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Saving Seeds will Save and Make You Money

Having a garden is great, whether you are having plants that bear flowers or the ones the cultivate fruits. Have you ever wonder, as you water tomatoes, how good it is if you can multiply them more and make a profit out of it? Well, guess what, saving seeds can actually do that for you.

But wait, there’s more! If you save your seeds, you do not only increase your chances of making more money, it can also help you save! If you know how to do the process correctly, you will no longer need to shell out money to purchase seeds for the next season.

That is why I decided to create this piece of writing because it is also dedicated to other gardeners, even if they are not after selling their crops.

Let’s cut the long wait and start discussing how you can make the most out of the seeds from your garden (or kitchen, if you are planning to start growing one).​

This article will

  • Tell you the difference between annual, biennial and perennial plants
  • Discuss what pollination is
  • Inform you about the importance of saving seeds
  • Teach you about the lifespan of a seed
  • Give you the materials you will need when you are planning to save seeds
  • Explain the process of saving your seeds: harvest, clean, and store
  • Share with you expert tips and tricks
  • Let you know the difference between hybrids and pure breeds
  • Answer frequently asked questions

#1. All about seeds

What are seeds?​

What are seed

Annual, Biennial and Perennial

Prior to discussing seeds themselves, let us be aware of the different kinds of plants. There are three kinds of them and let me show the difference one by one.

There are plants that produce seeds and develop them fully within 12 months; they are called annual plants. They complete their cycle within 1 year. Coin the term with annual which means year and you will remind yourself about this easily.

Others wait until the next year before flowering. For example, you have to expect your carrot or beet to flower and mature seeds next year even if you harvested them this summer. These types of plants are referred to as biennial plants. “Two years” will be your keyword with this type of plant.

These biennial plants are strong enough to survive cold seasons; you just have to help them. Your role, however, may vary from one location to the other. In some areas, layering leaves or hay on top of the soil is enough, on the other hand, some plants needed to be transferred to a warmer ground and you have to return them to their places when spring comes.

There is a type of plant which can bear and mature seeds continuously every year, the perennials. You might notice them hibernating during winter but they will surely grow back from the same root in the spring.

Pollination

Just like humans, plants can come from a pure ethnic group or they could carry a mix of different races. Plants can pollinate in three ways: from two types of plants, through the help of wind or insects, or by themselves.

If the plant reproduces from the first two processes, it is called cross-pollination. On the other hand, there are plants that have both male and female parts. In return, they would be able to successfully pollinate within. This is what we call self-pollination.

Plants which can self-pollinate can remain pure even without isolating them from other species but if you want to be sure, feel free to do so.

Examples of self-pollinating plants would be beans, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes. Beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, cucumbers, leeks, onions, pumpkins, quinoa, and spinach are the examples of cross-pollinating plants.

Importance of saving seeds

Some of the people I know who started saving seeds did it for one reason: they wanted to save money. Although it is not much, since tomato seeds would cost as low as $2, they would need to spend more for the specific type they wanted. On top of that, they would even have to travel far and exert effort to find it.

Did you know that decades ago, farmers and gardeners do not really purchase seeds from the market? They simply save seeds and produce a good number of vegetable varieties from it. Every gardener knows how to do it before. And every one of them can successfully come up with a produce that is acclimatized to the type of land and kind of weather in their area.​

The rise of technology and modern agricultural processes may have made everything easier; conversely, they have reduced crop diversity drastically. It is not surprising to hear older people looking for fruits or vegetables with a specific description and even the biggest supermarket in town cannot provide it.

Since we are only left with few kinds of vegetables nationwide, the seeds that we can buy from the market have the tendency to be unsuitable to the kind of land in our locality. It is possible also that it could not survive our climate, and worse, it becomes susceptible to diseases and pests – things the farmers from the previous generation do not really consider a problem.

Saving seeds do not only save money, it also saves effort and time. When you have saved seeds, they are already prepared for development. This means all you have to do is to transfer your seed heads to one bed and rotate as needed.

Extinction is another concern for most gardeners that is why seed saving is highly encouraged. The crops we used to enjoy with our grandparents are starting to become wiped out. The culture that is attached to these kinds of flowers or fruits will be affected sooner or later. We may be able to create that traditional dish we have been serving for decades, but the taste will already be altered.

The problem with extinction is that it is not only the classification we should be worried about. Without people who save seeds of certain plants, our grandchildren might not be able to enjoy their presence anymore. Ever imagined them asking “What is an eggplant granny?”? How hard could it possibly be if they do not even know what a ‘plant’ is?

Without seeds, we will be having problems with food security too. With seeds, we no longer have to eat genetically modified produces. These types are often reported to be causing obesity and allergic reactions and are even sometimes classified as carcinogenic products. Grow your plants at home and you free yourselves and your families from crops that are exposed to chemicals. For more ideas, visit our friend at Be Self Sufficient.

If you are still not convinced about the importance of saving seeds, try watching the movie Lorax and see how the future generation wished to see a living tree and how they tried to guard one seed with their life.

#2. Saving Seeds 101

Beginners Guide

If you are already growing fruits and flowers, seeds then can be found all over your garden!

First-timers can start with self-pollinating plants such as beans peas, peppers and tomatoes. I will be guiding you how to identify healthy seeds later on.

For gardeners with advanced skills on seed saving, you can now try other crops such as cucumbers, gourds, melons, and pumpkins. You have to be aware however that there is a high chance that the products may not have the exact characteristics from the parent plants.​

Lifespan of a Seed

The survival of seeds differs from one species to another. Some seeds are naturally long-living and others are not.

The secret for their longevity depends on how carefully you followed the saving process. If the seeds are properly stored, they can stay ‘plant-able’ for three to four years. It is, however, best to plant and sow them according to their cycle.

Some farmers prefer older seeds for selected plants as they believe that they will produce more fruit by that time.

Things that can spoil your saved seeds:

  • Moisture
  • Heat
  • Light

Coarse Approximations

Parsnips can live up to 2 years. Seeds that can live up to 3 years include beetroot, chard and leaf beet, carrots, onions, leeks, spring, and parsley. Courgettes and squashes are viable for 4 years. Beans, lettuces, peas, peppers, and aubergines can last for 5 years. You can save tomato seeds until they’re 8 years old and cucumbers and melons until they’re 10.

What are the things you need to prepare when you plan to save seeds?

Labeling materials will be needed such as markers and optional stickers. This will be used when you warn yourself and others not to pick a particular fruit on your plant or tree. Another case in which you will need this is when you store multiple kinds of seeds. Labeling will help you identify them easier.

Harvesting materials would include pruners to cut off the stem of the fruit from the plant, a knife for cutting the fruit in half to expose the seeds, and lastly, spoon to scoop out the seeds.​

Cleaning materials will be needed after you harvest your seeds. Depending on your practice, culture, and the type of fruit, the resources may vary. The universal thing you will need is, of course, water.​

Others make use of metal sieve to separate the seed from the flesh. Supplementary practices might need glass jar and spoon, wherein they would put the seeds in water, stir it several times to separate it from other fruit parts. I recommend the latter technique for soft and tiny seeds.​

Storing materials are crucial in saving seeds. To separate multiple kinds of seeds, you may use a paper envelope or packets and Ziploc plastics. You have to prepare air-tight containers as well to prevent moisture from accumulating on your samples.​

Selecting and Harvesting Healthy Seeds

Hybrids are not advisable for beginners, instead, go for open-pollinated varieties or the ‘heirloom’ types. These are the ones that have been passed down from generations to generations.

The secret in producing the best fruits lies on the parent seed. Select only the best tasting ones to save.

For runner bean seeds, the healthy ripe ones can be expected from the bottom of the plant. Just like tomatoes, we have to leave them so that they can mature fully. Wait until you see swelling in its pods, and as it changes its color to yellow then brown.

For lettuces, seed heads must be dried for two to three weeks after flowering. The tricky part in harvesting lettuce seeds is that they don’t mature all at once, therefore, you cannot get many seeds in a single harvest. They will be ready when you see half the flowers have gone to seed.

For peppers, wait until they turn red and become wrinkled.

For tomatoes, you can acquire the seeds from the moment they get ripe. However, you might want to leave it on the plant until it gets overly ripe. They will appear to be wrinkled, dark red, and extra juicy. The aim here is to let the seed mature as much as possible.​

Cleaning and Processing​

When processing bean seeds, you can open the pods by hand. If you have a lot of seeds, you can whirl them. If you have huge chaffs, use a fork to separate. The remaining particles should be sorted through.

To prepare your lettuce for cleaning, shake off seeds every day from flowering heads one at a time. You can remove the remaining seeds through manual rubbing. Sift the seeds and chaffs using screens.

Peppers can be processed in two different ways. If you just have a small amount of pepper seeds, it is advisable for you to use the dry method. Remove the lowermost part of the fruit; the seeds in the central cone should be stripped carefully afterwards.

Large amounts of peppers need to be processed during the wet method. Cut off the peppers, this time, on the topmost part. Using a blender put water and add the peppers. Blend slowly until the seeds would sink on the bottom part.​

Slice tomatoes lengthwise and gradually squeeze to extract the middle cavity. This would be the seeds and the surrounding jelly. Place the extract in a glass jar, pour a small amount of water and let it sit for three days.

Ensure that you place the container in a warm area, and you stir it once every 24 hours. After a few days, the water will contain a fungus that eats the jelly components of the mixture. Because of this, germination is then prevented. Another benefit of the presence of the fungus is that it creates anti-bacterial substances that can combat diseases as manifested by bacterial cankers and specks. Let it sit.

Pour warm water into the container after three days. This time, the contents will settle down. Once it fully settles, pour the water out. Repeat until the seeds are rinsed fully.

Aside from the seeds of tomatoes, the flesh can be saved as well if this is properly done.​

Cleaning Techniques

  • BLENDING
  • HAND CLEANING
  • TARPING
  • THRESHING

This was exemplified in our discussion with tomato preparation. Blend water with fruit and the debris and bad seeds will float as the viable seeds will settle at the bottom. Pour the contents leaving the seeds below. Rinse several times until the water being poured off is completely clean.

Storing Seeds

There are different ways on how to store a seed. You have to be primarily concerned about avoiding the seeds to get moist or else they can spoil easily. Check the material of your container and the construction of your lid and seal to be sure.​

The materials that are highly advisable would be glass and tri-laminate foil bag. The transparency of the glasses makes it a perfect choice as it will allow you to observe the seeds easily. However, since light can also damage your seeds, getting colored glasses are wise. Plastic containers can also be transparent; my concern is that the seeds can be exposed to the chemicals of the plastic, eventually affecting the quality of the seeds nonetheless.​

For long term storage, foils are the best choice. Ensure that the foil is tightly sealed. Closely monitor the temperature. A temperature heat sealer that has a jagged sealing bar is also desirable.

For seeds with sharp edges, placing them in a paper envelope might help. Alternatively, you may use vacuum sealed bags before placing them in glass containers.

Make sure you do not forget to put labels on them.

Write down the name, their species, and the date you collected them.

To help you choose the perfect container you might want to read: Selecting containers for long-term storage.Maintain a temperature between 32° and 41°F.You might want to keep your seeds in the fridge if you have extra space.Aside from the temperature, ensure that the seeds will never get in contact with moisture. You may use silica gels or freshly opened powdered milk as desiccants.​

Maintain a temperature between 32° and 41°F.You might want to keep your seeds in the fridge if you have extra space.

Aside from the temperature, ensure that the seeds will never get in contact with moisture. You may use silica gels or freshly opened powdered milk as desiccants.​

#3. Saving Seeds: Expert Tips and Tricks

Planning

  • Get organized. Planning properly will help you save time, effort and money. Create a habit of recording so that you can identify the seeds you’ve saved, when you are supposed to sow it and its expiration date. It is also going to be helpful if you note down your observations when you get your produce from a particular seed. This will help you identify what needs to be adjusted or continued.
  • Once you are able to identify the fruit which you think has the highest quality of the batch, you have to label it. It is very important for you to label your target fruits as this will prevent accidental picking of the fruits by anyone.
  • If you wish to produce a pure-breed plant, save seeds from a number of individual plants; about 1 seed per plant is good.
  • Saving seeds from multiple harvests will maintain genetic diversity on your seed sample.
  • If you wish a particular characteristic (example: size, shape or color), get the seeds from the plant that has that a specific trait.
  • Want to know when the perfect time to harvest? When the fruits are starting to fall from the tree or plant, that’s your cue! Oh, I forgot, if there are no fruits, check the pods. You may start harvesting when the seeds rattle.

