Note from JWR

Today we present another entry in Round 2 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best article will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. (An up to $2,000 value!)  The deadline for entries is the last day of January, 2006.

We are pleased to post the following article on selecting clothing for winter outdoor survival. It was written by a serving military officer and certified winter instructor that lives Somewhere in Scandinavia. I was impressed by his excellent English.  In fact, his article took less editing than many that I’ve received from native English speakers. 



Clothing for Winter Outdoor Survival, by “Beauchamp Comber”

Introduction
To survive a sustained period of cold the most important thing is to know how to pick the right clothing and utilize the clothes to its fullest extent. This means understanding the body`s heat production and how choosing the right clothing can regulate and maintain warmth depending on what kind of activities one does. Clothing in itself does not produce any heat, but they retain more or less the heat that the body produces depending on their material. Fabrics that are lose and fluffy feels warmer than hard fabrics because the fibers contains more air. Another important point, is to be aware of the formidable loss of fluids that stems from undertaking physical tasks. This moisture will be caught in the clothing without our notice.
A The body`s heat loss happens mainly due to the following four reasons:

1.) By Circulation
The heated air closest to the skin, is driven off and is replaced with cold air (convection), this is most noticeable in strong, cold wind.

2.) By Transfer
Contact between the body and the ground you lay of sit upon. Cold soles steal warmth from the body (Conduction).

3.) By Radiation
The body gives off heat to the surrounding area when these are colder than the body, this has little effect for a fully clothed person during the winter.

4.) By Vaporization
When sweat on the body and in the clothes vaporizes
To assure that the body has the right working temperature (+37 degrees Celsius/98.6 degrees F) the loss of heat and the heat production, needs to be balanced. The key to balancing is found in the clothing and the regulating this.

Overly Exposed Body Parts
About fifty percent of the body’s heat production draws off from the head and the neck. Those parts is therefore key elements when it comes to regulating surplus body heat, bare headed, open in the neck to get rid of the excess heat or conversely maintaining it by means of a cap and/ or a scarf.
It’s the so called extremities, hands, feet, ears and nose that’s most exposed to the cold. Small cylindrical body parts, for example the fingers has a major heat loss because of large surface in relationship to volume. By using mittens instead of gloves the total surface will be less and it will be easier to keep the hand warm.

The Task of Clothing
Clothing’s task is to help us keep the body temperature correct. The clothing shall isolate against the cold and give protection against wind and rain. It shall also provide the possibilities for ventilation so that hot air may be drawn off together with body moisture. Dry air has small capacity for heat transfer.
More thin layers of clothing traps more air and will give better insulation than one thick layer of clothes. Protection against wind is accomplished by using a dense outer layer, waterproofs or impregnated cloth as a outer layer protects against wet weather, but the biggest problem in the winter will be heat regulation. Its important that one can vary the clothes and the amount of clothes, so that you don’t becomes overheated. Its therefore important that you utilize the layering principle as to using several thin layers of clothing where each garment is of proper size and used correctly and that the materials in the garments is chosen with care.

Ventilation
The body will always give off moisture in the form of perspiration. In the winter most of the sweat will be contained in the clothes and the clothing should therefore be made out of fabrics that will allow the humidity to escape through it. If we hinder this process by using for example waterproofs as an outside layer the humidity will be gathered on the inside of the clothing in the form of rime or ice. The moisture is therefore one of the bigger adversaries in winter time, not only from the outside but also from the inside.
The clothes should with this in mind be of a kind that facilitates temperature regulation by opening and closing at the following points: Wrists, ankles, neck, front, under arms and at the waist. This is what is called “chimney ventilation.” For proper use, the clothing should be loose fitting and give the possibility to facilitate ventilation. Trousers that sit tight around the waist or clothes that are held together by belts or straps will hinder the ventilation for winter use. Braces (suspenders) are recommended instead of belts.

Principles for Layering
The clothing is normally to be divided into three main layers :
  – Isolating layer
  – Windproof layer
  – Waterproof layer
The isolating layer is closest to the skin and is made up of underwear (both long and short) shirt, sweater and socks etcetera after circumstances. Wool is by far the best material for the isolating layer and it retains its isolating capability with 80% even if soaking wet and is reasonable fireproof to boot. None other natural or man-made fabric comes close to the capabilities of wool. The negative sides of it is that its expensive, its not as durable as other fabrics and it may itch if its of a lower quality.

