MSR Stainless Steel Stowaway Pot (video)

This video isn’t so much about the [easyazon_link identifier=”B000FBSZGU” locale=”US” tag=”rethinksurviv-20″]MSR stowaway pot[/easyazon_link] but more about all the goodies he’s included with it for cooking. He certainly included the important stuff like a spoon, soap, and condiments; I might have tried to toss in a small rag too but I like to shove, shove, shove. 🙂 You can skip to about the 1:45 mark to get to the heart of the video…

How to Get More Vitamin C Than From Oranges (Video)

Good to know for those who live among pine tree forests, like me. Here’s a bit from the video description for clarification…

“The fresh, light green tips of these evergreen trees can be eaten raw, right off the tree in spring. The lighter the color, the milder in flavor and softer to chew. As they age and get darker, the flavor gets a bit more bitter. But the needles of these trees remain edible all year long.

You can steep the needles in hot water and drink the tea to get the high vitamin C content and nutrients.

The needles of these trees are good for boosting the immune system and for fighting colds and flu.

The three evergreens, fir, spruce and hemlock are among many other evergreen trees that you can eat.

You can use the needles in place of rosemary when cooking. Eat them raw and plain or spice up a salad with them. You can eat them fresh or dried.

In order to get the most nutrients do not boil the needles, but rather steep them in hot water as you would tea…” – Custom Bug Out Bag Creation

ebugoutThe folks at reached out and asked me to take a look at their website which has the sole purpose of allowing you, the user, to quickly create a bug out bag.

Overall, the site is fairly easy to use and certainly intuitive.

Just go to their home page and click the orange “create now” button to get started.

Once on the building screen the choices cover the necessary topics, including water, fire, tools, food, medical, shelter, backpacks, and more.

Each category then has sub-categories to choose from. For example, water has three sub categories: bottles, purification, and filters.

Clicking on any of the sub categories then presents you with additional options. Click on the “purification” category and you’re presented with the choice of “drops” or “tablets.” Clicking on the tablets thumbnail then provides me with a handful of specific solutions to choose from.

Each other category / sub category is done the same way… like I said it’s all really easy to navigate and a pretty slick interface for sure.

Once you’ve made a selection you can quickly add it to your cart (all items are purchased via Amazon) or look at something else if you prefer.

A few things I noticed that I liked were the fact that each item has a quick description shown, the price, and most important is the fact that each and every item has a review from their staff members which, they say, are avid outdoors-men and women.

Their reviews, in my opinion, are always positive (in that I never noticed a bad or poor review) which is fine but I do like to see that they’re willing to point out flaws… maybe I just missed them.

Beyond that, there are some very obvious product omissions that you may wish were there. For instance, they don’t have what is perhaps the best water filter straw out there for the price, the Lifestraw. Similarly, I didn’t see any camp axes or saws which I thought was odd… maybe there’s still a bit more to be added.

All that said, if you’re in a hurry they do offer an “auto fill your cart” option but I wouldn’t suggest it. I should point out that as you add items to your cart they will tally the price and even calculate overall weight too which is a neat idea.

If you’re looking for a new way to build your bug out bag with a slick interface, seems to be a great way to cover your bases.

Now THIS is a Bug Out Bike!

It must have been quite a while since I’ve looked into mountain bikes but this is first I’ve seen such as neat looking bike. This bike, if you’re unaware, is the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00J7J40TM” locale=”US” tag=”rethinksurviv-20″]Mongoose Dolomite[/easyazon_link].

Of course, the very FIRST thing that popped into my head was “Now THIS is a Bug Out Bike!”

Obviously, it’s all about the tires at over four full inches…


Yeah, the tires alone make it pretty neat and I’d imagine does quite well on bad terrain which is important if you’re both in a hurry and possibly carrying a bug out bag or who knows what.

