So, it’s that time of year again. As we power firmly into December, the specter of the gift giving season hangs heavily over our every waking moment. And even if you should forget for a moment, don’t worry, every TV, radio and website will remind you. Why buck the trend? Here are some Lazy Survival Approvedtm ideas for gifts. Gifts that will be useful items from an emergency-readiness standpoint, but that are still clearly gifts.
Miniflash light. (Example: Neiko Super-Bright 9 LED Heavy Duty)
I talked a lot about flashlights, including this model, back in this article. I’ve had a chance to use this light in several (thankfully minor) emergencies since then and each time I’ve come away more impressed with this light. At only a couple of bucks it’s an absolute steal. You might also consider the three-pack – this is exactly the kind of thing I’d suggest keeping in the car, home and office. Neiko Super-Bright 9-LED Heavy-Duty Compact Aluminum Flashlight, 3-Pack. About $5 for one, or $13 for the three-pack.
Battery pack cellphone chargers. This is an example of a whole class of chargers that use regular over-the-counter batteries and act as an adapter so that you can recharge your cell-phone off them. Very handy in emergencies large-and-small, but also handy for people that have to travel a lot or that are constantly draining their phone’s batteries. Some use non-removable, internal rechargeable battery packs, but for maximum flexibility you’ll want to get a unit like this one by Verbatim that uses regular replaceable batteries. (You can still use rechargeable batteries in this kind of unit, but you won’t be stuck with just the one “set” of batteries locked inside the device’s case) Normally about $30, but you can get them for as low as $15.
The classic swiss army knife. (Victorinox Swiss Army Climber II Pocket Knife) Few things can rival the Swiss army knife for easy-to-use functionality in such a compact package. This is really a must-have for anyone looking to be prepared, and is compact enough that you will always feel comfortable with one with you. The cost will vary with the specifics of the model, but expect to pay between $20 and $40.
QuikClot Trauma “Adventure” pack
I’ve mentioned this at just about every opportunity I’ve been able to. QuikClot is damn close to being magic for what it does against a serious wound. And…okay… this might not be the most obvious “gift”, it would be a good item for anyone on your list that indulges in a lot of outdoor activities like hiking, camping or biking. This model includes the QuikClot pad, but also some basic field dressing materials and runs about $20.
At $30 the Etón FR160B Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio is another item that I’ve discussed before and have a real fondness for. Lot of functionality in a compact form-factor and a reasonable price-tag. The cell-phone charging aspects are a bit overstated, but it is otherwise a great unit that i have no trouble recommending.
Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool. ~$35. Like the Swiss army knife, there’s a lot of models to pick from, this is just one of the more popular models and has a good, gift-sized price tag. Leatherman multitools have an outstanding and well-deserved reputation for manufacturing quality and field utility.
Midland GXT1050VP4 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair). This isn’t something I’d normally include in my lazy survival kit; it’s too situational. But having good local communications can be very useful in some kinds of emergency scenarios, and there are plenty of recreational situations where you might want something like that. This kit includes two radios, a charger that can be used at home or in a car, and hands-free earpieces.
Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter I love the Katadyn systems. Compact (when packed up), ludicrously effective at cleaning even the worst water and fairly easy to use even by the untrained. This is a great item to have in any disaster kit, but is also a useful item for hikers, backpackers, etc. A bit pricey at $75, but worth every cent in my opinion. (Also talked about over here.)
Red Cross First Aid Classes – Maybe not your definition of a classic “gift”, you can’t deny this wouldn’t be a surprise and you will find folks that would love to have these skills but have never taken the time to follow-up on it. The Red Cross has offices all over, so check your local branch for specifics around the cost and schedule. Of the ones I sampled, most had a day-long adult/child first aid/CPR/AED class for about $110. This is a class that everyone should take at least once.