Emergency Communication & Navigation Tool Kit
There is a basic set of items that every survival bag or Bug Out Bag should have that serve 2 functions: communicate with others remotely, and navigate from point A to point B.
What we're calling the BOBB Emergency Nav & Coms Kit satisfies these requirements in a fundamental way. You can enhance ability of this kit with a few upgrades, but we will discuss those a little bit later.
The total cost of these items is around $65. You can reduce it $35 by leaving out the Space Pen.
Let's start with the basic communications kit. These are tools which are not dependent upon electricity or sophisticated technologies to be effective, but use time proven methods to perform their essential functions.
We call it a Coms kit because it is designed to send emergency messages to people who aren't in your immediate vicinity:
- The whistle can be heard many meters away, and can signal distress or call attention to an event or area.
- The signal mirror can be seen for miles away and help people locate your position.
- The note pads and pen are water resistant, so you can leave notes in exposed outdoor areas if you need to and trust that they will remain intact. It can leave persistent messages on bulletin boards or gathering areas which you are no longer physically in.
Typical Price: $4 to $14
These 3" x 5" notebooks allow you to compose notes in wet weather conditions with a pencil or pen. Interior pages have both lines and grids (spaced in 1/8" lines vertically and horizontally). On the inside of the back cover is an easy to read conversion chart for lengths, weights, and temperatures. Snugpak and Rite in The Rain are two companies that make them.
Typical Price: $10 to $30
Pens can be incredibly important communication tools, and are often overlooked or an afterthought in a survival kit. Regular ball-points are great, but there is a much better option, one that will not dry out and be there when you need it most. Fischer Space pens can write at any angle, can be used underwater (or when conditions are extremely wet) and use ink cartridges which are hermetically sealed, pressurized with nitrogen gas, and feature tungsten carbide ballpoint tips.
Typical Price: $9
If you need to be heard, are directing people, trying to be found, or signaling an emergency, than a whistle is a must have tool. There is a reason you see them on nearly every survival resource list, they are incredibly useful. We like the UST JetScream (there are many great whistles out there) because it is loud, it floats, it packs flat, and can't rust or freeze up like metal ones can.
Typical Price: $8 to $30
Use one to signal at great distances, in the right conditions many miles or more. Here is an article about how to use them, and why you need to carry one with you. There are inexpensive ones and there are military grade ones, get what you can afford but get one they are exceptionally useful. If you know Morse code you can communicate with others in a very simple and non tech dependent way.
Knowing where you are going, how to get there, and how to get back has changed quite a bit over the years. You'll probably have a smart phone on you should a disaster strike, and likely you'll have service and access to some sort of mapping program.
But I'm sure you understand that technology can fail for a multitude of reasons, so having a backup option is a smart move.
You can go with a wrist worn GPS: we love our Garmin Foretrex 601 but they cost around $200 and are still subject to the whims of electronic failures: dead batteries, lost of signal, etc.
So even when we have our 601 with us we still carry a backup old school compass. There's really no reason not to, they are cheap, easy to carry, and they work.
If you aren't sure how to use a compass, check out our explainer to learn the basics.
Typical Price: $17
Thee are a lot of good compasses out there, and a few different styles to choose from, but the TruArc 3 hits the sweet spot for us in terms of price / weight / size / performance. The clear base allows you to overlay directly on a map and plot your course. If you just need it to simply know which way is which you have a reliable US made product that can do that.