50 Survival Items to Put in Your Kids Backpacks If you’re in a survival situation and you’re on foot, your own bug out bag is going to be all you can manage. If you’re a parent or grandparent responsible for children in a survival situation, you can’t possibly carry everything they will need. It’s going … Continue reading 50 Survival Items to Put in Your Kids Backpacks
The coming of any new year starts out of the gate brimming with a plethora of opportunities to achieve many things. This includes wrapping up goals, projects, and missions from the previous year and a new chance to sit down to lay out the priorities for the year ahead. All of this should be approached with a fresh breath of air. You know how it feels and smells just after a big storm has passed, especially a lightning storm that charges the air with fresh ozone. You can smell it. Take it in, breath deep, chin up and embrace the coming 12 months with a positive attitude to keep plugging away at your prepper initiatives.
The virtual plague of the past eight years is ending. Pro or con, this country has slipped into an international quagmire of disrespect and disregard. We hope this status can be regained in short order. Domestically, the economy is beyond flat. Regardless of what the administration peeps say, nearly 8 million Americans are out of work and countless more are underemployed. All of this is seasoning for a SHTF recipe.
The New Political Climate
Five generations of citizens have been on welfare now to the point that it is considered the entitlements of all entitlements. This needs to end, too. And the “government” still does not get it. The IRS just rolled back the per diem expense allowance for vehicle business travel for 2017, ostensibly because they say fuel costs are down. Today at home, unleaded gasoline is $2.19 a gallon. Up over twenty cents in a month. An executive order just cancelled more offshore drilling and the huge new oil field in Texas cannot be tapped even if we had the pipelines to transport it to refineries. All this adds stress to an economic recovery.
Related: Prepper Guns on a Budget
Health care for the working class is in crisis. My wife and child pay $1100 a month for basic care with a huge deductible. It is only good for a catastrophic health incident or accident. Doctor and hospital costs are totally out of control. My GP’s office charges $65 for a flu shot, while a local pharmacy charges only $25. Go figure. And on and on it goes.
Taking Care of No. 1
Not to be purely selfish, but this is the age of taking care of you and your family first, then help others as you can. This includes the entire realm of personal attentions to health and welfare for you and family, then taking care of business in preparation against any potential threats that might develop this year and beyond. Once you have your own affairs relatively in order, then you can reach out if you choose or then direct your efforts or attention to other projects. This is a tall order, so there is no better time to take it all on than right now. Nothing happens all at once. It’s like a huge marble statue that you chip away at day after day. You may never see the final product, but you can take pride and honor in the constant effort toward the final goal.
Review the Current Plan
This is assuming you have a plan or sort of directional guide in hand and that it is written down to pass around, invite comments, add to, take away, alter, shift, redirect, adapt, adopt, and then initiate. If not, do this first, now. Perhaps reconsider bugging in or out. For existing plans, review them now, item by item. If you have achieved some of the steps, check them off and or add comments about parts that need to be rechecked, revised, or completed. Try to add completion dates so that some achievement schedule can be established. Otherwise, everything is just floating out there undone or half done.
Things change all the time. Adjust your plan according to changes that you anticipate or not. For example, maybe you plan to acquire a new bug out property or perhaps an RV, camping trailer or other major purchase to give you options during a SHTF event. Such changes can produce a number of new tasks to accomplish. Plan accordingly.
2017 To Do Tips
Defensive security should be reviewed and shored up if lax. Add new supplies, weapons, ammo, accessories, and gear to fulfill your security needs. Again, review what you have and then move forward. Perhaps it is time to beef up your home security with heavier locks, window storm covers or other precautions. This first initiative includes inspection, maintenance, repairs, or replacements of weapons, gear, and equipment already in hand. Add to this additional time for training, shooting practice, formal shooting course training, and then more practice for everyone. This should include reactionary drills at the bug in or out location. Have everybody comfortable to respond as necessary. If needed, buy an extra firearm and add to ammo supplies.
Unpack your bug out bags, inspect everything, recycle old out of date supplies and repack. Inspect the bag, too for wear and tear, zipper function, clean it up. Refresh the entire kit bag. Same for other quick grab bags full of gear for a bug out. Do the same for your EDC satchel, bag, or backpack. Clean guns, oil knives, refresh batteries in everything, and get the everyday carry squared away again.
