Safety Hacks Every Newbie Camper Should Know

2 Jul

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest post from Anna Katrina from across the pond.

Going camping soon? Avoid big and small discomforts and inconveniences and camp in safety. Here are the camping safety hacks you need to know.

Sleeping under the stars after a day of adventure in the great outdoors can be wonderful, provided you’re not all itchy with mosquito bites or didn’t just have to put out the flames your tent flap caught from the windswept fire.

A lot of little things can go wrong when you go camping, but that doesn’t mean you should stay at home. Anticipating some of the problems you may run into goes a long way to keeping you safe.

To that purpose, we’ve put together a list of some of the most important safety hacks you need to pay attention to when you go camping.

Campfire Safety Hacks

Even in well-maintained camping areas, the campfire can continue to represent a bit of risk. So, let’s start with some campfire safety hacks.

  • Keep a clear radius of at least eight feet around the fire pit and anything else that may catch fire – trees, tents, camping gear, chairs.
  • Avoid building a fire under low trees. When your location doesn’t give you much of a choice, always build a small fire and keep an eye on it.
  • Put out the fire before sleeping. Even if the fire is away from your tent, it may still pose a risk or attract wild animals.
  • Camping in an area without a ready-made campfire pit? Circle the fire pit with rocks and clear the rim of the pit of all flammable debris, whether it’s twigs or plastic bottles.
  • Keep water or a shovel at hand, especially when you build a fire on a windy day. Campfires may become unpredictable under a strong wind.
  • Keep matches and fire starters in a waterproof plastic bag in your backpack.
  • Bring multiple fire starters. Some won’t work in humid environments or if it’s too cold outside.
  • Don’t forget to pack a magnifying glass. With it, you can start a fire safely without having to worry about matches.

Tent Safety Hacks

A fire-retardant tent may still ignite – no tent fabric is fireproof. And then there’s carbon monoxide poisoning to worry about, which makes tent safety even more important.

  • Set up your tent before sunset. This way it’s easier to set up your tent properly and arrange all your gear.
  • Don’t use cooking appliances in a small tent. Even if you have a big, well-ventilated tent, think twice before cooking anything inside. For the same reason, you want to avoid using any fuel-burning devices in your tent. Even if nothing catches fire, you may not be able to get rid of the smell anytime soon.
  • Don’t smoke inside the tent. Even high-quality tents can burn or suffer damage as a result.
  • Get a portable camping carbon monoxide alarm with you. Any fuel that burns or smolders can release carbon monoxide, which can be fatal within minutes. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.
  • Don’t use any open flames inside the tent. Instead, use flashlights or headlights. 
  • Keep 20 feet between tents if you’re camping with friends or family. In the case of a fire, this minimizes the risk that the fire will spread from one tent to the other.
  • If you get caught in a lightning storm, look for better shelter. Most tents feature aluminum poles which attract lightning. You also want to avoid sheltering under tall trees, which puts you at risk of falling branches.
  • During a lightning storm, stay away from ponds, lakes, or rivers, as water conducts electricity. Sheltering in your car is safer; Cars are designed such that stray electricity flows through the metal shell and into the ground.

Personal Safety Hacks

Securing the campfire and the tent is only the start. Next, you need to pay attention to your own safety during camping.

  • Wear bug spray. Worried about wolves and bears? Quite often, mosquitoes and ants are a much bigger threat. Wear long sleeves and avoid bright colors, which tend to attract mosquitoes. In addition to citronella candles and some scouring powder, have some DEET spray ready. But remember not to use it under clothes. If you use sunscreen, apply DEET spray at least 30 minutes after or it may penetrate more deeply under your skin, which isn’t healthy.
  • Drink at least 8 large glasses of water every day. When camping, dehydration can be more dangerous than any external threats. Even when it doesn’t negatively affect your health, dehydration can cause fatigue and irritation. Make sure you have a good supply of water with you in case you may not be able to access right away any water sources on the camping ground.

  • Leaves-of-three, let-it-be, or in other words, avoid ivy and oak and other poisonous plants. Wearing long pants and good hiking boots will keep you safe from poisonous plants most of the time, provided you avoid touching them. It goes without saying that you should not eat any plants you find around the campsite unless you know exactly what they are. Edible and non-edible berries look much the same.
  • Wash your hands after changing your clothes. When you brush up against certain poisonous plants, their oils may remain impregnated on your clothes and irritate your skin upon touch.
  • Make sure your first-aid kit holds a few important but often neglected items: antibiotic ointment, antibiotic for skin infections, anti-inflammatory medication, and water purification tablets.
  • Wear gloves when you gather firewood. Splinters can be painful and lead to an infection. Then there are also snakes and spiders to worry about.
  • Take a mirror with you. If you get lost, a mirror can help you flash your position to searchers.

Animal Safety Hacks

What are the chances of wolves or mountain lions attacking you while camping? None, if you choose the right area. Still, here are a few general animal safety hacks that can make a close encounter with a wild animal less daunting.

  • Use a hiking stick or branch to feel your way as you hike through the brush. It’s a simple but useful defense against snakes.
  • If you come across a snake slithering before you, stop and let it pass, or it may feel threatened by your proximity to it. But if you come across a snake that’s sitting still in front of you or coming toward you, go slowly around it.

  • Face to face with an aggressive or very tame raccoon? It could be sick. Make loud noises to scare it away.
  • Use fresh food first. Remove food from the campsite at night or pack it tightly – the smell of food may attract bears.

Camp Safely

The good news is that most of the time at least, camping is perfectly safe. After all, how often has lightning struck your tent so far? And how many bears have you met while exploring the woods near your campsite?

But it’s best to be safe, and the hacks you’ve learned will come in handy in a variety of situations, not just when you’re camping.

Finally, remember to have your checklist handy. Bringing with you all the camping items you need will help you stay safe and well provisioned for during your adventure.

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Pieces of Gear That’ll Save Your Life

16 May

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

As a follow-on to yesterday’s post on the coming Hurricane season in North America, and as a lesson from an article in the news today about two hikers assaulted along the Appalachian Trail by a man with a machete, one killed, I am again posting about EDC items and essential safety equipment.

I had written before that I hiked the John Muir Trail, a popular portion of the larger Pacific Crest Trail, from Whitney Portal to Tuolumne Meadows (Northern Yosemite National Park) back when California was a well managed and profitable red state governed by reasonable laws. I open-carried the entire trip for the purpose of putting animals of less than four-legs on notice that I was not a smart choice as a victim. I had no problems even when I went and bought supplies and ate lunch in a restaurant in Red’s Meadows, the normal resupply point for hikers on that trail. The reality of the saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

(One last “travel note” – add staying at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley to your bucket list. I stayed one snowy February in one of their cabins in the woods and it is one of the most amazing places on earth, a short walk to multiple water falls, the meandering Merced River and Mirror Lake, well into the silting process that turns lakes to meadows over time. A true winter wonderland. Great any time of the year, you have to book a year in advance.

