The 10 Best Pieces of Backcountry and Survival Gear from SHOT Show 2020

All the tools you need to make life easier when you leave the trail behind

Along with hustle, bustle, and inevitable illness, SHOT Show brings us some very cool and useful products each year. For a backcountry hunter or traveler, there is always a rich selection of products that can make us safer, more comfortable, and enhance our experience when we venture off the beaten path. Here are 10 things I found at SHOT 2020 that have great potential and practical applications.

1. CRKT Jenny Wren Compact

CRKT Jenny Wren Compact
CRKT Jenny Wren CompactTyler Freel

What’s a backcountry/survival gear list without a tomahawk, right? Well, this compact 10-inch long model is designed to bring the benefits of a good camp axe into a very small, versatile package. It weighs just over a pound, and although you may not be chopping down big trees with it, it’s a great crossover between axe and bushcraft knife. It has sharpened edges on the front, bottom, and top, giving you a bit more cutting utility, and could be used for tasks like field dressing or skinning game, if necessary. There’s not a lot of frills, but this sleek, tough, and pack-friendly tomahawk would be very useful in a number of backcountry situations. MSRP: $123

2. Exotac Tinder Zip

Exotac Tinder Zip
Exotac Tinder ZipExotac

Another basic staple of backcountry gear is a multi-use fire starter. A couple years back, someone thought to build a flammable wick into the middle of parachute cord, and this is another useful iteration of that. You get a set of zipper pull cords to install on backpacks, jackets, PFDs (whatever you want), that come with a flammable, waxy wick built into them. The advantage they bring is if you put them on your outdoor gear, you always have them, it’s not stowed away in some kit in the bottom of your backpack. Cut, pull the wick out, fray it with a knife, and hit it with a spark and you’ll have a stable flame to get your fire going when you really need it. MSRP: $12

3. TNW Firearms 9mm LTE Ultralight Rifle

TNW Firearms 9mm LTE Ultralight Rifle
TNW Firearms 9mm LTE Ultralight RifleTNW Firearms

Survival rifles are a niche of their own, and everyone has their preferences, but this new ultralight, blowback-operated, semiauto brings some pretty cool stuff to the table. It’s a no-frills, no-tools takedown rifle chambered in 9mm that comes in at 3.9 pounds. It has AR ergonomics, and although 9mm isn’t the most powerful cartridge, it’s typically widespread and will suffice for close range hunting in a survival situation. The rifle fits right in a backpack and takes Glock-patterned magazines. It features a rail that you can throw a minimalist red-dot or reflex sight on and is threaded for a suppressor. MSRP: $799

4. Morakniv Floating Knife

Morakniv Floating Knife
Morakniv Floating KnifeMorakniv

Morakniv is known for it’s affordable, yet well-made knives. They are handy, useful, and take a hair-splitting edge. If your backcountry adventures involve being on the water, whether it’s canoeing, rafting, or boating, it can be very handy to have a knife that floats. This floating knife is an update to a previous model which had a blunted tip and serrated edge, bringing Morakniv’s more traditional blade profile. This would be a great option for the fishing boat or to have strapped onto your life jacket on a river trip. MSRP: $28

5. Forj Thermoplastic Repair Tape

Forj Thermoplastic Repair Tape
Forj Thermoplastic Repair TapeForj

Gear repair is an important thing for any backcountry traveler to be prepared for. There are lots of tapes and kits for fabric repair, but everything is typically specialized for its intended use, and multi-use items are always welcome. This thermoplastic tape can be used for a number of gear repairs and even as splints for broken bones. The tape comes in a roll and when heated, it becomes sticky and malleable, then extremely rigid and tough when it cools. It has incredible tensile strength and can be used to plug holes in boats, repair tent poles, make improvised tie straps, and just about anything you can think of. MSRP: $20

6. Coast EAL22 LED Lantern

Coast EAL22 LED Lantern
Coast EAL22 LED LanternCoast

Lighting can be a lifesaver in the bush, whether it’s camping, hunting, being stranded, or even with power outages in your home. This lantern from Coast runs an LED with 3 colors off of three D-cell batteries and gives up to 40 hours of run time on low intensity settings. It’s dust-proof and weather-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about babying it. It functions as a standard lantern, but the cover can be removed to hang it by an integrated carabiner to use as an overhead area light. It also has a power-conserving flashing red mode to use as an emergency signal. It’s not going to be in a backpacker’s wheelhouse, but would be right at home in the emergency kit of your vehicle or camp gear. MSRP: $50

7. DMOS Delta Shovel

DMOS Delta Shovel
DMOS Delta ShovelTyler Freel

The old E-Tools that ride around in people’s gear bags and behind the seats of their trucks have proved that a modular, compact shovel is a great tool for anyone who’s venturing into the backcountry. The Delta Shovel takes it to another level, being an extremely tough, full-size shovel that collapses and is made to be stored in your Jeep, off-road rig, or on your ATV. They even have a model designed for snow that you can mount to a snow machine to dig yourself out of that deep backcountry powder when you stick it. MSRP: $199

8. Magpul PC Backpacker Stock

Magpul PC Backpacker Stock
Magpul PC Backpacker StockTyler Freel

Ruger had a hit with its 9mm and 40 S&W PC carbines in the prepper/survival rifle world. Their simplicity and availability of ammo makes them a great option, and Magpul’s new stock makes them even more attractive. The stock has great ergonomics and has a water-resistant storage compartment, QD sling hardware, and M-Lock compatibility on the fore-end for accessories. It also has an extra magazine storage compartment under the cheek riser. When taken down, the barrel and fore-end snap securely into the buttstock for easy packability and stable transport. If you have a Ruger PC carbine, you’ll want one of these stocks. MSRP: $150

9. Federal Premium Solid Core

Federal Premium Solid Core
Federal Premium Solid CoreFederal Premium

When it comes to bear and other wildlife defense handgun ammunition, solid is the way to go. Given the anemic power any handgun cartridge brings to the table compared to adequate top-end bear-stopping rifles, penetration is of vital importance. Hard cast and other monolithic bullets have ruled the roost, but their offerings on a widespread commercial market have been limited to just a couple of players for the most part. Federal is breaking into that with its Solid Core ammo that is a hard-cast bullet coated with the proprietary Syntech coating. The Syntech coating acts as a lubricant and fouls much less than traditional hard cast bullets, especially in Glock’s octagonal barrels. Solid Core will be offered in standard handgun cartridges from 9mm up to .44 Mag. MSRP: $29-$40

10. Work Sharp EDC Micro

Work Sharp EDC Micro
Work Sharp EDC MicroTyler Freel

Keeping your blades cutting easy is a necessity for any hunter, camper, or survivalist, and this pocket-sized tool from Work Sharp is perfect for keeping just about anywhere. It fits in your pocket and features both diamond stone and ceramic rods with built-in angle guides for sharpening and honing, but it also features a flip-out rubber bit holder with three sizes of torx bits, common in pocket knives and other small tools. With this tool, you can easily keep your EDC pocket knife sharp, clean and ready to go. MSRP: $10