I always enjoy reading about what other people think are the “best” of anything because you never know what you might find and maybe, just maybe, you’ll come across something new.
In any case, the following article discusses eight useful bug out stove options, including rocket stoves (a personal favorite), hobo stoves, traditional butane or propane stoves, alcohol stoves, and more.
When you’re done reading I’m sure you’ll find a stove that’s right for you and your situation…
During a SHTF situation you must have a heat source that functions on readily available fuel to boil water for purification, cook, stay warm, and perhaps even to cauterize a wound. Quality survival stoves must be three things: lightweight, portable, and quick lighting. You might think that all lightweight emergency stoves are also portable, but that isn’t necessarily so.
What’s A Survival Stove? Before browsing for the perfect emergency stove to suit your needs, it is essential to define what a survival stove is and what it is not. A survival stove can be a camping stove – but not every camping stove is best suited for use during a SHTF bugout situation.
While many camping stoves are lightweight and portable, some are better suited for “glamping” and/or making a fuel traditional meal and to be set up for a weekend outing – no be toted along in a bugout bag. Larger camping stoves do have value as long as you are traveling in a vehicle and have stockpiled plenty of small propane tanks to power it.
Rocket stoves are another top quality off the grid heating and cooking option – but again, not necessarily designed with portability in mind. Because rocket stove comes in a variety of sizes, it is possible to make great use of a rocket stove’s rapid heating capabilities, only on a slightly smaller scale…
I happened upon the following video earlier today and I couldn’t resist checking out what the guy had to say as I’m always looking to see if I’m missing something in my bug out bag–I’m not–especially something I may not have included in my 53 essentials book.
Unfortunately, the title is a bit misleading because it isn’t a mere five items but more like five areas of preparedness, specifically water (e.g., water container, purification), shelter (e.g., jacket, sleeping bag), self defense, a first aid kit, and food (especially food you don’t need to cook).
Regardless, everything he suggests is good to include. I might also include a pair of shoes you can walk in and a flashlight for sure! Not sure why any sort of light source didn’t make the top five list, lol.
Although this Multi Seal Tire Sealant isn’t intended for legal street use (yet), it sure is something I would be interested in for a bug out vehicle because it never dries out, can re-inflate a tire after many punctures in the same tire, and a single bottle is super affordable! Plus the guy says you can get four tires done in about 30 minutes which isn’t lightning quick but definitely possible to make happen before a lengthy bug out. Check it out…
Looking for an all-in-one “cheat sheet” that you could laminate and include in your bug out bag? Well, the Urban Prepper recently put together a handy guide that he’s giving away to anyone! Topics covered include food, water, shelter, first aid, fire, comms / navigation, and more. I would encourage you to go directly to the video description to download the PDF guide. You’ll need to print the cheat sheet on legal paper, though, to get it all to fit front and back…
Winter is here, and the temperatures are falling fast. One thing no one wants to think about is the possibility of getting stranded in the snow. How will you survive if you get stranded in the woods during a blizzard, or your car gets stuck in a snowdrift on the side of the road? What about getting snowed-in when the power goes out? Here’s a comprehensive guide that will help keep you alive if you get stranded in the snow.
Stranded in Your Car
You’re heading over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house when the unthinkable happens — you hit a patch of ice and drift into a snowbank, getting your tires stuck. You can call AAA, but you’re stuck with the task of surviving until they reach you. How can you survive getting stranded in your car in the snow?
Car survival starts with proper preparation. You should keep a survival kit in your car at all times, which should include supplies like:
Food: Keep some high-protein,non-perishable snacks in your survival kit, like nuts and protein bars. You’ll need more calories to keep moving if it’s cold.
Water: Store plenty of drinking water in your kit. If you can, store them upside-down so that the tops don’t freeze. You can still get dehydrated even if it’s snowing outside, so make sure you drink plenty of water.
Extra clothing and blankets: You need to stay as warm as possible. Keep an extra set of clothes and some blankets in your car so that you can layer up or change clothes if you get wet.
Flares and flashlights: Emergency flares can help rescue crews see you even if it’s snowing heavily. Flashlights will keep you from draining your phone battery trying to see in the dark.
A spare phone battery and charger: Keep your phone charged so that you can contact emergency services.
A shovel: A military e-tool (folding shovel) is ideal because it takes up very little space when folded. You’ll need to keep your tailpipe clear of snow and other obstructions if you’re planning on running the car to stay warm. If the exhaust pipe gets blocked, it can cause carbon monoxide to back up into the car.
The key is to stay warm until the tow truck or other rescue services can arrive. You can run the car to keep warm, but make sure that the tailpipe is clear. Car interiors aren’t very good at conserving heat, so if you’re worried about running out of gas, just run the car until it’s warm, then shut it off. Turning the car on for short periods will conserve fuel while helping to keep you warm.
