Ten low-tech gadgets

Base camp for gadgets
The yearlyInternational Consumer Electronics Show (CES), has seen off another round of headlines about lust-inducing gadgets soon to be on store shelves.

Some survival gadgets are on display at CES, and a handful of them are surveyed in this report from outdoor website Gear Junkie.
I love a gadet as much as the next guy, but I notice my own list of must-carry gear includes things that need no battery or charging cable, so don’t qualify for CES. Here’s the top ten – what would you add?

Fire starter

Steel + flint + friction = a fire-starting spark. Best to use a match or lighter – but in a tight squeeze here is the Emergency Fire Starter.(fire starters in the UK)

If you are dealing with a howling blizzard, then try a magnesium-firestarting-tool -this box of magnesium shavings is called Lightning Nuggets Firestarters — a Super Economy Box of 100 Fire-Starting Nuggets
Maybe bring along a few pieces of lint as well, possibly smudged with a little petroleum jelly. In damp conditions, that can help set flames a-flyin’.

Matches: are a must. Lighters can sometimes be fickle, and there are many on the market, but I prefer UCO Stormproof Matches, twin pack (50 matches) for good value. (storm matches in the UK)

Map holder One of the most essential of the Essentials. I prefer the battery-free paper variety of map. But how to protect it against tears, water and wind? The Seattle Sports Dry Doc Waterproof Large Map Case is easy to fold and cheaper than most. (map holder in the UK)

The next thing you need is a Whistle: Say you’ve fallen and you can’t get up. This 1-oz. piece of plastic will outlast your larynx by many hours. Thelouder the better which is why I favor the Jet Scream Whistle – Orange(emergency whistle in the UK)

Compass Some speculate its roots reach back all the way to 200 B.C. A nonelectric version is one that never fails you. Useful if it works at night too like this

SE Glow-in-the-Dark Brass Compass(compass in UK)

Knife The contemporary term is “multitool,” knife included. Beyond straight knife blades, Ia pair of scissors is equally indispensable. Prices and specs vary, but here is a good middle of the range example: Gerber 31-000749 Bear Grylls Survival Series Ultimate Multi-Tool, With Nylon Sheath. (in the UK)

Cup A Measuring instrument, water transporter, impromptu wine goblet, rainwater collector. Also a tiny-item organizer/repository. Raise a toast to the humble, utilitarian 
Cup. This one is the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless 14 fl Oz version. (in the uk).

Spork To some, the mutated spook/form combo might qualify as an technologically advanced utensil. I still think of it as a very basic, almost primitive tool, just one cleverly modified, and in this case made of a rare metal:
Snow Peak Titanium Spork


These days the trusty trowel comes in < nylon:<Sea To Summit Reinforced Nylon Pocket Trowel (Orange, 3 Ounce) or dirt-busting stainless steel:
Sea to Summit iPood Trowel

Rucksack: Before daypacks and backpacks got tricked out with frame innovations and space age materials, there was the basic rucksack: a bag with 2 shoulder straps. I’ve been won over by Rothcos retro European style bag – light and crunchable, and so handy for day trips from a backcountry base camp.


Duct tape: Its backcountry do-it-all variant isTenacious Tape.

Intertape 5038-3 PK Fix-It DUCTape 1.87-Inches x 60-Yards, 7-Mil, 3-Pack

That’s a dozen low-tech items and I haven’t even gotten to Moleskin yet. Which of these low-tech items do you find most useful on your backcountry jaunts, and what other items would you add to this list?

6 Responses

  1. Toilet Tissue and a small bottle of hand lotion for cleanup. You never know when guests might arrive.
    Bee sure to have a valid hunting and fishing permit. The Game Wardens will be here, even after the last cockroach has gone tits-up.

  2. well, wood dweller sure showed his colors with the last comment. hmm.

    WATER: unbreakable bottle (then, water filter, cup, a pot for cooking)
    LIGHT: a headlamp is precious when you cannot see anything.

    RAIN GEAR: without it, you can easily perish in cool climates.

    WARMTH: I do tons of winter camping, so I’ll throw in a good sleeping bag :-)

    I have taken a knife with me about 1000 times and have never used one. There are a gazillion ways to cut string, and unlike story books, its really doubtful that you will be casing and gutting a grizzly any time soon…

  3. A mirror, a pistol, All wick away clothing. seed. Water filtration, suspended hammock, easy pack stove only used to boil water, Hella versatile buoy knife(big), hatchet, paring blade 4- 6 inches, light weight external frame back pack, rope nylon cord( 8-10 ft.),Personal tarp)6-8 sq. ft., compass, several lighters, 1 pair pants that turn into shorts 1 light weight water proof wind breaker(something that breaths w/hood*frogtog*), 2 pair gloves(one simple thin leather garden gloves, and 1 pair of heavy duty all season work gloves) tooth paste and brush, emergency first aid hikers pack. How to survive in the wild water proof notes.

  4. Bog roll.

    Water bottle.

    Plastic bags.

    Several lighters, flint and electronic.

    A proper knife, not a dumb swiss army style junk (do you need a corkscrew in the bloody wilderness- I think not.. And corks push in if you happen to find a crashed wine smugglers plane).

    A strong spoon… For eating and digging holes to defacate into or unearthing crashed wine planes.

    A bag… The gift you give someone who has everything… something to put it in.

    A light, warm, waterproof jacket (Grays of Alnwick GRX) with lots of pockets.

    A solar led keyring torch.

    A stainless steel cup.

    Salt, sugar, chocolate.

    Hand grenades, great for attracting attention but the best there is for fishing.

    Sorted. Now we see who lasts longest… See ya in hell hippie…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Join the global off-grid community

Register for a better experiencE on this site!