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Equipment / Supplies

Disturbing Trends in Survival Gear

Last night I went looking for a new flashlight to keep at my bedside because the one I’d been using for years now is going on the fritz. So, I went to Amazon and typed in “flashlight” to see what I could find and, to my dismay, more and more options were rechargeable. You know, the kind that plug in via USB cable and, thus, into a wall outlet. It became annoying enough that I searched specifically for “AA flashlight” and “AA battery flashlight” and, although the results were better, it wasn’t long until I saw more USB-rechargeable flashlights which I clearly didn’t want.

This is a problem because, as a prepper, the entire point in having specific gear is in case something happens to society somehow, particularly the electricity grid. And if the only way I can charge a flashlight (and who knows what else) is via an electrical outlet, that’s no good. Granted, I know there are ways to charge such items off-grid, but there are also situations where you don’t want to have to wait for a crucial piece of equipment to function again, such as when on the move during a bug out or in the middle of the night.

Honestly, I can see a point down the road where a flashlight that uses disposable batteries (no matter what size battery) will become an antique. Heck, disposable alkaline batteries may become a thing of the past right along with them! FYI, I settled on the WdtPro Super Bright Flashlight because it was quite inexpensive and had plenty of good reviews; I haven’t received it yet, so time will tell if it’s any good. (Maybe I should have just purchased a quality MagLite instead? Probably.)

Another disturbing trend I’ve noticed over the years is the number of “survival” items that are multi-functional. Aside from the ONE item, my trusty Leatherman Wave, that I believe should be multi-purpose and is actually useful as such, most every other survival gear or tool should DEFINITELY NOT BE.

I can’t tell you the number of items that I’ve seen which are 8-in-1 this or 12-in-1 that, and marketed specifically to preppers or survivalists. I get it, some of the multi-use tools are interesting, possibly even useful in some circumstances, but likely not often. Take this Off Grid Tools Survival Axe / Saw / Hammer. It’s a neat idea because, yes, you can use it for those purposes to one degree or another, but I would argue that the addition of hex sockets and a nail puller into the axe blade is a bad idea because it potentially weakens the integrity of the tool and offers little additional usefulness. I mean, come on, are you really going to need a hex wrench with only a few sizes to chose from when you’re trying to wield an axe or hammer something? I doubt it.

Of course, there are plenty of other multi-use tools–I’ll link to some interesting options below–but then there are some really bad ideas too. The following multi-use shovel is a good example of something that seems useful, but ultimately is not:

Of course, there are plenty of other useless survival tools to choose from. My advice: stop buying multi-functional survival gear simply because it appears to be useful. Odds are that you’ll be far better served with one tool that does its job well. That is, if you need a saw, buy a good one that saws really well and does nothing else. You get the idea.

Another trend I’ve noticed is that everything keeps getting smaller. Granted, sometimes that’s useful, such as with my new favorite Olight i1R 2 EOS keychain flashlight. Yes, it’s rechargeable–don’t tell anyone–but for it’s intended purpose, relative brightness, and being very lightweight, it’s a great little flashlight to carry on a keychain. But do we really need more items that fit into a mini survival kit? I don’t think so.

I understand it’s fun to see how much you can shove into a small container (I’ve don’t so a few times) but if you’re really in a survival situation, are you going to want to rely on a button compass or a wire saw that looks like I might be able to floss my teeth with it? Of course, not! Please purchase quality items, make a real bug out bag if you haven’t done so yet, and for Heaven’s-sake stop purchasing useless multi-purpose tools for your survival simply because it does more than one task. Odds are it doesn’t do anything truly well.

What about you? Any disturbing trends you’ve noticed of late?

By Damian Brindle

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2 replies on “Disturbing Trends in Survival Gear”

Some really good points here. And re the multifunction thing – I agree completely.

I personally have been converting to and adding USB rechargeable lights to my ‘collection’. I am avoiding like the plague (too soon?) any that require a proprietary connection, charger, plug etc.

I can charge at home, in the field, camping – anywhere – a USB powered device. Contrast that with the spare batteries that die, oxidize, ruin flashlights, etc. I still have many that require batteries for the use case you outline – quick battery swap. But realistically, my USB powered units are small, powerful and it is just as easy to swap lights as it is to keep and swap batteries in many cases.

Agree totally on the USB deal. I have a ton of USB cables, car and home chargers, etc salted around so provided I keep my flashlights charged regularly I’m good to go. There was a good brand of flashlight that used AAA batteries called Slyde, but unfortunately they have discontinued the model I use. This thing has survived repeated drops off ladders at work and keeps going. My remaining on in my EDC bag I guard with my life because I can’t replace it.

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