7 Crucial Urban Survival Skills

urban-survival-skills

Where will you be when TSHTF? At home? In Wal-Mart? The majority of the us live in dense urban environments – the type of environments where people transform into violent apes when their survival is at stake. The power gets cut and people lose their minds. Stores are looted for goods and wares. Do you have what it takes to survive? Do you have the urban survival skills required to make it out alive? In this post I’m going to crack deep into the skills you need to survive an urban death trap.

1.) Stay cool

Most people are going to completely lose it during an SHTF situation. Have you ever been to the shopping malls on black Friday? People trample and kill each other over consumer goods – what do you think will happen in a life or death situation? While most people are panicking you must be calm as a Buddhist monk. Panicked people make mistakes. Cool people with level heads make wise choices. Choices that will lead them to ultimate survival.

Chances are you get stressed out over many things in life. We’ve been programmed to behave like this. Practice staying cool in situations that get you heated. This will strengthen your ability to take a smooth step back and properly assess the situation with an objective eye. You will see the situation for what it is. Emotions cloud reality and force you deeper into suffering. Stay cool at all costs.

2.) Know your city inside and out

A deep understanding of your city will help you greatly when it comes time to bug out. Think about the routes most people are likely take. Take the route less traveled. It might be longer but you will bypass traffic congestion. Think about the back roads available to you. If you don’t know your city then spend some time getting acquainted. Find a map. Use different modes of transportation. You will understand the city differently on a bike or walking. The slower you go the more details you pick up. Survival is all in the small details. You might not be able to simply drive out of the city depending on the circumstance. Walk or bike to get a pulse-level understanding of the layout. This will give you a significant advantage when it comes time to leave.

3.) Exit strategy

Just where do you plan on heading when all hell breaks loose? In the event of a long term power outage, where will you go? It makes no sense to bug out if you don’t have a final destination. Think about friends or family in the surrounding areas you could post up with until things cool down. Think about the route you will take to get there. How will you smash through a wild urban wasteland full of apes?

4.) Self-defense

urban-survival-skills-self-defense

In the city there will be no rules when all hell breaks loose. Wild and violent apes will inhabit the freshly collapsed landscape. The primitive mind will inflict a stranglehold on men desperate to survive. Cities are already ripe with violence. When TSHTF this violence will skyrocket to untold levels. It will only be a matter of time before they start flinging shit all over the place.

Not all of us are martial arts experts. Hell, not all of us are even survival experts. God knows that I am not one to give you karate lessons, but I will say this – self defense is an important urban survival skill. At the very least, learn how to properly throat chop a potential assailant. You should have pepper spray in your bug out bag – perhaps multiple canisters.

Required reading – the ultimate bug out bag.

Avoid conflict at all costs but don’t be afraid to bust caps or let loose with some bear mace if it comes down to it. There will be no rules when the apes begin to fling shit into the fan.

5.) Identifying shelter

urban-survival-skills-find-shelter

You might have to bug out of your apartment. If you become stranded in an urban death trap you must find temporary shelter. These can be abandoned buildings, warehouses, homes, or even cars. Many of these establishments could be crawling with violent apes so tread carefully. Find a safe nook and hunker down for the night. You have everything you need in your bug out bag so stay calm and focus on the master plan.

6.) Securing clean water

You know how important water is for survival. Finding clean water is an urban survival skill that you can’t overlook. Local rivers around the city are deeply contaminated from years of industry. Pockets of water that have collected from a recent rain are sure to be polluted. There are ways you can purify the water you locate around the city – the easiest way is to use a water filter.

Required reading – everything you need to know about purifying water.

If you don’t have a water filter you can make one using a 2 liter bottle, sand, gravel, and charcoal. The following instructions are taken from my post on 7 survival techniques to learn ASAP:

Snatch up an empty 2 liter or other plastic container and chop the bottom off. Fill with activated charcoal, sand, and gravel. Stick a piece of cloth in the hole to keep everything in place. Simply pour in some water and collect it when it comes out with a clean drinking container.

DIY urban survival water filter

7.) Hunting and gathering

urban-survival-hunting-pigeons
Good eatins’ in the city

Hunting is a biggy. If you can hunt you will gladly be accepted into a group where you will have access to resources and safety. You could also choose to go lone wolf and provide for yourself. Either way, hunting is an urban survival skill you don’t want to pass up. If you don’t think there’s anything to hunt in the city think again – there are plenty of street pigeons and squirrels. On the outskirts you will find larger animals and edible plants. In fact, there are a lot of edible weeds and plants that grow in the city if you know how to identify them. These plants will provide you with nutrients and medicinal properties – invaluable resources in a survival situation.

Final thoughts

These are a few skills you can work on in your spare time. If you’re feeling brave you can go out and practice in the city. Take down a couple pigeons and learn to cook them. Map out your city. Find where the edible plants grow. Have fun with all this stuff. You can still have fun while learning the essential skills you need to survive!

Post up below with your comments and criticisms. Do you agree with this article?

 

Tarp vs Tent – Best Choice For Bug Out Bag?

tarps-vs-tent

Talking tarps. Talking Tents.  And more specifically, what’s the best for your bug out bug? Making the right choice comes down to a personal audit on your situation and preference. Variables like location and weather will determine which one is best. Are there bugs, rattlesnakes and other creepy crawlers? You might not welcome a visit from senor snake in the middle of the night. However, both tarp and tent have respective advantages and disadvantages that I will cover in this post.

The tarp

tarp-shelter

Ah yes, the humble tarp. The ultralight backpackers prime choice for a lightweight shelter – and for a good reason. Extra weight will slow you down. Even a mere couple ounces can effect your physical performance. Weight is the tarps first advantage over the tent.

It’s also an easy piece of gear to wrap up and stuff in to your pack – and with a bit of paracord you can achieve many different configurations. While the tent is locked into a single setup, the tarp can be rigged in a number of ways. Take a look at all the possibilities. You can get super technical with the setup depending on your situation and all it requires is a bit of paracord. Paracord is something you should have anyways so I don’t count it as part of the total weight of the tarp.