Saving Seeds

  • Problems with humidity on your container? Put some rice grains inside! It will absorb moisture. (You probably heard about putting your wet gadgets in rice box, or when you see rice grains in restaurant’s salt shaker, they all share the same rationale.)
  • To know the viability of seeds, get some of your samples, dampen it using a paper towel and place it loosely in a plastic bag. Allow it to sit for a few days ensuring that it is properly aerated and warmed. If there is a positive germination, then they are good to go.
  • When preparing peppers using the wet method, do not get the seeds that will float as those seeds are not fully matured yet, therefore, they are not good for saving
  • Drying may take time that is why patience is a virtue. Never speed this process up by cooking your seeds in the oven.
  • Check your sample from time to time. Freezing your seeds might help when you notice a presence of insects in your container. Three-day freezing is acceptable to get rid of them. Remove seeds that have white dots or holes.

Sowing

  • When you sow your seeds, lightly tamp the combination of soil, mix, and seeds in your container. This will ensure that there is a good contact between them. The effect of this tamping is that you will get an assurance that the nutrients will be relayed to the seeds.
  • Selecting your containers matter! Choose a container that is flat and wide. For starting seeds, clay pots are highly recommended. The wider the better, because this will prevent your seeds to overcrowd.
  • Decontaminate your containers before starting your seeds. You may soak your container in bleach (10% solution) for 15 to 30 minutes and dry before using.
  • Drainage and adequate air flow will prevent disease. Remember, bacteria and other pathogens thrive best in moist, dark and warm areas.
  • For practical gardeners like me, you may upcycle cardboard canisters and pill bottles for your storage needs. For starting seeds, feel free to use recycled plastic containers. Think about saving your next yogurt, ice cream, margarine containers for this purpose the next time you consume those.

#4. Hybrid or Pure Breed?

This has been a very controversial issue when it comes to seed saving. Technically, we discourage saving hybrid vegetable seeds to be saved as they will not be producing pure species by the time you harvest them.

Please be guided that the label F-1 does not necessarily mean ‘do not save’. You just have to be informed that this plant is from a successful cross-pollination of two pure lines because they wanted a specific characteristic to manifest. Hybrids are created naturally, however, if your plant is already from a hybrid seed, it is not wise to save your seeds because the generation that this plant will breed will be having low quality.

You might also encounter the word GMO seeds which, just like the hybrid seeds, are a combination of two or more varieties. Unlike cross-pollinated plants and seeds, on the other hand, genetically modified organisms are established in laboratories. If you read my statement slowly, I mentioned varieties, not ‘plant varieties’ to be specific because GE (genetically engineered) seeds are a combination of different biological kingdoms like bacteria and corn.

There are a huge number of researches that prove bad effects of genetically modified organisms on human health. Agriculturally, since GMO crops are still plants, they still have seeds which could be carried by insects and the wind. This may then cross-pollinate other produces. And we do not know how they might change the future generations of the affected plants.​

#5. Frequently Asked Questions

1.  How can I start to save the seeds in my garden?

Start to save seeds from crops that can be easily saved such as the ones we discussed above (beans, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes). Make sure that you have an adequate amount of plants. Take into consideration the fact that you need to have a good population size to get your sample. You may have to adjust the placement of your plants to produce plants which are not hybrid. Proper spacing is important to prevent cross pollination.With this, it is important to properly plan what kinds of seeds you are going to collect and the sowing strategies you have to implement.

2. What are GMO? Are they suitable for saving?

GMO is an abbreviation that stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. From the term itself, these are living organisms that were produced with scientific innervations. Genetically modified organisms have DNAs that are combined from two (sometimes even more) different species.

There is a huge debate on this matter as there are localities banning GMO products. The benefit, however, of altering breeds is that they create a new type in which the good traits of two strains can be combined to create a product that will manifest them both.

Cross-breeding is typically done for different reasons. Primarily, agriculturists would want to create a crop that can resist insect and disease better, are more adaptable to different kinds of soil and climate, are much more tolerant to heat or drought, can withstand pollution, and has a bigger nutritional value. Aside from the aforementioned reasons, breeding can minimize the impact on soil and off-farm, develop produce for populations with low resources, and are claimed to support whole-farm ecology.

In some states, production of genetically engineered seeds is prohibited. There are so many studies that prove the negative consequences of a genetically modified organism. Hence, I also do not support saving seeds from a GE plant.

3. What are organic produces?

Organic produces come from 100% organic seeds. Organic gardening ensures that the crop is void of any chemicals in any form such as fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. Farmers who grow organic produces make use of all-natural fertilizers, manures, and compost.

Aside from being safe, organic gardening is highly encouraged because it is also easy and more affordable.

Unfortunately, there are so many genetically modified organisms today. To prevent your organic garden to be contaminated with GMOs, buy single-ingredient organic foods, grow your own heirloom or open-pollinated plants, and practice isolation techniques for your plants.

4. How can I grow plants from seeds?

It’s easy! You can do it in five steps: select, harvest, clean, dry and store. Select which fruit you would like to grow next season. Wait until the fruit is overly ripe but not rotten. Once it is ready, cut the fruit in two, and scoop the seeds. Cleaning can be done in different methods if you are saving tomato seeds, put the seeds and the gel around it to a bottle of water and stir occasionally for two days. Once the seeds are totally separated from the gel, you may take it out and dry it. Use towels, plate or glass for drying. Never use paper products as the fibers can stick on the seed. Dry your seeds for at least 2 weeks. You may plant the seeds to your garden beds or pots once they dry completely.

5. I do not have a garden but I am planning to start one. Where can I buy seeds?

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Ways to Help Replenish Your Electrolyes

Only six electrolytes minerals needed by the blood in fairly large amounts are obtained from the diet.

1. Sodium
2. Chloride
3. Magnesium
4. Potassium
5. Calcium
6. Phosphorus

The first two are provided by table salt: sodium chloride. Adding about 1/2 teaspoon of salt to your diet per day provides enough sodium and chloride. The typical American diet already has plenty of salt in junk food, fast food, etc., so no additional salt is needed. But if you are eating from a survival garden and from stored food, you might need to add salt to your meals. Be sure to include plenty of table salt with your stored foods.

Magnesium is found in whole grains. Although whole grains spoil sooner in storage, it might be a good idea to have some whole grain flour, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta in storage. You can also grow amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat three crops high in magnesium.

Potassium is highest in potato. Tomato juice and sun-dried tomatoes are also high in potassium. Fruits and vegetables generally contain some potassium. Canned tomato sauce, paste, and juice are a good source of potassium. Potatoes can be easily grown in a survival garden. Some varieties of potato can be grown from seed, rather than from small chunks of potato.

Calcium and phosphorus are both found in cheese and other dairy products. Long term storage of cheese is a little tricky. You can store those boxed mac and cheese dinners the kind with the powdered cheese or the deluxe kind with a paste like cheese sauce. Your other good option is to throw a blocks of cheese in the freezer. Frozen foods keep indefinitely, but the consistency of the cheese may suffer.

If you are trying to survive from stored foods, you will need the three macro-nutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as the above six electrolytes. A survival garden is a good option for supplementing stored food. And if any food is still available at markets after the SHTF, you should prioritize macro-nutrients and electrolytes.

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The Pine Tree and Its Many Uses

Did you know pine trees can be used as food, medicine and survival equipment?

The pine is one of the most useful trees on the planet, providing food, shelter, medicine and fuel. Knowing how to utilize this versatile resource could someday be the key to your very survival if you find yourself alone in the wilderness.

There are many species in the pine family (or genus Pinus), and they can be found virtually everywhere in the world.

Food:

Many types of pine needles can be used to make a tea rich in vitamin C. Simply steep a handful of needles for 5-10 minutes. The longer you steep them, the less vitamins will remain, so don’t overdo it.

It’s important to note that some pine needles are poisonous be sure to avoid consuming the needles from the Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), the Yew (Taxus) and the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa also known as Western Yellow Pine, Bull Pine and Blackjack Pine). Make sure to learn the differences between the edible and non-edible varieties before making pine needle tea.

Pine nuts from all varieties of pine are edible, although some are small and not typically harvested. They can be a little tricky to harvest and perish quickly once they are shelled but can be stored longer if left in their shells or roasted.

Inner pine bark and pine resin are edible; male pine cones and their pollen can also be eaten. Native Americans chewed pine resin as sort of a natural chewing gum. The inner bark of large pine trees is edible, and the bark from young pine twigs can be eaten as well. Be careful not to damage or kill a pine tree by tearing off too much bark, and never ring the bark from a pine tree.

Instead, tear off small pieces of bark or look for branches that have already fallen. The inner bark can be eaten raw it can also be boiled, fried or cooked over a flame.

Medicine:

Pine resin is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It can be directly applied to wounds or sores and helps keep germs out. Pine resin can also be used to staunch the flow of blood.

The resin can also be used to extract splinters just dab some on the skin where the splinter is embedded and within a day or two the splinter should come out on its own.

Fuel:

Pine resin makes a great fire starter, particularly in damp settings. You can usually find a spot on a pine tree where resin is oozing out from a break in the bark try not to injure the tree to collect pine resin, but if necessary, make a small break in the bark or break a branch. The resin will begin to ooze out as protection for the tree.

If you are in an area where there are pine stumps, look for places on the stump where resin has soaked the wood and made it sticky. Tear small strips of the stickiest wood from the stump and save them as aids for starting fires.

Shelter:

Pine boughs can be used to create shelter, and pine needles can be used to make a soft, warm and dry bed.

Water-proofing and other uses:

Pine resin can be used as a waterproofing agent and works well on tent seams, boots and mittens.

Heat pine resin up and mix with ashes or charcoal from your campfire to make glue. Once cooled, the glue will harden but can be easily heated up again when it is needed.

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HOW TO BE PREPARED FOR ANY SURVIVAL SITUATION-A GUIDE FOR NEWBIES

Those that have decided it is now time to begin prepping may be overwhelmed with information. You may have watched the reality shows, and have researched extensively on the Internet and still find it hard to know where to start. In this article we will cover some of the fundamental knowledge you will need to survive any situation.

First, you must realize that most preparations are not disaster specific, which means that regardless of the survival situation you find yourself in you will need certain tangible items. Once you have gathered these essentials, then you can begin to work on the intangible.

You may have a strong belief that there may be a major volcanic eruption, or you fear a nuclear, chemical or biological attack, civil uprisings or possibly a collapse of the financial markets. There may not be any evidence of such an event occurring but that does not make it any less real in your mind. However, the reality is that there are certain disasters that you know will happen such as seasonal storms that cause power disruptions, flooding, and wind damage. These real events must be the ones you prepare for initially.

The Basics

Everyone must realize that your standard of living during a crisis will not be what it was during normal times. A crisis will be an emotional time and it is important that you introduce normalcy as quickly as possible. Children and others will still need meals at their regular time clothes need to be laundered, and baths given. You must prepare so that you can perform as many of the same functions during the crisis as you did before the calamity.

You will need shelter, food, water, fire, and energy

It is assumed for all practical purposes that you have a shelter and it will available during a disaster. However, it may be damaged because of the crisis so you should have tools and materials available to make emergency repairs to your home. Sheets of plywood and waterproof tarps can be used to cover openings and holes in the roof to prevent further damage. Sheets of plastic and duct tape can be used to cover glass windows from the inside to prevent injury from flying glass and to cover any openings to the outside. Use plywood to cover windows and to cover holes in the walls or roof as well.

Consider emergency shelters such as family sized or one-person tents that can be set up on your property if your home is damaged to the point you cannot live in it. Have cots and sleeping bags available for everyone.

For natural disaster preparedness, you should have at least a 14-day supply of food and water. Calculate Food Storage For Your Family. Use the recommended one gallon per day per individual to calculate amounts. If you plan to use dehydrated foods, you will need to increase the amount of water needed. If you are preparing for longer than a 14-day period increase the water amount to three gallons per day for laundry needs and cooking. The one-gallon recommendation does take oral care and personal hygiene into consideration.

Planning for any crisis should also include plans for evacuation. Ensure each member has a backpack(bug-out-bag) with 72-hours worth of food, water and other essentials. Any disaster can force you to abandon your home or city. Have supplies in the home for sheltering in place and have the means to carry supplies with you if you leave. You may not have time to gather supplies once you realize you must evacuate so ensure the bags are always packed and ready to go.

