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Build a Bamboo Survival Bow in 30 Minutes

Bamboo has been used for millennia to make fine bows. It is tough, straight grained, very flexible, and easy to work. Bamboo is used for backing on many traditional laminated bows. This bow is neither fine, nor traditional, nor laminated; but it is quick and easy to make, and it works.

To build this bow you will need a nice large cane of bamboo. The walls of the cane should be at least three-eights of an inch thick, and the cane need s to be about five or six feet long. Pictured below: Bamboo for bow making

Use a hatchet, or heavy knife to split the cane in half. Pictured below: top, Splitting bamboo; bottom, two pieces of the split cane

Now take one of the pieces of bamboo and use your hatchet or knife to split off the sides and narrow the part that you will use to about two inches in width. Pictured below: top, Splitting off sides; bottom, two inch wide stave

Use you hatchet and knife to shape the front profile of the bow. It should be about two inches wide in the middle and taper to about one inch on the tips. Pictured below: top, Shaping bow with the hatchet; middle, tapering the limbs; bottom, finished profile

Next you can use your knife to carve a couple of notches in each end for the bowstring. Pictured below: Carving notches

Now it’s time to make the handle. Cut a stick that is about an inch to an inch-and-a-half in diameter and about a foot long. Taper the ends of the stick as shown below. Pictured below: tapering the handle stick

Carve out any joints in the area where the handle will rest then test the fit of the handle. Pictured below: top, carving out a joint; bottom, handle resting in place in the cane

If the handle fits you can take some cordage and wrap the handle to secure it in place. In the illustration below I am using some yucca cordage that I had made earlier, but you can use para-cord, a shoelace, or anything else that you have. Pictured below: Wrapping handle

All you need now is a bowstring. I used some more yucca cordage for my bowstring. Pictured below: Finished bow, strung and ready for use

This particular bow, which is only about a quarter inch thick, is not all that powerful, about twenty pounds; but thicker bamboo will make a more powerful bow. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this bow to try and take a rabbit, coon, possum, or other small game. Pictured below: Bamboo bow at full draw

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Severe Weather RV Safety Tips


Severe weather RV safety tips

Weather (and severe weather) is a part of life. When we lived in a regular ole house I paid little attention to the weather – being near Seattle, Washington it was almost always rain of some kind in the fall/winter and moderate temps in the spring/summer. It was nearly always manageable and all we really needed was a lot of layers and a decent rain jacket and umbrella.

Being on the road weather is a different story. Knowing the local weather is part of our daily routine – because severe weather could have severe impacts when you live in a house on wheels. We planned our route around the country primarily because of weather – the northern areas in the summer, the east coast in the fall and Florida/South in the winter. So far, this plan has worked in our favor and we’ve experience very little inclement weather.


We did change our plans last October to avoid Hurricane Joaquin which was slated to hit the east coast. Instead of being in New Jersey like we had originally planned, we headed inland to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to avoid the storm. We ended up with only a rainy weekend – and enjoyed an awesome tour of Gettysburg. And South Dakota last summer was frustrating because the tornado and hail alerts seemed like a daily occurrence – but we avoided them by racing across the state and setting up camp in Minnesota.

Lately central Florida (thanks to El Nino) has been throwing us some strange and unpredictable weather – like tornados. For example, last week while we were in the Fort Myers area we knew severe thunderstorms were expected to hit Saturday night. We would have probably rerouted to be farther north for the storm, but we had a repair appointment in the area all day Saturday. We couldn’t reschedule the repair appointment – we needed our water pump replaced – and RV repair appointments are tough to find in Florida in January.

We left our repair appointment in Fort Myers around 3 p.m. and started heading north to our reserved campsite, which turned out to be a disaster. It’s a long story – but the private campground where we planned to stay at was crowded, flooded, muddy and was too small for our trailer. It wouldn’t have worked – not even a little. So we scrambled to find another spot and thankfully ended up finding an opening at Sun-n-Fun RV resort up near Sarasota. More expensive than we usually pay for a spot, it was a gravel spot (no mud or flooding potential) and I knew it was a well populated park with lots of services and buildings. We ended up setting up camp in the dark (something we never do) and spent the night playing in the heated pool and relaxing in the family hot tub knowing the rain/storm would start around 2 a.m.


I went to bed earlier than usual because I was expecting the storm. At around 1 a.m. I was woken up by aTornado Watch alert on my phone. A tornado watch means there is a strong probability of a tornado but one hasn’t formed yet – I stayed up and monitored the storm after that. Around 2:40 a.m. the wind had picked up and I pulled the kids into bed with me.


At 3:06 a.m. the Tornado Warning went off – this means a tornado is developing and you need to take cover immediately. Trailers and mobile homes are NOT a safe shelter option. We pulled on sweatshirts, slipped on shoes and were out the door within a couple minutes. We ran to the nearby cement foundation bathhouse and took shelter in an interior wall of the building – on the floor of a men’s shower stall. We were joined in the bathhouse by dozens of other people from the park.

We would spent the next couple hours hanging out in the shower stall in the bathhouse. Tracking alerts on our phone and waiting. We had our hotspot with us – so the kids watched Netflix, which was a great distraction as they were understandably shaken by the experience.


Two tornados touched down that night in Sarasota County, Florida. One just about 13 miles away (see map above, the Ts mark the tornados, black arrow is us). We were lucky to avoid any damage but others were not so lucky – many houses, condos and mobile homes were destroyed in the area. Coming from the Northwest this was our first tornado warning and I’m hoping our last.

So what can we do to protect ourselves against severe weather while traveling full time? Here are a few suggestions for products or supplies that can help keep you safe. . .


Download a few weather apps on your smart phone. I have six weather apps on my phone. I use them all for different things. At the bare minimum, I recommend the NOAA radio app – it’s $3.99 and worth every penny. Get real-time updates straight from the National Weather Service – and it has the ability to notify you of warnings even if your device is asleep and locked. I think having more than one weather app is wise – I’d rather receive multiple alerts than be counting on only ONE app for alerts and find that it didn’t work, right?  I also have the Weather Underground and NOAA Weather Alerts apps, plus a couple radar apps and the Weather Channel app. Depending on your needs, you can download a weather app bundle that will save you a few bucks (like this Severe Weather bundle). The NOAA Weather Alerts  is probably my favorite – it’s super easy to navigate, shows a list of alerts AND a map of alerts – and shows you where you are, so you can clearly see where you are in the boundary. It also seems to be super quick in sending alerts.

Downloading the apps is NOT enough – make sure you tweak the settings to use your current location and to set up AUDIBLE alerts in the case of an emergency. 


Have a NOAA radio in your RV. How would you get weather warnings if your smart phone or computer wasn’t working or you’re in an area with no internet/cell service? A NOAA radio can be set to turn on and audibly notify you if there is a severe warning in your area. Something like this American Red Cross FRX3 Hand Crank NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio with Smartphone Charger


Cell phone charger. How long will your phone battery life last if you’re constantly monitoring storm coverage? I know mine wouldn’t last long enough so we have the AmazonBasics Portable Power Bank – 16,100 mAh. It charges my phone quickly and it fits easily in my back pocket or purse. It can charge other small devices as well. I also ordered the lightning cable for it.

Headlamps or flashlights. We always keep a headlamp hanging right by the front door. If we needed to run outside in a hurry, in the dark, it’s immediately accessible. We also have an emergency drawer in the living area that has a collection of other headlamps and flashlights (it’s also where we store our NOAA radio and batteries). A camping lantern is a great choice as well. We have two camping lanterns and they come in handy when you want to hang out with friends after dark without a campfire.


Batteries. Stock up. We usually buy them at Costco but Amazon has had some impressive prices on their AmazonBasics AAA Performance Alkaline Batteries (20-Pack) lately – you want enough batteries for your NOAA radio, flashlights and headlamps

Emergency backpack. What would you need for safety if you suddenly had to leave your RV or trailer? Fill a durable backpack with water, high-protein snacks, warm clothes, flashlight/headlamp, cell phone chargers, small toys to distract/entertain young children, emergency contact information, insurance information, ID/passport, credit card and/or cash, essential medications, small blanket, NOAA radio, etc.

Emergency food/water supply. We keep two large containers of water (like this Coleman Water Carrier (5-Gallon, Blue) in the back of our truck (changing out water often to keep it fresh) and we have a Mountain House, Just In Case… Classic Bucket in the back of our truck. Both would be necessary if we were stranded in our truck somewhere.


In addition to those products and apps, here are a few more things to consider. . .

1.) Keep an eye on the forecast. Often severe weather conditions can be predicted at least a few days in advance. Consider re-routing or moving to avoid severe storms. Bookmark and check it daily – you can see a 10-forecast that I find is often pretty reliable.

2.) Your safety is your responsibility. In the case of an emergency or severe weather your safety is YOUR responsibility. Don’t rely on your campground to notify you, don’t expect neighbors to knock on your door – it’s your job to be alert and aware of severe weather. Don’t be shy to ask for emergency routes or shelter options when you check-in (it’s recommended!) and don’t be shy to hang out in the men’s shower stall – even if no one else has evacuated yet. We were the first people to take shelter at our campground – I second guessed myself because this was my first tornado warning – but we stayed put and were soon joined by the rest of the RVers in our loop. It’s better to be overly cautious than to wait and see – you might find you’re too late.

