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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dehydrating Pineapple

Pineapple is one of those foods that are really well suited for dehydrating.  They are easy to prepare and get super sweet when they're dried.  Great for snacking or putting in trail mix, granola, breads, etc.  I'm sure you want some, so here's how you do it.

First, get a pineapple.  Or two or three.  I just had one.  If you're doing two or three, you'll want to wash your hands frequently as you're cutting them or wear gloves as they are highly acidic and it will start burning your hands.

Peel, core and slice your pineapple.  There are tools for this, but I just use a knife.  If I did a lot of pineapples, it would probably be worth getting the peeler/corer tool.  I cut the top and bottom off, then cut the peel off, then cut it in half from top to bottom, then cut each half in half (so the whole pineapple is quartered), then cut the core section off each quarter.  Then I cut each quarter in half again before I started cutting the chunks.  You can make your pieces whatever size or shape you want.  If they're all close to uniform thickness, they'll dry more evenly.

Now, put your slices on the dehydrator tray.  Pineapples have such a high acidity that there is no need to pre-treat them with fruit fresh or other stuff.  In fact, I've used pineapple juice as a pre-treater for other fruits before.  Not perfect, but it preserved color better than just drying them without dunking in pineapple juice.

I dehydrated the slices with the blueberries since I had extra trays available.  135 degrees about 16 hours in my Excalibur dehydrator.  They were crispy.  If you don't want them crispy, just check them more often than I did and turn the dryer off when they're at the chewiness you like.

They come off the trays nicely.  Put them in whatever you're storing them in.  Hide them from the snackers or leave them out and let them get eaten.  Yes, that's the whole pineapple in that pint jar minus about 6-7 chunks we snacked on before I got the picture taken.  Strange but true.  Dehydrating is like magic. Yummy magic.

Making Hide Glue – Survival Skills

Making hide glueFor over 5000 years people have been using animal hides to make glue. Until the invention of synthetic glues, animal hide glue was the most common type of glue used in woodworking.
Making Hide Glue
  1. Scrape, sand or cut your animal hide into small pieces or shavings. (The closer to a powder you can make it the easier it will be to work with)
  2. Boil a pot of water
  3. Gently cook until the mixture thickens. You will have to replace the water as it evaporates. (this process will take forever, some people cook it for days at a low heat)
  4. Strain the mixture with an old T-shirt or other cheese cloth.
  5. The mixture can be used as is or Dried for storage.
How to Store Hide glue
  1. Pour the mixture into a metal cake pan or metal sheet. (1/4 to 1/2 inch thick)
  2. When the mixture dries to a gelatin consistency cut into 1 inch square chucks. Let the mixture set for another week.
  3. Pop the squares out of the pan.
  4. With a thick needle, run some string through the squares and hang dry for at least another week.
  5. Store in a waterproof container. ( if kept dry the dried squares can be stored forever.)
Using Dry Hide Glue
To use the glue, take your dried chucks and dissolve them in a small amount of hot water. Let it heat up into a syrup and then apply the mixture warm. Clamp you wood together and let it set. Your now good to go.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ark Prep 101 - Cooking Without Electricity!

It's been an interesting week at the Smith house.
All four of our main kitchen appliances stopped working
a couple of weeks ago.  We ended up having to purchase
a new stove, dishwasher, fridge, and microwave.
Oh, the JOY!
After the sticker shock wore off, we were actually excited to have
them delivered and installed,
 but then we remembered . . .
We closed on our house on FRIDAY THE 13th.
I look back now and wonder what we were thinking.
We haved had to replace everything including the gravel
and the cement floor in the basement.
It used to stress me right out, but now I just expect
a little challenge.
To make a long story short . . .
The NEW dishwasher doesn't work.
The NEW fridge has to be replaced because of injuries sustained
as a result of the installation.
When the NEW stove was plugged in, it exploded and shot
fire out the top leaving a burn mark on my backsplash.
The microwave works like a charm, I think!?!
I'm still trying to figure out how it works.
Sometimes my husband and I just sit on the porch and laugh.
(It keeps us from crying!)
There is NEVER a dull moment here!
So, you're probably wondering why you needed to read
all about my adventures at home . . . trust me,
there is a reason.
Without a stove or an oven making dinner this week has
provided great opportunities to think outside of the box.
We have used the crockpot, the grill, and the microwave, but
there are a lot more options for cooking without electricity.
1st Option:
The Propane Stove
(Small Propane Stove)
(Large Propane Cook Stove)
2nd Option:
Volcano Stove
3rd Option:
Propane Oven
4th Option:
Sun Oven
5th Option:
Dutch Oven

6th Option:
Butane Stoves

7th Option:
Wonder Box Stye Thermal Cooker
8th Option:
Over the Fire
9th Option:
Wall Tent Camp Stove
10th Option:
BBQ Grill
11th Option:
Kerosene Stoves

