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.

Self-Contained DIY Fire Starter Kit

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this fire starting kit is something you can purchase as a pre-made solution, but you can certainly copy the idea well enough if you’re interested in a wilderness or bug out bag fire starting kit to emulate…

Family-Sized Backpack Cookset: KingCamp Climber 3

Like he points out, you don’t tend to see too many larger cooksets available for purchase that would be able to accomodate more than a person or two.

This KingCamp Climber 3 Cookset, unlike most options out there, is definitely big enough to cook for an entire family and is perhaps the most complete backpacking cookset out there, and for a reasonable price…

Survival Shotguns: How to Choose the Right One for You

Image Credit: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/825264

The shotgun is one of the most valuable survival firearm one can own instead of a rifle or pistol. It possesses a great force of firepower compared to shots fired from a pistol. Therefore, owning the right to say that “no one really wants to be hit by one” when it is draw out.

The main advantage that labels a shotgun as a good survival gear is the variety of ammunition. It generally means that a shotgun fires at least 8 to 26 large lead pellets from a single shot every time the trigger is pulled.

This is advantageous especially when we are not experts in aiming or in a chaotic state that our ability to aim has been blindsided. It increases the possibility of landing a bullet on the attacker without needing to constantly reload.

There is a wide range of shotguns offered in the market and each with different capabilities. Understand the characteristics of  each shotgun to be able to select a suitable shotgun for survival needs.

Choose a suitable gauge

The fundamental of operating a shotgun is to fire numerous rounds of round lead pellets down a smooth bore barrel. Shotguns barrels are usually chambered in gauges instead of calibers.

A gauge represents the number of lead pellets it takes to enter the barrel to make a pound. The most familiar gauge sizes for shotguns are 10, 12, 16, and 20 gauge being the easier ammunition to find. It’s important to select a gauge size that is suitable for your usage.

Recoil is typically the significant factor that decides what gauge size you will pick as not many can handle the recoil produced. If the recoil for a 20 gauge is too much to handle, consider going with a 20 gauge. But if a 20 gauge is overly powerful as well, you can choose the .410 bore as your last choice.

Other sizes are too rare and you will have a hard time finding ammunition on the shelf at a megastore.

Break open shotguns

This shotguns are classified as those that break open on the hinge to insert or remove shells. They are included in classes which is the single shot, over under and side by side.

Break open shotguns can come with single or double triggers and a wide selection of barrels. A double barreled break open shotgun with two triggers means that each trigger represents one barrel. So by pulling two triggers at a time, you will be firing two shots straight but you will most likely be abusing your shoulders.

These shotguns are the easiest to maintain and with good quality performance it can go up to 150,000 rounds without any problem. Break open shotguns with side by side or over under class usually comes with exchangeable chokes resulting to different shooting characteristics of each barrels.

However, the drawback of a break open shotgun is the limited amount of rounds they can shoot without reloading. As each shotgun only offers a maximum of two barrels, you are only able to fire twice and needing to break open the shotgun to reload thereafter.

Semi-automatic shotguns

Unlike break open shotguns, a semi-automatic shotgun has a single barrel and majority comes with a magazine tube that stores additional shells. This reduces the number of reloads you have to perform after firing a few rounds.

Semi-automatic shotguns is classified to two basic cycling actions. They can either be recoil driven or gas operated. Shotguns that are recoil driven are usually inertia or kinematic driven. Despites the difference in name, both mode operates similarly.

If the shotgun is kinematic driven, the recoil of the shell releasing will push the bolt back discharging the used shell and loading the shell from the magazine tube. If the semi-automatic shotgun is gas operated, some of the expanding gasses from the shell releasing are spread out through ports in the barrel ejecting the spend shell and reloading the next shell afterwards.

Anyhow the difference in method, both operate by using the force from releasing shells to recreate the action which in return lessening the recoil of the firearm. However, these shotguns do require a certain level of maintenance to keep them operating properly.

Instead of releasing gasses which are carbon filled like how normal pistols would, the gasses are spread throughout the ports in the barrel. This result to having barrels that are congested with carbon particles leading to further cycling issues. Fortunately, they are easy to take apart and reassembly so there is no reason for you to not clean it.

The reliability of a semi-automatic shotgun is definitely less than the break open shotguns or pump shotguns. Its only major disadvantage is the cycling problem. The spring within the barrel has an expected lifespan of firing approximately 10,000 rounds before wearing out even though with constant cleaning. However, this does not label the shotgun as incapable.

