Recommended Stuff

Everyday Carry

Kershaw Cryo

A good everyday carry pocket knife needs to have a few attributes: it needs to be durable, affordable, ambidextrous (ideally, you should carry your knife on your non-dominant side), and easy to open quickly with one hand. The Kershaw Cryo checks all the boxes. If the Cryo’s 2.75″ blade (ideal for municipalities and areas that regulate blade length) is a bit diminutive for your taste, you’ll love the larger Kershaw Cryo II.

Leatherman Sidekick

While this comprehensive multitool – one of the more affordable of the dizzying variety of Leatherman options – may be more than you care to keep on your belt, it should definitely be in your car, backpack, purse, or commuter bag. In day-to-day use, you’ll reach for it to tighten screws, unbend wire, and accomplish a thousand other little chores, and in an emergency situation, it could literally be a lifesaver.

Coast HP1 Flashlight

With an almost bewildering array of flashlights on the market, it can be difficult to pick the “perfect” one. Fortunately, the Coast HP1 has several distinguishing characteristics that separate it from the pack. First, it uses only one, conventional AA battery (either alkaline or rechargeable). Most flashlights use either AAA or (worse yet) some kind of non-standard battery. Being able to use everyday AA batteries is a huge advantage in both everyday and emergency use. Second, this light is BRIGHT, packing as much shadow-blasting power as its larger and/or more expensive competitors. Third, it’s small enough to fit easily and unobtrusively into a pocket, bag or glovebox. Fourth, it’s affordable. Not dirt-cheap, but a great value for the quality, and not nearly as expensive as many of the “tactical” lights on the market.

Eneloop Pro Rechargeable AA Batteries

These little beauties are the perfect companion to your Fenix LD22. Everybody loves the idea of rechargeable batteries, but the fact that most rechargeables don’t provide power for as long as alkaline batteries, and lose their charge fairly quickly in storage can be frustrating. The Eneloop Pro batteries address both these issues, by holding more power (2550 mAh, compared to the usual 1400 mAh), and discharging more slowly (maintaining 85% of their charge after a year of storage), than other rechargeables. This means that the batteries last longer both in use, and waiting to be used.

Camping/Survival

Ka-Bar “Hobo” Utensil Kit

You’ve gotta eat, and when you’re in the boonies, it’s nice not to have to eat with your fingers. For about the same price as a flimsy utensil kit that will rust and fall apart immediately, you can get this rugged three-piece kit from Ka-Bar that will last you forever.

Equinox Ultralite Tarp

A tarp is worth more than its weight in gold in a camping or emergency situation. It can serve either as shelter, a privacy barrier, or as ground cover for a tent. Made of the same material as the Ultralite poncho, this product is compact, lightweight, and very durable. One note: both of the Ultralite items are designed primarily for use in wet or dark situations. If you let them bake under direct sun, the UV radiation will eventually degrade the material.

Tools

Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener

If you use a knife, it’ll get dull. If you DON’T use a knife, it’ll get dull. If you don’t want a dull knife, you need a good way to sharpen it. A highly-skilled person can hone a pocket knife to a razor edge using sharpening stones. Most of us don’t have the time to develop that kind of expertise, which is why this tool is so fantastic. Not only can you keep your EDC and emergency knives as sharp as you care to have them, you’ll be able to sharpen your kitchen knives, tools, and anything else that happens to have an edge.

Replacement Sharpening Belts

As the saying goes, “two is one, one is none.” Be sure to get some spare sharpening belts for your knife sharpener.

Sagan XStream Water Filter

There are a lot of water filters on the market. A LOT. This one from Sagan is far and away the best I’ve found. Unlike hollow-fiber filter products (like LifeStraw) that produce water that still requires purification, the Sagan XStream uses 400 layers of proprietary filtration element that remove an astounding 99.9999% of contaminants, including bacteria and viruses. This means you can use the XStream to drink directly from ponds, puddles, and any other source of water! The XStream is a terrific value, because each filter is good for 300 gallons of clean water (substantially more than competitive products). It includes a hand pump for filling bottles or washing hands, and the tubing is surgical-grade, meaning no plastic after-taste. This is THE water filter to get for your emergency kit.