The windproof layer’s primary function is to keep the warmed up air in the isolating layers. The fabric should be windproof but it should also let through as much as the humidity as possible. The waterproof layer is used in sleet and rain, if outside humidity was the only thing to consider the requirement of the clothes would be that they was 100% waterproof . Things are not so easy because we also has to take into consideration that we must “bleed off” excess humidity from the body – the main thing to take under consideration is then to find out what is the worst: being wet from the inside out or vice versa.

Most people are most likely to dress once in the day regardless of what that day may bring – putting on everything that’s needed for that days coldest possibility before leaving the house, sweating, enter ones car going full blast on the heater, more sweating, drive to the destination of that days undertaking and step outside and instantly begin freezing because of heat transfer due to vaporization and heat transfer. Taking one’s time to regulate and utilize the clothing in a proper manner will ensure that you’re able to keep comfortable for longer periods of time when you’re exposed to the cold.



A Source for Inexpensive Two Point and Three Point Slings

In my experience, most of the three point nylon tactical slings that are on the market are outrageously over-priced. You often pay as much as $49 for a couple of dollars worth of nylon and hardware. Even with a few dollars more for their labor, these marketeers are still selling a 400%+ markup item! So I was pleasantly surprised to find that a gent in North Carolina that runs a home-based business making “No Nonsense” two point and three point nylon slings. The really good news is that they are just $5 each postage paid for the two point type, and $9 each postage paid for the three point. He even offers further quantity discounts. Optional attaching clips for HKs are available for an extra dollar. It is refreshing to see that someone is out there that makes a quality product and that just wants to earn an honest buck without a lot of marketing hype. See: http://www.antiquefirearms.org/slings (He is a friend of “The Pre-1899 Specialist“, that provides Mr.Austin his web space.)





Billionaire Richard Rainwater Concurs with Peak Oil Assessment

An interesting piece recently ran in Fortune magazine, regarding billionaire Richard Rainwater’s views’ on Peak Oil.  (The “Hubbert’s Peak” in global oil production, expected sometime in the next few years or perhaps 20 years, or perhaps 100 years, depending on who you talk to.) See:  http://www.fortune.com/fortune/investing/articles/0,15114,1139979-4,00.html SurvivalBlog reader Chuck, who first mentioned the Fortune article to me commented:  “I had the opportunity to review several of Richard Rainwater’s oil deals while at Mitchell Energy. His projects were always well conceived and forward-looking.”



David in Israel: More About Rifle Slings and Magazine Duplexing

The Israeli sling is the product of requiring most Chaileem since the surprise Yom Kippur war in 1973 to carry their personal weapon everywhere they go until
they exit active duty. This leads to a design for a sling that is as comfortable in a bus terminal hitchhiking or walking in town but still quick to bring into action. The only thing I can think of to improve the Israeli sling is to replace the front cord with Kevlar boot lace threaded through parachute cord to resist UV, Kevlar is very heat resistant. Here with semi-auto being the general rule barrel heat is less of an issue. Compact M16 variants [CAR-15, M4] are most common and combat soldiers usually receive a tritium reflex or ACOG scope. Israel has dropped the superior plastic magazines for the much inferior easily damaged jam prone American aluminum mags. Due to safety concerns unless in combat areas most units require magazines out of the weapon, there is a gadget which fits in the magazine well and holds the mag parallel to the barrel, when required the gadget is ejected turned 90 degrees and the loaded magazine is inserted. The cheaper alternative is to use a 5mm thick O-ring to bungee a mag (or jungle taped double) to the weapon. “Jungle” magazine arrangement are side by side duct taped together with a spacer to allow them to be inserted into the mag well, they are both positioned upright as an aluminum (or any mag) is at risk of damage if the lips are scraped or struck. Have fun browsing about our military and police forces and their gear: http://www.isayeret.com/





Letter Re: M1911 Pistols–What Constitutes “Over the Top”


Mr. Rawles,
I’ve just finished reading your novel “Patriots”, and wish to thank you for providing such an insightful guide to preparation and the survival mindset, and a pretty darn entertaining read, to boot! My question concerns your preference for the M1911 .45 ACP pistol as a sidearm for one’s survival preparations. I wholeheartedly agree with you on the round’s advantages over lesser-powered cartridges such as 9mm or .40 S&W. And, since the ergonomics of the 1911 design in particular tend to suit me well personally (indeed, to whom does it not), I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding the myriad configurations this weapon is available in today; precisely, things such as beavertail grip safeties, beveled magazine wells, front/back strap checkering, etc. Do you think these features are more “show” than “go?” Also, should one avoid altogether “high -end” offerings from custom shops like Wilson Combat or Les Baer? The quality of parts and workmanship are readily apparent, yet as you allude to in Patriots, would the tight tolerances worked into each custom weapon make for questionable reliability under field conditions? Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail, sir. May God bless you and your family. Regards, – Mark T.

