You may have the best shelter and sleeping bag on the planet, but without a way to hydrate and feed yourself, you won’t make it for long in the wild or even right in your front yard should an earthquake or other disaster displace you from your normal four walls.
Slip a few of these items into your survival kit so you can make sure you’ll maintain your energy and ride out the storm.
1. BIOLITE (Editor’s Choice)
Key Features: Lightweight, fueled by wood, portable, charges electronics and cooks food
What’s better than a survival gadget that pulls double duty?
This incredibly efficient portable stove not only cooks your food, but it also charges your phone, iPod and other small electronics, without requiring you to pack propane or other fuel. Instead, you simply collect sticks along your journey, then put them into the BioLite Campstove to get it fired up.
A mere 1.6 ounces of wood will boil a liter of water in less than five minutes, on average. Meanwhile, you can charge your phone using the USB port.
Model: Hot Tap Travel Shower
Key Features: Provides instant hot water, lightweight, portable
It’s a shower, and a hot water source—all in one.
This ingenious device offers instant hot water up to 100 degrees for your 10-minute shower, but its usefulness doesn’t stop there. You can use the hot water (powered by two propane cylinders and four D batteries) for your coffee, tea, dish-washing or other needs as well. The unit holds four gallons of water and only weighs 11 pounds, so you can take it anywhere.
You’ve collected water from the rain, dew or a running brook, but you aren’t sure if it’s safe to drink and you don’t have a filtration kit.
Your best bet is to use your camp stove to boil that water, which will kill any parasites or bacteria.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, you should bring the water to a full, rolling boil for one to three minutes to ensure that all bacteria are eliminated. If you don’t have a way to boil water, the CDC recommends that you add 1/8 of a teaspoon of unscented household bleach to each gallon of clear water for purification. Mix it and let it stand before using it.
If you’re cooking for a whole family, the LXX will make dining easier with its extra large cooking surface (285 square inches) to allow you to create an entire dinner.
Offering a powerful 22,000 BTUs of cooking, the grill can cook for a full hour on just one propane cylinder, but it quickly folds up afterward and rolls away to your car so you can store it until the next meal. This grill is incredibly durable and reliable, so if you plan to be on the road for a few days, months or more, it will be your most constant companion.
If the water that you collect is cloudy, increase the bleach required to ¼ of a teaspoon of bleach per gallon.
4. SIERRA DAWN
Campsuds solves several problems at once, all in one small bottle that packs a huge punch.
Just a few drops of this environmentally safe, biodegradable cleaner can allow you to wash your dishes, your clothes, your body and your hair, so even if you’re camping or stranded while you’re unable to live in your home, you’ll still look and smell fresh.
The soap even works in cold water or salt water, and that versatility will be essential if your travels take you far from tap water. With such multipurpose uses, this may be one of the most important items in your travel bag!
5. GSI OUTDOORS
You may be eating dinner in the wild or in any temporary housing facility until you can return to your home, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the quality and versatility of your kitchen gadgets.
Kitchen 23 offers you 23 useful tools, all in one small, zippered pouch that weighs less than three pounds. Need a whisk? It’s in there. Cheese grater, camp towel, salt and pepper shakers, spatula and cutlery for four people are also packed into this resourceful kit. Your meals will be a snap with these fantastic helpers on hand.
No power? No problem!
You can still enjoy a gourmet cup of coffee with this sleek and functional French press. Weighing just two pounds, it won’t bog down your gear pack, and it only requires hot water, some coffee grounds of your choice and a little elbow grease to press the coffee.
The stainless steel design allows this product to be durable, and the cool-touch handle ensures that you will stay cool as your hot coffee brews.
Key Features: No fuel required, adjusts to the appropriate height, portable
You’ve got your campfire raging and your stomach is rumbling. Why not cook your meal right where you’re warming your hands—over the fire!
You can set up the Adjust-A-Grill anywhere you’ve got a fire going, and you won’t have to inhale smoke while you’re doing it, because this grill adjusts to the right height, then swivels away from the fire for you to season your food, flip it or remove it. That way, you aren’t sticking your face in the fire. Works amazingly with everything from flounder to baked potatoes.
8. CACHE LAKE
Model: Variety of camping foods
Key Features: Gourmet quality, quick to prepare, nutritious
You may not expect to find a delicious, wild rice vegetable salad while out on the trail or while displaced, but thanks to these ingenious products, you can enjoy one.
Designed with campers and survivalists in mind, the Cache Lake products are light to carry, yet offer a taste of home cooking right from your campsite. Most products simply need to be reconstituted with water before being cooked or reheated—and then just taste and enjoy!
9. MOTOR TREND
Key Features: Multi-purpose, lightweight, portable
Hidden inside this sleek and well-designed flashlight, you’ll find most everything you’ll need for a night in the tent or an afternoon lunch at your campsite.
The Tailgater’s exterior, which appears to be a standard flashlight, also serves as a blinking distress light when needed.
Inside the Tailgater are the key components you’ll need to enjoy your campside dinner, with a stainless-steel fork, spoon, knife and corkscrew.
Weighing less than half a pound, you can store it in your pocket or backpack for quick use. Just grab it and go when you need it.
10. LIGHT MY FIRE
Looking like it came straight out of a Scandinavian design studio, the MealKit 2.0 is not only beautiful, but incredibly functional.
Packed into this compact set you’ll find two stackable plates, a spork, a waterproof box, a combination strainer/cutting board and a collapsible cup for your beverage.
The icing on the cake? A stretchable harness that attaches the entire kit to your backpack for easy carrying.
Once you fire up your grill, you’re ready to sear your swordfish or vegetables—but make sure you take these precautions first.
- Never Use a Charcoal Grill Indoors
The fumes from burning charcoal can be deadly if you inhale them in a concentrated, indoor environment, the CDC advises. This means that even a small, hibachi-type grill cannot be used in your car, tent or other enclosed shelter if charcoal is in use.
- Change Plates
Don’t use the same plate for cooked foods that you use for raw foods, unless you’ve washed it in hot, soapy water first, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends.
- Replace Ice as it Melts
If you’re keeping your meat or potato salad on ice at your campsite, it will most likely stay cold enough to prevent spoilage—as long as the ice doesn’t melt. Storing the food in cold water isn’t the same as keeping it on ice, so always drain off water as ice melts and replace the ice, the FDA advises.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in a 2012 print issue of American Survival Guide.