How to Prep for a Flood in 7 Easy Steps

Flooding is a natural part of our planet’s ecosystem, but for inhabitants of flood-risk areas, high water is the harbinger of destruction and even death. In America’s most flood-prone states, like California, Florida and Arizona, up to 25 percent of housing units sit within a 100- or 500-year floodplain. Flooding can occur nearly anywhere rainfall touches, and as climate change shifts toward more dramatic weather, the damage caused during the wet season is becoming exponentially worse for residents of these areas.

Water damage from flooding can destroy your home and vehicle. Six inches of moving water is enough to sweep you off your feet, and two feet of moving water can make a full-sized car float. In places like New Orleans, Puerto Rico and New York City, the harsh realities of flood damage have seen people lose everything after getting overrun by high water from hurricanes and tropical storms.

In addition to the risk of long-term damage to your possessions, the short-term realities of surviving a flood can be daunting. Navigating flooded streets can be extremely dangerous and is not always a viable solution. Staying put has a different set of risks, and might require you to get by without power for several days.

1. Understand Your Flood Risk

If you live in a floodplain, you probably know it. Maps like those available through FEMA and the NYU Furman Center can provide information about the risk of flooding in different regions of the country. However, for many people, flooding is just a fact of life. It’s a risk that comes with living in the area they can afford or that they wish to call home. With all indicators pointing to our weather only becoming more extreme, you should have a plan to prepare for the next flood.

Floodplains fall into 100- and 500-year categories based on how frequently you can expect severe flooding in the defined area. The first step in actively preparing to face a flood is understanding how at-risk you are. We recommend visiting resources like the Furman Center Flood Zone Hazard Map, which can give you an accurate depiction of your risk of flooding at a high level, with the ability to zoom in on detailed areas down to the street level.

2. Know How to Stay Informed

If you pay attention to weather forecasts like most adults, you probably have some idea of when to expect wet weather. While it can be easy to rely on television and the internet, simpler forms of communication specifically, radio tend to be favorable in a flood scenario. Your county or city weather service will issue a flood watch when weather conditions show signs of potential flooding. If the flood watch changes to a flood warning, you should be prepared to move quickly or get your home ready to withstand flooding.

Make sure your entire family is familiar with emergency phone numbers to call for your area to check for evacuations and flooding updates. If internet access is available throughout the flood, you will be able to receive updates via social media and using online resources from NOAA, FEMA and others. These agencies offer phone services you can sign up for beforehand as a redundancy. You should also have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio on hand to receive updates if you lose power and internet connectivity dies.

3. Be Prepared to Evacuate

Severe flooding is challenging for most people to ride out comfortably. Know the quickest path to high ground from your home, and have a vehicle fueled up and ready in an area where it won’t be off-limits if you need to get out quickly. Know where to find all medication your family needs, as well as all essential documents. Store these items ahead of time in waterproof containers so they won’t get damaged if things get wet before you leave home.

Consider keeping a bug-out kit stashed in your evacuation vehicle to make your exit more efficient, as well as a survival kit in place in your home if you can’t evacuate. Talk to your family ahead of time, so everyone knows where to gather and what route to use in the event of an evacuation. During an evacuation, keep your radio on and listen for updates. If you get separated from loved ones, consider having them coordinate with friends or relatives to ensure everyone leaves in time.

4. Make Your Home Flood-Ready

Consider you may need to stay with your house through the flood, but that even if you don’t, you’ll want to have a safe, dry place to come back to after it subsides. That means you need to plan to protect the home itself, as well as provision it for the people who will stay there. Making your home flood-ready can be a long process, so you might want to get a head start on some of these things before the wet part of the year. For example, homes elevated on stilts are naturally safer than those closer to the ground. Move appliances like your water heater, furnace and electrical breaker to the house’s upper floors to limit the chance of their exposure to floodwaters.

If possible, do not install electrical outlets lower than 12 inches off the ground. You should know where your home’s breaker box is and how to disable all power if needed. A gasoline generator can be an invaluable resource during a flood, and is something homeowners who live in flood-prone areas should think of as a must. Make sure to keep a supply of usable fuel on hand if you do have one. It is possible to rig your car up to function as a generator in a desperate scenario. However, not everyone will have the equipment or know-how to do this, so if you don’t have a permanent one installed, consider a visit to your local hardware store ahead of time to purchase a stand-alone unit and some gas cans.

