There is a number of thoughts and observations I’ve had that seemed worth passing on to SurvivalBlog readers, but most of them weren’t long enough to merit full articles. Hopefully, everyone can find at least one thing here that they hadn’t considered yet.
Wool blankets are heavier than down or synthetic sleeping bags but are lifetimes more durable and fire resistant. You should have both wool blankets for when weight is not a concern and regular sleeping bags for fast, light trips.
Knives– Serrated or Not
Knives with serrations require special tools to sharpen. Consider using only knives without serrations while in the field so that you need only one stone.
A sharpening stone is a must for your kit/BOB. Knives and axes that are in use will dull quickly, which can make them unusable in precision applications. So, you’ll need to stone to keep them sharp.
Stick to Common Firearms Rounds
There are many different firearms cartridges available– some old, some new. Instead of debating what the absolute best cartridges are, stick to common rounds, as these are what are most likely to be available in the long run if there was a restriction on ammo. Some of the more obscure rounds may be tempting for various reasons, but you may run up against logistical problems. For instance, I think the Swedish 6.5×55 is the perfect deer round. But how much luck do you think I would have finding that round when all the stores close? It’s difficult enough to find now. I suspect there may be many ad hoc survival groups that form after a SHTF event. We used to call these organic groups “tribes” or “communities.” Consider the advantages of being able to share ammo with others if needed.
Water Proof Containers
Water proof containers are an underappreciated modern technology. If you’re outside for any length of time, everything will get wet eventually. Tupperware, garbage bags, and small plastic bags can go far towards keeping matches, sleeping bags, your Bible, changes of socks, et cetera dry, when not in use. A favorite item of mine is the clear one-gallon storage bag that can be tied at the top. I find Ziploc bags too prone too coming open when stuffed in a backpack.
Soap, Dry Wool Socks, and Sturdy Wool Clothes Protect From Dangers
It’s exciting to prepare for dangers like marauding biker gangs, but there are plenty of things that are just as likely to get you that are anything but action movie material. These are things like diarrhea, trench foot, and hypothermia. Soap, dry wool socks and sturdy wool clothes may save your life every bit as much as your trusty 1911 or Glock.
Firearms and Preps
If you have far more than the basic battery of firearms, while the other crucial areas of your preps lack, you may want to reevaluate how you are using your resources. If your basic firearms needs are met, and you’re squared away in other areas of preps, consider using the extra money to buy duplicates of the firearms you already have, extra ammunition (no such thing), or training courses.
MREs can be handy. They come in water-proof packaging, have a shelf life as long as a human’s, are packed with calories, and contain their own apparatus for heating. But they’re also expensive and extremely heavy while on foot. Consider carefully where MREs figure into your total nutrition plan.
Implicit Survival Group
A survival group can be implicit rather than explicit. Be friends with serious, capable people, and strive to be a serious, capable person yourself.
People Skills = Survival Skills
People skills are survival skills. Like all survival skills, now is the best time to practice. If you’re a difficult person to get along with right now, how much more will people dislike you under the extreme pressures of survival situations?
Surviving the Boredom
Don’t underestimate the boredom that can set it in, especially during the winter months, even with the all consuming business of survival taking up most of your time. Have plenty of family-friendly books on hand that are good for reading out loud. Simple games and musical instruments would be nice morale boosters, too.
Light Gear That Works Well Wet But Is Bright and Susceptible to Damage
REI, North Face, Patagonia, et cetera make some of the lightest gear around that still works well even when wet. Unfortunately, this type of outdoors gear is very susceptible to damage during work or when traveling off trail through thick brush. Also, it is often made only in very bright colors, which is not ideal for the prepper who wants to lay low.
While we’re on the subject of clothing: no cotton for extended outdoor trips ever, or “cotton kills” as some outdoors men say. It will get wet and give you hypothermia. Desert and southern climes might be the exception.
