Camping is more than just equipment – Here is a list of skills you need to have

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Have you decided to take the Survival Mom Family Camping Challenge?  If so, you might find this list interesting and helpful. How many of these skills do you already have? Which do other family members have and which will you need to learn? Keep in mind that these skills aren’t just limited to camping. They […]

Camping is more than just equipment – Here is a list of skills you need to have

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Have you decided to take the Survival Mom Family Camping Challenge?  If so, you might find this list interesting and helpful. How many of these skills do you already have? Which do other family members have and which will you need to learn? Keep in mind that these skills aren’t just limited to camping. They […]

Foot Care, or You’ll Never Escape the Zombies With Blisters on Your Feet

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OW. Just, seriously…OW. Last week was at Scout Camp with my son, which was fun, except for my feet. I know the importance of good quality, properly fitting shoes. I also know wet shoes and feet are a very bad combination. I even know that summer camp can be both rainy and hot. Before camping, […]

Wild Violets: 10 ways to put them to use

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Though pretty, many people look at wild violets as a scourge that kills the lawn. They are further frustrated by the fact that they are really hard to control and have been referred to as the wild violet weed. But I have good news. Instead of looking at them as a difficult weed, wild violets […]

How to Skin, Butcher, and Cook Wild Game

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Are you one of the many preppers who plan on bugging out to the woods after the SHTF? I’ve heard many people say they plan on doing this (both in person and online), and most of them think they will hunt for food while they’re at it. This always makes me cringe. First of all, […]

The post How to Skin, Butcher, and Cook Wild Game appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

How to Survive a Blizzard in Your Vehicle

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How to survive a blizzard if you get stranded in your vehicle. Smart to plan and think ahead, just in case! | via

How do you survive if you become trapped in your vehicle during a blizzard? With winter fast approaching, this is a good question.

The last few years have seen unseasonably cold and snowy winters in the U.S. Along with sustained cold temperatures, many regions experienced blizzard conditions including heavy snowfall and accumulation, combined with strong winds. Numerous areas were affected, including thousands of miles of roads ranging from major commuter highways down to narrow, twisty mountain roads. This became a recipe for motorists getting stuck in their vehicles during these tough weather conditions and they did.

Blizzards and winter storms are generally forecast by our nation’s weather services. What is not easily predicted is the true amount of snow, wind speeds, and the areas where snow and ice will accumulate.

This means that if you live in or are traveling through to an area that gets winter snow storms, regardless of whether it is urban, suburban or rural, you need to be prepared. Whenever I pack an emergency kit for my car, my backpack, or throw a few EDC items together, I keep in mind the 5 S’s of Survival: shelter, sanitation, survival, sustenance, security. You can read about those in depth here

Here’s how to survive a blizzard in your car.

Winterize Your Vehicle, personal gear, and emergency equipment

Your Vehicle

  • Get your vehicle winterized including, engine, radiator, and windshield washer fluids. Don’t forget new wiper blades as well.
  • Have your battery checked.
  • Get your tires checked. Do they have enough tread to last the winter or do you need to change them for all season or snow tires?
  • Put your tire chains or traction mats in the trunk.
  • Print out this free download of what you should keep in a vehicle emergency kit.

TIP- Scheduled vehicle maintenance can often catch potential problems before they happen.

Emergency Equipment

  • Verify that you have a windshield scraper, tow rope, jumper cables, flares, or portable emergency roadway lights. If you have a larger vehicle, in particular, make sure your tow rope is up to the task. You don’t want a 10,000 lb. rated tow rope to pull out an Escalade, but you don’t need a 30,000 lb. one for a VW Bug.
  • Include a small folding shovel and bag of sand or cat litter (the old cheap kind, not the newer clumping kind) in case you get stuck and need to dig out or provide extra traction for your tires.
  • Check your first aid kit and replenish any used supplies.

Personal Gear

  • Winterize your emergency gear with a couple of space blankets as well as one wool blanket or sleeping bag. The cheap mylar space blankets are great to have, but they rip easily so you might want to splurge on the reusable, higher-quality ones to keep in your car.
  • Make sure your emergency kit includes, among other things, glow sticks, knife or multi-tool, duct tape, flashlight, extra batteries, a lighter, matches, candles for melting snow, pen and paper.
  • It’s important to have a metal cup or can for melting snow into water. Even an empty soup can will do, provided its metal. Most H2O containers will freeze once your vehicle cools down.
  • Store some extra water and high energy foods or snacks like protein bars in the vehicle.
  • Pack a small gear bag with extra clothing. Jacket, hat, socks, and gloves are a minimum – preferably wool or something high tech and waterproof. If you dress up for work, add a complete change of appropriate winter clothing, including snow boots. I also add a couple packs of chemical hand and foot warmers.

If You Become Stranded

First and foremost, keep calm and stay focused on what you need to do to survive.

Stay With Your Vehicle

It is much easier to spot a vehicle than it is a person. Only leave to seek help if you have 100 yards (a football field) of visibility or more and you have a clear, visible objective to go for. Do not just get out and start walking along the roadway hoping someone will find you. That is a good way to freeze to death, literally.

Make Your Car as Visible as Possible, Quickly!

This is a priority. Turn on your emergency flashers and dome lights while your engine is running. Tie something bright, like a bandanna, to your antenna or roof rack, if you have one, or hang something bright out a window. If you have glow sticks, put one on both your front and back windows. A mylar blanket stretched over the roof of your car and secured on by sides by the car doors will make a giant reflector for anyone flying overhead. All these steps will make your vehicle (and you) much more visible, even when it is snowing and blowing heavily. Finally, when the snow has stopped, raise the hood of your car.

Call 911 and a Friend

After you are sure you are stuck and in danger of being snowed in, do not hesitate to call 911. Answer all questions and follow all directions given by the 911 operator. Your life may literally depend on it.

