car escape tool

Get Out Fast With The Best Car Escape Tool

car escape tool

Many preppers have a well-stocked vehicle, including a get-home bag, in case of emergencies, but in some situations, your vehicle can become the emergency situation from which you need to survive.

The thought of your car itself becoming a threat to your life is a scary one, but should it happen, you need to know what to do – and fast.

The very unexpected nature of car accidents can put you in a situation where there is an immediate danger of fire/explosion, entrapment, or even submergence (in the case of an accident in or near water) – you need to have the right car escape tool on you and know the proper way to use it.

Here at The Bug Out Bag Guide, we always have an eye out for preparedness and were inspired to write this article after a friend of ours told us how she always carries a seatbelt cutter in her EDC, right on her keychain. Her reasoning for this was that she wanted it accessible and on-hand at all times.

car escape tool

Her daily commute takes her over several bodies of water and, as part of her daily threat assessment, she identified a car accident involving water as a likely threat she needed to be prepared for. In case she ever needs to quickly free herself, reaching the ignition is a much surer bet than reaching something in the glove box; therefore, she keeps the perfect tool she’ll need in case of submersion right at her fingertips.

In case she ever needs to quickly free herself, reaching the ignition is a much surer bet than reaching something in the glove box; therefore, she keeps the perfect tool she’ll need in case of submersion right at her fingertips.

After hearing her story, it got us thinking: Knowing what to do in case of a car accident and having the right tools on hand is a preparedness measure most people need to take – there must be some great tips and tools out there we can share with our readers. So we went out, did the research, and came up with some great tips,

So we went out, did the research, and came up with some great tips, tricks, and recommendations that we’re very excited to share with you.

Assessing Vehicular Threats

When assessing what threats you are most likely to encounter while in your vehicle, it’s important to consider three distinct areas:

  1. Your usual commute
  2. Seasonal weather conditions
  3. Unpredictable situations

car escape tool

Assessing Your Commute

Much like our friend who inspired this article, you need to thoroughly consider all the possible threats you could encounter on your commute, such as flooding, steep cliffs, bridges, runaway truck zones, fallen rock zones, or stretches of wilderness or desolation. Taking a close look at a topographical map of the area you drive on a regular basis is a great way to get an idea of the possible emergency situations you may find yourself in.

Water can be a major threat and you should always be aware of waterways and areas that may become flooded during or following intense rainfall. Another thing to be aware of is that low bridges over small rivers and creeks are typically not designed to withstand substantial flooding, and if such bridges are on your commute, it is always prudent to map out alternate emergency routes.

If your commute includes large bridges, these pose less of a concern for flooding, but do anticipate bottleneck traffic in times of emergency. Hopefully, any accidents on a larger bridge will be contained to the bridge itself due to safety rails, but it is always wise to be prepared for water-related accidents.

Hopefully, any accidents on a larger bridge will be contained to the bridge itself due to safety rails, but it is always wise to be prepared for water-related accidents.

car escape tool
A bridge during rush hour can also delay the arrival of emergency personnel.

Traveling through mountainous regions presents its own set of threats and challenges. Typically, you will be traveling through areas with steep inclines that tend to have cliffs and winding roads with limited visibility. If there happens to be runaway truck zones, then there is potential for brakes overheating on declines.

If your commute takes you through long stretches of wilderness, you may be required to travel a significant distance on foot to reach civilization should an emergency arise and your vehicle is no longer operational. For more tips on assessing your daily threats, CLICK HERE.

car escape tool
Winding roads and steep terrain, as well as long stretches of wilderness, should be taken into consideration when assessing your commute.

Assessing Seasonal Weather Conditions

Depending on where you live, seasonal weather may present additional threats throughout different points in the year. Heat, rain, snow and wind all present unique challenges that should be addressed.

car escape tool
Precipitation reduces visibility and traction on the road.
  • Heat: Intense heat increases the risk of overheating, tire blowouts, and brake failure.
  • Rain and Snow: These elements make for hazardous driving conditions by reducing visibility and traction.
  • Wind: Wind can cause vehicles, especially large tractor trailers, to sway or lose control.

Assessing Unpredictable Situations

By nature, unpredictable situations are situations that can arise without warning and include emergencies such as collisions, tire blowouts, brake failure, belt failure, and car fires. While you can do your best to mitigate these risks by keeping your vehicle up to safety code with regular maintenance and inspections, there is nothing you can do to avoid these risks entirely, so it’s best to be prepared for them.

While you can do your best to mitigate these risks by keeping your vehicle up to safety code with regular maintenance and inspections, there is nothing you can do to avoid these risks entirely, so it’s best to be prepared for them.

In the case of fire, getting out as quickly as possible is your primary concern. You need to be aware of how to exit your vehicle in an emergency and have the tools on-hand to help you.

You need to be aware of how to exit your vehicle in an emergency and have the tools on-hand to help you.

car escape tool
You may only have seconds to react in extreme situations.

How To Use A Car Escape Tool

There are specific tools designed to assist in automobile emergencies. They work by providing a means to breach restraints and windows so you can quickly evacuate your car.  Remember, do not store your car escape tool in your glove compartment.  If your car rolls and your seatbelt locks up it will be difficult, if not impossible to reach.

Remember, do not store your car escape tool in your glove compartment. If your car rolls and your seatbelt locks up it will be difficult, if not impossible, to reach.

Instead, put it in a latched center console or mount it under the driver seat, to the driver side door, to the visor, or somewhere else that can easily be reached no matter what position the car is in after a crash.

Seatbelt Cutters

Seatbelts are an essential safety item designed to keep you safe. However, in some situations they can become an obstacle to your safety should you need to evacuate your vehicle quickly. In the case of an overturned or otherwise disabled vehicle, you may only have seconds to get out; if fire and water pose an added threat, the severity of the situation – and need for a quick escape – increases.

car escape tool
Hold the belt taut and pull the car escape tool away from your body.

A seatbelt cutter works best and fastest when the seatbelt is very taut. To operate a seatbelt cutter, grab your seatbelt and pull it away from your body to create tension, then hook the cutter and pull swiftly away from your body. Whether you cut the belt perpendicularly or at an angle makes no difference – do whichever is easiest for you.

car escape tool
Pull in a swift motion to slice the seatbelt. It’s a good idea to buy a yard or two of webbing to practice on.

Typically, the blade on a seatbelt cutter is recessed for safety and housed in a hook that guides the belt to the blade. There may be a protective cap as an additional precaution against cuts. There are seatbelt cutters with folding serrated blades, much like a pocket knife.


An episode of the popular TV series Mythbusters featured a vehicle submersion test, proving that when submerged, the pressure inside a car is too strong to open any of the doors until the vehicle is completely filled with water, which equalizes the pressure on the inside and outside.

You certainly don’t want to wait until your vehicle fills with water to get out and your windows (whether power or hand-crank) will not work when submerged. Your best bet in this situation is to break a window and exit through it. This is where having a car escape tool on-hand can truly be a lifesaver.

Your best bet in this situation is to break a window and exit through it. This is where having a car escape tool, with an integrated glassbreaker, can truly be a lifesaver.

car escape tool
The LifeHammer Original is a manual glassbreaker that you swing like a hammer. The long handle provides good leverage.

While there are many different options for glassbreakers, the tip material is usually made of steel, hardened steel, or tungsten carbide. The most common types of

The most common types of glassbreakers include manual and spring-assisted. A manual glassbreaker often comes as an added feature on pocket knives or tactical pens, requiring brute force to create a puncture in

Manual glassbreakers often come as an added feature on pocket knives or tactical pens, requiring brute force to create break glass. With a manual glassbreaker, you will want to hold the tool in your fist with the point toward your pinky and aim for the corner of the glass with a quick, hard, backhand jab in order to impact the window without going through it.

Spring-assisted glassbreakers pack their own punch and activate when pressed up against the glass. With no more force than is needed to press the tool up against the glass, a small metal tip strikes out and forcibly breaks the glass. This is an especially valuable feature when time is of the essence.

car escape tool
The ResQMe operates by pressing the end into the glass, which triggers a spring-loaded pin that strikes the window and shatters it.

Tips for effectively and safely breaking glass:

  • Aim for the side windows, not the windshield – by design, windshields are made to withstand a puncture without shattering and are extra tough to break through.
  • When breaking through a side window, aim for the lower corner about 4 inches from the frame rather than the center – this avoids pushing your hand through the glass and helps reduce the risk of injury.
  • To further protect yourself from injury, use your free hand to press against the glass and stop your other hand from going through the glass – this is especially critical in situations where you won’t have time to put on (or access to) safety gloves.
  • Always turn your head away from the glass when breaking it – this is of utmost importance when submerged as the water that will come rushing in will bring a wave of broken glass toward you (while a few cuts is better than drowning, glass in your eye can become a serious hindrance to your survival efforts).
car escape tool
If possible, avoid striking the center of the window. It is more difficult to shatter the window and there is a higher risk of injuring yourself.

