How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

This is a great blog written by Brandon Cox about how to start a fire in the wilderness. Check out his site stayhunting. He has some really cool articles and information. Thank you Brandon for letting us share your blog.

How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

By Brandon Cox / January 27, 2017

How to Start a Fire

Fire is so crucial for survival in the wild especially when lost or just taking an adventure. Ever wondered why almost every person starts a fire when in the wild whether camping or just taking an adventure? In a short while, I will show you exactly why fire is so important in the world and why you must know how to start one. You can agree with me that most people in the wild who find themselves in a situation where they need fire don’t have a lighter.

Well, I promise to show you exactly how you can start a fire in the wild with or without a lighter but first let’s see why fire is so important in the wild.

How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

Why is It Important to Start a Fire?​

Most people think of fire as a luxury only to realize of its crucial importance when in an outdoor visit or a survival situation. In a survival situation, fire can be lifesaving enabling you to do a lot and get through the danger of the wild. Most of the threats that people face in the wild when in a survival situation can easily be solved by fire going to show its importance.

Most common ways people die in the wildness and how fire can help?​

  • Hypothermia due to lack of body heat: Fire warms you.
  • Snake and spider bites: Fire scares them away.
  • Attack from predators: Fire keeps them away
  • Insect bites: Fire again keeps them away
  • Dehydration: Fire helps you melt water in ice regions
  • Hunger: Fire helps cook edible raw food
  • Think of committing suicide: Fire boosts your morale becoming your only friend

Those are just good examples to show you how fire is so important in the wild. In when in places with water sources, you will still need fire to boil the water and kill the pathogens and other bacteria in the water. Fire in the wild at night can be the only difference dying and seeing the light in the morning. It will warm you, give you light to accomplish tasks and scare away wild animals. The smoke from the fire can also act as a signal to the search team.

Do you see the importance of fire in a survival situation in the world?

I know you agree with me on this. Fire in the wild is very important to survival. The discovery of fire is what has changed humanity.​ Even before we learn how to start a fire in the wild, let first see how to prepare the ground for a well-built fire.​

​How to Build a Well-built Fire?

Well build fire

You don’t just gather wood and start the fire as most people think. Starting a fire in the wild requires you to prepare. Even in your home, you have the fireplace nicely set. The very first step in starting a fire in the wild is building a good fire pit.

1- ​Build a Fire Pit

There are no fire rings in the wild, so you have to prepare a fire pit. First, choose a good location as this is where you will most probably spend the night. Doing it under a huge tree or under some cliff will ideal. All the vegetation and grass on the chosen spot must be cleared for a distance of 8-10 feet. Once you have a cleared area, dig several inches into the soil to remove the top layer which is set aside for emergencies. You can even use the loose soil as firewall and mount it around the newly built fire pit. If in a place with rocks, mount rocks on the edge of the fire pit to insulate it.

2- Gather Materials​

What does your hunting backpack have that can help you gather as many materials as possible. You will need different materials that catch fire easily and others that burn for long periods. You can make it in the wild starting fire without enough materials to keep the fire going once it starts.

Scope the area and collect as much wood as you can to help you with the fire. If you’re in the camp where there is tinder, then use to start the fire.

​Tinder

Tinder is among the smallest and easiest materials to get a fire started in the campfire. The following are some of the tinder forms:

  • Wadded paper
  • Wax
  • Wood shavings
  • Cardboard strips
  • Fire starts and commercial fire sticks
  • Dryer lint
  • Dry leaves (works well in the case of wildfire where other materials are not easy to find)

Kindling

The next step is kindling the fire where you size it up by adding small branches and twigs that you collected earlier. Branches and twigs of about 1/8 and inches into the fire to size up slowly but ensure you don’t put it out.​

Tip: Add small twigs and branches and slowly increase their size as the fire grows.

Firewood

Lastly, you can add logs that burn for long to keep the fire going up to the next day. Whole logs or split ones can both work depending on how long you want the fire to burn. The logs and woods must be completely dry to burn and stay lit for long.

Tip: Splitting logs might be impossible in the wild so start by putting them near the edge of the fire and let them catch fire slowly.​

Water

Water is very necessary just in case you need to out the fire in the morning all when finished. Pour water on the fire when done to stop it spreading to other areas. Stir the ashes to ensure there is no fire left and then pour more water. You can always repeat this over and over until the ashes are cool to be held in your hand before you leave the scene. The worst mistake you can do is leave a campfire or a fire in the wild unattended as this can lead to a catastrophic widespread of fire burning the entire area.

Tip: The dirt or dug soil can be used to cover the fire area and prevent any chances of the fire starting on its own.​

Ignition Source

What is the easiest way to start a fire in the wild? If lucky to have a match or lighter in your hunting bag, then you’re good to start. However, what happens when you have nothing that can start fire fast? This is where your fire starting skills are tested. You have to go the old ways our ancestral used to start a fire with any available tools. Did you know your bow can be used to start a fire? If you go hunting with bows and arrows, then your bow can be used to start a fire, but we will get to that in a short while. There are several other ways to start a fire in the wild that will discuss in a little while as you look forward to improving your fire starting skills in the wild.​

3- Six Popular Ways You Can Build a Fire

​Before you build a fire, you need to understand all the six popular ways that people build a fire in the wild to suit specific reasons. The arrangement you choose to build your fire will determine how long it lasts and how fast it burns. You can see why it is important to know the way you will build your fire. I’ll show you some of the most popular ways that people build fires in the wild and the purpose each way serves.

​3.1- The Teepee Fire

The teepee is the most popular arrangement and one you need to know. Build a tepee by arranging the tinder and kindling it in the shape of a cone. Lit the center and let the logs burn from inside falling inward to feed the fire. Building a tepee is ideal when you have wet wood or green wood that does not burn well. The flame is usually hottest at the tip where there is oxygen. The heat generated from this arrangement is very intense and burns out wood quickly but ideal for warming you at night.

The teepee arrangement is probably the one you’ve seen in survival series where one needs to keep warm and have the fire burn until morning. The thicker end of a log or stick should always be placed at the top where the heat is intense so that it burns inward.

Video illustrating the teepee fire arrangement

​Pros

  • Gives intense heat
  • Starts fire faster
  • Can burn wet or green wood

Cons

  • Burns woods quickly

​3.2- The Lean-to Fire

The lean to fire is another great arrangement that does not need a lot of effort if you set it out correctly. Choose a medium sized log and place tinder next to it. The kindling is the leaned across the log as illustrated in the video below. Small dry branches and twigs can be placed after several layers of tinder. Once you light the tinder, you can add as much kindling as needed to grow the fire.

Video how lean fire is built

​Pros

  • Fire will size up without much trouble
  • Once set up, fire starts pretty fast without any additional task

Cons

  • More tinder and kindling are required.

3.3- The Cross-ditch Fire

The Cross-ditch fire is by far the most lasting arrangement for making any wildfires. On a tinder bed, put kindling in a crisscross fashion before you add woods and logs. Once everything is set, light the tinder and fire will slowly size up.

Video how cross-ditch fire is built

​Pros

  • Efficient consumption of fuel
  • Long lasting to see you through the night
  • Suitable for cooking

Cons

  • A bit tedious to build

3.4- The Log Cabin Fire

The log cabin fire simply means creating fire by having a cabin arrangement. This is achieved by first kindling twigs and branches into the shape of a cabin while leaving a space in the middle. Place two sticks in opposite directions 4-6 inches apart. Continue stacking more sticks across each other until a square cabin is created.

Create a reasonably sized box and add tinder into the box. Once tinder is filled in the box, place more sticks on top of the cabin to cover the tinder. When everything is set, go right ahead and light your tinder.

Video showing the log cabin fire

​Pros

  • Rarely collapses
  • Long lasting
  • Provides warmth on all sides

Cons

  • Burns out wood much faster

3.5- Upside Down (Pyramid)

The upside down fire is where your fire starts at the top and burns all the way down. It is quite simple to start. Place two small branches or logs on the ground in a parallel position. Have another solid log on top of the first layer in a perpendicular position. Keep on adding a few more layers alternating their direction each time. Each layer placed must be smaller than the previous layer.

When done, light the top of the layer and leave the flame to travel naturally down. This is another great way to light a fire in the wild without straining.

Video Upside down fire

​Pros

  • Long lasting
  • Fire burns downwards requiring no attention during the night
  • Quite fast to start

Cons

  • Requires several logs that might have to use some power tools like chainsaw to cut and split firewood
  • Does not produce intense heat

3.6- Create a Star

The star arrangement of fire is where you place log from different side meeting in the middle to form what appears like a star. I know woods in the wild can sometimes be in shortage especially if your hunting backpack does not have enough cutting items. Saving the few logs you find can get you through the cold of the night. This arrangement is quite effective at preserving wood where you pull them back a bit when you need to decrease the intensity if the fire.

Video How to build the Star Fire

​Pros

  • Quite effective and long lasting
  • Consumer wood well
  • Conserves fuel

Cons

  • You have to monitor and control the fire regularly

4- Bonus: Tips/Tricks When Building a Well-built Fire

4.1- ​Choosing the Fire Location

Choosing Fire Location

Fire in the wild does not have the comfort zones that come with building fires in the camp or at homes. There is no fire pit, and one has to set a good spot to create a fire pit. You can agree with me choosing a location is very important. You don’t have to be the one burning the forest down. Stay away from trees and bushes that may catch fire and spread it.

A clear area away from dry leaves and other dry twigs is an ideal one. You don’t want to wake up smelling smoke everywhere so carefully choose a location that does not bring smoke your way. Check for the breeze and if its steady, you will know which direction the smoke will be going. Start your tinder where you intend to build your fireplace. Many times I have seen people start a fire somewhere and carry the tinder to another place. If you start your tinder somewhere else, then create a temporary fire there before transferring the fire to your main location.

4.2- Choosing the Foundation​

Foundation

Choosing a good foundation is crucial as poor foundations will kiss fire that as just started. Avoid wet and cold areas if possible and build your fire on a dry foundation. In cases where every part is wet or cold, try and build a foundation for your fire using dry rocks. I REPEAT, DRY ROCKS as wet rocks can explode in your face. I will tell you later on why wet rocks are not ideal for starting a foundation especially those taken from the riverbed area.

The aim here is to elevate your foundation away from the water beneath. Dry dirt can also be used to raise the foundation higher. If possible, try and make air flow beneath the foundation. A good way to do this is have rocks on two sides with two opening instead of having rocks circle your foundation. A good spot with a good foundation and big rocks around it will make it easier for you to start a fire and maintain it. The big rocks act as the windbreaker creating a barrier around the fire pit preventing the wind from spreading the fire.