After your 911 call, or if you can’t get through to the operator, contact a family member or friend and give them the details of what has happened to you. If you haven’t reached emergency services, have them call for you. Remember, you are in a blizzard and who knows how long phone service will stay up or the battery in your phone will last.

Stay Warm

Turn on your engine for 10 minutes every hour and run the heater at full blast. (Keep your tailpipe clear of snow.) At the same time, crack open a downwind window just a little to let in fresh air and prevent carbon monoxide build up.

Put on extra clothing if you have it, especially a jacket, hat, socks, and gloves (see above). Do you have a winter emergency kit in your vehicle? If so, take out the space blanket, wool blanket, and/or sleeping bag and wrap it around you. If you have all or some of these coverings, layer up. Use them all, but not to the point of overheating.

If you don’t have a winter emergency kit, use things like maps, magazines, newspapers and even removable car mats for insulation under and around you.

If you are traveling with someone snuggle up, huddle, and share the body heat. A bivvy like this one is both water and windproof and designed to reflect back your body heat. It is far more durable and useful than the mylar survival blankets, although they do have their uses.

Get moving

OK, so it is a little hard to run in place in most vehicles. But it is important for mind and body to keep your blood circulating and muscles from stiffening up. You can clap your hands and stomp your feet. Move your arms and legs. Do isometric exercises and don’t stay in any one position for very long.

Fuel Your Body

Eat and drink regularly. Not a lot, just snack, so that your body doesn’t pull too much blood from your extremities to digest your food. Follow the instructions in this article to keep water unfrozen in your car.


If you are stuck for any prolonged period of time, there are three things to be on guard for carbon monoxide poisoning, hypothermia, and frostbite. The good news is these threats are fairly easily dealt with if you take action to protect yourself, as soon as possible. Keep a window slightly open periodically (usually when you run your vehicle engine) to allow just a little fresh air in. This will combat carbon monoxide build up. As for hypothermia and frostbite, layer up with your extra clothing and coverings, keep moving (see above), take in liquids and food frequently and in small amounts-snack. Stay moving and stay fueled!

Keep Motivated and FocusedThink, Act and Survive!

The longer you are stuck in your vehicle, the easier it becomes be to get demotivated, thinking help will never come. It is vital that you keep a positive mental attitude. This one thing will strengthen your will to live. Stay focused on the positive things you need to do to promote your rescue and your survival. Attitude is everything in survival. Like the will to live, keeping and cultivating a positive mental attitude (PMA)  is central to your success. I would wager more emergencies have gone from bad to worse because of a lack of PMA, usually caused by fear and panic followed by depression and apathy.

Things to do to promote a positive mental attitude, defeat fear and control panic as well as ward off depression and the onset of hopelessness and apathy:

  1. Once you deal with any immediate and urgent safety or medical issues, Stop! Take a moment and be still.
  2. Focus on your breathing. Breathe slowly and deeply. This promotes relaxation and helps reduce anxiety.
  3. Slow down your thinking. Focus on positive thoughts and feelings. Fear and panic are at their strongest when your mind is racing and your imagination is running rampant with negative thoughts and ideas. Drive these thoughts from your mind.
  4. Create your survival plan. Focus on what you need to do to survive.
  5. Get busy and be proactive. Concentrate on the fundamental things you need to do and keep doing while you are stuck in your vehicle.
  6. Improvise: Be willing to think outside the box as you create your survival plan and act on it. Look around and be creative in the use of your resources at hand.
  7. Adapt: A blizzard means COLD! Adjust to your circumstances and surroundings, possibly including huddling for warmth with people you normally, literally keep at arm’s length. Be willing and able to tolerate discomfort. Know your strengths and weaknesses: mental, emotional, and physical. Push your limits, endure what is necessary, and make “I will survive” your mantra. Stay Strong.

The vast majority of survival events, including getting stuck in a blizzard are short-lived – less than 24 hours. That said, during any major weather event including blizzards, road crews, law enforcement, and sometimes even rescue teams are out looking for stranded motorists. However, there is a lot you can do to help keep yourself safe and alive until help arrives or you are able to rescue yourself.  Remember, first and foremost, you are responsible for your safety and survival.

If you’d like to read more on the subject, this article has instructions for assembling a Winter Survival Food Kit (very handy for every vehicle) and additional tips to survive stranded in your car.



Basic Steps to Maintain Your Core Temperature

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body temp2In a true survival situation, such as if you’re lost in the woods, the first priority is to do everything you can to maintain your core body temperature. Hypothermia (core temperature too low) can kill a whole lot faster than a lack of food or water. Hyperthermia (core temperature too high) is no fun, either.

First Steps

The first step is to get out of the elements if at all possible. Rain, snow, wind, and even the hot sun can all negatively affect you. Avoid sitting on damp ground or cold rocks. If you have a jacket or something with you, use it as a cushion to help avoid losing body heat through conduction. Insulating yourself from other objects is important when trying to maintain your core temperature.

Our first line of defense is our clothing, of course. Always strive to either wear or have with you seasonal appropriate outerwear. Even a small rain poncho stuffed into a pocket or pack will benefit you should the weather take a turn.

A good quality emergency blanket will also work well. I stress, though, that you should purchase one of good quality. The cheap ones, such as you might find at a dollar store, are so thin and fragile they are all but worthless. Spend a couple of extra dollars and get something durable, possibly even wool. More than one hiker has unfolded their cheap emergency blanket and found nothing but ribbons of material because it had worn through on all of the folds in the package.

Staying Warm

Emergency blankets work best when wrapped tightly around you, like a cocoon. However, they can also serve as a roof for an expedient shelter, keeping the rain and snow off of you. Most of them don’t come with easy attachment points where you can tie paracord (you do carry paracord, right?) but you can make your own grommets, after a fashion. Take a small rock and place it in the corner of the blanket. Fold the blanket around the rock a couple of times, then tie your paracord around the resulting bulge.