Etekcity Ultralight Camp Stove

Building a campfire is great fun, but there are times when you’re wet, cold, in a hurry, and just want to heat up some water. For those times, a gas-powered stove like this one is ideal. Much less expensive that competing products, the Etekcity stove is simple, durable and reliable. Bonus: it has a built-in ignition system, so you don’t have to light it manually with a flame. One note: it uses Primus Power Gas fuel, but don’t purchase the fuel canisters online – they’re close to $20 to order, but available at your local Wal-Mart and most outdoor supply stores for $5 or less.

Books

The Gift of Fear

“The Gift of Fear” is the original and still the best reference on predicting and avoiding violence. In clear, easy-to-follow language, Gavin de Becker describes the behaviors and “pre-incident indicators” that foreshadow violence at home, on the street, and in the workplace. The author’s premise – that your autonomic nervous system will instinctively notice danger far before your analytical mind acknowledges it – can be life-changing. This book is a must-read for anyone who wonders about how to detect and avoid predatory criminals, unstable employees, stalkers, and domestic abusers.

Left of Bang

“Left of Bang” picks up where “The Gift of Fear” leaves off. Writing primarily for an audience of military and law-enforcement personnel, the authors break down into bite-sized chunks the information needed to help you make sense of the danger signals you might be observing, but not comprehending. While this book is intended for readers who are often in dangerous situations, its lessons on psychology and human nature are valuable for anyone.

The Genius of Flexibility

After years of back, neck, and knee pain, I decided to work on my flexibility. Not in the usual BS “stretching” way from gym class, but using science-based resistance stretching. I bought this book, because it was the only one I could find at the time. To my astonishment, literally all the pain went away in a matter of weeks. It’s worth it. Really.

Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion

It is always preferable to resolve a conflict verbally, rather than physically. It’s even better to avoid the conflict altogether. Originally written for police officers and other professionals for whom achieving voluntary compliance can be a daily struggle, “Verbal Judo” is a treasure trove of practical advice on interpersonal communication. Largely based on the author’s own experiences and unique observations, the book contains insightful and systematic techniques on everything from how to convince an uncooperative suspect to make a good choice, to how to argue effectively with a spouse.

The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – And Why

If you’ve ever wondered what you’d do in a sudden emergency, you need to read this. Written by an experienced journalist, this exhaustively-researched but highly engaging little book explores the surprising ways that normal people respond to dangerous situations, and gives practical suggestions on improving your own responses – and thereby improving your chances for survival.

Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (And Inspire) Marketing

Written for an audience of advertising professionals, this fascinating book is actually a terrific introduction to both the principles of neuroscience AND the way that consumer culture touches and influences every aspect of our lives. Reading it is a great way to learn more about how your brain works, as well as why you make many of the buying decisions you do.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business

We spend most of our days on autopilot, following routines we’re barely even aware of. “The Power of Habit” provides a fascinating look at the way those routines are created and maintained, and – more importantly – how we can harness them to move us closer to our goals.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

On the surface, this is a guide to deciding what stuff is important enough to hold onto. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll realize that it’s really about deciding what’s important in every aspect of your life. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by everything around you, this is the book to read.

The Man’s Guide to Women: Scientifically Proven Secrets from the “Love Lab” About What Women Really Want

If you’re a man, this is the instruction manual you’ve needed since you were 12 years old. If you’re a woman, this is the book that will help you explain to the men in your life the things they don’t understand. While most books on psychology are nothing more than the author’s opinion, Dr. Gottman and his team present the findings of rigorously researched science. His other books are outstanding as well.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Forget everything you think you know about task management and productivity, and embrace GTD. David Allen’s deceptively simple premise is that you are happiest and most productive when you can get everything out of your head and into a system you trust. I’ve been following the system for close to 15 years, and I went from being pathologically disorganized to often hearing that I am the most organized person other people have ever met. It is life-changing, and it fits perfectly with the “Magic of Tidying Up” book.