Winter SHTF Planning and Preparation

Currently enjoying the first real Winter storm of the season up here in Canada and I must say I really like it. Got me thinking about those things relating to Winter survival that are either not really talked about or, worse yet, ignored. I am assuming you do not have a massive solar array and geothermal power. I am also assuming you live in the snow belt meaning two to five months of Winter and arctic temperatures.

It is Snowing. A lot!

Here at work I just opened our Storm accommodation plan so staff can sleep overnight rather than risk life, limb, and fenders trying to get home as 20cm of snow falls (8 inches). They have the option to sleep in warm, dry, secure location and get a free meal voucher. Awesome deal but in SHTF when it snows hard it gets complex. Stay or go? I’d stay put until the obvious storm front has passed me by as I really will have no idea if the snow is stopping in an hour or going to keep dropping the next three days.

This means in the Winter season you always need to have a Winter bug in kit on you at all times you know you cannot easily get back to home base. You should always have a compass on you in SHTF as fog, rain, and snow can easily get you lost real fast even close to home base. This is my minimum gear I’d have on me if venturing any distance in the Winter season in Southern Ontario away from the home base.

  • Emergency bivvy bag. Many makes of these are available. Get an expensive one you can reuse. In SHTF you cannot reorder from Amazon easily.
  • Emergency stove and fuel. The goal here is to boil water for hot drinks and food and to get a bit of heat. I’d use my BioLite but a basic rocket stove made from an old number 10 tin can would work great. Carry fuel and ignition. Snow means getting a new supply might be impossible. The BioLite Wood Burning Campstove is expensive and heavy but really awesome on fuel usage and heat. It also charges a good light source (get the orange one not the blue version)
  • The clothes I’d be wearing would be Winter proofed. Look up and learn how to dress for Arctic temperatures. I’d have extra gloves, hat, socks, and leg/arm thermal wrapped in the pack as well.
  • Metal water container that can be used to boil water. Some emergency filters won’t work so well in minus temperatures however hard you suck on the ice!
  • Emergency shovel. Dig a hole and then a ditch around the base so water will run away from you. Consider covering it to make a snow cave. Know how to do this safely.
  • Those high calorie life boat rations, MREs, and wise food would also be great in this situation. I’d want 5000 Cal minimum but 10000 Cal would be safer. Candies and a couple of boil in the bag meals will help with variety.
  • A couple of Mylar survival blankets and a 6 by 10 piece of transparent plastic sheet. The better the survival shelter, the warmer you will be.
  • 50 feet of paracord.
  • Decent amount of duct tape
  • Folding saw and a knife in case fuel is available
  • Flash light that works without solar or batteries. Hand crank or squeeze (I use the BioLite for this one).
  • Sun glasses
  • Sun screen. I never use it except in the Winter. So easy to burn your face

At this point you are probably rolling your eyes but this kit is for my local conditions not for yours! Deep snow is a killer up here and will be much worse in SHTF. Mostly I won’t venture more than 2 miles from home base and this is my minimum carry is for extend trips beyond 10 miles in December through March. It would be a lot smaller for local sojourns. If you can safely get back to home base then get back to it. If unsure bug in and make camp until it is safe to walk home. What did I miss? What should I not carry? Let me know in the comments and why of course.  I excluded snow shoes as I’d have them on if it had already snowed but would not carry them if it had not. I can make a pair using the folding saw, knife, and paracord if I had to.

Winter Storm in SHTF from your cozy bug in or bug out location

If you have prepped right and have been lucky then you should have adequate calories and comfort to survive the storm. If not then you are SOL. However these are some of my ideas that might be overlooked by some in SHTF.

Toilet Paper

I have loads of it but it will run out. The supply I have will be withdrawn from circulation after the first four weeks of SHTF. I will tell my girlfriend she has to let go of the past and embrace the now. Likely she will leave me at this point and I will have doubled my supply of white rice! The paper toilet paper will be strictly only for use if sick or in deep Winter (and her birthday. I’m not heartless). I have pre-cut a large supply of linen toilet ‘paper’ from old jeans and shirts. In the warmer months that is what is used to wipe and polish. In deep Winter the ability not to have to wash the toilet rags will be an awesome asset (pun intended) and avoid a real problem in arctic temperatures.

Fuel

For me this will be wood. I plan worse case and SHTF forever. You need about 5 cords of wood to get through the Winter here but around my bug in home I can collect wood for sure 10 months of the year so this can be reduced. At my bug out cottage that drops to about 8-9 months of the year. Sure I can hack down standing dead trees but realistically how many of them will be close to me abode after a few months? Wood gathering and storing will be a continual endeavor all year-long. Collect birch and ignition materials will also be a yearlong activity. However if I can avoid chopping and processing wood when it is below minus 10C then I absolutely will. Sure that makes for great looking prepper videos but to me it means they did not prep smart.

Exercise in SHTF should be avoided and exercise in arctic temperatures should only be done in a life or death situation. Like the bears your plan should be to basically sleep through the worst of the Winter. Using wood from one or two years ago that has been stacked properly is a great idea but think for a moment. In SHTF you will probably use your entire stock of wood in the first year if you neglect to add to the supply each and every day. Like toilet paper you never, ever can store enough wood but try.

Fuel Storage

Fuel for me means wood. I do not expect gasoline or propane to be widely available in SHTF and do not construct my preps around anything that cannot be found or used 5 years down from the SHTF event(s). Wet wood needs to dry before use. Cold wood needs to be warmed before use as does kindling. You can, with effort, work around this but why even try? Your bug in or bug out place needs to be able to accommodate a large supply of wood and ignition material inside the place. Going outside in a storm is the last thing you will want to do and having an ample inside store means not opening the door and pre-warmed and dry wood. Have lots of mouse and rat traps as the critters love wood piles. In the Spring store wood at least 30 feet from your shelter. Have a wheelbarrow to help move wood and water around when there is no snow.

Water

If safe to drink then snow can easily be melted provided you have lots of wood available. Remember to add unfrozen water to the pan and add snow slowly in small amounts and stir. If can and will burn if you just dump it into the hot pan. You need to use a window or an additional chimney to direct the steam outside your shelter. Water vapor gets everywhere and moisture can kill you in SHTF. Bang a few empty cans together and use aluminum foil to funnel the rising steam into the cans. Have it open through a window and use bubble wrap and duct tape to seal. Block the inside end with cloth when not creating steam.

You should have a lot of treated water stored year round but remember to move it inside the warm room before freezing starts to occur.

Home is where the hearth is

One room is your home in the deep Winter. Heat that one room and use plastic sheets and Mylar to reflect heat back into the room and trap heat in the room. Bubble wrap should have been hoarded for all the windows before SHTF. Hand plastic sheets on both sides of all the doors and avoid using them as much as possible. Stack soil and wood around the outsides of that inner room to add insulation but make sure it is in trash bags and is dry.

Set up a tent inside this room to sleep in but, as with the plastic sheets make sure there is zero risk of a fire or a melting happening. Have several fire extinguishers and a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inside this room as well. If you cannot set up adequate ventilation do not use anything other than the fireplace to cook in. I’m using the BioLite as well as the fireplace but with the additional ventilation system for steam described above.

Plan how to gather more fuel and food in the warmer months. Figure out how to preserve that food for the next Winter. Keep mentally busy as Winter is not a great time to wander around outside when snow is on the ground. It takes far too much energy to do so and has a lot of risks.

The Roof

Have a suitably angled roof for your worst case snow fall activity. Sure you can go up a ladder and sweep it off but I can tell you a lot of elderly males get spinal injuries each and every year in Ontario from doing that. Have your roof renewed more frequently than you need as roofers will be in short supply in SHTF.

Winter SHTF is not all suffering, eh?

Can you skate and do you have frozen rivers and lakes near you? For most of Ontario’s history travel in the Winter was easier than in the Summer and this will happen again a few years into SHTF as the bridges fall and the roads fail. Good time to go out and meet the neighbors. Winter is a wonderland and a great time to think about ice fishing.

