We Rounded Up the Best Survival Gear You Can Get Under $50
Jul 24, 2023
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Stay alive, safe and maybe even comfortable in an emergency for less than a Ulysses S. Grant banknote.
Survival gear: you never know when you're going to need it, but by the time you realize you do need it, it's probably too late to go out and buy it. That's why we prefer to get ourselves prepared ahead of time. That way, should disaster strike, we're already equipped to tackle the unique challenges and problems posed by emergency situations.
Stocking up, however, poses its own unique problems. Sure, you could go full prepper and build an entire basement survival shelter — and empty out your bank account in the process. Or you could shop smart and pick up a small collection of remarkably useful devices and gear on a budget.
If the latter sounds appealing to you, you've come to the right place. From multi-tools to wool socks, we've rounded up all the best survival gear you can snag for $50 or less. Consider this an excuse to restock and refresh that bugout bag ... or build one out for the first time if you haven't already.
Humans can survive for up to two months without food, but only a couple of days without water. As such, finding ways to stay hydrated are of the utmost importance. This little pocket-sized water filter will let you clean 99.99 percent of all contaminants out of just about any source. It could be the difference between life and death in a survival situation.
(Check out our full review of the LifeStraw Peak Series here.)
READ ABOUT THE BEST PURIFYING WATER BOTTLES
If you're lucky enough to find a large quantity of water, you still might want to be safe and purify it with these anti-bacterial, -viral, and -cyst tablets. Remember: just because the water looks drinkable, that doesn't mean it's actually safe to consume.
READ OUR GUIDE TO BUGOUT BAG ESSENTIALS
If you do find and manage to purify some water, you'll need a means to transport it. This bottle will get the job done right, it's relatively lightweight and, since it's made from metal, you could even heat and boil its contents — all good things.
READ ABOUT THE BEST WATER BOTTLES
Apart from a means of acquiring, carrying, and drinking water, a med kit is probably the next most important thing to have in a disaster or survival situation. This one has everything two people would need to survive for two days lost in the woods.
READ ABOUT THE BEST FIRST-AID KITS
While most folks probably think of knives as weapons, they're actually invaluable tools that can allow you to craft shelter, hunting traps, fires to keep you warm, etc. And yes, they work well as a means of defending one's self. This one also has a handy sheath and a fire starter, upping its value tremendously.
READ ABOUT THE BEST SURVIVAL KNIVES
While a knife is definitely a must-have survival tool, it can't do absolutely everything you might need to accomplish. However, a multi-tool — like the Gerber Armbar, which takes up about the same amount of space as a pocket knife — offers an even broader range of functions.
READ ABOUT THE BEST MULTI-TOOLS
Never underestimate the value of a roll of duct tape. This almost magical material can be used to fix, well, just about everything. Got a rip in your favorite hiking pants and you're nowhere near civilization? Use duct tape. Found a leaky pipe after an earthquake and there's no chance of getting a plumber out anytime soon? Use duct tape. You get the idea.
If you're going to be chopping wood for a fire or shelter, you'll be a lot better off if you have a trusty hatchet at your side to help you get it done right. This steel one comes from a reputable brand yet it still won't cost you much at all.
READ ABOUT THE BEST AXES AND HATCHETS
Your pockets are only going to carry so much — and you'll probably need more than that in a survival situation. This bag is made from ultralight nylon that packs down tiny when you're not using it yet still offers weatherproofing and puncture resistance when you are.
READ ABOUT THE BEST DAYPACKS
Fire might be man's greatest discovery. You can use it to cook, to light up the night and even as a weapon if necessary. But you're not going to be able to do any of those things unless you can actually start a fire. And that's where this device, our selection for the best overall fire starter, comes in handy.
READ ABOUT THE BEST FIRE STARTERS
As long as you have access to electricity, this little fuel-free lighter could be indispensable. As mentioned, it uses electricity to create a spark (instead of butane or similar fuels) and also comes with a bit of paracord (another must-have material in an emergency).
READ ABOUT THE BEST LIGHTERS
This blanket is made with the same material as those used by emergency responders. It's also what marathon runners use after their long runs to stay warm. And NASA uses it to insulate spaceship parts. It can keep you warm in a survival situation, too.
Yes, this is a two-person tent that collapses down to about the size of a can of beer. And while you could theoretically use the mylar blanket in a similar way, this was designed to be a structure and will keep your blanket handy for staying warm inside while this shelter keeps the weather outside.
READ ABOUT THE BEST CAMPING TENTS
Like duct tape, paracord is a survival must-have that should not be underestimated. It can be used to bind wounds, build shelters, make traps and so much more. And this length should be plenty to do all of that and maybe more.
As an alternative to loose paracord, there are also these bracelets, which also include a fire starter, compass and emergency whistle. Just keep in mind: once you unravel the cord, there's no going back. However, you can still use all the parts independently of the bracelet.
This is actually our favorite overall headlamp and it still falls below the $50 price point. It's handy for keeping your path illuminated while keeping your hands free for whatever other tasks you need to focus on. And that can be invaluable in a survival situation.
READ ABOUT THE BEST HEADLAMPS
Regardless of whether there's an emergency, you should know how to read a compass if you spend any time in the outdoors (and, honestly, you should know even if you don't). Of course, to use that skill, you'll need a compass. This one is small and light and fits nicely into a bugout bag if you have one.
Combine a solar battery, hand-crank radio and flashlight, and emergency phone charger into one device and you get this emergency weather radio. It's highly versatile and, since all of these different parts should probably be in your go-bag, it makes sense to combine them all in one handy device.
You could have all the gear in the world, but it will only go so far as your knowledge takes it. That's why we recommend a small, easy-to-carry guide to survival skills, like this one. There's no shame in needing a little assist, and this one might save your life.
READ ABOUT BASIC SURVIVAL SKILLS
While having some measure of clothing is definitely important, your socks might be the most important. After all, you spend a lot of time on your feet walking around and, were they to get hurt or perhaps frost-bitten, all that walking could be over and done with. Make sure you have some thick, sturdy, warm socks in your go bag, like these Merino wool ones.
READ ABOUT THE BEST WOOL SOCKS
A decent pocket knife can be practical, but a great one will be indispensable.
READ THE STORYREAD ABOUT THE BEST PURIFYING WATER BOTTLESREAD OUR GUIDE TO BUGOUT BAG ESSENTIALSREAD ABOUT THE BEST WATER BOTTLESREAD ABOUT THE BEST FIRST-AID KITSREAD ABOUT THE BEST SURVIVAL KNIVESREAD ABOUT THE BEST MULTI-TOOLSREAD ABOUT THE BEST AXES AND HATCHETSREAD ABOUT THE BEST DAYPACKSREAD ABOUT THE BEST FIRE STARTERS READ ABOUT THE BEST LIGHTERSREAD ABOUT THE BEST CAMPING TENTSREAD ABOUT THE BEST HEADLAMPSREAD ABOUT BASIC SURVIVAL SKILLSREAD ABOUT THE BEST WOOL SOCKS