2 Prepping Principles to Remember

prepping principlesTumultuous times don’t exactly portend a prosperous future. When I was in college and then into the early years of my career, it seemed that my income would continue to increase. The value of our house would always go up, year after year, and by the time I hit 65, I’d have more than enough money to retire and live the good life.

I’ve wised up, though, and the world has become more and more chaotic. Right now my retirement funds are looking good, but that wasn’t the case just 7 or 8 years ago. It’s been a wild ride, financially, and I don’t feel particularly secure about the future.

With this in mind, I made the decision some time back to always buy the best quality products I possibly can. In a way, it seems counter-intuitive. Since the Great Recession of 2009-2012, our income has had quite a few ups and downs, so shouldn’t we be switching to the cheapest off-brands on the market?  Not at all. Going, “cheap” is often more expensive than buying quality in the first place, which is a smart prepping principle.

When our son was in his rough and tumble years, pretty much from age 3 up until just recently!, my wife switched to Levis jeans for him after his knees had poked their way through the eleventh pair in a row of off-brand jeans. I remember her buying the Levis on eBay in order to save money, and sure enough, that more expensive brand turned out to be tougher than he was, and that’s saying a lot!

When my daughter needed a pair of hiking boots, she found a pair she liked that was made of faux leather. We knew the cheap materials wouldn’t keep her feet warm and dry, nor would they stand up to much wear and tear, so, just before a family camping trip, we purchased a pair at REI for just shy of $100, and those boots have stood the test of time. A pair of $39 boots that are scuffed and ruined in a month are more expensive per wear than a $100 pair that ends up being worn for years and then sold at a garage sale for $10! That’s the real bargain and a much better way of being prepared.

A partner principle to buying quality is taking care of what you own. “Oh, well. I’ll just get another one!” was a common statement back in the day when something I owned was lost or broken. That was back in the days when my parents bought most of everything I needed — a childish point of view, to be sure.

That’s not how I think anymore. I can’t think like that anymore! There is no guarantee that I’ll have the extra dollars to buy a pair of replacement sunglasses, for example. Instead, the habit of always, always putting my sunglasses in the same place every time, insures they’ll be there when I need them and will be far less likely to disappear. When the lenses are scratched, I take them to an optical company to be buffed. I buy a good quality pair of sunglasses, and they typically last for years, so I get the benefit of better quality along with the longer lifespan since I take care of them.

Over the years, we’ve been teaching our kids to take care of what they own. After a game of Uno, we make sure that every Uno card makes its’ way back into the box and that school books are kept in a bookshelf. There are plenty of bookshelves in the house, and that’s where our books belong.

This mindset harkens back to the days of my grandparents and the Great Depression when the rhyme, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,” wasn’t just a quaint quote but a way of life.

As preppers, it’s important to have quality gear, clothing, tools, etc. so when we really, really need them, they are there to do the job. I’ve had nightmares of being in a dire, life and death scenario only to find out that all the “Made in China” gear in a storebought “survival kit” turned out to be nothing but cheap crap. You can bet, my own kit has high quality everything — I just can’t take the risk.

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Make a Common Sense Survival Kit for Everyday Carry

common sense survival kitOne aspect of the prepper philosophy is common sense. After all, it is just common sense to plan for the future, regardless of what may or may not happen. That’s why we have retirement funds, car, home and health insurance and regular well-checks with the doctor. Planning ahead is also why you may stick an umbrella in your brief case or carry a light jacket on a sunny day. And it would be stupid to not carry a spare tire and tools to change a flat!

So when it comes to wilderness or urban survival, being prepared is just common sense, and you should insert a healthy dose of that commodity into any disaster or emergency planning.

So, I propose that you, a prepper, should also make a compact, easy-to-carry wilderness and/or urban survival kit to include with all your other survival gear. One that is based on common sense, not necessarily what survival sites and forums tell you that you must have.

Are you committed?

common sense survival kit

Carry survival gear in your wallet. I always have (from left) firestarter, charcloth (in a waterproof, plastic bag) and a signal mirror with me.


What’s “common sense” for me, may not be common sense for you!

