Introduction: Using an EReader As a Survial Tool

Picture of Using an EReader As a Survial Tool

Just a quick thought simply because I haven't seen much in the way mentioned about such:

An eReader can be an invaluable survival or teaching tool.
You are talking about a device that can hold the equivalent of upwards around 2000 books (and that's just in the main memory)
Mine is loaded with around 20 survival, edible plant, poisonous plants, mushroom collecting, etc, books.
with a bit of care they can be made extremely stable to transport.:
     For mine I purchases a Patagonia case and lined it with close density foam. Before it goes in my bag it is wrapped it a water tight bag.
     I've heard the argument about battery life:
     Well some of the black and white models have a battery life of up to two weeks, and with the purchase of a cheap solar charger that quickly becomes indefinite. They can be found as cheaply as six dollars, though I would invest i something a bit better myself.
Most will read any form of PDF file so there are literally millions of books at your disposal and any book from your own library which you scan into PDF format.
Let your imagination run wild. You can even find guides tailored to your specific area.

Just remember that the full color versions, though nice to look at, do not have nearly the battery life. we're talking hours compared to weeks.

FYI: for Cellphones such as android or Iphones you can also download either the NOOK or the Kindle software right from their web sights, though again you run into the situation of battery life.


meeko racun (author)2015-04-09

another idea is to look into game boy advance mods with the super card you can read e books popular formats can be converted plus music movies and games with the supercard on a mini sd card which is handy for storing collections it has a speaker if no headphones are available can use a worm light/magnifier light and it can use regular aa batteries I have also seen solar mods for it and others on here with Faraday cloth /ruggedized box container I could see it being indispensable

iinRez (author)2014-11-07

I recommend incorporating some kind of Faraday cloth or bag into your carrying case a large EMP pulse from a near by lightening strike for instance may be problematic not to mention the possibility of severe sun flares.
"Carrington Flare of 1859"

rblee (author)2012-05-15

I would say an e-reader is a pretty good thing to take along even if you don't bother with any survival documents. If the weather is lousy and you have to lay up for a day or two, reading is an excellent way of passing the time. 

E-readers can hold a lot of books - Mine can hold 32GB, which is a shedload  (actually more like a barnfull), and can run for 2-4 weeks on a charge, so is low maintenance.

Don't forget to pack one of those solar cell/rechargable battery things if you're likely to run your e-reader down. You can buy them reasonably cheaply and thus can stay off grid indefinitely, at least as far as your reading goes. There's probably an Instructable on how to make one somewhere. Do be careful to buy/make one that has a solar array that at least offers a realistic chance of recharging the battery - Some of them are effectively just mains tethered battery packs with some decorative solar cells stuck on the outside that would take weeks of bright sunlight to accumulate even the modest charge that an e-reader takes.

Oh, nice Instructable, even if you should probably have said "epub" instead of PDF. :)

PDF is a page description format, whereas EPUB is a text flowing format, which is why PDFs aren't much good on e-readers, although some ebook sites will create a special PDF for you if your e-reader is one of their supported formats. These are still often not great, but are a lot better than  US Letter or A4 PDFs.

TXSabrina (author)rblee2012-08-19

I have the Kindle Fire and MANY survival books and reference manuals downloaded onto it. I can also email PDF files to it for future reference. I have catalogs and manuals that are in PDF format there.
Not sure I could survive long without music and you can download all your music into it as well!
My Kindle is DEFINATELY in my survival bag!

rblee (author)TXSabrina2012-08-19

Glad it works for you.

My objection is more to do with their business practices, in truth.

I find that with Sigil and Calibre there isn't much, except for PDFs, that I can't usefully put on my PRS600. I prefer epub because I can enlarge the font without having to pan around the page to read it, or get out my reading glasses.

That said, in the UK taking to the hills is not really a viable proposition - It would probably be the best way to get yourself shot :(

Mountainmistress (author)rblee2012-05-15

If you are scanning books from your own libraries there is not much of a difference between PDF and Epub and the text is non-modifiable, at least in my experience.

espdp2 (author)2012-05-11

This is a fantastic idea! You are right. I haven't seen any discussion of ebooks used like this. Since my wife just upgraded to the Kindle Fire, I think I'll take over her old one for this purpose...

