7 Unusual Survival Items for Your Bug Out Bag

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Do you really have everything you would need in your bug out bag? Enough to last you at least 72 hours, possibly even longer? I cannot emphasize enough the importance of doing your own research and picking the most appropriate bug out bag backpack, which you can do so by checking out the post here. Choosing the correct bug out bag (along with the correct gear and supplies) will surely increase your chances of survival if and when you must evacuate.

After choosing your bag, it’s time to consider what you need to put inside it. Most folks include common items such as a flashlight, poncho, water filter and so on, as well they should. In this article, however, we’ll explore something different: those unusual items that you could pack in your bug out bag which could potentially save your life! Or, at the very least, make life a bit easier.

Have you ever wondered what additional items you may need to pack inside your bug out bag, especially those unusual items that you may not have thought of? Here are the 7 unusual survival items that you need to pack in your bug out bag…

[Editor’s note: If you’d like my take on the subject, consider these 53 essential bug out bag supplies.]

  1. Alcohol (vodka)

Besides using alcohol for drinking–which I wouldn’t suggest during a bug out–you will find a few additional benefits of storing a spare bottle of alcohol in your bug out bag. For instance, due to the high alcohol content, liquor, such as vodka and rum, are highly flammable which means you can use them for fire starting. Soak a piece of cloth with alcohol and put your tinder on top of the soaked cloth, the alcohol vapor will help you to start a fire easier.

Alcohol can also be used as a disinfectant. Dousing your open wound with alcohol will help clean and disinfect the injured area before protecting it with a bandage. Similarly, if you need to disinfect your survival knives, simply add alcohol into a container and soak the survival tool inside for a few minutes.

[Editor’s note: I’m not sure I would use just ANY alcohol for this purpose. Something which is, say, at least 80 proof and doesn’t contain any dyes or additives would be best. Vodka or gin, for instance, would likely suffice.]

Finally, alcohol can also help to remove any bad odor from your body, clothing or equipment. It would be handy to have a spray bottle in this situation to ensure the deodorizing agent is spread across a larger area. Otherwise, simply put on a rag soaked with alcohol and apply it to your body. In fact, you can also rinse your mouth with alcohol to flush out any bacteria in your mouth.

[Editor’s note: You would’ve had to stumble into something REALLY smelly for this to be the better smelling option, lol. Use as an oral disinfectant could be useful though.]

  1. Pocket Chainsaw

A pocket chainsaw, as the name implies, is a “chainsaw” that fits in your pocket. It is basically made of a chain of blades attached to a pair of handles at both ends. This design is particularly handy due to its compact and lightweight features which allow a person to cut firewood or logs without an axe. For bushcraft, I would recommend getting a folding saw instead which has a better cutting efficiency compared to the pocket chainsaw.

With that said, a pocket chainsaw does make a good lightweight alternative cutting tool. Simply wrap your chainsaw around a tree branch and start cutting by pulling it upwards left and right alternately. A few features that you will want to look for when purchasing a pocket chainsaw is the length of the chain. A 36-inch chain would have faster cutting time with blades sawing 3 sides of a limb at once compared to a shorter chain like the 24-inch. Make sure the saw is made to cut in bi-directional with teeth that are made of high carbon steel. Before cutting, ensure the piece of log is well-supported to prevent injuries when using the pocket chainsaw.

  1. Pstyle or SheWee

If you are female or have female family members who are bugging out with you, consider getting a Pstyle or SheWee as a personal hygiene product which aids women with urinating while standing up. With this device you would not have to worry about poison ivy, trouble squatting due to weak knees, or even any creepy-crawlies waiting below you on the forest floor.

I would recommend getting one of these devices as it allows you to urinate while standing and without removing any of your clothing. They are reusable, washable and highly functional.

  1. Tecnu with Wash Cloth or Loofah Sponge

If you expect to bug out into the woods, it is not uncommon to stumble upon poison ivy at some point, a plant which produces an oil called urushiol and leaves a rash if the oil had remained on your skin for a lengthy period of time.

