Discover How to Thrive Off The Grid

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You’re going to be hearing from me more than usual over the next few weeks, but I promise you’ll be glad you did because I’ve got some good things coming your way…

For starters, my next book, The Get Home Bag and Compact EDC Kit, will be released by the end of the month. Plus, I’m releasing a second edition of my 28 Powerful Home Security Solutions too, both which I”ll explain more in a future email.

Today, however, I want to share with you something that I’ve been excited about for a while, but which I haven’t been allowed to say anything about until today, and that’s the Off The Grid Super Stack.

It’s probably the BEST collection of survival advice I’ve seen bundled together in years!

In fact, the Off the Grid Super Stack is a hand-curated collection of premium ebooks, ecourses (including my 12 Pillars of Survival program), membership communities and other resources from top experts that will show you the best ways to implement permaculture, survive in the wild, live fully off the grid and safely and efficiently bug out if and when the SHTF.

Inside Off the Grid Super Stack you will discover how to:

  • Make sure you and your family are ready for any emergency or disaster;
  • Plan your escape into a new world possibilities through self-sufficient living;
  • Develop fundamental skills to survive outdoors;
  • Grow your own food, even if you have limited space and resources;
  • Learn the ins and outs of homesteading on budget;
  • Discover new skills that will help you survive any emergency or disaster, big or small;
  • Design, build & manage your own off-grid electrical system.

And that’s just scratching the surface, trust me…

Now, typically, you’d have to spend over $700 + to get your hands on everything packed into Off the Grid Super Stack…

But this week, you can get everything for an unbelievable 95% off!

Click here to learn more about this limited time deal.

Take care, Damian

P.S. If Off the Grid Super Stack sounds like something you’d like to get access to – don’t hesitate, because this deal expires at midnight eastern time on Tuesday, September 17th. After that, it’s gone for good.

P.P.S. More to come about this awesome deal over the next week, stay tuned!

How to Stay Safe Hiking in the Desert

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Death Valley’s Zabriskie Point, the Slickrock trails of Moab, Utah and the vast array of amazing hikes that surround the Grand Canyon are just a few examples of outstanding hikes located in the middle of the desert. If you’re not a fan of warmer climes, you might think to shy away from these iconic trails. However, with the right preparation, you can enjoy them just like you would any day hike.

As with any outdoor activity, it’s possible to conquer hiking desert trails if you spend the time to learn the tricks of the trade. Lots of experienced desert outdoorsmen and -women have come before you in this discipline. Here are some of their best teachings when it comes to hitting the trail in desert territory.

Study the Climate

Imagine how difficult it must have been to get outside before the invention of weather satellites! A well-prepared traveler can make themselves more comfortable on a hot day, but to ensure your hike is enjoyable and not miserable, it’s best to check the weather well ahead of time and plan to hike outside the hottest parts of the day. Usually, that’s mid- to late afternoon.

Are you a morning person? That’s perfect for desert hiking. Watching the sun come up from the trail is a magical experience, and you’ll be through with your walk before things get too toasty out. Night owls can make their preference work as an advantage too, although you’ll want to be careful to check whether trails remain open, understand park laws and regulations and bring plenty of lighting equipment if you’re planning to night-hike.

Even though heat is the primary antagonist when it comes to desert trekking, it’s not the only one. Flash floods and monsoons can make your sandy hike into a sloppy nightmare. Understand if your hike crosses land where flood weather can manifest, and whether it’s flood season when you hike. If you get caught in a flooding trail, move to high ground as quickly as you can and wait for help or better conditions.

Have a Trail Map

Getting lost anywhere is frightening and dangerous. In the desert, it can be deadly. Before heading out on your hike, make some time to look at a topographical map of the trail. Print or acquire a trail map beforehand, and regularly track your progress using GPS if possible.

This advice is particularly relevant for longer hikes like the Grand Canyon’s Rim-to-Rim adventure. Even if it’s reasonably straightforward to see which way the trail leads, you need to have an understanding of your progress. If you find yourself moving too slowly and don’t have the supplies or energy required to finish the hike, you should call for help.

Don’t Hike Alone, and Leave Your Itinerary With Emergency Contacts

Like most activities, hiking is better with friends. When you go out alone, your risk of getting lost with no one able to find you increases significantly. Solo hiking trails you know and can complete in a relatively short period are OK, as long as you notify someone you’re going. Unless you’re a highly skilled hiker and camper, do not attempt long distances alone. And regardless of whether you bring company, always tell at least one person outside your party where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Dress in Layers

Layers are always a smart idea for physical activity. For desert hiking, you’re looking for the ability to add some warmth if things cool off quickly, or shed layers to a breathable base if it warms up. Go for moisture-wicking technical fabrics that will dry quickly if you need to douse yourself to bring that core temp down. Want a pro tip? Moisture-wicking underwear from brands like Exoficcio and Patagonia can help make your day more comfortable when it’s warm on the trail.

