Build Up Fire Bug Out Bags

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The consensus is that nothing feels better or soothes the savage brow than a good campfire.  Just having thefire_wood_for_bug_out_location flickering flames available for a comfort factor, providing some needed warmth, or available for cooking a hot meal, a fire can be an essential ingredient of having a working Bug Out survival camp set up. Sometimes though, just starting a fire can be a chore.  If the conditions are wet with little available fire starting materials at hand, then building a comfort fire can turn out to be just another stressful task.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Rubbing two sticks together may work if the conditions are ideal, but most preppers are not that skillful.  Even if you have a butane lighter, you still need fire materials at hand to build a quick fire.

Related: 10 Bug Out Bag Essentials

All this is made much easier if you prepare fire building fire bags ahead of time.  This is a simple process and you’ll be ready at any time to have some base materials available to light up for a quick fire, ready to add kindling and larger materials.  This should be done in advance to be stored at home or cached at a designated Bug Out location.

Bags for Fire Bags

Folks this is not rocket science and there is no reason not to prep some fire bags well ahead of time for when theybug_out_fire_starter are needed.  These bags can come from an infinite number of sources, and most often are something you might already toss into the trash, recycle bin, or burn outside in an outdoor fireplace or fire ring.

Fire bags can be as small or large as you care to fabricate.  Use your best judgement as to how much fire material you want gathered and ready to go.  These bags can be easily stored in the garage, an outside tool shed or storage building, or kept at a Bug Out location.

If you are forced to Bug Out then one or two of these fire bags can also be quickly grabbed and tossed into the travel vehicle.  At home, these bags can be left in the corner of the garage or tool room to continue to stuff with fire starting materials.

Also Read: Bug Out Travel Security

Easy to prep bags can include such options as outdoor grilling charcoal bags.  This is my go-to bag for building fire bags.  The paper material used to make bags of charcoal are usually made from a couple layers of brown craft paper that is a good, heavy material.  Even the bag itself can be torn apart and burned as separate pieces.  Otherwise the entire stuffed bag can be used as the fire starter base.

All kinds of larger plastic or paper bags can be used, too.  Right now I have several fire bags ready to be taken to Bug Out Camp in yard bedding mulch sacks/bags, bird seed bags, and dog food bags.  These are heavy duty bags that can hold a lot of fire fodder materials plus they can also just be burned themselves filled with fire starter stuff.

Fire Bag Stuffing

This is really the easy part.  Every day you probably throw a ton of burn materials in your trash cans at the house or work that could be separated out and stuffed into a fire bag.  The list is virtually endless.  Just get creative thinking any possible piece of paper that can be easily and quickly set afire for a fast burn to start a hot fire.

Related: Bug Out Bag Mistakes That Are Not Mistakes

In the list of paper materials we stuff into fire bags includes every kind of junk mail that comes every day and more.  Sales flyers, notices, mailed bill envelopes, extra letter insert papers, catalogs, magazine inserts, advertisements, envelopes from business correspondence, coupons, newsletters, pure ole junk mail you never even open, toilet and paper towel rolls, food packaging and any other piece of clean, dry paper you would otherwise just throw away.

Every day just carry these materials out to the garage or wherever you keep your fire bags and toss them inside.  As the bags fill up, mash them down inside and keep adding more.  When the sacks eventually totally fill up, then roll the tops down to keep them closed and secure.  You could even staple the tops closed so nothing spills out.

These will be relatively lightweight bags that can easily be tossed into the bug out vehicle or in the bed of a pickup truck or SUV.  Build up as many of these fire bags that you care to deal with, but probably at least a half dozen or so to get you started at Bug Out Camp or a home outside fire pit or even an indoor fireplace for a controlled fire.

Starting a Fire Bag Fire

I use these fire bags in one of two ways.  If I want to eventually have a big bonfire at Bug Out Camp, then I just lay fire_starters_for_survivalthe entire fire bag down into the rock lined fire ring.  I mash it down as flat as possible.  Then I pile on small kindling limbs I pick up in the camp area yard.  Mother Nature is always happy to supply plenty of those via wind storms.  Next, I will stack on top two or three pieces of split firewood we keep stocked nearby.  Viola.  Light the bag and watch it go.  Sometimes I use charcoal lighter to quicken the blaze up.

You Might Also Like: Have You Tested Your Bug Out Bag Lately?

If I want a smaller fire in camp, then I just open the fire bag and take out enough paper to get a fire going.  Add sticks and kindling, then bigger pieces of wood as desired.  A fire bag full of junk mail and other paper will last for starting several fires. So, don’t toss your big product bags or all that junk mail and waste paper.  Stuff your bags full and just turn them into handy fire bags.  There is no easier way to get a Bug Out Camp fire going.

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The Care and Feeding of Socks

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best survival socks

The oft quoted proverb “Don’t sweat the small stuff, but it’s all small stuff”, often ignores the common sense pointsurvival-socks-sock-shtf-bug-out-bag-footwear-prepper-survivalist that sometimes forgetting to take care of some of the small stuff items and concerns could end up being a big deal.  And more often than not it turns out some small stuff thing is what causes a breakdown in the success of a survival effort.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

One of those “small stuff” items is foot care, and in particular socks.  You know, those warm, fuzzy, comfy layers of Godsend that surrounds your feet with warmth, insulation, abrasion resistance, and just plain ole comfort.  I mean, try wearing hiking boots or even camp shoes without socks for a day and the mistake could haunt you for a while.

Every day socks are an innocuous sort of thing we all take for granted.  At home we just open up the “sock drawer” and take out a pair without much thought.  Ever wonder why an entire drawer in your dresser or closet has been labeled and dedicated to just socks?  That alone should tell us something.  This clothing item has a whole wardrobe drawer to itself.  It must mean they play a very important role in our dressing choices.  For sure.

Sock Materials

Socks are made from a lot of different materials.  The prevailing fiber contents are usually cotton, wool, or somebest survivalist socks kind of synthetics like polyester, rayon or nylon or something we’ve likely never heard of.  There are reasons for all of these fiber content mixes, but choose carefully for the intended tasks for the day.  A nylon blend in socks will increase long term wear especially in the toes and heels.

Also Read: 5 Shoe Types for SHTF

Often it is the weather, temperature, and the activity level that should dictate the types of socks to wear.  If it is simple outdoor walking, puttering around the yard, grocery shopping, or other standard daily tasks, then plain ole cotton or athletic type socks usually serve well.  This may also be directed by the type of footwear being worn as well.

If the weather is cold, and the outside work prolonged or arduous, then a wool sock or wool blend is the way to go.  Wool keeps feet warm even when wet, though nobody really likes to stay in wet socks for very long.  If hiking, hunting, fishing, chopping wood, or walking a fence line on Bug Out patrol duty, then wool socks will serve well in cold and damp conditions.  Again, also match the footwear to the duty choosing insulated and waterproof boots and shoes. Sock weight or thickness may also play a role.  Gauge the thickness of the socks you pick to wear again by activity and duration along with the type of shoes or boots to be worn that day or period of time.

Sock Fit

Just like when picking out a pair of shoes or boots to purchase to make certain the size and fit are correct, the samesocks_bug_out_bag_marines_army_pack is true for socks.   In most cases, socks are generally woven to cover a range of sizes within the common designations of S-M-L-XL.  Make sure you read the sock packaging to find the correct sizing range for your foot fit.  Unfortunately, not all sock brands may fit the same within the same size indicated.

Related: Best Boots for Bugging Out

When picking a size, first avoid socks that are too small or way too big.  Small socks may restrict free toe movement and the tops may be so tight they cut off circulation above the ankles.  When you remove socks and there are signs of deep elastic impressions on the skin, then the socks are probably too small, and hence too tight.

The same can be said for socks that are excessively large on the foot.  This may cause the socks to move around inside the footwear causing material to bunch up and even elevate the creation of blisters.  Abrasion causes blisters and other feet problems when socks shift or move back and forth with each step.

Best fitting socks should be form fitting to the outline of the foot.  The toes should be able to move and wiggle freely for good blood circulation.  Socks should fit well at the ankles and on the heel.  Sock tops should not be too tight as mentioned, but form fitting enough to help keep the socks from eventually sliding down into the boots or shoes.

Also Read: Survival Footwear

Even the best fitting socks will tend to move around or slip down.  If the task is a long one, it is advisable to stop to readjust the socks in the footwear then continue.  For certain, do not let the socks slip down below the heels.  Pulling socks up from time to time might help, but often the shoes have to be removed to completely adjust their fit again.

Socks Life

Socks just like all other clothing items do wear out eventually.  Ratty socks with holes or worn thin areas should befake news tossed or repurposed for some other uses, cleaning, or stuffing the dog bed or pillows, etc.  Naturally socks just wear out from use, but wear is facilitated more quickly if not washed regularly and dried out completely.  Bad socks should be replaced.  Besides they make great stocking (pun intended) stuffers at Christmas and for birthdays.  All preppers like fresh, new socks.

Review: Survive Outside Longer (SOL) – Emergency Bivvy

It is often advised to never wear the same footwear two days in a row if possible to let them dry out completely, as well as toothbrushes, so perhaps this is good advice for socks as well.  Boot dryers can also be used for socks and gloves by the way.  Turning socks inside out after each use will also increase drying time and just airing them out will aid in longevity, not to mention scent control.

There are many, many brands of socks some rather generic, and others by well-known names.  You probably know your own favorites.  The trick though is to fit them properly, and to take care of them.  Buy fresh ones often as needed.  They are a cheap investment in foot care and comfort.  Socks are a vital component to successful prepping and survival.  Just try doing without them.

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Surviving SHTF Holidays

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Best Holiday Survival Guide

Regardless of your current survival or SHTF living situation, it is imperative to maintain a lifestyle as close to surviving christmas“normal” as possible.  This includes maintaining regular long time established family traditions such as recognition of birthdays, anniversaries, and yes, even the holiday seasons.  A big, big part of survival success is being able to establish and maintain a strong psychological balance.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

The mere acts of survival existence whether during short term events like a disruptive storm or even a much more serious scenario that requires long term survival, it is critical to keep your wits about you.  Part of this balance includes practicing as many family rituals as possible.  This includes celebrating holidays as much as possible.

Also Read: Black Friday Stupidity

This may sound trite or silly to be honoring a holiday like Christmas when you are busy and stressed trying to keep food, water and fire at the ready.  However, you may be the most skilled survivalist there is, but if your mind begins to play tricks on you, then this initiates the first crack in the foundation of survival mental health.  Celebrating a holiday may help you, your family and or survival team normalize life just a little bit for a little while.

Survival Christmas

Since it is the Christmas holiday season now, I elected to concentrate on how survivalists or non-gridders can planholiday_christmas_survival just some small things to enjoy this special time of year.  Though the treatment of a holiday season can impact us all, it is really essential that family or team members can share some level of special enjoyment this time of year however short lived it may be.

So, you’re likely thinking “Dude, I don’t need no stink’n Christmas to help me to have some joy this time of year.”  Well, dude, you may not be the only one trying to get through it all and a little holiday fun is not going to hurt anybody, that is, if it is done right.  If you have young children or even teenagers around the survival campfire, or fireplace, then you certainly need to do some things to accommodate their feelings of normalcy this time of year and elsewise as well.  I cannot emphasis the psychological benefits yielded by a little holiday cheer.

It’s the Little Things

Whether bugged in or out, there are some simple things to do to celebrate a Christmas holiday.  In this process be sure to include everyone in the preparations regardless of how resistant they might be to the assignments.  It will be essential to engage everyone.

Related: Black Friday Case Study

Since it is Christmas, the easiest initial thing to do would be to decorate the area where you reside.  Don’t count on surviving_the_holidays_shtfburning inside or outside lights, as you still want to maintain a high level of security or even a very low profile presentation.  If your bug in is in a residential neighborhood, then gauge your activities based on what is going on around you.  If your bug out location is more isolated from the outside world, then act accordingly.

None of this precludes the most simple of decorations such as an inside Christmas tree even if it is an artificial version.  The issue is to establish a holiday rally point and what better source than getting everyone to contribute to creating and decorating a Christmas tree.

If there are kids in the survival group, get them to craft some original ornaments to adorn the tree.  Supplement those with some traditional decorations you may have in storage in the attic or basement.  Just seeing some of the old familiar family decorations can have an uplifting effect.

Likewise, put up some bright, colorful decorations around the house, barn, or even the camper or tent.  The purpose here is to let everyone know that life goes on and that even during a SHTF situation there is no reason to sink into a depression or to alter the regular timing of seasonal events.  You may have to scale back, but there are many positive things that can be done to celebrate the holidays at some level.

Honoring Additional Rituals

You and your group may also be religious or recognize a formal faith or belief.  Honor these as well.  Hokie?  For some just a reading from the Bible or other religious book or document can be a mentally soothing experience.  Believe it or not, just the reading of the “Story of Christmas” or the “Night Before Christmas” can be a rewarding reminder of the joy of the season.

Plans can also be made to put together a special holiday meal as well.  Maybe your resources are slim, but even so, many things can be done to prepare a delightful dinner to celebrate the blessings you have.  Try to include a special sweet, treat, pie or dessert.  This is also a good time to think forward about the future and to be thankful for the survival successes you have experienced to date.

Maybe do a round robin sharing of holiday thoughts or appreciations of thankfulness.  A lot of families enjoy singing holiday carols or reciting familiar family stories or renditions of past Christmas’, family lore, or like activities.

Some families even like to take a leisure holiday stroll.  If your circumstances permit such, then a family walk in the woods might be in order.  Such strolls have long been traditional events in Europe.  Be creative and thoughtful to include everyone in the group.

Survival Gifting

Naturally, gifting is a traditional part of the Christmas holiday season.  This does not have to be elaborate, again, christmas_tree_survivalsince your resources may be limited.  Under dire circumstances there may not even be the normal and usual avenue of retail shopping available.  In these cases it is time to be creative to share items you already have that others would love to own, or to make small gifts that are unique and special.  It is the thought that counts after all.

Any kind of tool, knife, water filter or like object makes a good gift to a prepper-survivalist.  Maybe you can spare an extra box of ammo?  It could be you have some gear carry items, a backpack or ammo carrier you can offer as a gift.  Anything for a shooter, gardener, woodworker, mechanic, or cook would be welcomed.

For the kids pull out some old toys, or stuffed animals that you pigeon holed away somewhere.  Now is the time to pull out those extra books, puzzles, games, and clothing items that were socked away just for a SHTF event.  When I was a kid, a new coloring book made my day.

So, tis the season coming up now.  Just because you are hunkered down or recovering from a natural disaster is no reason to skip the season.  Plans to make this holiday season something really special may just turn out to be much more important than you ever thought.

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Cooking With Fire

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Fire is one of the earth’s four cardinal elements and mythology is filled with stories of how mankind got their cooking_with_fire_tips_survivalhands on it in the first place. We do know that being able to make fire changed the face of nutrition, health and human progress forever – and, whether you’re getting together for a barbecue or going camping, mankind is still making use of fire to prepare food thousands of years later.  Here are some practical tips for cooking with fire…

By Alex, a contributing author of Survival Cache &

Wood for Cooking

Some woods are poisonous themselves or release poisonous substances when burned, thus they are not suited to be used for firewood. These include poison sumac, blue gum, mimosa, oleander, palm, poplar and a wide variety of others. Could you tell the difference?

Also Read: 3 Steps To Building A Fire

There are many great apps (and plenty excellent old-fashioned books) that can help you identify the type of wood you’re dealing with. Take a look at The Wood Database, the I.D. Wood app and Easy Wood Guide Pro. The Wood Database also has a list of poisonous woods you can refer to.  Use only wood you can identify and know for sure is safe.

Boiling Water: A New Trick

Water can be boiled on a fire – that much should be obvious – though most people don’t know that you can boil water in a plastic cup, bottle or bag over a fire, too. This should only be done in an emergency where nothing else is available. Simply, it works because the water absorbs the heat that would otherwise have melted the plastic. There are plenty of demonstrations to that effect on YouTube.


