Communications, food preparation, cooking, shelter and transportation—all of these take on a new dimension and a new set of challenges when there’s no electricity or fuel. Here are 11 ways to survive with off-grid essentials when you’re searching for new sources of power.
1. Anker 14W Portable Foldable Outdoor Solar Charger
Within 24 hours of a crisis, you’ll be trying in vain to get a phone signal, as will everyone else in your area, so your phone will lose its charge quickly. The Anker 14W Portable Foldable Outdoor Solar Charger can refill your smartphone, laptop, GPS device and tablet. Weighing only 1.7 pounds, it is portable and folds to a compact size. Grommets in the solar panels allow you to hang them wherever the sun shines. (ianker.com; 800-988-7973)
2. Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator
Goal Zero’s Yeti 150 will not only charge small electronic devices, it can also power some medical devices, light up the dark and inflate your air bed. The folding solar panels fully charge the generator in 17 hours, then you can use the USB port and the 12-volt and AC outlets to power a variety of devices. This generator requires no flammable fuels, emits no exhaust and is quiet so you can take it inside without worry. (goalzero.com; 888-794-6250)
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3. Motoped Survival Bike
The Survival Bike from Motoped is the type of moped a Navy SEAL would use. It will travel over 400 miles on one fill up, and when the gas is gone, you can pedal to your destination. Racks on the Survival Bike allow you to attach gear. The bike is slightly larger than a typical mountain bike and weighs 132 pounds, and it has a maximum speed in engine mode of 24 mph. (motoped-choose-your-adventure.com; 816-767-8783)
4. BlizeTec 6-in-1 Emergency Fire Starter
The electric stove is useless when the power is out, and so are microwaves. You’ll be barbecuing a lot when the grid goes down, so starting a fire fast is important. The BlizeTec 6-in-1 Emergency Fire Starter provides up to 12,000 strikes. The magnesium rod will not only get a fire blazing, but the mini tools can cut, measure and open a bottle. The handle glows in the dark so it’s easy to find in the post-grid darkness. (blizetec.com; 601-884-0093)
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5. Reloading Supplies
There will be plenty of empty brass to collect during the aftermath, allowing you to load your own self-defense ammo. The Lyman 310 reloading tool (lymanproducts.com; 800-225-9626) allows you to reload brass cases from a pistol or rifle. The Lee Classic Loader (leeprecision.com; 262-673-3075) requires a hammer to resize brass cases, and it comes in common calibers like 9mm, .223 Remington and .45 ACP. Once you get into the rhythm, it will take about 20 minutes to load 15 to 20 rounds. You will need to scrounge up powder, bullets, primers, case lube and a manual, but these hand presses will keep you busy at night.
6. Bahco Bow Saw
The Bahco 10-24-23 Bow Saw cuts through wood like a laser while using muscle instead of gasoline or electric power. This is the type of saw you can use to cut limbs for a shelter or quarter an elk so you can pack out the meat to camp. The saw’s ergonomic handle protects the user’s hand and offers a sure grip during operation. (bahco.com; 800-446-7404)
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7. Can Openers
The lowly can opener, mil-spec model P-38 (georgia-outfitters.com), is small enough to fit on your keychain and has been called “the U.S. Army’s greatest invention.” This can opener will open any type of can with a rim. Easier to use but still completely manually operated is the EZ-DUZ-IT can opener (ez-duz-it.com) with its thick rubberized grip for comfort, a carbon steel cutting blade, and heavy-gauge chrome steel handles.
8. K-Tor Pocket Socket
The K-Tor Pocket Socket is a hand-powered generator that generates up to 10 watts that can charge electronics like smartphones, radios, flashlights and nearly any small device. Plug it into your dead phone and your phone will come back to life as quickly as if you plugged it into a wall outlet. (k-tor.com; 802-777-6229)
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9. Fabio Leonardi Manual Food Processor
When the canned food and MREs are gone, processing food is the only alternative. The Fabio Leonardi Manual Food Processor is the type of food processor your great-grandmother used. This crank mill is clamped to the table top, and with every crank of the handle, meat and vegetables can be processed. Grind up bits of game meat to make ground meat or cure it for sausage. Process tomatoes or other vegetables by the basket and can them for future use. (fabioleonardiusa.com; 888-496-6383)
10. Coleman Camp Shower
A hot shower after being in the same clothes for a few days can make you feel human again. The Coleman 5-gallon Camp Shower uses the rays of the sun to warm the water for multiple showers. The shower is hung overhead and an on/off valve connected to the device’s bladder via a tube dispenses the water. (coleman.com; 800-835-3278)
11. Suunto A-10 Field Compass
The Suunto A-10 field compass does not run on batteries, nor does it need to triangulate its position like a GPS system. It is lightweight and can be worn around your neck with a lanyard. You’ll also need
to add a map to your pack for orienteering with this compass. (suunto.com; 855-258-0900)
This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Summer 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.