Including some dish soap or, better yet, a bottle of Tecnu would be useful to remove the oils from your skin, clothing and gear. Liberally apply the dish soap or Tecnu with a wash cloth and scrub the contacted skin area thoroughly. Rinse and repeat to prevent any severe rash from occurring.

If you ever had a bad case of poison ivy rash then you know just how important quick removal of the oils can be! The key is to scrub thoroughly as soon as possible to remove any oils which leads to the allergic reaction.

  1. Shoe Goo and Duct Tape

Another important aspect in a survival situation is to take great care of your feet and, by extension, your shoes.

Imagine that as you are evacuating one of the soles of your shoe began to come loose! Of course, you shouldn’t be walking around in the woods with one shoe falling apart. Therefore, keeping a tube of shoe goo in your bug out bag may be the solution. The adhesive will not only affix your soles to the upper part of the shoe again, but it also offers a protective or waterproof coating for your footwear.

Alternatively, you can opt to use duct tape to secure the soles of your shoes. These strong, cloth-backed and waterproof adhesive tapes have numerous uses and you might be surprised at just how many. For example, duct tape can be used for making a rope by twisting the duct tape into a cord, repair your tent, as a makeshift bandage, remove warts, sealing food packages, remove splinters, repair leaking items and the list goes on and on. Pack duct tape in your bug out bag and you will be glad you did.

[Editor’s note: I would suggest that duct tape is a far more expedient repair for shoes than shoe goo which, in my experience, takes several hours to a day or longer to fully cure.]

  1. Safety pins

Safety pins can also come in handy due to several potential uses. You can store your safety pins on your key chain or hook it on your bug out bag so you know where to look for them when you need them. It would be even more useful if you have some thread and needle with you that can act as a sewing kit but, for our purposes, safety pins are the faster repair.

Safety pins can be used to pin gear to your bag out bag, repair tears in clothing, create a fish hook or just simply used to hang lightweight items on a line to dry overnight. You could also use safety pins to remove splinters under the skin and create an arm sling from a T-shirt, if you have no other choice.

Because safety pins are cheap and readily available make sure you include several safety pins of varying sizes into your bag today.

  1. Sarong (or Shemagh)

The final unusual item on our list is the sarong. Sarong is a large fabric that is usually used to wrap around the waist worn in Southeast Asia and Pacific islands. Essentially, a sarong is a big piece of fabric that you can use as a towel, blanket, shelter, hammock, bandage and makeshift carry bag. Sarongs are also a great way to carry small children when used like a maya or moby wrap. Make sure your sarong is made of sturdy material like rayon fabric so that it would not easily tear in an emergency.

[Editor’s note: you might actually be better off with a Shemagh for such purposes, though, I don’t personally have one and it seems they’re all made of cotton these days.]

I hope you found the list interesting and useful as I did. There were a few additional items that I had left out which I felt were interesting but might not be as unusual, such as tablet towels (very compact towels for camping, hiking, etc.) and waterproof socks.

So, what did you think? Are these bug out bag items THAT unusual? What items would you have included that weren’t?

Note: This was a guest post.

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.

Night Vision For Preppers

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When it came to the evolutionary ladder, the human predator was cut short on vision.  Sure, we get a full-color spectrum but we miss out on the sharpness of many animals and we are even farther from the natural night vision granted to most mammals.

Because of our shortcoming, we have used technology to our advantage for most of human history.  It started with fire and in more recent times went to the electric light.  While this is helpful and a good flashlight should be a mandatory piece of gear, it has one significant downfall.  It makes us very easy to detect.

Our evolutionary strength is our gigantic brains and someone used theirs to develop light amplification technology.  Though it is imperfect in some ways, this has been a game-changing technology.  It is used by the military, hunters, sailors, fire/rescue, and many other industries that find the need to see in the dark paramount to accomplishing their mission.

As preppers and homesteaders, we have a number of tasks that may come up where this technology is highly valuable.  The military calls this a force multiplier.  For our world, it has been referred to as an advantage multiplier.  In short, it makes us more effective at the tasks we need to accomplish.

I am sure your knowledge and background have already given you some ideas on when and where this could be useful.  We will get into that but first, a brief primer on night vision technology is in order.

