The Unexpected Survival Tool You Already Have But Aren’t Using



Smartphones for Survival

Unexpected Survival Tool

Now in a real SHTF situation there probably won't be much use for a cell phone, and you might even be screaming at your screen while reading this right now: “Grids are down, satellites have crashed, what do I need a cell phone for?” WRONG. Today's phones are more advanced than ever, some even surpassing map-saving and tracking technology heretofore only available on high-end GPS devices. I have configured my iPhone 5 several times to work as a GPS device when in areas without network or data connections of any kind.

It might not be within 3 feet of accuracy like $700 GPS rigs, but it's good enough (and small enough), with tons of other features to make it a great small bug out bag accessory. This GPS  feature hack, which also works on the iPad, shows how easy it is to use your phone as a reliable map-tracking device no matter where you are (so long as you have a view of the open sky, of course…phone won't do you any good 300 feet down a mine shaft). You can get the same benefits on pretty much any Android phone as well, and the service should work even if you don't currently have a subscription plan on your phone.

Throwing a cheap smartphone or GPS-enabled tablet in your bug out bag is a solid idea. And even cooler, many smaller tablets like the iPad mini now have phone feature apps to turn the iPad into a password protected smartphone device. That means, what with the Supreme Court's recent ruling, the police must obtain a search warrant to search any smartphone device found on you. Anything found on a smartphone during a non-warranted search will not be admissible in court.

On the other hand, if they arrest you to only find your wallet stuffed with notes on paper, or an old-school note pad, they have free game to search and use it against you as warrant-free evidence upon arrest. That GoPro video you shot can also be open game in some ways, detailed in the video below, but to access the video on your smartphone, they have to get a warrant now. 

Phones and video devices have already proven their ability to record yourself if needed, providing HD footage that holds up often in court cases if you capture an interaction with Johnny. In fact, the motorcyclist in the video above ended up getting the officer in question suspended for 38 days for conduct unbecoming an officer. The officer's plan was to  arrest the man in the video above and use the video as evidence against the other biker, only to find the video actually got the officer in trouble with the department.

Though it can also just be a way to take photos of  landmarks to reference later when out tracking on a hunt, or just to get a nice shot of that catch you pulled out of the water so you can gloat, a smartphone really can do it all. Yes, a GoPro or other camera can do this as well, but I want one electronic device in my bag, not several. A smartphone does it all, especially when paired with a good waterproof case. Lets not forget possibly my favorite feature: being able to store literally thousands of eBooks that would be impossible to carry with me in a bug out bag in hardback form. Including, of course, all the amazing eBooks Survival Life provides to download to those who sign up to be members.

I have many books on my phone, ranging from hundreds to thousands of pages thick. They span every subject under the sun, like combat medicine, army field manuals, hundreds of survival techniques, and more. I also have PDF eBooks with photo references of edible flowers, bugs, fish, and mammals, along with photos of their non-edible counterparts that are often confused for edibles. Top this off with a number of other features and apps that can be downloaded these days to help in many survival situations, ranging from flashlights, SOS Screen Flash Signalers, note pad features for journals, and so much more.

The possibilities are endless. How nice is it to replace large items that could easily fill up a hundred bug out bags, all with a rectangle in your palm Additionally, many advancements in solar chargers have made charging very compact and easy, with even backpacks now made with solar panels on the outside to charge as you hike. So power on the go is not the worry it once was with electronic devices in survival situations. Those old days of needing hundreds of different-sized batteries for all the different flashlights and radios you have are gone.

Do you use your smart phone in your preps? Are there any apps you like to use in particular? Let us know in the comments!

Want to know more about survival tools? Check out these related articles:

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 15, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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  1. Michael W. Perry

    July 5, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    Just remember that those solar cells will do you little good if the weather is rotten or if getting where you need to go puts you on trails that get little sun. A set of long-shelf-life batteries may be better than sitting in a meadow for several hours waiting for that recharge.

    Also, for storing survival and medical guides, the battery in an epaper reader will last longer and will be more readable in bright sunlight than a smartphone. I’ve got an “Emergency” folder on my Kindle 3 for those books. I wish someone who’d create a shirt-pocket-sized one that uses AA batteries. It’d be a lot handier than the current coat-pocket sized ones from Amazon.

  2. Tim odonnell

    July 7, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    If the satellites go down the the GOS won’t wok either. They rely on satcom for their coordinates.

  3. HaroldCole

    August 6, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Awesome post! True if there is no sun you cant use the solar charger, however the sun will not always be hidden. Battery cases can also increase your phone time. Also don’t forget that many emergency radios now have cell charging capabilities. Having all of these tools in a package the size of a deck of cards is priceless.
    Do you have kids? Entertainment from your phone / tablet can help them stay calm during emergencies. The amount of possibilities are amazing. Thanks for a great article.

  4. Scott

    August 16, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    That’s not completely true, solar works on light photons and while crappy weather might reduce output of your solar charger by as much as 90%, it will still work. It will just take a lot longer. If you are in a situation near the poles, then all bets are off 50% of the year but in most places, you will still get some power from the sun. The best solution is back up, back up, back up. Have both a solar charger and a battery solution.

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