It's important to make sure that you have the fuel for
whatever option you choose to use.
It's also important to know how to use the items you have
on hand.  During an emergency is probably not the best time to
learn how to use your equiptment.
I will be posting specific information on each of the options
I have shown above next Tuesday.
Just for FUN . . .
Try making foil dinners outside with the family.
They don't take very long and the kids will have a
great time peeling their own potatoes and making their
own hamburger patties!
Follow it up with some S'mores

and you'll be a FaVoRiTe for sure!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to Make Powdered Eggs

The incredible edible powdered egg.
Despite the at-times negative media attention (we all know how reliable the main-stream media is nowadays) eggs are a very nutritious source of food that is one of the cornerstones in baking. With it’s low-cost but high-quality source of protein, if it weren’t for its short shelf life and fragility, it would be a great addition to your survival store if only you could store it.
Well, unbeknownst to many people, eggs can in fact be stored (up to 10 years if stored correctly) in the form of dehydrated egg powder — perfect for bug-out bags, camping trips and long-term food storage.
They can be used in baked goods just like normal eggs or reconstituted and made into fluffy scrambled eggs.
Here’s how you can do it at home:

What You’ll Need

  • A food dehydrator (I use a cheap Walmart version)
  • Eggs
  • Something to store the powder in when complete

How to Make Powdered Eggs

The process for making powdered eggs is fairly simple. However there are two ways (one which creates a far superior product but more on that later), let me explain the process for both:
(In these examples, I used a half-dozen eggs for the cook-dry method and another half-dozen eggs for the wet-dry method)

The Cook-Dry Method

Step 1: Whip up a half-dozen eggs using a blender (for a more complete mixture). And then then in a non-stick frying pan, cook the egg solution like you would when making scrambled eggs.
Step 2: Place cooked eggs onto a drying rack in your dehydrator and set the temperature to about 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 3: Let dry for around 4 hours until completely brittle throughout.
Step 4: Chop dried chunks in a blender or food processor (or coffee grinder) until it has a fine powdery constancy. Bag it and store it away.

The Wet-Dry Method

Step 1: Lightly grease a fruit roll sheet (it comes with the dehydrator) with a paper towel.
Step 2: Whip up a half-dozen eggs using a blender (not necessary but it does make for a a more uniform mixture). Pour the egg slurry into the fruit-roll sheet and set the temperature to about 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 3: Let dry for around 16 hours until completely brittle throughout.
Step 4: Place dried chunks in a blender or food processor (or coffee grinder) until it has a fine powdery constancy. Bag it and store it away.

Here’s a picture showing the final result of both the wet-dry and cooked-dry method of dehydrating. Each half-dozen eggs dehydrated produced almost exactly a half a cup of powder. You can also see how the wet dry method produces an orange powder (this color turns back to yellow when reconstituted and cooked).:

My Results

When comparing the two methods there is most definitely a clear winner — the wet dry method.
This is surprising since most of the information found online and in books explains that you should use the cook-dry method. Their main reasoning is that by cooking them it will kill any potential salmonella bacteria. I find this point irrelevant since after reconstituting them you will be cooking with them anyways (as you would with the original eggs) which will kill the salmonella.
The only advantage I found with the cook-dry method is the quickness of the drying time (four hours compared to 16 with the wet-dry method). Beyond that, when reconstituting the cook-dried eggs and cooking them like scrambled eggs, they have a grainy texture, and they taste dry and stale. They also do not fluff up like normal eggs when cooked in a pan. I assume this lack of “rising” would not work to well in baked goods that require this “leavening” property.
The wet-dry method produces a much better product. Although the powder turns initially orange, when reconstituted and cooked like scrambled eggs, the orange turns to yellow and they taste, look, and feel just like non-dehydrated egss. They also maintain the “leavening” property and fluff up which is important for baking.
Here’s a picture of the two in powder form with their resultant reconstituted and cooked product:

How to Use Powdered Eggs

Uses of Powdered Eggs

Powdered eggs can be used in the same exact manner as regular eggs. The only thing you’ll not be able to do is create things like poached eggs, or sunny-side-up eggs etc. But for all other needs like baking, french toast, scrambled eggs and so on, you’ll have the same results — but in a much more compact and storage-friendly form.

How to Reconstitute Powdered Eggs

Reconstituting powdered eggs is a simple process. To make the equivalent of one average sized egg mix 1 heaping tablespoon of egg powder together with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir it up, let it sit for 5 min and use as you would normal eggs.


