The 10 Best Survival Apps for Preppers

by Tommy Grant

One of the most versatile tools for survival is right in your pocket. With internet access giving you unlimited information at your fingertips, rapid communication through messaging, and robust integrated tools like a gyroscope and camera- your smartphone is a powerhouse. You can make it even more powerful by downloading and getting to know a select suite of survival apps.

There are only a handful of survival-specific apps worth considering- but you shouldn’t limit your survival choices to those. Below we list out the best survival apps regardless of their original or intended use, and how best to use them.

Contents (Jump to a Section)

What to Look For in a Survival App

A survival app is any application that you can use in an emergency, disaster, or survival situation. We considered some free and some paid versions, plus survival manuals converted to apps.

One key consideration is whether the app can work when the phone cannot reach the internet. Sometimes you’ll need to download additional files for this to work, which may also make the app no longer free.

Value is the next consideration- if the app is a paid app, does it earn its keep? Many times this is the case. For some reason, many people (including me) have trouble justifying $3.99 on an app even if it’s lifesaving. It can be helpful to clear this mental hurdle for big upgrades in some cases.

The last consideration is the file size. Most apps are much less than a GB, but they can start to climb when you download files for offline use. Depending on your phone storage this may or may not make sense.

Your phone, camera, and messaging service are all critical during emergencies, but those all come standard with smartphones.

Below, we list out the top 10 survival apps in order of usefulness with a few editor’s picks to highlight my personal favorites.

10. Google Translate

by Google

iOS + Android, 170 MB+, 4.3/5 rating

Previous Rank = N/A

Download languages for a convenient offline translation tool anywhere.

If you travel Google Translate can certainly be useful. It can also be useful if you can communicate long distances to gather information. You can download translation files ahead of time so that the app works without a data connection. Common languages are always a good idea to store, plus any that you may encounter while traveling.

9. 5-0 Radio Police Scanner

by Smartest Apps

iOS, 23 MB, 4.7/5 rating

Previous Rank = N/A

Police scanners can give you real-time information without additional equipment.

Scanners can cost a pretty penny, but your phone can do it all the same with a reliable data connection. This app is useful for urban preppers who may need to monitor things in the neighborhood or civil unrest.

The amount of data going over scanners can be a bit overwhelming, but most scanner apps have code dictionaries built-in. Don’t get too sucked into listing to it like a vigilante or Cops fanboy- stick to using it to stay informed in specific situations.

8. Wikipedia

by Wikipedia

iOS + Android, 59.7 MB+, 4.4/5 rating

Previous Rank = N/A

Especially powerful when downloaded for offline access (22.14 GB compressed), have a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips.

It used to take an entire bookshelf to hold this much knowledge, but we got that down to a USB stick, and then further got that that down to just toting around in your pocket with a smartphone.

When you download a compressed Wikipedia, you lose some of the media but that’s a small trade-off for such a huge, portable knowledge bank. The app works well as an interface for it all and is a survival essential.

7. Seek

by iNaturalist

iOS + Android, 161.4 MB+, 4.8/5 rating

Previous Rank = N/A

Identify plants, fungi, animals, and more just by pointing your camera at them.

Seek is a plant/animal identification app with some gamification tweaks. You can build and catalog your observations, meet challenges, and earn achievements but the real power of the app is just in the identification itself.

One minor complaint you’ll see is that it can’t always identify what you show it, but I would rather the app admit that than turn up false information like some competitor apps do. It’s not a substitute for a foraging guide, but it is a great tool to quickly learn what you are working with.

6. Army Ranger Knots

by Nynix

iOS + Android, 55.4 MB+, 4.8/5 rating

Previous Rank = N/A

Animated knots help you tie a huge number of practical knots without having to memorize them.

You could just memorize the top 10 survival knots, but then what? There are a few types of knot apps available, but this one does practical knots best- focusing on the application of the knots rather than difficulty, beauty, and other factors we’re less concerned with.

5. Offline Survival Manual

by Ligi

iOS + Android, 55.4 MB+, 4.8/5 rating

Previous Rank = N/A

An entire free survival manual that is easy to navigate and completely accessible without data.

