How To Stay Hidden Online, In A World Of Hackers & Snoopers

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How To Stay Hidden Online, In A World Of Hackers & Snoopers

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Are “privacy” and “anonymity” mere synonyms, at least, when placed in the context of online safety and IT security? Simply put, no. While privacy and anonymity may have similar tradecraft practices and protocols, the very heart of their differences lay in the desired objective.

Perhaps the most succinct way to tell the two apart is this: think of online privacy measures as a defensive deployment to deter attackers that operate under the stealth of anonymity. In other words …

Privacy uses an active approach to prevent the leakage of data, which is usually executed at the software level. It’s a bit like using camouflage so that the bombers can’t find your bunker.

Anonymity is what makes a stealth bomber, stealthy. Whatever that bomber decides to do next, however, is up to the bomber. Whether or not it decides to kill its target or not, it is kept safe because stealth (anonymity) means missiles can’t find it.

Discover How To Become Invisible In Today’s Surveillance State!

One such service that employs these tactics would be Protonmail. Their end-to-end encryption of your email keeps your communications private. However, their proxy-server location in Switzerland ensures that even if the NSA wanted to take a peek at who sent an email, they’d have no idea who they actually were looking at.

What Is Online Privacy?

  • Privacy is seen as an objective with higher legitimacy.
  • In a traditional modern democracy, government agencies aren’t usually allowed by law to invade the digital privacy of law-abiding individuals (and would only do so in secret).
  • Privacy is seen as a defensive security measure.
  • Privacy can be achieved through the use of firewalls, ad-blockers, anti-malware and anti-virus software, and other deterrents to data mining and individual attackers.

What Is Online Anonymity?

  • Anonymity is the mode-of-operation.
  • Anonymity is often used to prevent governments from tracking the individual’s online activities via the use of special networks, such as Tor and VPN services. In this sense, online anonymity is a lifeline to intelligence operatives and reporters in hostile countries.

Everyone Can Be Found. Not Everyone Wants to Try That Hard.

Whether you seek a titanium wall of privacy or total anonymity, it’s important to realize that the moment an impregnable system exists, it’s already on its deathbed. The world of IT security and Internet privacy is one that is ruled by a gargantuan arms race. Regardless of how strong and robust the defenses, any digital castle can be brought to its knees if an attacker possesses the necessary determination to do so. For this reason, the winner in this game tends to be the stealthy, swift sniper, and not the slow, massive tank.

Goofy Gadget Can Recharge Your Laptop — And Jump-Start Your Car!

Wired’s Andy Greenberg, in an article titled How to Be Anonymous Online, argued that by using “cryptographic anonymity tools to hide your identity,” network eavesdroppers “may not even know where to find your communications, let alone snoop on them.”

“Hide in the network,” security guru Bruce Schneier said. “The less obvious you are, the safer you are.”

However, it’s not always about the software, adding layer after layer of protections, rerouting your communications from node to node, bouncing your data packets from Beijing to Jamaica in order to access some private server in Sweden. It’s about being a needle in a field of needles. It’s about not being noticed by the people who may be looking for you. It’s about achieving the transformation into a non-obvious digital being just like the rest of them, and blending in with the billions of others in the information sea.

To trade your uniqueness is engaging in this global shell-game of titanic proportions, the Holy Grail of digital anonymity.

What are your best tips for staying anonymous online? Share your advice in the section below:

You’re Being Watched: 7 Sneaky Ways The Government Is Tracking Your Every Move. Read More Here.

How To Stay Hidden Online, In A World Of Hackers & Snoopers

How To Stay Hidden Online, In A World Of Hackers & Snoopers

Image source:

Are “privacy” and “anonymity” mere synonyms, at least, when placed in the context of online safety and IT security? Simply put, no. While privacy and anonymity may have similar tradecraft practices and protocols, the very heart of their differences lay in the desired objective.

Perhaps the most succinct way to tell the two apart is this: think of online privacy measures as a defensive deployment to deter attackers that operate under the stealth of anonymity. In other words …

Privacy uses an active approach to prevent the leakage of data, which is usually executed at the software level. It’s a bit like using camouflage so that the bombers can’t find your bunker.

Anonymity is what makes a stealth bomber, stealthy. Whatever that bomber decides to do next, however, is up to the bomber. Whether or not it decides to kill its target or not, it is kept safe because stealth (anonymity) means missiles can’t find it.

Discover How To Become Invisible In Today’s Surveillance State!

One such service that employs these tactics would be Protonmail. Their end-to-end encryption of your email keeps your communications private. However, their proxy-server location in Switzerland ensures that even if the NSA wanted to take a peek at who sent an email, they’d have no idea who they actually were looking at.

What Is Online Privacy?

  • Privacy is seen as an objective with higher legitimacy.
  • In a traditional modern democracy, government agencies aren’t usually allowed by law to invade the digital privacy of law-abiding individuals (and would only do so in secret).
  • Privacy is seen as a defensive security measure.
  • Privacy can be achieved through the use of firewalls, ad-blockers, anti-malware and anti-virus software, and other deterrents to data mining and individual attackers.

What Is Online Anonymity?

  • Anonymity is the mode-of-operation.
  • Anonymity is often used to prevent governments from tracking the individual’s online activities via the use of special networks, such as Tor and VPN services. In this sense, online anonymity is a lifeline to intelligence operatives and reporters in hostile countries.

Everyone Can Be Found. Not Everyone Wants to Try That Hard.

Whether you seek a titanium wall of privacy or total anonymity, it’s important to realize that the moment an impregnable system exists, it’s already on its deathbed. The world of IT security and Internet privacy is one that is ruled by a gargantuan arms race. Regardless of how strong and robust the defenses, any digital castle can be brought to its knees if an attacker possesses the necessary determination to do so. For this reason, the winner in this game tends to be the stealthy, swift sniper, and not the slow, massive tank.

Goofy Gadget Can Recharge Your Laptop — And Jump-Start Your Car!

Wired’s Andy Greenberg, in an article titled How to Be Anonymous Online, argued that by using “cryptographic anonymity tools to hide your identity,” network eavesdroppers “may not even know where to find your communications, let alone snoop on them.”

“Hide in the network,” security guru Bruce Schneier said. “The less obvious you are, the safer you are.”

However, it’s not always about the software, adding layer after layer of protections, rerouting your communications from node to node, bouncing your data packets from Beijing to Jamaica in order to access some private server in Sweden. It’s about being a needle in a field of needles. It’s about not being noticed by the people who may be looking for you. It’s about achieving the transformation into a non-obvious digital being just like the rest of them, and blending in with the billions of others in the information sea.

To trade your uniqueness is engaging in this global shell-game of titanic proportions, the Holy Grail of digital anonymity.

What are your best tips for staying anonymous online? Share your advice in the section below:

You’re Being Watched: 7 Sneaky Ways The Government Is Tracking Your Every Move. Read More Here.

Grid-Free Climate Control: 3 Innovative Ways To Keep Your Home’s Temperature Comfortable

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Grid-Free Climate Control: 3 Innovative Ways To Keep Your Home's Temperature Comfortable

Spring is perhaps the best time of the year to experiment with super-efficient heating and cooling systems, since the temperature can flip from chilly one day to warm the next.

However, another reason why spring may be a good time to get those systems up and running is because temperature swings can strain our AC systems. Allow me to explain. Much like automobiles, the stopping and starting of the AC motor — again and again — consumes lots of energy and also can lead to earlier-than-expected repairs. This is especially true for homes that have a heat pump on their system.

But there are innovative, off-grid, eco-efficient ways to stay comfortable during spring, no matter the temperature. And all three can run without the grid:

1. Compost hot-water system

Whether the idea came from a Ph.D. in engineering or a backwoods farmer with a huge amount of creative common sense, I wish I could shake that person’s hand for inventing the compost water heater. The system is set up by winding a heat-capable hose through the compost pile, and then routing it back into the building that requires hot water.

Are You Prepared For A Lengthy Blackout? Get Backup Electricity Today!

Hey, it’s no secret that compost generates heat. Heck, when piles of hay and mulch are left alone, they can spontaneously combust. So, why not put that kind of thermal energy to work? Chances are that you probably have a compost pile somewhere on the homestead, right?



2. The 5-gallon bucket swamp cooler

For those of you who live in the west or southwestern part of the U.S., you’re probably well-acquainted with the concept of the swamp cooler. When water evaporates, it will expend a tiny amount of energy and remove heat in the process – similar to how our sweat glands work. That’s how swamp coolers work.

Obviously, this system doesn’t exactly serve those of us who live in traditionally humid summer climates, but there’s one extremely handy way to harness the science of a swamp cooler and combine it with a ridiculous level of portability. And since this thing will make even a small solar panel array barely break a sweat, I figured the bucket swamp cooler made the cut.



3. Improvised geothermal climate control

And last but not least, I give you the whole kit-and-caboodle: the improvised geothermal climate control system. This one will also require low-wattage pumps and fans, but again, solar panels ought to do the trick with this one, as well.

The system essentially works like this: Even just a few feet below the ground, temps tend to settle at around a brisk 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, holding steadily all year-round. In fact, if you’re able to dig deep enough, temps even can approach freezing. That’s why, for this particular system, the climate-control magic is derived from its subterranean water supply. In its most basic form, the system uses cool underground water from your homestead’s well to get the job done. To learn more, check out this great article.

All you need to do is move a little water and air, and the earth itself can take care of the hard part.

Have you experimented with any of these systems? Share your tips in the section below:

Be Prepared For A Downed Grid. Learn More Here.

The Hack-Proof Email Service That NSA Doesn’t Want You To Use

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The Hack-Proof Email Service That NSA Doesn’t Want You To Use

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Technology is already confusing, but sometimes it can just get downright daunting.

Especially these days, between the little microphones in TVs and the GPS in our smartphones, it’s easy to feel like there’s just no possibility of getting a little privacy. However, I’d have to disagree on two points.

First, Hollywood’s portrayal of tech/spy agencies is bogus. (Consider those rooms that are full of intimidating computers, making it look like their in-house hacking staff has your profile on screen as we speak — and they’re sending a strike team to reprimand you for that Facebook comment). In reality, their jobs are probably quite a bit less theatrical.

Secondly, these agencies are by no means omniscient, as they depend on the very same technologies that they attempt to exploit. Sure, they might have access to supercomputers, but even those still can’t crack a good encryption or open a bitcoin wallet without the password. You can, in fact, communicate private and confidential information over email, and the NSA couldn’t even touch it if they wanted to. There are many ways to accomplish this, but in my opinion, ProtonMail is the best by far.

ProtonMail: The Swiss Email Account

To its most basic definition, ProtonMail is a service that provides a secure server which houses email inboxes that run by default on ironclad end-to-end encryption and account anonymity. Because the system was designed in such a way that the email was encrypted by the sender’s device and only decrypted by the recipient’s device, even ProtonMail couldn’t see what the email said. Why? Because it’s Greek to them. Their servers are flowing with private, secure emails consisting of encrypted mumbo-jumbo. Sure, the NSA could try to break in … but that would be pointless. And that’s not all …

Founded in 2013, ProtonMail is based in Switzerland. Yes, the country that enjoys a good belly laugh whenever they receive a subpoena from other nations to snoop around.

Features & Other Goodies

But just because ProtonMail is based in Switzerland doesn’t mean you have to be super-rich in order to open an account. It’s free (and open source). And let’s not forget …

  • Protonmail offers totally anonymous accounts.
  • Its security capabilities are years ahead of the NSA.
  • It was created and built by an international group of scientists.
  • Its servers are housed under “1,000 meters of solid rock.”
  • Email accounts are easy to use with a gorgeously modern design.

On their own About page, they share their reasons behind the creation of this privacy fortress in the mountains of Europe:

“We are scientists, engineers, and developers drawn together by a shared vision of protecting civil liberties online. This is why we created ProtonMail, an easy to use secure email service with built-in end-to-end encryption and state of the art security features. Our goal is to build an internet that respects privacy and is secure against cyberattacks.”

Yeah, But Really?

February 2017 was an eventful month for the technologically savvy and privacy conscious, as Wikileaks dumped another motherlode affectionately known as Vault7. What did we learn? Well, lots. But in relation to the topic of ProtonMail, we learned that U.S. spy agencies would still have never been able to penetrate the big PM (nor other end-to-end communication services, like Whatsapp). And unless they use a keylogger — basically cheating by peeking at what buttons your fingers are pushing — they’re just plain old out of luck.

According to Warwick Ashford in Computer Weekly, “After an in-depth analysis, we can confirm that none of the [WikiLeaks] disclosures indicate any compromise of the core cryptography that underpins ProtonMail and other popular encrypted services.”

What Have I to Hide?

Services like ProtonMail are invaluable for individuals who work overseas in hostile zones with tyrant regimes — not to mention, it’s perfect for private investigators, journalists, whistleblowers and getting around monitors from within non-government organizations. It’s also good for people who don’t want Google (or any other company) marketing to them through their emails. There are actually quite a few reasons to encrypt your comms, but fortunate for us, there’s ProtonMail.

Have you ever used ProtonMail? What are your thoughts on email encryption? Share them in the section below:

How To Make A Backyard ‘Survival Forge’ … From A Brake Drum

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How To Make A Backyard ‘Survival Forge’ … From A Brake Drum

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So many backyard blacksmithing projects, so little time…

And then there’s the whole thing about not actually owning a forge, which also might throw a wrench into things. Yet when things get pricey, that’s when you can look to the trusty DIY-method of doing things. In this case, the solution is actually a strangely simple one: the time-tested brake drum forge.

Really? This actually works? Short answer: Yes, and it works like a charm (at least in my own personal experience).

The concept of the forge itself is rather straightforward. All you need is a bowl, made of some pretty beefy steel, and a method of feeding it oxygen. Then add charcoal, light ‘er up, and whamo … it’s hammer time. Because it’s made out of things we already may have, let’s call it a “survival forge.”

But before we begin, there is something EXTREMELY crucial to keep in mind.

It’s called “metal fume fever,” which is basically what happens when you inhale a bunch of vaporized zinc oxide, which builds up in your lungs. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself feeling nauseous, coughing and wheezing, then likely passing out (among other things), and if enough zinc oxide was inhaled, dying.

