Supercharge Your Bicycle With the Hill Topper Electric Bike Kit!


Where we live there are some significant hills that are simply no fun to ride a bicycle up. Downhill? That’s a breeze… but wherever there’s a downhill slope, there’s an uphill one too. As such–and more likely because I’m just getting older–I don’t get my bicycle out much any more. Ignoring the lack of exercise in this post, it also means that if I had to bug out and I were not able to take my vehicles then I would have to do so by foot which obviously means I’m not getting far very fast!

Bugging out on foot isn’t all bad since it means I’m not necessarily limited to paved roads but there’s an obvious reason why we humans have paved everything and it makes sense to utilize such roads if you can. Certainly, there’s a solution if I can’t use my vehicles and don’t want to hoof-it on foot: a bicycle. But, again, there are those darn hills… and that’s where this Hill Topper Electric Bike Kit comes into play… yet another cool device my buddy Douglas pointed out. According to their website:

“Your Benefits: Tired of high gas prices? Then try the easiest-to-install electric bike kit on the market. Lets you zoom up ‘that one darn hill’ that has kept you off your bike until now, run an errand or commute without getting sweaty. Get that bike out of the garage! Kit assembled in America with high-quality wheels built and tuned by hand in the USA. Get ready with your kit today and don’t miss out on another day of riding!”

In fact, watch this video about installing the Hill Topper:

Interesting? Perhaps. You might, therefore, like to read their rather extensive FAQ on the setup. Now, there are a variety of prices ranging from $399 to $1,195 depending on the battery size you opt for. And that’s where I became slightly disappointed. Personally, I would have loved to see them offer this setup WITHOUT a battery so that I could utilize one my own. If they would have done that I would have been all over this idea and got one for each of our bicycles as a “just in case” option. That said, the Hill Topper Electric Bike Kit could still prove quite useful depending on your situation and need.

Short on Space When Bugging Out in Your Vehicle? Add a Roof Carrier or Cargo Bag!

cargo-bagYou know, not everybody has a large SUV, truck, or spacious RV in which to bug out. Some of us (me included) have only a lowly four door sedan with which to rely upon. Originally, our plan–or should I say “my” plan–had always included the use of two vehicles so that we could take our “extra” stuff but a while back we had to sell one car and, hence, were left with just one. So, what to do?

Well, there were options, including a trailer and cargo hitch and even trading in our car for a larger vehicle but we elected not to do so knowing that we were going to have to drive across country for our upcoming move (didn’t want to drive two cars) and because we would want multiple vehicles in Seattle… one of which would be our current vehicle. So, we’re making do for a while but didn’t want to be completely without options and, thus, we purchased a rooftop cargo bag that would not only double as additional vehicle bug out space but also help up in our move.

Now, there are both hard-shelled carriers and soft (cargo) bags. The hard-shelled carriers are better and work great for vehicles that have rooftop rails (such as SUVs) but we opted for a soft cargo bag because it worked better for our car. Unfortunately, this means we can’t put a lot of heavy items inside so that means we can’t load up the bag with buckets of rice and beans or ammo cans. It does, however, mean we can put extra luggage, assorted camping gears, maybe blankets, freeze dried foods, and other lightweight items.

Of course, I guess you *could* load up with heavier items if you had to but most vehicle rooftops aren’t designed to sustain hundreds of pounds of weight without caving, though, you might have a few very large dents for sure. Ultimately, you’re not going to add a ton of space with a rooftop carrier but it is a lot better than NOT having the option. And, fortunately, most canvas cargo bags are fairly inexpensive at between $40-80 on Amazon. Hard-shelled carriers are going to be a bit more expensive.

So, what do you think? I know it’s not the best of plans but when you have to make do, you gotta’ improvise!

If You Only Had 15 Minutes to “Bug Out,” Could You? My Thoughts on Doing it Right…


It should be no surprise to anybody who’s been around my blog for any length of time that I am NOT a big fan of bugging out. Not at all. I feel that in most situations you’re far better off trying to survive at home, after all, that’s why I’ve created The PREPARED Path course.

That said, a portion of the course does discuss the need to be prepared to bug out. Because, obviously, you can’t plan your family’s survival on just ONE option.

The question today–ignoring many others–is in what time-frame should you be ready to bug out? Certainly there are many opinions and I’ve got mine. But the answer should really depend on the situation. Some situations might dictate a nearly immediate bug out, such as with an approaching wildfire, whereas other situations might allow for more time to leave, such as a forming tropical storm that’s expected to make landfall days from now.

