The survival gear that makes this Top Ten list might surprise you. Effectiveness, ease of use, “survival power” and finally the price all play a factor. If our nation collapses or catastrophic disaster strikes, what gear will you have on hand?
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When it comes to the best survival gear, fire, food, water, and shelter are top priorities. In our list of the top 10 survival gear products we’ve chosen tools that aid in fire, food, water, self-defense, security, stealth and shelter building.
At the same time, buying survival gear shouldn’t cost you a lot of money. Early Native Americans and other primitive cultures in the world survived without expensive sporting goods and outfitters, the REI’s and Cabelas.
We live in the modern age though — in many ways we have an advantage. Most people need those advantages because going from a wired world to the wilderness comes with a learning curve — one that can kill you if you’re not prepared.
Assuming the Worst – A Disaster Strikes
Each of these products assumes the worst — because that’s exactly when your life might be on the line and a product’s effectiveness and “Survival Power” come into play.
Fire: You want a fire when it’s cold and raining or you’ve just had to wade across a river or through flood waters and now you’re soaked and in danger of hypothermia. We recommend survival gear that can produce a rolling fire in no time and with little work.
Water: Though boiling and distilling are methods for safe drinking water, you can’t always rely on these methods, especially if you’re in a hurry and have to get out of a dangerous area or through hostile territory. You are going to want a way to quickly filter water and make it safe to drink.
Food: Freeze-dried food may fail you, especially if someone robs you for whatever food you have. A good survivalist will always have a “plan B” for feeding yourself and your family. Two products listed below will help you do just that. (Hint: These products make hunting easier, especially for beginners).
Shelter: Shelter-building is one of the first things a person will learn in survival — I make two recommendations for survival gear here, one might surprise you at the low cost involved.
Defense / Security: The wilderness can be a dangerous place; so can the streets of a major city following a widespread disaster. This list of top 10 survival gear includes products for defense and security.
Stealth: Sometimes you may not want to be found. Other times you may want to spot other people or wildlife before they know you’re there.
The Top 10 Survival Products
When You Need a Fire
1) Mini Torch and Butane Fuel Canister – Blazer Self-Igniting Butane Micro-Torch – $45
In this scenario, it’s not enough to just recommend a good lighter — what you need in this case is actually a good fire starter — something that will help you get a fire going fast if you’re in an emergency that may end shortly in death by hypothermia.
Nothing gets a fire started faster than a “micro torch”, which is a small self-igniting hand-held torch that produces a 2500 degree flame in an instant.
That’s hot enough to get an emergency fire going in no time, even if it’s raining, and even if your tinder pile is damp.
There are a number of mini torches that run off butane or propane. Out of all these, the “Blazer Self-Igniting Butane Micro-Torch” tops the Amazon.com Best Sellers list for “brazing equipment” with great reviews across the board by people who have used it for multiple purposes. Added bonus — it’s not very big, yet produces a flame that is about 2500 degrees Fahrenheit.
It has a self-ignition system which means you don’t manually light it. The built-in trigger has a spring loaded hammer that strikes a crystal, producing a spark, which ignites the torch.
If you fall in the river or find yourself suddenly in an emergency and need to get a fire going quickly — and it’s raining and the wood you hope to burn is wet — get this fire going using a Blazer micro-torch. You can even cook, right from the torch (be sure the flame is a blue color and not yellow as blue signifies complete burning of butane; yellow means you need to adjust the torch).
Tip: If you’re crossing through the wilderness and in a survival situation that calls for moving without stopping, you can use this torch to cook insects you collect as you flip over rocks and logs along the trail (insects taste better cooked, in general).
Survival Power: On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this torch a 9 (a torch relies on fuel; when your fuel runs out, so does the life of the torch. You’ll need back-up fuel if you want several month’s use in an extended survival situation. One thing to note: One can of fuel can go a long ways.). Product receives a “10” if you have both back-up fuel and a back up torch head in case of rare equipment failure, or to even use as a bartering item.
When You Need Water
2) Portable Water Filter – Lifestraw – $22
There are a lot of portable water filters on the market. A popular brand can do a good job filtering water and withstand long term use, but they can be both clunky and expensive, well over $100, with several parts that need to be fitted together.
Then there’s the Lifestraw Portable Water Filter that comes in at just under $22; it’s not only a great portable water filter with a proven track record, it’s a Time Magazine Invention of the Year Winner on top of that. It’s been used by both backpackers and relief agencies in third world countries alike. It weighs only 2 ounces and is a perfect tool for extreme survival situations like wilderness survival as well as a tool for providing water safe to drink during an evacuation of a widespread disaster. It has a very simple construction with no moving parts — which means less chances of equipment breakdown.
Like other portable water filters though it has it’s limits — a Lifestraw can’t filter salt (to filter salt water you’ll have to distill it) or heavy metals, chemicals or viruses. In a survival situation or urban disaster you’ll have to use your head. Avoid drinking from ground water sources in a populated area following severe flooding or a massive earthquake. This ground water can be contaminated with chemicals and sewage. You’ll want to move further out of the area to a water source that is less likely to be contaminated with chemicals and sewage before using your Lifestraw.
At 1,000 liters, you’ll get a lot of drinking water out of your “Lifestraw” portable water filter.
Survival Power: I give this portable water filter an 8 (portable water filters do not remove chemicals and so none are a complete solution to water).