Ways to Help Replenish Your Electrolyes

Only six electrolytes minerals needed by the blood in fairly large amounts are obtained from the diet.

1. Sodium
2. Chloride
3. Magnesium
4. Potassium
5. Calcium
6. Phosphorus

The first two are provided by table salt: sodium chloride. Adding about 1/2 teaspoon of salt to your diet per day provides enough sodium and chloride. The typical American diet already has plenty of salt in junk food, fast food, etc., so no additional salt is needed. But if you are eating from a survival garden and from stored food, you might need to add salt to your meals. Be sure to include plenty of table salt with your stored foods.

Magnesium is found in whole grains. Although whole grains spoil sooner in storage, it might be a good idea to have some whole grain flour, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta in storage. You can also grow amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat three crops high in magnesium.

Potassium is highest in potato. Tomato juice and sun-dried tomatoes are also high in potassium. Fruits and vegetables generally contain some potassium. Canned tomato sauce, paste, and juice are a good source of potassium. Potatoes can be easily grown in a survival garden. Some varieties of potato can be grown from seed, rather than from small chunks of potato.

Calcium and phosphorus are both found in cheese and other dairy products. Long term storage of cheese is a little tricky. You can store those boxed mac and cheese dinners the kind with the powdered cheese or the deluxe kind with a paste like cheese sauce. Your other good option is to throw a blocks of cheese in the freezer. Frozen foods keep indefinitely, but the consistency of the cheese may suffer.

If you are trying to survive from stored foods, you will need the three macro-nutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as the above six electrolytes. A survival garden is a good option for supplementing stored food. And if any food is still available at markets after the SHTF, you should prioritize macro-nutrients and electrolytes.

Tip on Preventing Blisters

First of all, remember that blisters require three conditions to occur: heat, moisture, and friction. Eliminate any one of those factors and you prevent blisters.

Buy boots that fits

Friction happens when your shoes or boots don’t fit your feet well. Buy them in a store where the staff knows how to measure your foot size. Try on a variety of brands because they all fit slightly differently; find the brand that fits your feet best. If the best boots you find still don’t fit perfectly, try after-market insoles to customize the fit.

Eliminate heat and moisture: Keep your feet dry

This may be the easiest and most effective strategy  employed: Whenever you stop for a break of five minutes or more,  take off your boots and socks and let them and your feet dry out, eliminating or at least minimizing heat and moisture. As simple as that.

Carry extra socks

If your feet get chronically sweaty, change into clean, dry socks midway through a day of hiking. Try to wash and cool your feet in a creek and dry them completely before putting on the clean socks.

Wear lightweight, non-waterproof footwear

Any footwear with a waterproof-breathable membrane is not as breathable as shoes or boots with mesh uppers and no membrane which also dry much faster if they do get wet. If you’re generally day hiking in dry weather, why do you need waterproof boots? It may seem counter intuitive, but non-waterproof shoes or boots may keep your feet drier because they won’t sweat as much.

Tape hot spots

Carry blister-treatment products like Moleskin—but also carry athletic tape, which sticks well even on damp skin. If you feel a hot spot developing,  stop immediately and apply two or three strips of athletic tape to the spot, overlapping the strips, and then check it periodically to make sure they’re still in place.

Tape preemptively

When you’re taking a really long day hike where you exponentially increasing the amount of friction that can occur, tape your heels before starting out, because you may have developed blisters on them on day hikes longer than 20 miles in the past. If you routinely get blisters in the same spots, tape them before your hike.

Use a skin lubricant

Distance runners have employed this trick for ages: Apply a lubricant to areas that tend to chafe or blister, like heels, toes, or even the inside of thighs, to eliminate the friction that causes that discomfort. Numerous products do the job, from the traditional Vaseline to roll-on sticks like BodyGlide.

Getting Outdoors More

Do you get outside as much as you’d like, either locally or on longer trips away from home? Sure, family and other responsibilities prevent you from getting out as much as you’d like.  As your life grew more complicated and busy, one of the most important “outdoor” skills you can acquired is figuring out how to get outdoors as much as you want. One thing you can do is make it a family outing. Here are some tips to help with the outdoor planning.

PLAN AHEAD

When was the last time you had the freedom to take off on the spur of the moment? Probably years ago, right? Many people lack that flexibility, which means that your outdoor recreation, like your work, has to be scheduled in advance, or it doesn’t happen. Backpacking, camping, and other activities in many national parks, can require making reservations months in advance.

INVOLVE YOUR FAMILY

As a parent, the best way to get outdoors more is to get your kids involved at a very young age carrying them on hikes and other activities before they’re walking, then letting them move under their own power as soon as they can walk.  That delivers multiple benefits for you: creating additional opportunities for you to get outside; ingraining in your children a love for the outdoors that you have always shared; and, by getting your family out as much as they’re willing to go, they occasionally don’t mind if you take off for a long day hike or a weekend of climbing or backpacking.

GET ORGANIZED

If the thought of packing up your gear for a weekend erects a mental hurdle to going, maybe you’ve created too much of a barrier for yourself. Get organized and efficient not just about packing for a trip, but also about storing gear after trips; having it ready to go helps you get out the door more quickly. Keep supplies like stove fuel and backpacking food on hand. That way, taking off for a night or two of camping or backpacking isn’t an ordeal.

GET A REGULAR PARTNER

Self-motivating is hard. Find a partner for regular, local hikes, rides, or trail runs who’s compatible with your style and pace besides pushing each other to work a little harder, you’ll push one another to stick to the commitment.

SCHEDULE WEEKLY OUTINGS

Don’t treat exercise and outdoor recreation as something you’ll get to at the end of the day or on the weekend if there’s time after everything else gets done it doesn’t happen that way. Schedule your regular, local outings during the week, like short hikes or trail runs, just like you schedule work or personal appointments. Carve out time for it on your calendar and you will do it and turn it into part of your routine.

For the next few months try to get outdoors more and maybe plan a trip. A day trip, weekend trip, or a week long trip. Just plan ahead and do something fun.

 

 

 

Building a Survival Kit for Kids

When you hike, you carry a survival kit that should cover the basic needs for yourself in a survival situation. When you hike with children you carry a bit bigger kit to help you care for your needs and the child’s. But what happens if you get separated from the child? Your best line of defense is a survival kit suited for your child’s needs and abilities.

The basic needs that you’ll need to meet are Shelter, Warmth, Signaling and First Aid. These are real needs for a child. If they have to spend the night hugging a tree until the survival crew gets there, if it gets cold, if she cuts herself or if he needs to signal to a helicopter or emergency crew then they will definitely need to have the means to do so in their kit and as importantly, know how to use them.

But that’s not the only thing you’ll be interested in. Psychology is just as important. To keep them from panicking and getting themselves in a worse situation you’ll want to give them things to keep them occupied. This can be a flashlight to keep the scary things away at night, candies to suck on, toys to play with or what have you. They will need to pass the time, be it 5 minute, one hour, or 1 day.

  • Emergency Blanket
  • Rain Poncho
  • Signal Mirror
  • Emergency Whistle
  • First Aid Gear (Kit)
  • Snacks/Candies
  • Flashlight/Signal Light
  • Fire Steel and Sticker
  • Ziploc Bag (Carry Water)
  • Cotton Balls
  • Duct Tape
  • Compass
  • Thermometer
  • Knife (Older Kids)
  • Rope

Chapstick-Handy Uses

If you carry chapstick in your packet, like most people do, then here are some neat ideas you can use during your next outdoor adventure.

  • A DIY fire starter – Combine some chapstick with a cotton ball for an improvised and reliable fire starter.
  • An Improvised First Aid kit – Use the chapstick to cover and protect minor, topical injuries. It’ll keep it protected, clean and prevent minor bleeding. Make sure you use non-flavored for this!
  • A gear lubricant – Chapstick is petroleum based, so it can be used to stop squeaks in gear and lubricate sticky zippers.
  • A Temporary Water-proof tool– If you find a small leak in your gear, a temporary field repair can be done with chapstick. It’ll act as a temporary fix to prevent water seeping through the tent, jacket, pack or what have you.
  • An Emergency Candle – A surprisingly effective homemade, emergency candle lantern by twisting a cotton ball into a wick and coating it in the chapstick.

Some Tips for Every Hiking Trip

If you’re planning on going hiking sometime soon, that’s terrific it’s a great way to get exercise, push your limits, and connect with the natural world. But like any outdoor activity, it comes with its share of dangers: weather, wild animals, poisonous plants, and so on. So if you want to get into the great outdoors and make it home again, brush up on these hiking safety tips.

For starters, tell people where you’re going, and mention when you expect to be back, whether you’re alone or in a group. In the event you don’t make it back, because you’re injured or lost, someone will notice, and search parties can be sent out right away. It really helps if they know where you were headed there’s a lot of nature out there, and only one you to find.

If you were hoping for a great weather weekend of hiking but hear there’s a storm approaching, postpone your trip. Nature does not care about ruining your weekend, it doesn’t care whether your get hurt or make it home. Remember that turning back isn’t admitting defeat, it’s respecting the wild world you so enjoy.

A pocket knife, compass and map are at the top of the list. Make sure you know how to use them.  Don’t forget a first aid kit, whistle, matches or a lighter, and plenty of food and water. If you’re hiking in a cold climate, bring warm clothes. If you’re staying overnight, bring what you need for camping.

One of the best parts of exploring nature is encountering the creatures that share the planet with humans. Remember that they’re called wild animals for a reason. Bear attacks are rarer than you might think, but they still happen.  And just because an animal strikes you as harmless, exercise caution; even mountain goats have killed hikers on occasion.

What if you are lost, stay calm. It’s easy to panic when you realize neither you nor anyone else knows where you are. But the most important thing to do is stay calm: Acting predictably will make it easier for a rescue team to find you. Sit down. Decide whether you’re going to get food or water, or build a shelter or a signal fire first, and then stay the course.

Make the job of whoever’s looking for you as easy as possible. If you have bright clothing, put it on. Stay in open, high ground. Blow a whistle at regular intervals.

In addition to staying in sight, try to signal your position to potential rescuers. Build a fire where it will be visible and won’t start a wildfire. Make a signal on the ground that will be visible from the air. Skip the classic “Help” in favor of three piles of anything (e.g., three piles of leaves) arranged in a triangle shape, the international wilderness symbol for distress.