With this in mind, I’ve got my strategy in place so that we should be able to bug out in different time-frames depending on the situation. Specifically, I think 15 minutes, 1 hour, and 1 day are appropriate time frames to plan around. The thought is that the more time you have to plan the more stuff you can take with you. Granted, some of this has to do with available cargo space and whether or not you can take two cars, for example, but the idea is the same: less time equals take less stuff, more time equals take more stuff.

Today, I want to focus on being able to bug out in the shortest amount of time allotted: 15 minutes or less. Of course, it is possible that you may have literally no time whatsoever to bug out–you just have to grab your BOB’s and go, but let’s say you have a small ability to take the MOST important stuff and pack a car, what would that stuff be?

Before discussing specifically what to take, there are two important considerations I want to point out: (1) what you think is important and what I do may be very different and (2) you really don’t know what you can take with you until you’ve actually tried. This is particularly critical for small cars (as opposed to trucks and SUVs) because there really isn’t that much space in them to begin with. Once you get people and maybe pets in there you’re kinda out of room. There are really only two solutions here: get a roof cargo bag/carrier or a very small trailer of some sort and hitch, that is, assuming you want to bring much of anything to survive wwith. Well, there ARE other options, including taking less stuff, utilizing multiple cars, or trading in a car for something larger. Regardless, you really need to figure out what fits and precisely what stuff goes in what vehicle if you expect to take much more than the clothes on your back. Go try it!

Now, let’s talk about time. 15 minutes isn’t a long time. It’s WILL go by in a flash in an emergency situation. You and everyone else will probably be running around frantically, grabbing random stuff, yelling, screaming, etc. You need a plan…

To be honest, it’s not hard to develop a plan you can follow. Get out a piece of paper and start writing. Jot down what’s critical to you for your survival, note where each item is (by room), and if you like include some numbering system to show how important each item is. So, for instance, I might suggest that my bug out bags are top priority whereas my firesafe is slightly less important and my wife’s numerous photo albums at the bottom of the list. I would then list these items, note where they are, and then sort them from most important to least important (e.g., 1 to 5 with 1 being most important) or whatever system works for you. You’ll have a good-sized list fairly quickly. I use Excel for this purpose but pen and paper work just fine too.

Now, you need to decide what’s really important. That’s why I like segregating my lists into 15 minute, 1 hour, and 1 day lists so that if I have more time I can pack more stuff, otherwise, I just grab the MOST important stuff. That’s the stuff that makes my 15 minute list. Slightly less important stuff makes the 1 hour list, and nice to have stuff makes the 1 day list. See?

So long as you’re ready to bug out in 15 minutes, in that you’ve got the gear and plan to make it happen, they you’re really ready to bug out given any time-frame presented… then it’s just a matter of “playing Tetris” in your vehicles to fit more stuff.

Again, I pinpoint 15 minute as being the critical time-frame to consider because anything less means you’re probably just grabbing your bug out bags and high-tailing it ASAP. 15 minutes or more means you can enact a plan, shove stuff in a car, and get a move on. Well, that’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

As for what to bring? It’s simple, really. Focus on the normal survival priorities like appropriate clothing, weapons and ammo, Rx and OTC medications, first aid supplies, some water, food, etc. I consider these the bare essentials. I would also include other things like evacuation routes, money, personal documentation (stuff that’s hard to replace like birth certs, deeds, etc), extra gasoline, and and batteries as also being pretty darn important. Make your own list.

My advice: do your best to be ready to bug out within 15 minutes. Get your essential down to the bare minimums–whatever that means to you–and then expand on your plans to include more stuff, more vehicles, etc. Use a simple sorted list to decide what’s most important and there you have it. Of course, I have my own ideas on how to do this and include a complete template in my Prepared PATH course but you can certainly make your own too. The point is to follow Nike’s slogan and “Just do it!”

The Bug Out Dilemma for Those With Troubled Bowels


For most people I would assume this isn’t a huge concern–though it could turn into one for even the most “regular” among us–for others, however, it could be a big deal. I’m talking about making a huge switch in one’s diet for days on end while bugging out.

Typically, the advice to anyone while bugging out is to not only continue eating as you normally would (e.g., three squares a day) but quite possibly to consume more food if you can because you’re likely expending more energy and consuming more calories and, obviously, your body NEEDS the extra food.

But, what if you’re one of millions that already have very significant bowel troubles? You know, difficulty in the “# two business” when things are normal and your diet regular? I’m wondering if it’s actually better for you to eat much less than you normally would on a bug out for the simple fact that you will be consuming foods (e.g., freeze dried meals, MRE’s, survival bars) that you would NOT typically consume as a part of your normal diet.