A backpack is another essential part of your kit that can contribute to overheating. Technical hiking packs will often incorporate breathable fabrics, and you should only choose a pack as large as you need to accommodate the supplies you’ll bring on the trip. Also, many modern hiking packs include water bladders, which are the simplest way to bring along critical hydration during a warm-weather hike. Have some extra water with you to refill your bladder and help cool yourself down if you’re planning a longer hike more on that later.

Wear Sunscreen and a Hat

This tip probably seems obvious, but when you hike in the desert, you’re signing up for a whole lot of sun exposure. Your head, along with any other exposed skin, is likely to absorb some UV rays. So slather on some SPF a good trick is to put your first application on before you leave for the trail. Doing so will allow it time to absorb before you’re in the heat, which will help you stay comfortable.

Keep your SPF with you on the trail. Some hikers like to bring multiple types of sunblock, including zinc, aerosol-based spray and more conventional cream for re-applying to their face and body throughout the day. Don’t forget lip balm with SPF as well. And, of course, a wide-brimmed hat will go a long way to shield your head, face and neck from the sun’s rays. Even a ball cap is a great addition to your kit if you haven’t got something a little more David Attenborough.

Pack Food and Water

Dehydration can be a killer when you’re hoofing it through the desert. You can die of thirst in a matter of days, so do not leave home without plenty of water. A good rule to go by is to bring about two cups of water per hour of estimated hike time. If you’re always thirsty, bring more. If you’re planning to camp out, have a good understanding of where you can find fresh water, and bring a means of filtering it to make it safe to drink.

If you’re bringing pets along, don’t forget plenty of water for them to drink, as well as a vessel for them to drink out of. We’re not always advocates of bringing pets be sure it’s safe for your four-legged friend to come along. Overcommitting your dog to a long hike in the heat can be dangerous, because dogs can’t sweat and don’t know when to stop following their owner if they get dehydrated.

As for food, will you need snacks for a two-hour jaunt, or is this going to be a longer-distance journey? You can probably guess what kinds of snacks work well on a hot trail. The typical selection of fruits, trail mix, energy bars and dried foods comes to mind. Don’t go overboard with caffeinated gels and snacks, because they can lead to dehydration if you use too many. Always pack more snacks than you think you’ll eat. You don’t want to get caught in a pinch if there’s an emergency or you have to stay out longer than planned.

If you’re planning a longer-duration hike, you should think about meals to bring. The time-honored tradition of sandwiches can make for a fun trail lunch and should provide enough protein and carbohydrates to get you through a longer pull. You can meal-prep ahead of time or find some pre-made at a nearby market.

If you’ll be spending the night on the trail, there are many tasty options to cook up. Depending on the size of your pack, you may be able to bring a legitimate camp cooktop and grill up some meats or veggies extra points for s’mores.

Those who are more interested in saving weight should check out a camp stove such as a Jetboil or MSR. You can use these highly packable stoves to boil water, which you can then use to rehydrate freeze-dried meals. The selection of these types of meals is impressive these days, with everything from chicken casserole to beef stroganoff to mac and cheese and even stir-fried vegetables. Not willing to pay the premium for fancy backpacking food? A box of dried pasta and dehydrated vegetables cooks up in a snap, too.

Bring First-Aid Items

A basic kit with bandages, a tourniquet, cold compresses, tweezers and painkillers is probably all you need for shorter hikes. If you’re staying out longer, it’s probably smart to come prepared with additional supplies. Treatment for foot conditions like blisters can come in handy if you’re covering lots of ground, as can aloe vera gel for sunburns. Make sure you have a supply of any medicines you need to take regularly, even if you don’t plan to stay out long. In case of emergency, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Go at a Safe Pace

Even if you feel like you typically keep a fast pace, the effects of the sun and heat can slow anyone down. Moving too quickly can cause dehydration, cramping and other issues. Ultimately, your best bet to complete your hike in a reasonable amount of time and still feel good is to go at the pace your body tells you is OK. If you’re part of a group and need to move slower than your friends, say so. They should understand you don’t want to push yourself too far, and should be willing to adopt a slower pace if you need to.

Treat Wildlife With Respect

There’s a real chance you’ll see some wildlife while you’re on the trail. It might even be part of your motivation to go hiking. However, remember when you spot wildlife on the trail, you’re not looking at a domesticated animal. The best policy is always to remain at a safe distance. Don’t pursue wild animals, which could turn aggressive or could hurt themselves while trying to evade you. Many endangered species are under legal protection, and you’ll be breaking the law if you bother them but more importantly, trying to force a wild animal encounter could have negative consequences for everyone involved.

That rings true of all animals you spot on the trail, but use particular caution when you encounter larger animals and predators such as bears, mountain lions, coyotes or even larger herbivores. It is not safe to approach these animals. Remember, you’re a visitor in their habitat. Be respectful and don’t attempt to bother them. Doing so could result in a tragedy.