It’s getting very cold out, again stay calm. Unless you’re very experienced yourself, you’re going to feel the pangs of fear setting in. Don’t let emotion take control, keep your head and think clearly. Use that fear and adrenaline to motivate yourself to do everything that needs to be done. If you can do that, you’ll find yourself moving quickly and efficiently, and not running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

If you find that your one day hike has turned into an open ended situation, you’ll need to find more water. Don’t waste time looking for possibly edible berries; you can go a month without eating, but only three days without drinking. Know where to look for water: dew on plants, banana and plantain trees, and tropical vines are good places to start.

Make sure to purify any water you find before drinking it: with purification tablets, a filter or by boiling it. If you’re truly lost, chances are it’s going to take a little while to find you. Making a shelter to spend the night in should be a priority. It can protect you from rain, wind, snow, insects, and sun during the day. It doesn’t have to be big, just large enough to fit you.

No matter the daytime temperature, it can get cold at night. Insulate your shelter with leaves, grass, and even snow. Insulate yourself as well. These tips may save your life during your next hiking trip. Always be prepared for the unexpected . You never know what may happen.

Going Green While Camping

Camping is a outdoor recreational activity which involves overnight stay away from home in a shelter such as a tent or a caravan. Camping is a wonderful experience if you’re ready to understand what it feels like to live off the land. Of course, with our modern technologies and conveniences, we don’t have to completely live off of the land.

Yet, there is nothing that can compare to getting back to nature and sleeping under the stars. It’s something everyone should try at least once.  While camping does feel quite environmentally friendly already, there are ways to make it even more green.

Camping with friends and family involves lot of fun. Going green with camping is an environmentally friendly way to make your vacation eco-friendly. The idea of making a greener camping is to have a minimal impact on the environment. Whether you are planning to week long backpacking trip or a short trip to snow covered mountains, here are some impressive tips to help you go green while camping.

Trash-Leave it how you found it-Clean

Even if you used mostly biodegradable materials, that doesn’t mean you have to leave your trash behind. It is important to leave your campsite the exact way you found it. What if the campers before you left all of their trash behind? Wouldn’t that be annoying? Instead of getting down to the business of camping, you have to start your trip by cleaning up after someone else. That would put a damper on anyone’s trip. So, be mindful of leaving anything behind. Bring extra cloth bags to store all of your items for the trip back home.

Soft Soles

You should tread lightly. You want to minimize your disturbance to the land. So, wear soft-soled shoes. You never know what might be waiting to shoot up beneath you. Remember, the plants and wildlife were there before you. We have our concrete jungles, give nature some space to live too. Also, don’t level the ground underneath your camp. It is that way for a reason. Instead, place cloths under a sloping mat to keep it level.

Clean and Reuse

If you’re camping for more than one night, you’ll have to do some washing. If you have reusable plates, cups and silverware–that is a good start. When washing them, use only biodegradable soaps. Don’t cancel out your green camping trip with toxic dish detergent. Also, do not dump waste water into a stream or river. Empty it on dry ground or vegetation.

Sleeping Gear

It is important to look for sustainable camping gear. Look for camping tents made with 100 percent recycled materials. This should include the tent, fly and floor. Then, determine what types of coatings are used for waterproofing. You want a tent that uses solvent-free polyurethane coating. And, it helps if it is made without toxic dyes.

They are made with naturally untreated, exterior-grade larch wood, while the floor is made from spruce. In addition, they have an integrated ventilation system and electrical outlets. Moreover, it can fit a king-size bed. You can also look for a pre-owned tent at most sporting goods stores. Just look at the materials before your purchase.

Again, look for sleeping bags made of recycled materials. If the weather permits, you might just stick to cloth blankets.

You might want to try a hanging tent. These are like sleeping in a tree. Sometimes, the ground is too cold, soggy and hard to be comfortable. For situations like these, the Tenstile company has created a hanging tent. It is called the Stingray, and it can help you camp anywhere you can suspend it off of the ground.

It is also made to fit three campers comfortably. You won’t have to worry about creepy, crawlies while you sleep. Plus, you’ll have a much better view.

Have you heard of solar tents? This is a new movement in sustainable camping, that also turns it into glamping. A solar tent uses solar fabric that catches the sun’s energy. It also comes with wireless charging pouches to let you charge your devices through magnetic induction.

Repellent

There are lanterns that double as a mosquito repellent. You can often use them to light up your surroundings for over 10 hours each time. Plus, they can protect you from nighttime predators.

Shower

Look for a rinsing system that uses garden hose pressure without the need for batteries or a pump. These types of shower systems compress air in the chamber, which then helps to force water out of the nozzle. This can be used to rinse dirty feet or wash dishes.

Solar Lantern

Carrying a lamp wherever you go can get bulky. The good news is you can find collapsible and portable solar-powered lamps. You can hang the lamp on a tree branch to soak up the sun’s energy during the day time. At night, the lamp shines brightly so that you don’t have to be stuck in the dark.

Food Container

Look for containers that have no BPA or phthalates. These chemicals can leak into your food, even in a microwave. You want something convenient, to travel with you without any messes. Look for leak, break and spill-proof containers. Plus, the design should be compact so as not to take up too much space and easily transport food.

Water

Many times people can be seen bringing a pack of water bottles along with them. This creates overhead as most parks require campers to pick their trash along with them. A better way is to bring a large water container or buy a couple of gallons from which you can refill your water bottle during the trip. You probably never imagined that camping could be even more eco-friendly than it already is. The objective is to continue trying to do as much as you can to care for the environment.

So next time you go camping try some of these tips and go a little greener. Try it, you might like it.

 

Traps and Snares

In a wilderness survival situation, it is imperative to know  your way around trapping and snaring animals and fish to use for food. With a few simple tools, a lot of patience, and a little bit of ingenuity, you can set up traps and snares to capture game animals, fish and birds with relative ease.

Traps and Snares for Game Animals:

Simple snare

To make a ground snare on a game trail, simply tie a “noose” from a line that slips easily, paracord works the best but fishing line also works, either using a slip knot or by feeding the line through a smooth ring. Tie off the end of the line to a tree or other sturdy object, and place twigs in the ground near the “noose” end of the snare. Then, suspend the “noose” from the twigs you placed in the ground, aiming to get it around the head height of the animal you are hoping to ensnare. The goal is to snare the head of the animal as it runs through the “noose,” so that it becomes trapped by its neck, and its attempts to free itself from the line tighten the snare further. Bait can be used to lure the animal to the snare.

Pit trapping


If you are in an area where larger game are plentiful and you have some time on your hands, you can also create a pit trap. Pit trapping can be used for deer or even elk, if you can dig deeply enough. Making pit traps is very time consuming and labor intensive, as you are essentially fashioning a grave from which the animal cannot escape. Begin by digging a hole in the ground wide enough to accommodate the body of the animal you wish to trap, and deep enough that the animal will not be able to escape once it falls in. If possible, shore up the “walls” of the pit with stones, creating a sort of makeshift masonry so that the integrity of the structure of the pit will not be compromised. Cover the pit carefully with thatch-work and leaves in order to disguise it, and wait. Note: be very aware of where you have placed the trap, lest you fall in yourself!

Deadfall

A deadfall trap is just what it sounds like: ideally, this trap makes the animal dead when it falls on top of it. In order to create a deadfall, find a large rock with a relatively flat surface on one side and use a tripod of sticks to hold it aloft. Bait should be placed at the center of the stick tripod. Make sure the sticks aren’t too solidly attached to one another, or the trap will not fall when the sticks are disturbed by the animal. Nor do you want them to be too weakly connected, lest the trap fall with a change of the wind!

Traps and Snares for Birds:

Net trapping

If you have a large net in your survival kit and feel like fowl, you may be in luck. By suspending a net between two trees in the flight path of a bird flock, you can ensnare one or more birds by trapping them in the netting. It is important that you leave a fold of netting down at ground level in case the bird should find its way downward—and since this method doesn’t involve any snaring of a specific body part, it is important to check it often if you are utilizing it just in case the bird should escape given time.

Perch snaring

Another method that can prove useful for bird-catching is a perch-style snare. Take a small stick and wedge it very loosely into the crotch of a tree branch, baiting the stick if desired. Then, tie a “noose” similar to that used in a ground snare, although very thin line is advised for bird snaring, such as fishing line and secure it to the tree, draping the “noose” end over the loosely-wedged stick. When the bird lights upon the stick, the stick should fall under its weight, thus trapping the bird by the feet.

Deadfall for ground birds

Just as you can use a deadfall trap for small game, you can use a similar trap for flightless birds. Using the same technique outlined for the small game deadfall, create a baited tripod of loosely-connected sticks holding aloft a large rock. When the bird disturbs the sticks in an attempt to reach the bait, the rock will fall and crush the bird or at least trap it in place.

Traps and Snares for Fish:

Trapping fish with a net


If you have a net, you can suspend it deep in the water of a river or creek by tying it off to poles place firmly in the ground, either at shore or further into the water. The net should be baited throughout, weighted at the bottom, and checked frequently to see if you have a catch. This is a simple, passive method for catching fish.

Bottle trapping

This method of fish-catching is painfully simple, but it does limit the size of fish you can catch. What you do is take a two-liter bottle such as those used for soda pop and clean it out, removing the label and the cap. Cut the bottle just below the neck, leaving a wide-mouthed container and a “funnel” that the neck has created. Cut off the threads of the bottle, leaving about a two-inch hole in the “funnel.” Place the “funnel” end backwards into the large portion of the bottle, so the neck of the funnel is facing inwards. Affix a line to the bottle, and add weights and bait—then sink your trap and wait for the fish to swim on in.

A line of lines

If you like, you can also make a line of multiple fishing lines in order to catch fish while you attend to other tasks. Here’s what you do: take a strong line such as sturdy rope or paracord and string it across a stream, tying it off securely to poles or trees on either bank, leaving it just above or partially submerged in water. Then, tie off weighted, baited hooks on fishing line to the cord and wait. When you return to your lines, you may find that your line of lines has taken all of the work out of your fishing.

Prepper Fitness 101

Why do people prep? No matter how you spin it, it’s probably going to boil down to taking care of themselves and those they love. Where the real variable comes into play is how people prep. Some stockpile and fortify, some may pack light and bug out, or others may have their own unique plans. Ultimately there is no universal answer as to the “right way” to properly prepare for a massive disaster scenario due to the varying nature of personalities in individuals. There is, however, is a key aspect of how people prep that should be implemented to any prepper’s plan if they plan to survive: physical fitness.

Now before thinking this article is about having the best looking six-pack when things go south (trust me, it’s not), consider this question, “Am I in a condition where I feel confident to take care of loved ones and myself physically if disaster strikes?”. Apply this question to your scenario of choice, hell, apply it to your everyday life when things are going good. More than likely the answer to this question is “no”, and there is nothing wrong with that. In all honesty, even if you are active, working out regularly, and eating healthy, there is room for improvement – it’s the nature of self-betterment and making your body best survival tool in a disaster.