Read Also: Survival Books for Your Bunker
Check out your entire bug in food stocks and supplies both at the bug in locale and the secondary bug out site, camper, trailer or whatever. Recycle dated foods, snacks, staples like beans, rice, flour, sugar, etc. Add new canned goods, and other foods you eat regularly. Restock or recycle water stores and add more as space allows.
Replace batteries in everything you own including house smoke alarms, security system backups, communication radios, AM-FM-Weather radios, flashlights, electronic or regular illuminated gun scopes, rangefinders, bore lights, lanterns, cameras, hearing aids, and such. Charge or replace vehicle batteries, ATV or SUV batteries. Replace old batteries in storage with fresh ones.
Revisit all medical supplies, personal medicines, aid devices, CPAP, and OTC med stocks. Check first aid kits, refresh as needed. Add new boxes of band aides, gauze, wraps, bandages, and other medical supplies. Check stocks on antiseptic ointments, creams, Vaseline, lotions, and other supplies to support health care and injury recovery.
Do an inventory on all other kinds of consumable supplies. The list could include all types of paper products from paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, a variety of tapes, glues, oils and lubricants, grease, chainsaw oil, and anything else other than cooking materials that you use up on a regular basis. Inventory all types of parts for plumbing, HVAC, motor parts, etc.
Refresh fuel supplies from regular gasolines, diesel, white gas for lanterns or camp stoves, bottled propane, and charcoal lighter if used. Ditto on charcoal for outdoor cooking, newspaper supplies for charcoal chimneys, and stock up plenty of matches and butane lighters.
Now is the time to take advantage of New Year sales, too. Watch newspaper ad flyers, visit the big box outdoor stores, gun shops, and gun shows to stock up or shop for advantageous price points on gear and stuff you need or want to add.
A bright horizon comes with 2017 but that is no reason to let our guards down. Natural disasters cannot be controlled. Terrorism is still viable and a threat. Our borders remain open for now. Crime is still rampant. There is plenty to be considered about to remain vigilant.
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Call this back to basics, or getting started from the get-go, but there are as many varieties of opinions on bug out bag contents as cats have lives. And then some. Then there are the definitions of exactly what constitutes a bug out bag, but no two preppers or survivalists bags are the same much less their contents. So, up front, let’s politely agree to disagree if this suggested list varies from yours. After all, my bug out bag is not your bug out bag. Your circumstances are not the same as mine.
You may live in a congested mega-city. Others live in rural areas or in the suburbs. All of these conditions allow for differences in what we put in a bag to grab on the way out of the house, office, or vehicle.
Bag for Bugging Out or a Body Bag?
My idea of a Bug Out Bag is a single source medium sized bag with the bare minimum of supplies to last 24-48 hours with some potential stretch. This bag was created to last long enough to get out of Dodge to an alternative secure location or to a pre-determined supply cache or a more permanent pre-supplied bug out location.
Related: More Tips for your Bug Out Bag
This Bug Out Bag is not intended to be a long-term supply resource. It will not weigh a hundred pounds or contain long range subsistence or gear for a camp out in the wilderness. Your bag may be designed for other types of missions or alternative plans. That is fine.
Bug Out Bag Priorities
This is where the fight of opinions usually starts. What to pack first and what items are most likely to be needed initially with other bag items being needed or available as the bug out ensues. It is easy to argue that the choice of any self-protection defensive weapon, most likely a handgun and ammo should be readily available for access or as appropriate worn in a weapon ready condition. Let’s accept this as the first item in a bug out bag.
Sure, when you grab your bag to jump in your escape vehicle or head down a long flight of stairs to evacuate a work site or other location, you may be darn thirsty or maybe even needing a boost of energy from a bar, but first, you’re going to want to secure your mode of personal protection. From there the other items in the bag don’t matter in terms of priorities until they are needed. So, grab a drink, but go slow on it. Some of the items in your BOB you may not end up using at all, but it is nice to have them along just in case.
Read Also: Knee Deep in Bug Out Vehicles
So, here are the ten items of basic need or utility I place in a BOB. Other than the pistol, no particular order of priority. Also, note, there is no suggestion of which specific item or brand to get or have, just the categories are listed here. You figure out what you want on your own.