Have a Supply Stash in Your Vehicle

Imagine taking a wrong turn on a hike. You recognize you’ve made a mistake, but not before you’ve made your way far off the trail you had planned on taking. You’re going to have to dig into your extra supplies, which means by the time you get back to your car, you won’t have anything left, and you’ll have had to make the extra effort to get back. In this scenario, you can understand why it’s critical to keep extra supplies in your car.

Extra water, snacks and even a change of clothes are all great things to have on hand in your car for when you return from the trail. If all goes as planned, you may never use them, and that’s OK. It will give you peace of mind to know they’re at the ready in case you or a fellow hiker needs the help.

Know How to Get Help

Cell phones have made venturing outdoors much less daunting than it once was, and that’s all for the best. Before you head out, though, make sure you have mobile service while on the trail. Many remote locations still lack cell coverage, which is why it’s smart to have a radio or GPS beacon, some additional means of summoning help if you need it. If you find yourself on the trail with no means to reach anyone, go back. It’s not worth the risk.

Have Fun!

Desert hikes can expose you to vast arrays of plants and wildlife and bring you to new and fascinating places, all while you’re getting fresh air and good exercise. You’ll have the chance to spend some quality time in the great outdoors with your friends and family, in places many people never make an effort to enjoy. So get outside and have a great time just keep the tips we mentioned in mind to ensure things go smoothly and safely. Where’s your favorite desert hike? Let us know in the comments below.

Top 164 Survival Gear and Equipment for Hiking, Camping, Bug Out

I decided to make a comprehensive list of the top survival gear and equipment for hiking, camping, and bug out survival. The list includes knives, axes, stoves, fire starters, water filters, flashlights, lanterns, backpacks, tools, multi-tools, tents, sleeping bags, emergency foods, and more. Enjoy!

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Top 12 Survival Knives

Survival knives are a popular choice among preppers, as well they should be. If you’re looking for a solid survival knife, it’s hard to beat the KA-BAR design. It’s solid, sharp, been around forever, and well-priced. If you’d prefer a smaller knife to accompany it, the Morakniv Companion would be a great choice, or the Morakniv Bushcraft would work well too. Whatever you choose, a solid knife is a must-have for your bug out bag, which I would encourage you to assemble if you’ve yet to do so.

Top 10 Survival Axes

Although I’m a fan of the Trucker’s Friend–it really is a neat survival tool–you won’t find a better axe than the Fiskars Hatchet for the price. I’ve used mine for years to split kindling and I don’t think I’ve had to really sharpen it yet! (Warning: be careful with using your axe after purchase as they can be odd to wield if you’ve never used one before and since they’re very sharp can be quite dangerous to yourself and to others.)

Top 12 Survival Stoves

It’s hard to go wrong with any of the survival stoves listed here as most are meant for backpacking, burn wood, and are reasonably priced; If you prefer, however, you can make your own survival stove. The Solo Stove, in any case, is a favorite of mine (and many other folks too) and if you choose the Solo Stove Combo you get a lightweight cooking pot too. If you prefer a lesser expensive option, try the Ohuhu Camping Stove (I’ve never tried it myself) or the Esbit Folding Stove as an emergency option.

Top 8 Fire Starters

Once you choose a backpacking stove you’re going to need a reliable fire starter to go with it, and it’s hard to beat a trusty ferro rod or even a magnesium fire starter, if you prefer. There are plenty of good choices below and, as much as it pains me to recommend because of it’s namesake, the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter is a good choice for the money. I would also suggest including the Credit Card Fresnel Lens 6-pack so you can include one in your wallet, purse, and bug out bags as an emergency option.

Top 10 Portable Survival Water Filters for Backpacking

Looking for the perfect backpacking survival water filter? Then it’s hard to beat the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for the money. Plus, it’s lightweight, reliable, and very easy to use. The Sawyer Mini or Katadyn Pocket Water Filter would both be a great backpacking filters for longer-term “on the go” use, especially the Sawyer Mini for the money (I’ve got one and it works quite well).


Top 7 Gravity Water Filters

Berkey Water Filters are, IMHO, the best gravity water filters for long-term use, hands-down. I’ve got a Berkey and it’s wonderful! (If you’d like to know the differences between the Berkey water filters, read my post on the topic.) And if you’d like something a bit more portable but still able to filter quite a bit of water in an hour, try the LifeStraw Mission Water Purification System.

Top 12 Survival Flashlights

Survival flashlights seem to be everywhere these days, and for good reason: you need to be able to see! Besides, LED technology has slashed their costs over the years, made them brighter, and smaller too. But, which to choose? Below I’ve compiled the best flashlights on Amazon, including my person favorite the Maglite LED 3-Cell (which not only acts as a strong flashlight but also as an improvised weapon) as well as smaller pocket-sized flashlights such as the Mikafen 5 Pack Mini Flashlights which you should include in your EDC or bug out bag. I’ve even included two keychain-sized flashlights, the OLight i3E and Streamlight Nano (which I own and like). FYI, I also included at least two hand-crank flashlights which are another option, though, they surely shouldn’t be your first choice.

