No Excuse for Starving

A Colorful History

There is no excuse for starving, especially in Florida. They have citrus of all kinds (orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, lime, cumquat, and loquat), mango, grape, guava, bamboo, banana, plantain, sugarcane, avocado, acorn, dandelion, purslane, podocarpus, papaya, lychee, lemon grass, garlic grass, hickory, chestnut, coconut, cattail, coontie, cactus, cassava, Jimaca, and cabbage palm. They are all edible, all delicious, and each can be found growing throughout much of the Sunshine State, if you just know where to look. Nope, there’s no excuse for starving in Florida.

Florida has been home to many colorful characters throughout its history, from the pre-Columbian Chatot, Timucua, Tocobaga, Tequesta, Ocali, Apalachee, Asi-Jeaga, and fierce Calusa tribes to formidable Spanish Conquistadores like Hernando de Soto and Ponce de León to blood thirsty pirates like Jose Gaspar and Caesaro Negro to the wily Seminole and Miccosukee warriors like Osceola and Holatta Micco to Confederate blockade runners like Captain Archibald McNeill.

For me, the most interesting aspect of Florida’s history has always been the Seminole Indian Wars, partly because the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes are the only Native American tribes to never lay down their arms in abject surrender to over whelming Federal forces. Even the indomitable Comanche and Apache ultimately surrendered, but not so the Florida tribes who melted into the Everglades where Federal troops dare not follow. These two tribes were part of the Civilized Nations; they wore spun calico shirts, smoked clay pipes and were fond of their smooth bore muskets. They survived forty years of warfare (1817-1819, 1835-1842, 1855-1858)1 against a modern and well equipped army, not because of any technological superiority—although the Seminole and Miccosukee were excellent marksmen with bow and musket—but because they were adaptable and were able to live off the land in the wilds of Florida’s untamed swamps, wetlands, mangroves, and hammocks. As it was for the Seminole and Miccosukee, living off-grid in a SHTF scenario means having to live off the land.

Long-Term Scenario

We all pray that SHTF events never happens in our lifetime, but we prepare for them anyway. The Seminole and Miccosukee survived their own SHTF; will we survive ours? Our SHTF, when it comes, may come upon us slowly or suddenly. Regardless of the cause, we owe it to our children to survive, so we pray for the best and prepare for the worst.
I don’t have a cabin in the mountains. I don’t own a cattle ranch. I don’t have a fortified bunker with motion sensors and early warning systems. I am forbidden by our home owners association from installing claymores in my yard. Heck, I don’t even own any night vision optics. I just a private citizen who wants to see his family to survive. Faced with a SHTF event, I know that the acquisition of Water, Food, Shelter, and Security will be imperative to ensuring my family’s survival.

Most coastal Floridians have already faced SHTF scenarios—we call them hurricanes, and we take our hurricane preparedness seriously. Since Hurricane Andrew destroyed the southern tip of Florida in 1992, many households have maintained a family sized “hurricane box” containing enough gear and supplies for the home team to survive for at least a few of days. That may not seem like a lot by Prepper standards, but the hurricane box is not part of our Prepper provisions. It’s just a seasonal precaution. We stock the hurricane box in spring, watch the Weather Channel from May (Caribbean hurricane season) through October (Atlantic hurricane season), consume our hurricane supplies through winter, and restock the following spring. This rotation keeps stock fresh and it beats having to run to Publix for a last-minute can of green beans so my wife can whip up one of her tasty casseroles.
Preparing for the future requires forethought; the more you accomplish before an emergency event, the less you’ll need to accomplish during or after one. Stockpiling alone, however, can only carry you so far. You must be able to find renewable food sources. Once the SHTF, it will be too late to harvest Ramen at Walmart. Even if you could get your hands on that last brick of tasty noodles, fighting a gang of thugs for looting privileges is not sound tactical advice. If the gangs control your local Walmart, what then? Wouldn’t you rather be able to safely feed you’re your family from home than having to wander the means streets of some post-apocalyptic city scavenging for a nice clean dumpster? So, let’s assume you’ve already taken care of your short-term physical needs. You’ve got plenty of Evian and MRE’s on hand, your storm shutters are up, and everyone on your team who’s tall enough to ride the bog roller-coaster is strapped. No gun fight at the OK Walmart for you, but what about long-term survival? What about replenishment provisions? Have you considered that once your MRE’s run out, you will need to restock your larder with what you can hunt, fish, or grow?

Florida waters are teeming with fish, crabs, shrimp, crawdads, and turtles, not to mention the abundant squirrels, and various fowl that populate our area—with the notable exceptions of birds of prey and carrion eaters, pretty much most fowl are edible. For deer and hogs, we would need to go further afield. Barring a catastrophic decimation of wildlife, protein will most likely not be a problem for Floridians, especially for those of us living along the Coast. Carbs, however, will be much harder to come by.

The average healthy adult requires approximately 200-300 grams of carbohydrates daily.1 My favorite carb is rice, but what we’ve stored won’t last forever. We could try growing our own, but growing rice is a complete mystery involving paddies and some kind of water buffalo. We could try going native by harvesting acorns—a good source of carbs: 1 oz dried acorn (2-3 acorns) contains 14.6 gr. of carbs—but the acorns in South Florida tend to be rather small, and harvesting them is labor intensive, requiring patience and lots of water for blanching out the tannic acid. Acorns are a great supplement—make acorn-raisin cookie—but they are not a staple food.

The Lowly Sweet Potato

To resolve to the how-to-get-enough-carbs-so-I-don’t-starve dilemma, I would recommend the same carbohydrate-rich staple that was grown by the Seminole and Miccosukee and helped them survive as a people while they waged a forty-year long guerilla war.
Even if you’re able to fight off the first wave of spam-starved zombies, a single-family dwelling can suffer an extensive amount of damage from a break-in, let alone a firefight. During a SHTF event, we must be able to survive off-grid inconspicuously. This means living under-the-radar. It’s your choice; you can hang a “Welcome” sign over your green house door, or you can hide your food source in plain sight. Because they are so well camouflaged, the only true enemies of these delicious uber tubers are mice, floods, and weed whackers. It grows wild in many parts of the South, not just in Florida. The sweet potato is not a magical cure-all food, but it does have many dietary and strategic qualities that American Preppers may find advantageous. A store-bought sweet potato weighing approximately 7 oz. contains about 3 gr. of carbs while the same amount of rice has almost three times as many carbs (11 gr.), rice is labor intensive. Have you ever tried hitching a water buffalo to a rice plow? Though it lacks the carbs of rice, an average-sized sweet potato does possess many other essential nutrients including: potassium (48 gr), Vitamin A (2,026 IU), and Beta-carotene (1,215 mcg).3

The Growing Process

When germinating sweet potatoes, I employ the “science project” method. It is the skin that produces the buds or “eyes” that become roots, so all you will need is the outer portion of the potato. Slice out one-inch wide slips of skin from the potato. Make them about as half as thick as a pencil (1/8 inch) to lend support to the skin. Suspend—do not submerge—the inch-wide slips of skin in cool tap water by using string to form a “hammock” or tooth picks spears to hold the slips at water level, skin side down. Each slip should have its own container; too many slips in a confined space can cause the delicate sprouting roots to tangle. Direct sunlight can quickly bake young sprouts, so store them in indirect sunlight.

In about two weeks, you should see several healthy root tendrils sprouting downward from the slips into the water. When the tendrils grow to about six inches in length, it’s time for planting. Gently remove the sprouted slips from their containers and plant them about 4-6 inches deep and about 12 inches apart.4 Much of the soil in South Florida tends to be sandy and poor, so you may need to prep your soil before planting. My property is sandy and wonderful for growing sandspurs—they are the reason Floridians don’t walk around bare-footed. I do not prepare my soil before planting sweet potatoes. The whole point of the exercise is to establish a renewable food source that will grow well without any help from me. After about three to four months—depending on the variety of sweet potato, rainfall, soil, soil prep, pests, etc.—the crop will be ready to harvest. You’ll know it’s time to harvest when the leaves turn yellow on the vine, and the growing tubers cause the ground to bulge as though there were moles tunneling beneath the soil. I live in Hardiness Zone 10 (South Florida); your results will definitely vary.

Sweet potato vines can cover ground almost as quickly as kudzu and drop roots at the nodes their entire length. The potatoes grow close to the surface and can be harvested easily with bare hands. I don’t use my bare hands because Florida is home to the dreaded Brazilian Fire Ant, six different venomous serpents, and an ever-growing population of pythons. This is a genuine concern when weeding or harvesting because sweet potatoes attract rodents which in turn attract snakes, and the ground cover from the leaves can be so dense that you would never notice a coiled pygmy rattler until too late. All the prepping in the world won’t save you from a coral snake bite either—they are part of cobra family—with no way to refrigerate rare anti-venom serum during a SHTF scenario. “Don’t stick your hand in there!” is a good rule to live by in Florida, so use a little common sense and employ a small cultivator rake carefully to avoid damaging your crop.

For my first attempt at sweet potato gardening, I cut eight slips, but two failed to germinate. I planted the remaining six slips in a three-foot by five-foot patch of well-drained sandy soil. My little garden yielded 14 medium-to-large sweet taters. These were germinated from one store-bought potato. Not too bad for a first attempt considering the small size of the plot and the fact that I did not water at all. The Florida August monsoons did the watering for me. The rains come so regularly in late summer, between 3:00PM and 5:00PM, that you can practically set your watch by them. That particular crop of even survived a record-breaking three-day freeze just prior to harvest. A three-day freeze might not impress most Northerners, but it is big news in South Florida.

After my first crop, I let the vines continue to grow on their own, hoping for a second picking from the same planting. Unfortunately, the potatoes did not survive my wife’s attempt to clean up the back yard with the weed whacker. The best sweet potatoes are the large ones near the original slip planting. The further away from the original plant that the nodes take root and become potatoes, the smaller the tuber will be. The stunted golf ball-sized sweet potatoes, though still technically edible, are rough and not very tasty. These became seed crop for the next planting.

Another nice thing about the sweet potato is that it can be grown almost anywhere: apartment window boxes, small backyard gardens, empty lots downtown, power line easements, around the edges of county parks, or the woods behind your house. With their dramatic purple blossoms, the attractive broad-leafed vines are used as an ornamental plant. They make such great ground cover that they are regularly incorporated into landscaping around buildings, mailboxes, lakes, canals, trees, and other shrubbery.

There is a storm canal easement behind our property. Like Johnny Apple Seed, I’ve started planting germinated slips on this property. Several plantings have taken root and are growing well. When the summer rains begin, they should really take off. The early success of this off-property experiment has encouraged me to try other locations. I’ve germinated and planted sweet potatoes at my mom’s house, my brother’s house, and at a friend’s house. They’re going to enjoy the attractive ground cover around their shrubs, and I will enjoy helping them establish a prolific and renewable emergency food source.

I’ve started scouting other areas as well for strategic planting locations that will be self-sustaining. Anticipating future fuel shortages, I’ve kept my scouting to within bicycling distance from my property. There is a long tract of scrub woods along the river near our home which will make a good planting zone as the average non-agricultural zombie wouldn’t know the difference between potato vines and kudzu. My plan is to hide a strategic and productive potato pantry in plain sight. Nope, there’s no excuse for starving in Florida.

Back to Basics: How to Stockpile Food for Emergencies

Today I wanted to share tips for how to stockpile food for emergencies that anyone can use. I will focus on preppers who are just starting out, but I think some ideas in the topics below could be useful to anyone looking to ensure their family has food and does not go hungry. This article will also have dozens of links to other content on the subject for additional reading.

I believe there are 5 main components to survival that everyone needs to consider. They are simply Water, Food, Shelter, Security and Hygiene.  The need for water and how you can easily store water for emergencies that render your traditional methods of obtaining water impossible. Water is more important to life than food or at least you can live longer without food than you can water, but they are both important.

Why do you need to stockpile food for emergencies?

