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One of the most diverse prepper considerations from the standpoint of a long-term disaster is health. By health I am not specifically referring to the risks to your health from the disaster itself. If you are living through a hurricane or earthquake, there are natural risks to your health that you need to mitigate in the moment. Prior planning helps you with identifying the risks in this type of scenario and developing a course of action to take. If there are violent mobs approaching your city, that is another risk and those subjects are just one piece of the health equation that preppers need to plan for. Prepping is all about staying alive and alive usually assumes healthy. If your health deteriorates too far, you won’t be alive for very long.

Physical safety from harm has one dimension. Then you have nutritional health and that brings in the considerations of adequate food, sanitation and hygiene and treatment of illness, and the subject of clean water. These things could have a far greater impact on your life after some disaster than the actual disaster itself, assuming you did have a plan and were able to take steps to get yourself out of harm’s way. Yes you could be affected by that natural disaster, but with minor preparations and some action, that is largely avoidable.

During the clean up in the days, months and possibly years after the event, your daily nutritional health will likely play a bigger factor into your survival. Assuming you have the food storage covered and you are stocked with water filtration methods and all the toilet paper you can handle, there are many other considerations our body needs to run as efficiently as possible. And like a lot of other prepping supplies, some are harder to find if the grocery stores aren’t open. After the beans, bullets and Band-Aids, do you have plenty of salt stored away?

Why is salt important to nutrition?

Your body needs salt in order to function. In fact, Salt is essential to life and you simply can’t live without it. Salt isn’t something the food companies made up either and its importance was very evident far back in history. The world Salary comes from the Latin root word for salt, “sal” because Romans were paid in salt. Salt is so important that we need to include that in our daily diet and even more so if we are depleting salt as in the case of heavy perspiration.

What is salt used for in the body? According to Mercola:

  • Salt is a major component of your blood plasma, lymphatic fluid, extracellular fluid and even amniotic fluid.
  • Salt helps your body properly carry nutrients into and out of your cells.
  • Salt helps you maintain and regulate blood pressure
  • Salt increases the glial cells in your brain, which are responsible for creative thinking and long-term planning. Something you are sure to need if the grid goes down for very long.
  • It helps your brain communicate with your muscles via sodium-potassium ion exchange.

When our bodies don’t have enough salt to provide for optimal health you can develop a condition known as hyponatremia. In hyponatremia, your body’s water levels rise, and your cells begin to swell. This swelling can cause many health problems, from mild to life-threatening.

Hyponatremia signs and symptoms may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Loss of energy and fatigue
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Living near the oceans provides a limitless source of salt but are you close enough to take advantage of this?

How much salt should you stock up on?

So it’s clear we need to plan for salt as part of our overall health if we want to maintain optimal levels, but how much should we stock up on and is any salt better than another? Most of our diet now provides the salt we need in abundance. Over 80 percent of the salt most of us consume comes from processed foods. The freeze-dried camping meals I love as a bug out bag option give you plenty of salt so you might think you already have everything you need.

When I first started prepping and began my food storage, I went to Sam’s and bought a whole case of Morton Iodized Salt. Each box is 4 pounds and they cost a little over $1 each. I figured I was set for quite a while, but I didn’t learn about the differences in “salt” until much later. Regular table salt has added ingredients (Calcium silicate, dextrose and of course Potassium Iodide) so strictly speaking this isn’t the best all-natural salt you can get. However, I believe that in a disaster or crisis, this will be perfectly fine and it is a cheap way to store a lot of salt. So now, I have at least 48 pounds of salt which I calculate lasting my family three years minimum.

A more pure source of daily salt is Himalayan Salt.

There are healthier sources of salt. Himalayan Salt for instance seems to be the most pure retail source now but it is more expensive as you would expect. Himalayan salt is only 85 percent sodium chloride; the remaining 15 percent contains 84 trace minerals from prehistoric seas. Table salt by example is not pure sodium chloride but is 97.5 percent sodium chloride and anti-caking and flow agents are added to compromise about 2.5 percent. These can be dangerous chemicals like ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate. You should research the health benefits of each and make your own decisions. For my family, we have the Morton salt stored in bulk for what-if and use Himalayan on the dinner table.

How to find sources of salt in the wild

Stocking up on dozens of pounds of salt from your closest big box store is simple enough. Maybe you have a convenient salt mine in your town like the residents of Jericho, but what if you don’t have a home and all of your supplies anymore? What can you do to provide the needed salt for optimal health? Is there a source of salt naturally near you?

Well, you can find active salt mines near you by going to the internet. This site has a simple listing of salt mines by location that you might use to scope out opportunities ahead of time.

Sea Water – Yes, this is a no-brainer I understand, but some people might not have considered that all the salt we could ever need is in the oceans. Just collect seawater and let it evaporate in a container. You might have to wait a while for that to occur, heating over a fire is another option but the evaporated water will leave behind sea salt.

Meats and Seafood – The blood from animals can be harvested for recipes and the meat naturally contains sodium. Salt water Fish are naturally going to have sodium but again, if you are living close to the oceans, you already have a source. Kelp and seaweed are also excellent sources.

Eggs and Dairy – Eggs, large eggs contain 62 milligrams of sodium and while this isn’t all you need, it is a source and provides another reason for raising your own chickens.

Vegetables and roots – Right out in your garden, One cup of cooked spinach contains 184 milligrams of sodium per serving. One cup of raw Swiss chard contains even more, with 313 milligrams of sodium. Other vegetables like artichokes, sweet potatoes, radishes, celery, carrots, broccoli and bell peppers have lower amounts but they are still a source. One cup of raw celery contains 96 milligrams of sodium.

Hickory Tree Roots – Apparently, the roots of a hickory tree can be chopped into small pieces, boiled in water for a long time, but not so long there is not any water left. Remove the hickory root pieces and then boil the rest of the water down and you will be left with a black substance that is supposed to be salt. This one is not one of the better known sources and I can’t find a lot of literature on the subject. That coupled with the higher chance of error seems to rule this out.

What about salt blocks? –This seems like a great idea. Just buy a few blocks of salt, intended for livestock or luring animals like deer into the stand and you are all set. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other chemicals added to those salt blocks to keep them in that nice pretty block so this approach isn’t recommended for salt you can consume later. The salt blocks would be good for their intended purpose though and that is providing a lure for animals. Bring them in close and you can harvest a big deer hopefully. Sure beats licking that block…

What other overlooked prepping supplies have you thought of?

One of the most diverse prepper considerations from the standpoint of a long-term disaster is health. By health I am not specifically referring to the risks to your health from

Have you read the latest article or seen the latest video about why this tool or that item should be included in your bug out bag or have in your home if you decide you are going to stay put and dig in? For many of us, hesitating to make adjustments to our basic items we pack for shelter, fire, food, water, hunting, fishing, tools, first aid and firearms once we are comfortable with our selection-is normal, yet, we still might have doubts.

One adjustment we may consider would be the benefit of using drones as a necessary piece of equipment for preppers in a true TEOTWAWKI scenario.

Drone technology has been changing rapidly. They have become an important tool for our military, the government, law enforcement, and commercial businesses and perhaps even for your neighbor down the street. The uses for these UAV vehicles and the government’s dependency on them should –if they haven’t already –raised a red warning sign in front of all of us who are concerned about government interference or being able to bug out or keep a low profile in a SHTF situation. Stop and consider your bug out plan! Is it drone proof? Have you considered ways of detecting, hiding, or if necessary destroying drones that might cross your path as you move towards your bug out location?

Perhaps one thing to consider is using drones for offensive and defensive security.

Using Drones for Offensive Security

Reconnaissance and Surveillance:

The primary reason for adding drones to your list of bug out items is Reconnaissance and Surveillance. In a bug out situation, you will need to reconnoiter your planed escape route or routes. Being able to get a ‘bird’s eye view” via a live feed on your smart phone-even after an EMP attack (if your phone and drone was protected) could provide you with instant intelligence to determine if it is safe for proceed. Currently, to have that same level of information you would had to commit you and perhaps your group into an area that may no longer be safe.

Drones could also be placed in strategic areas along your bug out route as a static observation positions. Its camera could record video

SYMA X5C Explorers 2.4G 4CH 6-Axis Gyro RC Quadcopter With HD Camera

footage to alert you to increased activity or threats which you could access well before you reach the area. These monitoring drones could also use Drone tracker applications to defend or detect drones approaching you or your group early enough to provide you time to hide and remain undetected.

Aerial attack

It is not outside the realm of possibility that drones could be equipped with explosives and then flown into an attacking force to inflict physical harm or even loss of life. They could also be used to deliver tear gas or pepper spray to spearhead an attack on a position or to cover a retreat. As drones become more advanced, the capabilities to carry a heavier payload will provide even a larger threat of attack.

Delivery of supplies:

If your bug out plans or the current tactical situation requires your group to travel in small numbers at various intervals and radios cannot be used, drones can be used to send or deliver messages (encrypted) or supplies.

Electronic Surveillance:

Using Drones as electronic bugs to listen in or collect signal intelligence or even to hack into WIFI and steal data from networks is not limited to movie fiction. Having the training to use or detect this surveillance might make the difference between survival and capture.

Physical/ Defensive security:

The addition of drones as part of your physical and defensive security plan should be pretty clear by now. As stated earlier in a SHTF situation and you are physically unable to bug out, then placing drones in strategic areas in your neighborhood could be used for observation purposes, collecting intelligence of activity near and perhaps far away from your location while being able to keep a low profile.

The camera systems on drones have video and audio capabilities. Some even have the ability of using night vision cameras with infrared detecting systems which could detect threats in low light or night conditions much better than the human eye.

Consideration of drones as part of your security plan can help in protection against gangs, thieves and even other drones that are being used against you I’m sure you can think of the various benefits especially if you’re getting up in years and are not as agile as you may need to be if such a SHTF event happen

Second thoughts – are they worth the risks

Yet, the use of drones during a bug out could be a risk that you might cause you not to consider these tools. Many of them make a lot of noise and could attract the very threats that you are trying to discover and evade. There size and the possibility of being damage during a bug out must be taken into consideration along with costs prior to being purchased. This industry is growing rapidly as the demand for smaller, faster, more rugged systems are flying off the design boards and hitting the market.

One should also consider that the government and law enforcement agencies are also busy designing counter measures to combat the likelihood of them being used for criminal or terrorist activities. So one needs to consider what ECM (electronic counter measures) might be used against them.

Still with proper training and experience, drones could be great surveillance tools. What do you think? Do drones make sense for preppers?

Have you read the latest article or seen the latest video about why this tool or that item should be included in your bug out bag or have in your

Let’s get right down to business. WTSHTF there will be no time to plan things out. There are no apps to give you notice for this event, so those who are prepared will be ready. Can TSHTF?  And when will this happen? Obviously, no one knows and for God’s sake, we all hope that this day never comes. This is not fear-mongering; rather, a calculated risk that even the most conservative consider possible and someday inevitable. This thought was enough to motivate an old-school Primary Care Doc like me to do something!

During my residency training years in New York and Hartford CT, my teachers would use a classic pearl during rounds: “Common things are common, so when you hear hoofbeats, think of horses not zebras”.