Medical supplies are important along with specific medicines for children and any prescription medications. Talk to your health care professional about emergency supplies of maintenance medications such as for the heart, diabetes, high blood pressure and so on. You will need these medications everyday and you may not have access to pharmacies during the crisis.

If you require insulin and have more than a 30-day supply on hand, you will need a way to keep the medication chilled. You can store insulin out of refrigeration up to 28 days between 59 and 86ᵒF according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA, 2012).

Additions item everyone should have on hand for a crisis:

  • Illumination such as propane or oil fueled lanterns
  • Matches and other fire starting means, never rely on matches alone to start a fire you should have lighters, magnesium sticks and Ferro rods available (carry fire starting materials in you evacuation bags as well)
  • Communication devices other than cell phones and landlines, devices can include Citizens Band radios (CB) two-way radios (Walkie-Talkies) and ham radios (carry two-way radios in your bug-out-bags, one for each backpack)
  • Portable solar radios
  • Signal flags or brightly colored cloth to signal rescue personnel
  • Compass and maps of the area state and country in the event you have to evacuate (in bug-out-bag)
  • Emergency thermal blankets for each person and include one in each evacuation bag
  • Rain Gear such as rain suits or ponchos and include in your backpacks
  • Have all-important documents/paperwork packaged so they are protected against water and other damage. Carry the documents with you if you have to evacuate.

The list of course is not comprehensive and it must be adapted to suit your personal preferences and specific needs. This article assumes you would have the typical household items such as eating utensils, pots, pans and so on.

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GOT CHARCOAL?

I think every prepper with a bug out bag should have at least 1 bottle of Activated Charcoal capsules, or powder for making tonic drinks.  For those who already have their homestead or Bug Out location, I advise MAKING charcoal and having as much as possible on hand (ground up) ready to use.

In the times ahead, I see lots of people eating lots of things that under “normal” circumstances they would not, or indulging in food a little too old.  You may even have to trade for food you are not 100% certain of quality or origin.  After the first sign of food poisoning or any poisoning/bowel distress, get the charcoal in you as fast as you can! It draws toxins like flies to honey saving you from hours or DAYS of serious distress, maybe even possibly save your life.

Uses for charcoal

Uses and benefits: upset stomach, colic, nausea, vomiting, acid indigestion, gas, and more.  Another great use for your quality homemade charcoal is as BIO CHAR. You would want to smash it into a chunky powder leaving no piece bigger than a golf ball.  Mix your charcoal with your compost and manure and let if sit.  Just as it absorbs poisons, it also provides the perfect home for beneficial bacteria for your garden.  Once the charcoal is infused with all the good stuff, TILL it into your soil with the compost and manure normally. The cool thing about  your little bio-char / bacteria  houses that you’ve mix up, is that they can release the beneficial nutrients for 100 years.  Thus turning poor soil into prime farm land and makes prime farmland even better. Try it!  You’ll thank me.

There are a lot of other uses for your charcoal such as homemade water filters that you can use to purify rainwater or whatever water source you want.  Some of you may also recall that episode of  ‘preppers’ where that guy was using charcoal between two filter masks.  He covered the inner layer with charcoal and then duct taped the two face masks together.  The charcoal will act as the filter in this method.  I have not tried it myself but the idea seems sound to me.

I also just learned that high-end speakers use activated charcoal to filter sound.  I know it does something as far as frequency in the soil, beneficially, but I just learned of this myself and don’t know enough to speak on it.  I’m including it here in hopes that someone out there smarter than me might comment as to what it’s all about or for those that want to research this on your own.

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A Modular Camper That Takes One Person, One Hour, And One Screwdriver To Put Together

Don’t have space to store a travel trailer? What if you could assemble your RV only when needed? The Tail Feather modular camper lets you do just that.

Lawrence Drake created the Tail Feather Camper Kit because he wanted to have a camper that wouldn’t take up space in the driveway or garage when it wasn’t in use. Designed as a modular camper, this build-it-yourself product uses multiple panels to allow assembly on a standard-sized utility trailer.

The Tail Feather Camper – a modular camper that can be taken apart and stored when not in use.

The camper/utility-trailer combination weighs around 1,000 lbs., making it easy to tow with an SUV or family car. There are four different models that fit utility trailers between the sizes of 5’ x 8’ and 5’ x 10’. When assembled, the camper’s living space is 6’ 1” wide by 8’ 4” to 10’ 1” wide depending on the model with an interior height of 6’ 2”.

One person can easily put together the camper panels to build the camper in an hour’s time using just a screwdriver.

Each panel weighs no more than 35 lbs., making it easy to handle and they nest together to minimize space when stored.

There’s enough space inside the modular camper to seat four at the dinette and sleep two when converted into a full size bed.

The panels are insulated and the kit comes with a floor liner to keep the camper dry and dust free. Included are a dinette/full size bed, removable cabinets made of canvas, windows that can be moved around, a roof that has skylights and vents, and a counter with a sink and faucet.

The kit also comes with 2 LED ceiling lights and one power panel that has a 120 V AC/12 V DC 15 amp supply. All the interior furnishings can quickly be collapsed and removed when needed.

Two of the models have doors on the side while the other two models have double rear doors.

The models that have the rear doors can easily be converted into a toy hauler to load a motorcycle, ATV, or bicycles when the furniture is removed.

Or use the panels to create a modular, stationary shelter.

The company also produces Quite Lite Shelters, which is a conversion kit that transforms the Tail Feather campers into a standalone shelter. The kit includes a special doorframe, additional wall panels (to increase the size of the camper), and an extra roof section.

Drake hopes that the shelters can be used as an ice fishing hut, shelter for backcountry skiing, or even emergency housing. The Quite Lite Shelter comes in one model which sits on a base of 8’ 4” x 15’ 6” and the space above the knee height is 9’ 6” x 16’ 6”.

As of May 2016, Teal International, the maker of the Tail Feather modular camper, is currently reorganizing, but hopes to have product available soon.

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16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance

Scavenging resources in a wilderness survival situation can turn up life-saving stuff. That’s why developing a possum mentality is vital!

Our ancestors walked our woodlands and learned to use the resources most modern outdoor enthusiast overlook. Essential woodland resources seem to be invisible to the modern eye. The stuff you’ve got packed in your woodcraft/bushcraft kit or bug out bag are consumable. You’ll eventually use up that roll of duct tape… or, more than likely, you forgot to pack it.

Not a problem. Pine trees produce a sticky substitute with superior benefits!

Learning to identify and use natural resources has gotten me out of many sticky situations in the woods. Pardon the play on words as we explore the many uses of this tacky, amber-colored pine sap I call Jewel of the Woods!

Collecting Sappy Jewels

Pine trees secrete resin as a defense to close wounds from insects or other forces. The sap provides a protective layer or sealant over the injury . The sap hardens forming an amber glob which turns dark in color over time. On fresh wounds, you’ll notice a whitish layer of sap covering the damaged area. With time, large clumps form making it easier to harvest.

Harvesting fresh resin can become a sticky situation. The fresher the glob, the more sticky and pliable. On dedicated Jewel of the Woods harvesting trips, I carry a grub knife, one I don’t mind getting covered with resin. To remove sap from my good blades in the woods, I use a bit of Everclear (190 proof) from my flask on a piece of cloth.

For hardened resin, poke a sharp object (grub knife or sharp stick) into the base of the glob and pry it loose. It’ll break off and fall into your hand or container underneath. That’s when you’ll notice the crystalized form inside which resembles a beautiful piece of amber stone.

For hard-to-reach spots high in trees, my friend Joe at  Feral Woodcraft shares his clever resin harvesting tool.

Now that you’ve gathered a fair amount, what’s this sticky stuff good for?

A.) Self Aid

  • Pine sap properties include: antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
  • Treat wounds – apply it to cuts like you would super glue. Follow first-aid protocol for cleaning/flushing first.
  • Stop bleeding – apply a soft glob (heat if necessary) to help stop bleeding.
  • Treat skin rashes and eczema with ointments,tinctures, and salves. For tinctures, use 190 proof Everclear since resin won’t dissolve with watered down alcohols.
  • Chew softer sap straight off the tree like a gum for sore throats and colds. You could pre-make “gum” with these ingredients: bees-wax, pine sap, and honey.

B.) Glue/Epoxy – Pine Pitch

  • Turn pine resin into pitch sticks. Jamie Burleigh has a great tutorial of his method on Primitive ways.
  • Hafting arrowheads, fletching arrows and gluing other primitive tools and weapons.
  • Waterproof boot seams, canoes, and containers.
  • Patch holes in tents and tarps.
  • Pretty much any thing you need to glue or patch in the woods, pine pitch is the product.

C.) Candling Device

  • Place globs of dried resin in a fatwood torch to extend its burn time.
  • Pitch sticks, described above, can be used as a makeshift candles.
  • Melt sap and soak a cotton bandana or rag wrapped around a stick for a torch.
  • Melted or liquid sap poured over a dried mullein stalk works as candle/torch.

D.) Fire Craft

  • Fire is life in a wilderness survival scenario. Even on weekend camping trips, fire offers core temperature control, cooking, and hot cocoa! Resin is your secret weapon to starting and keeping a fire going in wet conditions. Anyone who’s used resin-rich fatwood in rainy conditions appreciates its important role in fire craft.

  • Resin is highly flammable. Once lit, you can dry marginal tinder and small kindling.

  • Harvest liquid sap into a container from a fresh cut in a pine tree to add to a makeshift torch. Secure the container under the exposed bark to collect the sap. Use this liquified sap as torch fuel.

Once you learn to identify this sticky life-saver, you’ll find it difficult to walk past a pine tree without scanning for this Jewel of the Woods!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance.

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Four Exercises To Stay In Shape While Holed Up

Let’s say that you were a prepper. I say “were” because, for the point of this article, The Big Event has already happened, and now you’re not so much prepping as you are surviving. You stockpiled food, medicine, water, and ammunition. You read all the books. You built a secret retreat. Now there’s not much for you to do but to wait the whole thing out.

Unfortunately, you’re going to have to do all of this sitting out while stuck between the same ol’ four walls for yet another day, and slowly, day by day, as your activity levels drop to a bare minimum while you’re cooped up, you begin to grow weaker. You begin to grow slower, and your energy levels begin to plummet as well.

Before The BIG Event, you were in reasonably good shape. You could run a few miles with no problem and spent a couple of evenings per week at the gym. However, during this survival situation, going to the gym is out of the question.

Sure, for the beginning of any survival scenario, you’re probably not going to be worried about your level of conditioning too much. You’re gonna focus on surviving. However, if this scenario begins to stretch out for any extended period of time, maintaining a high level of physical fitness suddenly becomes a much bigger issue. So, what can you do when you’re stuck in the same one-story cabin for who knows how long?

The Exercises

Well, here are four exercises that can be done with minimal space, next to no equipment, and that will strengthen your entire body:

  1. Push-upsDid I really even need to say this one? It’s probably the first one that came to mind for most of you. This is for good reason though. Push-ups are one of the best body-weight exercises out there.By doing these, we’re not only targeting our chest, we’re also hitting the triceps, anterior shoulder, core, and spinal erectors as well. Good ol’ push-ups will not only help to build up your upper body strength (which tends to be the first thing that people lose over time), but they also do an excellent job of strengthening the core.

    Why is this important?

    If you want to be able to push a car, throw a wicked right hook, or shut a door closed on an intruder, you’re going to need a strong chest and powerful triceps.

    What if you can’t do a normal push-up?

    That’s no problem. Every exercise out there can be adjusted for intensity. If a normal push-up is too tough, start off by doing push-ups off of a wall. As you progress, start at the bottom of a stairwell and do push-ups off of the third or fourth step, or which ever step is comfortable.

    Eventually, you’ll get strong enough to do normal push-ups.

    Are knee push-ups an option? Absolutely. You could do them, but just be aware that you have to keep a straight line from your shoulders to your knees if you want to target the right muscles. Don’t point your butt toward the ceiling or get into a cobra-about-to-strike looking posture; none of that stuff is helpful.

    Your body needs to come up as a unit. If you’re having trouble with this, I highly recommend just starting off with some wall push-ups and slowly progressing yourself.