A small campfire can also serve to warm you up and dry you out. This is why every survival kit, no matter how small, should have fire making gear in it. A butane lighter, strike anywhere matches, and/or a ferro rod, coupled with tinder like dryer lint or cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, will make this job infinitely easier than trying to assemble a bow drill or some other primitive fire making apparatus.

If the weather has been rainy and you have a hard time finding dry wood, try batoning firewood. Yet another way is to use a pencil sharpener to carve off wood shavings from thin sticks. That should provide enough small fuel to at least get the fire started.

Staying Cool

But, what if the problem is too much heat, rather than too little? Baking in the sun will dehydrate you quickly, adding to your dilemma. Use your poncho, emergency blanket, or even a shirt or jacket to create shade to rest under. Limit your activity as much as you can.

If you have a body of water nearby, such as a pond or stream, soak fabric and place it on your neck and wrists. I do not recommend you use your available drinking water for this, though. Consume your potable water to keep hydrated.

Maintaining your core body temperature is absolutely crucial to survival. Be sure to have the proper gear with you any time you venture into the field.


Hot Enough For Ya? Tips For Staying Cool When It’s Hotter Than Hell Outside

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This is an excerpt from my book, Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios.

One of the most critical uses of electricity is staying cool in very hot weather. Our bodies can become quickly overheated, with young children and the elderly being most susceptible. I was in Chicago during one of its worst heat waves in 1995. Employees of the Hyatt Hotel where I was staying had to stand on the roof and hose down giant air-conditioning units with water in order to keep them running. In a matter of days, more than 700 people died because of this heat wave.

How did our ancestors survive, then, without air conditioning? I’ve spent my entire life in the American Southwest, and as you might expect, I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to staying cool:
1. Keep spray bottles of water around and spritz faces and wrists to stay cool.
2. In the earliest morning hours, open windows to let in all that cool air. Be sure to close them again, along with all blinds and curtains, once the day begins to heat up.
3. Just before bedtime, spray bed sheets with plenty of water, aim a battery-powered fan toward your side of the bed, jump in, and go to sleep, quickly!
4. Wear bathing suits around the house.
5. If you’ll be outside, wet a bandanna, place a few ice cubes down the center, diagonally, roll it up, and tie it around your neck.
6. Check doors and windows for incoming warm air and install weather-stripping if necessary. This will do double duty in the winter, when cold air is the enemy. Duct tape can substitute for weatherstripping if you’re desperate.
7. Check the western exposure of your home. If you have windows that face west, check into inexpensive blinds from Home Depot or Lowe’s. Even aluminum foil taped over your windows (gasp!) can help keep your home cooler.
8. If you need to do outside chores, do them in the morning when the sun rises or even earlier.

9. If you must, douse your naked body with water and stand in front of a battery-operated fan. Stock up on these fans and make sure you have plenty of batteries—and please close the blinds!
10. Take a slightly warm bath, as long as there is water in the hot water heater. It will lower your body temperature, making you feel cooler longer once you get out of the tub.

11. Drink those 8 glasses of water per day.
12. Plant fast-growing shade trees, particularly on the west side of your home. If they provide shade for outside windows, so much the better. Shade = cool.
13. Most of the hot air that enters your home comes through the windows. Thermal curtains may be the solution if your home has lots of windows. If that’s not an option, try using pushpins to hang blankets over each window.
14. If you long to be outdoors, fill a kiddie pool with water, sit down, and relax. Be sure to wear sunscreen! When the water gets too warm to enjoy, use it to water the plants.
15. Don’t overexert yourself. Avoid working up a sweat, if possible. Save physical labor for the cooler parts of the day. Take a lesson from desert animals: They rest in the shade or underground during the day and come out at night.
16. Fill a tub with a few inches of water and dangle your feet in it while you read a book.

TIP- because water is so essential when it is hot, make sure you have plenty on hand. Please read about the various ways to store water.

My friend, Debbie, is a fanatic about keeping her electric bills as low as possible in the summer and she follows many of the tips above. Right around lunchtime, when the most intense heat is on its way, she and her kids head for cooler locations: the public library, movie theater, mall, a friend’s house, public swimming pool, etc.

Be aware of the signs of heatstroke:

  • Strong, rapid pulse
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Excessive thirst
  • Hot, dry skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

Stay cool!

TIP- along with learning about the signs of heatstroke, consider a first aid/cpr class. Read about the Survival Mom’s experience taking a first aid class with her family.




Coping With Life-Threatening Allergies in a SHTF World

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Coping With Life Threatening Allergies in a Post SHTF World via The Survival Mom

We have lived in our home for nearly a decade and I love it. I truly love my yard, but the feeling is not mutual. My yard is trying to kill me. After a lifetime of thinking of myself as allergy free, I have been proven wrong. Oak trees, along with other things, cause me to have an extreme allergic reaction. Care to guess where I live? Yes, in the middle of a 150 acres of forest.

I had no idea that this could be a life-ending allergy for me. Huge portions of this country have primarily hickory and oak forests.  I would need to drive at least a twelve hours to be somewhere that doesn’t have oak trees. If you or someone in your family struggles with seasonal allergies, please go to an allergist to find out what they are. In a truly catastrophic event, it is critical that you know the type of environment you can live in.

My Story

I have had chronic bronchitis and other coughing-related problems since Junior High. At one point, a doctor prescribed an inhaler, and another mentioned I might have asthma. When I lived on the West Coast, my coughing problems subsided and I thought I had outgrown my allergies.