JWR Replies: needless to say, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool .45 ACP Colt Model 1911 user. The Combat Tupperware crowd considers the 80 year old design archaic, but I find the M1911 eminently practical. For right-handed shooters, the only modifications that I recommend are: feed ramp polishing, an extended slide release, and perhaps tritium sights. Everything else has marginal utility, and if taken to extreme can actually decrease reliability and combat utility. I consider even the extended slide release optional, depending on the shape of your shooting hand. (If you can reach the standard slide release without shifting your hand, them leave it as is. For left-handed shooters, the only other mods that I would recommend would be an ambidextrous safety and an ambidextrous extended slide release. Instead of pouring an extra $1,000 into a pistol on furthering modifications, I’d rather spend that money on a second M1911 for another family member, or on training at a school like Front Sight, or more ammunition.

OBTW, some of you might be interested in reading the FAQ that I wrote about M1911 magazines.



Mr. Bravo on HK91 Rifles

Jim,
I agree about getting a real HK91 and not a clone. The HK91 is a great rifle with a few easily corrected but serious weaknesses.

The trigger is heavy and poor, but an inexpensive and excellent fix is available from www.williamstriggers.com.

The sights are mediocre, but the “1200 meter sight”, which can be found on the gun boards such as www.hkpro.com or www.sturmgewehr.com is much better, and can be drilled or fitted with an insert to provide the ideal aperture.

The narrow, hard plastic butt stock can be punishing, but the butt end piece can be replaced with a wider rubber part from HK (from the HK21 or 23 belt fed machine guns) that is much more comfortable, and which avoids slippage. From an HK dealer or the above gun boards.

The magazine release button is suboptimal, but a “Tac-Latch” provides much more ergonomic operation in a low-priced drop-in part, from www.taclatch.com.

For optics mounting, the Brugger & Thonet mount is best, because it does not damage the receiver, and provides a see-through view with the iron sights if the optics are fogged (or worse.) It provides a lower mount than the original STANAG clip on mount. Avoid the B-Square mount, because they can cause receiver damage from over tightening.

The HK91 may not quite be capable of the same accuracy as an M14/M1A, but it never malfunctions, and nothing ever breaks. – Mr. Bravo

JWR Adds: As I mentioned in my novel Patriots, the only other major design flaw of the HK91 is that unlike an AR-series, M1A, or FAL, the HK91 does not have its action lock in the open position after the last round in the magazine is fired. In the stress of combat, this could leave someone thinking that they still have ammo when they are actually holding a rifle with an empty magazine. (Read: potentially deadly.) This can be avoided by loading the last two or three rounds in each magazine with tracer ammunition. When you see a tracer flash, you swap magazines.

OBTW, tracers are banned in California, but then again, so are HK91 rifles. So if you live in California, there are a couple of more reasons to vote with your feet!