Night Vision Simplified

Whole articles have been devoted to how night vision technology works so we won’t go that deep here.  Just what you need to know.  And the first thing you need to know is that not all night vision works the same way.

There are two distinct types of night vision scope, traditional and digital.  Traditional night vision is what is used by the military and is often called Gen 1 through Gen 4.  The original moniker for this technology was light amplification rather than night vision.  It actually works by taking faint amounts of light detected by very sensitive sensors and converting that to electric impulses.  These could then be amped up in power proportionally to the intensity of the light and displayed on a cathode screen.

With this traditional technology, the generation is an important consideration.  A Gen 1 scope can be fairly affordable and it steps up from there.  The latest and greatest can cost as much as a new car.  There are a few Gen 2 options that are priced within the range of the consumer but they are at the high end.  Most people will end up with Gen 1 which has less range and less detail but is still effective.

The second technology is more like what is used by security systems.  Thanks to the decline in size and cost of LED and LCD displays as well as the shrinking of camera size, you can basically get this whole setup in something not much bigger than a traditional scope.

Rather than using light from the visible spectrum, this technology uses light in the near-infrared range.  This has one predominant implication:  You will have to have a source of infrared light which is usually mounted on board.  Without this source of IR light, there will not be enough naturally occurring for your optic to function.

The huge benefit of digital night vision is cost.  A reasonably good monocular can be had for around the $100.00 price tag.  This is orders of magnitude cheaper than any traditional night vision device.

For a more direct comparison, here are some specifics:

Traditional Night Vision

Pros

  • Greater Detection Range
  • More Detail (especially on higher gen models)
  • Does not require additional IR illumination but can use it

Cons

  • More Expensive
  • Limited Lifespan
  • Shorter Battery Life
  • Night Use Only

Digital Night Vision

Pros

  • More Affordable
  • Very Long Battery Life (on some models)
  • Lasts for years
  • Can be Used Day or Night

Cons

  • Shorter Detection Range
  • Washed Out Detail
  • Requires IR Illumination

For the majority of preppers, homesteaders, and hunters the clear choice is going to be digital purely from a value standpoint.  It does not have the coolness factor of the military technology but it is very effective.  But what would you do with it?  We can look at a few common uses but I am sure that your individual needs will bring out new uses that have never occurred to me.

Night Vision around the Homestead

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Night vision is really not a daily use item but it’s surprising how often I reach for one of my optics.  They see use several times a week in one of the following capacities.  However, this can never be a comprehensive list.  You know your needs and there are many clever readers that will find uses that have never occurred to me.

Home Security

Probably the first use that comes to mind is that of keeping your home and loved ones safe.  The predominant use around the world for night vision is tactical operations so it only makes sense that we use it for the same reason.  There is vast power in being able to see in the dark without adding artificial light to the situation.

Though I have never had an actual need arise in this area of use, it’s a comfort to know it can.  There have been times that I used this to ensure there was nothing amiss but it has never turned out to be the case.  Still, I keep the night vision on hand for a time there is an intruder or a worst case scenario of social collapse.

Predator Control

I live in a very rural setting and have a constant issue with threats to my livestock.  Usually, this is coyotes, coons, and possums.  For this, I keep a rifle with a cheap night vision scope that makes quick work of anything before they get to my valuable chickens or goats.  This happens probably every couple of months and has been the best return on my investment.

I also keep a .22 rifle that is suppressed with a similar optic.  This is predominantly for rats that are a real pain when you have chickens, especially young ones.  I have taken over a dozen rats in a single night with none of my neighbors even being aware.  This is a constant problem for the homesteader and one that makes an affordable night vision scope a real value.

Livestock Wellness

I have goats who will occasionally go wild after dark for no reason.  I do have a camera in their enclosure but you can’t see every corner or address every situation.  A cheap $100.00 night vision monocular makes checking in on them safe and easy.  I can scan every animal and every corner of their pen in a few seconds without getting them riled up.

