Zip Grip Go: The World’s Simplest Snow Traction Device!

My buddy, Doug, pointed out this really cool alternative to snow chains made by a week or two ago and I thought they were a great idea to share with you. In fact, if I had not already purchased a set of snow chains just a week or two before I was aware these existed, I probably would have went with this idea instead. Rather than explaining it myself, watch this video…

If zip ties alone aren’t quite your thing it seems they have a hybrid setup that combines the ease of zip ties with assurance of chains as shown here:


Personally, I like the idea of a set of “snow chains” that I can rely upon but don’t take up much, if any, space in my trunk. In my opinion, if you’re looking for something that can be there just in case you ever needed them, consider these snow chain alternatives from

27 Great Ways to Use Duct Tape in an Emergency

duct tapeDuct tape is wonderful stuff. In fact, I don’t think you can call yourself a bona fide prepper if you don’t have at least a few dozen rolls on-hand at all times. 😉 All kidding aside, duct tape really is a must-have. You should have at least a few rolls at home, a roll in your each of your vehicles, and some in your go-bags. Even better, wrap a few feet around a credit card and stuff it in your wallet (or purse)… I do this and have used it several times.

I should note that if you’re going to rely on duct tape in an emergency situation–and even if it’s not an emergency–then please be sure to purchase good quality, professional grade (or heavy-duty) duct tape. Leave the off-brand, cheap stuff alone! And, while it might seem useful to purchase different colors of duct tape in most cases the silver/grey colored tape is just fine. That said, I do keep a roll of black tape around just because. In some cases, fluorescent duct tape might prove useful but for survival purposes, probably not.

After some thinking about it on my own and a healthy Google search (I list a few of the most influential resources at the end of the post), here’s my list of ways to use duct tape in an emergency:

General Uses:

  1. Binds everything together – Let’s get the most obvious use out of the way first. From repairing holes in clothing or shoes to mending tears in bags and tents, repair frayed edges of blankets or sleeping bags, and even securing a knife to a stick to fashion a spear, I can’t think of any ONE piece of gear that is more versatile than duct tape when it comes to making repairs or make-shifting anything. After all, if duct tape was good enough for MacGyver, it’s good enough for me.
  2. Waterproofing – Though not perfect, duct tape makes a pretty good water barrier… at least temporarily. I’ve heard of stories where people even repaired hole in the bottom of a boat with the stuff. Heck, I think Mythbusters MADE a board from duct tape! Anyway, ensure whatever you’re trying to seal is dry and apply duct tape liberally. Combine with something plastic–such as a garbage bag–and you’re in business.
  3. Reinforce anything – Is something literally falling apart at the seams? No problem… just add duct tape and it will be almost good as new. This is especially useful for boxes and containers… I’ve duct taped ’em all.
  4. Re-seal food – Didn’t quite finish your freeze-dried meal? Well, you should finish it but if you wanted you could keep it fresh for longer with a strip of duct tape to seal the package back together.
  5. Make shoes, cups, hats, etc – Again, with enough duct tape and time you make darn near anything from the stuff. In fact, Mythbusters did a show on all the things you could fashion out of duct tape if stranded on an island. It was a good episode that you should consider watching.
  6. Exercise – People have developed all sorts of ways to use duct tape for fitness, including just holding a roll out at your side for as long as possible… I never would have guessed that one. 😉
  7. Clothesline – Duct tape is strong enough that if you fold it over and twist then you can hang wet clothes out to dry.

First Aid Uses:

  1. Bandage – In a pinch you could use duct tape to cover a wound and maybe even use it in place of butterfly bandages. Of course, you probably don’t want the gooey residue in direct contact with an open wound so take steps to protect your wound from the tape by placing a clean gauze, rag, or strip of cloth over the wound first.
  2. Sling / Brace – While I would prefer to use something as simple as a bandanna for this purpose you could use several feet of duct tape to immobilize an arm or wrist. I’ve also see it recommended to use duct tape to provide support for a cracked rib.
  3. Remove warts – I’ve done this myself with success. Just place a piece of duct tape over the wart and keep it there for several days (you’ll need to replace it with a new piece fairly often).
  4. Prevent/minimize blisters – At the first signs of a blister just place duct tape over the spot to reduce friction. If a blister has already formed then place something between the duct tape and blister first to keep from irritating the blister more. The goal is to minimize friction as much as possible.
  5. Stretcher – If you have enough duct tape you could re-create the webbing using nothing but duct tape, though, it’s far easier to use something like a blanket or sheet instead.
  6. Tape a sprained ankle (or prevent one) – While not quite athletic tape you could use duct tape to provide additional ankle support.
  7. Prevent frostbite – Sure, I would have to be very desperate to do this but you could conceivably use duct tape to cover exposed body parts and at the very least keep the wind from directly contacting skin. Again, I wouldn’t want to apply duct tape directly to my skin but I could see how you might fashion a pair of mittens, for example, from duct tape and maybe salvage a few fingertips.
  8. CPR mask – Obviously not a perfect solution for this task, but you can apparently fold a piece of duct tape on itself (sticky sides together) and cut a slit in the tape to better protect yourself.
  9. Glasses – I saw this on but the idea is to poke a bunch of pinholes into duct tape to make what you’re looking at a bit less blurry.
  10. Snow goggles – Maybe not the same idea as the aforementioned glasses, for people who actually need them you can, alternatively, fashion a pair of glasses out of duct tape and cut a slit in them to reduce glare and therefore prevent snow blindness.