Our Picks for the Top Vehicle Escape Tools

Best Overall Car Escape Tool

Our Top Pick: ResQMe Keychain Tool

The ResQMe Keychain Tool is our top pick as it works effectively while also being easy to keep on you at all times. Whether driving in your own car, riding with someone else, or taking public transportation, you can have it with you at all times.

car escape tool
Click to view the Res-Q-Me on Amazon.

Our Favorite Features:

  • Small, discreet, fits on a keychain, and has a quick-release – with just a tug, it is in your hand and ready for use
  • This is a spring-assisted tool and therefore easy to use with minimal strength – it is something an older child or elderly person can easily handle and comes with a tip made of hardened steel
  • Effective: We actually tested it out and what we found was that it took a few tries but luckily the pin rests instantly. On the third try, we were able to shatter a ¼” TruLite tempered glass. The reason it probably didn’t work on the first attempt was because we were holding a freestanding piece of glass and probably didn’t apply enough pressure to properly deploy the blade. In a real life situation, the glass would be framed and stable, making it easier to apply full pressure from within a vehicle.
  • We also tested the seatbelt cutter on Sterling 1″ tubular nylon webbing, the same type of material as a seatbelt, only twice the thickness. The Res-Q-Me sliced through in one motion.
  • The quick-release also serves as a safety feature to cover the blade on the seatbelt cutter to reduce risk of accidental injury

Best Mounted Vehicle Escape Tool

Our Top Pick: LifeHammer Evolution

The LifeHammer Evolution is our top pick as it comes with a mount that allows you to attach it to the interior of your car in an easily reachable location and making it readily accessible to the driver at all times.

car escape tool
Click to view the LifeHammer Evolution on Amazon.

Our Favorite Features:

  • This spring-assisted glassbreaker requires minimal strength to operate making it an effective tool for anyone, including older children and the elderly
  • The long handle provides a good grip for activating the trigger
  • The construction of the tool is quality and made from heavy duty plastic with a steel blade and ceramic tip
  • It comes with an adjustable mounting clip for securing the car escape tool to the door or center console for instant access, even in a rolled vehicle situation.

Best Multi-Function Vehicle Escape Tool

Our Top Pick: Spyderco Assist

This great tool features a folding pocket knife style and has a retractable carbide tip for breaking glass – simply squeezing the blade into the handle in its folded position will activate the glassbreaker.

car escape tool
Click to view the Spiderco Assist on Amazon.

Our Favorite Features:

  • The blunt-tipped blade is made of VG-10 steel and has serration that is specifically designed for cutting seatbelts (by folding the blade and handle together, you can also cut rope quickly)
  • The Cobra Hood opens quickly, providing access to the blade, with ample jimping for added control when the tool is open
  • The handle is made from durable FRN material offered in an ambidextrous (lefties rejoice!) design that fits well into the palm of either hand
  • As an added bonus, this tool also includes a survival whistle in the handle to help signal for help

Best Manual Vehicle Escape Tool

Our Top Pick: LifeHammer Original Emergency Hammer

This was our top pick as it is has a very sturdy plastic handle and the seatbelt cutter blade makes it virtually impossible to cut yourself on. It also comes with a mounting plate to secure it anywhere within reach of the driver’s seat.

car escape tool
Click to view the LifeHammer Original Emergency Hammer on Amazon.

Our Favorite Features:

  • This is a fixed double-sided hammer with hardened steel tips
  • The long handle provides for better leverage when cutting seatbelts and breaking glass
  • Effective: We also tested this one out and, while I was not expecting to be able to use this one effectively, after testing it out I was truly impressed with how efficient it was at breaking glass. After taking aim, we were able to shatter the same ¼” TruLite tempered glass with only one whack.
  • The LifeHammer seatbelt cutter also made it through the Sterling 1″ tubular nylon with no problem.

Our Favorite Car Escape Tools

Vehicle Escape ToolHow It Is UsedKey FeaturesPrice
Res-Q-Me Quick Car Escape Tool
Cut seat belts
Break windows
• Tough PVC plastic, with steel blade for quickly slicing through seat belts
• Spring loaded hammer exerts force when activated so anyone can operate it to break a window
• Keychain style is compact and always on hand, with a quick release clip
LifeHammer Safety Evolution Emergency Ceramic Auto Escape Hammer (Orange 2 Pack)
Cut seat belts
Break windows
• Flat head design puts the handle at 90 degrees for leverage when activating the hammer
• Seat beltcutter blade is deeply recessed for safety and for easily guiding the belt when cutting
• Includes mount and hardware for securing to the door or center console
Spyderco Assist with Carbide Tip FRN Combination Edge Black Blade Knife
Cut seat belts
Break windows
Cut rope
Signal for help
• Folding pocket knife design doubles as a rope cutter
• Serated VG-10 steel blade slices through seatbelts and other bindings
• Squeeze in the folded position to reveal retractable carbide tip for breaking glass
LifeHammer Original Emergency Hammer
Cut seat belts
Break windows
• Recessed seat belt blade protects from accidental cuts
• Double steel hammer heads for quick deployment no matter how it is oriented when you grab it
• Comes with a mounting cradle to secure close to the driver's seat
Click the images to view current pricing on Amazon.

A Word About Vehicle-Related Emergencies

When it comes to preparedness for vehicle-related emergencies, one of the most important skills you can have is first aid knowledge.

The first moments of a medical emergency are the most critical, knowing what to do can mean the difference between life and death. If you haven’t already, we highly recommend taking a first aid course to ensure your skills are up to date.

Having the proper skills and tools to deal with a vehicle emergency may not only save you but also someone else. If you see someone in trouble and stop to offer help, ensure you follow the proper procedures for assisting in an emergency. Always introduce yourself and offer to help, asking permission to treat adults and minors if emergency personnel have yet to arrive on the scene.

As an added cautionary note, always be careful not to put yourself in harm’s way when assisting someone else; if you become injured as a result of your attempts to help, not only will your skills now be useless but you will have added an additional complication to the emergency.


As with any survival skill, we truly hope you never have the opportunity to put your vehicle escape skills into practice, but if the situation should arise where you do need to make a speedy exit from your car, chance favors the well-prepared.

When choosing your ideal car escape tool, always keep in mind that when it comes time to use it, you will have very little time to both retrieve and operate it – accessibility and speed are of the essence.

Also, don’t just pick out a tool and leave it until you need it; try it out, get comfortable with it, and ensure you know exactly what to do should a situation ever arise where your life depends on your ability to operate it.

Your Thoughts

Have you ever experienced a vehicle emergency? Did you have tools on-hand that helped you address the situation? What are the must-have vehicle escape tools in your survival arsenal and where do you keep them? Let us know your thoughts in the Comment section below, thanks!

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outdoor boot outdoor boots

Gear Up: Top Rated Survival Boots For Men And Women

survival boots

In our last post, Alex Park from covered the key steps to choosing the best outdoor boot, discussed how to break them so you do not cause damage to your feet, and provided great care tips for making them last. We followed his advice and searched for survival boots that stood up to vigorous wear and tear in a variety of environments. In this article, we discuss which boot features are most essential to survival, define boot anatomy terms, and list our top picks for men’s and women’s survival boots.

Getting Started

When it comes to boots, there are loads of options. For survival, the weather resistance and durability will play a significant role. Also, you need to consider the long-term comfort, as you will be spending long days on your feet.

The upper can be made of leather or nylon blends. A combination of leather and synthetic mesh offers good structural support and is lighter than an all-leather upper. For keeping out rain and snow, make sure the boot is rated waterproof and has a gusseted tongue to prevent seepage through the lace holes.

Many boots offer some type of breathable liner that draws moisture away from your feet. This, in conjunction with a secure fit, will help prevent chaffing and blisters from forming.

The best fit will need to be supported by a strong lacing system. Check the way the eyelets, D-rings, or hooks are fastened to the boot, as they will need to withstand repeated stress. However, even the strongest hardware is nothing without a sturdy pair of laces, such as 550 paracord.

To choose the best type of sole, consider the terrain you will most likely be traversing. If you plan on a lot of up-and-down on steep trails, you may want to look for heel and toe brakes. Self-cleaning treads will prove helpful in muddy or rocky areas. Also, shock absorbency and flexibility for running and jumping may come in handy.