The last thing you need at 3:00 am is a pen full of suddenly awake goats because you hit them with a flashlight.  Goats have poor night vision and after a bright light, they are blinded for several minutes and can go wild.  This helps to avoid injury to the goats and keeps them settled.

Plant Health

This is one I am still playing with but I believe there are applications.  Since digital night vision uses IR light, it can potentially see the difference in reflectivity between a diseased and healthy plant.  This has been used with more sensitive devices by many governmental agencies but with a bright enough IR source and a good digital night vision device, you can see a slight difference.

So far, I am still in trial phases but I have been able to see the brighter look of a diseased tomato plant against its healthy neighbors.  Should this pan out, you should be able to remove unhealthy heirloom plants before they can infect nearby healthy plants.

Notable Night Vision Brands

There are a number of companies producing night vision devices and this has driven the price down to levels we can now afford.  Some are large scale producers and some are off-shore one-off manufacturers.  Not all brands are really worth the price you pay.  To get the best purchase for your money, these are some brands to consider.

ATN

To get the best up front, ATN does some simply amazing things with scopes.  They tend to be a little pricy but they are first and foremost a very effective digital night vision scope.  To add to that, ATN offers their scopes with Wi-Fi connectivity, video recording, and smart ballistics.  You can actually dial in your load and the scope will use an internal rangefinder to put you on target.  If you shoot through a normal scope, it takes some getting used to but it’s worth it.

Their products are all rifle optics and they tend to be a little pricy compared to other brands.  That said, they are worth every penny.

Armasight

One of the original producers of night vision has continued its legacy well into the newer technology of digital night vision.  They offer a wide selection of optics but their scopes are the most prevalent.  They do have video recording and are wirelessly connectable if you want to stream what your scope sees.  Quality wise, you can’t get much better.

In addition to digital night vision, they offer some tradition night vision as well, mostly in Gen 2 models.  Also in their wheelhouse are monoculars, binoculars, and goggles.  Price wise, they are on par with most high-end manufacturers.

Pulsar

Pulsar offers a good selection of products in both the traditional and digital night vision realms.  They make scopes with video recording and the rest in digital.  In traditional night vision, they mostly make Gen 1+ optics in a variety of formats.  The prices are exceptionally fair and their quality is good.  They aren’t the most durable but they are very well made.

Monoculars, rifle scopes, and goggles are the main products but they have produced highly successful binoculars in the past.

Sightmark

Sightmark makes a number of optics products from standard rifle scopes through all types of night vision.  Their digital scopes are decent and affordable.  They offer some traditional night vision as well, usually Gen 1.  They have about the cheapest Gen 1 rifle scope on the market it is quite good for the price, especially for those just getting into the hobby.

They offer some good goggles as well and a monocular that is well liked.

Firefield

Most of Firefield’s products are midrange in quality but function for those who want night vision on a budget.  Their scope works well and is much simpler than those by other companies.  The main point of note about Firefield is their monocular which can be had for less than $100.00 and works very well!

If you only plan to use your night vision occasionally, these are a great option.  You can get them cheap and they will last a reasonable amount of time without issue.  They make mostly monoculars and scopes and both are a good by.

Night Owl

I have tried a few Night Owl products and though they aren’t my favorite, they do function well.  They make a single scope and a few monoculars and binoculars.  All of them work very well for the price.  Night owl started out as a security camera company so they know the business and technology well.  They just make their products at a lower price point.

On a budget, pick one up.  Their products are a little heavier and bulkier but not bad from my limited experience.  I wouldn’t hesitate if I didn’t already have other brands.

Conclusion

As a point, I like to keep my life simple and rely on the older, tried and true technologies.  However, there are some modern devices that can do things that were never dreamed of until a few decades ago.  Night vision is one of those.  While I would hesitate to say this is a ‘must own’ technology, once you try it you will see exactly how useful it can be for any task done in the dark.

Author Bio:

About McKinley Downing from IOutdoorPursuit.com

Mckinley is an avid shooter & firearms instructor. He shoots, hunts and is a patriot in the sense that he enjoys pissing off gun grabbers and an anti-hunters. He has worked with and around firearms for several years, and enjoys talking to anyone interested in learning more about firearms and their 2nd Amendment rights.