Keep a supply of pre SHTF goodies hidden away and some tinsel. December 25th or as near as you guess the date to be wrap up some presents using newspaper and eat some decent food. Sing carols and make merry. This birthday and special day celebration is what makes suffering through SHTF worth while. Never neglect to think about how to make yourself happy in SHTF even if most days it will be as awful as the weather is right now.

By Huples

 

A Simple Hatchet can Save your Life

swiss-reserve-hatchet

The hatchet is a small axe that is one heck of a survival tool, and it lends itself to numerous applications that help you not die. Let’s go over some of the way it can be helpful in a survival situation.

Fire Starter

You should have at least two to three different ways to start a fire, like waterproof matches, magnesium fire starter, and a lighter.  A hatchet is another very helpful item to have when needing to start a fire. It not only makes it much easier to cut large pieces of wood, but also functions as a striking tool to create sparks. Use as a striker only in an emergency situation to avoid premature dulling.

Defense

Finding yourself face to face with a large predator in the wild such as a cougar or bear is never ideal, and there’s no running away, as it sends a clear message that you’re food rather than a potential threat. Granted, you’d probably rather have a gun or an airbow to keep the predators at longer distances, but if things become too close, you can count on your hatchet. The hatchet works best when used in a hacking motion to maintain your defense.

Ice Cutter

Cutting ice and hard snow for water is much easier when you have a hatchet, as is digging out a snow shelter.  Ice cutting will come in handy if you need to dig a hole to protect a small fire from the wind.

Splint Assistance

Should you need to create a splint, a hatchet again comes in super handy. It makes it easy to cut and fashion a splint, whether for you or an injured party member.

Light Reflector

The metal section of a hatchet works as a light reflector, which sure is helpful if you’re alone in the wilderness and need to be rescued!

Hammer

The hatchet’s back end works as a very nice hammer.

Some would argue that you only need a fixed blade knife in your pack, while others would argue that the hatchet is the more important of the two. The reality is that you should have both. If you don’t have a hatchet in your survival bag, consider purchasing one. Chances are that you’ll be very glad you have it down the road.

Bug Out Bags for Your Beloved Pets

When we consider bug out bags (72 hour emergency kits) for each of our family members we often don’t consider that each of our pets need one too. Anything can happen at any given time and when that time comes my pets are coming with me…and they’re coming prepared like the rest of the family. Below are lists of things to consider for your pet’s bug out bag.

What items to consider for your dog

  • Vaccine/Medical records with owner contact information
  • Dog food with bowl (for can food make sure to include a can opener and a spoon)
  • Dog treats
  • Water with bowl (Your dog should have 2.5 oz of water for every 1 oz of food)
  • Protective clothing (raincoat and/or regular coat)
  • Dog bed (with a blanket for extra warmth)
  • Carrier with handle (collapsible if possible)
  • Collar with I.D. tag
  • Leash/Harness
  • A tie out (you never know when you may have to secure your pet)
  • Muzzle
  • First Aid Kit
  • Daily Medications
  • Clean up supplies (baggies, trash bags, etc)
  • Grooming supplies (optional)

What items to consider for your cat

  • Vaccine/Medical records with owner contact information
  • Cat food with bowl (for can food make sure to include a can opener and a spoon)
  • Cat treats
  • Water (Your cat should have 2.5 oz of water for every 1 oz of food)
  • Protective clothing (for example, a cat sweater)
  • Cat bed (with a blanket for extra warmth)
  • Carrier with handle
  • Collar with I.D. tag
  • First Aid Kit
  • Daily Medications
  • Litter Box/Pan with litter
  • Clean up supplies (baggies, trash bags, etc)
  • Grooming supplies (optional)

A medium sized bug out bag for each pet will typically fit everything your dog or cat will need with the exception of the pet carriers. You can even buy a doggie backpack for a bigger dog to carry.You may also consider a single, much bigger bag to include all of the items for every pet in the home. It may seem like alot of items but it’s well worth it for the safety and well being of your beloved pets.

For longer term survival situations consider “adding extra” on some items such as food, treats, water, clothing, blankets, first aid, kitty litter, and clean up supplies. Sometimes you don’t know that a survival situation is longer term until you’re actually IN a survival situation. So planning beyond the 72 hours for each family member’s emergency kit  is something to seriously consider.

Always remember this one important rule when it comes to survival, a motto I live by… It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

10 Tips for Preppers to Prepare for SHTF Situations

Being prepared really isn’t that complicated, it just takes a willingness to do something about your situation. If you haven’t started prepping, it’s time to start taking the decisive actions you need to take to keep yourself and your family safe.

Being prepared really isn’t that complicated, it just takes a willingness to do something about your situation. If you haven’t started prepping, it’s time to start taking the decisive actions you need to take to keep yourself and your family safe.

Here are 10 ideas that can help get you started:

1. Threat Assessment

Part of truly being prepared for anything, means knowing exactly what threats you’re going to face and then analyzing how those threats will affect you in the future. By performing a realistic threat assessment, you can get a better idea of what threats you’re facing, and learn how to prepare for those threats in the future.

2. Planning for the most likely SHTF Scenarios.

When you’re just getting started in the world of prepping, preparing for an EMP or an asteroid hitting the earth is probably not the best course of action. While both of those scenarios are scary, the probability of them happening is actually pretty low. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t prep for these things, I’m just suggesting that you prep for the most likely dangers first.

3. SWOT Analysis

Performing a SWOT Analysis is a great way to determine how prepared you really are. A SWOT Analysis is a simple, but useful method of pinpointing your Strengths and Weaknesses. Performing one will also help you identify Opportunities that you can exploit, and Threats that you might face in a SHTF situation.

4. Living Debt Free… Is it part of your survival plan?

It’s great to be prepared for an end of days scenario, but what happens when you’re faced with a foreclosure or the possibility of living on the streets? Is that not a survival situation?  To be truly prepared for the worst, we must also think of our financial security. That means paying off debt, living within your means, and starting an emergency fund.

5. Get in Shape NOW

No matter what survival situation you may ultimately find yourself in, there’s one thing that you’ll likely find; survival is going to be hell on your body. One of the best things you can do to ensure your survival, in just about any situation, is to make sure your body and your mind are trained and prepared to survive. That means motivating yourself to get off your butt and get in shape.

6. Train with Repetition

To really be able to rely on your knowledge when things go bad, you need to run through your survival techniques in a number of real-world scenarios and environments. The more you train in real world situations, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to perform these skills in a high stress survival situation.

7. Train Your Mind

Survival isn’t glamorous, and it’s nothing like what’s depicted on T.V. Survival shows. It is downright brutal, and will beat the hell out of you not only physically, but emotionally as well. Don’t overlook the importance of cultivating a mindset that will allow you to face life’s greatest challenges.

8. Survival Intelligence – Power of Information

In a survival situation, knowledge is going to be a critical factor in determining the outcome of your situation. The ability to be able to predict what will happen during an emergency is an important part of being prepared. Start gathering a list of trusted resources and information sources that can help you prepare for whatever the future has in store.

9. Be Prepared to Bug Out

Many preppers talk about the prospects of bugging out; but how many of them have the skills, or the strength to actually do it? It’s one thing to talk about bugging out; it’s another thing to carry your gear 10-15 miles a day in dangerous and unforgiving conditions.

10. Bugging out with Kids

During a SHTF situation, maintaining a sense of normalcy is going to be a very important concern when dealing with children. With children, comfort items can go a long way in helping them feel as safe and secure as possible. Don’t overlook how important it will become to give them a sense of comfort and control during a stressful SHTF situation.

 

Threat Assessment – What are the most likely threats that you will face?

Part of truly being prepared for anything, means knowing exactly what threats you’re facing, and then analyzing how those threats will affect you in the future. By performing a realistic threat assessment, you can get a better idea of what threats are out there, and then learn how to prepare for those threats in the future.

Performing a threat assessment will help you improve your ability to handle threats, manage threatening situations, and protect the people you love from harm.

There are three primary objectives when performing a threat assessment – Identify, Assess, and Manage.

