Upgrade Your Bug-Out Bag with the Kindle eReader

by Erich

One piece of gear that you’ll want to seriously consider adding to your bug-out bag is a Kindle eReader.

When I first mention this to my other prepping friends, I typically get laughed at — after all, relying upon electronics in a survival situation should be avoided, right?

After all, what if there was an EMP or solar storm? Or what if the Kindle got wet? And what about battery life? What will you do when the battery dies?

These are all valid questions but with some proper precautions (which I’ll be getting into in a bit) the advantages of a Kindle (and other “electronic-ink” eReaders) far outweigh the risks of losing it.

Let’s take a look and see why…

The Advantages of a Kindle as a Bug-Out Tool

First off, the Kindle eReader I’m talking about is the “electronic ink” variety that only displays black and white. Not the color “Fire” one that is more like an iPad. These are ok too but in my opinion are not as ideal for a bug-out situation. Here are the top reasons you need to add a Kindle to your BOB…

A Prepping Library in the Palm of Your Hand

The main benefit of having a Kindle in your bug-out bag is being able to access a literal library in the palm of your hand. Kindles can store over 3000 books!

On top of that, you can upload PDF files which lets you take advantage of the huge amount of fantastic (and free) prepping files out there on the web — everything from arrow making to zeroing a rifle.

And since you can print anything into a PDF file (using apps like BullZip PDF Printer) you can also store personal maps, cache locations, inventory lists and more.

Especially if a crisis became long term, having that kind of information at your fingertips is a huge advantage.

Low Power Requirements and Fast Recharge

The big advantage Kindles have over their color-tablet cousins (like the iPad, Kindle Fire, or Galaxy) is ridiculously long battery life.

Based upon a half-hour of daily reading time, a single battery charge lasts up to two months (with wireless off)!

In addition, recharging can be easily done off grid with small solar panels. And using a portable solar panel like the Suntactics sCharger-5 Solar Charger will allow you to keep it charged even while on the go.

Entertainment to Break up the Monotony

If you do decide to store a Kindle in your BOB I’d recommend adding some novels, children’s books (if you have kids) and other “light” reading.

Survival situations are inherently stressful and depending on if you’re holed up in one spot for long it can be monotonous and boring. Having some entertainment to break up the monotony is another reason a Kindle is a beneficial tool for your BOB.

Getting Around the Issues

So we already talked about how to get around the power issue. But what about some of the other concerns that people have, like the elements or an EMP?

Overcoming the Elements

The elements, especially moisture from rain or accidental immersion, are a real issue when it comes to non weather proof electronics like the Kindle.

This can be effectively remedied through use of a Loksak. I reviewed the Loksak last year after seeing it the 2012 SHOT Show in Vegas and absolutely loved them. They’re certified waterproof to 200 feet and the US Army Special Forces Group Dive Detachment uses them to protect their valuable electronics from salt water and hot humid conditions.

If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

What’s also great is you don’t need to remove the Kindle (or any tablet for that matter) from the LokSak to use the electronics. Your finger can still activate the touch screen (if it’s a Kindle touch) even when in the LokSak bag.

Protecting your Kindle from an EMP Attack

Although an EMP attack or solar storm is not a very likely scenario, it’s still a potential threat that many preppers prepare for and worry about.

If this concerns you there are some options that may work for you.

One is to enclose it in a 3M Reclosable Static Shielding Bag. These 3M bags (that I’ve linked to) meet MIL-PRF-81705D Type III standards which are pretty effective against electromagnetic pulse. For added effectiveness you can also wrap it in a few layers of aluminum foil.

Is this proven to work? I don’t know. We really don’t know what the true effects of an EMP surge will be, but we know that using a Faraday “cage” can have the greatest potential and possibility of protecting our electronics gear — whether that is our GPS device or our Kindle e-reader.


Despite the potential downsides electronics like the Kindle bring to the table, the advantages you can gain from adding the Kindle to your bug-out bag far outweigh these negatives.

