High Tech Preppers: Building the Ultimate Survival Tablet

The relationship between electronic devices and survival is not always a good one; in fact, most preppers hate counting on electronic gear, fearing that it may become useless during a long-term survival situation. But the fact is we live in a world of electronics, and ignoring their usefulness in a survival situation is not only foolish, but it could put you far behind the curve once things go bad.

Using Smart Phones, Tablets and Electronic Devices for Emergency Preparedness

Electronic Survival Gear

To begin, I must point out that without knowledge, training, and a good understanding of what it really takes to survive during times of crisis there isn’t a piece of gear in the world that can guarantee your survival during an emergency situation.  Nothing, and I repeat NOTHING can take the place of knowledge and real world experience.

Despite my reluctance to rely on electronics, there are a number of good reasons to consider adding some of these devices to your emergency preparedness gear. In today’s world, most people carry these devices with them on a daily basis; that alone is reason enough to convert them into useful pieces of survival gear.

If you carry it anyways, why not turn it into a useful survival tool?

Today’s smartphones and tablet devices offer a number of useful emergency tools that can help you during a disaster.

The Benefits of carrying a Tablet as part of your Every Day Carry

The Powermonkey Extreme charging an iPad
My personal Survival iPad showing the kindle version of my book, The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide.

Emergency Communication

This first one is really a no-brainer and is probably the number one reason to carry some sort of smartphone or tablet device.

These devices are probably going to be your first line of communication and give you the ability to communicate through either voice, text, or the Internet. Even when the cell towers are jammed, most text messages will still go through.

If you haven’t thought about how you’ll communicate during an emergency situation, you might want to take a look at our article on emergency communication planning.

A Mini Electronic Survival Kit

A tablet is so much more than just a communication device; in fact, they are multipurpose tools that can be turned into valuable mini electronic survival kits.

Today’s tablets have more computing power than most computers from ten years ago. They can be stocked full of useful things like topographical maps, survival books and manuals, and personal data backups.

Tablets are also great morale boosters, and can play an important role in keeping kids calm during a disaster. Don’t underestimate the need for entertainment — especially if you have kids. Make sure your device is stocked full of games, movies, and music that can help keep a kid mentally sharp during times of crisis.

E-book readers

One of my favorite things about these devices is the ability to carry thousands of survival books, field guides, manuals, and PDFs — all in a device that weighs less than a pound. From storing medical files and first aid information to field maps and survival guides, the ability to store information makes these devices one of the top reasons they should be added to any good EDC.

Check out my full list of Survival eBooks that should be on everyone’s tablets.

Maps & GPS

Most smartphones and tablets can be used as a portable GPS device. During an emergency, this can be a great way to find alternative routes in and out of a disaster zone.

While GPS does require a data connection to be fully functional, you can still load detailed maps and satellite imagery onto these devices, which can then be accessed even when the cell networks and GPS go down.

Field Notes & Scouting

When hunting and fishing, I often take detailed notes on game patterns and behaviors, the environment I plan on being in, and a number of other useful bits of data that can help me on future trips. For this reason, I like having a small portable device where I can not only keep track of this information but also take detailed pictures of everything I’m putting in my notes.

In the past, I would draw quick sketches in a notebook; but now, thanks to my iPad, I can now add actual photographs to my field journals.

Survival Apps Smart Phones & Tablet Apps

These days there’s an App for just about everything, and that includes survival. The Red Cross has a pretty good app that can help you learn the essential skills you need to save a life. It can be downloaded here.

Making sure your tablet will be there when you need it.

The last thing you need during a disaster is a device that doesn’t work, that’s why I recommend adding the following items to your bag of tricks.

Lifeproof Cases: Turning your Tablet into an All-Weather Piece of Gear

An iPad with the Ultimate Situational Survival Guide

These cases are built for survival; they will protect your tablets from water, dirt, snow, and even drops from up to 6.6 feet. They are military rated and carry a IP-68 waterproof rating that guarantees your devices will withstand water immersions of up to 8 hours.

I tested mine over the winter, bringing it both hunting and fishing, and I wouldn’t carry a device into the field without one of these cases on it. It helped protect my iPad while out in the snow, and it protected it from the water while out on the river. Check out the full line of Lifeproof Cases.

Portable Solar Panels: Keep the Tablet Going when the Grid Goes Down

SunJack Solar Panels Charging

One reason people shy away from using these devices during an emergency is the fear that you will not be able to rely on them once the grid goes down. That really isn’t a problem anymore thanks to a new line of portable solar devices that are now so small they can be carried in any bug out bag or EDC bag.

These small portable devices are not only great for camping and hiking adventures, but when disaster strikes they can help keep devices like cell phones, small tablets, flashlights, emergency radios, ham radios, and GPS devices up and running. Check out our list of emergency solar panels.

Backup Batteries: One more step to Ensuring Emergency Power

Energi 10K Battery Built by TYLT

On top of the portable solar devices, a new generation of backup batteries can help ensure you have power when things go bad. Devices like the TYLT Energi 10K Battery Pack are so small that they can even be carried in a coat pocket; they also provide the typical tablet with up to 2-3 extra recharges.

8 Comments

  1. B from CA
    April 27, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Yes, “smart” phones, tablets, computers all helpful. The problem is that, there is too much information about you, all organized. So, if government, Corporate interests, or persons wanted to gather information to use against you, look no further. It’s all there. Having it but using the old fashion methods may be harder but wiser. Why let TPTB know any more than you absolutely have to.