Two Letters Re: SAR-8 HK91 Clone Rifles

Jim:
A note on you post of 12/15 about the SAR-8. I wish I could point you to a single place on the Web where you could verify this, but there isn’t one. I gathered this info from a number of gun discussion boards after my (opportunistic) purchase of an SAR-8 at a gun show.
There are two distinct SAR-8s, both handled by Springfield Armory. One is a steel receiver, made in Greece on original HK tooling. Known there as the SAR-3, it was changed to the SAR-8 by over striking the markings on the gun. Being an import, there are some restrictions on what you can do with it, such as adding flash hiders.
[JWR Adds: See the correction on that point, below.]
There is also another SAR-8, built in the US on an Imbel aluminum receiver. It qualifies as a US manufactured gun, and since the 1994 ban is dead, are pretty much able to be modified as you wish.
[JWR Adds: Actually, being built on an imported receiver, it still needs to have 10 U.S. made parts.] It has some minor differences from a “real” HK, but nothing that can’t be dealt with fairly easily. You can recognize these by the aluminum receiver, green furniture and rail machined into the top of the receiver. As I mentioned earlier, I bought an SAR-8 a couple of years ago for a song, NIB. Mine is one of the Imbel aluminum receivers, so I view myself as fortunate (although many would disagree–the Imbel receivers seem to have a bad reputation). After some initial teething problems that I was eventually able to trace to bad magazines (lesson learned–stick to steel), it’s been a reliable performer. If anything ever goes wrong with it, Springfield has a lifetime warranty, and there are quite a few stories of folks being offered M1As as direct swaps or as a “swap plus small amount of boot”.
I’d like to find one or two more of these, but interestingly enough, the few I see are commanding prices above what I paid for mine. Make of that data point what you will. I enjoy your blog, even though I don’t get to stop by as much as I would like. Keep up the good work.- The Freeholder

 

Mr. Rawles,
I have read and enjoyed both your book and the Survival Blog. I have found them very useful and thought provoking. Whether I agree with something or not is of no consequence EXCEPT when the information is factually in error and might mislead some folks who depend on it. Such is the case with the following:

The SAR-8 (Springfield Armory’s clone of the HK91) are well made (much better than the CETME). Their only serious shortcoming is that they lack a flash hider. Be advised that a large number of SAR-8s were illegally retrofitted with flash hiders. (The 1994 ban expired, but the original import ban that bans flash hiders is still in effect!)

I am an 07- FFL/SOT so I keep up on these things. The 1994 ban DID restrict flash hiders and threaded barrels along with folding stocks, high capacity mags and bayonet lugs. Of course, it is gone. The 1989 import ban DID NOT forbid flash hiders, threaded barrels or the other “evil features”. What it DID do was mandate not more than 10 imported parts on certain guns. Therefore, the addition of a flash hider to an SAR-8, FAL, HK, AK etc will require that the gun be in compliance with section 922 and have NOT MORE than 10 imported parts. If the gun was originally equipped with 10 or fewer imported parts you can add all the “evil features” you wish so long as you do not thereby exceed the limit of 10 imported parts. I hope this clears up a common misconception that might lead folks to think they can’t add a flash hider or other feature to their SAR-8 or other gun. Sincerely, – M.G.

JWR Replies: My most humble apologies for the error. Thanks for pointing that out. I will go back and will correct my original post. Assuming that the fake (unslotted) pinned-on pseudo flash hider that these rifles came with counts as one of the ten requisite U.S.-made parts, then removing it and replacing it with an original German, Greek, Pakistani, or Portuguese-made flash hider would be a violation of the Federal law, unless you substitute an American-made part to “keep up the parts count.”  Ditto for removing the original goshawful-looking thumbhole stock.  I recommend T. Mark Graham of Arizona Response Systems as a source for the replacement U.S.-made parts, as well as some great gunsmithing and refinishing services. See:  http://www.arizonaresponsesystems.com/home.htm



Jim’s Quote of the Day

“…there are some things that can beat smartness and foresight. Awkwardness and stupidity can. The best swordsman in the world doesn’t need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn’t do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn’t prepared for him. – Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court



Note from JWR

Today we present another entry in Round 2 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best article will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. (An up to $2,000 value!)  The deadline for entries is the last day of January, 2006.