Try to remove the snow around and underneath your tires, as well as the snow in front of your car, as much as you can. Then, try to move the vehicle forward and back slowly, a few feet at a time, to see if you can get enough traction to get yourself out of the snow and back onto the road. If you’ve got a few people in the car, you may be able to get yourself un-stuck with some old-fashioned elbow grease.
You can give yourself more traction with sand or kitty litter too. Just make sure you’re using something natural — you’re not going to be picking it up afterward.
[Editor’s note: A come-a-long could be a useful tool for this very purpose.]
Keep snow chains or other traction tools in your survival kit as well. It might be cold outside, but adding chains to your tires is a lot better than staying out in the cold for hours or days on end.
Stranded in the Woods
Camping or hiking in the winter can be fantastic, but getting stranded in a blizzard can be dangerous. The key to survival here is to have the right equipment. You’ll need four primary things to survive if you’re stranded in the wilderness— food, water, shelter and warmth. If you’re camping or hiking, chances are you have at least two of those things. If you don’t have water, melting snow over a campfire is a useful alternative.
You should know that shelter is essential if you’re hiking or stranded without a tent. A proper shelter will help protect you from the wind and keep you a little bit warmer while you ride out the storm. If you find yourself stranded in the wilderness, building a shelter should be your first priority. Look for downed branches, especially those from coniferous trees that still have a lot of foliage on them. You can use them to build a lean-to in a sheltered area to protect you.
If the snow is deep enough, don’t hesitate to start digging. Snow insulates and can help keep you warm and out of the wind. Just make sure the roof of your snow structure is strong enough that it won’t collapse and trap you inside. You can even dig a trench in the snow just large enough for you and top it with the branches you found.
Your second priority is to build a fire, which serves two purposes: to keep you warm–which is vital in these situations–and the smoke from your fire can help rescuers or passers-by narrow in on your location.
Doing so can be difficult in the wintertime because most of the dead wood is wet from the snow, but if you can get a good fire started, you should be able to dry out most anything. You’ll need a firestarter (the Swedish Light My Fire firesteel is good). If you smoke and have a Bic lighter in your pocket, you should be covered. If you don’t usually carry a lighter, starting a fire with wet wood can be nearly impossible. It might be a good skill to practice when you’re not in a survival situation.
Significant Health Hazards in the Winter Woods
Be aware of the two most significant health hazards that come from wintertime survival situations — hypothermia and frostbite.
Hypothermia is the condition that occurs when your body temperature drops too low. You’ll start to shiver uncontrollably — it’s your body’s natural way of trying to warm you up — and you may begin to get confused or have trouble thinking. You’ll know it’s progressed to severe hypothermia if you stop shivering. At this point, your body has used up your energy reserves and can’t keep you warm any longer. At this stage, medical intervention is needed.
Frostbite occurs when the tissue in your extremities or any exposed areas freezes. The water in your cells turns to ice crystals, causing the cells to burst. Severe frostbite can even require amputation. Stay as covered as possible, and take the time to warm up your fingers and toes, especially if they start to tingle or the flesh starts to feel hard.
If you know you’re going to be out in the woods, investing in some self-heating clothing which can help keep you warm no matter how cold it gets. If you’re going to be out in the snow fora while, or you find yourself stranded, this gear ends up being worth every penny.
Once you have a shelter and a fire, it’s time to start thinking about food and water. There are plenty of foods you can forage for in the winter time. Just be sure you double and triple check anything you harvest to be sure that it’s not poisonous.
Stranded at Home
Weathering a winter storm at home might not seem like the hardest thing in the world to do, but if the power goes out and with it your heat, it can quickly become a survival situation.
Keep a storm preparation kit in your home at all times. It will be similar to the one that we listed above in the section about getting stranded in your car, with a few notable differences:
Water: You might be able to get by with a few water bottles in your car, but at home, you’ll need more. Plan on one gallon of water per person per day for the duration of the storm. Half of that is for drinking, and the other half is for hygiene needs.
Battery or crank-powered weather radio: Keep track of the storm and changes in the weather with a radio that’s tuned in to your local NOAA station.
Diapers, formula and other infant supplies: If you have a baby in the home, keep everything they’ll need in your emergency kit.
Pet supplies: The same rule goes for pets. Make sure you have everything they could need for the duration of the storm.
Prescription medications: If anyone in your household relies on prescription medications, make sure you have a sufficient supply on hand before the storm hits.
Flashlights and lanterns: If the power goes out and it’s storming outside, these tools can make it easier to see.
The most important thing to do during a winter storm–especially if the power goes out–is to stay warm, fed and well-hydrated. In most cases, all you can do is wait it out.
If the power is likely to go out, consider investing in a generator to keep your lights, heat and other appliances running until power is restored. Always place the generator outside, and make sure it’s clear of snow and other obstructions before starting it up. Don’t plug your generator into your home’s main power though as doing so can create dangerous feedback for linemen who are trying to restore power after the storm.