Pump shotguns

A pump shotgun is the one where the fore-end can be shift forward and backwards. This cycling movement is controlled by shifting the fore-end to the direction of the receiver to discharge the used shell and then forward to load a new shell.

The pump shotgun is usually single barreled with a magazine tube to store additional shells. Therefore, the movement rate of the fore-end is controlled by the speed of the user.

The recoil force from this shotgun is greater than a semi-automatic shotgun because it does not spread out energy throughout the port of the barrels. There are many other guns classified under this category such as riot guns, tactical shotguns and self-defense guns.

However, it requires less maintenance and greater reliability compare to semi-automatic shotguns. It will still be able to fire even after years of not cleaning just that probably its performance is slightly sluggish.

Nonetheless, here are the few common series of survival shotguns for you to consider:

Mossberg 590 Mariner

The Mossberg 590 Mariner is a 9 shot 12 gauge shotgun which means that it can store up to 9 shells in the magazine tube. It is a tactical pump shotgun with a single barrel that fires smoothly with a reasonable price tag for newbies.

The production of this firearm’s barrel is stainless steel making it sustainable for harsh environments. This is suitable as a survival kit as storage in any condition will not affect the well-being of this firearm.

Mossberg 500 Lineup

The Mossberg 500 series is slightly similar to a Mossberg 590 Mariner but instead of a stainless steel barrel, it is manufactured based on an aluminium receiver. This lightens the weight of the shotgun remarkably. However, it prevents the use of majority sidesaddle slug carriers.

A shotgun sidesaddle is an accessory used by owners for convenience to carry more shells on their firearm. This series comes with a polymer safety button and trigger assembly. But the Mossberg 500’s magazine tube cannot be lengthen due to the fact that the barrel is fixed to the end of the magazine tube.

Remington 870

The Remington 870 series consists of a wide range of selection with more that 30 different models. Its level of reliability is better compared to a shotgun from the Mossberg series in terms of having a smoother pump action. Furthermore, the Remington 870 is the perfect choice for hunting small game too, in addition to being an excellent home-defense shotgun.

In a scenario of unexpected home intrusion, you would want to be loaded with as many rounds as possible.

Shotguns from this series can be equipped with an extension tube to store 7 additional shells. To acquire this extension you must first remove the dimples from the magazine tube to attach the accessory. But by doing so, bear in mind that you may compromise your ability to manoeuvre.

The model most suitable for home defense would be the Remington 870 Express Tactical 18” barrel with a synthetic stock. It comes with a multiway synthetic stocks with a 18.5 inch or longer barrels making them versatile for both female or male user.

However, the Remington 870 uses a safety push button that is not as obvious as the Mossberg making it less safe to have around younger ones.

Winchester SPX Defender

This shotgun is known as the Winchester Super Pump X Defender with a 12 or 20 gauge size. It’s probably one of the best value tactical shotgun out there with great performance, light weight, short barrel and all within a reasonable price.

The shotgun comes with a 18 inch slim barrel receiver made of aluminium. This results in lighter weight allowing smaller shooters to operate the shotgun with just a single hand on both the grip and the trigger.

Many shooters believe the Winchester SPX Defender to be one of the fastest performing reloading action out there. These shotguns loads and ejects shells smoothly and reliably without jamming up.

When the shotgun is fired, the tension of the spring produced by the shell pushing towards the rotating bolt partially opens the spring by itself and begins the pumping action.

However, just like the Remington 870, the safety push button is not as obvious. Its difficult to reach as it is place in front of the trigger guard. This makes it unsafe to have around children or young adults.

Benelli Nova Pump Tactical

The Benelli Nova is classified as a pump shotgun that shoots 12 gauge and 20 gauge. The barrel comes in different length variation such as 18, 24, 26, and 28 inches. It can operate on any load of weight such as a light 2¾-inch load to 3½-inch magnum load.

This shotgun is extremely reliable as it seldom has a problem even when cycling with different shells. Besides that, it is able to handle extreme weather conditions as it is made of part corrosion proof-polymer.

However, similarly with the previously stated shotguns, the safety push button is extremely small on this model making it difficult to find. Another downside would be the limited ability to customize accessory for this model due to its single-piece receiver. This also limits the magazine tube to only holding 5 shells at a time.

Conclusion

There you have it, a detail guide for picking a suitable survival shotgun. Take some time to understand the shotgun that you have selected to purchase. This will help you familiarise their functions and be able to react quickly during hectic timings. Bear in mind that having a shotgun lying around can be dangerous, therefore do not have it in plain sight.

