You know drill. Maybe you even got into it once or twice. When a natural disaster strikes, everyone in town rushes to find grocery stores, home repair shops, and gas stations. Demand exceeds warehouses in the capitalist’s nightmare, and most people go away empty-handed, without enough flashlights, batteries, or cookware to weather a storm, blizzard, or wildfire. come close. You’d better stock up first and avoid battle royale battles. We’ve put together all the essentials for your emergency kit.
Update June 2022: We’ve added Coway Airmega 200M air purifier, Garage Boss 5-gallon gas can, N95 and KN95 masks for wildfires, Mountain House Adventure Dehydration Kit, and lights mix Petzl Actik.
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The Fenix E20 V2 ($45) is my top pick for an affordable emergency flashlight, but ThruNite Archer 2A V3 ($25) is another solid choice. At 350 and 500 lumens respectively, they’re bright enough while remaining compact, and they last long at lower light settings — 200 hours at 5 lumens for the Fenix and 51 hours at 17 lumens for the ThruNite . Both use two AA batteries, and in the event of an emergency your main concern is having a good supply of replacement batteries.
If you are using alkaline batteries, remove them from the flashlight if left unused for a long time, or they will leak and cause problems. Store them near a flashlight so you can easily find them. Try attaching the battery to the flashlight box.
Pro tip: Best performing flashlights are specifically built to use lithium-ion batteries or have a non-removable rechargeable battery, which won’t do you any good if the power goes out for a long time. Rechargeable AA nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries maintain their performance better throughout the life of the battery, while the performance of alkalines degrades more as they run out, so buy one number Panasonic Eneloops ($40). They’re better for the environment, but if they run out of battery, you can still use regular alkaline AA.
You may want to keep a headlamp on hand. The Petzl Actik ($50) is my favorite model and has never let me down, from snowy mountains to dusty deserts. It runs on three easy-to-find AAA batteries and has three brightness settings, with the brightest bright enough for emergencies around the house.
Flashlights are less effective when you need to light up an entire room or if you need your hands free to do something. Diffuse light is what you want, and Coleman Split + Push Lantern ($16) does its job very well. It’s smaller than the typical Coleman lantern, which is nice, as it will likely spend most of its life in storage. There are two settings: 425 lumens on high for 40 hours of run time and 50 lumens on low for 330 hours. It uses three D-cell batteries, which sounds like a lot, but alongside other full-size battery-powered lanterns, such as the Coleman Twin LED lantern that uses eight D-cells, it’s economical.