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Survival Gear: Setting Your Group Standard

Survival Gear: Setting Your Group Standard

Everyone likes to think they are unique and many people even go to great lengths to show the world just how special and creative they are. You have seen these types of people, maybe you are one yourself. Those who have tattoos all up one side and down the other (no judgement), who have multiple piercings and giant gauges in their ever expanding earlobes. They wear all manner of fashion that seems to be designed purely for shock value and their hair is carefully combed into their eyes.

Now before I get anyone upset, I am not advocating anyone dress any differently. I am a firm believer in the philosophy of if you want to let your freak flag fly, go right ahead. You aren’t bothering me at all. Except maybe the hair thing on guys today… I just want to cut that mop out of your eyes because it would drive me insane…And stop with the hair products maybe…

Seriously, I love variety and if you feel that you are expressing yourself, go right ahead. More power to you! However, in a survival situation there are times when being the only round peg in a room full of squares could be a disadvantage so today I want to talk about conforming.

The importance of the group standard to preppers

Now when I mention conforming, I am not talking about conforming to my version of society, your morals or style of dress or personal hygiene habits. I am talking about the decisions you will make regarding the survival gear and equipment that your larger mutual assistance group is going to use. It is important to formalize a group standard on several major pieces of gear if you want to function cohesively as a unit.

If each person is unique, their own purple flower with magenta ombre highlights, and does their own thing – you aren’t a group at all. You are just a bunch of individuals hanging around together and believe it or not, that could be a drawback. Let’s imagine a SHTF scenario for example. It’s bad, really bad and you are huddled together with your survival group, trying to get by and taking each challenge as it comes.

Choosing standard firearms

One of our posts that has had the most discussion back and forth has been The AK-47 vs AR-15: Which Rifle is Better? I wrote this back in March of 2014 but debates about the best firearm in a SHTF scenario have probably been raging since men were carrying around flintlock pistols. We are unlikely to find consensus as a whole prepper or survivalist movement, but your own survival group needs to come up with one choice and stick with it.

Why can’t I have my AR15 and Bob have his FN SCAR? Why can’t Julie carry her KRISS Vectorwhile Mary rocks the tried and true AK-47?

I can give you a lot of reasons:

Standard firearms behave the same way. One you learn the mechanics of your AR15, every other AR15 behaves the same way

Standard firearms behave the same way. Once you learn the mechanics of your AR15, every other AR15 behaves the same way

Magazines: Each of your battle rifles should use the same magazines so that if needed, you can grab a spare one from your buddy, lock and load and keep going. You never want to find out that you are under attack and nobody around you has the same magazine, or that two people do, but they aren’t with you at the moment. Try telling your buddy to just hold them off-while you reload a few more magazines.

Spare Parts and Accessories: Let’s say someone has a rifle that has a part malfunction that renders that rifle inoperative. You could either let that sit on the shelf or you can use the spare parts to fix other rifles that may need it. Yes, you should always have spares but it’s far less trouble to buy three of one thing as opposed to one different part three times. You won’t have to learn how to pull apart three different weapons either although knowing how would be a good skill.

You can also look at accessories the same way. I have at least 3 different sets of scope rings I got for 3 different scopes. If I were to have the same scope as my buddy and mine went bad, if needed, I could simply swap his out with mine. The alternative of strapping that nice Vortex Strike Eagle down with duct tape isn’t a good option.

Operation and features: Standard firearms behave the same way. One you learn the mechanics of your AR15, every other AR15 behaves the same way. Learn how to disassemble one, you know how to disassemble all of them. Have a misfire? You know how to quickly clear one AR…I think you get the point.

Reliability: I will also add this minor factor in there. Assuming you buy comparable quality firearms, the make of your rifle and the reliability will be comparable to the other rifles so your lifespans should work out close to the same period of time assuming proper care and maintenance. I know I had an M-16 from the 70’s when I was in the Army and it worked just fine. I did get some new hand-grips though.