4.3- Best Time to Start a Fire in the Wild​

When is the best time to start the fire? Do you wait until dark falls to start the fire? When planning to start a fire, timing is very crucial. It is always important to start the fire a few hours before the sun goes down. This can be 2-3 hours earlier as you need the light of the sun to collect materials and observe what you’re doing.​

4.4- Safety Tips​

  • Never Leave Before Putting out the Fire​ – Fire might not seem dangerous especially when controlled but can turn ugly and destroy millions of properties and life. The first rule when leaving the spot of the wildfire is always to turn it off. I have said this before and will say again; ensure you extinguish the fire completely before leaving the scene. Poor water on the fire and cover it wet soil before pouring more water. You must be able to hold the wet ashes in your hand and confirm there is no slightest of burning wood that can start a wildfire once you’ve gone. Most of the fires seen around the world are mostly caused by human error, and you don’t want to be one causing it.
  • Never use Rocks from the River Beds​ – I talked about this earlier when building your foundation using rocks. Wet rocks from the river beds have water in them that will expand once heated. These rocks can explode on your face causing serious injuries when the water expands and breaks them apart. The water in the rocks boils and increases in size exploding the rocks into small pieces. It is simple science that you probably learned in high school that you must be aware of when using rocks to build a foundation.
  • Build Fires Away from Branches and Steep Slopes​ – To avoid the risk of the fire spreading, build it away from overhanging branches, rotten stumps, dry grass, leaves, logs and steep areas. Even the extra wood you set aside must be piled some distance away from the fire.
  • ​Never Leave a Wildfire Unattended – Even the smallest of breeze will spread the fire away and start a wildfire. This is why it is necessary to have every material ready before you starting the fire.​

Pro Tips to Start Fire in the Real Challenge Situations- Advice from the Famous Blogs

You probably have everything you need to start a fire in the wild but what if the situation is challenging? Can you start a fire in a rainy or windy condition? Advice from famous blogs written for the survival men and women out there will show you how to start a fire in the most challenging situations.

1 – Start a Fire When Wood is Wet – From EHow

It seems totally impossible to start a fire when the wood but when that is the only option, you have to do it to see the next day. You must put in some extra effort to overcome the challenges of damp wood. It might be a bit challenging, but the steps from the Ehow should help start the fire easily


2 – Start a Fire When It Raining – From ArtOfManliness

Starting fire is one thing and knowing how to start it in a rainy condition is a whole new thing. You can agree with me that learning the skill to start a fire in a raining place is important for avid campers and frequent hikers. Choosing a good location and collecting dry tinder are among the most important things to do. The ArtOfManliness blog clearly illustrate how to start a fire when it is raining.


3 – Start a Fire  When There is Snow – From OffTheGridNews

Starting fire when there is snow should not be difficult as long as you have a few dry limbs to set the base. The problem is when your wood is frozen. Frozen wood is even harder to start than wet wood as you have to thaw it first. Start by choosing wood from high up the branches where there is no snow. Lay the base of logs in the snow to act as your foundation. The melting snow should not worry you as it rarely melts and if it does it will not affect your fire. You can then pile your tinder and kindle it before lighting the tinder.

If there are rocks around, building a fire pit and raising your spot some levels above the ground is also a good idea. Follow this OffTheGridNews for step by step instructions on how to start a fire when there is snow.


4 – Start a Fire  When it’s Windy – From ModernSurvivalBlog

Well…, Windy conditions create a dangerous situation to start a fire in the wild. In fact, some states even have laws restricting fires in the wild or outdoor spaces when the atmosphere is windy. Windy spreads fire quite faster, and you can have the whole forest to fire in minutes. So, how do you get to start a fire in a windy situation?

The Dakota Fire Hole​

The Dakota fire hole is a method used to start a fire in a windy area and has several advantages over other methods.​

How to build a Dakota fire hole?

  • Dig a hole a foot long and a foot wide
  • Enlarge the bottom of the holes inches wide to accommodate more wood
  • The hole becomes the chamber of the fire pit
  • One foot away from the hole, dig an airway channel that will connect to your Dakota hole at the bottom
  • The diameter of the airflow must be a foot and angle down towards the bottom of the Dakota hole
  • Fill your fire pit with tinder and kindling before lighting it
  • Adds more materials to build the fire
  • The airflow acts as a suction drawing in air and resulting in a hot and efficient burning of wood.

​Pros of the Dakota hole

  • Burns very hot
  • Uses little fuel
  • Creates less smoke
  • Safe when there is the wind
  • The flame burns under the ground shielding it from being seen during the dark
  • Easily supports cookware
  • Easy to extinguish by filling the hole with soil
  • Avoids Detection

Cons

  • Might not be visible to the search team
  • A bit tedious to build

Top 20 Best Ways to Start a Fire Without a Match Lighter

Fire by Friction

1. Hand Drill

The hand drill is one of the simplest and old ways to make fire. Create a V-shaped notch on a board or piece of limb and drill it with a dry stick until the tip glows red and you have your ember collected. You must have your tinder nearby to blow and get a flame.​

2. Fire Plow

The fire plow is one of the simplest methods to start a fire in the wild if your hands ache from the hand drill method. It is simply rubbing two sticks together until heat is generated through friction. Create a groove on a piece of wood and use a stick and move a stick through the grove forth and back until ember is created. Once again, you must have your tinder nearby.​

3. Bow Drill

This is where your hunting tools come into play. In the bow drill, you don’t need your arrows but the bow to create heat on a piece of dry wood through friction. The string of your compound bow is used to tie to a dry wood that is then rotated on a dry board or piece wood to create an ember.​

The bow drill is easy on hands and requires less effort to drill. However, in a real life situation, it can be difficult to set up requiring a reliable cord.

4. Fire Saw

This method uses a piece of wood that is practically sewed into another wood on the ground to cause ignition.​ You can check this video on how fire saw works:

5. Fire Thong

The fire thing is a friction method that is quite fast and efficient. The method uses a split branch and a split rattan to create friction. The rattan thong is sawed forth and backward against the underside of the board to create an ember.

​6. Flint and Steel

In the flint and steel method, a spark is created from the steel when the two are put under pressure. You must have your tinder ready for the spark to land on it and start the fire. The ArtOfManliness giving you a full explanation of the flint and steel method

​7. With a Dead Lighter

You can start a fire using the dead lighter pretty simple using some deodorant and a piece of tissue. Spray the aerosols all over the tissue. You must have the tinder and kindling ready. Go ahead and flints the wheel on the lighter placing it closer to the tissue of paper. It may take several attempts, but eventually, the fire will start.

​If your lighter is dead, then don’t just throw it away, it can help you start a fire without straining a lot.

Using the Lens Based Methods

8. Lenses (Mirror/Glass/Magnifying)

You probably tried this when you were little children using lenses to focus light from the sun on the same spot for a few minutes. The concentrated watts from the lenses hitting your tinder will start a fire.

​Lenses can be quite effective in a real life situation. You just have to imagine of all the items in your hunting backpack that might be having lenses.

9. Fire from Ice

You will need a clear piece of ice to start a fire. Shape the ice with a knife to create the rough edges or grind it on stone. Use the heat of our body to finish shaping your ice by melting the rough edges. Hold the ice perpendicularly to the sky and move it to focus the brightest light on the tinder. The tinder will first smoke before igniting but be careful not to drip water on it.

​This is a good one if you’re lost in the wild, and there is ice. Make sure you start the fire before the sun disappears as we discussed earlier. 2-3 hours before the sun goes down is ideal.

10. Coke Can and Chocolate Bar

Any can with a bottom similar to a coke can also be used to start a fire. The bottom of the can is used to reflect light and focus it on the tinder, but first, you have to make it shiny enough using a chocolate bar. A chocolate piece can be used to brush the bottom of the can and make it polished.

​You can even try this on your own to know you can do it when in the survival situation. Who knows what comes your way in the wild.

11. A Flashlight

With your tinder and kindling set, break off the glass cover from the touch but don’t damage anything else. Take out the bulb and break it without damaging the filament. Put the remains of the bulb into the flashlight and screw it. Now you can place your tinder into the top of the flashlight and fill it up. Now turn the flashlight on. It has to ignite although sometimes it can fail if the process is not done correctly.

​Next time you get lost in the wild and need some fire, maybe is important to sacrifice that flashlight for warmth during the night.

12. With Water: Five Ways to Start Fire with Water

It a very unusual way but believes me water can start a fire. All the five ways use the same principle where water is used as the lens to focus light on the tinder and start a fire. The following are ways you can use water to start a fire:​

  • ​Water in an empty light bulb where the water in the bulbs acts as a magnifying lens.
  • Water in a plastic bottle
  • Water in a plastic wrap
  • Water and a picture frame
  • Using ice lens as discussed earlier

Using Chemical Combustion

13. Potassium Permanganate Crystals and Glycerin​

The use of chemicals is not the safest ways to start a fire and should only be attempted when it is the last solution. This is a chemical reaction with an explosive effect so ensure there are no kids around. When you mix these two compounds, a roaring fire explodes. Make sure you have your tinder nearby to start the fire.

14. Brake Fluid and Chlorine

Mixing a brake fluid and chlorine is a fun experiment that usually leads to an explosive reaction from which fire can be started. It is quite dangerous, and only a small amount can be used to start a fire.

​With Battery

15. Batteries and Steel Wool​

This one is quite simple and easy to perform. Just buy some batteries and some very fine steel wool. The finer the steel wool, the better it will spark. Rub the battery on the steel wool, and you will see sparks forming. However, you must be careful as the sparks can be quite dangerous.

​16. Gum Wrapper and Battery

The foil gum wrapper and battery does the trick helping you start fire quite fast. Make igniter strips using the wrapper. Shave small bit from the wrapper gum and create a 2mm bridge in the middle. Find a battery like the AAA batteries and hold the igniter to the ends of the battery. Sparks from the igniter will immediately start a fire.

​17. Jumper Cables and Car Battery

Get the jumper cables hooked to your car battery and try to let them touch. The Spark created can start a fire in the tinder.​

The jumper cables and the car battery is an essential one of you get stuck with your car in the cold and need some fire. It is an easier option that will not strain you.

18. Pencil and Car Battery

This is pretty similar to using the jumper cables, but here you don’t need sparks, the pencil connected to the jumper will become red hot and start burning your tinder.

Use Any Simplest Way to Start a Fire

19. Use the Fire Piston​

Fire pistons can also be used to start a fire. The fire piston compresses air rapidly heating it to the extent of igniting a fire. If you don’t have one, here is how you can build one using a few spare tools:

​The use of a fire piston is quite fast but one you might not have with you in the wild. However, it is always good to know what it can do.

