Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
This “best of” edition of the Weekly Drop is a collection of reader questions that focus on the best Survival gear for a number of situations — from power outages to home invasions to nuclear attacks.
There are a TON of product recommendations in the answers that follow. If there’s something you don’t see — or a product you’d like me to review in a future alert — send an email to [email protected]
Let’s get started.
Sometime back, I saw a picture of you, Jason, drinking water — through a filter, of course — from a toilet. I meant to get the information on that filter, but I didn’t. You said at that time that it was the portable filter that you carry, and you had nothing but the highest praise for it. If you could send me the name and source of that filter, I would appreciate it.
— Frank A.
It’s called the SurvFilter and yes — I did use it to drink from a toilet to show you it’s possible to get clean, drinkable water from virtually anywhere in an emergency.
Here’s how it works: The SurvFilter is positively charged with ions. This means when water flows through the filter, there’s an ionic exchange that removes 99.9999% of contaminates — including viruses and chemicals. What’s more, the filter is infused with silver, so grit doesn’t build up and clog the filter.
Better yet, the filter insert lasts for 250 gallons before you need to replace it. And since the average person needs one gallon of water per day in an emergency situation, a family of four could use one SurvFilter for over 60 straight days.
I don’t need to tell you that water is one of the most critical things we need to survive — you can survive only about three days without it. Which is why I’ve made sure to stock one of these filters in each of my bug-out bags. I recommend you do the same.
To see the videos of me using the filter — and to get one of your own — click here.
Lately, I’ve seen many advertisements for tactical (high-lumen) flashlights, often promoted as an alternative to guns. Are they worth considering in certain situations, even if I already have a supply of guns?
— Ken R.
When it comes to protecting yourself, I think having a gun is hands down the best option. That being said, a Tactical flashlight is another tool I highly recommend. A quality tactical flashlight can be used to strike an attacker as well as disorient a criminal with its bright light.
Having a flashlight is also critical for any home defense plan in case someone breaks into your home at night. I always keep a tactical flashlight on my nightstand. If I ever hear a noise in the middle of the night, I can quickly grab my flashlight along with my gun, so I can see.
Maybe I missed it, but would you give us a selection of emergency/survival items that fit an Altoids can? Thanks for you service and for your help in these days…
— Endo R.
Using an Altoids can is a popular way to carry a small survival kit — you can customize it any way you want, and it’s inconspicuous and easy to carry. Here are some items I would put in my Altoids can kit:
- Fishing kit with hook, line and sinker
- Three Band-Aids
- Hand wipes
- Mini compass
- Water purification tablets
- Any medication (pills) you might need
- Folding knife
- Razor blade.
Keep in mind these are just suggestions. See what else you can pack in there, and don’t be afraid to switch it up if you find there are other things you need or want to have on you.
I am looking for a multitool for everyday carry. I know it’s important to invest in good tools, but I don’t have a very big budget. Is there one you can recommend for around $30?
— Mary B.
When it comes to multitools, there are many options at a variety of price points. Personally, I like the Leatherman brand. Leatherman makes quality tools that last a long time.
In response to your question, Mary, they make a multitool called the Squirt, which is on the smaller side, but it contains nine different tools, including wire cutters, spring-action scissors, a knife and two sets of pliers (regular and needle-nose) — and it only costs $32.95.
First, this e-letter is great! Second, I have purchased a number of tactical pens from other survival sites and I have one on me at work and everywhere I go. How does your tactical pen differ? Thank you for your time and being a great resource for me!
— Larry L.
The biggest difference between my tactical pen and others on the market is that the one I use is incredibly durable. Click here to see video footage of the “ice block test,” where I use my tactical pen to hammer through a big block of ice.
The fact is you get what you pay for, so while you’ll find tactical pens for less money, they will likely fall apart or break if you perform similar tests on them.
I ordered the survival keychain today, but I don’t completely understand how to use it the proper way. Please clarify this for me.
— Jerry F.
The survival keychain — also known as the “monkey fist” — serves many purposes. Most importantly, it can be used to strike someone in self-defense so you can escape. It can also be used to break out a car window if you’re trapped inside.
