If you’re lost in the wilderness or facing down an attacker being able to signal for help is critical. One of the best ways to do this is using an emergency whistle. Unfortunately not all whistles are created equal and something that a coach or referee might love probably won’t serve nearly as well for a signalling whistle. To help you out we’ve reviewed some of the top whistles available today and put together a basic buying guide so you can find the best emergency whistle for your needs.
- 1 Best Emergency Whistles
- 1.1 Sonic Blast Whistle
- 1.2 Leatherman Signal Multi Tool with Whistle
- 1.3 Storm Alert Whistle
- 1.4 Nitecore NWS10 Titanium Outdoor Emergency Whistle
- 1.5 Gerber Bear Grylls Ferro Rod with Emergency Whistle
- 1.6 SOG Flint Aluminum Survival Whistle
- 1.7 Sharpal 101N Pocket Sharpener with Whistle
- 1.8 Coghlan’s Multi Function Whistle
- 1.9 Diroca Outdoor Paracord Bracelet with Survival Whistle
- 1.10 SOL Rescue Howler Whistle
- 1.11 HyperWhistle
- 1.12 ACME 636 Slimline Tornado Safety Whistle
- 1.13 Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Bracelet with Emergency Whistle
- 1.14 Vargo Titanium Emergency Whistle
- 2 Buyer’s Guide for Best Emergency Whistle
- 3 Final Thoughts
Best Emergency Whistles
Emergency whistles have one purpose, to produce a massive amount of noise. They need to be small, durable, and easy to carry around with you. The best emergency whistles will combine all these features and be available at a relatively low price.
Here’s a list of 14 excellent emergency whistles available today across a range of form factors and prices.
Sonic Blast Whistle
The Sonic Blast Whistle is a compact pea-less signaling whistle designed for disaster relief and search and rescue operations. It’s designed with a break away lanyard for easy carry and quick release in case it catches on anything.
The Sonic Blast has 2 sound chambers and 4 different resonators. This creates a multi toned sound that can reach 120 decibels at maximum volume. It’s available in lots of color choices and is made from sturdy plastic with a stainless steel lanyard ring.
The Sonic Blast is affordable, extremely loud, and designed with the safety needs of rescue personnel in mind. Overall a great option for a purpose built emergency whistle.
Leatherman Signal Multi Tool with Whistle
The Signal is a wilderness specific multi tool designed by Leatherman. It’s built to combine excellent general purpose tools with hiking/camping specific tools. It’s a full sized multi tool, coming in at 7.2 oz in a 4.5 inch long body. It provides you with 19 different tools, including:
- Needlenose Pliers
- Regular Pliers
- Regular Wire Cutters
- Hard Wire Cutters
- Wire Stripper
- Awl With Thread Loop
- 420HC Combination Knife
- Can Opener
- Bottle Opener
- 1/4 in Bit Driver
- Hex Wrench
- Bit Driver
- 3/16 Hex Wrench
- Safety Whistle
- Ferrocerium Rod
- Diamond Sharpener
The Signal is built using a standard butterfly fold design. It has a combination of outside and inside accessible tools plus 3 removable survival tools. The safety whistle is located on one of these removable pieces.
The general purpose tools on the Signal show all the hallmarks of Leatherman’s famous craftsmanship. They’re large enough to work well under most situations and just as useful in an office setting as the backcountry. Where the Signal really shines though is the survival tools it provides.
The removable tool holders include a diamond sharpener, ferrocerium fire starter rod, and safety whistle. This lets you signal for help, put a field edge on your main blade, and start a fire. It’s impossible to exaggerate how helpful these tools would be in a true emergency.
The Signal is a big, feature packed tool that gives you a fighting chance in a wilderness survival situation. Buying one just for the whistle is definitely overkill but if you’re in the market for an excellent multi tool and want it to include an emergency whistle the Leatherman Signal is an excellent choice.
For a more in depth look at the Leatherman Signal, check out our full review here.
Storm Alert Whistle
The Storm Alert whistle is marketed as the world’s loudest whistle and we can attest that it’s really, really loud. It’s been reliably measured at 130+ decibels when at full blast. It’s made from sturdy blaze orange plastic for strength and high visibility using a dual chamber design.