Safety, Sanitation:

  1. Tape door bottom in a fire – Although it’s easier and faster to stuff some sort of bedding or towel or clothes in a door crack, you could use duct tape to seal a door completely if needed.
  2. Seal off a room (for shelter in place scenarios) – Combined with some quality plastic sheeting you can use duct tape to completely seal a room for biological/chemical scenarios.
  3. Knife sheath – With a little bit of time you could makeshift a knife sheath… just be careful not to cut yourself and keep the sticky side pointed out otherwise you’ll never get your knife out.
  4. Tape pant legs to boots – Help keep critters and bugs from finding their way up your pants. This could be the best use yet. 🙂
  5. Blackout curtains – Duct tape (in enough layers) will make an excellent light barrier.
  6. Fly trap – Fold a strip of duct tape inside-out (so that the stick part is facing out) and hang from the ceiling as a fly strip.
  7. Rodent control – Can’t say I’ve ever tried this but apparently you can use duct tape to trap small insects and maybe even rodents.


  1. Repair a broken radiator hose – You’re probably not going to get very far with this repair but it’s better than losing all of your engine coolant due to a pinhole leak. Be sure to wait for the leak to subside before attempting such a repair and wear gloves to avoid burns.
  2. Repair a flat tire – Maybe this is stretching it a bit but it might be possible to fix a flat as a makeshift tire plug. I’ve seen people suggest they’ve done so.
  3. Repair other parts of a car – I’m sure you’ve seen people driving around with plastic sheeting duct taped in place where a window used to be. Yeah, use it to seal or hold together all sorts of car parts.

Note that I found the following resources most helpful:

What uses can you think of?

Survival Crap You Should Never Buy, Use, or Bet Your Life On!

I’ll be honest: I’ve bought my fair share of survival “crap” over the years. There was a time when I bought nearly anything that said “survival” or “emergency” on the label. Of course, that’s when I not only had expendable cash but when I just didn’t know any better. Now I’m a bit wiser and certainly do NOT have any extra cash to waste! With that in mind here’s several survival-related items that I feel you should pass on:

Commando-style Saws

commando-sawI once bought a pack of commando saws, you know, those little wire saws with finger holds that are supposed to be perfect for a pocket survival kit or what have you. I remember the first time I ever actually tried to use one and not only would it have been a royal pain the rear to use but the handle part actually broke off. Sadly, I bought a pack of them and still have a few buried somewhere in various stashes of gear. IMO, save a few dollars and certainly don’t bet your life on one. If you want a pocket saw that is actually useful then consider the Pocket Chainsaw… I’ve got one and think it works pretty good.


Solar 11-in-1 Battery Charger

battery-chargerI’ve seen people recommend these mini battery chargers here and there and, while I like the idea a lot, there are far better options, especially if you expect to actually use it for anything survival-related. And, I can say that I’ve owned one of these (a long time ago) and attempted to use it a few times; it didn’t take long to realize this all-in-one charger was a waste of money. You’ll be sadly disappointed at how awfully inadequate it is at charging… anything. Get a real solar power setup and a good battery charger and you’ll be much, much happier.


Hand-Crank… Anything

hand-crank-radioDoesn’t it sound so wonderful? An indefinite ability to keep your flashlight or radio going so long as you can move your arm? Yeah, it sounds great but works poorly. In fact, I have yet to find anything hand-crank that I like. And, yes, I’ve owned and tried hand-crank lights and radios and the seemingly awesome hand-crank emergency radio/flashlight/phone charger/whatever else they can throw on there to add more money to the price tag. Yeah, they work ok but you’re far better off purchasing a good radio (or flashlight) and plenty of batteries to go with it. Oh, and this advice goes for shake lights too… my kids were able to break theirs within a few days.


Most Any Off-the-Shelf First Aid Kit

first-aid-kitYou know what I’m talking about: those 200+ first aid kits that sell for about $12 or less at Wally World. While it’s nice to have a small hard plastic container to put everything in, most of the kit is just bandages and maybe a few packets of ointments. They’re little more than a waste of money. Spend the time, effort, and money on putting together your own first aid kit. One that actually has stuff you can use not only for minor bumps and scratches but for a real emergency where blood is spewing everywhere and bad things are happening. There are a ton of references here in videos and more… just search. Look for good advice from people like The Patriot Nurse or Skinny Medic on YouTube, and certainly from Dr. Alton (and his wife) at and Dr. Hubbard at There are other references but these people will get you 99% to where you need to be.