Further Steps to Take While Waiting at Home
Unless you have a fireplace, don’t start a fire in the house. If you do have a fireplace, make sure the chimney isn’t blocked by snow for some odd reason. Otherwise, the smoke and CO2 can start building up to dangerous levels inside your home since it will have nowhere else to go.
[Editor’s note: ALWAYS have a quality battery-powered CO2 alarm if you have a fireplace or any gas appliances… it could save your life!]
Keep each room closed, primarily if you’re relying on a fireplace or portable space heaters to keep warm, and try to avoid going outside if at all possible. Homes are designed to maintain their internal temperature, but opening doors let in more cold air which then must be needlessly heated. Besides, it’s usually safer to stay inside during a winter storm anyway.
Remember to be aware of the signs of frostbite and hypothermia even at home. Make sure to stay dry. You might sweat or get wet from moving snow away from the door or generator. If you do, change your clothes immediately upon coming inside! Wet clothing pulls more heat away from the body, increasing your risk of hypothermia.
When you’re sheltering at home, the best thing you can do is stay warm, stay hydrated and wait for the storm to pass. Electric companies sometimes can’t work to restore power until the storm is over, so be prepared to remain in place even after the sun comes out and the storm dies down.
Take the time to check on your neighbors once it’s safe to do so as well. Young children and the elderly are more at risk during a winter storm, so if you can safely walk to the neighbors’ house then it might be worth it to check on them and make sure they’re warm and have plenty of food and water.
Staying Safe in the Worst Circumstances
No one wants to think about getting stranded in the snow, but it does happen. The best thing you can do, in any of these situations, is to be prepared for it. Set up an emergency kit in your car and home. Keep a small survival kit — with supplies like matches, a knife, a saw and some high-protein snacks — on your person or in a vehicle at all times. If you’re heading out into the wilderness, be prepared. Have proper clothing, and remember the four most important things that you need — food, water, shelter and warmth.
Winter is here–ready or not–and the snow has already started to fall. Being prepared for such a situation can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. Take the time to prepare now, before you need any of these supplies or survival skills. Wintertime is beautiful, but without the proper preparation, it can also be deadly. Stay safe out there.
Who doesn’t love a good trip into the wild? Whether you’re hiking, kayaking down a river, camping for the night, or doing some other manner of outdoor activity, it can be therapeutic to unwind in the great outdoors. Many of us crave that escape from society to spend time out in the quiet, desolate expanse of the world. There are no loud noises and bad smells… well, for the most part. There’s no dealing with light pollution, so you can get a great look at the stars. The air is clean and fresh.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Although the human race has collectively spent millennia outdoors, it’s no secret that many have lost their lives due to poor planning and mistakes. Problems like running out of food or water, or dealing with extreme temperature changes — read hypothermia — can lead to severe bodily harm if not death.
If you’re not careful, the wilderness is not a forgiving place, and it’s relatively easy to make a mistake that can put you in danger. Make a wrong turn during a hike, and you could end up lost for days or running low on supplies. Forget to pack the supplies for a fire, and you could be forced to endure a long, cold night. It’s even worse dealing with a cold night if you’ve slipped and fallen in some water. Forget to dispose of your food scraps properly, and a bear could wander into your camp.
We could drone on for days about how many potential dangers you face out there in the wide open expanse of the wild. However, it makes more sense to discuss the most common dangers — things you may very well come face to face if you spent enough time out in the woods.
1. Snakes, Bears and Wolves — Oh My!
Although it certainly feels like it when there are few humans around, you’re never alone in the woods. There’s always a chance you might come across an animal. There are plenty of small ones like porcupines, skunks and possums out there, but there are some big ones that can be dangerous too.
Bears are incredibly dangerous. If you don’t bury your trash, leave half-consumed foods laying out and do not follow proper hygiene you might have one stumble into your camp. The same is true of wolves and coyotes, especially at dusk and late at night.
If you come across a large animal, don’t panic. Do your best to keep your distance, try not to attract their attention, and always keep them in sight.
Depending on where you’re hiking or visiting, snakes may also be a concern. Some, including rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths and water moccasins, are poisonous. Always check your sleeping bag before climbing in, even if it’s inside a tent or sealed area.
If you are bitten, stung or attacked and you think the creature might be poisonous — usually, you’ll see some discoloration at the wound — it’s important to get to a hospital as soon as possible. While waiting for help to arrive, follow proper poison protocols. Clean and cover the wound, but don’t flush it with water. Remove all tight clothing and jewelry before you begin to swell, and keep the wound at or below where your heart is if possible. Don’t cut the wound, try to suck out the venom, apply a tourniquet or apply ice to the area. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine, as they can speed up your body’s absorption of the venom.
2. Plants, Berries and Mushrooms
Berries often look downright delicious at first glance, adorned in vivid red and purple hues. But some are incredibly dangerous if eaten. The same is true of mushrooms and a variety of other plants you might come across.
Unless you’re expressly trained in spotting these types of foods, you should avoid them altogether. Foraging can be dangerous if you are inexperienced.