If you are new to prepping, you may have something that triggered your awareness of the subject. Preppers have many reasons for doing what they do and no two preppers are alike. Some are preparing for the end of the world, but most see situations in our daily lives that give a perfect reason to stock up supplies. You have only to look at the recent winter storm that affected large swaths of the Eastern Seaboard to have a perfect example of why you don’t want to be left without a means to feed your family.

It seems almost cliché at this point, but invariably it always happens when a winter storm is forecast. Everyone rushes out to the store and certain food supplies are wiped out. Images of empty shelves are shown on practically every newscast and eventually prepper websites. Food shortages during simple storms are common if not expected. We don’t really even blink anymore because we are so used to this practice of waiting until the last-minute and then hitting the local grocery store on the way home from work to grab some basic necessities or comfort food.

If you can’t live for more than 3 days without going to the store, it’s time to reevaluate your family’s readiness. The statistic we hear most of the time is that the average home has only 3 days’ worth of food in it. If this is true, where would you be on day three if you had not been able to make it to the grocery store before the storm? What if instead of a snow storm, a virus outbreak had occurred and everyone was told to stay indoors to prevent infection? Each of us should have more food on hand that our families and friends will eat than is absolutely necessary to prevent surprises from leaving you hungry.

How much food do you need to store?

In the example above I used a virus outbreak as the condition that would prevent you from getting to the store. There are others though and weather could certainly be one of them. Some storms where I live have left roads impassable for upwards of a week. Could we walk to the store? Sure, but what if the stores having already been cleared of just about all of the food were closed? What if power outages prevented them from conducting any transactions? These are things you should consider.

Prepping is not something I ever consider you can accomplish. By that I mean, you are never going to be fully prepared. You may be much better prepared than some or all of the people around you, but you will never be 100% self-sufficient. Prepping should be done incrementally even if you have more money than you know what to do with because as you start to stock up food you learn lessons.

A good rule of thumb for me is to start small when you are beginning to stockpile food for emergencies. You don’t need a year of freeze-dried foods to start with. Try just having a week or two of extra groceries that your family already eats. This is accomplished without any exotic storage needs usually or 5 gallon buckets of grains you have to figure out how to prepare.

What are the best types of food to stockpile?

My wife purchases the groceries and I started out by giving her extra money to simply buy more food. I did this in the beginning because she is a much better shopper than I am and will always save more money than me. This worked great because she was easily able to fill our pantry and had plenty of meals planned to last us well over 30 days. Sure, at the end of that 30 days of food we would be getting into more exotic cans of mushrooms and soups that are better left as part of a recipe as opposed to your entire meal, but we wouldn’t starve.

Once we had a month worth of food and water stored up, I started looking at other options. I think each person should have a layered approach to food storage. This gives you flexibility and more importantly variety that as you go out to 6 months or 1 year or 2 will be important. My own personal goal is 2 years’ worth of food stockpiled for my family but that isn’t made up of only food from our grocery store. That can certainly be done though with a very good rotation plan.

Food storage should ideally cover the following:

Short Term Food Storage – The best and simplest foods are like I said above, what your family eats every day. One thing to consider is that the bulk of this food should be non-perishable in case you lose power. Canned foods are great as well as pastas, drink mixes and staples. These usually last at least a year.

Medium Term Food Storage – For the 5 – 10 year range MRE’s are a great option although they are heavier and their convenience comes at a higher price. I have several boxes of these and I like MRE’s because they are self-contained and don’t really need any water. Freeze dried camping foods like Mountain House are another great option to just add hot water to. Rice and beans make great additions to this category because you don’t really have to do anything crazy to store them as long as they are kept cool and dry.

Long Term Food Storage – When you start to look at foods that will keep for many years you get into stored grains like Hard Red Winter Wheat that you store in sealed 5 gallon buckets. Freeze dried food from any one of many suppliers out there keep for 20 years usually and are individually wrapped Mylar packets. They require water to re-hydrate but the taste can be surprisingly good. Make sure you have seasonings though….

Renewable Food Storage – This is when you have to get your inner farmer working. Renewable foods are an intensive garden, small livestock like chickens or rabbits and the occasional wild game caught either through hunting or snares. In the worst disasters, your food will run out so having a plan for that ahead of time will help you prepare.

How do you plan for your food eventually running out?

I have a mix of the food storage options above. We eat on our grocery store items every day, but I also have MRE’s and a pretty large amount of freeze-dried foods stored. We also have the grains I mentioned and the all-important grain mill to grind them into flour. Several hundred pounds of rice and beans round out the equation.

Stockpiling food is only the start. We have a garden and small flock of chickens. The stored food is just to get us through the worst of the disaster. Hopefully before our food runs out whatever disaster has happened will be mitigated and life will have returned to some sense of normality. If not, we have a huge leg up that will allow us to further harvest our garden to put away food like the pioneers had to do. It is an approach that gives us some sense of security and prepares us to come out on the other side still alive.

What is your plan to stockpile food for emergencies?

How To Choose The ‘Perfect’ Location For Your Off Grid Homestead or Community

What exactly is “the perfect off the grid location to build your cabin? Well, ideally there are some things to look for in a piece of property that make it a good off the grid location. This is not a comprehensive guide, but only meant to give a good general point of reference to start from

In our quest for the perfect off grid location we’ve literally searched all over the United States from the East to the West. We know what we want, and we know what we need, but finding a good balance between the necessities and comforts and balancing that with budget and location sometimes is difficult. Like most folks, we can’t afford a huge piece of land, nor can we be too picky about the land we buy.

First determine your needs. What do you really need?

Do you need power hungry appliances, central heat and air, and all the luxuries of a tradition suburban home? Not really. So you make a list of things you “need” to survive in the wilderness in order of importance.

Going into this with an open minds is important, but also with a realistic point of view. It’s not going to be easy, it will probably take longer than you think, it will probably be more expensive than you think, but it’s probably going to be a lot better than how you’re living now.

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“The perfect off the grid location” doesn’t exist in a one-size-fits-all package. The point being it’s all about personal preference and what you feel you need, versus what you want balanced by your goals.

Goals are relatively simple; to become 100% self sufficient, spend more quality time together with family, and experience to good things in life without having to worry about the mortgage, bills, and whether you’ll have a job next month.

Like most folks, you probably want to be independent, yet, you may want to keep the social aspect of living in a community of like minded individuals with similar goals.

So, you ask yourself what you really truly need.

NEEDS: The “Holy Trinity” of survival.

  • #1 – Water: No animal on Earth can live without water, and we’re no different; this is why it’s #1 on my list instead of shelter. You’ll need a local water source, river, stream, lake, pond, spring, etc. Or you’ll need a machine to produce water, and a large plastic container for water storage.
  • #2 – Shelter: Technically in a milder climate you don’t even really need shelter, maybe a wind break or lean-to would be sufficient for survival. But in most areas, a shelter is needed for protection from the environment.
  • #3 – Food: We have to eat to live, so look for an area that in an emergency situation wild game and/or local plants can be harvested for food. Also choose an area the lends itself to growing your own food either in the ground, or in a greenhouse. I personally like a hydroponic/aquaponic system myself. It’s efficient and you can grow food almost in any climate with current technology.

That’s really it. The property you choose must have these 3 resources available to produce them from the land without importing them. There are very few place on Earth where this is NOT a possibility. So what does that mean?

With current technology, and the knowledge of traditional building and survival techniques, you can live almost anywhere on the planet except maybe the North and South poles. There are even people in South America (and other parts of the world) who build their homes on the water! Talk about off the grid… WOW!

OK, since you can pretty much build anywhere on Earth, the question is not whether it can be done, but what you personally prefer. Some people love cold weather and the snow, others prefer the desert heat, while still others like milder tropical zones.

Once you figure your “needs”, you then list your “wants”. This of course varies widely.

WANTS:

  • Amenities & Luxury: Electricity, hot and cold running water, major appliances, TV, internet, cable, satellite,  comfortable furniture, etc.

  • Large Land: A nice big parcel of land to expand and build. You don’t “need” a big parcel, but we’d like one large enough to experiment with different building techniques, and grow our ranch.

  • Affordability: Anyone can go crazy and buy an outrageously expensive piece of property, but the point of living off the grid for us means not having a massive mortgage payment each month and being completely self-sufficient. We’d like a piece of property that’s affordable which we can pay off within a couple few years, this way we can concentrate on the important things like FAMILY for example. This limits the land selection somewhat, but, it also opens doors to things that might normally be overlooked for a good off grid location to build on.

    Practicality becomes the determining factor at that point.  Most people will need a job to live and pay for their normal bills, but for us, the goal is 100% self-sufficiency.

    To do that, we must have a home based business, and be able to make our living off the land, literally. Some folks will opt into working a 9-5 until they can become self sufficient.

    It helps that we’re experienced and have owned our own successful company before. It’s imperative that we are able to make a living from home to be completely off grid. This doesn’t mean if you live off grid that you wouldn’t be contributing to society mind you. Creating products and providing services for the local economy is part of the plan.

    The Internet:

    The advent of the internet and high technology is enabling people to rethink the way we live as a society, and is bringing with it major cultural change. It’s now possible to not just survive off grid, but to thrive and live very well. The internet allow one to reach literally hundreds of millions of people all over the world. This expands everyone’s horizons and provides opportunity such that has never been seen before in the history of humankind.

    Hi-Tech Off Grid Living

    Combining high technology with an internet based business, means you can literally live just about anywhere on the planet. Now that people can do this I believe it will contribute greatly to the overall economic stability of the entire populace, including the local and world community, especially if one is contributing to society with their valuable products and services.

    Start a Home Based Business

    Living off the grid, and owning your own business (becoming self sufficient) isn’t just the American Dream, it’s the dream of millions of people. People want their independence, but they also need the social aspect of life. Having the internet provides this social connection, while allowing one to keep their private lives private.

    Our world is much smaller now that technology has made it possible to travel anywhere on the globe, and communicate with anyone, anywhere with the click of a mouse, or dialing a cell phone number.

    We’re quickly becoming a mobile society, and there are those of us who see this as an opportunity unlike anything that’s ever presented itself. to make our living while still providing for and spending valuable time with our families.

    Energy is crucial, and most off-gridders will generate their own power, so pick a place that has good wind and/or solar energy potential. This, is the most important thing next to your water source.

    So, how do you pick that perfect off the grid location?

    For example, northern Arizona has everything a person would need…except easily accessible sources of water. It has tons of Sun, trees, good cheap land, and mild winters.

    • TEMP: 22 – 91 degrees (MILD CLIMATE)
    • SUN: 77%-90% Sun (HIGH POTENTIAL)
    • WIND: 6.5 – 9 mph (HIGH POTENTIAL)
    • RAIN: .5″ – 2″ (LOW)
    • HUMIDITY (LOW to AVERAGE)

    This is just an example. Are there better places for an off grid homestead than this? Sure… But price and affordability is most probably an issue for most folks.

    • Pick an area where the property is very affordable, and not that many people have figured it out yet. If you play your cards right, perhaps you could bring business and more homesteaders and off grid people to the area and that might actually create a land rush and make our land even more valuable; we can dream right?
    • Pick a property where the potential for wind and solar energy production is great.
    • Picking a place where the climate is mild and the winters aren’t that bad, and/or  have low snowfall levels; which means you won’t have to shovel snow all day everyday just to drive around your property or go into town.
    • Pick a location is relatively near multiple popular major national parks, tourist attractions, and has LOTS of outdoor adventure activities which can be a BIG income opportunity year round if you’re creating a community. It will become a draw for people, and a source of income for your off grid community.
    • Pick a location isn’t that populated, but where cities nearby are growing, and the potential for expansion in the area is great.
    • Pick a location is close enough to major shopping destinations to resupply weekly, or if you wanted to cruise into town for dinner and a movie it’s practical.
    • Pick a place where the land is beautiful. Where it’s not too hot in the summer, not too cold in the winter, and there are lots of TREES and GRASS.