Just think how much havoc consuming nothing but foods you normally do not eat would cause to your digestive tract! I would imagine an immediate stoppage of the works would ensue.

And while I’m sure this problem will pass eventually and I know there are some OTC medications that can help here but you’re still probably in for days of very significant discomfort one way or another. As such, if you’re expected to be very active during this time, well, bowel troubles caused by a big change in diet could become very problematic.

I know, I know, just suck it up, you say! Consider, however, if this person is already stressed, tired, scared, and so on… for them it might not be that straight-forward and easy. You might then suggest they start incorporating these foods into their diet. Ok, maybe. But how dedicated would somebody be to eat such foods even a few times a week? Probably not that dedicated over many months or years and it’s not like they’re super-cheap to purchase either.

Fortunately, I don’t have this problem. I can eat darn near anything and be fine but I’ve honestly never tried to eat days worth of my bug out food only. In fact, this reminds me of an experiment a guy did on YouTube (I think it was CutleryLover) where he ate only survival bars over 72 hours and I don’t think it ended very well for him! Anyway, I do know people who have very significant bowel troubles and even small changes in their diet would be a problem, let alone very large changes like what I’m talking about here.

Now, you and I both know that a person won’t starve in only a few days if they eat but one meal a day or even nothing at all, for that matter. That said, being drastically under-nourished does pose other problems such as affecting one’s cognitive thinking skills as well as seriously reducing their stamina… neither of which are conducive to bugging out effectively or safely. So, I’m not suggesting they eat nothing but perhaps a single meal in the morning is a good compromise? That way a person gets the energy they need to move during the day but has time to “process” things the rest of the day and night.

Ultimately, I’m not saying that purposely eating less food is the right thing to do here. I really don’t know. I am suggesting, however, that you think about how you would tackle it if you do have bowel problems because I’m sure this is a problem nobody wants when they’re literally running for their lives.

What do you think? Should a person eat as they normally would even if they currently have very significant bowel problems AND will be consuming foods they do not eat or should they purposely limit their intake of these foods as I propose?

One Problem I’ll Bet Almost NOBODY has Considered for Bug Outs in the Summer Heat

The other day I spent the entire day outside doing a bunch of different things from landscaping to cleaning out the garage and plenty of other random stuff. In fact, I felt like I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. 😉 Because it was hot and fairly muggy out that day (aren’t most days in the midwest?) I felt I was prepared for the day as I wore loose-fitted clothing, a hat, sunscreen, and had plenty of water breaks too.

But, you know what I wasn’t ready for? And it didn’t actually hit me until that evening? Chafing! Also known as “saddle sores” they become quite unpleasant, so much so that if I had to walk a long distance later that night such as on a bug out I would have been VERY unhappy. Now, it’s not like I haven’t had this problem before. It’s just that it has never dawned on me as being relevent to prepping.

Granted, I probably could have taped some large gauze to my legs or even ripped up an old shirt to make do but where’s the fun in that? I know runners and cyclists have this problem and began looking for a solution.  I originally found a page that referenced several home remedies, including Noxema, Vagisil, Preparation H, Tea Tree Oil. Honestly, I’m not sure I would want to use any of those besides maybe the Noxema. I then found another page that discussed using petroleum jelly, other medicated ointments (didn’t specify which ones), baby powder, and cornstarch. Ok, now we’re getting closer.

I was hoping to find something similar to gauze that would–ideally–just velcro on or something but no luck thus far. I did find anti-chafing tape but that seemed to be geared towards marine (boat) use. A bit more research and I wound up opting for anti-chafing gel because it seems to be geared for keeping lubricated yet not being sticky or slimy and it’s not too costly:

My biggest concern with stocking anti-chafing gel is that I keep our primary bug out bag in our car and I doubt this stuff would last very long in the relentless heat. So, any ideas here? I’d love to hear of a better solution.

CONTEST POST: Eighteen Essential Items for Your Bug Out Bag by R.M.


A bug out bag is an item anyone who is even slightly invested in prepping should own. A bug out bag is a collection of things that should give you everything you need to get through the first few days on the road. You should be able to grab it in a minute, and it should be your best friend when times are tough.

Obviously what you put in your bag is of the utmost importance. Let’s look at 18 items that no bug out bag should be without.


1. An Easy-to-Carry, Weather Resistant Backpack: You will need something to store all of your goodies in. Your backpack should keep you stash warm and dry in all environments.

2. At Least 2 Liters of Water: First and foremost, you need some water. Water is the key to life, and the key to keeping yours going more than a day or two.

3. 30 Water Purification Tablets: A secondary water option for long term survival. As we will soon see, redundancy is essential.

