Like many boys who hit fifth grade, my friends and I obsessed over the Newberry Winning novel Hatchet, which tells the tale of 13-year-old Brian who is stranded in the wilds of Canada after a prop plane goes down and kills the pilot. With no other options, Brian must learn to source food, water, and shelter with only the aid of a single hatchet.

During the fall the book was assigned reading, a bunch of 10-year-olds were promising their parents they would be extra careful with mini axes and proceeded to construct crude forts in backyards, abandoned lots, and patches of timber.

It was all fun and games. Little did I know that I would reach adulthood and see the lives of people I cared about come down to a single piece of gear. A childhood friend Craig got lost hiking in an unpopulated stretch of Northern California. He and his girlfriend might still be undiscovered skeletons leaning against a redwood had Craig not been able to construct a crude snare and kill a couple of squirrels. (His vegan girlfriend decided she was hungry enough to not be vegan just this once).

While we live in a relatively safe society, that doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed lives completely free of threats to life and limb. A turkey hunter one farm over from my childhood home was accidentally shot by an octogenarian who had developed the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and in a moment of confusion misjudged a fellow outdoorsman for a spring gobbler. It was quick thinking and self-applied bandages that kept the poor fellow from passing out due to blood loss on the way back to his truck.

 

The thing about gear; is it has to be tried and true without being inconvenient. Sure, the ideal situation would be to remain Eagle Scout prepared every time we leave the house, but the vast majority of us aren’t going to drag around oodles of gear in our day to day doings. The following gear from Uzi hits the sweet spot between dependability and practicality. Feel free to mix and match to cover your bases in a way that fits your own lifestyle and activities.

THE POWERFUL SELF DEFENSE OF HUMBLE TOOLS

Now that all 50 states offer some sort of concealed handgun permit, more people every year choose to take an active role in the wellbeing of themselves and their families by getting trained and licensed to carry.

However, unless you’re in Wyoming (the only state that has banned Gun Free Zones), there are times when your firearm is going to have to stay at home or in the car. The next best thing is a stun gun, right? Absolutely! It’s not a bad idea to grab a couple, one for the bedside table as a backup, and one for the glove compartment of each vehicle (check local laws). But like your Glock or Smith & Wesson, the stun gun may not be welcome everywhere.

For example, I spent a few years teaching night classes downtown Chicago. If I valued my job and my freedom, my 9mm and stun gun needed to stay in the car. But after class, I had to walk to a dark, nearly abandoned parking deck. The area was known for robberies, and even though I’m 6’6”, the bad guys had a habit of running in pairs.

One night, I walked down to see two, um, rather meth head looking gentlemen milling about. I mean, it’s a parking deck. You get in your car and go. If you’re hanging out there, it’s probably not for a friendly game of Rummy. There was no cell phone service and no real shot at running for the exit, so I squared my shoulders and walked right at them. My left hand went into my pocket for a tactical pen, which academia couldn’t legally ban. My right reached for the side pocket of my backpack for a solid flashlight, also not on the contraband list. If these guys wanted to give me a beat down in order to pawn my laptop for their next fix, I was going to make them earn it.

Fortunately, my crazed look and metal in each hand made them shuffle off towards the elevator in search of an easier score. When you’re sitting at home on the couch, it might seem absurd that a pen and a flashlight would be enough to deter a couple of muggers…but most perps just don’t want to work very hard for their loot (which is probably the very reason they’re criminals).

A flashlight and a pen are two items that you’ll find yourself constantly needing anyway. When you get them from Uzi, you also have the peace of mind that in a scrape, you’ve got something more than just your empty hands to preserve your safety.

EVERYDAY UTILITY

If you want to be frustrated in life, try to use a pair of scissors to do the job of a knife. From slashing open the box of your latest Amazon purchase to simple home and auto repairs, there should be a knife in every pocket and purse. If your job or passion takes you into situations where something a little more heavy duty is required, you just can’t go wrong with an Uzi fixed blade on your belt and an axe behind the seat of your truck or tucked into the SUV’s cargo compartment. Or, ditch that garage dartboard in favor of some backyard throwing knife action.

 

If you put on a badge every day, don’t leave the details of your shifts to chance. Check out Uzi’s line of dependable handcuffs, batons and megaphones to keep you and the citizens you protect safe.

Hopefully you never find yourself in a scrape. But if you do, you’re going to want better tools than just an iPhone and charging cord. Since mayhem rarely gives advanced notice, stock up on what you need today, and sleep well tonight.