This makes it louder and easier to pick out than other whistles but that’s just the beginning of the Storm Alert’s features. It was built from the ground up with sailors, boaters, and divers in mind. Its design allows it to function perfectly even when submerged underwater.
The Storm Alert is so good at what it does that the US Military as well as dozens of law enforcement and maritime agencies issue them as a standard tool.
It’s definitely on the large side for an emergency whistle but considering its feature set we can forgive this. If you’re looking for a signaling whistle for your boat or dive kit the Storm Alert should be your first choice.
Nitecore NWS10 Titanium Outdoor Emergency Whistle
It’s a pea-less design that takes full advantage of the sleek appearance of titanium. The NWS10 just looks high-tech. It has a boxy design with a circular lanyard attachment point at the end. It has a single chambered design and is capable of producing 120 decibels of sound at maximum power.
If you’ve been looking for a compact and durable whistle to add to your EDC the Nitecore NWS10 Titanium whistle is a great option.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ferro Rod with Emergency Whistle
Bear Grylls is known around the world as an adventurer and survivalist. His partnership with Gerber has created some innovative and downright useful gear. The Bear Grylls fire starter and whistle combo is one of these tools.
It combines a nice ferrocerium fire starter in a tinder containing tube with a whistle. The whistle is built into the pull tab of the lanyard and is extremely small and lightweight. We tried it out and found it to be a bit quieter than stand alone whistles but still easy to pick out over a large distance.
If you want to combine two of the most important survival tools into one the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter with Whistle won’t let you down.
SOG Flint Aluminum Survival Whistle
SOG’s mission is to produce the most rugged and mission ready outdoor and survival gear on the planet. Their Flint Survival and Self-Defense tool does a great job embodying this ethos. It combines a fire starter rod, pea-less safety whistle, and carbide glass breaker into a package about the size and weight of a pen.
The body is made from anodized aluminum and is just over 4 inches long when closed. To use the various tools you unscrew the o-ring sealed compartments and rearrange them. The fire starter produces a large spray of sparks and includes a large enough compartment to store some dry tinder.
The whistle is located at the top of the Flint near the attached lanyard ring. It’s very small but still loud enough to be heard over a very long distance. On the other end of the Flint is the carbide glass breaker/self-defense tool. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to gleefully shatter glass with it but we have no doubt that it would perform admirably.
If you’re looking for an ultra compact multi purpose survival tool the SOG Flint Survival Whistle and Fire Starter is an excellent choice.
The Sharpal 101N is a small multi tool that gives you the ability to sharpen tools, start a fire, and signal for help. These are three of the most essential tools needed in a wilderness emergency.
The focus of the 101N is on sharpening knives, fish hooks, and other bladed tools. To that end it has a pair of slot style sharpeners as well as a diamond coated serrated sharpening rod with hook sharpening groove.
On one end of the 101N is a removable ferrocerium rod to quickly get a fire going. On the other side is a piercing emergency whistle.
While we wouldn’t recommend buying this as a dedicated emergency whistle it’s a great little tool if you’re already looking for a knife sharpener. It’s compact, easy to carry, and combines several of the most important functions needed when in a desperate situation.
Coghlan’s Multi Function Whistle
Coghlan’s has been producing reliable outdoor gear for decades. Their multi function emergency whistle gives you either 4 or 6 different tools to work with in an emergency.
The basic model is made from sturdy plastic in a choice of blaze orange or bright yellow and provides a whistle, compass, magnifying glass, and thermometer. This gives you basic navigation, fire starting, and signaling capability for just a few dollars.
The 6 tool model is bright silver and adds a small LED light and signaling mirror to the above tool list. While a thermometer may not seem like a survival tool at first glance you’d be surprised. If you’re lost in the desert or another potentially high temperature environment knowing when it’s too hot to be in the sun can be a literal lifesaver.
The Coghlan’s Multi Function Whistle is a feature packed survival tool that’s as useful as it is fun to use.