4. Protein or Granola Bars: You’ll want some light weight, non-perishable, high calorie and nutrient food. Other good ideas are crackers and peanut butter, beef jerky, freeze dried food and MREs.

5. A First Aid Kit: A must-have for any survival kit. You can buy one, but making your own will help you get acquainted with how everything works.

6. An LED Flashlight: You will need some light for darker times. LED flashlights last longer and shine brighter. Store some extra batteries.

7. A Portable, Battery Powered Radio: This may be your only source of information while on the road. Store some extra batteries.

8. A Survival Knife: You will use this a lot for things like chopping wood, opening cans, etc. I can talk for ages on the subject but here’s a quick, important-thing cheat sheet:

  • A stainless steel or carbon blade
  • A 6-9”, single edged blade with a sharp point (nothing hooked, flat or rounded)
  • A 4-6” fixed handle, with full tang, solid pommel and no-slip grip
  • A sheath you can connect to your person, with crossover strap so your knife doesn’t fall out

9. Strike Anywhere Matches, A Piece of Emery Board, in a Plastic Container: This is your fire starting kit. The emery board is used for striker.

10. Dental Floss, Fishing Hooks and Sewing Needles: These tools can be used for:

  • Making fishing lines
  • Sewing torn clothes and fabrics
  • Stitching wounds

11. Paracord, Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape: For making rain shelters and sealing broken windows.

12. Garbage Bags: For removing waste, and fashioning into ponchos.

13. Warm Hat, Gloves and Socks: Keep your extremities warm to maintain your body heat.

14. A Mirror: For signalling to others visually, and inspecting wounds that are hard to see.

15. A Whistle: For scaring off animals and signalling to others.

16. A Pencil Wrapped in Paper: For leaving notes to others.

17. Photocopies of Important Documents: You should have some copies of any important documents you have, such as:

  • Your passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Home and vehicle info
  • Contact phone numbers

18. A Compass and Maps of the Area: These will help you escape trouble and navigate you and your family to safety.

Keep your bug out bag in an out of the way place, but a place you can grab it quickly when needed. If disaster ever strikes, it will be your lifeline.

For more reading, check out How to Make a Wilderness Survival Kit.

Good luck and stay prepared!

Rambo Moe

To enter your own article please email me at rethinksurvival (at) gmail (dot) com with your submission and review the rules here.

Please visit these fine sponsors and learn more about the prizes below…

Fortunately, we have some very gracious sponsors who are willing to sponsor this fun contest. Please visit their sites and review the products being donating as they are certainly good people doing good things for our community. Here’s the prizes…

nano-striker-fire-starter is donating an Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL Ferrocerium Fire Starter in Olive Drab.The description says “We created an evolutionary derivative of the original nanoSTRIKER with a larger rod and striker handle. It utilizes the same innovative design as the original, but with just enough extra size and heft to improve its ease of use without making it too big or bulky for key chain carry. The striker handle is 46% bigger, making it easier to grip. The XL version also sports a 33% larger ferrocerium rod, which improves the durability and lifespan of the rod even beyond that of the original nanoSTIKERs. Slowly scrape shavings off the rod into a small pile. Use these shavings on top of your tinder bundle for even better sparks! Use the nanoSTRIKER? to light gas stoves, alcohol stoves, fuel tablets, BBQ grills, etc.”
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ozark-mountain-gift-cert is donating $100 Gift Certificate to any of their wonderful survival courses.”Our mission is to provide the highest quality instructional courses to people who desire to pursue a self-reliant lifestyle; whether in the wilds or right at home. By blending both modern and primitive methods into our curriculum, we offer a comprehensive and practical view of survival and preparedness. Our course topics include wilderness and urban survival, fur trapping, bushcraft, primitive skills, long-term wilderness living, land navigation, home disaster preparation, outdoor cooking, food procurement and storage, foraging, wild edibles, and others.”
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I figured my sponsors shouldn’t do all the work, so I’m throwing in a McNett Tactical Aquamira Frontier Pro Ultralight Water Filter:
•Military edition portable water filter system with straw-style design
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6 Reasons Why Bugging Out is a Bad Idea

evacuationIt’s no secret that I feel bugging out should NOT be your first reaction to an emergency situation. After all, I’ve written an entire e-course about sheltering in place. In my opinion, you should stay put most of the time, and for good reason.

