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MAKE Asks: is a weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column sparks interesting conversation and is a way for us to get to know more about each other.

This week’s question: Imagine yourself in a post apocalyptic, barren landscape (think The Road). What are five items you would pick to help you along your way?

In no particular order, I’d choose a tricked-out leatherman, a compass, set of binoculaurs, hand pumped water purifier, and a sturdy hiking backpack.

Post your responses in the comments section.

Michael Colombo

In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens’ educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.


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Comments

  1. rocketguy1701 says:

    1) Compound/Composite Bow w/hunting head arrows (if that counts as one)
    2) Gaffers tape
    3) Leatherman Wave
    4) Buck General Knife
    5) Damn good boots.

  2. chuck says:

    The most important survival tool is your mind. Not just the knowledge and skill contained within but the mental toughness to endure, adapt, and improvise.
    Survival is a decidedly low-tech affair. Keep it simple. In any mass depopulation scenario the world will be littered with usable stuff so most anything you need could be reasonably easy to find. Only carry the necessities.
    1. A decent recurve bow under 100 pounds draw. This is the weapon of choice in a situation where re-supply is non-existent. A quality bow will last for years and shafts and bow strings can be improvised. Can you make a bullet?
    2. My tinder box. It contains two magnesium block fire starters, plenty of peroleum jelly saturated cotton, and an old bible. That’s not meant to be sacriligious- old bibles printed on that thin paper make excellent tinder in a compact package.
    3. 500 feet of thin stainless steel wire. 101 uses! You can use it to lash structures, make snares, make expedient sutures, make a garrote, ‘sew’ anything, etc,
    4. An axe. It’s a melee weapon, it cuts wood, opens doors, hammers anything, etc.
    5. A good knife. That’s self explanatory.
    The only other thing I would need is a good dog, but that’s more personnel that materials. A well trained dog is a companion, a better set of senses than you have, a weapon, a guard, and in a worst case scenario, a source of food ‘on the hoof’.
    I love the new suburban prepper movement. If TSHTF these people will be the new Walmarts. With more supplies than sense many of these folks won’t last a few months, but their hoards of stuff will last a long time.

  3. haha says:

    leather boots, and water repellent socks
    box of Twinkies, ammonia (water treatment), and essential vitamins (scurvy)
    Uncoated aluminium containers
    Mechanical flash-lights, candles, and tinderbox kit
    bullet proof vest, helmet, bow, and slingshot for small game
    Mechanical watch, sextant, and compass
    machete
    axe and splitter wedge kit
    fishing kit
    string, nails, and razor blades
    animal snares
    antibiotics, tape and plaster
    towel, and books about local edible/poisonous animals
    some musical instrument
    toothbrush, and floss
    Several shipping containers of toilet paper to negotiate for supplies…

  4. Uno says:

    poket knife and plyers slipjaw and lighter wraped with ducttape are my EDC’s
    clear plastic water bottle full
    mucket “medium – large metal cup with lid”
    bailing wire and twine or para cord
    hachet
    tarp 8×10 and a nylon feed sack to keep some clothes and a blanket dry in
    and most importent my extencive knowledge of local flora/fana and water sorces eg springs.

  5. 5 things…. they would need to be things that are very time consuming or impossible to make.

    1) quality multi tool – I use mine every day. This can help make and fix a great number of things.
    2) stainless steel water bottle – sterilize water a carry it.
    3) waterproof tarp – lots of uses and hard to make
    4) cordage – time consuming to make and near impossible to make like current synthetics
    5) fencing wire – makes lots of cool fixes and parts

    An Axe is about tied for #5 for me.

  6. Jack Mayhoff says:

    1. Tarp (shelter)
    2. Multitool
    3. Fire kit
    4. Good boots (Gortex)
    5. Good pack pack to carry the other goodies you’ll find along the way

  7. Tom Coyle says:

    1: Tarp
    2: Sheath knife – K-bar or similar
    3: Pack
    4: Parachute cord
    5: Water Container

  8. Alex says:

    1. My leatherman!!! its all in
    one and it will help in anny situation an its verry durable!
    2. Axe a tool a weapon and you could bild what ever you need.. a bow a pade a boat…
    3. Magnesium fire kit
    4. fire resistant container for water 1-5l so you can boil your water
    5. Fishing kit with ~500m stongt cord! you can use the cord in so many conditions…

    and my dog would never go anywhere without him!!!

  9. Chuck Wagon says:

    leatherman wave.
    my 9mm
    my 870
    kbar
    backpack

    Everything else I’d need I take from you.

  10. Lilrooster says:

    Here is my take:
    1. Leatherman Charge Ti (the original)
    2. S30V folding tactical knife (4″ blade)
    3. Fire starting kit, e.g., spark generator and tinder (would need to find replacement tinder)
    4. Crank flashlight
    5. Folding saw