When galvanized steel gets red hot, it releases zinc oxide vapor — a toxin that you’d inevitably breath in if you’re not wearing a full-blown commercial-grade hazmat suit. The stuff is extremely poisonous, so whatever you do: please, please, PLEASE do not construct your forge out of anything galvanized.

Ok, glad we got that out of the way. On we go.

Let’s Get Started, Shall We?

First, you’re going to need a brake drum. Even better, grab a big old truck brake drum from the junkyard, since its size will make it far easier to

How To Make A Backyard ‘Survival Forge’ … From A Brake Drum

Brake drum.

work with. Now, here are a few additional components to acquire:

  • 2-inch black iron piping with standard threading
    • (1) 2-foot long piece
    • (2) 1.5-foot long pieces
    • (1) Tee fitting
    • (1) End cap fitting
    • (1) Hat fitting
  • A table stand to hold the forge in place (you can either construct one yourself, but I just used cinder blocks to prop mine up).
  • Electric or hand-pump blower. Even a hair dryer will do — and those are always available during garage sale season.
  • Your charcoal screen (for keeping the fire inside the brake drum, and not falling into the piping). This doesn’t have to be too complicated, as I found a simple steel plate with several holes drilled into it works just fine.
  • Non-galvanized bolts, nuts & washers, roughly the same diameter as the holes that brake drums already have, because they were formerly attached to the truck somehow, right?
  • Metal plate (This is optional, in case your brake drum and iron hat-fitting don’t line up properly. Simply drill out holes to line up with both, just to keep the dern thing in place.)

Now thankfully, assembly is pretty easy …

  1. Put together your piping by making a “T.” Make sure the 2-foot pipe is your stem, then thread the end cap on one end and the hat fitting on the other.
  2. Next, line up the brake drum holes to those on the hat fitting. Granted, the hat fitting might not be big enough for the brake drum itself, so that’s where the last item on our component inventory comes into play.
  3. Fix the hat fitting and the brake drum into place with your (non-galvanized) hardware.
  4. Set the brake drum and assembly on your stand or cinder blocks with the brake drum’s concave side facing skyward.
  5. Drop your charcoal screen into the belly of your brake drum. Make sure to cover the big hole that drops down to the end cap.
  6. Line up your blower to the 2-foot-long pipe that’s sticking out horizontally.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, you have a forge.

Operating the Forge

All that’s left is to acquire your charcoal, but this is a bit more complicated than it may seem. Unfortunately, you can’t just kindle a fire in this puppy and expect to heat your project evenly.

Some have noted that they’ve used grilling charcoal bricks in a pinch; however, having tried this myself, I just don’t think those things can get hot enough (because I’m working with steel, not steak). So, with that said, I have actually seen blacksmithing charcoal available for purchase on eBay — but if you can track down any local blacksmiths, I’ve found that they’ll often just sell you a bag or two for a decent price.

As for the blacksmithing, well, I shall leave that one to you.

If you’re still confused, then watch the video below from a YouTuber making his own forge. (He does things a bit different.)

Have you ever made a forge? What blacksmithing advice would you add? Share your tops in the section below:


5 Winter Survival Items EVERYONE Should Store In Their Vehicle

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5 Winter Survival Items EVERYONE Should Store In Their Vehicle

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In an earlier post this winter, I wrote about three survival gadgets that everyone should store in their vehicles during the coldest months of the year. Let’s now turn to the basics.

Here are five often-forgotten items that everyone should store in their car, truck or SUV during winter:

5. Light sources.

Basically, the nightmare scenario that we’re preparing for is the most commonly experienced during the winter.

The cold has a way of freezing the life out of our car batteries (jumper cables being a given addition to this list). The cold also tends to result in the loss of friction – that is, the force of physics that cars depend on to keep the wheels on the road. Hence is why I recommend adding a work lantern with an attached magnet. That way, you won’t be fumbling in the long winter’s night while trying to get your car back on the road again.

And in the event that there’s no possible way of driving out of that snow bank, I’d also recommend a tactical flashlight with SOS signaling capabilities.

4. First aid.

Simply put, one sheet of ice can put us in the ER on a normal day. Besides, in the event that you find yourself in a survival situation, the events leading up to such a scenario are often the same ones that make a first-aid kit necessary in the first place (such as a black-ice-caused car accident).

3. Emergency communication.

Let’s play out a particular scenario for a moment…

Goofy Tiny Gadget Can Jump-Start Your Car — And Charge Your Smartphone!

Pretend your vehicle has slid into a ditch, but you also happen to be on a road that tends not to see much traffic — especially in this weather. And so, you sit in your (now stationary) metal shelter with wheels, wondering what to do next. Of course, you’d phone for help, but you’ve got a grand total of zero bars to work with, so that’s out of the question. Should you walk for help? How low will temps reach tonight? Will this lull in snowfall hold until you make it to assistance?

These gaps in weather intelligence info can be alleviated with a simple pocket weather radio, since you’d be able to hear real-time weather broadcasts as the storm unfolds.

5 Winter Survival Items EVERYONE Should Store In Their Vehicle

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I’d also recommend keeping at least a mini CB radio on hand, which can run on the adapter to a cigarette lighter power supply. Not only could you tune in to CH9 (emergency channel), but you’d even be able to communicate to nearby CB operators … who might just be kind enough to alert emergency personnel to your present predicament. At which point, set your flashlight to SOS-mode and await the cavalry.

2. Chains, n’ such.

Perhaps one of THE most obvious additions to your winter emergency vehicle stash would be the appropriately sized cables/chains for your tires. At least in my own experience, I’ve seen a Saturn SL2 rip through two feet of road powder with chains, while the 4×4 Jeep I was in remained stuck. A humbling experience, I do admit.

I’d also recommend adding other tire-traction items, such as traction mats. You also might want to purchase a traction “boot,” which are these ingenious tabs that clamp to the wheel and dig into the snow like a cleat.

1. Things that make you warm.

Last (and certainly not least), make sure you’ve got a change of the warmest possible clothing you own (that you don’t mind storing in your vehicle indefinitely and you use only for emergencies). In this instance, you might not necessarily have to concern yourself with moisture and water resistance, since you’ll be staying inside the vehicle. However, I would still NOT consider cotton materials an option. Cotton is just horrible for winter apparel, since even the slightest amount of sweating can result in chills … and chills are a precursor to hypothermia. I’d recommend wool materials. Quite frankly, I will always recommend wool (or smart fleece.)

And while we’re at it, you might as well do your due diligence and equip your ride with a polar fleece thermal blanket. If you’re going to be stuck inside a cold metal box, this will at least keep your body heat to yourself.

What would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

How To Make A Simple Humidifier (And Why You Shouldn’t Use A Store-Bought One)

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How To Make A Simple Humidifier (And Why You Shouldn’t Use A Store-Bought One)

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Sometimes, it’s nice to have at least a little moisture in the air. Between the annoying static electricity, the itchy flakey skin, and sudden nosebleeds, indoor dryness can get a wee bit annoying — and that’s not even the worst of it. In some pretty bad cases, the lack of air moisture can dry out mucus membranes, which can lead to colds, the flu, and other respiratory infections.

Dry air may initially seem like a mere inconvenience, but given the right factors it can get just downright hazardous — especially for those of us who live in the sticks and are a long drive to a doctor’s office.

Which brings me to the main reason why I decided to discuss this topic in the first place: Dry air is often a very common nuisance on a homestead. From the late fall to early spring, homesteaders continually rely on that trusty wood or coal furnace — and those have a way of just sucking the moisture right out of the air.

So here’s an interesting solution to this arid conundrum, and honestly, I didn’t realize just how simple it really was. But first, we should address: Why not just go and purchase an actual humidifier contraption? Well, a few glaring issues come to mind …

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While standard retail humidifiers certainly can be quite useful in more urban settings, these things can cause major problems on a homestead:

  • Humidifiers use electric-powered pumps and fans. Since electricity is often in short supply, a homesteader will have to add that cost to the energy budget. Solar panels can only supply so much power, and humidifying the air may not necessarily be on the list of top energy priorities.
  • Homesteaders cannot afford to risk compromising their air quality, because they are incredibly dependent on maintaining good health for people and animals. However, even if a humidifier reservoir is cleaned regularly, those darn things can still build up mold and bacteria inside their internal components.
  • Humidifiers usually require filters that will wear out and need to be replaced, and since Walmart is not likely going to be a mere stone’s throw distance away … well, that’s just another thing we don’t want to purchase on the monthly run to town.

Here’s What to Do

How To Make A Simple Humidifier (And Why You Shouldn’t Use A Store-Bought One)

Image source: Bed, Bath and Beyond

Which brings me to why I’m confused that humidifiers even exist, because apparently, a simple boot tray is actually a better humidifier than those contraptions that they sell on store shelves. Here’s how it works:

  1. Grab a large boot tray that’s, say, at least three feet across and a foot wide. (Seriously, it’s an arbitrary dimension. As long as it can hold about a gallon of water, you’re good to go.)
  2. Fill it with water.
  3. Place it under your wood stove or bed, and just let it sit there …
  4. … Because, well, water evaporates.

And with that, you’ve just solved your dry air problem without using electricity, cleaning a store-bought one, or stocking up on filters.

The boot tray humidifier, depending on how dry the air happens to be, can go through about a gallon of water every three to four days. That’s a gallon of evaporated water in less than a week, which somehow outpaces most retail humidifiers.



So it seems that at the end of the day, we don’t always have to overthink these things, because it might all just come down to a tray full of water that keeps us from nosebleeds and coughing up a lung. Just remember to refill it every so often, especially if the dog keeps thinking he owns the world’s biggest dog bowl.

How do you keep your air humid during cool weather? Share your tips in the section below:

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

3 Ways Hackers Steal Your Personal Data (And 3 Simple Ways To Stop Them)

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3 Ways Hackers Steal Your Personal Data (And 3 Simple Ways To Stop Them)

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Though death and taxes always have been a part of the human experience, hackers now have become yet another unavoidable fact of modern life in this century.

Unfortunately, such cyber threats have become so abundant that you can almost guarantee that you’ll come under their crosshairs at some point. Just ask the CEO of LifeLock, Todd Davis, the guy who openly displayed his own Social Security number on his company ad campaigns – daring hackers to try and use it. Yep, he got hacked, too.

But does that mean we are all at the mercy of such keyboard thuggery? Well, it’s really a numbers game: If you at least mind a few common safe practices, then you will greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim through simply presenting them with fewer vulnerabilities. If you can make yourself a harder target in comparison to the masses who are extremely vulnerable, then chances are that hackers will pass you by.

Here are a few hacker tactics – and how you can outsmart them.

1. Phishing

By far, the most common tactic in the hacker toolbox is what is known as “phishing.” Essentially, phishing is when a hacker sends you some type of communication via email, SMS, or social media message, and embedded in the link, image or text of that communication is a sneaky way to deceive you into revealing your personal data.

Some highly invasive attacks will even include a line of code in the message itself, which extracts your IP address, MAC address, location information, etc. Most attacks, however, will simply include a link to a legitimate looking website of a well-known institution, such as Google or a government website, and then the fake site prompts you to disclose your personal and security information. These attacks are almost always mass-targeted, which means that they send a message to thousands in hopes of duping a handful.


First off, the easiest way to ward off a phishing attack is to simply use your common sense. Don’t click on suspicious-looking links! Reputable companies and institutions have policies that will never allow them to ask you for personal information via electronic means. Unless you sign in to their official website with your login credentials, you should never be prompted to disclose any private data. Also, if you have received a suspicious email or SMS from a company or institution, then you should certainly contact the Federal Trade Commission via their phishing reporting website. Lastly, it may be worth calling the company directly. If you get a questionable email from, say, DirectTV and you are a customer, then call the official DirectTV phone number and ask the company if the email is legit. Most likely, it is a scam.

2. Password attacks

Hackers also may attempt to gain access to your WiFi and/or devices by cracking your password. While it’s almost impossible for them to mass-target individuals (unless they’re running a rather ambitious phishing campaign), it’s not entirely difficult to precision-target nearby routers within broadcast range. In fact, through using WiFi antenna amplifiers, they can even snatch your WiFi signal from hundreds of yards away — and if they gain access to your router, then they can gain access to the devices connected to it. Essentially, they will use one or both types of these two particular password cracking attacks …

Discover How To Become Invisible In Today’s Surveillance State!

Dictionary attack — They connect to the router, and then drill it with potential passwords through battering the system with a giant list of possible terms and numbers (called a dictionary). Penetration takes from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the size of their dictionary and difficulty of the password.

Brute force attack – This type of attack essentially slams the router by running it through a gauntlet of character combinations. While this method is nowhere near as precise or expedient as a dictionary attack, virtually any password can be cracked with this method if given enough time. These attacks can take anywhere from five hours to a few days, requiring unbroken and undisturbed access to the router for the duration of the attack. If the router is reset, then the attack must be restarted, creating a logistical attack obstacle.


3 Ways Hackers Steal Your Personal Data (And 3 Simple Ways To Stop Them)

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Basically, the rule of thumb here is to observe safe password creation practices. It’s important to keep your passwords long, using a variety of letters, numbers, cases and symbols. I would also recommend using products like 1Password, which automatically generates extremely strong passwords that can be unlocked with a master key password of your choosing. This also protects against other types of more sophisticated password cracking attacks that might be deployed against your online/offline accounts.

3. MIM (Man-In-the-Middle)

A man-in-the-middle attack (MIM) can be extremely devastating, as there is no end to just how much private data that can be extracted. MIMs can even result in a hacker being able to take control of your device. In order to launch an MIM, the attacker must place themselves between you and the website you have accessed. In some cases, the MIM is conducted between the Internet service provider (ISP) and the company website. Or, if you’re a private target, the attacker may place themselves between you and your router or ISP. After cutting in, they simply observe the personal data being exchanged, hijacking it in transit.


First, this is an extremely sophisticated attack, meaning that a high level of skill is required in order to pull it off. Also, due to the nature of the attack, the target must be precisely selected in the event that an MIM is launched against a private individual. However, if you believe that you may be the victim of an MIM attack, then it’s important to report this to the Department of Justice by going to the official DOJ website: Reporting Computer, Internet-Related, or Intellectual Property Crime.

There are a few other ways to protect against MIM attacks, especially if you believe you may find yourself on the receiving end of one. After assessing your target value, you might find it prudent either to install a firewall program or even purchase a firewall box, which keeps hackers from exploiting ports of entry into your system. You also may want to use email/messaging services that specifically provide end-to-end encryption for your sensitive communications. I recommend using the Swiss-based service Protonmail for this.