Pre-Made Emergency/Bug Out Bags

emergency-bagAgain, do yourself the courtesy and put together you own, well-thought-out bug out bags or vehicle kits. Nearly anything you can purchase online pre-made is not worth the money and certainly not something you would want to bet your life on. Like the aforementioned first aid kits these emergency bags are often little more than a bunch of water packets and matches. Put together your own bag so you not only get good equipment and supplies but so you also know what’s in it! Yes, you will spend more money but you will also get real gear and real supplies to rely upon. Because, after all, an emergency situation is exactly the situation where you NEED to have things that work right.

Mylar Blankets

mylar-blanketI don’t like mylar emergency blankets. Not at all. And, yes, I do have plenty of them (from purchases long ago). For starters, they’re a royal pain to use adequately. There are, no doubt, definitely better options if you want an actual lightweight survival blanket, such as an AMK SOL Emergency Bivvy. And while I do understand that there are some potential uses for these mylar blankets beyond their intended purpose… you can do much better with a variety of other lightweight options. Moreover, mylar blankets tend to rip, make a lot of noise (which is BAD if you’re a light sleeper like me), and I guarantee that you’ll never get one folded back together again. 😉

I’m sure there are other survival gear and supplies that you should stay away from but these are the worst offenders, in my opinion. What gear can you think of that is a waste of time, money, and that you should NEVER bet your life on?

Add a Pressure Cooker to Your Preps, Here’s Why…

pressure-cookerEarlier this week I talked about adding a slow cooker to your preps because it affords you options, including being hands-free, saves precious fuel resources for other purposes, more efficient if combined with the “wonder box” technique, and OPSEC. Well, I got to thinking about utilizing a pressure cooker for it’s intended purpose too: cooking!

You see, even though I have one of these very cool All American pressure cooker/canners, I’ve ONLY ever used it to can with and, sadly, it’s been a long time since I’ve done even that. And, believe it or not, you can actually use one of these to cook with. 🙂

The best part is that you can use a pressure cooker to cook foods fast. In fact, much faster than you could using any other method. How much faster, you ask? Well, I found this useful Pressure-Cooking Times & Instructions that lists typical times to cook a wide assortment of foods, from meats to vegetables, grains, fish, and more. Looking at the list you’ll see most times listed as a matter of minutes, not hours. That’s fast!

You know why it’s a good thing to cook faster? Because it saves fuel. Oh boy, I’m excited now!! You see, if I can cook a meal in, let’s say, twenty minutes using a pressure cooker as opposed to 60 minutes using traditional cooking methods and equipment (e.g., camping stoves or campfire) then I can conceivably extend my precious and finite fuel resources three times as long. Certainly, it’s not that cut-and-dry and I doubt I could honestly extend my fuel that much but even if I could get 50-100% more out of my fuel by employing a pressure cooker, doesn’t that make sense? I think so.

Granted, I actually need to do it, so, I can’t vouch for how well this idea works or whether or not my thinking is correct but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work out. You might think… well, because you still have to heat water, for example, in the pressure cooker before you can actually apply the referenced cooking times it doesn’t really work out. Well, you would still have to heat that same water in a pot using a camp stove or over a campfire so it’s a wash, if you ask me. In fact, the water would probably get heated faster inside a pressure cooker because it’s a closed system.

Now, how does a pressure cooker compare to a slow cooker? They’re really completely different types of cooking. According to the website I referenced above: “A pressure cooker can cook the same types of delicious recipes that a slow cooker can and so much more, but cook them substantially faster (click for pressure cooker recipes). How about making a cheesecake in a slow cooker? Or hearty oatmeal for breakfast? Can’t be done.” Looks like I’m missing out!

Of course, I would actually need to do some testing for a while before I can say for sure that a pressure cooker is a necessary addition to your preps, but considering that it’s already a great addition for canning, I can’t see how you would go wrong. What do you think? Good idea or not?

17 Great Ways to Utilize 2-Liter Soda Bottles for Survival


I’ll admit it, I’m a huge fan of the ubiquitous 2-liter soda bottles. And like 5-gallon buckets, I think they’re far too under-utilized by preppers. In fact, 2-liter soda bottles can be used in a variety of ways and I would imagine I’m only grazing the surface here. The best part is that they’re 100% free. Here’s 17 ways I think you can re-purpose a simple 2-liter soda bottle, enjoy…