After I moved back East, the coughing problems returned. After a few years, seasonal allergy flare ups became a problem, so I started taking over the counter antihistamines. Things got worse and I was now using a nasal spray and prescription medication. I remembered my inhaler and tried it. It helped, a lot.

When I developed an allergy to onions, I realized that I needed to see an allergist. When I told her I had used more than 3/4 of a rescue inhaler in three weeks time, she was shocked. Clearly, it was the wrong treatment and I should have been in sooner.


As per normal procedure, I had stop taking antihistamines for a week before the testing, to ensure they were all out of my system. Thankfully I could still use an inhaler. The allergist tested nearly 30 different things on me using prick and intra-dermal methods. I came back as allergic to all of them. I reacted as a 4++, with 4 being the highest, on oak trees. My body was also very reactive to many other common substances such as ragweed and dust mites.

I had no idea how severe my allergies were. There were times I had difficulty breathing and that should have caused me to seek immediate treatment. But it crept up so slowly over a long period of time, I did not think about it. So please get check out by a allergist if you have symptoms that you can’t control. It may be worse than you realize, even potentially life-threatening – like mine.

Medication and Other Steps

There are many steps to help reduce your allergies. If you know you have a pet allergy, accept it and do not get another pet that will trigger your allergies. When you see an allergy and asthma specialist, they will give you a specific plan with remediation steps to take.

One simple step is to use a face mask. I strongly prefer the machine washable, reusable “Breathe Healthy” face masks because I can wear them for hours without the discomfort that cheap disposable masks cause.  There are a variety of fun patterns to choose from. Cleaning the inside of you home can stir up dust, pet dander, and other allergens. Cleaning outside can stir up pollen. Wearing a face mask and possibly even goggles reduces how much of the allergen enters your system.

Neti pots can also be a great help, but be careful with the water you use. Buying distilled water is a great choice, although boiling and then cooling water before using it is also popular.

With the severity of my allergies, I will be getting immunotherapy shots. Immunotherapy is a weekly commitment for about five years. It isn’t something that everyone can do, even if they are a candidate for it. I know that I cannot avoid oak trees and I am going to keep my pets. For me, the sacrifice and time of immunotherapy is worth it.


The week leading up to my allergy test, I was wearing a face mask any time I went outside and most of the time I was inside. There were moments when it was difficult for me to breathe, and it wasn’t even peak pollen season.

My doctor prescribed Singulair, antihistamines, a nasal spray, and an asthma inhaler for daily use. I also rely on a rescue inhaler in case of an allergy induced asthma attack. Many allergy medications are available over the counter. It is important to know what medicine is best for you and to keep a good supply on hand.

If a severe allergy sufferer is without their medications for more than a day or two, their condition could degenerate from healthy to life-threatening before help arrives. For example, antihistamines only stay in your system for 2-7 days. Consider keeping extra medication at work, in the car or other places where you might need it.

Local Honey

Local honey can help with allergies for weeds, grasses, and anything else bees pollinate. But bees aren’t big pollinators of trees, so it can’t be a solution for everyone. It didn’t even occur to me that the reason the honey was improving, but not eliminating, my allergy problems was that I had multiple allergies to some things that bees don’t pollinate.

Local honey operates on the same principal as allergy shots. When ingested, your body is exposed to small amounts of an allergen to help it develop a tolerance. Honey has the potential to reduce the user’s overall “allergen load.”  An allergen load is the total amount of allergens your body is dealing with at any point in time.

Reducing Exposure

Once you know what you are allergic to, it is important to take steps to reduce your allergen load. You may be able to reduce your total exposure below the allergic threshold, which is where symptoms start. Since it is the total exposure to all allergens that leads to being symptomatic, it makes sense to reduce anything possible.

If you have a cup, and you pour some milk in it, some soda, some coffee, and a little bit of tea, it will eventually overflow. It doesn’t matter that there are lots of different types of drinks in it. The cup will overflow the same  if you held it under the sink and filled it with just water. The same is true of allergens. If sufferers can remove or reduce even one or two triggers, it can make a difference.

Certain foods, such as onions, garlic, corn, and wheat, are common and seemingly impossible to avoid entirely. Others, such as passion fruit and quinoa, are fairly simple to avoid. The same is true of non-food allergens. Mites are almost impossible to avoid entirely and oak trees are incredibly common wherever there are deciduous forests.  While most of us won’t part with a family pet easily, horses and orchids are pretty simple for most of us to avoid.

Bugging In versus Bugging Out

As a prepper, keep at least one extra month or two supply of your allergy medications, including local honey if you use it. Asthma inhalers are prescription only, making it hard to have extras on hand. Keep a supply of over the counter medicine, including simple anti-histamines, even if they aren’t part of your daily regimen. Remember that having your gear and supplies to keep allergens off you is also a must. A scrub cap (they make scrub caps specifically for long hair), no rinse shampoo, and the  “Breathe Healthy” face masks can help keep pollen away from your eyes and nose. Pollen is designed to stick to things, so it will be carried in on the surface of anything that goes outside. Being able to clean your clothes without electricity will let you have pollen-free clothing, when you or anyone in the family has to venture out into nature. Pollen will also attach to your pets (waterless pet shampoo is a good idea), so be prepared to clean a lot during pollen season and in an emergency.

I know my allergies has forced us to change some of our preparedness plans. I am a big proponent of bugging in versus bugging out. In the event of a disaster, my family will have only  a month or two of bugging in at our home. We will need to move away from any oak trees before I run out of medications. I will also need to be careful around fires because the smoke triggers my asthma.

As difficult as it is to have allergies, knowing what they are, how to treat them and what to do in an emergency, has given me more control over my health and preparedness plans.