After trying out this process, I’m not sure if it’s entirely worth it to spend 16 hours to make a dozen powdered eggs. I assume if I had a better dehydrator with more than two fruit-roll sheets it would be an easier process, but given what I got it would take 120 hours to fill a #10 can (it fits about 7 1/2 dozen eggs) if I used the wet-dry method (the cooked dry egg taste so bad I wouldn’t even consider it).
Also, since you can purchase really cheap powdered eggs online, equivalent to what you would pay for fresh eggs in the store, makes it even less appealing.
For example, from (where I get my powdered eggs from) you can purchase a six-pack case of #10 cans of powdered eggs for $89.99. This is equivalent to 45 dozen eggs (each can fits about 7.5 dozen eggs) – enough for a year’s supply for a small family.
At $89.99 that’s around $2 a dozen. Not too bad.
Where this whole process would definitely be worth it is if you had chickens that produced more eggs than you typically consume. This would help to store up a good amount of eggs when the chickens go through their down phase.

Related posts:

  1. How to Turn Your Non-Fat Powdered Milk into Whole Milk

Wild Dogs at the End of the World

Modern Day Iraq offers us a unique glimpse at what would occur during a TEOTWAWKI scenario. As we all know Iraq was the scene of a massive war aimed at completely replacing the government of Saddam Hussein. Many of its keys infrastructure was destroyed during the shock and awe campaign that marked the beginning of the war. Many Iraqis, concerned with the struggle of day to day living were unable to care for their family pets. As a result, Iraq, especially Baghdad is overran with packs of stray dogs.

In a span of three months, teams of veterinarians and police shooters have killed over 58,000 stray dogs. They estimate the stray population to be as high as 1.25 million in Baghdad alone.These dogs are not the cute and cuddly lap dogs that many of you are used to seeing. This dogs have formed packs and are hunting everything that moves, including children. Unfortunately, they are instinctively awesome hunters and several children have been killed by these dogs.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, the US currently has 77.5 million dogs being housed as pets.  To date Animal shelters across the country are noticing an increase in pet surrenders and abandonment due largely to the fact that many are losing their homes to foreclosure and find that they are unable to take their dogs with them.

In a true end of the world scenario, you should expect the unthinking masses to turn their best friends loose under the mistaken philosophy that their family pet will at least have a fighting chance at life on their own. This failed logic will results in hundreds of thousands of wild packs, ranging from 40 to 100 dogs each, roaming the countryside, hunting for their next meal. Realize, that if you are not careful, you could very well end up on the menu! Dogs are smart, sneaky hunters that often use deception to lure their prey into an ambush. Even if your armed you may not be able to defend yourself against some of the larger packs.

As a rule of thumb during TEOTWAWKI you should never turn your pets loose, even if you have no means to care for them. Considering the fact that most parts of our internal infrastructure probably won't be operational, the only decent thing to do is to put it down yourself. If you don't have the stomach to do it yourself, find someone who does.

Also, realize that these packs of wild dogs will quickly become one of the more serious threats that you will encounter on an ever increasing basis, the longer TEOTWAWKI continues. The only solution to this threat is to kill these dogs on site whenever you encounter them. Again, this is concerning a post-TEOTWAWKI scenario where basic services like Animal shelters are no longer functioning.

While dogs are awesome companions and help alert you to potential security concerns you need to ensure that you take care of your pets. It seems like a simple concept by as the article in Iraq shows people do things without thinking of the consequences. Remember, if you choose to keep a pet its your responsibility to care for and prevent it from becoming everybody else's problem.

Preparedness Essentials - Hot Beds and Cold Frames

Gardening is an essential part of being prepared. Being able to raise your own vegetables will help you to be more self-reliant. Although many people don't have ideal weather conditions for growing a successful garden, using a hot bed or a cold frame can be used to extend your growing season. With fall weather soon to be upon us, you still have time to build your own hot bed or cold frame.

Here is a secure download for a PDF file that covers some of the important aspects when using a hot bed or a cold frame to extend your growing season:

The file also contains some great illustrations to help you in your efforts in making a hot bed or cold frame. Building your own hot bed or cold frame can be a great way to help you raise more vegetables for the dinner table.

Got hot bed or cold frame?

Staying above the water line!


Making a toothbrush

Three toothbrushes, photo taken in SwedenImage via Wikipedia
Again, if anyone has put something of the same on here feel free to do with this thread as you will.

Hygiene is important while in the bush as well. In most places there is some tree that is not poisonous so this is fine and dandy for finding small branches to make a toothbrush with.

The Toothbrush is simple to make. Takes a few minutes to find a branch (small) and slice the end of the branch several times with your knife. Making it as fine as you want or as coarse as you want, you can make the bristles for what will look like your toothbrush at home. If you don't have a knife, then chewing on the end of the branch until it is splintery or spliney so it has some sort of bristles so you can use it to brush your teeth with. I prefer pine, but your choice is up to you. Even a solid edible plant with good stock can be used if the stock is hard enough to make bristles with.

Toothpaste is another one of your great choices. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and any other edible berry is filled with vitamins that help your teeth, get rid of plaque while you brush and also tastes great. If you can't find anything edible that you can use to brush your teeth with like berries, fruit or soft vegetable, then dry brushing with water is also good enough to keep your teeth clean and keep the plaque from building up.

