Modular electronic multi-tool preps you for digital age survival

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The Survivolt kit uses a 5,000 mAh battery/handle and a series of modules(Credit: ​C.C. Weiss / New Atlas)

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Multi-tools come in all forms, from modular shovels to flare-shooting pens. One form that we're seeing more and more of is the electronic multi-tool, typically a flashlight, radio or other outdoor-friendly gadget, like the Fogo smart flashlight, that also charges external devices and performs other critical outdoor and survival functions. An all-new member of this category, the modular Seattle Sports Survivolts uses a 5,000 mAh battery to charge your phone, throw light down-trail, signal for help and even start fires.

The Survivolts kit is quite similar in concept to the Goal Zero Switch 10 – a handheld battery cylinder that can charge external gadgets or power handy modules. While the Switch is more focused on gadget-charging and general outdoors features like a flashlight and fan, the Survivolts earns its name with a focus on emergency "Mult-E-Tools".

The kit that we checked out at Outdoor Retailer includes six individual modules, each of which plugs into the USB port on the 4.6 x 1.4-in (11.7 x 3.6-cm, L x D) battery, creating a streamlined tool. Easily the most interesting of the modules is the flameless electronic fire starter, which sparks fire with an electrical arc. We didn't think it prudent to ask Seattle Sports to start an actual fire inside the ballroom of the hotel, but we did practice creating the arc at the push of the Survivolts' button, which was as quick and easy as it sounds.

The electronic fire starter is cool, but it seems likely to end up taking a backseat to a standard lighter or matches during actual outdoor fire starting. By the time you pull the storage case out of your pack, pull both the module and battery out of the case and attach them, your buddy's already set the tinder ablaze with the butane lighter from his shorts' pocket. The Survivolts' 130-lumen flashlight head seems more likely to see frequent use, creating a compact torch for regular or backup campsite lighting duties. The power bank itself also includes a built-in 8-lumen LED flashlight.

Three of the other modules are focused on emergency signaling. The 5-mW laser pointer provides a powerful option; the 150-lumen strobe works to catch the eye; and the 135-decibel siren offers an audible alert.

The final module is an on/off switch designed as a go-between for use with other power banks. If the Survivolts battery is out of juice, you can plug the needed tool into another battery and have a switch to turn it on and off (the Survivolts' main switch is on the battery itself). The tool module plugs into the USB port on the switch and the switch into the USB port of the battery bank.

The Survivolts kit will launch in February 2017 for US$59.95. It will come in a plastic case with foam organizer. It will debut alongside a couple of other interesting products we checked out at Outdoor Retailer. The $27.95 PowerLid caps off a standard water bottle (not included) with a solar panel-fed 2,400 mAh battery pack designed for charging gadgets. It can also be recharged via USB. The collapsible FireWater Plus, also $27.95, features a solar/USB-rechargeable LED lid to work as both a 750ml water bottle and 50- to 100-lumen lantern.

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