If you're like many people, when you hear the term "survival tools", you immediately think of pocket knives and compasses. But survival tools come in many more shapes and sizes, and having a few top ones at the ready can be a huge benefit during a camping or hiking trip, or if a serious emergency occurs.
Most top survival tools are made for ease of transport and multiple uses. They are built around the idea that if it's light enough, compact enough, and surprisingly useful, you'll more than likely take it with you camping , hiking, or place it in locales that you normally frequent (your main home, car, or work office). Some of these tools bring out the gadget geek in people, as they have surprising capabilities. But make no mistake: These aren't toys. These are serious tools that can seriously help you in times of need, whether that's on a planned camping trip or during a sudden emergency.
Take a look at my top five survival tools. These are the ones that I'd keep close at hand as the tool mix covers a lot of basic survival needs without much overlap.
The Swiss+Tech Micro-Max Multi-Function Pocket Tool
19-in-1. That's a lot of versatility in a small package.
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It looks giant here, but make no mistake--this is a pocket tool if there ever was one. It's about the length of a key when folded up, and double in length when some of its functionality is on display. There's a lot of great survival functions here, 19 to be exact. It covers tools as simple as a bottle opener, file and ruler to more complex ones like a wire cutter, hex wrench, and screwdriver. It almost looks like a Transformer when unfolded.
Add in that it easily fits on a key ring, and you've got yourself a survival tool mini-powerhouse. It's made from stainless steel and built to withstand lots of wear, so it'll come in handy for years to come. A smart entry investment into the survival tools that you keep around you.
The Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter
When matches aren't an option.
Anyone that's been in scouting has used a flint and steel fire starter. They come in very handy in a pinch. No matches required. This fire starter set features a ferrocium rod, the flint-like substance found in a lighter, along with a steel rod. All you need to do is flick the steel (or a knife blade) across the ferrocium rod to create sparks. This is enough to light most basic kindling, as long as it's dry. It won't take the place of matches for things like lighting a candle, but for hiking, camping, and emergency use, it's a smart survival tool to have at the ready.
This set also has an emergency whistle built into it, part of the multi-functional angle of many of the tools featured here. A whistle makes for a great emergency signal to help potential rescuers get a gauge of where you are.
The Chainmate Survival Pocket Chain Saw
A powerful wood-cutting tool in a small package.
Wood gathering is a camping and survival must, but quite often that can be tougher than it seems. Your options may only be huge downed branches that are unwieldy to carry. Or perhaps you need large, specifically cut logs for building a shelter? That's nearly impossible to do without specific tools. This pocket chainsaw is one that can handle it.
It's surprisingly small and light weight, but people swear by its quality and usability. It's got teeth made of carbon steel, so they won't wear down or break easily. The chainsaw comes with a handy pouch and belt clip, so it's wearable while you're hiking. It makes wood gathering for fires and builds a possibility, and that's unique among compact survival tools that you're likely to carry around with you.
The SE Survival Whistle
A 6-in-1 multi-use tool that is a must for signaling.
Having a whistle on you while hiking or camping is a must. If you get lost, you need some way to signal for help. It's especially helpful if you know Morse code for SOS (three short whistles, followed by three long whistles, followed by three short whistles).
But this emergency whistle comes with a few other handy built-in features. It's also a compass, an LED flashlight, an emergency mirror, a thermometer, and a magnifying glass. Together, it's enough to help orient yourself and begin a signaling plan if the situation calls for it.
The Gerber Gorge Folding Shovel
Beats a standard sized shovel for portability and your hands for efficiency.
When camping, you're going to need to dig at times. The same goes for an emergency scenario. There will be moments when digging into the ground is a must. Chances are, there isn't a large shovel handy, and your hands (even wielding a stone as a tool) will only get you so far. This is exactly why a folding shovel is a must for your survival tools. When the time comes to dig, having it ready will save you time and energy. Plus it'll help keep you from getting scraped up in the process.
The shovel folds over quite neatly and stores into a nylon pouch. It's really simple to pack into your camping gear or keep in your car. It can be especially helpful if your car ever gets caught in a snowbank and you need to dig your wheel out. And it even has a "hammer mode" which is awesome for securing tent pegs.
Survival Tools Can Be Lifesavers
Each of these survival tools covers an area of need that you may come across while camping or during an emergency. Pair them with a strong pocket knife, an emergency radio, and a hand crank flashlight, and you've got yourself covered for most anything you could expect. These tools can save you during the toughest of times, so if you buy them, don't just store them away. Keep them in locations where they can be of use to you in a pinch. Remember, you never expect an emergency.