Here’s what’s inside the modern explorer’s survival kit

Because phone apps can only do so much

Who needs a survival kit? You have a phone. Compass. Flashlight. Maps. Translator. Classic tools of exploration, all there under your uncalloused thumb. But your phone is not a rain poncho or a power bar. It’s time to think like a modern explorer, one as capable on an urban grid as on a dirt switchback. The items here will help you break away from your routine while letting you hang on to your app-store comforts. Welcome to the Silicon Age of Exploration.


Whether you’re trekking the trails or the avenues, you’ve gotta eat. Powders and bars made from crickets pack protein, iron, vitamin B12—and less sugar than most granola. You won’t even know you’re eating bugs. Chapul Protein Powder, $39; Chapul Bar, $36 for 12


Nothing says “rookie explorer” like running out of juice. This unit, with built-in Apple Lightning and micro-USB cables, lets you and two companions charge your devices at the same time. Jackery Bolt 6,000 mAh Ultra-Compact External Battery Charger, $26

Burner phone

It never hurts to have two. If your phone is lost, stolen, or broken, a prepaid flip phone will give you a secure backup—and it doesn’t even need a wireless plan. Throw one in your bag for that Jason Bourne vibe. TracFone LG L237C Prepaid Phone, $38


Don’t lose your friends to a cellular dead zone. The candy-bar-size goTenna turns phones into walkie-talkies, letting connected smartphones talk and text, via VHF radio waves, within a 4-mile radius. Plus, it keeps your GPS online even without a signal. goTenna, $150

First aid

The price of exploring is blisters. With waterproof tape, you can protect your feet in any condition. Don’t forget to sanitize your hands before and after treating your sores. Nexcare Absolute Waterproof Tape, $6; Purell Advanced Travel Size, $10 for pack of six


Does the water in your city park or campsite fountain taste like metal? Improve your H2O by drinking it from a bottle with a built-in filter. But this bottle won’t stop all microbes, so boil water from a questionable source before filtering it. Bobble Classic 18.5 oz., $10


Fiddling with your phone while biking is dangerous. Get hands-free directions by attaching this turn-by-turn navigation device to your handlebars. Download the app, pick a route, pocket your phone, and follow the light-up turn signals. Hammerhead One, $99

Rain protection

Whether you’re stuck in a woodsy downpour or faced with a dew-slick park bench, you’ll want reliable, stay-dry gear. And nothing beats the versatility, protection, and low price of a rain poncho. LOOGU Camouflage Waterproof Rain Poncho, $15

This article was originally published in the January/February 2017 issue of Popular Science, under the title “The Modern Explorer’s Survival Kit.”