IDENTIFY The Threats

The first step in analyzing your overall preparedness level is to identify the most likely threats that you will face.

What are the most likely threats that you will face? Who/What are the threats, and what are your vulnerabilities?

  • Natural disasters: What are the most likely disasters you will face based on your geographical location? (Hurricanes, Floods, Earthquakes, etc…)
  • SHTF scenarios: What do you believe are the greatest threats to you livelihood? (Economic collapse; political instability; chemical, biological, radio logical, and nuclear threats; riots; wars; etc…)
  • Personal Threats – Economic Problems, Job Loss, Home Invasions, Debt, etc..
  • Security: What are the largest security risks that you face in your area? (Gangs, Criminal Activity,issues effecting urban areas, etc…)
  • What are the immediate dangers in your location? Is there anything that stands out about your neighborhood? Are there obstacles or dangers that are specific to your geographical location that could leave you vulnerable? (terrorist threats, chemical and/or biological threats, threats to critical infrastructure, criminal activity, inadequate access to supply routes or escape routes during a disaster, etc…)

ASSESS The Threats

The next step is to assess how these dangers will affect you, and then figure out what needs to be protected?

  • How will each of the above listed threats affect you, your family, your property, and your survival plans?
  • How will each situation affect your overall preparedness efforts?
  • Are there any areas in your plans, security, or overall preparedness efforts that need to be addressed?
  • What steps do you need to take to protect yourself, your family and your property?

MANAGE The Threats

The final step is to take immediate protective actions that will help prevent, or minimize your exposure to these potential threats.

  • What can be done to minimize your risk?
  • Develop appropriate emergency response plans, and threat reduction strategies for each situation.
  • Are you prepared to Bug Out if the situation calls for that action?
  • Intelligence – Those that are truly prepared will seek information from multiple sources. Make sure you have a good way to gather information before and after a disaster hits. (BEFORE: Survival Websites, Books, Radio etc… AFTER: Personal Networks, Ham & Shortwave Radio, etc…)

 

What are the most likely threats that you should be prepared for?

Deciding what types of disasters to prepare for will mean something different to everyone. From you location, to your health and financial situation, there are a number of factors that can play into what you should focus on first. While we can’t tell you individually what to prepare for, there are a number of things that you might want to consider.

Preparing for a Job Loss

Remember prepping isn’t just about preparing for cataclysmic events; it’s about being prepared for whatever dangers or pitfalls are around the corner. While the loss of a job may not be as sensational as asteroids, EMP’s, or a zombie apocalypse, it is the one thing that almost everyone reading this will face at some point in their life.

Preparing yourself and your family to survive and thrive during a time of unemployment is something that everyone should be prepared for. Ask yourself the following questions….

  • If you lost your job today, how long could you go without a paycheck?
  • How much food do you have on hand, and how long will it last?
  • What steps do you need to take to ensure your families survival?

Preparing for Floods & Fires

When we start prepping, it’s easy to get caught up in a worst case scenario mentality. While preparing for the worst is a good thing, it can sometimes cause you to overlook the smaller disasters that can be equally as devastating.

One of the most common disasters that most Americans will face in their lifetime is the threat from Fires and Floods. Again, it might not be the most exciting topic in the world, but preparing yourself and your home for this danger is one of the first things you should learn how to do.

Preparing for Natural Disasters

Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and Tornadoes are all disasters that often strike without warning. But they are also easily predictable.

While you can never predict exactly when they’ll happen, you can find out if you live in an area that’s prone to one of these natural occurrences. Unfortunately, as we often see every hurricane season, most people fail to prepare for these types of events. If you live in an area that’s prone to natural disasters, you need to start prepping to survive those situations.

Preparing for an Economic Collapse

As far fetched as this may sound to some, it really shouldn’t be that shocking. All you have to do is look back at 2008 to see how close this country came to a complete financial meltdown. Although the idiots in the media claim the economy is recovering, just remember, they’re the same idiots that didn’t see 2008 coming.

If the economy crashed tomorrow what would you do? Are you ready for this type of scenario?

Preparing for The Dangers in your Neighborhood

It’s often the dangers in your own community that pose the biggest threat to your health and safety, are you prepared for them? Do you even know what they are?

  • Is there something in your community that could make your town a potential terrorist target?
  • Are there chemical or power plants in your area that could pose a danger if an accident happened?
  • Are there areas of your town that pose a danger because of crime, gangs, or other criminal activity? If a disaster hit, would these people pose a threat to your home?

Bad things can happen quickly and often without warning.  Knowing what types of events are most likely to occur in your community can help you plan for those disasters. If you start with the mindset of being prepared for these common problems, you will then have a good foundation to build upon that can help you survive pretty much any crisis, disaster or SHTF situation.

 

A SWOT Analysis is a simple, but useful method of really understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses. It will also help you identify Opportunities that you can exploit, and Threats that you might need to avoid during a survival situation.

Performing a SWOT Analysis on yourself and your capabilities is a great way to determine how prepared you really are.

SWOT: STRENGTHS

A good place to start is to take an inventory of what you currently have. This can be everything from stockpiles of food and ammo, to stockpiles of knowledge.

Analyzing your strengths will give you a good idea of what you’re capable of doing. It’s also a good way of discovering things that you may have never considered to be strengths, but could be extremely beneficial in a survival scenario.

  • What survival gear, equipment, and tools do you currently own?
  • What other items do you have in your home that might be useful during a crisis situation? (Blankets, food, tools, etc….)
  • What skills do you have that can be used in a survival situation?
  • What resources do you have in your area that can be used during a survival situation?
  • Make a list of what you feel are your general everyday strengths, and then determine if these strengths would be useful during a crisis or disaster.

SWOT: WEAKNESSES

This is where you really have to be honest with yourself; but it’s also where you’ll get the most benefit out of this exercise. By honestly detailing your weaknesses, you can then better prepare to survive a crisis situation. Once you know what your weaknesses are, you can tweak your training to deal with them.

  • What skills do you need to improve on?
  • Are there certain survival skills that you have never actually practiced?
  • Is there anything about your location that could be considered a weakness? (Lack of natural resources, hard to defend, etc…)
  • Do you have any medical problems or disabilities?
  • What other things do you lack that may become a problem during a Crisis Scenario?

SWOT: OPPORTUNITIES

When listing your opportunities, try to imagine what resources and opportunities are currently available to you, and what will be available when a disaster strikes. List the opportunities that you can take advantage of now, as well as those that will be important during a survival situation.

  • What resources and opportunities can you exploit in your area when things go bad?
  • Are there opportunities that you can take advantage of that will help strengthen some of your weaknesses? (Local classes, survival schools, library, websites or other learning resources)
  • Do you have a network of people who can help?

SWOT: THREATS

To truly be prepared, you need to have a realistic idea of what threats are out there and how likely it is that each threat could happen. By going through this exercise, you can better prepare yourself to face each one of these scenarios.  You will know exactly what skills you need to work on, what plans you need to put in place, and what equipment you will most likely need.

  • What are the most likely threats that you will face? (natural disasters, economic threats, SHTF scenarios)
  • What obstacles will you face?
  • What are the immediate dangers in your location?
  • Who is the biggest threat in your neighborhood? (gangs, criminals, etc…)
  • Take another look at your weaknesses? Can any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your survival?

THE NEXT STEP…

The most important part of performing a SWOT Analysis is what you do with your findings. There is no point in performing one, unless you plan on taking action. Now that you have a good idea of your overall level of preparedness, you need to act on your findings and create a strategic plan of action.

 

Did you know that the average American family has over $15,000 of credit card debt, and a staggering total debt of over $75,000.? And if that’s not scary enough, when you factor in the $130,000 that every American tax payer would have to shell out just to pay off the national debt, our situation starts to look pretty bleak.

So what does living debt free have to do with survival anyways?

Well in my opinion, living debt free is an extremely important part of your overall survival plan. Living debt free is about your long-term survival. It’s about thriving, living a comfortable existence, and having peace of mind while everyone else is living in chaos.