Top 13 Survival Lanterns

Lanterns, like survival flashlights, are becoming bright, more efficient, and cheaper thanks to LED technology. Also as with flashlights, I prefer to have a variety of lanterns, such as the Supernova LED Lantern and 4-Pack Camping Lanterns for the price (they’re also collapsible). And if you have propane and/or kerosene fuel (which you should) then you should include a Coleman Propane Lantern or other dual-fuel lantern.

Top 14 Survival Backpacks for Bug Out

To get your bug out bag in proper order you’re going to need a quality bag to put it all in. Fortunately, there are many survival backpacks to choose from, many of which are very good for an emergency situation; however, you really need to spend some time trying bags on see which fit well and what you prefer (not to mention how much gear you can fit inside). As such, I wouldn’t recommend buying a bag sight-unseen. If you really must have something now, I would suggest a Maxpedition bag (there are many besides these) or, for the price, the Hannibal MOLLE, though I personally haven’t tried that one on myself.

Top 18 Survival Tools and Multi-tools

I just love survival tools and multi-tools, especially my trusty Leatherman Wave; it’s a gem of an EDC-tool that keeps on giving! I’ve also included a few popular–yet similar–multi-tools for comparison, a handful of muti-functional hatchets (like the 13-in-1 Camping Tool), a few pocket or wallet EDC tools (the Victorinox Swisscard would be a good choice), shovels, two pocket-sized survival kits, and even a Ka-Bar Tactical Spork. Yeah, you read that right… a spork with a tactical knife in the handle which I just bought for myself, lol.

Top 10 Survival Tents for Bug Out

Below you’ll find ten of the top rated survival tents for backpacking or, for our purposes, bug out survival. Each one is a traditional two-person tent, so they should be able to work with your bag (check dimensions and reviews just to be sure.) And, although I’m not a huge fan of including a tent in your bug out bag, I understand that some folks prefer doing so. If that’s you, choose a good quality tent by a well-known manufacturer, such as The North Face Stormbreaker or Kelty Salida. If you need to save money–I honestly wouldn’t skimp on a quality tent though–then the Coleman Dome tent may be the best option for the price.

Top 8 Emergency Shelters

While tents are great for camping and sometimes for hiking, I tend to prefer smaller, lighter-weight options for my bug out bag gear, which I explain in the book. As such, the following emergency shelters may be a better choice, particularly the Eagles Nest Rain Tarp or Eagles Nest Hammock, as you prefer. At the very least, I would encourage you to include a true “emergency” shelter, such as the AMK Heatsheets or, better yet, the emergency bivvy as a backup or additional shelter.

Top 12 Sleeping Bags + Top 5 Sleeping Pads

Sleeping bags, like tents, are not something to skimp on. Invest in a quality bag, like the Kelty Tuck or Marmot Voyager. You’ll want to pay attention to their rating (e.g., 3 or 4 season or degrees) and, of course, decide whether you prefer a dreaded (to me, anyway) “mummy-style” sleeping bag or not; they’re not THAT bad, I just don’t like being confined. Remember, you’ll also want a quality sleeping pad to go with it!

Top 12 Survival Food for Bug Out and At-Home Preparedness

Survival food should be a top priority. Fortunately, if you don’t want to learn how to procure your own food there are many options to choose from these days, from MREs to freeze dried foods, you’re sure to find food that works for you and your situation. For starters, I would suggest you get something for your bug out bag; this could be something like the Datrex Food Rations or SOS Food Bars or it could be smaller freeze-dried meals. You’re also going to want something that lasts for at-home preparedness; MREs are sometimes a good option (depends on what meals you get) or the Mountain House Food Supply Kit would be a great first choice. Buckets of food by other manufacturers will give you a variety of foods to choose from as well, so don’t count them out.

Top 6 Survival Food-Related Equipment for At-Home Preparedness

Following are a few more survival food-related equipment that you should consider if you’re wanting to get prepared for longer-term emergencies. I would, however, caution you before buying any of the following UNTIL you know that you will use them due to their cost and because most items serve a very specific purpose. Perhaps the one item I will recommend due to it’s overall usefulness beyond storing foods is the Foodsaver Vacuum Sealer since it can be used to protect a variety of items from moisture (e.g., matches, clothes, documents, etc.) for bug out and  more.