Although the Kindle is a great tool and I highly recommend it — it is still just a tool. Remember, the saying, “two is one and one is none” still applies here. It’s not a bad idea to add a small survival guide or two as back up just as you should have a compass as backup for your GPS.

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Comment by DavidM
2013-10-05 13:34:11

If you keep some air in the LokSak (or even a common zip-lock bag if that’s all you have) when around water, it will float–you never know when that might be a lifesaver (at least for the Kindle).

I would recommend carrying an extra battery and swapping it with the one inside the unit for each charge. Even rechargeable batteries, after all, do have a limited lifespan. A spare battery should at least double it, and Kindle batteries are very compact.

You might also want to consider a Nook as an alternative to a Kindle. Nook has a very important feature which Kindle lacks: its on-board memory (Micro SD card) can be expanded to up to 32GB (vs 2GB non-expandable for the basic Kindle) and if 32 gigs isn’t enough, you can carry extra cards (about the size of a fingernail). If 3000 books is a lot, imagine being able to carry over 100,000 with a Nook and two spare 32gb cards! Remember, in a true SHTF situation, we will need to preserve our history, art, culture, and literature as well as attend to immediate survival needs. With a Nook….one can literally carry the entire contents of a fair-sized library.

I’d also recommend two chargers for redundancy–just too easy to lose or break one. I don’t know about the Kindle, but the Nook will charge from a USB port, so I would bet that a hand-cranked cell phone charger will serve very well. AND it will work if your battery goes dead at night or if the sun isn’t shining.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-10-05 16:03:09

Great advice David. I don’t know much about the Nook but it sounds better each time you write about it.

Comment by Tolik
2013-10-05 13:46:04

I dont know much about the kindles , but would prefer something that could play back both .pdf , and mpegs. I would want color . If your going to recharge it anyway , who cares .

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-10-05 16:09:28

Hey Tolik,

I guess it’s six of one, half-dozen of another. My thoughts are I’d rather have the longest battery life possible (and quickest recharge). If your solar setup can effectively and quickly charge an iPad (or something similar) by all means, go for it.

Comment by Olivia
2013-10-05 13:47:27

I checked out the reclosable static bags. They look a lot like mylar bags. I have no idea what either are made of…..could a mylar bad do the same thing? Is it true that your equipment stored in a faraday cage must not touch the walls of the static bags or metal containers?

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-10-05 16:07:20

Hi Olivia,

Mylar bags aren’t the same (I though the same thing when I first looked into them). A true faraday cage actually does not require insulation on the inside walls since the electromagnetic charge is only on the outer parts. However, I still like to insulate my equipment anyways (somehow, I just feel better about it). The 3M bags are set up already with insulation.

Comment by Jerry g
2013-10-05 14:00:18

Good Question, does the “Kindle” have a USB port ? And can more info be stored with extra USB’s.

Comment by John
2013-10-05 14:14:26

I wholeheartedly agree with you here.

I don’t own one (yet), but one of these days I probably will. So many situations in life require a hurry up and wait situation. If you keep your BOB or GHB with you, something to read will always be nearby. That and when you find a secure place to take a break on your evac route or return route, reading is a good option.

Comment by Muriel
2013-10-05 14:17:50

While I can see the usefulness of a Kindle in short-term survival situations, I’m not sure it is necessary to try to save an entire library of books in a Nook with extra cards. The one building that remain unlooted and untouched during Katrina in New Orleans was the public library…

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-10-05 16:11:42

lol. great comment Muriel. I guess the biggest benefit would be, if things went REALLY south, and you had to rebuild a small society again starting with your family, having as much information as possible is better than only a little.