Do you wrap the ebook in plastic inside the case or on the outside of the case? I was thinking that the latter might develop pinholes more easily.

What are some of your favorite selections for this purpose?

Do you have a light to go with it in case you need your info at night?

Best wishes,

Mountainmistress (author)espdp22012-05-11

Among the titles I have on mine are:
Hawke's Special Forces Survival Guide (it lays out very well in eBook form)
Bear Grylls Living World
FM 21-76 Army Survival Manuel
Outdoor Survival Book - Ray Mears
Wilderness Survival for Dummies (lol)
Common Edible and Useful Plants - Murial Sweet
Hallucinogenic and Poisonous Mushrooms - Gar P. Menser

And the first two are the only one that I wasn't able to find free online. (with a bit of searching)

I also copied and pasted edible plant information that I got online into Open Office and save it as a PDF. it reads perfectly on the NOOK. I imagine it will work the same on a Kindle.

Try: To start. there is a ton of relevant books there including the PDF I was taking about that I made:
1Edible-Wild-Plants - Janie Plumpton

I usually put the whole thing i plastic so the case doesn't get wet but you make a valid point, perhaps a safer option. I was thinking also that it wouldn't hurt to put a packet of silicate beads in the bag as well to ward off moisture.

Thanks was looking for more books and programs , have an HP touchpad running CM9 that sole purpose is firearm and survival related. I have every manual of every firearm my friends and I own as well as the more popular guns, gunsmith and tactical videos. But I wanted more survival books or programs. I don't how handy it will come in a Zombie Apocalypse :) But you can never have enough resources.

strods (author)Mountainmistress2012-05-14

Best all around book on the subject, IMHO; Tom Brow's Field Guide to Wilderness Survivial. If you only got to choose one or start with one, I would make it that. I actually give it out to my scouts when they get to the right level

Mountainmistress (author)strods2012-05-15

have you been able to fine an eBook version of this book? I have spent some time today looking and all I have been able to fine is actual hard copies.

sorry, find, not fine

espdp2 (author)Mountainmistress2012-05-16

I'm not so sure about Tom Brown. All of his books received some very telling 2, 3, and 4 star reviews from Amazon purchases. Got any more common-sense recommendations?

Mountainmistress (author)espdp22012-05-16

Have you had a chance to check out Camping ans Wilderness Survival by Paul Tawrell? Though again it's not an eBook, but the revised edition is pretty good. I have the original edition myself and rather enjoy it. My second choice, which I have both in paperback and E form would be the Hawke's Special Forces Survival Manuel, next is another paperback called How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier, though again not available in E form. I do have the Wilderness Survival for Dummies in both forms as well. I grabbed that because I had been talking with a few friends that endorsed it, though I have not as of yet had a chance to read it. Might be worth a glance for you as well.

Sorry I can't be of more help than that but I do hope one of those four fit the bill for you.

Mountainmistress (author)espdp22012-05-11

Also I find that almost any kind of clip on book light works. I would post a picture of mine but my 4 year old ran off with it and I haven't been able to find it. LOL

hjjusa (author)2012-05-19

Great idea! I jusrt downloaded Desert Survival in PDF format and converted it to EPUB with Calibre. I have a Kobo, not the greatest thing but it works ok for me.

tw0nst3r (author)2012-05-16

This is a great idea, something I've toyed with, too. I have a Zune HD (now discontinued, I think) that has an 'e-reader' app; unfortunately, this allows text files only. BUT, I've loaded on several outdoors-themed books, and have actually used this mini portable library while on a camping trip at the Grand Canyon. Also have used the notes app to keep lists for camping supplies, medicine usage directions, travel directions, and so on. So, your idea is right on the mark, I think.