But what if the economy collapses?  How will living debt free help you survive?

As the country falls deeper into economic turmoil, living a debt free lifestyle can help shield you from some of the initial pain. As things start to get worse, creditors are going to step up their collection efforts and really start to come after debtors with a vengeance. The last thing you need prior to an economic collapse is a sheriff knocking at the door because you couldn’t pay your bills.

Remember, debtor prisons were once a real thing here in America and if things get bad enough they could make a comeback.

5 Ideas for Living Debt Free:

Establish a Budget

It’s really amazing how much money Americans waste. Establishing a written budget will help make sure that every dollar you make works for you and not against you. At the end of every month, you should have a written plan for every dollar that you will bring next month.

Establishing a budget can help you to realize how much money you spend on things that really aren’t necessities.

Use the Envelope Budgeting System:

If a written budget seems a little tough, you may want to consider the good old envelope system. Basically you put your monthly budget into various envelopes; food, gas, utilities, rent or mortgage, entertainment, preps, etc….

This can help you make sure you’re not spending more than you should be on a certain category (like entertainment).

The Debt Snowball:

Paying of debt can sometimes seem overwhelming which is why Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step #2, The Debt Snowball, is a great way to get started. For those of you who are not familiar with Dave Ramsey, he is basically one of the top debt free living advocates in the country. In his book, The Total Money Makeover, he outlines 7 baby steps to living a debt free life.

Baby step #2, the Debt Snowball, suggests that you list your debts from smallest to largest and then start with the small debts first. The rational is actually pretty simple; the motivation that you obtain from paying of these small easy debts will create a snowball effect that will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough.

As Ramsey points out in the book, Personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. When it comes down to it, we all know what we should be doing; most people choose not to do it.

Stop going in debt by maintaining a high credit score.

One of the biggest scams that the financial institutions have managed to pull on Americans is the myth that your credit score somehow equals your financial security. Nothing could be farther from the truth; in fact, keeping a high credit score only ensures one thing. It guarantees that you will constantly be in debt!

The only way to maintain that high credit score is to continually borrow money, pay that money off, and pretty much live in debt for the rest of your life. The only thing that having a high credit score means is that you are good at borrowing money, not good at making it!

Make More Money

This one is a no brainier; the only real way to combat the increasing cost of living is to start making more money.

In the long run, one of the best ways to increase your cash flow is to go into business for yourself. Whether you’re a mechanic, a car salesman, or even a factory worker you have talents that can be taken outside of the workplace. Figure out what your good at, and find a way to make money off of it.

Let’s take the mechanic example. Instead of making your boss rich, why not buy some old clunkers, fix them up, and then sell them?  Even if you do one every couple of months, imagine what you could do with that extra income.

 

No matter what survival situation you may ultimately find yourself in, there is one thing that you’ll likely find, it’s going to be hell on your body. From dealing with a lack of sleep and inadequate hydration, to coping with hunger pains and other stress-or, survival can take a huge toll on your body.

You must be prepared to face a number of physical and mental challenges.

One of the best things you can do to ensure your survival, in just about any situation, is to make sure your body and your mind are trained to survive. This means motivating yourself to get off your butt and get in shape.

Being in shape is going to be hugely important to your survival in any situation.

 

In the beginning, it really doesn’t matter what exercise program you choose, the main thing you need to do is pick something and stick to it. Consistency and follow through is really the most important thing when starting any fitness routine.

Now I know a number of so-called experts are probably screaming at the screen saying “What do you mean it doesn’t matter what program I choose?”  Well stick with me here.

If you’re a fitness guru and all you do is work out then this article isn’t meant for you. What I’m talking about here is those who know they’re out of shape, but have never really done much about it.

I have a few friends who work in the fitness industry. In fact, a few of them work at some very big name companies. When I talk to them about their customers, across the board a couple of things are always the same.

Inconstancy, laziness and a lack of motivation.

While these three things are horrible for your body, they’re actually great for most of these companies. In fact, many of them count on your lack of motivation to drive their profits.

They make their money off the people who sign up for a program, attend a couple of times, and then never show up again. Once the new year comes around the cycle starts all over. Most people sign up again, either hoping they’ll do better this time or because they feel a sense of shame for not sticking to the program.

Think about it, we all know we need to exercise and eat well, but how many people make it a habit to do so? Once you’re comfortable in your routine and have made a habit of working out you can then start to tweak your overall plan.

The biggest hurdle in the beginning is staying motivated. Studies show that if you can stick with something for at least 30 days it usually becomes a habit that will stay with you for life. So why not challenge yourself and commit to starting even a basic exercise plan?

For 30 days commit to a 30 minute time frame that is dedicated to getting in shape. Even if it’s just taking a 30 minute walk in the morning, schedule a time and stick to it. At the end of those 30 days I’ll bet you look forward to that time and it will likely become part of your daily schedule.

If you really want to challenge yourself after the 30 days or you need a little bit of structure, I suggest checking out the P90X: 90-Day Extreme Home Fitness Workout Program. Like I said before, the program you choose is not important, but I have personally gone through this system and have seen some amazing results in others. I have since taken some of the routines and have incorporated them into my normal workout schedule.

Good luck and let us know how it goes…. Remember your survival depends on it!

 

Want To Ensure Your Survival in Any Situation? Repetition is the Answer!

Having a basic understanding of survival and knowing the techniques is not enough. While knowledge is a key aspect of survival, repetition is the underlying piece of the puzzle that ultimately makes the difference between success and failure.

Last week we posted an article on studying the basics of survival. In that article, I mentioned how important training in those basic skills was to your survival. While knowing those basic skills is extremely important, I probably should have placed more of an emphasis on repetitive training in those skills.

If you’ve ever trained with the Marines, you’ve probably noticed how differently they train. In my opinion, there is one thing separates their training style from most other types of tactical/survival training, and that is repetition. They spend countless number of hours training on specific skills that others might only spend a couple of hours on. Through fatigue, injury, and pain they run through their techniques over and over until they can’t fail.

They are masters at what they learn, because they run through these skills again and again in a number of different scenarios and environments. They become masters because of repetition.

Want to ensure your survival?

To really be able to count on your knowledge when the SHTF, you need to run through your techniques in a number of scenarios and environments. Just like the Marines, you need to use repetition in your training until your skills become second nature.  The more you train in real world situations, the more likely you are to be able to perform these skills when it really matters.

Being able to start a fire in your back yard when it’s sunny, and you’re well feed is one thing. Being able to start a fire when it’s raining, cold, windy, and you’re about to fall over from a lack sleep is entirely different. The best thing you can do, is to use these skills as often as possible.

Oftentimes people come on here complaining that they just don’t have the time to train. But in reality, even the busiest people can still find a way to fit training into their routine, it just takes a little bit of imagination.

Take the fire starting example that I talked about above. Maybe you don’t have the time to go off into the wilderness; but if you barbecue on the weekends, why not use that as a time to hone up on your skills? Instead of using a lighter to start your grill, why not take a couple of minutes and start the fire with one of your fire making techniques?

If you want to be a master in the art of survival, training with repetition is essential to ensuring your survival.

Do you let what you can’t do dictate what you can do?

Doesn’t it seem like life is always ready to throw you a curve ball? Well, the key to life and survival is being able to tweak the bat at the last minute, and hit that ball out of the park. Unfortunately, far too many people let their hardships rule their life.

We all have challenges and weaknesses, but to survive everything that life can throw at you, you need to cultivate a mindset that doesn’t allow your weaknesses to dictate what you can or can’t do.

People who have overcome challenges, and kicked their lives into overdrive

Ludwig Van Beethoven: Deaf, but one of the greatest composers ever!

Ludwig Van Beethoven had horrible hearing throughout his life, and actually became completely deaf. Despite a handicap that would make most people give up, Beethoven continued to compose, conduct, and perform music and is known as one of the greatest composers of all time.

Bruce Lee: Broke His Back, Bad Eye Sight, and one leg that was Shorter than the other.