It also outshines the tent when it comes to packing. The tent has metal poles that make it stiff and rigid. You can only stuff the tent in one way. Usually the only place the tent will fit is on the outside of the pack on the sides or strapped to the bottom. You can easily stuff a tarp wherever you want. It folds up nice and clean and is happy to get stuffed down to the bottom of your back or lashed to the externals.

Some people feel claustorphobic in a tent. They appreciate the tarps openness and their ability to see what’s going on around them. I can attest to feeling cramped in a tent – not to mention feeling like I’m sometimes in a death trap. You never know what’s around.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Cheap
  • Versatile setups
  • Covers large areas around camp
  • Multi-purpose

Cons

  • No protection from bugs
  • Not fully enclosed
  • Wind and rain can pass through if not properly configured

Tent

tent-vs-tarp

The tent is your second shelter option. The tent is the all time classic shelter solution that immediately comes to mind when your buddy says “Let’s go camping.” The tent has been tried and true for many years. It’s a complete full enclosure system. Most tents are somewhat waterproof and come with a rain fly. Guy lines allow you to brace the tent to absorb high winds and heavy weather. This complete enclosure system is an obvious advantage over the tarp. You won’t have to worry about bugs or other nuisances paying you a night time visit – and the shelter from the wind and rain is a double bonus.

This protection comes at a price. The tent is much heavier than the tarp. Weight should be taken into careful consideration for your bug out bag. Only you can know your weight limits. I suggest you put a pack together and take off into the wild for a day or two – just so you can get a feel for how heavy your pack is and whether or not you can endure. If you find that weight is a non-issue, by all means, pack that tent.

But if you feel you need a lighter load, consider the tarp.

Pros

  • Full protection from the elements
  • Full protection from bugs
  • Easy to pitch

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Less versatile

Final Thoughts

To sum it up shortly, if you’re going ultra light – pack the tarp. If you’re going full comfort mode – pack the tent. At this point an out-of-the-box thinker might say, “why not pack both?” To which I say – “I didn’t know pack mules could talk!”

Post up with a comment below and let us know what you think.

Condor Bushlore Knife Review

condor-bushlore-review-featured-image

I’m always on the look out for inexpensive knives worthy of my belt in the bush. I kept hearing about the Condor in survival forums. People were raving about the blade while others had some reservations about its utility as a true bushcraft knife. Needless to say I checked it out. There are certainly pros and cons to consider. Let’s crack into the review.

Specifications

Blade TypeFixed
Blade Length4 5/16 inches
Total Length9 5/16 inches
Blade Thickness3 mm
Blade MaterialCarbon steel with Scandinavian grind
Weight10 oz
TangFull
Sheath IncludedRoger

First impressions

condore-bushlore-side-profile

I ordered the blade from Amazon. It arrived promptly and I immediately began the procedural unboxing ceremony. I love this part of the process. I don’t know why but I thought it would have been heavier than it actually was. It’s a very lightweight blade. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a lightweight knife – but you will be limited with what you can do. Processing thick firewood will be very difficult. Many survivalists will interject at this point and tell me that knives aren’t meant for wood batoning. I don’t believe this, my bk2 has served me quite well in this department and it’s lighter than a hatchet.

There was one aestetic feature I had a good laugh at. The knife looks like a steak knife. This is largely due to the Condor Bushlores hardwood handle. You wouldn’t give it a second look if it came out of your knife block in the kitchen. I actually love the utilitarian look. It’s refreshing to see something unique and different.

The handle is made of hardwood and would be easy to sand down to create a more ergonomic fit for your mitts (there’s also a micarta version available.) On the end you have a lanyard which I personally never use, but I respect the function. The sheath is simple, functional, and bears the logo of the Condor right on the leather – a nice finishing touch.

Now, were talking about carbon steel with a Scandinavian grind. Carbon steel requires a bit of maintenance to keep the rust away and scandi grinds tend to be fragile – but just because I say fragile doesn’t mean you have to treat it like the worlds finest china. Take care of the blade and you will have a trusty companion for years.

Performance

Time to dive deep into the nitty gritty. How does the Condor Bushlore stack up in the bush? I like to take every blade I review straight out into the bush for a proper pounding. I see how well it performs in a variety of tasks:

Making feather sticks – A knife should be sharp enough to feather a piece of kindling using the tip portion of the blade. I found the blade was not all that sharp straight out of the box. Feathering a piece of kindling required me to choke up on the handle and use the thicker parts of the blade for leverage. As you can see, it still got the job done:

making-feathersticks-condor-bushlore

I have no doubt the blade will sharpen right up with some leather. I wouldn’t take a stone to it this early in the game.

Batoning – My favorite part. In my opinion, any good bushcraft knife should baton wood with ease. The Condor Bushlore carries itself well but the blade is too light to go full mad-man-mode. I did not feel like I was going to break the blade but the weight is certainly a disadvantage. The short length of the blade does not lend itself well to batoning – and you’ll notice it curves into a drop point. A proper baton requires a nice straight portion of the blade to really drive deep into the wood.

batoning-with-the-condor-bushlore

Overall this blade did great for smaller pieces of kindling but dropped the ball with the bigger pieces. No big deal in context of the price compared to other knives. Tasks like carving and skinning game would be so smooth with this blade, I have no doubts about that.

Final thoughts

There’s a lot I like about this blade. Is it my favorite? Not by a longshot. But for the price the Condor Bushlore is a strong companion in the bush. With the right care the blade will sharpen to a razors edge and last years.

Thanks for checking out the review of the Condor Busholore. Post up with a comment below and let me know what you think about this knife.

 

 

 

 

Morakniv Bushcraft Black Review

Mora knives have become a mainstay choice for survivalists who note the blades quality and value. Mora knives are inexpensive compared to other knives but still bring a lot to the table. The Morakniv Bushcraft knife is an exceptional blade that stays true to the brands reputation as a quality knife manufacturer. As I’ve tested, the Morakniv Bushcraft black can certainly take a beating in the bush.