In order to properly compare different boot designs, it’s important to know the terminology. Here are the terms most commonly encountered when researching survival boots:

Key Terms To Know When Looking For Boots

survival boots
Image via Chris Greeveblester on flickr.

Collar – runs around the top of the shaft. The collar can have internal or external padding, both of which serve to protect the ankle from impact, keep debris from getting in, and provide comfort.

Carbon Rubber – a chemically altered form of rubber that is more durable, lightweight, and provides good shock resistance.

Crampon/Snowshoe Compatibility – some survival boots are specifically designed to integrate with crampons or snow shoes.

EVA  – ethylene-vinyl acetate, it is a high-density durable foam that absorbs shock.

Gore-Tex – a multi-layer lining material that is designed to create a dry environment inside by shedding internal moisture from perspiration and blocking external moisture from getting in. Can be used in warm-weather gear to shed heat or can be insulated for colder temperatures to trap heat.

survival boots
Image via Adam Kahtava on flickr.

Gusseted Tongue – a tongue that is sewn to the boot behind the lace eyelets to form a barrier to debris and water.

Heel Brake – a tread design that provides a better grip when descending steep areas.

Heel Cap/Heel Counter – cradles the heel and prevents the foot from slipping up and down when walking.

Insole – the layer in direct contact with the bottom of the foot. Often removable and can be specialized for antimicrobial, anti-shock, or pressure relief performance.

Midsole – the layer above the outsole that provides structural support to the bottom of the foot using shanks.

Neutral Foot Position – when the ankle and feet form a straight vertical line and weight is evenly distributed. This reduces strain on feet, as well as the joints of the knees, hips, and back.

Outsole – the bottom most part of the boot that touches the ground. It can be stitched, cemented, or stitched and cemented to the upper.

Rand – seen in waterproof and water resistant styles, the rand is the rubber strip that overlaps the seam between the boot upper and the sole. Most survival boots will have this feature.

Self-Cleaning Treads – a tread pattern that utilizes the natural flex of your step to open the space between the treads and shed debris, such as pebbles and caked mud.

survival boots
Image via Russ on flickr.

Shaft – the part of the boot that goes up the leg. Shaft height is measured from the point where the boot meets the sole to the maximum height up the leg. Occasionally, the circumference measurement will also be given, which is the distance around the widest part of the shaft.

Shank(s) – supportive metal or plastic strips that shape the arch of the boot. Can be a full shank, which runs the entire length, or a ¾ shank which ends at the ball of the foot.

Suede vs Nubuck vs Leather – Suede is the softest of the three, created by brushing the inside surface of leather. Nubuck is made by roughing the outside or grain surface of leather, making it stronger than suede and more resistant to abrasion and water. Full grain refers to leather that has not been brushed or roughed on either side, making it more stiff than nubuck or suede.

Toe Cap –an extra piece of material that protects the front of the boot from abrasion.

Torque/Torsion Control – how well the boot’s structure resists twisting at the ankle.

Vibram Outsole – refers to a patented diamond tread pattern, also known as a Lug Sole, that is recognized for providing excellent traction.

Vulcanized Rubber – natural rubber that has been chemically altered to resist deformation and loss of elasticity with change of temperature, making it harder, longer lasting, and more durable.

Survival Boots For Men

Mens Survival BootsKey Features
KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
• ESS shank provides ankle stability
• Dual-density EVA foam midsole is contoured for comfortable support
• Keen.Dry membrane lends a breathable barrier against rain
Danner Men's Radical 452 GTX Outdoor Boot
• Toe cap resists abrasion in rough terrain
• Ultra strong GORE-TEX insulates against snow
• Terra Force technology supports from all sides and prevents torsion
Salomon Men's Quest 4D GTX Backpacking Boot
• Keeps out debris with gusseted tongue
• Heel and toe reinforced with rubber to protect against wear
• Lace locking system allows for independent tightening of each section
Garmont Men's Zenith Mid GTX Trail Hiking Shoe
• Hardware is rust-resistant
• Excellent traction, even on wet rocks and mud
• Gore Tex lining provides breathability in heat and insulation in cold
Rocky Outdoor Boots Men S2V Substratum Direct Attach
• Waterproof nubuck and ripstop nylon exterior for flexible durability
• Tall 8" shaft for a higher fit
• Crampon and snowshoe compatible
• Laces are 550 military grade paracord
Rocky Men's S2v Jungle Boot
• Ideal for hot, humid climates
• Drainage holes allow water to shed quickly
• Ultra lightweight design offers support without excessive padding
McRae Footwear Men's Hot Weather Desert Boot
• Deep treads shed mud and debris
• Vulcanized rubber outsole is engineered for durability
• Fast drying Suede/Cordura upper is padded for comfort
Belleville TR960ZWP KHYBER Lightweight Waterproof Side-Zip Tactical Boot
• Discrete style tactical boot for urban bug-out
• Side zip closure allows for easy-on/off
• Lightweight athletic fit enables freedom of movement
Ariat Men's Terrain Hiking Boot
• Lower profile style includes Torque Stability composite shank
• EVA midsole absorbs shock on impact
• Removable gel orthotic for long-lasting comfort when on your feet all day
Click on the image to view current price on Amazon.

Survival Boots For Women

Womens Survival BootsKey Features
KEEN Women's Targhee II Waterproof Hiking Boot
• Toe cap protects against impact
• Keen.Dry membrane is waterproof yet breathable for comfort
• ESS shank prevents ankle rolls on rocky terrain
Ahnu Women's Montara Boot
• Neutral positioning of the foot encourages balance and reduces strain over long hikes
• Exterior padding on collar protects ankles from bumps
• Gusseted tongue locks out rain and snow
Ariat Women's Terrain Hiking Boot
• Lining keeps feet dry with moisture wicking
• Duratread outsole is self-cleaning for optimal traction
• Shock absorbing midsole reduces strain on joints
Lowa Women's Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot
• Full-length nylon shank adds extra support on rough terrain
• Climate control lining draws moisture away to prevent blisters and chaffing
• Heavy duty Vibram outsole is also shock-absorbent
Salomon Women's Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boot
• Braking pattern in the rear outsole gives extra traction when descending
• Lightweight and flexible for trial running
• Cushioned gusseted tongue alleviates lace pressure
Belleville F390 Women's Hot Weather Combat Boot
• Lightweight and breathable for trekking through hotter climates
• Running shoe outsole provides ease of manuvering
• Deep treads power through mud
Danner Women's Danner Light II Outdoor Boot
• Patented Stitchdown construction provides a durable and sturdy fit
• Gore-Tex lining breathes well while locking out water
• Superior wet and dry traction with Vibram outsole
Hi-Tec Women's Ohio WP Hiking Boot
• Outsole is carbon rubber for lightweight durability and traction
• Collar and tongue are padded to provide comfort and support
• Cushioned EVA insole is also removable for a customized fit
Oboz Women's Sawtooth Mid BDRY Hiking Boot
• Natural roll of outsole propels each step
• Molded rubber heel and toe stand up to rocky terrain
• BDry membrane is both waterproof and breathable to keep feet dry and comfortable
Click the image to view current price on Amazon.


outdoor boot outdoor boots
Click the image above for great tips on choosing survival boots and how to take care of them to maximize their performance.

Your Thoughts

Do you look for boots for a specific climate or prefer all-weather survival boots? Are there any other key terms we should add as a reference? Let us know in the Comments section below, thanks!

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best emergency weather radio

Stay Connected: How To Choose An Emergency Weather Radio

best emergency weather radio

Cellular technology and the Internet have completely transformed communications in the 21st century. Think for a moment: If suddenly your computer, TV, and cell phone stopped working, how would you communicate with others? Where would you go for information? The reality is, in the case of an emergency, most people would be completely cut off from the world, reliant on new technology that would cease to function in a disaster. Don’t be one of those people; in this article, we’re going to provide all the information you need to select the best emergency weather radio that will keep you in touch when all other communication mediums fail.

What Is An Emergency Weather Radio

best emergency weather radio
Not your father’s transistor radio: Technology has come a long way, making emergency weather radios portable and self-powered.

In the case of disaster, an emergency radio will allow you to receive signals modern technology can’t, and stay current on important information such as weather or updates on the disaster situation. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts on frequencies not accessible to standard radios, such as the one that may be in your car, and is able to receive vital updates from the National Weather Service in the case of severe weather such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding.

best emergency weather radio
Stay informed of events around you so you know when to bug-in and when to bug-out.