  2. Jeremy Rivers
    April 28, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I fully agree with this article especially when it comes to keeping things like Topo maps on the tablet good way to have a back up in case something happens to a psychical paper map. Of course it’s normally a good idea to keep a psychical map or two on hand in case something happens to the tablet.

  3. Chuck Findlay
    April 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I have not (so far) bought a tablet but I do have a Nook E-Reader. It’s the simple black & white (called e-ink) one that only reads EPUB and PDF files. It runs for 3-weeks on a charge.

    I also have a Goal Zero +10 solar panel / charger that has 12-volt, USB ports to charge things. It also charges AA & AAA batteries. A very handy charger.

    When I do get a tablet I want one that can read MP4 videos as I download and save a lot of U-Tube videos and it would be nice to have the optin ov viewing them with something smaller then a laptop comp.

    I also keep a plastic bag with my Nook to keep it dry when (not if) it rains when I’m camping with it. Water and electronic devices don’t play together well.

    Here are some free On-Line PDF format books you can download. I have them on my Nook E-Reader, both computers and a backup on DVD’s. Once loaded, just right-click and save the file to your computer.

    Where There Is No doctor
    http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs12/Where_there_is_no_doctor-2011%28en%29-red.pdf

    LDS Preparedness Manual
    http://thesurvivalmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/LDS-Preparedness-Manual.pdf

    Where There Is No Dentist
    http://modernsurvivalonline.com/Files/medical/wtndentist_2010_Web_Full_Book.pdf

    American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Manuel
    http://safetylibrary.typepad.com/files/First%20Aid%20CPR-AED%20student%20manual.pdf

    Pioneering 1962
    http://www.truthistreason.net/downloads/Pioneering-1962.pdf

    The Encyclopedia of Country Living (9th edition, I have a paper copy of the 10th edition)
    http://www.housegate.net/woodvival/manualistica/The%20Encyclopedia%20of%20Country%20Living.pdf

    Ships Medicine Chest and Medical aid, a book that is made for ship medical issues where a doctor is not available
    http://fas.org/irp/doddir/milmed/ships.pdf

    Wilderness Survival – Basic Survival Skills
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6GE42-kvADvMjAwNmY0OTctNDA4ZS00ZjI2LWE0MjgtZjhiMTc5NzU1ODFi/view?pref=2&pli=1

    Camping and woodcraft; a handbook for vacation campers and for travelers in the wilderness
    https://ia600301.us.archive.org/9/items/campingwoodcraft00kephrich/campingwoodcraft00kephrich.pdf

    The Modern Survival Retreat by Rangar Benson
    http://www.modernsurvivalonline.com/Files/books/Benson,%20Ragnar%20-%20The%20Modern%20Survival%20Retreat.pdf

    Anyone else have any links to free PDF files???

    • John
      April 29, 2016 at 6:51 am

      Great suggestions that I will adopt.

    • Carl
      April 29, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      Thank you Chuck for a wonderful list all in one place. These will be a great read for my Boy Scout troop.

  4. Jake
    April 28, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    In spite of my inherent distrust of the government and their inclination to use smartphones to track people they don’t like, I think that your suggestions can be important for a period of time. However, in the event of a complete SHTP event, I think there is a risk. I am also convinced that an EMP is the weapon of choice for terrorists and countries and even allied countries like Israel. Russia has been working for decades perfecting this weapon and is probably the most advanced in the world. Terrorists only need a nuclear weapon in a suitcase and a weather balloon to get it to maximum altitude. With this in mind, I believe that quality Walkie-Talkies already distributed to key family and friends and ham radio setups is the ultimate kep. All electronics must be protected within a Faraday shield of course, and only used after the event. You won’t need a Ham License since the government is hardly going to worry about such things after a collapse. By the way, cars built from 1973 and older have no electronics and should survive an EMP without a problem, even fully exposed. Having a little silver is good, but very soon thereafter, food, water and medical supplies will be more valuable that silver and gold. And keep your money out of banks, except for day to day needs. They will take your savings, CD, retirement, and anything else they can think of without thinking twice. It has already been discussed. Keeping foreign currencies in certain foreign banks will be best, since the United States is the largest debtor nation in the history of the world, the dollar will become almost worthless and politicians desperate. There are companies that specialize in foreign investment. Find them.

  5. May 7, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks for this article. While I’m not a survivalist, I am working on plans for an off-grid haven on a low budget. A lot of people that want to go off-grid and just live a simpler life could benefit from a tablet of smartphone full of info on How to Do Stuff ™, since a lot of off-gridders are out in the middle of nowhere, and might need to know something in an emergency.

    One of my favorite apps lately is called PlantNet, and I think it’s available for both iOS and Android. Take a picture of a plant, and it’ll tell you what it is, and link you to info about it. I’ve found it incredibly helpful when in areas of the continent I’m not familiar with.

  6. 1eagle44
    June 13, 2016 at 1:10 am

    The one thing that gets me is that ALL of these devices are DEAD in the water if we have a EMT strike. We then will be forced to thoughts and hand survival skills. Then what purpose does the above show? Think survival of your body. rather than games on a device that won’t work for a couple of years. Just what are YOU going to do about it?? May God rest our souls. I am 72 now, so I pretty much am off the hook, but I cry for my children and grandchildren. Think folks, please think!

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