patchHow reliant are we on mobile devices? It sounds like the punchline to a joke, but smartphones are so much a part of our lives now that this survival kit design from Box Clever includes not just the usual bandages, multi-tool, and lighter, but also an external battery to charge your phone.

“We’re so reliant upon technology,” [Box Clever principal Seth] Murray says, “that if my phone runs out of battery, not having access to my phone would be a really big deal.”

There’s also a smartphone app that includes instructions for each of the kit’s items, in addition to the printed instructions packaged inside the kit. But there’s method to this apparent madness.

Getting the right things in your kit was important, but in researching the project, Box Clever also identified a different and more worrisome problem: people aren’t paying enough attention. A 2012 survey found nearly half of Americans didn’t own a first-aid kit, and many who do have one don’t keep it handy. So a few of Patch’s contents, like a lighter and a bottle opener, are things you need all the time. This is Box Clever’s crafty way of making the kit constantly useful, so you actually keep it around. The team doesn’t call it a “disaster pack” or a “first-aid kit,” for exactly that reason—it’s too hard to get people to prepare for the worst. Instead, Patch is designed to keep you prepared for everything. Part of the project’s spec was it had to be small enough to fit in the side pocket of a backpack, which is exactly where Murray hopes you’ll keep it. Patch is for the urban survivalist, the city dweller at the end of the world.

“We didn’t know where we were going to be when a crisis happens,” Murray says. “We could be walking down the street, we could be in the car, we could be on a bridge.” Your preparation only matters if you’ve got it when you need it, and Box Clever found most people wouldn’t have any access to the things they purport to have at the ready. “This is a product that we want people to want,” Murray says. “It’s a product that we think people will desire, and not just need. And that, in our minds, is what will make more people prepared.”

The kit is just a conceptual design for now; it isn’t actually available yet. But they’re considering making it available possibly via Kickstarter. It seems like a clever idea to me, and we certainly could all stand to be a little more prepared for disaster to strike.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an emergency charger for your phone without the rest of the first aid kit, Amazon has a 6000 mAH battery pack on sale for $15. If the promotion is still on, using the promo code “EQVL973P” will reduce that to $10.


  1. The market is glutted with cellphone/tablet battery packs right now, so if that Amazon deal is over, there’ll be others. Meh had a pair of 10,000 mAh ones for sale this morning for $14 for both. It sold out quickly, but the deal sites will have other offers almost every day.

    Keep in mind just how valuable these battery packs can be in an emergency. A major power outage can easily outlast your cellphone battery. If the cell towers stay up, you have communication to reach friends and family. If they don’t, you still have their entertainment and informational value.

    That’s particularly helpful if you have children who won’t cope with being in a dark house well. In fact, you might want to put some entertainment like games and audiobooks on your phone just for those occasions. If you have room for video, the movie, “The Wizard of Oz” is particularly good at teaching how to face your fears.


    You might also want to put disaster guides on your mobile device. Texas A&M has links to some useful ones here:

    Here’s a link to various medical self-help books intended for third-world countries but also useful in disasters elsewhere:

    You might want to buy printed copies of their books and support what they do. Where There is No Doctor is particularly useful if you can’t get to a hospital.


    Finally, you might want to read this article:

    It stresses the importance of organizing your neighborhood and community in advance for emergencies. Don’t face those troubles alone and make the effort to get to know your more vulnerable neighbors.

    –Mike Perry

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