Specifications

Blade TypeFixed
Blade Length4.3 inches
Total Length9.1 inches
Blade Thickness3.2 mm
Blade MaterialCarbon steel with DLC anti-corrosive coating
Weight5.7 oz (with sheath)
Tang3/4 inches
Sheath IncludedRoger

Pros

Morakniv-bushraft-black-with-sheath

What I really like about all Mora knives is how sharp they are out of the box. The Morakniv Bushcraft Black is no exception. This knife is sharp as hell straight out of the box. I repeat – this knife is dangerously sharp. Most knives do not come this sharp right out of the box. Second, the blade is the thickest blade you can get on a Mora knife. You can really beat the crap out of this thing and it will still come back for more. Taking the Mora out into the bush was a treat and not once did I feel the blade wasn’t up to the job. It handled all the camp tasks with ruthless efficiency.

I have quite a heavy hand when it comes to wood batoning – I can tell you I came down hard over the spine and not a single dent. Carbon steel for the win. Speaking of the spine, it’s got a flat 90 degree ridge – something I always look for  in a survival knife. A flat edge makes it easy to use with your ferrocerium rod. I don’t consider a knife a true survival knife unless it has this feature.

The handle is crafted with a rubbery material. I found it to be super grippy.

Cons

morakniv-bushcraft-black-tang
3/4 tang? Really?

My first big beef with this knife was the 3/4 tang. I always stress the importance of buying knives with full tangs. Using it though, I can’t see how another quarter inch of tang would benefit this knife. It’s already strong as an ox. I think this whole full tang business is psychological down to a certain point. A blade with a half tang is certainly a disadvantage. The tang starts to become a non issue once you hit the 3/4 mark. Still, I wish they would have put a full tang on this thing.

My second beef is with the handle. It’s one of those things where you’re either going to love it or hate it. The Mora Bushcraft Black comes with a curved handle – this seems to be a signature design element in all Moras. I found it to be less than ergonomic in my hand but I’m just use to straight handles. I can see how it would be suited to the grip of some users and perhaps an advantage if you’re carving.

My last beef is the sheath. Overtime the rubber wore off of the blade where it met the sheath casing. Because of this it doesn’t quite snap in securely like it use to. Not really a big deal – I don’t judge a knife by its sheath but its something you might find important.

The Verdict

I stand behind the Morakniv Bushcraft Black. It packs a lot of bang into an inexpensive package. While I still use my Bk2 most of the time, I always have the Mora around close by. In fact, I prefer it for finer tasks like skinning. It’s a hell of a lot sharper than the Bk2.

Great bush knife. I would even say it’s a great general knife to have on hand. Definitely the knife you want if you’re crunched for cash but still want a ridiculously sharp blade that holds an edge. And by the way, the sheath comes with a ferrocerium ride that throws a surprising amount of sparks! BONUS.

How To Make Your Own Bow and Arrow

make-your-own-bow-and-arrow

Using raw materials anybody can make a powerful bow to take down small to medium sized game. Materials to make your own bow and arrow are readily found in nature. Even in the city you could scrounge up what you need to make one. Let’s get started.

Making the bow

Step 1.) Locate either a Willow or Ashwood tree. The branches from these trees flex well under pressure without snapping. This flexible characteristic is crucial to making a proper bow.

Step 2.) Find a straight piece of branch roughly the same height as your shoulder:

Step 3.) Carve away the thicker pieces of the stick. This will give the bow an even flex for increased accuracy:

Step 4.) Carve a notch out of both ends of the stick to hold the string:

Step 5.) Attach a length of cordage to the bow. This can be paracord or any other cordage you have:

 

Bonus tip: duct tape a rounded piece of wood with an “L” shaped notch and attach it to the bow. This will prevent damage to your hands from having to hold the arrow in place with your fingers.

Making the arrows

The materials you use for your arrows isn’t as restrictive as the bow. The main thing is that the arrows need to be straight.

Step 1.) Find a thin sapling and cut a length from the straightest part. Bamboo is great material if it’s available. Your arrow needs to be at least the length of your draw – from the corner of your mouth to a little bit past your hand.

Bamboo makes great arrows because it grow straight

Step 2.) Strip the stick of the bark.

Step 3.) Carve a point on the skinniest end of the arrow.

Step 4.) Make your nock into the other end by spitting it right down the center:

Step 5.) Temper the tip of the arrow in the fire and shape into a sharper point. The fire will draw the moisture out of the arrow and strengthen the point.

DIY fletching

Fletching will make your arrow fly straighter. You can make fletching from a few strips of duct-tape:

 

Sources

1.) How to make a survival bow

2.) The survival arrow

 

7 Survival Techniques You Need To Learn ASAP

survival-techniques

Many people assemble an ultimate bug out bag and assume they’re ready for the worst. But the truth is, without having a few survival techniques up your sleeve you won’t make it very far. You can increase the effectiveness of your gear if you learn a handful of these crucial survival skills…

1.) S.T.O.P

Stop. Think. Observe. Plan. If you completely lose your cool at the beginning your chances of survival are slim. No problem has ever been solved by panicking. Stress and emotion disrupt the logical part of your mind – the part that’s going to get your ass to safety. Think rationally about what’s going on. Where are you? What is happening? Are you in immediate danger? Calm yourself down and formulate a plan to find safety.

2.) Firemaking

fire-making-techniques

Surprise surprise. You probably know how important fire is but when was the last time you built one from scratch? Even under ideal conditions making a fire is difficult. Throw in wet weather to the mix and you have yourself a recipe for frustration, or in a real survival situation, death. There are a number of techniques to increase your chances of success.

Principles of firemaking – If you stick to the science of firemaking you’ll understand how the techniques I describe in this post function. Fire is a chemical reaction that requires 3 elements – oxygen, heat, and fuel. Every piece of wood has a certain ignition temperature – meaning if you can apply enough heat to the organic material it will catch flame – granted there is enough oxygen around (if you’re reading this in space I can’t help you.) The amount of heat required to ignite the wood depends on the density of the material and how dry it is. The dryer the wood the better. If you can create enough heat and not smother your fire you will prosper.