Bruce Lee overcame an amazing amount of odds; he had bad eyesight, one leg that was shorter than the other, and a severe back injury that doctors said would keep him from ever kicking again. The injury caused him pain throughout his life, but he never let the injury or his other limitations keep him from his dreams.

If you’ve seen his movies, you also know that he didn’t let it affect his martial arts. He became the world’s most famous martial artist, and his blazing fast speed is a testament to overcoming any handicap.

Michael Jordan: Told that he wasn’t good enough to play.

Michael Jordan was kicked off his high school basketball team, and told that he wasn’t good enough to play. At this point most people would have completely given up, but not Michael; he continued to work on his weaknesses until he became one of the best players off all time.

I shared these examples with you in hopes that one day when the going gets tough, you will remember to dig down deep, and give life a swift kick in the ass. Don’t ever let your weaknesses dictate what you can or can’t do.

Survival Intelligence – Gathering Intel During a Disaster

The ability to be able to predict what will happen in a survival situation is an important part of being prepared. While that may sound like some mystical mumbo jumbo, it’s really not as hokey as it might sound. This ability to predict what will happen is not some supernatural physic power, but instead lies in your ability to gather and interpret information.

In the military world it’s referred to as Intelligence and it has played a critical role in every major combat operation in America since before the Revolutionary War. Without this critical information our military would be operating blind, which would mean more lives, battles, and even wars lost.

While most people in America rely on the evening news as their main source of information, this strategy hardly prepares you to survive a disaster, let alone a SHTF situation. Intelligence is only good if you receive the information in a timely manner.  Often times what’s reported on the evening news is anything but real-time information. The longer it takes to receive your intelligence, the less likely it becomes that you’ll be able to use it to react to the given situation.

Preparedness Intel: Survival Information Resources

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Information: Having multiple sources of information is critical to your preparedness efforts.  Those that are truly prepared will seek information from multiple sources.

Social Networks – Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are excellent sources for gathering real-time information on just about any topic. When a major disaster, event, or SHTF situation occurs, these social networks can be a great way to secure localized real-time information on what’s really happening.

Social News Aggressors & Social Monitors. There are a number of really good social monitoring tools out there that can greatly increase the effectiveness of how these social networks work. One free tool that you might want to check out is called TweetDeck. This program allows you to customize what you’re monitoring, and even allows you to break it down by keyword based on the event.

RSS Readers – RSS readers like FeedDemon allow you to subscribe to different websites, blogs and news websites. You can then gather that information in one easy to use interface.

Survival Websites – Don’t forget to check out our big list of survival websites. These sites can all be a great resource for learning how to survive in a variety of situations.

Survival Books – If the SHTF and the grid goes down, you want to have a basic library of survival information at your disposal. I strongly suggest investing in a couple of Good Survival Books that fit your specific situation.

An even better idea would be to invest in a E-Reader or Tablet like the Kindle Fire, which can hold a complete library of over 6,000 survival books and manuals. And to make sure you can still access your information when the SHTF, I suggest looking at a compact solar charger like the Solio Bolt Solar Charger. This will allow you to charge your small electronic devices even if the grid goes down. Once you have one of these devices, check out our list of Survival ebooks and PDF downloads.

Ham Radio – When the power lines go down, radio stations stop transmitting, and the internet stops working there is one line of communication that will still be alive and well: Ham Radio!  Having a good Multiband Ham Radio will allow you to send and receive critical emergency information during a disaster. It’s also a great way to find alternative news sources from around the world — the kind of news that isn’t filtered.

In a survival situation, knowledge is going to be a critical factor in determining the outcome of your situation. Don’t underestimate the power of staying informed.

 

Are you actually prepared to Bug Out?

A great way to prepare for this situation is to start backpacking.

While you can never simulate an actual bug out situation, backpacking helps you prepare in a number of different ways.

  • It prepares your body for the rigorous conditions that you are bound to face.
  • Backpacking can help you figure out exactly how your body will respond to carrying gear across different terrains.
  • It helps you get a good idea of how much ground you can realistically cover during a Bug Out Scenario.

Having an evacuation plan is great… But have you ever actually used it?

By backpacking the routes that you plan to take in a Bug Out situation, you greatly increase your chances of surviving a real life disaster.

Hit the trails, study the surroundings, and take plenty of notes.

  • Figure out how far you can comfortably hike every day.
  • Take note of what natural resources lie along your route.
  • Be on the lookout for any possible dangers, and figure out how you can avoid them.
  • Take your maps and mark the location of every watering hole or possible emergency shelters that are near your route.

Test your gear now when your life’s not on the line.

The last thing you need in your bug out bag is a bunch of crappy gear that doesn’t hold up out the trail. Now is the time to start testing that gear.

When you’re out on the trail ask yourself these important gear questions:

  • How easy is it to use?
  • How many times did you actually use that piece of gear and was it really a necessity?
  • Was there a piece of gear that you wish you would’ve had?

 

Do you have a Separate Bug Out Bag for your kids?

During a crisis or disaster situation, one of your most important jobs will be to help your child feel as safe and secure as possible. Something that I’m a big proponent of, and something that I think helps give children a sense of security, is involving them in your preparedness planning as much as possible. One great way to make them feel like they have a voice, and a sense of power, is to give them their own dedicated bug out bag.

Having their own child-sized Bug Out Bag, filled with familiar items and comfort foods, can be a real life saver during an emergency. With children, comfort items often become a top priority; having a bag filled with comforting and familiar items can help ensure their overall mental health during a crisis or disaster.

What Items should go into a kids bug out bag:

What goes into the bag really depends on your child’s age, and their maturity. While the needs of each child are going to be different, there are some things you should consider when building an emergency bag for your child.

Basic Survival Items: These should be lightweight, age-appropriate items. Heavier items and gear should always be in the adult’s bags.

  • Flashlight
  • Emergency whistle (clipped to the outside of pack so they can easily find  it if they become separated from you)
  • Laminated emergency contact list with name, home address, and telephone numbers.
  • Pre-paid cell phone
  • Poncho
  • Extra socks, pair of gloves and knit hat or bandanna (depending on your climate)
  • Dust mask
  • Goggles
  • Small pocket knife for the older kids
  • Band aids & wipes
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer

Comfort Items: When building a bag for a kid, comfort and mental stability is really the main purpose of the bag. Don’t overlook the importance of entertainment and comfort; during a disaster, the last thing you need is a kid who is overly stressed out and anxious.

  • Stuffed animals
  • A couple small light-weight toys
  • Pack of playing cards, or travel size games
  • Baseball or small Nerf football
  • Harmonica
  • An IPad, tablet, or small device to play games on
  • Hard candy
  • Bubble gum
  • Sugar packets
  • Trail mix
  • Drink mix packets

Remember, a kid’s bug out bag is not meant to be an adult BOB. Its main purpose is to provide comfort during a stressful situation, and give your child a sense of control. With younger children, comfort items are a top priority, and will help ensure their overall mental health.

Make sure you customize the bag for your child’s age, personality, and overall fitness level.

30 Uses For Trash Bags In Your Bug Out Bag

Deciding how to spend available funds in the preparedness budget is not any easy task. Multi-use items are always a favorite of wallet-conscious preppers. Trash bags, even the brand-name sturdy ones definitely fall within the “reasonably priced” category, but when we look past the obvious uses for the plastic bags, they become an even more advantageous contribution to our preps.

Deciding how to spend available funds in the preparedness budget is not any easy task. Multi-use items are always a favorite of wallet-conscious preppers. Trash bags, even the brand-name sturdy ones definitely fall within the “reasonably priced” category, but when we look past the obvious uses for the plastic bags, they become an even more advantageous contribution to our preps.

