Pat’s Product Review: Montie Gear AR Rest

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Over the past month or so, I’ve received quite a few requests from folks who want me to test and evaluate their products. I enjoy testing products for SurvivalBlog, and reporting back my findings to SurvivalBlog readers. Some of the companies that contact me, have a lot of questions, and I’m happy to answer them. Some companies ask me if I can guarantee that I’ll write an article on their products – and the answer is “yes.” Then, they ask me if I can guarantee them that the article will appear on SurvivalBlog – I refer them to Jim Rawles, as he’s the editor, and gives the final yea or nay on if or when a piece runs. And, lastly, some folks ask me if I am going to give their products a “positive” review in my article. My answer to them is “no!” I will never guarantee anyone that I will give their products a positive review – I report my findings as fairly and honestly as I can. If those products aren’t up to par, or as advertised, that’s the way I will report my findings.
When I was publishing and editing a little newsletter called “Police Hot Sheet” many years ago, I was contacted by a fellow who made an impact device, and he told me if was more effective than a hit from a 12 gauge shotgun. Needless to say, I was more than a little skeptical of those claims. Still, I promised to have one of my writers, a well-known martial artist test and evaluate this product. Of course, his findings were that this impact device wasn’t as effective at stopping an attacker as a hit from a 12 gauge would be, and the product took quite a bit of training and practice to use properly and effectively. The fellow who sent me that product threatened to sue me if I ran the review, but I ran it! And, in fact he didn’t sue me. So, please, if you want me to give you a guarantee that I will give you products a positive review on SurvivalBlog, then don’t bother contacting me or Jim Rawles – that’s not the way we do business. SurvivalBlog readers deserve a fair and honest review of products.
The newest product under review today is called the “Original AR-Rest” and is being produced by Montie Gear. The folks at this company contacted me several weeks ago, and asked me to review some of their products, one was their new sling-shot, they were out of stock, but promised one would be coming in a few weeks. The other product is their AR-Rest, which arrived quickly, as promised. I’ve got to admit, I’ve never heard of Montie Gear before they contacted me, however, they have quite a few products on their web site, that should be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers – check them out.
Okay, the AR-Rest, gee, let’s see, what’s “new” about a rifle rest, that hasn’t already been done? Well, the Montie Gear AR-Rest is portable. It comes apart and goes back together in a matter of seconds, and it can be carried in your shooting box or your AR rifle case. The AR-Rest only weighs about 19-oz, so it’s very lightweight, you won’t even know you have it in your shooting box or AR rifle case. The AR-Rest is made out of sturdy aluminum, that is industrial-grade black powder coated. There is a spring-loaded stainless-steel (wire attached)pin that holds this tri-pod together, too. The “rest” portion of the AR-Rest has soft rubber covers in the “V” of the rest, so your rifle won’t be damaged or scratched. The legs on the rest have grooves machined into – so when shooting over a bench rest or going prone, the rest really digs in and remains stable. There are also additional rubber covers for the bottom of the legs – for using the rest over the hood of a car – so you don’t scratch the paint on the car.
When shooting rifles for accuracy, I try to wring out as much accuracy as I can – without resorting to a “mechanical” rest of some sort. I usually shoot over the hood of my car, using a sleeping bag, rolled-up jacket, a soft, padded rest of some sort – or whatever I have on-hand. It gives me better results than just using an elbow to steady a rifle. The Montie Gear AR-Rest will give you a  more stable and secure rest, for those of you who want the most accuracy you can squeeze out of an AR-15 style rifle. And, this rest isn’t just designed for use with an AR, I also tested it with an AK-47, and even with it’s longer 30-rd mag, the rifle was still not touching the hood of the car. The idea behind the AR-Rest is that, you can use it with long magazines in your rifles, without the rifle “mono-podding” on the magazine – and the AR-Rest delivers in this respect. You can also use the rest for benching other rifles as well. Montie Gear makes several other models of rests, but I think the AR-Rest will meet most of your needs.
I did find that, my groups did tighten-up more with the AR-Rest, than with my AR over a rolled-up sleeping bag, so the rest delivered as promised, and the height of the AR with a 30-rd mag in it, didn’t allow the magazine to touch the ground – and as already mentioned, the same goes for an AK-47 with a 30-rd mag installed.
My one minor complaint with the Montie Gear AR-Rest are the rubber covers that are included, for installing on the bottom of the legs of the tripod. The rubber caps are a bit too small and don’t completely cover the bottom of the legs, nor do they stay in place when shooting. An instruction sheet is included, that states you can use Super-Glue to secure the rubber covers on the legs. You shouldn’t have to do that! The rubber covers that came with the AR-Rest appear to be an after-thought, and maybe purchased from an outside source – as an a quick fix to a minor problem. After firing several rounds through my AR on the AR-Rest, the rubber covers would slip off the bottom of the legs. And, “yes” I did try to Super-Glue the rubber covers on – and it didn’t work. I would suggest using rubber cement – that would hold the rubber covers on better. Of course, you only need to use the rubber covers if you’re shooting over the hood of a car and don’t want to scratch the paint job. When shooting over a bench, or going prone, you don’t need the little rubber covers. I’m not alone in my one minor complaint about the AR-Rest. You can view similar complaints on the Montie Gear web site – and I do applaud Montie Gear, for posting those comments from customers – most companies wouldn’t post negative comments. Thank you, Montie Gear, for your honesty!
I believe that Montie Gear should replace the little rubber covers, with something that is specifically made for their rest – it shouldn’t cost them very much. Another alternative would be to use some of that “plastic” dip – that you can get from most hardware stores. You dip the end of your pliers, or other tools into it, and it gives you a firm gripping surface. You can do the same thing with the AR-Rest, just dip the bottom of the three legs of the tripod into this solution, and it will work beautifully.
A lot of people shoot their rifles, over a bench, when shooting for accuracy at a target, so the little rubber covers won’t be needed, same goes for going prone on the ground. All-in-all, I was very pleased with the Montie Gear AR-Rest, it performed as advertised – it provided a solid rest for a rifle, so a person can wring the most accuracy out of their long guns when shooting long-range. I don’t see the AR-Rest falling apart – it’s very well-built, and it should last you through a lifetime of target practice. The rest retails for $59.95, and the price seems more than fair – especially for an American-made product. Pick one up, and watch your long-range shooting scores improve.

