Every year for the past few years I've done a gift round up for survivalists. That's coming, no worries. But I figured most of you guys and gals might benefit more from a quick run down of affordable gift ideas for your non-survivalist, uninitiated friends and family. Most are under $30, because hey, we're all on a budget this time of year.
WaterBOB: You've probably seen these - a big, heavy plastic liner for your bathtub. In an emergency, you chuck it in your tub, fill it up, and then you can store that water under more sanitary conditions than leaving it in open air for days on end. Most people don't have much extra water stored at home, and one of these certainly takes up less room than a 55-gallon barrel or two. A great starter step.
Everyday Carry Flashlights: Quality LED flashlights make great gifts - both keychain size and larger. It's hard to have too many, and they tend to continue working for years and years. The Fenix E11 takes a single AA, fits nicely in a pocket and kicks out an advertised 105 lumens. The Fenix E01 comes in multiple colors, runs on a single AAA-sized battery and will stand up to the abuse of riding on a keychain. I had one on my key ring for close to 5 years before upgrading to a similar but slightly brighter model (the Fenix LD01). The E01 only costs around $13, so no big deal if you need to buy multiples. The LD01 is brighter, has multiple modes but doesn't come in funky colors and will set you back around $30.
Extra CR123A Batteries: Outdoorsy types often have Surefire lights that they love, but their stash of the special lithium batteries they run on is often pretty lean or fresh out--and they're not sure where to get more without paying $5 a pop. A pack of CR123As can help them keep their light running for a year or two of occasional use without worries.
A Fixed Blade Knife: What guy can have too many fixed blades? And many average joes have none. So get 'em one. Lots of great choices out there - Cold Steel's Lite series of knives stand out as solid conventional designs, well executed and a great value--all under $30.
Books: There are lots of excellent post-apocalypse books out there, and lots of good non-fiction, too--plenty of good options. If you want to get someone to start thinking about preparedness, One Second After is one of the best. Impossible not to give pause and think while reading it. And unlike many of the marginal quality post-apocalypse books, One Second After is legitimately quite well written--the author, Forstchen, has is a long-time author with a PhD in Military History. If you do a lot of white elephant gift exchanges, I'd suggest some of the books from Paladin Press' vast library. Watch your relatives fight over Ragnar Benson classics like Mantrapping or The Survival Retreat, Creekmore's Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat or Ballou's Long-Term Survival in the Coming Dark Age.
A Pocket Survival Kit: You can pull together a pretty good pocket-sized survival kit for under $30, and their small size makes them easy to stash in a purse, work bag or glove box. Rule #1 is having the tools on hand when you need 'em, and a PSK helps to do that. And, since you're making it yourself, you can custom tailor it to the recipient. Check out our pocket survival kit label is you need some inspiration.
Ammo: Like CR123As and Surefires, you've probably got a few friends who own guns of one variety or another, but don't have more than a box or two of ammunition in their house. A pack of quality self defense ammunition (I tend towards brand loyalty for Federal and Speer) makes a nice stocking stuffer, and might help save their life should they need to defend themselves.
Cell Phone Backup Battery: Cell phones get a lot of use in the initial stages after a disaster--calling friends and family to tell them you're alive and well, arranging support, etc. A simple backup battery can help keep that cell phone running - and they're also handy in less critical times, like long flights. This charger has a small-ish 1500 mah battery, good for one full charge of most smart phones (for reference, the iPhone 5 has a1440 mAh battery) . But, it also has a built in solar charger--it's a weak-sauce solar panel 120 mah panel, so it will take some time to recharge via the sun. If you're gifting for a real power user, a non-solar, larger capacity battery like this 5600 mAh unit might get more use. Most of these will also have a decent little built in LED light, too - not shabby for backup/utility.
An Emergency Radio: One of those items that everyone should have in their home, but many don't. eTon is the go-to brand, and the linked Microlink model is under $30 on good ol' Amazon. I have one of these - the radio and LED light work well; the phone charger won't charge most modern smart phones. Nice and compact, too.
A Can of Tactical Bacon: Empower them with the goodness of bacon for after the apocalypse. It's actually supposed to be legitimately good bacon, too, no bad stuff here. Imagine the morale boost--you're hungry, things are looking bad and boom! You remember that can o' bacon goodness. Enough in one can for the whole family/survivor group. 10+ year shelf life, too.