  2. Dead BugsWhere did the name “dead bugs” come from? Well, it is named that because, for this exercise, you’re going to start off laying on your back on the floor with all fours in the air. It’s gonna look like you were giving a horsey-back ride to your kid when you suddenly froze, got turned over on your back, and then got stuck like that.From this position, you’re going to SLOWLY lower your left arm and RIGHT leg until they are parallel to the floor. Raise them back up to starting position, and then repeat the process for the opposite arm and leg.

    Lastly, you’re going to want to focus on keeping your lower back pushed into the floor throughout the movement on this one as well. This drastically increases the number of muscle fibers recruited through the core. Your back is going to want to arch so that it can cheat. Don’t let it.

    Why do I recommend dead bugs?

    Did you know that your core musculature tightens up before you ever even begin to do a bicep curl? Did you know that doing a pull-up requires massive amounts of core strength? Guess what you need to chop wood, carry heavy stuff, or throw a rock.

    Yep. You guessed it– a strong core.

    The core is literally the foundation to just about every movement you can possibly make. Without a strong one, your movements are going to be weak and inefficient.

    On top of this, the core muscles also play a vital part in the protection of the spine. Take a moment to imagine what it would be like attempting to survive by yourself with a tweaked-out back.

    It stinks, doesn’t it?

    And that’s yet another reason that a strong core is essential to survival.

    Therefore, I recommend dead bugs. They’re a fantastic core-conditioning exercise that you’re going to predominantly feel in your abs.

    Don’t be fooled by how silly these things sound or look. They can be pretty brutal when done properly.

  3. Bodyweight squatsYou never know how much you use something, until you hurt it.If you’ve ever twisted your knee, you know what I mean. All of a sudden you come face to face with the reality that you use your legs WAY more than you thought you did.

    Need to run away from a mob/angry creature/bad guy? You need your legs. Need to stand at the stove to cook a meal? You need your legs. Need to haul heavy equipment, push a car, jump to safety, and much, much more? You need your legs.

    So, why not build them to be strong? Stronger legs mean that you can run faster, jump farther, hike longer, and carry heavier loads. In a survival situation, this could mean your life!

    How can we work out the entire musculature of the legs, targeting our quads, hammies, and glutes? The answer is bodyweight squats.

    All you’ve got to do for this one is to sit down on an imaginary toilet, and then shoot right back up, as if the seat was cold!

    Things you’re going to want to keep in mind on this one are to keep your back flat throughout the movement, slightly point your toes out, and put your feet just outside of your shoulders. I cross my arms, too. No cheating with your hands!

    Sounds easy enough, right?

    Hit 15+ reps, and then let me know how you feel.

  4. Let-me-insYou’re going to need a door or a post that’s not going to move, for this one.Let’s say you chose the door. You’re going to place your feet so that you’re straddling the door on both sides, with your feet just a little beyond the door knobs.

    Each hand is now going to grab onto one of the door knobs. From here, you’re going to sit down on that imaginary toilet again, using your legs to support your weight.

    While keeping a firm grip on the door knobs, straighten out your arms so that you are now kind of hanging there by your hands. Now, pull yourself back to the door.

    Once you get into the rhythm of it, it’s going to feel a bit like you’re a pole dancer, but this is going to be one of the best back and arm exercises that you can do with little to no equipment.

    Too easy?

    If this is the case, just know that the closer you can slide your feet to the hinges, the harder these are going to be. Just make sure to maintain the squat pose while doing this one.

    Why let-me-ins?

    Let-me-ins target the lats (the V-shape of your back), your biceps, posterior shoulder, and really blast your grip as well. Pulling is one of the six basic human movements, and you’re going to need to have these muscles well conditioned if you intend to survive.

    Without strong lats and grip, you’re going to have a hard time hanging anything by a rope, climbing a tree, or pulling your wife up from a cliff for that matter.

    Seriously, if you got the chance to do that, she’d think you were the bomb-diggedy.

The Workout

Okay, I’ve got the exercises. Now how should I make my workout?

Ahh, I thought you’d never ask.

Here are the two options I would suggest.

  • Create a circuit workout, or
  • Finish all of your sets for one exercise before moving to the next

Personally, I like circuit workouts the best, and they would be the best option for staying in good shape.

To do a circuit workout, do one set of push-ups, and then do one set of bodyweight squats. Rest 60 seconds, and then repeat the process. Rest another 60 seconds, and then do a set of dead bugs, followed by a set of let-me-ins. Rest another 60 seconds, and then do another set of dead bugs, and let-me-ins.

You get the picture.

If this is too hard or too easy of a workout for you, there are always ways to adjust the intensity. Change the number of repetitions you do, increase the intensity of the exercise, or add another round to your circuit.

Here’s the workout I would do:

Circuit A: Push-ups 1 x 30 Circuit A: Dead Bugs 1 x 5 Rest 60 seconds, and repeat two more times

Circuit B: Bodyweight squats 1 x 15 Circuit B: Let-me-ins 1 x 30 Rest 60 seconds, and repeat Circuit B two times

Things To Keep In Mind

With working out, there are a few basics you’re going to want to understand.

Rule #1: If it hurts, don’t do it.

This sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised. Exercise may make your muscles a tad tender, but if you end up with any kind of pain (there’s a difference), you need to find out what’s going on and switch things around.

Rule #2: Do what you can do.

Don’t go out there trying to impress people. That just leads to your getting hurt. Be wise with how you program your workout. If you can only do ten repetitions before your form starts to break down, then by all means, stick with ten reps.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are strong muscles. Take your time with this. It isn’t a race. Progressing slowly is the key to preventing injuries.

Rule #3: Rest.

When it comes to resistance training, I typically recommend resting a day between workouts. Give your muscles time to recover. This is when they become strong. Also, if you’re new to working out, don’t feel that you’ve got to do this workout four times a week.

This goes back to Rule #2: Do what you can do. Starting off, I’d say going through the workout two or three times per week is fine.

Rest in between sets as well. For this type of workout, I say 15 seconds between exercises while you’re in the middle of a circuit, and 60-90 seconds at the end of a circuit. However, once again, remember Rule #2.

In Conclusion

Staying in good physical condition is essential to surviving during a disaster scenario, especially if you’re going to be holed up for any length of time. With these four exercises, you’ll help to further guarantee that your body stays in peak shape while cooped up, plus you’ll further increase your chances of being able to pull somebody off a cliff, Dark Knight style, and you KNOW you wanna do that.

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3 HERBS FOR SHTF HYGIENE

Soapwort, licorice root, and sage are three herbs, all easily grown in a home garden, that can really help you in case you run out of hygiene products post-SHTF. Soapwort can be used as a replacement for soap, licorice for toothpaste, and sage for deodorant.

Herbal Hygiene

Rather than keep ten years’ worth of deodorant and toothpaste on hand, I’d rather just keep one or two extras in the medicine cabinetand know what I can use from my garden instead. Part of this is because space is at a premium in my living quarters, partly because I’m a stubborn minimalist, and partly because I’m a kooky herbalist. Take your pick.

So, let’s take a look at the three most basic components for personal hygiene: something to wash skin, hair, and clothes; something for oral health; and something to keep the arm pits from getting quite so stinky. Three easy to grow, perennial herbs that fit these functions perfectly are soapwort, licorice, and sage. Being able to use these three herbs in a pinch can be handy, or they can supplement an existing daily routine as a more natural option.

Soapwort- Saponaria officinalis

Soap Substitute

Soapwort is a beautiful perennial plant that is hardy in US zones 3-9. It grows to be about three feet tall, and prefers rich, compost-heavy soil. It can be a little finicky about light requirements, as it likes sun but not too much afternoon sun. If it likes its growing location it can become invasive, but if that happens, just harvest more of it.Soapwort leaves and roots can be dried for later and still lather when used.

To make a soap solution with soapwort, use 1 tablespoon of dried leaves or roots (three tablespoons if the herb is fresh) per cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, add the herb, and allow to simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. Strain and cool before use.

Soapwort solution can be used for hair, skin, and clothing. It is very gentle, and is often found in high end organic facial care products and used to clean antique textiles. So by all means, don’t wait for SHTF!

Soapwort is toxic to fish, so don’t wash with or dump soapwort solution directly into a pond or stream where live fish are present.

Licorice Root- Glycyrrhiza glabra

Toothbrush/Toothpaste Substitute

Another perennial in the three to four foot tall range, licorice is hardy in USDA gardening zones 7-9. It prefers full sun and moist soil but doesn’t appreciate clay.

The plant will need to grow for two or three years before the roots are large enough to harvest. Once they have matured, they should be harvested in the fall, when the plant has focused all of its resources down into the roots before winter. The flavor and chemistry of the roots will be at their peak during this time.

Not only does licorice root contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory components, it’s also shaped perfectly for turning into a simple toothbrush substitute. I use them in addition to a regular toothbrush/toothpaste routine, but some people successfully use licorice root alone.

Licorice root typically grows in a long, thin shape. Once it has been dried (this technique won’t work on a fresh root), choose one end of the root and soften it by standing in a glass with a half inch of water or by sucking on it until the root softens (usually about sixty seconds either way). Peel back the outer root bark (the brown looking skin on the root), and gently chew the root until there is a quarter inch or so of “brush” at the end. Gently rub along the gumline and over each tooth to clean the mouth.

Licorice has a sweet taste, so there’s no need to fear that your brush will taste like pencil shavings. After each use, trim away the used “brush” with a knife or scissors and store in a clean place until next use.

Sage- Salvia officinalis

Deodorant substitute

Sage is a small to medium perennial herb that prefers a very sunny location with dry, well drained soil. It will grow from zones 4-8 in the US. Many people are familiar with sage as a culinary herb, but it also has more medicinal uses.

Make a strong infusion of the fresh or dried herb to spritz or splash the underarms and help control body odor. For best results, make the infusion in the evening and allow to sit overnight before straining. It will need to be applied more frequently than a store bought deodorant, because it will not be as strong. It is not an antiperspirant, either, so it won’t keep you dry.

Fresh sage leaves can also be added to an oral hygiene routine with licorice root. Simply rub a fresh sage leaf over the gums and each tooth. Sage has a stronger flavor than licorice, but the leaves can be harvested more often and more easily than licorice roots, so it’s a good option to know.

Soapwort, licorice, and sage have many other herbal uses, but they are definitely botanical all stars when it comes to personal hygiene. Knowing how to grow and use them will mean you always have a back up plan for soap, toothpaste, and deodorant.

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Pemmican: The Original Fast Food of the Native Americans

Pemmican is a tasty high-protein treat that’s perfect for snacking, traveling, hiking, camping, and for disasters or other crisis events, where cooking meals may be difficult. As a bonus, this lightweight nutrient-packed food needs no refrigeration.

Traditional recipes for Indian pemmican usually calls for a mixture of shredded jerky, dried berries and nuts, along with a bit of melted fat to hold it all together. In the old days, it was considered essential for sustaining warriors and hunters on the trail. Pemmican can be eaten out of hand, or added to soups, stews, or anything in need of an extra nutritional boost.

The fast-food idea caught on with the Hudson’s Bay Company and became a standard feature in the North American fur trade industry. The highest prices were paid for Native American-made pemmican that was stored in buffalo skin bags, called parfleches. The filled bags were sealed with melted fat. The parfleches shrank as they dried, creating a kind of vacuum seal that helped to preserve the contents for years. Traditionally, this kind of pemmican was made with equal parts dried meat and melted fat. Animal fat taken from around the kidneys and loins were considered choice. If taken from beef, this kind of fat is called suet. For those who prefer a fat-free pemmican, a recipe is included here.

To eat pemmican Native American style, pop a little bit into your mouth and chew it just about forever, sort of like chewing gum. That way you entertain your mouth and extract every bit of goodness from the dehydrated meat, berries and nuts. It is surprisingly filling when eaten this way. Even though the food is low-volume, it it packs power because it is highly concentrated and loaded with protein.

There are different schools of thought regarding the shelf life of pemmican. Some say it will last for only a month or two; others say it will last for years. It depends upon the temperature and humidity of the environment, the quality of ingredients, and how it is stored. At any rate, the fat content will also determine shelf life. After the fat goes rancid from age, it will taste bad, and should be thrown out. The cooler the storage temperatures are, the longer the fat will stay fresh.

To help extend shelf life, I like to store pemmican in the freezer. If the electricity should ever go out long enough to affect the contents of the freezer, I will take the pemmican out of the freezer, and after making sure that it is perfectly dry, store it in a glass jar or plastic bag in a dark cool place.

For even longer term storage, I sometimes use raisins in place of fat in the traditional recipe.

