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Default Survival Gear That's Just Crazy Enough to Work

</img>: As technology advances in practically every other aspect of human life, the tools for surviving nature and its disasters remain relatively primitive. Is a Leatherman the best we can do? The problem is that good gear needs to be practical, safe and portable which doesn't leave much room for robotic mountain-climbing exoskeletons.
We've compiled the most promising and innovative solutions we could find to common survival problems. Some are just concepts and others are already available. We might not trust our lives with all of these designs, but at least they're a step in the right direction.
Do you have your own favorite survival gadget? Let us know in the comments.
Left: The Cocoon is a short-term shelter made of durable insulating material that hangs off a tree (or any stable structure). In theory, getting the user off the ground seems safer, but it's still pretty vulnerable. Sure, you wouldn't be prey to wild animals, but the wind could swing you against the holding structure like a piñata and making a hasty exit from the cocoon seems unlikely.
Plus, the fact that it resembles a bear punching bag, Satan's distended testicle or an alien rejuvenation pod doesn't inspire much confidence.
Designer: John Moriarity
The Adamant is an earthquake-resistant bed with an extra-strong carbon-fiber roof that can be pulled closed like the top of a convertible. It features two fluorescent lamps, an emergency beacon and a storage area for radios and food.
We like the fact that it uses the bed as a primary safeguard since most people spend close to 40 percent of their time there. Also, the slope of the roof conducts debris downwards. But we're worried that the cave-like housing could become a trap. And, if it's flipped over, the door latch or wooden side panels could pop.
Designers: Erdem Batirbek, Gonca Onusluel and Yigit Karatoka (Izmir University of Economics, Turkey)
The Bedu Emergency Rapid Response Kit is a keg-sized drum full of durable life-saving gear. It's built to support eight adults for up to five years and it includes a water-filtration system, medicine and tool kits, a multi-fuel stove, a radio and a hand-crank generator with a photovoltaic battery pack and a strip-cell blanket. Not only that, but the skeleton of the barrel can be used to create a shelter.
We see a few potential problems. If you need to change locations, how do you put it back together quickly? And there are also too many small parts to keep track of in the middle of a crisis: "Here comes a little wind and Ö it's gone. Thanks a lot Dad. Look at it roll over there. We could have gotten one of those weird cocoon testicles. Now we're dead."
Designer: Toby McInnes
The Urban Skiff looks like a body bag until you unfold it into your own personal get-out-of-dodge transport. While the unprepared (read: suckers) are hiking through arduous undergrowth, you're clocking miles down the river.
The boat assembles easily and includes an inflatable hub with a base skeleton made out of carbonite. At first glance, it seems that the backside of the boat is missing, but the hull is designed so that the back lifts out of the water.
The only problems we can see are that it's likely heavy and cumbersome out of the water and that it's probably too flimsy for prolonged sailing.
Designer: <a href=""http://www.thomasetter.com/?q=urban-skiff ">Thomas Setter
Use some elbow grease to crank this baby's power up and watch it last forever. The Grundig Eton Radio includes AM/FM and weather-band frequencies, a two-way walkie-talkie channel, a flashlight, a siren, a beacon light and a cellphone charger. It's also incredibly tough -- no need to worry if it gets banged around in the chaos of an emergency. It's also fairly cheap at only $150. Just make sure you can find it when you need it -- don't let it become a relic in the back of the garage.
Available at <a href="http://www.etoncorp.com/product_card/?p_ProductDbId=321378">Etón
If you and your buddies like to travel long distances on icy terrain, there's a good chance someone will end up hurt. This inflatable sled functions as a gurney or a rest buggy, allowing you to transport anyone injured to safety. Perhaps the best thing about the Firun is that you can carry it on your back and it's lighter than a baby's conscience.
Designer: <a href="http://www.besportier.com/archives/janine-zusts-inflatable-rescue.html">Janine Züst

Traveling to developing nations and disaster zones just got a lot easier. The remarkable Life Saver bottle has an affordable, portable carbon filter that can block any virus larger than 15 nanometers. What's more, it can go through more than 1,500 gallons of water before the filter needs to be replaced. The bacteria and virus retention rate is 99.99 percent effective -- it's so thorough that it's even supposed to clean up (gulp) fecal matter. The bottle was inspired by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when visiting businessman Michael Pritchard found that thousands of survivors couldn't access clean water. The only drawback seems to be that it doesn't work in freezing temperatures.
Available at <a href="http://www.lifesaversystems.com/">Life Saver Systems
Industrial designer Brad Knewstubb drew on his experience with the harsh winters of his native New Zealand to create the Hydran Turbine. The device melts snow to produce up to 750 milliliters of drinking water per hour -- more than enough for a long expedition. It works by drawing snow up a steel pole speared into the ice and uses the electricity generated to thaw the ice.
Designer: <a href="http://www.red-dot.com.sg/concept/porfolio/06/11ls/R082Hydra.htm"> Brad Knewstubb
Built with the flood-damaged communities of sub-Saharan Africa in mind, the water shelter is basically a high-tech tent that configures in ingenious ways to adapt to a wide range of conditions. It can connect with other shelters to form an impromptu community and can be expanded with locally available materials, like grass and sticks. It can even grow into a permanent shelter with the benefit of a water-collection-filtration system on top of the canopy.
The shelters are designed to be airdropped and open like umbrellas while drifting down. Unfortunately their design while airborne is a bit ominous.
Designer: Robert Nightingale
With this solar cooker, you no longer have to burn your fingers pretending to be a caveman. The BCK resembles a Thermos but includes a solar shield that reflects the sun's rays into its center, which can build heat up to 90 degrees Celsius. Foods cook at a constant temperature and about as fast as on a conventional stove. Of course, you can also sterilize water in the cooker.
The disadvantage is that the conical shield must be focused often to follow the sun. Plus it can cause burns and potentially blind you if not used correctly. Oh, and if it's cloudy, you might actually have to build a fire.
Designers: <a href="http://www.red-dot.com.sg/concept/porfolio/06/06gr/R033BCK.htm">Javier Bertani, Ezequiel Castro, Vera Kade
The Microfix 406 is a small and light personal locator beacon that also works as an internal GPS. With a 406-MHz transmission that signals satellites in outer space when the ACR is triggered, the beacon will accurately identify a user within a mile of his or her location, as well as match the personís name, address and medical info. From there, a homing signal will direct a rescue crew to the exact location of the hopefully still-living user.
The ACR is oil-, water- and UV-resistant, and should only be used as a last-resort, grave-danger gadget. Some people have a very minimal threshold for danger and might send out a distress call prematurely. An exhaustive overuse by would-be adventurers could lead to a Boy Who Cried Wolf scenario where rescue crews are hesitant to answer distress signals.
Available at <a href="http://www.rei.com/product/751974">REI
This all-you-can-use disaster-reconnaissance kit is all about flexibility. Campa USA will customize their impressive steel trailers for your Mad Max vehicle with every survival tool you need.
Water purification system, propane bottle and a Honda portable generator? Check. Full ammo boxes, one satellite communication system and a beautifully tapered oak kitchen? Check, check, check.
And a toilet as well? We already feel relieved.
Available at <a href="http://www.campausa.com/att_drs.htm">Campa USA

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