Preparing several dishes at once over a fire requires some thought over what goes on first and then after: The temperature will vary, and you don’t want some things burned while other things are coming off of the fire “under-done”.


Seasoning can and should always be kept simple and natural. Most dishes are only in need of salt, sugar, Hydro Flask Water Filterpepper and/or herbs – no more, no less. Even recipes that seem complex tend to come back to the most basic types of seasoning. Make sure that you always have salt as part of your survival kit – its uses will extend far beyond its use in cooking as salt is one of the cleanest substances around.

Starting a Fire

There are many ways to pack a fire, though keep in mind that heat distribution should be even and there should be nothing – and we mean nothing – that can catch fire near the flames. This includes around and above your fire, too. For safety, pack a formation of rocks or bricks around your fire before you light it. For very obvious reasons, you don’t want to make a fire indoors or in an enclosed space.

Related: How To Make A Fire Last All Night

Your kit should always contain firelighters and a fire-starter kit; you can also learn how to make a fire the old-fashioned way: Friction. Again, there are many demonstrations on YouTube to show you how. (For the record, Tom Hanks’ fire-starting skills in Cast Away were spot on.)

Safety and Extinguishing Fires

Always find out what your local laws say about making fire – in some cases you might have to apply for a

best fire for survival


permit or let the authorities know ahead of time to avoid any hiccups. Fire safety means using common sense and making sure there’s nothing in the path of the flames – including objects, people, flammable materials and shelters; it also means cleaning up after yourself properly when you’re done. Make sure the fire is properly extinguished before leaving it behind.

If you need to extinguish a fire in an emergency, remember that to do this you’ve got to remove its source of oxygen – flour, maize and carbon-dioxide-based fire extinguishers are some ways; remember that you don’t want to throw water on an oil fire, either.

In Embers

While your other dishes are going on the fire, you can also prepare some of your food in the fire. Wrapped in aluminium foil, things like potatoes and sweet potatoes are perfect. Just be careful when placing them in and removing them from the embers.

Food Safety

Keep basic food safety in mind, too: Underdone chicken and pork are dangerous; always sterilize your hands and your equipment (especially to avoid cross-contamination between, for example, vegetables and raw chicken); be careful when working with sharp knives and hot implements, and be especially careful when working with fire. Also keep potential allergens (peanuts, eggs, milk, gluten, etc.) in mind, and be aware of the potential of cross-contamination there, too.

Do you have any fire-related cooking tips to share? Let us know about them in the comments!

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Bug Out Pants

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Great outdoor pants

Preppers most often tend to concentrate on the more exotic aspects of prep and survival gearing up.  We best outdoor hunting pantsget all the bases covered with water stocks, food supplies, defense weaponry, ammunition, first aid kits, tools, gear, bags and everything else that goes with getting ready to Bug Out.  But, what are you going to wear?  Cut off shorts and flip flops just won’t get it long term, or really short term either.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Even under ideal (really?) Bug Out conditions, any scenario when people have to evacuate their primary residence, work site, or home ground is going to be tough.  Stress, anxiety, fear, and apprehension peak during these events, and every part of your plan and execution is tested to the max.  Every piece of gear and all your supplies will be pressed to the limit.  This is not a time for your basic clothing to fail.  So, Bug Out in sturdy, tough, long wearing pants.

The Wear and Tear

Pants seem to catch the brunt of the wear as a daily clothing item.  It does not matter if it is at work, play, recreation like hunting, fishing or ATV riding, pants catch hell literally at every movement.  Just ask any construction worker, farmer, rancher, logger, or anybody having to be in the outdoors every day.  Besides footwear, pants are the most basic part of prepper clothing.

Also Read: Do You Have Seasonal Clothes In Your BOB?

If you Bug Out, you are likely going to be outside doing a lot of tasks, jobs, projects and work that places best pants for preppersplenty of wear and tear on pants.  Simple every day activities like working a garden, gathering firewood, hunting for food, outside property or structure repair or maintenance will mean that your pants will receive a lot of abrasion, scraping, pulling, and stressing seams and wear points.  You want pants that will last a long time and withstand all the movements and stresses of prepper surviving.

You know what wears out first on the pants you have now.  Usually it is a foundation seam like the seat, crotch, pockets, and then the knees, not in any particular order.  I have several pairs of pants with only the knees blown out.  Some of those have been patched 3-4 times.  They usually get cut off, made into shorts.  That limits their uses for many tasks.

Related: 21 Survival Uses For Paracord

What you want to shop for and buy for Bug Outs and other survival type tasking is the ultimate in outdoor wear pants.  This often means industrial or construction work wear, but not always.  Sometimes they are one in the same.  There are several brands worthy of consideration and trial.

Prime Prepper Pants

Preppers want to know specifically what to buy, not just hints or a maybe.  Simply put here is a list of pants brands that have proven wear and tear capability. These include Duluth Trading, Carhartt, Tractor Supply’s Schmidt, and Northern Tool’s Gravel Gear are all top brands for really tough, long wearing pants.  All else being equal these brands make pants to take a lot of abuse, and hard wear.  They are sewn tough, with tough materials.

Also Read: DIY Clothes Washing Machines

Sorry guys, blue jeans are great for camp wear, daily use and light duty.  They are comfortable especially for driving.  When it comes to the nasty jobs of prepping and survival, especially outdoors, leave the jeans behind.  Elect proven hard ware pants for prepping.


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Prepper Hardware Supplies

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Best Prepper Gear List

An essential element in building up a comprehensive prepper supply is to include on a planning list a stock of all doomsday prepper gearsorts and types of hardware items.  You can have all the tools and gear in the world, but if something breaks, needs maintenance, or a fresh build, then nothing much can be done without a deep supply of hardware materials.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Sourcing Hard Hardware

The term “hardware” conjures up nostalgic thoughts of old wooden floored, side boarded store buildings with long aisles and shelves of goods stacked to the ceiling.  As a kid they were prime places of wonder to wonder.  Heck, they still are as an adult.  Indeed, any prepper worth his salt, bug out bag, and fire starting kit has to love a good hardware store.

Inside are bins, shelves, racks, and peg boards holding all the supplies for every prepper dream and aspiration to survive if or when a truly serious SHTF ever befalls us.  But, where do you start filling your supply list?  Are there priorities to buy first, other items later?  Let’s just start with a long running brainstorming list.  As you shop, you’ll find more I am certain of that.

Prepper Hardware Stuff

Any prepper hardware list has to start with nails.  All kinds, types, sizes, and lengths of nails.  Much of this world is shtf suppliesheld together by nails first, then screws.  Buy box quantities of screws or better yet the plastic divider sets of a combination of all kinds of screws.  Be sure to have metal and wood screws, flat head, Phillips head, tapered, long shank screws and everything else in between.

Go with this same combination mixed sets for nuts and bolts.  Again you will need lots of small sets with flat washers and lock washers.   You should have some lag bolts for heavy jobs for wood structures, brick and plaster.  Get some screw and bolt, metal and plastic anchors. Add in some metal braces, “L” braces and corner brackets, hinges, hasps, slide bolt locks, metal repair plates or strapping, and the many other fix-it type hardware pieces, parts, and gadgets.

Also Read: Fortifying Your Home

Have some wire for light and heavy duty jobs to hang stuff or fix a fence.  This is not electrical wire, though you may know how to use that, too.  String, twine, and ropes are all handy as are all manner of elastic straps, tie downs straps, ratchet locking straps and other types.  Buy a complete selection of plastic pull lock ties in multiple sizes, strengths, and lengths.  These have a million uses.  Have some metal screw down clamps, and hose clamps of all sizes.

Chemical items may also qualify as hardware in a broad definition.  Glues for wood, metal and plastic, super glue and regular types.  Paints both aerosol and liquid will have many uses.  All types of spray lubricants, general oils, water dispersants, degreasers, and solvents should be on hand.  Have other cleaning solutions like detergents and bleach as well.

Include a wide selection of tapes.  Heavy duct tape, masking tape, painters tape, black electrical tape, and double sticky tape.  Add a roll or two of trail marker material, surveyors tape, or forester timber marking tape.

Include a stock of plumbing parts and repair items, toilet repair kits, floats, valves, flappers, wax seals, and water pure pitcher made in usa NSF shield english 99.99 400x250 USA supply hoses with couplings.  Have an extra flush handle or two as these break as well.  For bigger plumbing, sewer or water supply projects have some supplies of PVC pipe, connectors, angles, and fittings of 2-3 of the most common size types with cans of pipe cleaner and joint adhesives.

There are a gazillion other hardware items you can’t remember or just keep forgetting until the repair need comes up again.  Keep a running “buy” list.  The best way to do this is just to periodically stroll the aisles at a huge building supply or hardware store.  If you you’re not buying, make a list or take some pictures on your phone as a reminder.  When the times comes, and it could be often, you are going to need hardware.


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Hypothermia: Tips Against the Cold

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Hypothermia presents one of nature’s greatest dangers. Even just among America’s homeless, thousands die from exposure to the freezing elements. Nobody should face the cold unprepared.

By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of SurvivalCache and

Here are some of the facts behind hypothermia, and some more about what you can do to handle it.

#1: Defining hypothermia.

2_hypothermiaHypothermia literally means “below heat”, and it’s what happens when the body’s temperature drops below 35°C. This means that your organs will eventually begin shutting down due to the cold. Once tissue starts freezing, what you’re dealing with is frostbite, the nasty cousin of hypothermia. Its opposite is hyperthermia, or what happens when the body overheats.

#2: What is frostbite?

The symptoms of frostbite include loss of feeling and discoloration of the skin: This can be blue, red or white, so keep in mind that any unnatural discoloration is generally a bad sign which can point to issues in circulation. Yes, permanent damage or the loss of limbs and digits becomes a real danger here: Once affected by frostbite, your priority is to warm up the affected areas gradually though as soon as possible.  Think of frostbite like freezer burn.

#3: Just how cold…?

There are several factors involved with contracting hypothermia: Cold, air and exposure time are just some of them. Here’s a handy chart from the US National Weather Service showing the temperature, wind and time related to both hypothermia and frostbite, just in case you were wondering.

#4: Recognizing the symptoms.

2_frozen_hypothermiaHypothermia is classified in three stages: Mild, moderate and severe. The symptoms of hypothermia start off slow with shivering – the body’s natural way of trying to warm itself up – slight nausea, drowsiness and confusion, but can eventually turn to much more severe versions thereof. Apathy and slurred speech eventually sets in, and inevitably the sufferer will tire out, fall asleep and into a deep coma and die.

#5: Alcohol will not help.

Do you know anyone who has a brandy to warm themselves up, usually on a camping trip? In the event of hypothermia, it turns out that’s one of the most dangerous things you could possibly do. Contrary to popular belief – yes, this is complete BS – alcohol will not warm you up. What alcohol really does is dilate the blood vessels, making you only feel warmer while you’re losing most of the heat through your skin. It does more harm than good, so don’t do it.

Related: Ten Ways to Survive the Winter Cold

#6: Preparing beforehand.

The best medicine is prevention. When you’re preparing for a trip (or stocking up your grab-and-go bags), make sure you pack essentials like warm, insulated gloves. It’s also worth investing in proper thermal wear, which can be expensive, but you’ll surely thank yourself if you’re stuck somewhere in the cold. Also prepare by checking out the weather forecast before heading out: Is there any bad weather in the cards?

#7: You can’t, and shouldn’t, work it off.

3_exercise_winterIt’s another common myth that exercise will get rid of hypothermia entirely, so you can just “exercise it out” or “walk it off” and you’ll be fine. Like most myths, there’s more harm than good to this one as hypothermia puts intense strain on the heart. Suddenly exercising can cause your body to shut down if you are already in an advanced state of hypothermia. The same applies to throwing someone with hypothermia into a hot bath (or, for that matter, someone with a fever into a cold one): The resulting stress on the heart can cause a heart attack.

#8: Warming up gradually.

Due to the stress hypothermia places on the body (and the ice crystals that form in the tissue in the case of frostbite), the key to getting rid of either is to warm the patient up gradually, not quickly. Getting them out of wet, cold clothes and covering them with a warm blanket or clothes is step one, and much less dangerous than the common method that certainly might kill someone.

#9: The enemy of cold.

Know how to make a fire even in a cold or ice-covered climate, as it might be the quickest way to avoid getting hypothermia. (Remember: Cold doesn’t always come in the form of ice, and both icy wind and cold water can induce hypothermia just as quickly.) Many campers carry a flask of hot tea or coffee for keeping the cold away in the mornings, and – when possible – it’s highly recommended.

Check Out: Emergency Foods from Wild Plants

#10: Increasing your tolerance for cold.

4_ice_adaptControlled exposure to the cold will eventually increase the body’s tolerance levels if done over a long period of time. This is true for people like Wim Hof, better known as “The Iceman” and the Guinness World Record holder for the longest time immersed in ice – a total of one hour and fifty-two minutes. (That doesn’t sound like too much until you actually try it.) There’s nothing superhuman about it, though: Wim (and many others like him) insist that their abilities are due to practice and practice alone.

Download Smart Thermometer from the Google Play Store, Fingerprint Thermometer from, Free Digital Temperature from the App Store or The Thermometer App and make sure you know just how cold it is outside.

Have you experienced frostbite or hypothermia while hiking, swimming or camping?  Tell us your story in the comments.

Building a Natural Emergency Shelter With No Tools

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ominous_forest_coldHave you ever tried to build a shelter from natural materials in the woods?  Have you ever tried to do it with no tools?  Have you ever tried to do it with no tools in the winter in a foot of snow? Well I did, and here’s what happened. I went out snowshoeing with my yellow lab (Phyllis) and thought it might be cool to pretend that I was lost and needed to set up a shelter for the night.  It was about noon in mid-February, which meant I had roughly four and a half hours to build a shelter and get a fire going.

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

Since I never go into the woods without minimal equipment I can’t say that I had zero gear, but I didn’t use any of it when I built it.  Here’s a little video of just how easy it is to build a shelter from natural materials in the snow with no tools.  What could go wrong?

Time Line:

  1.  Fall on my ass:  5 seconds
  2. Swear:  17 seconds
  3. Gather wood:  1:20
  4. Breaking wood:  2:51
  5. Constructing the shelter:  4:54
  6. Tipping:  6:08
  7. Covering the shelter:  6:53
  8. Digging the firepit:  7:19
  9. Lighting the fire:  8:24
  10. Chillin’ in the shelter:  9:03

Don’t Lose Heat!

Before we actually build the shelter let’s take a look at some of the objectives.  First and foremost, don’t lose heat!  You lose heat through the following processes:

  • Convection – think blowing wind here
  • Conduction – like sleeping on the cold ground or sitting on a cold rock or log
  • Radiation – heat leaving your body like heat waves coming off  a woodstove
  • Evaporation – sweat

Building a shelter from what you have around you with no tools and keeping these rules in mind is a bit of a tradeoff.  Do the best you can with what you have.

Resources and Construction

In my case, I decided to build a lean-to style shelter from what was lying around in the forest.  In the section of forest I was in, there were a lot of standing dead fir trees about three to four inches at the base.  I looked all over and found a good supply of what I’d need, then went back to where I’d decided to set up my camp.

Read Also: Emergency Storage of Wild Plant Foods

It was in the forest near water, although this wasn’t absolutely necessary since there was so much snow on the ground.  However, it’s easier to gather water or ice then melt snow, so you exploit whatever edge you can, which is what I did in my mock survival situation.  It was also close to my supply of wood and a decent amount of fir trees, which I’d need for the fir boughs.

Next I laid a small log between two trees supported by small logs I’d broken and put underneath to hold it up.  This “cross beam” was about three feet off the ground.  Then, I laid a couple of ribs along it to get an idea of how long they’d need to be so I could break bunch to the right length.

survival_shelter_fallen_treeAfter this, I went and gathered what I hoped was enough wood to put the ribs on the shelter.  (If you haven’t seen the video, you should check out the first minute or two.  I completely fall on my back, while breaking some trees off).  Hey – nobody said it was going to be easy. Next I had to break the tree length sticks to the right size.  To do this, I found two trees close together.   Then I stuck the wood I wanted to break between the two and pulled on it until it broke where I wanted it to.  This isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done.  (Again, see the video for a demonstration).