Let’s talk about horses. WTSHTF you better have the basics covered – that includes a supply of medications for common medical issues. Next, you better understand how to use them. From infectious diseases to deadly systemic reactions – you will need to be prepared.  Flu to systemic allergic reactions, I will discuss common, yet potentially deadly medical conditions and Top 7 Medicines that can protect you from getting sick WTSHTF.

Starting from the crown. A common cold, AKA- upper respiratory infection can lead to bacterial bronchitis, which can end up as a deadly bacterial pneumonia. The flu can kill rapidly as it can lead to a viral pneumonia and overwhelm the immune system via a “cytokine storm”.  Pneumonia is a common lung illness and rates are greatest in children younger than five and adults older than 75. Anyone with heart or lung disease is at greater risk for pneumonia. The best protection against pneumonia is to get vaccinated if you are at risk and to receive early and appropriate medical treatment. Treating the flu with anti-viral medication within 48 hours in addition to treating a bad cold that has led to a bacterial bronchitis at the appropriate time can be truly live saving events. If in fact you end up with a pneumonia, you BETTER have a broad spectrum respiratory antibiotic at your fingertips!

WTSHTF and you or your honey are bumbling around the basement trying to secure the necessities to hunker down and suddenly discover that in all the chaos, you have a significant laceration on your lower leg. This simple cut can lead to a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis and over only a few days can lead to serious trouble. This type of infection is seen every day in walk-in clinics throughout the United States and in most circumstances, does not pose any threat because of early and appropriate antibiotic treatment. First-line treatment for cellulitis is usually a beta-lactam antibiotic called a cephalosporin. Having the right type of anti-biotic is crucial and can definitely make the difference between life and death. Having a medication on hand based on a personal history with an expert Internist who understands and has experience with treating common medical conditions that can hurt you is key. From true drug allergies to a thorough history of your medical conditions and even details regarding, if and how long you were hospitalized in the past are very important factors in deciding exactly what antibiotic you will need to treat this and other specific medical conditions WTSHTF.  Remember, we are still talking horses. These are very common medical conditions that can lead to death if not treated appropriately and EARLY.

If TSHTF and you find yourself in a region that has infectious agents that can cause diarrhea, you better have anti-diarrheal and anti-biotic medications on-hand and understand when and how to use them. Educating people on this is quite simple- when talking to an experience Internist. Doctors at Travel Clinic’s around the world have been giving “travelers” prophylactic anti-biotics for potentially dangerous diarrhea for years. Why wouldn’t you have these live saving medicines in your armamentarium for WTSHTF? Again, having spent time reviewing your medical history, medications and drug allergies with an expert physician and having a personal supply of PERSONALIZED medications on hand, PRIOR to interfacing with any serious illness, is going to be your best chance of surviving WTSHTF.

A simple cut can lead to a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis and over only a few days can lead to serious trouble.

Are you or someone you love prone to urinary tract infections-UTIs? A simple UTI can be very uncomfortable and is easy to treat with a course of an appropriate anti-biotic. If not treated properly simple UTIs can lead to a bacterial infection of the kidney called Pyelonephritis. If this is not treated aggressively in the early stages, it may have to be treated in a hospital setting with intravenous broad spectrum anti-biotics. When these bacterial infections of the kidney or even an aggressive UTI are not treated appropriately and early they can lead to Uro-Sepsis. An overwhelming bacterial infection in the blood that can be deadly in many cases. Again, treating a simple UTI early with a specific anti-biotic regimen, based on your past medical and allergy history will be crucial to saving your live WTSHTF.

Injuries and illness will be prevalent in a SHTF scenario.

Anyone who has asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease-COPD knows that even a simple cold can be a nightmare. Treatment regimens for these conditions will require being prepared with anti-biotics in addition to rescue inhalers and in many instances a course of corticosteroids- Prednisone will be required. I regularly provide my patients with enough of these medications, so that if they are unable to get to the pharmacy or to see another doctor, they have enough of these lifesaving medications to get through for at least a week.

In the end, there are many medical issues that can arise when you are off the grid and WTSHTF. From a severe case of poison ivy to a skin rash of unknown cause or any systemic reaction to an allergen, having a medication called Prednisone on hand can make the difference between having a better quality of life to saving your life.

Medical conditions that you will need a Rx:

  • Upper respiratory infections– bacterial bronchitis and pneumonia that can lead to sepsis and will require an anti-biotic.
  • Flu– can be deadly and can lead to life-threatening pneumonia. Early treatment with an ant-viral will be required.
  • Skin infections from cuts, animal/snake bites or any break of the skin that is worsening – cellulitis will require an anti-biotic.
  • Severe skin reactions like poison ivy that need a local or systemic corticosteroid (Prednisone)
  • Severe diarrhea that requires an antibiotic – traveler’s diarrhea and bacterial food poisoning.
  • Urinary tract infections– can lead to kidney infection and uro-sepsis will require an anti-biotic.
  • Respiratory emergencies, e.g., asthma attacks and COPD that require a rescue inhaler and possible systemic corticosteroids
  • Systemic Allergic reactions of any type that will require a corticosteroid (Prednisone)

Lifesaving Rx:

  • Respiratory infection –personal antibiotic, rescue inhaler and systemic corticosteroid
  • Flu – Tamiflu Rx
  • Skin infection –personal antibiotic
  • Skin rashes, contact dermatitis –Potent topical corticosteroid Rx and Prednisone
  • Prednisone –multipurpose lifesaving medication for many emergency medical situations
  • Traveler’s diarrhea antibiotic – personal antibiotic
  • Urinary Tract Infection –personal antibiotic
  • Systemic Allergic reaction –prednisone and Epi-pen

The 7 medications for WTSHTF are based on a personal review with an expert physician and will cover:

  1. Anti-biotic for a common bacterial bronchitis or community acquired pneumonia. Azithromycin would be a good example for someone without an allergy to this medication . A full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
  2. Medicine for Flu. Typically, Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) is used. Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
  3. Medicine for a Broad Spectrum anti-biotic for severe pneumonia, urinary tract infection, skin infection or gastrointestinal bacterial infection. Levaquin (Levofloxacin) is a great lifesaving anti-biotic for these medical situations. Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
  4. Medicine for a simple urinary tract infection or simple skin infection-cellulitis. Keflex (Cephalexin) and Bactrim (Sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim) are 2 classic anti-biotics used regally for these medical conditions. Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
  5. Rescue inhaler – a bronchodilator called Albuterol comes in a hand-held inhaler ready to use on the spot. Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
  6. Epinephrine Auto-Injector called EpiPen is a must for any medical allergic emergency. Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
  7. Taper dose of oral glucocorticoid steroid called Prednisone. This is one the most important and universal lifesaving medication known to man! Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.

To summarize this article: There are a limited number of common medical issues that can lead to varying degrees of illness and death, if not treated early. Understanding these conditions and having these medications ON HAND BEFORE WTSHTF can definitely save your life!  No one would argue this, so see an expert physician before WTSHTF.

 

 

Let’s get right down to business. WTSHTF there will be no time to plan things out. There are no apps to give you notice for this event, so those who

One of the most stressful situations you are likely to encounter in a SHTF event will be the struggle to get to a place of safety. This could be the not-so-simple matter of getting home, or the even more challenging matter of bugging out to a distant place of refuge. If you think about it, it doesn’t really matter whether your destination is 5 miles away or fifty. If you don’t have a clear understanding of how to reach your objective – that is, the routes and terrain (urban, rural or natural) that you will confront – then you are trusting to hope and luck; neither of which qualify as a strategy for survival.

There are several critical aspects to developing a get-home or bug out route, but the first two are planning and confirming. In other words, you have to identify and analyze routes, and then you have to gain a level of certainty that they will serve you reliably under conditions that will very likely be beyond your control.

If you were confronted with a traffic blockage during your daily commute, your first inclination might be to access a mapping tool on your smart phone to help you find a secondary route. But, if the grid is down your handy mapping tool will be useless. SHTF conditions, such as civil disorder, congested roadways, road closures, blockades, lack of fuel or weather conditions, could force you to abandon your preferred route. Without planning, you may have no idea about suitable alternatives – unless you have already researched and confirmed the alternate routes.

You can define, in advance, a primary route and a series of alternate routes that will give you the best chance to reach your destination if you have the right tools and learn how to use them. I am specifically referring to the use of Google Earth, which uses satellite imagery from Landsat. The value of this imagery is that you can examine surface features in great detail, locate roads and trails that do not appear on regular maps, identify sources of water that are not dependent on electric pumps, to name only a few benefits.

Let’s take a high level look at a hypothetical bug out route between an arbitrary point of origin “A” and a destination “B”.

In this example, the tan line on the left is a highway route that spans 65 miles between the origin and destination. This would be the obvious choice for travel, enabling you to reach the destination in about one and a half hours through mountainous country. But what if the highway has been barricaded at a critical choke-point and nothing is getting through?

The green lines show a secondary route that follows 2-track roads to the same destination. Taking the left leg of this route will span a distance of 54 miles, while the right leg will take 55 miles.

The blue line shows a 12 mile stretch of perennial stream flow that could be used if a bug out group was on foot. Several other route options are available, but are omitted for simplicity.

A thorough analysis of the river route with Google Earth will reveal that the gain in elevation is a steady 54 feet per mile over this distance. That is important to know if you are on foot. The green routes will show elevations that range from 2,200 feet to nearly 8,000 feet, with significant (+/-) changes in elevation over very short distances of travel. In other words, this is mountainous terrain and there is a lot of steep ground between A and B.

Let’s take a closer look a small portion of the 2-track trail:

This image identifies just three of many sources of water along the route. It is important to note that only one of these sources appear on USGS Topo maps and two of them are not obvious, even with satellite imagery. So, why are they shown in the photo? They were identified by a detailed inspection of the route. Each source of water is tied to a specific GPS location. In fact, any location on Google Earth can be referenced using standard coordinate formats. The point is that you have to know where these important resources are located beforehand so that you can incorporate them into your route.

Sources of Game

Here is a closer view of the “river route,” which reveals useful information at a moderate viewing altitude

This 2,000 foot segment of surface flow identifies just a few of many game trails, as shown by the yellow lines. Deer and other wildlife can be found here (and at numerous other locations along this stream) throughout the year. Trails are easily identifiable by zooming down to a lower level of “eye altitude.” Analysis of the imagery revealed the game trails, but knowledge of the type and abundance of could only be established by on site verification.

Route Hazards

The warning symbol shown in the above image shows a (very real) area that needs to be either bypassed or approached with caution. Once again, you cannot determine that kind of knowledge by simply looking at a map.

An even lower level view of this segment also reveals that you could be hiking in waist-deep water if your route is confined to the stream. I have hiked this area numerous times and know that spring–fall seasons produce a deep canopy of tree cover along this stream. I also know that water flow can be fatally high during heavy monsoon and winter storms. In other words, a photo image is worthless if you cannot apply direct knowledge to the route.

The next image continues with a portion of the green 2-track route, but includes anecdotal information about ways to identify potential navigational hazards that can lead to wasted time and fuel.

Beginning on the left, I have placed a warning symbol that shows a dead-end 2-track road. The center hazard symbol indicates a trail that needs to be avoided because it leads in a direction that adds distance (and time) to the route. I could have added a dozen or more hazard symbols along this portion of the trail to identify 2-track roads that need to be avoided. Why go to the trouble? You may want to share your Bug Out album with other members of your group, and they may be hours or days behind you. Importantly, they may not know the route as intimately as you do.