The Other Nine Essentials
Meds or OTC. If you have to have certain medications to live, then you best have them. This goes for diabetic supplies, heart meds, or any other life essential medicines. Support that with over the counter pain medications, antacids, antiseptics, etc. You can keep these in the original bottles or boxes, or get a little personal med kit to store them. Just organize them so you can find what you need quickly. This could include a small, basic first aid kit, too.
Water. Have several bottles of water or a canteen. Have more in your vehicle, but always carry some along. Make the judgement on how much to carry balancing weight and volume in the bag with your hydration habits.
Food Items. Pack energy bars, not candy bars. These should provide carbs, but some real nutrients as well. Small bags of nuts, trail mix or other snacks that are not junk food. Check the contents and calories ahead of time so you know how much to take along. Again, you can store additional food in your vehicle, assuming you get to it.
Knife. Have some sort of cutting instrument. You choose, but be practical. Remember, reliability and function are absolutely crucial. You may not need that huge Bowie knife on a bug out. A good, solid, sharp folding knife that locks for safety works. Multiple blades are great, but not the 87-blade-tool version. I could be talked into a multi-tool that has a good cutting blade.
Flashlight. Gotta have one or two. Pick a light that is super durable, extra bright, uses standard batteries, and has shock resistance in case you drop it, which is likely. Some like to add a red or green lens cover for clandestine hiding or in vehicle use at night to reduce drawing attention to your location.
Cell Phone/communications or News Radio. A way to call or get calls is important, so long as the towers function. Add to that a good basic emergency radio even a hand crank variety. You need to get news and government broadcasts if there are any. Ironically, even being able to get a music channel can add some comfort factor during a stressful situation.
Firestarter. If your travel plans get waylaid for any multitude of reasons, you may have to stop over and spend the night somewhere. A fire can be a great comfort and under some conditions a lifesaver. So, have a selection of ways to ignite a fire from simple matches, butane lighter, or a strike stick. Pack a tiny bag of wax soaked cotton balls, too.
Seasonal Clothing. Pack a jacket, preferably a rain jacket that doubles with some insulation with a hood. Depending on the season, add items like a warm hat and gloves, or a lightweight shirt, jeans or shorts, hiking shoes-boots and socks. Of course, pack according to your environment. If you are in more northern environments, be sure to have warmer clothing. Additionally, more clothes should be kept in your vehicle.
Cover Tarp and Cord. Finally, if you have to camp out, have a temp-tarp. Staying in the vehicle may or may not be comfortable. A good cover will give you extra options.
There, that’s one BOB equipped and ready to run. Is it perfect? Hardly. Some can do with less, others will admittedly want to add more. That is why we are all individuals. Regardless, have one, supplied, packed, and ready to grab.
Photos Courtesy of:
Dr. John Woods
Paracord used to be used as the suspension lines for parachutes. After landing on the ground soldiers would cut the cord from their chutes because they found a multitude of uses for the light weight, durable cordage. Today, paracord has become incredibly popular not only with the military but with the civilian sector as well.
By Tinderwolf, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog
The most commonly used type of paracord is type III. Type III has a minimum strength of five hundred and fifty pounds, which is why most people refer to it as 550 cord. Paracord is a nylon kernmantle rope which means there is an inner core of nylon strands incased by a nylon sheath. This type of rope construction gives way to its strength and the variety of tasks it can accomplish. Type III paracord generally has seven inner strands but can have up to nine. Given that it is made out of nylon, paracord is fairly elastic and mold resistant. One of the reasons it is so versatile is that you can cut the outer sheath and use the individual core strands as well. Years ago, paracord only come in black or olive drab but with its grown popularity you can now purchase paracord in virtually any color that you want.
Below is a list of how I have used paracord.
- A line to hang up wet clothes
- I have used one of the inner strands as fishing line and yes I did catch a bluegill. Some people have even made fly lures out of the paracord.
- I have braided ropes
- I have made monkey fists for the purpose of weighing down one end of my ropes. This makes the task of throwing a line over a tree branch or from a boat much easier.
- Bracelets, while stylish, can be undone for emergency cordage. I recommend a double cobra weave as you will have twice the amount of cordage available.