It’s entirely possible something you eat won’t hurt you in the short term, but mess with the wrong poison, psychotropic or chemical, and you could find yourself debilitated in the middle of nowhere with no help and no motor skills to seek it.
Bugs can be annoying, but there’s a lot more out in the wilderness than just bugs that are a nuisance. Even some common insects can pose a risk. Mosquitoes, for instance, can carry deadly diseases like malaria, West Nile Virus and Zika.
Other potentially danger insects include spiders — some of which are poisonous — ants, fleas, ticks, hornets, bees and wasps. If you’re allergic to any of these insects, which you may not be aware of before you come into contact with them, those dangers increase tenfold.
It’s hard to believe but bugs can be and are one of the most dangerous things you’ll experience in the great outdoors, and they also happen to be incredibly common. That’s why it’s vital you take the necessary precautions regardless of where you’re traveling or visiting.
Insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin can help considerably, but you must remember to reapply it regularly throughout your trip. You can also apply creams, essential oils and several forms of mint to deter insects more naturally. Before climbing into your sleeping bag check it and your body for insects — ticks are easy to miss. If you do find a tick burrowed in your skin, remove it immediately. If you get insect bites, clean and protect them as soon as possible. If a poisonous insect bites you, you need to get to a hospital as quickly as possible.
Smoke also helps deter insects. Some outdoors enthusiasts will light a cigar or use smoke-creating plants and materials to scare off the bugs. These are sometimes useful strategies, but they also come with significant risks. Both of these methods have the potential for creating a wildfire and causing severe damage to the surrounding forest. It’s probably best to stick with the tried and true methods for deterring insects — liquid or cream based repellents.
4. Dangerous Weather and Temperatures
One of the most common mistakes that people make when visiting the wild is that they do not properly prepare for the local temperatures and weather. In certain places, for instance, the temperature can drop dangerously low after dark, despite being comfortable enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt during the day.
It’s always essential that you pack the appropriate clothing and protective gear, even if you’re not expecting inclement weather. Hypothermia can set on quickly, even after something like a cold rain. It doesn’t have to be the winter, and there doesn’t have to be any snow present. Having your body exposed to the wet and cold can have serious repercussions.
The opposite is true, as well. In areas where extreme heat is present, or where there’s constant exposure to the sun, it’s important you stay hydrated and properly rested. Take a few moments here and there to sit down in the shade, and be sure to continue drinking water — not sugary drinks, alcohol or other beverages. Drink at least one liter of water an hour, more if you’re sweating profusely. You should also cover your head and face and wear sunscreen if you’re going to be in the direct sunlight for an extended period. These practices will go a long way toward keeping your body cool and comfortable in the hot climates.
Furthermore, be mindful about your surroundings at all times. For instance, when setting up camp try to avoid placing your tent in low-lying areas or near water. It’s possible during a storm that the water will rise, and if you’re sleeping inside, that could prove deadly. Try to find camp areas that are on relatively high ground and ensure you have ample space to build a fire and remain dry.
If you do fall in the water or get wet, be sure to dry off as soon as possible. You should change your clothes and then sit around a fire or get into a sleeping bag or under a blanket. Worst case scenario, you can huddle next to someone in your party to share body warmth.
5. Watch Out for Fire Hazards
In a thick forest, fire can be absolutely devastating. When a fire spreads, it can happen fast — so fast that you have little time to react. We’ve seen this happen in some of the recent major fires like the one in Tennessee that consumed 100 acres or the ones raging in California right now.
You might not be the source of the fire, so keep that in mind. Also, it’s entirely possible to plan a trip, and visit a location without ever knowing there’s a potential threat. You could set up your camp or hike through an area only to find yourself trapped by a wildfire.
Of course, it’s also important that you follow proper safety measures when building campfires. You don’t want to cause a wildfire, which happens more than you might think.
Always build your fire at a safe distance from flammable objects like your tent or underbrush. If you can find an existing campfire ring or location, it’s best to use that space instead of creating a new one. If none are available. Surround your fire with stones or dig a small pit to keep it contained. Never use accelerants or fuel in the fire, and try to keep papers, liquids and other debris away.
You should also inspect the area thoroughly, checking for overhanging branches, trees and dry foliage. Store any extra wood and other materials you plan to use at a distance from the fire.
As for what you use to light the fire, paper is out. Never use paper as a fuel source. If you do light the fire with a match, be absolutely sure the match is out before disposing of it. Never throw a spent match into the underbrush or nearby foliage. If you have extra water handy then spread it around the edges of the fire to keep the nearby ground moist. This helps contain the flames. You should also use water to douse the fire when you’re all finished.
Never leave a campfire unattended, as a breeze or wind could easily blow embers and debris into the surrounding area and spark a larger flame.
After dousing a fire with water, use a stick or pole to stir the embers and ashes. This helps ensure that any stray coals are not still lit.