Other survival apps can rely on data connections to provide media, video tutorials, or unlock more content. Not this one- it is complete and includes it all in the compact original download.

It’s a simple but thorough guide that is laid out perfectly for app use. The only drawback is that it is only available for Android users, leaving Apple users with fewer choices.

4. SAS Survival Guide

by Trellisys

iOS + Android, 198 MB+, 4.9/5 rating

Previous Rank = N/A

With three separate apps including SAS Survival Lite, SAS Survival, and SAS Urban- you can get exactly what you need.

The original SAS Survival Guide persists at the top of our best survival guide list every year, and the full app is pretty much the same information in an easy-to-navigate format. The downside is that the full app is about $6- only the Lite version is free and that version does not include all of the information.

SAS Urban is specifically for urban preppers and has good coverage of topics for about $4. All of that said, the Lite version is still worth downloading and checking out before you shell out a few bucks for the whole package.


by Strava

iOS + Android, 62.3 MB+, 3.8/5 rating

Previous rank = N/A

Mostly used for ski slopes and hikes, FATMAP is a great pick for outdoor survival adventures as well.

With 3D topological maps and route tracking, this app is perfect for anyone bugging out any distance on foot. While Google Maps is irreplaceable for most on-road transit, this app is ideal for those venturing into the wilderness.

2. Compass

by Various Developers

iOS + Android, 62.3 MB+, 3.2/5 rating

Previous rank = N/A

The pre-installed app or a standalone can be used, but don’t underestimate the power of a smartphone compass.

Not all phones come with a compass app standard even though most come with gyroscopes these days. Having a backup survival compass to navigate paper maps is invaluable for survival and wilderness navigation.

While I stick with the preinstalled compass for my iPhone, there are a variety of 3rd party apps that all perform similarly.

1. First Aid

by American Red Cross

iOS + Android, 185.8 MB, 4.1/5 rating

Previous rank = N/A

An important survival skill and part of any survival kit, this app can shore up your first aid knowledge when you need it most.

With the wide range of things that can go wrong with the human body, it’s nice to have a first aid manual on hand to tackle any issue thoughtfully. Even with training, some injuries and sicknesses can cause us to not think straight, so following guides and checklists are helpful.

The American Red Cross first aid solution in app form does the job great and is completely free. Download it and get familiar with it today so you can get used to the menus and swing into action when needed.

Other Survival Apps to Consider

We mentioned it before, but don’t underestimate the power of the pre-installed apps on your phone.

  • Phone – One of the quickest ways to share information, pick up the phone and make a call to find out the situation.
  • SMS – One of the few communication methods your phone uses that doesn’t require a ‘handshake’ at the cell tower. When you send a message and it has an error, you can keep sending it until it goes through. Messaging also uses less power than other applications or calls.
  • Camera – Documenting situations, locations, people, and belongings with photos and video is useful in a wide range of emergencies.
  • Payment Apps – If you become separated from your wallet, you’ll still want to be able to function and be able to pay your way. Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Wallet are all widely accepted.
  • Weather – we’ll start a never-ending fight if we advocate for a specific app, but generally any weather app with forecast models can get the job done.

Some other apps I’ve found useful include:

  • Google Sheets – Using this for checklists, plans, budget tracking, and even conversations has been helpful over the years.
  • Robinhood – This makes it easy to diversify my financial preparedness and lets me keep tabs on it in real time.
  • Trackers – I used to use Tile but switched over to Apple Tags and have been pleased with their performance. They integrate well into the Find My app and the best use I’ve had is using them in wristbands on my young kids whenever we go to crowded areas.
  • Health – There are plenty of health and fitness apps that are great, but the simple health app that displays emergency health information on my lock screen has been a great addition.

The Final Word

Survival apps can turn that little brick in your pocket into a powerhouse. Using technology to your advantage in survival situations just makes sense and most of the apps we’ve highlighted are free.

Here are some other guides our subscribers have found helpful:

If you have any favorite survival apps that we may have missed or chosen not to rank, weigh in below in the comment section. We’ll take the time to review it before our next roundup and see where it stacks up.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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