On a number of occasions I forgot my toothbrush, it was not on my list and it just simply was forgot about since I don't take a shaving kit with me or even deodorant while in the bush. All those nice smelling things can be smelled miles away by other animals. Going out smelling like a desert dish isn't my kind of excitement when in grizzly country, around mountain lions or near an area with a lot of wolves. So I prefer I smell human so they have that instinct of man within them when they do smell me. Getting that day old food out my mouth is also one thing I want to do since when I come back to town, I don't want to look like a zombie out of "28 Days Later" and making the nice girls cringe when they see my teeth. =)

Anyway, hope it gives an idea for those just in case outdoor adventures when you just forgot your toothbrush or the bear runs off with your pack.

Medicinal Herb Gardening by Mrs. Celena J.

Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea Family: A...Image via Wikipedia
Earlier this year, I received a free packet of Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) from (by the way, if you're into gardening check them out; they'll send you 10 packets of free seeds for the cost of a SASE).  When I saw the seed packet, I remembered that Echinacea is used to reduce the duration of colds and flu.  I began seriously considering and researching medicinal plant gardening.  Having such a garden would be so useful in surviving numerous catastrophes, not to mention the possible money saver it could be during a recession that's going to last who-knows-how-long!  Of course, not everything can be easily cured with plants but I do believe one reason God gave us so many varieties was to help us overcome illnesses and other afflictions.  
Below, I've compiled a table of some of the medicinal plants that seem the most useful and will grow in the United States.  Since most of these are herbs, unless otherwise mentioned, the plant is an herb.  Most of these plants have been used for thousands of years by civilizations all over the world.  Some of them are even mentioned in the Bible.  Many of them are very beautiful and will make a lovely ornamental garden even if you decide never to to use them medicinally.  At the bottom of this article, I've written short descriptions on how to actually use the herbs.  I was clueless when I first began researching and hope that what I've discovered can be useful to many of you. May God bless your gardening endeavors, whether medicinal or otherwise!
Common Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Aloe Vera - Treats dermatitis, dry skin, and burns.  This is a succulent plant which grows well in Arizona and other southwestern states. 
Arnica - Do not eat this!  It's poisonous but can be used as a cream to treat sprains, bruises, and pulled muscles.  A very beautiful flowering plant that resembles a yellow daisy.
Basil  - Treats diabetes, stress, and asthma.  It is an anti-oxidant and helps your body absorb manganese (which strengthens your bones).
Bay Laurel - Treats migraines, infections, ulcers, and high blood sugar.  Can be rubbed onto sprains and bruises to treat them.  Also keeps garden pests (bugs) away. 
Catnip - Soothes coughs.
Chamomile - Treats stress. A sleep aid.
Chrysanthemum/Feverfew - Treats migraines, fevers, and chills.  Beautiful flowering plant.
Coriander - An anti-oxidant, used as acne skin toner.  A very beautiful plant.
Dandelion - Aids digestion.  Can be ground into coffee.  Has numerous vitamins and minerals: A, C, K, Calcium, Iron, Manganese, Potassium.
Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) - Treats cold and flu; boosts immune system.  This is a beautiful plant.
Garlic - Antibiotic.  Increases heart health.  Garlic is a bulb and is very easy to grow.  It repels rabbits and moles.
Goldenseal - Treats eyes, boosts immune system.  This is a beautiful flowering plant that resembles a buttercup.
Horehound - Expectorant, treats colds.  This is a mint and can also be used to make candy.
Meadowsweet - Shrub used to treat fevers, inflammation, pain, ulcers, etc.  The name "aspirin" comes from this plants scientific name (Spiraea ulmaria).
Oregano - Used as a topical antiseptic and a sedative.  Treats colds, flu, mild fevers, infections, stomachaches, indigestion, and other aches and pains. It also treats MRSA (different studies have actually shown that Oregano treats MRSA better than most drugs prescribed for the infection).  A very beautiful plant. 
Parsley - Treats high blood pressure. 
Passion-flower - Treats insomnia and epilepsy.  There are numerous varieties of Passion-flower and some are poisonous so if you're going to plant them, research them thoroughly! 
Rosemary - Decreases risk of stroke, Alzheimer's, and Lou Gehrig's disease.
Smearwort - Used as an ointment (hence the name) to heal chronic sores.
Spearmint - Anti-oxidant.  Treats fungal infections.  Can be used to make candy.
Thyme - Treats sore throat (by gargling).  Treats wounds, skin and mouth infections.  Used as mouthwash (main ingredient in Listerine). 
Yarrow - Counteracts poisoning. 
How to Prepare Herbal Remedies
Tea Infusion: To begin, throw in a cupped handful of the herb/leaves.   Pour 2 cups of boiling water on top.  Brew leaves and flowers for about 10 minutes; seeds and roots for about 20. Typically, you don't  need to strain herbal teas because the leaves go to the bottom.  You can also often reuse the leftovers (don't throw them away!)  
Boiling:  Begin with cold water instead of already-boiling water.  Again, a cupped handful of plant to 2 cups of water.  This works especially well for roots, which need to be steeped for 20 minutes.  You can also use an overnight method by keeping the herb in cold water all night and then boiling in the morning for about 30 minutes. 
Cough Syrup: Make a concentrated tea infusion with 12 ounces of plant to 1 cup of water.  Infuse for 15 minutes.  Strain it and then add the liquid back to the pot.  Add 1 cup of honey and warm it just until it stirs well. 

