Urban Vs Wilderness Bug Out Bag: Choosing The Right Gear

If you were born in the 70’s or earlier you probably remember when the term Bug Out Bag was virtually unknown. Nowadays at least three out of four people you meet in a social context are likely to be familiar with the term. It’s a sign of the times in which we live.

However, we don’t hear a lot about the concept of varying the items in one’s BOB depending on whether it’s an urban or rural environment the person will be dealing with. I won’t spend time going over all of the items one should have in his/her pack as I suspect this is well covered ground for most reading this article (CLICK HERE to make your custom bug out bag list & have it sent straight to your inbox!).

Whether one is in the city, countryside, or deep in the wilderness, much of the pack contents should be the same. Much, but not all.

Choosing The Right Tools For The Job

I have read advice about the best items to select for a BOB as if the general environment where it will be used is irrelevant. In my view this is akin to having a handyman show up to your home with only a small tool box without telling him whether it’s a plumbing or an electrical problem he will be addressing!

urban bug out bag

Having the right tools to survive can mean the difference between life and death! Choose wisely…

As a cop working in the greater Los Angeles area for over two decades, I’ve spent some time observing the kinds of scenarios typically encountered when things go awry in urban and suburban environments. Some were accidents, while others involved intentional violence. The point is that all of these events are likely to occur during and following a major disaster, with two major differences:

  1. The effects of these incidents will be exponentially larger, and
  2. Any resources available to respond to same will be overwhelmed, and possibly unavailable altogether.

Worse yet, in my opinion there is likely to be a synergistic effect if the scope of the disaster is severe enough to severely impact the infrastructure (including police response). Those who live their lives as predators (i.e., gang members and others) will in all likelihood become aware of the lack of first responders far more quickly than the rest of society, and will take full advantage early on.

I would like to be proven wrong, and perhaps I will, but don’t count on it.

urban bug out bag

A disaster doesn’t tell you when it is coming

Disaster Planning: Know Your Environment

Making a Bug Out Plan that is specific to your locality is vitally important. You want to include the intricacies and potential dangers that are local to where you are going to be operating.

Urban Disaster Planning

If one should find himself/herself in an urban environment after a catastrophic incident that essentially collapses the infrastructure, the primary objective should be to get out of the heavily populated area ASAP. This is one of the major differences between bugging out through an urban area and doing so in a rural location. Time is a much bigger consideration in the former. With this in mind, one should prepare so that he/she can:

  1. Be equipped to determine alternate routes while on the move (or at least with little time to make route changes).
  2. Have the means to defeat the varied physical obstacles potentially to be encountered.
  3. Have the tools capable of extricating one’s self or others from confinement due to structural collapse, vehicle collisions, or other situations more common in urban disasters.
  4. Be equipped to create large holes in interior walls to facilitate escape from threats present inside the building.
  5. If escape/avoidance is not possible, have an effective means to defend against violent attack.

wilderness survival kit

A wild fire can move incredibly fast and destroy EVERYTHING in its path

Rural Disaster Planning

Contrast the above with the typical priorities for a short duration rural or wilderness survival scenario, such as:

  1. Capability to process wood for starting and maintaining fire.
  2. Means to put together basic (short term) shelter.
  3. Less important, but worth mentioning, is the means to fashion additional crude tools (e.g., hunting devices) to aid in survival conditions should the scenario turn into a longer term one.

Urban (and Suburban) Pack Items


A map of the city where one works (as well as where one lives if not the same city) is imperative. Unlike as is often the case when traveling through rural or even wilderness locations, urban travel after a disaster can present fluid situations chock full of potential extreme danger requiring sudden and unexpected route changes. No matter one’s skill and/or type of weapons he/she may have, avoidance of conflict at virtually all costs is going to be the better option. And in the process of changing direction (perhaps multiple times as part of evasion), even the best of us can find ourselves disoriented. Pack a map! And have at least one (preferably two) reliable light sources to study the map during darkness. I have found that unlike when navigating through wilderness, a small inexpensive compass will suffice for city map work.

Map Reading Skills

Click on the image to brush up on your map reading skills


Downplayed Appearance

Unlike when hiking through wilderness locations, having/wearing high quality state-of- the-art gear while walking through heavily populated areas when the infrastructure is down is a mistake. Wearing the latest “tacticool” pack can be an equally big mistake.

Since two-legged predators will be aware of the increased opportunities the conditions have created for them, the less attention one invites, the better. I know from experience that many street smart bad guys have a surprisingly keen eye for quality gear, even when it comes to items they know almost nothing about.

Don’t advertise your cool gear if you can possibly help it. Wearing a pack is likely to draw at least some extra attention no matter what—this is largely unavoidable. But donning a pack that appears to be very used, or even dirty, is a better option than a brand new pack. And a “plain Jane” civilian pack is more likely to ride under the radar than a tactical pack. Ditto all of the above when considering the clothes you will wear during these conditions—especially shoes! Learn and practice your Gray Man/Woman Skills now to fly under the radar when a disaster strikes (Click HERE to learn how).

gray man theory

Click on the image to learn how to be a Gray Man or Woman

Large Knife VS. Tomahawk

On many occasions I have watched other first responders use a variety of tools when handling emergencies. I have also used some of these tools personally to gain entry into semi-fortified homes during the course of police work. Other than issued weapons (police) and medical equipment (fire department/paramedics) the tools used most often were those designed to defeat barriers typically encountered in cities (everything from car doors and windows to steel home security doors).

Although you might convince yourself you would not stop to help another in need if it delayed your bugging out from a dangerous environment, you really never know until faced with that scenario. Moreover, you just might need the means to get yourself out of a jam.

bushcraft tools

Each has its place…

With the growing threat of terrorism and active shooter incidents, being equipped to create a travel path (breaking out a hole to crawl through) between a building’s interior rooms is a reasonable preparation. There are many scenarios that could prompt the need to bug out through an urban area—a massive terrorism incident is certainly one of them.

I am trying to make the case for not including a large knife in favor of a rugged tomahawk. Never mind that many “experts” insist on having a large hard use survival knife in any and all BOBs. A person is better off with an affordable tough tomahawk for urban scenarios any day of the week. And a suitable “hawk” can be had for about half the price of any survival knife capable of doing other than traditional knife chores!


Estwing’s Black Eagle Tomahawk fits this bill. It is not very attractive, and the workmanship shows only minimal attention to finish and fine symmetry, but I can personally attest to the tool’s capability. I have used the spike end to break car window glass, punch through heavy steel mesh and car trunks, as well as breaking a six-inch diameter hole in a cement cinder block (I encountered no steel rebar however). I have also used this “hawk” to pry apart two-by-fours fastened with 16D nails. After all of this, the business ends of the hawk’s blade are still not much worse for wear (cosmetic damage only). Does anyone think any of the better quality survival knives out there could perform these tasks without causing damage, or even breaking, the blade?


I once watched a fellow patrol officer show off his $250.00 tanto bladed knife by punching through the steel door of a typical gym locker. Worked fine. He repeated the feat an hour later to show off his new knife to another observer. This time it significantly damaged the blade’s tip. He was so angry we couldn’t talk to him for over an hour. Knives simply are not meant to be used to defeat steel, concrete, or even glass! Check out our article on Picking The Best Tomahawk For Your Bug Out Bag HERE.

