If you’re in a pinch in the Great Outdoors, it’s reassuring to know you have survival tools available to help. But, how can a casual outdoors-lover afford survival gear’s sometimes steep cost?
Here are five survival gadgets that won’t break the bank, but might save your life:
- A personal tracker. Think of this like a pager that works anywhere. Personal trackers use satellite technology to track where you are. If you’re in trouble, push a button to send a message to emergency services with your location. For non-emergency help, a different button alerts family members you need aid. Or, if you want to let friends and family know you’re enjoying your trip and all is well, pressing a different button will send a text message to cell phone numbers, or an email linking to your location on Google Maps. If you link the service to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, you can even update your status with an “I’m okay,” or tweet from the backwoods. In addition to a personal tracker, many people rent satellite phones to be doubly sure of rescue in the event of an emergency.
- A flint-and-knife bracelet made from parachute cord. This woven bracelet looks like simply another accessory — until you’re in a fix. Stranded on a cold night? The fastener turns out to be a 1-inch flint fire-starter. Need to cut something but didn’t bring a knife? A 1-inch blade is hidden inside the bracelet, ready to use when you need it and out of the way when you don’t. Need to make a towrope or pulley system on the fly? Unravel the 15 feet of paracord that makes up the bracelet and you’ve got a handy length of strong, high-quality cord. These bracelets retail for around $25, and for some models, its purchase benefits a U.S. military veterans’ charity.
- A self-powered radio, flashlight and USB charger. Most people today rely on electricity for comfort and security. So what to do when batteries fail and the power is out? There are several self-powered radio/flashlight combos on the market for under $50 that users can charge via a hand-crank or through solar energy. Some of them monitor National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) channels so you can keep tabs on the weather, and some also include a USB port so you can charge your cell phone or other device when a wall socket is not available or there’s a blackout.
- A personal water filter. Finding water is the most essential element of survival. Humans can survive grueling ordeals, as long as they have clean water to drink. Sometimes, in our treks and travels, we run into situations where water is undrinkable — if you can find any. Filtration systems allow hikers and travelers peace of mind when entering areas where clean water is scarce. There are many water-filter designs available; some retail as low as under $20.
- Compact survival kit. The problem with many survival kits is they get left behind — either forgotten or because no one wants to carry an awkward box in their backpack. If this sounds familiar, you may want to check out some of the clever survival kit designs on the market today. You can find survival kits that pack down into cans, water bottles, cases bearing compasses, and other containers that make the kit box itself a useful tool. One such survival kit puts many of the essentials for an emergency kit into a knife’s hollow handle. Inside the knife, you’ll find a fishhook and line, bandages, a small harpoon, signal mirror and finger-tip saw. A good, compact survival kit that works as another tool won’t set you back more than $50 from most retailers.