Choosing standard calibers

This one should be in the same category but I wanted to break it out because we could be talking about Shotguns, Rifles and Pistols above with your standard firearms. Your ammo should be the same for all firearms as well. So if you have standardized on Glock for example for your pistol, everyone should have the same caliber. This can be .45 or .40 or .357 or .9mm but everyone should carry the same ammo. Same point as above for magazines. When you run out, someone else’s magazine and the ammo naturally will slide right back into your pistol. Which pistol caliber is the best? That is a different argument and a completely different post.

Choosing standard camouflage

Uh, yep! I think camouflage is very necessary in a survival situation.

Uh, yep! I think camouflage is very necessary in a survival situation.

Is camouflage necessary? It really depends on what you envision as being possible in your survival group. Do you see this as the end of the world as we know it? Do you imagine hostile refugees coming down your street to demand food or the use of your women? Do you expect to be fighting traitorous UN forces who are marching across town? Do you think you will need to hide? Do you think you will need to hunt?

Having the same outfit can prevent someone from easily sneaking into your perimeter unnoticed. Granted, they could be wearing the same old Woodland Camo fatigues I wore in service and if that is what I chose for my group I would be in trouble. There is a case to be made for selecting something a little more novel like German, Australian or British camo. I prefer the easy options available at any hunting store in the US made by RealTree. They match your local foliage and if you are caught in them, you can easily say you were hunting. No need to look like a paramilitary type and gain unwanted attention if you don’t have to.

Choosing standard communication equipment

Baofeng makes a great, affordable radio for preppers.

Baofeng makes a great, affordable radio for preppers.

I am referring to shortwave radios here. Radio frequencies are the same no matter what equipment you have so why do we have to purchase the same radios? I will give you two reasons. The first is batteries and the second is operation. I have yet to see two HAM radios that were programmed the same way. I know there is software that can make this easier, but to my mind if everyone has the same radio, everyone will know how to use it the same way. Less problems, fewer mistakes. You can choose from a lot of manufacturers and spend a little or a lot of money, but radios should also be the same for your group. My personal choice is Baofeng’s BF F8HP model.

Conclusion

There you have a few of my reasons and rationale for setting a group standard and in these instances at least, not trying to be a purple unicorn with sparkles. I am sure there are those out there who have different opinions so let’s hear them!

Survival Gear: Setting Your Group Standard was written by Pat Henry with Prepper Journal and can be viewed here:

http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2016/06/02/travel-like-prepper/

Day Hike Checklist

What to Pack for a Day Hike

Planning a day hike can teach you so many skills that you can incorporate into your bug out plans. I have advocated that longer backpacking trips are extremely valuable for the lessons you can learn from them, which apply directly to any plans you have of strapping that heavy pack on your back and hiking into the local forest. A day hike gives you similar opportunities to learn, practice your bug out plan, and get some great exercise at the same time in the beauty of nature. What’s not to love?

You shouldn’t just walk into the woods unprepared though even when by definition; a day hike should have you home at night. Accidents happen and that is one reason why I am a prepper. I like to think that even small day hikes present opportunities for me to be able to take care of myself or my family if something unexpected happens. Do you think Aaron Ralston, famously portrayed in the movie 127 Hours didn’t plan to make it home that night he left? Aaron spent over 5 days trapped by a giant bolder and was only able to free himself by first breaking, then cutting off his own arm. Talk about survival!

Each year there are numerous people lost or stranded in the wilderness so it makes perfect sense to me to pack for unplanned visits to the woods.

All of that isn’t to say that I think you should bring your full Bug Out Bag with you, but for some of you that might be a good idea to see how it feels after a few hours. My wife and I did this before our first backpacking trip to try out items like our portable stove, water filtration items, eat some of the freeze-dried food we would live off of in the wilderness but most importantly to see how lugging our new backpacks full of gear felt. That short day hike taught us a lot about our packs so I put together this list below for any of you who might be considering the same thing on a day hike scale.