15 Items Every Prepper Should Hoard

I tend to agree with most everything on the list, especially batteries and toilet paper, as one can NEVER have enough of either, lol. I was glad to see he included items like tarps and cordage since these items can be more useful than most folks realize during a SHTF emergency.

I do, however, take issue with two items, in particular, that being candles (because they’re a significant fire danger) and I wouldn’t suggest bleach as the best long-term option for water treatment, though, there are plenty of other potential uses for bleach around the house.

Perhaps the only two items that I was surprised to see included were socks (it’s not something I tend to stockpile) and propane (mostly because propane can be used up fast when there are better options) but, honestly, it doesn’t much matter what finite items you choose to include so long as you (1) have a plan to utilize them and (2) have plenty!

Urban Altoids EDC Kit

Normally, I’m not a big fan of makeshift EDC kits like this, but The Urban Prepper usually does a good job with this kind of stuff and this project is no different. To give you an idea of the unusual contents, he includes a mini Leatherman multi-tool, USB charging cable, and a mini ratchet tool as a few examples. He also includes commons items you would expect, such as a mini Bic lighter, money, a few medications, and plenty more.

Overall, it’s a well thought out kit and one that fits his needs specifically. As such, you should tailor the contents to fit YOUR needs if any of the items included aren’t particularly useful to you. FYI, if you want to view the PDF he references in the beginning with all of the kit contents listed, you’ll need to navigate directly to the video description and use the link he provides there.

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…

How to Set Up Your Garage for Survival

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If you’re like most of us, your garage is one of two things: It’s either a catch-all for the junk that won’t fit in your house anymore but that you can’t bear to get rid of, or it’s a place to store and work on your car or your hobbies. Either way, it has a very specific use that most people don’t vary from.

With it’s proximity to your house, however, your garage could be something even more useful, that being—a storage space for your survival supplies or even a place to retreat if there’s a natural disaster that damages your home. Here is a comprehensive plan to help you set up your garage to help you survive whatever the world throws at you…

Storage

The first thing you need to worry about is storage. You want to make the best possible use of the available space so you can store as many supplies as possible in it. If you’re prepping for survival, you never know how long you’re going to be on your own. If the world ends and the country’s infrastructure collapses, you’re going to have to handle food, water, medicine, electricity and other supplies without being able to turn on a light switch or drive to the grocery store.

Keeping everything organized doesn’t just give you more room to fill your garage with supplies. It also makes it easier to manage your inventory and to rotate things out as they near their expiration dates.

First, decide if you’re going to be parking your car in the garage in the event of an emergency. Doing so will help to protect it but also reduces the amount of available storage space you have. You may need your car for survival, so leaving it in the garage is your best option here. Keep it safe out of the weather, especially the extreme kind that could put you in a survival situation in the first place.

[Editor’s note: keeping a car in the garage could also backfire if, say, your garage collapses. Perhaps it’s best to keep one in the garage and one in the driveway if possible.]

From there, start working on shelving. Solid metal or wooden shelves are ideal, especially if they’re adjustable, as this allows you to adjust them as needed to accommodate new supplies or equipment. Slide-out storage can help you take advantage of small spaces, such as the space between the wall and a fridge or freezer. Fill up the rest of your garage with totes, barrels and other containers to keep small items from ending up all over the place.

[Editor’s note: Be sure to label and track your supplies. Even a few large bins or several small buckets can become a mess to look through if you’re not organized!]

Supplies

Once you have your storage space set up, it’s time to start collecting your supplies. We’re going to break this down into categories — food, water, first aid, electricity, lighting, shelter, safety, tools and entertainment.

Food

Other than water, food is one of the most important things that you’ll need to stockpile. You can raid abandoned grocery stores for a while, but those resources will eventually run out, and you’ll need to have something to fall back on. Stock up on non-perishable foods like canned goods, pasta, rice, flour and similar items. Anything not in a can or jar will need to be stored in a secondary container to keep rodents and other pests out. Ideally, you’ll want at minimum a month or two worth of food stored.