Your goal for this common sense kit is based on what makes sense for YOU to carry, not a former Navy Seal living in Costa Rica who has a popular blog. Toward that goal, then, start by asking yourself:

  • Can I dunk a basketball?

I can’t. Never could. But watch any NBA game and you’ll see the guys slam the ball home at every opportunity. If you watch the survival “reality” shows, you may also see incredible techniques done routinely, under the worst circumstances. So what? Use the common sense filter. Just because somebody can dunk a basketball or perform wondrous survival techniques on TV doesn’t mean you can, or might be able to learn. Don’t rely on gee-whiz technology or esoteric aboriginal survival techniques. The idea is to survive, and during a disaster you won’t have time for on-the-job training!

  • Do I know anything?

Be honest! It doesn’t matter how much survival stuff you have. It’s worthless if you can’t, or don’t know how, to use it. Take a good look at your skills and abilities, and face your inadequacies. (See on-the-job training, above.)

  • Will I make a commitment to learn?

Again, be honest, and don’t put this off. If you don’t know how to perform first aid or make an emergency shelter, learn now. Sign up for a community college course, read good survival books, and talk to folks like the Search and Rescue people who are actually using these skills. If a disaster happens this afternoon, maybe all you will have to work with is what you’ve got.

If you can, sign up for a course with Preppers University and their small group classes with live instructors. I’ve taken 2 of these courses and have learned a great deal from ultra-wilderness survival expert Toby Cowern, urban survival expert Selco, pandemic researcher and author Steve Konkoly, and Tammy Trayer who lives off-grid and explained in detail how I could set up my own solar system. Being able to ask them questions, face to face, was priceless.

  • What gear is practical?

I am honored to serve as an Assistant Scoutmaster of a Boy Scout Troop in Bend, Oregon. Over the past 10 years, I’ve noticed a lot of “survival gear” that is nothing more than expensive junk. Before buying this kind of stuff, talk to someone in the know, and find out what urban or wilderness survival gear they use. Assess those items with your skill level and then decide what you need.

  • Will I make a commitment to carry this survival kit with me?

The best gear in the world does you no good if you don’t have it with you! Your survival kit must be compact and convenient to carry or it will get left behind. If it’s too heavy, too bulky, contains things you don’t think you’ll ever use — it will likely end up in the garage or a closet.

Now start making that common sense survival kit

Here are a few suggestions, once you’ve made a survival kit commitment:

  • Make your own

Commercial kits may include cheap and worthless things in them to keep the cost down. You don’t ever want to be in a situation where your life is in danger, grab a tool out of your pack that could save your life, only to have it break after 2 minutes of use. The components in my pocket-sized Altoids tin kit would cost about $50 to $60 to replace. My life is worth that to me!

Is a pre-fab kit worthless? Not entirely, but they are generally filled with low quality items. However, if you start with one of these and then begin to diligently work to improve and customize it, it may be a helpful way to get prepped in a hurry.

  • Can you use everything in the kit?

Using some suggested items may be beyond your skill levels. Remember that dunk shot? Your choice is to learn how to use everything, or replace that particular component. YouTube videos, including this Survival Common Sense channel, is full of instructions for using survival gear. Just be sure to weed through videos from questionable “experts”.

common sense survival kit

Here’s one way to keep some of the basic survival tools with you at all times. On the keyring: LED flashlight, fingernail clippers, whistle, Boy Scout Hot Spark firemaker and Classic Swiss Army knife. The other knife rides in a pouch on my belt, wherever it is legal.

  • Don’t let your survival kit give you a false sense of confidence.

Gear doesn’t replace knowledge. I guarantee you that most everyone who buys a pre-fab “survival kit” from Amazon, packs it in the trunk of their car or in their house and doesn’t give it another thought. Survival kit = survival, right? Nope. Keep learning and practicing using the tools and gear in your kit and don’t assume that just because you have it, you have some sort of cloak that makes you invincible.

Every survival book or website has some variation of this basic list of essential outdoor tools. Some of the items are common sense, such as a survival knife (read this to identify the one that is best for you), fire-making gear, extra clothing, and a map and compass. Always make sure you have all the recommended items with you!