Comment by Dan
2013-10-05 14:39:36

I have been planning on using my Kindle for the EOTWAWKI since I got it 3 years ago. I currently have over 2000 books available for it. I store most of them on my desktop and I can then transfer them back and forth. Yes you can charge the Kindle with a USB port and exchange data.
There are a ton of free classics and the like available on the internet for free that come in the Kindle format. Of course I haven’t put any of them on the Kindle but I have downloaded them for future use.
While the Kindle does not have batteries that can be swapped out, it is a simple job to change the internal battery if it becomes necessary. There are YouTube videos that show you how to do this. I’ve purchase a couple of extra batteries just in case. In fact there are a lot of parts you can stock up on that would allow you to make repairs.
I’ve read the comments about the Nook having the Micro SD card capability but having most of novels on my computer I don’t see the necessity. Yes I have solar energy capability for the essentials and an hour or so with the computer wouldn’t hurt.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-10-05 16:12:26

Thanks Dan. I need to look up those videos and get some extra batteries. Good thought.

Comment by DavidM
2013-10-05 14:42:26

I hadn’t thought of the USB port on the Kindle possibly being usable with a flash drive or SSD–that could potentially provide virtually infinite storage-does anyone know if it can be used in that manner? If any USB device can be used to transfer material, the external hard drives I currently keep a number of eBooks on could be quickly stored in solid state form. An external hard drive, of course, requires a power source, and I presume a flash drive or SSD would reduce battery life–by how much I do not know.

As to the idea of keeping an entire library on storage media which essentially take up no space….it may not be of great use in a short-term situation, but in the long run….my retreat is a number of miles from anything resembling a town or any place that has a library. Should a “build from the ground up” situation occur, I agree that libraries are unlikely to be looted, though I would not be surprised to see books used as fuel during the first winter. Among the free references currently available in e-book form is a collection of documents entitled “How To Build A Country” which begins with the basics of ensuring a reliable supply of food and water, construction skills (including how to make your own tools and materials) for shelter and other buildings as needed, and how to establish a government and an economy, along with pretty much everything else under the sun. The download can be had using any Bittorrent client. That collection by itself is around 2gb in size.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-10-05 16:13:19

My thoughts exactly.

Comment by DavidM
2013-10-05 15:33:34

Another thing: you can turn a Nook into an Android tablet with the addition of a $30 add-on card. Perhaps not a terrible useful survival feature, but it combines the functions of two devices in one and therefore makes it more likely that you’ll have the thing with you more often and be in the habit of taking it wherever you go.

Comment by James Stoney
2013-10-05 16:42:17

Yep, as a Federal First Responder (Security/Law Enforcement Officer) that is why I always have my Nook with me, it contains several documents, as well as books to read during “down-times” – if I am not sleeping (of course I carry my laptop too).
I carry my Nook in a small Pelican Case when traveling and once on the scene, it is in a waterproof bag – located in my pack!

Comment by Heather
2013-10-05 16:58:21

My opinion based on actual use of the devices in question.
The kindle is a device my family loves. It certainly has a long list of pros. Do not underestimate its value as entertainment in addition to its value as a tool. The cons list, after actual use is simple but serious. Limited on board storage and severely over rated battery life. Two months? It barely holds a charge two months if you NEVER turned it on. It is fantastic for a few weeks though. I will give you that. The ability to store the books on a couple of microSD’s is definitely a better bet. In a true SHTF situation that is legitimately long term, do you really thing you are always going to have the option to go download them later? How about even to transfer them from your home PC to the device? Absolutely not. In fact, the ability to download information you need is likely to be one of the first things to disappear. How fast were those options eliminated on 9-11? Moments!!! The very first thing the govt did was shut down phones and internet to the entire area. We are fools to think it would be any different during any other situation. Storing the books you need on microSD’s and using a Nook is definitely a better option if available.This is where testing and usage should happen before it becomes needed. Remember the reality of the creating a BOB in the first place. It is supposed to be so that you can grab it and GO, not so you can dig around, find the device, load your library, repack and then go.
If you choose this route, it is logical to be equally certain to have a way to recharge it. Then test that in a real world situation BEFORE it matters to see if you are right. Otherwise, give it up and don’t waste space in your BOB for it. It’s small, but not that small.