How Prepper Fitness could help you in a Doomsday Scenario?

SHTF (who knows how). It’s code red and your rushing around too initiating your own variation on surviving this disaster. You’re sweating, adrenaline is pumping through you, and the only thing on your mind is getting to your checkpoint. As you’re running around, your blood pressure becomes dangerously high and you have a heart attack. Congrats, you just lost at doomsday.

Of course this scenario is a hypothetical and has no scientific analysis to back it up. But for a lot of people, a doomsday scenario could be as simple as the consequences of poor maintenance to their body in terms of diet and exercise. Physical fitness should be one of the essential building blocks of preparing, yet it seems that this foundation work on many prepper guides/plans is overlooked or simply glazed over.

Prepper fitness doesn’t have to be something crazy like running a marathon through the desert without water or joining a gym. Fitness can be as simple as just getting out of your comfort zone for one hour of your day. Much like prepper plans, fitness plans can vary from person-to-person depending on goals, but ultimately doing fitness based activity that pushes the limits of your body consistently will make you a stronger and a physically more efficient survivalist.

So where should someone begin if they are not as fit as they would like to be? Much like learning a new skill or plan for prepping, go to the Internet for information and ideas. Honestly, you don’t even need a gym membership for a great cardio workout – or even weights to build muscle for that matter. Focusing on body weight exercises, light jogging/power walking, and functional lifts at first can make you healthier and stronger, but can also be fun to a degree.

A general introduction to Prepper Fitness

Depending on how serious you want to take this, I would suggest investing in a few things (although not necessary, can serve to be helpful): a heart monitor, pedometer, some of your prepping supplies, and a semi-truck/tractor tire.

Cardio – This does NOT mean running per se, cardio is simply training that gets your heart rate up. Ideally for fat loss/cardio training, you want your heart rate to be “in the zone” (Target Heart Rates by American Heart Association). Cardio training can be monitored with a heart rate monitor, which can also serve as a safety precaution while training, and can be accomplished in a number of ways such as: swimming, hiking, power walking, biking, jogging, or even HIIT workouts. The key to cardio training is consistency and always improving. It’s smart to keep a log of your workouts to monitor progress. Don’t get discouraged though, sometimes progress can come in the form of walking a mile faster than you ever have or sometimes progress can come in the form of showing up to exercise when your brain wants to make a million excuses not to.

“Weight” Training – as mentioned earlier, you really don’t need iron based weights to lift. Some of the best exercises you can do, can be done using only your body weight. One preface that must be mentioned in this portion is always consider your form first whenever lifting something or exercising – improper form can lead to potential injury in the short and long-term. Here is a quick list of some great body weight exercises that can be easily added to your workout circuit:

  • Air Squats – excellent for your quads, glutes, and hamstrings
  • Lunges – builds stamina and quads as well as works the calves, glutes, and hamstrings
  • Pushups – works your chest as well as your shoulders and triceps with many variations available
  • Pullups – great for your lats, back, and biceps.
  • Side Leg Raises – works your hips/adductors
  • Dips – adaptable workout for your triceps that also works your chest and shoulders

Functional Training – of course we are preppers, so a lot of the training done should be survival themed right? Try adding these exercises to your workout that can easily add purpose to your workout:

  • Sledgehammer swings on a tire – think you might need to split a lot of wood?
  • Tire Flips – for anytime you think you might have to lift something heavy off the ground…
  • Bucket Carries – water is necessary, not light, and probably inconveniently located
  • Rope Climbs – wonder if you may need to get somewhere when you don’t have a ladder?
  • Log Carries – Get good at carrying awkward things… do you honestly think everything you need will fit conveniently in your rucksack?
  • Running – this may come in handy at some point in life!

WRAP-UP

Although this is not designed to be a complete guide to prepper fitness, it is meant to get preppers thinking and give basic considerations on where to begin their journey into becoming the best survival instrument in their tool box. The best advice one can take away from this is to try to make fitness a fun and enjoyable part of your day/life, it will not only help make it a consistent part of your routine, but you may even have fun doing something that is physically great for your body!

Two final notes: 1. Remember to stretch before and after exercising, there are too many benefits to stretching and flexibility to list here. 2. Material in this article is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Not all exercises may be applicable to readers; always consult a physician before trying a new diet or exercise program. I am not responsible or liable for any injuries, damages, loss, or accidents.

Introduction to Building a Storage Shed – Part 2

In this part, we will look at some other things to consider before you install your storage shed.  And some general lessons learned to keep in mind through the process.

Storage Shed Kit Sources

Doing an online search seems to be an effective method.  Doing a search for “shed kit” on eBay gave me an idea of what was available.  Searching for the top brands found companies specializing in shed kits such as ShedsForLess.com.  Once I found the make and model I was looking for, more specific searches found the best price.  Prices seem fairly universal, although I did happen to find a sale on my choice.  A local source may be cheaper since delivery can be handled in house, but will be increased by sales tax, so the total price should be compared with companies which have to include freight in the cost but don’t have to charge tax.  It seems that shipping is usually “free” (more accurately, included in the cost) on some of the major brands.

Keep in mind that the floor is usually not part of the kit, although often can be ordered with the kit.  Often it is delivered first, from a local source, which means the quality might not be optimal.  On mine, most of the joists could be forced into place, but I had one beam which was warped at a knot, and attempting to force it straight caused the beam to snap.  Replacing it was not trivial, since the only receipt I had was the shipping order, and it took a long time for the local store to find it in their system, since it did not have my name on it or even the name of the company I ordered from.  It was under the name of the kit manufacturer.

There are kits which are material only, and those which are pre-cut.  The latter is easier to assemble and requires less equipment.

Also, when pricing a (wood) kit, keep in mind that hardware is often included, but paint and roofing are usually not, and these products are not cheap.  I could not believe they get over $30 a gallon for paint these days; fortunately Ace had a buy one gallon, get one gallon free sale.  For most (wood) sheds, the specified roofing is shingles, and those run about $1 a square foot.    Flooring, roofing and paint was about 1/4 of the total cost of my kit, and that did not include the roofing gun and scaffolding which will be used for other projects as well.

Options

Often a kit company will offer “options” such as additional or different doors, windows, a ramp, shelving/cabinets and various ventilation methods.  If offered by the kit company you pretty much have to order it with the kit.  Ventilation is good to prevent heat build-up; a “ridge vent” methodology is probably the best, but usually not available with the kit.  If you are going to use the shed strictly for storage, then windows would seem to be pretty silly since you lose wall space and reduce the security.  However, if you are going to be spending much time in there, a window or two will be quite helpful for light, ventilation and to reduce claustrophobia.

What to Have on Hand

The first thing to attempt to arrange is other people.  There are a couple of aspects of building the shed which will be very difficult for a single person to accomplish, without using “tricks” which need to be purchased or constructed.  More people not only allow completing these aspects in a “normal” manner, but will make things quicker and perhaps even “more fun”.  After all, if a single person needs to drive 1000 nails, two people only need to drive 500 each, and so on.  Plus, don’t discount the motivation having others involved provides.  If you can arrange for a person or group to help, that should be great.  If you don’t have people available or that you trust, it does not mean you are out of luck, just that you will need to approach the project differently.

There are certain basic tools you will need.  For a pre-cut wood building, that will be a hammer, drill (primarily for driving screws), tape measure (25′ may be adequate for medium sized buildings), level, framing square, carpenter’s pencil and a circular saw.  Having a cut-off saw was nice (more ergonomic and precise), but is not really needed by the pre-cut kit; the square and circular saw will suffice since there are not that many cuts left to be made.  A panel saw would have been handy, but for the one cut needed for the floor of my kit, a long straight edge, a pair of clamps, and the circular saw did just fine.  And you will need a ladder or two.  And, of course, don’t forget safety glasses and work gloves.  Plus arrange for the equipment for your preferred painting methodology.

Remember those 1000 nails?  I’ve used a nail gun for construction and it is very helpful indeed.  However, since the kit came with all the correct nails, I did not bother getting the pneumatic equivalents.  However, roofing nails were NOT included, and roofing is enough of a pain; I got a roofing nail gun and the nails for it.  Some kits say that “felt” under the shingles is “optional”.  I disagree.  Not only does it provide protection from a small leak in the shingles, but it protects the shingles from the roof panels and vice versa.  For the felt, you will need a hammer stapler and staples (no, a pneumatic stapler won’t do; it goes right through the felt, and your hands will hate you if you try using a standard squeeze stapler).  For the shingles, a utility knife and a bunch of hook blades for it, and a pair of tin snips (for the edging).  Be sure the hook blades fit your utility knife; my knife had a couple of extra pins which match up holes only in the same brand’s (much more expensive) blades.

This list assumes that everything goes perfectly, which it sometimes does not.  For instance, if there is a warped or twisted board, it can often be forced into position using a pipe wrench.  Or a twisted beam can be encouraged to stay in place with a long bolt and nut, tightened with a wrench and socket wrench.  Some places get rain, and getting raw wood wet is not wise.  A tarp big enough to completely cover the roof (and bungee cords to fasten it down with) can be a great help.  Things sometimes don’t fit quite right; I found a package of composite (not wood) shims (from Timberwolf) to be of great help in these cases.  If you end up with a crack or hole that insects can get through, some spray foam like “Great Stuff” can help.  Although roofing CAN be done with ladders, it is a tedious, slightly more dangerous process.  Buying or renting scaffolding can make it go quicker and is a bit safer to boot.  Of course, it might be easier and not much more expensive just to hire someone to do the roofing.

I used several other tools which I had on hand, to overcome problems and make “enhancements” to the shed.  These should not be normally needed.

Caveats

It is tempting to just order the kit and work on the site when the floor kit arrives.  This can be problematical; it took me over a month to get the floor flat and level (since the ground was very much neither).  Yet, the shed kit arrived only a few days after the floor kit.  Be aware of what the relative weather is between the source and your location.  My kit came from Pennsylvania when it was cold and wet, and arrived in Arizona where it was warm and dry, and sat in that wildly different environment for over a month.  It is not surprising that I had more warping and twisting than expected.  Two lessons learned.  Prepare site before ordering, and be aware of relative weather between source and destination.