Finally, apply the common sense filter to anything associated with your survival. Beware of “survival experts” websites, TV shows and articles. Just because someone has a website, logo, book or magazine column doesn’t mean they know anything! Use the tips in this article to identify true experts in the areas of survival and preparedness.

View any information with your eyes open and apply the common sense filter. If your BS alarm starts to go off, there is probably a good reason for it! And how about that dunk shot!

Article contributed by Leon Pantenburg of Survival Common Sense with additional commentary by Noah.

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How to Get Children or Grandchildren to Carry Emergency Gear?

emergency gear

Sometimes it is amazing what they have in their car trunks.

The other morning one of my grandchildren came by and visited with us.  While she was here, we got to talking about what emergency gear she had in her car.  Now she has a good get home and bugout bag.  So I asked her what she had in her car right now.  She had extra clothes, tennis shoes, a blanket and water.  So I asked her where her bag was, she admitted that her emergency gear was sitting in her closet at home.  Being young and in good shape they have a tendency to think they can do anything.

Now of cause I talked to her about putting her bag in the car.  But being a kid it may or may not happen.  She is young and in good shape and like most kids has a tendency to think they can do anything and that nothing will happen to them.

Now I know many other people (kids and adults) fall into the same mistake.  Over time it is easy to become lackadaisical or over confident.  The nothing will happen to me attitude.  Now I am a bit of a gear head, I have one or maybe two of almost everything.  More than I can ever carry or use.  Over the years, I have given emergency gear to all of my older grandchildren and a few of them actually carry it in their cars.

But what about the ones who don’t?  Of cause, I continue to encourage them to carry their get home bags.  But my new plan is to find out what they have in their cars and teach them how to get by on what they actually carry.  During this process, maybe I can sneak in a few extras.  But the bottom line is that no matter how much equipment you have it won’t help you if you don’t have it with you.  So we have to teach them to get by with what they have and hope as they learn they will add to what they carry.



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How to Keep Your Bug Out Bag Up to Date

bug out bagToday is a very busy day for me because one of my grandsons is getting married, so I have posted a guest blog to remind you to keep your bug out bag up to date.


Your bug out bag is more than just something that sits in the back of your closet or the trunk of your car to give you a nice warm fuzzy feeling when you go to sleep at night or watch the horror that is the evening news. You know it will save your life one day and you’ve gone above and beyond to do your research, get the best gear, and make sure you’ve got all the necessities and then some. But what so many experienced preppers overlook is that a bug out bag not only needs to be ready to go at a moment’s notice, it also needs to be regularly checked and updated. Food can go bad, leather can dry out, and guns need to be cleaned and fired. Here’s your guide to all the little things that can go bad in your bug out bag and how and when to keep them updated and ready to go.

Firearms First

First things first, if you’re not hitting the range with your firearm regularly, then you’re probably not cleaning your gun as often as you should be. The natural buildup of lint and dirt is inevitable. Every few weeks you should break it down, clean it out and lube it up, and after every trip to the range as well. Your gun also needs a deep clean once a year in addition to regular field-stripping. If you’re unfamiliar with the inner workings of your specific firearm, head to your local gunsmith for a serious clean and, if you’re lucky, a tutorial.

Medications and Their Expirations

Antibiotics are a prepper’s best friend for one simple reason: they save lives. From a sinus infection to an infected wound, your likelihood of needing antibiotics in an emergency situation is high, and taking an expired antibiotic could make the problem worse, not better. Antibiotics begin to lose their potency after a year generally, and even one exposure to extreme heat (like leaving your bug out bag in the car) can render the lifesaving pills useless. Your best bet is to store all meds in airtight containers at room temp or lower. Taking expired antibiotics may not only be ineffective but can cause whatever bacteria you’re trying to kill to mutate and become stronger, so it’s not a risk the smart prepper is willing to take. Make sure you’re stocked up on meds both at home and at the office and practice grabbing them from their cool, dry location when you do your bug out dry runs.