Beyond that, it’s a 7-speed and has disc brakes which is a plus. I’ve read that people feel it works great in snow, ice, sand, and more. The product description states:

“The Mongoose Dolomite 26″ beach cruiser is designed to be ridden easily on a wide variety of terrain thanks to oversized tires for stability & traction. Cruiser frame geometry adds a comfortable but athletic riding position. The Dolomite is equipped with a supersized beach frame with plenty of clearance to conquer any terrain with the 4 1/4″ knobby tires. Alloy 4″ wide wheel set with disc brakes for easy stopping, low rise handlebars for comfort and stability and 3 piece cranks, the 7 speed gearing with Shimano rear derailleur make this the perfect bike to go conquer anything.”

As cool as this is, there are some potential cons. For instance, the very wide tires may keep it from fitting in some bike racks. Worse, the thing weights over pounds… yikes! That could spell trouble if you had to pick it up over a stream, up a hill, or something like that. Apparently, there isn’t a women’s model but since the frame angles downwards at the seat I don’t see how that’s much of a problem.

Regardless, while this might not be my first choice in bug out bikes because of the weight and price, it sure is neat to look at. 🙂 That said, check it out anyway…

[easyazon_infoblock align=”none” identifier=”B00J7J40TM” locale=”US” tag=”rethinksurviv-20″]


This Threat from Above Could Stop Your Bug Out Plan Before it Even Gets Started!

Bug Out Plan
Image Credit

I’m still getting used to where we live in the Pacific Northwest… things are just a bit different than where I moved from in the Midwest. There are so many tall trees and the layout of roads and homes is a bit different. This makes developing a healthy bug out plan a problem.

While there are large expanses of land with sprawling subdivisions and plenty of roads in the Midwest, here they tend to cut out a path for a two lane road and do the same for a few houses off the road and move on to the next set of houses.

As such, there aren’t many cross streets and/or alternate routes to effect a proper bug out plan. Toss in the fact that we’re nearly surrounded by water and that’s whole other problem. 😉

These factors alone make bugging out difficult to say the least but there’s another problem that I only recently “discovered” while driving down the road.

What is it, you ask?

Power lines. Yes, power lines.

You see, I’m accustomed to power lines either being run underground or, if they’re overhead, they typically run along the road most of the time and very occasionally are strung across the road

That’s not the case at all around here. In fact, the main road that we’d drive along to enact our bug out plan has power lines that cross directly over the road dozens upon dozens of times!

And that’s the norm around here. Overhead power lines are EVERYWHERE and they seem to be strong across the road regularly. Granted, I’m sure they’re not all for transferring power but I wouldn’t know the difference regardless.

Why are power lines a problem for your bug out plan, you ask?

They’re a problem because (again, where we live now) earthquakes are a big threat which could easily cause power lines to get knocked down, though, there are other reasons for power lines to come down. If they get knocked down and are therefore blocking our path you’re not supposed to cross over any downed power lines for fear that they’re still energized.

Going around the power lines may be an option in some places but, like I said, most roads around here are two lanes cut through a bunch of trees with little room to spare on the shoulders.

Granted, it’s likely that not all power lines would come crashing down along our designated bug out routes but even if a handful of them along our routes come down that could pose an interesting problem as odds are that one or two of them would be completely blocking the road.

Of course, power lines don’t need to be crisscrossing the roads overhead to be trouble if they fell… lines running along the road could topple over and block roads too.

The question I have is…

Do you take the chance and drive over them because, after all, things are somehow bad enough that we HAD to evacuate or do we heed the advice and not take the chance?

Personally, I’d rather not take the chance but, as I eluded to above, there aren’t too many alternative routes around here and “hoofin’ it” isn’t the best option unless we literally had no other choice. Maybe this is one of those “no other choice” scenarios?

At the very least…

Seems to me that, at the very least, you should be paying attention to this potential problem when deciding on your bug out plan routes. Consider driving them when you can and see if this threat even exists and while you’re at it keep your eyes peeled for other potential problem such as bridges that may wash out in high water times, steep roads that may make them impassable in inclement weather, and so on.

Remember, there’s always SOMETHING to plan for. 🙂

4×4 Off-Road Vehicles Make Little Difference in a Bug Out

Image Source
Image Source

Recently I linked to an article on bug out route planning that reminded me why it’s so important to have good alternate routes picked in advance of any significant disaster scenario.

There’s no doubt in my mind that ANY and ALL major roadways–be they highways or city streets–will become an impassable parking lot in no time flat. You really do need to have a better plan.