- Lanyards, I caution that if you make or buy a paracord lanyard make sure it has a break away clasp or on it.
- Long gun slings
- I have used the inner strands and an upholstery needle to sew shut a rather large hole in one my packs and it has held for over a year now. I also sewed shut a hole in my driver’s side truck seat which due to climbing in and out, gets a lot of wear and tear. Six months later it is still holding strong.
- Rock slings
- Tow lines, for vehicles and boats
- I have tied down loads in my truck bed
- Knife handles
- Bottle wraps
- Dog leashes
- Dog collars
- Dental floss. While somewhat uncomfortable to use it will serve the purpose if you get popcorn stuck in your teeth around the campfire.
The uses for this cord are only limited by your imagination. Generally paracord is sold in either one hundred foot hanks, or one thousand foot spools. Personally, I like the one thousand foot spools because you can cut the length you want for a specific job in mind. If you are going to be making other items from the cord, such as bracelets and slings, having the extra cord on hand in case you make a mistake is definitely worth having the spool on hand. Given it’s plurality of uses and durability, any survival scenario is improved by paracord. I would be very interested in hearing what you have all used paracord for and your experience with it. So sound off and keep making adventures!
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If you read my post on 7 Tips For Your Bug Out Bag, considered this part II. Many posts on Bug Out Bags out there in the blogosphere talk about specific items being better than others. I prefer comparing ideas instead of whether a Mora is better than a Bushman for low budget survival, boy would that be a fun debate Survival Gear is great, it makes life in the backcountry easier, but mindset and skills keep you alive. So we try and find a happy balance like most aspects of living. Much of this post will be review for you experienced types, but it never hurts to be reminded. For you newly awakened survival minded Americans, welcome to the party. I will try and not repeat too much from the last post, there will some cross-over and expanding of ideas.
The biggest rookie mistake when hitting the trail is being over dressed. You will heat up quickly, don’t be afraid to stop and shed a layer early on. Too much sweat can cause problems fast, drenched clothes, dehydration and generally being uncomfortable in your clothing. Choosing the right clothing it is your first defense against Mother Nature. The old saying ‘Cotton Kills’ is pretty good advice. I love my cotton clothes and wear them often when working or hiking, but they have no place in your survival kit. It takes forever and a day to dry out. One plus for cotton is hot and dry environments where it can shine, it just depends on where you are and time of year. Now a 50/50 blend is not so bad. Most BDU’s are this blend and they wear great and dry out fairly fast. I have wool blends that are very comfy and so are the polyester base layers. Do your homework before betting your life on any clothes. I can’t say enough good things about BDU style clothing. Ripstop durability, pockets, and there are some good non-camo ones out there if you are looking for a more Gray Man look. The debate of natural fiber and synthetic will not be solved here today. Both have their pro’s and con’s. I use both and my kit has both. We should happy that we have so many choices. Last piece of advice, think about being able to layer when choosing your survival clothing. I prefer loose clothing over tight fitting mostly for ease of movement and airflow. The only tight fit should be your base layer.
Keeping a Clean Camp
Are you a clean freak? Does everything have a place in your home? If the answer is yes, then you have a good starting point. If the answer is no, you need to get your mind in order. This will be hard for some people, but bear with me. When car camping you spread out and set up your outdoor home, some backpackers are guilty of this too. In a survival/bug out situation this can lead to big problems. Not only is it easier to lose track of essential gear, but if you need to move quickly any hesitation to grab stuff could mean dire consequences. Use your gear when needed then put it away.
A clean camp also means hiding waste. Even in tense, stressful times, the effort must be made to make it harder to track you. Although these principles are recreational based, if you think tactically they make sense too. Expanding on the tracking thing, next time you hit the trail, try to leave no tracks. See if you can walk on hard surfaces, rocks in or close to the trail. Then see if you move without making any noise. These are skills that need to be practiced before they are needed.
Too Staff or Not To Staff
A hiking stick is more than a fun toy. Choose the right one and you have a tent pole, doggy back-off stick, rifle monopod, snake stick, fishing pole, fighting Bo, spear…the list is only limited by your imagination. When crossing a stream or log it can really steady the balancing act, especially when you have a pack on. Trekking poles are used by more older hikers than younger ones, for good reason. Using your arms to help climb a hill, when your knees have a lot of miles on them, just makes sense. Anyone who has spent anytime with a heavy pack can attest to the fact that going downhill when tired can be tricky, poles can save you from a fall.