I tried to build the shelter with it’s back to the wind so as to cut down on convection.  When you have a wind blowing it lowers the temperature considerably and with my shelter set up with it’s back to the wind and the fire throwing heat in, I was in pretty good shape.

Covering It Up

winter_shelter_survival_fireOnce I had the ribs on it was time to cover it up.  There are plenty of fir trees in that area, so I resorted to a technique called “tipping”, which means to break the tips off some fir branches in order to get what I need.  This doesn’t particularly hurt the tree as long as you don’t snap off every branch.  I gathered five or ten armloads and put some on the outside of the shelter and a few armloads inside as well to avoid losing heat through conduction.

Related: Ten Facts About Fire

Special note:  if I were going to build this for real, I’d put a lot more pine boughs over the top and on the ground to really help with the insulation.  Since this was a demo and I was getting tired I decided to go light on the insulation.

Next I broke some wood up for the fire and grabbed some small dead branches off fir and pine trees.  I piled the wood up and put the tinder on top then lit it with a lighter I happened to have in my pocket.  (I could have used a firesteel, but the lighter was quicker and easier).

Pretty soon I had a merry blaze going and decided to make myself some coffee.  Part of that small kit I told you about is a military canteen cup, so I poured in some water and made coffee using a coffee bag (exactly like a teabag, but with coffee instead).

After Action Report

canteen_cup_fire_shelter_survivalIt really wasn’t that difficult making a shelter using natural materials.  True, I don’t feel like I totally finished it, but it would have been easy enough if I needed.  I could have also covered it up with snow to really insulate it or added more to the front to make it less of a lean-to and more of a full shelter instead. The total time to make the shelter, even in the snow, was about two to three hours.  The thing about a shelter like this is you need a lot of wood to keep you warm through the night.  In the area I was in, it wouldn’t have been a problem because of all the dead wood laying around, but in other areas it might not have worked out so well.

Again, you’ll need to adjust the kind of shelter you have according to the materials available. Questions?  Comments? Sound off below!


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Baby It’s cold outside! Are you ready?

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A Few Ideas on How to Prep When it’s Cold Outside

If winter and its freezing temperatures are making you depressed, I want to give you a few ideas on how to prep and help pass the time. No, this is not one of those “how to prep for winter” types of articles.

Instead, I’m going to give you a few ideas that don’t require you to go hiking, to go outside and build a solar cooker and test it. These are things you can do in the comfort of your own home, most with little effort, but they will give you that feeling that you’re productive. And you will be.

#1. Try making a clay pot heater

…or any other indoor project for that matter. Now, don’t get your hopes up, these heaters won’t be able to heat up a whole room, however, they will help in an emergency. If, for some reason, none of your other heating options will work, you’ll be able to use this heater to at least keep your hands and feet warm.

Warning: candles are a fire hazard so be sure to supervise the thing every minute it’s running. There are lots of youtube videos about clay pot heaters you can watch. (Editors note: Please watch this warning video about clay pots. They can be very, very dangerous.)

#2. Watch a movie

There are plenty of survival movies you can watch with your family and learn a thing or two. While many of them are full of errors, I still enjoy them and I’m sure many other preppers do. If your family is not on board with you with regards to prepping, this could be a great way to open their eyes, if only just a little bit.

Recommendations: History Channel’s Alone series (not a movie, a TV show but really good), The Way Back (2010), Children of Men (2006), Volcano (1997).

#3. Make Plans

Don’t stop to making  survival plans. Winter is the perfect time to plan for the year ahead, set goals and think of ways of achieving them. Of course, making or refining your survival plans should be a top priority.

If you’ve already done your basic planning, consider improving them by:

  • figuring out how to make more room for your increasing stockpile
  • reviewing your gear to see if any of the items you have are low quality
  • printing better/more maps of your area and re-adding the points of interest with a marker
  • prepping for disasters and emergencies you haven’t yet considered
  • finding your blind spots and making plans to improve them (e.g. if you’re not prepping to bug out, you should definitely start planning for it)

#4. Perform a full inspection…

…of all your gear, your food, water and meds stockpile, your bug out bag, even of your EDC!


  • that your electronics are still functional
  • for leaky or discharged batteries
  • your propane heater
  • your generator
  • that your hand-crank devices are still functional
  • that your fuel tank is full or almost full, and make a mental note to always keep it full
  • the gear inside your car
  • Your medical equipment (ever tested your newly bought thermometer, for instance?)

Check everything!

Pay particular attention to items that have never been used. You definitely want to put them to the test more than a few times, to ensure they’re going to hold up in a survival situation.

Inspecting your stockpile can save you money by not having to throw away food that would otherwise spoil. If a tuna can is close to its expiration date, you may want to take it out, eat it, and re-add to your shopping list.

#5. Learn how to use your gear

Come on, admit it: you have at least one piece of gear you don’t know how to use. Wouldn’t this be a great time to play with it a little bit and see how it works? Well, you won’t be able to test everything indoors (some items are fire hazards) but you can safely play around with:

  • Paracord (try to make some knots)
  • HAM radio
  • emergency radio
  • multi-tool
  • compass
  • …and so on.

#6. Read

Survival and preparedness are complex and, as a result, they have a lot of issues and controversies. The more you read, however, the closer to the truth you’ll get. The bugging in versus bugging out dilemma, what things are found in water that filters can and cannot purify, whether or not you should tell others about your preps, how to handle cashiers when they ask you why you buy too much of one thing – these are just some of the things that’ve caused heated debates (and still do).

Knowledge is power, so take advantage of all the free info out there, read it all and make up your own mind.

The post Baby It’s cold outside! Are you ready? appeared first on American Preppers Network.

6 Reasons why you should own a kerosene heater

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For most people that live in locations where winter temperatures mandate heating to remain comfortable or even survive, staying warm is crucial. This means having a main source of heating and at least two backup plans. Remember that three is two, two is one and one is none. People may use electricity, natural gas, heating oil and wood, just to name some. It still surprises me though that a lot of people don’t include what is probably the most rugged system, ideal for disasters which is kerosene heaters.

Sengoku CTN-110 KeroHeat 10,000-BTU Portable Radiant Kerosene Heater

Why should you get one?

1)They are cheap. Some on Amazon go for under 100 bucks and if you keep an eye out you can often find them on flea markets or garage sales for a lot less. Keep in mind that you may need a new wick for it though. Other than the kind of fuel used, the wick is the second most important part of a kerosene heater.

2)Most reliable way to heat a home. There just isn’t a most straightforward and reliable way to provide heat. Electricity will be down during serious storms, propane bottles can leak, found empty when needed the most. A generator is a far more complex machine, and it is nowhere nearly as efficient in terms of heat per fuel used. With a kerosene heater you can literally buy one, keep it along with a few gallons of fuel stored in a garage and years later you know you can have it running in a matter of minutes. Kerosene heaters are extremely simple machines. There really isn’t much that can break of otherwise go wrong.

Dura Heat Convection Kerosene Heater, 23,000 BTU, Indoor- DH2304

Dura Heat Convection Kerosene Heater, 23,000 BTU, Indoor $139

3)Its safe. Like with all open flame heaters, you have to make sure you have ventilation of course. A cracked window, just a couple inches will do for smaller rooms. For larger family rooms even less than that will do. You should still have a CO detector to be on the safe side but these modern heaters burn very clean and are extremely safe. Kerosene is one of the safest fuels you can store.

4)Its compact. If you have little room around to spare and nowhere to stockpile cords of woods then this is the way to go.

5)It can be used in any type of building. Kerosene heaters are used all over Japan in both houses and apartments. No complicated or expensive installation is requires.

6)It can be used for cooking and lighting besides heating. The models with flat tops can usually warm up, even boil water placed on top of them on a pot. The model shown below also has a glass body and can double as a lantern.

Dyna-Glo WK11C8 Indoor Kerosene Convection Heater, 10500 BTU $97.72

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

6 Things To Do Before a Winter Storm Strikes

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Winter is here. Nights are longer, days are shorter and the temperature is dropping. It’s only a matter of time before a big storm hits. Sure, you can cross your fingers and hope for the best. Good luck with that. If you’re not ready for a blizzard, you’ll have lots in common with Frosty the […]

The post 6 Things To Do Before a Winter Storm Strikes appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Cold Weather Camping – Why You Should Try It

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climbing-225x300Most folks are inherently afraid of the idea of camping out in cold weather, but before we go further let’s define cold weather.  A person from Alabama is probably going to have a different definition of what cold weather is than someone who lives in Maine or any of the northern latitudes.  I consider temps 30 to 50 degrees pleasant to sleep in.  Anything below 30 degrees is starting to get cold and once the temperature hits 10 degrees, I consider it true cold weather camping.  The coldest I’ve ever slept in was -40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty cold!

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

So why would someone want to subject themselves to the torture of sleeping in the cold?  A couple of reasons:

  1.  To prove to yourself that you can do it.  If you ever have to bug-out in the cold with just a tent and sleeping bad you know you’ll be able to do it.
  2. Once you’ve done it a couple of times you’ll have your gear tweaked for the cold just the way you like it.
  3. Experience.  Nothing beats actual hands-on experience when it comes to any kind of camping, but particularly cold weather camping.
  4. It’s actually fun once you understand how to stay warm out there.  It only sucks when you’re not prepared for it!


tent-300x225Shelter and Sleeping:  A four season tent is good if you’re going to be camping in higher elevations or where it’s windy; however, I’ve slept in three season tents in dead winter and they worked just fine.  They’re just not as sturdy in a high wind.  I’ve also slept in tipi’s, five and ten military tents, and snow shelters, all of which did a good job of keeping the weather off.  In my mind the sleeping bag is the most important piece of gear you can take with you into a cold weather environment.  The colder the bag rating the better you’ll sleep.  I’ve had a few nights where I slept cold (meaning I was shivering in my sleeping bag) because I took the wrong bag or was experimenting with different sleep systems.  A sleeping pad is important too because it separates you from the ground, which will try to suck the heat out of your body.

Stove and Fuel:  Other than small wood stoves, you can put in wall tents or military tents my favorite stove is the MSR Whisperlite.  Check out this video I made a couple of years ago.

Sled or Toboggan:  An easy way to move gear through deep snow is with a sled or toboggan.  I’ve pulled sleds called ahkios, which we used in Norway, but probably the most prevalent sled I’ve used is the toboggan.  The toboggan isn’t just a death ride into the valley, it’s actually designed to carry gear.  It’s slim width is well suited to fit into your snowshoe tracks as you pull it behind you.

Snowshoes:  If you think you’re going to hike long distances in deep snow without snowshoes, think again.  Let me save you the trouble and tell you that it is exceedingly difficult moving through deep snow without them.  Invest in a decent pair and your life will be much happier.

Clothes/Boots:  Synthetics and wool are your best choices here.  Remember the old adage, “Cotton kills!”  When it gets wet, cotton is pretty much useless when it comes to keeping you warm.  Dress in layers using synthetics and wool and you’ll be fine.  A good, warm pair of boots is also a good investment.

Water Filter:  If it’s warmer than 32 degrees F., you can get by with a filter.

Pot Set/Mess Kit:  If it’s really cold, you’ll likely be melting snow into water, so make sure you’ve got a pot to go with your stove.  Snow is super fluffy compared to water, so you’ll need a bunch of snow to  make just a little water.  Plan accordingly.

Fire Starter:  Lighters are good, but remember that butane doesn’t perform that well when it gets really cold.  I always carry a firesteel as a back up.  Matches are good as long as they are fresh and don’t get wet.  I’ve used the wax tipped matches with mixed results in cold and wet weather and would rather have a lighter. Experiment and see what works for you.

Flashlight:  Since it gets dark around 1630, it’s wise to have a couple of flashlights and even a lantern on hand.  I love lantern light and that’s what I use 95% of the time when I’m cold weather camping in my tipi or military tent.

Toilet Paper:  When there’s three feet of snow under you and no leaves, you’ll want to have some TP with you.  You’ve been warned!

First Aid Kit:  You’ll want a comprehensive first aid kit.  In cold weather you could see anything from a cut by an axe to trench foot.  Be prepared with knowledge and how to treat the injury.

Navigation:  You all know how I feel about GPS.  Yes, it’s totally awesome when it works.  I love looking at my phone and seeing what’s over the next hill, but when the phone or GPS dies where are you going to be?  Carry a map and compass. More importantly, know how to use it!  If you’re in the back country snow shoeing and get lost, you have suddenly entered into a true life and death situation.  Make sure you know how to get home, or at least to the nearest road.


winterfire-300x225Some things to think about in cold weather.  Carry extra long underwear with you.  When you stop for the night and you’re still warm from moving change into something dry as soon as you can.  If you’re already dry, no worries, but if you’ve been sweating you’ll be a lot more comfortable if you change. Everything takes longer in cold weather.  Moving, setting up your tent, getting water… everything.  Make sure you give yourself extra time when setting up camp the first time, so that you can get a feel for how long it takes.

Related: Your GPS is Awesome Until it Gets You Lost

Things tend to break easier in cold weather too.  The cold makes plastic brittle so it cracks easier, cold metal sticks to wet skin, batteries die faster, and other fun stuff you’ll discover when you get out there.

Stay Hydrated!

You won’t feel as thirsty in cold weather.  Remember to stop and take frequent water breaks as you’re moving.  One good thing about snow is when you urinate it’s easy to gauge how yellow it is.  If it’s dark, you need to drink way more water.  If it’s as clear as the snow, good job!

Going to the Bathroom At Night

snowmobile-300x169Of all the things about cold weather this is the one that sucks the most.  When you have to get up at 2:00 am to go to the bathroom and it’s -10 outside you might wish you were dehydrated, but don’t do it.  I sleep with wool socks and as soon as I get up I stick my feet in my boots, grab my soft coat, and go outside.  Usually there’s a designated area to go to the bathroom, but what you’ll probably find is at night people will take about five steps away from the tent and let fly.  If there’s no wind it’s not too bad.  Look up at the sky and marvel at how crystal clear it is.  If it’s windy and snowing, you’d better hurry because you’re probably going to freeze your ass off.  Once done, race back to the tent and crawl into your sleeping bag and get warm again.  You’ll be surprised at how fast you get back to sleep!

Read Also: Cold Weather – The Great Equalizer

Another  option is to use an old water bottle as a “piss bottle”.  Just maneuver around inside your sleeping bag until you’re in position, open up the old bottle and urinate into it.  Be careful you don’t miss!!  Cap it up and slip it outside the bag when done.  It’s more comfortable, but riskier if you can’t see what you’re doing.


Despite all the things I’ve told you to watch out for here winter camping is still an enjoyable experience.  Once you’ve got your gear nailed down and your winter knowledge solid, you’ll  enjoy those trips into the back woods.  The only way to know for sure is to get out there and try it.  Remember, when you’re walking from your heated car to the office and you’re wearing thin pants and winter jacket you’ll tell yourself, “No way in hell am I camping in this!”  But as soon as you put on three or four layers and climb to the top of a mountain somewhere, the wind hitting you in the teeth feels refreshing.

Don’t sit around for life to pass you by, folks.  Get out there and grab it by the tail and live it like it was meant to be lived! Questions?  Comments? Sound off below!

Photos Courtesy of:

Jarhead Survivor
Kim Tashjian 

Fail to Prepare Fail to Live

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insurance_policy_prepDoes it make sense to be a prepper?  Should you spend time and money on things that will help you survive a potential disaster that might never happen?  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these questions and always manage to circle back to the same answer:  prepping is your auto, life, and house insurance all rolled up into one. Would you drive around without insurance?  You could, but if you get into an accident you’ve got the potential to be paying expensive medical and vehicle bills the rest of your life.  In my opinion it’s hardly worth it.  Even if you’re not the one causing the accident you might still wind up footing the bill if the other person is uninsured.  Life is a crap shoot and you need to stack the odds in your favor as much as you can.