Best Tomahawk Survival Tomahawk

Click on the image above to learn how to pick the best tomahawk


I have no financial interest in Estwing, and there may be other equally well-performing hawks out there for a similar price (about $35 HERE on Amazon), but I have not found them. I have discovered far more expensive hawks but never purchased or tried them. And I have tried a couple of the lighter hawks sporting plastic handles, but found their performance lacking—seriously so! The only real downside to the Estwing is its weight. At 27 ounces it is admittedly heavy. The Becker BK2, a popular hard use survival knife, weighs about 10 ounces less, but the capability of the Estwing hawk makes it well worth these extra ounces in an urban environment.


I would feel adequately equipped If my urban BOB cutlery items were limited to a robust hawk and my multi tool (a must for any BOB, regardless of setting, check out our Guide for Picking The Best Multi Tool HERE). The former could handle any rough cutting tasks, while the latter’s small blade could deal with finer cutting chores.

If someone absolutely insisted on carrying another knife for more traditional cutlery chores, a Mora Kniv would fill the bill for about twenty dollars. And it’s doubtful the Mora’s extra 4 ounces (including sheath) would be noticed.


Finally, a hawk can be used for protection against a violent attack when all else fails. As for whether a hawk or a good knife would serve this purpose better…well, that really depends on the individual as well as the circumstances. After all, neither is the best tool for self-defense, for more reasons than one (a topic for another article). Let’s just leave it with the idea that a hawk can be used as an effective self-defense tool in a pinch.


Lightweight Wire Cutters

Being able to cut through standard chain link fence could prove to be the difference between escaping a very bad scenario and falling victim to one. I can conjure up a half dozen scenarios where a person might need to escape a threatening situation, seek shelter, or simply shave off valuable travel time by cutting through a fence.

Chain link fencing is ubiquitous in virtually any urban area. Unfortunately, I have found multi tools fall short of being capable of cutting chain link in a reasonable manner of time and effort. Find the smallest/lightest tool capable of cutting chain link in one clipping action (Tekton makes a good pair, see them HERE). Bending or sawing through wire takes too long under most scenarios that would warrant cutting fencing in the first place.

Rural / Wilderness Pack Items

Knife vs Tomahawk vs Hatchet

You’re probably asking, “Didn’t he just cover this issue?” I did—for the urban setting. However, after spending a good deal of time in the wilderness (including several nights without a tent), both recreationally and as a search & rescue volunteer in the California Sierras, I prefer a good large knife in any environment other than an urban/suburban one.

wilderness survival kit

Surviving in the wilderness doesn’t have to be hard…IF you have the right tools and skills.

Hundreds of years ago, the tomahawk’s philosophy of use was multi-faceted. Only one of these intended functions involved the processing of wood for structure building or building fire. The hatchet (hand axe), on the other hand, was designed for one purpose only—processing wood. As one could predict, the hatchet proved to outperform the tomahawk for wood processing, while the hawks performed better as weapons. I have tried many a “woods hawk” over the years, but in the end I have found quality hatchets of similar weight simply do better with wood chores.

Given the points made in the “Disaster Planning” section of this article, the hatchet gets the nod over the tomahawk for a rural BOB.

All of the above notwithstanding, I prefer a large survival knife to a hatchet for my rural BOB. The hatchet will almost always out chop a knife of similar weight, but this isn’t the end of the story. When it comes to cutting wood a small lightweight folding saw offers a better choice than a tool that chops the wood to the desired length. But the primary element of fire wood preparation involves splitting the pieces for fire building.


A quality knife with a 7 to 9 inch blade can be used very effectively to split wood using the “batoning” technique. And in my opinion it is a safer means of splitting wood than swinging a hatchet to accomplish the task. When “batoning”, only the piece of wood used to strike the knife spine is being swung through the air. The odds of a catastrophic accident are greater when using the hatchet for the job. This can be ever more the case when working in cold climates outdoors. As for the argument that “batoning” to split wood constitutes abuse of the blade, I call B.S. I have split at least a cord of wood over the years with my Ontario SP50, and other than destroying the black blade coating, the knife is still in great working shape. Check out this video to see how batoning works:

I know there are many (far more than hawks that can compete with the Estwing) quality large survival knives that can also perform well when it comes to wood prep. I would, however, urge anyone selecting a fixed blade knife for his/her wilderness BOB to go with a seven inch blade or larger. This makes splitting wood of three inches or larger diameter much easier than using a shorter blade. To see our comprehensive guide on choosing a fixed blade CLICK HERE NOW.



When travelling through areas where there are no street signs, or even no streets, a higher quality compass becomes very important. Land navigation where there are no streets is a skill that demands time and effort to learn. Knowing how to navigate through these types of surroundings using a topographical map is not for the novice! If at all possible, stay on a road, or at least keep the road in sight. In any case, a rural BOB should always include a high quality compass.

Fire Starting Kit

This should be a “no brainer”. When bugging out through an urban setting under circumstances where you might have to spend some resting hours in the dark, it might or might not be advisable to make a fire. Fire attracts the urban predators, while it tends to repel the four legged type.

survival after bugging out

Furthermore, having a fire in a location where there is no man made shelter available is uniquely important. In addition to heat and minimal light, it is well documented that a small fire can provide a significant psychological boost for the solo survivor/traveler.

Having established the greater importance of being able to create fire in a rural setting, ensuring one has the ability to do so becomes paramount. Having multiple means to create fire is a must for the rural/wilderness pack:

everstryke pro review

Don’t forget to Include a few petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls as well. They will ignite with a decent spark (paper and many other tinders requires actual flame) and continue to burn for several minutes. If you want to learn 6 ways to start a fire WITHOUT matches, CLICK HERE.

Steel Water Bottle

Any BOB will include a container to carry water (I’m assuming this goes without saying), so why not have one that can also be used to heat or boil water? A single walled stainless steel water bottle like the Klean Kanteen (or similar design) products can be placed over open flame or coals to heat water.

Boiling water is a dependable way to kill any pathogens (chemical contamination is another issue). I once used a heated steel water bottle as an improvised hot water bottle to ward off hypothermia in a snow cave. Not sure if it was literally a lifesaver, but I was sure glad to have it. Make sure to remove the cap before heating water to avoid a pressure build-up and the subsequent likely explosion.


My experience has convinced me that for urban applications, escaping the locality as fast as possible should be the key objective in a SHTF scenario. Sheltering in place, even for a short time is likely to be catastrophic. In my view a robust tomahawk, coupled with a good multitool and small wire cutters, is close to the perfect set of BOB tools—but this could be surpassed with a new invention at any time.


For rural/wilderness environments, night travel is far less desirable and sheltering through the night(s) becomes a priority. Creating fire and crude shelter is paramount for the wilderness trekker under any circumstances. For this application, a large survival knife becomes the tool of choice, edging out both the tomahawk and hatchet in the versatility and safety categories.

The very fact that those reading this article have probably already put together a bug-out bag at all places them way ahead of most. Having a readily accessible BOB, even if not perfectly constituted, is 90 percent of the game in itself. However, it’s still a good idea to evaluate equipment choices every so often, keeping a philosophy of use mindset while doing so.

If you are ready to build your custom Bug out Bag List, click on the button above now.

Further Reading

For more info on this topic you can check out these articles:

Your Thoughts?