3.) Know your nearest shelter or evacuation route. Make it a point to know where the nearest shelter is – make sure your kids know, too. You can ask this information when you check in to an RV park. Most state parks have cement bath houses.

4.) Have your RV park address and site number easily accessible. Write the RV park name, address, site location and front desk info on a dry erase board or piece of paper somewhere easily accessible in the living space of your RV. If you need to dial 9-1-1 you’ll need that information to get emergency personnel to you as soon as possible. We often leave the campground map out for easy access.

5.) Know what COUNTY you are in. Weather alerts are often issued by county. You should know which county you are currently located in and it doesn’t hurt to know the names of surrounding counties either.

6.) Prepare the outside of your RV or campsite. Reduce the risk of damage by putting away things that can blow around. Retract awnings, retract slides (if applicable), put away chairs or camp kitchens – you don’t want these things slamming into the outside of your RV.

7.) Don’t try and outrun a surprise storm. If you’ve waited too long and/or get caught by a surprise storm – don’t panic and try to hitch up and run. We were foolish early in our journey and did this in South Dakota after getting alerts about a possible hail storm (1 inch hail) headed our way. We hitched up in the dark, in heavy rain and headed out to find shelter under a nearby carwash. Turns out we wouldn’t easily fit in the car wash bay (a few classic cars had beat us to the spots anyway), the hail didn’t end up crossing our path, and we were put ourselves at risk by hitching up in a hurry and rushing to seek shelter. In hindsight it was a stupid choice that was rooted in panic –  we won’t do that again. Next time we’ll stay put, seek another shelter if needed, leave the trailer and take the truck, and/or deal with the damage if it happens.

8.) Make sure your insurance is adequate. If your RV is your full-time home do you have adequate insurance to replace it in the event of an emergency? Talk to your insurance agent and make sure you have a full-time policy and that it is sufficient enough to cover your needs. Some policies even include hotel/living expenses if you’re unable to live in your RV due to repairs or replacement. Full-time RV insurance policies don’t always give you the same protection that a homeowners policy does (providing liability insurance while you’re out away from your trailer, for example), so an umbrella policy might be a good idea. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you’re adequately covered.

9.) You can replace your RV but you can’t replace a life. At the end of the day there are no possessions in your RV that are more important than your life. Seek shelter if needed and worry about property loss later (see #8).

10.) Stay calm. Don’t panic. Have a plan in place and follow through with it calmly. Panic is not your friend.

I’m not a certified weather woman, I’m also not an expert on emergency preparedness – I’m just relaying some of the ways that we work to stay safe on the road. Please practice due diligence and research what emergency tools or apps will best serve your family – remember that your safety is your responsibility.

At the end of the day preparation and planning are your best weapons against any emergency – especially severe weather. We can’t predict all the emergencies we might encounter but we shouldn’t let that keep us from enjoying life on the road. Safe travels to you. . . .

What tips do you have for being safe while traveling in an RV? Please leave a comment and share your favorite severe weather RV tips!


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Wood Heat Rises Again

High cost of oil and gas fuels a boom in wood stoves. But what is the cost to climate?

The Beatty family near Paxico, Kan., heats their entire home with this wood stove. Modern wood-burning stoves emit far fewer pollutants in the form of fine particulates than did models from the 1970s. Environmentalists can’t agree on the stoves’ carbon footprint.  David Pulliam/The Kansas City Star/AP/File

The Beatty family near Paxico, Kan., heats their entire home with this wood stove. Modern wood-burning stoves emit far fewer pollutants in the form of fine particulates than did models from the 1970s. Environmentalists can’t agree on the stoves’ carbon footprint.  David Pulliam/The Kansas City Star/AP/File

George and Judith Reilly own a big antique house on the main street of Brandon, Vt., a picturesque town on scenic Route 7. The house’s front parlor doubles as a gallery to display the fabric art Judith creates in her upstairs studio.

Last spring, when oil for the house’s furnace began to top $4 per gallon, Mr. Reilly did some quick calculating and decided he could save up to 50 percent on his heating cost this winter by installing a stove that burned sawdust pellets. Over the summer, he placed an order with first one, then another local dealer. But by October, both had failed to find him a stove. Finally, he discovered one on eBay. The only problem: Reilly had to drive his pickup truck from Vermont to Maryland to claim it. Last weekend, as nighttime temperatures dipped below freezing, he was installing his prize, which he hopes will be his main source of heat this winter.

Both traditional and pellet-burning wood stoves are in high demand as cold weather begins to grip the northern United States and Canada. Sales of wood stoves are up 55 percent so far this year over last, according to industry figures. And sales of wood pellet stoves are even hotter: up 135 percent over the same period last year.

But as people polish their stoves and admire their woodpiles, environmentalists and health officials are expressing concern that burning wood in old or poorly designed stoves could add significantly to air pollution. And although wood represents a local and renewable fuel source, its credentials as a “carbon neutral” fuel – not adding to global warming – are hazy at best.

Even the very cleanest-burning and best-maintained wood or pellet stoves release a much higher level of emissions than a typical oil furnace, a common heating fuel in the Northeastern US. Natural gas, the most popular heating fuel nationwide, burns even cleaner than oil.

Wood smoke “is a fairly toxic cocktail,” says Lisa Rector, a senior policy analyst for NESCAUM, a nonprofit group that advises eight Northeastern US states on air-pollution control issues. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wood smoke contains a number of potent health hazards, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and fine particulates. The American Lung Association estimates that in some locales fireplaces and wood stoves are the source of 80 percent of the fine particulates found in the air.

Judging how polluting a particular wood stove is can be tricky. Since the early 1990s the EPA has mandated that new wood stoves emit no more than 7.5 grams of emissions per hour, though many models have been tested with much lower emissions. Stoves manufactured in the 1970s and ’80s emitted about 42 grams per hour, according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HPBA), which represents wood stove manufacturers.

But how much pollution a stove emits also depends on what is being burned.

“A tree is not a tree is not a tree,” Ms. Rector says. “It is what it lives in.” Trees can pick up substances such as mercury, sulfur, or chlorine from the soil in which they grow. And if the wood is not properly seasoned or wet, combustion will be less complete. (See below.) Not only will the stove give off less heat, it will pollute more.

One concern this winter is that people may decide to fire up an old wood-burning stove. “We’re still getting calls from people who have these 30-year-old [wood stoves] that their uncle gave them,” says Bob Christensen, the owner of En-R-Gy Saver Inc. in Holliston, Mass., which sells six brands of wood and pellet stoves. His stove sales are up about 50 percent this year over last.

The poster child of wood-heat pollution is the outdoor boiler, a wood furnace located in a separate outbuilding that sends hot water through underground pipes to a home or business. Outdoor wood boilers can emit 206 times more pollution than an oil furnace, or about 3,000 to 5,000 times more than a natural gas furnace, Rector says. They are often a source of complaints from neighbors who don’t appreciate being bathed in smoke.

Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have moved to set emissions standards on outdoor boilers. Manufacturers are getting the message, saysDeidra Darsa, a spokeswoman for HPBA. “They have done an incredible job in turning their products around in the last year or so and come up with some very clean-burning products,” she says. The EPA is also engaged with outdoor boiler manufacturers to set up new emissions guidelines.

Because of its pollutants, wood-burning in general is most appropriate “at the urban fringe and beyond,” not in cities, which are already dealing with many other sources of air pollution, says John Gulland, cofounder of, a nonprofit website that aims to offer impartial information about firewood and wood-burning stoves.

Just like oil and gas, wood gives off carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases when burned. But it also offers some carbon-saving benefits that make judging its effects on global warming difficult.

“I like to call it ‘75 percent carbon neutral,’ ” Mr. Gulland says. While wood burning does release carbon dioxide and methane, advocates argue that the trees would do that anyway in the forest as they die, fall over, and decompose.

But only a portion of the CO2 from decomposition enters the atmosphere. Some remains in the soil. Meanwhile, forests absorb carbon dioxide, so maintaining forested areas that are harvested for wood is a carbon plus. And if the wood being burned is scrap from a sawmill, for example, then no additional trees are being felled and no additional carbon created.

The question can quickly get knotty.

“On a scale of carbon neutrality, it’s better than burning a fossil fuel, but it’s not the same as wind or solar,” Rector says. “It’s a very complicated question,” she says. “We still need to let the scientists figure it out.”

How to burn wood more cleanly

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has these recommendations for people who burn wood:

• Use a properly installed and vented EPA-certified wood stove.

• Season wood outdoors through the summer and for at least six months. Properly seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood.

• Store wood outdoors, stacked neatly off the ground with the top covered.

• Use clean newspaper and dry kindling to start fires.

• Have the wood stove cleaned and inspected annually.

• Don’t burn household trash or cardboard. Plastics and colored inks on magazines, boxes, and wrappers give off toxic chemicals when burned.

• Never burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood, as it also releases toxic chemicals.

• Never burn ocean driftwood, plywood, particle board, or any wood with glue on or in it. They all release harmful chemicals when burned.

• Never burn wet, rotted, diseased, or moldy wood.

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Portable Solar Powered Aquaponics Greenhouse Can Grow Food Year Round

Solar Powered Aquaponics Greenhouse Makes Year Round Growing Possible – Here’s another Off Grid World original design concept.