Day hike checklist

Feel free to print this day hike checklist off and use it for your own adventures. The items I list below are just suggestions. Where you live , the environment you will be experiencing on your day hike and personal abilities should all factor into your own choices, but this list should cover the basics needed for survival.

Day-Hike-Checklist

A day hike checklist will help you be prepared for unforeseen situations.

Navigation

Map and Compass – Who wants to get lost out in the great outdoors? Having a good compass and a map of your area are very important for anything but the shortest hikes in a National Park where the trail is well-marked and usually less than a few miles. Maps are more important if you aren’t familiar with the area, the terrain is treacherous, steep or the environment is harsher (think Grand Canyon). National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps are excellent and usually available for most of the larger destinations. These maps are waterproof which is a huge plus if you sweat like a beast or are planning to ford the local river to punch your bad ass hiker card.

You also need to know how to use that compass and be able to read a map.

Sun Protection

Sunglasses – Sunglasses, especially polarized lenses are a must have if for nothing else than looking cool. Seriously, sunglasses will protect your eyes and keep you possibly from loosing your footing in the gaze of the setting sun.

Chap stick/Lip Balm –This is one thing that I never used to carry until I went backpacking in the winter one time. Usually I never use chap stick, but this one time I had a cold and my nose was stuffed up which meant I was breathing out of my mouth. Eventually, my lips were nice and chapped so some good lip balm, although it isn’t a life saver, sure makes the journey smoother. Yes I said that.

Hat – I try to always wear a hat when I am in the woods. In the winter it is something to keep me warm like a toboggan or I can go Crocodile Dundee with my Outback Trading Company River Guide hat. Nothing beats one of these if you are caught in the rain. They also do an excellent job of keeping the sun off your face. In hotter weather a lighter option might be better like the OR Helios hat.

survival headlamp

A good headlamp doesn’t have to cost a fortune and can be a lifesaver if you are walking in the dark.

Protective layers – In the wintertime this is usually more of a thought but even in the summer I plan for something should the temperatures drop or I am forced to spend the night in the woods. This can be as simple as a capilene base layer or a shemagh. When you are hiking you are burning energy that keeps you warm. I try to plan for what I would want as clothing if I couldn’t move.

Light – Always have a light with you. My flashlight is part of my EDC kit and even sitting here at my computer, I have a flashlight on me. When I am going hiking I always take a headlamp as well because I think they are superior when you are walking in the dark. These come in all prices but you don’t have to spend a fortune on a good headlamp.

First Aid Kit – I don’t expect anyone to take the supplies to be able to suture their arm if they have to hack it off with a dull multitool, but a good first aid kit should always go with you. I have the ultralight first aid kit from Adventure medical, but I augment this with a tourniquet and an extra blood stopper bandage. We have had to break into the first aid kit on multiple occasions for simple cuts and scrapes to aspirin.

Ability to make fire – You may be forced to spend the night in the woods and if this happens to you it makes sense to have something to make a fire with. Normally if I am out on an official backpacking trip I have several methods just in case, but for day hikes I have a simple Bic lighter that I have wrapped about 3 feet of duct tape around just in case. This way I can easily start a fire if needed. I keep this in a waterproof case and obviously you can also take a magnesium striker as backup.

Tools – It may sound like overkill but I take a knife and my multitool. I don’t lug my big end of the world survival knife on day hikes but I have my favorite folder as well as my Leatherman which should cover just about any need I have. Even if that need is to saw a bone in half.

Food – A lot of people take off into the woods thinking they will be back in a few hours only to find themselves stranded for a couple of days. Now, you won’t die technically for a pretty long time from starvation but I always pack some food in my backpack . If the duration of the hike is longer, I will even pack an extra day’s meal. This can be as simple as an MRE although there are lighter options like a Freeze-dried pouch of something like my favorite, chilli-mac, or a few Cliff bars or some trail mix. Even if you don’t eat them, it is a good idea to have them just in case.

Survival Camelbak

Camelbak Antidote 100 oz. capacity and tough as nails.