In your home’s plumbing, install pressure-sensitive check valves that will stop floodwaters from entering all drains, showers, faucets and toilets. You can use plugs as a last resort however, thinking ahead and using valves is much safer. Use sealing compound to seal any cracks in the basement or first-level concrete walls.

5. Protect Your House From Rising Waters

Next, move to preparing the house to be safe from floodwaters approaching outside. You can construct a levee or berm using packed earth with enough lead time. More high-tech solutions include inflatable barriers like the AquaDam perimeter flood barrier, which provided a temporary water-filled floor barrier. Seal off all windows and any vents into the house that are close to ground level.

You should augment your barricade with sandbags, which can be an arduous task, so plan your time accordingly. A good rule to keep in mind is that it takes about an hour for a team of two to build a 20-foot wall of 100 sandbags. Use this basic math to work out the time it will take to complete a barrier for your entire home when making the difficult decision to stay or evacuate. If you keep animals or livestock, consider moving any fencing or enclosures so they have access to high ground to get away from floodwaters if needed.

Since finding burlap bags, shovels and sand can be a challenge in a flood, it’s a best practice to have these items ready to go ahead of time and stored in an easy-to-access place. Sandbags not only help hold back water, but can absorb some of what hits the ground, making them invaluable in a home-protection situation. In some communities, their local government makes sandbags available to residents, so check online to see if there’s a way to have some delivered for you before things get bad.

If you have extra time, consider moving furniture in the home to a higher floor to make your stay more comfortable and reduce the chance of water damage. Remove any floor coverings like rugs and welcome mats from the ground floor of your home and move them to higher ground. Leaving them will almost certainly result in their destruction.

Flood insurance, while it can be expensive, can make the difference between losing everything and a swift recovery for those who live in problem areas. If you know your home is at risk of severe flood damage, consider speaking to your insurance company about coverage. Ultimately, not even the best-prepared house will be 100 percent safe from a serious flood. Insurance can help you and your family rebuild or relocate and avoid a painful reality if things get severely damaged.

6. Stock Food and Water

Clean water and food are essential if you’re going to remain in your home, and you should have plenty of both. Fill bottles with fresh water and store them somewhere that is not at risk of flooding, so you won’t need to risk getting wet to retrieve your supplies. Make a stockpile of canned and nonperishable food items you can prepare without power. As a backup plan, have at least one method of purifying water that doesn’t rely on electricity, such as a gravity filter or iodine tablets, so you and your family won’t have to go without drinking water. Floodwater is never safe to drink.

Don’t integrate the food you’ll rely on during a flood with your regular pantry. Instead, store it separately, so you don’t use it all, and set a reminder to check the dates on items, so you don’t find they’ve expired right when you need them. You can consider storing your emergency rations in a watertight container such as a large cooler or chest, which might make it easier to transport if you need to relocate the food to a higher area in preparation for a coming flood.

As you’ve probably already concluded, pre-packaged sealed items that don’t go bad quickly such as soups, canned meats and vegetables are the safest items to eat during a flood. You can use military rations such as MREs if you have them, as well as meal-ration bars packaged in a way that seals them from contact with floodwater. Avoid items with snap closures or twist-off caps, which can become contaminated more easily. If at all possible, do not consume any food that touches floodwater, as there can be waterborne bacteria and other contaminants such as gasoline and industrial chemicals and human waste swept up in the debris.

If you have power and want to attempt to cook during a flood, make sure to clean and disinfect all kitchen equipment. This tip is crucial if you need to boil water to purify it. If your home draws water from a well, it is not safe to use following a flood. Continue to drink and cook with your emergency water supply until you can verify the well water is safe to drink. Disinfect and test any well water before using it.

7. Know How to Ride out the Flood

All the preparatory work in the world can’t stop those floodwaters from coming, so being safe in a flood also means understanding how to safely endure the hours or days when you have to remain in your home. If you are in a secure location to stay indoors, turn off the power and make sure you have your emergency rations near you. Have your radio, phone and any other communications devices ready, and pay attention for updates from authorities. If you need to venture out, wear waterproof clothes and use a car with ground clearance unless it’s not an option. If you get caught on a flooded road, leave the car and move to high ground.

Avoid beaches and riverbanks, as well as any low spots where floodwater may pool. Notify your friends and relatives of your location as soon as possible, and if you did evacuate, only return to your home after authorities declare the area safe. The aftermath of flooding can be disastrous. However, if you take these precautions, you stand the best chance of getting through it safely and preserving your home in the best condition possible.

Note: This was a guest post.