It’s a modular aquaponics greenhouse made from converted recycled shipping containers. Each of the shipping containers are converted into mini-greenhouses which also makes the whole thing portable.

A large pond (fish tank) is constructed in the ground, or in a large water tank, the repurposed shipping container greenhouse modules are stacked two levels high, and arranged in a hexagon shape around the pond, and a geodesic dome is placed on the top to cover the whole unit sealing it off from the weather outside creating a self sustainable garden biome.

First, take a standard ISBU 40′ “high cube” (extra high at about 9″ tall vs 8 feet tall for the standard 40′ container; this adds approximately 344 cubic feet of space inside) shipping container and cut out the sides and the ends. The square footage remains the same at about 320sft per 40′ container.

Add Reinforced Welded Steel Framing

Since you’re removing the majority of the structural support when removing the sides, the sides and ends must be reinforced welded steel beams.

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Tips and Tricks for Living without Air Conditioning

Air conditioning seems to be one of those “necessities” we simply can’t do without in our modern society.

But humanity has managed to spend most of its existence without air conditioning. Electromechanical air conditioning has only been around since the beginning of the 20th century. Let’s look at some of the things people did to stay cool before modern air conditioning came along.

Prior to Modern AC

front porch living without air conditionerIf you are building a home, then you can take these points into consideration. Before modern AC, people built their homes differently than they do now. The right structural elements and building materials made it possible for people to live relatively comfortably with the heat of the summer. Here are a few ways:

Stone, Brick, and Clay

Building materials for homes were always something thick and heavy, some natural stone-like material that could mimic the rock surrounding a cave. The stone or brick act link a heat sink, absorbing the heat that is shining down on your home and trapping it, releasing it slowly later on. This keeps a large portion of the heat out of your house, making the interior more comfortable. Modern homes and buildings are built with lighter materials that allow the heat to pass right through them.

High Ceilings

If you have ever been in an old house, one built in the 19th century or early 20thcentury, you might have noticed the 10-foot ceilings. These served the purpose of climate control. Heat rises, so with such high ceilings, the heat would collect in the top 3 feet, leaving the cooler air closer to the floor. People tended to only use the upstairs in the evenings and at night, with the windows open.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans have long been used to help cool a home and are especially effective when used with high ceilings. Fans can be set to pull the warm air up during the summer months (pushing it down during the winter), helping to keep the cooler air down by the floor.

Basements and Split-Level Homes

The idea behind the split-level home and basements was to find a way to keep part of the home underground, where it was cooler. This would allow for good food storage and for a cooler area of the house in which to live during the heat of the summer.

Shade Trees

Having trees planted so that they provide shade for the house was a common way to keep a house cool. The trees were traditionally planted on the east and west sides of the house, keeping the sun from heating up the interior in the morning and the evening. The trees would also cool down the breeze before it reached the house.

Awnings and porches act in the same manner, shading the windows of a house to block the sun. In fact, the porch is where people went to escape the heat of inside, where they could sit and socialize in the shade with a cool breeze. And have you ever noticed all those old houses with vines, such as English Ivy, all over them? Again, the vines helped keep the heat out of the structure.

Tips and Tricks for Living without Air Conditioning

Having talked about the way homes were built prior to the invention of modern AC, most people don’t actually live in those kinds of homes. Even back then, a lot of people, particularly in big cities, lived in apartments. It is more likely that you live in a home built after the use of AC in homes became common place, something from the 1920s on, or that you live in an apartment building.

If you don’t have air conditioning or don’t want to be dependent on it, then you still have some options. If you do own your own home, you can do some of the things mentioned above, such as installing ceiling fans and using awnings, building a porch, or planting trees and/or vines to provide some shade. Obviously, if you live in an apartment, you don’t have many options, but here are some things you can do, regardless of where you live:

Windows and Coverings

Have your windows open from evening to morning and then close them and all window coverings before the morning sun can start sending its first rays in through the windows. This will help keep the heat of the day out and let the cool night air in. You can couple this with closing off the warm rooms in your home.

Lights and Electrical Equipment

Lights, particularly incandescent light bulbs, and electrical equipment generate heat. When it’s hot during the day, turn off all lights and only use them when necessary, even in the evenings. Turn off all electrical equipment and appliances, or better yet, unplug them.

Use Appliances When It’s Cool

When you need to cook, do laundry, iron, or use any appliance that generates a significant amount of heat, do it during the hours when it is cooler, either early in the morning or in the evening. Get a clothesline and dry your clothes that way, instead of running the dryer.

insulate home living without air conditionerSeal and Insulate Your Home

If you own your home, you can add extra insulation in the attic, which will help in all seasons. You can also add weather stripping, caulking, and other sealants around doors and windows to ensure you keep warm air out and cool air in.

Unusual Ways to Keep Cool

They say that back before air conditioning, when the nights were really hot, people used to sleep on their porches and people who lived in apartments took to their fire escapes. Chances are, you won’t see anyone doing that these days, although there is no reason people couldn’t. The thing is, if there is no way you can change your landscaping or add features to your home or if you live in an apartment, then you are going to have to find other ways to keep cool. Yes, you can leave your home and go to the movies, a museum, or the mall, but you can’t do that every day. Here are some unique ways to stay cool during the summer heat.

Evaporative Cooling

This is an ideal way to keep cool, but it only works in low humidity environments. If you take old linens and tack them up over open windows and then spray down the linens to make them damp, they will keep your home very cool. The dampness in the sheets will evaporate, taking the heat with it. All you need to do is rewet the sheets when they get dry. This is not only a great way to keep cool, but it works even if you have no electricity. Note that the reason this doesn’t work in a high-humidity environment is that in humid air evaporation cannot take place as efficiently, if at all.

Get Wet

You can also use water to keep yourself wet and cool. Keep your hair wet or wet a bandana and wrap it around your neck or head. You can also mist yourself, both skin and clothing, with a water bottle. Back in the 30’s, people were even known to put their underwear in the freezer before wearing it!

Create Your Own Breeze

If you have a nice breeze coming in your window, but it isn’t as cool as you would like, and you have electricity, you can make that breeze cooler. No, I’m not talking about a fan. You can do the following. Place a saucer on a windowsill and place a piece of paper towel over it. Then place a bowl on top of the paper towel and put ice in it. As the breeze blows through the window, the ice will cool it. You just have to have enough ice to get you through the hot part of the day. An alternative to this is to place the ice in a small cooler (regular or Styrofoam) and position a fan so it blows over the ice, creating a cool breeze.

Cool Down Your Bedding

You can also make your bed cooler before you climb into it. You can dampen your sheet if you wish or you can stick your sheets in the freezer before going to bed. That way they will be very cool when you settle down, helping you stay comfortable while you fall asleep. Just be sure you use cotton sheets, as they are more breathable and cooler.

A few other tips include:

  • Cooling-down-living without ACTake cool showers
  • Stay as close to the ground/floor as possible
  • Sleep alone (sorry no cuddling)
  • Sleep in a hammock or cot
  • Sit and sleep in the cross-breeze between windows
  • Wear as little clothing as possible, keep what you do wear light in color and ensure the fabric is light and breathable
  • Keep your level of activity down in the middle of the day (think siesta!)
  • Drink a lot of water to keep from getting dehydrated and overheated, something that can happen before you know it in the heat

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Hives: Natural Remedies to Ease An Itchy Situation


A friend of mine, Steve, recently asked me, “What is the best way to deal with rashes from poison ivy?”  I told him that the best way is to stay out of the poison ivy.  Not only was he not satisfied with my answer, but also he asked me to do an article on skin rashes and such.  Readers, this one goes out as a dedication to Steve, and if you guys and gals can’t take the initial advice I gave to him, perhaps this information will help you in your hiking and backpacking adventures!

The topic of discussion for this article is hives, and we will present some facts about hives and some measures that may help those afflicted by them.  Hives are known in medical terminology as urticaria.   Defined as such, urticaria consists of multiple, swollen, raised areas of the skin that itch for up to 24 hours, caused by allergens and the body’s immunoglobulin response to those actions. Hives can strike anyone, for multiple causes and reasons.  To really understand how hives work, we have to understand the body’s histamine response.

Understanding How Hives Occur

Histamine itself is a substance that is made from an amino acid, and it causes enlargement of blood vessels and a marked rise in the digestive acid production in the stomach, along with mucous production and bronchial constriction.  Histamine is released from mast cells that are large cells that serve to produce inflammatory responses that are governed by immunoglobulin E.  The mast cells and their mediators produce what is known as a type I hypersensitivity reaction (also known as an immediate hypersensitivity reaction) that lead to the sign-symptom of hives.  Poison ivy (in my friend, Steve’s case) is one of the causes for a type I reaction.

Regarding these explanations, urticaria (hives) is the result, not the cause, of the allergic reaction; however, they pose the problem, albeit short-term.  The actual causes are too numerous to count and can simply be expressed as being anything.  Such a statement means that depending on the individual immunoglobulin response (that is unique per each individual), there is no one thing (generally) to affect all humans.  When a person examines their recent activities leading up to the reaction, it is possible through process of elimination to find the actual cause.  In Steve’s case, he knew that he had been in the poison ivy and didn’t need to narrow down the search so much.