Diroca Outdoor Paracord Bracelet with Survival Whistle
The Diroca Outdoor Paracord Survival Bracelet is designed to be a lightweight, go anywhere emergency kit. It combines 19 different tools into a wearable package, including:
- 12’ Reflective Paracord
- Emergency Whistle
- Ferrocerium Rod
- Scraper/Knife Blade
- Mini Fishing Kit
- Alcohol Pad
- Two Safety Pins
It gives you a fishing kit, fire starting system, and the ability to clean small scrapes. This lets you catch a ready source of protein and prepare a fire to cook it.
The emergency whistle itself is a small pull tab on one end of the bracelet. It’s a pea-less design that’s very loud without being immediately deafening. The design of the bracelet as a whole makes it easy to carry with you wherever you go.
The Diroca Survival Paracord Bracelet doesn’t have the loudest or most powerful survival whistle. The one it has though is easy to carry and included as part of a very useful set of tools.
SOL Rescue Howler Whistle
The SOL Rescue Howler Whistle is an ultra compact emergency whistle designed for wilderness signaling. It’s a pea-less design made from lightweight plastic in a blaze orange color.
The design allows it to produce a 100+ decibel blast of sound in any conditions. It comes with 2 whistles at a very affordable price, allowing you to put one in your main bag and carry one on your keychain if you so desire.
For its price the SOL Rescue Howler is a reliable and well made survival whistle that won’t let you down when it counts.
The HyperWhistle is one of the loudest whistles we’ve ever heard. It produces an earsplitting 142+ decibel sound using a unique radial design. The HyperWhistle is so loud the manufacturer includes a pair of reusable earplugs to help protect your hearing when using it.
Instead of a single sound chamber it uses what’s basically three different whistles built in one. Each whistle produces a slightly different tone to make the HyperWhistle clearly audible up to 2 miles away. The pea-less design and use of antimicrobial materials also allows it to function even after full submergence.
If you’re looking for the loudest whistle you can find for maritime use the HyperWhistle is going to be high up on your list.
ACME 636 Slimline Tornado Safety Whistle
The ACME 636 Slimline Tornado is plastic safety whistle that produces 117 decibels of sound in a pea-less design. It’s made from durable plastic with a patented venting system to prevent debris from impacting the sound produced.
The Slimline Tornado is especially made to be more compact and portable than similar whistles. It’s made in the United Kingdom and includes a stainless steel lanyard ring to attach it to your pack or keychain.
The ACME 636 Slimline Tornado is an excellent choice for an ultra portable survival and signaling whistle.
Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Bracelet with Emergency Whistle
The Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Bracelet is as attractive an accessory as it is useful a survival tool. It gives you 12 feet of paracord when fully unwound, an emergency whistle, and a copy of Bear Grylls “Priorities of Survival”.
The whistle itself is made of plastic with a pea-less design. It’s attached at the end of the lanyard and is capable of producing 100 decibels of sound.
The Bear Grylls Survival Bracelet is a lightweight EDC tool that gives you cordage and a method of signalling. The whistle certainly isn’t the loudest out there but it is easy to carry and quite effective at signalling.
Vargo Titanium Emergency Whistle
The Vargo Titanium Emergency Whistle is crafted from lightweight and highly durable titanium. This makes it extremely rugged and easy on the eyes.
It uses a pea-less design with a single chamber layout. It’s capable of producing 100+ decibels of sound at maximum strength and is small and light enough to hang from your neck or keys. It includes a reflective weave red lanyard and is fully functional when wet.
If you want a whistle that will last a lifetime the Vargo Titanium Emergency Whistle isn’t a bad place to start your search.
Buyer’s Guide for Best Emergency Whistle
Because of their simplicity you don’t have to worry about too many issues when picking between emergency whistles. Price, materials used, and the style of the whistle are the main ones plus a few other factors for very specialized uses.
An emergency whistle definitely won’t break the bank. You can get high-quality models for under $10 and will find it hard to spend more than about $30 on one.
Even high-end whistles made from materials like titanium are quite affordable and strong enough to last a lifetime. The sole exception to this is buying an emergency whistle as part of a multi tool. These can rapidly get more expensive than just a whistle itself.