20. Using Fire Steel

Fire steels produce molten sparks when scraped, and this can be used to ignite your tinder. A knife or scraper can be used to scrap it and get the ember.


Correcting Common Mistakes When Starting a Fire

​Smothering the Fire

​Most people in a rush end up throwing wood into the fire even when it is not ready. You have to know when to add wood to the fire. Smothering the fire will block the flow of air and eventually kill the fire. Take it slow and kindle it slowly until it is large enough to add small pieces of woods.

Starting Fire Without Enough Firewood Around​

How often have you found yourself looking for more firewood just as the fire starts to size up? You should not start a fire without accumulating enough firewood to see you through the night. This means leaving the fire unattended in search of more fuel. The fire can extinguish, and you start a fresh or even spread when you’re gone.

Leaving the Fire Unattended​

Never leave the fire unattended at any time as this can be the reason for a wildfire. Once the fire is set, you have to be around monitoring and controlling it at all times. There should be water close by or some wet soil in case it starts to spread.

Using Rocks from the River​

Rocks from the riverbed have water in them that boils turning into steam that can explode on your face. This is a common mistake that you should avoid when making a fire bed foundation. The explosion of the rocks can lead to serious injuries.​


Final Verdict

If you’ve gone through the entire article, then trust me you can start a fire anywhere no matter the conditions. Fire is crucial in pour lives and learning to start in any condition can mean the difference between death and life. Most of these techniques might not appear useful as you’re reading them from the comfort of your home but quite crucial in a survival situation.

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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.

The Pine Tree and Its Many Uses

Did you know pine trees can be used as food, medicine and survival equipment?

The pine is one of the most useful trees on the planet, providing food, shelter, medicine and fuel. Knowing how to utilize this versatile resource could someday be the key to your very survival if you find yourself alone in the wilderness.

There are many species in the pine family (or genus Pinus), and they can be found virtually everywhere in the world.

Food:

Many types of pine needles can be used to make a tea rich in vitamin C. Simply steep a handful of needles for 5-10 minutes. The longer you steep them, the less vitamins will remain, so don’t overdo it.

It’s important to note that some pine needles are poisonous be sure to avoid consuming the needles from the Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), the Yew (Taxus) and the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa also known as Western Yellow Pine, Bull Pine and Blackjack Pine). Make sure to learn the differences between the edible and non-edible varieties before making pine needle tea.

Pine nuts from all varieties of pine are edible, although some are small and not typically harvested. They can be a little tricky to harvest and perish quickly once they are shelled but can be stored longer if left in their shells or roasted.

Inner pine bark and pine resin are edible; male pine cones and their pollen can also be eaten. Native Americans chewed pine resin as sort of a natural chewing gum. The inner bark of large pine trees is edible, and the bark from young pine twigs can be eaten as well. Be careful not to damage or kill a pine tree by tearing off too much bark, and never ring the bark from a pine tree.

Instead, tear off small pieces of bark or look for branches that have already fallen. The inner bark can be eaten raw it can also be boiled, fried or cooked over a flame.

Medicine:

Pine resin is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It can be directly applied to wounds or sores and helps keep germs out. Pine resin can also be used to staunch the flow of blood.

The resin can also be used to extract splinters just dab some on the skin where the splinter is embedded and within a day or two the splinter should come out on its own.

Fuel:

Pine resin makes a great fire starter, particularly in damp settings. You can usually find a spot on a pine tree where resin is oozing out from a break in the bark try not to injure the tree to collect pine resin, but if necessary, make a small break in the bark or break a branch. The resin will begin to ooze out as protection for the tree.

If you are in an area where there are pine stumps, look for places on the stump where resin has soaked the wood and made it sticky. Tear small strips of the stickiest wood from the stump and save them as aids for starting fires.

Shelter:

Pine boughs can be used to create shelter, and pine needles can be used to make a soft, warm and dry bed.

Water-proofing and other uses:

Pine resin can be used as a waterproofing agent and works well on tent seams, boots and mittens.

Heat pine resin up and mix with ashes or charcoal from your campfire to make glue. Once cooled, the glue will harden but can be easily heated up again when it is needed.

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.

 

 

 

Living Off-Grid Is It Really For You

Living off the grid can be extremely difficult, but also extremely rewarding. Off-grid living isn’t for everyone. But for those willing to make the extreme life change, it will lessen your growing dependency on income and increase your time spent with family. This guide will walk you through the reasons for an off-grid way of life, how to attain it, and the benefits of becoming the ultimate survivalist.

But before you start setting up your modern-day homestead, you’re going to have to think about some big questions:

  • Will you be using electricity? If so, how will you be generating it?
  • Where will you get water?
  • Will you need to process or treat the water to make it potable?
  • How much money will you need?
  • Where will you get it from?
  • How will you access the Internet if you still need it?
  • How many people will be members of your community?
  • How will labor be divided throughout the community?
  • Will you be buying food, or growing and hunting it?
  • How will your off-the-grid community be defended without law enforcement officers?

The first question you have to answer if you decide to live off-grid is where you plan to do this. Nearly everywhere in the continental United States has something wrong with it in terms of living off grid. Some places are too dry, and some aren’t good for growing food. Other places are too close to cities, while others are in nuclear fallout zones. Some states have laws making gun ownership and off-grid living prohibitively difficult. And others are just too cold to sustain wildlife.

So what should you look for when it comes to picking the three most important factors in off-grid living: location, location, location?

  • Be at least a tank of gas from a highway.
  • Research natural disasters that frequently befall areas you’re interested in.
  • Look into less-common, but entirely probable, natural disasters.
  • Read about nuclear fallout patterns. Nuclear war might not top your list of concerns, but you should at least be informed.
  • Consider whether or not you want to be part of an existing community and where you can connect with one.
  • If you plan to use solar power, make sure the area gets plenty of sunlight.
  • No matter what your plans are, you’re going to need water. That means proximity to a river or stream, a good supply of groundwater or, at the very least, plenty of rain.
  • Hunters should research local and state hunting laws.
  • Friendly gun laws are an absolute must when it comes to living off-grid, which rules many states out.
  • In general, a small-government culture will help keep you from being prosecuted for “stealing” rain water.
  • Good soil is a must to grow your own food.
  • Shelling out big money for land defeats the purpose, so look for cheap land.

Water is the number one resource you’re going to need. That water needs to be clean, close and plentiful enough that you can access it year round for everything from drinking to watering crops.

Crops are a must when living off grid. And much like water, it’s important to have multiple ways to access food. That means three main sources: growing, gathering and hunting.

Clothing is a topic that most off-the-grid guides ignore. You have a few different options here, such as stocking up and storing clothes for the future. However, a lot of the same skills that are required for feeding yourself can also keep you clothed.

While weapons and ammo are a must, the more immediate threat to yourself and your family is not from armed invaders – it’s from the elements. Off-grid homes come with a special concern: They need to be impenetrable not just to the elements, but to the critters who will be wandering around. From little guys like squirrels to big beasts like bears, your off-grid home should be protected pests of all sizes.

Most of the animals are totally harmless, but the issue is that they’re going to be a nuisance especially when they start eating you out of house and home. And no matter how much you love the nanny goat giving you milk, chances are pretty good that you don’t want her hanging out in your living room.

Protecting your property with non-lethal forms of defense is another important factor, but keep in mind that electricity use needs to be limited when living off the grid. Sentry systems and other security systems are great to have, but are too much of a drain on your power supply. At the very least, having a couple of dogs around to patrol the property is a good idea not to mention a fun one.

Living off the grid is hard especially when you’re getting started. But when you ask yourself if the life you’re living now is easy, you will realize the freedom that comes with being completely self-sufficient. Living off the grid means living for yourself, making you far better prepared for difficult times than you would be living in the city.

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.

Picking the Right Ammunition

Ammunition selection can be one of the most intimidating challenges facing a new shooter or firearm owner. Manufacturers produce an array of different loads, with each one varying in some way from the others. Projectile weight, projectile type, velocity and other factors all differ, even among loads designed for the same firearm.

Fortunately, making sense of the diverse ammo offered by manufacturers is not as difficult as some might believe. Once you understand the various kinds of ammunition available and how they perform, you can easily select ammo to fit your intended purposes.

For new shooters trying to understand how to properly choose ammo for a specific application, below are explanations for what makes good target/training, personal defense, and hunting loads. For each category, there are also example loads given for each type of firearm: handgun, rifle and shotgun.

Target Practice/Training
Whether you’re a serious shooter planning to spend a lot of time on the range or a casual plinker who shoots a few times a year, you’ll need ammo to fuel your chosen firearm. In most cases, this means buying a widely available and relatively inexpensive load.

For rifles and handguns, the cheapest cartridges, or complete loaded rounds of ammunition, are those featuring a full metal jacket (FMJ) projectile. An FMJ bullet incorporates a soft core (usually lead) encased in a shell of harder metal and requires less manufacturing than the bullets used in other more complex self-defense and hunting loads. This makes FMJs less expensive to produce and therefore cheaper for the customer.

With shotgun ammunition, the least expensive shells are typically lightweight target loads in No. 7 ½ shot and smaller (the higher the number, the smaller the shot). These shells are 2 ¾ inches in length and around 1 ounce in payload weight. The projectiles, called pellets, are normally lead, although some states and ranges require the use of steel shot.

In addition to cost, another important factor for target or training ammunition is how much recoil it produces. If you plan on spending any significant amount of time shooting, you’ll want a light-recoiling load that won’t wear down your hands or your shoulder. Small-bore rimfire cartridges are great in this regard, especially for new shooters who might be unfamiliar with or intimidated by recoil. It’s best to avoid magnum loads if possible.

Overall, ammunition used for general plinking, target practice and training is reasonably accurate and doesn’t break the bank, or your body.

Personal Defense
Although cost remains a consideration for many shooters when buying personal defense ammo, of far greater concern is the ammunition’s terminal performance. When your life, or the lives of your family, is threatened, you want a load that will reliably stop that threat as quickly as possible. The most effective way to do that is to use a load that impacts the target with a lot of energy and produces the greatest amount of damage.

With rifles and handguns, this means using cartridges with a hollow-point projectile. A hollow-point bullet features a cavity in its tip designed to make the projectile expand on impact.

This expansion is key for two reasons. First, it generates a larger wound channel on the target, which increases damage. Second, it controls the amount of penetration to keep the round inside the target, which reduces the chances of harming innocent bystanders and transfers all the bullet’s kinetic energy into the target.

With shotguns, the best option are buckshot loads, as they use pellets large enough to cause serious damage. While other loads, including birdshot, may be used for self-defense, they are far less likely to provide an immediate end to the threat.

