Commonly referred to as a bug-out bag, an emergency pack is something everyone should have that they can grab quickly when a natural or man-made disaster strikes. The thing about emergencies is that they strike when you’re least expecting, so now is always the best time to prepare yourself and your gear.
You can start by thinking about the must-have items for the worst-case scenario: food rations, a water container and purification tablets, a knife, rope, a sleeping cover, and something to start a fire with. Beyond those essentials, there are a few pieces of tech you might want to consider including in your go bag to help you stay safe until help arrives, or until you can make it to a safer location.
Solar Panel and Charger
If you’re going to be carrying battery-powered gadgets in your bug-out bag, you’re going to need a reliable and sustainable way to charge their batteries. And because the electrical grid may be down or at least partially compromised, it’s a better idea to rely on the power of the sun. Solar panels such as the Goal Zero Nomad 5 offer lightweight solutions for on-the-go power.
These devices come in a variety of shapes and solar collecting capacities, so make sure you get something that’s rugged and efficient. Solar panels are great for charging power banks or devices with rechargeable batteries, such as headlamps, e-books, smartphones, and other smaller USB devices.
Flashlight With Head Strap
A head flashlight, or headlamp, is an LED lamp that you can use to illuminate an area during nighttime activities. These are especially handy in low-light or pitch-black conditions when you need to use your hands rather than hold a flashlight, like when you’re trying to set up an emergency camp in the dark.
There are several features that are essential in the best head flashlights, such as the brightness (as measured in lumens), runtime on a single charge, whether it has white and red LEDs, and lock-out mechanisms that help prevent accidental use while it is stored in your bug-out bag.
It’s easy to overlook the little comforts that you enjoy most days, like having warm feet. That’s where heated insoles can make a world of difference in your quality of life during an emergency. For example, the rechargeable ThermaCell Heated Insoles will heat your feet many times and can be trimmed to fit any shoe.
You can charge the insoles with any USB port, and you can control the amount of heat with a remote control. Consider these for your bug-out bag if you live in a place where temperatures can drop below freezing.
Multi-function radios are a must-have in any survival situation, and because electricity will be at a premium (or perhaps be unavailable), you might want to consider something that is hand-powered. You also might want to ensure that you choose an emergency multi-function radio that supports NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards. These devices broadcast official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Lantern or Flashlight
You need to see in order to survive, and many survival experts suggest you should have two (or three) of the most important supplies on hand in any emergency. That’s why you should consider, in addition to a headlamp, a lantern, or a reliable flashlight.
You can build your own DIY lantern for use in an emergency if you have the right supplies on hand. But when it comes to flashlights, you’ll want to invest in something that won’t fail in a life-or-death situation. There are several aspects to consider when trying to choose the best rechargeable flashlight, including brightness level, waterproofing, and portability.
If you’re wondering what kind of bag to use to store all your emergency gear, you might consider a solar backpack. By going this route, you’ll be able to charge your power bank or devices while you navigate terrain and search for shelter, not just while you’re stopped. Plus, you can save weight because you won’t have to carry a separate solar panel.
This is a particularly useful tool when you consider the amount of walking that might be necessary to find clean water or a safe place to rest while you wait for help.
E-Reader and E-Books
One of the best pieces of survival tech that you can include in your bug-out bag is an e-book. E-readers are not as foolproof as a traditional book, but if you are able to keep them charged, you can pack a library’s worth of information in something the size of a DVD case.
Options to download include everything from survival books that can help you identify edible plants to fiction you can read to pass the time. E-books offer some benefits over physical books, but make sure you choose an e-reader that is durable and, ideally, waterproof.
Chances are you’ll still have your smartphone with you during an emergency. After all, it probably never leaves your side. If you are going to be preparing for an emergency, it would make sense to download some useful apps that can help keep you alive.
For example, there are apps that can help you administer first aid to other people or your pets or find family members by tracking your last-known locations. Another example, the FEMA app, allows you to receive alerts in your area when a natural disaster is likely, as well as locate a nearby shelter.
Download: FEMA for iOS | Android (Free)
What Will You Put in Your Emergency Bug-Out Bag?
It’s unpleasant to think about it, but a wide number of potential disasters could occur at any moment, from fires, storms, and floods to droughts and earthquakes. If you’re unprepared, you’re leaving your fate up to chance.
Instead, make sure you’re prepared to control your situation and survive comfortably until conditions improve. If you are caught in a natural disaster, having the right tools and gadgets could make all the difference. A little bit of effort now could drastically improve your situation later.