Coping With Life Threatening Allergies in a Post SHTF World via The Survival Mom

34 Primitive Survival Skills All Survivalists Should Know

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This article was shared with us by Colin, freelance writer and editor at Basis Gear Maybe you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve when it comes to outdoor survival, or perhaps you are searching for some? In any case, it goes without saying that as an earth-dweller, surviving outdoors is a matter of extreme importance. When it comes down to this, preparation is everything. How should you prepare? By taking into account the variety of skills and information essential […]

The post 34 Primitive Survival Skills All Survivalists Should Know appeared first on Apartment Prepper.

The Essentials of a Well-Made Daypack & GIVEAWAY!

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well made daypackIt seems like the daypack, in one form or another, has become ubiquitous in the United States as well as in other parts of the world. However, the daypack in its early form was an elementary affair. Mostly used by settlers and colonialists, Native Americans, trappers, and mountain men when the United States was young.  John Hart, author of Walking Softly in the Wilderness: The Sierra Club Guide to Backpacking, writes,

The traditional daypack is simple. A tough fabric bag, a couple of wide shoulder straps, and you’ve about got it.

At its core, not much has changed; the basics of what constitutes a daypack remain the same. However, through the years – particularly the last 25 – it has morphed into designs which serve us in some very new ways.

Whatever your profession, trade, sport, or activity, there is a daypack made with you in mind. There is, in fact, a dazzling array of shapes, sizes, colors, constructions, and configurations to choose from and of course, quality and price point too. This article focuses only on the core elements, the basics of what constitutes a well-made daypack; form, fit, and function. Beyond that, only you know what the specific needs are for you and your family. Moving beyond the old canvas satchel and weaved basket with two leather straps that my grandfather used on his trapline as a boy, here are some important things to consider before purchasing a daypack, today:

Form — The Body of the Daypack

In this instance, when you think form, think materials and construction. Specifically fabrics, straps, buckles, webbing, padding, sewing, and general, over-all  construction. These are key to the design and manufacture of a well-made daypack.

Materials: There are many fabrics to choose from depending on the type of daypack you are looking for. You want the body of the daypack to be made from synthetic materials, not cotton or blended fabrics. A quality rip-stop nylon , nylon oxford, or cordura are all great choices. Another important consideration is the thread count or denier of the fabric you choose. Make sure the fabric is sturdy enough to withstand the usage you have in mind. Lastly, for most daypacks, you will want the fabric to have a waterproof coating, either polyurethane or silicon based.

A daypack made of quality material doesn’t have to be expensive, as this example shows.

Straps: The shoulder straps are an all-important consideration. The majority of the load is transferred to your shoulders there. (Do you remember the feeling of your overloaded daypack or bookbag shoulder straps digging into your shoulders while you walked to and from school?) Straps should be made of a thick closed cell foam material covered in an abrasion resistant fabric like a dense nylon material that is tough but won’t easily chafe you. The padded shoulder straps should have strong flat nylon webbing tails attached to the bottom with box-x stitching, which is inserted into a strong buckle and tab attached to the bottom of the daypack. Make sure there is lots of adjustability for your body type. The top of the straps should be secured to the body of the daypack using bar-tack stitching as well as being integrated into the top seam.

Padding: The padding I’m referring to is more than just what is found in the shoulder straps. Depending on design and use, a daypack may have a padded bottom in the main compartment, a padded sleeve in the inner compartment to park a laptop, other electronics, or even a hydration bladder in some. The back may have extra padding and mesh to add support, cushion, and ventilation. If your’s is a slightly larger daypack, it may have a padded waist belt as well. Theses should all be made using dense closed cell foam material.

Here’s another example of an inexpensive, but high quality daypack with comfortable padded straps, made with high qualaity material.

Sewing: Throughout the daypack, heavy duty thread should be used. Seams should be double stitched and key stress points should be bar-tacked or box-x stitched. As much as possible, bias binding should be used on material edges. You should see raw edges heat sealed (hot-cut) and finished with a zigzag stitching. In cheaply made packs, the material is cut using a stat-cutter, not heat sealed and rarely zigzag stitched. Under heavy use, this leads to fabric fraying and seam separations. Not really what you want when toting your $500 laptop around. Take a few minutes to inspect the stitching.

General overall construction: Other considerations are closures, loops, D-rings, handles, and buckles. Most daypacks will have some kind of zippers, velcro, snaps, or shock cord. All should be made of tough durable materials (Are the zippers YKK on the pack you are considering?) and securely attached to the main body of the daypack using reinforced stitching. Buckles should be made of high-impact plastic with some give at closure points. D-rings and loops should be ergonomically placed and bar-tacked in place. The fabric for the main body and pockets of the pack should be coated to provide a measure of waterproofing.

This Swissgear daypack is an example of one that combines multiple features, making it an extremely versatile and budget-friendly choice.

Fit (size and ergonomics)

Whether you are buying a $9.99 back-to-school special from a big-box store for you kids to tote their books back and forth from school, an every day carry (EDC) or get-home bag to keep in your vehicle, or contemplating a rugged mountaineering daypack for your trek in Nepal, if it doesn’t fit right, the pack can be miserable to use and in some instances unsafe. Things to consider:

  1. Is the pack the right size for your intended use? Do you really need a $200 military-grade rucksack-style daypack for your college books? (Yes, I know it looks cool.)
  2. Are the buckles, webbing, D-rings, and zippers  on your daypack designed for ease of use and security in mind?
  3. Does the daypack fit your frame well? No two bodies are the same, and no two daypacks are either. There is one that will fit you well and meet your needs. Be picky, it will pay off in the long run.

Function of the daypack

What are you getting this daypack for anyway? Begin with the end in mind and think about what you really need versus what you want. Are you looking for a general-duty daypack or one specifically designed for your get-home bag? One specifically tailored to a woman’s build or one for your preschooler? Are you a climber, hunter, hiker, or runner? Participants and practitioners of each activity have their special requirements to consider when finding the daypack that will work best.