Start small – You can’t throw a couple sparks onto a log and expect to blaze up. Any good fire starts with the tinder bundle. Good tinder is easily ignited by a flame or sparks. The tinder is used to light smaller twigs. The twigs are used to light larger pieces of kindling until eventually the larger logs catch and you have a decent fire that burns through the night. Dry leaves, grass, or fibrous bark can be used to create your tinder bundle. Kindling can be gathered from standing branches or collected from the ground if it’s dry. Wet kindling can be stripped of its bark and split into smaller pieces to reveal a dry inner core.

fire making techniques – There are a number of techniques you can implement to get your fire blazing. These techniques involve laying a proper foundation for the fire and making sure the smaller flames have enough oxygen to grow.

1.) Tepee method – Place your tinder bundle on a dry surface or a bed of leaves. It helps to dig a fire pit to shield small flames from the wind. Stack your pieces of kindling in a tepee formation around the tinder bundle but leave an opening so you can light the tinder bundle. Once you light the tinder, add more kindling until the structure collapses on itself. At this point you can start laying larger pieces of wood over the kindling.

2.) Log cabin method – This technique is considered superior to the tepee method by many survivalists. For one, it doesn’t collapse on itself like the tepee. Sometimes the tepee can collapse and not catch the larger pieces of wood. The log cabin is structurally stable and allows room for oxygen to flow freely – supporting a healthy environment for your survival fire. Start by laying a foundation of thick pieces of wood flat on the ground. Cris cross this foundation with another layer of slightly smaller sticks – about thumb size.

Lay your tinder bundle on the top of this second layer and then cross two more larger sticks in parallel with each other across each side of the bundle. Lay smaller sticks across the tinder bundle and then place 2 more frame sticks on either side to support a layer of kindling. Continue stacking in this fashion and then drop a match down the hatch. The tinder will ignite the first layer of kindling and the fire will progress up the entire stack. Very clean. very efficient.

log-cabin-firemaking-technique
Log cabin fire

Some survivalists shun the idea of a “stuctured fire” opting to simply light a bundle of tinder and throw on some wood. To each his own. It’s a good idea to get out there and experiment. This way you can find a method you are most comfortable with.

3.) Rigging shelter

shelter-rigging-technique

In extreme conditions, man can live for 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. It’s crucial to build shelter to shield yourself from the elements of your environment. If you grabbed your bug out bag before TSHTF then you have at least a tarp and some paracord. This versatile combination can create many different types of shelters to accommodate different environments.

Rigging techniques – It’s quite easy to rig up a shelter if you know how to create a tension line. Your tension line will serve as the backbone of your shelter. Find two trees and a tie a half hitch around one of them:

 

Next create a tension loop about 3/4 down the line and feed the standing end through. Pull as tight as you need it and then tie it off. This is called a Truckers Hitch:

Throw your tarp over this line and then stake the ends to the ground or place heavy rocks along the edge. Alternatively, create any number of configurations. I particularly like the body bag configuration for sleeping. As I mention in the ultimate bug out bag guide, a tarp is much lighter than a tent and highly versatile. Do yourself a favor and pick one up. Make sure it has grommets and holes around the edges for increased anchor points.

4.) Purifying water

Securing clean drinking water will be your top priority in a survival situation. Finding it will depend entirely on your location and your situation. As a rule of thumb, water should always be purified before drinking it – especially water found in urban areas. Years of industry and pollution have tainted the water with chemicals and bacteria. Even in the wilderness water contains protozoa, viruses and bacteria. Drinking infected water will have you shitting liquid and dehydrate you even more.

Did you pack a water filter in your bug out bag? A reliable water filter is the most effective solution to obtain clean drinking water from dubious source. Products like the life straw are cheap solutions to your biggest problem in a survival crisis – the provisioning of clean water.

Required reading: Everything you need to know about purifying water

However, you can quickly fashion a DIY water filter using readily available materials.

Water purifying technique – Snatch up an empty 2 liter or other plastic container and chop the bottom off. Fill with activated charcoal, sand, and gravel. Stick a piece of cloth in the hole to keep everything in place. Simply pour in some water and collect it when it comes out with a clean drinking container.

Water purifying technique #2 – A second way to collect clean water is with a solar still. All you need is a plastic sheet, a clean bucket to collect water, and a rock. Dig a hole in the ground and throw in some vegetation. Put your bucket in the center of the hole and the cover it with the plastic sheet. Place a weighty rock in the center. The solar rays from the sun heat the hole. As the soil and vegetation lose their moisture it collects on the plastic and then drops in the bucket. Drink deeply my friend.

solar-still-water-purification-technique
Solar stills can extract water even from the harshest desert environments

5.) Signaling techniques

If you find yourself in need of rescue you can use multiple variations of the international distress signal. From the wikipedia page:

A distress signal indicates that a person or group of people, ship, aircraft, or other vehicle is threatened by grave and imminent danger and requests immediate assistance.

The IDS can be communicated in several ways:

  • Transmitting a spoken voice Mayday message by radio over very high frequency channel 16 (156.8 MHz) and/or high frequency on 2182 kHz
  • Transmitting a digital distress signal by activating (or pressing) the distress button (or key) on a marine radio equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) over the VHF (channel 70) and/or HF frequency bands.
  • Transmitting a digital distress signal by activating (or pressing) the distress button (or key) on an Inmarsat-C satellite internet device
  • Sending the Morse code group SOS by light flashes or sounds
  • Burning a red flare (either hand-held or aerial parachute flare)
  • Lighting a non-pyrotechnic visual distress signal device[1]
  • Emitting orange smoke from a canister
  • Showing flames on the vessel (as from a burning tar barrel, oil barrel, etc.)
  • Raising and lowering slowly and repeatedly both arms outstretched to each side
  • Making a continuous sound with any fog-signalling apparatus
  • Firing a gun or other explosive signal at intervals of about a minute
  • Flying the international maritime signal flags NC ICS November.svg ICS Charlie.svg
  • Displaying a visual signal consisting of a square flag having above or below it a ball or anything resembling a ball (round or circular in appearance)
  • Launching distress rockets

6.) Situational awareness

Be aware of your surroundings and what’s going on. Situational awareness means having a complete understanding of the situation at hand. It’s a mental snapshot you keep in RAM of your environment. More importantly, it’s paying attention to the elements of your situation that are most important for your current mission (since the human brain can’t pay attention to everything.) Are there serious injuries in your group? Are you hurt? Are there any immediate dangers you need to address? What is the next move and what are the logical steps to reach your next goal?