Salve or Ointment
: For this, you also need olive oil and beeswax.  First, put a handful of fresh or dried plant into a pot and cover it with water.  After it begins to boil, bring it down to a simmer for about half an hour.  Strain it and put the liquid back in the pot, adding it to an equal amount of olive oil.  Boil until the water is gone.  Add beeswax until it's the right consistency.
Steam: This works especially well with mints when you're congested.  Throw a handful of fresh mint into a bowl of hot water.  Make a tent over your head with a towel and breathe the steam for few minutes.
Compress:  When using plants to treat muscle pain or injuries, first make a concentrated infusion, dip a towel in, ring it out, and apply it to the painful area.
JWR Adds: I recommend the following books on herbal medicine:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

8 Steps to overcoming stress

Developing the preppers mindset can lead to over-reaction unless you are able to recognize stress for what it really. Stress is almost always bad for you. It can lead to a myriad of health problems to include trouble with your blood pressure and heart. In these unsure times of economic upheaval and political uncertainty alot of people are awakening to the reality that things just don’t seem right. This uncertainty almost always leads to stress in one form or another. Below you will find 8 steps that'll help you overcome the strangle hold that stress can have on you.

  1. Change your focus. When stress starts to set in, remove yourself from the offending environment for five to ten minutes. Turn off the news and/or close your web browser. Go outside and take a walk. The new setting can arouse your senses and replace your stress with more pleasing stimuli.
  2. Start exercising. Physical activity can give you a feeling of control and work off your negative energy. Breathing slowly and deeply also helps prevent stress from overwhelming you.
  3. Write it down. Records your thoughts about what's bothering you and help yourself put stress into perspective. The act of writing down your concerns helps you adopt an outlook of healthy detachment.
  4. Develop a sense of humor. Learn to Laugh out Loud at the bullshit as often as possible.
  5. Stop everything. When you start feeling stressed, stop what you're doing and spend just a few minutes breathing deeply.
  6. Say no to what you don't have time to do. Lowering the demands you put on yourself actually relieves stress. Sometimes saying no is necessary in taking care of yourself.
  7. Take care of of the hard stuff in the morning to get them out of the way. Usually in the morning when you are fresh and rested is the best time to take care of projects that require concentration. Look at large projects as a series of steps to complete one by one.
  8. Live for today. We prep in order to buy ourselves a sense of security. Learn to live in the moment. Prepare for worst but play and pray like there’s no tomorrow because you just never know.
Related Posts:
How to control fear during an emergency
Train yourself to be mentally tough
Surviving the Unexpected- Mentally

Bug Out Bags - Getting Started

One of the first things people do when the embrace prepping is assemble a bug out bag (BOB). This is intended to be a bag with supplies to enable the user to get through a tough time or travel some distance to a safer location. These bags end up with all sorts of names (Get Out Of Dodge, Get Home Bag, etc) but the mission is generally the same: contain the supplies you'll need in an easily transportable container.

Here are some things to consider when starting your first BOB. These are not exhaustive or The Gospel but are intended to be some food for thought.

1) Buy Quality: $20 bags from Cheaper Than Dirt are a waste of time. Someone will pipe up and say "I have one packed with 1,000lbs and it works great". Well, they are the lucky ones. Do you really want to trust your life and that of your families to the cheapest bag possible? Not saying you have to spend $5,000 but just going for cheap typically results in zippers that fall apart, buckles that crack, straps that fray and seems that rip out. If you are on a shoestring budget go to an army surplus store and pick up an old Alice pack. They aren't sexy but at least they are stout.

2) Your bag should be comfortable: Putting a 80lbs bag on your back and walking 50 miles isn't a real picnic. Having a bag that chafes, rubs and pokes you every step of the way isn't going to make it any easier. The bigger the bag the more padding and width the straps should have and the more important things like kidney pads, waist belts, chest straps, suspension systems, etc become.

3) Consider the mission: What is the bag for? Is it to grab in the event you have to evacuate the house due to a chemical spill or to travel overland for a year? Those are two different goals and as such the contents of your bag will differ accordingly. Consider what you want to accomplish with your bag and this will help you to determine what you put in your bag.

