Best gadgets to survive the collapse of civilisation
Whether you're a zombie-fearing survivalist or a wannabe Bear Grylls looking for adventure, there's never a bad time to prepare for the end of civilisation. In January scientists set the Doomsday Clock to two and a half minutes to midnight –so what better time to pick the essential gadgets and technology to help you survive after the lights go off.
From The Walking Dead to The Hunger Games, we're fascinated by stories of what comes next when society collapses...
And while we don't actually expect that to happen any time soon, in these troubled times it can be reassuring to know you have a Plan B.
With that in mind, we've put together this little roundup of everything you'll need if the worst should happen (or if you're going camping).
The best gadgets to help you survive the apocalypse
Solar panel chargers/backpacks
After civilisation collapses like the ratings for Waterworld, there will likely be no internet, no power grid and no real use for computers. That's not to say there will be no more electronics, however!
Solar charging has progressed a long way since the days of powering calculators, with portable panels now capable of outputting 15W of power to charge all your small gadgets.
Phone masts probably won't work and satellites are equally as unlikely to make it through the collapse of civilisation – so charging your iPhone won't be much of a priority unless you desperately need to listen to your downloaded music or play some post-apocalyptic games (we won't judge). You may instead want to save your power to charge your torches, MP3 players and ebook readers – but more on that further down the list!
While not commercially available just yet, scientists have recently developed an efficient way to purify sea water, using graphene oxide to filter out salts from liquid.
In the past, graphene filters were too expensive and difficult to produce, and were quite slow at filtering out unwanted materials. Today's graphene oxide filters are far more efficient and easy to make, and filter water much faster than previous versions.
While the technology does exist, making it ready for mass production and improving the filter to work with waste water is still a challenge. There's also little research done so far on the lifespan of the graphene oxide filter – but that doesn't stop us from thinking it's a great tool to keep you alive once your water supply is compromised.
We love gadgets that don't need much power to run, and if they're self-powered, even better! The wind-up radio is one such gadget, and was invented in the 90's by Trevor Baylis to help distribute medical information in Africa.
Similar to dynamo lights you might find on a bicycle, a wind-up radio is powered by winding a crank for a few seconds. A regular dynamo would need constant winding to power a radio, so a spring is used to store energy and power the generator, which in turn gives power to the radio receiver.
If survival films have taught us anything, radios are essential once civilsation collapses. Whether it's other survivors looking to group together or a Fallout-style music broadcast, there's (hopefully) always something to tune in to. Which leads us on to our next choice...
While most computers will be useless after the collapse due to the amount of power they need to run, microcomputers like the Raspberry Pi can be powered from the same kind of power packs smartphones use, and there are plenty of mods which have the same effect, giving you a fully portable computer that doesn't need to run from mains power!
Most of us might not have much use for a computer without an internet connection, but with a bit of tweaking and preparation you can turn your Raspberry Pi into an interactive library of PDF manuals that don't take up much space but can guide you through whatever you set your mind to.
You could even turn your Raspberry Pi into a radio transmitter, letting you broadcast your own messages or favourite songs to whoever's still listening!
If you've ever searched for the internet for a practical guide to anything from halloween costume ideas to building homemade furniture or solving a rubik's cube, you're probably stumbled across Instructables, the library of helpful (and sometimes strange) manuals to building or doing almost anything.
While it's unlikely that you'll be able to access it in a post-civilisation world, browsing it now is good preparation for when zombies chew through the internet cables.
There are guides to help you in all kinds of survival situations, from making and setting traps to crafting your own bow and arrows. Each guide is user-created, which means they'll vary in quality from guide to guide but on the plus side, there are thousands of guides to choose from! If you find a guide you like, simply print it off or download it as a PDF to use it whenever you need.
E-ink ebook readers like Amazon's Kindle can store thousands of digital books and documents inside, and because e-ink requires so little energy to display you could read for weeks without needing to charge one up again.
Just like the Raspberry Pi we mentioned above, most e-readers can charge from the same power packs a smartphone can – or straight from a solar panel if the weather's nice.
If you've taken advantage of the many PDF guides from Instructables, you can send them to your Kindle's email address and have them ready and waiting for you to read. You could also use it for catching up on all those books you never got round to reading!
Tents are a must-have if you're stuck for shelter. That said, the average tent being stuck at ground level means they aren't always practical – especially if there's a lot of wildlife or rising water levels!
That's where tree tents come in. Strung between two trees just like a hammock, a tree tent keeps you out of the way of ground-level dangers while keeping you comfortable and away from the cold, hard ground in the process.
Some tree tents are surprisingly well-organised, with plenty of pockets and pouches to keep your essentials in order. With strong enough trees, you could also have tents stacked above other tents, like an outdoor bunk bed!
Most tree tents are stabilised with ground pins, so unlike your standard hammock it won't flip over when you're climbing in and out – so you can truly relax at night without fear of being dumped on the ground or rolled up like a bug in a spiderweb. We all know there is literally nothing more important than a good night's sleep – even when the world is ending!
Those are our top picks for post-apocalyptic gadgets that could also make your ordinary life a little easier. Do you have any suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comments which devices you'd want to keep with you after the world ends!