Fat-Free Pemmican

In a blender, whiz together equal parts of pulverized-to-a-powder jerky, ground dried berries, and chopped nuts of your choice. Add enough raisins so that the smashed up raisins hold everything together nicely. Then you can form marble-sized balls or whatever. No blender handy? Chop with a knife, then pound the foodstuff to a pulp with a rock.

This stores a lot longer than the traditional version with fat. But then, during really high caloric demanding situations such as hiking, working, or coping with a disaster, you’d be wishing for that little extra fat, because it supplies a majority of the calories in pemmican.

Another delicious alternative to animal fat is peanut butter, which provides more sustenance than the fat-free version.

Pemmican with Honey and Peanut Butter

Some people prefer peanut butter to fat; some like a blend of honey and peanut butter. Here is a recipe that helps provide calories without fat:

  • 1/2 pound of jerky, pulverized to a powder, or nearly to a powder
  • 1/2 pound of raisins
  • 1/2 pound of nuts (peanuts, pecans. etc)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter

Warm the honey and mix with the peanut butter together until well blended.
Add all ingredients together. Store in a plastic bag in a cool, dry place.

Native American Pemmican – Traditional Style

Cook chunks of fat over low heat until all moisture is removed and oil is rendered. Strain well, allow to cool until hardened. Reheat and strain again, to make the fat firmer, and to improve its keeping qualities.

Pulverize dried meat (jerky) to a powder. Add equal parts of ground dried berries and chopped nuts. Add just enough hot melted fat into the mixture to lightly coat all the ingredients. Immediately stir the mixture, working quickly to allow the melted fat to soak into the powdered ingredients before cooling. If it cools too quickly, gently warm the mixture in the microwave or over a low flame. While still warm, shape the pemmican into balls, bars or small patties.

Lacking traditional containers such as animal intestines or skin parfleche bags to store them in, wrap the pemmican pieces in wax paper. Store in glass jars or plastic bags.

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Survival Bunkers

Recently I saw a show called Extreme Survival Bunkers on TV that got me tothinking. The show detailed several different people and their plans for building bunkers to ride out any mass casualty or TEOTWAWKI events.  If you’re looking for an hour of fairly entertaining television then I would highly recommend it.  If you’re looking for advice on how to Prudently and Reasonable Prepare then I would probably not recommend bothering to take notes…

The concept behind large underground bunkers like the ones detailed in the show is to securely house and provide for multiple people or even multiple families for a period of months or years.  The bunkers highlighted cost between a couple hundred thousand dollars up into the millions.  Two of the manufacturers are Vivos and Rising S Company.  Check out their websites, the bunkers they build are definitely cool.

But what exactly are you preparing for with this type of shelter?  I’m perfectly fine with building a storm shelter if you live in an area of the country that is prone to hurricanes or tornadoes.  I believe that to be a Prudent and Reasonable way to Prepare for a likely event.  But a long term survival bunker is something you would build if you were preparing for mass extinction events like nuclear war, EMP, global pandemic, catastrophic meteor strikes, or super-volcanic eruption.  And, while I did just list five events right off the top of my head that would leave anyone wishing for access to a bunker, they are still five very very unlikely events.

I prefer to prepare for more likely events that may affect a region of the country and could require a person to be self sufficient for a period of time, but which will pass.  Disasters like this happen every year multiple times in this country alone.  Hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, power outages, tornadoes, etc…  We see these disasters strike every year and they are what I choose to spend my money and time preparing for and defending against.  Not an end of the world scenario that is a) extremely unlikely and b) even if it were to happen unlikely to leave me able to reach my bunker anyhow.

Some of the bunkers featured looked to be on their owners immediate property.  A small underground shelter like this that could be accessed quickly in the event of emergency would actually be pretty cool.  Especially if you live in an area often hit with tornadoes or hurricanes.

Some of the other bunkers appeared to be in remote locations (one of them in an old missile silo) and was set up more like a giant apartment complex.  How would one even expect to get to this bunker in an emergency?  And who are your new neighbors if you do all make it?  I don’t even like sharing a table at Beni Hana’s, I can’t imagine living underground with a few hundred strangers for a year or two.

I guess you could build your own large underground bunker and live there full-time, they certainly make them big enough.  But seriously, that’s the life you want?  I’m not too interested in living underground when I could be up enjoying the sunshine.  I’m even less interested in finding out what life looks like a year or two after a mass extinction event.  Every scenario I can think of looks pretty grim.

So, while I would probably have a small shelter set up if I had unlimited cash I doubt I would go for the bigtime “stay underground for years” type bunker.  I’m just too claustrophobic.  I’ll take my chances with the zombies, thank you very much…

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Survival Eating

Food is not just a source of energy and sustenance, but a comfort item as well. When you are hungry, morale goes down and chances of survival dwindle.  There will be several opportunities to find food after the supermarkets close, you just need to know where to look and what tools to have.

The first thing you need to know is that meat will only take you only so far.  If you read Meriwether Lewis’s journals from their exploration; the men still felt hungry although they were eating several pounds of meat per day.  You can eat 10 rabbits a day and still “starve” as rabbit lacks everything except protein for your body’s survival.

Trapping

Trapping is the most feasible option to maintain a steady supply of fresh meat for the “table”.  There are several traps and many more that can be improvised.  Many people have trapped animals, even if it was just setting a mouse trap to get rid of a pest. The most important thing to prepare for using traps to supply food is to educate oneself on the habits and lifestyles of the animals in your area.  If you must travel to your secure location, remember to research and study the areas for the areas you will need to travel through.   My experiences are mostly in the Midwest and Southeastern US, so some tips or items may not be as suitable for a Western environment but I will try and offer tips based on what I have read or been told by trappers/outdoors-men in those areas.

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Animal tracks are a sure sign that something is or has been in the area. Tracks can be the obvious footprints in the sand or dirt but can also be as subtle as the scratches on a tree trunk or small holes dug into the ground where your prey was hunting their own meal. Several books are available for studying the footprints of the animals so you can know what animal you are targeting is.  I’d prefer NOT to trap a skunk or opossum unless they are my only choice.  Time and energy spent on setting traps for the wrong animal are time and energy you will not get back.  Also, setting a rat trap or 110 body grip trap for a raccoon or ground hog is wasted time, as you will not be using the proper tools.

There are several different brands and sizes of store bought traps available on the market. The 3 major types are:

1) Foothold traps– These come in a variety of sizes and even styles.  There are single jaws (most common) and double jaws; toothed (think of the old bear traps) or smooth jaw; long spring or coil spring.  The long spring has single or double long springs which are made by “folding” a piece of spring metal over and then pinching it to allow the trap to be set.  Tension is supplied by the animal stepping on the “pan” and releasing the lock, which allows the long spring to expand back to its “U” shape and thus applies pressure holding the trapped animal. Coil spring traps use coil springs either in a double or 4 coil set up.  The more coils, the stronger the traps strength to hold an animal, but too much strength can break a bone and thus allow the animal to tear off its foot and escape (thus the legend was born of animals “chewing” their leg off to escape a trap). Trap sizes increase with the “number”.  The added weight of the long springs is useful for drowning rig set ups, but coil spring traps are smaller for packing.

2)  Body grip (commonly referred to as connibear)- These traps are square in shape and they normally kill the prey upon capture. They utilize 1 or 2 springs and a single trigger/lock mechanism.  They come in 3 common sizes, 110, 220, 330, size grows with the number.  Some manufacturers have “middle sizes as well, but they are not as common. When selecting these traps, read the description and choose the trap by the opening size (110 = 7inch by 7 inch opening; normally) and what you will need for the animals in your area for planning purposes.  I use 110’s for squirrel, muskrat, rabbit, etc for planning purposes, 220 for raccoon, ground hog, fox, etc; and 330 for beaver, coyote, really big raccoons, etc.  Some reading this will wonder why I included foxes and coyotes but if you are secure in your homestead and something raids the chicken coop or garden plot; you may have to trap for varmint control as well as food.

3) Snares– These handy gems can be bought already made or obtained by buying the different components and making custom sized snares for game not normally trapped in today’s normal living conditions.  Snares are designed to catch an animal as it walks through the hoop of the snare and then being strangled. You can fix these to small saplings or branches being bent and anchored to a stake with a trigger device to spring back to their original position and creating a very fast choke or even breaking the neck of the prey. Most modern snares are made from aircraft cable of 5/32 or 3/16 inch diameter. You can also use heavier gauge as long as it is pliable and you customize the hardware for the thicker cable. Snares can also be improvised from a variety of materials, fishing line being a natural choice. I carry braided line with 60# test or higher for such purposes and also to use for limb lines. Regular sewing thread or light weight (2-4#) fishing line is useful for securing the snare to brush or fencing to keep its shape and stay in place once set.   Snares made from 6-10# fishing line works well for birds. For hiking in parts of Alaska and Canada (possibly other locations), it is required by law that you have a couple snares in your pack and the knowledge to use them.

These are the main types of animal traps used for trapping fur-bearers for their pelts. They can add immense possibilities to the prepper for putting food on the table if and when the need arises.  Improvised traps are also very important; not only will they be used if caught in an emergency where you don’t have your kit, i.e. an aircraft crash since we can’t carry our kits as a carry on.

Deadfalls are probably the best known and easiest to construct improvised trap.  These are created by using an object or objects that weigh enough to kill the intended target by crushing it.  Rocks, trees, branches, cast off equipment or materials (bricks, sandbags, vehicle parts, etc) can all be used for the weight. You balance the weight and attach the bait to a trigger, a type 4 trigger is the most common but takes practice to make, and when the animal pulls on the bait, it causes the weight to fall and crush it.  You can also use a manual trigger by attacking a string or rope to the brace and pulling the brace out manually once the target enters the “kill zone.”  This can be practiced by using a laundry basket and catching birds in the back yard, great training and practice for the little ones and it will teach them patience and the need to be quiet and still.  The basket or a bucket can also be used in a survival situation to catch small animals in the same manner, just know that the target will still be alive and will need to be approached with care.

Pitfalls or punji pits can also be used. These are simple in design but require a lot of work to make. By digging a hole deep enough and covering it so the target does not see it, they can be lured to the pit or dig it along a trail they travel. The pit must be deep enough and/or lined so the target cannot climb or jump out.  By adding punji stake (sharpened sticks) to the trap, you will injure, maim or kill whatever falls into the trap.  This will help ensure the animal stays but can also become dangerous to unsuspecting people falling into the pit.  These are also dangerous to livestock or pets, so use common sense and care when utilizing these traps.

Fish traps are also a valuable commodity to use for gathering food. These are normally constructed on site, using natural materials combined with brought items.  By placing obstacles, sticks, rocks, boards, etc, in the waterway, you funnel the fish swimming through at a certain point.  At this point, place a net and anything swimming through will be captured.  You can also use fencing [poultry netting (chicken wire) works best for its pliability and small mesh size).  Form the fencing into a cylindrical shape and fasten it together with cable ties, rope, tie wire, etc.  After gauging the opening size, cut more of the fencing used to form a “funnel” to fit into the opening(s); if only 1 funnel is used, you must form a “wall” on the opposite end to secure the trap.  The funnel needs to extend into the trap about 1/8 – ¼ the length of the cylinder and reduce in size down to an opening that will allow the fish to swim in but not so big they can swim out extremely easy.  The idea is they will have room to swim out, but by have the funnel opening centered in the trap, most fish will miss the opening and not swim out.  You may lose some, but the majority of any fish swimming in will be there when you check your traps.  You can add bait by attaching small bags filled with bait to the fencing.  I like attaching mine to the bottom to get the fish to swim away from the opening of the funnel. A practice trap can be made by cutting a 2 liter pop (soda) bottle off just after it gets to its full size.  By turning this around and inserting it into the body of the bottle with the pour spout inside the bottle, you now have a minnow trap to collect bait. Punch small holes through the bottom of the bottle and sides to allow water to flow through it.  I use a small rod of re-bar to anchor this to the creek bed.  Secure the cut off portion with glue is best, but if the cut is made cleanly it can be held with friction.  Place the opening to the upstream side, so water pressure will build and help hold the top in the bottle body. This will also give a visual of what a bigger trap made from fencing should look like.   This type of trap will also catch crabs, lobster, crawdads and even some small marine mammals.