Worm Bins 5 Years Later

It’s gardening season and I figured it would be fun to start with a video on worms. 🙂 This particular video is sort of an update on a previous video he did on how to set up a cheap worm bin, if interested.

You can skip to about the 5:45 mark to get to where he shows you the worm bins and then listen to his advice and tips on how to get the most out of your worms and to keep them healthy and well fed…

Family Survival Training: A Step by Step Guide

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For many people, family is their number one priority. As parents, we go to work in order to provide food and shelter for our children, we try and provide the best education, and give them what we lacked during our own childhood.

However, many people forget to teach their children how to respond to an emergency. Even as parents we may need to reevaluate which areas in our home are the safest and which are the most dangerous during a crisis.

While government agencies have an emergency plan for a whole assortment of situations, it’s prudent that your family has one as well.

Follow this family survival training guide and keep everyone safe during an emergency.

1.   Family Emergency Plan

Step number one is to hold a family meeting to create an emergency plan. This needs to be created as a whole family in case an emergency happens while you guys are separated.

Identify Areas of the House

The plan needs to cover the various areas in the home and what is potentially dangerous.

Go over safe spots that will protect you from falling objects or debris (heavy tables and desks), as well as potentially dangerous areas in objects, such as:

  • Windows
  • Hanging light fixtures
  • Heavy objects on shelves
  • Tall furniture that hasn’t been secured to the wall
  • Major appliances
  • Hanging plants/pictures
  • Chimneys

Create a Home Evacuation Plan

Next, you’ll want to cover the fastest evacuation route and potential contingency routes. Teach your kids how to escape a home during a fire. Practice a home evacuation plan with multiple ways out of every room in the event of a fire. You can even make a game out of it by timing your family to see how fast they can get out.

Go over the basics of how to react to the sound of a smoke alarm. Instruct them that if the alarm does sound, to get low and crawl out, which will greatly enhance their chance of exiting safely.

Never forget to include the tried-and-true, stop, drop, and roll if someone has actually caught on fire.

During a crisis where evacuation isn’t the top priority, everyone in the house should know where and be able to shut off the:

  • Water
  • Gas
  • Electricity

Show everyone when, why, and how to turn them off.

Tailor the Plan to Accommodate for Particular Needs

Just as every disaster comes in different shapes and sizes, so does every family. A plan for one family may not be adequate for another.

Make special preparations for family members who are:

  • Elderly
  • Disabled
  • Required to take specific medication
  • Unable to communicate with emergency workers
  • Children

During this phase of family emergency plan, make sure that when helping family members who need special assistance in order to evacuate, to get:

  • Medications
  • Medical equipment
  • Mobility devices (wheelchairs, canes, walkers)

After Disaster Meeting Plan

Sometimes a disaster can strike while everyone is separate, or the disaster can actually separate you from your family. If this is the case, then it’s vital that family members know where and how to get back together, or at least get in touch.

The family emergency plan should include:

  • A meeting place
  • Trusted neighbors
  • Local emergency shelters
  • The number of out-of-state relatives

If possible, organize a plan with a neighbor or nearby friends to pick up each other’s children in the event of an emergency, and possible house them until the crisis has passed.

    2. Stock Up on Supplies

Now that everyone has been instructed on what to do if there is an emergency, it’s now time to prepare for a potential disaster. When there is a hurricane warning, it’s not fun to wade through the sea of people trying to get their hands on that last can of tuna, it’s better to already have it at your house.

Take stock of your emergency supplies and organize them. You’ll want to have multiple of some items to store in different parts of your house. The majority of people have heard, “Two is one and one is none.” Sometimes things go awry and your flashlight breaks or gets lost, it’s better to have another one handy, just in case. However, try not to keep them together, because if you can’t get to the room that they’re in, then you might as well have none.

After finishing the family emergency plan, you should have an idea of where your family spends the most time, and consider keeping an emergency stash in these locations. Most people spend the majority of their time in either the kitchen or the living room, so it’s best to have a backpack or a plastic container in these locations with your survival equipment.

You may also want to keep an additional kit in your bedroom, in case something happens while you’re sleeping.

Your basic emergency kit should include:

  • Water – one gallon/person for 3 days
  • Food – 3 days’ worth supply of non-perishable food
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle
  • Radio
  • Dust mask
  • Duct tape
  • Sanitation (garbage bags, wet naps)
  • Tool kit
  • Manual can opener
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Special medication
  • Infant supplies (if applicable)

Maintain your emergency kit at least once a month to see if they are stored properly

Having items that have multiple uses and can act as a backup for another major item should also be kept handy.