Of course, there are those very rare circumstances where the ability to go off-road is a benefit but, IMO, I’d say they’re far and few between. As such, the oft-touted advice that you should include a 4×4 for preparedness is overrated.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have one than not, and I do, but I’d say that anyone who lives in a city or suburb shouldn’t make it a priority purchase. Focus on everything else first.


It’s simple really: most cities and suburbs that I’ve been through aren’t setup to allow for off-road driving whatsoever! Considering that they’re littered with an assortment of barriers, guard rails, drop-offs (or embankments), an assortment of annoying buildings, as well as the occasional tree or shrub… most people wouldn’t get very far. 😉 In fact, I’d say most people would get farther walking.

Think about it. Better yet, glance around as you drive along your normal routes on your way to and from work or wherever. Think: “What would I do if I came to a huge traffic jam right here, in this very spot?” Never mind that the nearest exit is within sight a quarter mile down the road… you’re stuck NOW! Could you get around it… even with four wheel drive? Could you backtrack to get around it? Now do this several times over and don’t just pick the spots where you have open space to maneuver… that’s cheating.

I should note that there’s obviously a huge difference in what each geographic region is like. In my former stomping grounds in the Midwest it wasn’t unheard of to see open spaces where off-roading would be possible but, of course, these same places probably wouldn’t be packed like a parking lot either. The roadways where traffic is often a mess in normal times are also the same places where it would be most difficult to get off-road.

On the other hand, where I now live in the Pacific Northwest, there’s often nothing but a path cut through the trees and many two-lane roads… good luck to anyone off-roading through that. 😉

In conclusion, I’m not saying a 4×4 will make no difference during a bug out; I’m just saying that it’s far less likely to be useful than most of use think. Obviously, as with more preps, the old adage still applies even to this: “I’d rather have one and not need it than to need one and not have it.”

How to Plan a 2000 Mile Cross-Country Bug Out Trip – It Could Literally Save Your Life!

Seeing as though we have our upcoming and ridiculously long drive from Kansas City to Seattle in a few days, I figured I would share how I went about planning the drive. Simply put, I treated it as a REALLY long bug out trip. In fact, I intend on keeping the information I compiled for this trip if I ever needed to reverse the trip to make it back to Kansas City someday. Let’s hope not…

A few Things to Note

  1. I chose to break up the drive into at least four days of several hours of driving a day. Although you could conceivable make the drive straight through (it’s about 30 hours or so) if you have enough drivers, which might be a better plan if you needed to G.O.O.D. quickly, you would still want plenty of places to stop if you had to. And, just in case, I have shorter stops planned as well in case of inclement weather.
  2. I placed emphasis on larger cities to allow for several choices for hotels, especially those with Wi-Fi and that accept pets, but if I were planning this purely for bug out then I would have taken any hotel I could find since I wouldn’t need Wi-Fi and I would figure out how to sneak my dog in. I wanted more places with more options rather than less in case my first choice in hotels were booked.
  3. I included two major routes. Typically, in a bug out you would want as many potential routes as you can–let’s say two at minimum with three or four being preferable–and the preference would be on lesser-used routes, including back streets, outer roads, even public land access roads…. anything other than the interstate. But, sadly, a 2000 mile trip is simply going to include the interstate. Of course, if I were planning this for a but out (and I will adjust it eventually) then the most useful plan would be to get out of the city where the trouble is using lesser-traveled streets while avoiding interstates and THEN–once cleared of trouble–to use the interstates.
  4. If I had thought about this before I packed everything I might have considered planting caches along the way. But since we’re in a sedan that probably wouldn’t have happened due to a simple lack of space for anything besides what we MUST take with us like clothes and such.