There is another vitally important reason for sharing your bug out route: It says “This is where I will be. If I get pushed off this route, I will always strive to get back to it. Look for me there!”

The next image shows a hiking trail that can reduce travel distance by several miles if you are on foot, rather than in a vehicle. As you can see, it is rendered with a 3D perspective that provides a better understanding of the terrain.

I have annotated the starting elevation of the trail (lower left) and the elevation at the crest of the mountain. There is an overall gain of 1,120 feet to the crest, followed by a drop of 806 feet where the trail joins up with the 2-track road on the right. Route distance is 2.65 miles versus six miles on the 2-track road.

The last image, below, shows the level of detail that you can obtain. In this instance, the “eye altitude” above a frozen water catchment is 370 feet. A portion of the bug out trail is shown along the bottom of the image.

From a practical standpoint it is possible to maintain excellent image quality on Google Earth to as low as 300 feet above the deck. Images begin to degrade below that level, although you can do some very good analysis at lower levels once you gain experience with the tool. Remember however, that at very low viewing levels, the field of view will be limited. For example, at an eye altitude of 300 feet, you will be viewing an area that is approximately 350 feet on the east-west axis by 250 feet on the north-south axis. If you intend to build a photo library using such a low-level, the 55 mile route would require more than 1,100 images! That is entirely unnecessary. All you really have to do is work at an eye altitude that provides the level of detail that you are comfortable with. There will certainly be instances where you want to zoom in on an important location or feature, but that shouldn’t be necessary in most cases.

It is important to understand that satellite images are not depicted in real-time. Google Earth updates individual image panes periodically and could be anywhere from a few weeks to two years old. Is that important? Not really. Highways, county roads, forest trails and buildings don’t move and they certainly don’t disappear between image updates.

As you do the research to build your own Bug Out library, don’t worry about the image date that will be displayed at low levels. Google will update it when they have some economic reason to do so. And when they do, I guarantee that nothing of importance will have changed.

Getting Started

There are only four things that you need in order to develop a bug out library of images:

  • A home computer with Internet access
  • A downloaded copy of Google Earth (it’s free)
  • A method of transferring images
  • A smart phone

Pre-load your routes of travel for various bug out routes into your GPS.


Beyond these basics, all that you need is the motivation to learn how to navigate Google Earth. There really is no limit to your ability to annotate important information. Any location or feature that is important to your safety and survival can be identified and documented on the image.

Leveraging Value

Once you have built your library, I would urge that you incorporate a fifth item to your survival tool bag, and that is a handheld GPS device. The value of this unit is that you can pre-load important coordinates from the bug out routes that you have developed from satellite imagery. The images on your smart phone will be static; that is, you can view them, but you cannot interact with them.

As I’ve said in previous postings, there are many ways that you can get pushed from a desired route. Regardless of the distance, a GPS unit can tell you precisely where you are, where you want to be, as well as the distance and direction of travel required to get back to the preferred route on your smart phone library.

It is well beyond the scope of this article to teach anyone how to use Google Earth. That is something that you must do for yourself. My objective is to illustrate what you can achieve with this remarkable tool once you have learned the basic navigation skills. The bottom line: There is no reason to be lost or uncertain about your position relative to a desired route.

One of the most stressful situations you are likely to encounter in a SHTF event will be the struggle to get to a place of safety. This could be the

In this post I want to go into what I think are three tactics you could use to even or improve your odds at defending your neighborhood. These should be relatively simple actions you can take that would give your team an advantage over anyone trying to do you harm and make the job of taking what is yours possibly too much trouble to try. Again, the assumption for this series is that there has been a national disaster that has rendered our nation in a crisis where there is no local rule of law.

Within that context, you would be responsible for maintaining the safety of your home at a minimum, but it would be smarter to join together with neighbors to provide security for a larger area, pool resources and provide a harder target to take advantage of by people who might try to do you harm. I don’t think many people will argue that it is wiser to be a lone wolf than it is to form a larger group for safety and security. Some of you may have already planned this out with a larger group. You may have plans to bug out to your remote retreat, but if you find yourself at home without the benefit of a squad of ex-Navy Seal buddies, what can you do?

Keep everyone on the same page – Effective Communications

Midland GXT1050VP4 Two-Way Radio

Simple radio communication is a huge force multiplier in a grid down scenario. Assuming electronics work, just having a few radios on hand will enable you and the rest of the team to stay in constant contact and be aware of anything that is happening around the area you are trying to secure. Most of you probably have radios that you use for camping or hiking or if you have children, even for play. I purchased a few Motorola FMS radios to be used just for cases like this when I need to stay in contact with my home and I am not traveling too far away. Another use was hunting so I could stay in contact with my hunting buddy out in the woods where cell coverage was non-existent. Midland seems to be the other big player in radios like this and they have a lot of models that are geared towards hunters.

We have used these radios for all sorts of activities and they work great. One thing to note is that almost all the radios I have seen will say something along the lines of that they have a 20 or 50 mile range and there is no way you will ever get that much distance from one of these radios. You will be very lucky to get 2 or 3 miles assuming you don’t have a lot of terrain interference. For more range you would want to move to Ham radio, but that is out of the scope of this article. For the purposes I am talking about here, neighborhood security; these FRS radios are a perfect option in most cases. A nice addition is to add an earpiece and microphone attachment like the Surveillance Headset with PTT (Push to talk) microphone. This will allow you to hear the radio communications in private which would be another huge benefit for roving patrols, guard posts or simply maintaining some form of stealth.

Newer models have upwards of 50 channels so you can take simple steps to talk relatively securely. These radios are on a public band so if you are on the same channel as someone within range, they will be able to hear you, just like any radio. It is possible to scan for communications on all channels, but this is probably not something you have to be too concerned with. Keeping radio discipline, changing your frequencies often and having different channels will make it harder for people to hear what you are saying. This isn’t foolproof I know so before you send me emails about how easy it is to hear someone talking, I know… It is just that you can still communicate effectively within the scenario I described above and it will give you an advantage over people without radios. Keep conversations to the minimum, use code words. If you have an enemy group scanning radios and taking that many deliberate steps to monitor and spy on you then you are in for a big fight anyway and military tactics will likely be your only saving grace.

Make them work for it – Restrict access

Trip Flare, Non-Pyrotechnic

I said yesterday that we don’t live in walled compounds. Each neighborhood in America has its own challenges with preventing access but there are steps you can take to slow people down or halt vehicle traffic entirely. You may not be able to stop them from walking through the woods, but you can prevent them from driving up with a U-Haul or speeding their way in past any security you have planned.

I walk through my neighborhood frequently and each time I go on my Neighborhood Recon I am among other things looking for the best places to set up roadblocks. In order to take advantage of the terrain you would want to set roadblocks up to stop vehicles that would prevent them from going around or over the obstacle. Where I live, we have lots of large trees that could easily cover the entire road and then some. The only thing we would have to do is chop down the tree. That limits us when it comes to getting out though and would be more of a worst case scenario precaution I think.

A different strategy in areas with trees like this would be to use 2 or more, preferably 3 trees to create a mini-maze that any approaching car would need to slow down to a crawl to make it through. You would arrange the trees so that each only takes up half of the road but the vehicle would have to weave in and around the obstacles to get through. This would allow you to still exit using a vehicle (assuming they still were running) as well as let people back in if they left in a vehicle. At the same time, it would slow someone down who was trying to get in sufficiently that they could be engaged with small arms fire if the threat was intent on getting in and your Rules of Engagement stated that deadly force was required in this instance. You could pretty easily block several roads in short order with this strategy. You could do a similar thing within the city and you would have the benefit of buildings to block anyone from going around the outside. You can also use cars that are probably simpler to move into and out of place but they can also be pushed out of the way by a big enough vehicle. Trees aren’t so easy, even for an MRAP.

What about people walking in through the woods? This is when roving patrols and multiple observation posts will be a good idea, but not always possible. It really comes down to how many people can watch these locations. If you don’t have enough, you will have to contract your perimeter to something you can manage with the available personnel. Another option would be simple trip flares. These would work at night to alert you that someone has entered your perimeter. These are great ideas, but they have their drawbacks too like only warning you if you can see them. You can purchase chemlight versions which are relatively quiet and trip warning devices that are audible using compressed air.

Cover all the angles – Defensive Positions

Once you have the roads blocked, you still have to manage any traffic coming to your roadblocks. Ideally, this would be an area where people posted on guard could maintain control of traffic while still keeping them safe potentially from incoming rounds at the same time. In a grid-down scenario like this the best thing to stop bullets is mass, but not many of us will have the ability to build or construct concrete pill boxes. I think for the prepper who wants to have a plan, but doesn’t necessarily need to build a bunker a simple foxhole makes a great idea. The design is straight forward and only requires a shovel. As an added bonus, you could add sandbags to the top and sides, but a well-built foxhole should protect you from any rounds that you could expect. What about those big trees you dropped on the road? Sure, those could work too, but only give protection from the front and could even be used as cover by the other side.

How many positions do you need? Again, it comes down to what you can supply with resources, but I think a minimum of one position at each entry way. This can be manned by one, ideally two people with a radio. If you have remote patrols outside of your perimeter or a spotter high up, they could alert the team that someone is approaching. I have considered the roofs of houses or hunting climbing stands as options to get a birds eye view of the approaching area.

If the scenario really descended into anarchy, you could also construct pits to trap men who made it through the outer perimeter. These would be lined with sharp sticks or bamboo and probably wouldn’t kill anyone but it would give them an injury that could incapacitate them.

If all else fails…

Have a plan B. You could be overrun by superior numbers or they could get the upper hand in some way. Have a fallback location and a rally point somewhere away from your location. This is another great use of the radios because everyone in your group can know what is going on with contact and the plan if you all have to bug out quickly to the woods.

In this post I want to go into what I think are three tactics you could use to even or improve your odds at defending your neighborhood. These should be

As preppers, we are always looking for solutions to problems. The solutions we find can come in many forms; from a different mindset or viewpoint, to skills training and in many cases, simply acquiring gear and supplies needed for survival. In some respects, prepping could be reduced down to the most basic aspect of problem solving to stay alive. One of the main problems preppers seem to be drawn to solve is the very realistic potential of having to drop everything and bug out of your home in a moment’s notice. There is a wide array of considerations on this topic, but today I want to focus on one potential answer to the bugging out problem, the bug out bike.

The bug out bike is not something we have dealt with much on Final Prepper before, but I did mention it as a possibility to consider in an older post on the topic of the Ultimate Get Out of Dodge Vehicle. I recently got interested in this subject again when I purchased a mountain bike for myself. I will admit that part of my decision to do so was from the standpoint that this could be a viable method of transportation if cars/fuel were no longer available due to shortage or EMP effects. It also helped that my wife was on-board with this idea too.

In looking further at my mountain bike, I started to consider the potential for using this as a tool to help us bug out. Since my family all had bikes now, could we use these relatively simple machines to our benefit? There are some advantages certainly, but I wanted to explore whether this bike would be a good idea or could end up being a large mistake. As with most things in prepping, there aren’t many absolutes. You take the situation you are given and deal with it, but there is nothing to say that the situation you planned for will work out the exact way you want it to. Prepping is equal measures preparation and creativity. You prepare for one thing to happen, but you need to be flexible if all that goes sideways on you.