The floor kit is often delivered by a local lumber outfit, who may have a trailer and fork-lift, and can put the pile in a relatively out of the way location.  The shed kit may be shipped by a standard shipper who has nothing other than pallet jacks to move things around with.  Pallet jacks require a smooth, solid surface, so they had to leave my kit in the road and I had to quickly and manually move it into my pickup.  The total kit weight is a bit over a ton, so to move it from curb to site will take more than one trip with a “1/2 ton” pickup.  When you get to the site, have something for the materials to sit on to keep them off the ground, sort the parts by size, and then stack them with the last needed pieces on the bottom and the first needed pieces on top.  I had two stacks, one of boards and one of sheets.  Cover with tarps if precipitation is expected.

Find the inventory list before you start unpacking and use it to verify the contents as you unpack.  I did a manual inventory, and matching it with the official one I found later was a bit of a challenge, since my descriptions did not match theirs.  There were a couple of pieces missing and a couple which were unusable; a call to the company got replacements sent right out.  Read the manual from cover to cover before you start, then follow it “exactly” (except for any typos) unless you are doing the build by yourself.

It was annoying that the 16′ shed floor kit came with 8′ runners; it was a challenge to keep them together and straight; I eventually gave up and used “StrongTie” connectors to hold them together end-to-end.

Standard felt is very easily torn.  It usually takes two people to install, and after we got one side up and took a break; the wind, more accurately a gentle breeze, ripped most of it off.  I finally had success with double thickness felt which is somewhat stronger, a “tool” I built which allowed me to put it up by myself, and putting on the edging as quickly as possible to prevent  wind from getting under the felt edges.  Yes, you need more rolls (being thicker, there is less length in each roll), but in climates such as ours, you generally put on two layers of standard felt anyway.

How to start

The first step is to figure out everything you want to accomplish with your shed, then find out any limitations on what you are “allowed” to put up and where you want to put it.  This includes finding out what is required by building codes.  Make sure you have plans for any alterations to be made to the shed; find the materials and figure out when in the build process you will need to diverge from the standard instructions.  Next, find the model or models of kits which you like, and get an idea of the pricing.  Arrange financing (cash or credit), prepare the site (marking and leveling for wood, forms. rebar and pouring for concrete), then order the kit.  Find out when it will be delivered and arrange to be available, with a truck or two to move the parts from where they deposit them to the construction site, and preferably people to help to load and unload.

 

John Hertig

Introduction to Building a Storage Shed – Part 1

Why would you want to do this?  Look at the name:  STORAGE Shed.  Most everybody “needs” more storage because they can’t bear to have less stuff.  And someone preparing for bad times probably has more stuff than a person who doesn’t believe anything bad can happen and expects their parents and/or government to take care of them no matter what.  Some of that extra stuff you really don’t have room for in your house, and some of your prepping supplies you REALLY don’t want to have IN your house.  Such as a generator and fuel, oil and vehicle parts, battery banks and so on so building a storage shed makes a lot of sense in some situations.  You can, of course, rent storage space; there is a large industry devoted to just that.

There are a few problems with that solution though.  One, you have to go there to get your stuff, and that assumes that you have a working transport AND that they can or will let you have access if they have no power or their computers don’t work or the people in charge are honesty challenged.  Two, you have signed your stuff over to them if they don’t receive payment for any reason (such as banks being closed).  Three, you are usually contractually obligated NOT to store some of the things you don’t want in your house.  And four, they can raise their rates whenever they please unless you have a long-term lease.  The place I am at currently is charging me TWICE what someone walking in off the street pays, and won’t reduce it.  I could rent another unit, move my stuff over, and cancel the first place, or move to another location, but I know the new price will just start moving up again.  The cost of a storage shed may seem large, but I did the math, and it will be paid off by two years of storage fees, and that is assuming they don’t raise the rate again, which is a very poor assumption.

Look at the other part of the name:  Storage SHED.  Do you have a “post Apocalypse” trade planned or set up; blacksmith, gunsmith, leather worker, seamstress/tailor, weaver, or the like?  This could be used for your business or the tools and supplies.  Plus, a shed looks like a shed, but it does not mean it must be ONLY a shed.  It could provide camouflage for an entrance or exit from an underground area.  It can be built with concealed areas.  Some sheds are designed as, or can be converted to, a green house, if you are interested in growing your own food and/or medicinal plants or setting up an aquaponics system.

Ok, let us assume you have decided you want a storage shed.   But can you have one?  Like it or not, there are a number of people or organizations who have control over what you put up.  Do you own the property?  If not, the owner has complete discretion over what you put up, if anything.  And if you don’t own the property, do you really want to make improvements to it?  An option in this case might be “portable” storage, like a trailer, or one of those transoceanic shipping containers.

Do you belong to a “Home Owners Association”?  If so, you have contractually agreed to give them complete control of the exterior of your property.  Read the bylaws to see what is currently allowed.  Figure out what you can do which abides by any restrictions.   And once you come to agreement on what they will accept “today”, get documentation which grandfathers your shed against any future changes to the bylaws.

How close are the neighbors, and are they reasonable?  If you follow all the legal requirements, they may not be able to prevent you from doing what you want, but if they get annoyed enough, they can still cause you plenty of grief.

Dealing with Governments

And then there is the city, town, township, parish and/or county.  Each level of government will have restrictions on what can be done, based on the “zoning” of the property in question.  The less remote the property is, the more stringent the restrictions are likely to be.  These include things like the percentage of the property which can be “covered”, height restrictions, required distances from property lines and other buildings, and many other things, collectively known as “Building Codes”.  Your safest bet is to get a “building permit”, but this has some downsides.  First of all, as a survivalist, you should attempt to stay “under the radar”.  You would be hard pressed to be more obvious than having your plans on public accessible file with the government, and having inspectors checking you out each step of the way.  Second of all, it will cost.  The building permit has a fee, often based on type of building and square feet.  I once wanted to put up a carport, and they told me I would have to pay $5 per square foot just for the permit.  For posts and an aluminum roof; the building permit would have cost more than the carport.  Not only that, but it is likely they will factor this “improvement” into your property value when computing future property taxes.

By all means, find out all the restrictions on what you can put up; violating restrictions has potential for serious annoyances if the government wants to raise a fuss (and they usually do if violations are brought to their attention).  However, if you can avoid getting a building permit, that might be a good path.  For instance, here, if the shed is less than 200 square feet, you don’t need a permit.  That means a 12′ by 16′ shed (192 square feet) can be put up without a permit being required.  Just because a permit is not required, does not mean the restrictions can be ignored; you just won’t have the public records and government monitoring.

Ways to Get a Storage Shed

The “easiest” way is to have someone build it for you.  This will not be the cheapest option, and a competent builder will likely insist on a building permit, meaning not only public records and government monitoring, but the builder and perhaps others will know all about your shed.  The incompetent builder will refuse the permit and perhaps build something which violates code, with potential for eventual legal challenges or structural problems.  For smaller sheds, you might be able to have it pre-built and delivered.  You could build it yourself, which means you have to come up with a viable design (not that hard) and get the materials, which may be a challenge.  I don’t know about your location, but the lumber here is crap; warped, twisted, split, insufficiently dried.  As my dad said when we were trying to get lumber to replace a rotted porch, “I wouldn’t use this stuff for firewood”.  The remaining option is a “kit”.  This has the advantage that the design, acquisition of materials and much of the cutting are already done for you.  A good kit will have better quality material than you may find locally and instructions which most everyone should be able to follow.

Types of Storage Sheds

There are a number of architectural shed types.  Chose what you like, and what fits your landscape and restrictions.  I’m partial to the “barn” style, because it gives you more height, and even “lofts” in some models.  Possible materials include wood, steel, aluminum and various “plastics”.  Plastic and aluminum tend to be the hallmark of cheap “department store” sheds, great for lawnmowers and garden tools, but not what you would call “durable” or “secure”, and usually limited in size.  For a substantial shed, wood or steel is usually the way to go.  I’m more comfortable working with wood, so that is the path I chose, although steel seems like it might have some advantages.

Modifications

Depending on what you will use the shed for, you may want to make modifications or additions.  For instance, wiring it for electricity may be useful.  But since there is no guarantee electricity will always be available, make sure you have the ability to plug-in a generator (via a transfer switch), or add solar or wind generation capability.  In some cases, you may want to add plumbing.  Note that no matter how much of the electrical or plumbing work you are willing and able to do yourself, you should consider getting a permit for this work and having it inspected.  Unlike the structure, which is hard to mess up (especially if professionally designed), a mistake in the design OR execution of electric or plumbing can cause fire, electrocution, leaks, odors or rot/rust.  And if not up to code, an insurance company may refuse to pay off on a claim.  Wherever practical, have the shed “completed” so it looks like you are “adding” the electrical or plumbing and follow all requirements for what must be visible to the inspector(s).  Of course, if you got the permit for the shed in the first place, follow their instructions on when in the process the various inspections should be scheduled.  If temperature control is a concern, you may want to add insulation, cooling or heating.

Flooring

This foundation (literally) of a shed is an important decision.  The common choices are concrete, or joists with flooring panels.  Concrete may be “better” and in some cases easier; pick your location, set up forms and rebar, and have it poured.  It may be more expensive, and less versatile (it is kind of hard to dig through concrete if you decide a partial “basement” would be handy), and “impossible” to move.  Joists are likely to be less expensive and more versatile, and if the ground is not even, may even be more practical.  There will be beams running the length of the building, with the joists running across the building between the beams.  Flooring panels are laid across the joists and fastened in place.  Note that the beams and joists are in contact with the ground and so are at risk for rotting and/or insects.  Thus pressure treated lumber or corrosion resistant metal is critical here.

Site preparation is highly important, since in order for the floor to be flat and level, and stay that way, the ground must be flat, level and stable.  If it is not, you may be able to compensate by having a variable thickness concrete floor, or building a foundation or partial foundation for your beams out of blocks and concrete.  A “better” floor system is to have runners the length of the building, on which the beams and joists sit.  As long as the runners are flat and level (and adequately supported), it does not matter if the ground is, plus it also allows ventilation below the shed, which can help with cooling and reduction of condensation inside.  It also puts the flooring higher, which may make entry more difficult, but on the other hand, gives more protection against minor flooding.  The runners, of course, must also be pressure treated wood, corrosion resistant metal, or even concrete and/or blocks, and a ramp can compensate for the step up.

 

John Hertig

Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

hiiking

While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain… for the better!

Hiking In Nature Can Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

Aside from the almost instant feeling of calm and contentment that accompanies time outdoors, hiking in nature can reduce rumination. Many of us often find ourselves consumed by negative thoughts, which takes us out of the enjoyment of the moment at best and leads us down a path to depression and anxiety at worst. But a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin.