There are many tents out there that rely on trekking poles to reduce pack weight. If you carry a poncho for your shelter, than a pole is very useful. The only downside I can think of is if you are carrying a rifle, then a staff would be a problem, but there are collapsible ones too. The picture shows one that has removable tops, from a smooth ball top to notched rifle rest, think of the possibilities. Frog gigger, torch, or just maybe some decoration that improves your spirits.
Lastly, laws notwithstanding, sword canes. I have not looked into them much, but I can see a place for them with older folks in your group. I have seen some very cool looking ones and who doesn’t like a long sharp piece of steel.
Carrying The Essentials
I’m talking about the stuff you use everyday, all the time. There are many acronyms for these items, I prefer Canterbury’s 10C’s system. It just is simple and easy to teach to others. Anyway when bugging out, scouting a route, looking for resources, there will be times when you shed your pack to crest a hill to look for something. The reason will be to save energy and get there quicker, maybe you are looking for a place to go to the bathroom. If you get turned around, caught in an ambush, or just get hurt, do you want to be without everything?
Many packs have a removable lid that converts to a waist pack. It is my opinion that your essential gear should go in there and go with you everywhere, to bed, to the bathroom, everywhere. If your pack doesn’t have one or it just isn’t right for the job, there are many other ways to have that stuff on you. Pockets, on your belt, chest rig, any combination of these. Lay out the things you want on your body at all times, the rest goes in the ruck. Find the system that works for you and is comfortable so you never leave them behind, never.
Here are a few options that I have, all are designed to work with a backpack. I use to use a small hydration pack strapped to the top of my large pack, it worked well. I moved away from that in an attempt to lighten the load. It saved a pound or two, but the option is still very good. Waist packs come in so many designs that it will make your head spin, I have settled on some vintage pieces probably because they are more rugged than current recreational offerings. Ribz packs are a great option too. I have one, it is light and comfortable, I wouldn’t call it rugged, but it isn’t fragile either.
There are packs that come with an attached smaller pack. The ones in my collection are on the heavy side. If you have ever worn a ILBE main pack with attached assault pack, you know what I mean. That set-up weighs in at around 15 lbs, empty. Now it is as rugged as anything on the planet, but so are the men who carry them. There are some great travel luggage packs with zip off day packs, very gray man units. The downside is that the suspension isn’t as robust as more purpose driven packs. Kinda going off course here.
My carry systems leans towards pocket kits, cargo pockets that is, and waist packs that store inside the ruck, or a combination. My main INCH bag has a Ranger RACK chest rig that is set up for survival and not battle. It really does work great. Find a way that works for you, wear it, use it and don’t be afraid to admit defeat and try something else. When you are humping down a trail and can’t turn back, you are stuck with the system you have.
Running a Cold Camp and Stealth
Bottom line is if you are bugging out drawing attention to yourself is a bad idea. At some point you will need to rest, hydrate, eat. Starting a campfire is like sending up a flare every couple of minutes. Water is heavy, you should have a days supply on you, after that you will need to acquire more. Get a good filter, have some purification tablets too. For the sake of this section, we will assume you have access to water, if you don’t, change your plan or route. Now you can boil water, how will you do that? There are so many stoves out there to choose from that you can spend days, weeks reading about them and trying to decide. Why a stove vs. just building a fire? Smoke and light, both bad in this situation. A stove limits both, a good stove can virtually eliminate them.
A stove that requires fuel other than wood will become a liability at some point, but in the short term they very useful. Alcohol stoves are easy, no moving parts and if you spill the fuel it doesn’t stink up your clothes forever. Trangia’s are bombproof and are just plain cool. Downside is that they are not great at altitude and in extremely cold temps. A small wood burning unit is the way to go for long term. 180 Tactical, Emberlit, SoloStove, Swiss Ranger Volcano, and many others are available at affordable prices. All put out very little smoke, if any, after a minute when they get heated up. Also, in the honorable mention category, are the stoves that take propane/butane mix canisters. Easy to use, instant heat, no smoke, little flame, and the stove itself is small and light. The fuel isn’t really expensive, but impossible to improvise when you run out.