Arm yourself with survival gear whenever you venture deep into the woods – not just to make your life easier but because it could possibly save your life. Think of it as the “insurance” you need to stay safe outdoors. For instance, carrying enough supplies will ensure that you are fed and hydrated. Still, you need more than food to survive in the wilderness so consider the following carefully:

A Whistle

You need to find a way to alert your entourage when in distress – and that’s when a whistle becomes a necessity. When choosing one, go for a referee type model. Choose an eardrum-bursting unit whose sound can travel for miles.

Select a bright colored option for excellent visibility and quick retrieval if it falls on the trail and you need it in the dark. The design has to be on point too – that way you can use the whistle both in wet and dry conditions.


You don’t have to carry a large survival knife. Sure, it will help you cut stubborn twigs and branches, but you’re better off with a wood carving knife. Even then, ensure that your choice is robust, complete with laminated blades. On top of that, it has to be super sharp to make cutting easy.

Of course, a rubberized handle will offer a stable grip whenever you need to strike. Also, check to see if the knife has an integrated fire starter. They come with all sorts of gadgets integrated now, like a compass. Good as a backup but the knife itself is the single most important piece of survival gear you will carry, so don’t go low end here, your life may depend on it.  

A Military-Grade Watch

Aren’t military watches for the armed forces? Sure, but that doesn’t mean you can wear them too. These are rugged, stand up to hard wearing, making them a perfect choice for the rigors of the wild. Some models, such as the top picks on NanaDC are solar powered, enabling you to use them without running out of juice.

Pick a watch that has low temperature resistance and a sturdy casing. Further, ensure that the model has an integrated compass, a barometer, and an altimeter to help you with the navigation. DON’T do what so many of us do every day, depend on our cell phones as watches (or the watches slaved off your cell phone.) Batteries and networks die, their doing show shouldn’t cause you a similar fate. 

Survival Rations

Not everyone has the time to cook in the wilderness. Okay, you can put up a fire and roast some meat, but at times, this may be a luxury your can afford, like having an injured companion you have to get to medical care, or not wanting to print your location due to threats to your safety. It is, therefore, essential that you carry some rations to replenish your body whenever you need a quick bite.

You can go for something like shortbread cookies or an energy bar. The only thing that you need to pay attention to here is the calorie content. Stick to rations that offer not less than 400 calories with a generous dose of minerals and vitamins. 

A Signal Mirror

A real one. Don’t depend on your shiny cell phone case, your bright smile after repeated “whitening” treatments to your teeth – self done or done by a professional, or the luster of any of the equipment you have been dragging through the mud for a few days. A signaling mirror can generate a ray of light up to a distance of ten miles. It produces a beam of light that can draw the curiosity of distant aircraft, vehicles, watercraft, or search party members – if you want to be found.

When choosing one, make sure that is has a sighting lens and is easy to use. And the beauty of it is that you don’t have to burn through your wallet to get a good model.

Waterproof Matches

This one is a no-brainer, right? It sure is. Apart from the wind, water is the also a significant cause match failure (maybe more our clumsiness than the physical match) . But, both the elements are no match (no pun intended) for waterproof matches. That way, you can start a fire at your campsite even when the weather is extreme. Carry at least two boxes (depending on the length of your trip, of course). Yes, to fire starters as well, as long as you have starter fuel (dryer lint, saw dust, magnesium filings, etc.) Also note that while an interior pocket under layers of outerwear will keep rain and wind away, perspiration is just as big a problem as the other natural elements.

Waxy Fire Cubes

These will provide fire whenever you don’t have wood or twigs to burn. Most cubes are lightweight and incredibly easy to ignite. Be sure to check how long a cube glows before spending your money. Anything worth your attention should last for at least 10 minutes, burning at a temperature of 1,300 ° F.

A Personal Weapon

Local (town, county, parish, city, state, BLM, ATF, National Parks Service, Game Management authorities and federal wildlife management area and on and on) are a nightmare of counter-cross regulations that are purposely made impossible to fathom by government entities at all levels. I have written before that driving once from Los Angeles to San Francisco, taking a shot gun as a gift for a friend for his 30th birthday party, most likely made me break no less that 25 local laws across the trip that I could have been arrested for, a new gun, wrapped in its shipping case, with not a compatible shell in site. An 8 hour drive.

When you step off the paved road for a wilderness adventure, you are a willing victim and a fool in my opinion if you are not armed with a personal weapon that you not only know inside out but you are well practiced with and proficient in its intended use. 

Hindsight is 100% but clearly, in the situation above, the moment you see someone with a drawn weapon it is time to do “the great reveal” and bring yours from its hiding place where it can be used to save your life or the lives of the less prepared.  Carry insurance, only draw with the intent to bring the situation to a stop with extreme prejudice, and expect that once you draw you have crossed a line of no return, other than giving yourself an edge to end the situation alive.

I want to note that the people, from end to end that manage and monitor the Appalachian Trail are true environmentalists and individualists who do an amazing job day after day, telling it like it is without political correctness. Kudos!  

Final Thoughts

Your survival is paramount when you’re outdoors, whether it is for a long road trip or a backpacking adventure. You should, therefore, equip your emergency kit with all the necessities that will come in handy during an emergency.

These aren’t the only things you need to consider. Others include water disinfecting tablets, a stove and a headlamp.  Of course, you will need an emergency blanket, poncho, ground pad. or wearable sleeping bag to shelter you from the wind and rain at night.  Make sure that your backpack is big enough to accommodate the items.

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Judging People By Their States Politics

19 Mar

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: I have to admit that I sometimes (often) cringe when I find out people are from places that poison everything they touch with their politics and I am often lumped in with those people as California is my home state, the state where my two (2) children were born and raised, the state where my wife’s ashes were scattered and where mine will be as well (even if they come up with a law against that as well.)

I speak of New York where, outside of the City and Albany, live some very decent, solid Americans. While at Shot Show 2017 in Las Vegas I had two New York State Troupers in uniform introduce themselves to me with “Hi, we are from behind the liberal curtain.” They were two bright, well-spoken and professionally focused individuals who asked smart questions.

I also had the opportunity in my past to work in Florida, at the Cape and Florida is a place where the retirees from the liberal Northeast escape their terrible winters while importing their terrible politics. 

My point here is I want to brag about something from California outside its politics and its out-of-control government at all levels.

As you know if you have been on the The Prepper Journal over the past 18 months, I still sail off the Southern California coast with a couple of sailing clubs (they own the boats I just have to pay for the rides 😉 ) and one of them is being featured for its charitable work. 

Sailing Fascination Provides Much-needed Tranquility to Veterans in Need

I became involved with Sailing Fascination through the Oasis Sailing Club. I was fortunate to meet the founder Tom Tolbert, one of those people who everyone instantly likes, a true gentlemen and a patriot. I now consider him a friend. At that time our sailing was in support of a couple of mental health facilities where we would take a patient and the facilities representative for cruises within Newport Harbor and they were taught how to handle the boat and were given the tiller. We worked the sails.

The boat is a J-24, and I personally did an upgrade on her about 8 years ago, with Tom’s permission, and she has recently been upgraded again. The City of Newport Beach, California provides the slip for free (a big deal) and yes, she has a handicap sticker on her bow and keel and is the little blue boat the red arrow is pointing out. 