When there’s no power, most emergency weather radios have additional features to power the device via solar or hand crank. When all other technologies fail, if you have an emergency radio, you will have access to information about road closures, the direction of the storm, where emergency shelters are located, and whether or not armed forces have been dispatched. With this knowledge at hand, you can better plan your next course of action; whether that be to stay put, or head out in a vehicle or on foot.

best emergency weather radio
During a wildfire, air quality warnings and evacuation information is broadcast for your safety.

The best part is, unlike most survival gear, there’s no need to store your radio away until it’s needed – you can use it every day! It works just as well as a standard radio and can be used to monitor weather alerts, receive current news, or listen to your favorite music station.

Features To Look For In An Emergency Radio

While emergency weather radios do share many features with standard radios, there are certain functional requirements you will want to specifically look for in your emergency radio including tuning, sound quality and options, power source and battery life, durability, size and weight, and multipurpose options.


AM/FM, weatherband, and shortwave capabilities will give you the most options as the sensitivity of a radio determines how many stations it receives and the quality of reception. NOAA uses Very High Frequency (VHF) waves, transmitted using narrowband FM; most emergency radios will have a feature (either a sound or light) that will alert you when severe weather or other emergency broadcasting is taking place. Specific Area Message Encoding (S.A.M.E.) is also used by NOAA and the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

An emergency radio with S.A.M.E. technology is capable of customizing alerts to your specific area; some even have the functionality to turn off the alert at the End Of Message (EOM) prompt, so that the alert doesn’t continue after the first transmission has played.

best emergency weather radio
Tune in to emergency broadcasts to follow events in your area and stay informed of health and safety guidelines.

In terms of digital vs. analog, digital tuning is much easier to accurately tune and program; however, an analog tuner presumably won’t be affected by an EMP event, whereas a digital system may become unusable.

Emergency Radio Fact: In testing your emergency weather radio, you may notice that more AM stations are received at night; there is a simple explanation for this. Daytime AM waves travel over the surface of the earth through a phenomenon referred to as groundwave propagation; generally, these waves reach no further than 100 miles. At night, reflection from the ionosphere, known as skywave propagation, increases the distance that AM waves can travel up to 100s of miles.

Sound Quality and Options

Things to look for: Maximum volume of audio, auxiliary input, headphone jack, mono or stereo.

When checking for sound quality, the maximum volume of the speakers will be measured in decibels (dB); often referring to as sound quality from a specified distance away, such as how loud the sound will be at one meter from the radio.

An equalizer setting is of little use for emergency purposes, but if you plan to use your radio on a daily basis for things such as news or music, you may want to look for a radio offering optimized settings for talk radio and various music genres, as well as indoor and outdoor use.

In terms of additional options, look for radios that offer headphone jacks and auxiliary input for playing audio from another device.

best emergency weather radio
You may want to listen to disaster reports through headphones in front of children so you can filter information that may be scary to them. This is also a helpful feature in noisy areas.

Power Source and Battery Life

Things to look for: Solar or hand crank capabilities, as well as plug-in feature for regular use; battery life.

Power versatility is a key feature in an emergency radio; look for radios with at least one alternative means for powering. The more options you have for powering your radio, the better your chances of staying connected; radios that run only on batteries require a backup supply and you may face the possibility of running out.

Hand Crank

The hand crank is a simple, yet effective, form of power. Hank crank radios convert mechanical energy into electric energy, which is then stored in a rechargeable lithium ion battery. The efficiency of these systems varies greatly, but typically two minutes of cranking will provide five minutes of radio use at full volume; while that may seem like a lot of work for limited use, it is very dependable and always available.

best emergency weather radio
Power up with a hand-crank anytime, anywhere so you don’t miss important alerts. Image via Alan Levine on flickr.

Solar Cell

Another common source of energy is a solar cell. You will find that some radios can run directly off solar power while others need to charge the battery, then run off stored energy. This method is of course limited to daytime use and may take up to six hours to fully charge a battery.

AC Adaptor or USB

If your radio comes with a rechargeable battery, you should also have an AC adaptor or USB that will charge directly when power is available, such as at home. Similar to solar powered radios, some can run directly off a connection while others need to charge first and then run.

best emergency weather radio
This radio stores the AC cord right on the back so it’s always ready when you need it. Click to view on Amazon.

In addition to your radio, you can also charge other electronic devices via mini, micro, and USB ports. Whether or not you can fully charge a smartphone depends on the battery capacity and discharge rate, but for emergency communications, this can be very helpful.

best emergency weather radio
Power up your cell phone to touch base with family or make emergency calls.

Battery Life

Whichever option you choose to power your radio, it’s extremely helpful to ensure there is some type of battery life indicator; this way, you will know when your battery is running low and can adjust your usage or seek out another power source.


Things to look for: Water and drop resistance, general construction, antenna, and buttons.

We were very surprised that only a few of the emergency radios we reviewed listed water and dust resistance ratings. Ideally, any device designed for outdoor usage should be splash resistant, but to be safe, we recommend tucking your radio in a plastic freezer bag to keep it protected when not in use.

best emergency weather radio
You never know what conditions may arise so the sturdier the radio, the better for bugging out.

To ensure your radio functions when you need it to, choose one with a fold-away hand crank and antenna; this way, those items are less likely to be damaged when packed in a bug-out bag. Additionally, a rubberized finish provides better grip – as does a lanyard or handle – and some models even have protective roll cages to withstand a fall on the ground. If you’ll be heading for the hills in an emergency, these are the must-have features.

Size and Weight

Things to look for: Ease of transport.

When prepping your bug-out bag, size and weight are of utmost importance. Many emergency radios weigh less than one pound and some are even small enough to fit in a pocket. If you plan to bug-in, or store your radio at your bug-out location, you may want to prioritize other features over portability.

Multipurpose Options

Added features are always a plus as they can help reduce the weight of your bag by combining several different items into one. Emergency radios can come equipped with a plethora of useful, additional features, including flashlights, compasses, strobes, sirens, and whistles. For more multipurpose tool ideas for your bug-out bag, CLICK HERE.

Key features to look for include the following:

  • Flashlight: Having a backup flashlight you can power indefinitely will ensure you won’t be left in the dark
  • Clock and calendar: Useful for keeping track of time when far removed from civilization or on a long-term bug-out
  • Temperature and humidity readings: This will allow you to monitor weather conditions
  • Cables: Always check to see which cables are included; simply because your radio has certain ports doesn’t guarantee it comes with the accompanying cables, many times these are sold separately
best emergency weather radio
In addition to the USB port for charging other devices, the Eton Scorpion II has an integrated caribiner for clipping to a bag or belt. Click the image to view on Amazon.

Top 10 Emergency Weather Radios

The following table showcases our picks for the 10 top emergency weather radios as well as key features, weight, and price range. To view the item and its current price on Amazon, click the accompanying image.

Emergency RadioKey FeaturesWeightPrice
Eton NSP101WXGR Scorpion ll
• Multiple power options to keep it running
• LED flashlight for an extra light source
• Rugged construction withstands outdoor use
14 oz$$
Ambient Weather WR-111B
• Solar panel extends battery life
• Illuminated digital display is easy to read
• Ultra lightweight for packing in a BOB or GHB
5 oz$$$
MIDLAND WR300 Weather Radio
• Alarm clock style is ideal for bug-in use
• S.A.M.E. technology for receiving local reports
• Preset up to 30 counties in the memory system for quick access
2 lbs$$
Eton American Red Cross FR1
• Compact design with flat folding crank and antenna
• NOAA alerts for weather preparedness
• Smartphone charger works quickly to power devices
1 lb$$
Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio
• Simple analog AM/FM radio fits in a shirt pocket
• Excellent signal sensitivity for picking up stations
• Runs on 2 AA batteries
10 oz$
Ambient Weather WR-335 ADVENTURER 2
• Uses rechargeable lithium ion battery or 3 AAA batteries
• Audio input plays music from iPods and phones
• 125 decibel siren for emergency signaling
1 lb$$
iRonsnow IS-088 Dynamo Weather Radio
• Rubberized coating for enhanced grip
• Efficient hand crank - 1 min yields 20 min of radio play
• Lightweight and compact for backpacking and BOB
7 oz$
Eton FRX5 Hand Crank Emergency Weather Radio
• Solar panel fully charges battery in 5 hours
• Rated IPx4 for protection against splashes
• Illuminated buttons for use in the dark
1.4 lbs$$$
Kaito KA600 NOAA Weather Radio
• Solar panel is adjustable to achieve optimal exposure
• Input stations 4 ways - manual, direct digital input, ATS, and memory tuning
• Temperature and humidity display, plus calendar and alarm clock for daily use
20 oz$$$
Ivation AM/FM/NOAA Radio
• AM/FM/NOAA radio with Bluetooth for wirelessly connecting to devices
• Display shows station, date, time, and temperature
• Rugged and water resistant design goes anywhere with you
3.5 lbs$$$
Click the images to view current pricing on Amazon.

