Survival tools are very different from standard tools just as living in survival mode is quite different than living in everyday modern life. I’ve come across many people who have not gone through a disaster and think they will survive a major catastrophe.
Now, I’m not putting these people down. These are usually DIY types that are highly capable and are used to doing things for themselves. They typically have extensive workshops out in the backyard where they build and fix whatever their family needs.
However, just because they have all those skills, and a workshop doesn’t make them ready to survive. Besides, how well do you think the newest, top of the line, set of power tools are going to work without electricity? Survival tools are very different than the gizmos you use on a day to day basis.
There are two basic categories for survival tools: the tools that you would use at home when you’re bugging in and the portable survival tools you would use when you’re bugging out.
You need to prepare both types of survival tools because you don’t know when you are going to face a disaster, nor do you know the specific circumstances to determine whether you’re bugging in or bugging out.
Survival Tools for Bugging In and Bugging Out
• A Good Knife. The knife is the universal tool; it can be used for everything from food capture and preparation to shelter building and maintenance. A good survival knife should be a full-tang, which is when the blade extends the full length of the grip portion of the handle, and it should be a fixed blade, which does not fold or slide. This type of survival knife is usually stronger because of the tang and more durable because of the lack of moving parts. A long blade looks flashy but isn’t necessary as it can be hard to use. A knife that is four to five inches long is plenty.
• A Butane Lighter. We don’t usually think of a cigarette lighter as a tool, but it will come in handy in survival mode. Lighters are much better than matches for starting fires simply because they stay lit and won’t be as affected by bad weather. If you have the extra space, you can take a look at utility butane lighters. These are refillable, have a comfort grip, and a long gooseneck stem. I prefer these because I can start a fire, light a gas grill or an outdoor torch from a safe distance. If you do decide to get one of these, it takes some practice to use it because it has the child safety lock.
• A Gun. Most people don’t think of as a tool, but that’s what guns are. With them, you can hunt for food, protect your home, and signal for help. If you’re gun shy or have never been around guns but want to get one, a good first gun is a .22 rifle. If a .22 rifle is too much, start with a .22 air rifle or maybe a .177 and work your way up. It is vital that everyone in your family gets used to having guns around and can shoot them with reasonable accuracy. So practice, practice, practice.
• A Honing Stone. That knife you’ve got, which you can use both at home and in the woods, isn’t going to be very useful if it doesn’t have a sharp edge on it. Keep in mind; this takes a lot of practice. Make sure you have some portable, compact, non-electric sharpening tool that can sharpen your knife as well as your ax.
Survival Tools for Bugging In
• An Ax. If you lose power, there’s a good chance that you’re going to need to cut firewood to heat your home. An ax or maul will make it possible to split the logs you cut so that they will burn well.
• A Bow Saw. A chainsaw is great for cutting logs. But if gasoline isn’t available, a chainsaw isn’t going to do you much good. While a bow saw is much slower for cutting tree branches and logs, it will work as long as you have energy in your body.
• A Crosscut Saw. Many types of disasters can cause damage to our homes. Being able to make repairs can be the difference between being able to stay in your home or having to leave. Once again, this is another area where power tools dominate, but before all those excellent power saws came along, the crosscut saw was the choice way to cut lumber.
• A Shovel. A shovel will allow you to break up the ground to plant seeds for a garden or dig a hole for a latrine. Both of those can be very important if regular services are down.
• A Wheelbarrow. This universal hand cart can haul water from the local pond, or maintain a garden. When there’s no gas for the car, you’ll still need water and other supplies, and that wheelbarrow could be a lifesaver.
Survival Tools for Bugging Out
• A Hatchet. Your ax is for cutting wood at home, whereas a hatchet is best for your bug-out bag. While it won’t cut wood as well as a full-sized battleax, it’s a lot easier to carry and is better than not having one at all. Your hatchet should also be useful as a hammer for driving tent pegs.
• A Wire Saw. That bow saw is a bit big to fit in your backpack. If you have to bug out, having a wire saw will give you something to use for cutting tree branches to make a shelter. Buy the three-wire kind; that way, you’ll still have a saw if one strand breaks.
• A Camp Shovel. Another portable version of your home tool. You might have to dig a hole in the woods for a fire pit, put a trench around your tent to drain water or dig a latrine to bury waste. While a folding camp shovel isn’t as good as full-size, it’s a whole lot better than using your knife or bare hands.
The Bottom Line
Proper survival tools and the knowledge of how to use them effectively can mean the difference between life and death. There are two things you need to remember. First, buy high-quality tools. A cheaply made survival tool will break when you need it the most.
Do a search on Amazon on the device you are looking to buy and read the reviews. After you’ve read a few pages of reports on a particular tool, you’ll get a good idea of its good points and bad points. Then you can decide if the bad points are issues for you or not. If they’re not, go ahead and buy it.
Second, know how to use the survival tools you have because the best tool in inexperienced hands is a recipe for pain. Think about it, you can have the highest tech ax made with the best materials, but if you can’t split a log with it, you’re not going to build a fire.
Practice using your survival tools or, better yet, use them regularly. Then when the time comes to use them for survival purposes, it will be second nature to you.