12 essential survival gadgets to pack for any emergency

Tech vs the world

It's not always a very nice world out there, but the right selection of tech gadgetry can help you and your friends and family cope in just about any situation you come across - whether that's stood at the side of a motorway or lost in the mountains of Snowdonia.

We've hand-picked a range of ultra-useful gizmos and gear to help you cope in most situations you're likely to find yourself in, and most of them are cheap and compact too, so you can stuff them away in the corner of a rucksack or the boot of your car. Stay safe out there.

1. Anker PowerPort Solar

As long as you've got sunshine you've got power with the Anker PowerPort Solar, which uses the energy of the Sun to keep your gadgets charged - if you're miles away from the nearest plug socket then this can be invaluable if you need to make an emergency call.

2. Aqua Pure Traveller

If you need clean drinking water on your adventures then that's what the Aqua Pure Traveller is there for - it combines a drinking bottle with a water purifier that filters out bacteria, viruses, chemicals, dirt and pathogens. As used by the UK armed forces, apparently.

3. GoTenna

No signal, no problem with the GoTenna, which can let you communicate with other GoTenna units and use GPS mapping offline. Get a pack of four and you can stay in touch with the whole family or group even if you're a couple of miles apart from each other.

  • Buy GoTenna four pack, $239 (US) (about £179)

4. Paracord Survival Bracelet

The clue's in the name: it's a bracelet that helps you survive. This is a 5-in-1 emergency tool that includes a high-quality compass, a flint fire starter, a scraper, an emergency whistle, and a rescue rope. Whatever your predicament, the Paracord Survival Bracelet can help.

5. Wearsafe Personal Safety Device

If you find yourself in trouble then a tap on this Wearsafe dongle will immediately and discreetly ping the contacts of your choice and start broadcasting audio and your location. A subscription is also required, but you get your first 12 months free by buying a tag.

6. Midland ER310 Emergency Solar Radio

Lots to like about the Midland ER310 (or the ER300 in the UK): it can work off solar power, or a hand crank, and as well as letting you tune into the radio it doubles up as a flashlight that has a handy SOS flashlight beacon mode you can turn to in the most dire situations.

7. Wallet Ninja

You never know when the Wallet Ninja might come in handy, and that's the beauty of it: it opens letters, boxes, cans and bottles, acts as a ruler, and works as a screwdriver too. In total there are 18 different practical tools here, all packed into the size of a credit card.

8. VSSL Supplies

We love the idea of the VSSL Supplies gadget, which packs in a whole host of useful survival gear and then doubles up as a flashlight as well. Inside the tube is kit for fishing, starting fires, first aid, purifying water, sawing and more, and it's ultra compact too.

9. Leatherman Sidekick

Undoubtedly one of the best multitools in the business, the Leatherman Sidekick looks like it means business and can help you out in an emergency with 14 different tools, including pliers, wire cutters, a saw. can and bottle openers, and three screwdrivers.

10. AGM Survival Tool Kit

Two survival tools for the price of one with this kit, a flint striker for starting fires and a whistle for alerting other people to your presence. Oh, and there's also a ruler but we're not really sure what that's for... measuring? At this low price we're not really complaining.

11. Panasonic Any Battery Light

You'll have to import this little gadget from Japan but we liked it so much we had to include it - as the name suggests, this torch runs off (almost) any type of battery, AAA, AA, C or D. Whatever you can scrounge from the ashes of civilisation, it can power this device.

  • Buy Panasonic Any Battery Light, $16.14 (US) (about £12)

12. Petzl REACTIK+ Headlamp

Light your way and keep your hands free at the same time with this Petzl Headlamp. It runs off a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and can reach all the way up to 300 lumens, which is enough to light the darkest spot. Even better, you can operate it from your smartphone.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.