The last case for having a stove in this scenario is cooking meat on the trail. Squirrel sushi doesn’t sound good to me. Staying warm in a cold camp is the only other problem. Dress appropriately. Pretty much common sense, right? Scrutinize your clothing and have a good sleep system. Everyone’s area and tolerance to cold is different, but don’t skimp here. Good clothing can be had for a song at thrift stores. Don’t expect to get everything at one time there, but stop in every time you are driving by. If you only find one piece a week, it adds up. I haven’t bought a shirt, coat, boots, or pair of pants at a department store in well over a decade. I am a cheapskate, but I don’t wear cheap clothing. Example, I was in S. Carolina this summer, drove by a Goodwill, went in, with much ribbing from the in-laws, walked out with a pair of Levi’s cargo pants, looked new, for $5 and tax. You never know what you will find. My coffers are filled with quality gear too, all from thrift stores.
How Did I Get On This Subject?
Pick your lay up position wisely. Use the terrain to your advantage by letting nature obscure your camp. You can use a little field craft too. Some downed branches can be used around your site for camouflage. A depression in the ground may be all you need, just make sure it isn’t in a runoff area. Surveillance after you set up is key, try to pick a spot that you can see approaching trouble. If you plan on being in a spot for more than a day, keep your travels to a minimum and don’t leave tracks to and from the camp. In a grassy area, picking a different route every time can help to not leave a trail. So as always, please leave your ideas about this stuff in the comment section. Sharing ideas just make us better.
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Yea! Another backpack post. Well, I wish I could apologize, but I love this stuff. If your packs are like mine, they are constantly evolving and being scrutinized. My G.H.B. that has been in service for about a year, is about to be pushed aside for a bigger and more adaptable unit that can be pushed into the I.N.C.H. bag (“I’m Never Coming Home”) realm. I am going to try and keep the weight the same, but it needs to be able to carry better shelter and a sleep system when needed or wanted. Which brings us to our discussion.
Lightweight vs. Comfort
“Travel light, freeze at night”. I first heard this particular phrase from John Mosby. Don’t know who started it, but it is based in truth. Shelter, clothing, and your sleep system make up the bulk of your weight and space capacity. So it makes sense to really analyze your gear and be honest as to your needs. Are you going to be out for 1 or 10 days or open ended? What is the weather like in your area? Everyone’s situation is different, so there is no silver bullet and everyone has a different tolerance to discomfort. So when choosing a shelter remember to consider what you are wearing and what kind of sleep system you carry, they all combine to keep you cozy.
Tents are comfy, but can be heavy and bulky, especially if it is for 3 people. There are some great offerings in the lightweight realm, they can be costly and sometimes on the fragile side. I would consider a tent weighing 5lbs or less to be your goal. Anything heavier and I would hope it is for a large group and you can share the pain. Consider teepee style floorless units. Easy to set up, lighter. more space and you can wear your muddy boots in there and cook too. I have a Black Diamond Mega Light Tent that I love. It weighs about 3 lbs, 8’ square. 6’ interior height , and not too brightly colored. It is a lot of tent for the weight and sheds wind, rain and snow easily. In some buggy climates most people can’t fathom not having a screened in tent. I get it. Keep this idea in mind though, if you are enclosed in a typical tent, you can’t see out and in a bug out scenario that is a security risk. If you are traveling with others it is less risky, since there should be a lookout/sentry/patrol aspect and you should be sleeping in shifts. If you are alone…
Also Read: Jarhead’s Bug Out Bag
If you must have a tent, I think it breaks down into 2 main categories, freestanding and not. Most freestanding tents are 2, 3 or 4 pole in design with corresponding increases in weight and strength. They are great in the respect that you can unstake them, move them to a better spot, and hold them up in the air and shake out the dirt. Non-freestanding units tend to be lighter and are usually designed around 2 poles, one at each end of the tent, forming a hooped front entry style (except for those teepee styled ones) They must be staked out unlike the freestanding units. Tents may be the standard in recreational endeavors, but in a true survival situation they may be a boat anchor or death trap. Did I mention that most tents are made of materials that flame up or melt around fire. One last positive thing about tents, in really cold windy weather, a good tent can be worth its weight in gold.