The histamine response is akin to a jigsaw puzzle in terms of illustration of function, albeit an oversimplification.  With an allergic reaction, the offending particle that causes it binds to a tissue receptor site.  This site is the source of the production of the process regarding the immunoglobulin.  The resultant irritation (the hives) stems from histamine production and the irritation of the affected tissue.

There are drugs that block these receptor-sites involved in producing histamine (basically the substance triggering the allergic response); these sites are known as H-1 (histamine) receptors.  The allergen (offending irritant) triggers the histamine production.  What the medications do is function as a tailor-made jigsaw puzzle piece.  They “fit” into the receptor site and block the production of histamine, thereby either preventing or minimizing the allergic response, and thus eliminating or lessening the hives.  Such drugs are known asantihistamines.

The greatest rule to follow is to avoid any known allergens and particles that cause such problems.  One common medication that lowers the allergic reaction is benadryl (diphenhydramine HCl); it functions by blocking the production of histamine as outlined.  Benadryl is available over-the-counter, and it is useful in many applications, such as bee stings and insect bites to severe allergic reactions.

Naturopathic Aids to Alleviate Symptoms

Naturopathic aids are not so readily identifiable to lower the allergic response; the focus of concentration must be placed more on palliative-supportive measures than preventing the reaction.  As mentioned earlier, the reactions are case-by-case and specific to the individual afflicted.  The first step is to know the things that trigger allergies…. for you, and in this manner you can avoid contact with them.  Pollen-allergic individuals (in this vein) surely know it is not beneficial to walk through a field of Canadian Goldenrod.  Once again, knowing yourself and exercising good common sense are the keys to good preventative health care.

Lavender (in the form of an infusion or a bath) is an excellent natural product to help soothe and cool afflicted skin.  Remember, this is a supportive measure: it does not deal with the root of the problem.  If you are experiencing hives, you need to determine the source of the irritation.  Ask questions of yourself.

Are you being exposed to dust, soot, smoke, or particulate matter that may be irritating your skin?  Are you eating different foods or using different sources for those meals?  Are you using any medications that you normally do not use?  Have you changed dry cleaners or laundry detergents recently?  If you’ve been outdoors camping or bivouacking in the woods, what plants were you near?  Are you allergic to any of them?

Number One: take action to identify the cause of the irritation (the hives).

Number Two: remove the irritant(s) or yourself from the source of the environment causing the allergic reaction

Number Three: seek professional medical help if the hives persist.

Hyssop is another cleansing herb that can be used externally to help with anything of an infective and antimicrobial nature.  Make a decoction with it and use it as an astringent/body wash.  The washing is most important (except, of course, if your water supply is the source of the irritation).  The latter condition is known as aquagenic urticaria, in essence hives that are produced by ordinary water in contact with the skin. Washing (in most other cases) will remove the irritants from the skin and allow the hypersensitivity reactions to abate.

Remember, most urticaria lasts for 24 hours; this is a good measuring guideline for you.  If it runs longer than this, it would be a good idea to visit your family doctor.  Be prepared to give the doctor a rundown on your activities and where you slept (sleeping bag, tent, or “roughing” it under the stars on pine boughs).  Knowing these basic first aid and skin care measures can help you in your excursions.  Another thing to keep in mind: autumn brings on changes in the plants, pollen, and humidity in the air; seasonal changes and weather fluctuations can cause things that would not normally be harmful to act as allergens on you.  Above all things, be safe, and enjoy the rest of the summer and your outdoor adventures!

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Make a DIY Raft Out of Trash Bags


Whether it’s a natural disaster like a flood, or you simply need to cross a body of water to get to safety, a raft will be very handy.

It’s important to remember that it’s not always a good idea to swim in these situations, even if you have the skills. The risks involved may be too many. After all, there is no point in trying to be a hero in survival situations. The goal is to come out alive.

Carrying a life raft is not a good idea, and stuffing it into your bug out bag is impossible. But with a knife, some long branches, cordage and trash bags you can build your own emergency raft.

Check out the following video to learn how!

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9 Ways to Remove a Splinter


How to Remove a Splinter Naturally and Painlessly

Splinters can be hard and painful to remove. The most common first thought is “Where are the tweezers?”

how to remove a splinter

With tweezers, it can be a long process and can sometimes make the splinter go deeper into your skin. Here are 9 alternative ways to remove those pesky and often painful splinters.

Bacon Fat

bacon fat

Cut a pea-sized piece of white fat from a raw strip of bacon and place directly onto the splinter. Secure the bacon fat with a band-aid and leave on overnight. The bacon fat should draw out the splinter from your skin.

Hydrogen Peroxide

removing a splinter with hydrogen peroxide

Submerge the affected area in hydrogen peroxide. Splinter should get drawn out within minutes.


how to remove a splinter with onion

Tape a fresh onion slice onto the splinter and leave on overnight. The splinter will be drawn close to the surface of your skin and will be easy to remove.

Epsom Salt

how to remove a splinter with epsom salt

Soak the affected area in an epsom salt bath until the splinter gets drawn out.

Wide Mouth Bottle and Hot Water

how to remove a splinter with a wide mouth bottle and hot water

Fill bottle almost full with hot water. Place hand with splinter over the opening of the bottle so the opening of the bottle is completely covered. Steam and suction caused by your hand should draw out the splinter from your skin.

Clear Nail Polish

how to remove a splinter with clear nail polish

Apply clear nail polish over the affected area and let dry. Peel off in the opposite direction of the splinter. The splinter should come right out.

Essential Oils

how to remove a splinter with essential oil

Add a few drops of lavender or clove essential oil to the affected area. This allows the splintered skin to naturally swell. The splinter should come right out.

Castor Oil

how to remove a splinter with castor oil

Rub castor oil into the affected area. Cover with band-aid and leave on overnight. This softens the skin and the splinter should be easier to remove


how to remove a splinter with tomato

Apply a small piece of tomato directly onto the splinter with a band-aid and leave on overnight. This should draw the splinter right out.

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How to survive in the wilderness and mountain-military techniques


Necessary elements of life

One of the most important things to survive is water.

The human body contains 70% water, and the loss of 15% of this amount causes death. Without water you can not survive more than 4-5 days, the body loses fluid due to heat, stress, colds and fatigue, fluid to be topped up. Even in cold places you need at least 2 liters of water a day to be effective. Almost anywhere in the globe there is water in one form or another (snow, ice, dew, etc.)

Do not substitute water with the following liquids:

Alcohol – dehydrate the body even more

Urine – contain substances hazardous to organisms

Blood – is salty and is considered food, but require additional liquid to be digestible, can transmit diseases

Seawater – accelerates dehydration, can cause death

There are many ways to acquire water (meaning the cases when there is a river, stream, lake or other natural source of water) depending on the city where you are in the wilderness act one way in jungle otherwise, etc. I will describe several methods of gaining water in forest areas or where there are trees.

Sweat method

You need a plastic bag that you dress a twig with leaves (make sure the tree is not poisonous otherwise water is not drinkable), the bag must be tightly tied with a rope or you around the branch, after several hours leaves sweat and water accumulates in bag.In  hot summer day you can gather up to 300-400 from a bag. You must to use your bags to accumulate the required amount of water

Dew gathering: early morning or late evening tie a piece of cloth clean on foot, walking or on a stick and walk through iarba. Cloth will gather water (dew) from grass, periodically drain into a bowl, certainly is the slowest way, but safe.


30 days is the maximum period that can withstand a man without food.

In an extreme situation you will need every drop of energy, food being the only source. Natural resources can save in any case only have to know how to use them. I have several recommendations in this case, some more important than others but the main rule is:

Do not eat if you do not have WATER

how to survive 1

Human digestive organism needs water, if water is a problem eating you will become dehydrated and harder, which can cause death. Few are places on earth where you have to go more than 30 days without going to civilization .Calculate the distance and time to the place where you arrive, the food divided as follows: 1/3 2/3 in the first half and in the second half of the road.

Make a regular habit to eat every day  (lunch at noon ex.o), chew food well as the organisms they support it.

In the wild can eat what nature gives mushrooms, nuts, fruits, herbs and roots of edible plants, small animals or large (if you manage to catch them), fish, lizards, snakes, snails and will advise if you have insects. If you have not experienced hunter I will advise you not to try to catch animals, you spend useless energy.

Careful with mushrooms and fruits, if you are not sure do not eat, the result can be fatal.


The shelter must protect you from rain, sun, wind, help to survive; -in some parts of the world you need to shelter more than food or water.

For example prolonged exposure to cold can cause fatigue or weakness and a weak person has no desire to survive.

The most common mistake in the construction of the shelter is that you do too much body heat and fails to heat it;

how to survive 2

Shelter should be large enough to protect you but also the need to be small enough to preserve your body heat, especially in cold climates.Different types of shelter after the place where you are for example, the arctic or desert, jungle or forest, every time you build something else.Different also the seasons, winter snow or summer heat are so many types of shelter types cite season.

The importance of fire. Types of fire. Methods and tools for fire ignition

Modern man does not like fire. Fire historically has become more of a tool than salvation.In dawn of human civilization killer fire was the most important thing in human life, loss of fire was a tragedy for the tribe and punishable with death who had to take care of the fire, and fail.

how to survive 3

The principle of ignition-fire is to start with small twigs and slender, gradually passing on higher. began ignite paper, dry bark, moss or fir branches on a short time they give a strong flame to ignite the branches of 3-5 mm thickness and then the thickest. The secret is to put the wood gradually from the smallest to the thickest. Paper or branches are lit from the bottom up, not vice versa, because fire spreads from the top down hard.