It’s also about keeping cool under intense pressure. You can increase your day to day situational awareness by meditating and become hyper aware of your surroundings and what’s going on. Even in the grocery store you can do this. For instance, does the checkout clerk look like he’s about to snap?

Using the information you observe you then make choices about what to do next. Your observations inform your decisions. Situational awareness is an important skill to cultivate.

7.) Preparedness

The best way to survive is to prepare. Preparation breeds caution and cushions the blow of being thrown into an SHTF situation. While you can’t be 100% prepared for every situation, you can take practical steps to ensure the safety of yourself and your family. At the very least, secure resources for an extended power outage and “prep” for potential situations. Going out into the wilderness and learning the basics is a fun way to spend time and learn about survival. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom!

Signing off…

Ultimate Bug Out Bag Checklist

bug-out-bag-checklist

Increasingly unstable times calls for extraordinary preparation – or at least a proper bug out bag. We have assembled the ultimate bug out bag checklist along with some seasoned advice so you can prepare yourself for anything that blasts through – because you never know when they’re going to drop the nuke. When I say ultimate I mean ultimate. There’s a lot of gear on this checklist you don’t need depending on variables like location, your skills, and your unique bug out situation. Let’s crack into it.

What is a bug out bag?

A bug out bag is a special backpack filled with short term supplies to help you get to your bug out location. The supplies you carry will aid in your survival and see you through tough times in the short term. At the bare minimum it will have 72 hours worth of food and water. It is not designed for an extended stay in the wilderness and shouldn’t be seen as a long term survival solution. Your bug out bag only needs to get you to your bug out location or see you through a rough situation until normalcy is restored. Additionally, your bug out bag will have tools to secure or improvise resources for longer periods of time.

Reality check

bug-out-bag-checklist

When most people think of “bugging out” they have a romantic notion of escaping into the woods and living off the fat of the land. They assume that impending doom and “full system meltdown” is right on the horizon. This is very unlikely. It’s much likelier that you get caught in a snowstorm or you lose power for a couple days. Maybe your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere with zero cell reception. Many of these scenarios require you to bug out and seek resources. Having a bug out bag with the resources you need is crucial to making it out through these situations.

Crucial considerations

Your plan – What is your plan if TSHTF? Where will you bug out? How far is your bug out location from home/work? Will you walk? Like Denzel Washington in the book of eli, your actions need a purpose and a plan. Your plan will govern what you pack in your bug out bag.

Your physical strength – Your bug out gear will be carried on your back. Most people drastically underestimate their own physical strength and stamina. The weight of your bug out bag needs to be taken into consideration, along with your own willingness to lug said weight. Your bug out bag is no good if you crumble under the load. Consider that you might have to walk a considerable distance to safety and ask yourself – will you be able to carry all of that gear? Next weekend go out on a camping trip with your friends. Take whatever you think you’ll need for the trip. If your experience is like most new backpackers, you probably packed way more gear than you actually needed. You will inevitably find yourself ditching the heavier stuff in favor of lighter alternatives. This is the spirit of the lightweight backpacker. In fact, your pack for a backpacking trip is essentially a bug out bag!

Your resourcefulness – The more resourceful you are the less gear you need to survive. This comes down to raw survival skills. Knowing how to use your gear is crucial. Knowing your environment is just as important. If you know where to find clean water then you don’t have to carry as much. If you know how to make shelter with a couple garbage bags and a bit of paracord then you don’t need a tent. Packing a bug out bag is like packing for a backpacking trip. Assess your skills and pack accordingly.

Best bug out pack?

The genesis of any B.O.B. is the humble backpack of course. You have many options available to you. Packs can be broken down into military or civilian types. Read this post for a detailed analysis for the pros and cons of each. In short, military packs are bombproof compared to their civilian type counterparts. They can be picked up for cheap at any military surplus store. Civilian packs, on the other hand, are lighter and offer a range of design options and versatility. Some of them even rival the durability of military packs. Civilian packs are more expensive due to the commercialization of the hiking industry.

At the end of the day, a bug out bag only needs to meet 2 requirements.

1.) It must hold all of your gear

2.) It must not fall apart on the road

Stay away from bags with cheap zippers and material that feels like it could tear apart at any second. A popular option is the Rush 5.11 72 hour bag. It’s a best of both worlds choice – the durability of a military pack with the versatility of a civilian pack.

Ultimate bug out bag checklist

Let’s get into the gear. The first section will cover the 4 core components of any effective B.O.B. – fire, shelter, food, and water. This is the gear you need at the bare minimum. The second section will cover secondary make-life-easier items.

Fire – fire is a necessity in a survival situation. If you’re trapped outdoors a fire will keep your body at an ideal temperature for survival. Fire also cooks your food, provides a moral boost, and serves as an effective way to signal. Keep at least 2 methods of making fire in your bug out bag for redundancy.

Shelter – exposure to extreme elemental conditions will kill you faster than anything else.

Food –  72 hours worth of food. Here are some ideas, and remember, survival is not a culinary experience. Pack foods that are high carb, high fat. The foods that deliver your body the most bang for the weight. Also, non perishable!

  • Dried nuts/fruit
  • Clif bars
  • protein powder
  • Tuna packets
  • Snickers
  • etc

Water – 72 hours worth of water. There is no exact science on how much this is exactly. Everybody is wired differently and the amount of water you need depends on a number of variables like how much you sweat, what you eat, etc. My advice is to bring as much as you can carry. Scout your bug out route ahead of time and identify locations where you can get fresh water. This will reduce the amount of water you need to carry in your B.O.B. Packing a water filter is another way to reduce your in-pack water supply. You can filter water from local ponds, lakes, rivers and other potentially dubious sources. Read my guide to purifying water.

Upgraded B.O.B

The above is a skeleton version of any decent B.O.B. It’s lightweight and has everything you need to survive for 72 hours. But what if you want to make life a little more cushy? There are lots of gear options that will make life easier if you’re willing to bare the load. Here is a complete list of items you should consider.