One More Thing…

Last, be sure that every time you provide sensitive data, such as credit card numbers and security information (i.e. making online purchases), then you always should check to make sure that the website’s payment/login portal shows “https://”. This is called a secure socket layer, which acts as a protective conduit between you and the site. Doing so would add just one more defense against all the hacker tactics mentioned above, as this makes sniffing data extremely difficult.

What tips would you add? Share your suggestions in the section below:

You’re Being Watched: 7 Sneaky Ways The Government Is Tracking Your Every Move. Read More Here.

3 Profound Truths From History Channel’s Survival Show ‘Alone’

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3 Profound Truths From History Channel's Survival Show ‘Alone’It’s been a long time since Bear Grylls commercialized the arts of wilderness survival. But if there were one primary reason why the show eventually lost popular interest, it probably had something to do with the weakness that had been embedded in the show from the very start: the ever-present camera crew.

But that’s particularly where History Channel’s Alone shows us the true nature of what it takes, stripping away the glitz and glam, leaving only the average modern human to adapt to the harshness of the wild. There’s no camera crew.

Here are three lessons to glean from such a unique and thought-provoking gem of a television show:

No. 3 — Systems depend on systems (that depend on circadian systems).

While watching Alone, I was left with the distinct impression on how each contestant’s performances progressed from Day 1. If a contestant was not able to sustain a regular sleep pattern, then that contestant’s ability to function, critically think and maintain emotional toughness decreased significantly. Thus, shelter, bedding and warmth became a make-or-break aspect of their ability to continue.

Which leads us to the circadian rhythm. According to Psychology Today, this is how the circadian rhythm is best defined: “Often referred to as the ‘body clock,’ the circadian rhythm is a cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise, eat — regulating many physiological processes.”

Learn The Secrets and Tricks Of The Word’s Top Survivalists!

PT also notes that when the circadian rhythm is disturbed, depression and bipolar disorder even can arise. However, the psychological detriment doesn’t stop there, because the longer the body is subject to sleep deprivation, the more the mind becomes unravelled. The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, says:

In addition to these normal fluctuations, not getting enough sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of weeks to months — has a significant effect on our ability to function. Sleep deprivation negatively impacts our mood, our ability to focus, and our ability to access higher-level cognitive functions.

No. 2 — Physical fitness is a game-changer.

We, modern humans, have become poorly adapted to wilderness environments. Even though we may devote ourselves to living a healthy life, our muscles, joints, tendons and even equilibrium are not accustomed to some very fundamental factors. Simply put, flat and level ground puts strain on the unadapted body over time — and unless you take the time to construct them, furniture is a modern luxury that doesn’t exist out there.

Alan Kay, the winner of Season 1, knew he was getting a run for his money within minutes of starting the race [1]:

The thing that stood out to me was how hard it was to even walk in that environment. Everything is so wet and so thick that you’re burning massive amounts of energy.

By the end of the season, Kay had lost 60 pounds.

No. 1 — To break the body, break the mind.

It’s no wonder why we weren’t exactly seeing Bear Grylls as someone who accurately demonstrates the true nature of wilderness survival. Sure, even though one may have knowledge and skill, it’s the accumulation of many small stressers that leads to bigger stressers. Ultimately, Alone shows us that the greatest toll taken is on the mind, and its ability to endure sleeplessness, physical fatigue, and the vast mental abyss of total isolation.

It’s not terribly difficult to become physically fit and knowledgeable about how to survive in such environments. Instead, all of those varying stresses accumulate against that which is the most critical component in a survival situation: the mind — and more importantly, the ideas that permeate it. Once the mind believes it has finally reached a maximum stress point and begins to sustain fatal errors (such having given up hope), then the body is soon to follow.

It’s no secret that isolation can be uncomfortable, but over the course of days, weeks, months and years, the psychological toll becomes more and more severe. It even may devolve into outright hallucinations, according to an article from the BBC that discussed a woman who had endured 10,000 hours of total isolation in an Iranian prison cell. Wired Magazine also published an article discussing the effects of solitary confinement on the U.S. prison population, telling of symptoms that they describe as “universal”:

Consistent patterns emerge, centering around the aforementioned extreme anxiety, anger, hallucinations, mood swings and flatness, and loss of impulse control.

Alan Kay: A Remarkable Mind

Thus, it’s also no wonder why Alan Kay won the first round of Alone. Out of his fellow contestants, the man wasn’t exactly the most skilled, nor was he the most fit. But what most certainly separated him from the pack was that he took good care of his mind. He kept his brain active, his ego at bay, and he regularly reminded himself of the truly simple and rather beautiful things that are common to all biological life.

A tough mind is a well-ordered mind, recognizing that true adaptation is an active state of negotiation between the man and his environment. To survive is not an act of war; it’s an act of humility and harmony, trading with — and learning from — that complex ecosystem of trees, fish, weeds, bugs, critters and morning mist they all commonly share. Alone seemed to prove that survival begins with the toughness of the mind, reinforced by the pure and simple truths that it keeps within.


Have you ever watched Alone? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

4 Winter Skills Every Homesteader Should Know

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4 Winter Skills Every Homesteader Should Know

Image source: Pixabay

Chances are that if you’re reading this, then you’re probably acutely aware of just how tough it can be to handle the year’s coldest months on the homestead.

It’s not long after the winter solstice that the temps begin to plummet, creating a perfect storm for situations on the homestead to deteriorate. After all, February’s full moon is known as the “Trapper’s Moon” — named for the fact that, like the snow, beaver pelts are at their thickest. Beavers have had to adapt this capability, perhaps with the knowledge that this is essential for maximizing their survival in extremely low temps.

Of course, if there ever were a perfect animal to model our own homesteading practices after, then it would have to be nature’s greatest homesteader: the beaver. And here are four great ways to do just that.

1. Please, remember: timing is everything

When it comes to surviving a winter on the homestead, one of the most important challenges to overcome is to see beyond the obvious ones — especially since the cold is something we’re all quite familiar with. If anything, this skill is one that keeps us one step ahead of the challenges.

Learn How To Make Powerful Herbal Medicines, Right in Your Kitchen!

Timing is everything, especially due to how the daylight drains away quickly. Not only that, but because colder temps often give way to rapid-moving high-pressure zones, the weather can change even faster. For this reason, it’s critical to keep tabs on the following:

  • Make sure you are able to read the clouds to detect potential changes in weather, so you’re not caught completely off-guard if you must prepare for a fast-approaching blizzard. For more information, check out our recent article, Survival 101: How to Forecast Tomorrow’s Weather Without the Weather Channel
  • Since winter brings low-light conditions early in the day, it’s important to provide lighting in as many places around the homestead as possible. Predators aren’t fond of them, and they simply keep us safer from injury and disorientation.
  • Additionally, I recommend an EDC (everyday carry) kit that rides along with you. This will buy you additional time if you find yourself in a winter survival scenario and possibly require rescue.

3. Dress (and sew) for success

You’re probably not surprised about just how critical warm clothing can be this time of year. However, it’s important to know how to fix that clothing in a pinch. Knowing how to sew, along with having a kit that can meet the task at hand, could be invaluable.

4 Winter Skills Every Homesteader Should Know

Image source: Pixabay

It’s not uncommon for homesteaders to find themselves snowed in, largely cut off from access to populated areas, meaning that your best work coat is only as warm as the quality of its patches. With that being said, it’s important to invest in clothing and winter apparel that maintains insulating properties even while moderately moist or damp, such as wool and certain synthetics. Cotton, however, will lose all insulating properties when wet, so it’s best to stick with the tried-and-true materials (and not end up with frostbite).

2. Stay healthy

The cold is downright brutal on the body, especially for immune systems, since our metabolism must work harder to maintain body temps. So, it’s smart to keep your medicine cabinet well-stocked with the usual sick-fixes and your mind well-stocked with at least basic medicinal skills. Not to mention, the cold also can make for far-more-difficult muscle movements, impairing motor skills in the process.

So be sure to keep your walkways — along with those of your livestock — clear of ice and snow. Broken bones and torn tendons tend to make life A LOT more difficult for everybody.

1. Be efficient with your heat

Heat is, perhaps, the most coveted commodity on the winter homestead — meaning that you need to be able to generate it cheaply and hold on to as much of it as possible. Becoming knowledgeable about heat efficiency would greatly reduce your burden to chop wood and shovel pellets. For this, I’d recommend purchasing an IR camera to identify problem spots where heat may be leaking out your cabin. At least then you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly where to apply a can of insulating/expanding foam in the most scientifically efficient way.

In a previous post we discussed how to build your own water heater, running on nothing but the heat generated by your homestead’s compost pile. Not only can this system achieve higher temps than most residential water heaters, but you’re also using zero electricity in order to keep it working. Get good at thinking up designs and innovating your infrastructure on heat conservation, and you’ll spend far less time and energy trying to keep everybody (including your water supply) toasty warm.

What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

hydrogen peroxide report

The Discreet Self-Defense Weapon You Can Carry ANYWHERE Guns Are Banned

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The Discreet-And-Deadly Weapon You Can Carry ANYWHERE Guns Are Banned

Image source: Boker

It may seem small and not all that threatening at first, but attempt to overpower an individual with a tactical pen — especially a trained individual at that — and you will likely find yourself in lots of pain. Yes, somehow, this thing can land an attacker in a dazed, confused world of hurt, all by the mighty power of a strange writing utensil.

What’s the secret? Well, that’s what we’re here to discuss.

If someone were carrying a tactical pen, you most likely would never have the slightest clue. Quite frankly, even many security teams with metal detectors are not trained well enough to spot one.

It IS a pen, after all. But then, it just so happens to be an oversized pen with a reinforced exoskeletal structure, variants include gripping assists and sometimes a sturdy point that can drive into an opponent like a nail. It’s a deceptive thing. This pen simply asks, “Must a weapon truly have length in order to be an effective defense?” — to which it answers, “No.”

If you find yourself in a place that prohibits most types of defensive weaponry (and attackers are aware of this limitation), then your greatest advantage would be to outsmart them at their own game. Though. now, the real conundrum is: Just how powerful can such a small object be in a fight?

Silly Bad Guy, Physics Is For Smart People

Let’s put our thinking caps on for a moment and explore the physics behind fights. Essentially, fights are won by a combination of two basic principle elements that oppose and contrast one another. I call it the speed vs. mass dichotomy. I find that the most interesting UFC matches are the ones that give an accurate portrayal of this very principle. For instance, you’ll usually see that when a fighter is of smaller build, they’re much faster; whereas, the opposite is true when a fighter is a much larger individual (within the respective weight classes, of course). And when the two types face off, that’s when things get fascinating.

Be Prepared. Learn The Best Ways To Hide Your Guns.

However, that’s in the UFC ring, and in the real world, human bodies tend not to be nearly as well-trained and hardened. I’d say that mass wins in the ring (due to rules), but speed wins on the street (due to tactical advantages) — but both can pack the same amount of punch.

And then there’s a little thing called leverage, which can multiply your energy potential without sacrificing speed. That brings us to the Kubotan.

The Flesh Is Weak. The Pen Is Mighty.

Essentially, the tactical pen is nothing more than a Kubotan with an ink distributor. This fist-load weapon is able to generate its defensive power through the principles described above by adding leverage to the natural mechanics and physical limitations of the human body.

One of those limitations happens to be the fact that human skin breaks at 100 psi (pounds/square inch). A short-range power punch will generate 178 pounds of force on its target. That essentially translates to 36 psi, based on the average human hand that’s about five square inches. But if you exert that same force with the unforgivingly rigid blunted end of half a square inch, then you can expect 356 psi, more than three times the force needed to break the skin.

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And that’s only the business end of the weapon. There are plenty of other uses, such as providing your fist with a secondary artificial skeletal support for strikes — and if you’re trained, you can strike pressure points with far greater effectiveness than what human fingers could inflict on a target. Overall, its most fundamental job is to essentially amplify the attacker’s damage and leverage your strength against their pressure points along with other critical target areas.

Applied Penmanship: An Honest Tactical Assessment

Now, let’s just tally up a few pointers on exactly how versatile this particular weapon truly is. Let’s get started …

  • Provides leverage for control, power against pressure points, and support for your knuckles.
  • Is a multi-purpose item. If there was a time when recording specific details became an absolute necessity, it would be after having employed a tactical pen in a defensive situation.
  • Makes skin breakage almost a given, providing you with a sneaky DNA collector/scraper for when you are able to discuss unfolding events with authorities.
  • Is an excellent non-lethal option for smaller-framed individuals that will need added leverage in a fight.
  • Is a situational weapon, suited for urban environments where other purpose-weapons (knives, firearms, etc.) may draw unwanted attention or be outlawed altogether.

Final Considerations?

I’ve said this before, and I will say this a thousand times: TRAIN. TRAIN … and then TRAIN some more. If you find yourself often in situations that pose considerable danger of landing you in a defensive situation, or you simply intend on carrying a weapon, it is essential that you seek out instruction and training on how to use a weapon such as this. Last thing you want is to employ it in a fight unprepared, since weaponry is a natural way to dangerously escalate hostilities.

Another reason why you should train before using this weapon (or any, for that matter) is that this weapon CAN kill an opponent if struck in certain critical areas, such as the temples or puncturing the trachea. If you have training, then you can adjust your technique according to the severity and/or intention of the threat.

Aside from that, if you train with it, then I’d certainly recommend getting one of these mighty little defenders.

Have you ever used a tactical pen? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

Pump Shotguns Have One BIG Advantage Over Other Shotguns For Home Defense. Read More Here.

3 Winter Survival Gadgets Everyone Should Have In Their Vehicle

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3 Winter Survival Gadgets Everyone Should Have In Their Car

Indeed, the temperature has dropped. We’ve noticed.

This means now would be a good time to reevaluate your winter preparedness – specifically, what’s currently stashed in your vehicle to break out in case of a blizzard?

Have you stocked and loaded your favorite emergency duffle? Well, if you haven’t, then here are a few interesting ideas that might turn some gear to keep you warm. Now I won’t be discussing general winter survival or gear in this post, simply because those are some rather inexhaustible topics in themselves, but we will cover a few items that really make sense to carry during the coldest months of the year.