( I have a bit of a problem with the above paragraph, see the following link Shelf Life of Prescription Medications. Howard

Food for Thought

Another survival essential that can easily go bad and leave you stranded is your food supply. Extreme temps, prolonged exposure to sunlight and even humidity can render your food storage inedible. MREs are your best bet because they are portable and have the longest shelf life.

MREinfo.com has a great comparison study of civilian MREs and their variety, taste, extras (like instant coffee with cream and sugar!) and even the quality and shape of the included spoon. MREs last an average of one month when stored at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and five years when stored at 50 degrees as per the MRE shelf life time and temperature chart, last updated in 2010. Hopefully your MREs have a Time and Temperature Indicator so as long as the inner circle is not darker than the outer circle and the pack isn’t punctured or swollen, you’re good to chow down. Although, some MREs age better than others. Experts warn against cheese spreads and non-dried fruits that are older than six years. But that 11-year-old maple nut cake? Still tasty!

Equipment is Everything

Last but certainly not least, your pack and your boots are the only ways you’re going to get out of town alive, so they both deserve regular upkeep and attention. Your pack should ideally be only 25 percent of your body weight and the more you can practice your bug out plan and take long hikes with your pack, the better prepared you’ll be to not only carry it for extended distances but repair any injuries or fortify any weaknesses in the straps, frame or zippers. The same go for your boots. They need to be worn in and worn regularly because a bad blister can mean the end of your travel day. They also need to be replaced every few years.



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Long Range Patrol Rations or Lurps, the U.S. Militaries Finest Ration

Long Range Patrol Rations

The Lurps come in two colors, white for winter and brown for the other seasons.

Long Range Patrol Rations are in my opinion the finest ration that the U.S. military has ever produced.  The first version came out in 1964 and used in Viet Nam  for special operations and long range patrols.  It was commonly called Lurps or long rats.

In 2001 they combined the Lurp and the cold weather ration to create what they called the MCW/LRP ration.  They both use the same entre with different accessory packs.  Cold weather ration entrees are in white, long range patrol rations are in brown.

It is different from the MRE in that it is a freeze-dried ration and tastes better.  It is manufactured by Oregon Freeze Dried, the parent company of Mountain House.  It is very similar to the Mountains House meals of the same name, except it has more meat and is higher in calories.  Also, because it is compressed into a small brick it takes less room in your pack.  They also will store much longer than an MRE, they have a shelf life at least as long as Mountain House Back Packing Meals.

Long Range Patrol Ration

Lurps come packed twenty meals to a case

Oregon Freeze Dried produces a run of these almost every year for the military.  If there is an overrun, they sell them through a limited number of their distributors.  In the last few day a new batch of Lurps manufacture in 2015 have come on the market.  They are available in the following meals.

  • Chicken & Rice
  • Spaghetti with Meat
  • Chili Mac with Beef
  • Turkey Tetrazzini
  • Mexican Rice & Chicken
  • Beef Stew
  • Granola and Blueberries
  • Scrambled Eggs with Bacon

The only companies that currently has them advertised is Freeze Dried Guy, who tells me they are selling extremely fast.  Because of the limited numbers that he has available they are not on his website, to order you need to call 1-866-404-3663. It is my understanding that some other companies may have them in a few days.

These are very good rations, even though they are a bit pricey, if you buy them by the case they compare in price to Mountain House Backpacking meals and have more meat and calories.  I carry them in my bug out bags and strongly recommend them.


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The Solo Stove, A Great Choice for Your Bug Out Bag

Solos Stove

The Solo Stove with it’s cup and  windscreen

It is not often, I write a second post about a product, but in this case, I am making an exception.  I love the Solo Stove  it is small compact and very efficient.  For many years, I worked as an arson investigator and I understand the science of combustion.  This is a stove that is well designed and makes very efficient use of the available fuel.

It is very easy to gather up the small sticks and twigs you need to cook with the Solo Stove.  One of its big advantages is that it is not a fuel hog.  You can burn almost anything in it.  This makes the stove very handy if you are in a fuel poor area such as the Southwestern U.S.