One of the things that drives me to make the trek from Phoenix, besides the amazing people I get to interact with, both other crew and our guests, is that doing so always calms me from the constant bombardment of the Media we all have to make efforts to escape. There is solace out on the water, a calming that can be found in the mountains as well. 

IAC the article above, from the Daily Pilot, also ran in the Los Angeles Times this past Sunday.  

Be safe out there and giving really is better than receiving.

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How To Set Up An Observation Post

6 Mar

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest contribution from David Chandler to The Prepper Journal.

One of the many things the Army has taught me is the importance of having an Observation post. These can be used for both recon and early warning for your base of operations. Both of those are vital for survival. Whether it be looking for hostile movement in your area or surveying the land around your base of operations, in my opinion it is a necessity. It gives you the knowledge you need to safely move around your bug-out location or launch an assault on an enemy.

There are many organizations that use observation posts. Undercover Police and federal agents use them on stakeouts, Taliban and other terrorist organizations give radios to civilians to watch troop movements and routines. Almost all military forces use them in the field as well. Observation posts have been used throughout history from the Great Wall of China to the frontier in the old west.

Your observation post should be within effective small arms range (500 meters) of your base so you can have support if you take contact. It should be established during low visibility hours. It should be well hidden. It could be a tree stand, a blind, or even a ghillie suit would work. Normally the best place for an observation post is on or near the military crest of a hill. Make sure that you don’t silhouette yourself on the crest of a hill. You want to make sure that you choose the best terrain possible. Avoid valleys and high water areas. Try to stay elevated, the higher you are the more of an advantage you have. You should establish separate routes to and from your observation post. Be sure to use caution when moving to and from your observation post. Look for any changes along the path, your route could have been compromised and laced with traps.

If you are in an urban area you need to choose your location wisely. If you see a building or tower and think to yourself “that would be the perfect place for an observation post” you shouldn’t use it because if you think it then other people think it too and they’re more likely to watch that location.

There should be two people at the observation post, one for observing and the other for documenting. They should swap roles every half hour so there’s always a fresh pair of eyes looking out. It’s also always good to have someone watching your back. Every four hours they should be replaced so they don’t get burned out. Each person should have plenty of food and water in case they have to stay for longer than four hours. Having set shifts are difficult in these situations but try the best you can for best results.

Always have some form of communication to your base. When using a radio it is preferred to have a wired line to maintain a secure connection. When using antenna based radios your signal is more vulnerable to interception. You can also send a runner to relay messages. This is the oldest and most reliable form of communication in my opinion. When using a runner, range cards are something to think about. They provide an image with the report so you can accurately make decisions. Your messages are also less likely to get intercepted with a runner.

With range cards you should mark easily noticeable locations and use them as reference points. They can be anything that stands out like an odd shaped rock or a clearing in the trees. Label the distance of each reference point from your Observation post. It helps to give them clever names because it makes it easier to remember and it is a big morale booster. Include any dead space on your range card. If there is too much dead space you may have to move your position. List the capabilities and assets types of weapons, spotting equipment, vehicles, etc. so everyone knows what the limitations are.

Make sure that there is a break contact/evacuation plan in place. Each person should know the plan and when to use it. Set a point within line of sight as a trigger to pull back. You should avoid placing traps past your observation post because they will let potential hostiles know that you are in the area. If an enemy is moving fast enough that there won’t be time to prepare a defense you can use flairs, lights, or noise signals but they should be used as a last resort but know that this will likely reveal your position and their attention will be turned to you.

It is important to document as many details as possible. Avenues of approach, key terrain, and obstacles should be documented. Noting all of this will give you an advantage over people who are unfamiliar with the area. All new information should be reported to the replacement after each shift. Details should include changes in enemy movement or new enemy establishments. Also include changes in structures or terrain. Maybe a storm came through and blew over some trees or a building collapsed. These do not have to be reported immediately unless it poses a threat to your main element.

I know several people that have used observation posts in the field and all of them consider it a necessity. I have also used them while in a training environment and they helped gain an advantage over the OPFOR and eventually lead to a mission success. This is one thing I recommend you include in your bug-out plan. I have one in every one of my bug-out plans and I am constantly thinking of new places to put one in every scenario. The more you plan the better off you are.

I hope that this has given you another item in your arsenal of knowledge and something new to think about. Maybe after reading this some of you will add this to your plan of survival and some of you won’t but it’s always good to have it in the back of your mind just in case.

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How to Protect your Site against Intrusion from Squatters and Traveler’s

2 Mar

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest contribution from Dakota Murphey on site security, something she has written about before in The Prepper Journal. Always interesting to see what others think about their security and options, Dakota resides in the United Kingdom and she supplied the feature picture so I had to find out if you can use deadly force on intruders in England. According to Quora  – “If someone trespasses on my property in the UK, do I have the right to shoot the intruder? There are very few jurisdictions on the planet where one can shoot somebody who is a trespasser. … However, in the UK, from what I understand, a person has to first be in fear of their life, and then can defend themselves.” So, not that different across the pond other than the availability of weapons.

If you have a vacant property or an area of land that is unoccupied then you need to be aware of the potential challenges and issues of intruders at your site. This could take the form of squatters looking for somewhere to stay or travelers pitching up on your land. Either of these scenarios can be very frustrating, and it can be difficult and time-consuming to get them evicted.

In any case it is best to prevent intruders from being able to use your property. There are many ways that you can do these – here are some of the most effective methods to protect your property against squatters and travelers.

Protect Entry Points

If you have an empty property this can be an extremely appealing target for squatters and trespassers, especially if getting in is as simple as walking through the door. It is essential that you should do everything you can to protect all of the obvious entry points to the property. You can do this by putting security doors or screens.

If squatters encounter any kind of physical barrier, they are likely to move on and try a different property. So, this first line of security can be hugely effective in preventing the majority of possible intrusions.

…That includes Windows

Of course, it is important to also note that if you are going to put physical barriers in place of doors, you need to do the same with your windows too. If you have windows that can easily be broken, then this will be a popular entry point for intruders. Any window that is reachable from floor level is a potential weak point in your defenses.

There are specific security barriers that are designed to cover low-level windows and make it impossible for potential squatters and trespassers to gain entry into the property. Have these installed at the same time as your door protection for full coverage.

Stop Vehicle Access

Of course, it’s not just empty properties that can attract potential intruders. If you have a large area of land that is currently not being used or is unoccupied for a long period of time, it could be targeted by traveler communities. Travelers often base themselves on used land and once they have established themselves it can be time consuming and challenging to have them evicted.

So, if you have an area of land that could potentially be used by travelers you need to stop vehicles from being able to access the area. This can be achieved with the positioning of concrete barriers as they can make it impossible to get onto the land. This will force the travelers to move on and try elsewhere.

Security Patrols

On some property or vacant land, it is not possible to put up physical barriers – if this is the case for you, it may be necessary to look into other options for security. One of the most effective ways to deter trespassers and intruders is to have a professional security patrol carried out at regular intervals.

These patrols not only work as a deterrent but can also help to uncover intruders as soon as possible. This can make it much easier for you to deal with the consequences of the intrusion.


It’s a great idea to have CCTV set up around your property. Once again, CCTV is so effective not only because it can alert you to the presence of intruders but also simply as a deterrent. If intruders are made aware that they are on camera, this can make them move on and choose an easier target.

