Armageddon, the apocalypse, doomsday… whatever you want to call it, it's the end of the world – or at least the end of the world as we know it. When it comes, some people will leave on rockets to Mars. Others will retreat to bunkers stocked with tinned soup and Mars bars.
Me? I'm heading to the woods with a hefty rucksack full of butcher's sausages and, more importantly, a bunch of gadgets – all of which will compensate for my lack of survival skills and (hopefully) save my life.
If I've chosen correctly, I might make it through the night, my life spared from the clutches of violent zombies. They're out there…
The end of the world has come. To survive, our man must find the best gadgets for the job. Some will keep him connected. Others will cook his food or charge his phone. Some might do all three.
Dan Read is a writer with soft hands. His experience of the Great Outdoors usually consists of the bits between pubs. So if a clever gadget can save his life, it can probably save anyone's.
Don't panic, this is just a drill, but let's pretend for a moment that the end is nigh. I must escape the ravaged urban jungle for the safety of the countryside, which means I'll need some suitable transport. Enter the Mercedes G-Class, a virtually bombproof 4x4 capable of outlasting almost anything else on the road (or off it, come to think of it).
With its square-jawed styling, no-nonsense diesel engine and tough differentials, it'll drive right over roadblocks and shrug off attacks from the walking dead. Inside, perched on soft leather seats with a DVD on the go, you might not even notice that Judgement Day is occurring right outside your window.
When the road turns to rubble, it keeps going, and going, down a track and into the woods. But as the forest thickens, it's harder to squeeze between the trees, so I'll have to leave it behind.
With zombies on my tail – or was that a pigeon flapping in the branches? – I must move fast, which is why I swap four wheels for two. The Haibike (£2,685), like any decent off-road cycle, has a lightweight frame and full suspension front and rear. But it has a trick up its sleeve: it's a hybrid, with an electric motor geared to the crank.
So when you pedal, it feels like you're getting a constant push, and I'm ripping along the muddy trail, feeling slightly out of control as the bike soaks up roots and ruts beneath me. The batteries last up to 80 miles before needing a recharge, at which point I could carry on pedalling unassisted, but my glutes are feeble and I'm gaspingly unfit, so I ditch it and continue on foot.
Navigating to safety
With a reassuring distance between me and whatever's left of civilisation, I can plot my final destination – a hideout in deepest somewhere-shire. Inevitably, I've brought far too many things, which I've stuffed inside my roomy, flouro-green Osprey rucksack. It does a good job of disguising the weight, though the load pinches on the hip straps and my legs feel heavy.
I have a handheld Garmin GPS, which has all sorts of geocaching apps and a radio receiver, but right now I just need a steer, so any smartphone could do the job. Still, it shows me exactly where I am, which is more than any paper map could do.
Of course, in a post-apocalyptic world, radio towers and signal masts will be toppled and burned. But those cheeky zombies can't knock satellites out of the sky, can they? So I have a back-up – the Thuraya SatSleeve (£516), a cradle that holds a smartphone, pairs via its own Wi-Fi network and turns your Apple or Samsung into a satphone for calls and data. So if I manage to get to my camp in time, I can probably still order myself a pizza.
It's time to blow up my tent. Not with explosives but with my lungs, for I've brought a two-person, inflatable shelter called The Wedge (£321). It has a pneumatic exoskeleton that takes the place of traditional poles, meaning it's easier to construct or take down in a hurry.
OK, so a puncture might be hard to fix when all the hardware stores are shut on doomsday, but if that happens I'll suck some sap from a tree and patch up the hole. Might distract me from my poor, rumbling stomach.
Rustling up a treat
My tent up, I set about satiating that hunger. Making a fire from sticks was never my strong point, so it's just as well I've packed a BioLite thermoelectric generator that runs off twigs (and even charges my phone while I cook). Soon, my dinner is spitting and sizzling over its naked flame.
The undead have a taste for human flesh,but let's hope they don't confuse it for a juicy Cumberland. I'm not having some whacked-out zombie stealing my sausage.
I've also brought a PowerTrekk hydrogen fuel cell battery pack. It literally runs on water, and if you can't find any of that, well, producing electricity is the least of your worries. I use it to charge my Petzl head torch, which beams through the murky, swirling drizzle as the night draws in. So I unzip the tent, crawl inside and inflate my blow-up, solar-powered lantern (it stores energy harvested in daylight), which bathes my world in a soft glow.
Essential off-grid tech, right there. Trees squeak in the breeze. A rustled leaf. A cracked twig. Is the enemy at my gate, or is it just a badger? It's hard to tell from in here. Is it harder to kill a zombie or a badger? Will they sneak up when I'm sleeping? Will my lights die?
As I lie on the ground, using my backpack as a pillow, these are the things going through my mind. My satphone is charged, so I could probably contact fellow survivors, but I'm still wide-eyed and paranoid, wishing I had a two-tonne shell of metal around me. If this really were the end of the world, I know which piece of kit I'd keep. I parked it on the edge of the woods this morning, but should never have left it behind.
How might an apocalypse come?
If we don't wipe ourselves out with a nuclear or chemical war, maybe nature will dispatch a meteor to crash into Earth like some gigantic planetary snooker ball, smashing all life into oblivion. Or maybe there'll be an outbreak of a deadly virus, creating pasty-skinned, spewing zombies whose bites spread lethal pathogens in an instant. Whichever way it happens, best of luck out there!
The tech that saved me
It's the end of the world as we know it but, because of this kit, I feel fine
Mercedes-Benz G350 CDI 4x4
The Merc held all of my kit, including the Haibike. It might not have the most modern tech (although there's plenty inside, including a DVD player and a thumping Harman Kardon stereo), but it's a lesson in reliability.
From £81,665, mercedes-benz.co.uk
AG 65 backpack The webbed support system on this rucksack made a 20kg load feel like half as much. By taking the weight off my back and shifting it down through my hips to my legs, it made lugging all that tech around a possibility.
Powertrekk 2.0 power pack
There are plenty of auxiliary power packs that you charge with mains power at home. But in a zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic scenario like mine, you're far more likely to find water than a three-point plug. Very cool.
Camp stove There are more compact stoves out there, but you try finding a ready supply of gas when there's a zombie army on the loose. Burnable biomass is much easier to come by, especially if you're stranded in the woods.
Luci Outdoor solar lamp
The beauty of this solar lamp is in its simplicity. So long as you remember to expose it to daylight, it'll see you through the night and provide enough illumination to fill a tent. what's more, it's only a few grams.
Petzl TIKKA RXP head torch
I charged this directly from the PowerTrekk, thinking it might die after a few minutes. I was wrong. Despite having huge power and an auto-adjusting beam, it can give enough light to read by, or light up a swathe of forest.
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