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7-in-1 device | Solar Panels | Personal Locator Beacon | Solar Panels | Water Purification | Fire Starters | Knife Sharpener | Sewing | Repair Kits | Radios | Emergency Crutch | Ball for stringing cord | Bacardi 151 | Links

Highgear AdventurePlus 7-in-1 tool with Hi-Intensity LED Flashlight with Compass, Thermometer, Magnifier, Safety Mirror, Safety Whistle, and Dry Storage Compartment. At amzon, New model

Got a 3 out of 5 rating at amazon. Thermometer and clock battery is not replaceable and gives out after about 1 year. The new model advertises a replaceable battery, but doesn't say whether that is for the LED only like the old model.

Note: Most of the following are one per group items which can be shared.

Personal Locator Beacon:
Spot Personal Locator Beacon sends messages: OK, Need Help, 911/SOS with your GPS location on a google map to email or phone's you. 911 goes to Search and Rescue.
You can customize the messages and specify who get's them on a web site before you leave.
$100 with rebate plus $100/year for the service. For an extra $50/year you can leave it on while hiking and it will plot your track. See Personal Locator Beacons

Solar Panels:
The Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel is 6 1/2 x 9 x 1" and produces 7 watts under optimal conditions. It charged my old (dumb) cell phone in 2 hrs. from 2-4 PM. It needs to be facing direct sun to get 7 watts, so you can't just strap it to the top of your backpack.
Smaller panels will only give you enough juice to make 1 or 2 calls.

The GoalZero Guide 10 Battery Pack takes 4 AA or AAA batteries which can be charged from the solar panel above or from a electrical outlet. It has a usb connection so you can charge it during the day and plug in your usb phone, cameras during the night.
It took me all day to charge 4 AA batteries with the Nomad 7 and I had to move it 4 or 5 times to keep it facing the sun.

The Goal0 Guide 10 Adventure Kit ($120) includes the Nomad 7 and battery pack.
See Solar Panels in products.

Water Purification:
The Katadyn Hiker PRO Water Filter ($80) physically removes particles, protozoa and bacteria down to 0.3 microns in size, including Giardia, salmonella, cryptosporidium and others. It does not remove viruses.
Even though we were using a clear water source, it got hard to pump after 3 days with a group of 14 using it. Replacement cartridges are $35

The SteriPEN uses UV light to kill everything in 90 sec. for 1 liter.
The SteriPEN Adventurer Opti ($90) uses CR123 Lithium batteries ($10-15) which last for 100 treatments.
The SteriPEN Traveler ($50) uses 4 AA batteries.
The Traveler mini ($70) also has CR123 Lithium batteries .

See: Water Purification

Fire Starters:
The Solo Camping Lighter with Extendable Nozzle allows you to reach inside a camp stove and light it without burning your thumb.

Magnesium is very flamable and burns at 5400° F. You use your knife to make magnesium shavings off the large piece and put them in a little pile on or by something flammable then generate sparks from the round flint on one side of the block.
A knife with a locking blade is nice, because the flint will generate sparks with the back of the blade. Tests at Survival-Gear.com found that the flint broke of easily on all but Doan's.
It's not as fast as matches or a cigarette lighter, but you don't have to worry about running out of lighter fuid or getting it wet.
See Magnesium Fire Starter at survival-gear.com

The features I use most are the knife, scissors, bottle opener and pliers.
The Leatherman 830040 New Wave Multi-Tool (8.5 oz) has all the above with a locking blade, but no cork screw. I had carried a saw but never used it, however my son, a backcountry ski patroller, did use a saw (probably a little larger) to cut down some saplings so a helicopter could land and pick up a hypothermic snowshoer lost for 2 days.
I carry a Leatherman juice (4.3 oz) which is adequate, but no locking blade.

Knife Sharpener:
If you use our knife for the Magnesium block above you might need a knife sharpner.
See Smiths at REI.

The Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl can be used for sewing and repairing heavy materials such as leather, canvas and webbing (pack belts).

Repair Kits:
I carry a McNett Gear Aid™ Cuts & Bolts Kit ($23-$35) half of which is a first aid kit and the other half repair supplies.
I've added a few things to both sides.
Repair: Eyeglass repair, super glue, ...
First Aid: Blister treatment (2nd skin, Dr. Scholl's, ...), rehydration salts, tweezers, tick puller, ...
Someone else carries a more complete first aid kit.
The Gear Aid Guide Kit ($21-$28) and Gear Aid™ Explorer Kit ($20) are just repair kits and have a better selection of extra buckles, tent parts, ...
I have a Ham license and carry a 3 band handi talkie which will communicate with repeaters amature radio clubs frequently put on mountain tops, it has been modified to communicate with Family Radio Service (FRS) radios.