What is a bug out bike?

For the purposes of this article, I am not talking about a motorcycle. A bug out bike in this context is similar to what most of us are intimately familiar with already. As a child growing up, owning a bike was pretty much a given. Your bike is what conveyed you all around the neighborhood to see friends and test the bounds of your relatively small borders. All of my friends had bikes and we rode them daily in virtually any weather until we grew old enough to get our drivers license.

The bikes of my youth were great for zipping down the road or jumping homemade ramps out of scrap pieces of wood but a bug out bike is a little more serious in design. A bug out bike is meant to give you a way out of a danger zone when traditional methods of transportation are no longer available. Ideally, a true bug out bike would be designed to carry the additional weight of supplies or your survival gear and be rugged enough to make a journey over less than ideal terrain.

There are two main types of bikes I see repeatedly that are proposed as the best bug out solution. Touring bikes are routinely used by millions each day to get back and forth to work. They can be outfitted with panniers to carry additional supplies like your lunch, laptop and change of clothes. They are geared to help you climb hills more easily and offer plenty of features for the modern commuter who doesn’t or can’t rely on a car or other mass transportation.

Mountain bikes are the other side of the coin and they too can be outfitted with additional storage capacity just like touring bikes, but they are meant to be treated a little more severely and might give up some of the comforts a touring bike could give you.

Either one of these two options could be a great benefit to your personal well-being even if nothing ever happens. Owning a bike is an excellent way to get exercise and interact with your surroundings in a different way. Just like everything else in life, the amount of money you can invest in this potential survival tool can vary greatly what you end up with. You can find used bikes on Craigslist or you can spend well over $5000 on the lightest bikes with the best equipment. Cost aside, I do believe that any bike would be good to have for both the health benefits and potential bug out options. You don’t necessarily have to have anything fancy as long as the wheels roll and you are in the proper shape to use it. But when we are considering solving the problem of bugging out, we need to look more closely and see if that bug out bike is the best option for your situation.

Does a bug out bike have any uses after SHTF?

When we go back to planning to bug out with the idea that we can ride to safety, let’s look at a few assumptions. First off, bugging out implies that you are leaving home or wherever you are currently located and traveling to someplace else. This could be to a remote bug out retreat, a friend’s house or out of the immediate vicinity of danger. Any bug out situation would ideally see you with the ready capacity to grab your bug out bag and go but travel by bike has just as many risks as bugging out by car of by foot.

Traveling by bike has numerous advantages:

No need to stop at the pump – You don’t require any fuel other than your own pedal power, but knowing this you have to also consider how much more physically intensive your day may be so food is an important factor. If you plan to cover 50 miles a day on a bike, you will burn though calories (unless you are going downhill) like crazy.

Flat tires should be less of a problem – Yes, bikes do carry a risk of flat tires just like cars, but it is far simpler to carry both spare tubes and patch kits for that eventuality. With a hand pump and a spare tube, you can be back on the road in minutes. Cars carry spares of course, but you would be hard pressed to carry multiple spares without losing valuable space. I can fit two spare tubes in a small pack under my seat.

Bikes can go where cars can’t go – Bikes do have a greater ability to squeeze into small spaces making any traffic jam easily navigated. Additionally, you can cut across wilderness using trails if you have that route mapped out.

Bug Out Bikes allow you to carry more gear – Or at least easily distribute the weight off your back. The properly outfitted bike can carry 40 -50 pounds of gear in bags and pouches. This weight isn’t free as you will still need to be responsible for pedaling it uphill but it’s hard to beat. Bug Out Bags themselves can cause injury to joints if you aren’t used to carrying that weight. When all your gear is loaded properly on a bike, even if you are talking about the same weight in gear, it will be easier to manage.

Bikes are quieter and easier to hide – You can easily sneak through areas in stealth mode on a bike assuming that you need to do that. Even the quietest car is far noisier and if you need to hide your bike, that is far easier done than with a car. You can lay it down in a small depression and cover it with branches or debris gathered from nearby.

But the bug out bike is not without its drawbacks

Some of the same reasons I used above for advantages can also be the bug out bike’s most obvious weaknesses in a bug out scenario.

Your bike offers zero shelter – I don’t mean that you can’t pack a tent on the back but you are essentially exposed to all of the elements on a bike. Weather is one thing, but there is some comfort that the mass of a vehicle can provide. You can be easily knocked off your bike by someone who is panicked and sees your ride with all those supplies as a way out. The traffic jam you are breezing through could easily be the place where someone jumps out from behind a truck and smashes you in the face with a bat. You are out for hours while someone makes off with your way out of dodge.

You can’t outrun everyone – Bikes can go very fast downhill but loaded down with 50 pounds of gear, going uphill is a recipe for again getting trapped by unscrupulous people. You won’t be crashing through any barricades with a bike either.

Two wheels aren’t as stable as 4 – slippery surfaces or the potential of trying to bug out in winter could send you flying into a ditch. Bikes are best in optimal conditions and balance must to taken into consideration.

Only one person can drive a bike – You are responsible for pedaling yourself and it isn’t like you can get tired and give someone else the wheel while you catch some sleep. I know this is the same problem a lone traveler by car would have but it is a factor. People riding bikes in the worst types of collapse could consider using night vision and only riding at night for somewhat safer travel.

Should you give up on your bug out bike dreams?

I think bikes offer so many possibilities that they should be considered as options. While I don’t necessarily plan to bug out on bikes, they are in my arsenal as a last resort. We can ride them to our hearts content now and get in better physical shape should we need to rely on them later and I am planning for a 21 mile ride myself this afternoon to further that goal.

Bikes don’t necessarily have to only be bug out options. Bikes could have extreme usefulness in a disaster even if you are staying put. Let’s say gas does run out or somehow the electric grid does collapse, you can still use your bike to get around. You could look at those as potential barter items for people who severely need an option to travel. They can make manning guard locations in an all-out collapse easier than walking. They make a lot of sense for many reasons.

Back to prepping as a way of solving problems. I view bikes as another way you can solve a few problems you might be faced with. They aren’t perfect, but I don’t think many other bug out plans are bulletproof. You try something and if that doesn’t work you have a back-up. Maybe your bikes are strapped to your bug out vehicle and you pull them out if you are unable to go any further with that truck. Options.

Are bikes a good survival option for you? They may be, or they could just be a great way to have fun, get outside and get in shape. Either way, it’s a win for preppers.

As preppers, we are always looking for solutions to problems. The solutions we find can come in many forms; from a different mindset or viewpoint, to skills training and in

Do you have a prepper on your shopping list? The occasion doesn’t matter really. It could be Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas or Hanukkah, birthdays or just because. But sometimes finding the perfect gift for the prepper who has everything can be tough. Why is that? Well, most preppers already have some of the gear (toys) they deem valuable and it may never have even crossed your mind that a gas mask would be something they wanted. Who knew how excited they would get over a hand crank radio with a built-in solar charger?

Well if you are looking for the best prepper gifts for that special person on your list, you have come to the right place. There are other lists of survival items on the internet and the usually pop up close to those big shopping holidays. Some of the best prepper gear lists are broken down by dollar amount, but I wanted to do a little something different and recommend items based upon the type of disaster your prepper is planning on. If you know what gets their survival juices flowing, we have some ideas below that might make your present, the best prepper gift they have ever received. Hey, they might even share it with you too.

Disaster Scenario #1 – Weekend Vacation Chaos

This could also be the rush evacuation from oncoming flood waters, approaching wildfires, car wreck in a blizzard or rioting on the next block over. What are some of the best prepper gifts for the survivalist who wants to be ready to go in a moment’s notice? What could they possibly carry with them wherever they may roam that could offer an advantage if they encountered trouble?

WaterSawyer Mini – When it comes to survival water filtration, there aren’t any other options I can think of that are as durable, lightweight and compact as the Sawyer Mini. I have these as backup filtration in my Bug Out Bags and when we go backpacking. This little 2 ounce wonder of a water filter will give your prepper the ability to make up thousands of gallons of fresh drinking water from even the nastiest of sources.

The Sawyer Mini, compact water filtration for bad times

Food – Emergency Rations – In a survival situation, an empty stomach can be a demoralizer but putting a sandwich in your carry on isn’t usually recommended either. Emergency rations add a little weight to your gear, but the right ones like Mainstay are virtually impervious to extremes in temperature and one pack gives your favorite survivalist 3600 calories of living saving goodness. Well, it is 3600 calories and that brick can save their life if food options are scarce. Yes, you can certainly live for longer than a weekend without any food, but who wants to do that?

Pack it in your bag and when you need it, you will have 3600 calories that could be enough to last you through the disaster.

Pack it in your bag and when you need it, you will have 3600 calories that could be enough to last you through the disaster.

A different prepper gift option could also be used backpacking and would probably taste better. For grid-down meals that are pretty tasty, a couple of Mountain House entrees fit the bill nicely. I got something like this for my Dad, who is not a prepper and didn’t see the humor to boot for last Father’s Day. Any freeze-dried foot you get will need to have water, usually hot water added to it so it can reconstitute. A Jet Boil is a great system for backpacking meals that works just as well if you have had some type of disaster as long as you have the right fuel.

Shelter – Fire Starter/Wet Fire – Sure you can buy waterproof matches, but a fire starter that can never be put out commission in water is supreme and it looks so much cooler when the sparks start to fly. Add to that some wetfire cubes which can even be lit when they are sitting in water and you have the perfect fire making combination. You can also throw all of this in a dry bag for your prepper to add other fire making materials and to keep them organized.

Two great tastes, that taste great together.

SecurityTactical Folding Knife – I am not sure you can even call yourself a prepper unless you have at least two knives. A good survival knife can help you in so many ways, but you don’t always have to have the most expensive knife in the world. A good quality folding knife can help you cut a lot of things but not break the bank. If they already have a good folding knife, a multi-tool extends their abilities in roughly the same size factor.

Cold Steel Recon 1

X-Factor – Seatbelt cutter – For the Prepper who has almost everything except a seat belt cutter and a glass punch in their favorite bug out vehicle, the resqme (get it?) Keychain car escape tool combines both in a small footprint that is affordable and its compact size makes it easy to add to your preppers EDC kit.

Resqume Seat Belt cutting tool with glass breaker.

Disaster Scenario #2 – Month Long Viral Outbreak Quarantine

For those preppers on your gift list who are planning for a little longer-term event, they need gear designed to work a little harder or to last a little longer. The following prepper gifts will ensure that your friend will be able to last at least a month before the all clear is given.

WaterPlatypus Gravity Works filter – I fairly recently came across this filter at the suggestion of one of the readers of Final Prepper and I couldn’t be happier. The Gravityworks filters 2 liters of dirty creek water in under 2 minutes. That way I can collect water, stow it my pack, and get back to safety. Unlike chemical treatments like bleach or iodine, there is no bad taste and I don’t have to boil the water and wait for it to cool.

Filter a whole lot of water quickly with the Platypus Gravityworks.

Food Chef’s Banquet All-purpose Readiness Kit 1 Month Food Storage Supply (330 Servings) – Food storage is on the mind of preppers everywhere, but sometimes you want a simple buy it and forget it option. The benefit of this option is that it comes sealed in its own 5 gallon bucket so all the prepper needs to do is store it in a cool dry place until it is needed. If you purchase more buckets, they will easily stack and reduce your storage footprint.