Traps can more than pay for themselves on the return of food and even pelts for clothing, pot holders, blankets, etc in a survival situation. There are several books on the subject written by people with a lot more experience than me.  If possible and legal to do so, practice trapping animals before the need arises and your learning curve means whether you and your family eat or not. You can get clips to hold body grip traps in the “set” position on the side of a tree.  Bait the trigger wires with corn or nutmeats, even peanut butter, and squirrels will come to feast on your offering and roasted squirrel or stew is on the menu.  The clips are sold via trapper supply houses for marten and fisher trappers.  The clips can also be improvised out of small pieces of conduit or pipe.  The spring on the body grip trap can have a rope tied to it and secured to a branch so it will swing the trap and your catch away from the tree to keep scavengers from easily stealing your meal.  I carry a few premade snares, two 110 sized body grip traps and 1 #4, four coil trap in my rucksack or in my MOLLE vest.  I also carry heavy weight (60# +) braided fishing line to improvise snares.  I carry lighter weight fishing line for snares for birds or to use as sewing thread to repair clothes or gear. Remember to get repair parts for any traps you have and acquire the skill to repair them.

Fishing

There are several articles written, as well as countless books, on the subject of fishing. I will only briefly touch on the subject.  Irecommend using limb lines in a survival fishingsituation. You use a heavy weight line and attach this to a very sturdy branch overhanging or very near the water source.  I prefer one with a little flexibility to allow for the fish to fight without breaking or ripping the hook from its mouth. Limb lines can be utilized using normal store bought hooks or improvising natural materials into something to hold the fish. “Skewer hooks” can be made easily and very quickly, even by a child. You take a piece of wood and sharpen both ends to a dull point.  You can rough up the “barrel” of the wood to help hold the bait or even tie the bait on with string.  You attach the line by tying it around the barrel in the center of the piece of wood.  When the fish swallows the bait and the skewer, it will lodge in its throat or guts, depending on size of fish.  When you pull the line, it will cause the skewer to turn sideways and thus make an extremely strong hold on the fish allowing you to haul it in.  If using limb lines in waters with a large turtle population, they can be used to catch turtles as well, but I would recommend using steel leaders to help keep the turtles from biting the line off.

Treble hooks work extremely well, but until used for a true survival situation, they are normally illegal, so check your local laws.  You can also cut pantyhose down, tie it around the bait and use it to help keep fish from stealing the bait.  Safety pins and needles can also be used to adapt something from its intended purpose to use as a makeshift hook.  These will not be barbed, so extra care is needed to maintain control over your fish once caught.  I would also recommend buying and using cane poles even during routine fishing outings.  I love my spin cast and bait cast reels coupled with a good rod, but if they break, a branch more closely resembles a cane pole than a $300 rod and reel combo.  Throw nets or casting nets are also valuable in obtaining fish.  These do require practice, but the return can be very rewarding and the difference between a full belly and an empty one. I’d even try and obtain topo maps of the lakes, rivers, streams, etc for the area you will be when the need arises. This will give you bottom structure and locations for optimum limb line locations.

Hunting

Several articles have been written and posted on hunting.  This is the method most people plan on obtaining their meat in a survival situation.  Study the animals in your chosen area and learn all you can about their habits, food sources, activity cycles (nocturnal or diurnal), and home (burrows, nests, meadow, water, lodge (muskrat and beaver), etc).  Choose a weapon that will easily take the game animal but not ruin the meat; you do not want to hunt a rabbit with a .308 or a 12 gauge slug.  A .22 long Rifle will take most animals, even deer, with proper shot placement. Using a .22 LR are illegal to take certain game, so read game laws before using in a non survival situation.  If I was able to choose just 1 higher powered rifle, I would choose a .308 Win./7.62mm.  They are available on an AR platform for those who want the self loader or even the battle proven M14 (Springfield’s M1A1).  A bolt action would be fine or even a pump.  The reason I would choose the .308 is several fold; 1)  They are a common caliber and ammunition will be available; 2)  They have much more range and power over the .223/5.56mm, I can hunt medium game like antelope and deer with a .308 but would NOT want to tackle a moose, elk or bear with a .223; 3)  The added firepower will allow me to keep the 2-legged varmints farther out of their preferred range and in the ranges I practiced at before I had to use it.  Optics are also a requirement in my opinion.  A good survival rifle will have open iron sights as a backup, as scopes get broken, but optics allow for a more accurate shot placement when the adage of “every shot counts” is truly “gospel” in a survival situation.  Ammunition can be in very short supply and harvesting that game means you and yours eat is not the time to try shots that you can brag about, the only bragging that needs done will be when you carry in that nice venison haunch.

Blackpowder weapons will be an excellent choice for a survival weapon if you also gain the knowledge to make your own blackpowder and cast your own lead balls. I would recommend a flintlock over percussion cap. Flint can be picked up in just about every corner of the US. By casting your own lead balls and making blackpowder, you can have a long term firearm to hunt with and conserve your center fire ammunition for real emergencies and self defense. Muzzleloading weapons act and shoot differently than center fire weapons; flintlocks can have a “lag” between the time you pull the trigger and the time the powder actually ignites to propel the ball down the barrel. If you choose to use this type of survival tool, please get one as early as possible and practice to learn the intricacies of this traditional food gatherer.

Archery equipment, especially the knowledge on how to build self bows such as the Native Americans, would be a great asset. They are quiet, can take a multitude of game, can be replaced (if capable of making them) and arrows can be made also. Their use will save ammunition for self defense and extremely dangerous game (bears, mountain lions, wolves, feral dogs, etc).

Do not underestimate the power and ability of a slingshot to put dinner on the table.  It is easy to find ammunition; any rock will do and are perfect for the younger hunters.  They are quiet and capable hunters, especially when using lead round balls. They are modestly priced and found at almost every discount and department store. You can “store” vast amounts ammo for it and nobody be the wiser; just do some landscaping and use river rock instead of mulch.

Regardless of equipment and tactics, make sure you get as close as possible and take the sure shot.  Those nice antlers only mean you can make another tool, while does and yearlings usually have more tender meat and are an easier quarry.  Always choose the sure shot.  Other uncommon tools for hunting include, spears, air guns,boomerangs/throwing sticks, and even a bolo. The biggest thing is to practice with whatever method(s) you choose so as to be an expert in their use as there is NO substitution for knowledge about your intended game animal(s).

Gathering

Gathering wild edibles will greatly enhance your meals and chance of survival. Several books are written and a must have at least in the survival retreat or Bug Out Location (BOL).  I would also find a small one to keep in your Bug Out Bag (BOB) like the book from  Judy of the Woods.  Sassafras root makes a good tea and even chewing the leaves will cause saliva to be generated to help reduce thirst or just give you peace of mind from food, similar to chewing gum. Cattails are one of nature’s greatest survival gifts. You can eat the young shoots, the roots are like a potato, and even the seed (the part on top that gets to looking like a dusty corn cob) is a great flour additive, added to stew or can be eaten on its own.  Some other plants to learn and know are: Solomon’s Seal, May Apple, wild berries, any nut tree, pine needles (for tea), pine cones for pine nuts (place a “closed” pine cone near a fire and they will “open” to obtain the nuts/seeds inside), birch sap (can be made into a great syrup for your acorn pancakes), wild mint, swamp cabbage palm in the southern swamps, fish eggs, mushrooms, etc. These items are edible in whole or in part and will provide extra flavor and much needed calories in an emergency.  Please read books or find someone who can give precise instructions on edible plants and try them before it becomes necessary.

Remember, all bird eggs are edible; many are small but they will provide calories and much needed nutrients.  Eggs dipped in wax can be held up to a month without refrigeration or spoilage. That little extra bird feed and the bird houses while times are good; could be a bountiful investment for when times get bad.  I would also recommend books on wild herbs to help with the seasoning of food and natural medicine once the pharmacy is looted.

Gardening

Gardening has been covered in depth, so I will only add to the obvious benefit of growing food, the garden plot will bring in wild game to trap or hunt.  Also, planting fruit trees in advance will supply fresh fruit to the diet and animals will travel long distance to eat a sweet dessert like an apple.  This will bring the game to you and thus reduce risk and visibility by having to venture further and further from your secure location.  I would also think about establishing a pond for fish farming and if the space is available, digging deep ditches for irrigation and drawing animals for water.  Dams can be used to control water depth.

Also, if able, a greenhouse will allow year round growing. You can add bee hives to the greenhouse and the bees will pollinate the crops and give you a natural sweetener. Honey also has many medicinal uses and when the going gets rough and many comfort items are no longer available, who wouldn’t want something sweet to help boost morale?

Livestock

Raising livestock is also important, but does require land to use as pasture.  Goats would be a prime animal, they will supply meat, milk and depending on the breed, wool to make cloth from.  This all takes more knowledge and land, which some of us may or may not have.  Poultry will help eat bugs in the garden, supply meat and eggs, act as an alarm system (geese and guineas), eat weeds from the garden (geese), and can supply down for quilts if the situation turns into a truly long term event.

These are but suggestions to stimulate ideas and comments from others to bring a more balanced and as close to full thought process on the subject of feeding ourselves in the worst of times.  Everyone’s location and access to land and other resources will dictate how we must personalize any ideas to meet our needs, abilities, and resources; not all can afford to dig ditches and a pond or have the land to do so.  I hope I have helped some or maybe caused others to think in a direction they had not thought of.  My purpose is to give basics to those who are starting, maybe add some insight to those who have not been able to experience some of these skills, and caused the experienced to share their ideas or knowledge in comments of things they have actually tried or even heard of so the group gains the knowledge to try or research tricks or skill sets that will help them survive.

Summary

I have eaten ground hog, raccoon, snake, fish, alligator, squirrel, rabbit, beaver, muskrat, crawdad, crabs, lobster, wild boar, deer, moose, elk, bear and even a rat to cover most of my vittles in the past.  Those who hunt, try carrying your day-pack and other gear (where legal) while doing so. This will allow you to see how it affects your shooting and whether the game animal will be spooked by what you have.  Sound is your enemy, so tie everything down secure.   When squirrel hunting, I wear my MOLLE vest, carry my emergency survival gear and a sidearm (especially handy because of the feral dog problem). I hunt with either a 22 LR rifle (normal) or pellet gun.  This allows me to continually improve my ability to move quietly through the woods while wearing the extra gear I will have when the situation(s) we prep for become a reality.  Also, if you have them, take the kids; the younger the better.  They will learn to move quietly and be still, get satisfaction in knowing they helped “earn” their dinner and it creates a bond not easily broken.  If you find it difficult to be patient with them when only a successful hunt is on the line; how will you react when the very meal you MUST have is cost?  Each child is different and will handle the experience differently. You must decide when they are ready to see an animal harvested and then again when they are ready to witness the butchering process.  I prefer skinning and gutting my game in the field, innards stink when in your garbage at home, but in the survival situation, they become bait for traps or fishing.  Animal stomachs, turned inside out and washed very thoroughly, make excellent pouches and/or water bags.  Learn to skin the game as cleanly and whole as possible to save the pelt.  Rabbit fur is soft and works well for mittens, ear muffs, etc; ground hog hide is extremely tough and makes good leather lace.

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7 Great Inexpensive Places to Buy Prepper Gear

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It is true that if you buy cheap you buy twice.  However, I still believe that you are able to find good deals on prepper gear without sacrificing quality.  It is just a matter of identifying these places.

If you are like me you are probably prepping on a budget.  With the prepper gear market growing we are starting to see some increase in prices.  With that being said, in my search to find prepper gear I have identified a few inexpensive places.

7 great inexpensive places to buy prepper gear

1.  Pawn shops

Pawn shops are the ideal places to find inexpensive prepper gear.  Many times the items that you find at a pawn shop are only there because the owners had found themselves in between a rock and a hard place.  So it’s not that the items weren’t of great quality.

On the contrary, many pawn shops will not purchase items that do not have great quality.  Without quality items pawn shops are not able to make an extra dollar.  So they are sure to inspect much of the equipment that is being pawned or sold to them.

Still you will want to inspect the items before purchasing.  There will be some shady pawn dealers who are just looking to make a fast buck and will swindle you.  This is especially important if you are purchasing guns.  You will want to make sure that the gun is functioning properly and safely.

Some of the great prepper gear that you can find at pawn shops include weapons, tools and hunting gear.  It is important to have a great set of tools.  If the grid goes down or if the crap hits the fan there will be no one else around to fix stuff besides you.

2.  Thrift shops

Thrift shops many times will have some great quality items to purchase.  Prepper gear that you can find include grey man clothing, radios and even camping gear.  Furthermore, most of these items were donated by well off people who barely used them.