Discipline and Balance by Hamilton Tyler

There is always talk about the ‘survivalist mindset’ and how important it is to anyone who is going to prepare themselves and their family for whatever crisis they foresee. Some people get this mindset from previous experience (like Katrina survivors who we can hope will become advocates of personal preparedness), others from their religious convictions (Mormons, awaiting the Tribulation, etc), others get this mindset from objectively viewing world events and decide the world is risky place, and many others get this mindset from other places. All of these people, however, have at least one thing in common in their survival mindset – the need for discipline and balance.
As anyone who has prepared, or is preparing, for uncertainty can tell you, there are a lot of things to do. There are things to be bought, mapped, planned, diagrammed, learned, prepared, tuned-up, sharpened, sighted-in, oiled, cleaned, built, dug and stored. There is, it seems, no end to the things to be done. The one thing more than anything else that will get these things done is discipline – the discipline to stockpile food when the supermarkets are full, the discipline to store ammo when the stores are open, the discipline to save money when you’ve just gotten a raise, etc. However, discipline without balance is almost as bad for your plans as no discipline at all.
In good times, when we have our jobs, heat in our house, water in our taps, food in our cupboards and gas in our cars it is incredibly easy to slack off or even ignore our plans to prepare. And when a blizzard or hurricane shows up and knocks out the power, the pumps and the petrol we start kicking ourselves for not keeping up on our preparations…and then the lights get turned back on and we go right back to neglecting our plans for ‘next time’. I’m sure we all know someone who says he’s going to be prepared for the next hurricane or tornado or whatever. He buys a case of bottled water, maybe he gets some food, and a few weeks later he’s the owner of a shiny new pistol. And then he starts tapering off… He buys a little food one month and then does nothing for six months, after that time he might buy some batteries and flashlights and then he seems to lose interest and nothing more becomes of his great plan and desire to be prepared. The intentions were good, but the follow through was weak. This is a classic example of a lack of discipline.
Balance, the other important aspect of the mindset, is completely absent in the person who goes in the opposite direction than the one just described. He sells the jet skis, liquidates his investments, builds a concrete bunker, wears camo every day, spray paints his truck in a camo pattern, eats MREs for breakfast and has no time for anyone who isn’t in 100% agreement with him on his timetable for ‘the big one’. His wife is ready to leave him, his kids are embarrassed by him, his boss has put him on notice, the people in town call him ‘that crazy survivalist guy’ and his friends don’t know what to do with him. If the disaster he’s preparing for does happen he’ll probably come out fine, but if it doesn’t he’s going to be a lonely, miserable, tragic figure. Classic example of discipline, but no balance.
How does a person achieve the discipline and balance to prepare for an uncertain future while still maintaining a comfortable present? For each person it’s different. The easiest way to is to ask yourself if, in a future crisis will you be glad you did whatever it is you’re doing at this moment. Two years from now when the power is out and the blizzard is raging will you be glad you spent $35 on new computer games or will you be glad you spent it on 5-gallon drums of kerosene? In a year from now when travel is restricted due to bird flu concerns will you be glad you spent $150 on designer running shoes or will you be glad you spent it on canned food and bottled water? I’d say it’s a safe bet that as people were standing on roofs waiting for help after Katrina none of them were thinking “Man, I’m glad I spent $700 on SuperBowl tickets and didn’t waste it on gasoline and a generator.” Discipline is being able to stay focused on the ‘big picture’ – being prepared – even while the everyday world provides you with limitless distractions and reasons to not prepare.
On the other side of the coin, you have to have enough balance to sometimes decide that, yes, you’re going to spend $20 on a movie, popcorn and drink simply because you want to. Or you’ll compromise and see the movie for ten bucks, skip the snacks, and take the remaining ten dollars and squirrel away some D batteries or a couple gallons of white gas. That’s the sort of compromise that is a win-win situation… you still move forward in your preparations but you still have a pleasant and happy life outside of your survivalist interests. A good sense of balance will keep you from sacrificing your present happiness for future security. You could probably use the words ‘balance’ and ‘judgment’ interchangeably in this example. Do you have the good judgment to know when you should live it up a little and when you should knuckle down and get busy? There is nothing wrong with ‘splurging’ every once in a while as long as it isn’t at the expense of other things we should be doing. All work and no play does make Jack a dull boy, but then again Jack was never preparing for the end of the world as we know it. There is a middle ground where you can still have a good time without being neglectful of your plans to prepare, finding exactly where that middle ground is will make your life much easier.
Discipline keeps you on track, it keeps you focused, and it keeps you always moving forward towards your preparedness goals. Balance keeps you from losing sight of everything other than your preparedness goals. It makes you stop from time to time to enjoy what you’ve got going on in your life, now, in the present. Balance keeps you from sacrificing the good times to prepare for the bad times. In a nutshell, balance is what keeps you from ‘going too far’ or ‘over the top.’
If you can balance your ‘civilian life’ with your ‘survivalist life’ in this manner, not neglecting either one but not sacrificing one for the other, then you’ll have developed the discipline and balance to keep both lives stable and on-track. If your big disaster occurs, you’re ready for it and if it doesn’t occur you won’t be moaning about how you wasted opportunities and time that you’ll never get back.