Month worth of meals in a handy-dandy 5 gallon bucket. When the food is gone, you can use the bucket for a makeshift toilet.

Month worth of meals in a handy-dandy 5 gallon bucket. When the food is gone, you can use the bucket for a makeshift toilet.

Shelter – 2 Man Tent – It may be that your survival depends on getting out of the city while a virus runs its course. Before you head for the hills, make sure you have a good tent. The Big Agnes Scout UL 2 is a two-man tent that is very lightweight (only 2 pounds!) and compact. Your bug out bag and your back will thank you for switching to this option. Instead of the poles common to most tents, the Big Agnes Scout uses your trekking poles and sheds the weight. You can also just use sticks to prop up the tent or tie one end off to a tree.

Accommodations for two at just 2 pounds.

Security – Fixed Blade – Tactical folding knives are great, but if you plan on living in the woods for a month, you will want a bigger, stronger blade. I have the Gerber LMFII but there is a newer Gerber, the Strong Arm 30-001058 that takes some ques from its cousin. This knife will allow you to make firewood by batoning and hold up to a lot of abuse. It even comes with its own sheath that straps to your belt and the Coyote finish should blend in with your surroundings.

The Gerber StrongArm for when you need a little bit more from your survival knife.

X-FactorNight Vision Monocular – The threats your survivalist is preparing for don’t end when the sun goes down. In order to have an advantage at night, they could use a Night Vision Monocular. This will help them see what is lurking in the dark and give them an upper hand in the fight. This monocular boasts a 1000 ft. viewing distance to help you see what is coming or that big game walking up to your stand from a distance.

Night Vision is a huge advantage when the lights are out.

Disaster Scenario #3 Total Collapse due to EMP or Zombie Apocalypse

When it has all gone to Sh*t, your prepper gear will be put to the test. Knowledge and training and I would argue, luck are all more important than the price tag of the shiny piece of metal you are carrying in your Get Home Bag. However, longer duration use requires more durable equipment. That tactical folder may be perfect for a weekend, but what would you do if it became damaged? What if your water filter was rendered inoperable due to the high use? Below are some additional prepper gift ideas for the prepper who is planning to ride out the end of the world as we know it.

Water Big Berkey Water Filter – The water filtration methods I mentioned above are great if you are mobile or only really need to filter water for yourself, maybe another person. If the disaster lasts a long time or you need to filter water for the whole family, day after day, you will need something a little more substantial. The Big Berkey can filter 2.5 gallons at a time and only requires you to pour the unclean water in the top. Gravity does the rest and it even has a handy spout to fill your Nalgene bottles up again with clean filtered water.

Filter Gallons of water easily with gravity fed Big Berkey.

Food Survival Seeds – Yes, the grocery stores are all long plundered of anything you can eat and the burden falls to the prepper to produce food for their family, going forward. A box of Survival Seeds will give them the necessary seeds to start that survival crop; hopefully their garden is already started well before now, but the seeds in this container can be opened in an emergency and provide the ability to grow a big crop of food for the compound. This can also be useful as barter in a pinch.

Do you have the seeds you need for a bountiful survival garden?

Shelter Hammock – Tents aren’t meant to last forever but with proper use you can get several seasons out of them. Sleeping on the hard ground is tough though and your prepper might want the comfort of a hammock if they are going to spend the rest of their lives in the woods. A Hennessy Expedition comes with rain fly and a mosquito net to keep the bugs off you and packs down small and light (under 3 pounds) as well making it a great alternative if you are trying to lighten your bug out bag.

Hammocks make a great solution for sleeping outdoors and they can really lighten your bug out bag.

Security – Crossbow – Maybe it is the premiere of the new season of the Walking Dead that has me thinking of this item, but a crossbow has a lot of appeal in a grid down/apocalypse scenario. For starters you can hunt very quietly and there is no point in alerting everyone else that you just brought down that big buck. Add to that, when the ammo is all gone, you can still make arrows, if you have the right skill and that could be limitless ammo for your new weapon. Or you could just do what Darryl does and pull each arrow out of the skull of your victim and move on. The Barnett Penetrator Crossbow would do just that with 116 foot pounds of energy, penetrate and could make an excellent weapon in a total collapse. Don’t forget the extra arrows.

With a crossbow, they won’t hear you coming until it’s too late.

SecurityMachete/Parang – When all else fails you may need something that can cut a little deeper. From chopping wood to clearing brush or solving problems, permanently, the Parang is a nifty little weapon. Gerber has a nice Parang Machete from Bear Grylls’ line that could help your prepper defend themselves and their family, maybe you from the bad guys. Or zombies.

Bigger than a knife and easier to conceal than a sword.

X-Factor – Gas masks – If the world really has gone to hell, you might need to protect the air you breathe. There could be NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) agents, viruses, tear gas or who knows what. This Military and Police Tactical mask with the right filters will protect your prepper from inhaling any particles that could bring them down. You can also throw in some Potassium Iodide tablets for a companion gift.

If this comes out, you know it has gotten bad.

So there you have it, my list of over 20 of the best prepper gifts for survival. What’s on your list?

Do you have a prepper on your shopping list? The occasion doesn’t matter really. It could be Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas or Hanukkah, birthdays or just because. But sometimes

So you have this prepping thing down, right? You have plenty of supplies to weather any contingency and there isn’t much left that you haven’t purchased or thought of. You and your family have every base covered, every T crossed and your stuff doesn’t stink. Congratulations! Now, you have joined an elite group of people who have stuff. Now what?

Prepping is unique from the perspective that some people get all caught up in the initial rush of the act of prepping. They devour news and information. They study the issues and scenarios, make plans, lists and begin the path to being a more prepared person. At some point though the newness wears off. Either that or the sense of urgency doesn’t seem as strong as it once did.

When Preppers believe that they can finally sit back and relax that is when we can become complacent. If we let this go on long enough we aren’t going to be too much better than someone who hasn’t prepped at all. If you let your guard down or think you are “finished” you can make mistakes that could affect your family or your group adversely and we never want that to happen. Above most other things, we don’t want to waste the time and energy and focus you placed into prepping in the first place.

Forgetting to Rotate your supplies

Most of us acquire our food from several different routes. It is wise to have a good mix of long-term storable foods like dehydrated or freeze dried food that can last years. Then we have food that has a few years shelf life like grains or canned vegetables (just speaking in generalities here) and perhaps MRE’s and Mainstay bars to add into the mix. Lastly we have our store bought foods that you can purchase at the local grocery store and then the freezer and fridge. It is easy to see a stocked pantry and sit back with contentment about how you are preparing to feed your family. I know because I have fallen into this trap also. The food you have stored is great, but you have to rotate all of it to truly have the longest shelf-life and highest capacity for nutrition.

Foods from the grocery store are the easiest to apply this principle to, but the mechanics aren’t always the best. Any foods you purchase should be used and resupplied with the FIFO process. FIFO simply stands for First In First Out. Pretty simple and every realizes this, right?

I have found that this isn’t as simple as it sounds without either a great system or a lot of discipline. When you go to the grocery store to purchase more groceries, what do you do with your newest cans? Do you have a system to put the newest in the back and move the oldest to the front? If you are storing canned food, there are simple solutions that can be purchased or built using plans online called a rotator. The process is brilliantly simple and removes almost any thought and effort from the whole FIFO equation. You simply add your new cans to the rotator and they force the old cans out to the front. These are great if you have them, but if you don’t. you need to have a system for rotating your cans or else you might have a pantry full of bad fruit and veggies that nobody will eat or worse. A drawback is that these systems are fairly expensive.

What if you don’t have a fancy can rotating system? There are relatively inexpensive cardboard options from Can Organizer that I am going to purchase and I will write up a review on those later. Optionally, you could just have the discipline to add your cans and reshuffle the stock after every grocery trip. This takes more time, but it is free and doesn’t take up any space.

Along with this is regularly checking for stores that are expiring. I know that a lot of dates are more like guidelines, but you still don’t want to have a lot of medicine that is out of date by two years if the SHTF. Ideally, everything would be fresh so those big mega packs of vitamins and aspirin you purchased need to be rotated out with fresh supplies.

Forgetting to resupply

How many of you have taken your First Aid kit along with you on a camping trip and had to use it? This has happened to me and I was thankful I had the supplies I needed to treat minor injuries. I think the people who I treated appreciated it also, but what happens when you use supplies? They need to be resupplied.

If you are using your preps, that is great for a lot of reasons. You are prepared for contingencies first of all and gaining practice and familiarity with your provisions. Don’t make the mistake of using all of your rice and not buying anymore though. If a storm comes along and you have to use your spare propane tank, make sure you get a replacement as soon as it is feasible. If you have used your spare gas to fuel the lawnmower, go get that back up tank filled the next time you are out.

Not knowing how to use your preps

This is probably the biggest mistake we can make because it can cause us to act recklessly in the future. Let’s say you purchased a big new yacht and you took it out for its maiden voyage, would you want to know how to work the lifeboats or would you just be content that they were sitting right there on the deck? Sure having life boats is great, but if your new toy hits an iceberg in the middle of the night and you are up there trying to read the user manual when you are tired, scared, maybe its raining too, will you regret anything?

Tools are necessary I believe and they have a place in everyone’s preps. Would it be ideal if you were Bear Grylls and could just use your survival mirror to catch some twigs on fire to survive? Yes, but knowing how to use your striker or even a lighter to build a fire in the first place is important too.

A lot of us have purchased a grain mill and hundreds of pounds of hard red winter wheat, but have you ever ground that wheat into flour and cooked with it? I have and for starters I was surprised at just how long it takes and I have a pretty decent mill. Maybe I was doing this wrong, but I had to run everything though the mill a couple of times and keep adjusting the grinding stones so that the consistency of the flour was right. This may not be a life or death lesson, but I did learn more about grinding than I thought I knew going into it. The same could be said for canning. If you buy a dozen cases of Ball canning jars and lids and a big old pot, but you have never canned, you may be in for a rude awakening. We have had a couple  canning mishaps that caused us to eat more veggies than we were planning on, but it taught us invaluable lessons. Like, don’t start canning red beets in a pressure cooker at 10 at night if you plan on sleeping anytime soon.

If you have firearms but haven’t ever been to the range to become proficient with them, they may end up being worthless to you when you need them. When you really need a firearm, you want to know how it works instinctively. Can you feel if the safety is on even in pitch black darkness? Do you know how to reload or clear a jam without looking at your firearm?

I and others have called Prepping a lifestyle and I believe that if you live life by using your preps instead of just buying them and throwing them in a plastic bin under the stairs you will be better prepared for whatever comes your way.

If you have any other ideas, please let me know in the comments below.

So you have this prepping thing down, right? You have plenty of supplies to weather any contingency and there isn’t much left that you haven’t purchased or thought of. You

I like knives. Actually, there aren’t many knives out there that I can’t respect on a certain level for their utility and in some cases beauty. Knives come in all shapes and sizes and have various compositions and specialties. They have different configurations and nomenclature and if you take a look around carefully you will see a high percentage of guys carry at least one clipped to a pocket. I must not like them as much as some people though because I don’t have that many of them.