Letter Re: Electric Cars and Bicycles

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I had an epiphany a few years ago when I first viewed “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Since then, I’ve acquired several cars converted to electric and a Nissan Leaf. We bought our last tank of petroleum fuel in May of 2011.

Recently, I’ve been pondering how the electric cars might be used as a backup source of electric power. The battery packs of the conversions are readily accessible and can provide almost 100 kwh of energy. The Leaf’s battery is not accessible at this time. Inverters that use the car’s DC voltage (120-156v) as input are available but pretty rare. Ideally, I would like to find a source for a PV system where the car batteries could temporarily replace the PV panels in driving the inverter.

[JWR Adds: Nearly all home PV power systems have the inverter connected to a battery bank, rather than directly to PV panels. This eliminates the peaks and valleys of production caused by varying cloud cover.]

A higher cost solution would be to have two inverters, one for the PV panels and one for the car batteries. That would allow me to use electricity while the sun shines to charge cars as well as meet other demands and then supply energy from the car batteries when the sun isn’t shining. Commonly available battery backed PV systems use 24-to-36 volt battery banks which are charged from PV panels [through a charge controller]. My car batteries need to be charged through charg[ing transform]ers that have 220 VAC input. That is, the charger’s input must come through a transformer.

Our electric utility power is pretty reliable; I don’t think I have seen it down more than two hours. ~1 hour outages only occur once every year or two. We might see outages of a few minutes several times a year.

The primary function of a PV system would be to pump power into the grid. That is how it would be used 99% (or 99.99%) of the time. At this time, PV is not cost effective in my region. With electric utility cost of 10 cents to 11 cents per kwh, it takes many decades to pay for a PV system. So, I would have to justify PV cost with emergency or grid-down functionality.

I’ve been speaking here of lithium iron phosphate batteries here. When treated well, they are far more cost effective, long-lived, and trouble-free than lead-acid batteries.

My most recent electric vehicle purchase was a Prodeco bicycle. A lithium battery “ebike”, such as the Prodeco, is a great low maintenance people mover. Range is more than 10 miles without peddling. A great asset for when petroleum fuel is not available.

JWR Replies: Several of my consulting clients have Bad Boy Buggy electric ATVs. In addition to their quiet operation and utility as farm and ranch vehicles, they also provide a very portable battery bank. (They have eight large 6-volt deep cycle batteries.)

Recipe of the Week:

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Ray R.’s Chicken Stew

We have a favorite soup recipe, made as follows:

Chicken Stew
16 c Water – for a soup instead of a thick stew make this 20 to 24 cups – we use water from our Berkey filter since it tastes better.
16 tsp Knorr tomato/chicken bouillon – adds a great flavor.
25 oz boneless skinless chicken – this can be fresh, frozen, or home canned – it is about a quart of my home canned chicken.
1 c Dry pearled barley – we buy these in 25 lbs sacks at Restaurant Depot which we first learned of from SurvivalBlog. We pack then into canning jars and vacuum seal then with a Food Saver using the wide mouth canning jar
2 c dry lentils – again purchased in 25 lbs sacks at Restaurant Depot.
2 tbs dried onions – substitute fresh if you have it
1 tbs minced garlic
Large dash Maggi seasoning to taste – adds a great meaty flavor – we use the USA produced stuff made by Nestle, but it is made in many countries, and most Asian supermarkets carry it and Asian made copies. Maggi is sort of a wheat-based soy-flavored sauce product, but with no soy.
2 cans white beans – we have been using beans from the LDS cannery. Since they are no longer doing wet pack canning we will have to find another source or go to dried beans soaked overnight.
2 cans Rotel – the smaller size cans not the large restaurant sized cans.
2 cans diced tomatoes
25 oz fresh carrots – or the equivalent in dried carrots

Bring all of the above to a boil, then turn the heat down to a low simmer.
Simmer at least a couple of hours or as long as all day. We can fit a half recipe in our crock pot.