Our Picks For Best Emergency Radios

Best Emergency Radio For Bugging-In

Our top pick: MIDLAND WR300 Weather Radio

This particular emergency weather radio has more of a countertop design and is less suited for travel. It receives NOAA and Environment Canada alerts using S.A.M.E. technology as well as an audio alarm to warn of extreme weather in your area. It can be programmed to receive alerts from up to 23 counties, which can be especially helpful in areas prone to hurricanes, floods, wildfires, or tornadoes.

For those that are hearing-impaired, it has a lighted display that features a text warning message along with the county the alert was issued in; it also displays “EXP” when a particular alert has expired. You have the option to silence test alerts and weather watches while still being cognizant that one has been received through an indicator light; should a watch turn into a warning, your alert will sound.

One drawback for this particular radio is that it does not recognize EOMs and automatically returns to standby five minutes after the EOM prompt; however, you have the option to manually mute the alert at the end of the message. Another issue is that the headphone jack is mono and not stereo, meaning sound will only come out of one earbud; however, you can correct this with a adaptor to make it double monaural, which will produce sound from both headphones.

In addition to emergency broadcasts, it functions fully as a clock radio with alarm and is therefore a good bedside radio for everyday use. An AC adaptor is included and four AA batteries can be used as backup should the power go out.

Best Emergency Radio For Battery Life

Our top pick: Eton FRX5

The Eton FRX5 is an all-around great emergency weather radio, but its standout feature is the efficient power system. Its hand-crank will provide thirteen minutes of listening after only two minutes of cranking – more than double the average for crank radios. When plugged in using the AC adaptor, a full charge is achieved through the lithium battery within five to six hours.

At maximum volume (an impressive 90 dB at one meter), the radio will play continuously for over fifteen hours. It uses AAA alkaline batteries and also has a high-efficiency solar panel that will keep the battery topped up when in use or fully charged after five hours of direct sun. This outperforms the solar panel systems previously discussed, making the Eton our pick for best battery life.

Additionally, this radio charges devices quickly over an extra fast USB output of 5V 2.1A and receives AM, FM, and NOAA; it also has S.A.M.E. technology and works well even in remote areas. You can program up to 25 locations from which to receive local reports and alerts.

Bonus features: Splashproof with IPX4 rating, headphone jack, auxiliary in jack, glow in the dark locator, LED flashlight and red emergency beacon, and alarm clock.

Best Emergency Radio For GHB/BOB

Our top pick: Ambient Weather WR-111B

Weighing less than half a pound, the WR-111B is perfect for use in your get-home or bug-out bag. It comes equipped with NOAA alerts and a digital AM/FM tuner, making the WR-111B a powerful receiver in a compact design. It is extremely portable and has a rubberized finish as well as lanyard for ease of carrying.

The battery can be charged via USB, AC, hand crank, or solar panel, and a low-battery indicator lights up when battery power falls below three volts. One drawback is that it does not use S.A.M.E. technology for receiving customized alerts.

The sturdy hand crank can be used for recharging while the radio is playing and conveniently folds away when not in use. An AC adaptor is available to purchase separately for plugging into an outlet; a “hard charge” via USB or AC adaptor is recommended every few weeks to maintain battery life.

best emergency weather radio
The WR-111B emergency weather radio also has an LED flashlight. Click the image to view on Amazon.


While the hand crank and solar panel can be used to charge the radio in an emergency, keep in mind that the solar panel serves to extend the battery life but does not provide a full charge; ensure you read the instructions carefully regarding care of the battery for optimal performance.

The battery is also removeable and replaceable, which is a useful feature if you intend on regular usage. This radio also includes cables and adaptors to charge different types of cell phones (mini, micro, and USB) as well as a headphone jack.

Best Emergency Radio For Selection Of Features

Our top pick: Kaito Voyager Pro KA600

When it comes to extra features, the Kaito Voyager Pro is fully loaded. The illuminated digital displays show mode, station, and battery life, as well as temperature and humidity. It features digital tuning that is adjustable via manual knob or buttons, including a number pad for direct entry of stations and programmable preset memory. The calendar, clock, and alarm are useful additions for everyday use as well as in a grid-down scenario.

With a turn of the dial, power input switches from the AC adaptor, solar charger, and AA batteries. The solar panel pivots 180 degrees and is larger than most emergency radio solar panels; in full sun, it is powerful enough to run the radio directly. The included rechargeable battery fully charges in under two hours via USB or AC, while you also have the option of using the hand-crank.

It receives high quality reception in FM, AM, and all 7 NOAA weather channels, even in remote areas – although the maximum volume is a bit low at 76.7 dB at a one meter distance. However, if background noise drowns out the sound, there are two headphone jacks. The antenna retracts neatly onto the back when not in use.

Another feature to note are the flashlights: It has a 5-LED reading light below the solar panel for mapping and small tasks, plus a 3-LED flashlight above the hand crank.

For portability, it is compact in size but a bit on the heavy side, weighing in at 20 oz; also, it is not rated for water or dust resistance.

Choosing The Best Emergency Radio For YOU

When choosing the best emergency radio for your needs, you need to consider transportation requirements, ease of use, and your particular priorities.

Transportation Requirements

Before choosing a radio, determine whether or not you will be transporting it, i.e. bugging out or using it in a get-home scenario, or staying put for bugging-in.

For bugging-out and get-home scenarios, weight matters and extra multipurpose features will help to offset any added weight by providing key items such as a backup flashlight or survival whistle. Additionally, having a means to charge batteries for other devices will come in quite handy.

best emergency weather radio
If you’re traveling through the wilderness, choose an emergency weather radio that is lightweight and has self-powered options.

When bugging-in, you need not be as concerned with size and weight, but local reporting features, such as S.A.M.E., will be very useful. While you may not need extra multipurpose features, a self-powered radio is always a boon, especially during power outages.

get home bag list


Ease Of Use

If you can’t use your radio, no amount of features or alternative power sources will be of use; make sure you practice using your radio so you are familiar with all of its features and can tune in to required information channels and sources.

If there are any preset functions, make sure to tune them into your local stations so everything is ready to go. Additionally, if you live in a remote area or plan on bugging-out to one, ensure your radio has the capacity to receive signals in your area.

best emergency weather radio
Test your radio in remote areas to make sure you can receive signals from your local stations.

Know Your Priorities

To make sure you get the best value for your money, think carefully about your needs before purchasing and choose a radio that addresses all your must-have features.


When cut off from everyday technologies we depend on, such as cellular and the Internet, staying informed and receiving the information you need to optimize your survival plan becomes a real challenge. Don’t be caught off-guard; safeguard your survival by staying informed during an emergency, no matter what. Choose an emergency weather radio that best serves your purposes and will provide the most value in a disaster. Most important, use your radio regularly so that you become familiar with its various functionality and are fully prepared to stay connected when disaster strikes.

Your Thoughts

Have you ever used an emergency weather radio before? Have you used one in an emergency? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts and questions with us in the Comments section, thanks!

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best lightweight tent

How To Choose The Best Lightweight Tent For Camping, Recreation, and Bugging Out

best lightweight tent

We recently published a great article that provided tips for building shelter in any survival situation, which we highly recommend that you read and familiarize yourself with. However, while learning to build shelter from found materials is a skill we feel everyone should have, there are also many advantages to carrying a tent with you for excursions into the wilderness.

Having a tent saves the effort and time of preparing shelter from scratch – allotting you more energy to expend on other aspects of your camp – and can provide life-saving shelter in cases of extreme weather or ready-made shelter when bugging out at night.

Whether for backpacking, recreation, or bugging out in a disaster, having a tent on-hand can be indispensable. However, especially in disaster scenarios, size matters: the smaller and more lightweight your tent, the better. In the case of your bug-out bag, not only are you looking for gear that is light enough to be carried over long distances, but also that doesn’t take up so much room that other survival essentials are left behind.

What is ‘lightweight’? Generally, for a one-person tent, it can be as light as a few pounds, with anything up to approximately seven pounds still considered lightweight.

Choosing the Best Lightweight Tent – Features to Look for

When choosing the best lightweight tent, there are generally two features that are must haves: weatherproof and waterproof; and ease of set-up.