1. Heated blanket/portable charger

From my own personal experience, as heated blanket has actually kept me from a potentially life-threatening situation (ie., when my hatchback plowed into a snowbank just outside Bedford, Va). I had to get quite comfortable with the idea that help would not arrive soon, and my heating options were limited.

With a portable heated blanket and a portable charger, you can stay warm until you’re safe. (Plus, your car battery – or even the sun — can recharge this type of portable charger.)

Be Prepared: Get The Ultimate In Portable Backup Power!

Just make sure that your car is NOT enveloped in snow when it’s idling, because carbon-monoxide poisoning becomes a huge concern. Also, time your gas to battery intervals so you don’t drain your only way of starting the car again.

2. Zippo hand warmer

In my mind, carrying along a Zippo Hand Warmer makes quite a bit of sense. However, it’s not just the dexterity-enabling heat capsule that I’m after. It’s the fact that you should also be carrying lighter fluid in the same duffle. If you just so happen also to carry a Zippo Lighter, well then, you’ve got a hand warmer and a complete fire kit.

3. The right signaling gear

3 Winter Survival Gadgets Everyone Should Have In Their CarSpeaking of fire, snow is white.

And if you’re pressed into a situation where you have to build a fire in the snow, chances are, you’ve probably had a bad day. That’s why, if you’re going to bring along duct tape, you should make sure that your sticky wonder ribbon is in the most obnoxious neon orange color possible to pop against the whiteness of the snow. With that being said, fire is always a great way to keep warm in such situations — but oddly enough, it’s not really that great of a signaling device in snow-clad broad daylight. You’ll need a way to offer additional contrast for responders, and wouldn’t you know it? Duct tape burns with black smoke.

Be smart out there this winter. Stay safe. Stay warm.

What devices would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

How To Stop Windows 10 From Tracking Your Every Move

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How To Stop Windows 10 From Tracking Your Every Move

When Windows 10 was released, the tech world was abuzz with glee. But then, we all started to take a gander under the hood of this software sportscar, only to discover a rather horrifying sight. It seems this ride tracks every … little … thing … you … do, and then quickly reports this data to the James-Bond-villain headquarters, otherwise known as Microsoft.

“It’s for your own convenience,” they said.

“It will help us fix lots of technical issues,” they added.

Sure, you may like the convenience and simply have nothing to hide, but how far is TOO far? Let’s just say that Windows 10 pushes those bounds with gusto.

Convenience? Technical support? Well, that’s clearly not all this tracking is intended to do. First off, let’s just say that nearly every action is data-farmed into neat little aggregate packages and then sent to their network. The result is that you get to feast on all of the targeted advertising, courtesy of their personalization algorithms. Granted, you might enjoy a clever ad or two, but when Windows puts it right next to the dern start-button search bar, that clearly crosses into the in-your-face zone.

The Real Question: OK, So What Is Windows 10 NOT Tracking?

Obviously, if they track personal usage of your machine, then they’re most certainly going to track browser history and respective caches. However, what isn’t exactly obvious is the fact that they also track you by an even MORE invasive method: a keylogger.

This provides them with a sneaky data-collection vacuum that records every time you slap a key – from your letter to mother to, say, your online banking password. Makes no difference to Microsoft. They want it all.

Discover How To Become Invisible In Today’s Surveillance State!

Oh, and by the way, they’ll also be seeing if you’d give up some of YOUR bandwidth in order for them to make your machine into a peer-2-peer(esq) server. Why? You guessed correctly: It helps them move around all of that data, since it’s right up there, as one of the most ambitious and invasive data-farming operations in history. So, quite frankly, they really are tracking just about everything, and forcing you to pay for their vast surveillance operation in bandwidth.

Solutions? Anybody?

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do.

First, whatever you do, DO NOT select the option to use Express Settings when you’re first installing Windows 10. Instead, you’re going to have to scour each option and switch off all tracking permissions manually.

However, you’re not finished. Here is a video that can walk you through the entire process:

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For a text version of the information in the video, check out this link.

Ubuntu Dual Boot: A Subversion Strategy

At least from my own assessment, let’s just say that I was a fan of Windows 10 for a very brief period of time. Compared to previous operating systems, they really nailed the interface and capabilities — not to mention that Cortana can be an excellent feature.

Be Prepared: Get The Ultimate In Portable Backup Power!

But at the end of the day, I would simply never use this system to do anything that required even a small courtesy of privacy. Given the fact that there are data leaks built into data spigots, there’s just no way of knowing if you’re sending some pretty intimate details of your life to Microsoft. Whether or not they’re actively spying, they simply shouldn’t have a way to crack my online accounts or see what HIPAA-protected information that I might store on my machine. All information of which is glaringly easy to obtain via keylogger protocols.

This is why I’d recommend dual-booting your machine with the free Linux distribution, called Ubuntu. The best part about this strategy is that you can run two separate operating systems on the same machine, and Ubuntu is 100 percent free (no purchase necessary). Here’s a video tutorial on how to set up and use Ubuntu and dual-boot it alongside Windows 10.

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Prioritize for Privacy

Essentially, I just don’t trust Microsoft, which is why I would run Ubuntu if I happen to be working with important and private information (such as doctor’s appointments, online banking, day trading portfolios, etc.). For everything else, like writing this article … since that’s the kind of data I always love to share …

Under those circumstances, then yes, I’d use Windows 10 – but after I tweaked the privacy settings. Just make sure you prioritize your tasks by order of privacy needs, and then at least you won’t get that feeling someone is watching you. Hey, you may not be in the least bit surprised that Microsoft is peeking through your blinds to check out your cat video binge — but when you’d like some privacy, at least you can bet that there’s no possible way for Microsoft to see behind that sturdy Ubuntu Linux OS brick wall you had installed.

Those dern nosey Windows 10 neighbors aren’t going to like that one bit.

What advice would you add about Windows 10? Share your tips in the section below:

You’re Being Watched: 7 Sneaky Ways The Government Is Tracking Your Every Move. Read More Here.

Leather Vs. Kydex: Which Is Truly Better For Everyday Carry?

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Leather Vs. Kydex: Which Is Truly Best For Concealed Carry?

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Leather vs. Kydex — it’s been a point of contention among shooters since the first days of the Kydex holster in the 1970s, but leather has endured and doesn’t seem to be budging anytime soon. And for good reason.

Let’s just say they’re both pretty awesome, but we should not give them a pass that easily. Though both options definitely have their strong points, the cons on these weapon carry options can make a grown man cry (literally). For instance …

You know that clacky-scrapy sound, when someone fast-draws from a Kydex thigh rig? If you’re like me, then chances are that you would always think, “Hmm… sounds cool, but it also sounds like this 1911 will soon be headed back to the blueing bench again.” Hey, let’s face it: Kydex can be very tough on weapon finish. It might not be able to remove the hard water stains off the Hoover Dam, but it’s definitely known for giving a handgun’s blueing the wire-brush treatment.

Be Prepared. Learn The Best Ways To Hide Your Guns.

On the other hand, we should also not forget that Kydex holsters have always been known for being safe and effective. Leather holsters, on the other hand? Well, to be fair, I am reminded of this old video. Viewer discretion is advised.

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Turns out that if you don’t take care of your everyday-carry leather holster, then it could deform near the trigger well. And if you’re also running a 1911 with a trigger that tends to pull about the weight of an average Chihuahua … well, yes, then you’d have the perfect storm for an accidental discharge — not to mention a subsequent gunshot wound to the leg.

When it comes to leather, the rule is simple: Take care of your holster, and it will take care of you.

Ye Olde Benefits of Leather

Leather holsters basically last forever. Believe it or not, some holsters that are being used today will remain functional longer than most humans will remain living. Heck, there are even holsters from 167 years ago that are still on display, and they look great! So, you might as well write your leather sheath or holster into your will, because it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

With that being said, leather simply has no equal in classiness, general attractiveness, and has been making gunslingers swoon for a century and a half. You just can’t beat the sight of a Colt Peacemaker, nestled gently inside an oiled piece of cowhide and fitted to a gunbelt. Speaking of which, another interesting — but often overlooked — benefit of leather is that they make for a great CCW holster. They’re smooth, won’t snag on clothing, and they’re more form-fitting, flexible and comfy.

Why Kydex Rocks

Kydex is way cheaper (at least in comparison to leather holsters) and simply refuses to bow down to mud, dirt, grime, moisture, sweat or even fish guts. Not to mention, it barely requires any form of regular maintenance. Basically, just pray over it once a year, and you’re good. Allow me to elaborate by quoting one of the greats, Robert Farago from The Truth About Guns:

KYDEX 100 is known in the business as “The Gold Standard for Thermoforming.” It’s super tough and durable. It arrives at the holster or sheath maker’s shop in a proprietary “alloy sheet.” It offers excellent formability, rigidity, break and chemical resistance. It also withstands high temperatures.

Now that sounds complicated enough to convince me on the durability factor. (But just to be fair, Farago does rip on Kydex earlier in the same article, due to its hate for gun finishes.)

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure that this article had much of an impact on the Kydex vs. leather debate, but hey, at least we had some fun in the process. To recap what we’ve learned here today, I will leave you with a good rule of thumb when trying to decide which holster is right for you:

Pick the leather holster for your Sunday clothes.

For everything else, there’s Kydex.

Which holster type do you prefer? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Pump Shotguns Have One BIG Advantage Over Other Shotguns For Home Defense. Read More Here.

Survival 101: How To Forecast Tomorrow’s Weather … Without The Weather Channel

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Survival 101: How To Forecast Tomorrow’s Weather … Without The Weather Channel

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When you left the Jeep by the trail, and began heading down the oak leaf-covered footpath that winds its way up the mountain ridge, you felt certain about today’s weather. You had enjoyed a gorgeous night of tenting under the stars and a delicious breakfast, but then it hits you: the realization that the sky seems to be turning darker by the hour.

Before long, you’re getting the distinct impression that you might have just hiked 16 miles into the woods, only to shiver in the rain, and may even be forced to head home in defeat. And then there’s always the possibility that this might just be … well … a bunch of rainless clouds.

This is going to be one tough call to make.

And even if you had brought your smartphone with you, and not left it in the Jeep, it wouldn’t have done much good. There are no smartphone towers around here, and technology isn’t really going to help you in this situation.

Many have suggested that a hiker’s barometer/thermometer watch could provide data on the current situation, but unfortunately, most in the “affordable range” tend not to work effectively. Besides, you’d also have to know how to interpret this data, and it’s not even going to offer near the accuracy that you’d get from two important pieces of gear — items that you had with you all along: your eyes and your brain.

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Your eyes can see the data, and your brain can do a darn good job of interpreting it. So, here are just a few of the basics on reading the clouds for when you have just as much need for a smartphone in the woods today, as just another text from the boss.

Clouds You Should Know

To start off, here’s a quick little guide on how to identify the clouds overhead, along with descriptions on what they mean:

Fair Weather Clouds

Cumulus. Image source:


Cumulus Fair weather (unless closely clumped together, which could signal a little rain on the way). They generally look a bit like floating cotton balls.

Cirrocumulus. Image source:


Cirocumulus Looks like a very thin high-altitude blanket, most likely to dissipate into clear blue sky. This could also foretell of a massive hurricane-like storm system approaching within days in extreme cases.

Cirrus. Image source:


Possible Warning Clouds

Cirrus High-altitude wisps, indicating a possible major weather change and storms within 24-48 hours. Especially pay attention if cirrus clouds appear in a wavy pattern.

Cirrostratus. Image source:


Cirrostratus Cirrus clouds accumulate and thicken, possibly warning of rain or snow on the way.

Altostratus. Image source: Wikimedia


AltostratusThese create a thick grey veil over the sun, meaning the rain is soon to come.

Storm Clouds

Nimbostratus. Image source: Wikimedia.


Nimbostratus Low level thick, wet wisps, meaning it’s probably not going to clear up anytime soon.

Cumulonimbus. Image source:


CumulonimbusThese are your thunderstorm clouds. You’d better hunker down and take cover immediately.

Storm Clouds Descend

One important thing to pay attention to is how the weather is progressing. With the exception of certain regions with their own unique weather phenomena, most storm systems will move over the area, starting with high-altitude cirrus patterns and ending with low-altitude nimbostratus formations. In most cases, it progresses like this:

  1. Cirrus
  2. Cirrostratus
  3. Altostratus
  4. Stratus
  5. Nimbostratus

However, in the event that your camp is directly in the path of a squall line, then this progression will happen almost rapidly enough to completely miss, and it will likely be accompanied with billowing, towering cumulonimbus formations. Here’s a great tutorial video that explains exactly what I’m talking about:

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Nevertheless, there’s a very good chance that both scenarios will be preceded by those high-altitude wispy cirrus clouds, so always pay closer attention to the sky when they show up.

Warm Front. Cold Front.

Warm and cold fronts tend to have very distinct attributes that will reveal themselves to you in the sky without your needing those squiggly lines on the Doppler map. You can usually tell the two apart, using these criteria …

Warm Front – Weather generally changes in a more gradual, more even manner, and is usually accompanied by lighter precipitation that lasts for longer periods of time. It’s also usually preceding a low-pressure zone. To give you an illustration, it’s just like in a super-hot cup of coffee: the half-and-half tends to stir itself if you let it sit, and the same goes for warm fronts.

Cold Front – Weather generally changes in a rapid and often chaotic manner, and these are known for stressing out sailors and sea captains. Because cold air is denser than hot air, cold fronts will form a wall, which then churns and causes rapid convection, and thunderheads shortly thereafter. Much like a weather explosion, these systems tend to precede a high-pressure zone, quickly condensing the water vapor in its path … and becoming heavy rains, heavy wind, and other various storm nasties.

Thus, if the weather seems to take days to change from blue to grey, then you’re probably looking at days of rain due to an inbound warm front.

But if the weather goes from blue to terrifying in 90 minutes, then you’ll only have to whiteknuckle that tarp for about 15 insane minutes of nature’s fury.

Weather Patterns You Can Basically Bank on

When temperatures change rapidly, or there’s a sudden increase in wind speed and/or direction, then it’s time to keep an eye on the sky. Depending on your region, of course, weather systems generally roll in from the west or southwest. So if you’ve got a hunch that the weather may be changing, then turn your eye where the sun sets, because that’s where your trouble’s going to originate.