How to Heat Your Tent With a Swedish Log Torch

This isn’t what I expected to see when I started watching this video. To be honest, I’d figured this guy was going to somehow bring a Swedish log INSIDE the tent (which would’ve been a bad idea) but I was pleasantly surprised to see what he chose to do and, more importantly, how well it worked out. Stick around to about the 12:00 mark where he briefly discusses a few safety concerns…

Camp Tarp Shelter Wizardry

This guy is awesome! He’s always coming up with neat outdoor survival ideas, and this one is a great one to know for camping. FYI, he also links to a series of other tarp tent videos that may be of interest to you as well. Here’s the tarp shelter wizardry one; it’s a bit hard to follow at first but if you watch it again I think you’ll get the idea…

9 Best Campfire Foods

Microwaves, toaster ovens, stovetops and air fryers are all wonderful amenities that we enjoy thanks to the wonder of technology. Sometimes, though, you have to take it old-school. For the right meal, there’s nothing better than cooking over an open flame.

Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cooking_on_a_campfire_in_Sweden_01.jpg

You’ve probably been to a restaurant that specializes in wood-fired pizza or other dishes cooked using this method. Even though new methods have made for fast and efficient cooking regimes, there’s still plenty to know about cooking over a fire.

You can cook over a fire at a campsite using a simple stove or spit, or get fancy and use an oven made of brick or clay. Small changes in the type of fuel used, the heat of the fire and cooking apparatus can impact how the final product tastes. Try cooking these meals over an open flame to experiment with smoky flavors.

1. Kebabs

When you think about cooking things over a fire, meats often come to mind — hot dogs, steaks, jerk chicken. But you can one-up the occasional New York steak or dry chicken breast you accustomed yourself to. Kebabs combine the flavor of fresh veggies with your protein of choice, and you receive the added fun of skewering them up.

Equally as tasty when cooked over a backyard barbecue or with friends over an open campfire, you can customize kebabs to your liking. You can easily cook them with steak, chicken, pork or seafood. Add extra flavor by marinating your protein ahead of time, or use recipes for pre-planned fruits and veggies to achieve a nice harmony of flavors to compliment your meat. Remember to consider cooking time — less dense protein like shrimp and salmon will pair well with softer, fast-cooking company.

When you achieve true kebab mastery, you’ll find you can get creative with different veggies and proteins, even when making a quick-cooking protein like fish. The trick is to slice your denser kebab components more thinly. This will allow them to cook at the same rate as thicker cuts of less dense fruits, veggies and protein. So for example, you could do a Polynesian-inspired kebab with thinly cut steak, bell pepper slices, shrimp and thick-cut pineapple.

2. Meats of All Kinds

While we started with kebabs, you naturally can’t talk about cooking things over an open flame without talking about cooking all the meats. Steak, chicken, pork, lamb and fish also taste great when cooked effectively over an open flame. If you’re reading this, you’re probably no stranger to the delicious flavor of a rib-eye or filet cooked over a charcoal grill. Making meat over a fire is a part of any basic cooking repertoire for many, but you can get more creative.

Bacon cooked on a skewer over an open flame tastes amazing, and since it comes neatly packed in plastic, you can carry your bacon with you to a camping cookout or bonfire on the beach. There are many ways to plan a red-meat meal that diverts from the oh-so-traditional steak cooked on a barbecue. A camp stove is just a grated metal separator that you can place over an open flame to make beautifully charred meats.

3. Hot Dogs, Sausages and More

We can’t go on without discussing hot dogs. While some people look down on these tube-shaped protein-pops, hot dogs and their upper-class cousins, sausages, are wonderful when cooked over an open fire. For a more authentic flavor, avoid the health-conscious stuff like turkey dogs and go for all-beef dogs with a little more fat. Of course, toppings are a very personal decision — ketchup, mustard and sour relish comprise America’s three most popular toppings. It’s likely you’ve seen more creative toppings such as chili, mayonnaise and cheese.

If you enjoy the easy-to-eat nature of hot dogs but want a bolder flavor and a little more provenance, it’s time to go with some sausage. Artisan-made sausage can be found everywhere from your organic grocer to the butcher shop to the local farmer’s market. Flavors run the gamut from spicy Italian to classic Andouille to sweeter flavors like chicken apple. Serve ’em up on their own, sliced with vegetables and rice, or on a bun.

Don’t forget that whenever a bun is involved, you’ll enjoy your meal more by brushing it with some butter or oil and allowing it to crisp up on the grill for a couple of minutes. For extra credit, get out the pastry rolls and make some flame-grilled pigs-in-a-blanket.

4. Baked (er, Grilled) Potatoes

Cooked over an open flame, these easy-to-make spuds are a wonderful side dish for all sorts of meals. Plus, they’re easy to package and keep for a few days in foil, which means you can take pre-wrapped potatoes with you on the trail for a campfire meal that’s a lot more authentic than eating something freeze-dried out of a bag. Here’s what to do.

Prepare your potatoes ahead of time by slicing them most of the way in half. Add your seasonings — salt, pepper and any dried seasoning will keep, as will butter in all but the warmest climates. However, don’t add fresh vegetables or bacon bits unless you’ll cook these the same day. Poke holes in the potatoes for steam to escape, and then wrap in two layers of tin foil. Cook for about 10 minutes and then flip and cook for another 10 minutes before allowing them to cool.