Knife – I almost included this in the skeleton list because of it’s raw practicality. A knife is a truly versatile piece of gear and some argue it’s the most important gear in your pack. You can’t go wrong with the Kabar Bk2. Required reading: How to choose a survival knife.

Flashlight – Ever been camping without a flashlight? Life becomes very dark and difficult. I recommend a headlamp to free up your hands to work around camp.  If you have the extra cheddar the Fenix PD-35 is an amazing tactical flashlight and doubles as a self defense weapon.

Hygiene – Alcohol wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, tampons, hand sanitizer, toilet paper – you know the drill. Anything you use on a regular basis to keep clean and hygenic.

Upgraded sleep system – Tarp and paracord not your thing? Don’t let me keep you from your creature comforts. Just make sure your tent has a waterproof bottom and a good rain fly.

Duct tape – A million and one uses. Repair ripped shelters, tape trash bags together for make-shift shelter, compression wrap for wounds, heal and protect blisters, fly trap, DIY handcuffs etc. Don’t bring the whole role though – wrap a few rounds of it over a pencil or your BIC lighter.

Plastic spork – Use the spork to eat any food you come across.

Multi-Tool – A good Leatherman multi-tool is a versatile piece of equipment. The built in tools can be used in many scenarios: Cutting up cardboard for shelter, opening food canisters, removing secured items, cutting cordage, etc. Don’t leave home without one boys.

Sillcock key – Ever seen a water faucet with no handle to turn it on? These water sources are on every commercial building and accessed with a tool called a sillcock key. Even if the power was offline there’s a good chance there is enough pressure left to fill your water bottle. On large buildings these sources could amount to hundreds of gallons of water. This tool is easily acquired at any hardware store.

Water Bottle – A good water bottle will store any water you come across in the city. Using the sillcock key above you can easily keep your bottle filled for a good while. Opt for the stainless steel varieties to boil water in a fire. Stainless steel containers will add extra weight to your pack but are more versatile than a plastic bottle.

Gloves – You want to protect your hands from all the sharp edges and glass you will be handling. A good set of gloves will give you a better grip if you need to climb structures and prevent cuts and scrapes. Your hands are too important not to protect. Pick up a pair at your local Home Depot or hardware store to get ones with a good fit.

Garbage Bags – Industrial strength garbage bags are versatile pieces of gear. They are waterproof so you can use them as a make-shift rain coat. Garbage bags can be laid flat to create a dry sleeping system and durable enough to collect and hold water.

Pepper spray – If you aren’t trained to take down an assailant with your bare hands then pepper spray is a great tool to include in your bug out bag. In desperate situations you can’t rely on people being civil. A face-full of pepper spray will stop an attacker right in their tracks.

Dust mask – Put on the dust mask if you’re going to be exploring abandoned buildings for shelter. The dust mask will help protect your lungs from inhaling harmful particles. This becomes more important if you’re surrounded by collapsed structures or buildings that have recently been destroyed. They are also useful in the event of an influenza outbreak. The dust mask is a very light piece of gear and extremely affordable.

Shemagh – a classic trick to stay warm at night is to keep your head and neck covered. A shemagh is a multi purpose article of clothing that has a number of practical uses. Besides, who doesn’t want to look like a ninja while they’re bugging out?

Water purification – Having a way to purify water will reduce the amount you need to carry in your pack. I’ve written a complete guide to purifying water here. Water filters like the Life Straw are extremely cheap and lightweight. Throw one in your bug out bag and call it a day.

Battery bank – Useful to recharge your phone and other electronic devices. Survival might depend on your ability to make a single phone call. SHTF situations do not take your smartphones battery life into consideration before striking.

Clothing

bug-out-clothes

The clothes on your back are just as important as the gear on your back. They are your first line of defense against the elements. Here are a few tips to pack the right clothing for your bug out bag.

No cotton – Cotton retains moisture and sticks to your skin. This creates prime conditions for hypothermia. Your clothing should keep you dry and wick away moisture. Even in the cold your body will sweat – especially when you’re tromping around with a bug out bag. It’s crucial to stay dry. Opt for wool clothing like smart wool or a polyester fabric.

Layered system – dressing in a layered style makes you highly adaptable to changing environments and body temperatures. You can easily remove layers or add them depending on the situation. Remember, the key is to stay dry and keep the body at a healthy temperature. A common layering system involves 3 layers:

  • The base layer is the layer next to your skin. This layer should be made of a wool or polyester (synthetic) fabric and wick away moisture.
  • The insulation layer is a warming layer – typical fabrics include wool, fleece, or down goose feathers. These types of fabrics trap heat close to the body.
  • The shell layer is your protection from the elements. This can as complicated as a $400 dollar jacket or as simple as a trash bag. This layer serves to protect you from the rain, sleet, and snow.

Boots

Protect your feet at all costs. Regular shoes degrade quickly and don’t support your feet very well. I’m partial to a good pair of waterproof hiking boots. Material like Goretex is waterproof and breathable. A mid size hiking boot will also support your ankles. Generally, a good boot will last you years. I’ve worn a pair of these everyday for over a year and they’ve held up like a tank.

Final thoughts

Not many people have the money to go out and buy an ultimate bug out bag. I recommend you start small. Put together the skeleton version of this bug out bag first and then slowly expand it. Once you have the gear you need, take it for a test run. Get out of dodge for a night and hike to someplace local where you can experiment with your gear. While this won’t simulate a real SHTF scenario it will allow you to familiarize yourself with all your gear and test your physical stamina. You will quickly get an idea for what pieces of gear you do and don’t need. The bug out bag is always a work in progress. Have fun with the process but be serious when it comes time to BUG OUT.

Have any additions you would make to this list? Leave your comments and criticisms below. Thanks for reading and be sure to subscribe to the email newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POST BLAST REPORT: What Happens After They Drop The NUKE?

It is 2016 at the time of this writing and the monkey mind continues to assert itself in the organism. Domination and competition rules us with an iron fist and we will do anything to assert control over our environment. Technology has given monkeys the opportunity to extend their domination across continents – and to do so with advanced weaponry mankind has never seen before. Nuclear weapons are a new addition to the monkey arsenal. Weapons with devastating power.