Trash bags are one of the most economical prepper “to do” list finds and literally dozens of potential disaster uses. In addition to being easy on the budget, trash bags are lightweight yet durable and take up very little space in bugout bags, INCH bags, and get home bags.

uses-for-trash-bags

Top 30 Uses For Trash Bags

  1. Put in bug out or get home bag to use as a poncho. Simply cut or carefully tear a hold for the head and even the arms, and one poncho is coming right up.
  2. Packing a tent or tarp for an emergency shelter is of course optimal — but such items take up a lot of space and are heavier as well. Even a one-person tent will not fit in a child’s backpack, but a trash bag and some duct tape surely will.
  3. Trash bags are also useful in keeping your shoes and feet dry. Open a trash bag, step inside and tie or secure with duct tape and keep rain and snow at bay. Storing several trash bags for emergency booties and a poncho inside a get home bag or bugout bag takes up very little space and adds virtually no weight to the pack.
  4. Keep your spare socks, change of clothes, and blankets dry with trash bags. The bags used to store these items can be turned into a poncho, bootie, or emergency shelter in mere minutes.
  5. During either a short or long-term disaster, trash bags can be used to safely store waste when commodes are not working. The bags work equally well for sharps and bloody cloth or bandages used to treat wounded. Preventing the spread of disease becomes even more important during a teotwawki scenario.
  6. Keep the rain off or your head with a makeshift trash bag hat.
  7. Make a fly screen for the front of your shelter with a trash bag — or two. Cut the trash bag into a sheet type form and then cut slits within a few inches of the top of the bag and you have a protective screen to keep the bugs away.
  8. Trash bags also make great ground cover. If you are using a tarp, or another trash bag for a shelter, placing another plastic bag onto the ground will prevent dampness from impacting your clothing. The trash bag also offers another layer between you at bugs which will come out of the ground seeking a food during the evening and early-morning hours.
  9. Although not exactly soft, trash bags can be used like thermal underwear under your clothing. Tape or tie piece of the bag around your legs, arms, and stomach beneath your clothing to prevent body heat from escaping quite so easily.
  10. Sure, they will be a bit flimsy and perhaps messy, but trash bags can be used to mix food or drink ingredients.
  11. Trash bags have also been successfully used as part of a solar water still.
  12. Although this is not US Coast Guard approved, some folks have reported success with trash bag life jackets — it is at least worth a shot during an emergency. Tie the ends of the trash bag together and blow air into it to inflate, then secure the open ends together as well. Tape or tie the back into a life jacket shape and use it to help keep your, your pets, or your get home bag afloat.
  13. Trash bags can also be used to store and transport food.
  14. Give your head a somewhat soft place to rest during an overnight hike home by inflating a trash bag and using it as a pillow.
  15. Trash bags can also be used as an emergency water container. The bags will hold a decent amount of weight, but will need to be carried carefully so the plastic does not tear and the water spill out onto the ground.
  16. Keep your sleeping bag and yourself dry and a little warmer by using a trash bag as a cover. To stay extra dry, slip into a sleeping bag like you would a potato sack for a race before getting into the sleeping bag as well.
  17. Mylar emergency blankets are inexpensive, lightweight, and take up little space, but trash bags can be used as a good substitute if more injured than expected need to be protected from the elements or shock.
  18. Trash bags can be hooked onto branches, or taped into place, to make a temporary sun shade. After taking the hiking break, carefully fold the trash bag into a small square so it can be used again during the next break period.
  19. Trash bags can also be used as a pressure bandage or a triangle bandage. The bags can also simply be used to cover a traditional bandage to help protect the wound from exposure to dirt or the bandage from exposure to the rain.
  20. Tie a splint with a trash bag, double the bag or tape two together to make a sturdier splint.
  21. In addition to being used as a makeshift water carrier, trash bags can also be used as a catch basin for water. Tie the bag to something mildly sturdy in an area exposed to the sky, or line a bucket or similar item with the bag, and capture enough water to keep yourself hydrated.
  22. Trash bags can also be used as patching for leads in other food and water containers. The plastic bags can be taped to cover worn spots or tears in bug out or get home bags too.
  23. Use trash bags to signal help. Tie or secure a white trash bag to a rock in a visible spot to let others know where you are. It is always a good idea to carry a permanent marker and spray paint to write messages.
  24. Trash bags can be used as plates. Find the most smooth and flat rock in the near vicinity and place a piece of the trash bag onto the rock for a clean eating surface.
  25. Use trash bags to tie onto trees for trail markers.
  26. Make a windsock with a trash bag.
  27. If an injured person, pet, or heavy gear needs to be moved, make a liter and line it with several trash bags.
  28. Make a banner with the trash bag to leave warning notes for others or to mark unsafe buildings. Tape, string, and marking materials will also be required.
  29. Fill a trash bag up with water, sit it in the sun for a while and then hang it from a sturdy branch to use for a shower. Heated water is also useful for cleaning wounds.
  30. Make a temporary backpack with a trash bag so the non-prepared person you come across during your trek home can help you carry the load. Be warned, the person could run off with your stuff, but if they are scared and unaware and you appear full of knowledge, the person will likely stick to you like glue.

uses-for-trash-bags2

When packing the kiddos off to school, do not forget to include a few trash bags and other essential emergency items in their little backpacks as well. If your child or grandchild ever needs to spend the night at school or hoof it home or to a designated meeting spot, a few age-appropriate preps could be a life-saver.

Sample Bug Out Bag Checklist

Note: This checklist includes the items I would take in a bug-out situation in which I had to head out into the wilds of the Lower 48 States on foot. Using a vehicle, boat, or other means of carrying gear would allow much more flexibility. This list will need to be adjusted for high elevations or northern winters. 

BUG OUT BAG AND CLOTHING:
 

bug-out-checklist

Note: This checklist includes the items I would take in a bug-out situation in which I had to head out into the wilds of the Lower 48 States on foot. Using a vehicle, boat, or other means of carrying gear would allow much more flexibility. This list will need to be adjusted for high elevations or northern winters. 

BUG OUT BAG AND CLOTHING:

Kelty internal frame backpack
Jansport fanny pack (for critical survival items)
Lightweight mesh bag (for wild food gathering, carrying)
Leather and Goretex waterproof hiking boots (will be wearing)
Neoprene river shoes with heavy-duty hiking soles
Moisture-wicking inner socks (2-pair) (will be wearing additional pair)
Wool outer socks (2-pair) (will be wearing additional pair)
Wool watch cap
Boonie hat or Tilley sun hat (will be wearing)
Bandanas (3)
Ripstop BDU pants (2 pair) (will be wearing one pair)
Synthetic long underwear (2 pair)
Goretex rain pants
Heavy-duty belt
T-shirts (2) (will be wearing one under outer shirt)
Long underwear shirt (1)
Polar fleece long-sleeve (1)
Cotton-canvas long-sleeve (2) (will be wearing one)
Goretex parka
Camouflage poncho (doubles as small tarp, and useful to hide unattended gear)

SHELTER AND FIRE

Hennessey camping hammock 
550 paracord (100-feet)
Synthetic sleeping bag rated for the climate and season
Bic disposable butane lighters (6 or more)
Fire Steel Scout (2)
Fire Sticks (12-pack)
Small back of cotton balls soaked in Vaseline (tinder)

FOOD AND WATER

3-day supply of Mainstay or Datrex lifeboat rations, or MREs. 
1 gallon Ziplock bag of high-energy trail mix (dried fruits, nuts and seeds)
Power bars (half dozen)
Beef Jerky (several small packages)
1 gallon Ziplock bag of whole-grain oatmeal
Small quantity of Zatarains or Tony’s Cajun seasoning (renders anything edible)
One quart Nalgene bottles, pre-filled with drinking water (2 minimum)
Polar Pure Water Disinfectant (2 bottles)
Aquamira Frontier filter straw (1)

HUNTING AND FISHING:

Take-down .22 rifle 
.22 ammo (200 rounds minimum)
Ruger GP 100 .357 Magnum revolver (4-inch barrel)
Holster for revolver to carry in accessible location
Speed loaders for revolver
Winchester Trapper .357 Magnum carbine (optional, depending on situation)
.357 Magnum ammo (100 rounds)
Selection of assorted fishhooks for bream up to large catfish
Spool of monofilament line
Spool of trot line for drop hooks
Pre-made wire snares for small game