You’ll need a small camp stove to cook them on, but otherwise these spuds are a snap. As an easy alternative to seasoning ahead of time, feel free to pack your potato toppings in separately if you don’t need to be weight-conscious.

The pre-made tinfoil pouch method is effective for a number of campfire foods and backpacking meals. Those who frequently spend nights on the trail will often use this method to avoid the weirdness and salt-heavy flavors of freeze-dried rations. Camp food doesn’t have to be boring.

5. Corn On the Cob

Here’s another easy vegetable side dish that takes on wonderful flavor when cooked over an open flame. Making corn on the cob this way is probably easier than boiling it, and much more flavorful!

Begin by removing the husks and silks from your corn. Rinse the corn and allow a little of the moisture to remain on it to steam the corn slightly while cooking. Add salt, pepper, butter and wrap in two layers of tinfoil. You can then set the wrapped ears of corn in the hot coals of the fire. You’ll want to arrange some embers so you’re not reaching right into the open flame to retrieve your corn, and we recommend using tongs not your bare hands. Don’t burn yourself and remember to use safety measures.

Once it cools, you’ll have a sweet, crunchy camp treat that goes well with all sorts of other dishes. That was easy, wasn’t it!

6. Marshmallows

Another camping classic here. Yes, the natural tendency is to think of s’mores when you talk about making marshmallows over a fire but you can find other uses for them too. Come to think of it, they’re pretty darn good just toasted off of a stick, or a more sanitary, food-grade steel skewer. Unless you’re one of those twisted people who enjoy “blackened mallow.” To each their own.

Toasted ‘mallows are of course the critical ingredient in a quality s’more, and you can find square marshmallows that are made specifically for use in this type of applications. Many variations on the standard s’more make it fun to experiment. For example, you might use an exotic type of chocolate, add peanut butter, or get truly gourmet and break out the bacon. Because who doesn’t like bacon with, well, everything?

Don’t forget to use your ‘mallows as topping for hot cocoa as well, or even as topping for a campfire berry cobbler or another dessert. They’re not just a one-trick pony!

7. Muffins

Yes, you can make muffins over an open flame. No, they won’t taste like wood fire pizza as long as you pay attention to the type of wood you use to create your fire — different woods allude to different flavorings.

Unless car camping, this recipe would be difficult to pull off when backpacking, but these muffins can still make a great treat for a backyard barbecue and put a new spin on a classic dessert or breakfast food depending on the time of day.

Starting with whole oranges, you’ll use the peels as your Muffin molds. Slice the oranges in half and scoop out the flesh. Prepare your muffin mix according to the instructions on the package and then add the mix into the orange peel muffin molds. Wrap the filled orange peels with heavy-duty foil wrapping, leaving a little space for your mix to expand on the top side of the molds.

Set the wrapped molds into a hot section of coals and allow them to bake for 6-10 minutes, occasionally checking to see how they rise. After allowing another 10 minutes or so to cool, unwrap and enjoy hot, fresh campfire muffins!

8. Pizza

For a wood-fired pizza experience that saves money and offers a much more authentic setting, skip the restaurant. You can do it with a shallow Dutch oven type stove or a pizza stone. Begin by preparing the dough or bring your dough pre-made. Note that it’s easy enough to make the dough in about 20 minutes using a pot, flour, water and rapid yeast.

To achieve the right combination of crispy and doughy texture, you need to shape your pizza dough into your cast iron skillet before putting it on heat. Add some flour so you can flip the dough when the time comes and then press the ball of dough into the shape of the skillet. Once you have a nice even coverage you can place the skillet over the heat and allow it to begin to cook.

The bottom of the dough will become the top of your pizza, so it only needs to cook a few minutes to where it is lightly browned and won’t stick to the skillet. Using a broad spatula, flip the dough and add your sauce and toppings. You should have a way to cover your pizza to cook the toppings thoroughly, but if your recipe calls for cheese it’s best to only cook the pizza part way through with the top on, otherwise you could end up with a soggy mess instead of the crisp, browned cheesy top you want.

You can remove the pizza from the heat, slice it and serve it right from the skillet. You’ll never look at overpriced wood fire pizza the same again now, will you?

9. Canned Pasta

We’re not afraid to go there. Sometimes, when you’ve been on the trail all day and don’t want to cook, it’s time to get out the beef-a-roni. Similar to other recipes we’ve covered, cooking over an open flame involves potential safety hazards. In this case, contents under extreme pressure. Do yourself a favor and use a can opener to poke some ventilation holes. Make sure they’re located at the top of the can, or your dinner will end up in the fire. Failure to do this can result in pasta explosion and potential third-degree burns.

Okay so making canned ravioli over a fire isn’t super complicated but get yourself a grill plate or a least a good stick to move your meal out of the coals when the label has burnt most of the way off. And again, please use safety measures.

