We’ve always tried to emphasize that gear alone doesn’t make you prepared, and that survival is a game of knowledge as opposed to things. Having said that, it’s important to know what products and technologies are out there to help ease the burden of survival events. In the military, we call these things “force multipliers.” Whether it’s a durable knife, GPS unit, weatherproof tinder, or souped-up carry gun, the items themselves do not increase your odds of survival. But they can magnify skills and abilities you already possess. So, we’re taking this issue to examine some “survival tools of the trade” as well as the importance of those tools.

This issue’s What If? scenario focuses on being stranded alone with only the gear you carry on your body or in your trunk/truck bed. Nila Rhodes and Mel Ward give you their respective rundowns on vital gear and what it can do for you. Our Pocket Preps column focuses on sub-3-inch pocket knives. A sturdy blade may be one of the most fundamental survival tools, and these are sized to go anywhere you do without fuss or complication.

I penned the first installment of a multipart series on building an optimized survival AR-style rifle and how to choose some of the best AR-15 mods. Myself and two other writers will each give you a rundown on what we think constitutes the ideal emergency AR-pattern rifle and why. Longtime RECOIL OFFGRID contributor and Fieldcraft Survival SME Kevin Estela gives us his lessons learned from 72 hours spent in the Utah high desert. The catch? The only equipment he allowed himself to bring was what he could fit into his pockets and a quart-size Ziploc bag. This gives us a great insight into the relationship between survival gear and survival knowledge, as well as how critical an asset just a few pieces of smartly selected gear can really be.

Of course, nowadays, not all survival equipment is physical in nature. Richard Duarte rounds up some security-focused smartphone apps. These range from antivirus to secure web-browsing to encrypted communications. Most of us spend way more time on our phones than we do trekking through wildlands, which makes day-to-day digital survival an equally important part of total preparedness.

It could be argued that being savvy about what tools are available to you is, in itself, a survival skill. So, take this issue to geek out on gear and hopefully you find a gadget or two that fit your preparedness plan. Choose wisely.

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