The Daypack Test Drive – Don’t be Nice!

When you have finally found the daypack you are considering, don’t hesitate to take it for a test drive at the store and don’t be easy on it. Turn the daypack inside out and check the coating on the material, the stitching, seams, and bar-tacking. Bring things that you will carry in the pack and load it up and walk around! How do your shoulders feel carrying weight and your hips, if you have a waist belt to help distribute the load? Do all the buckles lock and unlock smoothly? How easily do the zippers work around corners and can you close them one-handed? Are the pockets and exterior strapping configured the way you need them? The hit list goes on… You get the idea.

A daypack may be a relatively small purchase, but it fills a big need for many activities you and your family do. Don’t settle for less than what fits you and your particular requirements.

There are many other things to consider when choosing a daypack. Most have to do with the specific requirements you have or activities you do. If you want to delve more deeply into the finer nuances of daypacks check out the articles and videos below.

Additional Resources


Daypacks: How to Choose – REI

YouTube Reviews

Preschool Daypacks

Laptop Daypacks

Hiking Daypacks

Travel Daypacks

Hydration Daypacks

Running Daypacks


This giveaway is really something special. From our friends at Flying Circle, the Brazos Backpack could be a daypack, but it is also suitable for a whole lot more. Made of military grade materials, it’s the high quality pack you’ve been wanting, with multiple pockets everywhere, including a small pocket on the strap, a handy place to stash a small flashlight, cash, or keys. It also features padded compartments for a laptop or tablet, and even a hidden “pass through” compartment, perfect for carrying a concealed handgun.

You can read more about its many features here.

Flying Circle will send this extra special pack to one lucky winner! Enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway begins on December 29, and ends at midnight on January 7.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Getting A Good Survival Knife – By James Smith

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In survival circumstances, when you are distant from everyone else and defenseless, your survival knife is your accomplice which goes with you wherever you go and whatever you do. It is the most critical survival device you need to finish whatever survival task there is. You require a decent survival knife to cut wood and … Continue reading Getting A Good Survival Knife – By James Smith

Choosing Your Survival Shelter Location

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survival shelterThere you are, lost in the wilderness. You zigged when you should have zagged and have finally come to terms with the thought that you’re going to have to spend the night in the rough. With only an hour or so of daylight left, it is past time to choose your survival shelter location and get going on building it. Thankfully, you have a few supplies with you, such as a knife, an emergency blanket, and some paracord. You’ve also taken the time to study a bit about wilderness survival so cobbling together a small debris hut or lean to shouldn’t be too difficult or time-consuming.

Before you begin construction, though, you should take the time to find a truly suitable location for the shelter. Doing so will help to avoid adding to your list of woes. Keep in mind, too, that all of these suggestions apply whether you’re in an actual survival situation or if you’re just out camping for the night. More than one casual hiker or Scout troop has been caught unawares and had a bad campsite turn a fun outing into a bad experience, or worse. Not to be dramatic, but your survival shelter location could determine if you survive or not.

Building materials.

First, if you are building some or all of the shelter from natural materials, such as a debris hut, you will probably want to locate your shelter near said supplies. It makes little sense to carry branches, logs, and such great distances if you don’t have to do so. Hopefully you’ll only be staying in the shelter a single night but, just in case, if you find a water source in the area, position your shelter near it, but not directly on it. We’re talking about conservation of energy, here. The less energy you expend having to harvest water, the more energy you’ll have for other necessary tasks.

You may also choose to use a natural cave or boulder to shelter, or  gather rocks together to form a wind break for your shelter. Gathering rocks has the secondary purpose of leaving a more comfortable area for you to lay down and sleep, as does gathering sticks for a debris hut or fire. The area under large trees is often sheltered from rain and snow, making it worth at least looking around under any large trees. Be careful of roots both in terms of where you are sleeping and where you build a fire. The last thing you want to do is accidentally set an entire tree on fire because the roots were in your fire pit!

You may also choose to gather materials such as dried grass, fir branches, or other softer materials to put down inside your shelter as a softer, warmer place to sleep. Bare ground is generally cooler than people, especially at night. The cooler temperatures can make sleeping uncomfortable, so putting an insulating layer (such as those listed above) can do a lot for your health and comfort.

Shelter location.

Next, take a moment to look above your chosen location. If you see any large dead branches, find a different spot. Those branches are called “widow makers.” You probably won’t want to be underneath one should it break loose and come crashing down. Sheltering under a large tree may give you a bit of added protection from the weather. There is a reason there is often a dry spot under large trees after even a heavy rain or snow fall.

Take a look around and see if there is evidence of large amounts of rain runoff. While the sky might be clear now, who knows what the night might hold. If you’re in a gulley or ditch, it might turn into a fast moving stream after a sudden downpour. If there is a log, line of rocks, or other natural structure, it could funnel water in a particular direction and you won’t want to put your shelter at that spot, but one side of it could also be less windy – and therefore warmer.

There is an awful lot of wildlife that is nocturnal, meaning the critters are most active after sundown. If your shelter is smack dab in the middle of the forest’s version of an interstate highway, you’re going to have a lot of visitors. Some of them might not be very happy that you are blocking traffic. While in a true survival situation we might be looking forward to bagging one or two Happy Meals on legs, you probably don’t want them crawling into bed with you or bumping into your shelter all night long. Remember to keep an eye out for buys when you choose your location.

If there is a patch of poison ivy, oak, etc. in the area, put your shelter in a place where you won’t be likely to walk straight into the poison. This is more of an issue for middle of the night bathroom pit-stops because you won’t be able to see anything and you want to minimize the chances you will walk through it, or use it for toilet paper.

Shelter orientation.

You should also plan out the orientation of your shelter. The sun may shine straight into it and wake you up. Do you want that? (The answer may be yes, or you may need to sleep longer.)