  1. Block of ice – I’d imagine many of you expect to keep your refrigerated food viable for longer using ice in coolers. You can easily accomplish this by freezing water in 2-liter soda bottles creating a nice block of ice. Just be sure to fill it about 90% full to avoid bursting the soda bottle since water expands as it freezes.
  2. Emergency drinking water – When that block of ice melts, you now have a portable source of potable drinking water. I would suggest you clean the bottle first with soap and water and then simply fill it with tap water. Of course, you don’t have to freeze water stored in 2-liter soda bottles but it’s a nice benefit. Beyond that, they’re FDA-approved, shouldn’t degrade, and very durable. It’s a win-win.
  3. SODIS – Now, when they’re no longer a viable block of ice and you’ve consumed the water inside, you can still make use of 2-liter soda bottles to disinfect any collected water using the SODIS method. Granted, there are some considerations, such as the bottle must be clear for this to work, but I’m positive you’ll love these bottles even more once you learn how. 🙂
  4. Food storage (short term) – I’ve seen many people suggest that you can easily store food in a 2-liter bottle (video) and while I agree, it’s not a 100% perfect solution and shouldn’t be considered viable for long-term foods. That said, could you easily store bulk foods for years on end without trouble? Sure. I wouldn’t worry too much about it at all.
  5. Fruit fly and wasp trap – We’ve used 2-liter soda bottles for years as a very successful gnat and fruit fly trap inside the house. You can also use them to trap wasps (video) as well. And read this article on how to get rid of all types of flies if you need more help.
  6. Hand washing station – You can easily makeshift a hand washing station by hanging a 2-liter soda bottle upside-down and unscrewing the cap ever-so-slightly such that a trickle of water escapes thereby allowing you to wash your hands and conserve water.
  7. Fish trap – Though I’ve never tried this one, apparently you can create a makeshift fish trap too.
  8. Water filter – Create your own biosand filter (video) in nearly any container, including a 2-liter soda bottle. Just pile the appropriate amounts of gravel, activated charcoal, and sand and you’ll have a viable makeshift water filter in no time! Well, you do have to wait a week or two for the biolayer to form but, hey, who’s counting?
  9. Mini greenhouse – If you’re trying to get your plants started in the spring but are unsure about the weather, you can cut the bottom off a 2-liter soda bottle and help to protect vulnerable plants.
  10. Upside-down planter – Bored with growing your plants right-side up? No problem! Flip it around like this (video).
  11. Self-watering container – Similar to grow buckets, you can make your own self-watering mini-grow bucket using a 2-liter soda bottle.
  12. Drip irrigation – Here’s something else I’ve never tried but I hear you can make your own drip irrigation system.
  13. Boil water – Here’s something else I’ve never actually tried but apparently you can suspend a bottle of water over a campfire and boil water so long as the flames don’t lick the bottle. I’ve also heard that you can actually put a completely full bottle of water (with the cap on) in a campfire and not melt the bottle… that remains to be tested.
  14. Water bailer / scoop– Again, cut the bottom off and now you have a water bailer or. You could also cut it at an angle and turn that same water bottle into a makeshift scoop for grains or whatever you like.
  15. Makeshift funnel – As with the above suggestion, cut the bottom off but remove the cap and you have a nice, free, funnel.
  16. Makeshift pillow – I know this is stretching it a bit but you could rest a weary head atop an inflated soda bottle. I know it’s not a comfy down pillow but it sure beats a hard rock. 🙂
  17. Emergency floating device – Tie a few of these together (inflated and with the caps) and you’ve got a makeshift floatation device.

So, what uses can you think of? I would love to hear them!

How to Create Your Own SHTF Battery Recharging Business People Will Beg You to Use!

battery-recharge-stationYears ago I took my first steps into creating my very own off-grid solar power setup. Since then I’ve upgraded a bit by adding more solar panels and deep cycle batteries and, honestly, I never feel like it’s enough. I could, in fact, spend $20K and not have what I wanted! That said, having some ability to power small devices, including to charge phones, run a laptop, and, yes, recharge batteries in a SHTF situation should not be overlooked. In fact, you could turn a several hundred dollar investment now into a real post-shtf money-maker that people will beg you to use!

Alright, maybe it won’t be THAT awesome but it does provide options for your own use and–should you choose–potential leverage as a viable bartering business. After all, what would most sheeple not give to keep a few lights on at night for their kids or to run a radio so they can suck down the vital information being graciously force-fed to them? I’m sure they would give a lot.

I should first note that I’m not a fan of bartering; I really feel like it’s a chance most of us shouldn’t take until things have seriously settled down. I should also point out that I didn’t come up with this potential business on my own. I actually posed a question a while back on my facebook page (don’t run off yet for those that despise FB) basically asking “if you had $1000 to spend what would you spend it on?” One commenter mentioned more solar panels to start a battery recharging business and I though, “hey, that’s a good idea!” And, since I already had most of what I needed it was just a matter of adding one extra piece, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Now, if you’ve never thought about off-grid power there are plenty of resources available, from power-related videos I keep in the Video Vault to a variety of “how to” posts and even people who know this stuff much better than I do. I’m sure there are plenty of other videos and references I’ve found in the past if you wanted to search for them on my site. And, of course, there’s all-knowing Google Search.

Regardless, let’s boil it down to the basics here today…

Solar Panels

hqrp-50-watt-solar-panelThis is usually the first thing that anyone thinks about when it comes to an off-grid power system, and rightfully so. After all, solar panels are all the rage these days… everybody’s got one! You, specifically, need more than one to make this business happen. The problem, however, is that solar panels come in many shapes and sizes (from rigid panels to flexible ones for backpacking), a wide range of costs, power output, and not all panels are created equally in terms of quality and durability.