    To really do this, you’re going to have to change the way you live. Family is more important than paying the banks for 20 years only lose your job and your home you’ve paid on for decades. Having your property paid for so you can concentrate on enjoying your family life and making good memories is by far the most important thing.

    Going off the grid is how to do it. Living small is how to do it.

    You can do it.

12 OUTDOOR SURVIVAL SKILLS EVERY PERSON SHOULD MASTER

Think fast: You’re stranded in the woods with darkness falling and no help in sight. Can you to get safety before the elements (or wild animals) get to you?

 

Survival Skill #1
Locating a Suitable Campsite
“You want to stay high and dry,” Stewart says. Avoid valleys and paths where water may flow toward you (flash floods get their name for a reason—they can deluge a low-lying area in minutes). Choose a campsite free from natural dangers like insect nests and widow-makers—dead branches that may crash down in the middle of the night—as well as falling rocks. Ideally, you want to be close to resources like running water, dry wood (from which you can assemble your shelter and build a fire) and rocky walls or formations that can shield you from the elements.

 

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Survival Skill #2
Building a Shelter
Not surprisingly, hypothermia is the number one outdoor killer in cold weather. That means a well-insulated shelter should be your top priority in a prolonged survival situation. To make a simple lean-to, find a downed tree resting at an angle, or set a large branch securely against a standing tree, and stack smaller branches close together on one side. Layer debris, like leaves and moss, across the angled wall. Lastly, insulate yourself from the cold ground–which will draw heat from your warm body–by layering four to six inches of debris to lie on.

Survival Skill #3
Starting a Fire With a Battery
Any battery will do, says Stewart. “It’s about short-circuiting the battery.” Connect the negative and positive terminals with a wire, foil (like a gum wrapper), or steel wool to create a spark to drive onto your tinder bundle. Have your firewood ready.
Survival Skill #4
Building Your Fire
Stewart views fire building in terms of four key ingredients: tinder bundle of dry, fibrous material (cotton balls covered in Vaseline or lip balm are an excellent choice, if you’ve got them) and wood in three sizes—toothpick, Q-tip, and pencil. Use a forearm-sized log as a base and windscreen for your tinder. When the tinder is lit, stack the smaller kindling against the larger log, like a lean-to, to allow oxygen to pass through and feed the flames. Add larger kindling as the flame grows, until the fire is hot enough for bigger logs. Check out some of our fire starters.

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Survival Skill #5
Finding clean water
“You’ll come across two kinds of water in the wild,” Stewart says. “Potable water that’s already purified, and water that can kill you.” When it comes to questionable water—essentially anything that’s been on the ground long-term, like puddles and streams—your best option is boiling water, which is 100 percent effective in killing pathogens. But sometimes boiling isn’t an option.

Rain, snow, and dew are reliable sources of clean water you can collect with surprising ease, and they don’t need to be purified. With a couple of bandannas, Stewart has collected two gallons of water in an hour by soaking up dew and ringing out the bandannas. You can also squeeze water from vines, thistles, and certain cacti. Are there any maple trees around? Cut a hole in the bark and let the watery syrup flow—nature’s energy drink.

Survival Skill #6
Collecting Water With a Transpiration Bag
Like humans, plants “sweat” throughout the day—it’s a process called transpiration. To take advantage of this clean, pure source of water, put a clear plastic bag over a leafy branch and tie it tightly closed. When you return later in the day, water will have condensed on the inside of the bag, ready to drink. Check out some of our products for collecting water.

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Survival Skill #7
Identifying Edible Plants
There’s no need to go after big game in a survival situation, and chances are you’ll waste energy in a fruitless attempt to bring them down. “Make your living on the smalls,” Stewart says. That means eating edible plants (as well as small critters like fish, frogs, and lizards).Separating the plants you can eat from those that will kill you is a matter of study and memorization. Buy a book to familiarize yourself with plants in different environments. And don’t take any chances if you’re uncertain (remember how Chris McCandles died in the end of Into the Wild). A few common edible plants include cattail, lambsquarter (also called wild spinach), and dandelions. Find these and eat up.

Survival Skill #8
Using a Split-tip Gig to Catch Critters
Gigging (hunting with a multi-pronged spear) is the simplest way to catch anything from snakes to fish. Cut down a sapling of about an inch in diameter, and then split the fat end with a knife (or sharp rock) into four equal sections ten inches down. Push a stick between the tines to spread them apart, then sharpen the points. You’ve got an easy-to-use four-pronged spear. Much easier for catching critters than a single sharp point.

Survival Skill #9
Navigating By Day
If you ever find yourself without a GPS tool (or a simple map and compass) you can still use the sky to find your way. The most obvious method to get a general bearing by day is to look at the sun, which rises approximately in the east and sets approximately in the west anywhere in the world. But you can also use an analog watch to find the north-south line. Just hold the watch horizontally and point the hour hand at the sun. Imagine a line running exactly midway between the hour hand and 12 o’clock. This is the north-south line. On daylight savings? Draw the line between the hour hand and one o’clock.

Survival Skill #10
Navigating By Night
Find Polaris, or the North Star, which is the end of the Little Dipper’s handle. If you can find the Big Dipper, draw a line between the two stars at the outer edge of the constellation’s dipper portion. Extend this line toward the Little Dipper, and it will line up with Polaris. Face Polaris, and you’re facing true north. If there is a crescent moon in the sky, connect the horns of the crescent with an imaginary line. Extend this line to the horizon to indicate a southerly bearing. Once you determine your direction, pick a landmark nearby or in the distance to follow by daylight.

outdoorss

Survival Skill #11
Tying a Bowline
Knots come in handy for a slew of survival scenarios—tying snares, securing shelters, lowering equipment or yourself down a cliff face. Ideally, you should have an arsenal of knots, from hitches to bends to loops, in your repertoire. But if you learn only one, learn the bowline.

“It’s your number one, go-to rescue knot,” Stewart, who uses a mnemonic for every knot, says. It’s foolproof for fastening rope to an object via a loop, particularly when the rope will be loaded with weight: the harder you pull, the tighter the knot gets. Stewart’s mnemonic for tying the bowline from any angle is “the rabbit comes out of the hole, around the tree, and back in the hole.” Use this mnemonic, says Stewart, and “it doesn’t matter if you tie it spinning on your head. It’s going to come out right.”

Survival Skill #12
Sending Up a Survival Signal
At times—like when you have a debilitating injury—your only hope for getting saved is to maximize your visibility so rescuers can find you. Two methods, if used properly, will guarantee that, if someone’s looking, they’ll see you.The first is a signal fire—and the first rule is to put it out in the open for visibility. That means hilltops or clearings in a forest where nothing, like a cliff face or trees, will disperse the smoke. Create a platform to raise the base of the fire off the ground so moisture doesn’t saturate the wood. Save your absolute best combustible material for your signal fire to guarantee a quick light. Once the fire is lit, pile on green branches, like pine boughs in winter, to produce thick smoke. “It’s not about warmth, it’s about 15 seconds of smoke,” Stewart notes. “That’s about all you’ve got when you hear a plane before it’s out of sight.”

The second is a mirror signal. A flash from signal mirror—even at night, by moonlight—can be seen for miles, much farther than any flashlight. You don’t need a store-bought signal mirror to be effective. Improvise with any reflective surface you’ve got, from rearview mirrors or headlights to a cell phone screen. Aiming the reflection is the key, and it’s simple. Hold out a peace sign and place your target–be it plane or boat–between your fingers. Then flash the reflection back and forth across your fingers.

Survival Gear For The Avid Hiker

So you want to go hiking…what do you do?

Just pack up a bag with some water and food, then you’re good to go?
Completely wrong!

Survival gear is necessary to go on a safe and fun backpacking adventure.

Can you imagine going out on a trail or even off trail, something terrible happening, and you don’t have any survival gear with you?

More than likely you will not have cell phone service, so there won’t be a way to contact anyone for help!

This is where that essential gear comes into play. You want to be prepared in all situations.

The typical hiker pretty much has the same list of items that are important to have on you first and foremost.

Stay with me and I’ll guide you through the most important items to pack up in that backpack!

 

Food:

Always bring along plenty of food with you.

Most experienced hikers recommend bringing at least an extra day’s worth of food.
This can be in the form of dehydrated foods, freeze dried foods, protein bars, canned foods, etc.

Keep in mind that you do have to carry everything that you bring, so be mindful of how heavy the food is.
This is why most backpackers bring the freeze dried and dehydrated foods; it is very light weight.

 

Water:

Bring your water bottles full of water, but not too much!
Water is heavy but essential.

More than likely, you’ll start out with a couple bottles of water and then you’ll have some way to filter water along the way.

This can be in the form of boiling water to drink, using specific tablets to make the water safe, or even purchasing a small pump water filter that way you can filter any water along the way and bring it along with you!

 

Shelter:

There are a number of ways to create your own shelter while hiking.

The most popular is a small tent.
(Remember, you’ll be carrying this, so don’t go out and get a huge tent. There are small hiking specific tents that are light weight)

Another option is a tarp that you will be able to hang over some cording and just do a makeshift shelter to protect you from any rain.

Lastly, a newly popular option are the camping hammocks that roll up to be small and fit right in your bag.

Most of these camping hammocks come with a rain guard or you can get one, that goes over the top of the hammock to protect you from rain and other elements.

Clothing:

You may not think is very important, but the type of clothing you bring or pack is extremely important.

NO COTTONS!

It is important to wear/bring synthetic clothing. Not only does it breathe and wick away moisture, but it has a quick drying time.

If you’re sweating during the day and your clothes do not have enough time to dry, when nighttime comes and it gets cool outside, it is dangerous for your survival to be cold and wet.

The different types and pieces of clothing that are good for hiking could be a whole write up in itself.

If you’re really serious about hiking, you’ll want to research more on the weather you’ll be dealing with and what clothes should be worn.

 

Light:

There are no streetlights in the mountains, desert, or wherever you’ll be hiking.

Bring flashlights, headlamps or any light source you prefer!

Just be sure to bring extra batteries to power up your source of light!

 

First Aid:


Bring a thorough first aid kit and don’t skimp on this!

You never know when this may come in handy.

A Way to Navigate:
The best forms of navigation to have and to learn are a compass and a map.

This could also be in the form of a handheld GPS (Don’t rely on your phone)

Heat Source:

Have a way to build a fire!

Bring along matches and/or a lighter. (I’d recommend bringing both, just in case)


For those who are really into survival, you can get a fire starter for those emergency moments.

Not only is fire essential for nighttime, but it can also deter animals, be used to cook your food, boil water, and provide warmth for cooler nights.

Tools:

The type of tools you bring are really your preference, but I’d recommend a multi tool and definitely a knife of some sort.
Having a repair kit for your gear could be handy too in case something breaks, you get a tear in your tent, etc.

Protection From The Sun:

Can’t stress this one enough! Bring your sunscreen!

Getting completely burnt on the first day of a hike can ruin the whole trip!

You’ll also want to bring your sunglasses or a hat for extra protection.

As you can see, packing up for a big or small hiking trip is not as simple as bringing some food and water.
It is my hope that this list of survival gear sheds some light on what all you should be packing up in that bag.

Maybe you thought of some of these or maybe some of these were a complete shock to you, but we urge you to get all of these before you set foot on the trails.

Keep in mind, there are SO many other different items that are very important to bring along with you on a hike, but we wanted to cover the items that you definitely can’t go without!

Survival gear is not just for crazy natural disaster emergencies…even a fun activity such as hiking requires gear to ensure your safety!

Pack up and hit the trails now that you’ve got your top essentials!
Safe is fun!

Build your own Underground Bunker

food_storage_survival_prep_pro1-1024x768-620x465

Okay, so you might not be able to do all this by yourself, but this might get you started on your way to having your very own, very quiet and thick skinned underground bunker.

Why would you want one?