In any personal defense scenario, you want a reliable load that transfers as much energy and damage as possible without over-penetration. This ensures a quick end to a dangerous situation, and harms nothing but the target.

Hunting
As with personal defense scenarios, the most important thing when it comes to hunting ammunition is using projectiles that quickly and humanely bring down the target. Reliable bullet expansion and retained kinetic energy remain large aspects of this, which is why rifle and handgun hunters — as well as shotgunners using slugs — similarly use expanding hollow point or soft point projectiles (FMJ projectiles should never be used in hunting as they will likely penetrate straight through the animal, without generating enough damage to humanely kill it).

A key difference is the need for additional penetration. While personal defense projectiles are designed to stop human beings, hunting bullets are engineered to penetrate the thick skin, dense muscle tissue and bones of game animals. These bullets are typically heavier than personal defense projectiles and retain more of their weight after entering the target.

Regardless of what you’re pursuing, the highest priority in selecting ammo for hunting should always be ensuring the cartridge or shotgun shell you choose is powerful enough to ensure an ethical kill. Using a cartridge without sufficient power is bad for the animal if it’s wounded, and, if hunting dangerous game, can put the hunter at risk, too. If you can’t decide between two cartridges, it’s best to err on the side of more power.

Projectile(s)

Caliber or gauge is certainly important when it comes to ammo selection, but often the biggest difference between two loads is the actual object or objects being propelled downrange. This is likely truer with rifle and handgun ammo than shotgun ammo because they use cartridges with single projectiles, whereas shotgun shells can contain anything from a single slug to hundreds of pellets.

With rifle and handgun cartridges there are basically two broad types of bullets: full metal jacket (FMJ) and hollow-point. There are other kinds of projectiles as well as variations of these two designs, but for beginners these are the easiest to understand.

FMJs, which feature a soft core (usually lead) encased in a shell of harder metal, are inexpensive and great for target practice and general plinking. Hollow-point bullets, which expand on impact, are far better for personal defense and hunting because they produce larger wound channels on the target, resulting in greater damage.

For selecting shotgun ammo, the projectile (or projectiles) remains the primary concern. Aside from slugs designed for hunting, projectiles in shotgun shells — called pellets, or shot — are categorized according to their shot size. As with measuring gauge, shot size utilizes an inverse scale; the larger the shot size number, the smaller each individual pellet will be (No. 7 shot is smaller than No. 2 shot).

In general, No. 7 and higher shot are great for target shooting or hunting some small game animals, while shot sizes No. 6 and lower cover a variety of hunting scenarios. Buckshot is excellent for self-defense purposes, as well as predator and hog hunting, and shotgun slugs are ideal for hunting deer and larger game.

 

You Fall Through the Ice, Now What?

 

Even if you aren’t into snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, or other popular outdoor winter activities, it doesn’t hurt to know how to maximize your chances of surviving if you fall through ice.

First, be aware that as soon as your body hits icy cold water, it will experience something called cold shock phenomenon. This phase lasts between one to three minutes, and is characterized by an instinctive gasping response, which can lead to hyperventilation and a huge waste of energy.

As your body experiences cold shock phenomenon, your focus should be to consciously control your breathing. Try to slow your breathing down and know that you have more time than you think to survive. If it helps, remember that many top level athletes experience this scenario almost daily with ice baths following intense workouts.

Once you are relatively calm, try to swim to the point at which you fell into the water and use your arms to grab hold of a solid edge of ice.

For most of us, the natural instinct is to pull ourselves straight out, as we would do in hoisting ourselves out of a swimming pool. According to Dr. Giesbrecht, this is next to impossible.

The most efficient way to get yourself out of the water is to keep your legs as horizontal as possible and kick like you’re swimming, and try to get into a rhythm of kicking your legs and pulling your body forward onto the ice with your arms. Kick, pull, kick, pull, etc.

Once you have kicked and pulled your body out of the water, remember that the ice is probably weak, and that it’s best to roll your body away from this point to an area that looks more solid. Rolling can transition to crawling, and when you are relatively confident that you are on solid ground or ice, you can stand up and walk away.

What To Do If You Can’t Pull Yourself Out Of The Water

If there is no one to help you and you can’t get out on your own, don’t thrash around, as you’ll only lose more heat and get further exhausted.

Try to get as much of your body out of the water as possible to minimize heat loss. Specifically, get your arms up and onto the ice. Keep your arms there and don’t move them. Then relax as much as possible.

If you’re lucky, your arms will freeze to the ice before you become unconscious. If you become unconscious, you’ll stay there a bit longer because you are frozen there – you might get rescued in this state.

What To Do As A Bystander

If you come upon someone who has broken through ice, remember that the most important goal should be to preserve yourself.

We recommends calling for help immediately, be it through yelling at people within earshot, or with a cell phone.

Tell the victim to try to relax and slow down his breathing and emphasize that you are going to help him get out.

Try to talk her out of the water – tell her to get her legs horizontal in the water, her arms up on top of the ice, and to kick, pull, kick, pull.

If the victim can’t get out by himself, find something to throw to him, like a rope, tree branch, or even a ladder from a nearby home, if available. If you throw a rope, try to create a loop at the end of it so that the victim has something to grab onto. If he can, he should try to put the loop around his trunk and elbow.

Please consider sharing these thoughts with family and friends. Always best to be ultra cautious and stay away from frozen bodies of water, but good to know all of this just in case.

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.

Wild Edible And Medicinal Plants in Wisconsin and Surrounding Areas

We get a lot of questions about what wild plants are there in Wisconsin that are edible to eat or use for medical uses. I did some research and found that are many out there in the wild. I am going to list a few and there uses.

1. Purslane

Also called pigweed. Grows everywhere. Very commonly seen in cracks in the sidewalk. Also grows among woodchips. Comes out in June. Best to harvest in the fall. This is when the plants are large. Has small dark seeds that fall out. Harvest in the morning. Nutritional content varies, depending on what time of the day it was harvested. Cultivated and eaten in Greece. Good in tabbouleh, on gyros and eaten with feta. Tastes like green beans. Very important – purslane is reported to be the highest plant source of Omega 3.

2. Chamomile

Also known as pineapple weed, wild chamomile grows in rocky soil and is seen commonly in driveways. It’s very aromatic. I can smell it when the wind picks up and follow the smell to the chamomile. It’s commonly made into tea and it’s good for digestion, nervousness, anxiety, irritability; it helps to calm and soothe you and it helps you sleep. Chamomile is so safe and mild it is used on children and babies.

3. Mint (Catnip)

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. This plant is more of a medicinal herb than food, although it can be used in place of traditional mint in any recipe. It’s very aromatic. The smell is dissimilar to mint found in grocery stores and distinctive. Use its smell to identify it. It grows in shady areas, under trees and other large plant growth. In cats, catnip is a stimulant and in humans it’s a sedative. Catnip tea can be good for allergies and the respiratory system. Some studies say catnip repels fleas and ticks better than DEET. This plant can help induce menstruation. Pregnant women should be cautious. In large quantities catnip can be an abortifacient.

4. Woodsorrel

Woodsorrel has a sour and lemonly flavor. It can make a good substitute for lemon in dishes. Looks like clover but is brighter and has small, yellow flowers. I see it growing a lot among woodchips, but I don’t think it’s particularly picky about where it grows. A naturopath once told me it was good for the liver, but only when fresh. Not when dried.

5.  Plantain (Plantago Major)

As common as it comes. Brought here by Europeans. Edible and medicinal. The most nutritious thing I have ever heard of. Fights inflammation in the intestine – from carrageenan for example. Detoxifies. Purifies blood. If you have a bee sting, take a piece of plantain, chew it and then place it on your wound. Good for blisters. Speeds healing. Natural Awakenings named them (and dandelion) in a piece about herbs that fight cancer. It can also help with psoriasis.

6. Watercress

Similar to a radish. Spicy and clean flavor. Grows near streams, creeks, pure running water and can grow in mud. Watercress is only as clean as the water it grows in. Boil or sanitize if at all questionable. High in vitamin C. Good for soups, salads, you name it. The wild variety is the same as the kind you can buy at the grocery store, except it is free.

7. Ginkgo Biloba

There are male and female trees. Only the female trees make the fruit and the ginkgo nut, which can be eaten. The fruit is not eaten. The popular ginkgo biloba supplement is made out of the leaves. When harvesting ginkgo nuts, gather the fruit. Remove the fruit using gloves (some people get a rash when touching the fruit, some do not) Wash and then cook the nut. Boil, fry, saute. Whatever you like. When cooked, the shell will remove easily. The cooked ginkgo nut looks an awful lot like a pistachio and you can put it in your mouth and between your teeth to crack then remove the shell, just as you would with a pistachio. The inside is green and reminiscent of a jelly bean. Ginkgo biloba is very nutritious, but also has toxin. They must be eaten in moderation. Taking vitamin B6 with ginkgo cancels out the toxin. (Still – eat in moderation!!!) Do not eat ginkgo nuts raw. Eating the nuts raw is unheard of. It is hoped the cooking process will eliminate toxins, but there is little evidence to suggest it does. In spite of this, cooking them is still your safest bet.

8. Chicory

Young leaves and roots are edible. Found very often on roadsides and in open fields. Comes out in the height of summer, along with echinacea. The root can be made into a coffee substitute and leaves can be enjoyed as a salad green. (There is a variety of chicory grown for its leaves.) The small blue flowers are beautiful, delicate and rare.

9. Sweet Pea

Usually toxic and inedible. The toxin makes you starve to death / waste away. One you’ll want to avoid. Some kinds are edible and can be enjoyed but it’s hard to distinguish the edible from inedible varieties. It’s just as hard to distinguish edible from inedible sweet peas as when foraging for mushrooms. So this is one that should only be undertaken if you’re an absolutely amazing forager and you really love peas and want free ones. Vetch is a look alike.

10. Creeping Charlie

Related to mint. Can be eaten in salads and used to make tea. Abundant. Creeping charlie can be bad for other plants because it can wrap around the plants and choke them. Has purple flowers. Contains a toxin. Nutritious, but eat in moderation. Very commonly seen as wild ground cover.

11. Garlic Mustard

One of the first plants to come out in the spring. Frost, snow and cold weather doesn’t seem to bother it. Invasive, originally from Eurasia. Bad for the environment (in Wisconsin). Grows everywhere. There are volunteers devoted to destroying and pulling this plant up. Take as much as you want. Edible raw but if you boil and change the water several times / eat garlic mustard this way, it will have a milder flavor. Also good when dried. It smells and tastes very strong. Reminiscent of garlic.