To conduct this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through either an urban or a natural environment. They found those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through the urban environment, however, did not report decreased rumination.

The researchers noted that increased urbanization closely correlates with increased instances of depression and other mental illness. Taking the time to regularly remove ourselves from urban settings and spend more time in nature can greatly benefit our psychological (and physical) well-being.

Hiking While Disconnected From Technology Boosts Creative Problem Solving

A study conducted by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem solving can be drastically improved by both disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. Participants in this study went backpacking through nature for about 4 days, during which time they were not allowed to use any technology whatsoever. They were asked to perform tasks which required creative thinking and complex problem solving, and researchers found that performance on problem solving tasks improved by 50% for those who took part in this tech-free hiking excursion.

The researchers of this study noted that both technology and urban noise are incredibly disruptive, constantly demanding our attention and preventing us from focusing, all of which can be taxing to our cognitive functions. A nice long hike, sans technology, can reduce mental fatigue, soothe the mind, and boost creative thinking.

Hiking Outdoors Can Improve ADHD In Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming more and more common among children. Children who have ADHD have a difficult time with impulse control and staying focused, they get distracted easily, and exhibit excessive hyperactivity.

Hiking In Nature Is Great Exercise And Therefore Boosts Brainpower

We already know that exercising is fantastic for our overall well-being. Hiking is an excellent way to burn between 400 – 700 calories per hour, depending on your size and the hike difficulty, and it is easier on the joints than other activities like running. It has also been proven that people who exercise outside are more likely to keep at it and stick to their programs, making hiking an excellent choice for those wishing to become more active on a regular basis.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume — the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory — in women over the age of 70. Such exercise not only improves memory loss, but helps prevent it as well. Researchers also found that it can also reduce stress and anxiety, boost self esteem, and release endorphins. Many people take medication to solve each and every one of these issues, but the solution to these ills may be a lot simpler than you think!

How Can You Begin To Start Hiking?

Luckily, hiking is one of the easiest and least expensive sports to get involved in, and it can have great benefits for the whole family, including grandma! Start out small and test your abilities. Do what works for you — if that means just walking through trails in a park, that’s fine. Any exercise outdoors is better than none. You can easily find maps of trails around your home online, and there are plenty of smartphone apps to map them out, too. I recommend turning off your signal and your phone while hiking though, so you can reap the most benefits of the hike (though it may be wise to at least carry it with you in case of emergency).

Make sure you have some good sturdy hiking shoes, a hat, and a water bottle, and be sure to layer your clothing so you can take things on or off easily as you warm up and cool down. You may want to consider using trekking poles as well, which can increase your speed and take some of the pressure off your knees. Now, can you just do one thing for me?

Go take a hike!

Linked from: http://www.cosmicscientist.com/doctors-explain-how-hiking-actually-changes-our-brains/

6 Questions you Should Ask About Prepping

Every once in a while, it is important to take a back seat to the process of prepping and do a little planning.  I say this because things change and life evolves, requiring a re-examination of the who, what, and why of prepping.  Let’s face it. You probably remember why you started to set food, water, and supplies aside, and why you began to bone up on off-grid skills.  But in the flurry of preparedness activities, have you ever taken a look at your original plan and made circumstantial changes?

If you are saying “what plan”,  join the crowd!

An Introduction to the Who, What, and Why of Prepping

We all know about the successful reporter’s rule of thumb:  determine the who what where and how for every story.  Let us take the “where” out of the equation and begin with the who, what and why of prepping.

1.  Who Should Prep?

There is only one right answer:  Everyone!

The differentiator is the extent of one person’s preps over those of another person.  Person A may define being prepared as having a three day plan to soldier through a winter storm when the power is out.  (Of course I will try to encourage that person to prep for a week or two at a minimum, but ultimately, three days is considered a decent starting point.)

On the other hand, Person B may not consider himself adequately prepped until he has the supplies, tools, and skills to manage for a year or more on his own.

It all gets down to a matter of perspective.  Like a broken record I will say it again; there is no right and no wrong when it comes to preparedness.  If you prepare enough to ally your fear of a disruptive event, you will have done enough.

Six Questions Every Prepper Needs to Ask and Answer | Backdoor Survival

2.  What is Prepping?

Let us get this one out of the way quickly as well.  Prepping is being able to survive a disruptive event if not in comfort, then at least with a minimum amount of stress.

3.  Who Are You Prepping For?

Now we start to get into the nitty-gritty of your plan.  It is important to understand who you are prepping for.  Is it just yourself and your partner (if you have one), or an extended family?  Are there infants or toddlers involved?  What about physically challenged, or elderly members of your family.  Don’t forget about the family dog or cat, and your farm animals.

As you prepare a strategy to meet your prepping goals, things can get out of hand quickly.  It takes money to prep so even though you may want to take care of everyone, doing so can put a huge strain on the family budget. If you are lucky enough to have family members who are on board with prepping, you can ask them to participate, even if all that means is they clean and repurpose soda bottles so they can be filled with tap water and stored for an emergency.

At the end of the day, though, you must be realistic and remember that having the time and resources to live your life in the here and now is important too.  Go slowly as you expand your preps to include others.  Do not cannibalize your own life for the sake of something that may or may not happen.

4.  What Are You Preparing For?

Are periodic power outages your concern, or is it the the big earthquake that is past due along the Cascadia Fault?  Is it a hurricane or is it global economic collapse?  If you are a prepper newbie, I tend to recommend that you initially focus on disruptive events that are geographically specific to where you live.

If you are new to an area and even if you are not, your county will have an emergency services department with plenty of information describing the types of disasters and freaks of mother nature that can occur in your community.  Take advantage of this information.

5.  Where Do I Start?

Getting started when you are at prepping ground zero can be overwhelming.  I get that. That being said, the fact you are reading this article is a good start.

Beyond that, get your water, food and first aid supplies in order, as well as a stash of cash for those times when the ATM is not working.

6.  How Long Do You Want Your Preps to Last?

This is another reality check.  Although it would be nice to say “forever”, unless you have a self-sufficient farm and everything that goes along with it, a forever goal is not realistic.

Why not start with a week, then expand to a month?  After you have met that goal,, decide whether you would prefer to prep for more people, or perhaps to extend the period to three months or a year.  Have a discussion with yourself and decide what is right for you, your temperament, and your feelings about the likelihood of a major disruptive event. occurring in the near future.

The Final Word

It is easy to say “plan first, prepare second”, but even planning can be overwhelming.  I know that when I first started to prep, I armed myself with a 20 page checklist to use to begin the planning process.  After an hour, I set it aside and chartered my own course.  Thus was the beginning of Backdoor Survival and my own common sense approach to preparedness.

As a call to action, it is time to revisit the basics.  The moment is now.

3 Steps in How to Use a Compass

 

Compass

Despite the fact that a compass is a basic tool for getting around, it can be an intimidating piece of equipment for those who’ve never held one before, much less used it to safely navigate an unfamiliar bit of wilderness.

The first step in figuring it all out is familiarizing yourself with the various parts of a compass. Once you’ve got at least a rough understanding of what the lines mean, of which part turns and why, you’re ready to get some basic training under your belt.

A starter compass is a good place to start. The simple instrument can serve as an excellent introduction to orienteering as a hobby, sport, and overall enjoyable activity. The best beginner’s tool comes with only the essentials, so new users from children experiencing their first taste of outdoor exploration to adults rekindling an appreciation for nature can confidently build a foundation on which to build a growing knowledge of navigation.

The Silva System is a straightforward method for learning how to properly combine a compass and topographic map. The system can be boiled down into three easy steps:

Step 1

You may not be able to get from where you are to your ultimate destination in one go. In that case, you should break the journey down into more manageable steps. Set the compass on the map so the edge of the base plate (remember what that is?) serves as a line connecting your current position to where you want to go. You should be able to draw a line along the edge, as if it were a ruler—which it basically is.

Step 2

Set the compass heading by rotating the dial until the letter “N”—for north—lines up with magnetic north indicated on the map. You should be able to find a compass rose indicating which way is which.

Step 3

Pick up the compass and hold it flat in front of you. Be sure that the direction of travel arrow points straight ahead. Then, rotate yourself, keeping an eye on the magnetic needle. When the red end lines up exactly with the orienting arrow, stop. The direction of travel arrow (it’s easy to keep the distinct arrows straight when you actually see them in action) will be pointing in precisely the direction you want to go. Look in the direction of the arrow and find a particular landmark that stands out. Hike to that landmark, at which point you can stop, regroup, and start steps one through three over again.

Even though this is a simplified navigation system, there is one other detail that should be noted: The magnetic needle will always point north, but north itself isn’t a fixed, immovable point. Well, magnetic north isn’t, anyway.

True north is a fixed point that never changes. Magnetic north wanders, due to the ever-shifting nature of the Earth’s magnetic field. The two different norths sit about 800 miles apart.

Mapmakers typically consider true north when creating their maps. Many topographic maps will, however, also include information on “declination,” which is the difference between true north and magnetic north from a given point.

The difference between true north and magnetic north can be so minimal as to not really matter, or it can be significant enough to prevent an unaware hiker from ever arriving at the intended destination.

How to Make a Trailer into a Suitable Camper

how-to-make-a-trailer-into-a-suitable-camper

How many times have you seen a travel trailer zooming by on the interstate and thought, “Boy, I wish I could travel in one of those?” It may not be as unreachable a dream as you think. Even though most of the ‘silver palaces’ of the 1940s–1960s are gone, and modern RVs are prohibitively expensive, there is another option.

Cargo trailers, like the Endura Cargo Trailer by Hillsboro Industries, can be easily converted and customized into a comfortable tiny home on wheels.

Advantages of Cargo Trailer Conversion

    • Fully-customizable – Classic travel trailers were designed to serve a different lifestyle, and may not be suitable for modern living. Many feel like dark, claustrophobic spaces. Cargo trailers are an empty, open space, just waiting to be built to your specific needs. Straight-hitch trailers can run from fourteen to twenty-eight feet in length. Fifth-wheel models vary between fourteen and thirty-four feet. Cargo trailers come in a variety of widths and heights, unlike pre-built travel trailers, and include many options for the numbers and types of doors and windows.

 

    • Less expensive – Starting costs for a customized cargo trailer are considerably less than an RV.

 

    • New – With a brand-new cargo trailer, there are no concerns over the condition of the frame, exterior, or electrical systems. When you buy a used travel trailer, you’re never sure of the condition it’s in.

 

    • Lighter – Aluminum, double-wall construction is light, stronger and more durable than steel. You can control how much weight you want to add to your mobile home-away-from-home.