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it. Most people don’t do the whole underground thing, unless they’re mad dictators or something of the sort. The problem with this is that none of us are reallyready, if you catch our drift. If something were to happen, where you would need an underground, reinforced hideout, you’re out of luck now, aren’t you? Yes you are.

 

Whether you build this thing as a standard panic room or a separate shelter, it would be a good addition to your home, it’ll raise the property value (considerably) if you ever want to move away, and if the day should come when “they” decide to drop the big one on your local town, you’ll be up and about along with the cockroaches in no time, while everyone else are so much dust in the wind. Nice, huh? Yes it is.

What to do first.

According to BunkerBuilders.com, you have to find a suitable place for your bunker. They’ve got a nice checklist which we will take the liberty of reproducing here.

Things to consider when deciding where to build your underground shelter:

  • As deep underground as possible to protect from radiation, flying projectiles and debris.
  • Outside of areas known to be flood prone, including areas within the 100 year flood plain.
  • The bunker should be placed so that the evacuees have a short route to the entrance.
  • Away from any potential debris field and its emergency exits and air inlets can be extended on several sides of the building into zones that are free from debris and fire.
  • The bunker should have as much of its external walls against the ground as possible for protection from heat and for support provided by the surrounding soil.
  • Away from potential fuel concentrations, flammable materials, vehicles and hazardous materials.
  • Away from large objects and multi-story buildings, light poles, antennas, satellite dishes or roof mounted mechanical equipment.
  • The bunker should be made easily concealed.

Most sane people who decide to build themselves a bunker or a hardened part of their house to use as a panic room won’t fall in this trap, but we’re going to warn you anyway; If the people you’re looking to buy a shelter from (yes, some come pre-fab) has 2012 “Planet X” propaganda on their website, you should probably look elsewhere. “Stealth Installation” (yes, there are companies advertising this) isn’t really a viable option either, since a genuinely safe underground bunker will be noticed during construction. Also, you’ll probably need permits to build them, unless you live on a remote farm or on a huge property in the middle of a forest somewhere.

Ready-Made, perhaps?

We’ll mention one other alternative before we go on, however. There are a lot of read-made, nuclear-proof homes out there. It’s true! They’re on the market, too – readily available for purchase by anyone (who has the money). Granted, they can be expensive, but if you

have 400,000 – 4,6 million dollars just burning holes in your pockets, then this could be just what you’re looking for. What about a beautiful home built on top of an Atlas F missile silo with all the trimmings? 2000 lbs blast doors, several stories of hardened housing down into the earth, all the comforts of a top-notch residence on every level.

This probably isn’t for everyone, however, even if you’ve got the money and the financial planning for it. Most of these sites are pretty dreary – location-wise, at least. You pretty much have to choose between living in the middle of some desert or other (there’s one smack in the middle of Texas, for example) or deep in some woods where you actually need that private airstrip (like in the picture, there).

So we’ll go on to how you should go about building your own – slightly-smaller-than-a-missile-silo underground bunker. Should be fun.

Get your Permits, mister.

Make sure you’ve got the permits you need to dig and build in the place you found while following the list up above there. If you can’t meet all of the requirements, that’ll probably be okay, but you do need to come close, however. Also, you need to make sure that you’re not going to dig through your neighborhood’s watersupply, cables, drainage tunnels and all of those nasty things that seem to do nothing but cause trouble once they see daylight.

Once you know you’re allowed to dig, and you won’t cut off the nation’s internet access by severing a fiber cable down there, you’re good to go. Now you either get yourself a machine, or you hire someone to dig your hole for you. If you’re not in construction and you haven’t dug a hole like this before, hiring someone to do it for you is probably a great idea.

If you want to try doing this yourself, eHow has a nice write-up of a (very) basic shelter, which is probably possible to pull off on your own. It does require a lot of concrete work, which can be trying unless you have a lot of experience, but not impossible at all.

If you want something more than a basic shelter with four concrete walls and a bucket to do your business in, however, you should leave the construction itself to a professional contractor.

What you should do yourself is designing the place, making sure that you get it exactly the way you want it.

Bunker Design

One of the most fascinating bunker designs out there is the Vivos approach. This company is building bunkers all over the US, and will also build one for you, based on their own designs, but customizable to no end, apparently. Even if you don’t buy a bunker off them, it’s a good idea to check out their specs here (be patient with that pdf – their site is as slow as cold molasses).

As futuristic as anything out there, these bunkers will apparently be able to save you from anything – tsunamis, anarchy, radiation, blasts, heat, fallout – they’ll apparently save humanity when 2012 runs out too… yes, we said something about that up above, we know, but still. These bunkers are seriously neat.

The military has been building bunkers for a long time, and they’re probably the best people out there when it comes to making secure, timeless and useful bunkers, functional to the bone and efficient on top of that. You would do well to read one of their survival guides, for example, before you start prioritizing your bunker design. Basing your design on the army’s specifications is a very good idea, but you might want to add some more comfort to your hole – after all, you don’t know how long you’ll be in there, and if you plan on using this space as an addition to your normal living quarters, then you might want more than four concrete walls and a wooden bunk bed.

Sitting down and drawing up your bunker is a good idea – remember that you don’t necessarily need to reinforce every single wall in there, as long as the structure is sound and strong. Plan for drywalls inside the shelter, so you can hide air filtering, wiring and pipes, just as you would in a regular home.

Some things to consider when designing your new underground shelter:

– Light.There’s not going to be any windows, so plan for more light sourcesthan you would in a regular house. Make sure that you have emergency lighting on separate curcuits – you never know when that might come in handy.

– Air. Filtration systems aren’t cheap, but the most common flaw in private bunkers is a lack of adequate ventilation. Spring for the bigger one, if in doubt.

– Water. Again, filtration systems aren’t cheap, but they’re necessary if you’re going to use an outside source as a water supply down in your bunker. The alternative is to get a water tank, but depending on the size, that won’t keep you for long. Plan to have more resources than you think you’ll strictly need.

– Food. Stock up with emergency stuff, and get the fresh meats and fruits down there when there might be a need for them. Storage of food is what drains the most energy, so plan for this. Use ground cold/heat to store your food, and go for high-quality dried foods (such as MREs) and canned goods. That will get you a long way.

Linked from: http://snallabolaget.com/?page_id=1343

How to Make A Tarp Tent with 25 Designs

Below I’ve listed 25 different tarp shelter designs to help you get started. Each configuration has its pros and cons and there isn’t really a perfect design for all occasions. You’ll have to chose the right one depending on your situation or you could just try them all out to test your bushcraft tarp setup skills.

25-tarp-shelter-designs-main

Gear You Will Need
gear-needed
  • A Tarp
  • Guy Ropes
  • Stakes
  • Hiking poles or tree branches
  • Plans on how to configure your tarp shelter

The size of your tarp and the number of attachment points or loops will effect what configurations you can make. Generally the more loops or attachment points you have on your tarp the better. The tarp I use is 360 x 280 cm and has 16 loops, however you can use larger or small tarps as well.

Most tarp shelters will have guy ropes included however if you don’t have any you can get them fairly cheaply. Most configurations need 3 or less guy ropes.

You’ll also need some stakes; as with the guy ropes most tarps will come with a set of these. These can be bought cheaply online or at a local shop. Generally you’ll want to have at least 4. If you don’t have any you can substitute metal stakes with sticks.

If you want to set up a shelter that requires trees in an area without them you can use poles or branches instead. Many people recommend trekking poles as the fit nicely to the tarps and work well in the snow. You also get these for around $15-20 online or at your local outdoors retailer. Most tarp shelter configurations will require 2 or more poles or trees to tie your guy ropes around.

If you wish to print these designs here is a PDF version.

Locations and Where to Set Up a Shelter

The location you chose and where you set up your shelter are important. You should study the weather in the area and choose a configuration that would best suit it. Ideally you should build on ground that slopes so if there is rain this is the direction the water will flow. If there are no slopes you should dig trenches to allow the water to flow off through them and away from you.

Ideally you will want to find flat ground without any rocks or objects that will make you uncomfortable to lay on.

Choose the right design depending on the activity. For example if you want an area for multiple people to eat or sit around the Dining fly is a good option. If you want to make a shelter for a hammock the diamond tarp setup would be best.

Tarp Shelter Plans With Instructions

1. Basic A Frame Tarp Shelter

A-Frame

The A-frame is a common tarp shelter configuration due its fairly simple design.

You’ll need to find an area with 2 trees around 10ft apart depending on the size of your tarp.

Tie 1 guy line around each tree roughly 4-5ft from the ground (depending on the size of the tarp). Make sure the line is tight to prevent any sagging.

Throw the tarp over the line so the middle of the tarp meets the cord.

Hammer in the stakes on each corner making sure it is tightly secured. If you have more stakes and available straps you can re-enforce the shelter.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 1x Guy line
  • 4x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Easy

PROS

  • Good protection from rain or snow.
  • The angle allows snow and rain to runoff the tarp

CONS

  • No Floor
  • Prone to sagging if the guy line isn’t tight enough

2. Basic Lean-to Tarp Shelter

Basic-Lean-to

The basic lean-to shelter is fast and easy to make. This is a good first one to try if you are inexperienced.

As with the A-frame you’ll need two trees to tie the guy rope around and make sure there isn’t any slack in the line.

Fold the tarp over the line.

Pull the tarp taught at around a 30 degree angle and hammer in the stakes on each end.

The stakes need to be on the outside of the shelter.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 1x Guy line
  • 2x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Easy

PROS

  • Fast and easy to erect
  • Good wind protection from one side

CONS

  • No Floor
  • Only protects from sun or wind on one side

3. Bivy Bag Cornet Shelter

bivibag-cornet

The Bivy Bag cornet design offers very good protection overall and isn’t that difficult to erect. You’ll also only need to find a single tree or point to tie the line over.

Start by tying the rope around the tree at 4-5ft and hammer in a stake to the ground at the other end. Make sure the low end is facing into the wind for maximum protection.

Throw the tarp over the rope diagonally. Stretch out the corners and hammer stakes on each side. The floor should meet up with one side and the stakes will go through both the side and floor of the shelter.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 1x Guy line
  • 5x Stakes
  • 1x Tree or pole
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Good Wind Deflection
  • Good Protection from rain
  • Only need 1 tree or anchor point

CONS

  • Not much room inside

4. Adirondack Configuration Tarp Shelter

adirondack

The odd name Adirondack is named after the Adirondack mountains. This design is basically a modified Lean-to that offers more protection from the sides, front and a small floor.

Start by laying the tarp out in a diamond shape. Add pegs to the second tie out loops on either side. This will leave a triangle shape above it that can be tucked inside

Pull out the 2 front corners and peg them inline with the back.

Attach the remaining two corners to the guy rope. This will leave a triangle shape on top.

Use another guy rope to attach the remaining triangle to the ground in front creating a small cover.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 2x Guy line
  • 6x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Hard

PROS

  • Good Protection from 3 sides
  • Floor protection

CONS

  • Complex design can take a few attempts to get right
  • Takes longer than other designs
  • requires 2 guy ropes

5. C-fly Wedge

C-fly-Wedge

Start by laying the tarp on the ground. Secure the tarp to the ground at the long side edge with 2-4 pegs

If you don’t have loop cords for the bottom fold you will need to use a an extra rope to pull the fold out.

You’ll need to make a ridge line between two trees and now fold the remaining tarp over the ridge line.

Secure the handing roof-line by tying down each edge to the ground.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 3x Guy line
  • 6x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Good Wind protection
  • Floor
  • Rain protection

CONS

  • Can sag
  • Unprotected from wind on 2 sides

6. Envelope Tarp Shelter Design

Envelope

The Envelope is another simple configuration that’s fairly easy to do.

This design is fast, offers good protection from the wind on one side as well as protection from the rain.

Start by finding two trees and a good place to setup. Tie the guy line between the two trees. You can also use 2 sticks or trekking poles instead of the rope.

Lay the tarp flat on the ground between the trees and peg the outside 2 corners.