12. Stinging Nettle

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. Used for food as well as herbal medicine. Very stingy. Harvest with gloves, or you may get welts. Some say these are good for your immune system but many things are. No need to get stung in my opinion. Boil stinging nettle then serve. Nettles are nutritious and a good source of calcium as well as many other vitamins and minerals. There is a contest in the UK where contestants eat as much stinging nettle as they can. Whoever survives is the winner and the toughest / manliest. It’s very entertaining to watch.

13. Cattail

Edible shoots and pollen. The pollen can be used to make pancakes. Very good in survival situations. The brown top can be used to carry an ember. The white, inner spear tastes faintly of watermelon and is the most fibrous food I have ever eaten. The fiber content makes them very good at cleaning teeth.

14. Lambsquarters

Used as food and as medicine by Native Americans. Very mild and tasty. Almost buttery. Wonderful taste for a green vegetable. Not bitter at all. Called wild spinach and by many other names. Contains oxalates, as do spinach. A nutritional powerhouse, but the nutritional content depends on where you harvest it from. It can soak up nitrates from the soil it grows in. Quinoa is closely related to the seed of lambsquarters. The seed of lambsquarters is edible, but hard to harvest. Many people say it’s not worth the trouble. Don’t let that deter you from trying the seed at least once.

15. Rose

There is the wild rose and the cultivated variety. Rose hips are an easy find for the urban forager. There is scarcely a park or garden without rose bushes. The fruit of the rose, the rose hip, ripens in October. The rose hip is edible throughout the winter. This is intentional. Some plants are edible throughout the winter so hungry animals have something to eat. Rose hips are high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. They boost the immune system and fight off colds. The outer hull of the rose hip is what is eaten. Some guides say the seeds are edible, some say they are not. I eat the entire rose hip, seeds and all. I grind and chew it very well, but they are prickly and hairy. They can cause irritation. I think it’s too much work to remove the seed, but the best / tastiest experience is to remove the seeds and eat only the outer hull. Miranda Kerr uses rose hip seed oil for beautiful skin. Rose petals are also edible, but strong tasting and for lack of a better word, bitter. Rose petals are often used to make rose water.

16. Violet

Comes out in spring, usually in March but can be April or May if there is an extended cold period / winter. Violets can be violet, magenta, white and yellow colored. The leaves, stems and flowers are all edible. Use in place of spinach in your favorite creamed spinach recipe. Delicious! The roots are used to induce vomiting. Violets are commonly topped with sugar. Candied violets are used in baking sweets, treats, and to top pastries. Violets are common, beautiful and grow low to the ground. They grow along with grass, dandelion and garlic mustard, which also grow close to the ground.

17. Echinacea

It is found in prairie and grassland. It flowers in July along with chicory, during the height of summer. If you look for it late, you can find the cones without flower petals. These should be left because they contain the seeds, which create the next generation of echinacea. This is more of a medicinal herb than food. It is good for the immune system. The leaves, flower petals and root are used for herbal tea and tincture. A mild tingling feeling is experienced when drinking echinacea tea. It is unique and reminds me of being electrocuted.

18. Milkweed

Milkweed is of immense importance to monarch butterflies. Many plant it to attract butterflies to their garden. The shoots, flowers, green, unopened pods can all be eaten, but they must be boiled first. Milkweed is poisonous in its natural state. Discard the cooking water. The silk inside the young pods has a texture reminiscent of cheese. Once the growing season has passed, the dead stalks and seed pods still remain. These can be used to identify where new milkweed will appear. Note: The pods must be harvested when they are less than 1.5 inches long. If you harvest them late, they are too fibrous to be eaten.

19. Chickweed

Chickweed is edible and medicinal. It is found all over the world, even in the Article Circle. Its blossoms open in the late morning. Its leaves fold up at night and before rain. Chickweed’s stems, leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. Mouse-ear chickweed must be cooked. Other kinds can be eaten raw. It contains nitrates. Do not ingest any kind of chickweed preparation if pregnant or nursing. This could potentially harm an unborn or nursing child due to the nitrates it contains. One should consider the nitrate levels in the leaves. Upon consuming chickweed, if one feels dizzy, weak, or faint, if you have a headache, see a doctor immediately. You may have nitrate poisoning from consuming too many nitrates. Avoid chickweed if allergic to daises. Good when young as a salad green. Rumored to taste like corn silk raw. Tastes like spinach when cooked. Can be added to soups or stews. Do this in the last five minutes to prevent overcooking. Chickweed contains ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc, copper, and gamma-Linoleic acid. In addition, chickens love to eat chickweed. This is where chickweed got its name. Chickweed can be used in topical form to calm rashes and eczema, too. It alleviates irritation and swelling from insect bites. Chickweed is not recommended for children in oral form. It can be used to treat an insect bite on a child so long as they do not put chickweed in their mouth.

Some of the fruit plants are Elderflower & Elderberry. Flowers and berries are the only parts edible. Boil or cook them first. Good for the immune system. Grape – fruit, leaves, seeds, young vines shoots are all edible.In fall it has bright red leaves and similar looking berries, they are not edible and very spicy. Black raspberry – leaves can be made into herbal tea, spring time makes the best tea. Mulberry- comes in black, purple,red, pink and white. Black/Purple are rip, Red are unrip, Pink/White are the sweetest.

SIGNALING FOR HELP

There are many ways in how you can signal for help in a survival situation…

GOT A WHISTLE, HORN or GUN?

Three short whistle tweets, three blasts from a horn or three shots fired from a gun and a pause means…HELP! And two short tweets. two horn blasts or two gunshot blasts back means “Hold on Buddy, I Hear Ya and I’m a Coming For You!”

GOT A MIRROR?

A small pocket or vehicle mirror? A flashlight or vehicle light mirror reflector? Some broken pieced of mirror, glass, a shiny tin can lid, aluminum foil, a CD, emergency thermal space blanket? If it’s a sunny day you can use all these items for signaling.

GOT SOME FIRE?

Something to ignite and start a fire with like a lighter, matches or some other type of fire starter? If you build three separate fires (100 feet or 30 meters apart) either in a perfect triangle or a straight line, internationally this means HELP! But if you can’t build them in a triangle or straight line because of the terrain, one signal fire is better than no signal fire at all. But try to build your fire(s) somewhere in an open area and as high up as possible so it can be seen better from the air and ground search parties too.

DID YOU KNOW…during daylight hours a signal fire can be seen a lot further away if you can produce the right color smoke? For example, if you’re in a green environment like a jungle or forest you should try to produce a “white smoke” which can be done by adding some green vegetation to your burning fire. And if you’re in snow white or desert environment you should try to produce “black smoke,” which won’t be easy unless you have some type of petrol like diesel, oil, plastic or rubber tire. 

GOT A STROBE or CAMERA w/FLASH?

You can use’em at night for signaling a long ways off. Ain’t got no strobe or camera but a flint & steel fire starter? Great! If you strike the flint once every 3 seconds the bright white flash from a distance will look like a small battery operated strobe light.

GOT A CELLULAR or TWO-WAY RADIO?

Never use it unless you have a good signal, keep it always turned off to conserve battery power. Turn it on only when you come to any high ground, but if there’s still no signal, again keep it turned off and put it on only when you arrive at some new high ground. If there’s no high ground in sight and it’s all flat, try climbing the tallest tree to pick up a signal. Repeat and keep trying.

GOT SOME BRIGHT COLOR CLOTH?

Though you can attach any piece of cloth to a stick and wave it, but the brighter the color the more visible it is.  It’s best to pack & carry something more compact & lighter like some bright orange duct tape, property marking tape or one of our emergency orange sleeping bag.

SIGNAL KITE

Now think about it, if you were in a remote desert, jungle or forest and you saw one of these flying in the sky what’s the first thing you would say to yourself? Like me you would probably say “..who in the hell would be flying a freakin kite way out here?” Get my drift, so to speak? Yep, I’ll bet you do, and I’ll bet that’s what you would say too, wouldn’t you? Makes finding a needle in a haystack a lot easier to find, don’t it? You can also make these signal kites out of those pocket aluminum thermal space blanket too. Which if the sun’s out it’ll be seen a lot further away than a regular old kite due to the reflection of the sun bouncing off of it like a giant signal mirror in the sky. And if you don’t know how to make a simple kite, no problem, just google “how to make a kite” and dozen websites will pop up. Now it’s entirely up to you if you want to write SOS or HELP on your kite, obviously if your kite is flown way too high up in the air no one is going to be able to read what it says on it. But should it come crashing down and lands in some trees and you can’t get it down, someone from the air or on the ground just might see it and it could still lead to your rescue. But make sure you use a magic marker and NO SPRAY PAINT or it will add too much weight to your kite and it won’t fly. IMPORTANT: Make sure you test fly your kit before packing it away, don’t assume it will fly without testing it first or you just might be carrying “dead weight.” Get it?

Don’t have any of these items with you?

But don’t worry you’re not screwed yet. What you can do to get a low flying aircraft/pilot’s attention is to use the letters S O S or H E L P. How? By constructing these letters out of some rocks, logs, tree branches, stomped down weeds, snow or sketched out in the sand. Preferably in a open areas or along a water shore, the bigger the letters the easier they will be seen from the air.Not enough room for all these letters? No problem, a large “X” is better than no letters at all and will still get a pilot’s attention and indicate someone down below might be needing some help.

When “lost” or “stranded” should you decide to try to find your way out or home, always leave some type of markings along your route of travel. Why? So in the event someone finally does realizes you’re missing and or someone comes across your markings, they will know which way you’re going. Or should you have to back track, it will be easier to find your last known position. Make sense?

 

Raising Livestock in SHTF Situation: What You Should Raise and Why

In the case of a SHTF event, we could live without internet, cars and gadgets. We could survive without electricity, air conditioning, heating systems and hot water. But we couldn’t make it without enough food supplies. Canned tuna, frozen beans and boiled potatoes can only last so far. All these supplies are bound to end sooner or later, leaving us exposed to starvation. So how can preppers improve on this aspect and ensure their food supply doesn’t run out after three days? The answer is raising livestock. Our ancestors didn’t have supermarkets, had never heard about take-away, fast-food, processed food or preservatives.

Their survival depended on livestock, fruits, vegetables, plants and seeds. Nowadays you can learn about all of these by getting an agriculture degree. But back then, knowledge was passed down from generation to generation and people had to learn from trial and error rather than from a YouTube tutorial. If you want to make sure you are truly ready for anything read all about the livestock you should raise and why. It’s never too late to start researching livestock and becoming an expert in the field.