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

ice_storm_98_trees_line_noaa6198Sure, paying insurance premiums sucks.  I hate to see a portion of my hard earned pay check go out the window on payday to pay for something that might never happen, but I do it.  I look at prepping the same way.  You don’t know when a natural disaster or any other kind of disaster is going to happen.  For example:  winter is coming and we might get another ice storm like we did in ’98.  Some people lost power for two weeks during that time and it was really something to see how people reacted to it.  A few years ago we had a storm go through Maine and I lost power for three days.  Not too bad, but then again I have a generator and my house is wired with a transfer switch.   I had running water, cooked on a camp stove, used my grill, had lights, TV for the kids, and refrigeration. Although it was a pain putting gas in the genny every day or so, it would have been far worse without it.

Get Prepared

What I found interesting is that during that time people would say, “Man, you’re lucky you have a generator.”  Hmm, not really.  I show up for work every day, have a side gig writing for a blog, and stay busy doing wilderness survival training for myself.  I don’t consider myself lucky.  I just show up for work every day.

Related: Toughen Up and Take The Pain 

tv_wasting_time“I don’t have time to prep!”  Is something I hear from people who spend hours binge watching The Walking Dead.  If you’ve got time to watch TV, you have time to do some prepping.  I quit watching television back around the time MTV started airing that first “The Real World” series.  I watched two episodes and felt like I’d lost a little piece of my life I’ll never get back. I turned off the cable and never looked back.  After the cable is gone and there’s plenty of time I hear, “But I don’t have the money!”

You don’t need to go out and buy a huge stockpile of food, weapons, and ammunition the first day.  This can be a game of little wins.  Check out this post about how to buy a little more every week to get some extra food in your pantry.  Within a reasonably short amount of time you can have a pretty decent amount of stores in and ready to go in case of emergency.

What about firearms?  My personal opinion is that firearms should be down the list of things you need to start prepping, but I guess that depends on where you live and who you might be expecting for company after TSHTF.  I know this flies in the face of traditional prepper thinking and I’ll probably take some heat for it, but I’d rather have food to eat and keep out of sight then to have a large supply of guns and ammo, but little or no food to feed the family.  A single well thought out firearm should do the trick for most people.

But let’s say you do want a gun and don’t have a bunch of money to throw at it.  Check out this post from Road Warrior about how to spend your hard earned money on surplus firearms.  If you decide to get a gun and take from someone else who’s prepared, that makes you an armchair commando.  It’s also a good way to get yourself killed or branded as someone who needs to be locked away.  Chances are good that the SHTF event – whatever it may be – will not last forever and there will be a day of reckoning for those who went down the wrong side of the law, or moral code, or whatever may be in place at the time.

Ask yourself what’s the downside of having some extra food and water on hand?  If you’re doing it right there shouldn’t be a down side.  You should be eating the oldest part of your rotation and moving the new stuff to the back just like they stock groceries at the super market.  If the lights go out for whatever reason, you’ll have food and water for awhile.  That’s being smart, but you’d be amazed at how many people only have a few days food or less in their pantry at any given time.  A lot of city folk out there like to pick up dinner on the way home so it’ll be fresh.

Taking Care of Number One When The Lights Go Out

generator_prep_liveI don’t think everybody will be a bad actor, but there are definitely a few out there that will act badly during an SHTF event or even a short range crisis.  One of my favorite examples is during ice storms in the Northeast.  There have been reports of people stealing generators while they’re still running and even death threats to line crews if they didn’t get electricity out to someone’s home!

Think about how important electricity is to us.  It’s literally the blood that flows through the nation’s arteries keeping our food fresh, our lights on, helping to heal our sick people, and keeping us warm.  When the power goes out many people band together and help each other out, but there’s always those few who aren’t prepared and will do anything to help themselves.  You need to be prepared for those people as well.

Also Read: Urban Survival

If you can’t afford a full generator, or it doesn’t make sense because of where you live, you might also try a back up solar generator.  It’s small, quiet, relatively inexpensive, and good enough to power lights and small appliances.  It’s also renewable as long as the sun is shining!  What could be better than that?

My first responsibility is to my family.  I have a wife and two young children still living at home and I want to make sure they are safe and as comfortable as possible during any emergency.  I’ve spent some of my hard earned money to ensure that happens and you probably have too.  Part of that planning is protecting your equipment from those who haven’t and feel justified taking what is yours.  My generator is in a small shed and bolted down.  Someone could get it if they really wanted it, but it would mean some time and effort on their part.

Priority List

tent_sheter_rule_of_3Here’s a simple priority list based on the Survival Rule of Three’s.  This is off the top of my head, so if you have anything to add leave a comment at the bottom of this post. The Rule of 3’s looks like this: You can survive 3 minutes without air. You can survive 3 hours without shelter. You can survive 3 days without water. You can survive 3 weeks without food. I translated the rule like this:

Air – People die every year during blackouts because they have their generators in the basement or somewhere not ventilated properly.  Make sure your generator is in a place where it doesn’t build up carbon monoxide.

Shelter – You already have shelter and now it’s a matter of staying warm.  Wood stoves, propane heaters, and kerosene heaters, are all ways you can keep your family warm during those times when the grid is down.  You can also “huddle in place” by getting under some blankets if none of those options work for you.

Water – Have enough water stored in your house for at least three days or have a way to filter or clean it if you have a pond or other water source nearby.

Food – As you can see food is down the list as far as survival needs go; however, try telling that to your four year old when she gets hungry.  Stock up on food so that if something happens you can at least feed them for three days or a week.


Aim to be self-sufficient. To answer the question at the beginning of this article:  yes, it makes sense to be a prepper.  I dislike the show “Doomsday Prepper” because the producers always have them say something like, “I’m preparing for a solar flare,” or some such drivel.  Most preppers I know are preparing for anything.  To say you’re preparing for one specific event is absurd.  Prepare as broad and deep as you can and no matter what happens you’ll be ready when the time comes. Questions?  Comments? Sound off below!

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Electrical Grid Down – No Power in a Canadian Winter

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Electrical Grid Down – No Power in a Canadian Winter What would happen in your area if the power went out in the dead of winter – not for minutes but for days? How would people behave if they didn’t have any idea when the electricity would come back on? What would happen to you …

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Snow Shoes: A Survival Necessity In Deep Snow

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article_snowshoes_1It’s almost time for winter here in the Northeast.  That means lots of fun outdoor activities, but one of the easiest is snow shoeing. If you ever get the opportunity, I would highly recommend that you at least try it. It’s a great way to learn how difficult snow can be to navigate. When I was in New Brunswick, Canada last season,  I had the opportunity to visit my uncle’s tipi.  It’s about a mile out in the woods and there was three feet of snow on the ground. In some higher drift areas, the height of snow exceeded this. From time to time, we will get similar amounts of snow here in Maine.

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

I snowshoe’d out there, shoveled it out, then decided to get some wood for a fire.  I figured I’d try doing it without my snow shoes which turned into a forced march of less than a 100 yards.  It’s hard to explain, but if you’ve been in deep snow you’ll know what I’m talking about.  It’s hard to move around in deep snow.  Anyway, I went back with my armload of wood and returned wearing my snow shoes.

History and Features of Snowshoes

Snowshoes have been in use for over 4,000 years.  Ancient peoples used different kinds but our contemporary snowshoes originate from Native Americans. Older American webbed snowshoes were made from wood with gut and/or leather to form the webbing and bindings.  Modern snowshoes are made from metal and other synthetic materials.

snowshoes_traditional_survivalIn years past I’ve used beaver tail and bear paw snowshoes.  I also used a pair made by one of my uncles that were long and thin – almost like a ski, but wider, which worked awesome on open snow.  Beaver tails (my dad still uses them) are a generic snowshoe that work well in most places.  I found the bear paws, which are a little smaller and rounder, to be good in tight quarters such as bushwhacking, but not as good as the beaver tails on open trail.  With this being said, you could adequately use either type for any scenario. In fact, I preferred the bear paws my dad gave me until I bought the more modern Yukon Jack shoes.

Modern snowshoes are nice and have neat features that help in different environments.  First, modern bindings are superior to older ones.  Instead of a buckle and leather, they are made out of synthetics and easily snap into place.  I’ve froze my fingers off many times trying get old bindings tight.  Believe me, it is a relief to use more convenient, modern bindings.

Another great feature of modern snowshoes is the cleat that sits under your foot.  This is really handy if you’re climbing a hill and need traction on hard snow or ice.  I have crampons I wear for ice climbing, but snowshoes are better for overall snow travel.

There are many kinds of snowshoes on the market today. If you’re in the market for snowshoes, I’d suggest you talk to knowledgeable friends or a store expert.  Some of them are really expensive, but my Yukon snowshoes cost about $80 and have lasted me ten years with no problems.  I’ve hiked many mountains and forests with them and they are still in great shape.  Find a pair that works for you and your situation.

Snowshoe Accessories

article_snowshoes_2Most people use gaiters that keep snow out of boots as they walk through deep snow. Gaiters are pieces of fabric and velcro secured under knee to the boot. Some folks like to use ski-poles.  I now use a ski pole because there are situations where you’ll fall over without a little assistance.  I like to have at least one hand free when walking to move bushes aside, pick stuff up, or what have you, so this was a good compromise for me.  It’s like everything else, find what works for you and run with it.

Earlier this season I was walking through a frozen swamp.  If you think walking through a swamp with alders is difficult, you should try it in the winter when all the trees are bent over from the weight of the snow.  At one point I walked over a fallen tree to try and get past a particularly nasty deadfall.  When I got to the other side, I fell off the tree and landed in a five foot snow drift.  Luckily I had my ski pole with me, but I bent it all to hell using it to get out of that mess.  Without it, I’d have worked much harder to escape from the drift.

Winter boots are pretty much up to you, but I prefer to wear a technical ice climbing boot when I’m doing winter activities.  These boots are usually more expensive. While these are expensive, I get a great amount of use from them. For the record, I have an older pair of Scarpas and love them.

Snowshoeing is Tough

snowshoeing_tough_physicalIn the early part of the snowshoeing season, I get leg cramps at night. Following some of these early expeditions, I’ve jumped out of bed gritting my teeth and massaging my thigh. After a couple times out, I adjust. I suggest you start going slow and walking short distances. Be patient; you’ll get the feel for it.  Once your body adapts, you’ll be good to go.  Even though snowshoes expedite travel over snow, you’ll need be in great shape.  Snowshoeing is damned hard work.  It is especially difficult if you’re wearing a pack, pulling a sled, breaking trail, or heaven forbid, doing all three at once.

When you go out there be prepared to have fun and work hard. Anybody else out there enjoy snowshoeing? Question?  Comments?  Sound off below!

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Winter Preparedness: Handy Household Tips for Weathering the Winter

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Winter Preparedness: Handy Household Tips for Weathering the Winter Winter is coming whether you like it or not, and homeowners around the country are preparing their homes, yards, and vehicles for the colder weather. Winter weather might be a drag, but with the proper preparation, weathering the winter is much more feasible. Keep your car …

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Ten Ways To Survive the Winter Cold

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winter_river_snowIt’s getting to be that time of year again and winter is nearly upon us. You know what that means,  snow. If you live in the northeast, you’ve seen your fair share of it.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the cold and snow and thought I’d pass on a few things I’ve learned and seen over the years.  Playing outside in a good winter snow is awesome.  I love snowshoeing, ice climbing, ice skating, snow mobiling, winter camping, and just about anything that can be done outside in the winter.  I’ve never understood folks who go inside at the first snow fall and stay there until spring. Why huddle under a blanket or camp out next to the wood stove when there’s so much to do outside!

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

Armed with years of experience in hostile winter conditions, I’ve prepared an informative list. If you’ve read this list and followed it, you’ll be better prepared than most individuals.

1.  Dress for Winter

thick_snow_heavyThere’s a couple of ways you can be prepared for winter that will allow you to enjoy it.  This first one may be a little obvious, but in order to stay warm you’ve got to dress for it.  There’s a few guidelines for dressing for winter and the first one is to dress in layers.  Try to dress in synthetics as much as possible, but wool is also a good material to wear.  A good pair of winter boots to keep your feet warm will make your life a lot better as well.  There are thousands of winter boots out there, but I’d suggest something thick and durable.  I wear technical ice climbing boots and gaiters for just about everything, but I figure most people won’t want to pay $500 for a pair of boots.  Shop around and find yourself something comfortable.  You don’t want your gloves to be skin tight.  In order to provide warmth they need to be a little loose.  If your hands start to sweat take them out of the gloves if feasible.  If it’s below zero you probably won’t be able to, but wet gloves suck when it gets cold.

A good coat will consist of a shell and inner liner.  If I’m working hard snowshoeing, I’ll take the outer layer off and put it back on when I’m no longer working. If the temps are in the 20’s or 30’s, it’s not that big a deal unless the wind is blowing. When the temps dip below zero, you have to pay special attention to how you dress and how much you sweat.  Sweat can kill you in cold weather. Be prepared to change your clothes if necessary. I usually carry an extra set of long johns in my pack, so if I sweat I can change into something dry when I stop moving.

2. Bring Snowshoes and Skis  

If you’re going out in deep snow, the only way to move around is with snowshoes or skis.  Deep snow is very hard to navigate. If you’re on foot, your lack of mobility could kill you.

3.  Stay Hydrated  

If you’re moving outside during the winter, you’re dehydrating at a summer rate.  Be wary however, your thirst reflex kicks off in cold weather.  Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.  If you’re hiking, keep that canteen handy and take a swig from time to time.  A good way to monitor hydration levels is to check your urine colors.  If it’s yellow, you’re getting dehydrated.  The darker the yellow, the more critical it is for you to drink.

4.  Don’t Underestimate the Environment 

winter_hike_survival_prepI’ve met people hiking in the winter with light clothes, no packs, and no clue.  I actually had one guy ask, “Do you know how to get out of here?”  We were hiking some back mountain trails and he and his son were completely lost.  They had no maps, no compass, no pack,  and no chance at survival if conditions deteriorated.  If you do go for a hike, make sure you’re able to take care of  yourself in a worst case scenario.  It’s better to carry those fifteen pounds of extra gear just in case.

5.  Know How to Start a Fire in the Cold and Snow 

With fire and shelter, you can survive adverse conditions. Starting fires is a skill that takes practice.  When you can light a fire with a lighter, begin using matches.  When you’re proficient with a match, use a firesteel.  Once you’ve mastered the fire steel, try making a bow drill.  When you can light a fire with a fire steel or bow drill, using a lighter almost feels like cheating.  Practice!

6.  Don’t Overestimate Your Skill 

snow_fire_survivalIf you’re an expert at desert survival, understand that doesn’t mean jack shit when the temp falls to -20 and you’re faced with three feet of snow.  I camp out year round and try different things to see how I’d make out in an emergency.  Last weekend (mid-November 2016) I spent the night in my tipi.  The temps were in the high 30s and I decided to sleep with just a couple of blankets to see how I’d make out.  I damned near froze my ass off because I wiggled off my sleeping mat during the night and the ground was leaching the heat out of me.  Make sure you understand all the nuances of how cold weather can impact you.

7.  Know How to Use Your Gear  

Whatever gear you decide to carry, you must know it like the back of your hand.  How will your stove fuel behave in cold weather?  Did you know that your Jetboil needs a special mix of fuel in the winter in order to work properly?  Same thing is true with Bic lighters.  If you do get a flame in really cold weather, it’s puny.  Test the integrity of your gear. When your life is on the line, you don’t want your equipment to fail.

8. Take a Map and Compass and Know How to Use Them

Terrain looks different in the winter.   I’ve hiked trails in the summer and when I went back to that same trail in the winter I had a hard time finding my way.  Why?  When it snows, it bends the trees over and they have a tendency to cover the trail.

9.  Know How to Build a Shelter 

In order to prepare a camping spot, pack down the area with your snowshoes. Let it set a half hour or longer and you can make blocks for an igloo.  Did I mention deep snow is hard to move around in?  You can either dig a snow cave or make an igloo out of blocks that you cut from the snow.  Keep your shelter small and tight and it will retain heat better.  You’ll find that snow is a remarkably good insulator!