On the other side use tie outs to secure the top to the guy line or poles.

Find the remaining crease and pull it to the ground. Secure with 2 more stakes.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 1x Guy line
  • 4x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Easy

PROS

  • Fast and easy to erect
  • Good wind protection from one side
  • Floor

CONS

  • No Protection from the wind on one side
  • Not the best protection from rain

7. Flat Roof Lean-To

Flat-Roof-Lean-To

The flat roof lean-to shelter is more challenging to make but offers more cover than the basic. The sloped side helps direct rain away from you.

You’ll need to either use 2 poles or tie a guy rope around 2 trees for the roof-line.

Throw the tarp over the roof-line and stake 2 corners into the ground.

On the other side use 2 sticks or poles to support the roof on each corner.

Use 2 guy lines on each corner of the roof and stake into the ground for added support.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 3x Guy line
  • 4x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • 2x Poles or Sticks
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Good shelter from the rain and sun
  • Good wind protection from one side
  • Rain run off on one side

CONS

  • No Floor
  • Only protects from wind on one side
  • Roof can sag from heavy rain.

8. Ground Tarp Sheet

ground-tarp

Depending on your location you may want a clean area to sit on. Can also be used inside a tarp tent such as an A-frame that has no ground cover.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 4x Stakes
  • Difficulty – Easy

PROS

  • Protection from mud and dirt
  • Simple to make

CONS

  • No protection from rain, water, wind or sun.

9. Half Box Shelter

half-box-shelter

The half box shelter offers 2 sides of protection against the wind and a cover to protect against the rain. It’s not the easiest configuration to erect and requires 4 poles or sticks of even length.

Start by folding the tarp in half. Peg in one corner first and one peg in the center to the ground. Now make a 90 degree angle and peg the other corner to the ground.

Wedge the poles or sticks into the ground on each corner.

Fold the tarp over to make the roof.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 4x Stakes
  • 4x Poles or Sticks
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Good shelter from the rain and sun
  • Good wind protection from two sides

CONS

  • Requires 4 poles or sticks
  • Roof can sag from heavy rain.
  • Can be tricky to make

10. Hammock Shelter / Diamond Tarp Setup

hammock-Diamond-Tarp-Setup

The Diamond tarp setup is a popular one for hammock shelters. The configuration provides very good protection from rain and wind. No floor is needed due to the suspended hammock.

You’ll need to find 2 trees the right distance apart depending on the size of hammock and tarp.

Tie the hammock and guy rope around the trees. Make sure there is enough distance between the tarp and hammock.

Fold over the tarp in a diamond shape so 2 corners are pointing to the ground.

Secure each corner to the ground using 2 guy lines and stakes.

If you have tie out loops available you can secure the top corners of the tarp to the guy lines to stop them moving.

 

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 3x Guy line
  • 2x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Good shelter from the rain, sun and wind
  • Relatively easy to build

CONS

  • Requires 3 guy lines

11. Plough-Point / Diamond Fly

Plough-point---Diamond-Fly

The Plough-point or diamond fly as its sometimes referred to is a fairly simple design that’s easy to setup.

It’s spacious enough to fit 2 people inside however you sacrifice a floor for the extra space.

Lay the tarp on the floor in a diamond shape and so the tip of the diamond is pointing the tree.

Hammer a stake and end of a guy line into the diamond tip that’s furthest from the tree.

Tie a guy line roughly 5ft around a tree at around a 45 degree angle.

Stake the other 2 corners into the ground.

 

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 1x Guy line
  • 3x Stakes
  • 1x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Good shelter from the rain, sun and wind
  • Good rain run off
  • Only needs one tree.

CONS

  • No Floor
  • No protection on one side

12. Rectangular Stall

rectangular-stall

The rectangular stall is similar to the flat roof lean-to design the only real difference is the flat side.

You can either use poles or guy lines tied to two trees for support.

Lay the tarp flat on the ground and mark the corners so you know where to place the poles.

Force the poles into the ground where marked.

Place the tarp over the poles and secure.

Stake the vertical side into the ground and use 2 ropes to secure the open side corners.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 2x Guy line
  • 4x Stakes
  • 4x Poles or Sticks
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Good shelter from the rain and sun
  • Good wind protection from one side

CONS

  • No Floor
  • Only protects from wind on one side
  • Roof can sag from heavy rain.

13. Ridge Line Lean-to

ridge-line-lean-to

The ridge line lean-to provides very good cover from the rain, sun and decent shelter from wind. However it doesn’t have a ground sheet so it’s not ideal for heavy weather.

It’s a fairly simple design but does require either poles or 2 trees for the roofline.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 3x Guy line
  • 4x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Good shelter from the rain and sun
  • Good wind protection from two sides
  • Good rain run off on 2 sides

CONS

  • No Floor
  • Not ideal for heavy rain and wind

14. Tortilla

tortilla

This ones named the tortilla due to its shape and it’s a fast and easy shelter to set up.

Use 2 guy lines on each corner of the roof and stake into the ground for added support.

You’ll need a pole or tree to tie the guy rope around at a height of 4-5ft.

Lay the tarp down in a diamond shape with one tip facing the tree.

Fold in half using the top half tip closest to the tree to tie the guy line.

Peg the far edge corners into the ground where the fold has been made.

Peg the bottom diamond tip into the ground.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 1x Guy line
  • 3x Stakes
  • 1x Tree or pole
  • Difficulty – Easy

PROS

  • Great protection from the wind on one side
  • Good protection from the sun
  • Easy to setup

CONS

  • Single side protection from sun and wind

15. Basic Fly Line Roof

Basic-Fly-Line-Roof

The basic fly line roof or Sunshade tarp as its sometimes know is perfect for creating shade and protection against the sun.

It can also be used for protection against the rain however in heavy rain the water can collect in the center making the roof sag.

The tarp will lay flat above your head using the guy ropes for support.

You can either use 4 trees with 2 guy lines or 4 poles for support.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 2x Guy line
  • 4x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Easy

PROS

  • Great shelter for the sun.
  • Easy to make

CONS

  • Requires 4 near by trees or poles
  • Not ideal for the rain
  • Can sag easily in the rain.
  • No protection from the wind

16. Basic Fly Roof Using Poles

Basic-Fly-poles-Roof

The basic fly roof is the same design as the sunshade shelter but uses poles with guy ropes instead.

The downside is you’ll have to bring the extra poles along with you or have access to long sticks or branches.

4 guy lines are needed to secure each corner and stop it falling over.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 4x Guy line
  • 4x Stakes
  • 4x Poles
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Great shelter from the sun.

CONS

  • Requires 4 poles or branches
  • Only protects from the sun and light rain
  • Heavy rain can collect in the center making it sag.

17. Body Bag

body-bag

The body bag tarp shelter or tube tent provides decent cover all round. It’s similar in shape to the A-frame however the body bag also has ground cover.

You give up space for the ground cover but this will be big enough for 1 large adult person.

You’ll need to hang the guy line between 2 trees slightly lower than normal. You can adjust the line height if you find it is to high.

Fold the tarp over the guy line and make sure opposite ends both meet on one side.

Secure each opposite end into the ground using stakes.

Stake the folded side into the ground to complete the shelter.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 1x Guy line
  • 4x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Good protection from the wind, rain and sun
  • Ground cover
  • Good rain run off on both sides.

CONS

  • Small size inside

18. Dining Fly

Dining-Fly

The dining fly is a popular design with good reason. It provides a lot of space, offers good shade and shelter from the rain.

Some downsides include the lack of wind protection and ground cover.

Depending on the size of the poles used will determine how much head room you will have.

There should be enough room underneath for a table and some chairs.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 6x Guy line
  • 6x Stakes
  • 2x Poles or Sticks
  • Difficulty – Hard

PROS

  • Good shelter from the rain and sun
  • Lots of room
  • Good rain run off

CONS

  • No Floor
  • Little protection from the wind

19. Forrester

forrester

The forrester is a relatively complex design but offers very good all around protection from the elements.

You also don’t need much gear and only a single tree or pole for the guy rope.

It’s almost the same design as the bivi bag cornet but with the added protection flaps at the opening.

A pole can be used to prop up the entrance instead of a guy rope.

 

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 1x Guy line
  • 3x Stakes
  • 1x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Hard

PROS

  • Great protection from rain, sun and wind.
  • Not much gear required to make

CONS

  • More complicated than other layouts
  • Can be fiddly to make

20. Half Cone Fly

Half-Cone-Fly

The half cone fly shelter offers very good protection all round as well. The low profile keeps out wind but reduces the amount of space inside.

Unlike other similar designs there is no ground protection.

 

 

 

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 3x Guy line
  • 3x Stakes
  • 1x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Good shelter from the rain and sun
  • Good wind protection

CONS

  • No Floor
  • Low profile means less room

21. Holden Tent

Holden-Tent

The Holden tarp tent is a simple but effective tarp shelter that’s easy and fast to make.

Ideal for a square shaped tarp but you can use other sizes.

Place the tarp on the ground and stake in the one of the long edges.

Find the center of the opposite long side. Place a pole under this point and raise.

Stake the front corners so they are angled inwards for maximum protection.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 4x Stakes
  • 1x  Pole
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Can be made quickly and easily
  • Good shelter from the rain and sun
  • Good wind protection
  • Limited gear required.

CONS

  • No Floor
  • No wind protection at the entrance

22. Partial Pyramid

Partial-Pyramid

The Partial pyramid design is not the easiest to make but offers good protection.

The diamond tipped pyramid shape allows the rain to drain off the edges and stops any sagging.

The shape also offers very good shelter from the winds on 2 sides.

 

 

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 4x Guy line
  • 6x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Hard

PROS

  • Good shelter from the rain and sun
  • Good wind protection from 2 sides
  • Good rain run off

CONS

  • Difficult to make
  • Requires more gear than other designs
  • Little protection at the entrance.

23. Sentry Box

sentry-box

The sentry box tarp shelter is similar to the half box shape however it offers protection from 3 sides.

You’ll need to find 4 trees close by or use 4 poles for the roof lines.

The amount of room and height will depend on the size of tarp you have. The design can be used for as a shelter for a camp toilet.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 2x Guy line
  • 4x Stakes
  • 4x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Good shelter from the rain and sun
  • Protection from winds on 3 sides
  • Can be used for a camping toilet shelter

CONS

  • Can blow out in high winds
  • no protection on one side.

24. Square Arch

square-arch

The square arch is a fairly simple design that can be made quickly.

Attach 2 guy ropes around 2 trees at about 3ft height depending on the size of the tarp.

Throw the tarp over the guy ropes and put 3 stakes into the ground on each side.

It’s a good idea to place one guy rope higher than the other to make an angled roof. This will allow water to run off. Otherwise the roof could start collecting rain and cause it to sag.

The shelter should be long enough and wide enough to fit 2 adults side by side.

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 2x Guy line
  • 6x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Moderate

PROS

  • Quick set up
  • Good shelter from the rain and sun
  • Good wind protection

CONS

  • No Floor
  • Might be hard to find correctly aligned trees

25. Toque Tent

Toque-Tent

The Toque tent tarp configuration is great for protection against rain wind and sun but lacks any ground cover. It is also one of the more complicated designs.

You’ll need two find to trees to tie the guy rope around or use 2 poles.

Make sure the tarps center tie out loop is attached to the roofline guy rope.

From the same center tie out also attach 2 more guy ropes and  thread them through the tie outs on the bottom corners as in the picture. Then stake these two ropes into the ground.

Stake the remaining three corners into the ground.

 

You’ll need at least the following:

  • 3x Guy line
  • 5x Stakes
  • 2x Trees or Poles
  • Difficulty – Hard

PROS

  • Good shelter from the rain, sun and wind.
  • Good all around rain run off.