Now, let me state clearly that I also understand there are some situations where evacuation is likely the best idea. A few examples include an impending category 5 hurricane bearing down our your town, a nearby wildfire heading your way, or perhaps a tsunami. Most other situations that I can imagine dictate a sheltering in place strategy. The purpose of this post, therefore, is to explain several reasons why bugging out is a bad idea…

  1. The vast majority of your gear, equipment, and supplies will be left behind. While you should have a plan in place to take the most important/critical gear with you, unless you’re evacuating in a fully-stocked motor-home, you’re going to be leaving a lot of it behind, which really negates the advantage of having acquired your preps to begin with. In fact, you may be little better off than the average family who packed hastily… well, almost. Besides, I assume that you’ve spent a good deal of time, effort, and money acquiring your preps… just to leave it? No way!
  2. You’re leaving behind your best known shelter option. Unless your home was destroyed or otherwise made uninhabitable due to said disaster (such as being crushed by a tornado) there’s no guarantee that you’re going to find a better option wherever you end up. Obviously, you should have specific places to evacuate to–such as a friend or relative’s house or hotel–which certainly increases the odds that you’ll have a roof over your head but, like I said, there’s no guarantee that their house is still standing, habitable, or even that you’re welcome regardless of prior arrangements… or even the fact that you were [fill in the blank’s] best man at their wedding. There’s no guarantee.
  3. You know your area, the house, and your neighbors better than anywhere you’re evacuating to or moving through. Personally, I’m not the most outgoing of neighbors and I don’t know everyone’s name but I do recognize faces regarding who belongs and who does not (for the most part). I probably wouldn’t have a clue wherever I evacuated to. Likewise, it should go without saying that you know your area better where you live than you do anywhere else (unless you recently moved, for example, and are evacuating back there). In general, where you live now you know the people, the roads, the stores, the back roads, the culture, maybe the authorities, and so on. Where you are is what you KNOW.
  4. You could be traveling great distances to get to your evacuation spots. I’ve seen people with some really ambitious bug out plans, in the range of traveling several hundred miles or more to get where they want to be. I think that’s crazy if you ask me. Granted, my own evacuation plans include trips of about 200 miles which is asking a lot too. Heck, even bugging out on foot ten or twenty miles can be a multi-day chore and that’s not even considering medical conditions that inhibit travel, injuries acquired during the trip, weather conditions that force slower movement or no movement at all, and anything else that might make a simple “hike” turn into a real “trek.”
  5. Disasters can turn the nicest of people into the worst of people. Like it or not, disasters bring out the worst in people when they become desperate and scared. People who would have given you the shirt off their back yesterday may literally try to take yours from you today, especially if it’s for their kid’s sake. And, the worst part is that the already bad and/or shady people will use this situation to their advantage… after all you’re an easy target being out in the open, out of your element (the places and people you know), and probably traveling with your family. You may not want trouble but trouble may find you.
  6. Plan A may turn into plan B, plan C, and eventually just wing it! As much as I believe in planning to prepare for a emergency, including evacuation destinations and multiple routes, who knows what you might encounter. The routes you’ve selected could be congested with traffic (especially if you’re not among the first to leave), roads could be blocked by floodwater or felled trees, they could be purposely roadblocked by the National Guard or local authorities (or even bad guys posing as the law), or otherwise inaccessible for whatever reason. Now, you’re just praying to get to somewhere safe. Besides, who knows if you’ll be able to re-fuel if you’re traveling long distances, find food to eat, water to drink, etc. Certainly, you can and should minimize these types of problems by packing the aforementioned supplies before you leave.

I want to be clear: I don’t want to say that you should NEVER consider bug out as a part of your overall plan. Not at all. I have my plans in place and you should as well. I simply believe it’s usually not the best first option. Do what you will.

How to Evacuate in a Matter of Minutes

car-tripAs much as I’m a “shelter in place” kinda guy, I do recognize the need to be able to evacuate your home should the need ever arise. There are many, many reasons for doing so, including natural disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and wildfires to man-made ones such as a natural gas leak, and chemical spills. The question, then, is how to do so as effectively and efficiently as possible?

Well, to me it always starts with a plan. And plans often include lists; in this case a list of the items and gear you intend to take with… assuming, of course, that you’re bugging out by vehicle and not on foot. Anyway, your list doesn’t have to be anything fancy but it should be well thought out and readily accessible to all family members. I like to keep a “bug out” binder but you could just as easily post it on the refrigerator.

That said, I prefer to have my checklists broken down into multiple levels of needs, such as those items that are high, moderate, and low priority needs but you can and should do whatever makes the most sense to you. For example, I might say that my firearms and extra cash are a high priority need whereas extra blankets and my wife’s memorabilia are a low priority need. Got it?

