A Scout is prepared — and thrifty. Here are seven survival gear items for $20 or less.
Emergency Bivvy: Cut in the shape of a sleeping bag and made of a silvery, heat-reflective polyethylene, the Survive Outdoors Longer Emergency Bivvy can be a lifesaver if you’re caught without a tent. It’s lightweight, compact, waterproof and windproof. $17, surviveoutdoorslonger.com
Light: Handheld flashlights used to be the norm. Now headlamps are the preferred means to illuminate the night. A basic model like the Princeton Tec Byte costs just $19.95 but gives adequate brightness via LED bulbs and a lightweight body that sits nearly unnoticed on the forehead, weighing in at only 2.3 ounces. princetontec.com
Knife: A fixed blade can cut firewood, help build a shelter and perform a hundred other mandatory tasks in the woods. I have long relied on the simple Mora Morakniv Classic 2/0 knife, made in Sweden with quality carbon steel and a wood handle. Sheath not shown. $15, moraofsweden.se
Water Purification: Filters and battery-enabled products are popular. But I like the simple solution of Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Tablets to purify water scooped from a lake or stream. The chemical tabs dissolve in water and neutralize the common viruses, bacteria and cysts that can make you sick. The only downside? The tablets require a four-hour treatment time — but this can be easily managed with overnight water treatment. $12.95 per 20-tablet pack, potableaqua.com
Compass: A basic liquid-filled compass like the Silva Polaris is a requisite tool for keeping on route. The needle always points north, and (so long as you can read a map) the magnetic function is all you need to stay “on the map” in the wilds. $15.99, scoutstuff.org
Fire Starters: The Esbit Solid Fuel Tablets are tiny and highly flammable. I keep these little “fire bricks” in my pack just in case, and a few times when dry leaves or kindling have been scarce, the soft blue flame coming from an Esbit tablet has saved the day. $6.95 per pack, esbit.de
Fire: Matches are fine. But I keep a Bic lighter in my kit, and it has never let me down. Flick the spark wheel and a flame is guaranteed. For 99 cents at a gas station, a Bic lighter is a no-brainer for anyone in need of flame and warmth outside. (I also keep a few waterproof matches in my kit, too — just in case.) biclighter.com
All prices are MSRP.
Stephen Regenold is the founder of GearJunkie.com .