It is important, then, not only to put CCTV in place, but also to clearly marked to make it easy for potential intruders to see.

Put Alarm Systems in Place

It can be also be very helpful to have an alarm system in place. This is another example of a form of security that is multifaceted – alerting you to the presence of intruders but also convincing intruders to leave. Alarm systems can be installed relatively cheaply, but they can save you an enormous amount of money in the potential costs of damages or legal services in getting intruders evicted.

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My Five Reasons Why Hunting is an Important Survival Skill

5 Feb

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Comment: A guest post from James Nelson at Hunting Research to The Prepper Journal. While we know the short answer to the title James provides some interesting insight.

Hunting has a large part to play in American culture and history. It was mainly done as a means to provide the family with food, clothing and shelter. Today, hunting is known as a classic American sport.

However, there are some time-tested hunting tips you should keep in mind. You can read this hunting guide to understand how hunting should be done, and you can get some golden old-school hunting tips too.

Though times have changed, there are good reasons why hunting is still an important skill to take up. Here are my 5 reasons why:

Hunting Helps You to Better Protect Yourself and Your Family

Learning how to handle your weapons is a necessity if you want to master the skill of hunting. Without knowing your weapon well, you will not be able to take a good shot at your hunt. You may end up simply injuring the game or worse still, injuring a person nearby through misfiring.

To build the hunting skill, much time must be put into practice so that you know how to control your weapon. Over time, you will find yourself get better at handling your weapons. Your precision and accuracy of shooting will increase. Same goes to your level of focus and concentration. These are all essential skills for self-defense.

A concealed carry is typically used as a defensive firearm for self-protection. By learning to handle your weapon through building your hunting skills, this can translate to how you handle your concealed carry as well. Should a defensive situation ever arise, you will have the proficiency of using a weapon to defend yourself and your family. You will be able to use your weapon in a way that is safe so as to not injure yourself or the innocent around you.

Hunting Teaches You Adaptability and Observational Skills

There is an increasing disconnect between the people and mother nature in this era. Hunting is one of the bridges to reconnect people to nature. Not just that, it allows us to learn the way of nature. Hunting is not just about the kill. To be successful, you will need to be in tune with nature. This means learning the different patterns of nature. For example, recognizing different trails and habits of animals.

While daily work can become a routine, hunting in the woods will never be a routine because it always presents an element of unpredictability. Each hunt is different in that the weather, foliage around and the signs of game like bedding areas and droppings will change. By putting ourselves out there in the field, we are able to train ourselves to adapt to the ever-changing surroundings. We are placed in a situation where we are challenged to think out of the box.

You really have to rely on your instincts out there in the woods. For example, if you find yourself off your usual trail without a GPS, you will need to rely on the direction of the sun to get back to civilization. If it is at night, you will have to rely on the North Star located at the end of Little Dipper’s handle to help you find north.

Hunting also largely involves being quiet and waiting. This is so that you do not alarm and scare off the prey. You will need to pay close attention to your surroundings like the leaves below your feet and the other foliage around. You will also need to be still until the right moment comes to shoot.

All of these ultimately train our survival instincts as it sharpens our ability to observe the things around us and react sensibly to situations. We also learn the art of being careful and wary of things around. These survival skills are discovered in a way that could never be experienced just by watching shows or listening to the advice of others.

Helps You Hunt Down Animals that are ‘dangerous’

A large part of why hunting is still necessary today is to control the population of wildlife. As we continually crop onto their natural habitats we see more and more interaction with them, especially with deer in North America. And encounters can cause damage to people, property and more. Deer are involved in around 80% of wildlife vehicle collisions resulting in an estimated 200 deaths each year from automotive collisions that involve deer. This excludes the amount of injuries faced. The average cost paid by vehicle owners and insurance companies drives up the cost of insurance. By reducing deer population through sensible hunting management, overall accident levels could be reduced significantly.

Hunting can help to reduce the amount of damage caused to other property as well. Since these animals are adaptable, they move into areas inhabited by humans to find food and shelter. The damage caused to a single property could cost someone up to several thousand dollars.

Hunting Helps Shape Your Mindset

Survival of the fittest is not only about the physical but also the mindset. As you hone your hunting skills, you will find that you will be able to develop your character along the way which changes the way you view things.

Hunting teaches you discipline. Most of the time invested into hunting starts even before the hunt through the preparations. This involves getting your weapon and gears ready, scouting sights, planting food plots and more. There are many preparations to be made leading up to the opportune moment. Discipline is driven into your mind in all of this. Hunting gives you a goal to work towards and teaches you the discipline to stick to it.

Besides, hunting can train your to manage the inevitable disappointments you may face. There are bound to be times where there is failure and you do not manage to catch the prey you were waiting for. Over time, you will learn how to manage your expectations towards each hunt which will help you deal with such setbacks.

Overall, the virtues and qualities from hunting skills do not just stay on the field, but they are translated into the mindset of a survivalist. This can change the way you interact with people and handle life situations.

Hunting Helps Keep You Active

Possessing the skill of hunting comes with an active lifestyle as well. From the pre-hunt, hunters are already actively out and about tending food plots and scouting woods. This contributes to shaping your survival skills much more than living a complacent lifestyle indoors.

Besides, training to use either firearm or bow for hunting keeps hunters active. A lot of time will need to go into training to maintain the proficiency of using the weapon. Drawing back a bow steadily will especially contribute to great muscle endurance, keeping the body fit, and muscle memory, an importing part of shooting anything.

An active lifestyle would lead to a healthier life which is essential for survival as well. Apart from physical activities, game meat is healthy for consumption as well. The meat of wild game is natural and considered healthier than commercialized meat because of the food that they consume. Wild game consumes natural food in the woods, making them healthier. Game meat is generally lean meat as well and has fewer calories and less fat content than domesticated livestock. From venison to elk to birds, all these are low in fat.

Besides physical health, hunting also contributes to a healthier mind. Although preparations can be made, there is no secret formula to succeeding in a hunt. You will need to play by ear when you are on the field. Hence, concentration levels will be sharpened and expanded, keeping the mind active and alert.


Do bear in mind that ‘Hunting’ itself consists of a variety of skill set, and a lot of planning. The reasons discussed above refers to hunting in general, rather than pointing to a specific skill set.

I hope this article gives you the motivation to pick up your weapon of choice tomorrow! Being a ‘great’ prepper takes time and skill, and you can be sure that hunting is one of those skills that can help you get prepared for the worst.

Author bio: I am James Nelson, a survivalist, outdoor and hunting enthusiast. I have dedicated my time and effort to build a website that contains comprehensive information about hunting skills and gear. You can follow me over at Hunting Research.

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Everything You Need to Survive a Winter Hiking Trip

12 Dec

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest contribution from Scott Hamilton to The Prepper Journal. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share then enter into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies!

You don’t have to hang up your hiking gear just because the temperatures are dropping. Hiking in the winter can be a great way to test your mettle and explore a literal winter wonderland. If you’re planning on heading out to hike, here is a comprehensive list of everything you need to survive a winter hiking trip. Keep in mind that we’re not talking about an afternoon hike though – this is a list of things that you’ll need to survive a more extreme winter hike.