In addition, I also like to develop my checklists around the time frame that I would expect to have to evacuate. For example, I might determine that I’ll only have 15 minutes or so to evacuate from a gas leak, one hour to evacuate an approaching wildfire, and perhaps a full day to evacuate a far-off hurricane. With this is mind I can then begin to determine precisely what items I can and will take with me given their perceived need/usefulness as well as the amount of time I have to gather them. To make my life easier, I actually created a PDf file to help me do just that called my “Priority Checklists” file. It happens to be one of many parts to my Pathway 2 Prepaerdness e-course, here’s an example screenshot (click to enlarge)…

Priority Checklist-2

Again, it doesn’t have to be this elaborate but I like the layout quite a bit and suspect you will too. Once you have all of your decisions made you should then consider the ultimate question: will it all fit? Chances are pretty good you’re going to need multiple vehicles to transport your gear along with family, pets, and who knows what else. So, I strongly encourage you to give it a test run and see not only how it all might fit (or not fit) but also how long it actually takes you… you might be highly disappointed in both answers but it’s critical to know so you can adjust and make more realistic plans.

The other major part of being able to evacuate effectively is to have an actual written out plan as to where you will go, how you will get there, what happens if family members are separated, and so on. This is actually A LOT of work. Before I actually tried to develop my own plans I always assumed that the few places I intended to be able to evacuate to would be ok and accessible. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that I could very well be forced to evacuate in directions and places that I really didn’t want to go. Hence, I had to develop a plan to evacuate in all directions (north, south, east, west) and to multiple places and distances. Yeah, it’s a lot of work but well worth the effort should I and my family ever need to fall back on these plans.

In fact, I went ahead and created another document titled “Evacuation Procedures” which is also a part of my e-course to help you develop your own evacuation plans. Here’s a few screenshots (click to enlarge)…

Evacuation Procedures-3Evacuation Procedures-4

Really, it’s all about attempting to plan as best as you can before you ever need to evacuate. Granted, I know that plans aren’t always going to work out perfectly and there will be inevitably be snags, but I firmly believe that I would rather have to adjust my original plan(s) as I go than to have no plan at all. Feel free to learn more about these files and others as well as my 12-week Pathway 2 Prepaerdness e-course if you like.

Wilderness Survival Skills to Keep You Alive – Part 2 of 2, by Jerry Ward

[Editor’s note: Today we finish up our feature post by one of our sponsors, If you’re anywhere nearby Arkansas then I encourage you to attend a class to brush up on skills or even learn new ones like me. You may read his author bio at the bottom of this post.]


Shelter is needed to protect and regulate core body temperature; 98.6F. The inability to regulate core temp will lead to death through either hypothermia or hyperthermia. Without spending a lot of time on these conditions, suffice to say that a body temperature swing by roughly 10 degrees in either direction will kill you. Look for a shelter location that is safe and the most conducive to comfort and survival. Avoid areas on ridges and in canyons due to weather conditions such as lightning and flash flooding. Always look overhead for aerial hazards like widow makers and loose rock. Choose the geographical aspect that will offer you the appropriate temperatures for the season. South facing slopes offer more sunshine and warmth whereas the north face tends to be shadier and cooler. Adding a large trash bag, USGI poncho, space blanket, or small tarp to your kit will go a long way in getting you out of the elements. One hundred feet of 550 Cord rounds out a way to secure your tarp/poncho. Another recommendation is to always have a wool or fleece jacket and a poncho liner in your pack/bag; even in the hot, humid summer. If you are unprepared or have the inclination, constructing a debris hut, wikiup, or leanto is an option. These shelters rely on natural material for the structure and the thermal insulation needed to regulate body temperature. The more leaf litter and pine duff, the more insulation and weather resistance. Whatever shelter system you choose, ensure that it will be effective in staving off the wind, rain, intense sun, and other weather phenomena that can compromise life.



Medical concerns need to be addressed in the survival kit as well. A medical emergency can happen at any time and may be the reason for the survival situation in the first place. Couple that with the usual bumps and knocks from living outdoors and can see why it is so important to prepare for injuries. Therefore, a well-stocked first aid kit is a must for anyone heading to the field. Most pre-packaged first aid kits are basically just a few adhesive bandages, some tape, and a packet or two of pain reliever. Skip them and assemble your own using high quality components and tools that will actually perform should the need arise. First aid supplies to treat trauma and deal with the everyday injuries of blisters, sprains, minor cuts, burns, etc. should be included. Don’t forget to add prescription medications if there is anyone in your party that requires them. If you are dead set on purchasing a premade kit, there are a few outfits that specialize in backcountry medicine and offer quality kits tailored to emergencies in the field. The two that come to mind are Atwater Carey and Adventure Medical Kits. In conjunction with a quality first aid kit, I highly recommend seeking professional wilderness medical training. There are several national organizations that offer courses in wilderness medicine and nationally recognized certifications. The two most popular are NOLS and SOLO. The Advanced Wilderness First Aid certification is the minimum standard I recommend.