 

    • Unobtrusive – Many people prefer using a cargo trailer because it attracts less attention. Traditional RVs may be subject to restrictions on where they can be parked, but those restrictions do not apply to cargo trailers.

 

Things to Consider First

] The first decision that must be made is, how will the trailer be used? Do you want to live in it full-time year round, or only as an alternative to a tent when camping in the great outdoors? How much do you want to spend? How much time and effort do you want to invest in the project? What climate zones do you plan to visit in your customized RV? What functional areas are most important to have in your trailer? What conveniences do you require?

External Functionality

Most cargo trailers include a standard side door and double rear doors. However, if you want the option of an outdoor room, or you want to use your RV as a toy hauler, consider buying a trailer with a rear ramp door. If you arrange supports to lower your ramp door so that it is level with the floor of the trailer, you can create an instant outdoor deck. Some people prefer to live in a trailer with no windows, or small windows set high up along the walls. This design is optimal if being unobtrusive is an important feature. In this case, you might want to consider installing small skylights.

Insulation Is Key to Comfort

One-inch aluminum studs are readily available and would support both rigid and soft foam insulation in walls and ceiling. However, insulation in the floor will be the most important factor in keeping the heat in during the winter, and out during the summer, especially if you plan on living in the RV full-time. Installing studs and internal walls are also necessary if you wish to install plumbing, additional electrical features (like outlets and specific lighting), and propane lines for furnaces and ovens.

Many Design Options Available for Wall Panels and Flooring

Many people choose aluminum panels or 3/8” wood panels for walls, but pre-fabricated wall panels are available in hardboard, MDF, fiberglass and vinyl with almost any decorating style including brick, tile, bead board, wood planks, and 3-D textures. Subfloor panels should be at least 3/4” thick, or the floor will feel spongy when you walk on it. Once that is installed, almost any type of flooring would work well, including vinyl flooring, wood parquet tiles, or small ceramic tiles. Another quick, easy and attractive option is to paint the subfloor with a few coats of marine varnish and leave it bare.

Utilities Needed

If you plan on living in your camper full-time, you will probably want both a furnace and an air-conditioner. Choose appliances that are designed for use in an RV. Used appliances can often be found in good condition if you are on a budget. Plumbing will be crucial if the trailer is your main residence. Most campgrounds offer public showers, so you may not require one of those in your trailer, but at least one sink and a toilet are important. PVC works great in RVs, and supplies can be found at almost any hardware store.

The principles of gravity are simple and almost anyone can install their own plumbing lines. Tanks for fresh, gray and black water add weight and take up space. If you design the drainage lines at the correct angle of descent, you can avoid installing tanks altogether. Most campgrounds provide sewer and water hook-ups. Since you’ll never know the quality of the water before you arrive at a campsite, installing a small water filter is a good idea. Also, look for a water heater that is designed for RV use. If you do want a shower, you might want to search for a used one from an old RV. Installing gas lines to the propane tanks is a job best left to professionals, though, so keep that in mind.

Appliances

Most campgrounds provide 120V and 240V electrical hook-ups, so once you’ve installed basic electrical wiring and outlets, you can fill your customized cargo trailer with whatever standard appliances you prefer. Small or medium-sized refrigerators, microwave and convection/toaster ovens make the most sense. Propane RV oven-stoves are also popular.

Off-Grid Living

If you don’t plan on berthing your new converted RV in a campground, there are a number of options like solar panels, chemical toilets, tent showers and other features you could install to save money and energy.

Interior Design

Once the basics are installed in your converted trailer, the real fun begins. Many people install customized shelving and platform or bunk beds. One unique idea is to use a pop-up trundle bed in conjunction with a daybed. During the day the daybed acts as a sofa. At night it converts into a king-sized bed. Not many RVs, even the really expensive ones, can support any bed larger than a queen-sized mattress. Multipurpose and convertible furniture ideas will also help make your new residence more livable.

No Limits

With the emergence of the tiny home movement and a robust RV industry, once you’ve decided to embark on the cargo trailer conversion adventure, there really are no limits as to the RV you can create. Visit a trailer dealer to see what brand-new, customizable cargo trailers are available and begin the journey.

Linked from: http://www.doomsdaymoose.com/2016/09/how-to-make-trailer-into-suitable-camper.html#.WBI7YvkrLIU

7 Mouth-Watering Recipes To Cook In The Sun

survivopedia-7-solar-oven-recipes

Cooking with a solar oven is a great alternative when you don’t have (or don’t want to use) electricity. Just remember there are some big differences between the different types of solar ovens available on the market.

With just a little practice, cooking on a solar oven is a piece of cake, and these seven recipes are exactly what you’ll need to prepare a good meal.

And if you’re wondering how could I proceed all these mouth-watering recipes without a proper oven, keep reading the article below, because we have a great offer up for grabs!

Follow These 10 Advice for the Best Solar Oven Cooking!

Since there are so many variations of solar ovens, it’s hard to set any hard and fast rules but there are some dos and don’ts that are applicable to pretty much all of them.

Don’t Assume you’re Invisible

One of the reasons that solar ovens are good is because they’re smokeless; they operate solely off the power of the sun. However, most ovens depend on a shiny surface to reflect the sun to cook the food (think 80s-style tanning with the silver tray under your face).

This means that you have a reflective surface that is easily seen from up to miles away depending upon how flat your geography is. Though there won’t be smoke, there will be shiny, so make sure that if you’re using your oven and trying to hide that you are completely surrounded in such a manner that it can’t be seen from a hilltop or anywhere else.

You won’t be able to do much about planes and you can’t (generally) use it in the dark, but you may be able to position it in such a way that you can use it without giving away your location. Just plan carefully.

Don’t be in a Hurry and Start Early

Many solar ovens don’t get super-hot, so you’re going to need to allow plenty of time to warm it up and then more extra time to cook. Food will likely take longer to cook in a solar oven, though that won’t always be the case.

If you’re planning a meal such as beans or stew that takes hours to cook, you need to start the meal early. Remember that you can’t typically use your solar oven after dusk because, well, it’s powered by the sun.

weather

Don’t Forget to Check the Weather

Remember, you’re counting on the sun. If it’s raining, you better have back-up rations if solar cooking is your only heat source. As a matter of fact, let’s make that a subsection here: Always have a backup cooking method.

If it’s smoggy or hazy, your food won’t cook as quickly and you’ll have to pay closer attention to make sure that your oven is pointed in the right direction.

Don’t Waste Food or Heat

Don’t waste food scraps or that precious heat – if you’re cooking supper tonight and planning a soup for tomorrow, use the leftover veggie and meat scraps to make a stock for tomorrow’s soups.

Put them in a jar or two, add salt or some vinegar or wine to pull the calcium out of the bones and into your stock, season it and toss it on the cooker

Don’t Forget to Level Your Oven

You’ve bought a super fancy oven, and you’re all excited to give it a shot. It’s set up and ready to go and you’re going to try something quick and easy – cookies.

You warm up your oven, you mix up your dough, you place the cookies on the sheet and slide it into the oven. Now all you have to do is wait, and you’re going to have ooey, gooey, deliciously crispy cookies.

You come back 20 minutes later and you have long, oval, thin cookies, which are crispy and delicious, but ugly as a mud fence in a rain storm because you forgot to level your oven. Now, the end result here is just ugly cookies, but if you were cooking cornbread or a pie, you would have had a mess on your hands.

So, the moral of the crooked cookie story is this: Level your solar oven!

Do Turn Your Cooker

Especially if you’re using a box cooker, it’s important that you turn it as you cook in order to increase efficiency. This isn’t as important if you’re cooking something quickly but if you’re cooking for longer periods of times (more than an hour), you definitely want to turn your solar oven in order to get the most out of it.

If you have to be away from your cooker for more than an hour or so and your food is going to take a few hours, point it to where it the sun will be directly on it in an hour and a half or so. As with all things survival and homesteading related, use your head and adapt to how long you’re going to be away.

Do Cook in Black Pans

Because you’re using reflection to direct your heat, it only makes sense that you use a non-reflective, heat-absorbing cooking vessel. A thin, black metal is best because it’s lightweight and dark colored. Cast iron is also good for a couple of reasons. First, it’s black and absorbs heat. Second, the iron holds heat for a long time.

As a matter of fact, even when I’m making cakes or cornbread in my iron skillet in a regular oven, I take it out a few minutes before it’s completely done because it holds so much heat that it keeps cooking for several minutes after the heat source is eliminated. The downside to iron skillets is that they’re heavy.

If you can’t use black cookware, use glass. Using aluminum or stainless steel is counterproductive. Never cover your food with foil.

Add Reflective Panels to Cook While You Bake

If you really want to crank up the temperature to fry foods, add additional reflectors that reflect the sun directly onto the food as well as the ones used to heat the oven. Elevate a shallow pan so that it touches the glass, then attach the three-panel reflector to aim the extra light onto your food. You can even do this while baking other products inside the rest of the oven.

Build Your Oven According to Your Needs

If you’re still experimenting with solar cooking, get the function down before you worry about a solid, permanent form. Also, if you just want to cook for yourself, you won’t need a full-sized cooker.

Do you want it to be portable? Do you want to cook for a large family? What size pans will you be using? Your cooker needs to have at least an inch headspace above your pot, including the lid. Build according to what you need.

Do Build in Security

If you’re building your own solar oven and it’s going to be substantial (not made from a pizza box) build in a way to padlock it to something larger. For example, you could build a place to attach a padlock to the hinges of a box cooker.

Time Your Cooking Accordingly

Just like when you’re cooking inside, don’t add carrots and spinach to a soup at the same time and expect them to cook evenly. Add hard vegetables first, and if you’re cooking more than one dish, start the one that takes longest to cook before you start the faster-cooking one.

dos-and-donts-of-cooking-on-solar-oven

Just use your cooking common sense that you use in the kitchen. If you don’t have any yet, you quickly will, as we help you cook your first meal on a solar oven with these 7 recipes.

And Finally, 7 Survival Recipes to Cook on Your Solar Oven

Though you can convert many of your own personal favorites and use them with your solar oven, these recipes are written specifically for that cooking method. Some of these recipes for solar ovens are basics, and some are for more luxurious dishes, but even in a survival situation, tasty treats can go a long way toward boosting morale.

After all, who doesn’t feel a little better after eating a good brownie?

Remember that times are going to be different depending upon how hot your oven gets. Some can get as hot as 425 degrees while some can barely break 325. Because of that, take the times with a grain of salt and start checking your food 5 minutes of so before the time listed to see if it’s done.

