up. Carry a whistle. A roll of insulation tape has hundreds of uses and well worth carrying.
Inside my survival/first aid kit. My back up knife. Fire lighter, whistle, compass.
Like a lot of things now, they require charging, your phone, some headlights, some GPS so if you are heading out make sure you have charged them fully prior to heading off. If you are heading away for a few days battery chargers are useful items and especially the ones that charge from the sun. Solar chargers.
Remember this is generally for your use if you get stuck out over night. With what I've suggested you have a bivvy bag, a shelter and something to light a fire. You should have food and water in your pack and you should have a good headlight. Hopefully if things aren't too dire you can plan to get out from where you are next morning.
Another quite important thing to take is some toilet paper, just because you're heading into a hut doesn't mean there will be toilet paper there. take some with you, don't take an entire roll, just roll off a few meters and put it in a ziplock plastic bag to keep it safe/dry. If dry, it is really useful to get a fire going. If wet it is useless for any purpose.
What you carry in your survival bag is up to you, but have a look at what you are actually carrying, think about the gear you have and think 'if I had to stay the night out, how would I go with the gear in my pack right now'. So take it all out at see what you've got. How would you go? If there's things missing or you need to add stuff then do so. But remember 'it's better to have the items and not need them than need them but not have them'.