Do you have an item that is a “must have” for your urban or rural bug out bag? Can you think of any other big differences between what you would pack for these scenarios? Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

About The Author

Frank LaFlamme spent almost a quarter century in law enforcement in the Los Angeles area serving for three local agencies as well as an assignment with the DEA Los Angeles office. His assignments included uniformed patrol in one of the most violent areas in California, narcotics investigation, gang enforcement, robbery and homicide investigation, high risk warrant service, and a terrorism liaison officer position. Upon retiring, Frank volunteered as a Search & Rescue “ground pounder” with a sheriff’s department in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Yosemite National Park. Additionally, he started a small disaster preparedness consulting business called F& D Consulting. In 2014 he published a novel titled EMP Los Angeles (an Amazon best seller for a while, CLICK HERE to see it), a raw and gritty cautionary tale of a post EMP attack Los Angeles.

EMP Los Angeles

Click on the book to go check it out on Amazon!


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tactical watches survival

Are Tactical Watches Useful For Urban And Wilderness Survival?

tactical watches survival

Survival situations can arise in the blink of an eye, so we are always looking for ways to increase preparedness. However, carrying all of your survival gear on a daily basis simply is not practical for most people. Therefore, we also try to find lightweight gear with multiple functions that can be carried discretely as you go about your day. With so many features available, tactical watches are a survival tool worth investigating.

The tactical watch is possibly the most impressive form of wearable technology. With many practical uses, as well as specialized functions for extreme operations, tactical watches can provide you with a wealth of information to aid you in survival. The key to making the best choice is to determine how you are most likely to use it and finding the features that best meet those needs.

Survival Features Of Tactical Watches

Sure, a tactical watch sounds like an awesome piece of must-have gear but choosing one will be based on exactly what you will be doing. Completing a threat assessment will help you decide which features will most benefit you, then you can look for the watch with the best design for those features. No matter how you plan to use your watch, a secure comfortable fit and ease of use will play an important role.

tactical watches survival

Telling Time

In a world where we rarely use phones to talk, it isn’t too far-fetched that the primary function of a watch is the one least considered. How the time is displayed is a matter of personal preference. Digital or analog, military or standard 12 hour, or any combination may be available, depending on the specific tactical watch.

In addition to simply displaying the time, there are useful features that come into play in a post-disaster situation, such as a full calendar and sunrise/sunset indicator. Having a sense of how much time has passed when bugging out will provide a sense of stability and continuity. You can be sure the water boiled for a full 10 minutes, plan when to check your traps, or figure out how far your bug out party can travel during daylight. It is especially useful to know the exact date if you are tuning into emergency broadcasts for instruction, such as when and where relief efforts will commence.

Standing Up To The Elements

Tactical watches are built tough to withstand rigorous activity and a variety of conditions. Some have extra features to deal with special situations, such as diving, parachuting, and high impact activities.

tactical watches survival

The face will typically be made of a scratch- and shatter-resistant material, such as sapphire or mineral crystal. Stainless steel is a common material for the bevel and casing, due to its durability. Anodized aluminum is a lightweight alternative that does not compromise strength.

Tactical watch bands come in a variety of styles of materials, including nylon, rubber, leather, and steel. There are advantages to each material, depending on intended use and personal comfort.

Other areas to consider that are specific to your needs are low-temperature resistance, submersion, impact resistance, and dust resistance. You’ll want to make sure that the construction is solid and will keep out anything that could damage the internal mechanisms.

Finding Your Way

Navigation features range in accuracy and capability. For simple orientation, you might get by with compass points on a rotating ring to give you a general idea of the direction you are heading. Some tactical watches have an actual button compass integrated into the watchband, while others use a digital or analog compass display.

tactical watches survival

Altimeters are usually displayed as a real-time reading but some tactical watches are able to record elevation data. Tracking your elevation is very useful in conjunction with topographical maps, making it easier to know if you are on the correct trail.

For more precise navigation, you can choose a watch with a digital GPS readout so you are able to pinpoint exactly where you are. This can be very useful if you need to share or record your specific location coordinates, such as for search and rescue, locating your bug out camp, or coordinating a gathering point for your bug out party. For day to day use, approximate location may be sufficient but if you spend a lot of time in remote areas, you may want to go with a tactical watch that has GPS.

tactical watches survival

Monitoring Your (Or Someone Else’s) Health

For daily use, a heart rate monitor can be used to track your activity. This is a great feature for fitness training but it also has survival applications. Unless you pack a stethoscope into your bug out bag, a heart rate monitor is the next best thing when you or a member of your bug out party is sick or severely injured. For conditions such as disease, loss of blood, and shock, keeping track of the person’s heart rate and being alerted to accelerations or decelerations can be life-saving.

tactical watches survival

If you are a traversing high-altitude region, an altimeter will also help with health maintenance. Altitude sickness can occur at 8000 feet above sea level and if left untreated, can result in death. The first warning signs are headache, nausea, and fatigue and should not be ignored. Breathlessness, caused by fluid in the lungs, is a sign of High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE) and can be accompanied by fever and a frothy cough. Drowsiness, clumsiness, and irritability are signs of fluid on the brain, known as High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE). Both of these conditions are fatal. Therefore, paying close attention to your altitude is especially important to your survival.

tactical watches survival

A thermometer can assist you in making sure that your shelter is warm enough, knowing when to avoid being exposed to extremely low temperatures, or conversely, extremely high temperatures. The general safe temperature range for humans is 40F-95F. Spending prolonged time on the low end of that can result in hypothermia or on the high end of the range, hyperthermia. Being aware of the temperature will help you make decisions that favor your survival.

Top 5 Tactical Watches

#1 Garmin Tactix Bravo

tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Garmin Tactix Bravo on Amazon.

This watch is built tough for handling rigorous field operations. A high-strength domed sapphire lens is mounted in a stainless steel bezel and rear case plate. The buttons are knurled for ease of grip and are also PVD-coated stainless steel. The display is non-reflective and night-vision compatible. Two interchangeable nylon straps are included.

The high-resolution display turns the watch face from an analog clock to a personal GPS device, with TracBack technology for finding your way back to your starting point. You can view your precise coordinates or switch to map view and follow your progress point to point. Mark locations along the way, such as water sources or dangerous terrain, and share them using Bluetooth or ANT+ wireless connections.

tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Garmin Tactix Bravo on Amazon.

The Garmin Tactix Bravo also has great features for training purposes, such as monitoring stride length, cadence, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation. The heart rate metrics provide a stress score, performance condition, and lactate threshold readout so you can track how your body is handling physical activity. It also tracks sleep patterns to create a record of your overall health.

One of the coolest features of the Tactix Bravo is the ability to download additional screens to customize to your specific needs. You can even set it up to receive alerts from another device, such as emails and texts from your smartphone.

The battery life depends on which mode you are using: 20 hours in GPS mode or 50 hours in UltraTrac mode. A USB charger is included.

#2 Casio G-9300-1 G-Shock Mudman

tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Casio G-Shock Mudman on Amazon.

Named for its resilience to mud and debris, the G-Shock Mudman has internal gaskets on all of the buttons and screws that are designed to handle dirty work. A sapphire crystal face protects the digital display, which features 12 or 24 hour time, date, temperature, pressure, and directional readouts. It also tracks the phases of the moon in a visual graphic.

