The 5 Best Survival Tools (That Just Might Save Your Life)


In the dramatic denouement of Shakespeare’s play Richard III, the doomed king cries out: “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” as his enemies draw near.

Alas for the monarch, no mount was forthcoming and Richard had his ass summarily handed to him by the Earl of Richmond, to use the scholarly lexicon suited to the subject. For King Richard, a horse would have been a type of survival tool, see? Today’s gentleman rarely finds himself unhorsed on the battlefield, and in fact rarely finds himself in any sort of life-or-death peril…

…but if you ever do end up in an emergency situation, one of the survival tools we’re discussing here today might make a huge difference in determining the outcome of your life (or lack thereof). These are the best survival tools available given a range of different scenarios, from a car accident to a wilderness stranding to a natural disaster. If you have the best survival gear, you have the best chance of survival, so take heed, sir!

fire starterThe Bear Grylls Fire Starter

You don’t have to be a grizzled survivalist to make a fire in the wild, but you may need to make a fire to survive in the wild, grizzle or no. Fire helps you survive a cold night, cook raw food, or create a beacon for potential rescuers. The $9 Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter tool makes it easy to produce showers of hot sparks using its ferrocerium rod and metal striker, and it even features a compact waterproof compartment that can store some dry tinder. If you can find some semi-dry wood, you can use this tool to start a fire.

compassThe Lensatic Sighting Compass

It takes a little while for most people to get the hang of using a lensatic (or “military” compass), but once you master it, you’ll have to work hard to ever get lost again. With a lensatic compass such as this $30 model from Eyeskye, you can take and record accurate measurements of your route over any type of terrain, making it easy to retrace your steps. A more advanced user can also work with a topographical map to travel long distances without losing his or her way. Or you could just get a GPS unit. Cheater.

auto toolThe Auto Emergency Tool

If you have been in (or arrive on the scene of) an automobile accident, provided you have not suffered injuries that merit staying still, the best thing you can do is get the hell out of that car. But what if your seatbelt is jammed and the doorhandles and windows no longer work? No problem! Just grab that $9.99 Auto Escape tool from Luckystone and cut the seatbelt, smash the window, and get outta there! This handy unit also features flashing LEDs that can warn others of your presence as well as a flashlight for helping you with less dramatic issues like changing a tire.

Folding ShovelThe Fobachi Folding Shovel

Whether you use it to dig a latrine, cut an impromptu fire line, or to chop down and then saw up a tree to make firewood, the $25 Fobachi Multipurpose Folding Shovel is a tool you’ll be glad to have on hand. Its strong steel blade features an edge suitable for chopping and a serrated strip great for sawing, and of course it also serves as an able shovel. The head can also be folded 90 degrees, revealing a pick suitable for breaking up materials, digging a trench, or even as a climbing aid if need be. And when you’re not building a fire or fending off a bear, the shovel folds up into a compact carrying pouch.

Life StrawThe LifeStraw

A $19.95 LifeStraw Personal Water Filter may well save your life; these compact filters have saved tens of thousands of lives already, after all. By filtering out up to 99.9% of the waterborne protozoan parasites that can cause issues ranging from stomach ache to deadly disease, a LifeStraw effectively makes any water safe to drink. And FYI, you need to drink water to live. Keep one in your car, your home, and in your hiking pack and keep yourself hydrated with up to 1,000 liters of safe water per unit. If you get lost in the woods, or of the municipal water supply is fouled by an earthquake/hurricane/attack/wizard spell, you’ll be glad you have this lil’ guy.