Time to Get Cooking

With so many meal options for cooking over an open fire, how can you narrow the list? After you cruise through this list, seek out other open fire cooking recipes as well. You should be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to cook each of these dishes on the trail or in the backyard.

What’s your favorite open-fire dish? Leave a note in the comments!

Note: This was a guest post.

How To Utilize Trees For Survival: The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Off Of Trees

Image Credit: https://www.nps.gov/mora/learn/nature/trees.htm

Earth Day always gives us a little time to think about the trees. Planting a tree on Earth Day is a tradition in many places, namely because these life-giving plants help provide clean air and natural resources like wood, as well as habitat for other living creatures.

But trees aren’t just worthy of our appreciation on Earth Day. In fact, you can make use of them so many ways that you’ll be a generally better survivalist just by understanding their many applications. With the right knowledge, trees can provide food and water, shelter and even basic construction materials.

A Long History of Utility

Today, the construction industry is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we consider how important trees are. Lumber from all types of trees is harvested every day around the world to be used as building material, fuel for fires and pulp for paper products. But even before we were building things from trees, hunter/gatherer tribes were collecting nutritious tree nuts as a source of food. They later discovered the value of trees as one component of a farming system.

Prominent historical figures like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington revered these important crops and understood well the value they lent to the North American continent. Before the founding of the United States, indigenous peoples made use of tree-based products like nuts and sap for use in daily life. Nearly every part of a tree can be put to good use, and no one knew it better.

Knowledge of how to get the most from American icons like oak, maple and pine has been handed down for generations. You might be surprised how much there is to know!

Tree-Based Foods

You’ve probably consumed a great many tree-based foods in your life without ever even thinking about it. Tree nuts are the most obvious, with popular and time-honored examples including acorns, walnuts and pine nuts. Almonds, popular edible tree nuts revered for their health benefits, are actually not safe to eat raw in the wild because they contain natural toxins. Stick to the first three if you’re looking for a tree-based snack in the American wild.

In addition to tree nuts, many fruit-bearing trees form the backbone of the exceptional variety of fruits we enjoy nearly year-round in the United States. Apples, peaches and citrus fruit like oranges and tangerines all come from trees, although some are more common in the wilderness than others.

Mulberry trees, while lesser-known to those seeking fruit in the market, can offer a snack while you’re exploring open spaces. Cherry trees are both farmed and naturally occurring. The bright yellow honey locust tree and rare hackberry are native varieties that produce edible fruits and seeds and are less commonly farmed.

Not surprisingly, many types of food-producing trees have been put into large-scale farming operations in places like California, Florida and New York. If you’re a fan of fresh orange juice, you might know how sensitive these farming operations can be. To enjoy the great selection of exotic fruits available to us — a luxury almost no other country enjoys as well as the USA — we have to take care to keep our tree farms healthy and adapt to shifting weather patterns.

Some tree farming operations have even created new forms of hybrid fruit. Examples like the grapple and tangelo take characteristics of naturally occurring fruit and leverage genomics technology to offer an entirely new experience. This genetic experimentation has recently given us the SnapDragon and RubyFrost apples, products of work done at Cornell University. Trees are continuing to provide new sources of food today!

Water, Sap and Resin

In addition to delicious fruits and nuts, trees can provide life-sustaining water and other liquid products, including the popular sap, used for making syrup. In addition to sap, the thick, amber liquid you might think of as sap is in fact a different substance altogether called resin. Pine, fir and ceder trees, along with their relatives in the Pinaceae family, produce resin, which is typically thick and tar-like and makes a much better adhesive than thinner, watery sap.

To collect sap, whether it be for use in making syrup or just to have a drink of the high water-content liquid, bore a hole in the side of a tree and insert a tube for the sap to flow through. You can drink raw sap right from the tree as a source of water. To make the maple syrup or other sweet products requires processing. Called “sugaring,” the process of making syrup involves first setting a tap in place and then allowing enough liquid to pool in your bucket or other collection device so that you can boil off the extra water.

Sugaring rigs vary in their size and design, but a “stereotypical” rig consists of a wood-fired stove with a broad pot or pan at the top. Sap is poured into the pan and kept at a low boil for hours on end. Removing the right amount of water to make syrup and not hard candy takes a little finesse and a lot of practice. However, once it’s ready, maple syrup can be kept for many months as a stable food. It’s a great way to have a treat around and prepare some sugar for a survival situation. Not a bad gift come holiday time either!

Unlike maple syrup, pine tree resin won’t help your breakfast taste better. However, it does have some good-to-know survival uses. It can be collected around a damaged area of the tree, and it will harden when it’s exposed to sunlight. Native Americans have been known to use pine tree resin to close wounds — it’s a natural antiseptic because it keeps moisture from entering the wound, and it can be peeled from the skin once healing is far enough along. It’s also helpful treating rashes and can be made into a tea to treat a sore throat.