Also, don't forget that a BOB doesn't necessary have to be for playing Mad Max in the woods. Lets say you are in a wheelchair and there's no way in hell you are going overland. You may, however, have a plan to drive across town to your parents more rural home and set up camp there. Wouldn't it be nice to have some spare wheelchair parts handy? Put those in your bag. You can almost eliminate food and water from the bag (or at least only have some emergency rations) but then increase the amount of gear you pack to make life more comfortable at your parents house. The point is a BOB isn't always about hiking 400 miles Omega Man style.

3) Don't Pack the Kitchen Sink: The number one mistake people make with BOB's is to stuff it full of 127lbs of equipment, most of which isn't needed. Put together a list of everything you'll need for your intended mission. Then start going through it with the mantra of "weight kills". Start eliminating items. Start looking for items that can serve a dual purpose. Start looking for gadgets that will do 10 different things. Look for any way to eliminate items and reduce weight.

Example: Do you really need a 4 burner Coleman stove when an esbit stove with Trioxane tabs will do? Do you really need a full blown propane torch when one of those pencil jobs will do? You get the idea.

Point is, you want to get that pack as light as humanly and reasonably possible.

4) Organize: Remember, the time you actually use the pack will, by definition, be stressful. The LAST thing you need is to be digging around in a gigantic bottomless pit of gear. Classic example is an epi pen. If you need it to deal with an allergic reaction do you really want it lost in a pit of stuff while your daughters windpipe swells shut? (Hold on sweetie...I know it's in here somewhere!)

Put a lot of thought into what items you'll need to access frequently or quickly and have them easily accessible. Things like firstaid, emergency food, compass, radios, basic tools should likely be in outer/easy reach pockets.

Also, consider this maxim: detachable pouches have a tendency to detach. So don't put anything in a detachable pouch that you can't afford to have detached and lost. Also, secure those pouches so you aren't wasting time fiddling with semi-detached pouches when you should be making tracks. 550 or para cord is a personal favorite for this.

5) Test the pack out: Put the thing on. Walk around, do some jumping jacks, bend over, squat down and try to stand up. See what it feels like or if it's unbalanced. More desired is to actually go camping with the thing and wear it for three straight days to see how it really feels and performs. Modify what doesn't work. If you can't go camping, put it on and wear it around the house a couple of days while you do your normal chores.

Looking good sitting on the shelf doesn't mean squat compared to actually working on your back.

6) It's a work in progress: Know that once you complete your pack that it will likely morph over time. It's not uncommon for BOB's to be rebuilt 5 and 6 different times as needs change and/or wisdom is gained. In fact, the worst thing you can do is build a BOB, toss it in a dark place, let it sit for 10 years and then expect it to perform when needed. You should be checking on the contents every so often to make sure batteries haven't busted or the like. But more importantly, keep modifying the contents and their locations to suit your needs.

So there you go. Like I said, this isn't the exhaustive list of what to do, but it should be enough to get you started.

If you want a list of items to put in your bag check out this thread: Bug Out Bags - Pictures and Advice There are lots of great setups and supplies lists to help give you ideas.

If you are a certified GearWhore, like I am, you'll quickly realize that while the use of a BOB is deadly serious, building BOB's can be a lot of fun. Don't stress out over details. Use common sense. Build a bag that makes sense to you and your objectives. Don't get hyper-focused on playing GI Joe in the woods for 10 years.

Closing thought: There seems to be a lot of debate about what type of bag to get. Some say avoid military looking bags because you'll draw attention to yourself. You can get a plain old camping style bag and "blend in". My opinion (because I know you are sitting on pins and needles waiting for it)....don't get caught up in minutia. If you dashing out the house because of a chemical spill nobody cares what their bag looks like. If things have gotten so bad that you and the family are walking 200 miles to a Super-Secret Bat Cave what sort of pack you have is the least of your worries (not to mention, if things have gotten that bad people are going to attack you no matter what. They aren't going to turn away because you have a NorthFace bag instead of a Maxpedition).

I'd rather you spend your mental energy on determining what goes in the bag, or the location of the content so the bag can help save your life than loosing sleep over a minor detail like what the bag looks like.

Fire, The Flame of Life, by T.S.K.