Signaling is an often overlooked component of survival education and survival kits. It’s all fine and good to have a plentiful wood supply stacked neatly next to your roaring fire, a lake full of clear water and easy to catch fish, a veritable garden of edible plants, a picture perfect debris hut and tarp shelter, and be in good health with no injuries. But this is a survival situation and you want to go home! You need to have the means to signal for help and let people know you would like a little help getting out of the predicament you are currently in. I like low-tech devices/methods to get someone’s attention. Signal mirrors, whistles, hot pink surveyors tape, smoke grenades, flare pistols, etc. Spreading your collection of gear out around the camp will also draw attention to your location. It was once common knowledge that anything in a cluster of three meant “Help”, but not so many people adhere to that practice anymore. Give it a try though because the aviation and marine communities are still packed with the proverbial old guys who abide by those standards. Three whistle blasts, gunshots, mirror flashes, signal fires, etc. all indicate the need for assistance. Do anything you can to attract attention and lead a rescue party in.


That about covers the basic techniques and equipment needed to make it through a short-term situation. Combining those skills and tidbits of gear with a positive mental attitude and a good knife ensures a high probability of coming home alive. Of course this has been a very condensed view into the world of wilderness survival. There was no talk in depth talk about knives, dangerous wildlife, seasonal weather patterns, navigation, xyz gizmo whizbang gear, etc. Don’t fret because this is just the first of many articles to come in which I’ll delve deeper into the many facets of survival and bushcraft; from foraging for wild edibles to brain tanning hides. I’ll discuss the good and bad of certain pieces of equipment, fire by friction, land navigation techniques, flint knapping, water procurement and purification, and other topics of interest to folks looking to lead a more self-reliant and prepared lifestyle. If you’d like to participate in professional survival training, please visit the website of Ozark Mountain Preparedness, LLC for more information at Until next time, take care and God Bless! Jerry

Jerry Ward Bio

Jerry Ward is the owner and operator of Ozark Mountain Preparedness, LLC located in Berryville, Arkansas. He has been teaching survival skills since 2004 and opened Ozark Mountain Preparedness in 2010. Before becoming a full-time survival skills instructor he worked as a rock climbing guide, wildland firefighter and gunsmith. Jerry studied wildlife biology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is an avid fur trapper and student of history. His outdoor pursuits have taken him all around the United States and abroad, including fur trapping in Alaska, fighting wildfire in the American West, researching primitive cultures in the Desert Southwest, trekking the rainforests of Belize, and exploring the Highlands of Scotland. He has been featured in numerous publications, including Currents and American Survival Guide magazines. Jerry is a member of The Wilderness Medical Society and The Society of Primitive Technology. He can be reached via the web at or phone at (870)350-6995.


Wilderness Survival Skills to Keep You Alive – Part 1 of 2, by Jerry Ward

[Editor’s note: Today and Wednesday we feature a post by one of our sponsors, I will attend one of Jerry’s wilderness survival classes in Arkansas this coming March as my wilderness survival skills need A LOT of help! If you’re anywhere nearby Arkansas then I encourage you to attend a class.]

Wilderness Survival! The phrase conjures up visions of plane crashes in the deserts of Africa, shipwrecks in the South Pacific, tragic miscalculations of direction in the South America rainforest, and expeditions gone wrong in the Arctic. While these situations are all found in the annals of history and plausible, the bulk of survival situations befall folks in less exotic locales under less glamorous circumstances. Usually Work-a-Day Joe and/or Jane get lost on a hunting trip, stumble and suffer a mechanical injury while out for a day hike, has car trouble on a back road, or has any other run-in with Mr. Murphy. These events can turn a simple afternoon of recreation into a potentially life threatening situation. Hopefully Joe and Jane have had some professional survival training and have with them a kit to help them deal with the priorities of survival.