Weatherproof and Waterproof

All it takes is one night out in a torrential downpour to learn the importance of having a lightweight tent that is also properly fitted to withstand the elements. To ensure a lightweight survival tent that is sure to shield you from the elements, we recommend using a bathtub bottom, extra tarp, protected seams, and a rainfly.

best lightweight tent
Click the image to see the best price for the Hilleberg Janu and user reviews on Amazon.

Bathtub Bottom

When I purchased my first survival tent, the key feature I looked for was size to accommodate the large group I was camping with in the northeastern U.S. during the summer. I soon regretted focusing on size and not looking into different fabrics and sealing methods as we were hit by thunderstorms on three out of three trips. Even with a tarp underneath the tent, the interior floor was soaked.

Learn from my mistake: the best lightweight tents will come with a bathtub bottom – a bathtub-like floor that extends several inches up the sides of the tent before attaching to the walls, ensuring no seams are sitting on the ground. The bottom panel is also treated with a chemical water sealant (typically polyurethane) to lock out moisture.

best lightweight tent
Click the image to see the best price for the Morrison Mountainsmith and user reviews on Amazon.

Extra Tarp

Even if you’ve purchased the absolute best lightweight tent, it is still advisable to bring along an extra footprint tarp that can be laid under your tent to protect from punctures that can result from roots, sticks, and rocks.

Most bug-out or survival tents will generally come with a custom-sized tarp, but if yours doesn’t, simply use a regular tarp and tuck the edges an inch or so inside the perimeter of the tent. Remember that if the ground cloth extends beyond the edge of the tent, rain water can collect and be driven between the tarp and the tent; it’s always best to let rain roll off your tent straight onto the ground.

Protected Seams

When looking for seams that will keep out the elements, folded seams with double stitching are much more durable and effective at keeping out water than single seams. Additionally, taped seams provide extra strength and protection as they have an extra layer of fabric sewn into the seams.

To further protect your seams from the elements, pretreat them with water sealant. Set up your tent outside on a dry, sunny day and treat all seams by applying water sealant to all threads both inside and outside (including those along doors and on the rainfly), allowing all seams several hours to thoroughly dry and then repeating the treatment. For optimal performance, apply water sealant annually.

Tent Seam Sealants
Gear Aid Seam Sure
Coghlan’s Seam Seal
Silnet Silicone Seam Sealer
Coleman Seam Sealer
Kenyon Seam Sealer #3 - 4 Pack
Aqua Seal Water-Based Seam Sealer
Click the images to view current pricing on Amazon.


To test your seams to see if they are watertight, simply give them a pull: if tension is created on the seam and you can see light coming through the stitching holes, the seam is not watertight.


Most double-walled survival tents will come with a coordinated rainfly that can be drawn back to provide access to the tent. Choosing a lightweight tent with a rainfly is a simple and easy way of ensuring weather and waterproofing.

Ease of Set-Up

The best way to ensure that you will be able to quickly and easily assemble your lightweight tent in all manner of situations is to actually go out and practice! You don’t ever want to find yourself in a camping or (especially) survival situation without having practised setting up your tent.

While practice makes perfect, there are certain features that will make your survival tent easier to carry and set-up, including poles, stakes, stake loops, and guylines.


Generally, when looking for the best lightweight tent, your choices for poles will be between aluminum, fiberglass, or no poles. For backpacking and survival we recommend aluminum tent poles over fiberglass as they tend to be stronger, weigh less, and be easier to repair.

Aluminum is a stronger material than fiberglass, necessitating less to achieve the same strength; the added weight of fiberglass will be miniscule when camping in the backyard, but extremely important when heading for the hills with your BOB where every ounce counts.

Additionally, aluminum can be easier to repair than fiberglass. When fiberglass fractures, it can tear your tent and does not lend itself easily to repairs; if your fiberglass pole breaks, it will most likely need to be replaced. Conversely, aluminum will typically bend before it snaps, giving you more of a chance to perform long-lasting repairs – an advantage that is crucial for long-term survival.

There are, however, advantages to using fiberglass poles. For one, fiberglass does not corrode, whereas aluminum poles will – although they can be treated with anti-corrosive coating, it will eventually wear off, especially in wet climates. Also, fiberglass is typically priced a little lower than aluminum.

Stakes, Stake Loops, and Guylines

For anyone who has ever been camping, you know that it doesn’t take much of a breeze to send your tent rolling through the trees, potentially ripping or breaking it. Stakes are what keep your tent from blowing around and are an essential part of your tent shelter kit; using them properly can very literally mean the difference between a secure shelter and losing your tent completely in a survival situation. Choosing the right stakes for your survival tent can be equally as important as choosing the best lightweight tent.

Stakes should be driven into the ground at a slight angle, away from the direction of force of the line. Ultralight titanium stakes get the job done at 0.2 oz. apiece, but are likely to loosen in soft or loose terrain. Although they are quite thin, they are less susceptible to bending when hammered into place. Aluminum stakes are a sturdy option and can handle more abuse while being driven into the ground; however, they are also heavier to carry around. Steel stakes are the heaviest, weighing about an ounce apiece but are also heavy duty.

The shape of the stake will also have an effect on how easy it is to drive in and how well it stays put. If you find yourself in loose soil or sand, there are Y-beam and ‘V’ stakes that work well in these conditions and come in plastic or aluminum varieties. If you’re expecting snow, a curved stake with holes in it goes in easily and freezes in place.

Tent StakesDesign & MaterialBest ForWeight Per Stake
Tent Tools Ultralight Aluminum Tent Stakes (8-pack)
Y-Beam, AluminumAll terrains, especially loose soil and sand0.46 oz
TOAKS Titanium Shepherd's Hook Tent Stake (6-pack)
Shepherd's Hook, TitaniumPacked and/or rocky soil0.2 oz
MSR GroundHog Stakes (8-pack)
Y-Beam, 7000-series AluminumAll terrains, especially loose soil and sand0.46 oz
TOAKS Titanium V-shaped Tent Stakes (6-pack)
V-Beam, TitaniumAll terrain, especially snow and ice0.4 oz
10-Piece Galvanized Steel Tent Pegs (10-pack)
Shepherd's Hook, Galvanized SteelModerately packed soil
Short excursions
1.0 oz
Click the images to view current pricing on Amazon.

If you happen to find yourself on extremely rocky ground or without stakes at all, there is always the “big rock, little rock” method that you can use, as seen in the video below:

A final point to consider is how your tent will anchor to the stakes. Most tents will have nylon webbing loops at the base corners and sometimes midway up each side, as well as on the rainfly. These loops attach either directly to stakes or to guylines then to the stakes, to secure your tent and help keep its shape.

Depending on what type of stake you are using, you may wish to tie small loops of paracord to the webbing in order to better grip the stakes. Paracord is an excellent choice for long-term use as it has a high propensity for withstanding fraying due to friction. Measure out the amount of paracord you will need for your tent and pack that amount right in your tent bag, so that it will be available quickly in a bug-out situation.

Paracord Storage

To ensure your lines are taut, we recommend using guyline tensioners, which are plastic sliding devices that make adjusting your guylines easier than with tying knots; however, a tautline or midshipman’s hitch will also get the job done.

Additional Considerations For Choosing The Best Lightweight Tent

When selecting the best lightweight tent, especially for survival scenarios, in addition to the features covered above, you will also want to consider the amount of vestibules and storage pouches, shape, and color.

Vestibules and Storage Pouches

Having extra storage space can be a huge advantage – especially if you intend on bugging out for a long period of time – but is not as crucial as some other features. If your lightweight tent comes with plenty of storage space, great, but don’t add unneeded weight simply to try to fit in better storage.

A-frame tents will typically have a vestibule at either end while dome-shaped tents will usually have a rainfly that extends beyond the entrance to create a small, sheltered space.

The interior of your tent may contain mesh pockets for holding smaller gear, such as flashlights and multitools, which allow you to keep these important tools at-hand and available when you need them. Another useful feature you may look for in your tent is a loop at the apex, which is perfect for hanging a lantern from a caribiner to illuminate your tent at night.


Generally, there are two shapes your tent will come in: A-frame and dome. The biggest drawback of an A-frame tent is the lack of headroom allotted along the sides. How big of an inconvenience this is depends on the number of occupants; for a single-person tent, this is much less of a concern than for an entire family.

Dome shaped tents tend to have a square footprint and therefore allow for more vertical space close to the sides, making them an excellent choice when there are multiple people needing to fit inside. Additionally, domes provide slightly better weatherproofing as rain sheds more easily and wind passes over more smoothly due to their aerodynamic shape; however, these advantages diminish the larger the dome as surface area becomes a factor.

best lightweight tent
Click the image to see the Mountainsmith Genesee and user reviews on Amazon.


