Letter Re: Acquiring Local Topgraphic Maps

Dear Jim: A reminder to folks who don’t have good topos of their local area – get some. Just went to get updated topo maps of my local area in the 1:24,000 scale.  Little did I know that the 1980s vintage map I currently have is superior to the current maps!  The US Geological Service, decided in their <sarcasm on> “infinite wisdom” to update topos with roads added since the 1980s, but delete much of the vital information like pipelines, fencelines, gravel pits, radio towers, etc., etc. that make a topo useful.  It must have been just too difficult to …




Games Preppers Play, by T.W.

Preparedness is well within the top ten subject matters of interest today.  Most everyone is thinking about it and many of us are well under way toward some level of advanced planning.  Groups of like minded families are common but it would be a mistake to fail at making preparedness attractive to our children. Our pioneer ancestors invented creative games to teach their children skills of survival in an unfriendly world.  Games were simple and fit for most occasions.  If they were weathered in at a cabin, there was a game where one child was the subject and the others …




Letter Re: A Useful Map Tool

Hello Mr. Rawles, I wanted to share a great web site for calculating distances, etc. on several different mapping systems: GPSVisualizer.com. You can overlay your results on Google Maps or any of a bunch of different map types, including Google Terrain, which I like. It will compute range rings from a lat/lon or an address, great circle distance from an address / lat/lon to another address / lat/lon… etc. Great for showing folks exactly how close they really are to a large population center or other nasty place! – Rick in New York




Letter Re: Question on the Utility of Garmin Rino 655t Receivers

Brother Rawles, I read your blog every night and appreciate what you stand for, and the way you live your life. My question is on the Garmin Rino 655t GPS. My family is large, but we all live somewhat close to one another just outside of Cleveland Ohio. Although this isn’t optimal, the majority of us work as either firemen or policemen, so relocation would be difficult. We are trying to find the perfect radio communication system that our family could use during a SHTF scenario to communicate during a bug out to the compound. I have tried the MURS …




Letter Re: Power Grid Transmission Lines for G.O.O.D.?

Mr. Rawles, I’ve browsed your site for about a year off and on, and have read Patriots, and am just starting Survivors. Great work I must say, keep up the good work! My question for you is one I’ve tickled in my mind since heading to a camping trip this last summer. While we were driving, and I was mindlessly staring out the side window, I noticed the large power grid high tension lines. (you know the ones I’m talking about with the large steel towers, holding a dozen or so lines high above the earth). I had a day …




Letter Re: A Useful Free USGS Online Maps Web Site

Dear Jim, I have found an invaluable free tool for your pre- and post-SHTF operations that allows you detailed and accurate mapping for your location(s) within the U.S.  Here is a link to the U.S. Geological Survey Map Store where you can download at, no cost, detailed topographic, contour, road maps, etc. even including satellite images. These newer maps usually are around 20 megabytes, so if you have a slow Internet connection, be aware of that.    First navigate to the USGS Map Locator and Downloader Web Page   Now Double-Click to Zoom-In and Click-and Drag to Re-center the interactive …




Three Letters Re: Durable Paper For Printing Maps and Crucial Documents

JWR- Never mind the high tech paper that is bound to help increase a corporations quarterly profit margin and deplete your limited prepping budget…. Here is my input.   Tyvek used to make  various sized mailing envelopes and has replaced the old tan manila envelopes in many cases will work as a waterproof paper.  Granted you might need to use a sharpie or other permanent ink pen, but you can get these Tyvek’s  free of charge or close to it in many cases…If the outside of the envelope contains printing of some kind, turn it inside out and cut the paper …




Letter Re: Durable Paper For Printing Maps and Crucial Documents

Jim, Some time ago, I sent you an e-mail about durable printer paper. Since then, the HP LaserJet Tough Paper that I then recommended has been discontinued. I found this out when I tried to order some more, and this forced me to do some research. I found a replacement for the Tough Paper (in fact, I suspect Graytex may be the original supplier of Tough Paper as well as iGage Weatherproof Paper), and a few more options. So here’s a summary of what I found: There are some good “paper” products for printing documents that need to survive exposure …




Tactical Map Usage and Scouting, by Robert B. in North Carolina

Know your environment – getting the maps ready now In a world full of google, yahoo and portable navigators, the art of using maps kind of gets lost. In a SHTF situation, you will probably not have much of a technological tool kit for navigation, or planning. Knowing how to use maps from a tactical perspective then becomes critical skillet. Sand tables are not the most portable item to help identify and understand a terrain, but using plastic layers over a map can be very portable, and useful for viewing an environment. The layers I talk about below are a …







Letter Re: Smart Phone Maps

Mr. Rawles, My wife and I don’t have a lot of money and we didn’t want to pay to have a smart phone so we chose to have basic phones.  A friend recently upgraded to a new carrier and gave me his Android X with a 16GB SD card in it for $25.  I was happy cause we could use to entertain the kids on road trips or what have you.  But I recently found out that I can download Offline maps onto the SD card.  I’m sure you’ve seen an SD card for these phones.  Its about the size …




Letter Re: Offline Satellite Maps

Mr. Rawles, While trying to automate my Google Earth into an offline cache, I found this blog.   As it turns out, this man has described ways to load several types of maps offline, including topo maps and Google Earth.   To download Google Earth offline, you will need software from a companion site (free to use, $20 to donation) called Dr. Regener   I am now in the process of creating high resolution offline Google Earth caches that can be placed onto an external thumb drive and viewed as needed without access to the Internet. – Dan in Florida




Orientation and Situational Awareness For Your Kids, by B.P.G.

I am a victim. I am a spectator. I am luck incarnate. You would think based on my chosen career for over twenty years as a US Navy SEAL that I would be the poster boy of preparedness. You would think that now retired from the military and currently a security professional that I would have stockpiled food, weapons and supplies in preparation for the next Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 or other mass casualty causing disaster. Instead, like so many others I have assumed luck is on my side. I have assumed that because I have lived a life on the …




Letter Re: Maps, Legends, and Ground Truth

Hello James,  Our contribution to being prepared was a Sunday drive. Here is what we did:   An essential piece of equipment for anyone contemplating any kind of emergency relocation are good maps. If your relocation is a “bug out” due to deterioration of local conditions you need to have a plan. In consideration that my current well placed rural residence might be a point of contention for those who want to ‘borrow my belongings and harbor unnatural urges about the occupants I have taken to making exploratory trips about my county. Even though we are sheltering in place an …




Letter Re: Renewing Your Google Street View Opt-Out

Jim: Regarding the post of the guy in California that Google can take a photo from the public street, and see his electric meter and objects in his open windows: the problem is not so much Google as his choice to live so close to a public road that anyone could do this.  I used Street View to “sorta” see my gate, and that is all you can see–just a gate. Google Map’s satellite photos show far more detail about the layout of my “spread”, though the detail is fairly fuzzy. – Andy G.