Do Electronics and Tech Gadgets Play a Role in Survival?

Does Technology have a place in Preparedness?

survival tabletThe use of electronics during a survival situation is a hotly debated topic. On one side of the coin you have those that feel modern technology has no place in preparedness planning; most of these people often worry about things like an EMP attack or a total melt down of the power grid. While both of those scenarios are definitely possible, and would turn your electronics into nothing more than added weight in your pack, should they really be enough of a reason to swear of survival technology?

In my opinion, technology – if used in the right way – can play an important part in your overall preparedness efforts. While I would never rely on any of these devices as my primary source of survival, I do think adding some electronic equipment to your gear might be a good idea.

Here is my list of the electronic survival gear & tech items that you might want to add to your survival gear list.


Tablet & E-Readers

These are one of my favorite items, and in my opinion they are a great resource for preppers and survival minded people. Combined with a small solar charger like the Solio Bolt, most of these modern tablets and e-reading devices can be run for 5 – 10 years without ever having to plug into the grid.

Something like either the Apple Ipad or the Google Nexus Tablet would be a good option for those who are looking for a way to store valuable survival related material. Both devices can hold thousands of survival books, videos, PDF’s, maps and other useful survival material. Think of it this way, how many survival books could you comfortably carry in your pack?

I can guarantee it’s not as many as you can carry on one of these tablets. Both of the tablets mentioned above can store an entire bookstore of material; all in a device that weighs about a pound.

smart phone

Smart Phones

Besides the obvious ability to make calls during small-scale disasters, a smart phone has many other survival related uses.

From being able to store maps and navigational information directly to your phone, to the ability to store books and other survival related material, a smart phone is another great way to carry a vast amount of survival information.

2 Meter Ham RadioHam Radio

During the initial stages of a disaster, HAM Radio operators are often the only line of communication in or out of the affected area. Their ability to communicate when the grid goes down is one of the major reasons I advise our readers to look into HAM Radio.

In a survival situation, communication and the ability to quickly gather information are both going to be critical factors in determining the outcome of your situation. Don’t underestimate the power of staying informed. For around $50 you can pick up a decent dual band radio that can easily be powered with a small solar charger.

Brunton Solar Roll

Solar Chargers

Solar chargers have come a long way over the last couple years. From small pocket-size models that weigh in under a pound, to the lightweight Brunton SolarRoll; solar power is now affordable, lightweight and can easily be carried in any backpack or bugout bag.

Shirts of Liberty

OFFGRID Survival book



  1. Electronics simply cannot be depended on for survival. what if it gets wet? or if it breaks? or when the power runs out? The best survival items are your knowledge, your knife, your trusty .22lr, a good survival book, and a buddy to tag along with always helps

    • But after having a long think about it, torches, gun torches, lasers and maybe NVG’S have some room in my kit. :)

    • If you apply that logic then what’s the use of the knife, the book or the 22? The book could get wet, the 22 and the knife will eventually break or fail and all gear goes bad.

      I agree that knowledge is king but being able to fit that many books on a device makes it useful as hell. Just buy a protective cover and don’t go putting it in water!

      when the power runs out use the solar chargers that they mentioned.

      • Yeah, the .22 will eventually run out of ammo, but you must remember that modern products have a limited lifespan. Plus, say if your country comes under attack by an invading foreign enemy, the very first thing the invader does is cut ALL lines of communication, this could be done be an E.M.P burst, rendering your products as expensive, and useless paperweights! :)

        • There’s an easy answer to the EMP concern. Faraday Cage/Box. If you put your electronics inside such an apparatus, it will shield your electronics from the effects of an EMP. I have a small netbook computer that I am using as an emergency/prepper database resource. I take it out once a month to run updates and to upload supplemental information. I also am keeping all my music, non-prep related books, and some of my favorite movies on a companion drive; because you always need something to ease your mind. But with these two devices, I have essentially what the article author was talking about. I have a whole collection of both survival and recreational books. I have hundreds of cd’s worth of music. I have several dvd’s worth of movies. I think there are even a few simple games on there. All of these can be used to keep you alive in one way or another; either literally, or mental health wise. However, when I’m not actively using it like I said for updating/uploading, I keep it in a Faraday Box. I also keep a set of a half dozen 2-way radios, a half dozen small but powerful flashlights, about a pound of extra assorted batteries (all rechargeable), and a couple solar chargers. Suffice it to say, the box is about the size of a small foot-locker. But if the situation arises, at least I’ll have some supplemental resources available to me. I also have a protective, waterproof sleeve for the netbook, and the radios and flashlights are all heavy duty, outdoor ready equipment so I don’t have to worry quite as much about the elements messing them up. And I’m currently doing research on portable GPS units, because in the event of a major power grid failure or even EMP attack, the GPS satellites should still be functional, thus still helpful in getting around.

