The following are really ramblings and they will be all over the place.
I lost my teeth several years ago and dentures didn’t work. With no teeth, the amount and kind of food became greatly reduced. I lost weight for sure but also lost muscle and energy. The big surprise was how must my brain depended on food. My thought processes slowly became diminished. Figuring out problems, making plans, being creative, making poor decisions, and that sort of thing is worrisome. The lack of all those things in an austere environment could be bad if not deadly. Food is needed not just to keep the body alive but to function especially under stress.
You have seen those Mad Max-type movies where the good guy and the bad guys have those muscular arms and great bodies. Well, where did they get all the food to keep those muscles? It takes Dwayne Johnson “The Rock” about 8,000 calories a day to keep his body in top condition. Most survival bucket foods don’t even give 2,000 calories a day and those that do add lots of sugar to provide the requisite calorie count.
Low food intake equates to diminished brain function, body strength, and health.
Fire making. Making a fire has everything good about it except being seen, smelling the smoke and maybe smelling food cooking. Those issues aside, making a fire is needed and the tools to make a fire are on every website and book imaginable. What I have at the ready is everything that I have tested to see if it really works. I have char cloth, magnifying glass, flint, ferro rod, lighter and matches and I carry all of them. I am not going to count on just one item to start my fire. I may really need a fire, or it might be just for comfort, but the fire is going to start.
A knife for all occasions doesn’t exist. Two knives are the minimum needed, and four is better. A strong straight knife is the workhorse and a smaller straight knife or a locking folder for the smaller uses that need a small, sharp blade. I like two strong working blades and maybe a pocket pen knife along with the locking folder. Don’t get fooled by looks and fantasies. The handles or grips must be the right size for your hands. Some part of the knife, when in use, should stop your fingers from sliding onto the blade. This is because sometimes there are just not big enough band-aids.
Oh yes, putting on that 55-pound backpack and heading out. That is not going to happen if you are over 50. How many times have you seen an old, gray-haired guy with a big pack on his back that wasn’t just a photo shoot, selling something? Definitely have a day pack but really give some thought to the big packs if that’s really what you want. The older you get, the smaller the pack. I am old so I must think of some other way to get somewhere with stuff. Are you taking a good walk or hike every day?
I love those videos and books that show how to make a shelter with a single tarp and some paracord. Yup, just string your cordage between a couple of trees and poof, a shelter. I live up on the high desert and there isn’t a tree within 50 miles of me. If you look at a map of the USA, a huge portion of the middle of this country is about the same way. So watch something else, and do something else.
Water is a must to stay alive. In the summer when it’s hot and humid or a dry blast furnace, water alone is not going to be all that you need. Electrolytes are a must and should be used frequently. You can drink and drink, but your body has shed its salts and minerals and just water won’t replace them. You will get tired quickly, feel weak, maybe faint or make bad decisions when you sweat too much without replacing what you have lost.
When you know you have enough water with you, then you don’t.
You have seen demonstrations or photos of solar stills where you dig a really big hole then cover it with a tarp or black plastic and have your cup at the bottom to collect water. Flat out, you will sweat more water out of your body digging that dang hole than you will ever replace.
I don’t carry a sleeping bag. I have an extra-large, heavily insulated pair of winter coveralls with a hood. If I need to sleep, I put them on. If it’s cold, I can put them on and walk. I tried walking in a sleeping bag, and it doesn’t work. I keep a pair of insulated pair of winter coveralls in my truck 24/7, 365 days per year.
I don’t think you should have just one year’s amount of food and living items on hand, you need a lot more. Remember that after winter it’s called the starving spring? If you are planning on a garden to survive and there are crop failures what are you going to do? It is really hard to do but you need at least two and a half years of food and necessities. More is always good. Remember my making mention of that middle USA? We can’t grow gardens because of the heat, lack of water, and no soil. (We have small rocks that look like dirt.)
I am a believer in “you can’t have too many preps” but… I don’t live in a stone fortress with a large group of people. So which bad guy am I prepping for? This thought really comes home when thinking about ammo. What bad guy or group of bad guys am I helping to continue their bad ways? This is just a thought that keeps nagging at me.
Gold, silver, and barter items. You have to live long enough for someone to want them.
c. Solar panels I love but they are also like a giant set of signal mirrors. Depending on the time of day and the viewer’s angle they can easily reflect light 20 miles away. Wind generators are really good in my region, because the wind blows 360 days out of the year, but they have to be on a tower of some height to work well and it’s hard to be a gray homestead with a big propeller up in the sky. I have all three options to use until everything goes into that Mad Max thing. Always have options.
Things are looking bad, so you are going to load up your preps and get out of Dodge. For a long time, an embarrassingly long time, I thought like that. I knew that everything I wanted to take would fit into my truck and trailer. Then one day the thought occurred to me when I picked up a heavy metal can that had some preps in, how much does everything weigh? It took me a few days to weigh everything and write on each item the weight. It was a shocker when I added everything up. There were almost 3 tons of preps. No way! I spent the next few days weighing everything again. The volume wasn’t that big but the weight came out the same and it instantly became an undoable plan to load up and quickly get out of Dodge. Again, what bad guy am I prepping for if things really get Mad Max?
I don’t know anyone who has enough first aid supplies. I also don’t think there could ever be enough. I few years ago, I took a big chunk of skin off my arm while trimming trees. The qantity of bandages I used up through the healing process was enormous. A first aid kit is just for a boo-boo. You need to have a supply of first aid items, for just one injury. What if there is a major injury? What if there is more than one person injured? Are there supplies to last over a long period of time, and for different injuries?
Storing preps needs some thought beyond just climate control. I started out using whatever boxes I had, to store stuff. I soon found that all those different size boxes didn’t stack well. I eventually figured out the two standard sizes of boxes would fit 95% of the preps and be liftable (for an old guy) and stackable. I found that the cellophane packing tape doesn’t last more than a few months so I went to reinforced, gummed paper tape. The paper tape lasts years.
I put labels on all the boxes of what’s inside and a number. Both of these are catalogued in two inventory notebooks. I added photos of the contents of most of the boxes and added those to the inventory books. Sometimes a picture is needed for this old guy.
Here’s a thought, you know those 5-gallon and 7-gallon buckets that everyone has their long-term preps stored in? You know your preps in those buckets are good for two or three decades but is the bucket itself good for that length of time?
I could keep rambling on about stoves and cooking and how to do things but that’s some of the fun of prepping, figuring out what is best for you, and how to get to where you want to be. I am not there yet.
In closing, to summarize my advice: Walk, eat well, learn always, and pass on what you have learned.