The Mudman is shock resistant and water resistant to a depth of 200 meters, making it a suitable diving companion, as well. For navigating on land, use the digital compass with full 0-359 degree range, corrected for magnetic declination.

Since it is solar-powered, the G-Shock Mudman does not need to be charged or wound and it can last up to 8 months on a full charge even without exposure to light. This is a great feature for backcountry survival.

#4 Timex T49859 Intelligent Quartz Tide-Temp-Compass

tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Timex Tide-Temp-Compass on Amazon.

With several key nautical features, the Timex Tide-Temp-Compass is ideal for boating, swimming, and snorkeling. Behind the mineral glass lens is a quartz analog clock with concentric rings that include analog tide tracker and temperature displays. The digital thermometer reads air or water temperature, and the watch is water resistant to 100 meters. An Indiglo light allows you to view the full face in low lighting.

The stainless steel case has a slide-rule bevel with directional indicators. A fourth hand on the clock serves as an analog display for the digital compass. The sturdy stainless steel band features a deployment clasp for a secure fit. Overall, this is a rugged watch by a trusted brand, and more economical than others in its class.


Tactical watches are far sturdier than other electronic devices, such as cell phones and tablets. If you rely heavily on your smartphone to provide tactical information, keep in mind that it may cease to function in a disaster scenario and it likely wouldn’t survive 100 meter submersion, even in the toughest protective case. The convenience of having a wealth of information at your wrist and the extreme durability of tactical watches makes them a useful tool for survival situations.

Your Thoughts

Which features do you think you would be most likely to use in a survival situation? Do you think tactical watches can replace other survival gear? Share your opinions in the Comments section below, thanks!

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avalanche safety

Avalanche Safety Skills And Gear For Surviving The Backcountry

avalanche safety

A big part of winter is the ability to enjoy winter sports and explore snowy, mountainous expanses. However, lurking behind the beautiful facade of freshly fallen snow is the deadly risk of getting caught in an avalanche. Anyone who participates in winter sports or mountain expeditions needs to have avalanche preparedness high on their threat assessment list. Even if you don’t engage in activities where the threat of avalanches is high, you never know when you may need avalanche safety skills – especially if your bug-out plan may take you through snowy, mountainous regions or if you live in the backcountry.

Avalanches are some of the most deadly obstacles nature can throw at you and when it comes to preparing for avalanches, prevention is your most important skill. Always ensure you know as much as possible about the area where you will be traveling, including daily conditions, avalanche warnings, avalanche-prone areas, local emergency telephone numbers, and how to identify and avoid high-risk situations.

While prevention is your best defense against avalanches, there are techniques you can use to help you survive should you become caught in an avalanche. In this article, we’re going to discuss what those techniques are as well as introduce important avalanche safety gear that you can use to increase your chances of surviving an avalanche.

Crucial Avalanche Safety Gear

Backcountry Access Tracker2 Avalanche Beacon
• Digital triple antenna processor uses 3 AAA for 200 hours of transmit or 1 hour of search mode
• Detects and tracks multiple burials for group situations
• Lights indicate direction and display indicates distance in meters to quickly locate victims
• Includes harness
BLACK DIAMOND PIEPS DSP Sport Avalanche Beacon
• Digital triple antenna plus reference antenna with 50 meter search radius
• Mark function allows you to flag signals in multiple burials
• Single button design is easy to operate with gloves on
• Includes harness
Ortovox Zoom+ Avalanche Transceiver
• Digital triple antenna with motion sensor that switches back to transmit to protect rescuers in secondary avalanches
• Uses higher, faster beeps to indicate proximity to the victim so your eyes are free to scan the area
• Also displays distance and direction
Ortovox Avalanche Rescue Set-Zoom+
• Rescue set includes Ortovox Zoom+ transceiver, probe, and shovel
• 240 cm aluminum probe features Kevlar tension system and depth markings
• Shovel is reinforced for rigidity and high side walls provide 2.5 liter volume for efficient digging
AAA 4004 Red Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel
• Lightweight shovel weighs only 1.3 lbs and disassembles into 3 pieces for easy transport
• Telescoping handle adjusts between 25-32 inches for better leverage
• Sturdy aluminum scoop for handling heavy snow and ice
Black Diamond Transfer Shovel
• Hard anodized scoop has a sharp edge for cutting through packed snow and ice
• Removable handle extends for digging in deeper pits
• Compact trapezoidal design fits well in most backcountry packs
Backcountry Access Dozer Hoe Shovel
• Versatile design works as a shovel or converts to a hoe to adapt to the situation
• Large slip-proof grips on handle and blade improve grip even with gloves on
• T6 heat treatment prevents snow from building up on the inside of the shaft
Backcountry Access Stealth Avalanche Probe
• Rapid deployment action for when every second counts
• Collapses to a bundle about 18" long by 2" across to store easily in a backpack
• Laser etched depth markers indicate how deep to dig. Also helpful for reading snow pack layers
Black Diamond Quickdraw Probe Tour
• Aluminum shaft with alloy tip that is wider than the shaft for improved sensitivity
• High visibility markings for determining depth
• Includes rapid deployment stuff sack, which allows the probe to be removed and assembled in one step
BCA Float Airbag
• Airbag trigger can be mounted on the left or right side for optimal access
• Pack features gear integration points for carrying snowboards, skis, radios, water bladder, ice axes and more
• Entire system weighs only 7.1 lbs, including the cylinder (sold separately)
Backcountry Access Float Refillable Cylinder - Empty
• Uses 2700 psi to rapidly inflate the float when triggered
• Can be refilled at a certified refill station after use
• Lightweight at 1.45 lbs and designed to work with the BCA Float Airbag
Ortovox Mens Avalanche Rider 24 ABS Backpack
• Designed to work with M.A.S.S. system, sold separately
• Removable SPS Pro2 back protector to help prevent spinal injuries
• Chest strap features a safety whistle to signal for help
Ortovox M.A.S.S. For Backpack
avalanche safety
• Modular Airbag Safety System (M.A.S.S.) includes dual airbags with independent air chambers for added safety
• Inserts into Ortovox Avalanche Rider backpack in just minutes
• Release grip can be configured on the right-or left-hand side, with the angle and height adjustable to the quickest access location for the wearer
POC Fornix Backcountry MIPS Ski Helmet, Uranium Black, Medium/Large
• Equipped with MIPS (Multidirectional Impact Protection System) for direct and oblique impacts
• Aramid fiber bridge disperses energy due to its high tensile strength
• Adjustable ventilation and straps for a snug and comfortable fit
Smith Vantage Unisex Adult Snow Helmet
• Koroyd lining absorbs 30 percent more energy than styrofoam, offering better protection in both low and high impact crashes
• Boa FS360 fit system uses a halo design for the perfect fit
• Extra thick Snapfit ear pads provide full protection of the ears
Click the images to view current prices on Amazon.


When equipping your crew with survival gear, remember that each and every member needs to be equipped with these items – a shovel will be of no use if it is buried with the victim and the same goes for probes. As for the avalanche beacon, each member of your crew needs to have one harnessed to their chest, not in a pocket or backpack as these items can easily become separated from the person in a violent tumble.

avalanche safety
Every member of your party needs to be equipped with avalanche safety gear and survival techniques before heading into the backcountry.

