If your nature hike goes seriously awry, your cell phone will probably be your best chance of survival — if you can get signal, you can let people know where you are. If you can’t get signal, well, it is basically a hunk of metal. But, it’s a hunk of metal that can (if absolutely necessary) be busted up and used to make a signal mirror, a compass, a spear, a fire-starter, and a fishing lure. Saved by the cell!

The Art of Manliness has instructions on how to make all these survival necessities out of cell phone bits (plus a snare for small game, if you happened to have headphones with you when you get lost). The stuff you need — magnets, mirrors, bits of metal — can be found in basically any cell phone, smart or not, which the author determined by busting a bunch of them open. The article has lots of photos and instructions, but here’s the short version:

  • There’s reflective material behind the screen of your phone. Glue it to a piece of bark and use it to reflect light at passing ships, light aircraft, clever-looking deer, etc.
  • Fish the magnet out of your speaker, and use it to magnetize a small bit of wire. When you float that wire in some water, it will act as a compass.
  • Sharpen a circuit board on a rock for a high-tech version of flint-knapping. Welcome to the Silicon Age — like the Stone Age, but flabbier.
  • Starting a fire is going to be tricky, but you can do it by stripping the outside off your battery and touching a wire to its positive and negative terminals. It’ll get red-hot for like a second, so have your tinder ready.
  • Use sharp bits of metal for fishing lures, because fish will eat any damn thing.

And there you have it: conclusive proof that your cell phone is a critical survival tool, which you can throw in the face of any rugged rough-living homesteader who wants to mock your materialistic lifestyle. (Probably best if you go read the full instructions and practice a bit first, though, lest you be called upon to prove your cell-survival bona fides.)

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