Using a modern phones for survival

This is a guest post by James C

Hi Guys, I wanna talk about using modern technology to aid survival. No im not talking about emergency transmitters or anything like that. Something more humble – the Mobile Phone.

I never before liked the idea of using modern technology along side primitive skills, I always prefered the idea of learning and remembering the skills I needed. But in this modern-day and age through work I have had to get a new phone, but doing this changed my whole perspective on combining old and new!

So here are my basic arguments for and against mobiles as survival aids.

Pro’s: modern phones allow you to download a multitude of apps and information,some of these include;

  • a torch that also flashes SOS signals.
  • the classic and new military survival guides(mainly the same content).
  • compass.
  • the ability to download any countries map and use it without satellite connection.
  • a star guide that shows constellations and north, east, south and west.
  • plant, tree, fungai, animal,f ish, reptile and bird identification.

And i am sure there are some helpful ones that are not listed.

Now for the cons.

Your phone will never build you a shelter or catch you a meal. Although the battery can make you a fire but we wont go into that!

So yes you have to get off your arse and work, but how can you do something you have never seen or done before? That is where your guides and apps come in, they have the knowledge you lack.

Now I love the outdoors and learning about new plants etc but unless I became an expert on every plant on the planet which would probably take a lifetime, I would never know them all, so this is where the phone can back you up. It’s not there to replace your knowledge or skills but to aid you along the way.

Now the main problem with this bit of technology is that it requires electricity to work, so the main way I have found to solve this is called a Powermonkey.

The clever little item opens like a clam shell and has solar panels on the insides, you open it up and charge away. It comes with adapters to fit pretty much any phone and it is only the size of your hand but a lot thinner. They come in waterproof and shock proof models etc. They also have a built-in battery so you charge it up before you go for hikes, hunts etc.

Another problem is modern phones are not waterproof, simple answer… you can buy waterproof cases for your phone that still allow you to access the screen, and generally you can fit your power monkey in the same case.

So all in all I hope this has given you a basic idea of how a bit of modern technology can be used to aid you in a survival situation.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. We have a number of people that come to Montana on vacation, usually from California, who make a number of dangerous assumptions based upon their experiences at home.

    They are usually outdoor people, but they put their faith in gadgets. The will go out into the wilds with their cell phone, GPS, granola bars, and water bottle. They assume that if they get into trouble, they’ll just call somebody to come get them. They usually have good boots, but wear shorts, t-shirts, and a light jacket. No real food, no way to make a fire, not even an emergency blanket or poncho.

    When we moved here we had just been stationed in Hawaii. I had 2 teenage daughters. I tried to explain to the oldest that in Hawaii, when the Sun goes down it gets dark; in Montana it gets cold, very cold. Her idea of being prepared was “Dad, I have my flannel (shirt)!” That lasted about once.

    We have people come out hunting; they have been known to dress almost the same (or let their teenagers do it). Then they are in a panic when something goes wrong.

    We have places, lots of them, where technology does not work. No cell phone coverage. There are places where the GPC can’t get a satellite signal. And because “everybody knows these things work everywhere”, every year we have to go get some fool.

    Most of the people who read this blog don’t depend upon technology to be there in a disaster. But it’s always good to be reminded.

    Thanks for the submission.

    • axelsteve says:

      Jp My older brother once got lost in Montana while elk hunting. He knew that the end of the hunting day was getting close .Close and dark comes up pretty fast in the mountians. He spent the night in the mountians and luckily it did not freeze that night. That was before cell phones and gps and stuff. He learned a good lesson.

  2. MountainSurvivor says:

    James C,
    I had never heard of a Powermonkey and you explained it very well. I don’t want to rely upon technology, I’ve rarely used a cell phone for more than simple calls, but if I ever needed to, that would be a good little charger to stick in my pocket.

  3. Mother Earth says:

    While I agree with JP from MT that you can’t rely on technology over common sense, I will have to admit that James C has some valid points. I have a compass, flashlight, SOS signal, unit calculator, knot tying, first aid, herbal identifier, soap recipe and several survival books on my phone. This to me is another comfort level in my little world. Would I depend on this device for GPS or expect reception anywhere…no, that would be where common sense kicks in.

    • Keep in mind that the compass most likely won’t work unless you have a good GPS signal, in which case a simple “real” compass for a few dollars would be a life saver.

  4. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Good thoughts.

    I love my gadgets but as you say. They are tools that don’t work in every situation. The finest and most compact tool I own is always with me – my brain. Nothing is better than knowledge and common sense and experience. Kudos.

  5. Another thing about modern phones is that they are easily tracked and can be used as a homing device right to you ……..that may not be desirable depending . just sayin

  6. All of those aids and many more plus videos that show you how downloadable from youtube and any of the survival literature in txt pdf or html can be contained on one of the less expensive ebook readers which can hold a much larger capacity card than the phone.

    • Harold,
      They also generally have larger screens or better yet, a video connection to an even larger screen.

      • They can also be recharged numerous ways, solar, hand squeeze generator, my lantern with the usb port, cigarette lighter plug, etc. Only problem I have with them is changing a battery is difficult. Mine came with a 2100 mah battery and as soon as it showed signs of not charging to full capacity, I replaced both of them with a 3800mah battery intended for a different make of ebook reader. I had to add a couple of plugs to the pigtails in my readers to match the plugs on the batteries and I bought four of them from the Hong Kong supplier for the price of one that some other people advertise. I keep a pair of them charged and ready in case I don’t have time to recharge the unit in the reader. It only takes about two minutes to pop the case open, unplug the battery, pop it out pop in the new one with a little contact cement on the back of it to hold it in place, plug it in and snap the case back together again. I have found that 32gb micro sdhc cards to work the best. The ones I have will recognize a 64gb card but take forever and a day to load it up. Not bad for a unit that only has 2gb of internal memory.

  7. Definitely a great tool to have.

    Obviously we could talk to no end about what will be available when, etc. However, its alwasy best to make the most use out of any tool you have and have redundancy. That way you cover your bases.

    We always talk about redundant water supplies, multiple locations where you store supplies, etc and a phoen is just another example. Keep docs on it but also keep printouts of the most important stuff.

    I usually try to make at least 1 actionable item out of the best articles I read and in this case I already have 2 solar chargers of different brands but I didnt have either in my GHB. Sort of stupid becasue my smartphone lasts only 14 hours or so. I could have a great tool with me to get home and then fail on somethign as stupid as a dead battery.

  8. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    If you are older, traveling alone or have medical issues, purchasing and carrying a SPOT locator would be a wise investment. Save searchers a lot of looking around. See link below

    My phone is super basic, its only app is ‘on – off’, lol. But it likely save a life 2 years ago, as when traveling in rurals, we came across an accident where the driver fell asleep and went off the road. I could barely get a signal jumping on top of my truck tool box and an ambulance was there within half an hour.

  9. axelsteve says:

    Personally I like my torque wrench and 1/2 inch drive airgun more then I do my phone.Most of the time it is on the microwave in the kitchen.

    • Tactical G-Ma says:

      Lol! If it’s the wrench and airgun left on top of the microwave you just might be a redneck! (Or kin to my DH)

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