Ultimately, if you have a small camping stove or cooking station available, it might be better to use that instead of a conventional fire. But it’s not always possible to have these tools handy, so just be sure to stay safe and attentive.
Have Fun, But Don’t Be Reckless
By now, you’ve surely noticed that many of the dangers discussed are fairly common and would be easy to avoid or prevent so long as you are vigilant and careful. While having fun and enjoying the great outdoors should always be the focus of any trip, that doesn’t mean you should be reckless. Often, the people that are careless when spending time outdoors are the ones that either find themselves hurt and in danger or lose their lives altogether.
In addition, there are also many tips that haven’t been discussed here including packing the right amount of food and water, staying aware of your surroundings so you don’t get lost, choosing the appropriate hiking and camping locations, and wearing clearly visible gear to alert any hunters in the vicinity of your presence.
Be smart and careful when you’re out in the woods so that you can enjoy your trip and get home safe.
Here’s Mors himself discussing his “super shelter” design (based off the igloo) for wilderness survival. Inside the video he shows you a few different shelter, including one really BIG one! You can get the book he recommends to explain the idea even more, if you like…
Whether in the event of natural disaster or an invasion, city-wide dangers or anarchy, there are many uses and times in which a bug out bag’s existence and necessity may very well become a reality.
A very familiar element to those that have volunteered alongside of or worked in the military, terms like “go bag” is a common name used, or “overnight bag” which we identify the BOB bag as in the Air Force. However, this is of course designed to be much more than just an “overnight bag” in most instances – while the name may not allude to such.
In this article, we will cover a range of topics and key focus areas for building your first bug out bag, which based on field experience, knowledge, and hobby-like interest combined with a DIY attitude will cover the following topics:
Observation of the environment
Health hygiene review and modifications, preparations
Signals and communications
Visualization and planning
Movement and cover, evasion and distress
Recovery and repair
Creation, and angling for long-term survival as-needed
To understand how to build the most efficient, meaningful, light-weight, productive, and effective bug out bag (BOB) it is first critical to know how your settings or environment, personal strengths and weaknesses, environmental changes, and how they interact with the situation. This is the most practical approach to maximize both survival and application of your bug-out-bag.
(1) Observing and understanding your environment:
To get the most out of your bug out bag (BOB) it is worth investing substantial time, consideration, efforts and even funding in choosing the most durable, efficient, lightweight, practical backpack for your last-minute adventures or escape!
However, depending on the nature of your potential scenario may it be a natural disaster or possible foreign invasion, zombie apocalypse or total anarchy, choosing one of the following backpack types for your B.O.B. makes sense!
A Kevlar-made bag for resilience, durability, and reliability which will keep you and your belongings safe.
A premium grade backpack with high-ratings, reliability, and trust from military agencies that optionally will include a BALLISTIC SHIELD is also preferable, as seen with those bags made to include Tuffy Packs ballistic shield.
An assault pack style backpack, or Mojo Tactical for those fonder of the over-the-shoulder design, an item like the KIFARU EMR II for the long-distance journey and escape, or survival in the wilderness.
Consider the importance of lightweight solutions for your Bug Out Bag, and research which of these models make the most sense for you, your strengths, personality, and priorities with packing and preparing your bag.
Also, consider the importance of getting a nature-colored bag for both camouflage to protect yourself from predators, and also to prevent or avoid unnecessary and unwanted attention. Depending on where you live, different variations of materials make sense more than others per the regular or average temperature, and typically expected maximum highs and lows of the environments which you’ll be traveling or living in.
To make the most of your ability to observe and report your environment to yourself, loved ones, or authorities make sure you pack the following critical items:
Reliable, durable binoculars that are lightweight in design and prepared for the outdoors
A compass for direction and measuring distance
Durable, reliable waterproof work-shoes or work-boots that are durable but not uncomfortably heavy for long-distance trekking and prevention of injury stainless steel highly recommended and cleats are an option
A pair of trusted clear eyewear protection for visibility and eye injury prevention both during the daytime and night time
UV proof sunglasses to protect your eyes from sunrays during the day
A small, waterproof notebook to record movements, observations, goals, and to leave behind notes or other measures of communicating with emergency personnel or friends and family
Fluorescent bodywear ranging from gloves to shirt, hat, or pants, which can be altered or used at different points during your journey to communicate different signals or even use as a flag for gaining attention at some point
This list is extensive, but not conclusive. Also consider the sort of environment, dangers, and expectations you have for your journey this way you can make the best decision with what backpack design, model, weight, capacity, style, and features make the most sense.
(2) Health Hygiene Review – Body Care and Repairs
From duct-tape to tampons, we have compiled a list that makes sense and is sure to be useful when it comes to maintaining the necessary health hygiene, “body repairs,” maintenance (like refueling), and both preventing as well as treating sickness and illness.
Every bug-out bag at a minimum should have a reliable roll of industrial-grade duct tape. From small injuries to severe gashes, broken or disconnected limbs and more, duct-tape has been trusted in the field by soldiers at home and abroad for decades.