Solo StoveDesigned with a double wall, the Solo Stove is a natural convection inverted down gas gasifer stove. That means that the air that is drawn through the bottom holes is heated as it travels up the double wall.  This warm air mixes with the smoke and causes a more efficient burn.  Smoke is just unburned products of combustion.  Get the smoke to burn and you have a cleaner burn fire with less smoke and odors.  This means that your fire will attract less attention.

Solo also makes a windscreen that folds up so that it is easy to carry and makes fire starting a lot easier in bad weather.  I have started fires in the Solo Stove on cold rainy days and the windscreen really helped.

The Solo Stove will also work with a small alcohol burner.  Solo makes one, but the Esbit and small Trangia will also work. I like this stove so much that I am giving one to one of my sons for his birthday.  The stove is currently available for about $69.99.  I recommend that you get the cup and windscreen with it.

If you do a lot of backpacking, you will find this stove easy to carry and use.  I have one in my bug out kit.  This is a stove that I can recommend without reservations


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36 Common Household Survival Items you have in your home

commoncommon household survival items

A kitchen knife can serve many purposes

In talking with people about preparedness, I find that many people think that you have to spend a ton of money to get started.  They forget about the common household survival items that they already have in their homes that can be used.

For instance someone was complaining about how much it cost to get a good knife, until I pointed out that he already had several that he had not considered.  It took a quick raid on his wife’s kitchen to find a knife that while not the first choice would serve his purposes.

Here is a list of other common household survival items that you probably already own

common household survival items

Get the kind with no additives

  • If you want snow camouflage, make it out of old white sheets.
  • Cook stoves can be made from old tin cans.
  • A bedroll can be made from blankets.
  • Plastic juice and soda bottles can be used for storing water or food.
  • For warmth, you can wear layers of the clothes you already own.
  • Tampons/sanitary napkins: for first aid dressings
  • Petroleum jelly and cotton balls make good fire starters
  • Any bleach that does not have additives can be used to disinfect water.
  • Garbage bags can be used to build shelters
  • Shower curtains can be used as tarps or a poncho
  • Dental floss can be used as a string or fishing line.
  • Duct tape has a million uses from first aid to repairing equipment
  • Any paper can be used as fire starters.
  • Coffee filters can be used to filter the larger particles out of water
  • Super glue can be used for repairs and gluing small cuts.
  • Mirrors can be used for signaling
  • Vinegar can be used to preserve food
  • Decorative candles can be used for light
  • Baseball bats and other sports implements can make excellent weapons
  • The alternator from your vehicle can be modified to make a small generator to charge batteries.
  • A child’s swimming pool can be used to catch rainwater
  • If you have camping gear, you can use it for making a bug out bag.
  • If you have a home first aid kit, this can be used for treating injuries.
  • All the food you have in your house can be consumed start with the foods that will spoil first.
  • An old refrigerator can be made into a smoker to preserve meatcommon household survival items
  • The average water heater contains from 30 to 50 gallons of water
  • Mouse and rat traps can catch you dinner
  • Nails – you can nail any unnecessary doors and window shut to increase your security. Nail wood over windows excreta
  • Sewing needles and thread to repair and modify clothing or in a real emergency white threat can be used to sew up some types of wounds
  • Soaps to keep yourself and your clothes clear to prevent disease
  • Solar power yard light can be use to provide light at night
  • Charcoal or propane barbecues can be used for cooking
  • Scotchgard can be used to waterproof clothing
  • Aluminum foil for improvising protection from EMP
  • Hand tools for repairing your home or even as improvised weapons
  • Yard tools for gardening

You may have to do a bit of research on how to use some of these items, but most are just common sense. These are just a few of the items that occurred to me, I am sure that many of you have more and better ideas for using common household survival items.  Don’t be afraid to share them with us in the comments section.



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Foods for Bug Out or Get Home Bags

foods, bug out, Get home bag

Lifeboat rations

Recently I wrote a post on my belief that most preppers would end up having to bug in.  Now even though I believe that, I still have a bug out bag and a get home bag in my car.  Always have as many options as possible.  A question that always seems to come up on bags that are kept in the car is what type of food will withstand the changes in temperature.