The personal radios that advertise 10-30 miles may get that in line of sight transmissions (across a lake or mountain to valley) but typically get around a mile or less in the woods. The Motorola Talkabout MR350R advertises 35 miles from mountain to valley, 9 miles over water and 2 miles in urban settings. One user reported 3 miles in the woods and just over 1 mile in a residential development.

Do It Yourself (DIY) Gadgets
Emergency Crutch:
I cut off the top of a crutch, drilled a hole and inserted a thread the size of a camera mount, then attached it to a hiking pole with a camera mount on the top.
I'm working on the hardware to also use it as a traction splint for a femur fracture.
I used the Tracks Compact Travel Staff Trekking Pole, because it doesn't have compression adjustments which can slip. I already had it because it folded small for travel and served as a monopod for my camera.

Ball for tossing cord over a tree limb:
I drilled a hole in a rubber ball and attached a cord with a loop where you can attach a cord for tossing over a tree limb for suspending a bear bag.
You can put a rock in a small bag but you better be quick in getting out of the way as the bag with the rock swings back.
I can also use if for putting up a radio antenna.
See tips for hanging bearbags at:
Outdoor Action Guide to Bear Proofing your Campsite
Hanging Bearbags from Boy Scouts
The Sierra Club recommends using Bear Canisters.

Bacardi 151:

I've always been a fan of multi-use tools.
Bacardi 151 over-proof rum with 75% alcohol can be used for:
- Fuel for your Soda Can alcohol stove.
- Disinfecting wounds *
- A Mountain Mai Tai or Caribou Lou or
- Banana flambe.

* It is not a good idea to pour alcohol directly on a wound unless you have no other choice. See wound treatment.

Note: The Sierra Club does not endorse any of these uses of Bacardi 151.
Alcohol has adverse affects at high altitude.

Multi-Use (dual purpose):
I am a big fan of multi-use gadgets primarily because they save space and weight. However, you may loose some functionality over individual specialized tools.
Some examples:
  • The sierra cup was the standard eating utensil serving as a cup and dish.
  • Bandana - Soak it in water and put it around your neck to stay cool, Sweat rag, Bind a splint, Tie it around your mouth and nose to keep out dust, Sun Shade, napkin, pot holder, dish rag, coffee filter, wipe runny nose, tie to a pole for a signal when lost.
    See others at 30 Uses for a Bandana | 180 Uses for a Bandana
  • Hiking pole with camera mount to make a monopod.
  • There are minimalist tents which use hiking poles instead of tent poles.
  • The 7-in-1 tool (whistle, flashlight, compas, ...) above
  • Overproof rum. see above
  • Small channel lock pliers for holding hot pots and repairs
  • Multi-tools (above)
  • Hiking poles with a top that unscrews to use as a camera mono-pod.
  • Adjustable Back country ski poles which work as hiking poles. Some also screw together to form an avalanche probe.
  • Measuring cup which doubles as a coffee cup.
  • Aluminum pie pan for pot cover and dish.
  • A small stainless pan for frying or as a dish. See cooking utensils
  • Poncho - rain protection, groundsheet, emergency bivy
  • Parachute cord (also paracord or 550 cord) ( 1/8" - 5/32" (3-4 mm) in Diameter; 550 lb test) - belt, close line, bear bag hanger, securing splints.
    A lightweight nylon kernmantle rope originally used in the suspension lines of US parachutes during World War II.
    The 7 inner strands of the core can be removed when finer string is needed. Uses include sewing thread to repair gear, fishing line, tripwire, nets, traps, and other emergency and/or survival situations.
    The nylon sheath is often used alone (the strands in the core removed) when a thinner or less elastic cord is needed, such as when used as a boot lace. The ends of the cord can easily be melted to prevent fraying.
    Paracord bracelets are popular. They can be un-woven to provide about 8 feet of cord.
  • Baking Soda - Deodorant, toothpaste, cleaner, mouthwash and more. It can also be used to treat bug bites, bee stings and relieve acid indigestion or heartburn.
  • A trail chair can be taken apart and the pad used as a splint.
    There are also sleeping pads that double as a chair. e.g. Crazy Creek AirChair Plus
  • Duct tape
Multi-Use Camping and Backpacking Gear

Technology - Electronics
GPS and Map Apps
10 Best iPhone Apps for the Outdoors | Backpacker Magazine
Backcountry Technology Reviews | Backpacker Magazine
Solar Chargers (above)

Gadgets at REI.com
Camp Chairs

last updated 10 July 2013