Disaster survival kits come in all shapes and sizes, from “keychain” kits all the way up to warehouses stocked and maintained by private organizations. By and large, the most popular personal emergency kits fit in a backpack or five-gallon bucket.
We’ll talk about the range of emergency kit sizes in more detail in a later post to help you decide which would work best for you.
For now, take it as a given that space will be at a premium and weight adds up quickly, so the more functions you can get out of any single piece of gear, the better off you will be.
Fortunately, survival gear manufacturers make many items with multiple applications.
The Top 8 Survival Multi Tools You Can Have
The Classic Multi-tool
Our older readers may fondly recall the excellent mid-eighties TV show MacGyver. Our younger readers may only be familiar with the horrible 2016 reboot.
In the original series, Angus MacGyver, played by Richard Dean Anderson, was a spy with a difference. He used found objects and his vast knowledge to make emergency repairs, create a distraction, or build whatever gadget he happened to need at the time.
Not only did he never carry a gun, he always had his Swiss Army knife.
Victorinox, the company that makes the Swiss Army Knife, has a wide variety of models available, each geared towards different activities. There are even models with built-in flash drives!
Preppers should choose the one that best meets their needs. If you need more tool options you can always pick up more than one model unless you get the Wenger 16999 Swiss Army Knife Giant, a monstrous creation that offers 87 separate tools with a combined 141 functions.
It’s also 9” wide, weighs 2 pounds, and costs around $1800, so you probably want to stay away from this one.
The other big name in multi-tools is Leatherman, but there are many other manufacturers, so it pays to shop around. Multitools are offered in various sizes, but most are designed to fold up to easily fit into a pocket or on a key ring.
Beyond the Scissors
Depending on the disaster you are facing, or hey, if you’re just going camping for the weekend, you may want to bring along some larger tools. Again, when space and weight is a concern, you want to combine as many functions as possible.
A multi-tool such as our folding survival multitool set gives you access to some of the larger tools—hammer, hatchet, etc.—without having to bring along your whole toolbox.
Backpackers have made an art out of minimalist packing, especially those that hike very long distances like the Appalachian Trail. Since everything they need has to be carried on their back, they try very hard to reduce the weight any way they can.
Multi-tools help them achieve this. The fewer separate pieces they pack, the lighter the pack is.
Deal Me In
One of the more recent (and popular) forms of emergency multi-tools are what’s known as credit card tools or wallet tools. As you have probably guessed, these are survival multi-tools that are the shape and size of a standard credit card, which means they can easily be kept in a wallet or pocket.
Most are made out of stainless steel for strength, but there are good plastic ones available as well. These survival credit cards can offer just as many functions as a regular folding multi-tool, including knife blades, screwdriver heads, wrenches, saws, and more.
Whether you need an 11-in-1 tool or even an 18-in-1 tool, there’s no excuse for not carrying one.
Best (Field) Dressed
Not every emergency multi-tool has to be carried on your belt or in a pocket; some of them can be worn! Paracord bracelets, such as our survival multi-functional tool, can contain several handy survival tools in one decorative package.
Ours has a flint and steel, small knife blade, an emergency signal whistle, and of course, the paracord itself.
We will discuss paracord in a future post (probably many future posts; it’s that good), but know that it is the absolute best cordage to stock in your survival kit, camping gear, or emergency supplies, and keeping it—literally—on hand means you’ll have it right there when you need it.
It’s not enough to have a good multi-tool in your survival kit; you also have to keep up with it. While most offer lanyard rings or integrated key chains, you can also get one that helps secure your other gear!
Our locking emergency carabiner multi-tool offers five functions, one of which is to clip other items onto it.
You can hang your emergency kit from a branch and know that a knife blade and other tools are right there with it.
Two of the most important pieces of emergency equipment you will need in your survival kit is a flashlight and a radio (depending on the models of each, you may also need to have extra batteries on hand).
Disaster gear manufacturers have a lot of models available which combine these two functions, and they can be powered in several different ways, like plugging them into the wall, using batteries, through integrated solar panels, or with a hand-cranked generator.
Some models offer multiple power options, and some can even charge other devices such as a cell phone or GPS. As with any other multitool, pick the one that best serves your needs. They are available at many different price points.
How to choose the best Multi-tool?
Anything can be a Multi-tool
We have the fantastic ability to figure out non-standard uses for things. We can look at one item, and see another. Or both. Or switch back and forth.
Take the following illusion, for example. Is it a duck or a rabbit?
Psychologists call the inability to repurpose things “functional fixedness.” Someone with functional fixedness will only ever see a trash bag as a receptacle for garbage.
It wouldn’t occur to them to use it as a makeshift poncho, a tourniquet, a signal flag, or anything else. Fortunately, you can combat this by describing any piece of gear as a collection of individual components rather than by its stated function.
Your backpack becomes “canvas panels attached to aluminum rods,” for example, which can also describe a litter for transporting someone who has been injured. Take some time to look over the supplies in your survival kit and think about the different things you could make out of them, or the offbeat ways they could be used.
It could pay off in an emergency situation by reducing panic or helping you overcome an obstacle.
We hope that you have found this post on survival multi-tools useful!
They are a crucial part of your disaster preparation kit and, while you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on them, should be picked with a lot of thought and care.
Join us again tomorrow, when we will be discussing how to find water in an emergency scenario, and different methods of treating it so it is safe for consumption.
Later this week, we will talk about surviving hurricanes and review different emergency apps. We’ll see you then!