One of the basic requirements for survival in any situation for any sustained amount of time is fire.  Fire and the ability to make and maintain it can be the difference between life and death.  Having the proper materials and possessing the skills required to use them is something that needs to be practiced and learned before you are depending on them for your life.
Why Fire is Important
Depending on the situation fire serves many purposes.  
In a short term survival situation (several hours to several days), fire provides both a physical and mental benefit.  Physically fire provides heat.  With heat you can keep warm, dry wet clothes and gear, boil water for purification, and use it to cook.  Mentally, a fire provides light, a sense of security and one of accomplishment.  Having a fire can mentally put you in the right mindset to plan and survive.  In a survival situation the light and smoke for a fire can be very beneficial as a signaling device for search and rescue if you desire to be found.  Basic items to start a fire are very light and small and should be included in any survival or bugout bag.
In a longer term situation (several days to months), fire provides all the benefits discussed above, but the focus will shift from immediate survival (water, warmth, rescue) to a more long term approach.  Fire will provide the basis to purify water and the means to cook and preserve food and create tools.  Fuel for the fire will become increasingly more important depending on your surroundings and the amount of fuel you are using daily.  Remember, the more fuel you burn the more fuel you have to gather, the more water and food you will need to survive.
In a long term or TEOTWAWKI situation fire will become a core part of survival like it was for the caveman.  There are many great commercial products out there for cooking, purifying water, etc. but as time goes on, most will run out of fuel or purification cartridges or break beyond repair, eventually leaving only good old fire.  As this happens fire will be used as the primary source to purify water, cook, bake and preserve food.  It will also be used for many other purposes some of which are:
  1. Fire kilns for brick and pottery, etc.
  2. Forges for melting, bending and shaping metal
  3. Lye from the ash will be used to make soap
  4. Burn to clear brush from gardens and promote natural seeds and grasses
  5. Light
Spark\Heat (Traditional and Commercial)
Now we have talked about why fire is important to survival, let’s talk about the different requirements to start and maintain a fire.  To start a fire you need three things: spark\heat, air and fuel.
There are multiple ways to get a spark or heat that will combine with air to ignite the tinder and start your fire.  I am going to talk about both the traditional methods and also the commercially available methods I have used and the pros and cons to each.  With all of these, the key is practice.  It is never good to be trying to start a fire with a method that is not tried and true when your life depends on it.
For sustained ability to make fire you need to learn to master the Bow and Drill or Fire Plow method as they depend only on resources you can get from nature.  My favorite way to get a spark is by using a commercial striker, but I have also mastered the Bow and Drill method as a backup.
Traditional Spark\Heat
  • Bow and Drill
    • Pro: Made with materials from nature.  Anything  broke or damaged can easily be replaced or repaired.
    • Con: Not a easy way to start a fire for a novice, practice is required in mastering and becoming proficient with this method
  • Fire Plow
    • Pro: Made with materials from nature.  Anything  broke or damaged can easily be replaced or repaired.
    • Con: Typically more human energy is required than the bow and drill method as you have to build friction for heat.  Like the bow and drill this is not an easy way to start a fire for a novice, practice is required in mastering and becoming proficient with this method
  • Flint and Steel or striker
    • Pro: Depending on the type, easy to spark and get a fire for most users, though practice is recommended.
    • Con:  Great fire started, but they will eventually wear out.
  • Matches
    • Pro: Easy for most anyone to light.
    • Con: Can get wet or damaged and when you are out of matches you are out of fire.
  • Lens
    • Pro: Fast fire with correct sun and lens.
    • Con: Requires direct sunlight and practice.  Lens can break.
  • Battery and Steel Wool
    • Pro: None, I don’t recommend this method, but will work in a pinch if you have all the needed materials.
    • Con: Won’t work with a dead or damaged battery and must have steel wool.
  • Gunpowder
    • Pro: None, but will work if it is all you have.
    • Con: Fast hot flame, must be quick with the tinder to capture flame.
  • Lighter
    • Pro: Like the match, most people know how to use one.
    • Con: Can malfunction or get damaged, once out of fuel no more flame, just a very small spark.
Commercial Spark\Heat (links provided in the References)
I have listed the commercially available strikers I have personally used ranked by my favorite to my least favorite.
    1. Blastmatch by Ultimate Survival Technologies
      • Pro: Can use one handed and throws a big shower of sparks, not effected by water
      • Con: eventually wear out (roughly 10,000 strikes)
    2. Swedish Fire Steel by Light My Fire
      • Pro: Simple and efficient
      • Con: eventually wear out (roughly 3000 strikes)
    3. Sparkie by Ultimate Survival Technologies
      • Pro: Light weight and small and can be used one handed
      • Con: eventually wear out (could not find a strike #)
    4. Spark-Lite by Spark-lite
      • Pro: Ultra lightweight (I carry this as my backup to my Blastmatch)
      • Con: eventually wear out (roughly 2,000)
    5. Magnesium bar and Striker (several different makes and models)
      • Pro: If you can get the magnesium to light very hot flame
      • Con: depending on the quality hard to get magnesium to light
    6. Other Strikers (various other no-name or cheaper flint and steal, from what I have found you get what you pay for.  They may work, but not as good and as easy as the ones listed above)
One you have heat or a spark you will need to transfer that to tinder to start a fire.  Again like the spark there are traditional\natural and non-traditional tinder.  Natural tinder various by region and you will have to experiment with the best type in your area.  Generally any dry fibrous material like inner bark from a tree, dead grass, dead evergreen needles, etc. make a great tinder.  If available, birch bark makes great tinder.  My favorite natural tinder is fatwood shavings.  Fatwood (pine with high amounts of resin\sap) is naturally occurring and can be easily found and processed in a pine forest.
Some examples of non-traditional\natural tinder are dryer lint, char cloth, wax paper, cotton ball and petroleum jelly, etc.  My favorite by far is the cotton ball mixed\covered in petroleum jelly.  It provides a nice hot flame, it easy and cheap to make and will burn when wet.  I have tried multiple types of commercial tinder, but always come back to the cotton ball and petroleum jelly.
Depending on the situation always evaluate and use the resources you have available.  Other ideas or things that make great fire starters\tinder are mosquito repellent, hairspray, anything with a high alcohol content.  The best survivalist is always someone who maximizes what they have available and ready at hand.
Types of Fires
Now that you have fire, let’s talk about a few of the different types of fires and the best use for each of these fires types:
  1. Traditional Fire:  This is your classic fire with stick\fuel crossed in the center.  This type of fire provides warmth, light, and also is great for cooking.  The downside to this type of fire is it isn’t very efficient and consumes more wood than other fire configurations.
  2. Upside Down Fire:  This type of fire is made by stacking the fuel very tightly together in a box or cube shape and then lighting the fire from the top.  This style of fire burns longer and requires less fuel overtime as it feeds itself as it burns down.  This type of fire also creates great coals for cooking once burned down.  The downside to this fire is that you need to have lots of fuel in the beginning to create your upside down fire.
  3. Dakota Fire Hole:  This type of fire is a great fire for cooking and is basically like the name describes a hole.  To build this type of fire you dig a whole 10 to 12 inches deep for the main fire and a vent hole 4 to 6 inches around that joins into the main hole from the side.  This fire has great benefits as it uses less fuel and typically burns hotter than traditional fires.
  4. Base Fire:  A base fire or base can be used with any fire style except the Dakota Fire Hole.  The idea or purpose of a base fire is to elevate the fire (keep it out of snow, water, etc).  You do this by building the fire on a base, typically wet or green fuel that won’t burn easily.
  5. Reflector Fire:  A reflective fire isn’t as much about the way the fuel is arranged, but more about the fire pit and the way the heat and light reflects.  The goal of a reflective fire it to maximize the amount of heat or light by reflecting off of a wall (made of dirt, stone, wood, etc.) towards the desired location.  This is a great fire for survival shelters to reflect the heat towards the shelter.
  6. Parallel Fire:  This type of fire is created between 2 large logs setup parallel to each other.  The fire is placed in the middle.  This type of fire is typically used for a cooking fire as you can use the log surfaces as a base for cooking.  It also provides a wind break on each side for the fire.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The key to anything survival related is practice, practice, practice.  No matter what your preferred method for fire starting is, you need to practice until you are proficient.  I also recommend that you practice and are proficient in multiple methods in case your primary method is not available or no longer works.  Without proficiency you will be unable to start a fire when you need it the most.
Ultimate Survival Technologies
Light My Fire

