The Best Off-Grid Survival Gear for Staying at Home in an Emergency
Gear to help you stay safe, keep the lights on, and have clean drinking water no matter where you live
If there’s anything the past few months have taught us, it’s to be prepared. Whether it be for a lockdown or a grid-down situation, the possibility of having to stay home for a week or more has touched all of us—everywhere from rural farmhouses to apartment complexes.
Because there’s no rhyme or reason to where disasters or pandemics occur, we wanted to bring a few pieces of gear together that would work just about anyplace. Hopefully, this stuff can get you through a few days without power, clean water, or access to the grocery store.
Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station
The Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station. Jackery
Battery power stations are one of the best things to hit the off-grid/preparedness market in a while. What I like about this one, in particular, is how easy it is to use. Jackery includes straightforward setup and maintenance instructions and a carrying case to keep extra cables and accessories on hand. This might sound trivial, but when you’re in the dark wondering if you have this attachment or that, you’ll be happy to have everything in one place. It also has a built-in flashlight which comes in handy when the power goes out.
Battery power stations are great because they don’t require gas to operate like a generator. And they can be used inside, which makes them perfect for apartments. The 1000w that I’ve been using has enough power to run my refrigerator or a small freezer. It will keep a few lights on, can charge a phone up to 100 times, or run a CPAP machine for 17 hours. Jackery also sells 100w solar panels to keep the power station itself charged, or you can recharge it via a wall outlet when the power is back on, or with the 12v DC outlet in your car. For those who need less power or want a more portable setup, Jackery makes three smaller sizes at various prices. $999; jackery.com
LifeSaver Jerry Can
The LifeSaver Jerry Can starter pack. LifeSaver
In 2019 The LifeSaver Jerry Can passed a rigorous U.S. Military test in which multiple jerry cans had to stand up to 5000 liters of sustained use, two strains of viruses, and being pushed to the point of clogging. Depending on the model, it will clean up to 20,000 liters (5,282 gallons) of water, 18.5 liters at a time. That’s enough to provide drinking, cooking, and cleaning water for a family or small group for weeks at a time. The can comes with a pressurizing pump and hose for showers, hand washing, or just doing the dishes. I brought it along on an off-grid camping trip recently and it performs exactly as it should. And because it’s shaped like a jerry can, it’s portable so you can take it with you if you have to evacuate your house or use it to transport clean water to someone in need. $299; iconlifesaver.com
Camp Chef Stryker 200 Multi-Fuel
The Camp Chef Stryker. Camp Chef
It’s always good to have at least two ways to purify water. And next to a good filter, the ability to boil water will keep you from getting sick. What I like about the striker is that takes up little room and will run on either isobutane canisters or green propane bottles via an adapter. This lets you make use of what’s left on the shelves in the event of a run on either type of fuel. It will boil about a quart of water quickly and efficiently. You can also use a Stryker to heat up cans of soup or make things like pasta or rice. All of the attachments for the stove fold up into the main cooking pot making the Stryker east to stash away in your house or a vehicle. $130; campchef.com
Good To-Go Freeze-Dried Meals
Good To Go Chicken Gumbo. Good To Go
Freeze-dried meals are pricey, there’s no question about that. But they take little effort and fuel to cook, and they taste pretty damn good compared to a can of Spaghettios. In the taste department, Good To-Go really delivers. They make their meals by hand without preservatives and for a variety of dietary needs, which really sets them apart from other freeze-dried food companies.
Good To-Go meals also keep forever, so you can buy a few at a time and build up a stockpile. And because they’re made for backpacking, they’re extremely lightweight. So if you have to evacuate your home, you don’t need to lug around a backpack full of tin cans and dried beans. Good To-Go makes a one-person, five-day emergency food kit for 100 bucks which includes five breakfasts and ten entrees. You can also buy meals one at a time for around $7.00 to $15.00 each. goodto-go.com
5.11 Tactical Rapid 1AA Headlamp
Headlamps beat flashlights just about every time because you can strap them to your head. There are a lot of headlamps out there, but I like this one because it’s simple—just two buttons, one for a floodlight and one for a spot beam. It also runs on one AA battery, and if you couple that with a few rechargeable batteries and your Jackery generator, you can keep your headlamp going for a long time. The coolest thing about this light though is that the lamp portion can be detached from the headband and clipped onto a shirt pocket or put on a table to light up a whole room. $49.99; 511tactical.com
UCO Stormproof Match Kit
The UCO Stormproof Match Kit with Waterproof Case. UCO
When you need a fire (instead of just wanting one to roast hot dogs and marshmallows), you don’t want to mess around. And these matches definitely don’t mess around. They come in a waterproof case, can be fired up in a rainstorm, burn underwater, and will stay lit for 15 seconds. Once you strike one of these things, there’s really no turning back, they just want to be on fire. $8.49; ucogear.com
Midland X-Talker T71VP3
Midland X-Talker T71VP3 Two-Way Radio kit. Midland
I had two of these radios on a hunting trip in Colorado, and while a lot of the time I wasn’t using them to communicate with anyone, I was happy to have them because of two features: the NOAA Weather Alert and Weather Scan. In some canyons without cell service, these radios were the only thing I had to tell me if I was going to be snowed in until spring or be able to go home. Knowing the weather will let you make smart decisions and give you peace of mind. These radios also have a 15-hour battery life, and they’ll let you talk to somebody 38 miles away. $79.99; midlandusa.com
Gerber Center-Drive Plus Multi-Tool
The Gerber Center-Drive Plus Multitool. Gerber Knives
Need to pull out a splinter, cut open a can of beans, or adjust a cabinet door hinge out of sheer boredom? A multi-tool like the Center Drive can help. Its screwdriver (which is the best I’ve ever seen on a multi-tool), knife blade, and spring-loaded pliers can all be opened with one thumb. All in, it has 14 tools including a file, a can opener, and spring-loaded scissors. It’s made in the USA and has a lifetime warranty. Really, there aren’t a lot of reasons not to buy this thing. $125; gerbergear.com
Goat Boxco Hub 70 Cooler System
Goat Boxco Hub 70 Cooler System. Goat Boxco
The Goat Cooler was made for trouble. Sure, you can fill it with beer and ice just like any other cooler, but it really shines in an emergency. First, it keeps things cold for a long time, so if you’ve stocked up on extra food, or can’t run your fridge, you’ll be able to keep groceries for a few extra days.
The main cooler box is sandwiched between four waterproof storage pods. You can fill each pod with things like a first aid kit, dry food, or extra tools. Goat Boxco also offers curated kits where they fill the pods for you with premium gear like Havalon Knives, Katadyn Water Filters, and Sea-to-Summit Dry Bags. And because the pods always live with the cooler, it makes your gear easy to find when the chips are down. Prices start at $499 and vary for coolers with extras included. goatboxco.com
UCO Original Candle Lantern
UCO Original Candle Lantern Kit with three extra candles. UCO
It’s always good to have a few candles kicking around in case the power goes out or your flashlight breaks or dies. Candles also give off heat. But open flames can be dangerous. A much safer option is a UCO Original Candle Lantern. UCO has been making these lanterns since the 1970s. They can be used on a table, or hung with a chain to keep them out of harm’s way. UCO also makes a mini, that runs on tea candles, and a jumbo Candalier which can burn three 9-hour candles at once and gives off 5000 BTUs of heat. Whichever model you choose, candle lanterns are easy to use and do exactly what you’d expect them to—which is exactly what you want when the world is upside down. $21.99; ucogear.com