Water – This can be as simple as a bottle of water or a water bladder. I have grown to appreciate the usefulness (and capacity) of my Camelbak Antidote 100 oz. Plus, I don’t have to stretch my arms behind me or take off my pack to get a drink. If I am going to a new place then I also pack my Sawyer Mini water filter so I can resupply if needed. I haven’t had to use that yet as the Camelbak has always been enough for my hikes, but you never know.

Shelter – For me I usually just have the simple emergency mylar blanket or a survival bivvy . They aren’t perfect, but they are better than nothing. I wouldn’t likely put a sleeping bag in a day pack. You might argue that you should be able to build your own shelter and I agree, but what if you are trapped by a bolder or for some other reason aren’t able to build your favorite debris shelter? Options.

Extra items – Depending on the location I will take a GPS to back up my map reading. Sometimes I will take extra batteries for the electronics, but usually I just put fresh rechargeable batteries in there before we leave. Other nice to haves are dependent upon how much room I have in my pack like a mat for sitting down that I made out of a piece of reflective insulation material. It’s very lightweight and could even double as a signaling device. I will also take a trash bag sometimes because they, like duct tape have a lot of uses. My packs all have whistles as well. You will have other items you want to bring.

What items did I miss? What do you pack on your day hikes?

 

What to Pack for a Day Hike was written by Pat Henry with Prepper Journal and can be viewed here:

http://www.theprepperjournal.com

Staying Healthy In the Wilderness

Staying Healthy in the Wilderness

 Your body is one of the most important considerations of survival that we often overlook in favor of the latest prepper gear. Imagine a bug out scenario where you could be walking over rough terrain, possibly for hundreds of miles to make it to your bug out location or even back to your own family. If you get hurt or ill, life can become monumentally more difficult, and if you are forced to rely on your body more than usual such as in a bug out scenario it has to be taken care of. So how can you keep your body healthy in the wilderness if you are spending extended periods of time outside? Here are some tips and tricks to keep your body in tip-top shape so you’re sure to make it back safe.

Footwear

Hiking Boots

Your feet are your transportation. While blisters can be an annoyance if treated properly, a cut foot can lay you up for a week, maybe more, while frostbite can lead to lasting damage. To protect yourself from these dangers you’ll need the right gear. Merino wool socks wick away sweat and dampness from your skin. Though these socks are extremely warm, they are also breathable and keep your feet from getting too wet. Unlike cotton, the warming qualities of wool doesn’t diminish once it is wet.

Once you have the right socks, it’s important to have the right boots. Nothing contributes to foot blisters more than ill-fitting boots. Weight, stability and material all make a difference. It’s a good idea to have more than one pair of footwear if you’re going to be spending a lot of time away. Remember that a light pair of boots will probably be more comfortable but less durable, so having a pair of each will ensure you’re prepared.

While good socks and boots are essential to keep your feet safe from harm, blisters can form as boots wear in or break down, changing their shape. Be prepared with some cloth athletic tape or moleskin.

Eyewear

Sunglasses

If you’re spending time in snow-covered landscapes and sun, temporary snow blindness can occur if you don’t have the proper eyewear. Just because you’re not spending a lot of time in snow fields doesn’t mean your eyes are safe either. Even on overcast days glare can make you squint and cause eye fatigue. Use sunglasses with UV-protective lenses. Just like with your boots, it might be a good idea to have an extra pair or, at the very least, some replacement lenses in case the ones you currently use become scratched or broken during your trek.

Layers

Hiking layers

Keeping your body in good shape while in the wilderness isn’t always about staying warm. Sometimes it’s also about staying cool. This means layering your clothing so you can regulate your temperature. Becoming too hot and dehydrated is just as much a worry as becoming too cold and falling ill. Layering clothing is pretty simple, but not necessarily intuitive.

