Whether rigging for a remote camping trip, readying your home for the season ahead, or taking an inventory of outdoor supplies stowed away, making sure your survival essentials are prepared for an emergency should always be top of mind—just in case.
As humans, we like to think we can control our environment and the outcome of uncertain situations—especially with the aid of modern technology. Most of the time, we maintain that control. But when the unexpected happens, that sense of control goes right out the window. And while you can’t control every situation, you can at least prepare for them.
Below is a starter list for gear essentials to stayed prepared, beginning with the basics: food, shelter, light, power, etc. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and more of a jumping-off point. Emergency preparedness gear is a wide and varied category; you need to decide what works best for your individual kit. Here’s what we recommend to get started and stay safe.
1. Light: KC HiLites and Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
There are two key types of light needed in an emergency situation: broad, large-scale light that’s fixed; and smaller, movable light such as a headlamp. You’ll want the scene ahead illuminated, with the ability to spotlight and fix in on a certain point.
KC HiLites made a name with durable and rugged after-market lighting options for vehicles. Meanwhile, Black Diamond is a well-known and reliable manufacturer of headlamps. When you’re prepping for emergency situations, you want to pick lighting that you can count on—this isn’t an area to experiment with new items.
Your choice of KC HiLites will depend on your vehicle and needs. Choosing a headlamp is simpler; we like the BD Storm for its waterproof housing, three-color RGB choice of night-vision options, and comfort. It’s also affordable, and has a robust run time. [$49; blackdiamondequipment.com]
2. Power: Goal Zero Yeti 1500x Portable Power Station
Whether you’re on the road or stuck at home, if the power goes, you need a reliable source of energy, especially when it comes to powering fridges or other essential items. How much power depends personal needs and the amount of other folks you’re supporting. But if you’re looking for a power bank that can handle most situations and requirements, we suggest the Goal Zero Yeti 1500 Power Bank.
It handles everything from personal electronics to full-size refrigerators, and can power a base camp or hold over a small home (depending on your needs). It can charge from solar panels, wall outlets, or a car’s 12V adapter—meaning, you’re covered when it comes to maintaining a charge on your power bank, and keeping appliances running without relying on the grid. [$1,999; goalzero.com]
3. Communication: Midland ER310 Emergency Crank Weather Radio
Although we’ve been trained to believe that a mobile phone offers the constant ability to communicate, especially in a disaster, the reality is they can fail too. If you want to be prepared for an emergency, have a backup method of communication ready to go.
We like Midland’s ER310 emergency crank weather radio when online or mobile communication has failed due to severe weather or other outages. Not only does it provide a critical tether with the outside world, but it also charges USB compatible devices, and has a battery life of up to 32 hours of normal use. [$69; midlandusa.com]
4. Food: Patagonia Provisions Soup Sampler
Having food on hand in an emergency situation is self-explanatory, but packing food you enjoy eating is a bit more nuanced. Canned foods are an obvious prepper’s pick, with long shelf lives and ease of packing or stowing. However, canned weight can quickly add up. If you’re trying to go light, you need to rethink the can plan.
We like dried food as our contingency; any avid camper will have a few packets on hand to throw into a preparedness kit. Patagonia Provisions is a favorite. The contents are nutritious as well as convenient, and they don’t skimp on flavor. To test out a couple different flavors, start with the Soup Sampler. [$54; patagoniaprovisions.com]
5. Cooking: Snow Peak Home and Camp Burner
You need heat to prep a dried meal. Stoves and cooking tools are key additions to any essentials kit, but not all stoves are created equally. Include a stove that functions well, takes up a minimal amount of space, and runs on fuel that is sold at a variety of locations.
The Snow Peak Home and Camp Burner fulfills all of these needs, and functions just as well at home as it does out in the wild. Keep an extra (butane) fuel canister handy for unexpected moments, and set reminders for yourself to periodically check that the stove is still functioning properly. [$109; snowpeak.com]
6. Medical: Adventure Medical Kit Ultralight/ Watertight Pro Medical Kit
Expect the unexpected injury. Being prepared to treat a burn, scrape, cut or something more serious is vital for emergency situations as well as run-of-the-mill accidents. Adventure Medical Kits offers a wide variety of kits and supplies, from its ultralight and watertight selections to professional and pocket-size series. We specifically like the Ultralight/Watertight Pro Medical Kit—small enough to fit into a duffel, bin, or suitcase, but packed full with the hospital-quality essentials needed to treat most major injuries. [$120; adventuremedicalkits.com]
7. Warmth: SOL Emergency Bivvy
It may be tempting to add a sleeping bag or two to your emergency arsenal, and if you’ve got the storage space and capability, by all means. However, if you’re limited on space but still want to carry a source of warmth and shelter, we recommend an emergency bivy. They pack down small, can be stored easily, and offer just enough warmth and protection for most emergency situations. Consider the SOL Emergency Bivy for convenience and simplicity. [$17; surviveoutdoorslonger.com]
8. Mapping: onX Offroad and Hunt Maps
Paper maps won’t ever lose service or power, but a digital map can often go above and beyond what the old-school option can offer. Check out onX for its 400,000+ miles of mapped trails, its easy-to-use interface that allows the user to explore BLM land, national forests and national parks, plus the option to download maps. Whether you’re using the app for exploring the backcountry or to navigate out of a dangerous situation, this under-appreciated app has got you covered. [$30/year; onxmaps.com]