When storing your food supply, keeping mind to:

  • Place dried food, sugar, and flour into air-tight sealed jars to prevent rodents and pest from getting to them
  • Store you supply out of direct light and heat in order to extend its usability
  • Store them off the ground to prevent and potential contamination

    3. First Aid Supplies and Training

Disaster usually come with injuries, and for many people, they may be stranded for up to 3 days by themselves. If the disaster is severe enough, emergency services could be down, and treating injuries will fall on to you.

It’s time to put together a first aid kit, and if you don’t know how or it’s been a long time since you’ve administered first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), it’s time to take a course.

Courses can be found for both adults and children, and can be found at various locations such as Red Cross, hospitals, and community centers.

There they can teach you how to treat common disaster injuries, such as:

  • Bleeding
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Lacerations
  • Shock
  • Respiratory arrest

When building your first aid kit, keep in mind that you won’t know what you’ll end up needing to treat, so make sure your kit includes:


  • Bandages (variety of types; butterfly, triangular, rolls, etc)
  • Adhesive tape
  • 4×4 individually sealed sterile gauze dressings
  • Scissors


  • Aspirin or acetaminophen
  • Cold compress
  • Saline for eye irrigation


  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic salve
  • Latex gloves
  • Liquid soap
  • Wound disinfectant


  • A first aid manual
  • Safety pins
  • Eye cup or small plastic cup to wash out eyes
  • Emergency (foil) blanket
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers
  • High-absorbency pads
  • Tissues
  • Smelling salts
  • Dust masks

Keep this kit with your other emergency supplies.

    4. Earthquake Preparedness

Every city within the United States is at risk of an earthquake. It doesn’t matter the magnitude of the quake, any size ranging from 5 all the way up to the terrifying 8.0, can cause immense damages and injuries.

Given that there are hundreds of earthquakes over 3.0 in the United States every year, it stands to reason that everyone should understand what to do in the event one strikes.

However, if you take the correct course of action then you can save lives and reduce your risk of death and injury.

If you find yourself inside when the plates begin rattling, then you should follow three simple steps in order to reduce your chances at being hurt.

Step 1. Get Down

When you feel a quake coming on, drop to the floor and keep low. You want to avoid windows in case they shatter as well as any tall unsecured furniture which may topple. They make specific earthquake resistant versions of many items now, such as windows, that you should take advantage of if your area is prone to quakes.

Step 2. Take Cover

As soon as you’re able to find cover, get underneath of it. This can be anything from a table, desk, or any other strong furniture which can help protect you from falling debris. If you are in an area without adequate coverage, find the corner of an interior wall and curl up while protecting your head and neck with your arms. Once again, avoid any windows that can break or any heavy objects that can fall.

Step 3. Hold On

If you’ve managed to get cover under a piece of furniture, then hold onto it. You may have to move from your location, and you want to bring it with you like a protective shell. Once you’ve found a safer area, maintain that position until the earthquake has ceased and you are out of immediate danger.

    5. Practice

The more you plan and drill with your family, the easier it will be for them to react correctly to any emergency. If they know they right steps, then the fear will become more manageable for them because they won’t need to make snap decisions. Plus, going through family survival training is an excellent way to teach children to begin trusting in their own skills to get out safe.

Author Biography:

Ben Brown is the owner of The Prepping Guide. Involved in Military for many years and write about Personal Security, Preparedness, Prepping, Survival, Self-Sufficiency and Readiness for Safety, both Physically and Digitally.

How to Find and Dig a Shallow Well From Start to Finish

I’ve never tried to dig a well myself nor have I ever tried dowsing rods, but this guy apparently swears by them. The first several minutes of the video is him finding the best place to dig, while the rest is him digging the well and installing the piping and pump. It’s a pretty neat process to watch straight through…

Survival Shotguns: How to Choose the Right One for You

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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.


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.

The Ultimate Guide to Hiking and Backpacking Foods

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Protein bars can only sustain you for so long before you begin to crave variety. While the uninformed can get by on 48-hour trips into the wilderness, there are a lot of advantages to making yourself comfortable during prolonged outings. That means mixing up your diet, understanding how to pack nutritious food that won’t weigh you down and even what to do in an emergency if you run out of food or something happens to render the food you packed inedible.

Despite our reliance on restaurants and grocery stores, you can trace everything you eat back to nature. That means with a proper understanding, you can feel secure about where your next meal is coming from, even when you’re on the trail for weeks on end.