Over the years, I have seen all types of suggestions, from just a plain sack of whole-wheat berries to freeze dried meals. Now where I live foods in the trunk of my vehicle will be exposed to 100 degree F plus temperatures in the summer to below freezing in the winter. This is very hard on your food. Now there are several ways to handle this problem, you can carry the bag with you when you leave your vehicle.  Personally, this does not work for me.  A second choice is to rotate the food on a regular basis.  How often depends on the type of food you carry.  I have tried that and I guess I am not quite that well organized.  My choices run towards foods that will last for a reasonably long length of time.

Here are some possible foods for you to consider.

foods, bug out, Get home bag

The individual meal rations, they are smaller than a pack of cards

Lifeboat rations – they are designed to withstand extreme temperature changes and still be good for years from the date of manufacture.  They are Coast Guard approved for a five year shelf life.  They come in packages of 1200, 2400 or 3600 calories and are designed to provide you with three meals of 400 calories each a day.  Personally, I am not a fan of their taste, but they will keep you alive.  Because they are inexpensive, you can afford to carry a couple of rations a day for extra calories.

Millennium Bars – I have had some of these in my bag for several years and they seem to be holding up well.  They cost about a dollar each and come in several flavors.  They are Coast Guard approved for a five year shelf life.  Each bar has 400 calories and they taste better than the lifeboat rations.

foods, bug out, Get home bag

Millennium Bars

Freeze Dried food – I have eaten Mountain House foods that have withstood the temperature variations for over 5 years and were still fine.  Mountain House is one of the very few companies that I would trust to consume after this type of extreme abuse.  Unfortunately, it is the most expensive of the three choices that I recommend.  But it probably provides the best nutrition, depending on the meals you choose to carry.

Here are some foods I would not use.

MRE’s – They do not withstand heat well and unless you are prepared to rotate them at least every year I would not use them.

Trail mix, nuts, and other foods commonly used for hiking – Most of these contain nuts, oils or chocolate.  The oils in these foods will go rancid in the heat.  You will not like the taste of rancid foods and it is carcinogenic.

Canned foods of any type – They are subject to damage from both freezing and heat.  They need to be rotated on a regular schedule and if there is any damage or bulging from the cans, they should be thrown away and not consumed.

Whatever choice you make be sure and make sure your food is in good shape and not spoiled.  The last thing you need in an emergency is food that is not edible or can make you sick.


New Ideas on Get home and Bugout Bags

bugout bags

Here is one of our typical bugout bags

While my primary plan has always been to shelter near my home, I believe that you always need at least a plan B, if not C and D. Back in the sixties, I can remember working on my first bugout bags. It was a simple 72-hour kit. It consisted of the absolute basics. Since then my kits have went through many evolutions.

Today I have three levels of get home or bugout bags.

The first is always in my car, this is my get home bag. It is designed to do just what the name implies, give me the ability to get home in an emergency. It contains the necessary food, water and other supplies to let me walk home over a 3 or 4-day period. It is lightweight and has to be kept current for the seasons.

The second is our bugout bags; they are backpacks that we could survive out of for at least a week. It contains the necessary supplies that you would include in typical bugout bags.

bugout bags

Here is one of the two medical boxes, as you can see my wife has been using one for a end table

The third is contained in two medical boxes that I found at a military surplus sale. This kit contains enough supplies for my wife and I to survive for a minimum of thirty days. As you can tell this third kit is not one you are going to carry far. Normally you would move it by vehicle. If I have to use this third kit, I would load it in the car along with both my wife’s and my bugout bags and the get home bags. This would give me enough food for probably close to 6 weeks, plus shelter, sleeping bags and other necessary gear.

I keep these boxes so that they can be removed and placed in the back of any of our vehicles within a few minutes. As an alternative, I can drag them out in the back yard in case of a fire or earthquake and set up camp.

Now you notice that I have not attached a list of the items the kits contain. The reason being that everyone of us will have a slightly different list depending on our abilities and where we live.