Fire with fire is used for drying clothes, heating and preparing food; the flame for light and food preparation and the smoke is used for signaling. Division is relative, you can turn any fire in fire smoke if you throw him green grass and branches, if a fire with embers increase the distance between him turn wood fire flame converts into large, etc.


The knife is king arms without knife is no survival with a help of a good knife can do everything or almost everything, can build shelter, can make weapons, you can defend yourself or you can hunt without it you’re dead in the wild, so if you have not – the important thing to know how to do one of the materials that are found around you.

Glass, tins, hard stone, bone, pieces of metal – are all possible materials to your future personal knife. Personal I would not go anywhere without one in my pocket …

I could not tell you the exact name of it ideal knife, but there are a few requirements; a knife to be:




If you go into the mountains for a long time you need two knives. One to be great, the type layout, replacing the ax and one smaller for peeling potatoes, etc.

Each of survival as on the website or its praise his wares or merchandise company that has a contract to report. American and options in Bowie until you can tangle easily mock. A high price does not always look good quality. There are several criteria in choosing a knife: blade length, knife or blade stable miner, double tais or not, it is made of metal (steel, titanium, nonferrous metals, etc.)

how to survive 4

The knife that you take with you in the wild is the most priceless object that you possess. Regardless of the nature of the trip that you always need to have a knife on you. It can be used in different situations, not only in extreme situations.

Sun tracking, star tracking and compass tracking

The simplest way of finding the direction is sit back to 12 day in the sun, the north is exactly the direction that shows your shadow.

There are a few rules that must be remembered:

Winter sun rises southeast


Summer sun rises northeast

sets northwest

Spring sun rises at EST

sets in the west

Of course these rules are valid if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere.

If you have good sense of observation, then you know that: more snow melts in the south, all in the southern part of the tree is more pitch. Ants make their anthill in the south of trees or house. Birch bark is darker in the north and more open to the south. Tree trunks, stones, rocks in the north are covered with moss.

Survival in mountainous terrain

Survival in the mountains involves techniques and procedures characteristic.

Mount, as we know and the people, has its unwritten laws, which if not respect them, pay, and the price in such a situation can be even life.

Preparing to survive in the mountains must focus on that mountain environment is extremely unpredictable.Weather has special features: in a single day, the mountains may fall several types of precipitation (rain, drizzle, sleet, snow); temperatures are much lower and rainfall more abundant than in other areas; the higher the altitude, the colder temperatures. Therefore, when such actions envisaged in the village, the soldiers must have their protective equipment against the cold and rain, even if they are planned to take place in summer. An extremely important piece in the mountain environment is sleeping bag. A good sleeping bag will give the military the necessary comfort for rest and strength to take it to an end the next day. If there is a sleeping bag, it can be improvised from dry leaves, pine needles, Parachute material. survival are necessary: a waterproof jacket, a knife, matches kept in a bag not to wet a quality compass, a map, a flashlight, rations for emergencies and signaling means (mirror, smoke grenades etc. ).

Nature term is another important factor that influences the chances of survival of the military in the village. Large level differences, rugged terrain covered with dense vegetation, specific mountain environment, hinder much movement. Moving the mountain environment requires permanent existence of the risk of injury. Sprains, fractures, sprains could and limbs are the most common. Also, observation and orientation are more hampered. This could cause delays in movement military and fallacies. Lack of landmarks for orientation can cause frustration and irritation, and these negative feelings contributed to the worsening military situation. Therefore,  to survive in the mountain, the military must observe a few rules:

– “Equip yourself properly” in the mountains !: survival requires appropriate equipment;

– “Do not go in the dark” means !: If you do not have night vision do not move in the dark because it will increase the risk of injury;

– “You do not build shelter the valleys‘ !: As I mentioned, the weather in the mountain environment can change very quickly and after rainfall forming torrents may surprise you;

– “Moving up the line share ‘!: Try to stay on the same altitude to ease your moving.Any survival situation involving the purchase of food and water. Characteristic mountain environment temperate and tropical areas offer plenty of opportunities for procuring food and water. However, the military must be cautious when choosing a certain plant or animal to feed. Most nuisances disappear once boiling or cooking with their fire. However, there are no toxins that disappears with cooking (see mushrooms) and they can endanger the life and health of the military. A plant consumed by animals is not necessarily an indication that it would be edible and humans. To be sure food is edible, it should be cooked very well. Before you consume, the military must taste the food and wait a few minutes to see if any side effects, then you can proceed to power. Water is preferable to be boiled before being consumed.

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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.


Gear You Will Need
  • 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


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


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


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

2. Basic Lean-to Tarp Shelter


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


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


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

3. Bivy Bag Cornet Shelter


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


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


  • Not much room inside

4. Adirondack Configuration Tarp Shelter


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


  • Good Protection from 3 sides
  • Floor protection


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

5. 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


  • Good Wind protection
  • Floor
  • Rain protection


  • Can sag
  • Unprotected from wind on 2 sides

6. Envelope Tarp Shelter Design


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


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


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

7. 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


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


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

8. Ground Tarp Sheet


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


  • Protection from mud and dirt
  • Simple to make


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

9. 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


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


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

10. Hammock Shelter / 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


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


  • Requires 3 guy lines

11. 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


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


  • No Floor
  • No protection on one side

12. 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


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


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

13. 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


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


  • No Floor
  • Not ideal for heavy rain and wind

14. 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


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


  • Single side protection from sun and wind

15. 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


  • Great shelter for the sun.
  • Easy to make


  • 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


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


  • Great shelter from the sun.


  • 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


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


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


  • Small size inside

18. 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


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


  • No Floor
  • Little protection from the wind

19. 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


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


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

20. 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


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


  • No Floor
  • Low profile means less room

21. 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


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


  • No Floor
  • No wind protection at the entrance

22. 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


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


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

23. 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


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


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

24. 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


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


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

25. 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


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


  • No Floor
  • Can be complicated to make

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DIY Zero-Electricity Air Cooler From Plastic Bottles


Have you ever heard of Bernoulli’s principle? It’s a cornerstone of fluid dynamics. Without an understanding of fluid dynamics the modern air conditioner wouldn’t be possible. Ah, the modern eclectic air conditioner, some can argue it is the greatest invention of the twentieth century. Viewed by some as a convenience, in truth, it has made places like the American southwest hospitable.

Even though efficiency of these units has come a long way, the average window unit still draws a massive amount of power, easily drawing a hundred times more than a LED lightbulb. So how can we keep cool in a grid down situation? This video shows how simple ingenuity and recycled materials can take advantage of Bernoulli’s principle to provide some relief from the heat!

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3 Ways to Prep Your Fridge and Freezer for a Summer Power Outage


It really is a luxury to have an appliance that makes things very cold (or freezes them) in the heat of summer. But it’s a luxury that many people have become far too reliant upon. What happens to the 100 pounds of meat and fish you stored in the freezer…after the power goes out…when it’s 100 degrees outside? It’s not pretty, I’ll tell you that much. I had a freezer break down in the mid-summer heat a few years ago. It was a freezer full of animal hides, feathers, brain-tanned buckskin in process, and the meat from two whitetail deer. The freezer was in an outbuilding, and I didn’t discover the mess until it had all liquefied and the stench was apparent from outside the building. I don’t want anybody to go through something like that, especially during a summer utility outage. So here are a few ideas about what to keep and what not to keep in your freezer, just in case your power goes out this season.

1. Set Up an Ice Cube Watchdog 
Planning a summer vacation or some other exodus? That’s great. But what if your power is out for days while you’re gone, the food in your freezer spoils, then the power comes back and the freezer re-freezes it? Chances are good that eating this food would make you sick, perhaps very sick. But there’s a simple way to see if your freezer was off in your absence. Fill a cup with ice cubes and leave it in your freezer. As long as your ice cubes look like separate ice cubes, your freezer stayed below freezing. But if you open the freezer one day and find a cup of frozen water—your power was off long enough for everything to melt before it re-froze. If that’s the case, the food shouldn’t be considered safe for human consumption.

2. Keep It Full
We’ve all heard that a stuffed freezer is more efficient, but do we really want it stuffed with food that would be wasted in a lengthy power outage? I keep lots of ice in my freezer, a bit of ice cream or some other frozen treats, and not much else. In an outage, I can use the ice to keep the fridge food cold for an extra day and when the ice has melted—use it for drinking water. It’s great to have extra food, but you’ll be better off canning or drying your meat and other foods rather than taking the risk of losing them in the freezer.

3. Consider a Generator
If you already have a freezer full of meat, and aren’t interested in canning it all, then make plans to keep the freezer running with a generator. If you cannot afford to buy one, line up a loan from a friend or family member who has one. I’m usually opposed to generators. The noise, the dangerous fumes, the fire hazard, and the potentially limited fuel supply have turned me away from the standard gas powered generator, but it does still have its uses.

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Survival Fitness 101: Boost Your Strength, Stamina, Speed & Flexibility


When SHTF, you better be in shape and your fitness level now is probably not as great as you will wish it was in a survival situation. In emergencies, our bodies are going to be called into action that a lot of us aren’t used to, there will be more stress, less rest and more muscle strength required. Even if you are physically active now, the routine chores that you could find yourself doing will tax your muscles and stamina in a way that in the best case scenario will take some getting used to.