          • BOB- Thank you for that information. I have spent some time reading various article, surfing websites and studying blogs. By far, your info listed above in my opinion is in the top 5 of “Need to Know”. I am new to all of this. Any advice to an amateur praying to become expert (or atleast darn close) before it’s too late?

  2. Information is key to any survival planing. That said, the easiest and most compact form of carrying information is memory. Since I can’t remember my own name half the time, Digital information as a back up is the next. IT can be rendered safe in almost any situation w
    ith the proper protection. ( as my gandpa said where a rubber fer gods sake.)

  3. Even being the technogeek that I am, I would agree that technology devices should not be “relied on” for a survival situation, and other than a few items like a hand held transceiver, a solar charger, a GPS unit, a portable multiband receiver, and maybe a tablet (or smart phone), most other items would only be applicable in a long-term shelter. Hard copies and what is stored in your grey matter between your ears is most reliable.

    For a long-term shelter, placing your electronic devices into a Faraday cage would be prudent ‘just in case’ of an EMP or devastating solar pulse event, and no, placing all of your devices into a metal ammo box is not going to save them, unless that ammo box is also in a Faraday cage. Also, just because your home built Faraday cage can filter out radio stations, does not ensure your backyard project will actually do the job. Do the research and perhaps get an electrical engineer to assist in the design and assembly.

    Solar chargers are a great tool to have for any event, for week long camping trips… as long as they provide enough output to recharge your batteries and devices; if you buy an inadequate panel system you could just be throwing your money away… do your research and get a system that fits your equipment requirements.

    Having a reliable and adequate solar charger would be a priority so you can resupply your tablet; there are many useful documents that can be stored for future reference, if your smart phone has enough capacity, which can take the place of a tablet. A tablet can also have some games on them to preoccupy kids, but I believe a couple decks of cards, some dice and maybe some magnetic travel games would be better for the long haul.

    While a tablet/smart phone can store most of your documentation electronically, hard copies would be a better idea; again these would be for your-long term shelter as all those books and binders of printouts will become too heavy and bulky to carry. As long as electronic devices are still useful, selected few items that compliment each other would be beneficial to have for portability.

    Most hand held transceivers are limited to 5 watts power out, so essentially line of sight communication unless you can hit a repeater, but if the power grid is down, chances of an active repeater still operational is unlikely. If you do have a transceiver, use your portable multiband receiver to tune in frequencies that may be used so you can save the rechargeable batteries to transmit over your transceiver. DO NOT just start transmitting until you have at least listened to the band on your portable multiband receiver and determined the integrity of those using that frequency; a single second burst of your transmitter can identify your position if ‘listeners’ are triangulating.

    GPS units can help locate that cache you buried way back when, if the grid is still up, otherwise GPS units are a paperweight.

    If I had the resources, I would get a reliable Faraday cage, about the size of a two-door wall locker. Inside I would place all of the following:
    A couple of good solar charging systems, a good multi band base transceiver that can put out at least 50 watts, at least 100 feet of coax cable with antenna hardware, a hand held transceiver (or multiples for local patrols), a couple of frequency scanners so you can listen for other people transmitting, a portable multiband receiver with solar and/or hand crank capability, a tablet computer and/or a laptop with external drives for additional storage, as many rechargeable batteries you can afford that fit all your equipment (if you can try to get equipment that uses the same size battery), a few 12 volt batteries (placed on wood blocks) and a couple of DC to AC inverters. Also include all power cords and charging cables required for all of your devices. If you have a generator, perhaps include additional generator solenoid and spare parts.

    Again, very few electronics would be viable if it was necessary to be carried, and those should be closely scrutinized before committing to them. Most electronics would realistically only be useful for a long-term home or cabin type shelter as your base camp.

  4. It makes sense lets say you take an smart phone, iPad, kindle, tablet etc. with you to work, school, play or vacation if not everyday more often than your bug out bag. The key on this conversation is preparation not survival, no one knows what’s going to happen till it happens. So you put a few books and a few maps on your device make a goal to read a chapter or learn a new area on the map each week or make time to do so. The more knowledge your learn the better prepared you will be. Just a solar charger and use it everyday find out how much you would have to trust it. There may be a few books you want to keep a hard copy of some you may just want to read once… Some times books online are cheaper that hard copies. And my saying is if it’s not with you…you cannot use it. Your brain is the best place to store that need to know info, as someone said before if your data base is not reliable make one in digital form or good old paper, anyway is better than nothing.