The keychain is made out of paracord wrapped around a 1” steel ball at the end. On its own, the paracord can be used to escape rope or zip ties, replace broken shoelaces, splint broken fingers or tie up almost anything.
I certainly hope you never have to use the monkey fist to defend yourself, but if you ever need to inflict maximum damage with minimum effort to disorient an attacker so you can get away, you’ll be glad you’ve got this handy tool on your key ring.
Any recommendations for bear spray to carry?
— Ken W.
Check out Frontiersman Bear Spray, which sells for around $30 on Amazon. Sabre is a well-known pepper and bear spray manufacturer, and the Frontiersman model meets all government regulations.
This maximum-strength spray is field tested and proven effective up to 35 feet by Elmendorf Air Force Base (Elmendorf, Alaska) and Brown Bear Resources (Missoula, Montana).
If you include bear spray as part of your hiking or survival gear, just remember to be mindful of which way the wind is blowing.
The question I have is what can I do to prepare for when the power goes out? I ask this because I use a CPAP machine at night. I doubt that I am the only one with this concern.
— Wayne R.
Great question, Wayne. There are a few things you can do. One is to get a portable generator. I highly recommend a propane generator, because you can easily store propane, and you don’t have to worry about it going bad like gasoline.
Another option is to have a spare car battery with a power inverter. You simply connect the power inverter to the battery, and then you can plug in items to the inverter. Bestek is a great company that makes inverters. You can find them on Amazon, here.
In the event of a power loss here in Surf City, which happens occasionally, please recommend some type of “electric lantern” that we could use as an emergency source of interior lighting. One that would be rechargeable at an outlet, rather than use a battery.
— Gary S.
That’s a tough one, Gary. The majority of lanterns operate on either propane canisters or large batteries.
However, if you want a lantern with an internal rechargeable battery, I suggest checking out the Camp Chef Mountain Series Summit lantern. You can charge this lantern using an AC outlet, a 12-volt car charger or solar power — which means you never have to mess with batteries.
According to the manufacturer, this lantern will last 10 hours on a full charge. It also has a USB port, so you can use it to charge your cellphone if needed. Selling for around $75 on Amazon, this is one of the few lanterns I’ve seen with an internal rechargeable battery.
Some time ago you mentioned two-way radios that you recommended. Can you mention them again and also address batteries require and battery life?
— Jim F.
The Baofeng radio I own is the UV-5R. I have the second-generation model (V2+), but they do have a new third-generation model (the Baofeng BF-F8HP) that is worth checking out — although it is a bit more expensive.
These radios come with a programming cable to connect your radio to your computer so you can program all the frequencies into the radio instead of inputting each one manually. This would be a good idea if you plan on using the Baofeng as a ham radio Keep in mind you do not need a license to listen to amateur (ham) radio frequencies, but an FCC license is required to transmit on them.
In a survival scenario, having a longer antenna will give your radio a wider operating range. This one is highly rated — and at 15.6 inches, it’s much longer than the one that comes with the radio.
As for batteries, the Baofeng radio uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and comes with a charging base. Battery life depends on usage, but in my experience, I’ve used my radio for about two full days before needing to recharge.
If our country is attacked by North Korea or another country with nuclear bombs, what type of clothing do you suggest people wear? I assume that people will have to wear gas masks of some sort. What do you suggest? And of course where can these items be purchased and what is the approximate cost?
— Rob B.
When it comes to gas masks, I recommend the Israeli gas mask. Many Israeli civilians of all ages have these because of threats from unstable neighboring countries. These high-quality masks made of professional-grade materials sell for only $30 on Amazon. Be sure to purchase some extra filters as well.
As for clothing… Unfortunately, regular clothing will not stop any type of fallout from reaching your skin. Instead, you should invest in well-made wet-weather gear that will keep any moisture out.
So if you absolutely must leave your home after an attack, you should be wearing an Israeli gas mask and waterproof gear. But remember, the key to surviving a nuclear attack is to limit your exposure, shield yourself and wait for the fallout to decay.
Now, the reality is fallout can be carried hundreds of miles from the blast site, so even if you aren’t near ground zero, you are still in danger — it all depends on where the blast happened and how close you are to it.
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