Pick Your Primary and Secondary Routes

Now, the first thing I did was to open Google Maps and choose to get Directions and typed in “Kansas City MO” as the starting point with “Seattle WA” as the destination. I assume you know how to do this. As you can see, Google wants me to take I-90 but offers two alternatives, I-80 and I-70. You can even drag the route to change it if you like. Here’s what I saw to begin with (click image to enlarge):


After talking to some people and doing a bit of internet research I decided against I-90 as my primary route due to the potential for worse weather that far north, though, I realize both I-80 and I-70 can be bad too. Besides, my wife wanted to see her grandmother in Utah one last time so that settled any debate on taking I-90. That said, we choose I-70 as our primary route so we could stop over in Denver to see friends, however, the following will discuss I-80–our secondary route–because I have been that way before going to Salt Lake City. Here’s what that leg looks like (click image to enlarge):


My intention on this route would be to stop over in Cheyenne, Wyoming the first night and continue on to Salt Lake City, Utah the next day. So, the next thing to do is to note several hotels in Cheyenne because I plan on staying there.

Find Your Stopover Cities

As you can see from the screenshot above, I’ve also circled two other relatively large cities in the image above: Lincoln, Nebraska, and Rock Springs, Wyoming as potential stopping off points if weather was bad. And, so, I’ll find hotels in those places as well for my “something bad happened” scenario. You might also notice that I have a rather long stretch of highway without any obvious stopovers between Lincoln, Nebraska and Cheyenne, Wyoming which doesn’t make me very happy. So, I zoomed in a bit more focusing on the span between Lincoln, NE and Cheyenee, WY and found some smaller towns, including Grand Island, Lexington, and North Platte, Nebraska (click image to enlarge):


You’ll also notice another circle on the far left that doesn’t have a town name which means it’s an even smaller town I found after zooming in even more named Ogallala, Nebraska which is starting to make me a bit concerned because there’s not much between North Platte, Nebraska and Cheyenne, Wyoming which is over 200 miles.

List and Refine Hotels That Meet Your Criteria (and then some)

After identifying the route and the best stopover cities I could, the next step was to find hotels in each of those cities. While I could use sites like or, I choose to simply use Google Hotel Finder and found the following listings for Cheyenne, Wyoming (click image to enlarge):


There are two major things to point out. First, you can refine your search for any number of options, including price point, hotel class and ratings, and amenities of which I required both “internet” and “pets allowed” and preferred better rated hotels, usually 3.5 starts or better. Second, if you look at the map on the right you can get a general idea of where the hotels are located around the city, if interested, but that wasn’t a major concern for me.

After refining I still had quite a few options available in a larger city such as Cheyenne and so the easiest thing to do was to click on each hotel, scroll down to the bottom, then copy and paste the hotel’s information–name, address, and phone–into a Word document like this (click image to enlarge):


Since it’s a relatively fast process there’s no reason not to copy and paste details for several hotels in each city or all of them if you prefer. You can even jot down notes after printed such as general pricing for each, preferences, or whatever you like. Simply repeat this process for each additional city identified and you’ll quickly develop a list of hotels you can call and reserve as needed. Even smaller cities like Ogallala, Nebraska offered a handful of choices… I was surprised.

Rinse and Repeat!

Obviously, then, you would repeat this process for each major route. In my case I would do this for both I-70 as well as I-80 from Kansas City, Missouri to Salt Lake City, Utah. I would first pick the routes, identify major cities (and minor ones too if needed), list hotels with preferences (especially phone numbers) and that’s about it. of course, I would repeat this process for each major leg of the trip and get as detailed as I needed.

Other Thoughts

While hotels are a higher priority, it couldn’t hurt to also list and print rest areas along the way for each major interstate you intend on travelling too: or link to the major highways. I did… why not.

While I could do the same for gas stations that could get rather involved. Instead, my plan is to force myself to fill up like I would if I were driving around the city and that’s to keep the tank filled at half full or more. Besides, I’ll have a GPS that identifies nearby gas stations and dining too and I’m sure the family needs to stretch their legs every so often. Of course, if I were truly bugging out then I would have also taken my gasoline cans–strapped to the trunk–but I figured my wife would have a heart attack if I did that for this trip. 😉

Once I had it all together the last step was to let family know the dates I will be travelling, what legs I’ll take and when, and the hotels I expect to stay at with phone numbers. Then I would immediately let these people know if plans or routes change, hotels changed, and so on. And, needless to say, I would tell these people when I’ve arrived at my destination each night too.

What additional steps would you have taken? I would love to hear them before I leave in a few days.

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.