Wait 1/2 to 1 hour before serving add the Spinach.

7 oz fresh spinach or the equivalent in dried spinach.

Chef’s Notes:

Yields about 29 cups of stew (about 120 calories per cup), or a few more servings if you started with more water.

My wife likes this as is. I spice it up in my bowl with a with a few dashes of Liquid Smoke, and some Chipotle Smoked Tabasco sauce.


Do you have a favorite recipe that you have tested extensively? Then please e-mail it to us for posting. Thanks!

Economics and Investing:

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From G.G.: 45% Of Americans Will Probably Run Out Of Money By Their 75th Birthday

Failed Illinois Governor Quinn: “Our Rendezvous With Reality Has Arrived”. (Kudos to B.B. for sending the link.)

Bryan E. sent this: Congress steering US economy toward a ‘fiscal cliff’

Economy’s Biggest Drag Right Now is Government

K.T. sent this: Missouri House Votes for Gold and Silver Tender

Graham Summers, by way of Zero Hedge: Spain is About to Enter a Full-Scale Collapse

Speaking of Spain, Peter S. sent this: S&P Lowers Spain’s Rating

Items from The Economatrix:

Sinclair – Shorts Now Trapped & Gold Could Gap Up To $3,000

US Dollar vs. Gold:  Epic Money Battle

So Long, US Dollar

Duration Risk:  How The Fed is Creating the Next Financial Crisis

Odds ‘n Sods:

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File under Emerging Threats: Inside The Ring–The Brotherhood Threat. They are now seriously talking about terrorist use of compact non-nuclear EMP weapons.

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James C. suggested this instructional video: How to Make Pinhole Glasses.

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Yet another biased study: What is the the Most Peaceful State in the Country? “The report assigned a ‘peace index’ to each state based on tabulated data that looked at the number of reported homicides, violent crimes, citizens serving time in prison and police staffing levels. It also measured the ability to access and purchase small guns.” JWR’s Comments: Statistics show that the prevalence of carrying guns keeps folks peaceable. (Street crime rates in the U.S. have dropped, while concealed carry has greatly expanded. And while correlation does not necessarily imply causation, in my opinion along with our aging population, widespread concealed carry has contributed to lower crime rates.) Any guesses on how the American Redoubt States would have ranked, if that last factor were excluded? (Special thanks to David S. for the link.)

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Safecastle’s big sale on Mountain House canned freeze dried foods with the maximum allowed 25% off, free shipping, and buyers club member incentives and rebates ends May 6th. It is expected that Mountain House can prices will be going up very soon, so take advantage of this opportunity.

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Mary F. mentioned this: in The New York Times: Who Made That Mason Jar?

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

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“Again, thank you for inviting me. You have prepared food, so I will not be rude, I will stay and eat. Let’s have one good meal here. Let’s make it a feast. Then I ask you, I plead with you, I beg you all, walk out of here with me, never to come back. It’s the moral and ethical thing to do. Nothing good goes on in this place. Let’s lock the doors and leave the building to the spiders, moths and four-legged rats.” – Conclusion of Robert Wenzel’s April, 2012 speech delivered at the New York Federal Reserve Bank

Note from JWR:

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Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of C.) A “grab bag” of preparedness gear and books from Jim’s Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Motorcycle BOV, by Jeff H.

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I have what I would consider three different Bug Out Vehicles (BOVs): a 4WD pickup, a 4WD SUV and a motorcycle.  The bike of coarse could be placed in the back of the pickup and unloaded somewhere down the road as needed thus greatly extending the range of either individually.  As far as BOVs are concerned there are many advantages to using a motorcycle.  One is good fuel mileage. Another is the ability to go around snarled traffic and other obstacles.  Disadvantages are lack of carrying capacity and the personal protection of being in a big heavy vehicle.

As far as what motorcycle you would use, I would recommend one of the types know as Dual Purpose.  These bike types have the ability to go both on and off road.  I’d start with at least a 650cc for a single rider and I use a 1200cc because I ride two with my wife.  The bigger bike isn’t as easy to ride in the hard stuff but it can carry a heavier load.  Just don’t get a bike so heavy that you can’t pick up when it falls over, because it will at some point.  If the bike doesn’t come with one buy and install one of the large capacity aftermarket fuel tanks.  The bike I have has a range of about 350 miles on one tank of fuel.  It would be very wise to get a bike with a quiet muffler.  No need in letting everyone know where you are.