Three layers are the norm. The first layer is moisture management. This on-skin layer regulates your temperature by moving moisture away from your skin. This layer is commonly made from merino wool. The second layer is an insulating layer. This is a down jacket, wool sweater or even a traditional fleece. The last layer is your weather protection. This is a rainproof, windproof shell that protects your inner layers from getting wet. If the weather is nice, it’s easy to regulate your temperature by shedding layers. While this equipment is necessary, it’s also expensive, so it’s a good idea to look around and do some homework before investing your money, just to make sure you get the products that fit your needs the best.

Hat and Gloves

Lastly, a good hat that will keep the sun or rain off your head and gloves to protect your hands are important items to have. You may not need the gloves if you are walking down the road in the middle of summer, but even relatively lightweight gloves like Mechanix Gloves are great to have. If you need to pick up anything hot or cold or are forced to scrabble over rocky terrain, gloves will save your hands from injury.

For hiking I have two different types of hats that are lightweight but meet different criteria. For sun protection and rain I have the regular boonie style hats that you can find almost anywhere and a wool cap for colder conditions. Both are great to have if I am spending a lot of time outside. These two are easy to forget but are very important in keeping you protected from the elements.

Your bug out scenario will be dependent on a lot of factors, but if you are counting on your body to get you to safety, you need to take care of it.

This article was written by Pat Henry and can be viewed here:

http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2015/04/16/staying-healthy-in-the-wilderness/

The Dirty Truth About Off Grid Laundry

offgridlaundry

I thought it might be a good exercise to try doing laundry without using the washing machine and dryer.

Whenever there is a hurricane approaching one of the preparation chores that I do (in addition to making sure there is enough water, food and supplies for several days) is to do the laundry while power is available.

Ideally, you’d already have clean clothes available, but what if there is an extended power outage?

I saved a few pieces of clothing, some socks and a large towel to do the experiment.

Washing

MobileWasher

I piled the clothes in the bathroom sink.  For clothes washing, I tried using a  Mobile Washersample that I received..  It was easy to assemble.  The washer looks like a plunger, but without the rubbery plunger smell.

20130601_092108-

The instructions simply say add soap and 4-6 inches of water and agitate the clothes using up and down motion.  I used my homemade laundry detergent added to some water.

20130601_093336

The socks were stained but I did not use bleach, as I wanted to keep the experiment as simple as possible.

Although the Mobile Washer instructions say you will feel a pulling action while the clothes are agitating, I did not really feel that the up and down motion was doing anything.  Perhaps the clothes had to be level to the ground or bathtub for this to work, as using it on a bathroom sink level felt unwieldy to me.  I wish I had a better result to report to you, but I always write the truth in these experiments regardless of expectations.

I contacted Mobile Washer after the experiment about my less than stellar results and got a quick response, which actually addresses what happened:

“The best way to get this action on the clothes is to make sure you have enough water so the clothes float freely, have a deep enough container (sink, bucket, tub etc) so that you can get some good plunging action without splashing the water out of the container.  When these steps are followed, the washer seems to have great results.  I can’t say that you were doing it wrong, maybe it just required a little harder agitation.

This is actually the first negative feedback we have received, so I do appreciate you letting me try to explain how it should work and what results you should be able to expect.  Normally the feedback is that the washer has pulled old stains and residual dirt and soap left behind by traditional washing machines. ”

I think the Directions for Use should mention the container should be deep enough for enough water so the clothes can float around.  The “4-6 inches of water” was quickly soaked up by the clothes.  The next time I wash off-grid, I will use a 5-gallon bucket.

Back to the story…

I resorted to washing the items by hand.  My hands did get all wrinkled and “prune-like” so if I do this again I would wear gloves.

After washing, I let the soapy water drain out.  I then rinsed the clothes with plain water in the sink.  The interesting part was in trying to wring all the water out.  Socks and shirts are easy enough, but the towel was quite heavy.  I had to wring it out in sections.

Drying

I found some space to hang the clothes using hangers and some of the shelving.  Because of the humidity, the socks and shirts took about 12 hours to dry, and the towel took over 24 hours.