You don’t want the prevailing wind coming directly into the mouth or opening of the shelter, unless you know the night will be hot and the breeze welcome. This is doubly important if you’re building your fire near the opening of the shelter! The last thing you want is to have smoke and burning embers blowing in your face. If warmth is a concern, and it almost always is, build a reflecting wall of logs near the shelter opening, then make your fire between that wall and your shelter. You can use your Mylar blanket, if you have one, to reflect more heat toward you.

By giving just a little thought ahead of time, you can dramatically improve your situation and avoid further risks of injury.

Jim Cobb contributed to this article.

survival shelter FB size

A Round-Up of Water Purifiers

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Eartheasywater purifiers is offering Survival Mom readers 15% off all their LifeStraw products by using the code SURVIVAL15 through the end of 2015.

Having safe water is critical for survival. Finding water can be the difference between life and death. So can identifying if it’s safe to drink and knowing how to purify it. How do you know if it’s safe to drink?
Simple. It’s only safe to drink if it’s from a tap or bottle, or you purified it – and sometimes tap water isn’t potable either, but there are usually news stories when that happens.

Any water that will enter your body needs to be potable, including for ice cubes and brushing your teeth. Sometimes even tap water needs treated, but it’s usually on the news when that happens.

It’s important to understand that filtering and purifying are different. Filtering removes bits of things, like sand or bugs. It removes big particles, not small ones like bacteria. Purifying removes or kills germs and bacteria, although some methods are more effective than others. Filtering first and then purifying is the best practice for drinking water, in part because it extends the life of your purifier and in part because some purification methods (such as boiling) do absolutely nothing to filter out debris.

There are many ways to purify water. Some are faster, some are cheaper, and some are easier. Your best bet is to know how to use more than one method in case you can’t use your favorite method for some reason. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind how many people you need water for. Some systems are designed for groups and others are clearly for individuals.

The LifeStraw Mission

For those curious about my personal preference: If I had to buy one, and only one, water purifier, it would be the new LifeStraw Mission. The Mission is designed for long term use by a small group of 4-6 people. As a mom, I appreciate that this would be sufficient for the whole family, and that I wouldn’t need to worry about the kids losing their water purifier. It’s small enough to carry easily, and easy enough to use for even small kids to operate it. Love it!

I recently had the chance to use one on a Scout outing and it was extremely simple, light-weight, and easy to use – even Cub Scouts carried and operated it. It’s gravity-fed so it isn’t fast, but it is designed so you can put a water bottle or pot under it to fill while you do other things. In addition, it has a carry case that makes it roughly the size (but nowhere near the weight!) of a rolled up Sunday newspaper.

Purification Systems

There are other excellent systems available at very reasonable prices today. Many cost less than $20, and even the largest are less than $300. The price of water bottles with integrated filters is $30-$40 for each brand mentioned below. Each of these brands simply requires the water to be poured in and the filter does all the work as the water passes through.

Berkey purifiers use a long-life filter to remove submicron viruses and heavy metals. They are available from the 1.5 gallon Travel Berkey (for 1 – 3 people) up to the 6 gallon Crown Berkey (for 6-12+ people). Berkeys are more expensive for the simple reason that they are generally larger capacity and very solid. Their solidity is undoubtedly one reason that several of their models are primarily for “indoor” use. They aren’t light-weight.

Read more from author, Liz Long, in her newest book, “Survival Skills for All Ages #1: 26 Basic Life Skills” to be released January 19, currently available for pre-order.

The LifeStraw personal water filter is amazingly simple to use, and a very affordable choice. It removes bacteria and pathogens, but not viruses, so water that may have viruses should also be treated with tablets if human or animal waste products are suspected in the water. There is a larger family version that filters out viruses, but the individual use version is far more common.

Per their website, Sawyer water filters and purifiers “are certified for ABSOLUTE microns making it impossible for harmful bacteria, protozoa, or cysts like E. coli, Giardia, Vibrio cholera and Salmonella typhi (which cause Cholera and Typhoid) to pass through.”

Sawyer has products for groups as well as micro filters for individuals. Their flagship filter is a simple, light-weight pouch designed to be rolled or squeezed to create a faster flow rate for drinking. Fill, squeeze, and drink.

Camelback systems have become increasingly popular and the filtration / purification market has not neglected them. (Camelbacks have a bladder filled with water the user carries on their back; a straw attached to the bag allows the user to drink from it while they are walking.) Sawyer, in particular, has an option that works with camelbacks. Simply fill it with unclean water and attach the filter. The water will be purified before it is drunk.

A Back-Up to your Back-Up

More than anything, you must have at least 3 different ways to purify water. If one of these recommended filters malfunctions or becomes lost, you’ll need other ways to make sure the water you drink is safe. Boiling water is an excellent method but requires plenty of time and fuel. The use of calcium hypchlorite is popular in survival circles but may not be the safest method to use. There are always water purification tablets, but those can become expensive if you’re stocking up for the long haul.

Bottom line: Since water is absolutely vital for survival, don’t overlook adding multiple ways to filter and purify it.

water purifiers

Pimp Your Bugout Vehicle on a Budget

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bugout vehicleA reliable vehicle is a very important part of our preparedness planning. Not only is it transportation out of a bad situation, but your vehicle can provide lighting, heat/air conditioning, electrical power, and shelter. Most of us don’t have the luxury of procuring a dedicated bugout vehicle; we have to make the best of what we have. The good news is that you can add important capabilities to your existing vehicle without breaking the bank, and at your own pace.

Road Clearance

One thing that will quickly defeat your bugout plan is a tree or vehicle blocking the road. In an ideal world, you could hook up your vehicle’s winch ($1,000) and pull the obstacle out of the way, or use your chainsaw ($300-$1,000) to cut up the tree so you can pass. But winches are only practical on certain vehicles, and chainsaws require significant maintenance; both also come with hefty safety issues as well.