Obviously, there’s still plenty else to learn about reading the clouds, but this should at least get you started. As for another more obvious fact, if the weatherman says you should stay indoors, then folks: Please stay indoors. Your eyes may be 20/20, but their eyes are seeing things from orbit, and, well, bad storms kill people.

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Is This The Absolute Best Gun For Concealed Carry During Winter?

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Is This The Absolute Best Gun For Winter Concealed Carry?

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News flash: There’s been almost a century-long debate on which is the best caliber for CCW. Groundbreaking stuff, right?

Well, if I’m going to contribute to the conversation on this one, then here’s my thoughts: There is no single perfect round, in the same way that there’s no single perfect survival knife. If anything, perfection in this case is situationally dependent — meaning that perfection in a CCW round for one person may be the exact opposite to what perfection means for someone else.

Additionally, one of the variables in our ongoing search for personal CCW perfection has to do with the changing seasons. Given how we’re finding ourselves peering down the barrel of the coming winter, then I feel it’s time for us to gear up and get our CCW needs squared away before the snow starts falling. And this is why I, personally, am a fan of the 45 ACP for the application of winter concealed-carry. Here are my reasons …

It’s High Time For a Full-Size

Though the Bob Munden-types may be able to put a .38 Special round on a pie plate-sized target from 200 yards off with a “belly gun,” for the rest of us it’s just easier to achieve better accuracy with a full-sized weapon. There’s greater distance between the front and rear sights, subsequent shots are easier to make with more weight at the muzzle, and you’ve got a greater contact area on a larger frame, allowing for increased stability and handling. At the end of the day, a full-sized handgun offers better shooting and easier shooting.

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However, in the warmer months, it’s MUCH harder to successfully conceal a full-sized weapon under a T-shirt or light button-down — that is, unless you’re Lou Ferrigno. But in the winter, you have the option of wearing a blazer, thicker fleece jackets, etc., and fewer worries of the awkward hip bulge that seems to draw unwanted attention.

Speaking of drawing, on the other hand, some of us need to wear gloves when temps really take a dive (depending on which region of the country in question). Try drawing effectively with gloves while carrying a compact handgun, and you probably know what I mean. And don’t attempt that last part if the weapon’s loaded … it’s just that clumsy of a situation. On a full-size weapon, however, this is actually a feasible possibility (with proper practice and training, of course).

Rounds Behave Differently Against Layers

When it comes to selecting a round, the primary issue is often centered around its capacity to effectively stop a person’s ability to present a lethal threat, once shot placement has successfully been achieved.

It’s really a question of velocity vs grains, the proper balance of which should lead to the necessary amount of energy transfer with just enough target penetration to get the job done. Often, the 45 ACP’s primary setback is the fact that it packs too much penetration power, and tends to exit the target, creating a dire situational need to watch the target’s background. This is one reason why concealed-carriers tend to opt for the more lightweight, higher-velocity semi-auto rounds: 9mm and 40 S&W.

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But in the winter, even potential lethal threats will be wearing additional and thicker layers of clothing: leather coats, lined parkas, etc. This means that either the velocity of the round needs to increase (+P), or the round itself needs to get heavier. The problem with higher velocities, however, has to do with fragmentation and the theoretical lack of energy-transfer that results — which is unfortunately one of the frustrations concerning the 9mm round.

With that in mind, a heavier round will maintain its power without the need for increased velocity. For instance, if a 45 ACP hollow-point has successfully been delivered on target, then something interesting should happen: the wad of clothing fibers that accumulates in the conical gap will not only cause the round to expand like a 9mm round, but this should also prevent over-penetration of the target, thereby maximizing energy-transfer.

And when the physics makes tactical sense, that’s called “stopping power.”

A Few Considerations …

But, of course, no caliber is without problems, so there are a few things to keep in mind with the 45 ACP.

It’s probably not much of a surprise that crime rates statistically fall during the colder months of the year, and this has been the case over the last 30 years. In short, you’re going to have a profoundly lower chance of encountering a lethal threat outdoors, while the probability of indoor encounters will either not change or slightly increase. And that means you’re hypothetically going to have to fire a 45 ACP weapon indoors in a defensive encounter … certainly not an ideal situation, because again, over-penetration-power remains a problem.

Also, if you do encounter a lethal threat outdoors, then magazine capacity could pose a bit of a problem, as well. Especially in the frigid cold, fingers go numb and the body is less responsive to motor commands from the brain — commands that you will depend on for accuracy when the adrenaline gets pumping. So in order to overcome this potential loss in accuracy, it’s just like everything else when it comes to firearms: train, train, train … and then train some more.

What is your preference for concealed carry during winter? Share your tips in the section below:

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3 Traits That Separate True Survival Knives From Worthless Ones

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3 Traits That Separate True Survival Knives From Worthless Ones

Image source: Koster Knives

Let’s go over a bit of “basic survival knife 101” and talk about what makes for a good piece of sturdy, handy, sharpened steel to make your time in the sticks just a little bit easier.

However, there is one thing I did want to mention before we begin: I’m personally not much of a believer in the modern “survival” knife concept.

Yes, it is true.

Let’s just say that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen or held a real survival knife — at least, as it’s described in many popular gear magazines — and that’s because I’m fairly certain that they don’t exist. In my own backwoods experience and years of study, there are many types of knives that make for excellent companions. To depend on only one just doesn’t make much sense.

What Makes a Good Knife?

At the end of the day, it would be foolhardy to expect a knife to do everything, from building shelter to cleaning a critter to performing those millions of other critical camp tasks.

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Different blades are simply required for different applications. But then, I am also well aware that the backwoods can be extremely unpredictable — so if you must depend on one good knife, after say, your pack has taken a 10-mile journey down the river without you — then the following attributes should get you by until you either make it back home or are reunited with that backpack:

1. The tang — Especially if this knife happens to be the only blade at your disposal, then you’re going to want to make sure that it’s extremely well-prepared for a royal beating. That’s why I tend to suggest a knife that possesses a full-tang design. This means that the knife’s metal extends all the way to the bottom of the handle, providing a single, unbroken piece of steel. In most cases, this type of tang formation provides the greatest amount of durability and strength, performing far better than the vast majority of other knife tang configurations.

With that said, I am absolutely NOT a fan of “handle-compartment” designs — especially since most are cheaply manufactured and are basically sold like a gimmick from the get-go. And by the way, I’m just going to come right out and say that a foot-long knife is only going to give you problems in the field, because you’re not always going to be hacking at tree limbs with it. Try whittling a stick into an eating utensil, and you’ll see what I mean. Just keep it between 3.5 inches and 5 inches, and call it a day.

3 Traits That Separate True Survival Knives From Worthless OnesThe only real exception to my tang preference might extend into the partial-tang configuration. However, I’d prefer that beastie to be hand-forged. If done right, the handle itself is crafted to reinforce the blade, actually providing an even stronger (and more comfortable) design. That’s why, if you’re willing to spend that kind of cash, then don’t rule out doing business with a talented blacksmith — especially one who knows what they’re doing.

2. The handle. While acquiring a knife with a well-made handle might seem like somewhat of a peripheral design preference, I honestly feel like a good grip is the second most important attribute that makes for a good backwoods knife. Why? Well, it’s actually fairly simple …

For 95 percent of your camp tasks, your hands will be working with this knife. If you don’t have a comfortable handle, then your hands will be paying for it very soon in blisters. Also, depending on the task, a badly designed handle could even lead to slippage (and then a bleeder to follow). This is why I tend to recommend micarta scales on a full-tang knife, especially since they’re extremely tough and super comfortable.

On the other hand, I also tend to be a sucker for custom bone or leather handles. Heck, why not? Handles like that aren’t just comfy … they’re gorgeous, as well.

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3. The profile – And now we come to the knife’s profile – or what I’d define as the overall shape of the blade itself. Different blade shapes are designed to do different things, which is why a wide-profile blade is great for skinning and cleaning game with its long cross section, while a Tanto-edged knife is great for, well, penetrating body armor (thus its backwoods application is truly lost on me).

Keep the knife simple! That way, you won’t have to guess at what your exotic “tracker knife” is going to do next. This is why I’d recommend the spearpoint profile, as it offers a little curvature for slicing soft material; whereas, the long straight edge makes for quick work of light chopping tasks. A symmetrical sharp blade is a predictable blade … and predictability makes it easier to get the job done in the safest way possible.

Preparedness: It’s About the Mission, Not the Gear

At the end of the day, it is easy to get glitter-eyed for flashy gear — especially with all the marketing and movies we see these days. And hey, it’s not even a bad thing to purchase a blade for the “cool factor.” However, I’d personally rather be in the bush with an ugly-yet-effective knife than a flashy-yet-useless one. From generally enjoying the backwoods, to those rare situations when you’re pitted against it in a survival situation, it’s best to pack in the gear to meet the mission at hand — rather than plan your mission to fit your gear.

Do you agree? What is your best advice on survival knives? Share your opinion in the section below:  

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Superglue Can Do THAT?! Yes, And Here’s 3 Reasons It Should Be In Every Survival Kit

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Superglue Can Do THAT? Yes, And Here's 3 Reasons It Should Be In Your Survival Kit

Image source: Wikimedia


When you’re in the sticks, you absolutely, positively must maintain some semblance of self-reliance out there — no matter how long your backwoods stay happens to be. Simply put, the duration of your trek or tramping may not necessarily last for a week, but you’ve got to be prepared for the possibility that it might.

At the same time, you might very well be planning on staying out there for more than a week, but nothing will dampen your camp like a massive rip in the roof of your tent. These things happen, but that’s why we plan for such events in advance … because Murphy’s Law tends to kick in when it’s least convenient.

But then, there’s superglue.

Strong Enough for a Battlefield

Superglue — or Loctite or Krazy Glue — reigns from a very sturdy and handy class of adhesives. However, whereas an adhesive like Gorilla Glue (which is still quite handy in a pinch) may take a fairly long time to bond, superglue does the job within seconds … at least fast enough to accidentally bond your fingers together, so keep that in mind. Been there. Done that. Still trying to de-bond the T-shirt from my skin. Ok, moving on.

Anyway, the original brand-name Super Glue was developed in WWII in order to bond metal on metal — which is arguably where this stuff shows its true colors in strength. From the website:

Super Glue was initially discovered in 1942 in a search for materials to make gunsights for the war. #8 Note: The problem was that super glue stuck to everything so its development was set aside until the early 1950′s when it began to gain popularity commercially.

With bond strength that sturdy, the fact that it comes in a compact, lightweight and extremely packable bottle makes this stuff a backwoods gear no-brainer. Here are three excellent reasons as to why that is the case.

No. 3: Bonds just about anything (except fabrics)

One thing I should mention is that most superglue products do not work very well on fabrics. However, in the backwoods, tearing fabrics is usually not what gets us into trouble.

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It’s when we rip a hole in nylon webbing — that’s when we do get into trouble. In such cases, superglue can fix a tent, a tarp, a pack, a rainproof parka, etc. Not to mention the obvious stuff, such as flashlights, fishing poles, compasses, and the sort.

No. 2: Incredibly handy if you need stitches

According to Andrew Weil, M.D., this stuff can actually be used to treat minor cuts in an emergency. Now I’m obviously NOT talking about those huge gushers that need to be treated immediately. However, its “wound-sealing attributes were noted in the Vietnam War, when medics used it before sending troops on to surgery.”

So basically, superglue is perfect for bonding and healing those whittling mishaps that cause our fireside project to turn that familiar red hue. It may not necessarily be a substitute for stitching a bleeder on the leg, but it will do the job for a mundane dripper on the knuckle.

No. 1: Fire

And last, I will leave you with the coolest reason why superglue is a pack item essential

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Yes, that is correct. You can actually start a fire by dripping a whole bunch of superglue on a cotton ball, due to a thermochemical reaction that takes place. So, if you’re out of matches, you don’t have your firesteel on hand, and you left your Zippo in the truck, you’re STILL not going to freeze to death tonight. When you’re done treating your minor cut, you can fix the tent before the rain starts falling, and then start a campfire — using nothing but superglue and a cotton ball.

A multi-purpose item, to say the least.

How have you used superglue for survival? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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Your Charlotte: 3 Ways To Stay Safe When Riots Break Out In Your Town

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Your Charlotte: 3 Ways To Stay Safe When Rioters Come To Your Town


Posted Sept. 22, 2016

CHARLOTTE — As the situation in Charlotte continues to escalate, one fact is certain: Wherever there is a high population area, you’re going to have a high chance of people not getting along. In this case, there have been dozens of arrests, accompanied by a taxpayer-paid visit from the National Guard. Protesters even tried to throw a photographer into a fire.

Whether the issue stems from race, politics or economic status, there will be times when tensions in cities reach a critical boiling point — and it’s during such times when the average, peace-loving folks like us should take measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Here are three tips:

No. 1 – Avoid flashpoints.

When certain densely populated areas become a cauldron of human rage and anarchy, that’s when “groupthink” begins to take over. Groupthink is the loss of reasoning in individuals – when they adopt the mentality of the crowd that they’re a part of. As the psychology website explains:

A good way to define this term is to tell you how Irving Janus (the main researcher on this topic) describes it. Janus (1972) said that groupthink is “a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures.”

This is one reason why it’s absolutely crucial for individuals to take cover and stay out of sight for the duration of the riot — especially during the hours that curfew is in effect. Obviously, you’ll want to keep away from downtown areas, but also, it’s best not to come within blocks of businesses, either.

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You’ll know where the rioting has reached a fever pitch wherever there is looting, as this is an invaluable indication of where law and order has been temporarily overturned; places where consumer goods are concentrated tend to be magnets for looting. Also, it’s best to keep away from places that sell alcohol, because A), this is probably not the best time to be attending happy hour, and, B), alcohol will attract and enable the dreaded groupthink amoeba.

No. 2 — Gather your valuables and necessities.

If you currently live within blocks of the rioting, then you’ll want to consolidate, hide and protect your valuables and necessities. It’s really anyone’s guess as to what the groupthinkers are going to do and where the riot virus will spread, which means that it’s best to prepare for the worst BEFORE the anarcho-festivities engulf a street near you.