Military Surplus Clothing
Your mileage may vary with military surplus clothing. It is usually made very durably and in camo or earth tones. However, it can be very heavy and sometimes cotton based. It can be had inexpensively at many thrift stores though, so keep some around. I’m a huge fan of wool because it is durable and warm even after absorbing lots of water. Best of all, European military surplus wool shirts, coats, and pants are widely available and of high quality. Just make sure you have some good long underwear to go with it. Wool is itchy.
Medium to high-end hunting clothing may be the ideal for preppers. It is often constructed sturdily enough for walks through thick growth while being light, waterproof, and of camouflaged coloring.
Basic Hand Tools
Many construction and repair jobs can be completed with a few basic hand tools. Garage sales and pawnshops can are great places to scoop up assorted screwdrivers, pliers, sockets, et cetera. Often, older tools are of higher quality.
Try using a hand crosscut saw (which you should have, of course), and you’ll quickly appreciate the chain saw. The chainsaw is one of the handiest power tools for the prepper, and you should have two of a reliable model. As JWR has said before, “Extra two cycle oil may be like gold when SHTF.”
An ALICE frame can be a wonderful tool for turning your back into a pickup truck. Bulky and oddly shaped loads can be ratchet strapped to one of these handy military surplus packs.
Sleeping Comfortably in Sleeping Bag
Sleeping in the rough comfortably on a cold night is a simple formula: More cold = more insulation needed to sleep. How “cold” or “hot” a given person sleeps depends on age, sex, and fitness level. My rule is that I add 20°F to whatever the manufacture rates a sleeping bag for. So a -20F bag is a 0F bag to me; a 0F bag is a 20F bag, et cetera.
Insulating Yourself From The Ground
Insulating yourself from the ground is just as important as insulating yourself from the air. Sleeping pads aren’t to cushion you; they’re to keep your body from conducting heat into the ground.
Delorme Atlas & Gazetter
While you’ll definitely want large scale, complete, up-to-date topo maps for your immediate operating area, having a Delorme Atlas & Gazetter for your state is a must. This will provide you with topo maps for your whole state, albeit in smaller scale and with less detail. If you live near a state line or in a small state, get the atlases for nearby states as well.
Keep Knowledge Up To Date
Keep all of your knowledge up to date. The fields of first aid, survival, fitness, et cetera are ever developing through new discoveries.
If you plan to keep tobacco for barter and personal use, tinned pipe tobacco has an almost infinite shelf life if unopened. Most other packaged tobacco products will start to go stale quickly, especially without specialized storage.
Test Your Equipment
Equipment that is still in its package, never tested, is equipment that you cannot count on. How many times have you opened something new from the store, only to find that it was defective or that you needed parts, accessories, or batteries to make it work?
Extra Tool Handles
You may have axes, shovels, and other handy hand tools, but do you have extra handles for them? That ax won’t fell a tree with a broken handle. Perhaps you could make your own, but is that an experiment you want to try in the midst of a long survival situation? Do you have access to suitable hardwoods, like hickory or ash for new handles? Stocking some extra handles for your essential hand tools is a fine idea.
Peace Time Workout Routine
Don’t blow off the peace time workout routine, even if you’re a man who works with your hands. You need extra exercise to keep yourself in limber condition and fit for when the SHTF.
Properly Behaving Children
Misbehaving children could put everyone at risk. Teach your children discretion and obedience before the SHTF. You’ll need your children to be members of the team when the time comes.
Practice Safety Now
The word “safety” makes many people roll their eyes. But if your survival group has 10 adults and just one of those folks is crippled or killed or even temporarily disabled, you’ve just lost 10% of your group. Things that aren’t a big deal now may be deadly serious without the benefit of an emergency room and antibiotics. Practice safety while doing tasks on the homestead and while using firearms.
Layer Preps for Short and Long-Term Emergencies
Layer your preps to account for changing situations and equipment failures. For instance, I keep canned food for short-term emergencies, MREs for when cooking is not possible, and bulk wheat, rice, and other dry foods for long-term emergencies.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 74 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical 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,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- 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,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 74 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.