3.  Military Surplus

Many cities will have a military surplus shop.  Unfortunately most of these shops are found in the bad parts of town.  However, it is definitely worth the trip.

Some of the great prepper gear items that you can find at military surplus shops include military grade clothing, equipment and camping gear.  When bugging out I don’t recommend wearing camo in the urban environments.  However, if you do make it to the woods you could change into something that will help you blend in with the environment.  Military clothing is also built to last.

4.  Yard Sales

Most items being sold at a yard sale have great quality.  Many times families are just looking to clear out their closets with items that they don’t really use anymore or have replaced.  So yard sales are the perfect place to find inexpensive prepper gear.

Great items that you can find at yard sales include clothing, camping gear, food and even coins.  If you look carefully into these coins you can find some valuable treasure.  This is especially true with finding silver. Silver should be saved because if the economy collapses or if crap hits the fan the price of silver will grow exponentially.  If you take a look at the financial struggles of 2001 and 2008 you will see the price of precious metals more than doubled.

5.  Facebook groups

Now Facebook groups are a great place to find prepper gear but you should be cautious about these transactions.  I have heard of people being scammed and even stood up.  On the other hand I know of some people that have bought some really great gear.

There are Facebook groups for virtual yard sales, prepper swaps and even private gun sales.  Many times you will find “preppers” who are giving up on prepping or giving up the lifestyle.  So they turn to online outlets to sell their gear for the cheap.  I would advise meeting with these people in public well lit places.  Also, never go alone.

6.  Craigslist

Just as the previous tip, you want to be very cautious when making exchanges with people over Craigslist.  There have been cases where people have been kidnapped and even murder.  At the same time, I have made some great purchases through Craigslist as well.  I would use the same advice from the previous suggestion.

7.  Auctions

Finally auctions are a really great place to find inexpensive prepper gear.  I know of one prepper who found some really great deals on guns and ammo at auctions.  As a matter of fact, there was a prepper who died but had an arsenal prepper gear that was auctioned off.  It just so happened another prepper purchased that gear.

So these 7 places are really great for finding inexpensive prepper gear.  If you have another other suggestions please leave a comment below.  I would love to find some additional places.  Also, don’t forget to subscribe to my email list so that you can stay up to date with all of the newest content.

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Why You Need To Garden Now

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It’s easy to find excuses not to garden: I’m too busy, I don’t want to ruin the lawn, I don’t have enough space, I’ll start when I move to the country. There might even be a few who bought a container of heirloom seeds, tossed it into the freezer and checked gardening off their to-do list.

The main fallacy in all these excuses is that you need all the experience you can get in growing your own food now, before your life depends on it. Of course, there are also many benefits to gardening: saving money as food costs continue to increase, learning to preserve your harvests, learning to cook fresh produce in appetizing ways, eating healthier foods, adjusting you (and your family) to a different diet before you have no choice.

Time: everyone is busy. We also make time for what is important to us. Starting a new garden is labor intensive; if your schedule includes exercise then gardening can replace it at this stage.

Lawn care: gardens don’t have to be an enormous rectangle in the center of the yard. A large border garden along the fence can be very productive and attractive. Raised beds can be built with stone or pavers. If you absolutely can not dig up any of your lawn because of a militant HOA or an impending sale, container gardening is the answer.

Space: be inventive. Look into community gardens, allotment space, friends or acquaintances with room to plant. Elderly neighbors who might not be up to the physical exertion of maintaining a large garden could be willing to share their space for a portion of the produce. They will often be an excellent source of information regarding gardening for your climate and soil.

What if you don’t want to invest the time and energy into a garden where you live now when you will be moving to the country or a bug-out place? The answer is: you had better be putting in the work somewhere! If you own land but can’t live on it now, make time to get out there and begin the process. A long weekend, or even better, a week vacation spent camping on your land can see a lot of clearing work done. If nothing else, a spade, bag of compost, stack of cardboard for mulching and seed potatoes will be the starter garden that sets you up for future efforts.

Soil quality has to be your number one concern. Many suburbs and housing divisions are begun by grading the land flat and seeding grass onto what is left. When the grass is dug up what the home owner isn’t going to find is topsoil. The first step is going to be amending the growing medium; a.k.a. making really good dirt for healthy plants. There are choices available for this step. If money isn’t an issue landscape companies will truck in topsoil for you or you can make your own with compost.

Be aware of your gardens needs when placing it. Alan Titchmarsh, prominent British gardening expert, recommends spending a day in a lawn chair observing the space. Watch where the sun hits, what is shaded by trees or fences and where the wind blows unchecked. Know the needs of your chosen crops: is there full sun for corn? Is a place sheltered from the midday and afternoon sun best for the lettuce?

Did you observe any pests? Rabbits can be a serious problem in town where many won’t kill them because they are considered ‘cute’. Do you have family pets which will dig or trample your tender seedlings? Even a knee-high fence made of chicken wire may be enough to keep these out while still allowing you easy access. Another option is to use a greenhouse, polytunnel or coldframe to both keep pests out and extend your growing season by protecting from frost and wind.

Remember that other plants can interact with your garden. My yard is filled with black walnut trees which produce a chemical to retard the growth of other plants. I can’t even use the leaves for compost. Two years ago I opened up a second garden area and I’m still struggling to get decent crops to grow there. These also allow for earlier planting by providing protection from frosts. Eventually, it will be as rich and productive as my first garden. The time and work is an investment that will be rewarded.

Whatever method you choose, start now. This may literally save your life someday.

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30 Uses For Trash Bags In Your Bug Out Bag

Deciding how to spend available funds in the preparedness budget is not any easy task. Multi-use items are always a favorite of wallet-conscious preppers. Trash bags, even the brand-name sturdy ones definitely fall within the “reasonably priced” category, but when we look past the obvious uses for the plastic bags, they become an even more advantageous contribution to our preps.

Trash bags are one of the most economical prepper “to do” list finds and literally dozens of potential disaster uses. In addition to being easy on the budget, trash bags are lightweight yet durable and take up very little space in bugout bags, INCH bags, and get home bags.

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Top 30 Uses For Trash Bags

  1. Put in bug out or get home bag to use as a poncho. Simply cut or carefully tear a hold for the head and even the arms, and one poncho is coming right up.
  2. Packing a tent or tarp for an emergency shelter is of course optimal — but such items take up a lot of space and are heavier as well. Even a one-person tent will not fit in a child’s backpack, but a trash bag and some duct tape surely will.
  3. Trash bags are also useful in keeping your shoes and feet dry. Open a trash bag, step inside and tie or secure with duct tape and keep rain and snow at bay. Storing several trash bags for emergency booties and a poncho inside a get home bag or bugout bag takes up very little space and adds virtually no weight to the pack.
  4. Keep your spare socks, change of clothes, and blankets dry with trash bags. The bags used to store these items can be turned into a poncho, bootie, or emergency shelter in mere minutes.
  5. During either a short or long-term disaster, trash bags can be used to safely store waste when commodes are not working. The bags work equally well for sharps and bloody cloth or bandages used to treat wounded. Preventing the spread of disease becomes even more important during a teotwawki scenario.
  6. Keep the rain off or your head with a makeshift trash bag hat.
  7. Make a fly screen for the front of your shelter with a trash bag — or two. Cut the trash bag into a sheet type form and then cut slits within a few inches of the top of the bag and you have a protective screen to keep the bugs away.
  8. Trash bags also make great ground cover. If you are using a tarp, or another trash bag for a shelter, placing another plastic bag onto the ground will prevent dampness from impacting your clothing. The trash bag also offers another layer between you at bugs which will come out of the ground seeking a food during the evening and early-morning hours.
  9. Although not exactly soft, trash bags can be used like thermal underwear under your clothing. Tape or tie piece of the bag around your legs, arms, and stomach beneath your clothing to prevent body heat from escaping quite so easily.
  10. Sure, they will be a bit flimsy and perhaps messy, but trash bags can be used to mix food or drink ingredients.
  11. Trash bags have also been successfully used as part of a solar water still.
  12. Although this is not US Coast Guard approved, some folks have reported success with trash bag life jackets — it is at least worth a shot during an emergency. Tie the ends of the trash bag together and blow air into it to inflate, then secure the open ends together as well. Tape or tie the back into a life jacket shape and use it to help keep your, your pets, or your get home bag afloat.
  13. Trash bags can also be used to store and transport food.
  14. Give your head a somewhat soft place to rest during an overnight hike home by inflating a trash bag and using it as a pillow.
  15. Trash bags can also be used as an emergency water container. The bags will hold a decent amount of weight, but will need to be carried carefully so the plastic does not tear and the water spill out onto the ground.
  16. Keep your sleeping bag and yourself dry and a little warmer by using a trash bag as a cover. To stay extra dry, slip into a sleeping bag like you would a potato sack for a race before getting into the sleeping bag as well.
  17. Mylar emergency blankets are inexpensive, lightweight, and take up little space, but trash bags can be used as a good substitute if more injured than expected need to be protected from the elements or shock.
  18. Trash bags can be hooked onto branches, or taped into place, to make a temporary sun shade. After taking the hiking break, carefully fold the trash bag into a small square so it can be used again during the next break period.
  19. Trash bags can also be used as a pressure bandage or a triangle bandage. The bags can also simply be used to cover a traditional bandage to help protect the wound from exposure to dirt or the bandage from exposure to the rain.
  20. Tie a splint with a trash bag, double the bag or tape two together to make a sturdier splint.
  21. In addition to being used as a makeshift water carrier, trash bags can also be used as a catch basin for water. Tie the bag to something mildly sturdy in an area exposed to the sky, or line a bucket or similar item with the bag, and capture enough water to keep yourself hydrated.
  22. Trash bags can also be used as patching for leads in other food and water containers. The plastic bags can be taped to cover worn spots or tears in bug out or get home bags too.
  23. Use trash bags to signal help. Tie or secure a white trash bag to a rock in a visible spot to let others know where you are. It is always a good idea to carry a permanent marker and spray paint to write messages.
  24. Trash bags can be used as plates. Find the most smooth and flat rock in the near vicinity and place a piece of the trash bag onto the rock for a clean eating surface.
  25. Use trash bags to tie onto trees for trail markers.
  26. Make a windsock with a trash bag.
  27. If an injured person, pet, or heavy gear needs to be moved, make a liter and line it with several trash bags.
  28. Make a banner with the trash bag to leave warning notes for others or to mark unsafe buildings. Tape, string, and marking materials will also be required.
  29. Fill a trash bag up with water, sit it in the sun for a while and then hang it from a sturdy branch to use for a shower. Heated water is also useful for cleaning wounds.
  30. Make a temporary backpack with a trash bag so the non-prepared person you come across during your trek home can help you carry the load. Be warned, the person could run off with your stuff, but if they are scared and unaware and you appear full of knowledge, the person will likely stick to you like glue.

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When packing the kiddos off to school, do not forget to include a few trash bags and other essential emergency items in their little backpacks as well. If your child or grandchild ever needs to spend the night at school or hoof it home or to a designated meeting spot, a few age-appropriate preps could be a life-saver.

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What Is Geothermal Cooling & Heating?

More and more individuals have become aware of the environmental impacts and the extreme amounts of energy they use to heat and cool their homes. As a result, many families are actively working to shrink their carbon footprints. They are moving away from coal, oil, and gas heaters and many have converted to alternative sources of green energy. One great and relatively inexpensive way to do this is to convert a home’s heating a cooling system to geothermal energy.

How It Works

Traditional HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems take the air from the home, subject it to refrigerants, and pump the now cooled or heated air back into the home. All of this takes an incredible amount of energy. Geothermal cooling and heating systems save energy by directly harnessing the energy and temperature that naturally occurs in the earth. At certain levels beneath the surface, the temperature of the earth is kept constant. When the weather grows colder, a closed loop system of pipes takes the existing heat from deep inside the earth and draws it up into the home. Then, when the weather is warmer, the heat exchanger draws the heat from the air in the home and pushes it back down deep into the earth where it is dispersed.

Closed System

What’s more is that the geothermal systems works in tandem with the hot water heater to create a closed system of water pumps, heat exchangers, and fans. The very heat that is pulled from the home in the summer can be pumped into the water heater to provide almost unlimited hot water. It essentially turns unwanted heat into desired heat. This closed system helps produce some of the most energy efficient temperature control available, making sure nothing goes to waste, and everything has a use.