Rourke on The Survival Retreat Condo Development Concept

When most people think of a “condo”, they usually picture a flat or apartment in a high rise. Think instead of a more rural a recreational condo like a multi-family mountain ski chalet or some vacation condos on the beach or lakeside. Now consider the possibility of putting such a condo development in some rural rolling hills countryside adjacent to some farm land and combining the concept of a recreational retreat with a survival retreat. In this way, your survival retreat becomes a group endeavor, which offers several cost-saving advantages, establishes clear rights and responsibilities, and, also importantly, an operating system of government.
Survivalists tend to be individualists, thus they are going to want their own space at least some extent, be it a room or a complete townhouse. Condominium law clearly provides for private space and public space, which are clearly defined in writing with rules, financial responsibilities, and penalties included. The condominium association, which enforces these rules and manages the public areas, is a democratic system of government elected by the owners. Also, new condominium laws have allowed for even more flexibility; say each unit also gets a private amount of garden space on common land, a private locker in the main shed, two parking spaces, etc. It is limited largely by imagination of the developer and then the association.
Remember, it is of course cheaper to built multi-tenant buildings than separate houses for many reasons. Savings can be expanded by including common heat for at least common areas, building a highly efficient earth bermed design, or heating common areas with a wood fired outdoor system running hydronic heat (i.e. http://www.centralboiler.com/ ). Consider sharing a $25,000 2.2 KW solar panel system or a 3 KW or larger windmill (i.e. http://www.meridiansolar.com/residential.htm ) which chares a large battery bank system that serves everyone. If you don’t use electricity to heat or heat water, for the stove, for the dish washing, air conditioning, or for the clothes dryer (use gas, propane, wood, or other sources instead) you really don’t need that much power. Most electronics don’t draw that much, and to be even more efficient, you could wire some special outlets for straight DC if you can get the voltages correct for what you are trying to run (TV, computer). Better to get a large generator and a backup than one for each unit, and to standardize on fuel, and buy in bulk. These shared costs can be very clearly divided among condo owners, even with meters installed, if need be, to be completely fair. If individual members want more, then they can buy more for their condo unit. The point is, it creates a system of working together and sharing costs, while still allowing people to have their own private supplies in their own private spaces. IMHO this is why communes don’t work, and why condos are growing in popularity. In a condo system, you are held accountable for what you must give to the group, but beyond that, if you want your part of it to be nicer, that’s fine. Inequality in your own unit is up to you, and you are the master of that space, though you owe some service for the common good. This creates a workable, fair, balanced system subject to review by an elected association.
Now imagine the aspects of defense. You have the chance to set up communication, surveillance, and command systems to be in place from the start. Defense really takes several persons to do effectively, and a condo development with multiple units, with many families working together, gives you the people power to pull from and create an effective defense, not to mention an entire cohesive, and extremely self-reliant micro community.
Common areas can include common buildings for storage, maybe a green house, swimming pool, fishing pond, a farming operation, or how about a mess hall, a large commercial style kitchen that can feed everyone. One person can cook for 2 or 20 in just a fraction more time if you have the supplies and equipment. (This also frees up people to do other things.) Consider a walk-in deep freezer, and a food storage system everyone shares. Ideally, most owners would want the flexibility each unit having its own kitchenette, but cost will dictate whether this is set up more like a large house with many bed and bathroom units (more like a dorm, bed & breakfast, or hotel) or more like a group of apartments or town houses with some common areas also.
All too often in survivalism, you have one spouse that is into it far more than the other. This is where making the condo survival retreat into a recreational complex is a great way to justify the cost. Personally, it would be ideal if the condo association owned a large amount of farm land and either had a farming operation going, or worked with a local farmer to do that so food production capability, and food storage was always in a ready state. Put in a fish pond, chicken coop, bee hives, and have small animal herds you can grow quickly if you need to with plenty of feed in silos (which can also make great observation or defensive positions too). For the “city folk”, such a rural retreat offers all the outdoor stuff, camping, hiking, hunting, working on the farm, ATVs, fishing, (if up north – snowmobiling, cross country skiing, show shoeing, etc.). Remember paint ball is a great way for your group to get to know each other and train. Thus the condo serves many purposes; recreation, piece of mind, and a real estate investment (though there would no doubt be some rules as to sale or transfer of interest). Consider it if you are planning a survival retreat with others. – Rourke  ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/survivalretreat )