Suffice it to say that a small 20-watt solar panel is probably not going to cut it if you want to create a viable off-grid battery recharging system. I would say that at minimum you would need 100-watts to make this idea a possibility and probably more like 200-watts (to more like 500-watts) or more in most cases. Why do I say this? Just from my own experience and experiments. I’m sure there an electrical engineer could pinpoint precisely what you need but that’s not me.

What type should you get? Well, I had started with a simple 20-watt panel made by HQRP and it’s a fine solar panel but not nearly large enough for this purpose. Instead, I would need three or four 50-watt panels to make this recharge station remotely viable. Personally, I like HQRP panels but I know many people perfer Harbor Freight solar panels… I can’t vouch for Harbor Freight panels as I’ve never purchased any.

Anyway, the general rule of thumb is that you want twice as many watts output by your solar panel as you have in battery storage (discussed next). Could you get away with less? Usually. But, if you want something you can rely upon as well as something that is relatively resilient then two-times your battery storage is the goal due to problems like less power output on overcast days, less solar power in the winter, degradation of solar panels as the years pass on and more.

Deep Cycle Batteries

deep-cycle-batteryThe next major piece of the puzzle you need is power storage in the form of a few to several deep cycle batteries. While it may be possible to salvage random car batteries (after all, nobody’s going to be driving and so car batteries will be abundant) you would probably need to use a lot of normal car batteries for a recharge station such as this one because they’re not meant to be discharged much more than a few percent of their total capacity. Deep cycle batteries, on the other hand, can be deeply discharged without damaging them and are perfect for this purpose.

As for what to purchase? Well, I’ve seen all sorts of recommendations and while you can even purchase batteries online you should really just look locally. Sometimes you can find them on Craigslist or maybe even get really lucky and find old golf cart batteries somebody is getting rid of. But, since most of us are probably not that diligent (or lucky) the best place to find new deep cycle batteries is probably your local warehouse (e.g., Sam’s club) or marine store.

How much do you need? Well, this is where some math comes in. Let’s say you wanted to recharge four AA alkaline batteries. A typical AA alkaline battery holds a little over 2200-2400 mAh, or 2.2 to 2.4 amps of power. In reality it will be something less than that because a typical alkaline battery won’t be recharged to it’s full capacity again… let’s just say it’s 2 amps of current to make the math easy. Four of these batteries, therefore, would require a little over 8 total amps to charge completely. Granted, most batteries aren’t totally dead and won’t ever get fully charged again so maybe it’s a little less overall current needed, but we’ll say it’s 8 amps just to be safe and make math easier.

Now, if I had a 40-Ah (amp-hour) deep cycle battery, you might think I could recharge four sets of AA batteries five times over because 40 Ah available in my deep cycle battery divided by 8 amps needed to charge the batteries is 5 times. Well, sadly, it’s not that easy since another rule of thumb is that you never want to fully discharge a deep cycle battery beyond 50% otherwise bad things begin to happen, the world stops spinning, and the zombie apocalypse will ensue. 😉 Actually, that’s not entirely true, it’s just harder to get the deep cycle battery to fully recharge so just remember never discharge below 50% and you’ll be fine. Ultimately, this means I would only be able to recharge four typical AA alkaline 2.5 times (probably more like two times in reality but maybe three times depending on the state of discharge of the AA batteries) without worrying about needing to recharge my sole deep cycle battery… make sense?

The problem is that if you want to turn this into a viable post-SHTF business only being able to recharge four AA batteries two or three times isn’t going to do much. You’ll probably want to be able to recharge more batteries at a time, right? Well, you’re going to need more power and that’s where you need more deep cycle batteries. How many is up to you and it certainly depends on how large the batteries are that you get so I can’t just say you need four deep cycle batteries and be done with it. You want to judge by amp-hours and the more the merrier, if you ask me. Let’s say 200 amp-hours is a good start and if that’s the case then you would want about 400-watts of panels.

Now, beyond that you’re probably going to want to be able to charge batteries other than just AA batteries, including D-cell batteries and even non-alkaline batteries too. But, if we just concentrate on D-cells for a moment, a single D-cell holds about 12,000-17,000 mAh (or 12-17 amps) of power which is quite a bit more than your average AA battery! For example, if I wanted to fully charge four D-cell batteries I would need between 48-68 amps of current, which could easily be larger than a single deep-cycle battery (depends on the battery size, of course). Would you really need that much current to charge these batteries? No. Again, depending on the depth of battery discharge of the D-cell batteries as well as other factors the actual current used will be something less than what the math suggests. Regardless, it’s not a small number for sure! You simply must have MORE batteries to store MORE current.

Battery Charger

battery-chargerIf you’ve noticed I keep bringing up alkaline batteries and for a good reason: I figure most people are going to only have alkaline batteries that they need recharged and so you’ll then need a battery charger that can recharge them. In this case, a typical battery recharger–meant for rechargeable batteries–won’t work with alkaline batteries because alkaline batteries were designed to take the larger current and heat generated from a rechargeable battery charger. If you tried to use a rechargeable battery charger with alkaline batteries, then it with either sense the fact that you’re using alkaline batteries and just not work or attempt to recharge the batteries and fry them causing a big, gooey, mess.