10.  Be Physically Fit.  

There’s a lot of heart attacks from older and middle aged men who live a sedentary lifestyle after a big snow storm.  Snow can be quite heavy and the physical exertion of managing this snow can kill.  Keep yourself physically fit and it won’t be an issue.

There are many factors to keep in mind when you’re outside in the winter, but if you dress warm and use common sense you can have a great time.  Instead of saying, “Oh damn, winter’s almost here,” you can now say, “Alright!  Winter is almost here!”

Questions?  Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

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How To Make A Swedish Torch

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Ever wanted to know how to take one piece of firewood and turn it into a stove/torch?  Wonder no more.  This is an introduction to the Swedish torch.  As with anything there’s a dozen ways you can use this concept; from taking your chainsaw and cutting a pile of notches in a log for a long burn to doing it how I did it here, by taking a small chunk of firewood and splitting and cutting it into smaller pieces with my survival knife.

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author at SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Check out the Swedish Torch video:

The Steps

First you need a chunk of wood.  In this example I used a 3 inch thick piece and about 14 inches long just to see how it would work.swedish torch  I wanted to make sure it would light easy, so I used a dry piece of fir tree that had been standing dead for a long time.  I split the wood using my TOPS Survival Knife then whittled the inside down a little to make a chimney.  Once the wood was split I whittled about an inch or so out of the four quarters before putting them back together again.  I also cut a notch into the wood that would be the place where I lit the fire about two or three inches up from the bottom.  I also had an old wire coat hanger I used to tie it together at the bottom of the log.  What I did there was wrap the wire around the bottom of the wood and then used my multi-tool to tighten it up so it wouldn’t fall apart after it started burning.

Lighting the Torch

Now I had a stick of firewood that had been split, hollowed out, had a hole carved in the side, then wired back together again.  I swedish torch front viewgathered the driest smallest sticks I could find, which typically come from the dead branches of a fir or pine tree.  I broke these little twigs into even smaller pieces and stuffed them down the “chimney” hole from the top.  Don’t stuff too much wood down or it will block the flames and you won’t get a fire.  If this happens simply pull some of the wood out and try again.  Next I lit a piece of birch bark and put it into the side hole (the fire place – if you will) then let it burn up and into the dry twigs I’d stuffed  into the top.  I wound up blowing on the fire for awhile and for awhile I didn’t think anything was going to happen.

Related: Make A Fire With A Bow Drill

It actually felt similar to blowing on a “bird nest” when you’re trying to light a fire with a coal made from a bow drill.  At first nothing happens, then bam!  There’s a beautiful flame burning.  The top of the torch lit like it was supposed to and burned reasonably even from the top down.  Nothing in nature is ever perfect, but I was really pleased with how it performed.


This particular Swedish Torch lasted maybe a half hour or so.  If I’d made the log bigger it would have lasted a lot longer, but since swedish torch top viewthis was just a test I was happy with the way that it went.  The Swedish torch isn’t really meant to be a torch.  It’s not like in the movies where the hero walks into the cave and grabs a torch covered with cobwebs that’s obviously been there for fifty years, then lights it and it burns like the sun for three hours while they explore the darkest reaches of the cave.  Could it be used as a torch if you wanted to walk through the woods?

Also Read: How To Make Your Fire Last All Night

You could probably get away with a few minutes of walking through the forest or a dark cave with it, but I wouldn’t want to depend on it for any length of time.  I’m not sure how it would perform being moved around when it’s really meant to be a stationary fire.  Would I do it if I had to?  Hell yeah!  You can always make something that is adaptable, so always try and look for more uses for something if possible.

Make It Into a Stove

I was also able to take my canteen cup and put it on top of the log in such a way that when it burned it was heating water.  It didn’t swedish torch boiling water in a pottake too long for it boil a cup of water, maybe seven or eight minutes, which is totally acceptable in the bush.The next time I make one of these torches I’m going to cut a notch in the top in such a way that it will hold the pot and still be able to burn freely at the same time.  I left it flat on top and it burned ok, but I had to offset it so that it didn’t smother the fire.

Overall Impressions

I liked the Swedish Torch for several reasons.  First, it’s economical.  It doesn’t swedish torch burning outtake a lot of wood to keep a small fire going for a reasonable amount of time.  It’s not going to throw a lot of heat, but you’ll be able to warm your hands over it with no problem.  It’s a great way to throw light if you don’t have a candle, lantern, or flashlight, or if you just want to use it for atmosphere sitting next to your fire pit.  You can heat water on it without having to make a bigger fire.  Of course the downside to it is there’s some work on the front end to fashion it and get it lit.  If I were to spend a night out without man made light, I’d probably make four or five of these and have them laying around.

Questions?  Comments
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Survival Afterwards: Living in the Aftermath

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How to survive

August 29 is my wedding anniversary.  It was the same date that Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf South Coast.  I try not to attach anyBest Hurricane Survival Tips connection between the two.  Though I lived 150 miles north of the landfall, our community was greatly impacted by the storm.  High winds and driving rain took down scores of trees and power lines along with them.  Roofs soared off homes, glass blew out, and highways became cluttered with storm debris and escaping vehicles.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

All the local motels and eating establishments quickly jammed up with “refugees” coming in from the coast.  Within a week supplies began to dwindle.  Gasoline was in short supply creating long lines at the few open stations to only be able to buy ten gallons.  Even many people lucky enough to have a generator, could not get gas to run them.  All the generators were sold out the first day anyway.  I did not get one.

On the Home Front

So, here was the scenario at home.  I was there off and on because my work site was open.  My wife’s was not.  Schools were closed Best Survival Tipsso my young child was home.  We had no electrical power.  City water pressure continued and we had natural gas for cooking.  In many ways we were better off than a lot of other folks.  We had meat and frozen food in the freezer we could get out quickly that would last a few days and the same in the regular refrigerator.  We had lots of canned goods to last a couple weeks.  We had filled two tubs with water and 12 gallon milk jugs filled when the news came just in case.

Related: The Human Element of Survival

We used the shower for bathing, which was often with the daytime temps above 90 with equal humidity.  It was hot.  Sleeping at night was very uncomfortable.  I had stocked up with plenty of flashlights and batteries.   We had several big candles and a Coleman lantern with two gallons of fuel.  I have a similar camping cook stove in case the natural gas cut off.   We mostly used the candles.

Home security proved no issue.  I had my tools ready but since everyone in the neighborhood was in the same mess, as it were, there was no real advantage to rummaging around or looting, etc.  It did not happen in my area.  Frankly I think the bad elements simply could not get the gasoline to be roaming around.  We do know what happened in New Orleans so there is a lesson to be learned.  Be prepared, equipped and ready.  We were.

At Work 

Work was down completely though the facility I manage was the only one in the whole area with electric power.  It was only Food Storagecoincidental that the regional power company was using the site as an emergency Bug Out location.  It became the central hot spot for all the employees and other groups seeking accommodations for overnight rooms and meals.  We were booked.  Many of my in-house employees could not get to work, which was a good thing.

Also Read: 4 Things To Consider When Bugging Out

We had a stocked walk in freezer and a good supply of other food stuffs.  We had no tap water so bottled water had to be used to cook.  We made a lot of sandwiches and set up a “buffet” each day in the lobby for employees and guests only.  We turned away walk ins that learned we had some supplies.  College police guarded the facility each day.

The ‘tough” part was toting buckets of water up the hill from the nearby lake to flush toilets.  Some of the residents were not able to do this or unwilling to do it.  People failed to realize this was an emergency situation and continued to be demanding.  I recall one obnoxious guest screaming about not having her cable TV.  She was evacuated.

Life without the Power Grid

I recall quite vividly just how tough it was to be without electrical power.  We are all creatures of comfort, and I have to admit my own weaknesses just as all preppers will have to do under real practical aftermath conditions.  When it is 90+ degrees during the day and the house is hovering in the 85+ range, it is decidedly tough to go without air conditioning in the south.

Related: The Fear Factor

Had it been 30 degrees I could crank up the gas log fireplace.  However, I have long wished we had put in a wood burning fireplace or heater instead of a gas one.  There is a trade off for everything since a wood fireplace or wood heater would mean acquiring an ample supply of good firewood each season.   Think about this if you build a new house or add on.

We were able to manage otherwise quite well at home.  I did not miss the electrical lights though I did miss the television for news and weather.  The FM radio sufficed, but make sure you have one.  It is amazing but many people today including preppers simply forget to have on hand an old fashioned battery operated dial radio.  Don’t forget either than your vehicle likely still has an AM-FM radio to catch news and weather.

Cracks in the Infrastructure

Preppers need to be thinking well in advance and planning for the breakdown of every common source of infrastructure that we have become reliant upon.  Storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, other natural disasters can shut everything down.  We could very well be without any support service or utility option.  We might lose electrical power, natural gas, public water, and sewer.

Public resources could be hampered or gone altogether.  Police, fire, rescue and ambulances may disappear from service.  Hospitals may offer restricted service or could be vacant with no source of doctors, nurses, or other employees.  Airports could be closed and interstate highways either totally congested or locked down with abandoned vehicles.   Remember the scenes of highways in Atlanta on Walking Dead.

Related: 4 Step Home Evacuation Plan

The usual supply outlets like grocery stores will be quickly sold out and then likely completely looted.  The same could be true for hardware stores, home supply outlets, gun and ammo shops, pharmacies, general merchandise stores and even “7-11” type convenience stops.  It will all be gone in very short order.  Most businesses may be locked up or simply abandoned.  Hence, this is the definition of prepping and survival planning.  You will have to become totally self-reliant at least until order is re-established and the supply lines flow once again.  It could be a long while or it might be never.  Let’s all hope and pray that our species is above total annihilation, but given the politics and lunacy among the Arab nations, anything could happen on this earthen body.

Storm Interrupted Not a Marathon

In our case of this SHTF created from natural causes our local down time was only three days at home.  Some people out in the Survivalrural county areas lost power for 2-3 weeks.  Fuel supplies remained sketchy for a while but refilled within a month.  Life got better quickly when the electricity came back on line.  Ya just gotta love air conditioning.

Storm damage clean up took a year in some places.  It was a lot longer along the coast.  Some home sites and business will never be rebuilt.  Blue tarps still cover buildings in New Orleans even after billions were spent on recovery efforts.  Some residents still do not understand why Uncle Sam’s buses never did come to evacuate them along with a free wine and cheese basket.


Had this been some other kind of SHTF it could have been an exercise in fighting off the end of society as we know it.  Personally, I cannot image trying to tough it out in a remote woodland location living under a tarp lean-to, a tent, or out of the back of an SUV for two weeks, six months, or a maybe a couple years.  You younger folks can likely manage it for a while anyway.

The aftermath is not going to be a picnic.  Even a temporary discomforting event like Hurricane Katrina teaches us the stark realities of just how inconvenient these SHTF events can prove to be.  So preppers plan and plan wisely.  Plan to survive the aftermath or at least until society become redefined again.

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11.5 Bug Out Bag Mistakes That Are Not Mistakes

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Bug Out Bag

About the only tangible aspect we have for a real bug out is the bug out bag.  Sure you might have a BOVehicle or BOLocation, but Best Bug Out BagBOBag is often the beginning and the end for most lightweight survivalists and preppers.  The problem is that unlike taking a cruise to Alaska, or a family trip to Disney World, pretty much nobody you know has bugged out in the pure sense of the verb.  Now while I would actually like to keep it that way, the point of this blog, and your reading of it no less, is to cover the bug out contingency the best you can.  Unfortunately, most of the words about bugging out and bug out bags in particular are recycled from questionable sources or where someone played connect-the-dots using military-grade playbooks.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Over the years I’ve read many of the same recycled advice columns about setting up a bug out bag.  And I’ve listened to podcasts from information purveyors whose bug out plans were gleaned from a Boy Scout camp out in fifth grade.  As I consumed the advice I’d pick and choose what I wanted to believe based on my past experiences, and what made logical and practical sense. But I could only take so much non-information or bad ideas before I stopped listening or reading.  Not that I have anything against recycling because I’m actually greener than most (many of us who dabble in off-grid solutions are), but that it seems nobody else will step up and risk being labeled as a heretic only to be chained to the proverbial internet post and flamed by the those who own recycled advice has just been challenged.

Above the Belt

Before reading further, here are my ground rules: First, this is about bug out bags or BOBs, not Get Home bags, not 72-hour bags, Survivaland not any of the other short-term carryovers or disaster-specific bag variations.  Second, obviously rules can be broken, but you need logical reasons to break them. Skill and experience will make up for some lack of equipment, but so too can good equipment make up for lack of skill. To a degree anyway.

And third, this article was written with the intent to shake some popular beliefs that are repeated ad nauseum across the internet whether or not the parrot has ever tested their own advice. Everything I address here is based upon my real-world experience. Of course you are free to do and say what you want, but when the fat lady sings you better have chosen wisely.

1. Do have a very big bug out bag

So-called bug out experts seem to fixate on backpack size because of noble but misguided intentions. The inaccurate but common belief is that a big bug out bag will be overpacked and impossible to carry. In reality, that logic just enforces my belief that the one giving the “smallest possible bag” advice has never done anything big outdoors. There are five main reasons you want a big bug out bag.

1) You can pack more (but see topic #2 below for more on this).

2) Big packs carry heavy loads much better than smaller packs. They hug the body and distribute weight so a 30 pound small pack is a pain, but a 30 pound large pack is almost invisible (but see topic #4 below to get it right).

3) You can use a large pack as a sleeping bag or bivy sack.

4) You can always carry air. Nobody is going to make you fill all available space in your pack.

And 5) If you leave home with a stuffed small pack, you cannot add to your load as you go. So unless you are bugging out on a commercial airline flight, you can forget about carry-on size limitations and do this right.

2. Do pack everything you think you might need

For some reason many bug out bags are packed with more good ideas than real-world supplies.  There is a prevalent fear that “too most common bug out bag mistakesmuch” is bad.  Well, I like to say that you cannot dump out what you don’t have.  Imagine an EMP caused you to hit the “go button” on your bug out plan. A month before, however, you cut down the size of your bug out bag assuming that the 30 mile jaunt to your bug out location (BOL) would be easier with a minimalist carry.

Related: The Best Food for your Bug Out Bag

But just as you head out the door, your neighbor fires up his EMP-proof truck and offers you a ride in the right direction.  No time to pack more, so guess what, you just made a colossal mistake in packing and you haven’t even left yet!  If you neighbor happens to drive a Chevy Luv packed to the gills, then you can dump out that case of Dinty Moore Beef Stew in order to wedge your bug out bag onto your lap.  Or better yet, keep it loaded and duct tape it to the hood of the truck.

3. Ignore the weight of your bug out bag

Similar to #2 above, weight can be a false prophet.  Consider why you are concerned with weight.  Is it to make your pack lighter just because? Well, does it really need to be lighter?  Or what will you be able to do with a lighter pack that you cannot do with a heavier pack? And how light is light? Or how heavy is heavy?  I hear supposedly informed preppers toss around numbers like 25-35 pounds. Well unless you are running to your BOL, the weight of your bug out bag is just one of many variables that can be adjusted on the fly. How you ask?  By dumping out what you don’t need or can no longer carry.

But if you are constantly mumbling something about pounds being pain, then you will have to make big decisions without waiting for all the information you could gather. Instead of cutting corners ahead of time, prepare to ditch weight as needed.  Water is a great ballast choice and can easily be substituted with air (see point #1 above). By the way, that old adage about three days without water and three weeks without food is nonsense in a bug out. You might survive those numbers adrift in a raft then rushed to a hospital, but certainly not walking around and doing survival work.

4. Do buy the very best you can of everything

Any internet list of “best” equipment that often further qualified by being under a certain price.  And that has failure built-in from Survivalthe start. Buy your tools and equipment based on need, quality and performance instead of price.  I’ve read lists of the best xyz under $50 or $99 with full knowledge that a massively better option is just a couple bucks more than the artificial cost ceiling that was chosen by the author for little more than dramatic effect. If you really need to pinch pennies, go with used equipment.