The Basics of Outdoor Eating

Most of the activities we associate with the outdoors are highly active. Hiking, camping, climbing and backpacking all put severe strain on your body, so it’s essential that you carry enough fuel to see the journey through safely. Your choice of activity will determine how sensitive you need to be to things like water usage and weight. If you’re heading out for a pleasant day hike, you can probably get by on a small pack of perishable foods like fruits and nuts, dried meats and nutrition bars. Once you commit to a longer foray into the wild, however, things start to require more planning.

Water is the cornerstone of your outdoor nutrition plan. You might know humans can survive for several weeks without food. However, without water, you’ll be weak and unable to help yourself get home within as little as 72 hours. You should carry water for drinking on any excursion outdoors, but for longer trips, you’ll need to plan to identify water sources and carry equipment to clean water for use in cooking and cleaning as well as for drinking.

Finally, in an emergency, you may have no food, water or both. This situation is when your knowledge of edible plants and water filtration becomes paramount. If something goes wrong and you lose the food and water you brought, your backup plan could be the difference between a safe return home and a tragic ending to your journey. This guide will explore these topics using a few different scenarios to help you craft practical and enjoyable meal plans for your outdoor journeys.

Short Trips and Day Hikes

When you’re planning to return home the same day, you can give a little less precedence to weight and longevity in food. Since your food is the majority of what you’ll be carrying, you don’t need to be as weight-conscious, and it’s best to bring slightly more than you think you’ll need unless your hike is brief — for example, two hours or less.

A combination of simple and complex carbohydrates, along with some protein, will help you feel energized on the trail. It’s best not to choose only sugary options like candy and cookies, which make excellent marathon snacks for outdoor runners, but can lead to spikes in your blood sugar and consequent lows that will have you feeling drained long before it’s time to go home. Of course, pack your water bottle or use a backpack with a water bladder to make sure you stay hydrated.

Packaged items like granola bars claim to fit the bill, and while some do, many of these are mostly sugar. Instead, look for healthy fruits such as bananas that provide potassium to avoid cramps and protein-rich snacks like dried meats. If you are doing a trail run and need some sports nutrition, you can use salt tabs and some exercise nutrition products like gels and fruit chews that contain caffeine as a short-term pick-me-up if you’re comfortable with it.

Weekend Backpacking and Camping

Now the fun begins. Depending on how long your hike into camp is, you may be able to use a car to bring in items that would otherwise be impractical. For the sake of this guide, let’s imagine you need to backpack in. Some of the foods that you would have used in the day hike section will still make excellent on-the-trail snacks, but consider their shelf life if you’re spending multiple days out. Compact munchies like mini peanut-butter packages and trail mix bags hold up well.

When it’s time to settle down for a meal, you have some options that wouldn’t be available for a longer excursion. You will need to pack a camp stove for most of these, which is essentially a grill plate you can place over a fire. More rugged survivalists may choose to use a self-contained fuel-burning unit like those available from MSR and Jetboil. Bring a brush to clean your cooking equipment and a pot to boil some water, as this is a critical element to many camp meals. Bring plenty of water. If you’re car camping, this is simple. If not, use a high-volume filtration device and scout out a water source near camp beforehand using mapping software.

Frozen goods like hot dogs can make a fun campfire meal on night one, before they thaw out and get smashed in your pack. Canned goods like chili and soups make a quick, easy meal, too. You can cook and eat an entire bag of easy mac-and-cheese in the plastic bag if pasta is your thing. Just make sure you bring the right equipment to open them or you’ll go hungry.

The team at The Adventure Bite has published a wide variety of recipes dedicated to whipping up premade foil-wrapped meals. These use fresh ingredients wrapped in foil bundles you can place on the grill plate and cook while enjoying a rustic evening around the campfire. They are too heavy and perishable for use in alpinist adventures, but make for a delicious end to your day on shorter journeys.

A true outdoor gourmand will learn to cook on a Dutch oven, which opens up a huge number of options around the firepit. You can cook breads, stir-frys, steaks and pancakes in one of these cast-iron camp stoves. However, before you go all Gordon Ramsay on your expedition, make sure you know who will be carrying the Dutch oven. These things are seriously heavy, and so is pancake mix. If it’s an overnight trip or you’re hell-bent on having flapjacks for breakfast, go for it. If you’re more concerned about how heavy the pack on your back is, maybe choose a different option.