If you have a solar charger for your e-reader, does it matter so much that you can only get several hours out of it? In a survival situation, I'd believe you would have enough time to get useful information, then allow for recharging while you're doing other things.

It's fascinating that one can carry a whole library, along with movies (maybe demonstrating survival techniques), games to keep one's mind fresh, music to help keep calm, a compass app, and so much more. All this comes for just the weight and size of the e-reader device, solar charger, and cable - a real bargain for what you can actually be carrying around.

This is kind of like the beginning of the tricorder era. LOVE IT!!

The problem with solar chargers is that they can take 8 to 10 hours of strong sunlight to fully charge, so if you're trapped in a tent all day because of rain and such your ability to charge anything will be lacking.
The other thing to consider is that most color readers have a glossy screen which makes them near impossible to read in sunlight, whereas most black and white readers can be read in direct sunlight.
And the last reason I decided on the black and white is because of cost. You can now find the first generation NOOK on Ebay of around $30. Not too bad a cost when you consider the hardships that may befall the reader on the trail. If something where to happen to it $30 is not a huge a loss compared to upward around $160 to $250.
These where the reasons I decided on the black and white, but the color ones are very attractive as well.

Great points, thanks for clarifying! I've never used a solar charger, and wasn't aware that an older e-reader could be had so inexpensively. You've got me seriously thinking about doing this sooner rather than later - great concept!

You are very welcome :)
Just glad I could help.

TheOlMaestro (author)2012-05-11

I agree with espdp2 in this being a great idea!

I would have appreciated some links for the survival, mushrooms, poisonous plant etc. books.

My favorite sight is Scribd:

Scribd is nice because it's inexpensive, plus you get a 24 hour pass for uploading a document.

rblee (author)Mountainmistress2012-05-15

One snag with scribd is that there is a lot of copyrighted material up there which is not identified as such, so you can innocently download material that could get you into trouble.

You didn't mention "Calibre" ( This is available for at least Windows, Mac, and Linux, and seems to be the best library management and book conversion application around.

For those who are ethically flexible there are also some third-party utilities for it that will do things like remove the DRM from most formats, amongst other dubious things. If anyone is tempted to use these - Remember that authors need to eat too...

Mountainmistress (author)rblee2012-05-15

Please don't be mistaken, I do not condone piracy in any form. As I mentioned in the description, personal libraries can be scanned into eBook form and loaded on your personal eReader. That is well within copywriter laws as long as it is for pesonal use only and you actually own the book you are scanning, much like copying CD's on your computer in MP3 form.
I do agree with you about Scribd having copywrited material but hey do also have non-copwrited materials.

Phil B (author)2012-05-15

e-Readers will display PDF documents, but the display font is often too small to read. That can be helped by pinching your thumb and first finger together, placing both on the screen, and spreading them. But, then you must pan back and forth on every line and it is a painful process. Exceptions are the Kindle Keyboard and the Kindle Fire. Both of those make resizing PDF books easier (according to the advertising, anyway).

Amazon just recently made new Kindle firmware available. Some things I had added to my Kindle Touch, particularly a calendar, had cut battery life from almost six weeks to one week. The new firmware extended it to three weeks and more. In a short time the new firmware will automatically download to Kindles everywhere, or you can go to the Kindle section at Amazon and manually download the new firmware. You will also need to install it manually if you download it manually.

Nemesis201077 (author)2012-05-15

Hi, This is a great use for an e-reader and a simlilar idea to one I'm developing further.
I'm currently working on a survival database system to catalogue wild foods for use on an android system. I figure a lot of people who are interested in this kind of thing could take an epad and via GPS it can tell them what kind of wild foods are available in that area. They can then learn about diferent areas and eventually not need to rely on the e-pad. I have a ridiculous amount of material, so will be starting with a UK version, but eventually a worldwide add-ons including shelter building and campcraft sections.
The E-reader is a great tool for all kinds of activities, thanks for sharing your idea.

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More by Mountainmistress:3 Programs to turn an old Android phone into a useful utility for your car.Don't throw away that old external frame pack just yet.Hiking/Survival Lanyard
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