Apparently I am an oddball too because if you run the circles of preparedness websites there are thousands of knife reviews and commentary. You can look at EDC pictures and there is always a knife or five in there. Bug Out bags will sometimes have two or three knives hanging off of them along with the machete, hatchet and the small key chain knife/flashlight combo. I started thinking the other day about all of this as I walked the aisles at a gun show I was visiting. Second only to guns are knife displays and they are well represented. I usually stop and glance at every table unless they are selling something like pet brushes that get all of the hair off with one whisk of the brush or ladies handbags or salsa. Not that there is anything wrong with selling any of those items, it’s just that when I am at a gun show, I expect guns; not cat grooming. although my cat does need a serious brushing though now that I think about it.

Gerber LMK II – Great knife for the price.

There are long tables of knifes in every color and dimension. I stopped and checked out an old M9 bayonet at one of the first tables and felt the big tug of nostalgia. I had an M9 that I bought myself. We weren’t issued those in the Army but I spent my own money on one and sharpened it frequently. Up until I mistakenly left my gear unsecured and my platoon sergeant took it to “teach me a lesson”. I never saw that knife again and I have always hoped that some form of justice was visited on him later in life. Seeing that old knife brought back some of those memories and I thought for just a minute about getting one again. I know that if I picked one up now my platoon sergeant wouldn’t take this one but after a long 3 seconds I thought better of it and placed it back on the table. I already have a nice Gerber LMF II that I got a few years back that is about the same size and suits me just fine.

I have talked about my Spyderco Tenacious that is part of my EDC and I love that knife but I have been looking for a backup in case I lose that one. The backup is really just an excuse to buy one for my daughter who has bugging me for a “real knife” for a while. The Spyderco knife I have is wonderful, very reasonably priced at around $38 and I would love

Spyderco Tenacious G10 – My everyday carry knife.

to have another one. For some reason, Spyderco knives are poorly represented at the gun shows I visit, but this time there was a woman who had several of them in her case next to the Kershaw and Benchmade folders so I was excited for the opportunity to purchase another one. Looking at her prices they were about $20 too high so I walked on again. Was there something wrong with me? Why wasn’t I buying any knives? The guys on YouTube all seem to have dozens each!

It occurred to me that maybe the reason why I can’t bring myself to actually purchase a new knife is that I have a few already that I feel more than meet the needs for anything I can think of. The simple fact is that I don’t think I need any other knives. I know there are people who collect knives so this is not directed at you but for the average person looking; how many knives do you need? Before I deal with the issue of quantity, let’s talk about how to find the best Survival knife for your purposes.

What will you use your knife for?

First we should talk about what you need a knife for. The answer to that is simple, isn’t it? Knives have a million and one uses. From cutting shavings off a stick to make tinder for a fire to cutting paracord or other cordage to lash your survival shelter together, you just can’t really match the utility of a good knife. Most days my knives only see action opening packages that my wife gets from Amazon, but frequently my trusty knife is called to do some really serious work like whittling sharp points on sticks for my kids’ marshmallows over the fire or opening up something sealed in plastic like that new coat hook my wife wanted me to hang last weekend. All kidding aside, knives are extremely useful tools and no self-respecting Prepper would be caught without one. A sharp instrument and the knowledge of how to use it are one thing separating us from animals, right?

OK, so a knife is useful that we can say without question. It is smart to always have a knife on you because you never know what you might need it for and when. This means you ladies too. There is no reason you shouldn’t carry a knife in your purse and it could even save your life if you didn’t have any other means of self defense.

What to look for when selecting the best Survival knife

Blade Shape – There are a lot of different blade shapes and each was designed for different tasks. Similar to how each of those knives in that big block you have sitting in the kitchen have a different strong suit, the blade shape of your knife will determine what it is best for. Some shapes are designed to take the impact of a rock or stick on the backside so you can use the knife as an axe.

SOG Seal Pup – Great knife and reasonably priced.

Blade Steel – There are dozens of different types of blade steel out there and probably millions of opinions on which is best for your knife. The steel is made up of varying amounts of carbon and iron but there are other alternatives out there like ceramic knives. Each different type has their benefits but it largely comes down to strength and hardness. A harder knife holds an edge better, but if your knife is too hard, it will be less tough; which means if you hit or drop the blade it could break. For a great list of blade composition types you can read this post on the Blade HQ site.

Serrated Edge – Serrated edges have their uses and I would recommend having some of the blade serrated. You can use this to cut through cordage like your thousands of feet of paracord or even bone if needed. The edges can be re-sharpened if you have the right sharpening stone.

Full tang – For the strongest knife you want a blade that extends all of the way to the end of the knife. This is called “full tang” and simply means that the knife is one single piece of metal. This is going to be far stronger than a folding knife and less prone to breaking when you need it.

Handle – You want a knife that feels good in your hands and the surface needs to be conducive to a good grip. You don’t want a knife that will easily slip through your fingers if it is wet. For this reason I would recommend that you always try out the knife you want to buy in person. You need to physically see how it feels in your hand. Is it too large or too small? Do the finger grooves fit you nicely?

What knives should you avoid?

If you grew up in the 80’s you probably witnessed some of the Rambo phenomenon. Rambo’s knife was a beast. I think it was something like 14” long and you could saw down a tree with it. There was a group of knives that came out after this movie that had a survival kit inside the knife so that when you unscrewed the cap on the end of the handle (which also happened to have a compass) you got fish hooks and matches and various little items similar to what you see people pack inside a Survival tin. The knives were very poorly made and would fall apart quickly. That of course didn’t stop me and my teenage self from wanting one very badly.

A knife shouldn’t be complicated but it should be well built. Don’t buy a gimmicky knife trying to cut corners. You should buy a great knife at a decent price and let it do its job. Save the matches and fishhooks for your Bug out Bag.

How many knives do you need?

The million dollar question is how many knives do you need? For me personally, I look at this in a few different ways and again, I am not talking to the collector. If you just love knives then by all means go out and buy as many as you want. For the average Joe, I would start with a great folding knife that you can carry with you every day. This should be part of your EDC and it should be something you are never without.

Ka Bar knife has been proven tough for over 50 years.

I have two knives that I carry on me every day in most cases only because my Leatherman has a knife too. Could I get by with only one knife? Of course, but I have options. So that’s two knives I own now. What about when it isn’t the easiest or best idea to carry my larger folder? Let’s say I am dressed up for work or a funeral, what would I carry then? They make the smaller Leatherman Juice just for this purpose that fit nicely in your pocket and don’t require their own holster. Ok, that’s three knives so far.

Lastly I have my big knife. For me, this is my Gerber LMF II that is big and sturdy enough for any post-apocolyptic needs I might have from chopping wood for a fire (yes, you can do that with a knife) to stabbing zombies in the head. I almost never carry this around because it is so large that you can’t stick it in your pocket obviously. Would I have this strapped to my side if the SHTF? Yes I would. If I am going anywhere up to and even camping in the woods, my little folder is just the right size and weight. I could buy another medium sized knife like a K-Bar or a SOG Seal pup, but I think I am ok with the folder and the leatherman. Your mileage may vary.

For each member of my family, we have a multi-tool and each person has a folder. Eventually everyone will also have a full-sized devoted survival knife but that is really all I can ever see needing. Sure, I could point to the two is one and one is none rule to say we should all have 4 each, but that seems like overkill. Besides, I still like wandering the aisles at the gun shows and who knows. I may still find that elusive perfect knife that I have to have.

So, how many knives do you have and what do you carry with you.

I like knives. Actually, there aren’t many knives out there that I can’t respect on a certain level for their utility and in some cases beauty. Knives come in all

A Prepper Must-Have: Solar Spotlights

I hesitate to call these spotlights instead of just outdoor lighting, but they’re easier to search that way. I’m talking about any light options that can be set up by anyone who owns a screwdriver, no electrical connections needed, that runs off the sun and-or a spare battery, and that provides quality lighting when somebody walks inside its sensor range. The range of detection, amount of light, and hours of charge are going to vary by price and size, just like the amount of light it takes to charge them will vary by the quality of their solar panels.

These aren’t as inexpensive as some of the must-haves in preparedness like soap and rice. However, it’s not like I’m suggesting freeze-dried steaks or a .308 here, either. They’re not usually as small as a sheet or a set of bungee cords, but they also don’t need their own five-gallon buckets or trunks to store each backup. They don’t have quite the million and one uses of baking soda and they’re relatively stationary unlike headlamps.

Still, they’re readily affordable, fairly lightweight and small, and they can make a big, reliable difference for relatively small outlay – a difference that’s almost impossible to match with other products. That makes them a must-have in my book.

I’m pushing the solar aspect in this one case, because not everyone has a generator and even if we do, limiting the power draw during daily life and especially an emergency makes good sense.

Too, a light tied to even our personal grid is dependent on any of several single components to function. When one goes out, so do all the lights. With a set of independent solar-powered spotlights, we still have our security and safety lights.

I actually started down this road for three reasons. One: I hate power bills. Two: It’s really, really, really dark in the country compared to the ‘burbs. Three: The spaces on my parents’ property even to take the trash behind the garage is … mined. There are anthills, random rose bushes, baby trees, whatever Pops brought home from work last, dog and children’s toys, sometimes windblown fruit like apples, and routinely neighborhood animals and wildlife. No to mention record-setting web spinners and about 20 places for them to work.

Solar-powered motion-sensor lights help us dodge all of those. Plus, the kinds I picked are easy enough for even my non-techie, non-electrician mother and now-disabled father to install and maintain.

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Unlike game cameras, a motion-sensor light lets us see what is upsetting dogs or livestock immediately, from our windows and porches, instead of looking the next day or requiring a wireless computer connection for real-time viewing, and are usually far less expensive.

I also like to have a fair chance of seeing what made the dogs go crazy, and my parents’ had a prowler at least three times a few years ago. To the rescue: motion activated lights, several sets that ranged from $30 to $60.

The peace of mind of knowing when it’s a loose cat and when it’s more is worth every penny to us. If there’s still a prowler, they’re staying way down at the road turn-off or way up past the dog lot now.

With motion-sensor lights, you can see what exactly is out there by the poultry or sheds or gardens and whether it’s nothing or an air gun versus an AR target, Moms can walk from her car to the house without hitting any puddles or icy patches, and you avoid getting annoyed at a bucket that doesn’t come when you call and can stalk right to a dog – or realize Stealthy Sam is standing two feet away looking at you waiting for the door to open.

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There are lots of times, even in this perfect, fully powered country, that the motion-sensor lights have been valuable. A lot of those values will continue or cross over should there be a widespread disaster of some kind.

Increasing the Usefulness of your Lights

For a boost to the lights, consider covering with thin fabric or thinned paint in varying colors and shades to create not only illumination, but in some cases, to even alert to direction of travel. A full-on whitewash can be difficult to judge, even with a property lit up like a full moon.

Knowing that white means interior or corners, and knowing that red means something or someone circled a hen-house, hit the register between corner lights, or that something hit two sensors but not the adjacent 2-7, can help us decide what we most need and where our response should be focused.
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These are just some examples of options available:

Solar motion-sensor spotlights can also be purchased as single units. There are all kinds, some less expensive and other, much more expansive sets.