In most situations, the color of your tent will have little to no effect on its performance; however, keep in mind that dark colors (which absorb more light energy) can raise interior temperatures (beneficial in cold climates while detrimental in excessive heat), and bright colors (such as yellow or orange) do not blend well with natural landscapes and can be easily spotted (if staying hidden is a priority, choose earth tones or camouflage patterns).


Your choice of capacity will depend on your needs. Generally, the manufacturer will state the maximum number of sleep pads that can fit the footprint of the tent. This makes for a cozy but comfortable fit. Taller people or those with a larger build may benefit from going for one size larger than the actual number of people the tent is intended for, or going with an A-frame style which tends to be longer.

Additionally, if you are looking for options for a get-home bag, there is no need to lug around anything larger than a one-person tent. In the summer or as a back-up, a simple single use mylar shelter may suffice.

best lightweight tent
Click to see the Emergency Shelter Tent and user reviews on Amazon.

If you live in an area where low temperatures and precipitation are a regular occurrence, you may choose to upgrade to a full one-person tent. This is especially useful not only in harsh weather conditions but also if your journey lasts more than one night. Mylar shelters are not intended for repeated use but a one-person tent can easily be taken down, re-packed, and set-up again.

best lightweight tent
Click to see the Snugpack Ionosphere and user reviews on Amazon.

Our Top Picks For Best Lightweight Tent

Lightweight TentsKey FeaturesCapacityIdeal ForWeight
High Peak Outdoors Maxxlite Tent
• Bathtub bottom seals out rain and snow
• Aluminum poles offer structure
• Rain cover forms a vestibule at either end to store gear
2Cold weather
Rain, snow
6.70 lbs
Emergency Shelter Tent
• Include attached paracord for easy set up
• Doubles as a survival blanket
• Dual mylar layering is tough and insultating
2First aid
Day hikes
0.50 lbs
Eureka! Timberline 4 Tent
• Well-ventilated with windows that are hooded by the rain fly
• Interior mesh pockets, loops, and gear loft for storage
• Weight to size ratio makes it a good choice for a family of 4
3 season backpacking
7.81 lbs
Snugpak Ionosphere 1 Person Tent
• Slim 20" x 6" bundle easily fits into most packs
• Quick and easy to set up and take down, includes aluminum stakes
• Fits one person plus a good sized pack
1Long-term use
Moderate temperatures
3.34 lbs
Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person 3 Season Tent
• Bathtub floor with taped seams keep out the rain
• Rainfly creates additional 14 sq ft vestibule
• Aluminum "V" stakes stay put in a variety of terrains
• Includes reflective guylines with tension adjusters
2Rainy or windy climates
3 season backpacking
4.69 lbs
Wenzel Alpine 3 Person Tent
• Weather Armor polyester fabric seals out the elements
• Bathtub bottom with mud mat to keep interior clean
• Fiberglass poles
3Small families
Economical option
8.00 lbs
Mountainsmith Genesee 3 Season Tent
• Fully enclosed rainfly with protected top vents
• Superfine mesh keeps out insects
• Reflective guy lines include plastic tighteners
Windy and rainy climates
6.56 lbs
Hilleberg Jannu 2 Person Tent
• Low profile is effective at shedding sleet and snow
• Strong side wall and frame stand up to high winds
• Asymetric vestibule protects entryway and decreases draft
• Well worth the price for alpine camping
2Harsh winter conditions6.81 lbs
EUREKA Apex 2XT Tent
• Double-coated StormShield poylester fly and bathtub bottom to protect against weather
• Rain fly can be rotated 180 degrees for easier set-up
• Inner tent mesh wall provides good ventilation
• Heavy duty Coleman fiberglass frame is freestanding (do not have to thread through fabric sleeve)
23 season backpacking5.75 lbs
Click the images to view current pricing on Amazon.


Carrying a lightweight tent that offers an immediate shelter option can provide a real advantage over scrounging to find materials to build shelter, especially in the dark or harsh weather. However, trekking with a survival tent the many hours (or days) that may be needed in a bug-out scenario could prove extremely tiresome; for this reason, it is imperative that if you are going to pack a bug-out tent, pack one that is lightweight and therefore easy to carry across long distances.

Additionally, the less weight and space taken up by your tent, the more room left for you to pack other essential items you will need while bugging out.

When choosing the best lightweight tent for your needs, size and portability will always be your primary concerns. Secondary considerations should be the tent’s ability to stand up to the elements and how easy it is to set up. Additionally, look for vestibules and storage pouches, the best shape for your needs (A-frame vs. dome), the color that will perform best in your situation, and the desired capacity.

Your Thoughts

Do you think a lightweight tent is worth the extra weight in your bug-out bag and/or get-home bag? Do you have any tips or gear suggestions that have made it easier for you to set up a tent? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, thanks!



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best tactical pants

Gear Up: How To Choose the Best Tactical Pants

best tactical pants

Here at The Bug Out Bag Guide, we asked our readers what areas of survival preparedness they were most interested in learning more about and overwhelmingly the answer was tactical clothing for bug-out and get-home scenarios. To provide you with the most complete and comprehensive resource on tactical survival clothing, we’re writing a series of articles starting with this one on the best tactical pants to pack for your survival plans.

Believe it or not, the clothing you choose for your bug-out or get-home bag can have a substantial impact on your chances for survival. The right clothing can improve your performance, especially in harsh conditions, and provide an advantage that can greatly improve your odds for survival.

The whole point of having a bug-out or get-home bag prepared and ready to go is that you never know when you will need it. What if you find yourself bugging-out in a suit and tie, or in the middle of the night? Trekking through dangerous wilderness or navigating panic-stricken streets would be next to impossible without the right tactical gear to protect you from the elements.

In this article, you will learn the various advantages that tactical pants have over average streetwear and how to choose the best tactical pants for your situation, along with our top picks.

Tactical Pants For MenFeaturesIdeal ForRipstopWater ResistantWaist
5.11 Tactical #74273 Men's TacLite Pro Pant
Breathable fabric is teflon treated for spill resistance
D-ring for quick access to keys or tools
Bartacking protects high stress areas from tearing
Hot, humid climatesYesYesAction waistband
TRU-SPEC Men's Lightweight 24-7 Pant
Reinforced knee with built-in knee pad pocket
Magazine compartments in cargo pockets for extra ammo
An economical choice that performs well
Moderate to hot weather
Concealed carry
Propper Men's Lightweight Tactical Pant
Ripstop material is strong but flexible to allow for movement
Belt loops are positioned to allow for side holsters
Nine pockets for storing gear
Includes matching belt
Hot, humid climatesYesYesAdjustable
Blackhawk Men's Lightweight Tactical Pant
Elastic webbing in cargo pockets holds flashlights, knives, magazines upright for quick access
Silicon shirt keeper waist band keeps shirt tucked in while on the move
Added protection from double layering in seat and knees
Warmer climates
Concealed carry
Columbia Men's Silver Ridge Convertible Pant
Zip-off legs to quickly convert to shorts
Lightweight fabric with Omni-Wick evaporation to keep you dry
Zippered cargo pocket secures your gear
Hot, humid climatesYesNoAdjustable
5.11 Tactical #74290 Covert Cargo Pants
Low profile design for a more inconspicuous look
Comfortable peached cotton canvas moves silently
Double deep hip pockets with secondary storage for pistol magazines or gear
Cooler climates
Gray man
Blackhawk Men's I.T.S. HPFU Pants
Athletic cut for increased mobility
Knee patches protect against abrasion
Blousing ties on ankles to fit snuggly inside boots
Tournequets integrated into thighs for emergency first aid
Cooler climates
Under Armour Men's UA Storm Tactical Duty Pants
30+ UPF rating for protection from harmful UV rays
Large dual cargo pockets provide plenty of room for gear
Quick drying, breathable, and anti-microbe lining prevents odor and moisture build up
Hidden document pocket for personal ID
All weather, including snowYesYesAdjustable
Vertx Men's Original Tactical Pants
Zippered cargo pockets offer a low profile appearance
Articulated knee design prevents riding up when seated or crouching
Cotton/lycra stretch fabric provides a comfortable fit
Warm to cold climates
Gray Man
NoYesSide stretch
Click the images to view size and color options on Amazon.
Tactical Pants For WomenFeaturesIdeal ForRipstopWater ResistantWaist
5.11 Tactical Women's TacLite Pro Pant
Breathable fabric is teflon treated for spill resistance
D-ring for quick access to keys or tools
Bartacking protects high stress areas from tearing
Hot, humid climatesYesYesAction waistband
TRU-SPEC Women's Lightweight 24-7 Pant
Reinforced knee with built-in knee pad pocket
Magazine compartments in cargo pockets for extra ammo
An economical choice that performs well
Moderate to hot weather
Concealed carry
Propper Women's Tactical Pant
Durable canvas fabric is Teflon treated to repel liquids
Belt loops are positioned to allow for side holsters
Nine pockets for storing gear
Includes matching belt
Cooler climatesYesYesAction stretch
Blackhawk Women's Lightweight Tactical Pant
Elastic webbing in cargo pockets holds flashlights, knives, magazines upright for quick access
Added protection from double layering in seat and knees
Warmer climates
Concealed carry
Columbia Women's Silver Ridge Convertible Pant
Roll up legs to quickly convert to shorts
Lightweight fabric with Omni-Wick evaporation to keep you dry
Zippered cargo pocket secures your gear
Hot, humid climatesYesNoAdjustable
Vertx Women's Original Tactical Pants
Zippered cargo pockets offer a low profile appearance
Articulated knee design prevents riding up when seated or crouching
Cotton/lycra stretch fabric provides a comfortable fit
Warm to cold climates
Concealed carry
NoYesSide stretch
Under Armour Women's UA Tactical Patrol Pant
Ripstop polyester blend with wicking action keeps you dry
Comfortable low waist has hidden elastic to stay put even when pockets are loaded
May run small, consider ordering a size up
Warm to cold climatesYesYesSide stretch
Click the images to view color and size options on Amazon.