Avalanche Beacon: The One Piece Of Gear You Should Never Be Without

What it is: An avalanche beacon is a type of transceiver that can be used to locate its wearer in the event of an emergency.

How it works: The avalanche beacon sends out a radio signal, transmitting at 457 KHz (a universal and international radio frequency). Avalanche safety beacons are also able to switch to receive signals from other beacons – one of the many reasons why everyone in your party should be wearing one.

When a signal is received, the beacon will beep with increasing volume as it gets closer to the source of the signal. This allows you to pinpoint the location of someone buried beneath the snow.

avalanche safety
Diagram of how the Black Diamond PIEPS DSP Sport Avalanche Beacon detects and displays multiple burials. Click the image to learn more on Amazon.

There are two types of beacons: analog and digital. The analog systems use a single antenna and have a broad range, able to receive signals from further distances. A beep is typically used to indicate the location of a signal. The digital systems use multiple antennas and have a much narrower range of signal reception. Digital systems use both beeps and a visual display to accurately narrow in on a signal and some even have light signals to indicate direction and display the distance to the signal.

Before setting out on any excursion, your beacon should be fully charged, turned on, and set to transmit at 457 KHz. In times of emergency, it can be very difficult to move, much less access your device, if you are buried under snow – or worse, you may be unconscious.

Additionally, when you or someone in your crew becomes buried in an avalanche, the window of time you have to be found or to find someone else is very narrow – 15 minutes at most. Everyone in your crew should practice with their beacons ahead of time so that they are proficient in sending and receiving signals, as well as following signals to find the source.

avalanche safety
The lights indicate direction and the number tells the distance in meters to the transmitted signal from another avalanche beacon. Click the image to view the BCA Access Tracker2 on Amazon.

A harness is an extremely important piece of avalanche safety equipment that will keep your beacon close to your body and protected underneath your clothes. By having your beacon harnessed to your body you reduce the risk of it becoming separated from you.

While some avalanche beacons will come with a harness, others require you to purchase it separately. Before purchasing your beacon, check to see if a harness is included and if not, make sure you purchase one.


What it is: A probe is a lightweight, collapsible stick typically six to seven feet long once assembled.

avalanche safety
The ripcord action of the Black Diamond Quickdraw Probe makes for fast deployment when it counts. Click the image to view this probe on Amazon.

How it works: A probe is used for probing into the snow in order to locate someone buried beneath the surface. Your probe will provide you with a good idea of where to start digging should one of your crew members be buried by an avalanche. Look for quick-deployment designs that snap into place, ready for use immediately. Probes are also used to assess the current snow pack to determine avalanche risk.


avalanche safety
Backcountry shovels are designed to be compact, lightweight, and ultra sturdy for quick set up and vigorous digging. Click the image to view the AAA Sport Utility Shovel on Amazon.

While fairly self-explanatory, a shovel is an essential tool to have on-hand for avalanche safety, especially for rescuing those caught in an avalanche. In order to perform an effective rescue, you will need to dig quickly, a task that is much more easily performed with a shovel. Look for a collapsible, high-volume shovel and remember – carrying a shovel with you will be more than worth it when you need it as your window of opportunity is so slim.


avalanche safety

Head injury is a serious concern especially when it comes to outdoor sports. Surviving an avalanche is no different than surviving an extreme skiing accident. Wearing a helmet will help provide protection from head trauma in the event of impact – whether during a fall or in an avalanche. In fact, it is quite common for avalanche victims to die prior to burial due to sustained injuries, so any added level of protection is prudent. For more information, please review this resource from BackCountry.com.

Avalanche Airbags

Avalanche airbags have been gaining popularity among outdoor enthusiasts but have also met with some skepticism.

What it is: An avalanche airbag is a backpack-style flotation device that can be deployed should you become caught in an avalanche.

How it works: The principle behind the airbag is that it makes your body larger without increasing your mass, thereby decreasing your density and heightening your chances of staying closer to the surface. While an avalanche airbag by no means guarantees survival, it can help your efforts by protecting your head, neck, and shoulders from impact.

The aforementioned skepticism stems from a fear that avalanche airbags encourage reckless risk-taking by providing a false sense of security. For more information, check out this resource from OutdoorGearLab.com and see how they work in the video below:

When traveling with an avalanche safety airbag system, be sure to check with the airline regulations. The cylinder will need to be emptied and you may need paperwork with it. For more information on traveling with survival gear, CLICK HERE.

What You Need To Know About Avalanche Safety

avalanche safety
Signs are one way of warning visitors about avalanches. Image via Rexness on flickr.

Avalanche Rating System

Whenever you are heading out in mountainous or snowy territory, always pay attention to the local warning system. Typically, the system will consist of a rating between 1 and 5, where:

1 – Low chance of avalanche

2 – Moderate chance of avalanche

3 – Considerable chance of avalanche

4 – High chance of avalanche

5 – Extreme chance of avalanche

Geological Conditions for Avalanches

The layering of different types of snow can make an area more susceptible to avalanches. Powdery snow is an especially unstable base layer for heavier snow as the wet snow compacts into a slab that can easily slip off the sugary base on an incline.

Avalanches typically form on slopes between 30-45 degrees, however, avalanches can form on slopes of anywhere between 25-60 degrees. In terms of ground slope shape, a convex shape will have a higher tendency to avalanche than a concave shape.

avalanche safety
The pattern of snow collection results from sun and wind exposure.

Slopes that lack trees and thick brush will have no anchor points and are therefore more susceptible to avalanches. Additionally, the direction that the slope faces and the time of year also play a role in how likely an avalanche is to occur. In mid-winter, a north facing slope is the most dangerous while those that are south-facing become dangerous in the spring.

A slope that faces into the wind will not only accumulate less snow, but also experience compaction from the wind. Conversely, a slope sheltered from the wind will collect a large volume of drifts and be less compacted, creating prime conditions for an avalanche to form. As such, avoid trekking out on days with steady winds of 15 mph or more due to the dangerous drifts created.

Warning Signs an Avalanche is About to Occur

avalanche safety
Pay close attention to local warning signs and avoid restricted areas. Image via Cory Doctorow on flickr.

A key warning sign to look for in anticipation of an avalanche is a deep layer of newly fallen snow as it has not had a chance to compact. When assessing an area, look carefully at the trees and rocks as this is where compaction comes from. Inserting a probe into the layers of snow can help assess what is happening with the layering underneath.

Another avalanche safety indicator is the shape of the snowfall. A layer of small needle or pellet-shaped crystals can mean danger as this type of snow can suddenly give way, much like a house of cards. Conversely, large snowflakes compact more easily and are ‘sticky,’ although a heavy rate of snowfall (> one inch per hour) of any kind makes for bad conditions.

avalanche safetyA dry slab is another warning sign, this occurs when old snow layers break off as a unit and slide down the mountain in one big slab. The sheer mass of the slab causes it to pick up speed as well as additional snow, resulting in the entire side of the mountain coming down with it. Dry slabs cause the most deadly types of avalanches due to their large scale, size, volume, and the speed with which they occur.

Temperature is another avalanche gauge to be aware of. The lower the temperature, the less stable the snow will be. Temperature / sun exposure that allows for some melting and settling is safer than a shadowy area that remains below freezing. However, if the temperature is too high, such as in the spring, wet snow slides can form.