When finding food isn’t achieved by walking to the fridge or pulling around to the drive-thru and cleaning up involves a lot more than jumping in the shower, your body will need to adjust. That doesn’t even get into the possibilities of running for your life or defending yourself from violence. Now is the time to make sure that your survival fitness levels are as good as they can be.

Here is what every single survivalist should know about getting fit and staying strong before the apocalypse strikes.


You don’t need a fancy weight room or home gym to get stronger. You can improve your strength with nothing more than the items that you already have at home. Filling socks with grains or rice can make for weights. Cans of soup work just as well, too. Chopping wood also builds up your strength.


Even your bug out bag, which should have supplies like clothing, food, water and other necessary items like sunglasses and replaceable lenses, weapons and electronics, can come in handy for a home workout to improve your strength. Strap it on — don’t take anything out — and do your workout. This way you’re even more prepared for TEOTWAWKI since you’re training with your full pack.

Home workouts are just fine. But if you’re searching for something more intense, other workouts, like CrossFit, can challenge all of your muscle groups. In addition to challenging you physically, the group fitness program also challenges you mentally. Find a CrossFit box to join in your community and get fit with a like-minded community of fitness fanatics.


You’re going to be counting on your endurance in any survival situation, and that goes for surviving the end of the world, too. Stamina gives you the necessary power to boost you through any physical activity at your peak. Stamina depends on a healthy, lean diet, regular fitness and an overall healthy lifestyle. Aerobic activities that work all of your muscles and get your heart pumping, like running or riding a bike, can help boost your endurance and should be done regularly. The American College of Sports Medicine reports that weight training also benefits stamina. Sleep is also crucial to building up your endurance.


Yoga isn’t just for green-juice-drinking hippies. It can make you stronger and more flexible. And believe it or not, these things can help you survive the world’s end. Yoga can help you develop a strong core, which gives you more power and control over your body, and it also improves your balance. If your body is flexible, you are going to be less likely to suffer from a pulled muscle when you’re out in the field. Yoga can even make you more agile.


You don’t even have to leave your house to learn yoga, you just need an Internet connection. Man Flow Yoga has online classes that are structured just for men.


You’ve got to be able to outrun the enemy. And newsflash, you’re not going to be able to do that if you’re sitting idle on the couch. You need to start running. Do something that works for you. If you’re comfortable running for 30 minutes at a consistent pace, it’s time to do something that makes you faster. Add more mileage to your runs, but remember that you still need to take days off from your training.

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DIY Treatments for Sunburns


Summertime is an excellent time to get outside, but with hot temperatures, there comes the possibility of getting sunburned. Since the Earth’s axis is tilted, the sun’s rays hit the planet at a steeper angle during the warmer months, increasing the amount of light that strikes at a given point. Plus, the longer daylight hours mean that there’s more time for the temperatures to rise.

Consequently, there’s the potential for you and your loved ones to suffer sunburns. Depending on their severity, sunburns can be extremely painful. They can also lead to blisters, swelling, infection and even headache, fever, chills, and fatigue requiring medical attention if the sunburn is serious enough.

Most minor sunburns, however, can be treated at home using items you already have around the house. There are a few different options.

  1. Use compresses – Immediately after getting sunburned, the skin is often inflamed. You can minimize the inflammation by applying a compress. Try dipping a cloth in cold water and applying for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. For inflammation, you can also apply witch hazel with a cloth or cotton balls. For relief from itching, apply a powder with aluminum acetate.
  2. Apply natural remedies – For pain that often accompanies sunburn, you can apply several natural remedies either directly on the burn or via a cloth. These household items include water and oatmeal, boiled lettuce, yogurt, tea bags soaked in cool water, cornstarch with enough water to be mixed into a paste, and fat-free milk mixed with water and ice cubes.
  3. Take a bath – It’s important to never use soap following a burn. Soap dries and irritates the skin that’s already been damaged. Avoid bubble baths and soaking in soapy water. Instead, rinse the skin with cool (not hot) water, and consider soaking the affected area in cool water. You can also soothe the pain by adding baking soda or vinegar to the bath.
  4. Use Moisturizers – Sunburned skin is dried out, so it makes sense to add moisture back to your skin by applying moisturizing lotion. (Lotion with aloe is a plus.) Be sure to drink lots of water to add moisture back into your body as well. It also helps to eat a balanced diet to provide the nutrients your body needs to heal.
  5. Get some rest – Your body will need lots of rest in order to heal. However, sleeping on a sunburn can be a challenge. Sprinkle talcum powder on the sheets to make your bed more Plus, satin sheets can help provide relief to dry, itchy skin.

Of course, prevention is the best way to minimize the damage that sunburns can do. Use sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 when going outside. Reapply sunscreen as necessary, especially after sweating and swimming. Wear protective clothing like hats that shade your face and lightweight fabrics. Try to avoid the hours between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when the sun is strongest.

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How To Make Survival Foods For Your Dog

A dog is a man’s best friend, or at least that’s what they say. It’s one of those popular wisdom kinds of things. If you ask me, a man’s best friend is his own conscience and set of skills, but we’re not trying to be philosophical, so let’s stick to dogs.

So, what do dogs and survival have in common? Well, dogs were domesticated thousands of years ago and they helped humanity a lot in terms of survival. In this case, by dogs I mean big ones, not Chihuahuas or cat-sized companion dogs, but the real deal, like a German Shepherd or a Rottweiler.

Dogs were used as avant la lettre alarms and early warning systems for protection(against wild animals for example or even in combat) and for herding and hunting. Naturally, in a SHTF situation, having your dog close, alive, happy and well-fed would be a great achievement.

Dogs can help with finding victims in the aftermath of a disaster, they can help you find food and water and they have an acute sense of orientation, so they can lead you home if you get lost. Dogs also keep you company, preventing loneliness and so on and so forth.

Basically, dogs are cool to have around, especially when it comes to survival situations. Okay, I am aware about a school of thought in the prepping community, a survival debate about “to dog or not to dog”.

Truth suffers if it’s over-analyzed, soyou’ll have to decide for yourself if a dog would be too much in a survival situation; if it would be another thing to take care of or vice-versa (if you ask me, Ithink that the advantages of having a real dog in a SHTF situation outweigh the disadvantages).

In a SHTF scenario, you’ll be confronted with a lot of your own problems, so, what about your furry friend?

Today’s article will explore some options and scenarios involving survival foods for your dog. If you think that dog food is irrelevant in a survival situation, check this out: you can eat dog food if S really HTF. So, prepping with food for your precious companion is a double bang for your buck in terms of surviving. I bet you didn’t think of that before, did you?

Now, that we’ve established a clear premise, i.e. that you’ll still own a dog in the aftermath of the apocalypse, let’s explore a few possibilities in terms of survival dog food.

How and What to Feed Your Dog when SHTF?

The question becomes how and what to feed your dog when there’s no food at the pet-stores or in the groceries.

You have to realize that there were dogs around a long time ago, before Purina started making billions of dollars selling pet-food. Your grand-grandfather still had dogs and he fed them on a daily basis (hopefully). Therefore, so can you.

Dog nutrition is not rocket science, I mean our ancestors fed their dogs mostly with table scraps or they cooked their dog food using their own “recipes”. Back in the day, there weren’t hundreds of varieties of dog food at Wal-Mart for different types of dogs. For example, there was no special food for grumpy, lazy, fat, or thin specimens, like there are in present times.

Where am I going with this rationale, you may ask? Well, there are two possibilities for prepping with dog food for when SHTF; that’s what I am talking about.

The first option:  You can prepare for a bleak future with commercially available dog food. Stock it up to make provisions for your dogs. Dried dog food has up to ten years of shelf life, not to mention those “deluxe dog survival kits” and what not which can outlive the pyramids.

If you store the dried dog food properly, in a well-sealed container and in an optimum environment (stable temperatures, low humidity, no sunshine) I bet it will be still edible after more than a decade. The best thing about storing dried dog food is that you can eat it too, in case of emergencies. I mean, it’s better to eat dog food than to eat your dog or starve to death, isn’t it folks?

You can also prepare with specially formulated survival dog food, which is usually packed for long term storage in special Mylar bags that come in rodent-proof, water proof, stackable plastic buckets. It will cost you a few hundred dollars, but you can consider it an investment in your future (yours and your dog, that is).

The second option: Play it old school, like the founding fathers did. Making your own dog food is so simple that you’re going to ask yourself why you spent thousands of dollars until now on specially formulated, heavily processed, specially designed pet-chow instead of this.

How to Prepare a Complete Meal for Your Furry Friend

The most important thing to remember in this business is that dogs are omnivores just like us, not carnivores. That means they can be fed with virtually anything you eat. Okay, maybe except chocolate (it’s toxic for dogs because they lack an enzyme to digest it properly), coffee and cigarettes.

Dogs can be fed using all sorts of stuff beside meat. If you take a look at the listed ingredients in a dog food bag, you’ll understand the concept behind dog food. It’s a mixture of heavily processed meat (scraps, I bet) and veggies, plus synthetic vitamins and minerals. Feeding a dog with a protein-rich diet (meats mostly) will make him more aggressive and hyper active, so you must try to achieve an optimum balance of protein, carbs and fiber.