Since a real bug out has little margin for error, the fewer points of failure you you bring with you the better.  The problem is that most folks have not pushed equipment to the point of failure so they don’t know just how dangerous a cascade of failures can be in a survival situation.  Every year people die in the backcountry as one failure or injury multiplies into many.

Related: Jarhead’s Bug Out Bag

Someone gets disoriented snowshoeing.  They take a tumble in the powder filling their coat with snow that melts dampening their cotton clothes just as sun begins to set.  Numb hands cannot start a fire so they continue on.  A turn left at the big tree and they would have found their previous tracks and the way home.  But instead they went right and tomorrow morning their frozen corpse will be discovered by the rescue dogs on scene.  Then the spokesman for the S&R folks will again share the news cycle in an impromptu press conference highlighting the list of user errors for the umpteenth time.

5. Do skip all the military/tactical/police advice

Well, maybe not skip the advice, but certainly put it in perspective. Some of the big differences between the bug out and M/T/P INCH Bag Mistakesperspective is that a bug out is a deliberate run and hide while the M/T/P response is to engage or start the fight.  Consider what M/T/P life is like compared to the reality of a bug out. Sure a select fire weapon is effective, but unlike M/T/P you won’t have a supply chain feeding your machine gun, or an ambulance parked just behind the yellow tape. Instead, take the advice of those whose activities are closer to the bug out.

My models are mountaineering, rock climbing, canyoneering, deep mountain four-wheeling, extended backpacking and camping, winter camping, backcountry skiing, adventure racing, long-distance bicycling,mountain biking, sailing, river rafting, ultra-marathon trail running, big game hunting, forest fire fighting, and off-grid life in general. To transfer the knowledge to the bug out bag, you can first start with the equipment.  If you want quality outdoor equipment, then you have to pony-up for the tools that the serious outdoors folks count on for serious outdoor adventures. So perhaps a trip to the local REI will be more helpful bug out-wise than wandering the aisles of the big box gun store yet again.

5.5 Don’t skip all the military/tactical/police advice

In fact, embrace all the tactical aspects you can even if you look like a mall ninja’s mall ninja.  Just like the overstuffed bug out bag, the tactical look can come and go as needed, but will never be available unless with you at the start.   A common mistake that is batted back and forth by students of the bug out is whether or not to look tactical, especially in the departments of clothing, pack and loadout.  But the funny thing is that most discussions end there.

Also Read: 10 Must Haves For Your Bug Out Bag

In reality, you have plenty of options that straddle the lines of both worlds. I have a highly tactical-looking bug out bag in the form of a Eberlestock G4 Operator.  It’s a bohethomith in any language, and plays an operator in real life and on TV. Nobody would mistake the G4 for a family camping rig especially with a rifle sticking out of the top like a high frequency whip antenna on a Humvee. But in less than a minute, I can completely house the pack within a rain cover of my color choice whether light green, olive green, tan, or FDE. And the smooth fabric hides all the MOLLE, webbing ladders, 5.11 side pockets and ammo pouches. The rain cover does nothing for the size, or the rifle antenna, but it does totally neutralize the overtly aggressiveness of a tactical backpack.

For smaller daypacks, the same game can be played by simply tying or pinning fabric onto the pack, or even making the pack wear a sweatshirt.  Since the daypack is much like a human’s upper torso (which it’s designed to hug), you can dress it up in human clothes to your heart’s content.  The same is true for your tactical clothing.  Wear your operator threads under loose-fitting street clothes, and when needed just jump into the nearest phone booth and morph back into Superman.

6. One is plenty

The funny thing about redundancy is that it is usually practiced on the easiest and funnest targets like knives, fire starter, and back up iron sightsguns.  While I don’t discount the importance of those three areas for backup, I think some future bug outers are hiding low quality behind claims of redundancy.  I’ll take one good knife, one good flashlight, and one good gun over two or more lesser of any of the above. If you are worried about losing your tool and needing another one, then I suggest being more careful. Save the redundancy for those things that likely will break and create a catastrophic disadvantage. If you want to start a list of redundancies, begin with footwear. Yea, I know. Where’s the fun in that?

7. Don’t plan on bartering

I often read recycled “intel” that stresses the inclusion of barter items in the bug out bag. The problem with this type of thinking is that it wastes valuable space and weight on something for someone you haven’t yet met and who will likely not need it.  Focus on you and your plan, not that of some imaginary future person . And worse, many of the commonly suggested barter items are purely superficial.  Gold?  Silver?  Ammo?

Related: A Real Emergency Fund

Would you trade your food for a box of .303 British cartridges?  How about some pre-1964 quarters for your fish antibiotics?  Or some small yellow fragments that may or may not be gold for your extra warm clothes?  Not this guy.  I’ll engage in barter as needed with what I have at that time.  Most likely it will be for skills over objects, and especially not for those things that require intrinsic and agreed upon value like gold dust.

8. Carry cash in large denominations.

Everywhere I’ve traveled around the world, good old American greenbacks have value. The exchange rate might not be in my favor, Get Out of Dodge Bagbut bills with dead US presidents are always accepted.  Traditional prepper lore is to carry small bills such as fives, tens and twenties.  But the flaw in this wisdom is three-fold.  First, it assumes that reasonable prices will remain active during the bug out.  I sincerely doubt that bottled water will be a buck a pint or a box of 9mm for a single Hamilton will be the norm.

Related: How to Choose an Urban Survival Bag

Instead I’m betting that everything will be $100, or if not my $100 bill will beat your pair of twenties when fighting over that last case of canned soup at the gas station. Expect price gouging by packing enough financial firepower to overcome the competition and also the hesitation of the sellers.  Let the zeros do the talking.

9. Don’t rely on Paracord for much of anything

Handy yes. But only one solution of many you will need.  Paracord is by far the most popular prepper noun that doesn’t involve nitrocellulose or carbon steel. But as far as cordage goes, it’s main benefits are that it’s cheap and colorful.  Paracord was pretty much an afterthought on my outdoor adventure checklist during the first three-fourths of my life. Instead I chose specialized cordage for particular duties.  Thread, string, twine, fishing line, kevlar cord, dynamic rope, static line, one-inch tubular webbing, and so on. In fact about the only thing I use paracord for is to attach tents to anchors, and hanging food bags in trees.  Paracord is the duct tape of rope.  A catch-all solution with no specific job. But today it seems that paracord is the prepper’s dream material and is used with reckless abandon as if its presence alone will ensure survival. Learn your cordage and knots. Then use the proper rope for the job.

10. Do eat jerky

The bug out is an endurance sport so why would you take advice from someone who rarely pushes themselves to any physical limit. Mistakes for bug out bag One piece of faux-wisdom I hear often is to skip certain foods during the bug out, and beef jerky seems to be singled out more often than not.  The folksy wisdom seems to have your best interest at heart, but in reality it misses the point.  Yes, jerky is salty so you will need to drink water.  But you need to drink water anyway and at a level commensurate with the endurance sport you are now playing.  If you avoid jerky because you are delinquent in your hydration needs, the problem is with you, not the jerky.

Also Read: Have You Tested Your Bug Out Bag?

The only way to learn about the demands stressful endurance activity will place on your body is to play around with endurance. So take your nutrition advice from those folks who routinely push themselves in directions that parallel the bug out and pack your bug out bag with those nutritionally dense foods that power our super athletes whether world class bowhunter or marathon runner, Tour de France rider or ocean swimmer. Coffee and donuts might be the preferred pre-mission breakfast of SWAT teams, but don’t count on lasting long in the real world on that diet.

11. Do rely on technology

Of course technology can fail. I’m not stupid. But technology can also give you a massive strategic advantage in terms of speed and Survivalprecision. A compass and a GPS are two completely different items that have a slight bit of overlap. Yet I know plenty of folks who swear the GPS is a disaster waiting to happen while the compass they carry but don’t know how to use will save their life. All a compass does is point north. The rest is knowledge, skill, and geometry. Cell phones are magical when they work and I fully intend on using mine until it stops just as I plan on extracting all possible benefits out of every other electronic device, cable and charger I own. Half of all bug outs will happen at night, and using a compass in the dark is hardly forward thinking.

It might keep you walking in a straight line, but navigationally speaking, you’re screwed unless you have the terrain memorized in which case you don’t really need the compass. Bic lighters are technology as are gas stoves, binoculars, red dot sights, laser rangefinders, night vision, and semi-automatic pistols. And I intend to use all of them to their fullest potential. Sure a failure of my lighter and gun could have me rubbing two sticks together and whittling an atlatl, but, as I like to say, I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.

Blame Game

So there you have it, my eleven and a half bug out mistakes that are not mistakes. I’m not sure this list will make a dent in the information recycling efforts of the average prepper, but it is my survivalist intent to provide a place you can point to when you want to question the popular advice, experience or even motives of the classic prepper.  So steer them towards this article and they can blame me, not you. T-Shirts Now Available






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10 Tips For When You Get Lost In the Woods

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Best Bushcraft Survival Tips

In July of 2013 Geraldine Largay was hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine by herself after her partner had to leave because of a family emergency.  She was 66 years old and had a poor sense of direction and when she went off trail to use the bathroom she got lost and couldn’t find her way back.  She tried to send a text using her cell phone, but there was no signal.  Her remains were found two years later by a surveyor about two miles off the trail.  Her journal is now shedding light on what happened.  You can read her story here.  This is one of those stories that eats me up, because with just a little training it could have been avoided.

By Jarhead Survivor

The Maine Woods

The North Maine woods as seen from Mt Katahdin

The North Maine woods as seen from Mt Katahdin

If you’re wondering how someone could walk a few steps off the trail and get completely lost allow me to offer an explanation. The northern Maine wilderness isn’t like the lovely forests that Thoreau wrote about in Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts.  Those woods are thick and dark and beautiful and you must be on your guard because they are unforgiving of mistakes.  The trees grow close together and walking through them can be like pushing through a rack of clothing at a department store where it’s so tight you literally have to put your head down and bull your way through to make progress.  On several occasions I’ve walked through the woods around my house within feet of a trail and never saw it because of how dense the forest can be.

It would be easy to walk a little ways off the trail out of modesty to get out of sight of someone walking the trail behind you and then get turned around.  You start walking in the direction you think the trail was, but you don’t see it.  Second guessing yourself you turn back and walk a ways in the other direction.  At first you’re a little nervous and feeling sheepish that you can’t find the stupid trail, then eventually you start to panic because you know you’ve walked three or four times the distance you walked in and now you know you’re lost.  The trail could be five feet away at this point and it would easy to miss.

I know what it’s like to be in trouble in the area Geraldine was hiking in.  As a matter of fact I broke my ankle on the trail in the 100 Mile Wilderness not too far from where she got lost.  You can read part one and part two of that story if you’re interested.  I too ran into the problem of not having cell phone coverage, but I wasn’t really surprised by this fact as we’d had limited coverage during most of the hike.

So what do you do if you get lost?  Since she had a full pack lets assume that we have food for a few days and full equipment for a long term backpacking trip.  This sets us up pretty good for survival.

Wilderness Survival Tips

Typical forest in Maine.

Typical forest in Maine.

1. STOP!

This is an acronym for Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan.

Stop:  Stop moving.  There’s a good chance that you’re feeling panic right after you first figure out that you’re lost.  The urge is to run and find the trail.  Don’t do it.  Chances are good you’ll get even more lost or hurt yourself as you go flailing through the woods.

Think:  Get your head going.  Let the panic go.  Once you start thinking you can:

Observe:  Look around you.  What can you see or hear?  At this point hopefully you haven’t gone dashing through the woods looking for the trail.  If so you’re probably still within sight or at least hearing distance of it even though you can’t see it.  Take out a whistle and blow it sharply three times or yell every thirty seconds or so.  Keep an eye out for people hiking.  Listen for people hiking.

Plan:  What’s your best course of action?  Do you have a compass with you?  Do you know how to read it? How much food and water do you have?  Do you know where north is?  Do you have a tent and sleeping bag?

2. Don’t trust electronics to save your life

Too many people today enter the wilds of America with the assurance that their cell phone, or GPS, or whatever will save them if they get in trouble.  The truth is that if you trust your life to a piece of gear that runs on a battery or can die if it gets wet, then you are putting yourself in mortal danger without realizing it.  In the woods here in Maine a cell phone signal is a luxury and there are no stores to replace batteries that have died.  Take one with you for sure, but don’t pull it out expecting it to save your life.  That way if it doesn’t work you won’t be disappointed.

3. Know how to use your gear

One of the saddest things about Geraldine’s situation is that she had a compass in her pack, but she didn’t know how to use it.  If she could have spent an hour with me I could have showed her the basics of land navigation and she wouldn’t be dead right now.  If you put a piece of gear in your pack know how to use it.  A compass is not an ornament and when navigating from point to point it can save your life, but you must know how to use it.

4. Always have an emergency azimuth

compass, direction, bearing, azimuth, hiking

Taking a compass bearing or azimuth in the wilderness.

Before going on a hike anywhere, you need to look at a map of the area where you’ll be operating in.  Usually there will be a road, or a river, or some kind of land feature that will act as a handrail for where you’re hiking.  For example, if you’re hiking a trail and there’s a road that parallels the trail five miles to the south, then south is your emergency azimuth.

Related: How To Use An Emergency Azimuth

If you wander off the trail, set 180 degrees on your compass and follow it until you hit the road.  It might be a long five miles bushwhacking through dense forest, but if you follow the azimuth (or direction) you will eventually run into the road.

5. Always know where you are

As you move along the trail make sure you know where you are on the map.  If you cross a stream or river find it on the map and you’ll know exactly where you are.  If you’re hiking east and walk off the trail to your left what direction is that?  If you said north then you’re well on your way to surviving.  Let’s say you walk left (or north) far enough and lose sight of the trail and you want to find it again.  Which direction would you follow on your compass to get back to the trail?  If you said south congratulations, because you’ll find your way back to the trail and instead of it becoming a deadly situation this incident will just be a little blip on your day.

 6. Leave a detailed hiking plan with someone

If there’s any one thing I’m guilty of not doing this is the one.  Quite often I won’t hike a trail, but set out to bushwhack to a new place.  Instead of saying, “I’m going to hike the trail up Ragged Mountain,” I’m more likely to say, “I’m going to follow an azimuth of 277 degrees magnetic until I get to the rockfall at the base of the mountain, then I’m going to hike 256 degrees to summit,” if I say anything at all.  I pledge to be better in the future about leaving a detailed hiking plan with my wife before heading out.  Either way, at least make sure someone has an idea of what general area you’ll be, because if you get hurt or lost they’ll have no idea where you are.

7. If you’re lost, make camp

winter camping

Jarhead Survivor on a winter campout.

This will prevent you from becoming even more lost.  Geraldine was two miles off the trail, but in those woods it might as well have been 200.  As soon as you figure out you’re lost, stop moving.  Set up your tent and make yourself comfortable.

8. Signal

Start a fire in a clearing.  Start it using dry wood then add leaves or green wood or whatever you can to make it smoke.  The more smoke the better.  Use a whistle to blow three sharp blasts from time to time.  The louder the better.  If you have a mirror use it signal aircraft that might be looking for you.  Set up a bright colored poncho or one of those reflective emergency blankets in a clearing.  Anything you can do to draw attention to yourself is good.

9. Remember the Survival Rule of 3′s

You can survive:
3 minutes without air
3 hours without shelter
3 days without water
3 weeks without food

These aren’t actual rules of course, but guidelines to help you organize your activities should you get lost.  Thus, shelter is more important than food using this model.  If you have a tent and sleeping bag, then you can move quickly along the priority list to water.  Once you have a water source then you can start thinking about food.

10.  Evaluate your situation and make a decision based on your facts. camp fire pit

If after three days I haven’t been found or haven’t seen any sign of activity like a helicopter circling around looking I will probably try and self rescue, but that’s based on the fact that I’ve done a lot of wilderness survival, land navigation, backwoods hiking and camping, and have tons of experience.  If you’re from the city and all you have is a couple of classes and a few hikes along well beaten trails under your belt, then you might want to sit tight.  Carefully evaluate your situation.  Ask yourself, “Does anybody know where I’m hiking?”  If the answer is yes then you might want to stay put.