As things approach their expiration date, purchase new items and rotate the expiring ones into your home’s pantry to be used. Keep up with your inventory and make sure you’re rotating out any expired supplies. A physical inventory —because computers may not work after the world ends, making digital spreadsheets useless — can make this task a little easier. Write down the item, the amount and its expiration date so you don’t have to worry about checking every jar and can to make sure that nothing has expired.

[Editor’s note: Storing food and other supplies, like medicines, in an non-climate-controlled area will cause them to degrade faster, possibly even before their expiration dates. Keep close tabs on whatever you store here.]

Water

You can survive for three weeks without food but only three days without water. Make sure you’ve got a water stockpile. Barrels of at least 55 gallons are ideal for this, both because they store a lot of water and because they protect it from sunlight and other contaminants. Have at least two to three months of water stored for everyone in your household. In most emergency situations, it’s recommended to have 1 gallon of water per person per day — half for drinking and half for hygiene.

[Editor’s note: I typically recommend five gallons of water per person per day.]

You should also have some sort of water purification system with your supplies, whether that’s a solar-powered water filter, purification tablets, or bleach. Even if the water infrastructure is still working, there’s no guarantee that it will be safe to drink.

First Aid

You can’t go to the doctor when the world ends, so make sure you have everything you might need to deal with injuries and illnesses. That includes basic first aid items like bandages and splints all the way up to suture kits. No one likes to think about having to get sewn up without anesthetic, but in an emergency situation, if it’s down to stitches or death, you’ll suck it up and start sewing.

Power

Electricity is usually the first thing to go out during an emergency. We deal with massive power outages every year during hurricanes, blizzards and other natural disasters, so you’ll need a way to keep things powered if the world ends. Generators are a good option, but make sure that you’ve got enough fuel to keep them running as long as possible until you can find new fuel sources. If you do choose a generator, don’t keep it in your garage while it’s running. You’ll want to move it into a well-ventilated area outside because even a partially-ventilated area (such as a garage with the door partially open) can still build up deadly amounts of carbon monoxide.

Solar power is another great option if you live in an area that gets enough usable sunlight hours and, even then, it may be the only long-term solution you have available.

Lighting

It gets really dark when the power is out, so you need to think about lighting. Flashlights and batteries, oil or kerosene lamps with extra fuel and torches are all great options to include.

[Editor’s note: Be sure to stockpile plenty of batteries or fuel to keep them running. For safety’s sake, I’d encourage you to stick with battery-powered lanterns in most cases.]

Shelter

If you’re staying home, shelter isn’t really a problem, though you will want to reinforce your home since most modern homes aren’t designed to be defensible. We’ll talk more about that in a moment.

If you’re bugging out, shelter is essential. You can shelter in your car, stop in an abandoned home or pitch a tent in the woods. Make sure you’ve got plenty of sleeping bags or blankets to stay warm and pack weather-appropriate clothing in your bug-out bag. The elements are your biggest enemy if you’re leaving your home during an emergency, especially during the winter when cold can be fatal.

Safety

In an end-of-the-world situation, you will need to be able to protect yourself. This part of your supplies should include everything from a fire extinguisher to gas masks to weapons. Whether you choose a pistol, a rifle or a sword, make sure you practice with your weapon of choice before everything hits the fan. Don’t trust your video game skills to protect you when the world ends. Be comfortable with your weapon and know how to use it, maintain it, reload it and repair it before everything goes to hell.

Tools

When life as we know it ends, if your vehicle still functions, you’ll need to be able to maintain it, and that means you’ll need the tools to do it. Make sure that you’ve got everything you need to maintain your vehicle, your generator and any other appliances that you’re using for the duration of the emergency. If you have a source of electricity, a compressor can be a valuable addition to the garage. You should also have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit just for those days when you’re doing mechanical maintenance. Hopefully, you won’t need them, but it’s better to have them just in case.

[Editor’s note: you should have the ability to repair your home as well, and having the right toolbox of tools is a great idea.]