Hellish Technology

Nukes are an especially hideous breed of explosive technology. A significant amount of the energy emitted from a nuclear blast takes the form of light and heat – also known as thermal energy – making it a fundamentally new kind of beast compared to traditional explosive devices that rely only on BLAST energy. The intensity of the heat blast generated by a nuke is capable of causing skin burns and starting fires at a considerable distance from the point of impact – not to mention disfiguring the immediate landscape with radiation.

As you can see in the image below, the majority of a nuclear bombs power comes from air blast and thermal energy.

nuclear-bomb-energy
Source: http://atomicarchive.com

 

The rest of the nukes destruction takes the form of nuclear radiation. When the bomb explodes it vaporizes the immediate the landscape – sending countless radioactive particles high into the air. “Fallout” occurs as these deathly particles descend back to the earth and find their way into the lungs and water sources of the local populace.

Immediate and far reaching destruction

A nuclear bomb packs varying power depending on weapon yield. When a nuke explodes, it produces a powerful shockwave that creates a sudden change in air pressure – utterly pulverizing anything in the blast radius. Giant structures are completely decimated. Human beings reduced dust. The blast radius doles out an extreme amount of damage within a limited radius. Next comes the thermal radiation. This blast travels at the speed of light and can produce flash blindness in those looking directly at the blast. These effects can last for several minutes. First degree, second degree, and third degree burns can occur at distances close to the blast radius up to 5 miles or more. This thermal blast can also cause widespread fires by igniting tinder like materials within the radius.

Nuclear fallout

When a nuclear bomb is detonated on the surface, it pulverizes the surrounding particles and contaminates them with radiation. These particles are sent rocketing into the atmosphere where they “fallout” of the sky. The radius of effect depends entirely on the weather. High winds can carry the contaminated particles many miles from the blast radius. Rain can carry the particles down to the surface at a rapid rate of speed and create “hot spots.”

Fires and firestorms

Hiroshima-firestorm
Firestorm shortly after the blast (Hiroshima)

 

The initial blast from the nuke along with the thermal blast create a one-two punch of destruction. The blast will reduce the surrounding structures into kindling – easily ignited by the following thermal blast. The combination of multiple fires heats the air and creates prime conditions for a hurricane. Increased winds fan the existing flames and creates a true hell on earth situation.

Radiation poisoning

Effects of radiation exposure are deadly – especially close to the hypocenter of the blast. Those within miles of the blast are also severely effected. Radiation poisoning can take days, weeks, or even years before any symptoms develop. Radiation is measured in rem and has varying levels of biological effect on the human body depending on the dose:

  • 0 – 5 rem received in a short period or over a long period is safe—we don’t expect observable health effects.
  • 5 – 10 rem received in a short period or over a long period is safe—we don’t expect observable health effects. At this level, an effect is either nonexistent or too small to observe.
  • 10 – 50 rem received in a short period or over a long period—we don’t expect observable health effects although above 10 rem your chances of getting cancer are slightly increased. We may also see short-term blood cell decreases for doses of about 50 rem received in a matter of minutes.
  • 50 – 100 rem received in a short period will likely cause some observable health effects and received over a long period will increase your chances of getting cancer. Above 50 rem we may see some changes in blood cells, but the blood system quickly recovers.
  • 100 – 200 rem received in a short period will cause nausea and fatigue. 100 – 200 rem received over a long period will increase your chances of getting cancer.
  • 200 – 300 rem received in a short period will cause nausea and vomiting within 24-48 hours. Medical attention should be sought.
  • 300 – 500 rem received in a short period will cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea within hours. Loss of hair and appetite occurs within a week. Medical attention must be sought for survival; half of the people exposed to radiation at this level will die if they receive no medical attention.
  • 500 – 1,200 rem in a short period will likely lead to death within a few days

 

Chances of survival

Surviving a nuke depends on 2 important factors – the weapon yield of the nuke and your location relative to ground zero when it detonates. Let’s simulate a nuke attack with the worlds largest known nuclear weapon – The Russian made Tsar Bomba. To put things in perspective, the Tsar Bomba is 3,333 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Tsar-vs-littleboy
The Tsar Bomba, The worlds most powerful nuke, is 3,333 time more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

 

Radiation radius (3.14 km) – Without medical treatment, there is expected to be between 50% and 90% mortality from acute effects alone. Dying takes between several hours and several weeks. At this close to the fireball however, it is not the radiation that will kill you.

Fireball radius (4.62 km) –  Try to imagine a radioactive fireball that burns as hot as the sun. Nothing survives.

Blast radius (8.91 km) – If you’re unlucky enough to be caught within the blast radius then kiss this world goodbye. Most people will die from flying objects and intense thermal radiation. There are, however, extraordinary cases of people surviving nuclear blasts at such close proximity. Akiko Takakura survived the nuclear drop on Hiroshima being just 300 meters from the bombs hypocenter. Her survival is due to her lucky position at the time of the blast – a bank lobby designed with reinforced concrete and other protective elements.

Thermal blast radius (60 km) – roughly 50% of people exposed to to thermal blast will die from trauma and third degree burns. Those that survive will have likely found shelter. Widespread fires and destruction abound.

The fallout – Radioactive debris will fall from the sky with the majority of the debris landing within 24 hours. Many of the heavier particles (the most dangerous) will fall closer to ground zero while the lighter particles will be carried by the wind and other atmospheric conditions.  Radioactive fallout decays exponentially – meaning it loses the damaging effects over a relatively short period of time. Fallout locations usually take between 3 – 5 weeks to stabilize.

Simulation of the Tsar Bomba detonating in New York City

Courtesy of Nuke Map

Conclusion

This should give you a sobering look at what’s possible with these devastating nukes. Are you ready for a nuclear blast of this magnitude? If not, read the DSK guide to surviving a nuclear attack. The post is CHOCKED FULL of invaluable survival knowledge.

Let us know your thoughts and criticisms in the comment section.