When reviewing an area for warning signs of an avalanche, look for the following:

  • Evidence that a particular path has avalanched before, indicating that area is prone to avalanches
  • Whether or not avalanches have occurred on nearby slopes
  • Current snow conditions are unsafe
  • Hollow-sounding snow
  • Cracks in the surface of the snow (an indication a dry slab is forming)

Avalanche Safety And Survival Tips

While avoiding an avalanche entirely is the best way to ensure survival, if you are out backcountry skiing, boarding, or climbing and an avalanche comes pouring down after you there are steps you can take during the initial commotion that will help increase your chances of getting out alive.

Steps to Take When an Avalanche Begins

avalanche safety

As soon as you notice signs of an avalanche, begin to move away from the center as quickly as possible. The center flows at peak velocity and volume, which makes it much more difficult to fight against. Your first goal should be to get yourself toward the closest side as quickly as possible. If you’re really lucky, you may be able to get completely out of the way and avoid being swept up in the avalanche.

Often times, the cause of an avalanche is activity and it will form right under your feet. If you react quickly and jump uphill, you may be able to get yourself to safety and avoid being swept away. If you’re unable to get out of the way fast enough, the next step is to prevent yourself from being buried. It may sound simple enough but when confronted with a massive force of snow and ice, it becomes extremely challenging.


As your body is more dense than the snow, you will naturally sink. Rescuers recommend using a swimming or thrashing motion uphill in the opposite direction of the flow to help keep you up near the surface. The closer you can stay to the surface, the less digging you will need to do once the snow settles, giving you a huge advantage in terms of avalanche survival.

If you can find a tree or a rock, this can provide an anchor point for you to hold onto and maintain your position in a less powerful avalanche. Delaying your descent for even a few seconds can improve your chances of not being buried as deeply, or even at all.

avalanche safety
Airbags, like this one by Backcountry Access, help increase your chances of staying “afloat” in an avalanche. Click the image to view details on Amazon.

Another prudent move is to hold your hand over your head as this will give you a better chance of being seen by rescuers as well as provide a sense of which direction to start digging after the snow settles.

In terms of lightening your load, there are mixed schools of thought. On the one hand, the lighter you can make your body, the easier it will be to stay afloat or pull yourself out of the snow; however, on the other hand, you never want to willingly separate yourself from your survival equipment.

Keep in mind that if you are encased in an avalanche, your immediate situation is that you are trapped in a cold environment and may have to wait a long time before anyone locates you. Getting rid of anything that will help keep you warm, nourished, provide first aid, and most importantly, help others locate you, would be a counterproductive move to your survival.

A key tip if you become trapped in an avalanche is that as the snow begins to slow down, fill your lungs with air and hold it in to give your chest room to expand after the snow settles. Snow is very heavy and its weight causes it to compact quickly. Without performing this maneuver, you may not be able to expand your chest to take in air after it settles.

cold weather survival gear

Steps To Take When Trapped In An Avalanche

Once you have stopped moving, time is of the essence. Your first priority should be to get to the surface as quickly as possible to avoid running out of air or becoming trapped. In the first 15 minutes you have the highest rate of survival (about 93%), but your chances decrease significantly after that.

If after the avalanche has settled, any part of your body is above the surface – and you’re sure of it – begin to dig in that direction. However, being tossed around and buried can be very disorienting and finding yourself in a situation where you’re not sure which way is up is not uncommon.

If you are unsure of which direction you should dig, gravity can be a good tester. Visible rising breath is a good indicator but there is a more reliable test – the spit test. Clear a space near your face and spit – the liquid will go straight down compliments of gravity, telling you to dig in the direct opposite direction to reach the surface.

Unlike drowning, when you are trapped in an avalanche, there is air trapped in the snow with you. To create a larger pocket for breathing, continually push the snow away from your face. Additionally, your body movement will compact the snow around you creating more air space.

avalanche safety
With this much snow, a probe and a shovel are essential avalanche safety equipment. Image credit Clayoquot.

If you are close enough to the surface, continue to to dig upwards, poking anything you can above the surface, such as a ski or brightly colored clothing, as this will make it easier for your rescue party to spot you. If you’re not close to the surface, it might be best to conserve your energy and focus on breathing.

Definitely make an attempt to call out for help but do keep in mind that when you are trapped beneath the surface, you may be able to hear others calling for you but they are unlikely to be able to hear you. If you can hear your rescue party but it’s obvious they can’t hear you, remain calm and give them a few minutes before calling out again. Otherwise, you may waste your air supply and voice by continually shouting to people who can’t hear you.

A rather unconventional but potentially life-saving tactic when buried in an avalanche is to urinate. For one thing, the pressure of being buried may be very uncomfortable on your bladder, but more importantly, the odor acts as a beacon for rescue dogs sniffing around the surface.

avalanche safety
Avalanche rescue dogs are trained to sniff out buried victims. The stronger your scent, the more likely they will be to find you. Image via Paul Morris on flickr.

The mere thought of being caught in an avalanche is terrifying and should you have the misfortune to ever be buried by one, no doubt your natural instinct will be to panic. Fight this urge. By remaining calm, you will slow your breathing and preserve the available air beneath the snow, which will afford you more time to get out. This is where preparedness presents a major advantage. If you know what to do it will be easier to remain calm and you can focus on the survival tasks at hand.

If you want to experience the terrors of surviving an avalanche without leaving the safety and comfort of your home, check out this video from the helmet cam of a backcountry skier who was buried in an avalanche. Luckily, he finds his way with a lot of help from his friends. Notice how they had to dig for him using their skis and hands – a shovel would have been very helpful!


When it comes to avalanche preparedness, awareness and knowledge are your best tools. Always be aware of the daily and regional conditions in your area, make sure you and your crew are packed with the proper equipment, and attend training courses to learn more about avalanche survival. Remember, when it comes to avalanche safety, avoidance offers your best chance for survival, always err on the side of caution when out enjoying the backcountry.

Your Thoughts

How do avalanches rank in your threat assessment? Are they something you are expecting and prepared for, or a rare occurrence you don’t expect to encounter? Have you ever been in an avalanche or used avalanche safety gear? What was your experience like? Tell us your thoughts and leave your questions in the Comments section below, thanks!

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The Ultimate Prepper Gift Guide

prepper gift guide

It’s hard to believe, but 2015 is almost over. Along with the end of another year comes the holiday season – a beautiful time of year where love and togetherness are celebrated, pretty lights cover the streets, and families get together for long overdue reunions.

However, the holidays can also be stressful, especially when trying to find the perfect gift for that picky prepper on your list.

Not to worry, The Bug Out Bag Guide has you covered! We’ve compiled our annual list of the top survival gear any prepper would be thrilled to receive. We’ve spent the year reviewing all things survival and have evaluated each item to narrow down our list to the top gifts that are perfect for any prepper on your list.

If you happen to be the picky prepper, consider sending this link out to friends and family as a helpful hint!

prepper gift guide
Leatherman Skeletool

Ultimate Prepper Gift Guide

prepper gift guide

The answer to the question, “What does the prepper in my life need?” really depends on the answer to the question, “What problem is he/she trying to solve?” When it comes to survival, there are a multitude of scenarios and tasks to consider, and having the right tool for each specific task is crucial.