Result

20130609_191155

T-shirts and blouses dried well enough with minor wrinkles when hung up in clothes hangers.

The clothes and socks smelled fresh and appeared to be clean enough.  The socks did not come out as white as when bleached and washed in the washing machine.

20130609_191226-

However the towel took a very long time to dry, causing even more humidity with a slightly musty smell when it finally dried.

What I Learned

Living in a humid climate, if clothes stay wet long enough, there is a possibility of getting mildew, so you must try to wring out the clothes as well as possible.

If you live in a dry climate, the drying time would be a lot faster.

Having a clothesline outside would be much better than drying indoors as the hot sun would help dry things faster.  However because we rent, I doubt apartment management would look too kindly to having clothes flapping in the breeze out in the balcony.  So if I had to line dry, I would likely set the line across the bathroom.

Line dried clothes do not come out as soft as they do in the dryer.  On the other hand, this saves on wear and tear on the garments.

To minimize wrinkles, you need to “snap”clothes such as t-shirt and shirts before hanging them.

If you had to do laundry off-grid, you’d best have some backup clothes available to allow for longer drying time.

No doubt about it, washing and drying clothes are chores that would be much more challenging without electricity.   It is doable, and I am glad I tried this experiment.

View the original Article

Editors Note:  I have done plenty of laundry “off grid” at my grandparents home, I have even on occasion used a washboard at my Great Grandmothers home.  We are so very spoiled now, even though I have done it… It’s not something I fancy doing all the time.

On an interesting side note, the amount of laundry detergent we use is actually much more than is really needed.  I read a story a while back about how you can wash your clothing 2-3 times and the residual soap left over after the rinse cycle is more than enough to clean your unmentionables.

Do you have any tips and tricks for Off Grid Laundry?

This post can also be viewed here:  www.survivallife.com

Bugging Out… Part One

Don’t panic!-Easier said than done right? Right, we’re all prone to a spot of panic every now and then but that’s what prepping is going to help with, knowing that you have…
  • Bases covered for most (all) eventualities.
  • Gotten yourself into a position to survive and succeed comfortably.
  • Done all you can to protect your family from harm.
It’s a good feeling right? Right.
Now then, don’t get comfy, you have a Bug Out Bag (B.O.B), you now need to get yourself a good, safe location to Bug-Out too. There are a few options.
If you live in a town or city, try to find somewhere away from population centres, get out and stay out. If the s*&t hits the fan (preppers abbreviate this to SHTF) you need to get away from places where trouble will start. Towns and cities will be a nightmare in short space of time. Remember the riots in London, Manchester and Birmingham? Can you imagine them on an even bigger scale? That’s how bad it could be and you don’t want to be in the middle of that.
Rioting in Birmingham
We’re not talking about bugging out to a nice little country retreat, there is no need for you to invest thousands on a second home in the country (although some do!), just find a quiet spot where you can get water and shelter and you know you can hunker down for a few days to see how the situation pans out. If you have relatives that live in the sticks and you can get to them easily, discuss with them the option of you going to theirs, you never know, they may be really keen and you can split the costs of food stores and preps then too.
If you live in the country already then don’t just relax and sit on your laurels gloating, you can still do a lot. It may pay for you to Bug-In, which is where basically stay put as you are far enough away from the madding crowds and have stores and provisions put aside safely and securely. If that is the case, then you have it a lot better than most.
But if you don’t have the luxury of being able to Bug-In then you too will need to find a decent spot to go to.
Make sure all the family members know where it is, try to make sure you have provisions cached there (more on this in a later post), make sure you keep it’s location to yourselves. Go there once a month to familiarise yourselves with it and to make sure all is safe and sound.
That is all for now, get your OS maps out and start scouting. Learn your areas and remember main roads get blocked in emergencies as not everyone is as smart as us so avoid using them, learn the back roads and stay clear.
This is a guest post from our UK friend Richard Morgan Proctor on May 4, 2013
Original article:  http://beginnerspreppingguide.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/bugging-out-part-one.html