Being prepared for emergencies and learning how to be self sufficient is important. Are you ready for a long-term power outage or a national emergency? In a worst-case scenario, you could be without power and/or water for a significant amount of time. Phone services could be down and first responders may be overwhelmed in your community. If you aren't already a camper, consider it as a hobby in the future. Many of the items you acquire for camping could come in handy during an emergency. The list below highlights survival gear that I own, think is cool, and would recommend to others. I keep these items in my survival bag, in my vehicles, and/or in strategic locations around the house. This list is not all inclusive and may be updated periodically. These reviews are based on my opinions, and I do not get paid for posting reviews on products (maybe someday, I’ll let you know!).
#1 Sawyer Mini - Water Filtration System
These bad boys are awesome! They are small enough to fit in your pocket, they are affordable, and they are effective. A single filter is rated to filter up to 100,000 gallons of water for 99.99999% of bacteria. You can use these filters as a straw or fill up a standard 20 oz., 2-liter bottle, or the bag it comes with it with dirty water, screw it on, and drink clean water from the other end.
(Cost: approximately $23)
#2 KA-BAR Becker Companion BK2 Knife
I have owned a BK2 for over 12 years. This knife weighs 1 lb., and it is a beast! The BK2 has an overall length of 10.5 inches and a blade length of 5.25 inches. The blade is .25 inches thick and is made from quality 1095 Cro-Van steel. This knife is great for hunting, batoning firewood into kindling, and pretty much any end of the world scenario.
(Cost: approximately $120)
Have you ever had trouble starting a fire with matches that are damp or a lighter that malfunctions? How about if you are wet and cold, or worse yet, if you have an injury and can only use one hand? Having a BlastMatch fire starter is a game changer. This tool has a simple flint-based design. Pushing the spring-loaded ferro rod down quickly on your tinder generates an intense shower of hot sparks. These fire starters are rated for 4,000 strikes and work in extremely wet and cold conditions.
(Cost: approximately $25)
#4 Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA Flashlight
I have had one of these flashlights for a couple years and I continue to be impressed by how functional and compact it is. I wanted a flashlight that was small enough to conceal in my pocket when I am at the movie theater and could function with different size batteries (sometimes its hard to find a AAA battery). This flashlight checked every box and more. Not only will it work with CR-123, AA, and AAA batteries, it automatically adjusts to the battery you drop in. This flashlight has an overall length of 4.25 inches and puts out 350-lumens of blinding light. I should also mention the excellent customer service from Streamlight. My flashlight wasn't working due to a battery issue. A representative had me send it in and they replaced it!
(Cost: approximately $43)
#5 Gorilla Tape
People have been relying on varies types of duct tape for many years to fix a wide variety of problems. From wallets to tactical moleskin and homemade canoes, duct tape is awesome. In my opinion, Gorilla Tape is better than ordinary duct tape because it is stronger and works well as an emergency fire tinder (rip it into thin strips and bundle it up like a bird’s nest). I really like these 1” wide “handy rolls” because they don’t take up as much space as a full-size roll.
(Cost: approximately $8)
#6 Titan Survival SurvivorCord
You can never have enough cordage when you are making a shelter or tying something down. This paracord is unique because in addition to the standard military-style 550 cord, it also incorporates three additional survival strands (25 lbs. fishing line, 30 AWG utility wire, and a fiber strand that can be used as tinder). SurvivorCord comes in multiple colors and you use it to replace your shoe strings to increase your preparedness.
(Cost: approximately $35 for 100’)
#7 GSI Outdoor 20 oz. Stainless Steel Cup
If you are going to boil water to prepare your freeze dried food or make some hot chocolate, you are going to want a stainless steel cup that you can heat over a flame. I really like the GSI Outdoor cup because it holds more than enough water for most freeze dried meals (20 oz.) and a Nalgene bottle fits perfectly inside it to save space in your backpack. These cups are light, durable, and in my opinion, a must have.
(Cost: approximately $14)
#8 Emergency Food
When it comes to emergency food, taste, calories, weight, and shelf-life are usually my main concerns. I really like Mountain House because they are lightweight (just add hot water), taste great (multiple flavors), and they are very filling. However, they can be a bit pricey if you are planning multiple meals for multiple people (approximately $9-$10 for 2 servings). A couple of cost-effective hacks to consider are Idahoan instant potatoes, and StarKist tuna packets. The instant potatoes cost about $2/packet (multiple flavors) and the tuna packets are normally about $1/packet (multiple flavors). I wouldn’t suggest keeping the tuna packets in your car trunk for weeks, but in normal cool conditions, they can last for a couple years. Throw in a pack of flour tortillas for your hike you will be eating well.
(Cost: see description above)
#9 SWAT-T First Aid Tourniquet
There are many types of tourniquets on the market. There are also many people with strong opinions on which style/brand of tourniquet is the best. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of the Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) and Israeli bandages. I carry both in my IFAK, and yes, a complete IFAK should be included in your survival bag. However, when you talk about versatility and ease of use, I really like the SWAT-T which stands for Stretch, Wrap, and Tuck – Tourniquet. In addition to being used as a tourniquet, this product can also be fashioned as sling, or a pressure dressing when used with some gauze. A SWAT-T can also be used on small children and pets when most windlass-style tourniquets aren’t practical. I would encourage individuals who are not familiar with the SWAT-T to review the findings in the Military Medicine Journal article titled, “Tourniquets and Occlusion: The Pressure of Design.”
(Cost: approximately $16)
#10 Film-Gard 3 Mil. Plastic Sheeting
Carrying a tarp in your 72-hour kit is not very practical because they take up a lot of space and they are heavy. A better solution is to carry a light-weight 10’ x 12’ piece of 3 mil. plastic sheeting in your bag. This simple solution can help insulate you from the ground, block the wind, and keep you out of the rain or snow.
(Cost: approximately $16/ 10' x 25' roll)