Installation Issues

If a family chooses to convert to a geothermal cooling system, they must bring in an expert company to do the installation. The company will determine the most efficient and economical installation possible. Because most system’s pipes must reach a significant depth in order to access the trapped heat of the earth, the installers must drill deeply, avoiding any major water, sewer, or electrical lines buried in the area. Newer technologies, however, allow geothermal installation companies to install the heat exchange loops in horizontal trenches, beneath local water sources, or in specially dug pits depending on the homes unique topographical and environmental surroundings.

Costs Associated

The average cost of such installations can vary greatly depending on the home’s location, the amount of land available, the type of geothermal system, and the existing heating system in the home. The most expensive components of the system are the integrated water and air heat exchanger and the pipe installation. This can run several thousand dollars at the cheapest. However, some of those costs can be offset with various green energy tax credits offered by the government. Homeowners can actually offset up to 50% of their installation costs in the first year thanks to state and federal tax credits. That amount can increase over the lifetime of the home, as additional yearly credits are offered.

Making the switch from traditional forced air or baseboard heat to geothermal cooling and heating systems can end up saving homeowners thousands of dollars over the life of the home. Add to that the significant environmental benefits and it’s no wonder that more homeowners are converting to geothermal energy for their home’s comfort.

Geothermal Cooling & Heating: Advantages and Disadvantages

While geothermal energy has a number of advantages, there are also several disadvantages to the system. Here is a deeper look at some of the bigger advantages to converting to geothermal cooling and heating, balanced by some of the more notable disadvantages.

Reduced Use of Fossil Fuels

A great advantage to geothermal energy is the reduced reliance on fossil fuels. Traditional energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas are finite resources. Their continued use causes a decrease in their availability, driving prices upwards and increasing the nation’s reliance on foreign sources of these fuels. By deriving heat directly from the earth, geothermal energy relies on a continually replenished resource. This decreases our reliance on fossil fuels and reduces the amount of impact we inflict on the environment. Plus, over time, the costs are much lower as the earth’s temperature does not fluctuate in response to demand.

Tax Write Offs

Homeowners who make the switch to geothermal energy can also enjoy a number of tax benefits. In addition to the initial cost matching benefits offered by the federal government in the installation process, state and local governments offer a number of write offs over the life of the home. Homes that use geothermal energy draw significantly less electricity from public grids, freeing up energy for others in the community and decreasing the maintenance costs to the local government. To encourage this, state tax departments are willing to pass some of these savings on to the homeowners.

Installation Costs

One of the worst disadvantages of geothermal energy is the overall cost of the installation. Not only is there the often expensive geothermal unit that is installed near the water heater in the house, but there is also the copper pipe loop. These pipes must be drilled deep into the earth where the temperature is held constant regardless of the air temperature. That can mean up to a depth of 10-20 feet, though some systems require much deeper. The drilling alone can cost thousands of dollars, with an overall installation cost of tens of thousands of dollars. It helps if the home has existing ductwork that the system can use to distribute the cooled air, but if it doesn’t, that also must be installed.

Lack of Availability

The unfortunate thing is that geothermal energy is not available for all homeowners. Those who live in areas of very high infrastructure including sewer lines, gas mains, or underground installations do not have the option of converting to geothermal energy. Only those with sufficient land have enough space to contain the intricate pipe systems, but if the home is too remote, they may not have access to the specialized crews and equipment needed to install the unit in the first place. This combination of conditions can severely limit the numbers of types of people who can actually convert their homes to geothermal energy.

Geothermal cooling & heating is a great option if families can get it. Between the high costs and the lack of availability, however, it may be a while before everyone can enjoy this revolution in home climate control.

Top Benefits of a Geothermal Cooling & Heating System

Geothermal heating and cooling systems offer a wide range of benefits for home and business owners. From reducing a building’s carbon footprint to accumulated savings, switching to geothermal energy is a smart move for anyone looking for alternatives to traditional forced air heating and cooling systems.

Environmentally Sound

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, geothermal cooling systems may be one of the most environmentally sound ways to control the temperature of the home. No fossil fuels are burned, and it uses only a small bit of electricity to power the fan, water pumps, and heat exchanger. The system is incredibly efficient with very little wasted energy. While typical forced air systems waste a great deal of energy with heat loss, geothermal systems reduce the total energy used by up to 50% over electric systems. The systems are often used to heat water as well, making even more efficient use of the home’s energy.

Significant Savings

All of this saved energy translates to equally beneficial cost savings. Half of a family’s electricity use goes towards the home’s heating and cooling. To save money in the hottest and coolest months, most families will forgo the comfortable temperatures they truly want. With geothermal energy, families can set the thermostat to their true desired temperatures without worrying about wasting money. On average, families who replace propane or natural gas heating with geothermal energy will cut costs by two thirds, while those with high efficiency air conditioning units will see their cooling costs cut by a full half. That can mean thousands off electricity bills in the first year.

Efficient Comfort

Forced air heating relies on a single heat exchanger to pump out heat in the coldest weather. In the summer months, it uses toxic refrigerant chemicals to cool that same air and fan it out to the various rooms in the house. These methods require a great deal of energy to work against the natural temperatures outside. Because geothermal energy uses the consistent natural heat trapped inside the ground, it is much easier to cool and heat the home. Emergency heat is never needed to fight against freezing temperatures, and the heat of the home in the summer is easily trapped and used in the home’s hot water system or dispersed in the ground.

Noise and Appearance

The unsightly air conditioning units and noisy outdoor fans are also a thing of the past. Geothermal units do not need bulky and unsightly fans to take in air from outside to pump back indoors; they work with the already climate controlled air indoors. Plus, the majority of the work is done underground in the copper pipes of the unit’s heat exchangers. That means that homeowners can enjoy comfortable temperatures without having to tolerate noisy blowers and fans.

Geothermal energy is quiet, convenient, efficient, and becoming more affordable every day. Families who are interested in converting to geothermal energy should contact a local technician for an evaluation and price estimate on installation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Geothermal Cooling & Heating

Geothermal cooling and heating systems are relatively new alternatives to traditional home temperature control. There are many applications that have yet to be tested, but the technology is safe, secure, and incredibly efficient. Still, most people have questions regarding the use of geothermal energy in the home. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about geothermal cooling.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Geothermal Energy?

Unlike propane and natural gas tanks, geothermal heat exchangers do not use any fossil fuels for energy generation. They tap into the existing electrical grid and use the heat stored naturally in the earth’s crust. There are some risks, however, associated with the installation of geothermal pipes. Installers must drill deep into the earth’s surface, and often must create various trenches under the ground’s surface. If the topography of the land is uneven or there are a number of gas or sewer lines, or high pressure ground water in the area, it can be dangerous to drill. Drilling companies must take a number of precautions to properly install the geothermal unit and avoid damages to surrounding properties.

How Much Maintenance do Geothermal Cooling Systems Require?

Like all heating and cooling systems, geothermal systems require regular maintenance. Because the system uses existing ductwork and vents to transfer the heat through the house, most of the maintenance involves this complex network. Air filters must be replaced at least twice a year, and preferably every month, especially before the heating unit is switched on. Homeowners should do their best to keep vents clear of debris, and they should have the ductwork professionally cleaned at least once every three years. This keeps the air clean and free of dust, pet dander, mold, or other allergens. The heat exchange unit should run without maintenance for an average of 25-30 years.

What is the Environmental Impact?

One of the main reasons homeowners switch to geothermal is to lessen their environmental impact and shrink their carbon footprint. They choose geothermal energy because the system is far more efficient and uses much less energy than traditional heating and cooling methods. For every hour of use, geothermal produces one fewer pound of carbon emissions than forced air does. That can add up to thousands of pounds of CO2 kept out of the air each year, or the equivalent of planting 6000 acres of trees.

How Much Room do I Need for Installation?

Previous generations of geothermal HVAC units took up a great deal of space. Homeowners needed to set aside almost an entire room and drill almost as deep as most freshwater wells. Today, though, a geothermal unit can fit right alongside the home’s water heater, while pipes can run in a much shallower trench alongside the home. Depending on the needs of the home and the space available, geothermal units can be designed to fit any home.

Installers and technicians with geothermal energy systems have spent years finding new ways to install and operate efficient and environmentally sound cooling solutions. They can work with almost any existing home or help builders construct an entirely new unit with the most effective temperature control systems available. In time, they should be able to reduce emissions even further and bring down the price tag, so that all homes can enjoy.

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3 Forgotten Survival Essentials — Straight From The History Books

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There was once a time in American history when the term “survival” was synonymous with terms like “daily life” and “making a living.”

Especially when we’re talking about ye olde trappers, fur traders, hunters and explorers of the 18th and 19th centuries, these folks knew the subtle nuances of survival. For instance, trappers would often vanish into the Appalachian wilderness for weeks and months at a time, only occasionally returning to their primary base camp or outpost to resupply. Then, it was back to the trail.

They wouldn’t usually make their way into town unless they needed to trade goods (or perhaps if they needed to send a telegram, I suppose). And this is one reason why I personally tend to take a historical perspective when it comes to expanding my knowledge of survival skill, bushcraft, and figuring out my own wilderness gear needs.

Hey, it’s one thing to learn this stuff from a survival dude on TV, but if we could hear from a guy like Davy Crockett these days, I’m sure he’d have a survival tip or two that might save us all a great deal of troubles, whilst afield.

Here, then, are three often overlooked survival essentials, using history as a guide:

1. Proper footwear

Especially before footwear became a mass manufactured item, this was one piece of gear that tended to cause problems for wilderness ramblers in the olden days.

In fact, most of these folks were stuck wearing moccasins, especially since the boots of the period had a smooth, treadless sole — and that gets rather dangerous when attempting to traverse slippery surfaces such as wet rocks or mud. So, moccasins offered the needed traction in order to get from camp to the river and back (without breaking a leg in the process).

Moccasins, on the other hand, might have been great for traction, but HORRIBLE for support. So this would often become the cause of very sore feet  and what we might call arthritis.

This is why obtaining proper footwear is so important, especially because the ability to traverse distances in the wilderness is absolutely critical — even for daily life. In fact, if your shoes were lost, broken or simply worn to bits during a bugout or survival scenario, then you could end up getting yourself quite stuck, and also in a potentially dangerous scenario to your health.

All it takes is one wrong step, and not only does your mobility go right out the window, but infection and tetanus could become a very real issue in the process.

2. Navigational equipment

It’s one thing to be stuck in a patch of woods that you’ve known your entire life, or at least, visited enough times in the past to know where you’re going.

However, survival situations (and even bugout scenarios for that matter) tend to lead us straight into the absolute middle of nowhere. In fact, I’m sure we’ve all heard similar stories, in which a lost person was found by SAR teams, shivering, dehydrated, and alone — and only a few hundred yards from a nearby road.

That’s why navigational equipment is an absolutely crucial part of any 72-hour kit or a full-blown bugout loadout. Not only do you need the means to travel, but you need to know where you’re going. Otherwise, traveling only becomes a waste of time and precious energy. If anything, the fact that Lewis and Clark lost all of their “scientific” gear, except for their compass, should tell us something, according to an article from Crazy Crow:

Of all the scientific equipment bought in Philadelphia for the journey west,” says [National Museum of American History] curator Harry Rubenstein, “the Clark compass may be the only surviving object.

You can tell what’s an important piece of gear, not always by what an explorer packs before the journey, but by the gear that makes it home. Of course, the most obvious gear that makes the top of the initial packing list is also highly worthy of note as well.

3. Sturdy cookware

While the packing manifest for the Lewis and Clark expedition first went over scientific/mathematical gear (a big reason for the expedition in the first place), and then listed muskets, rounds, gunpowder and other assorted weaponry (which also makes a great deal of sense), then clothing (that should be obvious as well), the first items mentioned on their “Camp Equipage” section of the list was kettles — six giant copper kettles, to be exact.

If you think about it, there were quite a few mouths to feed, and weaving a path through the unforgiving and uncharted wilderness makes for hungry work.

However, all too often, we tend to spend far too much time on trying to figure out how we’re going to find and take a meal. Yet, on my own personal experimental wilderness outings, I’ve discovered that I’ve often spent far too little time thinking of how I was going to prepare it.

Having proper cookware will not only make for easier cooking, but it facilitates our ability to expand our food options, and we reap far more benefits (nutrition and taste) from the food that we were able to procure.

So it seems that soldiers aren’t the only ones marching on their stomachs, because apparently, explorers and the rest of us do as well.