In our Ultimate Prepper Gift Guide, we’ve evaluated all the essential prepper tools and determined which ones best fit the needs of preppers while minimizing weight and size, and maximizing functionality.

Always remember, when shopping for prepping gear, it is not always the most expensive item that will best suit your purposes, but there is no substitute for quality. Ensure you invest in high quality gear that is built to last – you’re investing in more than items, you’re investing in your ability to survive.

Gift IdeaGreat ForWhy It's GreatLearn More
Eagles Nest Outfitters JungleNest Sleep System
Bug out bag
Get home bag
This hammock set includes everything you need to sleep comfortably anywhere! DoubleNest Hammock, Guardian Bug Shield, Rain Tarp, Atlas Suspension Straps, Steel Carabiners, Aluminum Stakes, all tucked in a stuff sack for easy transport.Bug-Out Hammock:An Essential Addition To Any BOB
Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person 3 Season Tent
Bug out bag
Get home bag
Weighing just 5 lbs, this 2 person tent is perfect for outdoor life. Bathtub floor and taped seams keep the rain out, while mesh panels allow for ventilation. The dual doors make it easy to get in or out without disturbing each other.How To Choose The Best Lightweight Tent For Camping, Recreation, and Bugging Out
Ambient Weather WR-111B Radio
Bugging in
Bug out bag
Get home bag
Multiple power options make this emergency radio great for home or travel. It comes with mini, micro, and USB adaptors for charging cell phones and other devices. The LED flashlight provides an emergency light source, as well.Stay Connected: How To Choose An Emergency Weather Radio
Leatherman Skeletool CX
Every day carry
Bug out bag
Get home bag
A well-designed multitool strong enough for any job yet light enough for EDC. The blade is located on the outside for quick, one-handed access. Inculdes 4 universal driver bits, pliers, wire-cutter, and intergrated carabiner to clip to a belt loop or strap.Best Multitool For Backpacking & Survival
Wartech 8" Assisted Open Folding Tactical Survival Pocket Knife
Every day carry
Bug out bag
Get home bag
This survival knife is loaded with extra features, such as a glass breaker, seat belt cutter, and LED light. The blade opens with the touch of a lever and stays locked when in use. It is a sturdy pocket knife with many survival applications, making it a great tool for experienced and novice preppers.Survival Pocket Knives – Our Top 10
Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen
Every day carry
Bug out bag
Get home bag
I get a lot of compliments on this pen. Its rugged yet inconspicuous design and Rite In The Rain cartridge lend well to daily use. Click operation means no cap to drop or lose. I have used the glass breaker tip on 1/2 in thick window glazing with no trouble.Finding The Best Tactical Pen For Your Kit
Salomon Men's Quest 4D GTX Backpacking Boot
Bugging out
These boots provide ultimate support and protection. Lined with waterproof Gore-Tex, with a gusseted tongue for sealing out water and debris. Control flex design provides ankle support and relieves muscle strain, which is essential for long hikes.Gear Up: Top Rated Survival Boots For Men And Women
Salomon Women's Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boot
Bugging out
Lightweight and flexible enough for trail running, with a cushioned gusseted tongue to alleviate lace pressure. The braking pattern on the outsole provides extraction traction when descending steep terrain.Gear Up: Top Rated Survival Boots For Men And Women
5.11 Tactical Women's TacLite Pro Pant
Bugging out
When you're on the move, you need clothing that moves with you. These tactical pants fit the bill, with breathable ripstop fabric, action wasteband, and reinforced seams. Hip mounted D-ring provides quick access to keys or tools.Gear Up: How To Choose the Best Tactical Pants
5.11 Tactical #74273 Men's TacLite Pro Pant
Bugging out
These pants are designed for comfort and performance. High stress areas feature extra layering and triple stitching for durability. Seven pocket configuration holds all your gear close at hand. Fabric is teflon treated to repel stains and spills.Gear Up: How To Choose the Best Tactical Pants
Military Issue Tri-Fold Shovel
Bug out bag
Bugging in
Use it around the campsite for burying waste, building shelter, and clearing the firepit. A shovel can also serve as a back-up self-defense weapon. Folds to fit into a slim carry case, with a total weight less than 3 lbs.How to Customize your Bug Out Bag Contents for a Wilderness Survival Kit
CRKT Kangee Tomahawk
Bug out bag
Bugging in
Our top pick for a survival tomahawk! Forward weighting adds force to each swing while its light weight makes it easy to carry. Highly durable and versatile as a tool or self-defense weapon. How To Choose The Best Survival Tomahawk For Your Bug Out Bag
Flint & Steel Striker Set #7
Bug out bag
Get home bag
A handmade fire making kit that includes a handforged striker, tinder box, piece of flint, jute twine, and a manual with step by step instructions for striking a fire.PrimitiveFireMaking Store
Catatonk Atlatl
Bug out bag
A unique gift for sharpshooters! Engineered specifically for hunting, the hammer grip tranfers more power to the arrow while the moderate shaft flex improves control.Comparison of Ranged Survival Weapons
Click the images to view current price on Amazon.
prepper gift guide
Takes a licking and keeps on clicking… Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen.

Fully Equipped Kits

Have a prepper to shop for but don’t know the first thing about prepping? Consider buying a fully-equipped kit. Your prepper will love it and you can rest assured that your gift has just the items he/she is looking for. Alternatively, if you’ve already embraced the benefits of prepping but have someone in your family who needs a little encouragement, start off their prepping journey with one of these fully-equipped kits. When it comes to gifts, it’s the thought that counts, and what could be more thoughtful than arming your loved ones for survival?

The Ultimate Urban Survival Kit

The Ultimate Urban Survival Kit TUUSK
Click to view TUUSK in our store.

TUUSK (The Ultimate Urban Survival Kit)  was custom designed in collaboration with Ready To Go Survival. Weighing only 16 pounds, it is packed with carefully selected, high quality gear to enable you to survive an urban disaster. Included in the kit are means of protection, self-defense, communication, first aid, fire starting, shelter, water purification, and more.

Wise Company Deluxe Survival Kit

This kit has many of the features of a basic kit, such as a first aid kit, hand powered flashlight, and an emergency shelter as well as some of the more advanced, “kitchen sink” options such as a multitool, water filtration bottle, and a stove and fuel. It also has 44 portions of food which will keep a survival party going for a long time. Click the image to view on Amazon.

Stocking Stuffers

prepper gift guide
What, you don’t hang your bug-out bags on the mantle?!

You’re never too old to hang a stocking for Santa! We’ve got a ton of great stocking stuffer ideas including some that are completely FREE (simply pay shipping)! For all those little gifts that will surprise and delight the prepper in your life, or to share the joy of prepping with those you love, stock up on our top stocking stuffers!

Gift IdeaWhy It's Great
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
Never be without clean drinking water! Removes over 99.9% of bacteria and parasites without the use of harmful chemicals. Filters up to 1000 liters.
Black Diamond Positron Screwgate Carabiner
Carabiners have endless survival applications. They are great for clipping gear to a belt or pack for easy access, hanging a hammock, securing food out of reach of wildlife, as well as climbing and rappelling.
Nitecore EC11 LED Flashlight
Every prepper needs a dependable flashlight for their EDC and BOB. This one is waterproof IPx-8, with multiple beam size and intensity settings. Charger, case, clip, and bonus LightJunction keychain included.
Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Bottle
Aside from the obvious benefit of a BPA-free way to transport water, single-walled stainless steel bottles can also be used to boil water or heat food in a survival situation.
Swiss Army Tinker Knife and Sharpener Set
A classic survival tool, featuring two blade sizes for handling a variety of tasks. Screwdrivers, bottle opener, tweezers, and more. Includes a keychain sharpener to keep the blades in top condition.
Click the image to view on Amazon.
prepper gift guide
The Everstryke Pro Waterproof Lighter from SurvivalLife is available FREE by clicking HERE.
prepper gift guide
Survival Life FireKable Paracord Bracelet is available FREE by clicking HERE.