Stay Warm

This might be a given, but it’s essential, so it merits mentioning. Don’t cheap out on your clothing or equipment if you’re heading out into the wilds. A good set of winter hiking equipment might seem expensive, but with a set of high-quality gear, you don’t necessarily even need to haul a tent with you! You could be perfectly warm sleeping in the snow- though we don’t recommend it.

Look for well-insulated clothes that are made with moisture-wicking material to keep you dry even if you’re sweating – wet clothing draws more heat away from your body than being naked in the snow, so it’s vitally important to stay dry.

Calorie Up

You already know how important it is to get enough calories while you’re out hiking. If you’re out in the winter, you will need even more calories than you would typically consume on a hike. Being out in the cold will make you feel hungrier, and eating can help to keep you warm due to the heat released during digestion. While you might not burn more calories when you’re cold, you will need to eat more food to stay fueled during your cold-weather hike.

You also need to make sure that you’re drinking enough water while you’re hiking. If it’s cold enough that your water supplies might freeze, keep them in insulated containers so you’ll always have something to drink. Don’t eat snow unless you have a chance to melt it and treat it – even clean looking snow can harbor bacteria that could make you sick which is the last thing you need when you’re miles from the nearest signs of civilization.

Pick a Location

Pick a place where you want to hike. You’d be surprised how many options to have available during the winter months. Even areas that are typically filled to the brim with tourists during the warmer months will be empty or mostly empty during the winter. Yellowstone, for example, is almost always packed with people when the weather is warm trying to get a glimpse of the bison that populate the park or crowding around Old Faithful for a look at the geyser.

In the winter in Yellowstone, you don’t have to go looking for bison – they’re all huddled around the hot springs trying to stay warm, and all the ordinarily crowded tourist attractions are nearly empty. You will likely also be able to spot a lot more wildlife than you would during the warmer months, as wolves and other animals venture out of their dens to find food.

Pick a Campsite

You need to be smart about picking your campsite if you’re hiking during the winter. In the summer, you would likely avoid low-lying sites because of the risk of flash floods. In the winter you don’t have the flood risk, but you should still avoid low-lying campsites. Cold air is denser and sinks into valleys and other low areas, making it colder there than it would be on a hill or mountaintop.

Keep an eye on the snow as well, and look out for animal prints. If you see a lot of prints, especially those of predators like wolves or big cats, you know that you’ve found a game trail and shouldn’t drop your tent there. Seeing wolves or other big predators on a winter hike is impressive – from a distance.

Mind Your Batteries

You probably have more than a few battery powered tools that you bring with you on a hike, from your cell phone and GPS to flashlights or chargers. If you’re going to be out in the cold, stick with products that use lithium batteries. Alkaline batteries – like D-Cell or AA – will start to lose power as soon as the temperature drops below freezing which could leave you in the dark or lost in the woods.

If you have to use products with alkaline batteries, keep them warm and insulated in your pack or near your body. Even rechargeable alkaline batteries are susceptible to this power loss, so keep that in mind when you select your hiking electronics.

Be Mindful of Cold Injuries

There are two things that you need to worry about when you’re hiking in the winter – frostbite, and hypothermia. Knowing the symptoms of both can help you prevent long-term injuries.

Frostbite is caused when the skin and surrounding tissue freeze due to exposure. Frostbite symptoms include skin that looks pale or waxy. The area might also be painful or numb. In its early stages, know as frost-nip, it can be treated by simply warming the effected area if warming the area results in blisters though it could indicate a deeper problem that needs to be treated by a medical professional.

Hypothermia is what happens when your body’s core temperature drops far below average. Mild hypothermia can show up as shivering and clumsiness, while severe hypothermia symptoms include significant changes in behavior. Shivering will also stop during the final stages of hypothermia because the body’s energy supplies are depleted. Getting warm is the first step toward treating hypothermia, but if you’ve progressed to moderate or severe symptoms, it’s time to head home or call for help.

Hiking during the winter months can be a transcendent experience, but only if you’re prepared and careful. Don’t hang up your hiking gear just because the temperature is dropping. Just swap out your warm weather clothing and equipment for thicker clothing and a tent and sleeping bag that can help you weather the cooler temperatures safely.

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Practical Fuels for Off-Grid Survival

27 Oct

Written by Cody on The Prepper Journal.

Prepping is not just about stocking up for an event such as an economic collapse or a natural disaster that rends away the systems that keeps modern society functioning. It’s also about independence, self-reliance, family and community cohesion, and pride in our ability to survive.

We can be self-reliant in a number of ways, by for example, being self-reliant for food with having a smart crop rotation, raising our own cattle and keeping our own bees.

We can also be self-reliant for water, ensuring a fresh, drinkable water supply is available by either harnessing natural fresh water available, or by using filtration and pumping technology to recycle water which may be contaminated.

But ensuring we have fuel, for warmth, for cooking, to operate machinery like water systems and to power utilities such as lights and battery charging stations is of the utmost importance as without it, all the other essentials for survival become more difficult to obtain.

Two Main Categories of Fuel

Not every fuel can be used in every way and so you’ll most probably need to rely on multiple fuels to keep your systems up and running.

You may have an abundance for wood for home cooking for example, but this can’t necessarily be used to power your generator for lights, refrigeration, water pumps, etc. And if you do run out, have you got a different fuel type to fall back on?

To get an idea of what kind of fuel diversity you’ll need, first we need to break the fuel types down into two distinct categories: fuels for domestic use and fuels for heavy duty use.

Domestic Fuel

Your domestic fuels such as wood, propane, kerosene or solar are relatively easy to obtain and maintain a supply of. They’re typically used for things such as cooking, home heating and boiling water.

These fuels provide the essentials for survival and for an individual or a family who lives a simplistic, modest lifestyle. Living this way can be easy with the safety net of society always there to fall back on, but without it you’ll find that relying on these fuels alone will be difficult and time consuming.

However, they can supply you with more than enough power for your domestic needs and some are renewable enough to last you for quite some time. They make great supplementary fuels so that you can make your heavy duty fuels last longer.

Heavy Duty Fuel

From the perspective of a prepper or a homesteader, heavy duty fuel is used for powering internal combustion engines. Having a generator, a vehicle or heavy duty tools make life a lot easier and are often required as a means of sourcing other survival essentials. Especially if you are a part of a larger prepper community.

Gasoline is by far the most common fuel used for home generators and vehicles. Modern diesel and gasoline is produced by a specific process with additives and fortifications resulting in a complex mixture that many think is required for a combustion engine to work.

On the contrary, a combustion engine will run from anything that can fill its combustion chamber and be ignited to produce enough energy to get the engine going. Popular diesel fuel alternatives include the use of ethanol and bio-fuels such as wood gas and even vegetable oil.

Practical Domestic Fuels

Just how pragmatic a fuel can be will depend on a number of factors. How easy is it to acquire? Can it be easily reproduced? Can it be easily stored and for a long time? Is it efficient? And can it be used in different ways?

The answers to these questions can vary on things such as your location, state restrictions, how much land you have, how much of it you’ll need and whether you have the means to acquire it, process it and store it.