Your Charlotte: 3 Ways To Stay Safe When Rioters Come To Your TownWith that said, you should make sure that your home is on lockdown, your windows are shut, and any entrances to your residence are secured. Draw the curtains (or even board up the windows if you have the time), so that any peaking inside your residence from the outside is impossible. Next, let’s suppose that groupthinkers will breach …

You should then secure your valuables (jewelry, most of your loose cash, checkbooks, most identification and important paperwork, most of your medications, and expensive electronics. I’ll soon explain why I emphasized the word “most”) by getting them in a safe or lockbox. However, whether you have a lockable compartment or not, you’ll want to get these valuables out of sight to a place that cannot be quickly identified.

This might also be a great time to install a camera inside your home which covers the entry points to your residence.

No. 3 — Prepare to escape.

Now that your valuables are secured, you should start getting your bugout gear together (if that’s not already done). While I’m not necessarily going to discuss what should be in your 72-hour pack, I will say this: Do you remember how I emphasized the word “most” in the last pointer?  Well, you’ll also want to gather enough cash, paperwork and IDs, and medications that will get you by for a few days in the event that you have to leave. Also, make sure you grab some water and food, just in case you end up in the nightmare scenario of getting trapped for a length of time.

Once you’re feeling fairly confident that you could have your group evacuated within roughly 2-5 minutes, then it’s time to ask yourself an honest question: At what point should you actually leave?

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Your Charlotte: 3 Ways To Stay Safe When Rioters Come To Your TownOnce you’ve put your bugout trigger in place, then you’re not going to deal with the mental conflict of the old “should I stay or should I go” syndrome. This also will keep arguments among your own small group at bay, especially if everyone agrees on the trigger in advance. The point is simple — limiting confusion is crucial in these scenarios.

What NOT to Do

Ok, this part is extremely important, so read closely …

DO NOT put on your tactical gear, and if you’re carrying a weapon of any kind, make sure that it’s well concealed. Not only will your tactical vest attract the attention of the groupthinkers (because it could make you look like law enforcement, which is bad), but this is also going to attract the attention of the authorities (because they might think you’re impersonating law enforcement, which could be worse).

During this scenario, the authorities are still in relative control, because they still possess superior firepower, communication and tactical organization in comparison to both the rioters and innocent folks.

So just be smart, keep a small profile, and you’ll be most likely be left alone.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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The State Of The Union, 7 Days After An EMP

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The State Of The Union, 7 Days After An EMP

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Determining the specific ramifications after something like a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse weapon (EMP) attack, or even a Carrington Event-style coronal mass ejection (CME) is kind of a guessing game at this point.

However, one thing we do know is that some of the most horrifying effects of an EMP disaster will occur about a week after our grid gets fried. That’s why I’ve decided to take a visualized journey into what the US might look like, seven days after an EMP — and let’s just say that the state of the union will be a bleak one.


If you live in a city or suburban area, then it’s no secret that when you look into the sky on a cloudless evening, you’re basically seeing a fraction of the stars that someone from, say, an Arizona desert might be viewing. The reason is that the cumulative artificial lighting from your surrounding area – the light pollution — is blocking out the stars. In a city (and other somewhat densely populated zones), you can walk around at night without a flashlight, because the area is practically bathed in artificial light.

(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s show about a Carrington-type sun event, here.) 

After an EMP, however, everything will go as dark as a lifeless desert or wilderness mountainside. Since at this point, people will be running out of battery juice for their flashlights, cloud-covered evenings will be pitch black.

This might not necessarily be such a bad thing, if you’re planning on running your bugout operation under the cover of complete and total darkness.

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But the absence of light won’t be the only “darkness.”

There will be a cognitive, communicative darkness sweeping from sea to shining sea, especially since the methods that we’ve depended upon to exchange information will have been gutted

  • Emergency services will not be able to coordinate or exchange information.
  • The Internet infrastructure in the US will have been completely destroyed.
  • Telephones and cell towers will have been fried.
  • Radio and TV stations will have been destroyed.
  • Even ham radio operators (that have not hardened their systems to EMP) will have nothing but electronically damaged gear.

Most people will have no clue what happened (because let’s face it, most people aren’t aware of these types of threats). It will be a complete and total information blackout and a true time of total darkness in the US after an EMP takes its hefty toll.


The State Of The Union, 7 Days After An EMP

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If anything, this type of information blackout will become cause for a nationwide sense of desperation. The US is primarily an info-based society, because we currently enjoy the ability to share information and to communicate globally with ease. In a way, that’s what makes this modern digital era such a time, which has been ripe with opportunities.

However, we’ve become extremely dependent on easily accessible information via electronic means, and almost totally independent on word-of-mouth sources (the likes of which were the norm during pre-modern times).

Confusion soon becomes desperation, because not only will people become very concerned that the state of things has not improved within a seven-day timeframe, but they also will have no ability to obtain information as to what exactly is going on. The effects of this will be extremely psychologically destructive. And at the same time, we will have a snowball-effect problem in the works …

  1. EMP strike renders the grid inoperable.
  2. Grid electricity is required to pump gasoline through pipelines and into tractor trailer trucks and locomotives (the primary movers of goods in the US).
  3. Supply chains will stop because tractor trailer trucks and locomotives are no longer going anywhere, due to fossil fuels becoming inaccessible at local pumps.
  4. A complete shortage of consumer goods will occur, since companies can no longer get their goods from distribution centers to retail/grocery stores.

Also within days of the EMP strike, it will become quickly apparent that law enforcement can no longer communicate effectively, thereby disabling their ability to maintain law and order. Looting will likely ensue shortly thereafter.

In addition, dangerous and disruptive aftershocks of this crisis will being to occur on a national scale. For instance, all across the US, flooding, fires and town-leveling explosions will begin to erupt without warning. Not only will many homes and businesses burn to the ground due to the initial electromagnetic wave that causes smaller scale electrical fires, but when entire utility substations begin to leak millions of gallons of flammable-toxic liquids, this will result in major cataclysms.

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But regardless of proximity to massive ecological disasters and multi-kiloton gasoline blasts, there will be hundreds of millions of personal crises occurring. After seven days of people not having been able to use their credit/debit cards to make transactions, nationwide looting in even rural areas will become commonplace.

There will be a temporary run on the banks, but since cash isn’t nearly as common these days, most people will be forced to resort to theft and bartering in order to feed themselves and their loved ones.


Through the culmination of depleted consumer grocery/retail goods, the widespread coordination breakdown and manpower deficiencies of emergency services, and a total information blackout of communication, including the blanket of darkness at night, the state of the union at seven days after an EMP would, in essence, be one of nationwide disorder.

The US would begin its descent into an epidemic of anarchy.

The State Of The Union, 7 Days After An EMP

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At this point, not only would the federal, state and local government be rendered practically useless, but even if they were able to maintain a certain level of solvency, they wouldn’t have the ability to communicate with the population at large.

Virtually everyone, regardless of wealth status, creed, race or gender, will have no possible way of accessing their electronically held funds … and because of the relative newness of the crisis, most people will not yet have thought to adopt the barter system to slow the nation’s economic hemorrhaging.

One week after an EMP, each household and individual will have to provide for and protect themselves, carrying the tremendous weight of the same fundamental responsibilities and capacities that the national law enforcement, military, civil government, and US economic system had been carrying only a week ago.  And since everyone now will have become hopelessly impoverished, having most likely burned through the contents of their pantries at this point, then the US population at large will have reached a maximum state of confusion and desperation … as it takes its final dive into utter chaos.

A Crisis of Confusion

In a way, it isn’t a forgone conclusion to suspect that FEMA will not have to round up a single person to check in at their nationwide franchises. No, most people will probably elect to check themselves in for a free meal and “secure” lodging.  Martial law would be the next step.

Yet in such a crisis, there will be a good bit of hope for those of us who have adequately prepared ourselves in advance. Not only will we have the cover of darkness shielding our escape to the backwoods, but confusion tends to obfuscate the movements and actions of the tactically wise and strategically sound. And so, in the event of an EMP, I would like to say…

On that darkened day of calamity, you fellow vigilant Off The Gridders: I wish you and all of your loved ones a safe, speedy bugout and a flourishing homestead thereafter.

What would you add to this picture of an America, post-EMP? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Emergency Water Purification When You’re Desperate And Dehydrated (And Your Forgot Your Water Filter)

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Emergency Water Purification When You're Desperate And Dehydrated (And Your Forgot Your Water Filter)

Image source: Screen grab/Ultimate Survival Tips

If I had to choose from among the worst possible scenarios of being marooned in the wilderness, it would be one of these two predicaments …

  • First, I’m stuck in an area where there doesn’t seem to be any readily identifiable sources of water.
  • Second, I successfully found water, but since I wasn’t able to properly filter it before drinking, I’m now lost AND sick from those nasty waterborne parasites, known as cryptosporidia.

One of the reasons why the inability to hydrate with clean water is easily one of the worst possible killers in a survival scenario is because you really only have 72 hours (maximum) to come up with a solution — and if you drink the wrong stuff, then you’ll end up dehydrating yourself even faster than if you hadn’t even taken your first sip.

But perhaps the biggest problem is dealing with the symptoms leading up to terminal dehydration. Not only will you burn through your energy quickly, but it doesn’t take long before delirium and confusion sets in.

Emergency Water Purification When You're Desperate And Dehydrated (And Your Forgot Your Water Filter)

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That’s why it’s an absolutely critical skill — if not, THE MOST critical skill — for you to be able to find water and, as we’ll be discussing in this post, filter it. Now, keep in mind that the filtration system we’ll be constructing in this post is actually quite simple, as compared to the ones you’ll see in other survival tutorials. The reason why I’m keeping it simple is because …

  1. This should NOT be your primary method of procuring potable water, and should be used for emergencies. In other words, you already should have water filters in your survival kit. (The Paratrooper Filter is a great one to carry; it’s tiny, and you can fit several into a single survival kit.)
  2. Since this is for dire situations, it’s better to make it fast and simple, because you don’t know what state your body will be in at the point when you might need it.

Let’s get started …

No. 1 — Get a Small Fire Going

Let’s kill two birds with one stone on this step: Your first task is to collect water into a metal (or possibly glass) container. Also, DO NOT sip from this “no-drink-container” until it’s been sanitized, no matter how thirsty you feel.

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Next, you’ll want to get a small fire going. When the fire is finally up and running, this will give you an opportunity to boil the water that you collected into a non-plastic (for obvious reasons) container. The cool part about this is the fact if you were very desperate, then once the water is boiled, you could actually sip that water without any filtering.

It sure would taste nasty, and you’ll be chewing on heaven-knows-what, but at least you can rest assured that 100 percent of all present cryptosporidia have been wiped out, according to the folks at the CDC. The water will be dirty, but at least it’s a sanitary kinda’ dirty.

Once the water has reached a rolling boil for a good five minutes, then set aside the container and let the fire consume the wood and allow it to change into charcoal material. Once you have a small sandwich bag full equivalent of charcoal to work with, then smother the fire by spreading it out or throwing sand on it.

No. 2 — Set up Your DIY Filter

While you were waiting for the fire to die down, a great way to take advantage of that time would be to go out and find a plastic bottle (really, any size will do).

Use your best judgement on this one, but depending on the size of the bottle, you’ll need to acquire the appropriate quantities of the following items, including a rubber band, cordage or wire and a bandana or piece of cloth.

  • Charcoal
  • Sand
  • Tiny Pebbles
  • Small Stones
Emergency Water Purification When You're Desperate And Dehydrated (And Your Forgot Your Water Filter)

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Now, basically what makes the magic happen is the charcoal. In fact, even commercial-grade filters use carbon, which is what charcoal fundamentally is. Let’s put it together:

  1. Cut the bottom off of the plastic bottle, and hold it upside-down.
  2. Place a small swatch of cloth at the bottom (this will be where the water drips from).
  3. Add the charcoal.
  4. Add the sand.
  5. Add the tiny pebbles.
  6. Add the small stones.
  7. Place a larger swatch of cloth at the top, and then secure it in place with your cordage/rubber band/wire.

At this point, you now have a working filter and water in a “no-drink-container” that’s been completely sanitized of any living thing that would try to kill you from the inside. Lovely.

No. 3 – Use Filter, Repeat, and Then Hydrate at Your Leisure

Pour the water from your “no-drink-container” into your filter, which is situated to drip down into the container you plan on drinking from.

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The water will still appear very dirty on the first few times you run it through your filter; however, this isn’t a problem, for two reasons …

  • Since you were able to boil the water, all possible cryptosporidium are quite deceased at this point. All that’s left will be sediments and some traces of hard metals.
  • It will take 2-5 cycles through your filter in order for the water to start looking clearer (potable), but this is largely because your filter materials will initially have small dirt particles in there. Basically, your first few cups are going to be cleaning out the filter itself.

Also, remember that even with manufactured filters, you should cycle water through it a few times before drinking water from it.

Just keep in mind: It’s quite stellar that we are able to craft a DIY survival water filter in the boonies with nothing but litter and natural materials, but this should not be your go-to option. This DIY filtration system should be used in the event that you find yourself in a pinch and need to hydrate urgently.

What advice would you add on making an emergency water filter? Share your advice in the section below:

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3 Off-Road ‘Bugout Vehicles’ That Will Get You Out Of Dodge … Fast

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3 Off-Road 'Bugout Vehicles' That Will Get You Out Of Dodge ... FastI’m positive that there are quite a few of us who look upon our plush suburban surroundings and deep down, we know that if things go bad, then we’ve got to roll.

I know this, because I’m also in such a situation. While I don’t necessarily live near any major cities per se, I do live in an area that’s going to swell with refugees if the unthinkable were to occur. Of course, the refugees themselves aren’t necessarily the issue. It’s the fact that these droves of refugees will be low on survival resources, coming to an area that will be low on law and order.

To further explain, a single high-altitude EMP – or a major solar storm – could take out the grid and effectively render all emergency service communications devices into high-tech paperweights from coast to coast. This alone is going to have most officers headed homebound to look after their loved ones (and I sure couldn’t blame them for doing so). But even the ones that stick around are going to have a tough time coordinating crime-fighting efforts without so much as a working walkie-talkie to throw in their cruiser’s passenger seat.

And that’s IF the cruiser’s electrical systems haven’t been fried by the energy wave.

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Thus, the word “chaos” comes to mind if I were to describe the unfolding hypothetical scenario. Even if I could pop the clutch in ye olde Chevy to get her working, then how exactly am I going to weave my way to wilderness freedom with the countless road-blocking variables that could possibly be standing between me and my retreat?