Note: This was a guest post.

8 Best Portable Stoves for Bug Out

Image Credit: https://www.survivalsullivan.com/best-portable-stoves/

I always enjoy reading about what other people think are the “best” of anything because you never know what you might find and maybe, just maybe, you’ll come across something new.

In any case, the following article discusses eight useful bug out stove options, including rocket stoves (a personal favorite), hobo stoves, traditional butane or propane stoves, alcohol stoves, and more.

When you’re done reading I’m sure you’ll find a stove that’s right for you and your situation…

During a SHTF situation you must have a heat source that functions on readily available fuel to boil water for purification, cook, stay warm, and perhaps even to cauterize a wound. Quality survival stoves must be three things: lightweight, portable, and quick lighting. You might think that all lightweight emergency stoves are also portable, but that isn’t necessarily so.

What’s A Survival Stove?
Before browsing for the perfect emergency stove to suit your needs, it is essential to define what a survival stove is and what it is not. A survival stove can be a camping stove – but not every camping stove is best suited for use during a SHTF bugout situation.

While many camping stoves are lightweight and portable, some are better suited for “glamping” and/or making a fuel traditional meal and to be set up for a weekend outing – no be toted along in a bugout bag. Larger camping stoves do have value as long as you are traveling in a vehicle and have stockpiled plenty of small propane tanks to power it.

Rocket stoves are another top quality off the grid heating and cooking option – but again, not necessarily designed with portability in mind. Because rocket stove comes in a variety of sizes, it is possible to make great use of a rocket stove’s rapid heating capabilities, only on a slightly smaller scale…

Read the full article here

25 Survival Gadgets You’re Going to Want!

I happened upon this first video and then the never-ending YouTube trail led me to find the rest. I’d say that I definitely haven’t seen at least half of the gadgets shown in the following videos–possibly more–many of which look really interesting! Hope you find them as enjoyable as I did…

100 Best Grocery Store Foods to Stockpile

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I’ve long been a believer that you MUST have your food storage squared away before a disaster hits because you simply won’t get much done if your mind is always focused on being hungry for lack of food.

That said, there are certainly plenty of other areas of survival to figure out too, but having your food storage done is a great start.

I should point out that I agree with most of the list presented in the following article. There are, however, a few items that I wouldn’t get carried away with stockpiling (at least not for any sort of long term storage) specifically some of the snack foods, such as cookies, pickles (yeah, it’s listed under snacks) and popcorn, to name a few.

Really, anything that would need refrigerated after being opened (such as the pickles) or that won’t last long (e.g., the cookies and popcorn) shouldn’t be at the top of your list, if included at all.

Instead, focus on the many canned foods (beans, fruits, vegetables, meats, etc.), mixes (e.g., pancake mix), drinks (to keep your taste-buds entertained), and higher carb foods (pastas, cereals) to start with. Everything else should follow after they’re squared away.

Here’s the beginning of the article for the top 100 foods to stockpile…

Disasters can and do strike without warning, and when they strike, most of the population is vastly underprepared. Truth be told, the vast majority of people aren’t prepared at all, and hardly anyone has enough survival food to last them through the month.

It’s for this reason that when a disaster occurs, hoards of people will swarm the grocery stores and supermarkets in order to get as much food as they possibly can. You could end up being one of those people if you don’t start preparing right now.

So take advantage of the comparatively small crowds and short lines you can find at grocery stores during the good times, because there could come a time when going to the store is like something out of a disaster movie.

This article will cover the primary criteria to follow when selecting grocery store foods that you want to store for survival. We’ll also list some specific foods you should consider getting, and we’ll share some tips on how to properly store all this food so it doesn’t go bad.

Criteria
There are many criteria that you will want to keep in mind when stockpiling food for survival, including but not limited to each of the following, presented in alphabetical order…

Read the full article here

Top 5 Items for Your Get Home Bag (GHB)

I happened upon the following video earlier today and I couldn’t resist checking out what the guy had to say as I’m always looking to see if I’m missing something in my bug out bag–I’m not–especially something I may not have included in my 53 essentials book.

Unfortunately, the title is a bit misleading because it isn’t a mere five items but more like five areas of preparedness, specifically water (e.g., water container, purification), shelter (e.g., jacket, sleeping bag), self defense, a first aid kit, and food (especially food you don’t need to cook).

Regardless, everything he suggests is good to include. I might also include a pair of shoes you can walk in and a flashlight for sure! Not sure why any sort of light source didn’t make the top five list, lol.