TOOLS:

Quality 18 to 24-inch machete with sheath
Cold Steel XL Voyager (5-inch folding Bowie)
Leatherman Wave multitool 
Small mill file
Diamond sharpener
Hand-bearing compass
Casio Pathfinder PAW 1500 watch with electronic compass
Topo-map enabled GPS receiver
Stainless steel 4-quart cooking pot (with lid, handle removed)
Stainless steel spoon
Sewing needles

MISCELLANEOUS: 

Map of bug out location and alternatives, laminated or sealed in Ziplock bag
Insect repellant with DEET
Small tube of SPF 50 sunblock
Sunglasses with retainer and case (if traveling by water or open country)
Heavy duty Dacron sailmaker’s thread (for sewing repairs)
Basic First Aid supplies, bandages and antibiotic ointment
Extractor Snakebite Kit
Cortisone cream (for poison ivy, etc.)
Benadryll (for bee and wasp stings)
Epipen (for severe allergic reactions to stings)
Imodium (Anti-diarrhea)
Ibuprofen pain capsules 
Field guide to edible plants (region-specific)
Passport/driver’s license
Cash plus gold or silver coins
Toothbrush
Small bottle of concentrated anti-bacterial soap
Small amount of tightly-packed toilet paper
Comb
L.E.D. version of the Mini Maglight, with extra AA batteries
(Or small L.E.D. headlamp that runs on AA or AAA batteries)
Small quantity of duct tape
Small bottle of gun oil/multipurpose oil

Sample Bug Out Bag Checklist

Note: This checklist includes the items I would take in a bug-out situation in which I had to head out into the wilds of the Lower 48 States on foot. Using a vehicle, boat, or other means of carrying gear would allow much more flexibility. This list will need to be adjusted for high elevations or northern winters. 

BUG OUT BAG AND CLOTHING:

Kelty internal frame backpack
Jansport fanny pack (for critical survival items)
Lightweight mesh bag (for wild food gathering, carrying)
Leather and Goretex waterproof hiking boots (will be wearing)
Neoprene river shoes with heavy-duty hiking soles
Moisture-wicking inner socks (2-pair) (will be wearing additional pair)
Wool outer socks (2-pair) (will be wearing additional pair)
Wool watch cap
Boonie hat or Tilley sun hat (will be wearing)
Bandanas (3)
Ripstop BDU pants (2 pair) (will be wearing one pair)
Synthetic long underwear (2 pair)
Goretex rain pants
Heavy-duty belt
T-shirts (2) (will be wearing one under outer shirt)
Long underwear shirt (1)
Polar fleece long-sleeve (1)
Cotton-canvas long-sleeve (2) (will be wearing one)
Goretex parka
Camouflage poncho (doubles as small tarp, and useful to hide unattended gear)

SHELTER AND FIRE

Hennessey camping hammock 
550 paracord (100-feet)
Synthetic sleeping bag rated for the climate and season
Bic disposable butane lighters (6 or more)
Fire Steel Scout (2)
Fire Sticks (12-pack)
Small back of cotton balls soaked in Vaseline (tinder)

FOOD AND WATER

3-day supply of Mainstay or Datrex lifeboat rations, or MREs. 
1 gallon Ziplock bag of high-energy trail mix (dried fruits, nuts and seeds)
Power bars (half dozen)
Beef Jerky (several small packages)
1 gallon Ziplock bag of whole-grain oatmeal
Small quantity of Zatarains or Tony’s Cajun seasoning (renders anything edible)
One quart Nalgene bottles, pre-filled with drinking water (2 minimum)
Polar Pure Water Disinfectant (2 bottles)
Aquamira Frontier filter straw (1)

HUNTING AND FISHING:

Take-down .22 rifle 
.22 ammo (200 rounds minimum)
Ruger GP 100 .357 Magnum revolver (4-inch barrel)
Holster for revolver to carry in accessible location
Speed loaders for revolver
Winchester Trapper .357 Magnum carbine (optional, depending on situation)
.357 Magnum ammo (100 rounds)
Selection of assorted fishhooks for bream up to large catfish
Spool of monofilament line
Spool of trot line for drop hooks
Pre-made wire snares for small game

TOOLS:

Quality 18 to 24-inch machete with sheath
Cold Steel XL Voyager (5-inch folding Bowie)
Leatherman Wave multitool 
Small mill file
Diamond sharpener
Hand-bearing compass
Casio Pathfinder PAW 1500 watch with electronic compass
Topo-map enabled GPS receiver
Stainless steel 4-quart cooking pot (with lid, handle removed)
Stainless steel spoon
Sewing needles

MISCELLANEOUS: 

Map of bug out location and alternatives, laminated or sealed in Ziplock bag
Insect repellant with DEET
Small tube of SPF 50 sunblock
Sunglasses with retainer and case (if traveling by water or open country)
Heavy duty Dacron sailmaker’s thread (for sewing repairs)
Basic First Aid supplies, bandages and antibiotic ointment
Extractor Snakebite Kit
Cortisone cream (for poison ivy, etc.)
Benadryll (for bee and wasp stings)
Epipen (for severe allergic reactions to stings)
Imodium (Anti-diarrhea)
Ibuprofen pain capsules 
Field guide to edible plants (region-specific)
Passport/driver’s license
Cash plus gold or silver coins
Toothbrush
Small bottle of concentrated anti-bacterial soap
Small amount of tightly-packed toilet paper
Comb
L.E.D. version of the Mini Maglight, with extra AA batteries
(Or small L.E.D. headlamp that runs on AA or AAA batteries)
Small quantity of duct tape
Small bottle of gun oil/multipurpose oil

What Would You Pack for the Zombie Apocalypse?

Photographer Allison Stewart shoots the contents of people’s “bug-out bags.”

Photographs by Allison Stewart

Photographer Allison Stewart has been documenting the contents of “bug-out bags,” the stuff their owners deem necessary to deal with various types of emergencies. The bags’ contents project what people fear—war, martial law, natural disaster—and how they intend to cope. For some buggers it’s as simple as pills and a bottle of tequila; for others, a carefully planned pack of food and supplies to last a few days. They range from off-the-shelf and Homeland Security kits to off-grid survivalist bags and pet emergency packs.

apostle

Max’s bag has clean clothes, a gun and ammo, first aid and hygiene supplies, spare glasses, a transistor radio, tools, and a survival manual.

bug-out

The SNR bag ($59.99) includes some short-term basics for up to three people, including MREs, water, a transistor radio, a whistle, emergency ponchos and blankets, and tissues.

bug-out-1

Curtis, who lives in earthquake country, packed a kit that included a portable water-filtering system; tools, lightsticks; and an orange plastic bag that functions as a shelter, a raincoat, or a “flag” to draw the attention of airborne rescue teams.

bug-out-2

The cat Pet Pac ($90) contains, food, bowls, water, a collar with bells, a portable litter box and trowel, a pet first-aid kit, and toys.

bug-out-4

Jane’s keeps her earthquake kit right by her door. It contains baby wipes, toothbrushes and dental floss, flashlights & batteries, and a transistor radio.

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Jeff’s “go bag” includes a bulletproof vest and helmet, and a gas mask. It was intended to get him to his car, where he stored guns, knives, an axe, camping gear, water, and food. He also had off-grid property where he would bug out to when SHTF (shit hit the fan).

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MM’s bag (not the author) includes various weapons and tools, shoes and socks, waterproof paper and pens, an extra phone, marijuana, a beer, and a cigar.

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PB&J are an Atlanta couple whose bag includes maps, a trap for catching food and/or bait, a compass, a multi-tool and knife, tampons, bandages, fishing gear, and a first aid kit.

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PB’s “bug in” kit consists solely of a conversion valve that allows a gas-powered generator to run on propane or natural gas instead.

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Phil is a Civil War reenactor. His bag contains supplies a civilian in 1964 would carry to bug out. It includes hardtack and an apple for food, cooking gear, wool blankets, and lye soap.