Hand sanitizer, a basic medical kit, iodine for destroying bacteria and preventing infection, medical gauze for stopping bleeding or promoting clotting, Q-tips, and even a small package of tampons will go all the way in helping you to prepare for nearly any essential to medium-level injury and beyond. Gel energy packs, salt, water filters, a natural water purifier, and pan, bottle, cup, tweezers, and small necessary splints are also a MUST! Also, consider investing in water filtration tabs to filter and consume water while on the go quickly.
Also, do NOT forget necessary vitamin packs or powders to lighten your load, surgical or a RESPRO allergy mask to preserve and protect your face, lungs, the air you are breathing in, and breathing back out. It is not necessary to purchase and pack a gas-mask or other sophisticated survivalist masks because fitting and carrying one will be a severe inconvenience, weigh you down, and likely deplete both space and time in your bug-out bag!
(3) Signaling and Communications – Equipment Preparation
It is critical you find yourself at any times able to effectively signal for help, “friendlies,” and also identify others, which is why reliable, efficient, and practical signalizing and communications equipment is a MUST.
Pack your next Bug Out Bag with the necessary light sticks to show your position or lead the way through dark roads and brush; any brand will do barring it has good reviews and is reliable. This should not cost you more than around $10.00 for a pack.
Also, consider adding the following signaling and communications equipment to your bug-out bag:
Hand-crank flashlight for constant reliability for lighting the way
LED headlamp to light the path in front of you with adjustable settings
Solar powered LED flashlight
Hand-crank LED flashlight
Tinderbox for manually fire-starting when necessary
Matches as a backup resource
Fire-safe and waterproof lighters to both preserve and create fire at most critical times or weather
DO NOT neglect the following critical hygiene items:
Toothbrush and toothpaste with cases for each to keep dirt out
Soap bars that are well packaged
It is critical that you keep your teeth, ears, and mouth as clean as possible wild adventuring in the wild or on the road for days or more at a time. This is because bacteria grows most frequently and enters the body in these places, and can pose a severe threat to your immune system which in turn risks you become weaker, unable to function competently, lethargy, a lack of energy, and an inability to focus as well as other common flu and virus symptoms.
An essential Morse-code guide is also suggested, for communicating with other emergency personnel and military as needed.
A FLINTSTRIKE fire-starter kit like the one below is recommended, convenient, practical, and lightweight for your BOB:
(4) Visualization and Planning – Tactical Tools and Supplies
To increase your chances for survival, both planning a route to your destination, the progress you’ve made, and being able to visualize where you are and where you’re going adequately are critical to making the most of your survival in the wild, during a national emergency, or total anarchy! So, do not take this opportunity and advice lightly, and only go with the most reliable, durable, trusted tools and equipment for this section when creating your BOB:
Reliable, lightweight binoculars (night vision preferred but costly)
A basic notepad, pencils, and a pencil sharpener
Local and county maps, districts, and state-wide maps
Emergency GPS signaling device
Trusted outdoors GPS device
The GARMIN eTrex 20x is a good, affordable and efficient GPS tracking system, but the eTrex ten will also do just fine, and both are lightweight, reliable, and very durable.
(5) Movement and cover, communications and evasion
From equipment to clothing, charges, traps, bungees and more
Pack your BOB with a waterproof raincoat, rain pants, lightweight and preferably foldable rain-boots or covers. Also be sure to pack a waterproof hat, and some of the other following items to preserve your strength, health, agility, and speed:
-Fluorescent gloves and vest for both signaling and being seen as-needed
-2 Bandanas which have a wide range of multi-purpose that are sure to come in handy including for first-aid
-A sewing kit for easy repairs and modifications to clothing and armor or equipment, and if you have enough space, perhaps a small hacksaw as well.
-Kevlar gloves for fast, safe, and active movement through dense brush, rough environments, and terrains
-At least two pairs or waterproof socks so that one may be used while the other dried in the sun before the next use. QUIK-DRY brand highly recommended, especially for cloudy or cold days that make it difficult for clothing to dry.
These waterproof, durable, sports-styled socks are the perfect choice for anyone serious about keeping warm and dry – because without dry socks injuries, rashes, and pain are certain.
EXTRA TIP: An EMERGENCY RADIO is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (Solar Power is your best bet) so finding and adding a lightweight, compact emergency radio can make all the difference in your chances of survival, and identifying to reach your objective.
This EMERGENCY WEATHER SOLAR CRANK RADIO is a good choice, but there are many options available online:
(6) Recover, repair, and create!
Industrial tools, building, demolitions, self-repair and equipment repairs
Maximize your strength, building and survival abilities, and preserve energy where possible by packing the following must-have items and supplies into your bug-out bag:
Multipurpose knife for fitting, cutting, preparing food, and first aid
Nylon Rope for climbing, grappling, and evasion – also consider investing in a reliable and durable 550 Parachute Cord (50?)