If the answer is no, then perhaps you’ll want to start moving.  It’s hard to give a definitive answer because everybody’s situation is different.  I probably would have advised Geraldine to sit tight because her husband had a good idea of where she was hiking and he would be able to alert the authorities to her general area.  Unfortunately, she moved further off the trail looking for a cell phone signal and made it impossible for rescuers to find her.

Also Read: Maine Primitive Skills School Review

Each survival situation is different.  The actual key here is to be as prepared as possible for any situation while out hiking.  Other tips might be don’t hike alone if you’re a novice, carry a good first aid kit, and on and on.  There are many things you need to take into consideration when going on a hike like the Appalachian trail and the more research you do and the more experience you gain the better off you’re going to be.  I’ll leave you with this advice.  Even though I’ve said it before it’s worth saying again:  learn how to read a map and compass and if you put something in your pack know how to use it.  It could save your life.

Questions?  Comments?
Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor T-Shirts Now Available






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2 Types Of Military Sleeping Bags To Use On Your Bug Out

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Best Military Sleeping Bag

military sleep system - intermediate - patrol - bivy

This picture shows the bivy, the intermediate bag, and the patrol bag.

I love military gear.  Some people hate it for various reasons, but to me this gear has proven itself on the battlefield.  It’s constantly evolving and being updated as technology changes, but it’s always being put to the test.  Another good reason is that you can usually get it relatively cheap after it’s been used at Army/Nave stores or other discount stores.

Today we’re going to talk about sleeping bags.  There are thousands of sleeping bags on the market and it can be a tough decision to try and figure out which one you should use if you have to bug-out.  Sleeping bags tend to be expensive as well and who wants to spend $300 on a new sleeping bag that’s going to live in a bug-out bag and see the light of day once a year when you go in to check the gear?  Leaving a newer sleeping bag compressed will eventually cause it to lose it’s loft ending the usefulness of the bag.

By Jarhead Survivor

There are a couple of types of military sleeping bags I’d like to compare and contrast today.

Old School

First, let’s go back to the ’80s when I was in the Marine Corps as a fresh faced youth.  The bags we used back then were much heavier than the ones used today.  I usually rolled mine up and tied it to the outside of my ALICE pack and carried it around that way if we were going to be marching.  I spent a lot of time in artillery, so luckily we could just throw our bags on the back of the 5 ton trucks when we were moving around.

tennier military sleep system - bivy - intermediate - patrol - compression sack

This is the Tennier System (4-Part). The fourth part is the compression sack in this picture.

The standard bag back then was the Bag, Sleeping, Intermediate Cold Weather (ICW) and its Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) cousin.  I spent hundreds of nights in both of these bags and never got cold.  The ICW bag weighed about 7 1/2 pounds and surprisingly, so did the Extreme Cold Weather; however, the ECW bag also came with a liner for really cold temps and that added some to the weight.  I slept many nights at -40 degrees Fahrenheit and never felt unduly cold in the ECW bag.  Most of my nights in the ICW bag never really fell below freezing and I never felt cold in it either.

Related: M1951 Fishtail Parka Review

These are mummy type bags with drawstrings that you can use to pull the hood of the sleeping bag tight around your head in cold weather.  One of the things they told us to avoid was sleeping with your head down inside the bag.  This puts a lot of moisture inside, which can cause you to get cold.  However, I did this many times without getting cold, so I leave it up to you try it for yourself.  When the temperature is below zero your natural tendency is curl into a ball and try and get your head as far from the biting cold as you can.  Some people wore a balaclava and others, like me, wore the wool watch cap to bed.  They also advise sleeping with the parka mits over your feet to help keep them warm.  Although I never did this it makes sense if your feet get cold.

One night I was camping with my dad just off a frozen lake here in Maine.  The wind was howling and the ambient air temp stood at -20.  He couldn’t believe it when I stripped down to my undershorts, t-shirt, and wool socks and climbed into my ECW bag.  I was shocked to see that he had brought a kids Charley Brown – type sleeping bag and froze his ass off all night.  I gave him my field jacket and some other stuff, but I could still hear his teeth chattering all night long.  It didn’t take him long to get himself a good warm bag after that night!

 The New Gear

comparison icw bag - tennier sleep system

Hilary models the ICW old style military sleeping bag. Next to her is the Tennier Systems (4-Part) sleep system

Now let’s talk about the more modern military gear.  The new Modular Sleep System (MSS) bags are made by Tennier Industries and come in four or five parts depending on the model you get and is rated between 50 and -50 degrees Fahrenheit.  There’s a lightweight patrol bag rated for between 30 and 50 degrees.  The Intermediate bag is rated for 30 degrees to -10.  There’s a compression bag you can get that’s a good modern day addition that will compress the MSS down to one cubic foot.  The one piece I really like is the bivy, which is basically a personal tent.  It’s water resistant and has a cover over the face I found useful in cold weather.

Like I mentioned earlier, you can separate these bags and use them independently or together.  I slept in the lightweight patrol bag in 40 degree weather and found I was a little cold though it’s rated between 30 and 50 degrees.  I’ve slept in the intermediate bag in 30 degree weather and was reasonably warm in it, but I wouldn’t want to try it in -10 degree weather by itself.

Also Read: SHTF Sleep Deprivation

If you combine all three components and you’re sleeping in your polypro underwear they say it’s good to about -50.  The coldest I’ve slept in the combined sleep system was around -10 and I was comfortable, although I wouldn’t want to attempt -50 in one of them.

One thing I had to learn was how to ventilate properly.  When I first got in the bag I zipped up all three components and was too warm.  So I unzipped the inside sleeping bag down to my belly button and cooled off until I was comfortable.  As it got colder I zipped the inner bag up a couple of inches at a time until I was in full mummy mode with the bivy closed and covering my face.  I liked this feature as it meant I could breathe outside the main bags without getting moisture down inside them.

Also Read: Mil Surplus Sleeping Bag Review

Over all this bag is much closer to the civilian bags on the market today.  They are far lighter than the older bags and more versatile; however, they are a little more expensive.  They also compress down nicely and can fit in your pack a little better, although I found that most quality civilian bags rated for the same temps will compress more and be a little lighter.

Tennier Sleep System and ICW bag side by side.

Tennier Sleep System and ICW bag side by side.  The Tennier bag is NOT compressed in this picture.

As mentioned earlier I like the bivy.  One thing I’ve done is take the bivy from one of my Tennier sleeping bags and put it in my Get Home Bag (GHB.)  By itself it doesn’t offer much in the way of insulation for warmth, but during the non-winter months it would be ideal for get home purposes.  Open it up, climb inside with your clothes on, and you basically have your own personal tent.  Put it on top of some pine or fir boughs, or a pile of leaves, and you’d even be comfortable while you grabbed a couple hours of tactical shut-eye.


When to Use These Sleeping Bags

So when is the best time to use these bags?  The older bags would be good:

When you’re on a budget
When you don’t expect to be carrying your bag anywhere
When you want to be sure you’ll be very warm
If you are dragging it on a sled

The newer sleep systems would be good:

When you expect to be hiking and need a lighter bag
If you have a little more money to throw at them
When compression is important to you (pack space)
When you need a bag you can split up for different purposes and climates

Overall they are all pretty good sleeping bags. I bought a pile of the newer ones at once and still have a few kicking around.   There’s a link on their site for a Retail Outlet and you can pick up individual gear there as opposed to bidding at Government Liquidation.  One thing you might try though:  if you have a few like-minded friends looking for pretty good sleeping bags or other military gear pool your funds and bid on a lot of sleeping bags.   Split the shipping costs and you might be able to pick up twelve to twenty sleeping bags for a few hundred bucks like I did.  I sold some of them, but kept four or five for family and friends and have loaned them out to friends several times when we went camping and our friends didn’t have any gear during a bug-out.  You might also need to loan to family during a bug-out.  Ya never know, folks.

If you have questions about bidding at Government Liquidation let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.  I spent a good deal of time on this site a couple of years ago and got a pretty good feel for it.

Questions?  Comments? Sound off below!
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food storage

Prepping takes time and preparation.  This is essential whether you are doing a Bug In at home with family, a Survival few extended family, neighborhood friends, or a Bug Out solo or with a partnership team.  Just know that the more numbers you add, the more complicated and difficult things suddenly seem to become.  It is inevitable I guess.  Either way you will be facing the daunting task of learning, teaching, practicing and perfecting your TTPs or Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures.  Far be it for me to preach to you guys all the details of that approach, so I will just highlight some priority topics.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Look at the Survival Cache site under the books section to get some heavy duty reading materials on the subjects at hand.   There is rarely a substitute for building a foundation of basic knowledge regardless of the subject.  I have probably quoted this before but this comment by Patrick Rogers in SWAT Magazine just about says it right.  “When all is said and done, practice does not make perfect.  Practice only makes permanent.  If we strive for only for mediocrity that is all we will ever achieve.”

Also Read: Review Henry Arms AR-7 Survival Rifle

That is the bottom line with survival prepping.  We can read all we want.  Attend seminars and take courses to expose ourselves to knowledge.  Watch all the You-Tubes we can, but if we never try to perform these skills ourselves, then we are just kidding ourselves in the worst way.  And I point the same finger at myself with many of these things.  We have got to do better.

Contingency Training

Do yourself a favor whether a Bug In or Bug Out alone or with others, conduct a SWOT analysis.  These are Best Survival TrainingStrengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  The easy way to do this is to use different colored sticky pads for each of the four SWOT concepts.  Have your family, group, or team write down ideas on each topic and stick them to the wall or white board under each category.  Compile them, consider them, debated them and then prepare for them.

SWOT Analysis is a commonly used management tool for developing teams to work better toward common goals but also to learn more about the challenges you face as a team.  It can be a fun process, if you anoint someone with leadership skills to guide the process and control the discussions.

Related: 3 Bug Out Lessons From A SWAT Officer

In terms of practicality, I can only imagine how difficult if not actually impossible to train or prep for every possible contingency.  You have to take stock of where you live for example and look at the most likely worst threats.  Where I live we are subject to tornadoes, and hurricanes.  This year is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  There will be more.  There are tornadoes every year that rip apart entire communities in my home state.  What if one hit your house, or mine or the neighborhood down the road knocking out all power for a month?

Where I live I am 60 miles as the crow flies from a nuclear power plant.  What if ISIS somehow bombed that or an insurgent slipped in with a suitcase dirty bomb?  Impossible you say?  Better rethink that line of denial.  Am I spending a lot of time on how to recover from a nuclear plant meltdown?  Nope.  Do I know what I need to do to get ready for the aftermath of a tornado or hurricane?  Yep.  You have to regionalize your prep plan when it comes to the potential for natural disasters where you live.  Then get our TTP priorities in order and initiate action.

Also Read: 10 Best Survival Movie Lessons

Then you can start to concentrate or parallel your prep for unnatural disasters such as an economic collapse, a bank closure, widespread power grid lock down, communications crash, epidemics of all kinds (Dah, like what…..measles?), and other SHTF events that are out of our control except for the survival part.  Work to those ends.  Heed your SWOT, even if all you do in that regard is one for yourself.  You have to know where you stand in your world.

Training the Undesirable Tasks

Do not spend all your training time on the things you like to do or already do well.  For example, most of ussurvival_prepper_shtf_survivalistpreppers like guns and shooting.  We make a critical error if we dwell on firearms defense and protection to the neglect of many other things.  Sure it is important, but if you starve to death or die from weather exposure without shelter, then what have you gained but weapons left to rust.

Stock up your canned goods or dry pack foods.  Learn to light a fire in the wind and rain.  Get your reserve fuel stocks in order including cooking stove fuels.  If you Bug Out, know how to assemble your tent in the dark or by flashlight.  Work your “pack and jerk” plan which is to say have supplies ready to go, ready to toss into the pickup bed or SUV at a moment’s notice.

Also Read: You’re a 1000 Miles Away and the SHTF

Don’t just buy a can or bag of survival food.  Buy some then prepare it.  See firsthand if it is edible or if you spit it out.  Can you light that Coleman lantern or replace the mantle screen?  Can you sharpen knives, and axes?  Have you tried to put a tourniquet on someone?  Can you break new ground for a garden, hoe it, and plant it?  What would you try to grow?  You could actually try that in your backyard this summer.

Maybe a good start to this end would be to make a list of the things you dislike doing the most, then dedicating at least some time to those tasks.  Perhaps there is a person on your team or family that might actually enjoy that task.  Let them plan for it and lead the practice.  Hey, SHTFBlog fans, what are the prepping tasks you hate the most?  Tell us in the comments below.

Adverse Conditions Training

Train and practice in good weather and bad.  SHTF knows no fair weather birds.  In fact many naturally How to surviveoccurring SHTF’s are severe weather incidents.  As I look out my office window right now the temperature has dropped 20 degrees in three hours and a winter advisory is out for the evening and tomorrow.  How would you like to camp out tonight?  It would be a perfect time to test your skills and your will.  See, this is just another reason I plan to Bug In.

Related: 1 Pistol, 1 Rifle, & 1 Knife

Suppose right now you lived in Boston and maybe you do.  How was that walk to the corner market just to find many items gone from the shelves because restocking was impossible on the impassable roadways?  How many times can you dig out the sidewalk or driveway?  Are these conditions starting to wear on your psyche?  Getting a little edgy are we?

I suppose within nine months we will see a spike in the birth rate in these areas impacted by adverse winter weather.  Did your prep plan factor in another child or a first one?  Now you have other issues and concerns to deal with.  So, don’t just pick the blue sky park days to get outside to execute some of your prep plans.  As nasty as it might seem and will be, whether freezing cold or super hot and humid, when a SHTF really does come, the environmental conditions will be real all year long wherever you reside.  Know this, prep for it and practice for it.

Plan For Training Then Execute

Neither planning nor training is like reading a book then putting it up on the shelf to collect dust.  You may well know how to overhaul that garden tiller motor, but have you done it?  A few months ago you bought a new AR for defensive perimeter work and a bright shiny new red dot optic for it.  How many rounds have you put through it to date?  One box is not nearly enough regardless of the cost of the ammo.  Can anybody else in your family or on your team shoot this weapon with reliable accuracy?

Every component and aspect of your prepping plan has to be executed at some point in order for the plan to be effective.  Well, there’s a no brainer if I ever heard one.  It’s just reality that most of us have longer lists of things to accomplish on our prep plan than we have yet to do.  I am with you brothers.  You are not alone in the prepper wilderness.

Also Read: Raising A Prepared Kid

For me, I am the best planner, I create impeccable detailed lists, and am a thinker of things to be done.  But I am the worst at doing them in a timely manner.  My wife on the other hand is a doer, but plans nothing.  Whatever she buys she never reads the owner’s manual, while I pour over one for days.  She’ll plan a project, have half the tools needed, and always forget some critical phase of the deed.  I hope she doesn’t read this.  You’d think we would complement each other, but as you know, it doesn’t work that way.  Which one of us is it again that is from Mars?

Again, I think the best most prudent approach is an incremental one.  We simply cannot do everything at once anyway, though our thought patterns may be able to work and plan that way.  If we continue to postpone the inevitable, we are likely to get caught with our pants down around our ankles with Brian Williams there on the chopper flying overhead, but passing us by.

Also Read: SHTF – Women & Sex

I’ve never had to really survive a tough SHTF yet, but I cannot imagine any part of it being much fun.  I had to “survive” nearly a week without air conditioning and electricity from Katrina in August heat.  It was grossly unpleasant, but it was only 5 days.   What if we had to do endure that for a month, a year, longer?  Get your TTPs in order and things will go much easier down the road.

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Tutu Lee
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East Coast Storm: 7 Tips to Keep in mind.

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A person walks through the blowing snow in Bowling Green on January 22.