Epic Survival Lessons From The Book of Eli

The Book of Eli is an epic story about a man (Denzel Washington) with intense purpose and cunning survival skills. After a nuclear blast Denzel Washington receives a message from God. His mission – deliver the last known copy of the King James Bible to a remote western city to recirculate the knowledge of God back to mankind. The movie is chocked full of survival tips and crucial takeaways you can use in any SHTF situation. Here are a few ideas.

Cats are food

Right in the opening scene we see Eli take down a cat with his bow. This tells us a few things. One, in a survival situation animals become food. They lose their value as pets in favor of keeping the human machine alive. The inner animal of the human comes out. Hunger brings you very close to the animalistic side of you that sees animals as prey. You do not have the luxury of taking an animals are pets perspective. This perspective can only be realized in a state of abundance. Chances are, in a survival situation you can not afford to have this perspective.

Mind your own business

Eli notices multiple injustices throughout the movie but chooses to stay on his path and not intervene. Survival is not pretty and you are not superman. Short of rescuing a close family member or friend, your job is not to rush to the rescue of every damsel in distress – unless you want to get yourself killed of course. Mind your own business and stick to the path.

Have a path

Eli had a very clear path from the beginning. He was not walking aimlessly. He had a purpose and a defined mission. Your mission might not be as dramatic. Your mission might be to find water or locate a lost member of your group. Whatever it is, having a purpose and mission will pull you through the hard times and see you through to ultimate survival.

Have faith

Eli had unwavering faith in God. He chose to believe that he was protected by God. His suffering was easy to endure because his faith gave meaning to everything. He did not question Gods will and stuck to His divine purpose. It’s important to have faith in something when you’re struggling to survive. Especially if you doubt your own survival skills, having faith in the divine will summon internal resources you never thought you had. Stop doubting and have faith.

Have a skill

On his journey West Eli passes through a small town of hostile survivors ran by a maniac searching for his own copy of the Bible. While waiting for his battery to charge Eli is questioned by a hostile road warrior. Things turn sour and Eli takes out the whole bar in an impressive display of self defense. The maniac mayor of the town takes notice of Eli’s skills and invites him to join up with his crew. His life was spared because he had a unique skill set that could benefit many people. Having some kind of skill is important for your survival and will benefit you if you decide to absorb into a group.

Conclusion

In the end, Eli completes his mission and ultimately survives. Had it not been for these survival skills he might not have made it through the first obstacle. Survival depends both on the gear on your back and on the wits in your head. Common sense goes a long way to ensuring a safe passage through a deathly SHTF scene. Much of Eli’s success can be attributed to his unwavering faith and common sense. Yes, it helps to be a complete badass too.

What did you think of these lessons? Drop a comment below.

8 Paracord Ideas For Survival/SHTF Situation

paracord-ideas

You’ve done the research and assembled one hell of a bug out bag according to expert bloggers. Pack paracord they say. It will come in HANDY they say. I had to do quite a bit of research before I understood why I actually needed any paracord at all. In this post I have assembled 8 practical examples of what you can use your paracord for in a survival situation.

Shelter – This is a big one so I put it at the top of the list. With only a tarp and some paracord you can fashion yourself a nice shelter from the elements. Forget about lugging around a heavy tent. Hell, if you really want to go RAMBO you can forget the tarp too and simply forage what you need from the city or wilderness. Don’t, however, expect to find you some decent rope. Pack a good bit of paracord and you can rest soundly at night knowing how prepared you are. There are lots of ways to create shelter with paracord. You can create an A-frame structure by tying the paracord to two supporting pillars (trees, poles etc) and then just throw your tarp over it. Stake off the corners and you’re right as rain.

paracord-ideas

Bear bags – If you find yourself in bear country don’t forget to bear bag your food. Throw whatever goodies you have in some kind of sack and hoist it high in the air with your paracord. Don’t keep open food containers in your tent unless you want a 3am wake up call from Yogi Bear himself.

Cliff loads – This one is simple. Attach one bit of paracord to a heavy load and use the other end to drag that sucker up a cliff, steep mountain, or other natural or man-made obstruction.

Boot laces – Another timeless tip from my paracord ideas VAULT. If you have boots with metal eyelets it’s only a matter of time before you go to lace things up and the whole lace rips apart. Patch things right up with a good bit of paracord and you’re GOLDEN. This will save you from tromping through the zombie apocalypse with a boot that constantly falls off. Don’t forget to burn shut the other end so the paracord doesn’t unravel.

Swedish fire torch – Take a log and split it into 4 equal pieces. Secure the pieces together at the bottom of the logs with your paracord. Stuff sticks and anything else that will burn inside of the cracks. Light the material and sit back as your Swedish fire torch burns from the inside out. This method of fire making allows for a flat cooking top and is completely self feeding and contained.

Swedish fire torch hard at work

 

Fishing line – Imagine, you are stranded in the middle of a wilderness DEATH TRAP. All you have is 10 feet of paracord and a river rushing with the worlds FRESHEST salmon. You might be thinking that 10 feet of paracord is not nearly enough to test your fate at the hands of the fishing Gods. But did you know? The inner strands of any 550 cordage can be turned into fishing line with a surprising amount strength. Just 10 feet of paracord can easily turn into 80 feet of line with 50lb test! Lash the inner strands together and put a hook on the other end for a fishing experience straight out of Huckleberry Finn.

Self extraction – steeped deep in an urban DEATH TRAP? All hell breaking loose? Fight for your life and use that paracord to descend down the side of your burning apartment building. But can it hold your weight you ask? It’s called 550 cord for a reason – 550 cord is rated up to 550 pounds. I doubt you’re that fat my friend.

Citizens arrest – Tie up that bandit and question his motives with a good length of paracord. In a SHTF there isn’t going to be anybody to save you. You may find yourself in a group and one of them goes nuts – experiences a mental BREAKDOWN from lack of nutrients and death showing his teeth at every corner. Tie him up and calm him down – or force him out of the group.

Conclusion

You can see that paracord is a truly versatile piece of gear. It’s super light so there’s literally zero excuses not to have any in your pack. Paracord can easily be had on Amazon for cheap. Get some today before shit gets REAL. You don’t want to be scrounging for important gear when all hell breaks loose. You want to grab your gear and go – so don’t forget the paracord my friend!