I personally ride with all the protective gear, helmet, gloves, pants and boots.  Select these items with your intended purpose.  All of mine are waterproof which I consider a big plus if you get stranded.  Note that through experience not all items advertised as water proof actually meet those criteria.  I use military issue waterproof, steel toed boots instead of regular motorcycle type boots for when you have to abandon the bike and take to foot.  My jacket and pants have lots of waterproof pockets.  In those pockets I always carry a folding knife, multi-utility tool, survival butane lighter, paper matches, LED flash light, some toilet paper in a zip lock, cash and copies of all pertinent paperwork. In addition, a password protected jump drive with lots of personal information, phone numbers, policy numbers, bank info, some photos, passport and birth certificate copies and land titles. A Fisher Space Pen is another item that has proven invaluable to me.  It will write upside down, in freezing cold, in zero gravity and under water.  In the US where allowed I carry my pistol and a small quantity of ammo. (I intentionally try to avoid traveling in states that don’t allow concealed carry.  No use in giving them any of my business).  I carry two wallets.  My real one and one filled with a few dollars and some of those sample credit cards you get in the mail.  The fake one is a give away in case someone is demanding my wallet.

I always carry a good road atlas as well as some of the DeLorme Atlas of the areas I’m traveling in.  Another item I use regularly is a GPS.  In case of a G.O.O.D. situation it is recommended to have several escape routes planned.  This is where hopefully the GPS satellites are still functioning.  The GPS I have is made for motorcycles and is waterproof and vibration resistant.  In addition the model I have allows you to plot detailed routes in advance on your computer and then down load them into the unit.  Each route can be displayed in a different color.  In addition I have loaded a complete set of topographic maps in addition to the regular road maps.  Since having the Dual Purpose bike, this allows you to plot routes through some very remote areas on trails that won’t show up on normal road maps.  Of course you have these marked on your paper maps as well.  I’ve found these work well in the US but in Mexico, South America and Africa, maps both paper and GPS are sketchy at best unless you are on a main highway.

One of my main Bug Out Route concerns is bridges (river crossings).  These are easy choke points and a huge issue of safety.  Last year flooding of the Missouri River between Omaha and Kansas City forced the closing of a few bridges causing one to drive many miles out of the way to get across the Mighty Missouri.  Think what it will be like if the New Madrid fault knocks out bridges along the Mississippi or an earthquake takes out bridges on the west coast. In Patriots the characters ran into trouble at a check point on the road.  I see this as a real concern. Having the Dual Purpose bike with knobby tires can hopefully safely get you around these types of points. In many other countries I’ve traveled in, check points with armed guards are common place.  Only a couple of times did they try and shake us down for some cash.  This type of a situation is where having the fake wallet with just a couple of bucks in it comes in handy.

 When my wife and I travel on the bike we carry all our gear on the bike.  I consider this good training for a G.O.O.D scenario.  We trade off on camping and staying in hotels depending on where we are.  You quickly learn what is important and what is not as storage space is very limited.  We make use of saddle bags (panniers) and a dry bag.  In one pannier I carry tools and spare parts.  These need to be chosen based on your bike and your abilities.  One of my friends asked me what I thought was the most important tool to carry and I told him a pair of Vise Grips.  He asked why not a wine bottle opener and I replied that with the Vise Grips I could make a wine bottle opener. An LED headlamp with extra batteries is a very important item.  I like the ones that have high and low settings.  Some times you need just a little light and on high they seriously impair your night vision. On my first trip with my new LED head light, I pulled it out to begin setting up camp only to find it was completely dead.  I didn’t have spare batteries because I knew the new batteries would last for way more hours than I needed for several trips.  Well that was before the on/off push button accidentally got pressed in my pack.  Now I have spare batteries and remove one of them from the light before I pack it.  I also carry a small cheap (in case it gets confiscated) machete.  This is a common tool all over the world and I’ve not had it questioned at any checkpoints.

Other supplies I’ll say are very important are duct tape, silicone rescue tape, bailing wire, Quicksteel epoxy putty, Loctite 248 (this is like a chap stick and won’t leak), an assortment of bolts and nuts, rope, zip ties and tire repair items.  On a recent out of country trip the Quicksteel was used to repair a hole in a radiator, a broken turn signal and a broken lever mount.

Along with the basic tools including wrenches, screwdrivers, etc, I carry a small triangle file which can be used to repair damaged bolt threads as well as other uses.  Another handy item is a Stanley 15-333 8-Inch Folding Pocket Saw.  This saw is like a big folding knife that uses reciprocating saw blades.  It will store a couple of extra blades in the handle.  I carry a wood cutting blade, a metal cutting blade, and a carbide grit blade that can be used to cut hardened steel like a padlock.  We once used these to manufacture a needed part in a remote area in South America. One more item, although I’ve never needed to use it, is a few 3/32” E-6010 welding rods.  These can be used with three 12 volt car batteries and some jumper cables to make an emergency field repair.

I haven’t had hardly any issues with flat tires in car or bike in the US in years. After saying that, I was assigned to do some volunteer work in a Midwest City that was partially destroyed by a tornado.  One of the things that became readily apparent was there were lots of flat tires and more than one tire per car. In a TEOTWAWKI situation I would suspect flat tires to be a huge issue and highly likely.  Having a hand pump or compressor and tire repair tools and supplies will be most important.  On the bike I carry a small 12 VDC compressor, tire plugs, patches, spare tubes and tire irons just in case my tubeless tires can’t be repaired with a plug. 