101 uses: Paracord 550

Samwise Gamgee ,from “The Lord of the Rings” said “No rope! And only last night you said to yourself: “Sam, what about a bit of rope? You'll want it, if you haven't got it: Well, I'll want it. I can't get it now.” Rope was a gift for him from the elves later on. Tom Hanks said “We need more rope!” to Wilson in Cast Away”. Connor, the Irish avenger in “The Boondock Saints” (excellent movie by the way) told his brother Murphy “You know what we need? Some rope.”
Even 5000 year old Otzi the Iceman had a stone knife, bow, quiver and some arrows, a very cool looking axe… and a 20-feet coil of rope.
Rope is just a practical thing to have during emergencies and outdoor activities, and it hardly gets more polyvalent than mil spec 550 Paracord, the one with the 7 strands in the core. These can be removed easily from the inside when you need thinner string.
Paracord 550 lbs Nylon Cord Rope- BLACK
Rothco 550Type III Paracord

Warning: 550 Paracord is rated to break at 550 pounds, that’s it breaking point not its practical use weight. This isn’t even close to climbing rope which has at least 10 times the resistance of Paracord. While it may hold your weight, as soon as you start moving the tension increases significantly and it will probably break. Other than a certain death, don’t try using these to climb down from any height.
Having said that, the uses for Paracord are countless:

Building shelters or rafts

Bow string, bolas and other primitive weapons

Shredding the fibers with a knife, it can be used as tinder

Fire bow drill string

Improvised gun sling or pants belt



Nice improvised knife handle


The inner strand can be used as a fishing line

You can build a fishing net or bird net for traps with enough patience

Some people make baskets and other containers with it

Cord 550LB NYLON 100 Ft / Safety Orange

While the OD green and black colors are nice, Orange Paracord makes for more visible lanyards in case your tools fall in high grass. Its more visible to anyone trying to rescue you so that’s the color I’d go for emergency kits. Better yet, get some of each color. It’s cheap enough an terrific stuff. Remember to burn the tips when you cut it so it doesn't come appart.
Final tip. Get the good stuff made in USA, dont try to save 70 cents and end up with poor quality cord that willlet you down when you need it the most.