  5. It’s all situational. In some instances, your tech stuff may be operational and useful. In others, useless, and in some dangerous.

    E.g. – run from a major storm or fallout event from a power plant. It’s likely all will work outside the danger area, and all will be useful. In the event of grid collapse or EMP event – if they aren’t fried by the event, they’ll still be useless once the batteries run down. Under martial law or some kind of other ‘tyranny’ event – pretty much anything that uplinks can be tracked, so you might be found when you’d prefer to hide. The feds already have the data about what you bought and when, and if it had a serial number recorded on the sale or warranty, they have that too. So you can be found.

    Probably the most useful is the flexible solar panels. Enough of these can recharge your power tools or truck battery – assuming of course there is sun.

    All in all, my opinion is that they are ‘nice to have’ items, but I’d rather depend on primitive skills to survive the crunch, as once tech is out of power its less useful than a rock. You can’t hammer tent stakes with your iPhone, can’t use your Kindle as a griddle, and can’t use your GPS or two-way radios as rocks to support your cook-pot over hot coals.

  6. I plan on using tech, just not relying on it totally. I have researched on the internet, bought and read books and tried to learn as much as I can but it does not cover all the bases, so, my solution. Ipods. Believe me, I have hard copies of a ton of stuff. From building plans for chicken coops to Hydroponic information to gunsmithing and so on and so forth. But I felt I needed a way to look up information that I already had and came to the ipod idea. Small, lightweight, nice battery life and easily charged and a buttload of storage space made it ideal in my book. Not just music and video but also text. By putting the pod into disk mode you can put text into the “Notes” menu and pull up what you need by the simple click of the wheel. I have 4 ipods of various storage capacity, bought used on Ebay. Had them checked out by an ipod repair guy in town and spent a few extra bucks on a couple brand new batteries but I now have over 400 gigs of storage space. I am in the process of converting some instructional videos, picking and choosing the more important text documents I have and making a 2 ipod buddy system. 2 ipods will each contain the same info, so with 4, I have 2 sets. I plan on getting 2 more but other supllies have taken over in the importance area. Not only the ipods, but I also have a few flash drives full of info, some personal(finances and such) and some for general information. And the laptop is always ready to grabbed in case the SHTF.

  7. good lord people….over 38 years of surviving in this world has taught me one thing to use every thing what ever it takes to survive if the cellphone or ipad keep you alive then by all means use it if you gotta burn it to keep warm then that’s what you do…..remember MAXIMUM UTILIZATION OF AVAILABLE RESOURCES………

  8. I use solar powered motion detection lights around my property. These are especially good covering larger open areas. Recommended, and fairly cheap…

  9. This comment is specifically for tactical situations that involve the fear of combat and armed resistance, I.E. you have to relocate due to threatening presence of OPFOR. And also possibly continue relocating or settling in one area for whatever advantage, either way this comment will still apply.

    Due to the fact that ALL electronics can be tracked, and located, within a good degree of the area where the signal was located, I would have to say that any electronic device that has an 802.11B receiver or transmitter in it is a bad idea. Of course there is the possibility that you use this to your advantage to set up ambushes etc… but I doubt that a person or group would have that kind of leadership or know-how.

    Regardless, if its an electronic it can probably be tracked. I am not 100% completely sure if ALL electronics can be tracked and located, such as EOtech holographic sights (I hope not, I love my 512) So if anyone actually knows anything about this then write in and let us know, because I don’t think anyone else here has looked at this from my angle or said the facts that I’ve laid out. Now with that said let me take care of one other point.

    I started this post off indicating what it is pertaining too, and that is situations where combat can be a reality. This absolutely does not apply to natural disasters in which case electronic devices are highly encouraged for communication and updates. Because in that scenario you probably WANT to be found eventually and just like tracers work both ways, so can electronic signals I bet.

  10. “All electronics can be tracked”

    You guys can’t be serious… How? Unless your device transmits (ie. 2 way radio or WiFi device) you are safe from the Men in Black. The magnetic field which is generated from the current of a small battery powered device is so small its negligible.

    Also, unless a solar flare takes out all of the North American GPS satellites, your handheld GPS receiver will still work. The GPS constellation will continue to transmit its precise time even if the world ends.

    Also, the only practical man made source of an EMP of the scale you guys are talking about is a nuclear blast, which means if your hit by one… you got much bigger problems headed your way.

    Also, nuclear powered reactors can “melt down” but not explode like a bomb… their fuel is not enriched enough.

    Welcome back to reality.

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