Drink packages are a fun way to expand on what you’ve brought without adding weight. If you’re camping somewhere cold, make sure to stock up on hot cocoa mix, which makes an excellent complement to instant coffee for a mountain mocha to help you rise in the morning. Serve this sweet wake-up call with some instant oatmeal, perhaps with a handful of dried fruit, and you’ll be well-fueled for another day on the trail.

Whether or not to pack a dedicated lunch is up to you, as many outdoors enthusiasts prefer to nibble along the way to cover more ground. You can find easily packable options like mini-flatbread, salami and cheese at most supermarkets for a quick sandwich option you can munch on while moving. Of course, this is one meal you can cover entirely with snack items like those we touched on in the day hikes section. Just make sure you divide what you pack appropriately, considering what you’ll eat on day one and what will need to hold up longer.

Ultralight Backpacking and Mountaineering

Planning for long-duration expeditions where you need to conserve weight to ensure you can cover enough ground begins to narrow the number of options you can get at a conventional grocery store. Nutrition bars are still appropriate, and you should probably pack more of them than you think you’ll need, because they tend to hold up well as emergency rations. Don’t worry — you don’t have to live on tooth-shattering cold Powerbars for the whole trip. It gets better, and the usual dried nuts and fruit still work for a day snack.

Once you’ve set up camp with a nearby water supply, you’ll want to filter off enough water to prepare for the evening meal and for your company to drink. It’s advisable to have multiple water filters as well as backup purification measures like iodine tablets available for this type of trip. A collapsible reservoir is another great addition to your pack that will keep you from having to refill the filter and put things on hold.

Start your camp stove up using a compact fuel canister and get some water boiling. Freeze-dried meals have come a long way since the crunchy porridge of the 1970s, and you can now enjoy everything from beef stroganoff to cheesy chicken noodle casserole in freeze-dried format. The pouches are lightweight, and you can cram them into a compact layer in your bag. To prepare them, you’ll tear off the top of the pouch and pour in the specified amount of boiling water. Reseal the pouch, wait for the specified amount of time and voila, it’s time for dinner. Invest in a set of lightweight or folding utensils and a metal bowl you can wash with boiled water for easy after-dinner cleanup.

Breakfast and lunch take on a more utilitarian format when counting grams. Oatmeal from a pouch, dried fruits and nutrition bars are probably your best bet here. Dried meats are a great way to add some protein and variety to your diet, and can make the outdoor experience feel that much more authentic.

Emergency Rations

Backpacking and mountaineering are challenging and dangerous, and sometimes things go wrong. When they do, your knowledge of your environment can help you feel confident you have a safe way out. Remember to bring those backup water purification measures, if your filter freezes and cracks or fails some other way you’ll need them to avoid getting sick.

As for nourishment, if you have a weapon and are comfortable hunting game in an area where it’s legal, meat is at the top of the wilderness food pyramid. That doesn’t mean you should feel compelled to mindlessly kill animals, but in a life-or-death situation, the nutrition meat affords you will be far more substantial than what you can gather from edible plants.

Foraging still offers a variety of good options. Many insects provide a good source of protein. For example, when charred over a lighter flame, caterpillars and grasshoppers are not reminiscent of a crunchy French fry. Look out for bird’s nests, which can yield nutritious eggs, and if there are trees that bear edible nuts in your area, you can forage for those and get more nutrition from those than leafy greens. Pine needle tea is a famous camping recipe that can stave off hunger pangs for a short time and is easy to make by boiling pine needles in water.

You should have a basic understanding of edible plants, which you can gain from reading a guide like this one from Popular Science. Many mushrooms, wild berries and aquatic plants are all safe to eat, but make sure you’ve identified them correctly. If you absolutely must, conduct an edibility test in five steps, allowing plenty of time between each to make certain you don’t react. Smell the plant, rub it on the skin of your elbow or inner arm, kiss it and then take a tiny bite. If all goes well after 15 to 20 minutes, you’re probably safe to eat more.

Plan and Enjoy Your Journey!

Truthfully, modern technology has made what used to be the exclusive province of the hardiest people into a pretty straightforward affair. It’s important that you get it right, which is why we can’t say enough how critical planning is for a longer trip. But if you consider the size of your party and how to accommodate for water needs, all that’s left to do is choose what’s on the menu. Sure, you might have to give up that cherished favorite dish for a week, but the days of eating the same meal thirty times in a row are long gone. No matter what Applebee’s has to say on the topic, eatin’ good can and does happen, far from yours or anyone else’s neighborhood.

Note: This was a guest post.