Traveling in remote areas in foreign countries is a real eye opener and good practice for when things are not so good here.   One of my first remote bike trips was in Baja back in the 1980’s.  When we arrived in a small town there was a line at the gas station.  People had been there for 3 days waiting for the arrival of the next gas supply truck.  In South America one gas station was so remote they had to start a small generator to make electricity to operate the gas pumps while another station was just a rack with 2 liter pop bottles filled with gas. Traveling in these remote parts of the world you don’t pass up keeping your tank full because there may not be any fuel down the road, something that may happen here way too soon.  We had just left Santiago, Chile four days before the big quake in 2010.  Talk about being lucky and being glad I keep the survival items with me.  Here’s another tip, never fill up your vehicle if there is a fuel tanker at the station unloading fuel into the stations tanks.  This stirs up any crud that may be in the stations tank and you will pump it into your vehicles tank.

We have it too easy here in the US, or at least until TSHTF.  Here in the US we think getting patted down at the airport is a big infringement of our rights.  In a grocery store in Namibia all customers were patted down before leaving the store and there was a military guard with machine gun at the entrance. At several other locations, stores had little to sell and shelves were basically empty.  Leaving one town the next morning after a rain storm had all the ditches along the road filled with people bathing, washing clothes and filling their buckets from the puddles of rain water.  These are some of the things that are commonplace in many parts of the world but not yet here.  I know I’m preaching to the choir, but get and store the items you want while they are still available as they are luxury items in many places and in the future they may be scarce here also.  In Zambia I paid about 32,000 of their dollars (“Kwacha”) for two beers.  The point being that cash, even the US dollar, may not be worth much in the future.

Traveling on normal roads in the US isn’t that hard on a vehicle, but in a TEOTWAWKI situation, off road or remote travel will introduce a lot of vibration.  This is hard on the vehicle, passengers and supplies.  Your vehicle whether a car, truck or motorcycle needs to be prepped.  It’s amazing how many things will shake loose.  I use Loctite on all the nuts a bolts.  I recommend Loctite 290, which is medium strength wicking formula that you can apply to already fastened bolts thus negating the need to undo every fastener.  Other things you don’t think of, are things like pills.  They will turn to dust if not properly packed and some medicines can be deadly if taken as a powder instead of a slowly absorbed pill. I’ve had holes rubbed through packed clothes that touched the inside walls of the panniers.  I’ve also learned to pour my water into recycled soda bottles.  The thinner walled water bottles don’t hold up well under vibration and even the heavier duty soda bottles need to be carefully packed.

I carry a pretty complete first aid kit that I packed into a foam lined camera case.  I won’t go into the contents as there are many good lists available. Because I’ve traveled in remote areas in several foreign countries I’ve had special shots and pills required for things like typhoid, hepatitis, tetanus and yellow fever.  If one studies the aftermath of areas where disasters have occurred and the diseases that become issues I’d recommend getting those shots now.  My doctor is aware of the type of travel I do so he has prescribed other medicines for “just in case”.  I just plainly asked him what he would take with him if he was going where I was going.  A couple of different antibiotics and some pain medications supplement the other over the counter medicines I normally pack.  One really important medicine is an anti-diarrheal.

Because bulk and weight are precious commodities on a motorcycle during normal travel, just a jar of peanut butter and crackers are used to supplement daily food stops.  In a SHTF situation I have another dry bag packed with a pack stove, mess kit, food items and additional water as well as a Katadyn water filter.  I carry the typical backpacking camping equipment for setting up camp.  A Gerber pack axe for its size and weight it is pretty useful tool as well as an additional defensive weapon.  Some OD green heavy thread and some booby trap string poppers make a good perimeter guard and can be attached to items that might walk away.  They won’t hurt any one and the loud report will probably scare away all but the most determined.

While a motorcycle isn’t the ideal BOV for everyone, it has some advantages and I consider it another backup to the back up.  Ideally in a group evacuation a motorcycle could be very useful as a scout vehicle and in less than total collapse situations they allow quick fuel efficient travel. My final tip for when TSHTF is to remember to pack a roll of toilet paper.

JWR’s Comments: It cannot be overemphasized that choosing a motorcycle as your bug out vehicle will necessitate storing nearly all of your gear and storage food at your retreat. While not for everyone, a dual sport motorcycle can add tremendous versatility to your mobility.