If, in the 50/50 chance that I’m unlucky, and I don’t have access to a working set of wheels, then am I really going to attempt this trek on foot? I had to leave my home because it was too dangerous, and now I expect to take the next week, meandering through the same chaos that ousted me from my home in the first place?

There’s got to be a better way. So, here’s a quick list of what we need in a fast transportation option:

  • Lightweight and low-profile
  • Fast
  • Fuel-efficient
  • All-terrain capability
  • Carrying capacity for a bag
  • Operator able to maintain or repair in the field

Well, my friends, I’ve come up with three that meet the above criteria … and these options will give you a little extra speed and agility to get you on your way …  in a hurry.

No. 3: Multi-Passenger ATV

I’m not the only survivalist who believes ATVs are one of the most versatile forms of transportation.

Passenger and towing capacity has long been the crux of the ATV in this regard, but there is a market solution to this problem. Since the multi-passenger ATVs tend to have more power and additional space for boarding your gear and compadres, I feel like this would be the better option for families undergoing a forced, rapid evacuation.

However, if everyone in your company has access to their own transportation, or you’re traveling alone, then you might be better served with a two-wheeled option of some kind. With ATVs, they don’t exactly possess the optimally low mpgs, as the other options out there. But its three best strengths are readily identifiable:

  • Agility
  • Terrain handling
  • Multi-passenger/storage capable.

No. 2: Motorized 66/80cc Bicycle Kit

A good friend of mine who happens to be an outside-the-box-kind of thinker, showed me this absolutely intriguing concept … and I’ve been stuck on the idea ever since.

It’s especially handy for those of us who don’t exactly have a couple grand to dump on a mechanized bugout transport. But if you’ve already got an existing bike, and $150 to burn, this project might just get you by in a pinch.

These kits will actually allow you to slap a 66/80cc two-stroke engine on that bicycle that’s currently suspended in your garage. Apparently, they’ll do a whopping 55mph. (Not loaded down with gear, of course, but so long as you’re doing more than a human sprint, I’d still take it.)

If you want one, even for just a tinker project, just hop on eBay. Of course, it’s not necessarily the easiest install in the world, but you don’t need to have a certification from a mechanic school in order to figure out what you’re doing.

The cons for this system are going to be rather obvious, given its limited power. However, I’ve heard the two-liter tank’s mpgs can range anywhere from 100-150 (even 250, but that’s not without some highly sophisticated mods), and again … you just can’t beat $150 for a fun project. Just be careful with taking her on the road after you’ve put it together, because many-a-municipality hasn’t exactly accounted for them yet. I’ve heard of riders running into a tiff or two with local troopers over the required paperwork.  And be smart with these kits, folks. Wear a good helmet while you’re riding.

No. 1: Kawasaki KLR 650

As I mentioned before, we’re going to need a way to weave through chaos, and depending upon the nature of the crisis at hand, the surrounding suburban countryside could look eerily similar to a warzone. But that’s why I couldn’t help but think of the Kawasaki KLR 650.

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In fact, this particular “touring” motorcycle has been used by the Marine Corps for years, so it’s got a history of handling the unpredictability that’s inherently associated with warzones. Take a look at this diesel-powered variant that’s served us since 1999:


According to Popular Mechanics, the Kawasaki KLR 650 is essentially a mechanized pack-mule. And while I might disagree … they say it’s about as attractive as one, too. However, they also laud praises to the two-wheeled beastie, saying:

Its comparatively lightweight made it the easiest to wrestle through tight, rocky trails. It has just enough power to cruise at 80 mph, but don’t ask for more.

Hey, if the KLR 650 is the go-to bike for a long journey across the Australian Outback, then I don’t think it’s going to have issues handling the rigors of Appalachia — and at an average 53.3 mpg, I can’t exactly complain for doubling that of my current mode of transportation.

(I should also mention that it runs on a carburetor, which will naturally resist an EMP surge far better than its younger fuel-injecting cousin. Food for thought.)

What transportation options would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:

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4 Versatile ‘Deadeye’ Optics For The Backwoods Rifleman

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4 Versatile ‘Deadeye’ Optics For The Backwoods Rifleman

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I absolutely love multi-purpose gear which can be used in a wide variety of scenarios, settings and applications.

But selecting an optic for your rifle can become tricky, because you just don’t know what ranges you will be pressed to engage (whether, say, five yards or 500). Thus, to slap a 20x piece of glass on your AR’s Picatinny rail could leave you at a major disadvantage. That’s why I’ve put together a list of optics that would be ideal for just about anything.

Here’s my criteria for what made the list…

Our selected optics must be operationally independent from batteries and have a high level of:

  • Durability
  • Versatility
  • Ingenuity

Also this means that, unlike actual Pentagon-approved military combat missions, we won’t be able to change up and top off our loadout between engagements after a quick stop at the PX … or await extraction via Blackhawk medevac when we’re in a tight spot and losing blood.

Here, then, is the list, starting with No. 4:

No. 4 – Trijicon 4×32 ACOG

Yes, I do know that this particular optic will run you a whopping $1,700. I get it.

However, let’s consider a few things concerning this particular piece of glass. First, I do believe that if you can drop that kind of cash on an optic, then this would be a ridiculously strong option. Not only did it prove to be terrifyingly effective for our Marines in the battle of Fallujah, but it also seems to have been sturdy enough to absorb the energy of an enemy round upon impact -as discovered by Sgt. Todd B. Bowers.

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Anecdotal credit aside, the Trijicon ACOG is an optic that extracts ambient light to illuminate the reticle without burning through battery power — and 4x also appears to be a highly versatile magnification. Considering you can shoot with both eyes open, while still quickly transitioning to targets at ranges long enough to stretch the 5.56’s capabilities, I’d call that a win.

No. 3 – Nikon Monarch 3 Rifle Scope 1-4×20

The coolest aspect about “safari”-style rifle scopes is the fact that they enable the shooter to take game at long ranges; while at the same time, they can also be dialed back to 1x for defensive “gee-willakers, Batman, where did that huge lion come from!?”-type of CQB situations.

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For this reason, the Nikon Monarch 3 makes for a great optic because it does offer that same transitional magnification power. Also, it’s made for the ruggedness and durability needed to survive Jumanji.

Combine that with its $280 price tag, and you’ve got a great option. And heck, you don’t even need to worry about batteries.

No. 2 – Leatherwood Hi-Lux ATR 2-7×32 Scout

Let’s change this up a bit…

One unique optic possibility is mounting an LER (long eye relief) system, rather than using the traditional kind that sits about five inches from the eye. This setup does offer a few solutions to several fast long/short range-transitional problems, and it’s also one reason why I picked the Leatherwood Hi-Lux ATR 2-7×32 LER. Not only does it offer greater magnification capability than you might get from a 4x scope, but the Jeff Cooper-style ‘scout rifle’ concept is certainly a valid configuration to support your objectives. To further explain, here’s Midway’s description on this particular Leatherwood model optic,

“The long eye relief of the Leatherwood Hi-Lux ATR is designed for forward mounting scout style rifles. The maximum 13 inch eye relief gives the shooter a unique advantage whether shooting at targets long range or near point blank.”

It’s a fantastic system and worthy of at least giving it a try. Heck, for less than $140, you don’t have much to lose, even if you eventually end up mounting it on a wayward and greasy Mosin Nagant project rifle, because you couldn’t stand the LER configuration.

Hey I do understand, such a system doesn’t work for everybody.

No. 1 – Leupold VX-2 3-9×40

Leupold is probably one of the greatest and most well-known rifle scope manufacturers of all time, given the rock-solid reputation for quality and customer service throughout the many decades that they’ve been in business. They probably manufactured the scope that was on your grandpa’s old 30-06, and they’re still making scopes that you’ll probably be able to give to your own grandkids. And then, of course, it doesn’t get much more tried and true than the 3-9×40.

The reason I placed the Leupold VX-2 3-9×40 at the top of this list is because there will be absolutely no doubt in this scope’s ability to perform above and beyond expectations.

Based on the familiarity-factor and quality of this optic, the Leupold VX-2 is el numero uno on my list. And by the way, here’s a quick tip to expand your CQB abilities…

RifleHack: Have Your Scope and CQB It, Too

Don’t want to sacrifice your cheek weld with a see-through mount, but you still want to have your 3-9×40 and CQB it, too? Well, if there’s one thing that three-gun matches have taught us, it’s that innovative methods, on how to increase target acquisition speed and sight picture versatility, have created quite a few three-gun winners.

That’s why I mount rapid transition sights on my AR, which are irons that provide a sight picture that’s simply canted 45-degree offset — and yet still sits on the same rail as the primary optic. This enables you to utilize a higher-powered magnification (without it being obscured), and still quickly engage those up close and higher-threat targets by simply tilting the rifle sideways.

Food for thought.

What optics would you add to this list? Do you disagree with anything on the list? Share your tips in the section below:

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3 Steel Types That Make The Best Bushcraft Knives

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3 Steel Types That Make The Best Bushcraft Knives

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“There never was a good knife made of bad steel.” – Benjamin Franklin

After having indulged in my own love affair with knife making, this was perhaps the single most important lesson I learned about the art: A knife’s steel will define its application and determine its quality.

Not all knife steels are created equally, because different types of steel will come with different advantages, weaknesses, quirks and nuances. Whether you’d like to get into the art of knife making, or you’re simply shopping around for a survival/bushcraft knife, the metal that makes your knife is going to have a major influence on your expectations and your experiences with it in the field.

With that said, here are three of the most common types of steel that you’ll find when in search of a good knife to have with you at camp.

1. 440C: stainless and cheap, but always faithful

It’s been called “no-name steel” due to the fact that most of your cheaper survival application knives will be made of this stainless variant. Usually, if you find a blade that was made overseas (and I’m not talking about Sweden), then there’s a chance that you won’t even find any markings or indications on what kind of steel this thing is — but quite frankly, nine times out of 10, it will be 440C.

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However, it’s not because it’s necessarily a bad type of steel. 440C has quite a great deal of advantages to offer. If anything, 440C is just extremely common, thereby driving down its price point, making it the best option for overseas manufacturers. This gives the blade an additional advantage in a way because it provides an excellent choice if you aren’t looking to purchase that really, really good one on your shopping list just yet. At the same time, you’ll be able to expect your knife to be …

  • Super easy to sharpen
  • Relatively resistant to corrosion
  • Capable of holding its own in the field (provided you’re not trying to chop limbs off an oak tree).

At the same time, you shouldn’t expect the knife itself to do what a Ka-Bar might be capable of, especially if you only purchased it for $15 at a gun show. The steel itself will most likely hold, but the el-cheapo plastic handle could potentially give you problems.

2. 154CM: the do-it-all (fairly well) knife steel

It’s one of the reasons why I decided on purchasing my Leatherman Rebar in the first place. It’s made of 154CM steel alloy. If anything, I’ve been nothing but impressed by the multi-tool, not only because of its functionality but also because I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to sharpen it twice a year … whether it needs it or not.

knife B -- hiconsumptionDOTcom154CM is an alloy that’s achieved a fairly prestigious reputation among knife lovers. The only reason why craft knife makers aren’t usually too fond of it is because the stuff is just too darn difficult to work with. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because its metallurgical properties keep its edge extremely sharp for a very, very long time. Simply put, 154CM does not wear down easily.

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It’s likely for that reason why the American-made Ontario SK-5 Blackbird is made of 154CM specifically for survival applications, because not only will it hold an edge through unforgiving conditions, but it’s also more corrosion-resistant than its high carbon steel alloy counterparts. So in summary, here are its three basic strengths …

  • Holds its edge EXTREMELY well
  • Relatively corrosion-resistant
  • Fairly durable overall

Aside from being somewhat tough to sharpen, 154CM makes for a great knife. But that now leaves us with the granddaddy of popular manufactured survival knife steels …

3. 1095 High Carbon: the knife steel that never quits

This particular type of knife steel is, perhaps, the most loved by the survival/bushcraft community, as it’s basically the workhorse of knife steel alloys. This type of steel is just not going to give up its edge or structural integrity without taking a massive beating in the process.

It’s the reason why knife companies, such as ESEE, TOPS, Schrade and Ontario have used 1095-HC in their manufacturing process for a huge number of their knife product lines. Also, this is going to be your most common steel alloy that is found in your high-grade/price “tactical” knives as well.

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However, the only reason why I might not select a high-carbon 10-series alloy knife would be due to the fact that its corrosion resistance is … well … not so good.  This is the reason why most knives made of 1095-HC (or even the metallurgically reinforced 1095-Cro Van) are going to come with some type of coating, whether Duracoat or something else. These suckers will rust if they’re exposed to the elements for even a relatively short period of time.

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However, this happens to be one of the most well-loved alloys for knife making — at least, if you’re cutting it from barstock. In addition, it’s got another interesting advantage: Because it’s a high-carbon alloy, you can use it to start a fire as you would with a flint-steel striker kit. If you’ve sanded off the coating near the blade’s point on the spine, you can take a piece of flint rock or churt to it … and viola … you’ve got sparks to light your charcloth. So to break it down for 1095-HC:

  • Incredibly tough (making it ideal for survival applications)
  • Holds its edge … like a boss
  • Can double as a flint striker

So, if you’re looking for a high-end survival/bushcraft/tactical knife, which comes paired with a sheath that will protect it from the elements, then 1095-HC steel would be a fantastic choice that won’t give you problems. Let’s face it: All knives need love, so just keep it oiled and happily in its sheath, and it will love you back.

Different Steel, Different Applications

While the knife you decide to purchase might have a design that triggers your interest, it’s important to identify its steel beforehand (if possible). The steel alloy that makes up the knife is going to determine how it behaves in the field, and this should influence your expectations of what the blade will and will not offer.

With that being said, you should also consider that a blade’s toughness can also be affected by how it was made, so keep that in mind.

The point is (pun intended), with different steels, you will have different applications. It’s why a search-and-rescue operator won’t carry a chef’s knife, and a chef wouldn’t be caught dead with a Cold Steel SRK either.

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Essential Survival Clothes Missing From Your Bugout Bag

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During a crisis, whether it’s some type of natural or man-made disaster, it’s important to be dressed for a successful bugout.

Granted, it might come down to a scenario where you’ve got minutes to get out of Dodge, ruling out the possibility of a visit to your survival wardrobe. So, there’s a chance that you might have to make the initial run while wearing your usual work attire polo/khaki combo.