All About Tactical Pants – Why You Need Them, What To Look For

Tactical pants, or tactical trousers, were originally developed as practical work attire for woodsmen and were quickly adopted by both military and police forces as the clothing proved very useful in combat situations.

Tactical pants offer many advantages over jeans or typical street clothes including a better fit and easier movement. Well-made tactical pants will have plenty of easily-accessible storage areas, be made of high-performance fabric, and have reinforced seams.

Additionally, you can find some tactical pants that offer pockets for inserting knee pads as well as ankle drawstrings for cinching into your boots to keep out dust, water and insects.

best tactical pants
Tapered or cinched ankles make it easier to tuck into socks and boots for warmth or protection against insects.

For our pick of the best tactical pant with reinforced knee and built-in knee pocket pad, check out TRU-SPEC Men’s Lightweight 24-7 Pant, or Blackhawk Men’s I.T.S. HPFU Pants for excellent blousing ankle ties that fit snuggly inside boots.

The ‘must-have’ features for ideal tactical pants varies by person and situation and are highly dependent on the climate in which they will be used and your particular survival plan. No matter your individual needs, there are several areas in which you will need your tactical pants to perform: weather resistance and protection; durability; ease of movement; and strategic cargo storage and accessibility (layout of the pants).

Weather Resistance and Protection

For many people, protection from water or harsh storms is a major priority in choosing tactical pants; how your pants will perform in wet conditions is highly dependent on the type of fabric they are made from, how that fabric is treated, and how the seams come together.

For most scenarios, water resistance will suffice, but for more treacherous survival plans, consider fabric treated with Teflon, which seals out water and causes it to bead and roll off; however, Teflon does not necessarily provide protection against complete submersion. If your survival plan takes you through a body of water, your best bet is to choose a quick-drying material that won’t weigh you down. For our top Teflon choice, check out the Men’s TacLite Pro Pant.

When choosing the best tactical pants for your survival plan, keep in mind the types of activities you are most likely to be performing. Lightweight tactical pants are excellent for providing protection from scraping your skin while scrambling over rocks or through thorny bushes; they also act as a great defense against mosquitoes and ticks.

best tactical pants
Rugged terrain calls for durable clothing to protect against injuries.

For an excellent convertible tactical pant (zip-off legs quickly convert to shorts), check out Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant. In terms of temperature control, those in high-temperature climates may be tempted to reach for a lighter-fabric tactical pant, but remember that even in warm areas, nights can reach uncomfortable levels of cold. For those in dual-temperature climates, layering may be the best option.

UnderArmour Men’s UA Storm Tactical Duty Pants offer protection from harmful UV rays as well as ample storage, quick-drying and breathable material, and hidden pockets for IDs and documents. For strictly colder climates, a heavier fabric, such as Gortex (less breathable but very insulating), is your best choice. Consider layering thermals underneath or wearing slim, tactical snow pants that will allow you sufficient movement.


There are a variety of options to choose from when selecting the most durable material for tactical pants, including cotton, canvas and synthetic fabrics.

Cotton is a great choice as it is comfortable and durable; however, it also retains moisture and is generally heavier than other options. There are cotton blends available that offer wicking and therefore decrease weight. Additionally, cotton materials take to weatherproofing through silicone treatments better than purely synthetic materials. To learn more about weatherproofing your bug-out gear, CLICK HERE.

If you foresee your gear getting a lot of wear, canvas is an excellent choice (canvas is the same material used for sails and firehoses, so it can withstand substantial wear). However, it is a heavier fabric and offers little in the way of freedom of movement.

Synthetic fabric, such as lycra or spandex, is typically lightweight, provides for excellent flexibility, and most blends wick moisture well.

Ease of Movement

To allow for more movement, look for flexible fabric with some stretch to it as well as features such as pleats and gusseting in the knees. For a strong tactical pant that also allows for flexible movement, check out Propper Men’s Lightweight Tactical Pant.

best tactical pants
Street clothes can restrict motion and slow you down on your path to survival.

Strategic Cargo Storage and Accessibility

As any well-prepared survivalist knows, there are certain items that must be accessible quickly in a survival scenario such as a self-defense weapon, flashlight, knife, and multitool. To ensure the best access to your most-needed tools, look for tactical pants that have deep pockets and velcro or zipper closures.

survival weapons

Some will have inlaid pockets while others external cargo pockets; what’s most important is that there is room for all your most important gear and that it will be accessible on demand. Squared off pockets function well for clipping a knife, flashlight or pen; elastic webbing is great for holding gear in place; and sectioned off pockets will keep your gear nicely organized.

For our pick of the best tactical pants for elastic webbing cargo capacity, check out Blackhawk Men’s Lightweight Tactical Pant, as well as Vertex Men’s Original Tactical Pants for zippered cargo pockets that also offer a low profile appearance.

Additional Considerations for the Best Tactical Pants

When deciding on the best tactical pants for your survival plans, three additional areas warrant consideration: durability; portability (weight/storing); and color (Gray Man friendly vs. camo).


The durability of your tactical pants is an especially important consideration when preparing for an INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) scenario. This particular scenario may require investment in higher quality tactical pants that are built to withstand longer wear. Conversely, when prepping for your get-home bag, tactical pants that will simply see you through the night are sufficient.


It is important to think about how portable your tactical pants are in terms of both their weight and storage capabilities. If your tactical pants will be stored in your car, weight and bulk are less of a factor, but in terms of your bug-out bag, a lightweight and compactable fabric is most desirable.


Generally, your choices will be between regular-colored clothing and camo. Each has its own advantages depending on the locale and situation in which they will be used.

If your survival plan requires navigating a populated area, digital camo is not the most ideal choice. The reasoning follows the Gray Man principle: in a disaster scenario, the last thing you want to do is stand out as the prepared person amongst throngs of unprepared and chaotic citizens; by carrying gear that doesn’t look like survival gear, you will camouflage the fact that you are equipped and greatly increase your chances of survival.

best tactical pants
Sometimes blending into the crowd is your best bet to get out safely.

For an inconspicuous look, check out 5.11 Tactical #74290 Covert Cargo Pants.

Conversely, a wilderness survival situation would benefit from camouflage patterns or subtle earth tones as you would be able to blend in with natural surroundings.

best tactical pants
In other situations, blending in to the landscape is extremely beneficial.


When choosing the best tactical pants, the most important consideration is how well the pants will function in relation to your survival plan. Always remember to keep in mind the various elements you will face and the protection your pants can provide (water resistant, heat resistant, etc.), how much and what type of activities they can withstand, how easy it is to maneuver in them, and how much easily-accessible storage space they offer.

Additional considerations include the storability of the pants (how easy are they to pack/carry), whether a Gray Man or camo look is preferred, and how long will you need the pants to perform for. If you follow these tips you’ll be sure to find the best tactical pants for your specific survival needs.

Your Thoughts

Do you own a pair of awesome tactical pants that we should have included? What are their best features? Are you interested in more articles about tactical clothing? Tell us in the Comments section below, thanks!

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