Chickens

If we would have to advise you what livestock you should raise and why, based on rate of growth criteria, chicken would win by far. They manage to double their number with every year and they don’t require a complicated set up or high maintenance. They are great because they yield plentiful supplies of meat and eggs in relation to how much food they require. For example, a hen could supply you with 10 to 12 eggs for each five pounds of food. Another great benefit of raising chicken is that the birds are not picky about what they eat. They will happily peck on anything that they can find, from insects and weeds to leftovers from your dinner. The only drawback with this is that they can easily damage your garden, so you might want to fence them in to keep that from happening. Another pro for raising chicken is that they don’t need a lot of space or sturdy fences. However, you should keep in mind that these fowls will learn how to fly, so you might want to build a six-foot fence or add a top to their pen. You should also watch out for predators: foxes, owls, rats and opossums will all try to take a swing at your chicken if they’re not protected enough.

Pigs

Also dubbed the best garbage disposers, pigs will munch anything you put in front of them: kitchen leftovers, greens, roots and grains, just to name a few. In exchange for these, in return, they will give you bacon, ham and plenty of meat. Not only unpretentious eaters, pigs don’t need too much room either, despite their great size. The best time to buy a piglet is in the spring in order to give it time to grow and develop to more than 220 pounds over the summer. All the maintenance pigs require is feeding and watering two times a day as well as cleaning their pens every few days. Butchering a hog that weighs over 200 pounds is no easy task. But you’ll only be reaping the benefits. Almost every part of the pig is edible and ready to be turned into steaks, broths, aspic, bacon, ribs, sausages, pork loins and trotters. Even the skin is edible, although most people are reticent to eat it because pigs are not among the cleanest animals. Bear in mind that they might test your olfactory tolerance before you manage to fatten them up and transform them into pork chops.

Rabbits

Not only pretty faces, rabbits are clean, quiet and prolific. Ideal for small spaces, rabbits will thrive in modest sized cages and as long as their manure is cleaned out regularly, they will remain odor-free. These furry animals are extremely rewarding for the amount of care and food they require. Rabbits feed on hay, which should be cut in three-inch lengths and stacked into the hay-racks that must be kept full at all times. They will also eat dried bread or crusts and, as it may be expected, they enjoy nibbling on carrots and roots. A buck and two does will yield as much as 50 rabbits per year, which translates into roughly 170 pounds of meat. Not too shabby for the effort you have to put in every day. Rabbits can be consumed as soon as they are seven or eight months old, but you can wait and make a more consistent stew from a three-year old buck. While they can withstand harsh cold weather, they are not big fans of wet or hot conditions. Keep in mind that they will need a cool place in the summer that has plenty of ventilation and fresh water supplies.

Goats

Most people would prefer to have cows’ milk rather than goats’ milk. However, there are many reasons that goats make a better survival animal. They are much less expensive to purchase, they eat a lot less and will happily eat brush instead of pasture, and they take up a lot less space than a cow. A good doe will give birth to 2 or 3 kids and will go on to produce milk for up to two years. A dairy cow will give milk for up to a year and normally has one calf. Plus, keeping a bull around is not a fun prospect. A buck is much easier to handle. When your goat wears out, it will provide you with a more manageable amount of meat, whereas a butchered cow will take a lot of work to can or dehydrate. In addition, goats produce milk that can be used to feed orphaned foals, pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats, and baby humans. Cow’s milk is not as easy to digest for these youngsters.

Keeping livestock is not a decision to be taken lightly. These animals will depend on you for their food, water, and shelter. During drought conditions it will be difficult, if not impossible, to care for your animals. In that case you will need to butcher or trade them. Do you have what it takes to chop off a chicken’s head, or slit the throat of a pig? You may be surprised what you can do when put to the test.

If you can handle the responsibility of caring for animals, they will make your life much easier when there’s an economic collapse or worldwide disaster. Any animals that you do not need for food can be used to barter for other supplies. There will be a huge demand for eggs, milk, and meat after the stores close. So consider keeping a few easy care animals now, for survival in the future.

Vegetable Garden Planning for Beginners

Hopefully, you are already in full swing on your own garden, but if you have been putting it off, or are still conducting research on how to start your own garden, this article is for you. If you’re a beginner vegetable gardener, here are basics on vegetable garden planning: site selection, plot size, which vegetables to grow, and other gardening tips.

Remember this: It’s better to be proud of a small garden than to be frustrated by a big one!

One of the common errors for beginners is planting too much too soon and way more than anybody could eat or want. Unless you want to have zucchini taking up residence in your attic, plan carefully. Start small.

The Very Basics

First, here are some very basic concepts on topics you’ll want to explore further as you become a vegetable gardener extraordinaire:

  • Do you have enough sun exposure? Vegetables love the sun. They need at least 6 hours of full sun every day, and preferably 8.
  • Know your soil. Most soil can be enriched with compost and be fine for planting, but some soil needs more help. Vegetables must have good, loamy, well-drained soil. Check with your local nursery or local cooperative extension office about free soil test kits so that you can assess your soil type. See our article on preparing soil for planting.
  • Placement is everything. Avoid planting too near a tree, which will steal nutrients and shade the garden. In addition, a garden too close to the house will help to discourage wild animals from nibbling away your potential harvest.
  • Decide between tilling and a raised bed.  If you have poor soil or a bad back, a raised bed built with nonpressure-treated wood offers many benefits.
  • Vegetables need lots of water, at least 1 inch of water a week. See more about when to water vegetables.
  • You’ll need some basic planting tools.  These are the essentials: spade, garden fork, soaking hose, hoe, hand weeder, and wheelbarrow (or bucket) for moving around mulch or soil. It’s worth paying a bit extra for quality tools.
  • Study those seed catalogs and order early.
  • Check your frost dates. Find first and last frost dates in your area and be alert to your local conditions.

Deciding How Big

A good-size beginner vegetable garden is about 16×10 feet and features crops that are easy to grow. A plot this size, planted as suggested below, can feed a family of four for one summer, with a little extra for canning and freezing (or giving away).

Make your garden 11 rows wide, with each row 10 feet long. The rows should run north and south to take full advantage of the sun.

Vegetables that may yield more than one crop per season are beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, and turnips.

Suggested Plants for 11 Rows

The vegetables suggested below are common, productive plants but you’ll also want to contract your local cooperative extension to determine what plants grow best in your local area. Think about what you like to eat as well as what’s difficult to find in a grocery store or farmers’ market.

(Note: Link from each vegetable to a free planting and growing guide.)

  • Tomatoes—5 plants staked
  • Zucchini squash—4 plants
  • Peppers—6 plants
  • Cabbage
  • Bush beans
  • Lettuce, leaf and/or Bibb
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Radishes
  • Marigolds to discourage rabbits!

(Note: If this garden is too large for your needs, you do not have to plant all 11 rows, and you can also make the rows shorter. You can choose the veggies that you’d like to grow!)

When to Plant?

  • If you are planting seeds, consult our Best Planting Dates for Seeds chart. It’s customized to your frost dates as well as Moon-favorable dates.
  • If you’re putting plants in the ground from a nursery or transplanting from a greenhouse, see our Best Planting Dates for Transplants (by region).

Now Design Your Best Garden Ever!

Plan your perfect vegetable garden. Use our online Garden Planner to draw out your vegetable beds.

The best way to plan a successful veggie garden is to look at what similar gardeners have planned and see what works for them.

Camouflage and Concealment: The Art of Staying Hidden

Urban Camouflage and Concealment

It makes me laugh when I see a lot of SWAT Teams and PSD guys wearing Tactical Black and other colors that look cool but do nothing but make them stand out. In reality black is one of the worst colors to wear. Ask yourself, what is black in nature? Look around you and what in your surrounding’s are black? I expect very little… In urban areas most walls are white, gray or cream… Light colors! The colors you wear should blend in with your background whether its day or night.

At night dark colors stand out, especially when moving past light backgrounds and in urban areas most backgrounds are light colors. Even in rural dry areas when moving through low bush and fields the silhouettes of people in dark colors are easy to see at a distance.

You do not have to have expensive patterns to give you good camouflage and concealment, a gray dress shirt and a pair of light khaki pants is way more effective than tactical Tim dressed in SWAT black!

Movement and Rural Camouflage

Modern humans are positively disadvantaged when surviving in and moving on foot in rural and wilderness areas. Most people these days have never spent a night outside without any cover, let alone in bad weather. When you’re in the woods or bush you need to get comfortable in the environment. I remember one of my military instructors telling me that to be able to fight in an environment, you must first be able to live comfortably in that environment, and this is true. If you’re having difficulty living day-to-day how can you operate?


You should always consider camouflage and wear clothes that blend in with your environment, in urban areas wear light blues and grays in rural areas browns and greens. As I have said before there is no need for military camouflage clothing as this will just draw attention to yourself.You need to start using all your senses as the animals do, learn to identify sounds, smells, movements and what they mean. You need to especially be able to identify things associated with people, like foot prints, cigarette stumps, broken twigs or foliage, fences, straight lines, domestic animals, aircraft, vehicles, talking etc. Think about human smells like fires, food, fuel, human waste and tobacco; if your senses are sharp in bush or wooded areas you should be able to smell or hear people before you see them.  When moving you must do so quietly and regularly stop to look, listen and smell for any indication of people. If you identify people in your proximity are you going to take cover, evade or ambush?

Basic field craft, things are seen because of these reasons: Shape, Shadow, Silhouette, Shine, Spacing & Movement.

  • Shape: Disguise your shape; use foliage or rags to break up your outline.
  • Shadow: Keep in the shadows and always be aware that you are not casting a shadow that could be seen by your opposition.
  • Silhouette: Don’t stand out against skylines, lights, white walls, etc.
  • Shine: No chrome, shiny watches, mirrored glasses, sparkly jewelry and the like.
  • Spacing: If moving with others, remain spread out, but not too regularly and do not bunch together.
  • Movement: Move carefully, as sudden movement draws attention and is the main reason camouflaged personnel and animals are seen.

The basic guidelines for camouflage are

  • Learn to blend in with your surroundings.
  • If you are using foliage to conceal yourself or your position don’t use too much or too little.
  • If you are in a long-term hide remember to keep your camouflage fresh, dead foliage will alert people to your position.
  • When moving avoid skylines.
  • Don’t use isolated or obvious cover; it’s the first place others will look. Consider hiding in thorny bushes or nettles as most people will not expect anyone to hide there.
  • Camouflage your face, neck and any areas of the exposed flesh with mud, ash or charcoal from fires. Or use a balaclava or scarf to cover your face and wear gloves.
  • Take all noisy objects from your pockets, such as keys and coins and make sure nothing on your person rattles.
  • Make sure there are no shiny surfaces on your person, equipment or clothing.