Multipurpose multitool for stretching, cutting, and repairing survival materials
– A Versatile AXE for preparing food, chopping wood, and creating shelter
A multipurpose camping ax like the one below will mean between life and death when it comes to preparing firewood, cooking, hunting, and even defending yourself.
The added tools and versatility of a screwdriver, combined with duct tape, zip ties, and a plastic tarp will work miracles when it comes to making a water-proof shelter that’s likely to keep you warm and alive at night – and safe from PESTS and PREDATORS!
(7) Resistance and Survival, Existence and Maneuverability
Self Defense and Enhancing Speed
To protect yourself and your assets are sure to invest in the following items, tools, or multi-use weapons that will promote resistance, survival, and maneuverability!
-A durable, static and waterproof tarp to quickly set up a fort or tent soon in all weather and climates
-Bug spray and repellent to protect yourself and prevent serious infections or illness and diseases
-Pepper spray as a choice non-lethal weapon to defend yourself against bears, and other dangerous animals or persons. This is a compact solution and most practical for a bug-out bag but does not exclude the possibility of carrying a handgun and ammunition if possible.
Having seen the movie Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger when I was young landed me with a fascination for thermal optics. That fascination is not what led me to start considering their use today. Not only as an aid to hunting but as an option for a variety of tasks that we, as preppers, may deem important.
Recently in Search and Rescue training, we used a thermal optic to scan for lost hikers. It was amazingly powerful and successful. Even through rather dense foliage, we were able to clearly make out any presence with body heat.
This is a very powerful utility and one that is now within the grasp of most people. Back in the 90s, even an affordable thermal optic could quickly exceed $10,000.00. I recall reading the ads for these units in several of the gun catalogs that arrived at our house and knew it was out of reach.
That has changed. Now you can get a high-quality thermal sight that is quite cost-effective. The entire industry of thermal optics went through some growing pains early on. This combined with their high cost has seen them mostly employed for hog hunting.
I think it’s well past time we take a hard look at thermal optics as the potential tool they could be.
A Brief Primer on Thermal Optics
To correct any possible misunderstanding, I think it’s important we spend a few brief words on what exactly a thermal optic is. It is not night vision and has a number of benefits over a standard night vision scope. I do believe night vision is a useful technology but not the equal of thermal optics.
Night vision relies on some form of illumination from an external source. That can be ambient light for some types or an IR illuminator for others. In order for something to show on night vision it has to reflect that illumination. It can not work in complete darkness and has a very limited range.
Thermal optics detect the radiation, in the form of body heat, that is emitted from a target. They can be used day or night and even in complete darkness. The range of thermal is often much farther and can easily exceed 1000 meters on some units.
All night vision is monochrome. Usually, you can pick out your target with night vision with little difficulty. But if your target is near other reflective surfaces, it will just blend in. This is especially true of very small animals.
There is no blending in with thermal. The rainbow hues will stand out and be instantly recognizable. Even the quickest scan will show you if anything is near. From my home, I can clearly watch rats run around my barn over 200 yards from my window.
I believe the versatility and power of a thermal optic make it a far better technology than night vision for many uses.
Why a Thermal Scope?
So far, I have referred to this technology as thermal optics. So, why would I write this article about thermal scopes specifically instead of monoculars, goggles, or any of the other devices? That comes down to choosing a tool that is capable of multiple tasks.
Firstly, this is because a scope can serve as a hunting tool where other forms of thermal optics cannot. But that is just scratching the surface.
I am sure that most readers have a weapon mounted light. When there is something to investigate near our homes, many of us will reach for that weapon with its light rather than just picking up a flashlight.
The weapon mounted light serves the same purposes of a flashlight but with defensive capability. A weapon mounted thermal optic serves the same purpose.
Because of the way that thermal works, using goggles or a monocular in conjunction with a weapon would be impossible. You would never be able to see your sights. A scope will do everything any other type of thermal will but has a weapon attached should you need it.
If you are not comfortable with carrying a gun, a scope can be detached, often with just a throw lever, and used as a monocular. A thermal scope is just the most useful format for this technology.
Thermal Optics for Hunting
I am sure most of us are aware of the use of thermal optics in hunting. While it is worth covering briefly, it should not be the focus of this article.
Most game animals cannot be hunted after dark in many states. In my home state, only hog and coyote can be hunted after sundown. This will make hunting uses more limited for some than others.
Where and when it is permissible, hunting at night with a thermal scope is highly effective. Coyote are overpopulated in many areas, mine seems especially prone. I hunted coyote with a spotlight for several years but that method pales in comparison to the effectiveness of a thermal scope.
A bright light will scatter coyote immediately, often faster than you can get a bead on one. Thermal gives them no warning until your fire your first shot. Occasionally, that moment of panic from a loud noise can even give you time to get off a second shot.
My experience with hogs is much more limited but from my understanding, it works much the same.
Though I would hesitate to call it hunting, most of the use I get from my thermal scope is with the local vermin that like to raid my farm. I get coons, coyote, rats, and opossums regularly as they come searching for food. They are all easy prey with a thermal optic.