Aside from its medicinal uses, resin can be used to help with starting fires, as a sealant to waterproof clothes and shoes and even as glue when it’s combined with crumbled charcoal. To make your glue, heat resin until it’s thin and mix it with the charcoal powder in a ratio that’s two parts resin to one part ash. Use a stick to collect the dark-colored mixture as it cools. The cool glue won’t be good for bonding things, but you can reheat it to apply to a surface when needed.

Additional Medicinal Uses

Many survivalists find tree-based products to be useful for curing ailments along with their nutritional value. Similar to the pine resin tea we mentioned earlier, nature provides us with a slew of natural medicine available just by processing basic tree-derived items. Pine nettle tea, for example, is a famous cure for vitamin C deficiency that early frontiersmen relied on because of the prevalence of scurvy.

Many outdoorsmen still enjoy making pine nettle tea for its woody flavor, and while boiling for too long can remove some of the vitamin C from the brew, you can decide how strong to make it if you’re not in need of saving from scurvy.

Willow tree bark contains salicin, a naturally occurring compound that’s similar in makeup to aspirin. If you’re far from home and in need of pain relief, peel a hunk of bark from a nearby willow and chew it to unlock the tree’s natural anti-inflammatory properties. We’ve listed some additional herbal remedies derived from trees below:

  • The sap of the alder tree can be used to calm itching and wash wounds. Alder leaves and bark can be boiled to make a tea that will reduce a fever.
  • Apple trees provide a number of digestive remedies. Peeled apple tree root can be consumed to cure diarrhea, while stewed unpeeled apples can be used as a laxative. Apple cider with garlic and horseradish can be used to treat skin conditions.
  • Ash tree leaves can be made into a tea to reduce gout, jaundice and rheumatism, and the tea is also a laxative.
  • Tea made from the flowers and berries of the Hawthorne tree can have positive affects for cardiac health and lower blood pressure.
  • Linden and closely related basswood products can calm nerves and are effective remedies for headaches, spasms and pain.
  • Green walnut husks can be slit to produce a sap that’s effective for treating ringworm.
  • Witch hazel is a famous remedy for many conditions. It is anti-inflammatory, hemostatic and antiseptic.

Using Trees for Shelter

Up until now, we’ve been mainly focused on the ways you can use tree-based products by ingesting them. However, trees make an effective survival tool as a form of shelter too. Perhaps you’ve noticed the way a healthy redwood offers shade on a hot day. Maybe you’ve enjoyed climbing the trees in a nearby orchard as a child. Being large and stationary, trees can provide these basic benefits of coverage and a high vantage point, but they can also do a lot more in a survival situation.

If you’re in need of a calm place to set up camp while in the wilderness, a thicket of trees might be just the thing to provide shade and knock down wind that could otherwise interfere with your tent or other camp shelter. Don’t have a tent? Why not just use the trees themselves? Assuming the trees in your area provide suitably hard wood, you can collect large, fallen branches and arrange them in a lean-to to shield yourself and your belongings from animals and elements.

If you can find a large enough dead tree, you can even hunker down inside the hollowed-out trunk itself. Doing so sounds rather idyllic because it is. Finding just such a tree is rare, and if you do plan to use one as shelter, be sure to check its structural integrity. A dead tree with a hollow trunk may not endure a bout of strong wind, and you won’t want to be in it when the upper regions come crashing down. Maybe take a picture and move on.

Of course, wood is an excellent building material, and if time is on your side, you can use tree products to construct your own shelter. You can do so by planting and growing a protective shelter belt to keep wind and elements off your encampment or crops or by harvesting existing wood and constructing a small structure. Using basic tongue-in-groove construction, it’s possible to stand up a simple log building using a good set of trees, a sharp ax and perhaps a few other basic tools. Keep in mind that this undertaking is not a beginner-level project.

An Alaskan mill, a lumber-processing tool that can be built using a fallen log and metal brackets, is a handy way to produce real, right-sized cuts of lumber in the backcountry, but it takes a skilled saw-man to run. Still, in a situation that requires you to fabricate a sturdy wooden structure without help from the kinds of tools you’d find in a larger-scale construction setting, the Alaskan mill is the perennial go-to. If you’re going to look into using one of these, find someone who’s done it, and practice safely getting to know the ins and outs of this tool, as it can be very dangerous.

Man’s Other “Best Friend”

Your dog is probably a lot more fun than a tree, that’s not asking much. But when you consider all the wonderful things trees do for us — providing fresh air, healthy snacks and sustenance for wilderness adventures, handy sap and resin products, medicines and lodging and more — trees are absolutely amazing.

This guide gives you a good overview of the many ways you can benefit from trees in wilderness settings. Hopefully, what you’ve read here will prove useful. There’s so much you can do with the numerous tree-based products covered here and elsewhere. What plans do you have to make use of this new knowledge — are you going to begin brewing pine-nettle tea or harvesting maple sap for use in syrup? Let us know in the comments below!

Note: This was a guest post.

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