CONS

  • No Floor
  • Can be complicated to make

Linked from: http://rollingfox.com/how-to-make-a-tarp-tent-with-designs?pp=1

4 Ways to Storm-proof Your Home

Throughout the year, especially in the spring and summer, you might experience severe storms at your home. Protect your home before severe weather arrives by walking around the home and making a list of what needs to be done. When you know what you need to fix, then you can begin to get the materials that are needed so that your family is protected.

Roofing

Check the shingles of the roof to make sure there aren’t any that are loose. If there are strong winds in the storm, then the shingles could get blown away. At times, the roof could receive damage to the point that there are small holes, which would allow water to get inside the home. When you’re checking the roof, it’s best to check the gutters as well to make sure they are clear of debris, allowing water to drain. If your roof needs repairs, be sure to consult a roofing and construction professional.

Trees

Keep limbs of trees and hedges cleared away from the sides of the home, windows and the roof. You should also check with the electrical company to see if limbs can be cut away from power lines. If a tree limb, or tree, were to fall in the direction of the home or near a line, then it could prove disastrous as windows could be broken, and power could be lost. Any dead trees should be cut down as they are the weakest in the yard and the easiest to blow over.

Shutters and Doors

Make sure the windows and doors are supported. Qualified construction companies can install shutters on the windows to help decrease the possibilities of debris flying into the home during a severe storm. Ordinary glass windows usually don’t withstand against harsh winds the way storm-proof windows can. Doors can also be reinforced with a second storm door to provide a bit of protection if hail, rain, or debris does get blown into the front of the home.

The Extras

One of the things that you might not think about right before a storm is that there are toys and other items outside that can get tossed in the air. Keep all of the loose items, such as water hoses, toys and gardening tools, in a secure area. This could be a storage shed or a small plastic container that is secured to the ground.

Before storm season arrives is the time to make sure the home is protected. Examine the windows to see that they are reinforced. Check the roof as well as the limbs on the trees to minimize damage. Keep the little things put away so that they aren’t blown into the side of the home. These tips can help keep your home and family safe.

How to Bug Proof Your Hammock by Serac Hammocks

With the sun shining once again, it’s about time to dust off that hammock. Oh, you don’t have one? Didn’t you hear? Hammock camping is the new thing. It’s lighter, cozier, and way cooler than any other sleeping method around. Snark aside, hammocks are on the rise, and this has furthered a new crop of hammock-related questions.

One of the most common: What about bugs?

We got in touch with Jeff Zhang of Serac Hammocks, who wrote a guest post for us on how to bug proof your hammock. Serac Hammocks sells just one type of hammock — the Classic, which is lightweight, knot-free, and a screaming deal. The company is dead set on increasing awareness about hammock camping, and recently released a free e-book that describes everything about the process. We covered that here.

How to Bug Proof Your Hammock

As the weather gets warmer and the temperature rises, mosquitoes come out to play. Mosquitoes are completely inactive in the winter, hibernating through the cold months. But once the temperature warms, the mosquitoes begin to come out in force. I hate mosquitoes, but they sure as heck love me. To keep my undesired suitors at bay, I always make sure I’m properly equipped to bug proof my hammocks. Here are a couple ways to make your next trip sucker free.

Get a Jungle Hammock

A jungle hammock is a style of hammock that features a built in mosquito net. These hammocks provide full protection even in the buggiest conditions. They are often sold as complete shelters and can run several hundred dollars.

A cheaper alternative to a jungle hammock are parachute hammocks with a built in mosquito net. These hammocks are essentially the same as the popular parachute nylon camping hammocks, but with an attached bug net. These hammocks can also be used as a normal hammock by flipping it over, making it a versatile choice. This way, you can just hang out without being constricted within the net.

But watch out for low quality netting. A net that feels soft and lightweight might be comfortable to to the touch, but they will tear easily. A single hole in your netting can make it all but useless. Instead opt for a bug net that has strong individual fibers with a more textured feel.

Use a Mosquito Net Designed for Hammocks

If you aren’t looking to buy a new hammock just to fight some mosquitoes, you can still find great protection for your hammock. Many types of netting exist that are designed specifically for your hammock. The concept for all of them is essentially the same. The hammock is strung through the mosquito net through two openings on each end. The mosquito net is suspended with a ridgeline above the hammock. You can get in and out of the mosquito net through a zipper on one side.

A separate mosquito net provides 360 degrees of protection for your hammock. Unlike a built in mosquito net, a separate mosquito net will prevent insects from landing on the outer layer of the hammock itself. This reduces the chance of persistent critters biting through the fabric. This ridgeline style setup is also very easy to master.

Treat your Hammock and Gear with Permethrin

Sometimes we just want to sleep under the stars without a net obstructing our view. If you don’t want to fumble with a bug net, you can treat your equipment with permethrin. Permethrin is a synthetic molecule that is similar to pyrethrum, a natural compound found in chrysanthemum flowers. Permethrin not only repels insects, but it will kill ticks, mosquitoes and all sorts of other buggers on contact. It is the active ingredient in many insect repelling fabrics. It kills insects that come in contact with it by overloading their nervous system. But for us, don’t worry, it’s nontoxic and completely safe for topical use on anyone over the age of 2 months.

You can buy spray bottles of permethrin to apply to your own gear. Once properly applied, it is odorless and leaves no residue. A hammock treated with permethrin combined with insect repellent makes a powerful mosquito shield. This is great for people that are weight conscious about their gear or simply don’t want a mosquito net. Keep in mind that permethrin has “spatial repellency” to insects. This means that mosquitoes may swarm around you, but they will not land on a hammock that has been treated.

Use Natural Mosquito Repellents and Camp Away from Water

The easiest way to avoid mosquitoes is to set up camp far away from where they are likely to be. Mosquitoes tend to swarm around water sources where the females lays her eggs. Campsites that are far away from rivers and lakes will have a much lower concentration of mosquitoes. Having a hammock gives you plenty of options for campsites. However, this will only reduce the overall number of mosquitoes. It’s very hard to completely be rid of them.

Natural insect repellents exist also exist, but are less effective than netting or chemicals. Natural oils like citronella are effective mosquito repellents. You can apply these to your skin before camping in your hammock. Drinking a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar can also reduce the amount of mosquito bites you’ll encounter.

Don’t Let the Mosquitoes Stop You!

All of this is our best advice, but keep in mind that when we’re outdoors, mosquitoes are often a fact of life. But just because they’re buzzing around, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy a trip into the wild! Whether you get a mosquito proof hammock or simply modify your existing one, hammock without fear the next time you’re out.

A Modular Camper That Takes One Person, One Hour, And One Screwdriver To Put Together

Don’t have space to store a travel trailer? What if you could assemble your RV only when needed? The Tail Feather modular camper lets you do just that.

Lawrence Drake created the Tail Feather Camper Kit because he wanted to have a camper that wouldn’t take up space in the driveway or garage when it wasn’t in use. Designed as a modular camper, this build-it-yourself product uses multiple panels to allow assembly on a standard-sized utility trailer.

The Tail Feather Camper – a modular camper that can be taken apart and stored when not in use.

The camper/utility-trailer combination weighs around 1,000 lbs., making it easy to tow with an SUV or family car. There are four different models that fit utility trailers between the sizes of 5’ x 8’ and 5’ x 10’. When assembled, the camper’s living space is 6’ 1” wide by 8’ 4” to 10’ 1” wide depending on the model with an interior height of 6’ 2”.

One person can easily put together the camper panels to build the camper in an hour’s time using just a screwdriver.

Each panel weighs no more than 35 lbs., making it easy to handle and they nest together to minimize space when stored.

There’s enough space inside the modular camper to seat four at the dinette and sleep two when converted into a full size bed.

The panels are insulated and the kit comes with a floor liner to keep the camper dry and dust free. Included are a dinette/full size bed, removable cabinets made of canvas, windows that can be moved around, a roof that has skylights and vents, and a counter with a sink and faucet.

The kit also comes with 2 LED ceiling lights and one power panel that has a 120 V AC/12 V DC 15 amp supply. All the interior furnishings can quickly be collapsed and removed when needed.

Two of the models have doors on the side while the other two models have double rear doors.

The models that have the rear doors can easily be converted into a toy hauler to load a motorcycle, ATV, or bicycles when the furniture is removed.

Or use the panels to create a modular, stationary shelter.

The company also produces Quite Lite Shelters, which is a conversion kit that transforms the Tail Feather campers into a standalone shelter. The kit includes a special doorframe, additional wall panels (to increase the size of the camper), and an extra roof section.

Drake hopes that the shelters can be used as an ice fishing hut, shelter for backcountry skiing, or even emergency housing. The Quite Lite Shelter comes in one model which sits on a base of 8’ 4” x 15’ 6” and the space above the knee height is 9’ 6” x 16’ 6”.

As of May 2016, Teal International, the maker of the Tail Feather modular camper, is currently reorganizing, but hopes to have product available soon.

The 26 Best Places to Pitch a Tent in the U.S.

After a day spent wandering wooded paths, admiring breathtaking vistas, and dipping your toes into a crystal clear creek, you huddle around a campfire to peer up at the glowing stars and enjoy a few (hundred) s’mores. Ahh, peace and quiet! Then you zip up into your tent for a few (mosquito-free) hours, and wake to the birds chirping and the faint hint of early morning sunlight. This is what camping is all about.

In honor of the National Park Service’s 99th birthday, we rounded up the best places to camp in the country. You’ll learn the coolest features of each natural wonderland, how much it costs, and the best time of year to visit. So gather up your tent, bear-proof containers, and a few good friends for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. (The list is organized by location.)

The Northeast

1. Acadia National Park, Maine

Why It’s Cool: Maine is known as The Pine Tree State for a reason: It’s covered in 17 million acres of forest. Plus it has 6,000 lakes and ponds and 32,000 miles of rivers and streams—basically, a camper’s paradise. Located on Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park is the ideal destination for nature lovers of all skill levels. Looking for a unique experience? Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain (the highest point along the east coast) just before sunrise and be the first person in the U.S. to see the sun that morning.

Where to Camp: The park has two campgrounds: Blackwoods (closer to the island’s town center, Bar Harbor) and Seawall (a more rustic, less touristy environment). While visitors can enjoy hiking throughout the entire park, camping is only allowed in these designated areas (backcountry enthusiasts, take note).

When It’s Open: Blackwoods campground is open year-round (permit required December to March). Seawall is open from late May through September.

Fee: Blackwoods costs $30 per site, per night from May to October; $10 in April and November; and it’s free from December to March. Seawall will set you back $22 for a walk-in site and $30 for drive-up tent, camper, and motor home sites.

2. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for a more rustic experience in the Northeast, the White Mountains are your best bet. The hiking’s pretty rugged in this section of the Appalachian range, but totally worth it if you’re up for the challenge. The sights here are particularly stunning in the fall, when the foliage turns to all shades of red, orange, and yellow.

Where to Camp: While the forest does have 24 drive-in campgrounds (with a combined 800 campsites—wowza!), the eight walk-in state park campgrounds in the northern part of the state are really what camping’s all about. Developed campsites require reservations. Backcountry tent camping is also allowed (except in noted no-camping areas); there are also log lean-tos scattered throughout the forest (a small fee may apply).

3. Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont

Why It’s Cool: Vermont’s Long Trail is one of the Green Mountain State Park‘s biggest draws, so try finding a camping spot close by to hike a portion of it during your stay. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, the 270-plus-mile trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the U.S.! It follows the ridge of the Green Mountains through Vermont from the Massachusetts border to Canada.

Where to Camp: The forest offers five developed campgrounds. There are no electrical hookups or dump stations, so arrive prepared. Campground accessibility varies by season. Dispersed or back country camping is allowed anywhere in the park unless specifically posted.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center and campground accessibility vary by season, but one campground is always open all year.

Cost: The best part? There are no entrance fees, and most of the campsites are free too. The Green Mountain Club maintains about 70 campsites along The Long Trail, all with a water source and privy, for which GMC caretakers will come by to charge a small fee during the summer and fall.