Books and Media

Books and media make the perfect gift for both experienced preppers and those just starting out. Check out our list of the top prepping resources including our own Ultimate EDC Kit ebook, Run Prepper Run, and Aquaponics. Each of these fantastic resources provides a unique set of prepping knowledge to help readers prepare for survival as well as an entertaining read.

  • The Every Day Carry Guide ebook makes a great gift for preppers who want to build or enhance their EDC kit. It is packed with information on daily preparedness, assessing threats, and choosing the right gear for their needs.
  • Learn how to grow your own endless food supply! Easy DIY Aquaponics will teach you how to get started with aquaponics, how to maintain your system, and how to make crucial improvements and adjustments to accommodate your family’s changing needs.

prepper gift guide


Here at The Bug Out Bag Guide, we wish you and your family a very happy holiday season and hope that you stay warm, safe, and most importantly, prepared!

Your Thoughts

Do you have a perfect holiday prepper gift you didn’t see on our list? Tell us about it in the Comments section and we’ll be sure to check it out for our 2016 list!

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everstryke pro review

Everstryke Pro Review: A Compact Waterproof Survival Lighter

everstryke pro review

The three absolute necessities for survival are shelter, water, and fire.

I’m going to save the solutions for shelter and water for another time and focus on fire and how there’s an indispensable tool that can get a fire started at any time.

This simple self-contained fire starting device is made out of solid stainless steel, and has no problem igniting in the rain or snow, and and is even 100% waterproof. It’s also so small and unobtrusive that you can attach it to your keychain or backpack and never have to worry about getting a fire started again.

We’re talking about the very popular Everstryke Pro Emergency Waterproof Lighter. (You can Click HERE to get your FREE Everstryke Pro).


everstryke pro review
Click on the image to see how to get your FREE Everstryke

Everstryke Pro Review

At its essence, the survival life Everstryke lighter is a capsule lighter, which is basically a miniaturized kerosene candle with its own starting mechanism. In order for the Everstryke Pro to be effective, a source of fuel must be supplied, but I’ll elaborate more on that in a second.

everstryke pro review

I’ll begin my Everstryke Pro review with a general description of the product. Closed up, it’s slightly larger than a .44 magnum cartridge and includes a clip for attaching to your gear (such as the zippers and clips featured on the Advanced Tactical Hip Bag). In total, it weighs about as much as the aforementioned round of ammunition.

everstryke pro review
Shown next to a .22 LR, you can see how compact the Survival Life Everstryke is.
everstryke pro review
The capsule length is about 2 inches, including the housing for the clip.

The cap of the Everstryke Pro, made by Survival Life, screws off, revealing a wick and striker wheel, which throws sparks quite profusely and makes this a great tool for igniting tinder, even in a long-term survival scenario with no fuel.

everstryke pro review
Unscrew the cap of the Everstryke Pro lighter to access the striker wheel and wick.

The main lighter housing features an O-ring at the base of the point where the cap screws down, keeping the wick from getting waterlogged should it ever get submerged, making this lighter 100% waterproof. In fact, you can click here to see a video of the Everstryke Pro being submerged into a FISHBOWL for an hour and then being taken out and lighting up with no problem at all. The high-quality outer construction and O-ring also help keep the fuel from evaporating.

everstryke pro review
The black O-ring seals out water and prevents fuel from evaporating.

How To Fill A Capsule Lighter

The striker and wick are mounted on a hollow cylinder that fits inside the lighter housing, which, when you remove it and flip it upside down, reveals foam that you saturate with fuel to feed the wick, as well as a screwdriver-adjustable flint. We recommend getting a high-quality lighter fluid such as Ronsonol.

everstryke pro review
The hollow cylinder slides out for refilling with fuel and adjusting the flint.
everstryke pro review
The foam is shaped to seat around the flint, which can be adjusted using a flathead screwdriver.
everstryke pro review
The foam (on right) pops out, revealing the wick.

To fill the lighter, remove the internal cylinder, take lighter fluid (the sort you use for charcoal barbeques) and carefully fill the housing halfway – it doesn’t take much. Then, slowly re-insert the internal cylinder. The foam should sop up the fuel, and in short order, the wick should get wet with fuel; the lighter is now ready to use.

everstryke pro review
Adding fuel to the housing.

To avoid getting lighter fluid all over the place in the event of an overflow, fill your Everstryke Pro lighter over a sink or outdoors. Always ensure you wash your hands and give the lighter a wipe-down before attempting to light it to avoid any accidents.

Field Testing The Everstryke Pro Lighter

I tested out this product under two real-life conditions: The first, lighting a wood stove at a shop I’m painting; and the second, burning trash in an incinerator. After testing it out for a few weeks, I found it to be a fairly capable fire starter creating a flame that is wider than your typical match, giving you a more effective flame for igniting tinder or kindling.

everstryke pro review
Provides a wider, steadier flame than a match and won’t burn down to your fingers.

For those accustomed to butane lighters, this unit can seem reticent to light, at most taking up to about a dozen strikes to light the wick. However, this is about on-par with flint and steel fire starting kits without the hassle of collecting fine tinder to light it.

One potential disadvantage, especially for those who live as far north as I do, is the potential for the lighter fluid to ignite at colder temperatures. This can be problematic for the Everstryke Pro in freezing temperatures, although this would affect any lighter of this type, including a Zippo. A quick fix if you’re in a situation where you need to use a lighter, such as this one, in freezing temperatures is to warm it up on your hands for 30 seconds or so and to try igniting it again.

everstryke pro review
The Survival Life Everstryke fits easily on a keyring and unclips for quick access when needed.

It’s modestly weatherproof, maintaining a hot flame in light snow and a moderate breeze. Of important note is that, much like a Zippo, the Everstryke Pro lighter may not light the very first time you strike it. This is a function of a reliable lighter that uses lighter fluid instead of a butane-based, BIC-type lighter. Slower ignition time is just one of the trade-offs made when choosing a refillable lighter over a disposable one.

everstryke pro review
Had to give it dunk to see for myself.
everstryke pro review
After being submerged for 10 minutes, no water had leaked into the cap and it was ready to light.

Summing It Up

As you can see from our Everstryke Pro review, its compact size, simple design, and affordability make it a useful addition to any camping or survival kit.

cold weather survival gear
The Everstryke Pro combines both a fuel-based system and flint and steel striker, so you can spark a fire under any conditions.

Click Here To Get Your Everstryke Pro Lighter Today!


Get Yours Today

How many sources of fire do you currently have in your survival bag? If you don’t have a small source of fire with you at all times, consider getting yourself the Everstryke Pro to never be left out in the cold. For a limited time get your Everstryke Pro for free, you just pay $4.95 shipping!

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