Fresh Baked Bread

This recipe will yield two loaves of bread or about 24 rolls. Remember that, unlike biscuits, the more you knead bread, the better it will be because kneading activates the gluten, which provides the elasticity.

  • oven-bread6 c bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • 2 1/2 c very warm water (not hot!)
  • 2 packets quick rise yeast
  • 1 tbsp. sugar

Stir the yeast into 1 cup of the warm water and set aside so that it can activate.

Sift together the flour, salt and sugar, than add the butter or oil and the yeasty water. Stir together, then mix in the remaining water 1/2 cup at a time until your bread is kneadable but not sticky. You can do this in a bowl or on a lightly floured surface.

Continue to knead by folding the dough in half on itself and pushing together until your dough is elastic and shapes easily into a loaf. If you need to add a bit more flour or water to reach a good consistency, do so. Count on kneading for at least 5 minutes, and maybe even 10.

Place in a warm place, rub a tsp of oil over the top, and cover with a clean towel. Allow to rise until it doubles in size, then punch in down, knead it just a bit more, then divide your loaves or rolls, place in bread pans, and allow to rise again. Place in your sun oven, which is hopefully around 300 to 325 degrees F, and bake for about 45 minutes.

Tap on your bread and if it sounds hollow, it’s done.

Pot Roast

  • 3 pound rump roast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 carrots, cut into 2 inch chucks
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 c beef broth (or 2 cups water with 2 bouillon cubes)

Put the roast in a roasting dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Add the veggies around the roast and then pour the bouillon in. Place in your solar oven and bake for 3 hours or until tender.

Meatloaf

  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • ¾ c rolled oats or breadcrumbs

Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl thoroughly then place in a loaf pan. Bake in solar oven at 350 for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until meat reaches 160 degrees inside.

Barbeque Chicken

Great served with fresh vegetables, corn on the cob and cornbread. You can also serve it with rice to feed more people. However you want to serve it, it’s delicious!

  • 6 chicken quarters or breasts, or a dozen legs
  • 1/2 c vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke (optional)

Combine all ingredients except for chicken. Just FYI, this is a good sauce to make ahead and can! Place chicken on a baking sheet and paint the sauce onto the chicken. You could marinate it in it for an hour if you’d like.

Place the chicken in the solar oven at about 325 degrees and bake for 45 minutes, saucing again about half way through. Chicken should be 165 degrees F in the center, not on the bone. A good tip is that the chicken will pull easily away from the bone.

Solar Brownies

Brownies are one of those comfort foods that will definitely boost morale with very little work, time, or special ingredients. Makes 1 8×8 pan or 4 pint jars.

  • 2 c sugarbrownies
  • 2 c white all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c dark cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c shortening
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c chopped nuts, optional

Cream sugar, shortening and vanilla together in a bowl, then beat in the eggs.

Add dry ingredients and mix until batter is smooth – about 2 minutes.

Fold in nuts if you’re using them. Feel free to toss in mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, or whatever else you like in your brownies. Batter will be thick.

Pour into a greased and floured 8×8 pan and bake in solar oven at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until brownies pull away from the sides of the pan.

Note: If you’d like to make these ahead in pint jars, simply combine dry ingredients well and add to jars. Write complete recipe on an index card and attach to the jar. To extend shelf-life, dry-can.

Apple Crisp

Apple trees grow naturally and prolifically in every state in America, so this is a dessert that will barely touch your food supplies in the fall. It’s also extremely easy to make and, except for the peeling process, it’s not difficult to make enough to feed many people. You can also rehydrate dried apples to make it.

Filling:

  • 6 c apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/3 in slices
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 c water
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

I always keep apple pie seasoning on hand and use this in replace of the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Topping:

  • 1 c rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c cold butter

Place apples in a large bowl and sprinkle in the lemon juice. Toss to coat. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to coat the apples. Pour into an 8×12 pan and cover with a lid. Bake in solar oven at 350 degrees F for about an hour, or until apples are almost tender.

Combine topping ingredients by cutting together into pea-sized pieces with a fork or pastry cutter. Remove the lid from the apples and sprinkle the topping evenly over them. Put it back in the solar oven and cook for another 30 minutes or until the topping is brown and crispy and the apples are tender. Warm, homey, nutritious (for a dessert) and comforting.

To make peach crisp, simply substitute the same amount of peaches for the apples.

You can also make this by using your canned apple pie filling and skipping the first stage of cooking.

Cornbread

This is a dish that every survivalist and homesteader should know. It can be used as a bread or as a dessert – serve it with butter as a savory side for meals, or slather it with jam as a delicious dessert.

  • 1 c cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 c milk or buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients thoroughly then add butter, eggs, and milk. Combine ingredients thoroughly and pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Bake in solar oven at the highest temperature for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If your oven doesn’t get that hot, just extend cooking time until it’s done. The top should be a good indicator of when it’s done as it will brown fairly evenly as it cooks.

Buttermilk adds tenderness and lightness to batter because the acids chemically interact with the baking powder or baking soda. If you want the tang of buttermilk but only have 2 percent or whole milk, add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to it and let it set for a few minutes before adding to the mix. It won’t have the thick creaminess of buttermilk, but will function the same.

Remember that for all of these recipes, you can use dry milk, canned or dried meat, fruit, or vegetables, and powdered butter and eggs. Just reconstitute according to directions and you’re good to go!

For the most part, cooking with a solar oven is extremely similar to cooking with a regular oven, except you may have to cook things longer. Nearly all of your favorite recipes, especially crock pot recipes, will translate right over.

Linked from: http://www.survivopedia.com/the-dos-and-donts-of-solar-oven-cooking-plus-7-recipes/

How To Test Your Family’s Survival Skills

Are you looking for a challenging way to put your family’s survival skills and teamwork to the test?  Nothing will assess the grit and endurance of your loved ones better than leaving behind all electronic devices, cellphones, modern conveniences, electricity, the roof over your head, and your under–appreciated toilet seat.  That’s right, head out on your very own backpacking expedition and venture out with only the supplies you are able to carry on your shoulders.

When my husband first proposed a family backpacking trip, I thought he had finally flipped his lid.  He wanted to take our family, myself and our children included, on a backpacking adventure for two nights and three days.  Not only did he want us to trek through miles of secluded forest with all our food, shelter, and clothing needed for survival firmly attached to our own bodies, but he wanted us to go to the most secluded spot he could find within driving distance at a time of year when it would have the least number of other campers to give us aid or hear our desperate screams for help if the need arose.  We would be descending from 3400 feet down to 1200 feet to the river below, hiking a grueling ten miles and ascending 2200 feet on our return.  This would prove to be a challenging physical and mental feat for our children and me, but we accepted his dare.

As a family, we had car camped before at a lovely campground with showers and other amenities.  In my mind, that was hard-core survival of the fittest.  And that was as far as I imagined our family going with being one with nature.  However, I was coerced by my husband and our children had been enticed by him with the promise of extreme adventure.

Starting Off

Before setting off we had some purchases to make.  Mainly, the backpacks and the tents.  My husband did a lot of research and found that Cactus Jack Tactical Ops Bag with Modular Waist Pack backpack were highly rated for the money.  Upon purchasing you should pay close attention to proper fitting of the pack; it will alleviate back pain or possible shoulder injury.  The tent you need doesn’t require bells and whistles, but rather your focus should be on weight and ease of set-up.  Some backpackers like to sleep in a hammock with a tarp stretched overhead.  We chose tents because with children, you don’t want them spread all over the woods hanging in hammocks chattering loudly to one another late into the night.  Other purchases are listed below to help guide any fellow explorers.

He had researched everything from how to hang a bear bag to how to splint a broken bone.  Once we had all our supplies, we had to pack the bags and weigh them, keeping in mind that a person can only reasonably carry 25% of your total body weight.  I tried to claim I only weighed 75 pounds, but my husband wasn’t buying it.  Each of us carried our own sleeping bags, padding and clothing.  Carrying your own clothing definitely quells the temptation, as a woman, to pack more than I needed.  The only toiletry I afforded myself was deodorant and a toothbrush.  The weight of our tents and padding obviously had to be distributed to the adult packs.  We tried making the kids carry their own, but they kept falling backwards so we relented and took the bulk of the weight.

Some important things we learned from backpacking: 

  1. If you think you have enough toilet paper and there are girls in your group, think again.  Pack more.  It doesn’t weigh much, but it is much more enjoyable than a leaf.
  2. Take a water filter with water bottles that can screw onto them. We had four H20 1.0 water straws which fit our canteens and bladders perfectly.
  3. Don’t pack a 5lb bag of Costco trail mix.  It sounds like an appropriate food choice, but it is too heavy for one person to carry. Break this out into individual bags and let each person carry their own serving. We suggest eating Wise Food camping food. Each pouch has 2 serving in it. They also make a camping kit for 72 hours.
  4. If you have a bad back, suck it up and purchase ample inflatable padding.  My husband had purchased the simple military style foam padding roles and they weren’t enough to block out the rocks and roots on the trail. An inflatable mattress costs more, but it is lightweight and will keep you from aches and pains that could impede your progress and make you a miserable companion.
  5. Pack a GPS and a map encased in a Ziploc baggie.  Even if you are an expert ninja tracker, it is an excellent time to teach others in your group how to navigate. We let our children take turns getting us to the next camping spot (with our guidance) and this allowed them to learn how to read a map and recognize their surroundings.
  6. Your camp stove can make life easy or very difficult. We used the back pack rocket stove for quick cups of coffee and effortless boiling of water (usually under 2 minutes) for our freeze-dried food. As an added bonus, this handy dandy invention will allow you to boil water if your filters go out, too. We took one canister of fuel and a spare, but didn’t even use 1/2 of one canister.
  7. Lastly, but not least, first-aid is crucial.  Pack a light and basic kit. We took the tactical trauma kit.  You will need to play through every possible scenario in your mind and be prepared to make do with the supplies you are able to carry. We also packed a couple of extra trauma bandages and cut out some band-aids.

Into the Woods

The trek into the place where we wanted to camp took a lot of effort and teamwork.  It was a steep incline and the small rocks under our feet proved treacherous; especially with the extra weight on our backs.  We strongly advise anyone taking children on backpacking exploits to go over all the details and safety guidelines weeks before the trip.  I have always found that if you prepare them for the worst it will pay off with fewer accidents and aggravations.  We additionally drove home the well-known fact that whiney kids will attract vicious wild animals because any high-pitched exasperating sounds can be incorrectly mistaken for injured prey.  We recommend that you build multiple breaks into your destination time because smaller children need to stop more often to rest.  Our site was near a beautiful river with rocks that the kids could climb on.  Our tents were easy to assemble and set up and it was glorious to finally peel the packs off and devour a hot meal.