Instead, you need a battery charger that is designed to work with alkaline batteries specifically, such as this Maximal Power FC999 Universal Rapid Charger. The problem, however, is that in order to charge alkaline batteries the process takes much, much longer than it normally would for rechargeable batteries in a charger meant for them. In fact, it can take hours to charge a set of AA alkaline batteries and all day to charge a set of D-cell alkaline batteries using the aforementioned charger. I’ve even had AA batteries take several hours to charge. If you expect to service more than one customer in a day then you’re going to need more than one charger for sure…. and plenty of deep cycle batteries and solar panels too. Like I said: the more the merrier.

Other Things

While the above solar panels, deep cycle batteries, and alkaline battery charger(s) are the main parts of what you’ll need to make this happen, there are a few other necessary parts of the puzzle, including a charge controller, inverter, cables, connectors, and maybe even a female DC socket plug and possible a 4-way DC socket extension if you so desire. I’ll reference you to my off-grid solar power setup example that further discusses these parts to save time here.

That said, if your only desire is to recharge alkaline batteries then you wouldn’t need an inverter (or the DC socket plugs) but it’s such a useful piece of equipment for charging and running other small electronics that I would certainly recommend you have one or two like this one.

The Costs Involved

To do this right you would probably spend $300-500 in solar panels (assumes $1.50-2 per watt) although you could find them for less and even build your own too. The deep cycle batteries are a huge variable since you could possibly get them for free (or nearly free) or you could just buy them new locally in which case you may spend a few hundred there. The alkaline battery recharger runs about $30 and if you had two or three then that’s another $60-90. An adequate charge controller for this system (assumed 30 amp controller at minimum needed) will run around $100 online and the inverter is about $50. The other parts don’t add up to much but maybe $50-75 or so as a guess.

Add that all up and you’re looking at several hundred dollars, which is a considerable investment at first glance. Of course, all of this equipment could be used for your own personal use to run equipment and recharge batteries so, at the very least, you’re not only setting yourself up for easier living in a post-SHTF world but quite possibly for a successful side-business as well.

I would strongly encourage you to work towards a significant off-grid power setup, one that can not only provide you with options but one that can be used to create a successful side-business. After all, who else around you will be equipped enough to keep the lights on for your sheeple neighbors?

Got Gloves? 5 Must-Have Gloves NOT to do Without!

I truly feel that a wide assortment of gloves are a very necessary prep to include for your at-home supplies as well as in your bug out bags, get home bags (if you have one), and vehicle kits. Not only do gloves protect your hands from simple things like callouses but from very bad things like communicable diseases or harsh chemicals… they really are an essential part of your gear. And, besides, desk jockeys like me who aren’t accustomed to hard physical work each day will welcome the protection that gloves offer. Without further ado, here’s several types of gloves I recommend you have:

Leather-Palmed Gloves

leather-glovesIt’s hard to beat a good set of leather-palmed work gloves as they find use in so many situations, from the use of hand tools like shoves and axes to gardening. Like I said at the start, for those who aren’t accustomed to daily physical labor then your hands will surely appreciate these gloves since their main purpose is to guard against abrasion and minor cuts.

While you can purchase the one-size-fits-all cowhide gloves (and you certainly should as loaners) I much prefer you purchase a good pair of form-fitted leather-palmed work gloves. You might also want a pair of rubber-coated gloves for serious gripping power.

Though you can purchase these online the best place to purchase these gloves is at your local hardware store so that you can try them on. There are many different styles, sizes, and feels that you really need to try them on first. I suggest each adult have at leat one good pair of form-fitted gloves at home, a few loaner one-size-fits-all, and probably one good pair of form-fitted gloves in their bug out bag and vehicle kits. Of course, gloves don’t last forever so it wouldn’t hurt to purchase more than one pair if you can afford them.

Disposable Exam Gloves

latex-free-glovesThere are actually a few types of disposable gloves to consider but for most purposes the ones you want are simple disposable latex-free exam gloves.

By and large the purpose of these gloves is to protect both you and patient from transmitting communicable diseases to and from each other. There are other uses such as to keep your hands clean while cleaning, using bleach, oiling stuff, or for whatever reason you might find use so long as you’re not dealing with harsh chemicals that would require better protection. Remember, these are for minimial protection only.

Fortunately, you can purchase these in bulk so it’s not a huge drain on the wallet. And understand that you want latex-free gloves because some people are allergic to latex. I like to keep a few to several pairs of these gloves readily available in our bug out bags and vehicle kits as well as plenty at home.

Winter Gloves

winter-glovesAs with the leather gloves mentioned above, there are so many manufacturers, styles, sizes and materials of winter gloves that you really need to try them on before buying. In this case, visit your local sporting goods stores and spend some time there. Again, my recommendation is that each adult have one good pair at home and in your bug out bag and/or vehicle kits. If you want to save some money buy two pair and place one in your bug out bag and one in your vehicle kit.