Fire Wood

Wood has been the reliable fuel of choice by humans since the discovery of fire. For the modern man, it can be used for cooking, heating, for lighting and even for central heating if you have a wood fueled boiler.

It is a great supplementary and domestic fuel source for preppers who live in rural and even suburban locations.  If you have your own land with the right trees, or a permit to go chopping in a local forest then you have a sustainable fuel source that you can stock up on!

Many people chose to simply burn their wood in a fireplace or just as a campfire, but much of the heat is lost into the air or up the chimney this way and is less efficient.

A common mode of home heating and cooking with wood is the humble wood stove which directs heat forwards and allows a safe space for the wood to combust. Quality wood stoves for preppers would not incorporate a catalytic combustion feature, as the catalyst element degrades over time and will need replacing.

Of course, even though wood is sustainable so long as it is harvested sustainably, the over use of wood can be a problem as it can easily run out, and even if you’re replanting trees, they do take their time to regrow.

Many prepare their wood into wood chips by using a wood chipper or burn wood in a low oxygen environment to produce charcoal which can then be used as fuel and stretch your wood source for longer.

Once you have obtained and split your firewood, it will need to be seasoned before use which is a process of drying the wood over a period of time (usually around 6 months). During this time it will need to be stored in a dry place such as a wood shed as moisture will cause it to rot.

Solar Power

Using solar power is a fantastic way to save on your other means of fuel whilst solar energy is available. You can set up an off grid solar power system in which the energy absorbed by solar panels would be stored in a battery for use or you can purchase separate solar powered gadgets and appliances which are handy to have when no other power sources are available.

For instance did you know that solar powered freezers are available? Freezers and refrigerators can be a huge drain on energy since they need to be run all the time, but are vital for preserving food and medicine. Having stored solar energy just in case a generator goes down or another fuel runs out can be a life saver!

Even in low conditions, solar power can be used for charging batteries, cell phones or lighting which is unbelievably useful in and of itself. With the right set up using decent inverters and batteries with at least 600 watt/hour of usable capacity, can drastically reduce your monthly energy bills.


When crude oil is broken down during the refinery process, several classes of product are obtained: refinery gasses, kerosene, gasoline, diesel oil and other residues. Propane is one of the refinery gasses alongside methane, ethane and butane.

As most RV owners and those who live outside of the range of the natural gas pipelines will know, propane can be purchased in cylinders that can be connected directly to the device or appliance that requires it.

Even though it can be quite a pain to stock up on and store, it is versatile as you can purchase many devices and appliances that use propane such as space heaters, generators and cookers. And even more devices, appliances and even vehicles can be converted to run off of propane (even though this may not be a wise decision).

The benefit of using propane is it is highly energy efficient meaning that you get a lot of power for the amount that you burn and it is regarded as clean fuel in the 1990 Clean Air Act as well as the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

Additionally, propane is a great fuel to store up on because it does not suffer much degradation over time unlike gasoline or firewood. However, pressurized propane tanks can be dangerous if not handled and stored correctly though, so ensure that you know what you’re doing to avoid any accidents.


Kerosene, another by-product of the crude oil refinery process is also another fantastic fuel to store over a long period of time. It is not as volatile as gasoline meaning it’s less likely for any mistakes to cause a major incident.

It’s highly versatile and can be used in stoves for cooking and heating or used for lighting. Kerosene fueled lighting may not be the safest as an accidental spillage could cause a fire but having kerosene lamps as a backup light source is extremely handy.

It’s a lot more efficient to burn than propane as its chemical makeup allows it, in simple terms, to store more energy and it’s easier to source and cheaper. This means not only are you getting a decent back up fuel source, it’s also great value for money.

The benefits of kerosene doesn’t just stop at being a fuel source either. It makes a great cleaning agent for bicycle and motorcycle chains and has in the past been praised as an effective home remedy for head lice, although one need to use it as such as a last resort as it is a toxic substance which can cause damage to the skin, burns and scarring.

Practical Heavy Duty Fuels


This is the most popular fuel that preppers stock up on, particularly for bug outs. There’s good reason for this because more vehicles used in the US are gasoline based rather than diesel.

If it comes to a SHTF scenario, the gas pumps may no longer have power to deliver your fuel to you, and so many others will rush there to get some last minute emergency fuel that it wouldn’t be viable anyway. And that’s why it’s wise to have it stored.

The problem with gasoline as whilst it’s easy enough to stock up on, it hasn’t got the lifespan that many other fuels do have and there’s not much possibility of you being able to produce it for yourself when it runs out.

Gasoline has about a year in storage before it becomes totally unusable but you do have the options of purchasing certain additives which can increase its lifespan. The additive will need to be introduced to the gas every year to ensure it remains useful to you.

Of course, in the SHTF scenario, a massive survival strategy would be to scavenge gas from abandoned vehicles. This means you should without a doubt have yourself a siphoning kit and learn to siphon gas efficiently so that you can always be on the lookout for more fuel to keep your vehicles running and keep your generators going.

With that said, gasoline is highly volatile and needs to be stored safely and out of the elements. No direct sunlight should be able to reach your gas stocks, no ignition source anywhere near by and it should be stored in a separate building to your living area to avoid any major incidents.


Although not as popular as gasoline, diesel is known as a more efficiency fuel, especially for larger vehicles which are usually used as bug out vehicles. However, if you thought gasoline has had a short shelf life, diesel can be stored for between 6 – 12 months, and that’s in ideal conditions.

Just like with gasoline though, additives such as fuel stabilizers, can be bought and added to the fuel to extend its lifespan. They work by reducing its degradation following exposure to light and oxygen.

There is also the option of nitrogen blanketing the tank which is the process of removing the oxygen from the storage tank by replacing it with nitrogen. It greatly extends the life of diesel and also mitigates much of the risk of explosion.

Gasoline and Diesel Alternatives

When thinking of long term survival in regards to fuel, we have to consider the possibility of the fuel running out and whether there are other useful alternatives to these fuels that may not be as efficient but are cheap and easy to obtain.

Wood Gas

Timber or charcoal can be converted into a usable gas for combustion engines using a wood gas generator. It’s a diverse fuel that can be created from on-hand materials and is far cleaner than petroleum based fuel.

A DIY wood gas generator can be made if you are quite talented at engineering but it’s not recommended. A downside to wood gas is that it contains a high concentration of carbon monoxide making it highly toxic and so it will need to be very securely contained.

If you can get your hands on a reliable wood gas generator, you will be able to fuel your generators and vehicles using a fuel that you can make yourself. It allows you to go without relying on the products of big oil companies which to some preppers, is a huge benefit.


Most diesel and gasoline formulations that you buy now are a formulation containing about 10% ethanol, the reason being, ethanol, whilst being less efficient than petroleum based fuels, still releases enough energy when combusted to run an engine. The exhaust produced is also a lot cleaner.

It’s cheap to obtain and can be made easily enough by fermenting vegetable matter like corn or sugar beet. After fermenting the crop, you’ll need to refine the ethanol/vegetable mush to extract the pure ethanol.