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Simon was given this Homeland Security-issue bag at at a disaster preparedness seminar in New York City in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. It includes safety goggles, duct tape, a whistle, MREs and water, and a first aid kit.

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Sam’s bag includes food, walkie talkies and a radio for communication, playing cards, and wine—which Sam heard counteracts the effects of radiation poisoning.

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Mike’s bag: Tequila and phenobarbital. ‘Nuff said.

Bug Out Bag Gear Must-Haves: Microfiber Towel

Packing a bug out bag is tough, as if you plan to travel long distances, you’ll want to keep your bag as light as possible (consider adding pannier  to your bike for additional food and water storage).

But what is one must-have that has several uses, and even provides a little bit of creature comfort?

Bug Out Bag Gear Must-Haves: Microfiber Towel

Packing a bug out bag is tough, as if you plan to travel long distances, you’ll want to keep your bag as light as possible (consider adding pannier  to your bike for additional food and water storage).

But what is one must-have that has several uses, and even provides a little bit of creature comfort?

The Microfiber Towel.

I use a microfiber towel when camping or backpacking abroad, and it’s been a life-saver. Packing a towel sounds cumbersome, but hear me out — these towels are a fraction of the weight of your standard bath towels, and they have several uses in a survival scenario.

Reasons to Add a Microfiber Towel to Your Bug Out Bag

  • Drying off after bathing
  • Serve as an extra blanket on cold nights
  • Head covering in direct sunlight / cold compress if soaked in cold water
  • Wrap around clothes for a makeshift pillow
  • Sun covering if have to build a makeshift shelter
  • Could serve as an absorbent rainwater catch in drastic scenarios (ring it out afterwards and purify the water)
  • Packs down 5x smaller than a regular towel
  • Air dries SUPER quickly (can even air dry by draping over your backpack while hiding)
  • Fraction of the weight of a regular bath towel
  • It’s a little piece of comfort of home life before SHTF, which may help your morale.

There are several different options for microfiber towels available at various camping stores, but as always, Amazon seems to come out on top with the best pricing — a quality microfiber towel on Amazon costs around $20-$30.

How many microfiber towels do you need? These are questions you’ll best know the answer to: How many people are in your family? Will you be bugging out in a warm climate? You may be able to get away with 2-3. If you’ll be bugging out anywhere that experiences cold weather and freeze warnings, one towel per person can help as an additional light layer.

Is a microfiber towel on your bug out bag packing list?

Does your Bug out bag suck?

A Green Berets take on the Bug Out Bag -or- BoB…

What’s a BoB? The accepted answer is a 72 survival backpack with everything you need in it. Have you asked yourself why 72 hours? Seems kind of arbitrary if you ask me, why not 48 or 96? How long will your disaster last?

A Green Berets take on the Bug Out Bag -or- BoB…

What’s a BoB? The accepted answer is a 72 survival backpack with everything you need in it. Have you asked yourself why 72 hours? Seems kind of arbitrary if you ask me, why not 48 or 96? How long will your disaster last?

If you’re trying to pass off a tactical glamping pack as a BoB, I’m calling you out. Preppers should start thinking aboutthe mission goal and not the mission gear. What I mean is the goal for BoB should be to get from point A, to Point B. That’s it. Now what tools do you need to do that? If your need to get to point B doesn’t exist, well then a BoB is not going to help you much.

Having spent a few years preparing for evasions in combat zones across the globe, this is a topic I’m intimately familiar with.

We strongly encourage the use of caches to supplement your bugging out plans. Get the tick target off your back, and go home as fast as you can! If you’re actually “bugging out” you should be able to sustain short duration jogging bursts with the BoB on your back….Food for thought.

If you’re actually bugging out, you’re in for a world of hurt, because it’s not going to be an easy stroll down the block. It will be a life changing event.

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Good grief whose hauling this tick?

Good grief whose hauling this tick?

What goes in a bug out bag and why? So many questions, not a lot of consistent answers…

Lets simplify the equation: Do you have a need to go from point A to point B during an emergency? From work to home, home to a school, vice versa? In a vehicle, on foot or on a bike? Because there is a difference between a bag you can easily put in a car, and one you easily walk with…

Most of the BoBs I’ve seen floating around the internet are entirely to large, way to complex and couldn’t be hauled by a vast majority of the people who need a BoB. Consider small children have been lost in the woods without any supplies, during the cold and have survived. What exactly is it that you NEED?

If you don’t know how to use it, why carry it? It’s just weight at that point and during the emergency is the worst time to learn. Start thinking a little more Spartan, and slim down your kit to BARE ESSENTIALS. Weight is brutal…Weight is brutal… We need to stop making these comfort packs and calling it a survival rig.

Fact is there’s no “list” so each mobile kit you produce MUST be tailored to your individual needs and circumstances. In Special Operations we will build our kits to fit the mission profile and evasion plan we going to exercise. There is no bag we grab and call it good to go.

72 hours is the national average it takes to restore utilities from the onset of an emergency, making it an almost pointless figure to use for real planning. This ranges all the way from Katrina to a local tornado. The number is irrelevant to the need. It’s just a planning tool to get you started, it’s not gospel.

I’ve had to build a few BoBs over the years for real world missions. These are some of the things I consider:

The bag: Preppers tend to recycle surplus milspec bags because there are comfortable and usually modular. Hiking backpacks are too and also have more useful color schemes than just camo and crye. Have you considered luggage? I have a well seasoned traveler I trust when I’m on the road….

Resist the urge to fill empty space……

Time: How long is this bag really supposed to support you? My experience has taught me that once you go over 24 hrs, you’re cutting into your speed and mobility. Again, if the goal is to get home…. then uh….

Food: How much? and what kind? Are you trying to just make it home or live comfortably until rescue? Protein powder and meal replacement shakes are a great way to get the fuel you need while conserving space, but then you need water? If it’s an emergency do you care if its tasty?

Water: Are you really going to carry 3 days worth of water and expect to go very far? Will you purify by filter or chemical? I like chemical because it reduces weight, can you boil?

Medical: You better have at least a trauma pack. Do you have chronic meds? Allergies?

Hygiene: Get some baby wipes, the appropriate female necessities and move out. Why do you feel like brushing your teeth is a priority during a time like this? If you’re in the field long enough to brush your teeth, your Bug out plan is failing.

Ammo: Are you trying to carry a combat load? Is there a hill you have to take or hostage you need to rescue on the way home? If you have the mindset of an assaulter you may be over packing. Lighten up and think evasion. Break contact and go home…

Fire: Can you start one? Will you bring fuel for a stove?

Shelter: Tents are heavy but provide comfort and moral….

Signal Kits: Are you trying to hide or get noticed? It sucks trying to rescue people who have gone out of their way to be unnoticed. A few flares and a radio go a long way…How about a safety vest?

Maps: Yep, you still need them. Batteries die and GPS lose signals.

The of course geographic essentials:This all goes out the window in an Alaskan winter or Arizona summer….

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In most cases, Bug out webbing makes more sense!

In most cases, Bug out webbing makes more sense!

Have you actually hiked with all this gear? Turns out hiking is harder than most people think so many of the BoBs I’ve seen people suggest just wont work. They are at best vehicle bags. None of this should exceed 25% of your body weight unless you road march Infantry style on a regular basis…

If you feel like you need to have supplies on hand in the event of an emergency, consider building caches. This will lighten your carried load, and if you were separated from your BoB you will still have some food and water for the trip. Keep in mind you KNOW where your trying to go, why not set yourself up for success early on and go bury some emergency bacon…

The bottom line having a BoB is an ongoing process where you show me yours and I’ll show you mine. It needs to be refined and trained with. I have a general rule, if I don’t use it on 3 training or real world missions in a row, its gone. As your life circumstances change, so should your BoB. If the training you’re doing either doesn’t support using your BoB, or has determined you don’t need a BoB changes to your program must be made.

Don’t just build a BoB because that’s what all the “cool” preppers do, create a requirements driven approach to the purchases you make, and generate your requirements from effective training.

Planning means nothing with out training…..Rehearse rehearse rehearse…img

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