I’m generally not one to advocate a great deal of tech toys in your bug out bag. Having a lot of survival gear that relies on electricity means carrying extra batteries for every device you need to use, and that adds tons of weight to your bag just for basic redundancy purposes.
While batteries do have some basic survival uses, almost any battery operated survival gear you might carry could be duplicated by a basic device. They may fuel your GPS, but they aren’t going to fuel your body.
This is where it’s time to simplify your gear selection (before you buy too much stuff), and eliminate the need to carry extra batteries. The easiest way to do this is to plan your gear selection around one or two battery types so you carry less stuff.
Battery Weight and Availability
Carrying around added weight of multiple batteries weighs down your pack and takes up essential space that can be used by more useful gear. Here’s how much weight you could be wasting carrying backups of multiple battery types. Note: 28.35g = 1oz
A new standard in small battery technology, the CR123 battery provides almost twice the output (voltage) of a AA battery in a smaller, lighter package that lasts longer than most AAs. They also provide a much longer storage life, and thus are great for packing away in a bug out bag if you don’t need to use it.
The problem, of course, is cost and availability. These batteries are not typically shelved in most basic retailers, so getting replacement batteries can be difficult to find and are more expensive than normal batteries. And while the number of devices accepting these batteries is increasing, typically only flashlights and cameras/camera accessories accept the CR123, making it difficult to plan out an entire bag around a single battery type.
Light in weight, comparable in cost to a standard AA, this can be a great choice of battery for your bug out bag. They are easily found in almost any retail store that sells batteries, so finding replacement batteries will be much easier. Many homes have AAA compatible devices, and thus generally store some quantity. Not that we recommend looting stores OR homes in a survival situation…but if the need arises, at least you might find some.
The “standard” in batteries for just about forever. A little heavier than CR123 or AAA batteries, these are the absolute most common batteries found in just about any convenience store, supermarket, and just about every home on the planet. The multitude of compatible devices for the AA make it one of the best overall choices if you’re looking to simplify your bug out bag around a single battery choice.
C & D
These batteries are fairly common, but device selection is often limited to only light producing devices such as large flashlights or electric lanterns. Because of their overall size and weight, they make very little sense to carry in a bug out bag unless you have an essential tool that requires it.
Our Choice: The AA
We chose the AA because of it’s overall availability both in stores and compatible devices. While larger and with less storage capacity compared to the CR123 – it’s all about finding compatible equipment and spare batteries if you need them.
We also like the AA because of the availability of rechargeable models, particularly solar based recharging stations. With 6-8 batteries and a simple charging panel, you should never run out of basic power as long as you use that power judiciously. Sure, your light might not be as bright as the CR123, but chances are you’ve used (and loved) your existing AA flashlight for years without too many complaints
When the CR123 becomes a more popular overall battery, supporting more devices and hopefully bringing costs in line with it’s competitors, we’ll probably change our mind. Until then, stick with what you know.
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