Forestry saw

Chain saw substitute

Fortunately low-tech, cheaper alternatives to the winch and chainsaw are available, but they both require using a bit of muscle, so consider your family’s fitness level if you go this route. A good winch substitute is a cable puller, sometimes called a “come-along.” It gives you a 35:1 mechanical advantage: you move the ratcheting handle and it pulls with about 3 tons of force for about $200. Another poor man’s winch is a tow strap or chain, a fixed length of flexible material ($25-$50) that can be hooked to your vehicle and the obstacle. Your vehicle can move the obstacle, if you have the room to work.

A forestry saw ($200-$225) can cut a freshly-fallen tree or branches without the expense and maintenance required of a chainsaw. These saws are like the hand saws we’ve all used, but up to 4 feet long with huge teeth. They stow flat in your trunk with little bulk.

Staying on the Road

Just about every disaster creates debris, part of which become sharp objects that pose a danger to your tires. A flat tire during your bugout can place you and your family in danger while you attempt to repair the problem, if you are even able. Multiple flats will take your vehicle completely out of action. The good news is that you may be able to upgrade your vehicle’s tires to the “run-flat” type.

Run Flat Tire

Run-flat tire has a stronger sidewall.

The military has used run-flat tires on their High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) or “Humvee” for many years. These special tires use several strategies to allow the tire to continue to support the vehicle’s weight even after the loss of air due to puncture or other damage. Cadillac and BMW widely make use of run-flat tires for their product lines, and several tire manufacturers including Goodyear, Firestone, and Continental offer run-flat tires as replacement tires which may fit your vehicle. The run-flat won’t eliminate the flat-tire problem, but it can give you up to 100 miles of additional driving to escape dangerous conditions. Run-flats will cost you an additional 10%-30% per tire.

But run-flats aren’t available for every vehicle. Alternatives include tires with Kevlar belts for enhanced puncture protection, and flat-fixing kits with a chemical sealant and air compressor. At a minimum, a full-sized spare is a critical need.

Pass the Gas

Fuel is one of your bugout vehicle’s Achilles’ heels. Not only is it important to have enough on hand, but protecting it from theft and vandalism is necessary and not always easy. In recent years a theft technique has been to puncture a vehicle’s under-body fuel tank with a screwdriver or sharp object and drain it into a bucket; faster and easier than siphoning for the thief, it also essentially takes your vehicle out of action until the tank can be repaired.

Emergency Evacuations Book CoverBUGGING OUT? Don’t leave home without this book — Emergency Evacuations: Get Out Fast When It Matters Most! Small enough to tuck into an emergency kit, but with enough details and checklists to make sure you don’t overlook a thing!

One way to secure your fuel is to mount an additional fuel tank inside the vehicle, in a trunk or rear cargo area not accessible to the casual thief. Auto racing offer many sizes, shapes, and capacities of fuel tanks that can be

Protected fuel

Auxiliary gas tank

adapted to this purpose; many offer a “foam-filled” version that prevents an explosion if the tank is ruptured. Due to the mechanical and safety issues raised by adding a fuel tank to your vehicle, this modification should be done by a mechanic familiar with racing fuel systems. The tank itself will set you back $120-$250 depending on size and features. Another option, particularly for diesel-powered vehicles, is a contractor-style auxiliary fuel tank.

See Them Before They See You

The most vulnerable time for a civilian vehicle is nighttime.  Vehicles put out light, heat, and lots of noise that is easily detectable. Worse, the vehicle’s occupants are less able to detect other people and vehicles when it’s dark outside. If money were no object, a set of night vision goggles (about $5,000-$7,000) would allow an occupant of the vehicle to detect potential threats at night.

Personal Thermal Imager

Thermal Imager

For the rest of us, a thermal imager can increase your survivability. A thermal imager is a device that detects varying levels of heat in the environment and produces a video image allowing visualization similar to that seen in daylight. If your local police agency flies a helicopter, odds are a thermal imager is on board to help find bad guys at night.

FLIR Systems, makers of military and commercial thermal imagers, has a consumer-level unit called the FLIR One, which attaches to certain Android-based phones and tablets and many IPhone-and-IOS-based devices. The $250 FLIR One uses a combination of a thermal camera and a standard digital camera to assemble a fairly detailed thermal image. This device can provide a passive thermal detection capability for a vehicle or person on foot that could allow movement in full darkness without lights. Potential threats could also be identified and avoided or neutralized.

The Bottom Line

Make a careful assessment of your needs. Consider worst case scenarios but don’t assume that you will always encounter the worst case. Build your capabilities over time, as your budget and time allow.

bugout vehicle

How to Plan for Wilderness & Urban Survival

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Preppers will tell you, above all else, wildness and urban survival  comes down to four basic resources — food, water, shelter, and communication. These are easy enough to prepare and gather for the worst possible scenarios, but what and how you prepare varies depending on where you live and how you plan to survive. Prepping […]

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Well Our Destination Is Final! Wyoming Is Where We’re At.

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Well after a recent move for a job in Wyoming it looks like this will be our home base now. We will be offering new items in our store soon so be sure to check that out. We may begin some classes and workshops in the area East of Gillette. So if your in the … Continue reading Well Our Destination Is Final! Wyoming Is Where We’re At.

Winter Bug Out! When Hell Freezes Over!

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I was editing some photos for the site today and decided to do a article about bugging out in winter and how winter time can literally become a frozen nightmare. Winter  Wonderland Gone Bad Imagine a disaster or military occupation occurring during winter time. History has shown even for modern military troops winter can become very … Continue reading Winter Bug Out! When Hell Freezes Over!