If you plan on doing this yourself, check your state laws as although distilling your own alcohol is legal in most states, ethanol can be problematic as they’ll think you are in the business of making moonshine.

Also if you are distilling alcohol to be used as a fuel, you’ll need to go to measure to make it undrinkable and you may need to pay a tax as well.

Just how good ethanol can be does depend heavily on the kind of engine you are running on. Older engines, that is pre-2001, may have a better time with running on higher percentages of ethanol but too much can cause damage to the engine and render it unusable altogether.


Another alternative is the use of a diesel engine to run from bio-fuels such as plant based oils. Diesel engine models, particularly older ones, do not use a spark plug to ignite the fuel and instead use the heat generated from compression allowing items like cooking oil to be used as a fuel for vehicles.

Unfortunately it’s not just a case of putting the cooking oil straight into your generator or vehicle and some processing will be required to remove the glycerin. This is done by mixing lye and methanol into a solution which is then added to the oil to separate the biodiesel from the glycerin.

Even though a diesel engine can start from the use of bio-diesel, one of the downsides is that it can sometimes take longer than you would expect if the oil in the tank is cold. Other drawbacks include the propensity it has to corrode rubber tubing, caps and other components and that it gels in low temperatures, more so that gasoline.

No pure renewable cost efficient pollution-free fuels have really come to the market but, as preppers, we need to make do with what is available, what is reasonable to produce/obtain and store, and what will work best for our individual needs.

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What Should Be in Your Car Emergency Kit

18 Oct

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another article from Paul Taylor to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share then enter into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies!

Like many preppers, I was a Boy Scout. My dad had been a Scout and was one of my Scoutmasters during my teens. He was a believer in safety, security, being careful, having the right gear and tools, and knowing how to use them. He knew a lot about survival, mostly the hard way, from his service on the ground as a combat infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II. So I got a lot of hands-on training from him, at home and in the field. One of his pieces of wisdom was that you should have a safe, reliable car and carry whatever you might need in it. He didn’t have the benefit of the hundreds (if not thousands) of prepper articles I’ve read over the years, so I’ve taken his wisdom up a notch or two.

I can’t claim to be a definitive expert, but I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking on all of this and I have a lot of miles under my belt. I believe that this is a solid distillation of many different approaches into a rational and comprehensive car emergency kit, at least the one that works for me and my needs. Obviously, different circumstances and geography mandate different solutions. I live in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area, but I drive widely on trips, often in remote areas. I want to be sure to have on hand what I might really need wherever I end up, especially where I’m not in easy reach of civilization. Take from this whatever works for you, leave what doesn’t, adapt it to your needs.

First, I make sure I have a safe, reliable car, crossover or SUV with all-wheel drive, an elevated frame and a roof rack or carryall for additional capacity. I tend to need more capacity on the roof because my trunk area starts out at half full with my emergency bag and car kit. I like having a crossover or SUV that rides high because I once had an encounter with a too-high rock that cracked my radiator and cost me a lot of money and heartache. I like all-wheel drive because we’ve had some severe winters that made roads impassable for normal cars. I have to have a safe car because the people most precious to me are riding in that vehicle, and I want them to have the best chances of surviving an accident that I can provide, short of an M-1 Abrams tank or Hummer. Twenty and thirty years ago I bought Volvo’s, back when they were affordable, amazing in snow and the safest things on the road. Now they’re a luxury brand, and a whole range of other brands match their old safety and reliability at half the new cost. In my mind, spending a little more money to ensure that you survive – even walk away from – the accident that totals your car is a cheap insurance policy.

I’m a big believer in prepping for the most likely serious events where the right preps can make a huge difference. Plus there are space limitations for even the most well-thought-out car emergency kit.

First things first: a flat tire – the most common of problems. So I have a good jack, chocks for the wheels, an inflated spare (checked regularly), a tire repair kit for any issue that doesn’t ruin the sidewall of the tire, and an air compressor that plugs into the car and re-inflates the tire. That setup alone resolves the biggest and most likely issues you’ll encounter on the road and turns a multi-hour wait for a repair truck into a half hour’s complete repair, without the added stress of driving on a small donut spare and having to take your tire in for a repair that you can do yourself in ten minutes.

Working on changing a tire by the side of a highway is not for the faint of heart, so I try to minimize my risk of injury (or death) from an inattentive driver by setting up a reflective triangle and setting flares. I have one triangle, but I carry eight flares – just in case I need more than the ones I’ve already burned down. I also carry and wear a reflective vest. And the kit has two sets of leather work gloves for hand protection.

Needless to say, a prepper doesn’t run out of gas because he or she never lets the tank go below half full, but things happen, so I also carry a one-gallon plastic gas can and a gas siphon tube. The siphon lets you get gas from any car that’s willing to share, and the can collects it, or you can use the can in hiking to the nearest gas station.

Batteries sometimes surprise us and lose their charge at inopportune times. I have a set of heavy-duty jumper cables, but more recently I’ve invested in a small but powerful battery with connected jumper cables so I don’t have to rely on someone coming by and being willing to jump my car (or me). I re-charge it every three months and haven’t yet found it discharged. And it can recharge my cellphone or other electronics in a pinch.

Another useful item is a heavy duty tow rope or strap. I once was driving down a narrow country road bounded by deep ditches and found a car in the ditch, axle deep in mud, unable to move, with two very unhappy young ladies next to it. My winter kit has a pair of wide plastic strips that give the wheels traction in snow (a couple of pieces of thick cardboard work almost as well), but this was summer and I sure didn’t want to get into that mud, so I just attached the tow strap to each of the cars, slowly pulling the strap taut, and pulled it out of the ditch. The owner of the car sent me a very nice bottle of bourbon as a thank you.

Sometimes there’s a cracked or leaking hose, so I have some self-fusing silicone wrap that is temperature resistant and holds anything closed. A spare clamp, or a zip tie in a pinch, can also help the repair. And because nothing burns up an engine faster than not having coolant, I carry a can of coolant to top off whatever has leaked. I also carry an extra quart of oil for much the same reason.

And to round out the self-help items, I keep a small auto tool kit in the car as well because not having the tool you need when you need it . . . .

A fire extinguisher that I keep under the driver’s seat (not in the trunk in a bag where I can’t find it when I need it) is useful to have. I was once driving behind a car that was smoking badly. They stopped, blocking me, and opened the hood. Flames poured out. If I could have reached an extinguisher right then, I might have made a difference, but by the time I got out of the car and got to the trunk that car was merrily ablaze. So, in my humble opinion, having the critical tool at hand is key. Too late is too late.

For the same reason, I have an emergency escape hammer and embedded razor in my driver’s door compartment. If I need to cut open my seat belt and bash out my window, then I need that tool right then.

My winter kit adds a snow shovel, ice scraper and brush, the wide plastic gripper strips for ice, winter gloves, an extra down jacket, wool socks and boots, a wool cap, and a large can of kitty litter.

As preppers you are surely saying in disbelief “that’s all?” And I say in return that for the car emergency portion of the kit that is what I carry. But of course I also carry an overlapping and much larger emergency bag as well. And a fully stocked EMT-level first aid kit.

