I will survive
If there's something to be learned from hiker Aron Ralston's story -- and the flinch-inducing flick 127 Hours -- it's that 1. he's totally badass, and 2. mental toughness and the right arsenal of tech tools are the keys to surviving even the worst of outdoor conditions.
Survival by the numbers looks like this: We can live for three minutes without air, survive three hours without shelter in extreme conditions, last an average of three days without water, and go for three weeks without food. Here are some basics to have in your bug-out bag for those critical first 72 hours you're in danger.
For the occasional dare-devilL ...
Spot Connect, $169.99 (plus $100 subscription per year), findmespot
Being in the middle of nowhere can be peaceful and stress-free -- until, of course, you're in need of help and find that cell phone is sans service. This seven-ounce device pairs with your Smartphone, then hooks you up to a global satellite network. Perfect for campers or hikers, you can send an SOS distress signal to get assistance. It also lets you send text messages or update Facebook or Twitter from anywhere on in the world.
For the do-anything gal ...
DeLorme inReach, $249.95 (with monthly subscriptions that start at $9.95), delorme.com
Compact, waterproof, and floatable, this is the first Iridium-satellite-network-based personal communicator to deliver two-way communication where cell phones and one-way satellite messengers can't. Why would you need that? Well, because 90 percent of the Earth's surface is not covered by cellular and land-based phone service. You can send pre-loaded texts to designated recipients and, for mutual peace of mind, even let family and friends follow your travels online, via a continually updated "bread crumbs" trail. In an emergency, an SOS key can be triggered so rescuers can zero in on your location, whether you stay in one place or if you're on the move. Available in October (hello, Christmas list).
For the day hiker ...
Griffin Technology Survivor case $49.99, griffintechnology.com
When you're tearing up the trail by foot or on two wheels in cellphone-friendly areas, your iPhone can be a lifesaver -- assuming you don't destroy it first. Dust-proof, shock-proof, drop-proof from six feet, and practically indestructible (unless you drive over it in a Dodge Ram truck -- see the video on the company's website -- this rugged housing meets the U.S. Department of Defense Standard 810F (i.e., it's Jack Bauer worthy) and ensures that your phone is ready for anything you are.
For the adventure racer ...
Adventure Ultralight and Watertight Kit .9, $36, adventuremedicalkits.com
Housed in a waterproof, lightweight Dry Flex bag, this 12-ounce first aid kit is ideal for multi-sport athletes -- sea kayakers, backcountry skiers, backpackers, or rafters, etc. -- who don't want to be weighed down. Used and approved by adventure racers in the Eco Challenge and Primal Quest, it's designed for one-to-four users over the course of four days. All the basics are here, including a wound irrigation system along with meds for bee stings, diarrhea, inflammation, allergic reactions and insect bites.
For the camper ...
Zippo Emergency Fire starter, $19.95, Zippo.com
When you're navigating the woods, not much is more important than fire. It's a means of cooking food, warming you up, and providing protection and visibility. A handy alternative to rubbing two sticks together, this kit -- encased in a can't-misplace-it Safety Orange matte color -- comes with water-resistant waxed tinder sticks. Simply fray the end and light with the Zippo's weatherproof flint wheel ignition. A water-resistant O-ring seal on the lid protects the tinder sticks from moisture, even in epic downpours.
For the all-weather outdoor(wo)man ...
Eton Raptor, $130, etoncorp.com
Weighing in at just 11 ounces, this solar-powered gadget picks up the NOAA (National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration) weather band so you receive both normal and emergency weather reports. It also sports the key ABCs of an outdoor adventure tool -- Altimeter, Barometer and Compass. The Raptor can be charged via a solar panel (or DC power), and the stored solar energy can be transferred to charge a cell phone via USB. Other handy features include an LED flashlight and a bottle opener.