Guidelines for Movement

You should always move quietly and cautiously and avoid stepping on dry twigs or breaking through foliage and undergrowth as this will make noise and leave an easy trail to follow. If you know you’re going to a rural area or possibly going to be in an escape and evasion situation avoid smelly foods, strong soaps and after shaves, as these will be easy to smell by those used to being in the bush. Always be careful not to leave signs you were in an area such as foot prints, broken foliage, human waste or trash.  Trash and human waste should be carried out of a hostile area and disposed of when safe to do so.

You should always move in “bounds” from one piece of cover to another. Your bounds should never be more than, say 50 yards, especially at night. When you stop at the end of each bound you should use your senses to try to detect any human presents then plan your next bound. Moving in short bounds is the safest way to move through populated areas or places there are unfriendly forces. Remember, always be prepared to take evasive action or defend yourself.

There are no set time periods for halts but you should try to take ten minutes in every hour on long journeys. Tracks, paths and roads make for fast, easy travel and can aid navigation but can also be very dangerous as your opponents will watch them closely. To be cautious walk a few meters off to the side of any roads or tracks.  Places to expect sentries are at the entrances to urban areas, on bridges, cross roads and on high prominent terrain.The speed at which you travel will depend on whether it’s day or night, the type of terrain you’re in, people or police patrols in the area. Never push yourself to your limit, you always need to have energy in reserve so you can run in an emergency; tired people are also rarely mentally alert. If you must run from your opposition try to do so only for a maximum of a few hundred yards, then slow down and move quietly, cautiously and cover your any signs of your direction of travel. Do not use obvious routes, which tend to be the easiest routes to use; head up hills and into thorny areas etc.

Avoid being silhouetted when crossing skylines and hills, go around them rather than over them where possible. If you need to cross an obstacle or skyline then keep low and crawl, if it’s a fence, crawl through it or under it. If you have to cut through a fence, cut through the lower strands and then disguise the hole with undergrowth or tie the wire strands back together, never cut through the top strands as this will be easily noticed.

Moving at night

You need to learn to treat the night and darkness as your friend, darkness affords you cover. Many people are afraid of being in the dark especially in rural areas or derelict buildings; you should use this to your advantage. If you are moving you should always try to stay in the shadows, if you get caught in a beam of light or car headlights you should freeze, the chances are that you will remain unnoticed. You must have your immediate reaction drills for encountering a person, being caught in light or hostile fire at the forefront of your mind. Being caught off guard will get you captured or killed.

There are both natural and man-made noises that are useful to you because they can cover up or disguise the sounds that you make when moving. The best time for moving covertly is during bad weather; rain will cover the noise of your movement and any ground sign you leave. Bad weather also keeps people under cover, lowers the moral of those standing guard, learn to love bad weather.

General guidelines for rural movement

  • Wear clothing that blends in with local people and the terrain.
  • Do everything possible to disguise evidence of your passage; cover foot prints, never break twigs or undergrowth and repair broken foliage.
  • Avoid contact with all people unless absolutely necessary.
  • Litter, food and human waste must be buried or carried with you.
  • Learn about tracking, then you’ll be aware of what anyone following you will be looking for.
  • If moving with others spread out and when crossing obstacles such as a rivers or roads etc. take up positions to be able to give warnings of any threats that might be approaching. Also stay low move fast and cross one by one.
  • Always be ready to take cover from gunfire or people you may encounter by surprise.
  • Remember certain smells indicate human activity; odors float downhill in cool air and rise on warm air.
  • Watch for stones, leaves or logs that have been moved, the undersides of these will be darker in color and damp environments, this can be an indicator of human activity or the location of hides.
  • Always look for straight lines as they are rare in nature and are usually man-made.
  • Learn to identify unnatural vegetation, such as green leaves among dead branches or areas of too much foliage as this could indicate human activity such as hides or ambushes.

These are some basic guidelines to get you thinking, these skills can’t be learn sat in a comfy chair, you need to get out and learn and practice them. Everything I have written about here is simple and the main thing required is situational awareness and common sense!

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

Winter Camping and Backpacking Hacks

Winter camping and backpacking have a much steeper learning curve than three season hiking and camping because you have to carry a lot more gear and learn so many new skills. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve discovered or learned over the years that have improved the safety and comfort of my winter trips.

Dig a Pit under your Tent’s Front Vestibule

Dig a pit about 3 feet deep under the front vestibule of your winter tent so you can sit down in the front door when you take off or put on your winter boots. This also increases the amount of gear you can store under the vestibule fly.

Bring at Least Two Stoves in Case one Fails

Stoves can fail in winter. White Gas stoves can get gunked up and stop functioning if they’re not cleaned properly or use dirty fuel. Canister stoves can also fail when it gets too cold for their fuel to vaporize. You best bet is to bring multiple stoves when you go winter camping or backpacking in a group, preferably ones that share the same kind of fuel, so you have some redundancy in case a stove fails.

Wear Oven Bags Over Your Feet to Keep Your Socks Dry

If you wear gaiters for winter hiking, your socks will get wet from foot and leg sweat. This is a problem when winter camping because wet socks will freeze at night unless you sleep with them in your sleeping bag. However, you can keep your socks dry if you wear oven roasting bags under your socks. Your feet will sweat less and stay warmer and your socks will stay dry because the oven bags contain all that sweat close to your skin.

Wrap Fuel Bottles with Duct Tape to Prevent Frostbite

In cold weather, the temperature of white gas, or liquid fuel as it is also known, can dip below freezing but still remain in liquid form. If it touches your skin, it will evaporate immediately, causing frostnip or a more severe frostbite. In fact, simply touching an uninsulated fuel bottle with the bare skin of your hand in sub-zero temperatures can cause a cold injury. You can prevent this by wrapping the bottle with duct tape to insulate it.

Sleep with your Boots or Boot Liners in your Sleeping Bag at Night

If your winter boots or bootlines have become damp during the day, you need to sleep with them in your sleeping bag to keep them from freezing at night. If your boots do freeze, you may not be able to use them again until they are thawed out.

Carry your Water Bottles in Insulated Pockets

When hiking in winter, it’s best to use wide mouth bottles that you can pour boiling water into each morning. These should be stored upside down so the tops don’t freeze shut. Store the water bottles in insulated water bottle pockets on the outside of your pack or inside your pack, surrounded by insulating garments.

Wear Nitrile Exam Gloves as Glove Liners

If your hands sweat when you hike and you have to carry extra gloves or mittens, you can cut down on the number of gloves you need to pack by wearing nitrile or latex gloves as glove liners. They prevent hand sweat from being absorbed by your gloves and will keep your hands warmer too. It’s the same principle as wearning oven roasting bags over your feet to keep your socks dry.

Use Lithium Batteries instead of Alkaline Batteries in Winter

Alkaline batteries perform very poorly below freezing and in cold weather because they are made with a water-based electrolyte solution. Lithum batteries on the other hand are much more powerful than alkaline batteries and function very well in cold weather, making them ideal for headlamps and other must-have electronics.

 

BUG OUT: 60+ Preparedness Resources for Bugging Out

Bugging out can mean many things to different people; but in general, when we talk about bugging out we are talking about having to make a quick getaway during times of crisis. The reasons for having to make this getaway can be anything from manmade or natural disaster that causes you to leave your immediate area to long-term emergency situations which could make returning home dangerous or impossible.

While the reasons for bugging out are many, it’s an action that should never be taken lightly, as it could carry significant risks to your safety and security. Becuase this topic is so deadly serious, we have compiled our top bug out bag checklists and evacuation planning guides to help you formulate a plan of action.

Man with Bug Out Bag

Some Important things you need to keep in mind:

  • Bugging out without a place to go is a recipe for disaster. You need to know exactly where you’re going and exactly how you are going to get there, including alternate routes in case your plans go bad.
  • Planning to live off the land without ever having done it before is not going to work. Don’t be one of those people who thinks he’s going to be some wilderness nomad wandering the countryside.
  • Evacuating increases your risk of being attacked during an extreme crisis, such as a disaster where people may be targeting those with supplies. You need to weigh the options carefully, and always keep self-defense in mind.

Topics Covered in this Bugout Guide: The links below will jump you right to the specific section.

  • Disasters that Might Cause you to Evacuate
  • How to Develop your Bugout Plans
  • Bug Out Bags and Emergency Survival Gear
  • Bug Out Locations (BOL): Where to Head when Things Go Bad
  • Bug Out Vehicles (BOV): Your Ticket out of Dodge
  • Self-Defense Considerations when Evacuating
  • Critical Considerations and Preparedness Resources
  • Recommended Preparedness Books on Bugging Out

Disasters Scenarios that Could Call for Immediate Evacuation.

Disasters and Threats to Safety

Having a well thought out evacuation strategy is an essential part of any emergency preparedness plan; equally important is understanding what threats are out there and what types of disasters and crisis situations could cause you to put your bugout plan into place.

While everyone’s reasons for evacuating will be different, largely based on their unique needs and circumstances, the following threats are all things that you need to consider when putting together your family’s bug out plan.

  • Large-scale Cyber Attacks that Take Down the Entire Grid: The Coming Cyber Wars that could change the world as we know it.
  • Pandemic Outbreaks and Localized Disease Epidemics: Throughout history, millions upon millions of people have died as the result of pandemic outbreaks; based on how poorly this country’s emergency planners reacted during the 2015 Ebola scare, pandemics and disease outbreaks are on the top of the list of considerations.
  • EMPs, Terror Attacks, and Grid Failures: What was once considered something out of a science fiction novel is now a very real possibility — the complete shutdown of our entire electrical grid.
  • An attack on your local Water Supply: From terror attacks targeting the water supply, to industrial accidents like the recent release of millions of gallons of Toxic Materials into the Colorado River, threats to the water supply are a serious cause for concern.
  • Disasters that cause breakdowns in Food Distribution Systems.  Modern grocery stores have about a 3-day supply of food on hand at all times. Even small-scale disasters can bring food delivery systems to their knees.
  • A Large-Scale Economic Collapse: Economies around the world are crashing, countries are drowning in record amounts of debt, and governments continue to pile on new debt like there’s no tomorrow. At some point, the house of cards will come crashing down.
  • Social Unrest & Riots: The social unrest in this country has reached a boiling point, and it’s not going to take much for this chaos to spread to other areas of the country.
  • Declaration of Martial Law: From widespread social unrest, crime, and violence to a growing national debt that threatens to sink the country, the writing’s on the wall: Trouble is coming.
  • Earthquakes: From the initial damage which could make your home unlivable, to the chaos that will follow as people take advantage of an already bad situation, earthquakes top the list of disasters that could cause you to evacuate.
  • Wildfires: Wildfires are a growing threat, especially in drought ridden areas of the Southwestern United States.
  • Hurricanes & Storm Surge Flooding: For those who live in hurricane zones, this is probably one of the top threats that would cause you to at the very least temporarily leave your home.