Comment by MI Patriot
2013-10-05 18:41:41

I have a Nook Color and I LOVE it!!! I use it as a laptop when I am in boring meetings. I can’t do the tabbed browsing that you can with IE, but I am sure that with all the B&N apps out there, somewhere there is software that will let you do that too. The SD card is a great feature. I have fat fingers, so putting the SD card in is a challenge sometimes,but it goes pretty easy. You can also used the Nook cord to attach to your computer and drag and drop files from your computer to your Nook and back. I like it because it does audio MP3, MP4, WAV, AAC, MIDI) and PDF. I know it will play videos, but the only videos I have played on it are the ones from YouTube or the Internet. I have a hand crank radio with a USB port that handles my Nook just fine.

The only thing I DON’T like about my Nook is even though it is an Android system, you cannot put the normal, everyday Android apps on it. The Nook is an Android system that was designed specifically for Barnes and Noble. I would stick it in my bag in a heart beat.

Comment by Silas Longshot
2013-10-05 19:04:42

Absolutely, my kindle goes for the trip. Over 300 books, magazines and articles in it to date. Coupled with a solar panel charger http://astore.amazon.com/survurbacris-20?node=109&page=2 to keep it alive. Also will charge your cell phone, if the system still works.

Comment by Party Planner
2013-10-05 19:28:06

Kindles do NOT have a USB port. Ipads are a whole other story. I suggest, to anyone worried about more than books, one would be wise to get an android tablet. Kindles (NOT the Fire) have insane battery life. However, android tablets have decent life, can be expanded with micro-SD cards (newer tablets take the new 64gb card), and can be rigged with a USB micro MALE to USB FEMALE (USB OTG) cable that allows thumb drives and printers to be attached.

PS: How do I know this?
A.A.S. Network Engineering
B.S. Intel Management
B.A. Mid East Studies
M.S. Inat’l Relations

I had better know all of this.

Comment by DocG
2013-10-05 23:30:44

Please help me find the resource that you mentioned, I have searched everywhere I dare and found nothing: ” Among the free references currently available in e-book form is a collection of documents entitled “How To Build A Country” which begins with the basics of ensuring a reliable supply of food and water, construction skills (including how to make your own tools and materials) for shelter and other buildings as needed, and how to establish a government and an economy, along with pretty much everything else under the sun. The download can be had using any Bittorrent client. That collection by itself is around 2gb in size.”
Please help. I use Drop Box (free account) to share and store files on the ‘cloud’. You get up to 5, 10, or 20 Gb for free. This might be an option, and there are several others as well. Thanks in advance!

Comment by Sandy
2013-10-06 00:09:56

As the owner/purchaser of seven Kindles (I have lost one and destroyed one when I crushed it in my recliner, I gave one to my mother and another to my sister) I believe I can add a little of insight to this discussion. That leaves me with one generation 2, one like the one pictured here, and one kindle fire, not hd. For a bob I would most highly recommend the generation 2 because it uses 3g technology and connects to Amazon cloud directly where the newer versions have to have wifi to connect. Although a new generation 2 is still in the $300+ price range, I have bought two recently, one for myself after my mother lost hers and I gave her mine, and one for my sister, each for less than $50 by buying used. Both of them came with power cables and a leather case, one even had a light attached. In a power down situation, I can still access the 4000+ books that are in my archives and can use either my car or my solar charger.
One thing I really like is that all five (mine, mother’s and sister’s) kindles and my three computers have access to all of the books I have bought because they are registered to the same account.
I routinely visit two sites that show free kindle books that change daily. I get a lot of prepping books by visiting Pamspriderecommendations.com. The other site I check almost daily is ereaderiq.com.
Presently I am working on downloading books to an external hard drive so I can access them through my computer if the cloud goes down or is “hijacked.”
To add to the nook vs kindle discussion, my sister has a nook but added the kindle gen 2 because she wanted the text to speech feature, which is wonderful for us seniors. I don’t know if the nook is wifi or 3g but that might be a factor for her as well.