Entertainment

Without television or the internet to keep you entertained, you’re going to get bored. Include some entertainment supplies in with your emergency kit. Focus on things that don’t need power, like board games, decks of cards and books — actual books, not Kindle books which you won’t be able to use without access to electricity or the internet.

You may find yourself too busy to use these things, but if you have a slow day or young children, it can be a great way to keep yourself entertained while you wait for the next mess to happen.

Appliances

We’ve gotten used to electric appliances that make our lives easier. Washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators have taken over many of the jobs that we used to do by hand, but if the electrical grid fails, none of these conveniences will work anymore.

The fridge won’t be a problem since the majority of your food supply will be non-perishable. All you need to do is consume the stuff that’s in the fridge before it spoils and then start using your non-perishable supplies. For other chores like washing and drying clothes, you do have some options like a pedal-operated washing machine, and you can always hang your clothes to dry them.

Look into non-electric appliance alternatives like the washing machine we listed above to add to your garage so you always have everything you need.

Reinforcement

While your garage provides a fantastic place to store supplies, it isn’t the strongest part of your house, so it might be a good idea to reinforce it. Look into metal brackets or straps to reinforce the frame of the building — they’re commercially available as a tool to reinforce light wood construction against high winds. Windows and doors should be reinforced with shutters on the exterior and heavy-duty locks inside the building.

Garage doors aren’t generally designed to be durable. If you’re not planning to use it as a point of egress from your home, you can reinforce the door with both vertical and horizontal braces made of lumber. You can remove them if you need to get something in or out of your garage, but they’re not something that you’ll want to move on a regular basis.

[Editor’s note: be careful with add too much in the way of reinforcements that aren’t meant to be there, especially if they may impede your ability to evacuate… always have two ways out of every room or shelter.]

Preparation

Finally, after you’ve done all the work and collected all the supplies, the last thing you need to do is make sure that everyone in your family is prepared and knows what to do in the event of an emergency. Having all the supplies in the world doesn’t do you a lot of good if you don’t know how to use them.

Take the time to have emergency drills from different locations — work, school, shopping, etc. Make sure that everyone knows where all the supplies are, how to access them and how to use any tools or weapons. Of course, this should be age appropriate — don’t expect too much of young family members. An emergency will make them grow up fast, but while preparation is important, they don’t need to grow up quite yet.

Be Ready For Anything

People like to laugh at preppers because they think we’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse or something else that might never happen, but it’s better to be prepared for anything than to be caught with your pants down if the world really does end. No one wants to think about the end of the world or living without the modern conveniences that we’ve become so accustomed to, but it’s always a possibility, so it pays to be prepared.

We might not have to worry about zombies, but there are still plenty of other threats looming on the horizon, any of which could turn into a reality that will change the world we know. If your garage is full of junk, now is the perfect time to clean it out and turn it into storage for your survival supplies. Start now before you end up needing those supplies and find you don’t have anywhere to store them. It never hurts to be over-prepared! And if you’ve got more supplies than you need, you can trade them for other goods or services that you may not have while you wait for normality to be restored.

Note: This was a guest post.

The Ultimate Backpacking Survival Rifle Build

Looking for the “ultimate” survival rifle? Well, look no further than this Ruger 10/22 rifle (featuring the Gemtech Mist-22 silencer) with Magpul X-22 BackPacker stock (holds 3 ten-round mags), and Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot sight mounted on a Magpul optics mount.

All together you’re probably looking at around $1,000 to put this survival rifle together, with the bulk of the cost in the rifle and silencer. Feel free to watch the entire video, but you really only need to watch the first five minutes or so to get the idea. And if you want to see him tear the rifle down–including a look at the silencer–then skip to about the 11:30 mark afterwards. Enjoy!

DIY Solar Tracking System Inspired by NASA

I just love DIY ideas like this, don’t you? After all, I wrote an entire book about DIY survival projects, so it only stands to reason that I would, lol.

In any case, the neat thing about this solar tracker is that it doesn’t need any GPS signal or computers to work but, instead, simply “follows” the movement of the sun using small light sensors throughout the day!

Apparently, he got the original idea from this video which includes more details about the build, if interested…

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.