Each bugout bag should meet the minimum seven requirements. They should contain the supplies to provide you with
• Shelter
• Food
• Water
• Medical
• Fire
• Self-defense
• Food production or hunting

Now the order of the above items is not indicative of their importance, this will vary depending on where you live and the requirements of your family or group.

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Choosing A Good Sleeping Bag for After TEOTWAWKI

sleeping bag

U.S. Army sleep system

These last few days I have being giving some thoughts to sleeping bags.  Now whether you bug in or bug out, a sleeping bag can be your best friend in winter.  If you are stuck in a cold home with little heat or have to bug out in the winter, you will want to sleep as warm and comfortable as possible.

Now there are a few things that you need to take into consideration when choosing a sleeping bag.  First, what type of winter weather are you dealing with?  In my area if I go 20 miles downhill to the west, the temperatures will be relatively moderate, rarely going below freezing, but with rain and lots of people.  If I go uphill to the east, I can be facing heavy deep snow and freezing temperatures.  Forty or fifty mile to the east the snow can be 5 or 6 foot deep.

Second are you carrying your sleeping bag, weight rapidly becomes a factor. Third how much can you afford to spend.   If money was no object, I would go with a Wiggy’s sleeping bag. I consider them the finest on the market.  Wiggy’s manufactures a wide variety of sleeping bags and sleep systems that cover from +25° to -60°.  A Wiggy’s sleep system will keep you warm and dry, but they are not very light when it comes to weight.  They can weigh up to seven pounds or more.

sleeping bag

US army sleep system in stuff bag

Personally although I have a number of sleeping bags, I will probably be using the US military 4-Part Modular Sleep System.  This is a bit on the heavy side, but I am not planning to carry it far.  Being a modular unit, it covers from +50 thru – 30° F.  I have found it comfortable and it can be purchased reasonably.  I have been able to find the complete system new in the package for as little as $80.

US military 4-Part Modular Sleep System in the stuff sack.

I like the bivy cover which is made from a waterproof, moisture-vapor-permeable material.  I have slept out in the rain in mine over on the coast and have woke up to find myself laying in a inch of water and still warm and dry.  The downside to this system is its size and weight.  The system weighs about 11 pounds and consists of an inner bag and outer bag and the bivy sack, any of these can be used individually.  The fourth component is the stuff sack.  The upside is that because it consists of an inner and outer bag, you don’t have to carry the entire system, just take the parts you need.

Because the choice of a sleeping bag is a very personal thing, here are a number of things to you to take into consideration when choosing yours.

Many of the typical backpacking sleeping bags are designed only for occasional use.  While they are light in weight, you need one that is sturdy enough to last for a long period of time, under rough usage.

Goose Down is lighter, compresses easier and is warmer by weight.  However, if it gets wet, it is useless.  In extreme cold, your body releases moisture as you sleep, so a down bag can get wet from the inside even when it is protected from the outside elements.  Because of the amounts of rain we get in some seasons, I have avoided goose down.

Some of the newer insulation such as Lamilite or Polarguard 3D will still retain some warmth when wet.  Getting into a dry sleeping bag with wet or damp clothing on is one mistake that often costs people a good night’s sleep.

sleeping bag

This is the type of baffles that you want to prevent cold spots

sleeping bags

This type of baffles will let cold spots form in your bag

Check the stitching; the thread should be of good quality and the tubes should overlap so that the stitching does not go all the way through the bag wall creating cold spots.

Make sure the bag has a sturdy zipper and a draft tube along the entire length of zipper.

Consider an outer waterproof, moisture-vapor-permeable shell for your bag.  Be sure that the shell you purchase will breathe enough to allow body moisture to escape.

Whatever type of bag you choose the bottom line is take it out and use it and I mean more than once or twice.  The bag that looks and sounds so good in the store may be very uncomfortable.  The temperature ratings that are given with the bags I have found to be unreliable, a lot depends on your metabolism.  Whatever type of sleeping bag you get, don’t forget a good pad to go underneath it.The sleep system that you choose can have a big effect on your health and moral.

One last suggestion, don’t forget about garage sales.  Every year I pick up a few extra sleeping bags for pennies on the dollar.  If you have extra, you can always help others and you might just find one that you love.



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