Building a Quality Survival Kit on a Budget: Part 12

It's time to add up to $25 worth of goodness to the budget survival kit. This month I am looking at items used for emergency lighting and illumination.

In the last post of this building a quality survival kit on a budget series, we continued exploring the 10 C’s plus one concept and added some cover to the survival kit. At this point, the survival kit contains items to help combat all of the most common threats. As such, we have started adding some utility to it. We have also introduced a few options for cutting tools, combustion, cordage, containers, cover, and compass. Now it’s time to look at the next category of the 10 C’s plus one, which happens to be “candle”, to figure out what to add next to the kit.

For review and in terms of utility, I like to refer to a concept coined as the 10 C’s plus one. They are:

  • Cutting (tools)
  • Combustion
  • Cordage
  • Container
  • Cover
  • Compass (maps)
  • Candle (lighting)
  • Casualty care
  • Combat
  • Communications
  • Calories

The concept of candle in this context refers to the tools required to effectively allow us to see in low light or no light situations. Most often folks immediately think of tools that create light like flashlights. This isn’t wrong per se, but it overlooks tools like night vision and thermal optics that allow us to see well enough in the dark. However, due to the constraints of this project the night vision and thermal optic tools are going to be out of scope due to their cost.

Interestingly enough, a lot of folks tend to depend on their smartphones for light capabilities. While the phone flashlights work just fine, I feel the same way about them as I feel about solely relying on the smartphone as a map and compass. That is while it works, I’d rather avoid using the battery on a smartphone for anything other than communication in an emergency since smartphones tend to be our primary communication tool nowadays.

Back to the flashlight. I consider a flashlight to be a must have tool. I carry one every day as part of my EDC (every day carry) kit. So for that reason, it’s not the first thing I would consider adding to a personal survival kit for illumination purposes. However, I highly suggest starting here if one doesn’t keep a flashlight on their person regularly. There are quite a few different options for a quality flashlight under a $25 price point to consider.

The first flashlight I would suggest is the Streamlight MicroStream. Specifically, the one that uses a AAA battery. The reason for this is that AAA batteries are easily available and inexpensive. At a $18 price point, one can also get a few spare batteries and stay well within the budget we’ve set for this project. There are some much brighter variants of this flashlight. While they might be tempting, they are USB rechargeable and that’s a power dependency that may not be available when the battery dies. Not to mention that those variants exceed the monthly budget by 100%.

Another option to consider is throwing some “chem sticks” in the survival kit. These are also known as glow sticks. I keep 2 or 3 of these in my personal survival kit in addition to keeping them readily available in many other locations like vehicle glove boxes, tool boxes, bathroom drawers, or any place where emergency lighting might come in handy. A box containing a dozen glow sticks can be picked up for about $12 making these a relatively inexpensive option to consider.

Candles and road flares are some other options to consider. One thing to keep in mind when deciding which option to go with is that some options can provide light and be turned off on demand, like flashlights or candles. While other options provide light on demand, but can’t be readily turned off on demand without extra effort, like glow sticks or road flares. In some emergency situations the ability to turn off light sources on demand is preferable. Either way, keeping a dedicated light source in the survival kit is a great idea that shouldn’t be overlooked.


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