Comment by Great Grey
2013-10-06 02:47:59

But there is nothing to stop looters from burning your local library. Also it may be difficult or dangerous to travel to it.

Comment by Great Grey
2013-10-06 03:00:19

As for kids books, in the event of a disaster even though you do not have kids now you could wind up having some to take care of.

Comment by CherylB
2013-10-06 14:01:02

I can’t speak for the Nook, but battery life on the Kindle is amazing. I had my Kindle 3G for two years with absolutely no problems (until I dropped it in the tub that contain Epsom Salts and totally fried it).

Bringing a spare battery, even as small and light as they are, is a waste because you cannot recharge them outside of the device. And the more often you open the back of your device, the more likely you are to damage or destroy it, especially under ‘survival’ conditions.

I understand wanting to preserve our history and all during an apocalyptic event, but you’re better off preserving said history in a [multiple] cache(s) instead of on your person because in a survival situation, there may come a time when you only have seconds to grab one item and go and I’m going to be grabbing my weapon instead of my Kindle because I can’t eat a Kindle and I can’t kill someone with a Kindle (without destroying it).

And the Kindle charge I have for my 3G is USB.

Comment by Charles
2013-10-06 14:36:46

I have an older Kindle with the keyboard, I think a generation 2 model. Is this the one that is preferred? Are the Paperwhite models equally useful?

Comment by Heather
2013-10-06 16:40:51

Yes Charles, that is the one that is preferred due to it’s extensive battery life. The newer ones have significantly shorter battery life. The Fire has a battery life of a few hours. It’s terrible. They are each fun and handy to have but many folks have seriously over estimated their value. They are useless if everything you want to read is “archived” rather than in on board storage.

Comment by cheryl
2013-10-06 16:53:42

I have the Nook e-reader & love it. It’s storage capacity is phenomenal. I have downloaded all kinds of books & I can download files, music, even movies. It has so much more to offer than the kindle.

Comment by Jeff
2013-10-06 17:58:16

I would think that color would be an important feature especially if you’re trying to determine from survival books which plants are edible and which are poisonous.

Comment by leo
2013-10-06 22:12:40

Thanks for the info I would have to agree a good product to have.

Comment by SeanD
2013-10-06 23:19:28

Trying to find the collection that you were discussing, as I already have my Transformer set up with prepper ebooks, but cannot find reference to it anywhere. Are you certain of the name? Or do you have a link to the torrent file?

Comment by SeanD
2013-10-06 23:22:21

My comment was directed at DavidM but the reply did not attach to the comment. I was asking about the “How to Build a Country” ebook collection.

Comment by Great Grey
2013-10-07 16:29:23

Jeff the color often is wrong in pictures even in the best books, a good black & white lets you look at the details of the plant and not be distracted by the pretty colors, not that color isn’t helpful. Also the shade of color for a plant can be different depending on where it is growing, soil, climate, fringe/heart of range, weather of the year, time of the year.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-10-07 16:35:28

I second that about the plant color. All my best identification books that I’ve learned the most from (ie Newcomb’s wildflower guide, Botany in a Day etc) are black and white.

Comment by Susan I.
2013-10-08 09:25:14

I would like to know more about the add-on for the Nook that simulates an Android tablet. I have the first Nook ( black and white model). Will this add on work on the original Nook or only on the newer color models?

Comment by Shari
2013-10-08 23:30:59

My adult daughter and I find your advice very interesting. I’ve looked up the Nook and discovered there are several options and haven’t been able to determine which one will work or might be the best. Could you please help us out by sharing more details as to which one are you recommending?

Thank you for your time,

Comment by Laura
2017-12-01 13:05:48

I have one, charged it once and is 80% after 2 years and Reading 20 books.

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