How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Mobile Survival Library


A lot of Survival “purists” out there raise their nose at gadgets and the newest technologies. Although there is something to say about not relying too heavily on technology that can fail in a disaster scenario, most of the people bashing the use of technology and prepping/survival are typically doing it on the internet.


The last time I checked you can’t get online with coconuts, a multitool and paracord.


Today we are going to be discussing how to use a piece of technology that over 80% of the country currently uses as an everyday carry item already; your smartphone. Your phone is one of the most common items you’re likely to be carrying, so utilizing it as a EDC prep only makes sense.


Easy to access survival guide


My favorite military survival guide is the FM 21-76 Army Survival Guide. It covers everything from fire making, shelter building, basic plant identification and numerous other survival topics that would be invaluable in a survival situation.


You can download a free copy of the FM 21-76 Army Survival Guide by using THIS download link. (Right-click on the blue link and click on “save link as”) Save this guide on your phone.



Wild plant identification guide


Having a wild plant identification guide on hand is an invaluable survival tool. There are more than enough edible plants out there to keep someone alive indefinitely. However, there are just as many plants that can kill you. This makes it very dangerous to forage for food unless you have decades of experience or have a detailed guide that can help you identify edible and poisonous plants.

Although the FM 21-76 has some a basic plant identification guide in there, I personally like to have something a little more detailed. Not only will it be useful in a survival situation, but it is very useful and convenient for everyday foraging. HERE is a great wild plant identification manual that you can download to your phone for free.




With all the new map apps available to smartphone users, many people forget that without a wifi or cell connection you won’t be able to access these maps. Even maps that do not use a data connection and rely on the phones GPS capabilities may not always be accurate. That’s why it is very important to have all of your necessary maps not only downloaded into your phone, but printed and stored in your survival documentation binder as well.


Personally I have maps downloaded that outline numerous routes to bugout locations as well as topographical maps of my area and outdoor areas that I frequent in case I ever need to use them. To make these maps I prefer to use Google Maps. Simply select their satellite view mode and type in the location you want to map. Then I do a simple screenshot, open the image in Paint (or any other graphics program) and mark out several routes from point A to B.  Then I save these images and upload them into my phone. I also print several copies of these maps for my survival documentation binders. You can also add notes about landmarks, supply stops, family members or friends locations, rendezvous points or even hidden cache locations.


Backup charging capabilities  


Before the die-hard buschcrafters have a coronary and start sending me hate mail, we do need to discuss the elephant in the room. Phones aren’t always reliable and you do have a limited battery life. It’s also very possible that you could wind up in a disaster on the same day that you forget to charge your phone.


Backup charging devices and cables are something I think everyone should carry in their EDC. I feel that phones are probably one of the most important EDC items that you can carry, even outside of a “disaster” scenario they are invaluable emergency tools and make everyday tasks much less of a hassle. However if your phone is dead it’s not going to be very useful.


There are 2 types of backup charging devices that I use. The first is an external backup battery. These are small batteries that you can charge separately from your phone and will typically hold enough juice to at least fully charge your phone once, if not numerous times.


I’m not going to throw up an affiliate link to try and make money on these from you guys. Simply go to Google or Amazon and search for backup mobile phone battery. There are literally thousands you can choose from. However personally I won’t buy anything that’s less than 2000mAh because I like being able to get more than one charge out of it. These larger batteries are typically higher quality as well.


The other type of backup charger that I recommend is a solar charger. My favorite brand of personal solar chargers are Goal Zero chargers. Although using solar isn’t the most efficient way to keep your phone charged, it’s the best “backup for your backup”  that you can buy right now for this purpose.


If you do plan on buying a personal solar charger, I would suggest spending a little extra and buying one that isn’t just a charger, but also has a rechargeable battery built in. This way, not only do you have 2 separate pre-charged backup batteries but also a way to recharge them if you have to. With all these bases covered, even the infamous battery-draining iPhone should be able to last at least a week if you’re careful about how much you use it.


Lastly today, let’s go over some basic tips for your phone as it relates to a prep and disaster tool.

  • Whenever you are spending a more than a few hours outside, always carry a separate plastic, waterproof bag that you can put your phone in. Even a tiny drop of water in the right place can make your phone inoperable.
  • Not using a phone case doesn’t make you unique or “alternative”….it makes you careless. Even outside of prepping altogether, not using a sturdy smartphone case with a screen protector is just dumb. I understand some people don’t want to deal with phone accessories or spend the extra money but they’re there for a reason.
  • Don’t rely on a smartphones for a compass unless you have to. Although they are accurate 99.9% of the time, they can be wrong, and in a disaster situation, travelling in the wrong direction can kill you. Always bring a compass if you’re going to be outdoors for more than a few hours. In fact, make one a part of your EDC and you’ll never have to worry about not having it.
  • Although most smartphones can be used as a flashlight, they aren’t very effective. Even a $3 cheap flashlight will put out 10x more light than your phone. I would rather have a plastic keychain flashlight from the dollar store than rely on my phone’s flashlight in a survival situation.




Lastly today we’re going to talk about security. Personally I have a full copy of my survival documentation binder on my phone. As you may have read in one of our other articles, a survival binder is going to have a lot of personal and confidential information in it. Since Smartphones are the #1 most common item stolen in America today, it’s important to keep your documents secure in case it does get stolen so that this information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.


There are numerous secured or “Secret” file apps in both the Apple and Android market that use passcode or password encryption to access them. Store your documents in one of these apps and don’t use the same passcode that you use for your phone for this app. Not only does this keep them secure, but it will keep them in one central location so you don’t have to look in 5 different places for the files you need.


Additionally, most smartphones today have a “lost your phone” app that comes standard. This app allows you to track down, disable and even remotely format your phone from any computer in the case of it being stolen. However these apps have to actually be set up before they will work. Take some time today to set up this app. You’ll likely never have to use it; but you’ll be glad you did if your phone is ever stolen.

end of post


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1 comment

  1. Natalie

    I’ve been doing this myself for quite sometime. Great advice. I’ve done that same with my 7″ tablet.

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