The most simple and nutritious recipe for DIYing dog food at your home is a mixture of rice (brown or white), protein (pork, chicken, game, tuna, beef or even eggs) and vegetables (peas, beans, carrots, or a mixture of these). The ingredients can be mixed roughly in thirds; I mean one part protein, one part veggies and one part rice. If you have a very active dog, you can put more rice in the mix.

The cheapest rice (also suitable for storing a long time) is available in places like Costco or other retail outlets ( is a good idea too) and you should buy 25-50 pounds at once because it’s the most inexpensive solution.

Another reason to buy in bulk is that you can eat rice too. It’s quite nutritious, especially brown rice.  Rice and beans cooked together make for a complete protein i.e. a highly nutritious survival-food and, just like rice, dried beans can be stored for a long time and they’re dirt cheap if bough in large quantities.

The meat part is a tad more difficult; I mean if you want to store meats long term, you have two possibilities: to can them or to freeze them. The latter doesn’t have much to do with survival, as I imagine electricity would be the first thing to go when SHTF, so you’ll end up with large quantities of defrosting meat which will be inedible in a matter of hours or a couple of days.

Therefore, you’ll have to resort to canned meat, which is not as hard as it sounds. And you can make your own supplies in the process, that’s the “bang for your buck”  part I was talking about in the preamble of the article.

For my dog, I would try to can organ meats, as they’re highly nutritious and also very cheap. There’s another possibility: prepare large quantities of dog food using the aforementioned recipe, and can it for long-term storage.

Canning implies having a lot of glass-jars filled with the respective stuff (meats/prepared dog food) and using one of the two methods: boiling water bath or pressure caning. The boiling water method is the most simple and cheap, and boiling kills all the food induced illnesses and microorganisms that are abundant in most of the regular foods.

The pressure canning method requires a special device and it does basically the same thing, but using higher temperatures and pressures than the first method.

Obviously, in case of an emergency you can always feed your dog with leftovers or food scraps from your dinner; he won’t mind a bit, assuming that you actually have ingredients to make your own dinner.

If you have other ideas or methods about making or storing survival dog food, feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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I think every prepper with a bug out bag should have at least 1 bottle of Activated Charcoal capsules, or powder for making tonic drinks.  For those who already have their homestead or Bug Out location, I advise MAKING charcoal and having as much as possible on hand (ground up) ready to use.

In the times ahead, I see lots of people eating lots of things that under “normal” circumstances they would not, or indulging in food a little too old.  You may even have to trade for food you are not 100% certain of quality or origin.  After the first sign of food poisoning or any poisoning/bowel distress, get the charcoal in you as fast as you can! It draws toxins like flies to honey saving you from hours or DAYS of serious distress, maybe even possibly save your life.

Uses for charcoal

Uses and benefits: upset stomach, colic, nausea, vomiting, acid indigestion, gas, and more.  Another great use for your quality homemade charcoal is as BIO CHAR. You would want to smash it into a chunky powder leaving no piece bigger than a golf ball.  Mix your charcoal with your compost and manure and let if sit.  Just as it absorbs poisons, it also provides the perfect home for beneficial bacteria for your garden.  Once the charcoal is infused with all the good stuff, TILL it into your soil with the compost and manure normally. The cool thing about  your little bio-char / bacteria  houses that you’ve mix up, is that they can release the beneficial nutrients for 100 years.  Thus turning poor soil into prime farm land and makes prime farmland even better. Try it!  You’ll thank me.

There are a lot of other uses for your charcoal such as homemade water filters that you can use to purify rainwater or whatever water source you want.  Some of you may also recall that episode of  ‘preppers’ where that guy was using charcoal between two filter masks.  He covered the inner layer with charcoal and then duct taped the two face masks together.  The charcoal will act as the filter in this method.  I have not tried it myself but the idea seems sound to me.

I also just learned that high-end speakers use activated charcoal to filter sound.  I know it does something as far as frequency in the soil, beneficially, but I just learned of this myself and don’t know enough to speak on it.  I’m including it here in hopes that someone out there smarter than me might comment as to what it’s all about or for those that want to research this on your own.

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How to Prep For Feminine Hygiene Needs

We have grown so reliant on throwaway products for perfectly natural events that sometimes people wonder how on earth they would deal with it if suddenly those products were unavailable.  Of course, for many centuries we handled things like menstruation without access to the local Wal-Mart, and with just a little bit of preparation we could do so again.

This issue of feminine hygiene is an important one not only from the perspective of personal, feminine comfort, but for overall health and prevention of bacterial infections and other nasties.

Guys, if you are not comfortable with the topic of feminine hygiene, feel free to skip over this one or send it off to one of your lady friends who most assuredly will thank you.  On the other hand, it is important to have an understanding of others and the challenges they face following a disruptive event, so, for that reason, I hope you stick around.

History of Feminine Hygiene

With most topics relating to preparedness, the answers we seek come from the past, and the subject of feminine hygiene is no different.

Throughout history, women have used two means of absorbing menstrual fluids: external protection, like a pad, and internal protection, like a tampon.

Women have fashioned absorbent pads from materials like animal skins, oil silk, wadding, paper, wood fibers, linen, and wool. The pads were held in place by belts or string.

What many people don’t know is that from as early as ancient Egypt (1850 BCE) women were fashioning tampons for internal protection. They have used sea sponges, bits of fabric like cotton or wool, rolled up and tied with string, papyrus, and even moss or grass to absorb their flows.

In the early 1800s, many documents indicate that women simply wore dark undergarments and clothing and did not use anything additional to absorb the fluids. It wasn’t until about the mid-1800s that a rubber menstrual cup was patented. Most women, however, made their own products to deal with their periods during that time.

The Tampax company began producing the first disposable, mass-produced tampons in the early 1930s. The first modern menstrual cup was patented in 1937 but was unable to compete with the convenience of the disposable tampons. The first disposable pads that came out had to be pinned to the underwear until the 1950s, when sanitary belts began to become popular. In the 1960s, pads with adhesive strips revolutionized feminine hygiene.

The Feminine Hygiene Preps You Should Make

While it is interesting to see what was used throughout history, I doubt that any of us wish to use moss to deal with that time of the month. If you are a woman of childbearing age, or if you have daughters, even ones too young to be menstruating, you will want to make preparations to deal with menstruation in the event a time comes that you can’t make a quick, monthly trip to Wal-Mart or the drugstore.

Feminine preparedness is something that is often overlooked by those of us that write about prepping. After receiving a number of questions from readers, I felt it was high time that I became educated to some of the alternatives to traditional, disposable methods for dealing with the monthly menses.

It is my wish that the following suggestions will help you to get some feminine hygiene preps in order.

Stockpile Sanitary Napkins and Tampons

When times are stressful, it can be helpful to avoid as many changes as possible. If you stockpile several months’ supply of sanitary napkins and tampons, you may be able to ride out the event that has kept you from being able to purchase them at the store.  Purchase additional packages of disposable products each month and stash them away for a time in which you need them.

As well, if the event causes water to be in short supply, having some disposable products on hand will keep you from using your valuable supply to soak soiled cloths.

The best way to dispose of soiled menstrual products is to burn them.

Why You Should Consider Reusable Products

In a long-term scenario,  you will need solutions that can be reused and don’t require disposal. Not many people could stock up on enough disposable supplies to last forever. Don’t forget that reusable pads can also be used for minor incontinence and post-birth bleeding, making them handy for many different stages in a woman’s life.

Some women are turning to reusable solutions voluntarily.  This has several benefits. First, they are able to avoid the potentially unhealthy chemicals used in the manufacture of pads and tampons. Second, they are being kind to the planet by reducing waste. Thirdly, they save a lot of money by not having to make a purchase each month.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, if the SHTF, they are already accustomed to dealing with these methods of feminine hygiene.

Buy Cloth Pads

Most of the ready-made cloth pads that you can buy these days are really comfortable and convenient. Popular materials are cotton, flannel, and bamboo. Gone are the days of pins and belts. Today, most of these pads are made with little wings. Where disposable pads would have adhesive to keep them in place, on the wings of the reusable pads are Velcro or snaps that wrap around and fasten the pad to your underwear.

You should plan on a variety of pads to meet the different needs of your cycle. You will want to purchase half a dozen pantyliners and overnight/heavy flow pads and about 12 daytime pads. You can save money buy purchasing an entire kit. While this looks expensive, keep in mind that this is a one-time purchase that will last 5 years or longer if you take care of it properly.

DIY Some Cloth Pads

If you are into saving money and DIY, it is a fairly simple project to make your own pads.

This two-part video tutorial will walk you through the steps of making your own pads.

Caring for Cloth Pads

Another question that often arises when discussing cloth pads is, “What do you do with them when you are out or are away from home?”.

You can treat them basically like cloth diapers. When you remove the soiled pad, use the snaps to fold the soiled area inward. Then, place it in a sturdy Ziploc freezer bag or one of these “wet bags” designed for feminine hygiene products.

If you are at home, of course, it is exponentially easier. Rinse the pad in cold running water. Then, put it in a container under the bathroom sink that contains a white vinegar and water solution. This will keep any stains from setting in until you have a chance to wash it thoroughly. Generally, pads are machine washable and can be dried on low. If you want to be discreet about washing them, use a mesh lingerie bag to keep them together in the laundry.

