It’s shaped like a hand grenade just for kicks. Where the M-550 Pro Paracord Bug Out Frag really shines is in survival situations. First of all, unravelling it gets you 45 feet total of high quality 550 paracord — 30 feet camo and 15 feet charcoal — as well as 2 feet of safety orange paracord that’s stitched into the handle. But besides a lot of rope it’s also packed with tools inside including an LED flashlight, a mini pocket knife, one ferrocerium fire starting rod with a striker, 30 feet of fishing line plus four fish hooks, a p38 can opener, a compressed towel in a tablet, a wire saw, four water purification tablets, Jute Twine that doubles as kindle, six waterproof and two stormproof matches, and a whistle in its buckle (and we’ve skipped a bunch). Of course once you’ve deployed it getting it back together into its sleek grenade form is probably impossible, but if you really needed what’s inside that won’t matter much.
Find it at Surf City Paracord – $90
Directional light is good for moving about the campsite and getting things done. In a tent or under a tarp, something like the BioLite SiteLight XL fares better to spare your eyes of the former’s harshness. It’s made of fabric so it’ll collapse and pack easily, and expands to a spherical form for gently diffusing 300 lumens of ambient light. Fifteen feet of cord make it just as easy to hang from a tall tree branch as from a tent’s inner loop, and while it’s got no batteries or internal power supply of its own it’ll plug to any USB power source — or a BioLite BaseLantern or PowerLight, if you’ve got one.
Find it at BioLite – $30
Counting on a lighter to start a fire is also counting on there being fuel left inside. The Exotac NanoSpark instead lights up whatever tinder you find lying around using a simple flint wheel, though the CNC machined aluminum capsule-shaped tool also boasts a watertight storage space to store a few pieces of proper tinder, just in case. Otherwise the USA-made NanoSpark weighs close to nothing at 0.6 ounces, uses replaceable flints (including those by Zippo), and features an attachment point for carry, making it a great choice for a bug out bag or emergency survival kit.
Learn more at Kickstarter – $22
If the OtterBox Venture Cooler looks vaguely familiar, that’s because it’s styled rather similarly to the brand’s primary product line: rugged smartphone cases. Turns out their “protecting iPhones” know-how translated well to the design of a durable cooler that can hold ice not for two days but rather two weeks and can literally keep out bears. Available in three sizes — Venture 25, 45, and 65, with numbers certifying quarts of internal capacity — each cooler features sturdy latches to stay shut, a mounting system to rig up other accessories (like a bottle opener, cup holders, a cutting board, a side table, and more), and drop-resistance, empty or full, from just about every corner.
Learn more at OtterBox – $250+
Our main gripe with rigid-walled coolers is that they’re as big empty as they are full. Which also means they take up way more room to store. West Marine-exclusive Stash Inflatable Coolers, on the other hand, offer the main benefits associated with hard-walled coolers — like ample storage space, drain plugs, and handles on either side to make it easier for two to carry — while also squeezing down small when not in use. An included pump fills its walls’ three air chambers with air for rigidity through a single valve and also helps speed up the deflation process later on. Since the walls are technically soft they can also bend more outwards when overstuffed, though with capacities going up to as much as 604 quarts you can pack enough beer (numbering in the hundreds if we’re talking about cans) to feed a small army.
Strenuous treks are often met with uncomfortable, uneven, and rocky sleeping surfaces. The Therm-a-Rest UltraLite Cot lets you recharge properly for the next day’s activities by way of a cot that gets you several inches off the ground while weighing little (just below or just above 3 pounds, depending on the size) and taking up no more room in your pack or bike pannier than a small tent would. Its BowFrame design is devoid of painful crossbars and squeaky joints, and sets up in three minutes to support up to 325 pounds on its water-resistant nylon laminate surface — though if you weigh less than 175 lbs you can ditch two of the six bows to further reduce the weight to about 2 pounds.
Portable grills don’t offer much space to cook, and big grills are, well, big, and annoyingly bulky to move around. The Bison Rolling Grill tries to find a solid middle ground, packing down tiny while also offering 116 square inches of cooking surface. It works thanks to a unique chain-like surface that unrolls and that’s stabilized by two grill guards and four stake stands that optionally plant firmly into the ground if you need a stand to raise the surface. All parts are made of aluminum with a non-stick Teflon coat, and the grill’s grates are hollow so they’re air-cooled as you cook, reducing burn marks on your grub. And despite the moving parts cleaning’s not really much trickier than a standard grate either, since it’s dishwasher safe so you’ll just need scrape off the bigger chunks.
Find it at Kickstarter – $50
Instead of increasingly thick and heavy metal tubing weighing you down, the OttoLock Cinch Bicycle Lock tries a different approach to securing your bicycle: Kevlar. The compact lock weighs in at a paltry four ounces and coils down to just three inches in diameter, easily mounting behind your bike’s seat tube or around your seat pack. Despite this it’s still extremely difficult to cut using wire or bolt cutters thanks to its mix of steel and Kevlar beneath the Santoprene plastic band. A resettable combination lock secures the coil as loose or tight as you need it to lock your two-wheeler to a variety of objects, and it’s also effective at locking other stuff like skis, snowboards, and kayaks thanks to the availability of different strap lengths of between 18 and 60 inches.
Preorder at Otto DesignWorks – $55+