Pre-plan by looking at the height they’ll likely be placed, the area they’re intended to cover, and whether they’re there to illuminate the ground on a path or inform us of what’s out there in the night. That will help us make the most economical decisions regarding sensor range, light size, and the amount of money we want to invest.

Downsides to Solar Lights

Okay, so besides the sun-cloud thing, motion-sensor lights have a big issue for preppers: light discipline.

It’s really dark out there in the world when there’s no light. It’s why the military still trains people to use lights under a poncho in the open. The $0.97 stakes from Walmart may seem pitiful now, but they’re plenty to catch an eye in real darkness depending on the elevation, altitude, and flora or built environment around them.

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If light discipline is of importance during an emergency, a higher-grade model with wireless remote or tied to a household switch may be more appropriate than the automatic, less-expensive models.

The cheapest of the lights don’t have on-off switches. Until you start getting into relatively pricey systems you don’t have an indoor switch option for the solar motion-sensor versions. That means if you’re trying to stay dark, you have to take them down and you’re back to handheld lights or maybe turning them on as you go.

On the other hand, let’s look at the history of disasters for a minute.

Most of our grid-down situations are temporary, and tend to relate to a localized or regional storm or somebody who dug or hit a line (or pole) or a piece of equipment that fritzed. Rolling brown-outs are something that used to be of issue, and could become so again.

Most of our financial reversals are serious on an individual/family level, or a slow decline due to a dying industrial area. There are some like 2008 that strike a lot of people over a relatively short amount of time, and there are some that are similar to Greece, Venezuela, Argentina, or even the Great Depression here and abroad.

Certainly crime increases in many of those situations, but they’re not total anarchy.

Perhaps lights would make urban or suburban dwellers a target in a Ferguson or Baltimore, and little twerps would be inclined to bust them up. In most of those cases, however, rioters tend to generally stay in areas that they live in or around civic centers.  Only in L.A. so far have these things really spread significantly into other locations entirely, and a lot of those locations have been shopping areas and roadways in most recent riots. They haven’t started trashing the random ‘burbs so much.

And in all cases so far, nobody has thrown the light switch for the entire area to plunge it into darkness. Nobody has been hungry and assuming that a light means somebody’s there and has food.

So for most of our lives, just like the lives of our parents, our disasters are going to involve less blatant violence and less chance that motion-sensor lights really make us a target instead of the reverse: aiding our security and safety.

There are exceptions, and in those cases, maybe we do turn them off or take them inside. But they’re rare.

There is another downside besides the sun, and that would be: A battery-dependent anything depends on batteries. Batteries start with a terminal charge-discharge cycle, and tend to become less and less effective over time. Sometimes our cutesy solar lights run off common batteries of a type we can stockpile in a cool place, sometimes they have an unusual battery or specialty power pack.

mr-beam-wireless-motion-sensor-flood-light

Solar spotlights come with a variety of mounting options and some include long cords between the PV panels and lights. That allows us to place the light where we want it and still position the solar panel where it will collect the most energy.

Even if it’s the latter, and even if they’re lower-end, the wall-mounted solar lights tend to be pretty efficient boogers and LED lights tend to be pretty low-draw. There’s going to be a correlation to panel quality and size, light intensity and area coverage, alert zone size and accuracy, and the lifetime of the battery. Some pretty long-lived versions can be had for well under $100 easily, but those are aspects to consider as we gather information if we decide to buy them.

Solar lights also depend on that panel that’s sucking up light to power the device.

The best advice I can give is to buy the one with the best and most informative reviews, and make sure there’s a return policy that’s not going to cost half again as much to send it back. That way if an item feels a little bit cheap when it comes out of the box, we can put it right back in and try again. Doing so prevents regrets on day 32, 61, or 93 when we have that “I knew it” moment – right after a warranty or a replace-refund time period has elapsed and our receipt has gone … somewhere.

That kind of goes with anything, but especially with an item we’re buying so it’s safer and easier for us to maneuver around in darkness at our home or incorporating into our security systems.

Are Solar Lights Really Prepper Must-Haves?

In my world, yes. Being able to see at night, and further away than our porch lights, is huge for a ton of reasons.

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Solar Light,URPOWER 8 LED Outdoor Solar Powerd,Wireless Waterproof Security Motion Sensor Light for Patio, Deck, Yard, Garden,Driveway,Outside Wall with 2 Modes Motion Activated Auto On/Off(4 Pack)

It makes my life safer from insects and tripping, prevents my dogs from tangling with an unseen raccoon, prevents us from having to go outside without knowing if the thing by the birds is animal or human, armed or a kid. It tells us if we’re in a “release the hounds” situation, a shotgun situation, or if we need to head out the side door and very quietly take one of the unlit paths that are worked in (because we’re freaks) because more trouble than it’s worth risking a life over is cutting through the gate chains, or one of the lights got shot out.

They’ll provide that service regardless of whether we’re home, the area has an outage, or the alarm is set.

And they’ll do some of it for less than $30-50 bucks, most for $50-100, and absolutely all for $100-200. The cost of sets is low enough for them to be holiday presents and still have something “fun” to ask for, or we could jump above the level that only requires a screwdriver and a thumb to install, and get a really nice system by setting back ten bucks a week or twenty bucks a month.

For some of us, that amount can be saved by skipping a couple of coffees or takeout, or changing or phone plans. Some of us have already cut the cord, but if we really want to become prepared and a $120 item isn’t even an annual option, it might be time to explore Prime, Hulu and Roku and ditch cable and the house phone (there are good free and low-cost VoIP house phone service out there – I use the Google one).

When something makes our life a whole lot easier in daily life, can prevent injury, and can help us keep our homes, gardens, pets and livestock safe, and can do it for <$100-150 bucks spent in $30-50 increments with an expanding system, I call that a must-have.

Teenagers sneaking in or out and those of us arranging for a surprise in predawn blackness may not agree. (Smile and encourage a sense of humor; life’s hard enough as it is.)

A Prepper Must-Have: Solar Spotlights I hesitate to call these spotlights instead of just outdoor lighting, but they’re easier to search that way. I’m talking about any light options that can

The “green” movement can cover a lot of our preparedness interests and purchasing habits, providing a degree of OpSec and cover for us. Conservationist and environmentalist are commonly bad words in some preparedness folds, but as a professional greenie myself (certified conservation landscape designer, landscape architect, permaculture designer, Critical Areas Act consultant, and ecosystem restoration management) I can tell you we’re not all that bad. You may find that it is wiser to couch your actions by going green instead of broadcasting you are a prepper.

And sometimes, preppers and greenies are already kind of walking in lock-step. We just don’t always realize it.

Two sides of the same coin

Think about Ducks Unlimited. There the nice people are, wandering around slapping mosquitoes, risking bashed thumbs, to help the pretty little wood ducks out by building them houses and nailing them to trees, replanting marshes.

All kinds of fairly liberal news organizations and viewers go “awwww, yay, look!”

Then half the Ducks Unlimited crew is out there come frost and low cloud cover, and this time they’re hauling long-barrel shotguns, salivating over the idea of roast duck and duck-fat potatoes.

They protect the environment. They work hard to save waterways, marshes, and the woods-water edges from development. They fight up and down to keep loggers away and make sure chemicals don’t get dumped. They lobby and garner support to prevent a performance stage that would increase human traffic and noise during nesting, breeding and duckling seasons. They get a motor boat restriction.

These are typically things we attribute to the “progressive”, “liberal”, “tree-hugger”, “left” of society. But the hunters, so usually on the “right” end of the social spectrum, are right there with them.

They reap the rewards of the habitat they’ve saved and created, not just for the wood ducks, but for all kinds of waterfowl, upland birds and small game. So do all the other critters near the water, and a lot of humans. If a prepper lives near those waterway edges, they benefit, too.

Both sides are in there, fighting essentially the same fight with the same positive results, although with a different motivation.

We can take advantage of the same kind of socially conscious “left” justifications, movements, interests and acceptance to hide or advance our preparedness.

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How do tree-huggers and preppers line up?

In our bids to withstand a disaster of various magnitude, we buy into old and new technologies that limit the amount of fossil fuels we burn, turning instead to renewable resources.

We learn new and incredible ways to grow year-round, in all climates, using renewable systems that limit reliance on factory-produced chemicals and oil-burning equipment. In doing so, we contribute to saving the heirloom crops of our parents, grandparents and forbears.

We learn ways to have livestock work for us, feeding themselves as they produce a byproduct we can use. We let them be our tools instead of burning more fossil fuels, have them clearing brush, mowing and tilling or hunting down garden and crop pests, or protecting the small livestock from any predators that will fit in a pig’s mouth.

We refine and develop and apply more and more techniques for capturing rainwater, storing it, and directing it where we can use it, instead of letting be wasted and channeling it as fast as possible – with faster water carrying more sediment and chemicals – away from our homes and into our waterways.

Urban, ‘burbs, or rural living, condo to barren bug-out location, the things we invest in to go off-grid commonly result in consuming less chemicals, destroying fewer woods and forests, and polluting less air and water.

Likewise, when we stash or salvage something for a project, we can justify it from the less-waste, reduce-reuse-recycle perspectives of an environmentalist. (Soda bottle or discarded window collection, anyone?)

Our neighbors see gun cases and range bags because we practice to ensure clean, humane hunting (doesn’t matter what’s actually in them).

Gardening for the good of all

We install that rain catchment system and the mulch bed or edimentals (edible ornamentals – an actual bearing peach tree, edible flowers and unusual greens, beautiful amaranth, and colorful chard) or our woodland rain garden (of wild edibles). We limit the rainwater runoff from our roof, pollution from lawns, and limit our draw on the aquifers amid this growing national drought, and we provide pollinator forage in there with our landscaping or a little urban or suburban oasis for wildlife.

Yeah, we make food. Maybe you say so. Maybe you pretend your lavender, garlic chives, candle peppers, scarlet beans, and purple cutting lettuce are just more pretty plants. Maybe you point out that your new white willow will soak up some of that soggy spot in the lawn, but don’t mention that it’s a medicinal and rabbit feed out there with the lilies and container-grown cattails and the blueberries and aronia that are going to be stunning in autumn.

We learn the old ways of food preservation to take advantage of seasonal produce. We do so to limit our reliance on commercial products, but in doing so we also opt out of a culture of disposable food containers, and the mines and factories that produce those, the chemicals used in processing and growing the foods and containers, and the fossil fuel used in shipping a can of tomatoes fourteen times before we buy it and drive it home.

See, when we buy into self-sufficiency, we really do create a better world, regardless of our primary motivation.

That means we can go forward and “hide in plain sight” without telling any lies when we use an environmental justification for our interests and projects. We just need to apply those happy “green” catchphrases.

We might even convert one of our ultra-liberal neighbors who would have run screaming from the idea of “prepping”, because they’re introduced in baby steps that don’t challenge their norm and sense of security. That makes for a more resilient community, because it’s not all on our backs. We’re not alone.

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Expanding our skills and knowledge resource pool

Being a greenie instead of a prepper, we no longer have to be super sneaky about how and where we learn our skills. We’re a “safe” kind of freak in the public’s eyes now. Without OpSec breathing down our necks, we open up the pool of people we can learn from.

We’re not limited to other preppers and survivalists, and the horror of arranging a meetup. We can just be hobbyists and practitioners because we’re interested in one thing – among other things.