Letter Re: Disasters and the Dreaded Multigenerational Scenario

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Dear Jim,
We have already seen how the largely bankrupt USA has dealt with the Hurricane Katrina disaster. New Orleans remains partially empty and its population is much lower. Those who had any money left when the hurricane was announced to hit. If they returned, it was to recover a few belongings and collect their insurance checks before ceding the property/ruin back to the FedGov/State. Surrounding areas where the Hurricane spent its fury have been abandoned. The wrecked 9th Ward of New Orleans was not rebuilt. Someday it will flood again, and this time with few people to complain, it will probably turn into a swamp and spin doctors will make it sound like this was a happy accident. The sad fact that the USA doesn’t have the money to keep rebuilding poor people’s homes when they get flattened by natural disasters is the NWO of our DMGS (Dreaded Multi-Generational Scenario).
Someday the New Madrid Fault will break again near Memphis, and the Midwest will be largely flattened like it would have been back in 1805, had it been built up like it is today. The aftershocks will rattle the Midwest for the following 80 years, since that’s how long they had aftershocks Last time. There were earthquakes during the Civil War that were direct aftershocks following the New Madrid quakes. Stone/masonry tends to fall apart in quakes, depending on luck and positioning. There are places where the shaking is worse than others, and places where it is not as bad. This is complicated by lots of factors so luck determines who gets hit or missed. At least the Midwest has food to eat.
Someday the Big One will hit California. If it hits Los Angeles, the damage to the infrastructure and water supply will cost a Trillion Dollars to repair. California insurance companies cannot afford this. Neither can the State government, as the budget is not organized such things. [Some conjecture deleted, for brevity.]
If the Big One hits the San Francisco Bay region, the damages are likely to be worse and more expensive than in Los Angeles, since the San Francisco Bay Area is more expensive, more valuable, and more established in a smaller area. The bay itself has been landfilled in various places, and homes and buildings placed on that. These are expected to fail in a strong enough quake. Many did in the 1989 quake. Entire elevated freeways were destroyed by the shaking, and bridges damaged. And that was only a 7.0. The Big One is in the 8.6-9.0 range, much stronger. Imagine all the water, sewer, natural gas, and electrical power being torn up by the ground waves. That’s trillions to repair, and years to repair it. The population can’t wait that long. Many of the places hit would not have the money to pay for repairs, so most of the area would be abandoned, much of the old buildings bulldozed as unsafe, even if they go through the shaking somewhat intact, just because they have no public utilities. Nobody talks about costs in Hollywood disaster movies, or that those costs are so huge to rebuild that it stops making sense. The East is likely to announce that the disaster areas are mandatory evacuation zones, and all civilians are required to leave. This is about money.
Because we live in a time where money is largely concentrating in the 1%, and jobs are all going to China, massive unemployment means no tax revenue. Even if there’s no lives lost in a disaster, there’s no money to pay for rebuilding. With many mortgages underwater, walking away is the smart move, financially. The above scenarios are likely at some point in the future, inevitable really, just as Hurricanes keep pounding the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, and tornados rip up midwestern towns. At some point, people will be choosing between insane tax rates or leaving, and most will pack up a U-Haul with their surviving material possessions and go somewhere not ruined yet. When the Big One hits California, taxes for the state should go so high that it will probably be a good time to flee. Leave Big Agriculture to keep growing the food we eat. Just go somewhere else.
Your job is to recognize when the place you live stops making sense and to leave while the leaving is good. – InyoKern

Letter Re: Sport Shooting for Preppers

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Another thought on going beyond training day in and day out on firearm proficiency. Besides joining a club, hunting is a great way to practice firearms proficiency. There is the obvious aspect of practical shooting, especially when chasing small game and birds but even large game hunting is illustrative. Most people (including myself with five years active duty experience and the associated firearms training) rarely ever shoot at a live moving target. Shooting at a walking elk at 200 yards is a whole lot different than punching holes in paper. I thought I was good and what can be easier than shooting an animal with a kill zone at least 10 inches in diameter? I hit it solidly on the first shot but in four subsequent shots (to ensure it died quickly and close) I only hit it two more times and only once more in the kill zone. This after printing 3-inch groups at the 100 yard range three weeks previous. The real world is a whole lot different than where we practice.
Beyond that, hunting requires the understanding and mastery of numerous skills including firearms safety, processing of wild game, understanding of the outdoors in general and land navigation in particular as well as good all around discipline and op sec (just try to sneak up on a deer). Additionally, it is a great way to bring the family together to practice skills that the whole family will need in any sort of social unrest or collapse. Add camping to the mix and the number of practical skills that can be learned or practiced on a weekend is outstanding. – Sean from COS.

Economics and Investing:

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Sue C. sent us this: Jim Rogers: US Looks Headed for Recession, Stock Crash in 2013

Also from Sue, this Reuters article: Britain in recession, intensifying government woes

Jon in Montana spotted this: Detroit Mayor Bing’s proposed budget slashes government services by 50%. Jon asks: “Is this a sign of things to come, across the country? 
John Grgurich: Spain is Struggling with its Debt, and You Should be Worried

Items from The Economatrix:

New IMF Figures Show at Current Rate Central Banks Will Buy Almost 700 Tonnes of Gold this Year

Gas Prices Seen Headed Lower at Pump

State Finance are Still Doomed

Fed Stands Pat But Says Will Act if Needed

Plunge in Durable Goods Orders Clouds US Outlook

Home Prices To Bottom in These 19 Markets in 2012

Odds ‘n Sods:

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M.E.S. wrote to mention that he likes the many do-it-yourself ideas at the Penny Wise – Homemade and Handy web page.

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Lynn G. sent this news article from England: Carpenter Builds Incredible Egg-shaped Treehouse Hidden From View on Crown Land

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R.W. sent something of interest to homeschoolers: University of Minnesota Launches Review Project For Open Textbooks

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Richard H. liked this at LifeHacker: DIY Gravity Water Filter.