So the big East Coast storm is causing the expected problems. I hope everyone stocked up on the winter basics, food, water, fuel, batteries, gas, generator, medicine, etc and you’re reading this while warm and cozy at home.
How are you dealing with the storm in your area? Any thoughts, experiences or lessons learned? Feel free to leave your comments below.
Now its time to apply some good old common sense:
1)Dear God do NOT run your generator indoors. Just don’t. It’s the kind of mistake you get to make only once. Last year an entire family, dad and kids, died because of this.
2)Same goes for heaters, propane and kerosene or any other combusting heaters you may be using. Have a CO detector and make sure to open a window an inch or two just in case.
3)Don’t travel if you can avoid it. Traffic accidents are the main cause of death during storms.If you must travel, have supplies for several days, food, water and warm clothes.
4)Careful when walking too, even short distances or just around the house. Slipping on ice is the most common cause of injuries. Overestimating your capabilities may leave you stuck in the middle of the storm, even if you think you can walk short distances.
5)Take it easy if you have to shovel snow. The cold temperatures may trick you into not realizing how much effort you’re doing. 5 minutes at a time, then rest. Every year several people die due to heart attacks while shovelling snow. By the way, this should also remind us all of the importance of staying fit.
6)Keep your cell phone charged. Charge that little battery bank as well (this one works great btw). It’s a waste of fuel to use your generator just to charge a phone or tablet.
7)Check on your loved ones daily. If you have neighbours on their own or older folks check on them too. Even better, send your teen son to lend a hand. They can use the exercise and practice of face to face social interaction. Really, if you have never done it before give it a try. Even if you never said a word to that old couple down the road, trust me they will REALLY appreciate if you or your kid drops by to see if they’re doing ok.
So that just few tips. Try to make the most of it. Even if you have power try playing some board games and spending some time with the family engaging in actual conversation or doing something together.
It’s my first winter here in the Costa del Sol in Spain and while I do see the practical advantage of not having winter(there’s people sunbathing on the beach here as I write this), I do miss having a bit of snow. I’m still wearing flip flops and 5.11 shorts. I’ll probably walk to the beach after lunch.
Take care folks, enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

21 Winter Survival Items That Every Prepper Should Own

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Last month I posted an article about 19 survival items to buy before winter arrives. That list was mainly about things you should keep in your vehicle during the winter, but this one is about winter survival items in general. Every prepper worth their salt should be prepared […]

The post 21 Winter Survival Items That Every Prepper Should Own appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Tips to Stay Healthy This Winter

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Tips on staying healthy this winter @MamaKautz

Get outdoors:

Take up snowshoeing or cross country skiing. Get as much natural Vitamin D as you can.

Boost your immune system:

Look natural ways to boost your immune system and with the seasonal influx of flu and colds there is never a better time to get started. I take natural supplements everyday as well as a protective essential oil blend.

Probiotics also help for good gut health which helps overall health.

Look after your heart:

A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and garlic is known to lower blood pressure and is used as a treatment for hyper tension. Heart attacks are common in winter months because of snow shoveling and the like.

Keep hydrated:
In the winter, many of us can go all day without even thinking about drinking water. Unlike summer when we are hot and always drinking it. This is a highly unhealthy practice as the change in season makes very little difference in the importance of water to your body. DRINK YOUR WATER!
I add lemon or grapefruit essential oils to mine to give it some flavor. A drop or 2 is all it takes.
I LOVE my HydroFlask water bottle. Keep my ice frozen for a long time.

What would you add for staying healthy?

The post Tips to Stay Healthy This Winter appeared first on Mama Kautz.

Good Stuff Cheap (er)

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Top Survival Blog

My dad always used to say “It only costs a little more to go first class.”  He drove Cadillac’s, flew Beechcraft Bonanzas, wore Hart, Schaffner, and Marx suits, drank Gordon’s Gin, and hunted with Weatherby rifles, because he thought those brands were the best of the best, and worth every penny regardless of what they cost.  Fifty years ago perhaps those brands did define “First Class” for that generation.  These days not everybody can afford such extravagances, nor do I think we need to.  Picking gear, clothes, guns, vehicles, camping equipment, and other essentials for any coming SHTF has to be a good balance between our budget and what we can afford to spend on survival supplies. 

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Reality Dollars

I recently read on another survival site the discussion over how much cash to sock away for a rainy SHTF and/or how much to Survivalspend in prepping.  The consensus of the replies was that $1000 sounded about right for a starting budget for prepping.  I don’t know the parameters of the question posed on a SHTF budget, but sorry to break your bubble folks, but one grand won’t do diddly squat.  Maybe they meant just to start off with some scratch extreme basics.  In that case maybe so.  I will admit that even some small start is at least a start.  But frankly, a good AR with optics can cost a grand.

Still be it far for me to recommend to anyone else how much hard earned investments they should put into their prepping efforts.  I just know that if you sat down with some blank paper and made an extraordinarily comprehensive list of everything needed, it would be one expensive venture.  That is why incremental planning and buying is the course that most of us have to take.   I been at this 20+ years.

Quality vs. Cheap

By cheap, I do not mean to imply junk that will not function, or last.  I mean useful items that are reasonably priced that most Top Survival Blogpreppers can afford to buy.  I think there is some middle ground these days upon which we can compromise on the equipment, gear and goods we buy for survival prepping.  I think we can buy good stuff for a fair price that will give reliable, long term service.

If you are old enough to remember, stuff from Japan used to be pure junk, say when I was 5-10 years old in the 1950s.  Today most Japanese made merchandise is top quality and a reasonably good value.  Now we have to deal with stuff from China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, and other places we know little or nothing about.

I say all that to say we need to closely inspect and evaluate any purchase we make regardless of the brand name on the label.  I have come to discover some of my favorite and heavily replied upon brands now suffer from quality standards as they move their origins of manufacture from the United States.  You simply cannot rely on a so-called trusted brand name alone any longer.  All goods must be evaluated on their own performance standards.

Trusted Brands or Retail Sources (For the most part)

I have made reasonably great strides to evaluate and pick prepping goods that offer both decent quality and a fair market value in today’s marketplace.  There may be exceptions within some of these brand offerings, but for the most part I have found these to make the grade:

•    Muck Boots.  You can buy the basic waterproof, mud boot on sale for under $75.
•    Coast Lights.  They have good flashlights for under $50.
•    Para (Ordinance) Pistols.  Basic 1911 models can be found for $700 or less.
•    PMC Ammo.  Reasonably priced in standard calibers.  1000/5.56 for under $350.
•    Uncle Henry Knives.  Inexpensive but good utility, decent quality.
•    Brown Jersey Gloves.  In bundles they can be had for $1.00 a pair.
•    Bass Pro Shops. Redhead brand is good and reasonable during sales.  Best socks.
•    Carhart Clothes.  Tough, long wearing, durable and comfortable work wear.
•    Plano Plastics.  Carry cases, ammo boxes, storage containers, strong, resilient.
•    Cabela’s.  Store branded clothing and boots are well made.
•    Bushnell Optics.  Reasonable prices, good features, decent glass.
•    Sportsman’s Guide.  Catalog/on line retailer, good source of real surplus.
•    Case-Guard.  AR-15 mag storage/carry boxes and other utility plastic containers.
•    Cheaper-Than-Dirt.  Sometimes, good source of ammo and shooting accessories.
•    War Surplus.  If you can find the genuine stuff, it is quality issued or not.
•    Leupold.  Extreme quality optics, not least expensive, many options.
•    Smith-Wesson ARs.  Top of the line quality, shop around for best prices.
•    Schnee Boots.  Very best cold weather, rubber bottom, leather top boots.
•    Rock River Arms.  Among the best heavy ARs for .308.
•    Case Knives.  Best American made pocketknives.
•    Colt Arms.  The original 1911, still among the best; same for ARs.
•    Coleman Camping.  Good all around, shop carefully for origin of manufacture.
•    Ruger.  An American stalwart for ARs, bolt rifles, 10-22 rimfires and handguns.
•    Tractor Supply JOBSMART ® Batteries.  On sale as good as the bunny drummer.
•    Toyota, Ford F-100, Chevrolet Silverado Trucks.  Pick your options, good rides.
•    Remington Yellow Box Ammo.  Good quality, shop big boxes, shows for pricing.
•    Maxpedition.  Exceedingly durable packs, bags, cases.  Higher end pricing.
•    Honda ATVs.  Well made, durable, reliable.  Mine is 15 years old, never failed.
•    Remington.  Especially M700 rifles and 870 shotguns.

Certainly as members of the SHTFBlog/Survival Cache family you likely have many other thoughts, preferences, and we hope Top Survival Blognumerous more recommendations we could add to this list.  It’s only a start, and it’s only based on my experiences.  We want to know yours.  What prepping products have worked, are working, and what has not.  As to prep budgeting I can only recommend to set aside what you can.  If that requires you to save up to buy a better product, then do that.  You don’t have to buy the high end stuff to get quality, durability, good function, and value.  Keep shopping, but always buy carefully.

All Photos by Dr. John J. Woods

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Plan Now: Getting Home from the Holidays

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Written by Bobcat-Prepper on The Prepper Journal.

5/5 (1) Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Bobcat-Prepper. In just a few days, millions of us will be loading down the family vehicles and hitting the highway or  heading to the airport for one of the busiest travel periods each year. As you are packing your clothes […]

The post Plan Now: Getting Home from the Holidays appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

19 Survival Items To Buy Before Winter Arrives

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Although technically winter doesn’t begin until December 21st, in many parts of the country it’s here already. Winter always seems to catch us off guard. It’s no big deal if you love things like making snowmen or using the fireplace, but it can be dangerous if you find yourself out […]

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How to Make Your Camp Fire Burn All Night

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Have you ever wanted a fire to last all night long, but didn’t want to stay up feeding it hour after hour?  Most nights you lay down Axe and woodand open your eyes again two hours later just in time to throw more tinder and wood on just before it goes out.  Recently I was watching a video on Far Northern Bushcraft – a favorite Youtube channel of mine – about how to keep your fire going all night long.  The short version is you take one log and lay it top of another and light them on fire.  Once the fire is established it will burn very slow.

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

The rule of thumb on this fire is that for every inch of thickness you have in your logs it will burn for one hour.  Thus, if your logs are eight inches thick the fire should last eight hours. Nothing is ever that precise in the bush of course, but it does give you a reference point.

Materials and Procedure

Long fire setup

I started with two logs about four inches thick. After chopping them up with my ax I carried them back to camp and then cut four green poles about four feet high.  Then I flattened the two logs by taking my ax and trimming about two inches of wood off each length leaving a flat side along one side of the log.  Thus, if you stacked one on top of the other they would lay flat without support.  I drove the poles into the ground and stacked the two logs one on top of the other with some tinder and kindling between them.

Related: Fire Starter Review

To reiterate, this is not a big fire.  It’s more of a smolder that will last most if not all of the night depending on how thick your Firelogs are, what kind of wood you’re using, how hard the wind is blowing, and stuff like that.  I set my fire up with kindling in front of it as well as in between the logs with spacers and then lit it.  After a small blaze that lasted for a few minutes I was rewarded with a fire that smoldered between the two logs.  For more info check out the short video I made:

The only real downside to this fire is that because it burns so slow it emits a good deal of smoke.  If you set this up in front of your shelter for heat make sure you’re upwind or you’ll suck down smoke all night long.


The fire lasted about 2 1/2 hours before I had put it out, but was well on its way to burning the full four hours predicted by the Long firerule of thumb.  The next time I head out for a backwoods camping trip I’m definitely going to try this set up.  You’ll want an axe to help get this set up properly and don’t forget to use green sticks for the support posts.  That way they won’t catch on fire as it burns through the night.

Got any tips for an all night fire?

Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

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Winter Driving Essentials

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winter driving essentials by @MamaKautz


These are the Top 10 items I take with me on winter road-trips.

Anytime we get in the car it is a minimum of 20 minutes drive time…usually 45. Throw in a trip to Seattle and a good day is 5 and a half hours. Anything that won’t be damaged by freezing temperatures goes into the car around Halloween. Anything els is as needed.


1. Tire Chains
Normally, if conditions call for chains, I stay home.
That’s not to say I could be in town, 40 minutes away, and have weather go down hill quickly.

2. Blankets
Always in the car. Especially if we are going over the mountain passes. Either to MT or to Western WA.
I have been known to leave a sleeping bag or two also. If you get stuck while they do avalanche control you don’t want to run your gas gauge down trying to stay warm.

3. First Aid Kit
This really goes without saying. I have kids. I always need a bandaid or neosporin.

4. Thermos of coffee
OK, So I don’t drive around with this in my car all winter. But you can bet me it will be on our 6 hour drives to Seattle. Again, you don’t want to get caught on the pass without either this or a thermos of hot chocolate.

5. Water
Stay hydrated. This is more frugal for me than anything. We all have our own water bottles and I fill them before we leave. Most gas stations will let you refill, for free, using the water on the soda fountain.

6. Snacks
In case you get stuck behind a slide off or the like. Nothing worse than crabby kids due to hunger.

7. De-icing windshield fluid
In summer I buy the bug kind, in winter I buy the ‘good to -20’ kind. This is a safety issue and I like to keep some in the car in case I run out.

8. Cell Phone Charger
When mom went into the hospital the first time my cell died from so many calls. My charger wasn’t in my car. I never leave the house with my phone low. Winter or otherwise. You can get this nifty battery size charger too. Fits in your BOB or EDC

9. This should be #1 A FULL TANK OF GAS!
I don’t let my car get below half tank in winter. Especially if there is a storm warning. Again, it comes down to ‘what if’ you get stuck behind an accident or you, God forbid, slide off the road. You need to stay warm.

10. Ice Scraper
Not your debit card. I drive a Suburban and need a long handle…It doesn’t help that I am on 5’4″.

Did I forget anything?
Please leave your suggestions in the comments.

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4 Tips to Prepare Your Homestead for Winter

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The Weather Channel is predicting colder than average temperatures through January for the Plains states and the area from southeast Texas to the Florida panhandle. Whether you live in a major metropolitan area or have a ranch covering several acres, winter preparedness is fairly similar for just about every home. You need to keep everybody safe and warm and take all the necessary precautions to prevent extreme weather from damaging your home. These four tips cover the most important items.

Drain Sprinkler System

The first freeze of the year can mean large repair bills for homeowners who neglect to address their irrigation systems and exposed pipes beforehand. This is particularly the case with PVC pipes, but polyethylene pipes can also be damaged, despite their elasticity.

Most sprinkler systems can be drained manually. The valve is typically located at the bottom of the mainline. Make sure to wear eye protection and release all pressure from the line before draining to prevent injury. The blow-out method, using compressed air to clear the pipes, is the only way to 100 percent guarantee no water is left inside. You can do this on your own, but due to the inherent dangers, it’s better to hire a professional.

All pipes in unheated areas of your home (garage, attic, etc.) should be insulated with pipe-wrapping material that can be found at any hardware store.

Close the Pool

There are different methods for winterizing in-ground and above-ground pools, but the end result is similar. Use granular chlorine to lower the overall chlorine level of the water and save your cover from being damaged. After a thorough cleaning, lower the water level to about one foot below the tile for mesh covers and about six inches for floating covers. Buy a winter closing kit that comes with everything you’ll need, including instructions. Cleaning methods for filters and lines will vary by pool, so follow the manufacturers instructions carefully.

Clean Gutters

Gutter cleaning is not glamorous, and it can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not exercised. The two most important factors for safe gutter cleaning are a dry roof and a ladder long enough to extend beyond the roof. To prevent slips and falls, do not climb on the roof if it has rained in the past 24 hours. Leaf blowers are effective for cleaning long gutter sections, but its best to watch a professional do it once before attempting this yourself.

Energy-Saving Items

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that heating costs were higher for 90 percent of Americans homes last year than the winter of 2012-13. This was mostly due to higher costs for natural gas and propane.

A great way to cut energy bills is to invest in heated bedding. The Electric Blanket Institute (yes, this really exists) estimates a typical household can save up to $40 per month on heating costs by turning down the thermostat 10 degrees while sleeping. Make certain the electric blankets you choose are marked with Underwriters Laboratories safety approval (UL #964). A winterized home also has all gaps wider than a nickel between door and windows frames chalked to keep the warm air in and cold air out.

Every home has unique features, so winterization steps will vary. But completing all of the above are steps in the right direction.

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