Mittens are another option and, in some cases (such as with children), a better one. I prefer gloves but don’t discount snow mittens for adults too.

Though hardly a substitute, you might also find that a simple set of cotton-lined gloves underneath are a great addition to any winter gloves or mittens you choose.

Chemical Gloves

chemical-glovesThis is where it can get overwhelming. There are a variety of chemical gloves that you can and should have, including PVC-coated, nitrile, and neoprene to name the most important, in my opinion. There are others and if you want a nice chart that discusses the different types of gloves, their use, and chemical-by-chemical how each type of glove fares, reference this Glove Selection Guideline.

While I wouldn’t expect you to need this type of gloves while out and about, at least one or two pairs of each types of gloves is a good start to keep at home. You might also consider full-arm length gloves if you expect to be working with serious chemicals. And, of course, any additional protection required such as eye protection, aprons, etc.

For less serious chemicals–such as for basic cleaning jobs–consider reusable rubber gloves. I mentioned above that you could use simple disposable gloves for this purpose but rubber gloves might be the better option.

High Heat Gloves

fireplace-glovesThough I have a few of the basic pairs of fireplace gloves, if I ever fined any “extra” money I’m going to upgrade to a nice pair of form-fitted heat-resistant gloves. After all, they just look cool. 😉

While meant for dealing with fireplace and BBQ grill heats, you could use them as oven gloves too, including handling dutch ovens and more. If you don’t have a fireplace or BBQ grill but still need heat protection then you could always buy something like an ove-glove.

There are also a number of other specialized gloves that you could purchase, inculding basic gardening gloves, welding gloves, chainsaw gloves, and more… I’m sure that if you’re into that stuff then you already know what you need.

So, what did I miss? Let me know!

Three Inexpensive But Essential Storage Tools


Please note: This article is written by ‘Above Average Joe’ and was originally seen on

In one of my past jobs, I worked in a warehouse that created and shipped dozens of different products. I even got the chance to help develop several of these.

It was a fun job while it lasted, but there were a few very specific tools that I used on a daily basis that I could not have done my job without. These three inexpensive tools increased my efficiency and saved my hands from a lot of unneeded wear and tear. These tools can serve an even bigger purpose from anyone living a self reliant lifestyle. These are so simple and yet I never see anyone talk about them.

These tools are:

Bucket Opener

So many people stock their items in 5 gallon buckets, and I know just how hard it can be to open one of them after they have sat for a while.  I have cut and blistered every one of my fingers trying to pry one open with my bare hands. Now before you resort to  using a screwdriver to pry the lid open, you could save yourself some time, effort, and a perfectly good bucket ( odds are you will damage the bucket or the lid when you try to open it) and use one of these simple tools that are actually made specifically for opening a pail.

Bung Wrench

Many people store their water in 55 gallon drums, and in order to properly open or close a drum you need a bung wrench.  Now I won’t lie, I have used a pair of pliers, vice grips, and even a hammer and chisel to open one of these, but its not worth it.  These tools are designed to open multiple sizes and shapes of bung nuts and are a necessity to keep on hand.

32-oz. Rubber Mallet

You need to be able to open your pails to get to your item, but the most important thing is to make sure that you can properly close and seal it. If you can’t get a proper seal on your storage items you might as well just store them out in the open. having a rubber mallet on hand will allow you to hammer away at your pails to make sure that they are completely closed without causing the damage that a regular metal hammer would.

These three tools may be simple and cheap, but they are an absolute necessity for all of your food storage supplies. Save yoruself the time and effort, make sure that you have them before you need them.

Ive put them together on one list on amazon, you can check it out here: 3 Essential Survival Tools

But be sure to check around locally, you may be able to find a better deal!

Can you think of any other “common sense” tools that most people overlook?

Author Bio

The ‘Above Average’ Joe is a guy with an exceptional passion for learning. He has always had an interest in finding uncommon uses for everyday items and believes that if you can’t find at least three uses for a single item it isn’t worth having. Joe started down the path of survival and preparedness several years ago and treats every day as a learning experience.

Joe is excited to share the things he learns from his own personal experiences and research with the Survival Life community, and strives to ensure that every “average Joe” has all of the information they need to be confidently prepared in this unsteady world that we live in.

Survival Life is more than just one man. It is a growing and living community of individuals with the desire to be prepared to survive and thrive, no matter what this world throws at us. You can follow Joe by subscribing to his newsletter on the homepage, or by following him on Facebook.

The Razor Scooter – Alternative Transportation Genius?

razor-scooterThe other day I was looking at my kid’s Razor Scooter that sits idle in the garage–where it has been for many months now–and wondered if it could be re-purposed to further my overall preparedness. It was, after all, one of those toys that my child just HAD TO HAVE, DAD! So, we bought it for him about two Christmas’ ago… he used it for maybe a week or two straight and it now barely sees the light of day anymore.