So to get our wheels up on this post, my rule of thumb is that you should always keep at least two complete changes of survival apparel in your pack. And just as a sidenote, you’ll actually save space if you roll your clothes, and not fold them. Now let’s begin…

Like Any Other Day … Dress For the Weather

This is actually a bit of a conundrum, especially for those off the gridders among us who live up north with dramatic, dynamic and sometimes downright punishing seasonal changes. But here are a few pointers so that you don’t find yourself in a jam when caught in weather that’s unusually hot/cold/rainy/etc.

  • Pack clothes that you can layer. Layering allows you to put on a jacket or take off a fleece, depending on what the temps are doing that day.
  • For the eventuality of rainy, moist weather, you’ll follow the layering principle if you purchase lightweight wet gear (like rain shells and chaps). That way, you’re not lugging around an entire insulated raincoat, in the event that the weather gets oddly hot and dry for no apparent reason. Also, a little poncho can go a long way in these situations, especially if you get the kind that can become a shelter/hammock combo.
  • When it comes to hats, it’s easy enough to get something lightweight with a brim that breathes. And bring one that will allow you to throw a beanie under it or your poncho over it.
  • For footwear: if you live pretty far up north where temps routinely get lower than 10 degrees Fahrenheit on a rather regular basis, then you’re probably going to need a pair of Thermaline Gore-Tex boots that will keep your toes from getting frostbite. However, for those of us in temperate zones and further south, I’d still recommend getting a pair of waterproof hiking shoes — and when the temps drop, making sure you have some SmartWool socks at the ready. Double up your socks if needed.
  • For the miscellaneous apparel, you’ll want to pack the following: a pair of water shoes or sandals for crossing streams, a shemagh or scarf, sturdy sunglasses (I prefer Wiley X), a pair of work gloves, and a complete set of hot or cold weather Under Armour (or comparable brand).

Suiting Up to Be Tactical or Tacticool?

Now this particular issue tends to be a big one, especially since it’s the cool thing these days to buy tactical-style clothing for a bugout. Even in a natural disaster crisis, tactical clothing looks militaristic. In which case, you’ll cause alarm wherever go.

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Not everyone gels with the “tacticool” look. Sure, it might offer a lot of really useful pockets and such, but sadly, you’re only going to make yourself a beacon for manmade-unfortunate events.  Not to mention, you’ll also become a target for individuals who are wearing many of those same things.

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I’m not necessarily saying that ALL camo will get you into a tight spot, but I am saying that it’s best not to look like a soldier, insurgent, or upstart. On the other hand, there are lots of camouflage options that won’t make a person immediately appear militant if stumbled upon. I mentioned A-Tacs camo before, which is almost creepy-effective; yet still, its pattern doesn’t have the same look as that of conventional military camo. Yes, it’s made for troops, but most troops (and almost all civilians) wouldn’t really know that this was the case.

There’s also Mossy Oak and Realtree camo, too, which would do extremely well in the sticks and won’t look threatening. That is, unless you run into someone from PETA …but that’s an issue for another day.

The 3 Pillars of Bugout Apparel

In this post, I have mentioned quite a few guidelines and suggestions, which might end up being a bit difficult to remember. That’s why I believe it’s best to follow simple principles for these kinds of things where memory fails. So, these are my three “pillars” of bugout apparel, which keep me thinking clearly when purchasing clothes to stuff in the pack:

1. Protection – Survival clothing is meant for the purpose of keeping us protected from the elements. From wet rain to dry heat, your clothing should first serve this function, which is meant to ultimately keep you from heat sickness, sun exposure, frostbite and hypothermia. In addition, your clothing should facilitate your own protection by working with your weapons loadout and not hindering its effectiveness.

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2. Durability – Survival clothing should have a higher-than-average durability factor, as evacuations and refugee situations could place the survivor in harsh, abusive environments over an unknown span of time. For this reason, all apparel should have the capacity to take a beating and remain intact, especially since shopping for a new outfit is no longer a possibility.

3. Camouflage – Survival clothing should allow the survivor to blend into the environments, in which he or she plans to retreat. If the retreat location or the route itself carries the possibility of human interaction, then it’s best to wear camouflage that does not look threatening. Also, clothing that is colored in earth tones can act as improvised camouflage if pressed. Whether in the woods, the plains, the desert, the bayou or in the middle of a town: Blend in and avoid drawing attention by what you wear.

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Overall, your bugout clothing should protect you from the rainiest day of them all: the day that your home is no longer your home. And on such a day, the ones that live a successful and easy life (in comparison to the rest of society, of course) will be the ones that have a realistic, serious perspective of the situation — and do not allow the accompanying challenges to bring down their morale and willpower to build a new life.

So don’t simply purchase a milsurp jacket, just because you saw the guy wear it in that survival show, triggering the old survival-action-hero-fantasy reflex. Hey, even I’ve got one of those reflexes, so I get it.

Instead, purchase a jacket which follows the three pillars of bugout apparel, because it will keep your body at a cozy 98.6-degrees when the ambient temperature is chillingly far from it.

What advice would you add? Share your suggestions in the section below:

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The Ancient Do-Anything Bushcrafter Blade Your Cache Needs

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The Ancient Do-Anything Bushcrafter Blade Your Cache Needs

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There are lots of survival blades out there from machetes and hand-forged skinners to double-bit axes. I’d buy them all if I could, because one can never have too many knives. But then, there’s one particular knife which holds a special place in my heart. It’s a legend among blades, and it’s been that way for hundreds of years. It’s the kukri knife.

I have a few reasons for my affinity of the “kuk.” It’s a special thing when you happen upon a unique bushcraft/survival tool that’s not only beautifully designed, but also has been proven to perform.

This is why, I believe, the kukri knife has found its place in the hearts of bushcrafters and warriors alike. Allow me to elaborate.

The Gurkhas Needed a Chopper, So They Invented One

Some historical records have placed the first known use of a Gurkha kukri knife as far back as the 17th century, and it’s been working for the Nepalese people in Asia ever since.

Its first uses were that of something you might require in the bush, as it was designed to perform just about any task a hunter or farmer would ask of it. The kukri could do basically anything: chopping wood, slaughtering animals for food and clearing away thick foliage that you’d find in the jungles of Nepal. Its “weight-forward” design, where the blade curves away from its user with a disproportionately wide cross section compared to the handle, gives the kukri its famed chopping/slicing power.

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The knife itself was most commonly made no longer than 16 to 18 inches. But due to its incredibly efficient profile, it could out-chop and out-slice blades that were twice its length.

And let’s just say that the Gurkha people noticed this power, applying it to other uses of the more combative persuasion.

Battle Blade: More Than Just a Workhorse

The kukri knife’s military usage has bloodied enemies of the Gurkhas in historic battles from at least as far back as the 19th century.

Of course, the Nepalese Gurkha soldier has always been feared as much as his blade. In trained hands, the kukri knife will glide through flesh and bone in one chopping motion, which is another reason why the kukri has traditionally been made with a hoof-shaped notch above the handle. Aside from religious/ceremonial reasons, the notch keeps the handle clear of blood from enemy soldiers, a horse, a goat, or whatever is bleeding after having come into contact with the rapidly descending business end of the blade.

Because the kukri is such an effectively designed chopper, this means it’s a blade to take very seriously. In fact, the kukri knife even has its own safety rules on proper handling, especially since it will hack through a wrist much like it will hack off a tree limb.

A Blade Designed For Just About Anything

The kukri is made to be your all-purpose farm and bush utility

One of its primary strengths is the fact that it can perform just about any camp task reasonably well. Keep in mind, however, it’s not necessarily up to par with blades that were made specifically for the certain tasks in question. To illustrate this point, here’s a fantastic video review on why the reviewer carries his kukri afield more than most of his other blades:

It can assist you with anything from butchering meat to building shelter. The blade allows me to pack in fewer, more task-specific blades. Opting for the kukri can keep my gear weight down, especially if I’m just on a scout and wish to leave the rest of my gear at camp. I believe that this advantage is explained by one of my original points: the kukri’s primary strength is that it can keep up with the cutting power of a 24-inch machete, even if the blade is half the machete’s size.

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That makes the kukri knife a weight and function-efficient tool, not to mention the fact that its edge can be maintained easily. Even just a sharpening stone will do the job.

From Gurkha Tradition to the Survival Afield, the Kuk Means Business

It is true that all blades will have their own limitations. And this rule doesn’t necessarily exclude the kuk. I wouldn’t want to use it for cleaning game or any task that requires some semblance of high-precision. But it wasn’t designed to fillet a fish or whittle a toggle.

But there’s certainly something to be said for a blade that’s served the Gurkha people of Nepal for centuries, earning a place of honor in their family traditions, religious ceremonies and even becoming the primary symbol for one of the world’s fiercest military fighting forces. Even in the Middle East, the Gurkhas still fight alongside British forces, soldiers that keep a standard issue kukri knife by their side.

Survivalists are in need of a blade that can make quick work of camp tasks in the field. They also need a weapon that’s been known for its capacity to win a fight. And the kukri knife has been doing that for generations.

Do you have any experience with the kukri knife? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

How To Make A Deadly Critter-Killin’ Blowgun For Less Than $10

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How To Make A Deadly Critter-Killin’ Blowgun For Less Than $10

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Crafting my own packable survival tools has got to be one of my absolute personal favorite hobbies, especially since they can usually be made in the garage workshop on the super-cheap. I’ve made quite a few slingshots, fishing kits and PVC bows in recent years, but if I had to pick the easiest project of them all, it would have to be the DIY survival blowgun.

It is true that there are quite a few online retailers that will sell a manufactured blowgun for a whopping $50,but believe it or not, you could make a comparably effective one on your own and shell out a fifth of that cost for the materials.

What Can This Baby Actually Do?

First off, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here, because this little DIY-dart-driver isn’t meant to replace your 45-70 for next year’s bear hunt. And no, this is certainly not going to be an effective “home defense weapon” (you’d probably do more damage with a frying pan). But if you’re interested in a survival implement that’s incredibly lightweight and will take little furball critter for brunch … then this should do the trick.

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It has three primary benefits:

  • Takes down rabbit-sized and smaller animals — In terms of what you can hunt with this DIY blowgun, you’re mostly looking at chipmunks, squirrels, frogs, and no bigger than a jackrabbit/hare.
  • Is portable and easy to run — The beauty of this blowgun is that it’s extremely lightweight, and when broken down, it can be strapped to the side of your pack for storing away while trekking and scouting.
  • Provides lots of ammo options — Interestingly enough, these blowguns will actually run the same .50 cal dart ammo that’s sold in retail stores. However, you can also make the ammo yourself, too; and in my opinion, the DIY ammo has greater energy transfer and target penetration.

Essentially, you’re looking at a reasonably effective range of around 10 to 15 yards, but I wouldn’t expect much more out of it. At shorter distances, shot placement isn’t nearly as crucial, since the sheer energy of impact will deliver the most shock value to the target, but as distances get longer shot placement becomes crucial, and that requires skill. To give you an idea, here’s a video on what a DIY PVC blowgun is capable of:

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But if you’re going to eventually get good with your DIY blowgun, then we’ve got to get her up and running. So, here’s what you’ll need …

Parts list

The parts list is rather simple, and can basically be found at any hardware store:

  • ½-inch schedule-40 PVC pipe
  • Threaded PVC couplers (male and female)
  • PVC glue
  • Spray paint (camouflaging)
  • Wire connectors
  • Wire coat hanger(s)
  • Wooden grilling skewers

Blowgun Assembly

To begin, you’ll need to determine the ideal length of your blowgun. Bear in mind that the longer it ends up being, the more energy can build up behind the dart, resulting in greater velocities. However, the longer the blowgun, the more gravity works against it.  The PVC tends to bow in the middle after about six feet.

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You can basically use anything that will cut PVC here, because precision isn’t really an issue for this project …

  1. My suggestion is to cut your ½-inch sched-40 PVC piping down to about 4.5 to 5.5 feet, depending on your level of comfort and the length of your arms. The wide coupler end of the pipe can be used as your mouthpiece.
  2. Then make another cut, creating two equal halves that are approximately 2.25 to 2.75 feet in length.
  3. Next, take your ½-inch male and female threaded couplers, and use your PVC glue to fasten them to each half. This will allow you to break down the blowgun when storing, also adding rigidity to the blowgun itself to keep it straight.
  4. Once that’s done, simply hit the surface with a coat or two of camouflage paint, and she’s all done!

Now, let’s get your ammo ready for target practice. As for the blowgun itself … well … that baby is ready to rock.

Ammo Assembly & Options

This is where your ½-inch diameter wire connectors come in. For some reason, the right size for making your darts usually comes in yellow, but have no fear, because even if you end up wasting money on a pack with the wrong size, you’re still only going to be about $3 invested in your ammo (yet another reason why I love this blowgun).

Next you can either use…

  1. Straight part of coat hanger. Simply cut it into pieces, pre-drill a hole into the top each plastic wire connector, and fit the coat hanger wire piece into the pilot hole with some gorilla glue. Either sharpen the tip for added penetration or hammer the very top to create a “broadhead effect.”
  2. Wooden grilling skewers. No cutting necessary; however, you’ll still have to pre-drill a hole into the top of the wire connector and fit in the skewer with glue. These will also work extremely well, and are quite heavy in comparison to manufactured blowgun darts.
  3. Wire connector without a tip, offering a “stun” option on smaller critters. These are great for target practice, because there’s no prep work, and they’ll send an empty Pepsi can into orbit … along with your sense of self-satisfaction from becoming a blowgun ninja deadeye.

One way to keep track of your ammo is to use that black ½-inch-thick pipe insulation tubing by cutting it into a 4-inch piece. Then, simply fit that piece onto the PVC pipe and glue it down to hold it in place. This ammo-holder works especially well for keeping your coat hanger-wire darts at the ready for lightning fast deployment.


Just because every state and community is different, I wouldn’t actually hunt with this DIY blowgun (or really any blowgun for that matter) until you’ve checked your state laws. You might run into some issues with the local game warden if you’re caught, holding a dead rabbit with a dart sticking out of it. So be sure to do your homework on this one.

Well, other than that, feel free to sharpen your instinctive shooting skills via target practice, but don’t be surprised if you get oddly addicted. I know this addiction from experience: The struggle is real.

What advice would you add on making a DIY blowgun? Share your suggestions in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.