Keeping yourself alive in the outdoors is mostly a matter of putting to work what’s between your ears, and sometimes reaching down deep to get out of a tough situation. But having the right survival gear along doesn’t hurt. Here is a roundup of equipment, new this year, that you’ll want to have with you if things run amok.
MSR MIOX This compact, lightweight device is the best I’ve found for killing organic waterborne contaminants. Prime with a quarter teaspoon of untreated water, add salt to a special compartment, push a button to send an electric charge and you get a cocktail that is deadly to virus, bacteria, giardia and cryptosporidia. ($130; 800-531-9531; msrcorp.com)
POWER FLARE About the size and shape of a hockey puck, this unit will flash its brilliant red LEDs for up to 100 hours. It can be switched off to preserve battery power and can be programmed with a variety of flash sequences, including SOS. Run a rope through its eyelet and hang it in a tree. ($90; 408-323-2379; powerflare.com)
EX OFFICIO BUZZ OFF This line of clothing is pretreated with a benign (to humans) repellent that drives away mosquitoes, flies, gnats and ticks. The line includes hats, socks and everything in between. From $16 for socks to $60 for shirts or pants. (800-664-7303; exofficio.com)
COAST TAC TORCH RECON Developed for the military, this thumb-sized 6-LED flashlight has four switches–one for brilliant white light and one each for red, green and blue lights that help preserve night vision or track a blood trail. It is powered for up to 50 hours by three AAA batteries and comes with a lanyard. ($60; 800-426-5858; coastcutlery.com)
GERBER LMF II TACTICAL KNIFE With its 5-inch Sandvik Steel blade, this is a survival knife on steroids. The broad spine can be hammered against when cutting or splitting wood, and an aggressively serrated section of blade works well for sawing.
The steel buttcap can be used as a hammer or a blunt weapon. The handle is configured so it can be lashed to a pole when you want to use the knife as a spear, and the comfortable, non-slip grip fills the hand. ($100; 800-950-6161; gerbergear.com)
BRUNTON HELIOS STORMPROOF LIGHTER Windproof in 80 mph storms, the refillable butane lighter is armor-clad for ruggedness and can be worn on a lanyard so cold, fumbling fingers won’t lose it. Search and rescue teams carry this lighter. ($60; 800-443-4871; brunton.com)
GARMIN RINO 130 WITH BUILT-IN 2-WAY RADIO This is an all-in-one handheld GPS and FRS/GMRS radio with a range of up to 5 miles. When you contact someone who also has one of these, he receives your coordinates. The Rino includes an electronic compass, barometric sensor and weather receiver. ($375; 913-397-8200; garmin.com)
COLUMBIA RIDGE RUNNER When you need to make your escape, the Ridge Runner is a good way to carry your gear. It features heavy-duty in-line skate wheels with sealed bearings, so you don’t have to shoulder it when hauling gun or rod cases. The pack is shaped like, and functions as, a 5,500-cubic-inch backpack with comfortably padded shoulder straps and a hip belt for life on the trail. It includes a daypack that attaches to the main pack. ($169; 503-985-4000; columbia.com)
ADVENTURE MEDICAL BACKCOUNTRY KIT This kit has everything from bandages to a scalpel to a top-notch emergency medical book, and there’s enough to treat up to 10 people on a 21-day trip. The kit is organized in secure compartments according to injury type. It weighs 2 pounds 9 ounces. Smaller kits are available. ($118; 800-324-3517; adventuremedicalkits.com)
These two rifles aren’t new this year but shouldn’t be overlooked.
KEL-TEC SU16 5.56MM Compact (25½ inches long when folded) and lightweight (4.7 pounds), this gun (pictured) is an easy choice for the backpack. It has a foldaway bipod forestock, which carries two spare 10-round magazines. The stock and trigger mechanism can be folded forward for added safety and to facilitate secure storage.
The 5.56mm round is similar to the .223 Rem. and can take down more than just squirrels and rabbits. In addition, it’s a more potent personal defense round than, say, a .22. ($640; 321-631-0068; kel-tec.com)
HENRY U.S. SURVIVAL .22 LR Super compact (16½ inches when broken down) and ultralight at only 2½ pounds, this is the most easily stowed and packed long firearm available. On top of that, it floats. The ammo is light and small, so you can carry a lot of it. The stock holds two extra eight-round magazines. ($205; 718-499-5600; henryrepeating.com)