That night, we listened to nothing but the sound of the forest and the roaring river as we drifted off to sleep.  And let me be clear, you will not sleep as well as in your own bed on a Tempur-pedic mattress, but you will be comforted by the fact that you don’t have to sleep with the pack on.  After awaking early in the morning and having coffee by the campfire (is there anything better?) we set off for the next site.  Along the way, we prattled about everything under the sun, sang some ridiculous songs, admired nature, and discussed the effort it took to survive without the luxuries of home.  There were moments where we crossed over dangerous narrow paths, stepped dangerously close to venomous snakes, and we had to help another up after they took a nasty spill.  Our kids also learned invaluable lessons about survival, such as, how to make use of what nature provides, work together, and follow directions.

If you ask any of our children what one of their favorite family vacations was, they will always fondly recall our first backpacking trip and we can be somewhat assured that if push came to shove, our family could thrive when thrown into any unknown circumstance where we depended on one another for survival.

The Pocket Shot the Circular Slingshot

The Pocket Shot is new take on the slingshot, a natural evolution, if you will, from the traditional slingshot to a circular one that you can carry in your pocket, tackle box, or backpack, closed it measures 2.3 inches by 1.3 inches, so carry it anywhere.

It is described as a projectile launcher with a cone-shaped latex pouch that is securely attached to a fiber-reinforced composite ring, so all you do is drop your ammo into the pouch, stretch it back, and let fly.

Manufactures’ Description:

  • Up to 350 ft/second acceleration
  • Shoots slugs, Airsoft, and paintballs
  • Base ring material is fiber reinforced composite
  • Pouch material is latex
  • Includes 1 standard and 1 pro pouch
  • Also Included 100 x 1/4” slugs
  • Recommended projectile size is 1/4”-5/16” (0.64cm-0.79cm)
  • Made in the USA
  • Not a toy

It uses high-quality latex cups instead of the traditional rubber bands found on most slingshots. You can use small marbles, steel balls, small paintballs, and Airsoft ammo with the Pocket Shot Recommended sizes are 1/4 to 5/16″ in size. BB’s are not recommended, nor are stones or other irregular shaped ammo or any sharp object, because this type of ammo could tear the latex or wear it out prematurely.

I didn’t test feet per second, which would be very difficult if not impossible to do with any accuracy, without precise equipment, but the manufacturer states up to 350 feet per second, which is several times higher than most slingshots, but you would not have the same range, or I couldn’t achieve the same range that is. It would be hard to because you can only draw the latex cups back about eight inches. This is to be expected, though, the range is not as important as the wallop it packs at a short range

The manufacturer states it can stretch up to 10 inches but I imagine excessive stretching at this length will wear out the latex must faster.

It is not likely that you would attempt to bring down rabbits or turkeys at great distances anyway so you need a hard punch at short ranges for small game. Keep in mind the type of ammo you use will have an impact on this. The Pocket Shot would be ideal for survival hunting. You would have rabbits, squirrels, and birds roasting over your campfire in no time with a little practice.

The pouches will need to be replaced, and you can buy them in packs of three or eight and the pack of eight right now is 20 dollars so it’s not too costly to stock up on them at that price so you can always have spares. The standard pouch gives you between 300 and 500 shots, with fewer feet per second, however. I suspect the difference between 300 and 500 shots is in how far and how often you draw back to the maximum and types of ammo you use.

The pro pouches offer 300-350 feet per second but the number of shots per pouch is between 200 and 400, so a trade off. Harder punch, but wears out faster. You can buy the pro pouches in packs of three or eight as well, and the pack of eight is 25 dollars right now, not a bad price.

An optional Whisker Biscuit cap in orange or black can be purchased so you can fire arrows with your Pocket Shot. You would have to screw on the cap, which takes just seconds, but then, you are ready to fire. Arrows are not included, though, and you would use light 3/4 inch arrows. Arrows can shoot up to 150 feet per second.

This is not a toy even though it is typically used for recreational use, target practice in other words, but it will bring down small game, and then, when you add arrows to the mix you have a serious weapon in your hands so treat it as such. Always wear safety glasses when using and you know not to shoot steel balls or marbles at hard surfaces to prevent ricochets.

The Pocket Shot is not a novelty toy or curiosity piece.

I found my accuracy is much better with the Pocket Shot than with a traditional slingshot simply because of the way it is held. I can see myself hitting small game more consistently in the field with this one.

It is easy to carry and you can even store the ammo inside the Pocket Shot. I like the idea I can buy spare cups and keep them in my pocket too, and the changeover is quick, literally in seconds, you are ready to fire.

Top 5 Mistakes When Selecting a Firearm for Hunting

Just like any other activity or practice, hunting requires a solid background based on thorough research in the field. No matter if you are interested in purchasing your first firearm or you want to know how you can take up hunting, you need to do your homework and build your knowledge base.

Before you even begin to consider purchasing a firearm for this purpose, it is fundamental to gather as much information as possible about hunting beforehand. It is highly recommended that you attend an education or safety course for hunting so you can learn the basics about how to stay safe and how to get started with this activity. In addition to this, future hunters are encouraged to learn from an experienced hunter; this is usually regarded as being an apprentice. After you learn the basics, you can proceed with purchasing your firearm for hunting.

If this is the very first firearm you will purchase, however, you need to be aware of several aspects related to the buying process. Selecting a reliable, best value firearm requires background information so you can make the right investment. Amateur hunters tend to make selecting and buying mistakes due to lack of knowledge and this can not only end up in poor shopping decisions, but also in potential safety issues. In this regard, this article aims to present the five most common mistakes when selecting a firearm for hunting.

1. Caliber

By far, one of the most frequent mistakes that beginners make when getting their first firearm is choosing the wrong caliber for hunting. Even though there is not an ideal caliber for hunting in general or for a specific animal, there is a range that you should take into consideration. This means that you need to know the difference between a .17 HMR and a 577 Nitro Exp, as well as when and how to use them. An infographic created by Hunter Ed supports the fact that you should choose the right caliber depending on the animals you will hunt:

  • Varmint hunting: .22 Mag, .22 Long or .17 HMR are all suitable for hunting small animals.
  • Deer Hunting: you can look into .22-250, .223 or .243 Win for hunting deer.
  • Big Game: for hunting bears or elk, choose .338, .300 Win Mag or 7mm Rem Mag.

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2. Ammunition

Another significant aspect you need to remember when selecting a firearm for hunting is your choice of ammunition. First of all, not all ammunition works for all types of firearms, so you will need to ask what ammunition will be suitable for the gun you are going to buy. Choosing the proper type of ammunition has critical safety aspects involved; if you select the wrong kind you will not only be wasting money on ammunition you can’t use, but you will also be putting yourself and the ones around you in danger. Always double check with the company you plan on buying your firearm from to see if the ammunition you get on the side fits and works for your choice.  

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3. Scope

Most beginner hunters get excited when buying their first rifle and tend to forget about an essential component: the scope. You could spend a considerable amount on your rifle, not get the right scope and ruin your hunting experience from the beginning. Optics are just as important as the firearm you choose and also a basic part of the firearm selection process that many tend to overlook. The best way to avoid this mistake is to organize your budget with both the firearm and the scope in mind in advance.

hunt

4. Investment

Speaking of budget, this leads us to yet another common mistake when buying hunting firearms. Those who lack hunting experience might end up purchasing a firearm that is way over their budget. This results in not having enough money left for accessories (such as the scope we were speaking about earlier) or for carrying out the practice afterwards. You should always weigh your options and search through various sources before ordering or buying your hunting firearm from a store. If you decide to purchase your hunting firearm online, it is recommended that you search for a particular model through at least three sources to see where you can get the best deal.

5. Complexity

Last but not least, complexity tends to be a trending mistake among amateur hunters. This mistake can equally go two ways; a hunter can either purchase a firearm that is too complex for his or her level of training and knowledge at that moment, or they can get a gun that is too basic and won’t meet their needs. Be aware of your level as a hunter and choose the complexity of your firearm accordingly.

Basic Survival Hunting Skills

There are many reasons you should have some basic survival hunting skills learned and practiced. During the first few days of an event happening which leads to your move to the wilderness, panic can lead to very bad decisions. The lack of food and water can create even greater stressors, including bad decisions making, hallucination’s, and hysteria. Knowing just a few skills can make the difference between survival, and death.

Basic Survival Hunting Skills 
Part of preparing your family and your self for future survival, is learning a balance of hunting skills to cover many areas of potential resources. Being able to gather meat is vital, but along with that comes many other resources that can be useful.

Not only does an animals meat provide you with food to survive on, you can also utilize it’s other resources such as skin, fur, bones, intestines, blood, and the fats and oils from the body. Although consumption is not possible with all portions of an animal, it’s intestines can be used for bait, bones for tools, and pelts for warmth.

Fishing 
Although not directly a form of hunting, knowing how to catch fish can be very important to the initial survival process. This is usually the first and sometimes last resource available to those hunting and gathering their own food.
fish

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Some important skills to learn about fishing include creating makeshift fishing lines and poles, hooks, stringers, nets, and the process of cleaning fish. While out in the wilderness, fishing is a potential resource for unlimited food. Knowing how to cure a fish can help preserve your caught food for longer periods of time.

Trapping 
Trapping is probably the second most important skill for your family and your self to learn and practice. In most cases there will be plenty of small animals that can fall subject to your traps and provide another line of food.
trapping
One major advantage of learning how to trap, is the potential to capture food while not having to fully focus on the process. Once an animal trail has been located, you can set multiple traps throughout to increase your chances of catching an animal. Once your traps are set, you are free to leave them alone for several hours, and continue other work.

Projectile 
The most commonly known type of basic survival hunting skills is projectile. This consists of many different kinds of weapons ranging from spear, to firearm. Although it’s important to know how to fire a gun accurately enough to kill an animal, other skills such as shooting a bow or crossbow is even more important. The downside to using a firearm is the limited supply of ammo. Once you fire a bullet, you will never get a chance to fire it again, unlike arrows, slingshots, and spears.
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One of the most useful skills a person can learn for outdoor survival, is building your own bow and arrows. Even simple bow designs can be effective in killing small to medium game. The projectile is reusable, and they make very minimal noise.

There are many more skills to learn while preparing for your survival, hopefully these will be a good starting point for you. Learn as much as you can from the list above, practice them in real life application, and your family will be able to safely survive in the wilderness.