The one downside I have found is that the snakes they like to prey on my chickens are invisible.
Thermal Optics for Home Security
This is the one place that I feel thermal is most neglected. I have a rather large property with trees and a number of sheds and outbuildings. There are no street lights and on a new moon, it is pitch black. Thanks to the drug epidemic, home invasions and theft are prominent and a very frightening reality.
When I have an indication that something may be on my property, I want to be able to scan quickly. Sure, you can do that with a light but you give away your location. If you happen to start in the wrong spot, any troublemakers are given at least some warning to hide. This is an imperfect solution.
Night vision is a little better. You avoid giving any warning and don’t give away your location. But as we talked about with hunting, targets may not stand out, especially if they are hiding. Night vision also has a smaller field of view and limited range. I think it’s a solid tool but not one that can do everything I want.
Thermal optics give no warning, do not give you away, and make target location and identification easy. I can see to the far end of my property about 400 yards away and make out deer, dogs, and even small animals.
Even if someone were hiding with just a head poking out, it would light up in vibrant hues. Seeing through vegetation is a breeze so a person would have to be completely out of sight for them not to show up. This is by far the quickest way to scan your property with the least chance of missing anything out of place.
I could explain most of this all day but you can not experience how easy spotting through a thermal optic is until you try it for yourself. This video shows a couple of different modes available on Thermal optics. It does not show the typical rainbow color scheme that most people are familiar with. For scanning, I prefer the rainbow mode but the white heat mode does work very well.
You could do all of this with any thermal optic. I choose a rifle scope over a spotting scope for several reasons. As I mentioned, I like having the option to attach it to a weapon. Additionally, thermal scopes often have superior run times and a greater range of magnification. This is a huge benefit, especially when trying to spot at a distance or to identify a smaller target.
The optic I have attaches with a throw lever and holds zero pretty well. Probably most of my use is ridding the farm of varmints using a .22 rifle. The remainder of the time it gets mounted on an AR-15 for larger targets. I rarely ever use it without it mounted on a gun but it could be used as just a spotter.
I would not trust it to hold a zero well enough for a 100-yard shot but most of my shots are 20 yards or less and I am within an inch or so. This is acceptable for any use I normally have. When I take it out to hunt, I do an actual zero on the rifle before I go.
The peace of mind this has brought for scanning my property has been well worth the cost!
Other Uses for Thermal Optics
As I mentioned above, I use a thermal optic for search and rescue. This is not a weapon mounted scope but a dedicated unit. I do not take a rifle with me on search and rescue. This application works well in the woods, water, and most any other environment and is the most important use I have for thermal.
I also use my thermal to keep track of my dogs after dark when they go out. It works much better than a flashlight and is good practice. But outside of the use on living things, a Thermal scope has a variety of uses. The more innovative you are, the more uses you are likely to find.
I use a thermal to check for hotspots on my wood burning chimney. This can help avoid fires and tell you when you may have a potential blockage in your chimney. While you are at it, you can use a good thermal to check your home insulation by looking for cold spots. Heating is expensive, why waste it?
I do a similar check on my HVAC system. You can easily see leaks and blockages in your system and avoid costly checks that involve taking your ductwork down. You don’t need a sensitive, purpose made unit to do this. Any thermal optic should work well enough to detect these issues.
You can check electrical problems in the same way. Check your breaker box to make sure none of your fuses are running hot before it becomes a problem. You can even check your household outlets and surge protectors to make sure they aren’t running hotter than they should be.
Hot water pipes can also be scanned to look for places that may benefit from more insulation. Check your windows to make sure you aren’t losing heat. There are a variety of uses thermal can be applied to for measuring heat loss. You should probably take it off your rifle first though.
This may somewhat piggyback off other uses but I also take my smaller thermal optic with me when camping. I like to be able to spot wildlife and watch the activities of nocturnal critters that you usually never see. You could even use it to search for Bigfoot or the Yeti if you were so inclined.
Hopefully, this does an adequate job of addressing some of the many uses of thermal technology. For those who seek to be truly prepared, a thermal optic is an amazing tool with so many applications in our world. For prepper types, so many of these uses are important to the way we conduct our daily lives.
The longer I have had my thermal optics, the more I have found I use them. Of course, you should match your thermal to your intended uses. That said, when it comes down to it a mountable rifle scope provides the most utility for me.
I can use it for security, safety, providing food, and even some leisure activities. They may not be a perfect technology but they are a very useful one.
Eric grew up hunting, fishing, and roaming the hills of the Easter U.S. and has dedicated himself to becoming a well-rounded outdoorsman. Anytime there is an opportunity for a little fishing or a morning spent hunting, you will find him in the woods. In his off time, he teaches a variety of outdoor skills including land navigation and basic survival. Recently a Search and Rescue member, he has begun learning the ancient art of human tracking in a variety of terrains.