Evacuation Planning: Developing your Bug Out Plans

Planning evacuation Routes

Now that you have considered the most likely threats that would cause you to evacuate, it’s time to start putting plans in place to deal with each of the identified threats. The only way to truly be able to survive a threat is to have a plan in place to deal with it; a crisis is not a time to start winging things.

  • Stay or Go? You need to plan for both: While having a bug out plan is important, you need to consider the pros and cons of leaving or sheltering in place.
  • How to plan a bug out route for emergency evacuation: You don’t want to start thinking about how you’re going to evacuate as you’re grabbing your go bag during a disaster. You need to have a documented plan in place that will help ensure you’re able to make it safely out of Dodge.
  • Conducting routine emergency drills & disaster training: When it comes to real-world preparedness, your ability to survive a crisis comes down to two things: Your Planning and your Training. If you don’t practice your plans, then your plans are useless.
  • Making time for preparedness related training: To really be prepared to deal with disasters, you need to bring training into your daily routine.
  • You need a Communication Plan: During a catastrophe, it’s very likely that most communication channels will go down. You need to have a plan in place to gather information and connect with your loved ones during times of crisis.
  • National Trail System Map: There are thousands of hiking trails throughout the United States, these trails are something that should be kept in mind during disasters where you may have to evacuate by foot.
  • U.S. Railroad Traffic Atlas: Railroad tracks are another possible evacuation route that you need to be aware of.

Bug Out Bags and Selecting the Right Emergency Gear

Bugout Gear

The type of gear you select can go a long way in determining the outcome of your situation. When picking any type of survival gear, make sure you do your research; once you have the gear, make sure you test, train with, and thoroughly understand how to use all of your supplies.

  • The Ultimate Guide to building the Perfect Bug out Bag: When it comes to packing your Bug out Bag, a number of things need to be considered.
  • Bugout Bags for Children: Giving your child their own backpack filled with familiar items, essential survival gear, and comfort foods can be a real life saver during an emergency.
  • What type of Bag Should you buy? Military, hiking or hunting backpacks; which one is going to hold up when you need it, and which pack is right for your unique situation?
  • How to Pack Your Backpack for Easy Carrying: Believe it or not, there is a correct way to load a bag; something most hikers find out the hard way while suffering from all sorts of uncomfortable backpack related pains out on the trail.
  • The Best Portable Solar Panel Chargers for Disasters: These small portable solar panels make a great addition to any bug out bag; when disaster strikes they can help keep devices like cell phones, small tablets, flashlights, emergency radios, ham radios, and GPS devices up and running.
  • How much water should you be carrying in your bug out bag? Water is one of the most critical resources you need to survive any situation, but just how much should you carry with you?
  • Top Survival Knives for your Bag: In a survival situation one of the most useful tools you can have is a good fixed-blade knife.
  • 7 Tools Designed for Urban Survival: Urban Survival & Wilderness Survival are two very different things. Make sure you know the difference before buying a bunch of wilderness survival gear that you may never use.
  • Build the Ultimate School Bug Out Kit for your Kids: If you have a child in public school, it’s important to prepare them for the possibility of disasters that hit while they’re at school.

Bug Out Locations (BOL): Where to Head when Things Go Bad

Bugout cabin

When things go bad, having a dedicated bug out location can help ensure your survival. Not only will you have a place to go, far from the chaos and dangers associated with urban survival, but you’ll also have a place to store backup supplies and equipment.

  • How to Find the Perfect Bugout Survival Property: Bugging out without a place to go is not a plan; find out what you should look for in a survival retreat or bug out location.
  • How to defend your bug out location: Preparing your battlespace: During a complete meltdown scenario, the ability to protect your property from attackers may be a skill that comes in very handy.
  • 10 Tips For Bugging Out to the Country: How the average farmer or homesteader feels about urban folks bugging out to the country.
  • Safety Considerations When Buying Rural Land for Bugouts: While most people think escaping the city is the safest thing to do, there are some safety considerations you need to keep in mind when purchasing rural land.
  • What If You Don’t Have A Bug Out Location? Bugging out without having a place to go is not a plan; it’s called being a refugee. That being said, I do believe in having contingency plans, and not everyone can afford a dedicated bug out location.

Bug Out Vehicles (BOV): Your Ticket out of Dodge

off-road vehicle bugging out

Having a plan is great, but you need to account for how you’re going to get out during times of crisis. From bugout vehicles to walking out when things really go bad, here are some tips for getting out of Dodge in one piece.

  • Tips to Prepare your Vehicle for Bugout Disasters: Not everyone can afford a dedicated Four-Wheel Drive BOV, but everyone can make sure their vehicle is setup for survival.
  • BOV Chronicles: Creek Stewart’s Bug Out Truck: I’m not a big fan of most survival T.V. shows, but I do like Creek Stewart and his show on the Weather Channel. When it comes to survival experts, he knows what he’s talking about and seems to genuinely care about helping other people. His Bug Out Chronicles are a great look at what it takes to transform an ordinary truck into a top notch vehicle for survival.
  • Consider building a Mobile Bugout Shelter: When things go bad, having a dedicated bug out location or survival shelter can help protect you from the chaos and dangers associated with urban living.
  • 8 Considerations when Choosing a Bug Out Vehicle: Some considerations you need to think about when selecting a bug out vehicle.
  • This is how you make a vehicle unstoppable Off-Road: Here are fourteen basic off-road vehicle attributes that can be the difference between getting stuck in the woods and making a successful escape.
  • Driving Tips For A Safe Bug Out: Not many people think about what it will take to evacuate during a major crisis; in order to survive the mayhem associated with significant civil unrest, you need to learn these basic driving tactics.
  • Building a Bugout Bike: Scott Williams’ advice on why you should consider building an evacuation bike.

Self Defense Considerations when Evacuating

Self-Defense Training

There is one thing you can almost count on during times of crisis: There are going to be people looking to take advantage of the situation. Self-defense is something that you need to take seriously, and it needs to be part of any good survival plan.

  • Should you buy a firearm? The Pros & Cons of Gun Ownership: Firearms in the hands of a law-abiding citizen can save lives, and the numbers show it. During a collapse type scenario, the ability to defend yourself is going to be a top concern.
  • Bugout Guns: When disaster strikes, you may have all the supplies you need, but without proper firearms in your bugout bag, some thug could easily take all your gear.
  • Preparing for Riots: When disaster strikes, there is a pretty good chance you may see widespread looting and rioting; make sure you know how to deal with these types of events.
  • 5 Handguns for Bugging Out: If you have room for only one handgun and some ammo. What do you take?
  • Defending yourself from multiple attackers: I hate to break it to you; carrying a firearm does not guarantee your safety, and carrying a firearm without training is a recipe for disaster. You need to study the art of self-defense thoroughly and know how to defend yourself without a firearm.

Important Bugout Considerations and Preparedness Resources:

Images of Natural Disasters

The key to survival is knowledge; without it, you don’t stand a chance. Here are some other important factors that you should keep in mind when considering your evacuation plans.

  • You must plan for breakdowns in Infrastructure: Our nation’s highways have become so congested that from a preparedness perspective, they have left us completely vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters.
  • Stay Away from Large Cities: No matter what disaster hits, facing it in a large city is going to be a whole lot harder than facing it in a rural area.
  • List of Emergency Communication Frequencies, Channels, and Networks: A detailed list of communication devices and emergency frequencies to monitor during a disaster.
  • Always carry an EDC with you at all times: Since most accidents happen when you least expect them, carrying an everyday carry kit is a good way to make sure you always have basic supplies on hand should disaster strike when your away from your primary gear.
  • How Much Money Do You Have in Your Bugout Bag? Having cash on hand is an important part of being able to Bugout. From paying for last minute supplies to being able to bribe your way out of sticky situations, there are a number of reasons to consider carrying cash in your emergency bags.
  • How Far can You Walk in a Day When Bugging Out? This is an issue that you must take into account, especially if you’re out of shape.
  • 7 Tips for Long-Term Survival After You Bug: You’ve bugged out; now what? Any good plan should account for long-term disasters and what you would do when the dust starts to settle.
  • 32 Resources & Preparedness Skills that Everyone Should Know: Skills that were once part of our everyday lives, ones that helped our ancestors thrive, have been largely forgotten; these skills can help you survive during a long-term crisis.
  • 27 Essential Preparedness Tips, Skills and Resources: The knowledge you need to survive in the face of danger.

Beyond the Bugout

When some people talk about bugging out, they’re speaking of much more than just planning for disasters. Some are looking for a way to drop off the grid and leave the trappings of modern-day society.

  • How to Disappear Completely and Start a New Life: Somewhere along the line, you may find yourself looking for a way to escape. In today’s modern world, the ability to completely drop off the grid is something that is getting harder and harder by the day; but there are some things you can do if you want to disappear and live off the radar.
  • Getting Out of Babylon: A lot of people believe a major collapse is coming; if that’s the case, one way to protect yourself may be completely dropping out of the system that’s responsible for this mess.
  • The Partial Bugout; Going Off the Grid: A real-life example of how one family successfully made the transition into off-grid living.

Recommended Books on Bugging Out:

Survival Books

  • The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide: Self-Reliance Strategies for a Dangerous World: Robert Richardson, founder of offgridsurvival.com, gives you real-world advice on how to survive the very real dangers present in today’s society. The book covers everything from natural disasters, man-made disasters and disease outbreaks, to essential tactics and step-by-step instructions for surviving urban disasters, crime, social unrest, and criminal/terrorist attacks.
  • Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places: Author Joel M. Skousen gives you great advice on selecting bugout locations and long-term survival properties. The book examines in detail, various regions in the United States where you may be thinking of buying a home or bugging out to when things go bad.
  • Build the Perfect Bug Out Vehicle: The Disaster Survival Vehicle Guide: Creek Stewart, Survival Expert and Host of the T.V. Show Fat Guys in the Woods, details from start to finish everything you need to equip an everyday vehicle for a drive through and away from disaster-stricken areas—from survival supplies and storage solutions to off-road travel, communication, navigation, and security considerations.
  • Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late: Author Scott B. Williams’ book is an excellent resource for Bugout planning. The book looks at evacuation strategies and details the best escape locations in the U.S.
  • Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Knowing what you can and can’t eat during a long-term survival situation is something a lot of people overlook; Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants gives you details on what plants you can eat, and which ones you should avoid during an emergency.