So, I got to thinking to myself, why not reclaim and repurpose his Razor Scooter into a potential alternative mode of transportation, especially for a bug out situation? I had seen this recommended by others in the past and thought I should reconsider the idea.

Obviously, I would prefer to take a vehicle and pack all of my stuff in a bug out situation and, failing that, I would then prefer to ride a bicycle if I could, but that’s not where this idea flourishes. Instead, what would you do if your vehicle runs out of gas, breaks down, or maybe you just get stuck in a mess of cars that are going nowhere fast?

Sure, you would hoof it on foot but why not give yourself one last wheeled option? In my opinion, the Razor Scooter might be the “perfect” solution here.

For one, it’s fairly lightweight. Second, it can fold up a fit into a relatively small space. In fact, you could probably strap it to your bug out bag if you really wanted, but that would defeat it’s entire purpose. If you simply toss it in the trunk of your car you probably wouldn’t notice much inconvenience. After all, if you’re like me and with all of the other vehicle gear you probably have in there a Razor Scooter will take up little more room.

You might wonder how difficult they are to ride and, in my limited experience, they’re not that hard whatsoever. Granted, I’ve never tried riding one with a 30+ pound bag strapped to my back but I’m sure I would get the hang of it pretty quick…. hopefully.

Understand that this idea is really only useful on city streets and sidewalks as the wheels are pretty small and would not be viable for any sort of off-roading adventure. So, including a Razor Scooter in your vehicle preps could give you one more option but it WILL certainly limit you to traversing the same well-beaten paths that everyone else is expected to be using, so keep this in mind.

Oh, and the cheap ones don’t come with any brakes so it could actually be dangerous going downhill if you’re not ready for it. And, of course, you’re almost better off walking up hill. That said, most roads are fairly level in and around cities so a Razor Scooter could prove quite useful. With this in mind, a Razor Scooter has both upside potential and some downside risks to realize.

As for cost, some scooters can certainly get expensive (at over $100 each) but there are still plenty for under $40 and I’m willing to bet you can get them dirt cheap at a local garage sale… precisely where ours was heading. If you can find them at a garage sale then consider purchasing more than one, toss them in your car, and hope nobody notices you zipping by them during the next zombie apocalypse. 😉

Now if I could just figure out how to strap a small lawnmower engine to one…

35 Uses for a Bandana In A Crisis


Please note: This article is written by ‘Above Average Joe’ and was originally seen on

A bandana sits right at the top of my list of often overlooked survival gear. It is another one of those items that has hundreds of improvised uses but only if you have the right mindset for it..

Bandana’s weigh a fraction of an ounce, they are dirt cheap, and are also a must have in your survival gear.

I’ve come up with my own ideas (and pulled some from a few different sources online) that showcase just how useful this piece of cotton can be.

Here is just a short list of possible uses for a bandana:

1. Signal (Brightly colored works best)

2. Neck Gaiter for cold weather

3. Tourniquet

4. Pot Holder

5. Collecting Wild Edibles

6. Sun protection for your neck

7. Sling (First-aid)

8. Sling (Weapon)

9. Friend/foe identification ( Gangs use them all the time to identify each other)

10. Cordage (cut into strips or used as is)

11. Washcloth/Towel

12. Sweatband

13. Waist pack/pouch

14. Hobo Pack

15. Padding a hotspot to keep from blistering

16. Cleaning Patches for Firearm

17. Gun Wipe Cloth (with oil)

18. Protection from foul odors ( add a few drops of essential oil)

19. Toilet Paper

20. Trail Marker

21. Dish Rag

22. Napkin

23. Water Filter (takes out large contaminants)

24. Clean Glasses and other lens

25. Ear Muffs

26. Bind a stone and toss a line over a limb

27. Dust Mask or smoke mask depending on the situation

28. Wet and wear in hot weather to keep you cool

29. Sneezing

30. Improvised Bandage

31. Noise Reducer (wrap your gear to keep it from rattling in your pack)

32. Improvised Eye Patch 34. Cloth Diaper for a child

34. As a net to catch minnows and other bait

35. Camp markers (tear into four pieces and mark trees surrounding your camp site)

It is always a good idea to carry a bandana with you, they take up no weight and have a lot of uses (provided you are creative enough to figure them out)

…Can you think of any other uses I may have missed?

Author Bio

The ‘Above Average’ Joe is a guy with an exceptional passion for learning. He has always had an interest in finding uncommon uses for everyday items and believes that if you can’t find at least three uses for a single item it isn’t worth having. Joe started down the path of survival and preparedness several years ago and treats every day as a learning experience.

Joe is excited to share the things he learns from his own personal experiences and research with the Survival Life community, and strives to ensure that every “average Joe” has all of the information they need to be confidently prepared in this unsteady world that we live in.

Survival Life is more than just one man. It is a growing and living community of individuals with the desire to be prepared to survive and thrive, no matter what this world throws at us. You can follow Joe by subscribing to his newsletter on the homepage, or by following him on Facebook.