  11. I see a lot of lists with SO many things that yes, I too would carry, but not all stick to just 5, which is a tough one. I’ve worked with the 10 essentails American list, and the 10 European list, less than I ever kept in my daypack alone, where I carried a day and a half pack always, for unknowns. But for 5 items, in order of necessity for life of breathing, medical crisis, immediate freezing/burning eg shelter & fire, pure water, & continuing supplies, that translates to an immediate list to support the previous essentail needs:(assuming you are breathing, a given), and asuming you are wearing a basic suitable array of clothing
    1. first-aid kit including broad-spectrum antibiotic + life-essential medication uniquely yours
    2. A strong hacking/sawing/hammering-pommel/multi-purpose “K-Bar”-style fixed-blade fighting knife (from Kabar brand origin, the company that supplied much of the military contracts’ needs for same type basic fighting/survival knife, but an updated survival variant, with an o-ring- gasketed fire-starter material chamber, containing preferably both magnesium “start a fire on the snow!”, (ignited by water) tablets, and/or “storm-proof” fully wax-coated 15-second burn waterproof “strike anywhere” (after rubbing wax off the end)-type “survival matches” inside, AND instead of a packed-leather-washers-type WWII-style handle material, a handle wrapped with 5-6 mm kernmantle-type cordage, the best in my experience from late 70′s and early 80′s rock-climbing is “perlon”, made for climbing hardware protection devices, I have to pick that over a Leatherman,which I don’t change rooms without LOL, sorry guys
    (only initially, until I build a hut, have a fire, and kill a “shall we say, Elk with a tag, in-season NOT” prey animal 3. A .2 Micron (absolute, not nominal) pump-style, preferably ceramic, scrubbable/backwashable water filter.
    4.I agree on the crossbow for hunting, combined with that all-purpose knife #2 for food
    5. Since this is a post-apocalyptic situation, and we are assuming carry-able size and weight of things: I will change my # 5 that would in the “pre-apocalype no zombies scenario” wilderness be a heavy-duty space-blanket, and/or foodstuffs as “continuing” per above, I instead chose a tradeable commodity based on demand, not ethical considerations, which I would not place myself in the position of judge on, given that it is not an illegal substance, such as a 2-litre 150-proof Rum bottle, which triples as booze to trade, highly-flammable fire-starter fuel to douse lightly, and antiseptic. I would then trade (if unspecified other peple are there too, “Think THE ROAD implies others to encounter) for: (here is where I cheat):
    a. A Leatherman – you better believe it – I like the Wave because it may not have everything, but I can open every implement in the dark by feel; notably the four outer implements in a hurry with one hand – yes, the one-handed tool would be a good choice, I simply prefer my familiarity of the Wave, because ONE false move with any knife and you have a life-altering situation – I have accidently dropped my open leatherman right down 3/4″ deep into my foot with a butter-greasy hand (stupid, I know), and at first cut myself seriously twice, until I had the feel and “hand” of it down to in-the-dark level after years. I am being honest here guys (and ladies, which I hope are there on earth too, real bad LOL)
    b. asprin – the miracle drug made of salycilic acid, good for an amazing amount of things, beginning with easing pain
    c. gold – will always be tradeable; some idots will place this over pure water for a few days, and be tradeable for myriad items with others that know water comes before money, AND have genuine re-establishment of our lost monetary standard value in such a world, although that is out of the intended pervue of this fun “MAKE” list; I had to say it, with a keen sense for the obvious.
    d. a firearm and ammo, more hunting for food, and self-defense against the most dangerously-stupid of the aforementioned idiots, on THE ROAD ;~{
    e. cigarrettes – though I don’t smoke, I can trade these for everything else I need, that the booze does not cover LOL. That list is too long to mention, but a good wilderness medicine/survival book such as the Army Survival Manual, and a Bible, because I am going to need it after I stay alive, especially with Zombies AND televangelists out there LOL. It’s OK everyone, I am neither a fundamentalist, nor one to incite anyone to riot w/o a sense of humor, and I DO believe God has one (or I am in SERIOUS trouble) lol….. happy survival

    1. Heph says:

      Well i would go for:

      1) a bicycle
      2) A radio for 11m bands
      3) a Saw
      4) unused jerrycan
      5) a first aid Kit

      The first aid kit for all the useful stuff like scissors, tape and Bandaids which all can be repurosed. The saw helps me with cutting wood for a fire and minor constructions. The bicycle gives higher mobility, light and way to load electronics like the radio. Said radio i can use to organize and communicate with other survivors. Organisation and sticking together is important. The jerrycan allows me to cook and hold water for longer times.

  12. Obi-Wahn says:

    Well, I have the plot of “The Road” not entirely in my mind, but as far as I can think of every Post-Apocalyptic scenarios, there’s always tons of scrap deserted on the road.
    So I probably wouldn’t pick ropes and wires, because there’s a plentiful.
    Good shoes would be nice, but since you can build your own shoes from old Tires, I’d probably stick with that.
    If they are trashed (which would be very hard to do), I’d build a new pair, and I doubt they would be stolen.

    @chuck: “Can you make a bullet?” –> Yes, you can. The hard part would be the other supplies like gunpowder and shell casings (which would be redundant if you use a old Drum-Pistol which you have to reload manually first)…

    Anyway. I guess, I’d stick with this 5 Items:

    1.) A good Backpack
    Essentially for long tours and collecting supplies.

    2.) My trusty Kukri Machete
    Awesome for cutting firewood, also usable as Hammer and the two Sideblades are pretty good in loosening screws or preparing raw meat.

    3.) A 1st Aid Kit
    Containing Antibiotics, Bandages and other medicinal Supplies

    4.) A fire-starter Kit
    Though it’d be possible to spark a fire without it, it’s still easier. That’s post-apocalyptic comfort right there ;)

    5.) A good Compound Crossbow
    Preferably with a dozen Arrows with Hunting tips, but if that’s against the rules, I can improvise them…

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