This guest post is by ZBM and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
More than one survivalist has lectured me on the uselessness of electronic gadgets, when viewed in the light of a long-term grid-down event. I firmly disagree with this outlook where it concerns one such device: an Amazon Kindle (non-Fire).
Why? Simply, the ability to carry hundreds of books in a very lightweight package which takes up almost no room in my pack, while also benefitting from extraordinary battery life, is too good to pass up. From a tactical perspective, it’s nice to have a flashlight-readable screen which doesn’t emit any light to give away my location.
That said, I’m not denigrating physical books. My reference library at home is and always will be a “dead tree” collection. However, my BOB has one physical book (The SAS Survival Guide) and a Kindle 3G. I prefer the 3G for the modern convenience of wikipedia access and wireless download of purchased books, but any non-Fire Kindle or similar e-reader should work, as long as it offers the same remarkable battery life.
Considerations for including a Kindle in your bugout kit are:
How do I configure the Kindle?
The Kindle is remarkably user-friendly when it comes to adding books. Simply plug in the USB cable (it uses a “Micro B” USB connection; probably the same as your cell phone) to your computer. In most cases, your operating system will open a folder, allowing you to drag-and-drop files onto the device.
Find the folder named “documents” and copy files to your heart’s content. Later (but still non-Fire) Kindles will support a variety of formats; most popular are TXT, PDF, and MOBI. DOC files and other formats can be converted by sending them to a pre-determined Amazon email address, but charges may apply for this service.
Which books should I put on it?
I found that I had to prioritize my document choices; my preference for Kindle books is those that I might find useful in the event of a bugout or very short term emergency – military manuals, first aid guides, survival references, local and regional maps, and so on. 4GB of storage allows for hundreds of books, but it won’t hold everything. I found that long term knowledge (agriculture, animal raising, etc) was better stored in books in my BOL; the point of the BOB is to get me out of my house in an emergency. Why would I need to review hugelkultur if I’m on the run? On the other hand, having a book or two for pure entertainment is never a bad idea.
Where can I find books for the Kindle?
Anywhere you find PDFs of your favorite books; there are several websites dedicated to hosting such files. Perhaps the most popular right now is /// http://modernsurvivalonline.com/survival-database-downloads /// “Modern Survival Online”, which maintains a database of useful files. A quick Google search for “yourtopic PDF” ought to yield nice results.
How will I power the device?
Including the charging cable allows me to charge it anywhere I can find a powered USB port – a laptop, a wall charger, or other source. My favorite “other source” is a solar USB charger. This is a foldable, lightweight strip of small panels connected to an open USB port. Simply unroll the charger, set it out on a rock or table outside, and plug in the Kindle. 4 to 5 hours of charging should completely recharge the Kindle, allowing for several days’ reading. This is a win in my book.
So that’s it?
Yep. For around $160, I have a Kindle and charger that collectively weigh less than one pound, can provide up to 30 hours of reading per charge, can hold literally hundreds of reference books, and can be recharged in an afternoon by leaving it in the sun. That’s plenty of utility for me, and I hope, for those of you who might have been on the fence where the Kindle is concerned. One last note, regarding the battery: it will gradually lose charge if left alone for long enough. It’s probably best to recharge the Kindle whenever you have other BOB maintenance (food rotation, etc) scheduled.
This contest will end on August 7 2012 – prizes include:
First Place : 1 Year Subscription to AlertsUSA, 1 Radiation Safety Package consisting of the following; (1) NukAlert Radiation Monitor and Alarm (5) Radsticker Peel and Stick Dosimeters (1) Box Thyro Safe Potassium Iodide. All courtesy of AlertsUSA. A $150 gift certificate for Federal Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo. And a British Berkefeld water fillter system courtesy of LPC Survival. A total prize value of over $700.
Second Place : A six pack Entrée Assortment courtesy of Augason Farms, a Nukalert courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply and a WonderMill Grain Mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $550.
Third Place : A copy of each of my books “31 Days to Survival” and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of The Survivalist Blog dot Net and “Kelly McCann’s Inside the Crucible Set” courtesy of Paladin Press. A total prize value of over $200.
Contest ends on August 7 2012.