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This has been mentioned once before in SurvivalBlog, but bears repeating: Making a 45-day emergency candle out of a can of Crisco. (Thanks to Jeff R. for the link.)

Note from JWR:

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Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of C.) A “grab bag” of preparedness gear and books from Jim’s Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

What to Do With It, After It Hits the Fan, by Elizabeth J.

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In Arizona a disgruntled city employee, upset with budget cuts made in 2011, manually shut down numerous valves to a large city plant. His goal was to build up enough methane gas to blow up a quarter city block.  Luckily, two hours after shutting off the valves he surrendered with no damage to the plant, and citizens were not affected by the protest.  What if there had been damage to the plant? It is time to think about these things.  After the poo hits the fan, it keeps coming! So now the question is, what are we going to with it?

Hygiene is one of the most important elements in a survival situation, but is usually overlooked.  Food, water, and self defense are the most common items stocked up on, while most forget to think about sanitation and personal hygiene.  Haiti suffered a cholera outbreak after an earthquake in 2010 as it does not take long after a major disaster, with government agencies at a standstill, for disease to become ramped. 
There are different ways to prepare for hygiene in an emergency, as there are many variables to any given emergency. I will be covering some basic possibilities that could arise and how to prepare. I will also discuss items to stock up on and store. Most of these will be good barter.

In an ideal emergency our homes would still be standing, allowing us to bug-in; even if plumbing is not in working order. Water and sewage shut down for a short time can disrupt our lives, but this situation can easily be prepared for. First item to plan for is the toilet. Sewage can back up into the house and come through all the drains. Yuck! This can be stopped with an inflatable test ball plug. You can purchase these at your local plumbing supply, and in case of an emergency, place it in the sewage line that runs directly to your personal home to block everyone else’s brand from running into your home.  When you need to use the toilet there are disposable bags made just for this job.  One brand I like is called Double Doodie, but there are many different options.  The bag is placed over the toilet, and then the seat is placed back down and ready to use.  After use of the toilet, a bio-gel pack that comes with the bags is placed inside the bag and it solidifies waste while also masking any orders. Do not forget to store extra toilet paper at the house. I like to vacuum seal or vacuum bag my toilet paper because it keeps it clean and dry while compressing it into a much smaller package.

If you have little ones in diapers it is a good idea to store some extras, along with disposable wipes and bags to wrap up used diapers.  If some city services are still in working order and trash is picking up, then used diapers will not be an issue. However, if this service is disrupted for a time then a metal trash can and a tight fighting lid would be a good back up plan to store some stinky pampers until services return to normal. Homemade baby wipe recipes can be found on the Internet, if you would prefer to store the items to make your own.

Feminine hygiene is important also. I love my grandmother, but I do not want to have to replicate her hygiene regime. Extra tampons, sanitary napkins, and disposable bags are good to store around the house for a short term emergency.  A long term emergency is different, and takes more planning, but I will discuss that in a moment.

A shower can be lived without for a while, though I am always a bit nicer when I don’t itch and stink. There are a lot of options for a solar shower made for use in the home. Depending on what part of the country you live, and the water resources that are made available to you, there are different types of large bladder systems, or rain catch systems, that will easily heat up during the day for a hot shower at night. Since I live in Arizona these are not an option for me.  A rain catch system would only catch dust here, where water is very scarce and cannot be wasted, so I have constructed a portable solar shower.  My shower is a 2.5 gallon bucket with a lid and a handle and is spray painted black. I drilled a small hole toward the bottom, and with some simple hardware I attached a hose, a shut off valve, and a sprinkler head for a little luxury!  It is nothing fancy but gets the job done. A few hours in the sun and it is ready for a shower. I can hang it in a tree or put it on top of a fence when showering. 

In a different emergency scenario, if I am forced to leave the house, then I will take my portable toilet that I made. It is easily constructed with a five gallon bucket. Some survival companies, like Emergency Essentials, sell a snap on toilet seat that easily attaches on the top of the bucket just for this purpose.  If money is tight, a pool noodle can be fashioned as a toilet seat, with one long cut along the length of the noodle that will slide on the top of a five gallon bucket.  It is pretty comfortable. I had to break out my emergency toilet after remodeling our home with tile, and the bathrooms were off limits for a full twenty four hours.  Cough.  I was glad I had the practice, and decided that I would much rather take my toilet camping than use a portal-john or the woods. The disposable Double Doodie bags can be used with these toilets, but they will not last long if you even have them at all. The best long term solution I have found is The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins. The book explains how to store and break down human waste and use it as fertilizer for a garden by simply using two separate compost piles. The two piles are distinguished as an “active” pile and an “inactive” pile. In this scenario, more than one bucket will be needed, with lids for each bucket.  Humans waste is nitrogen, and needs to be covered after each use with a carbon, like greenery or sawdust. This will stop the odor and keep bugs away.  If you use sawdust, make sure it is from real wood, and not wood composite, as wood composite will be toxic on the garden. Once one bucket is full of waste the lid is placed on top, then the bucket is left to sit and the contents break down for at least 6 months.  Once it is initially broken down the contents are dumped into an “active” compost pile. After a year in the “active pile”, the compost can be used on the garden and becomes the “inactive pile.”

