Best Gifts to Give in 2012: Slapping Together a Survival Kit

    Part of the joy of the outdoors is the experience of freeing oneself from some of the normal comforts of life and enjoying the simplicity and beauty of the creation. Sometimes, however, we free ourselves a bit too much and get lost or stranded, or other circumstances produce widespread power outages. Those who love the outdoors are nothing if not planners for the inevitable problems they may experience. Secretly, some of us look forward to a little drama that demonstrates just how prepared we are to survive. With that, here’s some holiday gift ideas to help prepare for basic backcountry or long-term power outage survival.

    5 Person Guardian Bucket Survival Kit ($195)

    Shopping for someone who wouldn’t last an hour without a mobile phone let alone during a serious survival situation? Consider the 5 Person Guardian Bucket Survival Kit. Stocked with scores of supplies (food and water, light and communication, shelter and warmth, tools, hygiene and sanitation, and first aid), the bucket also includes a toilet seat lid and a deck of cards.

    Food Supply Depot 72-Hour Food Supply ($121)

    Sure, you can weather a long-term power outage by eating canned beans. Or, enjoy Southwestern White Bean Chili and Rontini a la Marinara from Food Supply Depot’s 72-Hour Food Supply Kit. Packed with 19 food or drink pouches offering 17,750 total calories—with a 20-year shelf life—the kit comes sealed in a handy bucket. I tried the chili, orange drink, and granola and can assure you these were no MREs. They prepared easy and tasted great!

    Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filtration System ($75)

    Generally, in survival situations, water is available. Whether that water is safe for drinking is the question. Rather than toting around water purification tablets or wondering how you’re going to boil any water you find, consider Katadyn’s Hiker Microfilter Water Filtration System. This portable system weighs 11 ounces and allows you to pump out around 200 gallons of water before the filter needs to be replaced.

    Eton FRX2 Hand Cranked Personal Safety Device ($40)

    Arguably as important as food and water, information and communication are keys to survival. With Eton’s FRX2 Hand Cranked Personal Safety Device, you can listen to radio/weather station broadcasts, light up a room, and charge a smart phone. Just 60 seconds of cranking will yield 10 to 15 minutes of broadcast time. The FRX2 measures a compact 6” H x 4.5” W x 3” D and is also DC and solar-powered.

    Gerber Fixed Blade Paracord Knife ($37)

    Many argue that if they could have only one piece of gear with them, it would be a knife. For backcountry survival and general usefulness in a variety of situations, consider Gerber’s Fixed Blade Paracord Knife. Profoundly simple, the full-tang construction means durability while the handle yields a length of useful paracord.

    Paracord, 100 ft ($11)

    Climb, attach, secure, drag, lash, trap, rig. A length of strong rope has virtually limitless number of uses, especially in the backcountry. Once you have a 100-foot supply of 550 paracord (well-constructed paracord manages a 550 pound test load), you’ll wonder what you ever did without it, regardless of whether you have to endure a survival situation.

    Light My Fire FireSteel Mini ($9)

    Matches or a torch-style lighter are handy and useful but may be ineffective due to moisture, lack of fuel, or breakage. To create a fire-igniting spark in virtually any conditions, consider using a FireSteel. A quick flick of the steel against the magnesium rod yields sparks over 5,000 degrees in temperature.

    Blaze Orange Duct Tape ($5)

    One of the most useful inventions ever, duct tape has performed far beyond the mere sealing of ductwork. Now it’s found in virtually every home in the nation. For survival scenarios, consider having a roll or two of Duck Tape brand Duct Tape in blaze orange. Use it to mark a trail, warn of repairs, and more. Some have used it as an emergency bandage!

    5 in 1 Survival Whistle ($4)

    Surviving means being able to be heard and seen, being able to find your way around, and having the tools to start a fire. All of these functions come together in the pocket-sized 5 in 1 Survival Whistle. With a signal whistle, signal mirror, compass, waterproof match container and flint, the Survival Whistle also includes a lanyard.

    Survival Blanket ($3)

    For overnight survival or situations where retaining maximum heat is critical, consider an emergency survival blanket. Pocket-sized when folded up, the survival blanket expands to 84” x 52”. Waterproof and windproof, the polyester material reflects body heat back toward the user.

    Images courtesy Mark Kakkuri

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