Statistically, you have an 80%-85% chance of being rescued within 72 hours here in the lower 48. The two major factors of contributing to those numbers are the invention of the helicopter and the cell phone. The helicopter came into its prime during the Vietnam War where it was used heavily as a platform to extract and evacuate wounded military personnel. Pilots and Search and Rescue (SAR) units here in the civilian world realized there was a place for that same mobility and speed during SAR operations. Cellular phones, love them or hate them, have also led to the advancement of rapid rescue these last few decades. The “smart” phones of today can not only be used as a communication device in order to activate SAR, but also as a navigational tool capable of providing rescuers the exact location of the party needing help. That being said, neither of these tools should be relied upon or used as a crutch. SAR teams need notification of a rescue situation. Team members are human and are prone to mistake, illness, etc. Helicopters and other mechanical machines are just that, mechanical. Anything mechanical has limitations and will fail eventually. Cell phones in particular are prone to all sorts of mishaps; loss of power, little or no coverage, a dunk in the creek, breakage due to a fall, and loss. They are nice to have on station and fun to play with, but not something to count on when the chips are down.

Because you can’t count on others for your safety and security, I recommend seeking formal survival training and carrying a basic survival kit that has been cleverly thought out and stocked with practical components. This kit is designed to mitigate the hazards to and help in the preservation of life. It covers the Big 5 of survival: Fire, Water/Food, Shelter, Medical, and Signaling. Let’s take a brief look at each of these categories.


Fire is a simple chemical reaction called oxidation in which the oxygen in the atmosphere reacts with the molecules of a substance to produce energy in the form of heat and light. Fire requires three components to begin and sustain that reaction; an initial heat source, fuel, and oxygen. I’ll save the deeper explanation for a future article, but basically when all three of these components are in the right mixture you have a fire. In a survival scenario, fire is a critical element that cannot be overstressed. It provides a way to purify water and cook food, is an instant signal from the flame and smoke, is a tool to process wood and create containers, provides light at night, helps to maintain core body temperature, and is a companion requiring interaction and providing feedback. I recommend my students carry a minimum of three ways to make fire in their kits and on their person. The methods I prefer are the ferro rod, flint and steel kit, and a Bic lighter with a piece of bicycle inner tube wrapped around it. Toss in a waterproof container with a half dozen petroleum jelly covered cotton balls and you can be sure of a fire in almost all conditions!



Water is critical to life. You will die in about three or four days without it. That being said, being able to find water and render it safe is a definite need in the kit. Natural water sources include the obvious: creeks, rivers, ponds, etc. There is also precipitation, transpiration, condensation, sub-surface water pooling and the like. Here again, the source of a future article. Treat all collected water as suspect and purify to ensure safety. There are all sorts of water purifying devices on the market today. I have two I’d like to recommend. The first is some sort of chemical treatment that will kill the microbes swimming around in the drink. Chlorine and iodine are the most common and easy to obtain. Unscented chlorine bleach and 2% tincture of iodine from the pharmacy are the two I prefer. Add two drops per quart of either the chlorine bleach or 2% iodine tincture, shake thoroughly, and wait 30 minutes before drinking. Medical note- if you have a shellfish allergy do not use iodine. The second method I recommend is the Lifestraw. The Lifestraw is a straw you simply place down into the contaminated water source and drink through just like a soda straw. When you are finished, simply blow through the straw to remove the excess water, close the caps on each end, and toss back in your gear. The Lifestraw filters down to a size of 0.2 microns and has a service life of 250 gallons. It weighs mere ounces and is built to withstand the rigors of life in the field. Boiling is always an option, so be sure to include a stainless steel container to place in your fire.


Food is another thing to consider when constructing a survival kit. The human body can make it for around 30 days without nourishment, but why be hungry when you avoid it. After just a few days without food, your energy level will be greatly diminished. A decreased energy level will manifest itself as a decrease in work around camp; which could lead to your demise. Always include some high-fat/high-calorie foodstuffs in the kit. Things like peanuts, meal replacement bars, trail mix, chocolate, etc. will give you an energy boost and help with the overall morale of the survivors. Also, a little training in primitive trapping techniques and wild edible plants will increase your chances of survival should the situation go from short-term to Robinson Crusoe.


Wednesday we focus on shelter, medical and signaling. Stay tuned!

Jerry Ward Bio

Jerry Ward is the owner and operator of Ozark Mountain Preparedness, LLC located in Berryville, Arkansas. He has been teaching survival skills since 2004 and opened Ozark Mountain Preparedness in 2010. Before becoming a full-time survival skills instructor he worked as a rock climbing guide, wildland firefighter and gunsmith. Jerry studied wildlife biology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is an avid fur trapper and student of history. His outdoor pursuits have taken him all around the United States and abroad, including fur trapping in Alaska, fighting wildfire in the American West, researching primitive cultures in the Desert Southwest, trekking the rainforests of Belize, and exploring the Highlands of Scotland. He has been featured in numerous publications, including Currents and American Survival Guide magazines. Jerry is a member of The Wilderness Medical Society and The Society of Primitive Technology. He can be reached via the web at or phone at (870)350-6995.