JWR Adds This Important Proviso: See the many warnings that have been posted in SurvivalBlog in the past six years about the perils of using human waste for vegetable gardens. My advice is to use it for your flower gardens but NOT your vegetable gardens. And even then, you will need to take some special precautions. These include using a dedicated shovel with its handle painted red and a bucket that is painted red. Those must be be banned from any other use!

Bugging out will change the rules for feminine hygiene a bit. For a more permanent solution, a reusable maxi pad can be used. There are many patterns on the Internet and some in my personal kit can be seen here. The pads are easily sewn together from fabric. [JWR Adds: If you don't sew, then check out our advertiser, Naturally Cozy.] One could also use a natural sponge that can be rinsed and reused. There is also a reusable tampon option. There are different brands out there, but two specific brands are The Diva Cup, and The Moon Cup. These are just reusable soft silicone cups that can be used until full, rinsed out, and re-inserted. 

In a bug out situation, toilet paper will not be applicable, and so I have constructed a soaking/dry bucket kit for washcloths that will be used as toilet paper. If the wash cloth was used and then left to dry until it was ready to be washed, then the cloth would be hard to clean and would smell.  It also would be bothersome to wash one cloth at a time. The kit works along the same idea as a diaper pail for cloth diapers.  After the cloth is used, it is placed inside a bucket with water and your choice of washing solution. Bleach, soap, or essential oils could be used to disinfect the wash cloths until the time comes to really wash all the cloths. (My favorite oil for disinfection is Purify, or Oregano oil by DoTerra.) A smaller bucket fits inside the larger bucket, and keeps all my dry cloths that are ready to be used. This way the cloths stay dry until they are needed, and everything is contained in one area.  Each member of my family has their own kit, and you can color code the cloths if you want. Maxi pads can also be kept inside the dry bucket until ready to be used, and then once fully soiled can soak in the wet bucket until fully washed.  I also store a peri-bottle in each bucket to help spray off. Any mom knows how well a peri-bottle works after having a baby. They are a wonderful part of the kit and easily found to order on the Internet. Shower curtain and rope can also be stored in the bucket to use for privacy, and can easily be strung up in a tree. Privacy curtains can be purchased online for a different option but can be expensive. Handkerchiefs should also be stored.

If young children are a part of your family dynamic, then cloth diapers will be needed for a long term solution. Cloth diapers are no longer pinned and covered with plastic loose fitting pants. There are many different options now a day. A larger pail will be needed for soaking the soiled diapers.  Bleach cannot be used to soak cloth diapers; it ruins the absorption capability of the diaper.
We cannot forget about oral hygiene either. I really like my teeth and want to be able to eat the food I have stored, and I am sure you feel the same way.  Floss, extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, and mouthwashes are important.  Couponing is a smart way to stock up on these items. I get these items for free all the time.  A cap full of hydrogen peroxide and a cap full of water make a great mouth wash; coconut oil does also. There are ways to make your own tooth paste, and recipes for that can be found on the Internet. One of my favorite ways to make my own paste is with a little bit of baking soda and essential oils.
Laundry is another aspect of hygiene. I personally believe that if I am pooping in a bucket I should not have to wash clothes, but I will. There are different portable washing machines for clothes. One brand is called the wonder wash and is hand powered. A large metal tub and a washboard is another idea and are not expensive. Your great-grandma will be proud!
Laundry detergent stores well or you can make your own. I make wonderful and inexpensive detergent by mixing:

  • 1 Cup grated Fels Naptha soap,
  • ½ Cup Washing Soda (not baking soda), and
  • ½ Cup Borax.

When human waste, trash, or Heaven forbid dead bodies are out of check; roaches, mice and all sorts of creepy crawlies will be ramped.  Diatomaceous earth is an amazing product with different uses- one being pest control.  It can be dusted all over your home or bug out location. It is safe to eat, and will get rid of any internal bugs that live in intestines. Mouse traps and bug spray will also help to keep critters at bay, and you should have some on hand in storage.

Other products to consider storing are diaper creams and an anti-itch powder like Gold Bond. I think my husband would rather have a year supply of Gold Bond than food.  Over the counter products like Monistat 7 for yeast infections is also a good idea. I am sure a box of Monistat 7 and some tampons would have some amazing bargaining power!  I am always amazed and horrified at stories of the Pioneers who gave birth while traveling. The female in the house could store a diaphragm or at least some condoms.  We also cannot forget hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol. After storing food and ammo, who wants to die from an infection that started with a blister! Don’t forget medical tape, bleach, colloidal silver, gauze, bandages, deodorant, extra soap, bleach, essential oils, and disposable gloves.  A simple cut can be deadly in an emergency but it does not have to be if you plan.

These are very simple steps to ensure that bugging in or out can be as clean and sanitary as possible.