Tarps come in every conceivable size, color, and material. The ability to set them up in gobs of configurations makes them the winner in weight and concealment. They can block rain, snow, sun and wind. I have recently acquired an addiction to military poncho shelters called Zeltbahn’s. Oh man can you lose yourself in this rabbit hole. Most are canvas which weighs more per square yard, but are far more durable than nylon or rubberized old school military units, which I do happen to really like. I have Russian and Polish versions that are virtually identical. Recently Sportsmansguide had the Russians ones for $13.50 each, they are currently out of them, but keep your eyes open, they are a steal. My collection also includes Hungarian ponchos with a cool camo pattern and a couple of East German or Czech, the jury is still out, in a rain camo. The rain camo items are rectangular vs. the pie slice shape of most Zeltbahn’s. The advantage of these military poncho/tarps are that they are canvas and are very tough. That alone should make them worth a look.
Also Read: 4 Types of Base Camps
I set one of the Rooskie units up and left it set up outside for a month. It has been rainy, windy, with days of hot dry weather, so it experienced all but snow. After an exceptionally hard rain, the underside was dry, no seeping or weeping. This has made it to my very short list of TEOTWAWKI shelters. This guy will convince you of their worth (click here). In the multi-use category, poncho/tarps are right up there with your fixed blade.
Back to tarps, nothing beats a silnylon tarp for pack weight reduction. There are lots of cottage industry American made units out there and that is a great thing. They are pretty strong for their weight, but the downsides are major for extended survival scenarios. If they rip, don’t bother with duct tape, silnylon requires a special repair tape. Sewing up a tether point is less than ideal also due to the nature of the material. In reality few materials are easy to repair long term except for, wait for it, canvas.
I include US military style poncho’s in this category. They are excellent options for your pack. Few items have the multi-use capabilities of this popular item. The ripstop ones are excellent due to their lighter weight than older models. Now before anyone starts typing up their blood pressure, those older issue rubberized ponchos are great, but they weigh over twice as much. If you go the poncho option make sure it has strong grommets on the corners and midline for a better shelter. If it makes any difference, a poncho is my shelter of choice for my lighter GHB.
I really like the hammock option. Get off the ground in wet and buggy places. Lightweight, comfortable, and multi-use. There’s that word again. Mesh style units can be used to fish with and tarp style ones can gather water or other foods or act as an over head tarp. Paired with a tarp, you have a versatile shelter. There are many different styles of hammocks out there.
Also Read: Hennessy Hammock Review
The latest incarnation is a clone of older jungle hammocks. Screened sleeping area with a roof made with modern lightweight materials. The only downsides that I can think of is you need 2 strong points to tie to and in cold to mild temps the air moving under you can make for a chilly night.
Don’t forget learning to make shelter out of available natural materials. Jarhead Survivor over on SHTFBlog.com has been talking a lot about primitive skills and they definitely worth your time to learn. I will not go into building of shelters, because that is another post entirely. Remember that building takes time, calories and knowledge, so that is why we buy stuff.
My survival packs have ponchos, U.S. military. I love the Zeltbahn’s and would not hesitate to replace my current poncho for one of them. Right now tents are for camping, even though I have many great light sturdy options, I can’t get past the ‘can’t see out’ thing. You can remove the rainfly on good weather days and see through the mesh, so maybe I’m being a snob. The next thing to creep into my pack is a hammock. The tents that are staged to go first are Black Diamond Mega and my prized Woodland camo Bibler 2 man. Todd Bibler made a few of these to try and get a military contract, that fell through, at least that is the rumor, but I met a former employee and bought his, score! Sorry had to brag about that one, I have yet to see another one.
Also Read: 3 Things All Bug Out Bags Need
When choosing your shelter for that pack that just might be your ‘home’ for a while, make an informed decision. Be honest with yourself about the weight you can carry, day in, day out. Can your choice hold up to less than optimal conditions? Can you repair it on the trail? Is it multi-functional? There is no silver bullet to answer this question. Every situation is different, every person has different perceptions of need, that can really affect their attitude in a stressful situation. Current times can be scary if you are paying attention. Being prepared can reduce that scary feeling. Get your kit squared away then help a friend get their pack ready.
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