We can now openly learn individual aspects from topic-specific practitioners. Hunting and reloading from hunters and trappers. Fishing from anglers. Livestock from those who have it. Canning from canners. Sewing from sewers. HAM and SSB CB from radio ops. Gardening from gardeners. Foraging from foragers. Bug-Out from through packers. Shooting from shooters.

And a real bonus is, unlike preppers, a lot of enthusiasts want you to come look at their babies and see what they do.

If we net ourselves a permaculturist or modern homesteader we looked up from a blog or met at a fruit stand or the farmer’s market, whoa, jackpot. We might get a whole load of knowledge about multiple fronts all in one sweet spot, OpSec still secure.

The truth but … maybe not the whole truth

You might not give a hoot about an island of plastic in the middle of the Pacific, starving polar bears, or the loss of forest in the Amazon. But these are unassailable facts. We can compare coverage maps, see them in video footage. This makes them “safe” – like the truth of fecal-oral disease risks following a flood.

You can use those facts and others in conjunction with your own activities when asked. Most people will draw their own conclusions when they’re sprinkled in there together.

Say we’re running around salvaging things to build a cold frame for greens, cabbage beetle and bird exclusion frames, maybe a vertical pallet garden and drip irrigation, maybe window lettuce towers, and somebody finally asks about it.

There’s a major drought in California and we pump water faster than aquifers and reservoirs refill. Chickens spend their lives packed into tiny cages that are barely big enough to lift their heads all the way. We want to grow our own broccoli and strawberries, and have some laying hens. We’re not buying it in one shot at Lowes; there’s an island of trash in the Pacific already, sheesh.

Ohhhh. You’re a … whatever it is.

“I’m not an extremist or PETA or anything like that, we’re still buying stuff from stores and all, but…” *Shrug.* “Every little bit, right?”

Huh. Yeah. Every little bit. Right. Okay.

Every word is true. Every statement is one of those fact-truths, not any type of twisted science. You may not actually care about the quality of life for a laying hen in Big Ag production, but you can still share the fact. They can draw their own conclusion.

You are, again, a “safe” kind of freak, the kind that hugs trees. Not the scary anti-government kind that was just on the TV. And if you really want to make them go away, try to convert them to your newfound interest, environmentalism. Many will start avoiding you.

Mission accomplished.

OpSec takes over our brains

We tend to want to learn new skills and complete projects because we’re motivated by the disasters we foresee. We learn OpSec early in preparedness, and we understand that it hamstrings us in some ways – like forming networks and groups. We just can’t seem to cut the cord, though.

We don’t want to become a target for thieves now. We don’t want somebody to know and remember us and become targets later. So we don’t talk about preparedness-related things. Good OpSec.

But sometimes we forget that other people do these things we do, too. A lot of them do the same or similar just because it suits them. This is their hobby or passion. Gardeners, scrapbookers, home births, shooters, radio types, model builders, homeschooling, scrap metal sculptors, hunters, knitters – it takes all kinds.

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Reenactors are a good example of a “group” who we can learn a fair bit from about off-grid living.

We also forget that we don’t always have to share our interest as being motivated by preparedness – or our newfound reason for going green. We forget that we can say “I’m interested in” or “I want to learn” because we are interested and want to learn. We forget that we can just shrug our shoulders when asked “why” and say, “I just am. It’s interesting.”

Reenactors are a good example of a “group” who we can learn a fair bit from about off-grid living. They just like to pretend to be from a time before electricity, the way some people like to paint and some people collect stamps.

Use that. Just be interested in something.

If we’re not comfortable with that, really feel like we have to have an explanation, there’s always the greenie option. We don’t even have to talk about self-sufficiency unless we hunt down a homesteader or permie. “Environmentally motivated” does the job.

The Safety Net of a Greenie

Hiding in plain sight doesn’t always work, but it can, when done right.

We’re in a major upswing where sustainability and environmentally friendly are things that are viewed as relatively common if not normal, and even laudable by a lot of society. “Environmentalist” covers a lot of our crazy projects, and can be used to explain away some of our activities.

You’re on your own coming up with a “green” explanation for that chest carrier and all the AR furniture with your spouse and in-laws, but there are regularly eco-friendly benefits to lot of our purchasing habits, if they’re done smart. Just try to stay away from the polarizing types like PETA and Whale Wars. Most of us greenies aren’t really like that. We “normal” eco-freaks tend to want to make them go away as much as we do the people who get twenty paper napkins at McDonald’s, use three, and throw the whole wad away. (Used napkins are recyclable and compostable, BTW.)

The “green” movement can cover a lot of our preparedness interests and purchasing habits, providing a degree of OpSec and cover for us. Conservationist and environmentalist are commonly bad words

In the face of disaster, preppers know we need to move quickly. We should be prepared to act in a minute’s notice when we realize our family is in jeopardy. We each have our Bug Out Bags ready to go or they should be but it is a different matter altogether if the family bug out mobile is involved. How many times have you watched a Prepper show where the family simulated loading all of their gear to escape town? Often it took them much longer than they anticipated and in at least one case, they couldn’t even take their main prep with them.

We have talked about conducting a trial load of your bug out vehicle before and that makes perfect sense, but what if you had a simple way to plan and stage your bug out vehicle equipment, food and gear that would only take you 10 to 20 minutes to load, was ready to go when you needed it and would give you just about everything you would need to live on your own for at least 30 days? What if this simple bug out vehicle load plan could get your and your family on the road faster? Do you think it would be worth it to spend a little time now as opposed to wasting life-saving hours later?

What do you need to pack if you are running away from disaster?

The idea for the bug out vehicle load plan comes from a couple of places. First, like so many of you, I have tried to figure out and plan for all my supplies if the situation dictated that I needed to throw everyone in the car and leave. I have written about my plan to shelter in place because I think everything being equal, it is much easier to weather some disasters from the comfort of your own home. However, I do realize that I don’t always get a vote. Perhaps a chemical spill 5 miles away was causing illness and evacuations. I would need to go and quickly.

I have many prepping supplies that I think are vital to living and surviving away from my home, but I don’t have them all packed and ready to go. I have some items in closets, some in sheds, some under beds, in spare closets and others strewn in numerous drawers. If I have plenty of time, I think What I have collected so far can cover a lot of bases, but in this scenario, we want to get out quickly. It could be that you want to beat the rush that could quickly cause the highways to be parking lots. It may also be that if you don’t get to safer ground, you will die.

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Roof racks greatly extend your cargo carrying capacity.

The list I have put together draws a lot of inspiration from camping trips. I do still maintain that in many aspects, living off the grid is very similar to camping. Yes, there are many ‘but what about’ to that analogy, but if you have the basics to live in the woods for a week without starving, you are in pretty good shape. Will that last years? Will that keep you safe from hordes of Mongolians on horses? No, but we are working towards a goal here. Not everyone is able to have a bug out retreat.

What do you need to survive?

The consistent part of prepping is that everyone needs the same core things to survive. You need water, food, shelter and security. Technically you don’t need security if you are on an island and no creatures or humans are trying to separate you from your head, but you get the idea. In this world, you will likely need to defend yourself from others, in some situations, at some point.

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Plano 1919 Sportsman’s Trunk

So our packing list is broken down into storage cases that represent some of these crucial elements. My plan is to have weather proof cases packed with all of these supplies ready to go at all times. If I need to go, it is a pretty simple matter to load them on my vehicle, secure them and roll out of the neighborhood.

The cases I use are from Plano. They are called the Sportsman Trunk 1919. The case dimensions are 37.75″ X 18.25″ X 14″ and I have room for three of these on the top of my vehicle plus more actually. I have more room inside the vehicle too, but I will get to that later.

Case 1 – Food

I think what goes in your food case will vary greatly. What I am comfortable eating would make some of you wince with pain. You have to consider the weight, storage space and caloric benefit of what you do pack though. For example, if you fill your food case up with nothing but bags of rice and cans of beans, that will last a while, but will quickly become boring. How sad is it when nobody wants to eat your food to survive? ‘They’ll eat when they get hungry enough!’ I know, I have said that too, but we should be able to agree a little variety is better.

Hopefully, we all know that nothing refrigerated should be going in this case and I would even argue against a cooler too. You should be packing food that you can forget about and only bring out when you need to leave. Coolers are big wastes of space.

What kind of food? I have several boxes of freeze dried food from a few different vendors. With choices like chicken noodle soup, mashed potatoes, powdered milk, chocolate pudding, rice, fruit, mac & cheese, etc. there is bound to be something we can all enjoy. Plus, the freeze dried food takes up so much less space than cans.

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There are many creative options for extending the usefulness of your vehicle to keep you comfortable away from home.

What’s in there?

  • Strawberry Fields Cream of Wheat — 64 Servings
  • Maple Grove Oatmeal — 112 Servings
  • Uncle Frank’s Italian Lasagna — 16 Servings
  • Granny’s Homestyle Potato Soup — 48 Servings
  • Traveler’s Stew — 48 Servings
  • Summer’s Best Corn Chowder — 16 Servings
  • Blue Ribbon Creamy Chicken Rice — 48 Servings
  • Liberty Bell Potato Cheddar Soup — 40 Servings
  • Traditional Fettuccine Alfredo — 40 Servings
  • Independence Hall Chicken Noodle Soup — 16 Servings
  • Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Soup — 32 Servings
  • Country Cottage Mac & Cheese — 32 Servings
  • Heartland’s Best Mashed Potatoes — 64 Servings
  • Creamy Stroganoff — 32 Servings
  • Instant White Rice — 40 Servings
  • Chocolate Pudding — 60 Servings
  • Honey Coated Banana Chips — 32 Servings
  • Orange Energy Drink Mix — 32 Servings
  • Settler’s Whey Powdered Milk — 48 Servings
  • Coffee & Filters – Plenty…

This food is stored in a cool dry place in the Plano trunk so it’s ready to go. This should last a family of 4 approximately, 30 days. There are lots of freeze dried vendors out there. I suggest you do some research and then watch for sales. You can save a lot of money sometimes and it is always cheaper to buy in bulk. Your personal case might need to be adjusted for special diets, but this is an example.

Case 2 – Shelter

This case should be pretty simple to explain. It’s just the big gear we will use to keep us out of the elements.

  • Tent – 6-man tent
  • Tent stakes
  • 3 tarps – One for our ground cover. The others can meet various other needs.
  • Coleman Lantern and spare fuel
  • Camping Axe
  • Sleeping bags/pads

Case 3 – Supplies & Extras

Cooking

Cleanup/Hygiene

Health

  • Bug Spray
  • First Aid Kit

Miscellaneous

  • Fire Bag  – Flint, tinder, wetfire, lighter
  • Toilet Paper -Probably not enough to last 4 people 30 days, but enough to get us started.

Is that it?

That is the million-dollar question isn’t it? I know that some people will have items I have missed and I can easily come up with hundreds myself, but you have to ask if those items are necessary. Can this list keep you alive? Can you store this and get it loaded quickly? I think so and in an upcoming post, I will show you how I load everything.

There are other supplies that get packed in here too like weapons, bug out bags and communication items. I also have vehicle preps and clothes so stay tuned for more.

In the face of disaster, preppers know we need to move quickly. We should be prepared to act in a minute’s notice when we realize our family is in jeopardy.