Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Five Brilliant Gadgets for the High Tech Prepper

solar-5 solar usbThe relationship between preppers and technology is somewhat rocky. On the one hand, we recognize that certain technologies could greatly improve our chances of survival, but on the other hand, we know that our society's reliance on technology makes it very vulnerable to disruption.

More importantly, we know that our best chance of survival lies with the knowledge in our heads, rather than the some high-tech gizmo that is prone to failure.
Skills don't suddenly break down when you least expect it, or get lost, run out of batteries, or get left at home. Knowing how to survive with your brain and your bare hands is the most reliable fail-safe, and should be the bedrock of your survival strategy. Without that foundational knowledge, no high-tech gadget can save you in the long run.

With that said, once you know the basics of survival, it's safe to branch out and explore some of those gadgets that might give you the edge you need. After all, humans are best known for their technological prowess, and we wouldn't have made it this far without our ability to make lifesaving tools.  So if you're a prepper who's ready to embrace a few handy electronics, here are five brilliant gadgets that can help you get through the collapse.

Goal Zero Solar Powered Flashlight

solar flashlight
The solar powered flashlight used to be nothing more than a running joke, along with other comedic gems like the waterproof towel, or books on how to read, or heck, who could forget powdered water?

That is, until somebody actually invented it. It turns out that having a solar powered flashlight can be incredibly useful. It's not like it'll only work when the sun is out. You can charge the batteries during the day, and use the flashlight at night. Or if you're worried about keeping the lights on during cloudy weather, take a look at the Goal Zero flashlight, which is not only solar powered, but can be charged with a dynamo hand crank as well. Who's laughing now?

Creative Edge Solar-5 USB Charger

solar usb
There are plenty of incredibly useful gadgets out there like tablets and smartphones, that would be invaluable to preppers during a crisis. They're portable, energy efficient, and even if the internet goes down you can still use certain apps, or store a library of survival books on these devices.

But how do we go about charging them if the power goes out? And if we're facing a long term collapse, how do we keep these gadgets running after their batteries are fried? Even under the best of conditions lithium batteries tend to completely wear out after 1000 charging cycles. At that point you can forget about calling your tablet "portable", because it's only going run if it's plugged into a power source.

Enter the Solar-5 USB Charger, which is not only very portable, but is also water and shock resistant. It also contains its own internal battery, but if that also wears out you can still use the solar panel to directly charge any device with a USB plug. And as you're about to see, there are some very handy gadgets out there that can be charged with a USB cable.

SteriPEN UV Water Purifier

I would say that the prepper community is very familiar with all the different tools and methods you can use to sterilize water. We know that you can boil the water, or filter it through a pump, or cleanse it with iodine or chlorine. But what about the sun? What if you could use the sun's powerful rays to sterilize your drinking water? Better yet, what if you had a very small and reliable device that could emit the ultraviolet light that is required to kill pathogens.

With the Steripen you can do all those things, and clean your water faster than any other method. Simply place the UV light into a 16 oz water bottle, and you can completely sterilize 99.9 percent of the pathogens in under a minute. When fully charged, it can be used 40 times, and the UV lamp will last long enough to clean 8,000 liters. This particular model is charged with a USB cable, so you can plug it right into your solar panel.


I mentioned before how valuable smartphones and tablets can be for their ability to store massive amounts of data in such a portable format. But if you have a library of survival books you'd like to preserve through a disaster, a Kindle is one of the best investments you can make (and USB compatible to boot).

While it's not as versatile as those other devices, it reigns supreme when it comes to providing reading material. My only concern is that it carries a paltry 4gb of memory, but that's still enough to store hundreds of books. More importantly, it utilizes a technology known as E-ink (at least the older models do. Fortunately these are still being manufactured) which is a huge power saver.

Unlike the computer screen that you're probably reading this on, Kindles don't need to keep using electricity to portray a still image. Once you open a page, it can maintain that image without any additional power. This means that your battery might last several weeks on a single charge. Since lithium batteries have a limited number of charging cycles, your kindle will keep working long after your tablet is fried.

Stargate Night Vision Monocular

stargate nightvision monocular
They say the best things in life are free, but unfortunately that rarely applies to our electronics. Even if it is free, that probably means it's a piece of junk.

In this case though, I'm not talking about the price tag of your electronics, but the power that is required to run them. Having a device that you can charge with the sun is a godsend, and second only to a device that requires no power at all. You may be thinking about old school technology from before the age of computers, but you'd be wrong. I'm talking about really high tech gear that doesn't need to be plugged in or charged at all.

The Stargate Night Vision Monocular is one such device that will knock your prepper socks off. This thing can provide night vision in low light conditions with no external source of energy, which I can personally attest to. I've owned one since 2011, and it works as advertised. It's a little more finicky than traditional night vision goggles and doesn't have quite the same resolution or range, but it gets the job done.

So how does it work without any batteries? Honestly, I couldn't tell you. It might as well run on unicorns and rainbows as far I know, but it does work. It's very sensitive to light, so much so that taking it out during the day can easily damage it. There's a lever on the top that you press very slowly and hold for about 60 seconds. This charges the device and allows you to see up to 100 feet.

It does require some light to operate though, like the moon or the stars, but if you're in a place that has absolutely no source of light (which is kind of rare) there is a battery powered IR illuminator that comes with it. Otherwise, it'll work in almost any low light condition.

At the end of the day, it's important to remember that technology should never be used as a crutch. Instead, it should be used to supplement the skills and experiences we already have. If approached with respect and moderation, our gadgets can make a huge difference in any survival situation.

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