Give the Gift of Life
If you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about and preparing for life-threatening situations, it can be a challenge to shop for someone who does. How do you know what might save someone’s neck, and what will be totally useless in an emergency?
Don’t despair; we’ve got you covered with everything from the best knife for the job to the app that will make your friend glad he brought his iPhone on his hike. And if it turns out that one of these gifts really does save his life, you’ll look a lot cooler than whoever got him the iPad.
--Produced by Alex Davies
Won't-Fail Fire Starter
One big challenge of surviving in the great outdoors is staying warm, and the quickest way to do that is by building a fire. But chances are, in a survival situation, the matches won’t want to light and the fuel is all wet, so a simple act like starting a fire can take on a whole other level of complexity. Giving the gift of a tried and true magnesium fire starter which fits in a pocket and can light fires in wet or dry conditions is a great way to give the recipient a big advantage in the backcountry.
(Doan Fire Starter, $7.25)
A good knife can make all the difference in a survival situation, and the best ones will be built to stand up to the rigors of just about any kind of outdoors task. There are plenty of other great options for survival knives, but a safe bet for any time your life is on the line is the Tracker knife, from naturalist and wilderness tracker Tom Brown.
The relatively short blade (4 1/2") packs three functions into one: a saw blade, a drawknife (for woodwork), and a regular blade. It also has the heft to do some chopping, key to gathering wood for a shelter and fire.
(Tom Brown Tracker Knife, $215)
First Aid Kit
The thing about first aid kits is that nobody really wants to think about injuries when they’re healthy, and misguided optimism may lead them to leave this essential item behind. But a first aid kit is one of those things which really ought to be in everyone’s bag, just in case.
The Survival Medic kit from SOL includes an emergency blanket, a survival whistler, duct tape, a compass, antiseptic wipes, gauze, and bandages. It weighs less than five ounces and fits in a pocket, so your buddy will have no good reason to leave it behind.
(Survival Medic Kit, $15)
Make Your Own Knife Kit
For the crafty type of outdoorsman, there’s nothing like carrying a knife that you made yourself (even if it’s not as burly as the Tracker knife). By letting him make his own knife, you'll add another element to his survival skills.
Wrap up a beginner-friendly knife kit from Ray Jardine. Your favorite survivalist will assemble a one-of-a-kind knife that he can pass on to his kids -- and make sure he lives long enough to do so.
(Make Your Own Knife Kit, $27.95)
Bear Grylls' Survival App
One way to help the digitally enabled survivalist is giving them a survival app for their smartphone. Users can read and learn while not in survival situations, in order to prepare them for when they are, and in the event that they have their phone with them, the app could be the reference they need when the time arises. One great choice is the Bear Grylls Essentials app, from the survivalist and host of Discovery Channels' Man vs. Wild.
With videos, quizzes, and games in addition to help for having the right equipment and how-to’s for navigating, trapping wild animals and setting up shelters, it's sure to keep you entertained as well as alive.
(Bear Gryllls Bear Essentials App, $2.99)
Get your buddy into the wild with a survival course, and he'll be thrilled to learn how to live in (and maybe despite) the great outdoors. The Boulder Outdoor Survival School (BOSS) has been operating since 1968, and their field course is one of the best around. Students are led into Utah's mountains, mesas and canyons with nothing but a blanket, poncho, and knife.
They learn the skills of local Puebloan cultures, and head home knowing not just how to survive, but to be at peace in the natural world. This is no day-long affair -- courses last 7, 14, or 28 days.
(BOSS Field Course, $1375 - $3950)
Making a shelter is another of those make-or-break survival skills, but thanks to the modern high-tech fabrics available to us now, an ultralight waterproof tarp can be folded up to fit just about any survival kit. Granite Gear makes a terrific line of ultra-lightweight tarps, the best of which is the White Lightnin'. Measuring 10-by 12 feet, it weighs just a pound and a half.
It's a snap to set up, too, so your friend can tighten the fabric without redoing everything, saving him the time and energy he'll need to make it home okay.
(White Lightnin' Tarp, $210)
Thanks to the shrinking size and increasing abilities of today’s GPS units, carrying one in a pack isn’t just a bunch of extra weight anymore. For the techie-minded survivalist, a small GPS unit, like the Get-Back by Brutnon, makes a great gift.
This scaled-down model is about the size of a stopwatch. It features a 12 hour battery life, a digital compass, and a position indicator accurate within 12 feet.
(Get-Back GPS, $90)
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