Avoid using bleach, as it will break down the fibers of your pads and reduce the lifespan. Avoid using fabric softener, too, because it can cause the pad to be less absorbent.

This video goes into more detail about washing your pads.

Internal Protection

Some women truly dislike using pads because they find them uncomfortable. There are a couple of safe methods of internal protection, too.

The Menstrual Cup

One of the most popular reusable solutions is the menstrual cup. Generally made of flexible silicone, these cups are inserted vaginally and collect the menstrual flow. They are removed, dumped, rinsed, and reinserted.

The most popular menstrual cup on the market is the Diva Cup. It comes in two sizes, pre-childbirth and post childbirth. A newcomer to the market, the Blossom Cup, is about half the price and has fantastic reviews.


A product used for centuries, natural sponges are absorbent, safe, and reliable methods for internal protection.

To use the sponge, simply dampen it, squeeze it out, and insert it. You can tie a string around it for easier removal. Rinse well, squeeze out, and reinsert. You can use the same sponge for numerous cycles, until it begins to break down and become less absorbent.  When your cycle is over, soak the sponge in hydrogen peroxide, then air dry it thoroughly before storing it away.

You can purchase sponges that are sold as sponge tampons if you want to pay 6 times the price, but any sea sponge will work. You can cut them to size if the sponge piece is too large for comfortable insertion.

The Final Word

Feminine hygiene preps are often overlooked as we pay attention to things like food, shelter, fire, and water. Although I am well past the age of needing this type of prep for myself, I do believe that this is something many preppers need and thus is deserving of our attention.

If you are a woman or if you live with women (or girls), prepare for your monthly needs in the same way that you would for any other regular occurrence. Build a stockpile to meet immediate needs, and prepare a back-up in the event that the crisis lasts for a longer period of time.

As far as comfort in a disaster is concerned, having some solutions in place could greatly relieve anxiety and inconvenience in a stressful scenario.

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Besides the medicinal and nutritional aspects of many teas, a warm beverage in a dire situation can be the perfect pick me up to boost your mood when times get rough. While it can be pretty difficult to find earl grey leaves to make yourself a nice cup of tea in a survival scenario, the ingredients for these four teas can be found relatively frequently in the wilderness.

Great for relieving headaches, boosting your immune system, and relaxing dry coughs, these really are four wild teas every survivalist should know about.

The value of a warm beverage in a survival scenario is nothing to laugh at. What could be dismissed as a luxury is actually a valuable asset. The drink provides you with vital hydration in any climate or situation. In cold weather, the warm drink can bolster you against hypothermia. And if there is a medicinal or nutritional element to the tea, that’s even better. Any survivalist worth his or her salt should be able to identify and brew up these prospective panaceas. Get ready for tea time.

Pine Needle Tea (Pinus spp.)
This tea is a Vitamin C powerhouse. Positively identify pine, chop up a tablespoon of needles, and soak them in scalding hot water for 10 minutes to get 4-5 times your daily requirement of C. Just make sure you skip the loblolly and ponderosa pines, as their needles may be a little toxic, according to recent research. And don’t consume pine needle tea if you are pregnant, as it may cause premature birth.

Mint Tea (Mentha spp.)
There are few better remedies for digestive troubles than a cool glass of mint tea. It can certainly be drunk while hot, but a cool beverage seems to be as soothing as a slug of pink Pepto. It’s good for indigestion, colic, and hangover. Mint is also used in aromatherapy to allegedly improve your concentration and diminish depression. There’s just one problem with this elixir. Pregnant or nursing women aren’t supposed to consume strong, fresh mint food or drink; and anyone with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may find their condition temporarily worsened as the valve at the top of the stomach can be relaxed by menthol (the oily compound in mint).

Black Willow Tea (Salix nigra)
Bark from several species in the willow family, including the black willow, has been used since 400 B.C. to treat inflammation and pain. Black willow bark contains salicin, a predecessor to aspirin. It was once common for people to chew directly on the shaved bark for pain and fever relief, but a better effect is gained through the tea. Steep a tablespoon of twig bark shavings in a cup of water for 15 minutes, and drink until your headache is gone. Not all willows can be used in the same ways, so consult a local plant expert to find out what your local willows can provide.

Slippery Elm Tea (Ulmus rubra)
The bark shavings of twigs from slippery elm can be steeped just like the black willow, but instead of curing a headache, this tea cures a cough. The natural mucilage in the slimy bark will coat and relax your dry cough, and it is much safer than other natural cough remedies (like colt’s foot, which can be toxic to the liver).

If you’re not sure about all this plant eating and foraging, don’t let a few bad plants scare you away from gathering wild foods. Take a respectable field guide with you, and use it.  My top recommendation is “Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants.” Although it is advertised as an eastern plant book, it works well on the west coast, too. In fact, many of the plants in this book are non-native to America, and are scattered around the globe.

Do you have a favorite wild tea? Tell us about it in the comments. Good luck and safe foraging.

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Types of Campfire

Having a campfire is a big part of camping. But do you know what type of campfire to make?

Don’t believe everything you watch on TV or see in the movies. There are different types of campfire. Some are best for heat and light, others are best for cooking over.

TV shows and films often have a roaring fire with pots and other items cooking over the flames.

Whilst it’s not impossible to cook that way, you’ll usually end up with burnt andundercooked food.

Hot coals and embers are actually much better to cook over as they give out a good steady heat, and it’s easier to control the temperature by adding or taking away hot coals.

Flame tends to burn yet not get that hot, at least not hot enough to cook the inside of your food before it scorches the outside.

If you want to do a lot of campfire cooking for your family, I recommend you get a Dutch Oven.

Dutch Ovens and other cast iron cookware work really well with hot coals, as the heat from the coals transfers to the iron, making it ideal for frying, baking, and roasting.

Let’s look at a few different types of campfire.

The Tepee is the classic looking campfire and is ideal when you want to create a quick fire to warm up with.

Pile up dry tinder kindling and set it alight. Then start placing sticks around it in a tepee shape, making sure that you don’t smother the fire.

As the fire gets bigger you can use larger sticks and logs.

This is a good fire that puts out a tall flame and heat in all directions, making it an ideal campfire to sit around in the evening.

You will need plenty of fuel close to hand as this type of fire burns quickly.

However, the tepee campfire is not a good choice if you want to cook food.

If you want a campfire to cook over, then you need to build a Criss-Cross fire.

You build this by simply placing a criss-cross of logs, stacked on top of one another.

I find it easier to light by creating a small depression in the ground and start a small fire with dry kindling first, then start adding more small twigs to the fire, and then build the crisscrossed logs above the fire.

Although the fire’s shape does provide a flat platform to cook things over, eventually the logs will collapse in on themselves.

This is not a problem, as it’s the hot embers and coals that this sort of fire makes that you then use for cooking with.

So what if you want to sit around a campfire and cook? How can you have a good campfire that does both?

Well, the ideal solution is a Keyhole Firepit.

You cut a keyhole shape in the ground and start a Tepee fire in the round part of the keyhole.  This fire provides light and warmth.

Now you can either wait for the Tepee fire to create enough hot embers or start a second fire for cooking with.

If you decide to wait, then rake hot embers from the main fire into the slot where you can cook food.

Alternatively, start a small criss-cross fire in the slot to create some embers while the tepee fire is warming everyone and lighting up the camp.

The Swedish Torch campfire is very popular on the internet. After all, using this design, a single log can burn for hours.  Sounds amazing, right?

The concept is quite simple.

You cut some slits into a log. You stand the log on its end and start a fire in the top. As the fire embers fall into the slits the log starts to burn.

Air is drawn into the slits and the log burns down from the top and the inside.

We’ve created something like this before, and although you can have a log burning for a long time, it doesn’t give out as much heat or light, so a group of you at a campsite won’t be keeping warm by this fire, unlike a tepee fire. Though if there’s just one or two of you and don’t have much wood, the Swedish Torch could be a good choice.

You’ll also want make sure the log is firm. You don’t want it falling over, especially with kids around.

If the top of the log is also flat you could place a small pan or pot on the top and use the log to cook on. The Swedish Torch does put out a lot of heat at the top of the log.

Here’s a video from the internet on making a Swedish Torch campfire.

So there you go, a couple of different methods of creating a campfire.

Here’s a handy summary:

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22 Absolutely Essential Diagrams You Need For Camping

From survival to s’mores, here’s everything you need to know to ensure a flawless camping trip.

1. How to Build a Campfire

2. Tent Tips

3. Everything You Need to Know About the Technicality of S’mores

4. How to Estimate Remaining Daylight with Your Hand

5. Snacks to Pack

6. What You Can Do to Repel Mosquitoes

7. How to Sleep Warm

8. How to Survive Hypothermia

9. Backpacker’s Checklist

10. How to Rig a Tarp

11. How to Get Your Dutch Oven to the Right Temperature

12. How to Identify Animal Tracks

13. Know Your Stargazing Events This Summer

14. 10 Easy Fire Starters

15. Kayak Camping Checklist

16. A Guide to Hammock Camping

17. Guide to Spider Bites

18. Checklist for Car Camping

19. How to Make Shelters in Survival Situations Using Nature

20. How to React to a Wildlife Encounter

21. Tarp Tips

22. Know Your Poisonous Plants