Pea or Pea-Less
If you’ve ever used a coach’s whistle you probably felt something rattling around inside there. Early generation whistles used an actual pea, hence the pea/pea-less naming system. The purpose of the pea was to break up the flow of air and create multiple tones and intensities of sound.
This makes it stand out more against background noises. Pea-less whistles have a more even tone and are generally a little louder overall. The biggest difference between the two is their size and shape.
Pea whistles have a larger sound chamber and are a bit bulkier than pea-less versions. The pea-less whistles are longer, thinner, and usually a little sleeker looking in design. Most of the newest emergency and survival whistles will be pea-less.
Another major difference is in reliability. A pea whistle is much more susceptible to drops, dents, and water damage than a pea-less model. You have to deform the shape of the mouthpiece pretty badly to damage a pea-less whistle.
How Loud It Is
Emergency whistles need to be loud. Piercingly so. Just about every whistle manufacturer claims to have the loudest whistle in the world. Figuring out which one is actually telling the truth is a bit more difficult.
Sound intensity is measured on the decibel scale. Most whistles fall somewhere between 100 and 145 decibels. To put this in perspective a rock concert at full blast is about 125 decibels. Anything above that begins to cause physical pain to hear.
Many manufacturers unfortunately don’t list their decibel rating for comparison purposes but you can often find the information on other sites.
The factors that affect the sound of a whistle are generally resonators and sound chambers. Up to a point the more sound chambers and resonators present in a whistle will result in a louder sound.
The vast majority of emergency whistles are extremely easy to carry. To function properly they need to be below a certain size. Their overall design, a hollow piece of metal or plastic, also helps make them incredibly light.
The most important point in whistle portability is how you want to carry it. Most come with lanyards or other attachments. Those built into multi tools often fit snugly into a slot. Wilderness whistles can generally be less readily accessible than urban survival ones. They need to be ready at an instant’s notice while wilderness whistles have different priorities.
Emergency whistles need to be quite durable to work properly. They’re only useful in trying and potentially damaging situations. The way whistles work, even apparently superficial damage to certain surfaces can throw off their ability to produce sound.
Look for durable materials like polycarbonate, stainless steel, anodized aluminum, and titanium. These stand up to drops and can be stuffed into the bottom of a pack and forgotten until needed.
Is It a Multi Tool
By themselves whistles aren’t really multi tools. They fulfill several roles but most are closely related. Many full multi tools do include whistles as part of their tool loadout. If you’re looking for a multi tool whistle we recommend you check out one of these.
Depending on how you plan to use your whistle true water resistance may not be much of an issue. All whistles can stand up to rain and splashes without blinking. When fully submerged though a non water resistant whistle will stop working until it dries out.
For boating, diving, or other aquatic activities you absolutely need a waterproof or at least water resistant whistle. These have specially designed cases and mechanisms that allow them to work after being submerged. Some specialty diving whistles will even sound underwater if you can believe it.
Why Carry a Whistle
A whistle is one of the most useful emergency tools you can carry and most people don’t even know it. It provides a lot of value in urban or wilderness situations and can be used for everything from signaling to defense.
Signaling – The most obvious use for an emergency whistle is as a signaling device. Whistles produce a piercing tone that can carry for miles. If you’re trapped in the wilderness or in an urban survival situation such as an earthquake this gives you a much greater chance of being found.
Self Defense – If you grew up in the 80’s or 90’s you’re no doubt familiar with rape whistles. These are manual or electronic tools that make a deafening whistling sound when triggered. They draw attention to you and can actually damage an attackers hearing if close enough.
Emergency whistles are inexpensive, easy to use, and extremely useful in a survival situation. Picking the best emergency whistle really comes down to where and how you plan to use it.
If you’re planning on going boating you absolutely need a fully waterproofed maritime whistle. For urban and self-defense needs ease of access and portability are king. In the backcountry is where volume and reliability become the key factors.
You need your whistle to be heard over potentially miles of empty country in the event of an emergency.
As long as you keep your specific needs in mind it’s easy to find a high-quality whistle for a very affordable price.