I've always been taught to keep a whistle on me in case of emergencies - it makes sense since it's small and lightweight but could really help in an emergency.

However, something I've never really thought about much is, are they pretty much all the same, or are some more desirable than others for various reasons? I'd assume metal ones are preferable for durability, but are there any other characteristics that should be taken into consideration apart from that?

  • Pea vs. Pealess -- In very cold temperatures, pea whistles don't work
  • Volume -- Louder is better... to a point. My safety whistle has a health warning to not be within 10ft or risk hearing loss. Okay, I'm sure it can be heard for miles but... how do I blow it from 10ft away?
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    I always wondered how you blow those things 10ft away from yourself :) – jrdioko Feb 15 '12 at 19:12
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    1) put whistle in mouth. 2) plug ears with fingers. 3) blow whistle – Pulsehead Feb 15 '12 at 21:46

The best whistle is one you don't forget. The last two packs I've had included whistles built right into the chest strap clip.

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    The advice seems pretty generic. Couldn't it really be said that the best (insert any gear) is the one you don't forget? In that case, it's not really whistle specific at all – Stereotypical Feb 21 '12 at 13:26
  • sorry, outdated post. – Stian Yttervik Jan 16 '18 at 14:17

The obvious thing to consider would be how loud the whistle is. The loudest I've found is the Lifesystems survival whistle which, at 122dB, claims to be "the world's most powerful whistle."

I'm not sure I agree with choosing metal whistles, as in freezing temperatures they would be quite uncomfortable to use. As regards durability, the plastic whistle I bought about 20 years ago is still in good condition.


You should look at scuba diving stores. They have whistles that are so loud they put a BIG warning on the box that tells you not to blow them indoors because they can damage one's hearing.

If you do get one of these heed the warning. Your ears will be ringing if you blow it with half effort in a hotel room.

Note: These pea-less whistle work well underwater. So, you can imagine how loud they are.


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