The car emergency kit mostly fits in two small bags: a tire repair and inflation bag with the compressor and repair kit; and a AAA bag with tools, jumper cables, gloves, reflective vest, flares, etc. Other parts of the kit are in their own cases (reflective triangle) or are corralled behind netting (liquids). And yet other parts of the kit are in the large emergency kit, which is a large and very full duffel bag.

The duffel bag emergency kit significantly expands the range of threats to which I can respond, essentially creating a car-worthy bug out bag that’s always there. It covers the basics: lighting, heat, food, water, shelter, survival tools, rain gear and communication. I think a list is most useful here so I’ll group the items.

Lighting – because off the road in the dark is dark

Basic survival tools

Shelter and Weather Protection


Heat, cooking, food



  • Toiletry kit with soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
  • Toilet paper roll in plastic bag
  • Insect repellent wipes
  • Tube of sunscreen
  • Large package of wet wipes
  • Camp towel
  • 13 gallon plastic garbage bags


First Aid

I don’t anticipate that I’ll ever need all of what I carry, but I’ve been through enough events where many of those items came in handy that I recommend serious consideration of the whole list.

A few simple examples:

I once drove through an area that had a nearby forest fire. The smoke was choking thick, but I had an N-95 mask in the glove compartment, and putting that on made a huge difference in being able to breathe.

My wife had a small fender bender but thought she had no damage. Unfortunately, a day later we hit a bump and the driver’s side rocker panel of the car broke off, with the front digging a furrow in the road. The car was undriveable, and it was a Sunday afternoon in the country. She was not happy (to say the least), but I went to the kit and pulled out the trusty roll of duct tape. I taped the rocker panel back on and it lasted long enough to get us to the repair shop. Problem solved.

Another time, on a summer trip we were on a major interstate highway in the middle of nowhere when all traffic stopped dead, hundreds of cars stopped in the blazing sun and 100 degree heat with nothing around us but scrub forest. It turned out that an RV had caught fire on a bridge 20 miles ahead and the whole highway was shut down. So there we were, one of thousands of cars stopped on the highway on a brutally hot summer day with nothing around for miles. Cars were overheating, so the air conditioning went off for everyone and pretty soon everyone was suffering in baking hot cars or under the blazing sun. And of course no one had water or food. Except us. We draped our emergency reflective blankets across the front and rear car windows, and opened the doors and windows for air. We were relatively cool and, most importantly, shaded. And we had plenty of water and enough trail mix and energy bars to keep us full and happy for the four hours it took to clear the road and get us going again. The contrast with the people who had nothing in their cars was striking.

I don’t need to go through the obvious examples of a cap or sunscreen preventing a bad sunburn, or mosquito repellent protecting against nasty stings, or blankets or warmers or a down jacket keeping you warm in the biting cold, or boots instead of flip-flops when you have to hike for gas or help, or a commando saw cutting a tree that fell across the road, or even having a real map on hand when the GPS is lost. These are all real world problems, but in our comfortable and civilized world we rarely have to engage with them other than as a minor annoyance. But when finding your way is critical, when you’re miles from shelter in blistering heat or bitter cold, when you’re hungry and thirsty, getting sunburned or bitten – then knowing you have what it takes to fix the problem makes all the difference. My dad’s teaching and the Boy Scout motto – “Be Prepared.”

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Don’t Let Your Gear Weigh You Down

11 Oct

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

When you’re headed out on a trip into the wilderness, packing light is essential. The last thing you want is to be weighed down with extra, unnecessary gear, especially if you plan on doing any extensive hiking. At the same time, anyone who’s been camping before knows the feeling of leaving a necessary piece of gear at home — it sucks.

The goal when camping is somewhere between these two: Pack light, but don’t forget the essentials. Here are a some items to make sure you bring with you, but that won’t weigh you down.

Cooking Gear

While cast iron is normally considered the gold standard for camping cookware — and it is a great, durable, and long-lasting addition to any camping box — it is also extremely heavy. If you are planning an expedition in the woods, you need to consider this.

Hiking trips with cast iron skillets in your pack are miserable experiences. It is often a better idea to trade these out for lightweight mess kits and a few choice cooking utensils. A tremendous amount of cooking can be done with tin foil, which weighs virtually nothing. You will need something to cook with, and for solo trips a single mess kit can do the trick, along with a fair amount of tin foil – use as needed, and pack it out to where it can be disposed of properly. One can always improvise as well.

Survival Kit

Everyone should have a first aid kit. Most items are lightweight, and, while hopefully not necessary, worth their weight in gold when you need them. However, taking a step further and adding some more lightweight and helpful items can further increase your chances of survival if and when things go awry.

In addition to the regular bandages, gauze, tweezers and antiseptic, you should also consider a small cable saw, a roll of duct tape for general shelter repair and emergency first aid, and a lightweight rain poncho. All of these items are great for when things don’t go according to plan. Make room also for a Mylar blanket, a couple in fact as they weigh almost nothing, sort of like tin foil, only they can be used over and over, as well as things intended to help you survive off the grid.

The Tent

For the majority of novice campers and hikers, their tent is by far the heaviest item. Even smaller backpacking tents can weigh you down, and a few alternatives are always worth considering. The first step any camper, hiker or aspiring survivalist should take is choosing a tent that works for them. If you are going out on your own, and plan on doing so again, pick out a single-person tent. There’s no point lugging around your family’s four-person one, especially when you can use the space for more important and valuable items.

In some cases, a tent is not even necessary. For the true survivalists, a light hammock with some rain gear can work just as well, if not better. It is lighter, easier to set up in dense wilderness, and more comfortable than sleeping on sticks and rocks all night.

Another option — reserved for the true survivalists — is making your own shelter. The woods can provide everything a seasoned outdoorsman needs for shelter, and there are plenty of online resources for creating survival shelters from sticks and indigenous plants. Definitely do a trial run in your backyard or with a spare tent first.

Sleeping outdoors in your own shelter can take some getting used to and no matter the weather a layer or two between you and the ground is important as the cooling earth can lower your core temperature and your don’t really have that many degrees to give up before it can be a problem. 98.6 degrees is the averaged normal, 95 degrees is the onset of hypothermia. If you don’t have a sleeping pad or air mattress then leaves, evergreen branches and other ground cover can be employed.

Your Knife

Knives are a necessity almost everywhere you go, and they will be your best friend in any situation from boredom to all-out survival. It’s a well-known trope that survivalists carry huge Bowie knives, machetes and other over sized and menacing implements of destruction. However, knives, like everything else, add to the weight and awkwardness of your pack. In most cases — unless you’re fighting a bear — a more modest knife can work just as well as the huge machetes.

When it comes down to it, the most significant weight a knife should have is on your wallet. Spend a few extra dollars and shell out for good maintenance items like whetstones and a sheath, and you’ll be using the same knife for years to come. A modest, quality blade won’t fail you when it matters, and it won’t get in your way while you’re hiking, and a back-up knife for this most critical of survival tools is worth it’s minor extra weight.

Staying Light

Freedom of movement is huge when you’re hiking for miles through woods and mountains. Overburdening can be a pain, and fatigue increases your chances of making poor decisions and hurting yourself. Cutting down your weight in these four areas will help you stay sharp, stay light and stay safe.

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