When It’s Open: Forest accessible year-round. Visitor center hours vary.

Cost: Daily passes to the park are available for $3; seven-day passes available for $5. Campsites vary from $18 to $24 per night, while backcountry tent camping is free. Parking at a trailhead may require a permit; check signage at your chosen lot.

The Mid-Atlantic

4. Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania

Why It’s Cool: Located in south-central Pennsylvania, this scenic park sits at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains in an area known as South Mountain (confusing, we know). The Appalachian Trail, perhaps the most famous foot trail in the world, runs through the forest, which is home to the trail’s halfway point. While only 2,000 people attempt to hike the whole 2,186-mile trail each year (about a quarter actually finish), between 2 and 3 million people hike or walk a portion of it. Whether you cover two miles or 20, it’s still cool to say you’ve done it! Have some time after the hike? Check out the Appalachian Trail Museum, located near the midpoint of the AT.

Where to Camp: The forest has a mix of 70 tent and trailer sites (mostly rustic) available from late March to mid-December. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Backpacking and overnight hikes are not permitted. Electric and water hook-ups are available for a fee at specific sites.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Campgrounds open from April through December.

Cost: No entrance fee. Backpacking or river camping ranges from $4 to $5 per night, while basic campsites start at $15 per night.

5. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Why It’s Cool: If you love beaches and camping, this is the spot for you. Assateague is a barrier island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia covered in sandy beaches, salt marshes, forests, and costal bays. There’s even a community of wild horses (how exotic!). Enjoy relaxing on the 37 miles of beach or hiking by day, and buckle down your tent right by (er, a safe distance from) the crashing waves for a night under the stars.

Where to Camp: Camping is only allowed on the Maryland side of the island at two oceanside and four bayside camping areas. From October 16­ through April 14, the sites are first-come, first-served. Two campsites are also open for horse camping during this time (for a fee of $50 per night). From April 15 through October 15, reservations can be made up to six months in advance. Backcountry camping is allowed ($10, seven-day permit required), but it’s only accessible by backpacking or water.

When It’s Open: Year-round; visitor center and ranger station hours vary from season to season.

Cost: $20 vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Campsite fee is $30 per night depending on season and location.

The West Coast

6. Yosemite National Park, California

Why It’s Cool: Nearly 95 percent of this breathtaking park is designated wilderness—meaning no cars, no structures, no roads, and no electricity. After a night spent under the stars, hike up to Glacier Point, which overlooks the park’s famous Yosemite Valley, Half Dome (a rock structure revered among climbers), and the High Sierra peaks. The Four Mile Trail route takes about three to four hours each way. Looking for even more of a challenge? The Panorama Trail is about twice as long.

Where to Camp: There are 13 popular campgrounds scattered throughout the park, and reservations are strongly recommended from April to September. But seven campgrounds operate on a first-come first-served basis year-round. Backcountry camping is also allowed, but requires a free wilderness permit (which can be reserved ahead of time).

When It’s Open: Park open year round. Campgrounds vary by season.

Cost: $30 per vehicle for a seven-day pass ($25 from November to March). Campsites range from $6 to $26 per night.

7. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Why It’s Cool: We know, camping in the desert doesn’t sound like so much fun (hello, sunburn). But the nearly 800,000-acre Joshua Tree National Park is so much more than just desert. The park sits at the intersection of two very different ecosystems: To the east is the low-lying Colorado Desert; to the west lies the slightly higher, cooler, wetter Mojave Desert (home to the park’s namesake, the Joshua tree). The park also has ten mountain peaks higher than 5,000 feet in elevation, making it a popular rock climbing destination. (Just be sure you know what you’re doing first.)

Where to Camp: The park is home to nine established campgrounds. Some campsites require reservations for October through May. The rest of the sites are first-come, first-served. Backcountry camping is allowed, but campers must register in advance at a designated backcountry registration board.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center and campground status vary by season.

Cost: $20 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes are available for $30 and national passes are accepted. Camping costs $15 per site per night without water, or $20 with potable water available.

8. Olympic National Park, Washington

Why It’s Cool: You’ll encounter three different ecosystems in one park, including a rainforest. Head to the Quinault Rainforest (one of only three in the western hemisphere) to see the largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world. There’s a 30-mile road that loops through the rainforest, but we think hiking’s a better option. End your trip at Ruby Beach, where you can see mountains, glaciers, and rainforests right from the shoreline—or at La Push, the northernmost beach in Washington, where you can see whales off the coast during migration season.

Where to Camp: The park has 16 National Park Service-operated campgrounds with a total of 910 sites. Backcountry camping is allowed, but a permit ($5) is required (reservations are also sometimes required). If you’re not a tent enthusiast, stay in one of the rustic lodges open year-round.

When It’s Open: Park is open year-round. Camping availability varies, but there are some primitive sites open year-round.

Cost: $20 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Campground fees range from $15 to $22 per night depending on season and location. A wilderness camping permit is required for back country camping: $5 per person, per night.

The Mountain States

9. Zion National Park, Utah

Why It’s Cool: With massive sandstone cliffs, brilliant blue skies, and a plethora of plants and animals, this almost otherworldly park is truly a national treasure. After spending the night in the woods, hike the Kolob Canyons in the northwest corner of the park. The five-mile and 14-mile trails make perfect four- or eight- hour trips. The longer trail takes you to Kolob Arch, one of the largest (and most remote) natural arches in the world. If you’re traveling in the summer and score a permit ($5), exploring The Subway, a unique tunnel structure sculpted by a creek, is an unparalleled experience.

Where to Camp: The park has three established campgrounds, which are full every night during summer. Wilderness permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips and can be issued the day before or day of your trip (or reserved up to three months in advance). Before you go, be sure to read through the Zion wilderness guide.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Some services and facilities may reduce hours or close at some point during the year.

Cost: $30 per vehicle for a recreational seven-day pass. Wilderness permits are $10 to $20 depending on the size of the group. Campsite fees range from free to $16 per night.

10. Glacier National Park, Montana

Why It’s Cool: Featuring over 700 miles of trails through forests, meadows, and mountains, this park is a dream come true for hikers. You may have heard of Going-to-the-Sun-Road, a 50-mile road that winds through the mountains, but that’s only fun if you’re in a car. To experience the majestic beauty on foot, head to Logan Pass and Many Glacier  (there are several trails to choose from, many of which offer spectacular views of alpine lakes, as well as a campground nearby).

Where to Camp: There are 13 developed campgrounds with a whopping 1,009 established sites. Most operate on a first-come first-served basis, except for three that require reservations. Backcountry camping is also allowed, but a backcountry permit is required and you may only camp in designated campgrounds. (See the Back country guide for details.)

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor facilities open from late May through early September.

Cost: Summer entrance fees are $25 per car for seven days ($15 in winter). Annual and national passes are also available. Campsites vary from $10 to $23 per night during the summer season.

11. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Why It’s Cool: Located just north of Jackson Hole, WY, Grand Teton is home to a number of impressive Rocky Mountain peaks, majestic lakes, and incredible wildlife. There are a ton of hiking trails ranging from easy to very strenuous, so you can choose your own adventure based on how you’re feeling that day.

Where to Camp: Stay at one of the five campgrounds in the park (Signal Mountain earns enthusiastic reviews). All back country camping requires a permit, which is free and available to walk-ins on a first-come first-served basis. (You may also be able to register online depending on the time of year, but it will cost you $25.)

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center hours vary by season, but one visitor center will always be open year-round.

Cost: $30 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. All entrance fees are valid at both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. In the winter, there is a winter day-use fee of $5. Some national passes are also accepted. Campground fees are $22 per night, per site.

12. Arches National Park, Utah

Why It’s Cool: It’s a red rock wonderland with more than 2,000 natural stone arches, offering a variety of easy, moderate, and long trails. One of the most popular, the Delicate Arch trail, takes you to the spectacular arch of the same name (don’t miss the Instagram-worthy photo op!). Or take a ranger-guided hike through the Fiery Furnace, an area of sandstone canyons with no marked trailheads.

Where to Camp: The park has one developed campground, The Devils Garden Campground , with 50 campsites. Reserve in advance during the busy season (March to October), but there are also campgrounds located outside the park in the Moab area. Since the park is relatively small, there’s little land for backpacking. To do so, you need a free permit, and you should know what you’re doing (be able to read a topographic map, identify safety hazards, etc.).

When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center is open every day except Christmas (hours change based on season).

Cost: Beginning October 1, 2015, a seven-day pass will cost $25 per vehicle (it’s currently $10). Annual passes also available.

The Southwest

13. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Why It’s Cool: Do you really need a reason? It’s the freakin’ Grand Canyon. The South Rim is more popular, accessible, and busier, while the North Rim is harder to get to, but offers a more secluded stay (and is actually in Utah). Both areas are gorgeous, so you really can’t go wrong. Back country hiking is one of the most popular activities, but it can be super tough (yet equally rewarding)—be prepared for a demanding hike that will test your mental and physical prowess. Whitewater rafting trips on the Colorado river are also crowd-pleasers.

Where to Camp: Reservations are recommended for two of the three developed campgrounds during the summer. Backcountry camping is also allowed with a permit.

When It’s Open: The South Rim is open year-round, but some facilities will close during winter. The North Rim is open mid-May through mid-October.

Cost: $30 per private vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes also available. Campground fees start at $12 per night.

14. Big Bend National Park, Texas

Why It’s Cool: The Rio Grande river runs right through Big Bend, so rafting, canoeing, and kayaking trips are an incredible way to experience the park. If staying dry is more your style, the park is packed with trails covering desert, mountain, and river terrain for day hikes or backpacking trips. One popular desert hike is Devil’s Den, a moderate 5.6-mile trip along the rim of and down into a limestone slot canyon. Another beautiful hike is the Santa Elena Canyon trail, a moderate 1.7 mile round-trip hike that provides both top-down and bottom-up views of the canyon. Oh, and don’t forget to look up at night: The park’s remote location provides gorgeous views of the starry sky.

Where to Camp: The park operates three developed campgrounds. You can find primitive roadside campsites for backcountry camping scattered throughout the park.

When It’s Open: Year-round.

Cost: $25 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes also available. Developed campgrounds fees are $14 per site, per night, while backcountry campsites require a $12 permit.

15. Carson National Forest, New Mexico

Why It’s Cool: Surprise: New Mexico is not all desert! Carson National Forest offers relatively cool summer temps as well as a great environment for fishing, hunting, camping, and hiking. In the winter, there’s even enough snow for skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Hike the 16-mile round trip up to New Mexico’s highest peak, Mt. Wheeler, for a challenging but rewarding adventure.

Where to Camp: You’ll find 35 established camping areas scattered throughout the park. Backcountry camping is also allowed. Langua Larga offers four campsites right on the water’s edge and many good areas for dispersed camping (camping anywhere outside a developed campsite) a bit farther from the lake.

When It’s Open: Forest is accessible year-round. Campgrounds vary by season and location.

Cost: No entrance fee. Campsite prices range from free to $30, depending on location, time of year, and group size.

The Midwest

16. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Why It’s Cool: It’s a tough climate to trek through—but the scenery is absolutely beautiful. Between a variety of rock formations lies a mixture of tall- and short-grass prairies. And be on the lookout for fossils: The Badlands have one of the most complete fossil accumulations  in North America, providing a glimpse into the area’s ancient ecosystems. The park is also ideal for stargazing and even hosts an astronomy festival in early August.

Where to Camp: There are two campgrounds in the park: Cedar Pass Campground has some amenities (running water, electricity, etc.). Sage Creek Campground is primitive (bison often wander through!) without water on-site. Permits are not required for backcountry camping, but you do need and register before heading out.

When It’s Open: Park and campgrounds are open year-round.

Cost: $15 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual and national passes also available. Campsites at Cedar Pass Campground are $13 per night, per site; $30 per night, per site with electrical hook-ups. Sage Creek campsites are free.

17. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Why It’s Cool: This park offers something different every season: Summer and spring are perfect for water activities; fall turns the park into a hiking paradise; and winter calls to cross-country skiers, snow-shoers and snowmobilers, and ice fishers. The park is composed of mostly water, so for those entering the park without their own vessel, guided boat tours are a popular activity (make sure to reserve in advance!). There are also a wide variety of hiking trails, accessible by both car and boat.

Where to Camp: The park features 220 free, designated campsites, but all are accessible only by water. They’re available on a first-come, first-served basis. Backcountry camping is also allowed anywhere in the park (unless otherwise stated).

When It’s Open: Year-round; visitor center hours vary by season.

Cost: Entrance is free, but there’s a $10 daily fee for private boating. No charge or reservations for individual campsites, but a free permit is required.

18. Ludington State Park, Michigan

Why It’s Cool: This 5,300-acre park is sandwiched right between two lakes (Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan) in western Michigan. You’ll find everything from sand dunes and shoreline to marshlands and forest, plus eight separate trails covering 21.5 miles. Canoeing offers gorgeous, up-close views of the water, and you can also bike on the designated 2-mile trail.

Where to Camp: Choose from three modern campgrounds with a total of 355 campsites featuring showers and bathrooms, plus three mini-cabins. There are also 10 remote sites in a hike-in only campground.

When It’s Open: Year-round, but camping is only allowed mid-May to late November.

Cost: $11 fee to purchase the required Michigan State Park Recreation Passport.

19. Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin

Why It’s Cool: There’s something for everyone at this park—recreation options  include an 18-hole golf course, volleyball courts, boating, hiking, or simply enjoying the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. Eight miles of shoreline (right on Green Bay) call to water lovers and boaters, while miles of bike trails make for a more rigorous workout before spending the night under the stars.

Where to Camp: The park has five campgrounds with a mix of electric- and non-electric sites. Reservations are recommended. Backcountry camping is not allowed.

When It’s Open: Year-round from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (except for campers, who are obviously allowed to stay overnight).

Cost: A vehicle admission sticker is required for park entry. Daily stickers are available for $7 (with WI license plates) or $10 (for out-of-towners), while annual stickers are available for $25 or $35.

20. Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Why It’s Cool: Fun fact: The Ozarks served as the setting for “Where the Red Fern Grows,” and as the home of the (fictional) Beverly Hillbillies family. Here you’ll find more than 200 camping and picnic sites, nine swimming beaches, thousands of acres of lakes and steams, and 400 miles of hiking trails. The 218-mile Ozark Highlands Trail is one of the best known hikes, but the amazing living cave systems at Blanchard Springs are also a draw.

Where to Camp: The park offers space for everything from RV to tent camping thanks to 23 developed campgrounds (a combined 320 sites). Primitive camping is also allowed almost anywhere in the forest, unless there’s a sign stating otherwise.

When It’s Open: Forest accessible year-round. Some campsites are open year-round as well; others are only open May through October.

Cost: No entrance fee. A number of campsites in the forest will charge a fee for camping, but many don’t. Camping fees can vary from free to $19 per night, per site.

21. Everglades National Park, Florida

Why It’s Cool: This park is the third largest in the lower 48 states, covering 2,400 square miles—so you definitely won’t get bored, especially with a wide range of hiking trails, campgrounds, and ample opportunities for biking. You can also canoe and kayak even farther into the park’s mangrove forests, freshwater marshes, and the Florida Bay. If you’ve had enough of doing the work yourself, check out one of the guided tours. And keep an eye out for rare wildlife species, including manatees, alligators, crocodiles, dolphins, and even the endangered Florida panther.

Where to Camp: The park has two drive-in campgrounds (reservations are recommended at Flamingo Campground). Most back country campsites ($10 permit required) are only reachable by canoe, kayak, boat, or particularly adventurous hikers.

When It’s Open: Year-round, all day, every day. Yep, 24/7.

Cost: $10 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Campsite fee varies from $16 to $30, based on location.

22. Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Why It’s Cool: There are hundreds of different trails throughout the Hemlocks region, offering a diverse range of hikes and backpacking opportunities. Just an hour from Asheville, NC, the Pisgah Forest is known as the “Land of the Waterfalls” (guess why), so any trail you choose, regardless of difficulty, will provide ample opportunities to check out some gorgeous falls. The forest also contains four long-distance trails, including portions of the Appalachian Trail and the Mountains to Sea Trail. The Art Loeb Trail  is one of the toughest (30.1 miles) in the forest but also one of the most popular. There are plenty of campsites along the trail too, making it a great path for a weekend backpacking trip.

Where to Camp: Check out the park’s camping guide to find out which sites are first-come, first-served and which require reservations. Dispersed camping is only allowed at one of the forest’s designated camping areas.

When It’s Open: Forest is accessible year-round. Campground availability varies by season.

Cost: No general entrance fee. Campsite cost varies by location. Some passes and permits may be required, depending on activity.

23. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Why It’s Cool: D.C.-area readers, get packing: Just 75 miles from your metropolis is the perfect natural escape. The park contains more than 500 miles of trails, some leading to magnificent viewpoints or waterfalls, and others through miles of quiet, peaceful wilderness. Regardless, there will be a hike you’ll enjoy. The eight-mile hike to Old Rag Mountain is the toughest route in the park (and also one of the most popular), and rewards hikers with spectacular views from its peak.

Where to Camp: The park’s four campgrounds are open in spring, summer, and fall. Reservations at any site are recommended, but some first-come first-served spots may be available. Back country camping requires a free permit.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Portions of road are closed during bad weather and at night during deer hunting season (mid-November through early January). Visitor services are typically open only from March through November.

Cost: Entrance fee is $20 per vehicle, valid for seven days.

24. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Why It’s Cool: America’s most-visited national park is known for its variety of animals and plants, serene mountain vistas, and storied past: More than 70 structures still remain from the prehistoric era, and the park now contains the largest collection of historic log buildings in the eastern U.S. The park is also packed with waterfalls, all of which make for perfect day hikes.

Where to Camp: The park has 10 campgrounds, all with running water and toilets (score!). Only one campground requires reservations; the rest are first-come first-served. Back country camping  is allowed at designated sites, but a permit and advance reservations are required.

When It’s Open: Year-round. Some roads, campgrounds, and visitor facilities close in winter, but Cades Cove and Smokemont campgrounds are open year-round.

Cost: No entrance fees. Campsite fees range from $14 to $23 per night, and backcountry permit fees are $4 per person per night with a maximum charge of $20 per person.

Alaska

25. Denali National Park, Alaska

Why It’s Cool: Six million acres of open land? Check. Unbelievable wildlife? Check. Trails to please even the most experienced of hikers? Check. It doesn’t get cooler than Denali—literally. The central draw to the park (especially for mountaineers) is Denali itself, known as Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest peak. Still, the park offers hikes for pros and beginners alike: Most trails start near the visitor center and are considered easy to moderate in difficulty. A few trails start deeper in the park, beyond the first three miles of the access road. Be sure to do your research before embarking on any backcountry camping trip here—this park is not for the inexperienced.

Where to Camp: The park has six established campgrounds with a combined 291 sites and also allows backcountry camping with a (free) permit. Riley Creek is the only campground reachable by car (and requires a minimum three-night stay to reduce traffic). The other two sites are only reachable by bus. One campground is also open year-round, and no fees are charged in winter.

When It’s Open: It depends on the weather in a given year. Parts of the park are open year-round, but generally, the park opens to private vehicles starting in mid-April. Summer bus service begins May 20 and operates through the second week after Labor Day. Fall and winter may bring some road closures, but there’s still plenty to do in the park, from skiing to dog mushing.

Cost: $10 entrance fee per person, valid for seven days. Annual and national passes are also available and accepted.

26. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Why It’s Cool: Glacier Bay National Park is mostly water: The bay itself serves as the passageway to the inner section of the park, which is (awesomely enough) a glacier. After spending the night under the stars, try cruising the bay on a tour, charter, or private boat. There are no marked trails in the park, so backpacking is more strenuous here than elsewhere. Rafting one of the park’s two rivers is a great alternative that allows campers to easily tow supplies—but make sure you’re with someone who knows what they’re doing. Park rangers also lead a variety of tours and talks every day during the summer.

Where to Camp: The park has only one campground, in Bartlet Cove, which has outhouses, a warming shelter, and safe food storage. Permits are free but required for campgrounds and backcountry from May 1 through September 30.

When It’s Open: Year-round, but accessibility and services are very limited in winter. Visitor center is open from late May through early September.

Cost: The best news? No entrance fees or camping fees for private visitors! Reservations are required for boating, camping, rafting, and other visitor services.

Keep your home safe from bugs after a hurricane

Floods and high winds are normally associated with hurricanes. People board up their homes and seal their basements in order to stay safe from these threats. They emerge after the storm hoping the worst is over. But there is another threat most people don’t consider. This threat comes after the hurricane has come and gone. The standing bodies of water left by the hurricane are prime breeding grounds for pests.

Floods and high winds are normally associated with hurricanes. People board up their homes and seal their basements in order to stay safe from these threats. They emerge after the storm hoping the worst is over. But there is another threat most people don’t consider. This threat comes after the hurricane has come and gone. The standing bodies of water left by the hurricane are prime breeding grounds for pests.

Some of the most common bugs that become a problem after a hurricane include mosquitos, cockroaches, and carpenter ants. Each of these bugs presents their own set of problems. They also require separate strategies to prevent and reduce the amount of damage they cause.

Mosquitos

There are a lot of mosquitos after a hurricane. There is plenty of water for them to lay their eggs and multiply. Mosquitos can be annoying. They cause small, itchy bumps on our skin. But they can also be dangerous. Mosquitos can carry a broad range of diseases. This is why is important to know how to keep them away from your home after a hurricane. If you don’t take proper measures to keep mosquitos away, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk. There are several simple methods you can use to keep these pests away.

The first one is kind of cool, and most people don’t know about it. You can use coffee grounds to keep mosquitos away. This is your first line of defense. Sprinkle coffee grounds in any standing water around your house. The coffee grounds will force the eggs to the surface of the water, and they will not be able to survive.

You can also make traps. Cut a water bottle in half. Fill the bottom half with water and brown sugar. Turn the top half upside down and use it as a funnel. Place these around your house. They will attract and trap the mosquitoes inside.

Cockroaches

The risk of a cockroach infestation is worse after a hurricane. It’s important to protect yourself from them because they can carry diseases. There are some things you can do to prevent these bugs from invading your home. Keep all food in sealed containers. Keeping your windows and doors sealed and well-maintained will go a long way in preventing cockroaches from gaining access to your house. But these seals could be damaged during the hurricane. Keeping your home as clean as possible will greatly reduce the odds of your home being infested.

But what do you do if you already have cockroaches? You can start by fixing all water leaks in your house. Cockroaches can only live up to seven days without water. Cockroaches lay eggs all over your house, including your carpet so make sure to use carpet cleaners often. Make sure to ask if they have experience dealing with cockroaches. This is important because you if you don’t remove all the eggs, your home will be infested again.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are a serious concern after a hurricane. They infest your home, and they are hard to get rid of. They burrow their way into your walls and destroy your wood furniture. Poisonous bait is a great way to get rid of carpenter ants. They will pick up the bait and share it with their nest.

But what if the damage has already been done? You will need to find and remove any damaged wood. Your walls might need to be repaired. Cabinets are also a prime target. Make sure to use cabinet refinishers to avoid any infestation problems. They will be able to repair the damage caused by the carpenter ants and leave your cabinets looking good as new.

Final Thoughts

The best way to protect yourself from bugs after a hurricane is to take preventive measures ahead of time. Unfortunately, all the planning in the world cannot prevent infestations 100% of the time. When you notice mosquitos, ants, or cockroaches, you need to act before they spread.

If you know a hurricane is coming, stock up on supplies. Be ready with coffee grounds and containers to seal your food. These steps will help you stay safe from bugs after a hurricane.