Starting an Emergency Bag: Part III

This will be the last part of this series on building an emergency bag/bug out bag. At a later time I will review my emergency bag and give you a look inside to see what all I carry and why. I just want to touch on some other things that you might want to add to your emergency bag depending on your situation and needs.

Some simple things that you could add to your bag or each bag if you have a family (each person should have their own emergency bag). Hard candy, like Jolly Ranchers, or even gum are a great addition to any emergency bag. They help both you and your children mentally. You won’t be as apt to think about aches and pains or even complain as much. You can also use these candies to barter for other things you may need.

At some point your food will run out and you may need to forage or hunt, so it is a good idea to have some way of catching game. There are many options for this. You can carry some simple snares in your bag to be able to catch small game. A pump action BB handgun is also great for small game because it is quiet and can be pumped to high pressures. Another option for many is carrying a takedown survival riffle that can fit nicely in the bag or a larger rifle or shotgun. These serve a dual purpose; they can be used for hunting or for personal protection (should only be as a last resort). By using a gun you are going to giveaway your location and attract attention so I highly recommend finding quiet ways to catch game and avoid conflict with others as much as possible. Give whomever you may be having trouble with a piece of your candy and try to walk away. Most people will accept the kind jester and walk away. A really simple easy way to catch small game is by carrying a simple rat trap. They are easier to set than snares and work great for a lot of small game. Tape a peanut butter packet to the trap so that you will already have some bait. Some people carry sling shots as well as cut down arrows to use with the sling shot. It is totally up to you if you would like to add any of these things to your emergency bag. These are just some of the things some people choose to add to their bag.

Here is a list of some other things you may want to add to your bag:

100’ of 550 Para Cord (must have)                            Duct Tape (must have)

Poncho                                                                                 Lightweight Sleeping Bag or Emergency Bivy

Dust mask                                                                           Eye Protection

Work Gloves (protect your hands)                           Weather Radio

Extra Pair of Socks                                                           Zippo Lighter

Mosquito Netting                                                            Cash (small denominations)

Walking Stick                                                                      Extra Tarp

Machete                                                                              Hatchet or Axe

Toilet Bag (small hand shovel and toilet paper stored inside a diddy bag)

Everclear or moonshine (good antiseptic and great for bartering)

Copy of all Important Documents in a Ziploc Bag

Cigarettes or anything else that is good for bartering

 

I want to stress that these are all just some ideas of things you may or may not want to carry. It is totally up to you what goes into your emergency bag. Your emergency bag can be as heavy or as light as you want it to be. I want to restate that I highly recommend learning different survival/bushcraft skills and relying on them instead of gear that may fail, get lost or stolen. Learn to adapt and problem solve. Learn to think “outside of the box”.  Your goal is to survive an emergency situation or natural disaster and avoid conflict. Learn to walk away or avoid conflict. Nothing, not even your pride, is worth putting your life or the life of your family in danger.

Once you have an emergency bag put together I recommend that you field test it. Go into the wilderness for a weekend or longer and test all of your gear and see what holds up and is useful and what isn’t. Make sure you are able to walk long distances with your bag on your back. If you can’t, you’re going to have to lighten the load. The last thing you want is a back injury or to be slowed way down because of a heavy bag. I would recommend trying to keep your bag weight at 35 lbs or less. Most People can carry this much weight unless they have back problems. Children will also need a bag that weighs much less. I hope these last few posts were helpful and inspired you the put together an emergency bag. With all the natural disasters we have had lately, it is a good idea for everyone to have some sort of emergency bag. You never know when you might have to leave your home at a moment’s notice and it will be much easier if you are able to just grab a prepared bag and walk out the door than to try to survive with just the clothes on your back. What extra things do you carry in your bag? Do you know what your bag weighs?

Starting an Emergency Bag: Part II

Today I would like to continue talking about some things that you might want to add to your emergency bag as you begin to put one together. I would like to stress that you want to keep this bag as simple as possible. You are not trying to survive for years or even months out of this one bag. Yes with the right skills, knowledge and gear someone could survive for a prolonged period of time with just this one bag no problem, the average person will not be able to. So let us move on with the thought of keeping your emergency bag as simple as possible.

You should now think about adding a basic first aid kit. You want to be able to take care of minor injuries like cuts, scrapes, stings, insect bites, headaches, stomach issues as well as any other minor problems. You are not preparing to do major surgery here, nor do you have the room to place everything you would need to do surgery in your emergency bag. Again keep it simple. Think about your medicine cabinet at home. If you can, you should add in any medications you may need. There are many quality first aid kits available on the market. If you buy a premade first aid kit, make sure the bag or case that it is housed in has room to spare. You will want to customize it to your needs. You can also put your own kit together from scratch. Sometimes it is cheaper and easier to start with a basic kit and then adjust it to your needs.

Next you are going to want to look into purchasing, repurposing or making a stove setup. There are many types on the market and there are many different types of stoves you can make by recycling tin cans. I don’t have the time to get into all of them now. Maybe on a future post I’ll compare different stoves and their benefits and weaknesses. I have made and used rocket stoves and other homemade stoves by recycling materials but I always end up going back to my MSR pocket stove. I love this stove because it is small and lightweight. It also came with a titanium pot with a lid so I am now all set with my cook set as well. The pot is the perfect size for one of the fuel canisters to fit right inside with the lid closed. To me this makes the perfect kit. I just add a CRKT eat N’ Tool and I’m all set for cooking and eating quickly on the go. This setup makes it easy to cook or heat water quickly and doesn’t really make any smoke that I’ve seen anyway. As soon as I turn the stove on I’m good to start cooking or heating water right away. You can adjust the flame really easily as well. The only downfall with this setup is that once the fuel canister is empty, you’re out of luck. Although, I have to say that these fuel canisters do last a really long time, especially when you only have to heat up water for your meals. I also like the fact that it’s a quick process to take apart and pack up. There are no ashes to put out or hide. You can be up and on the move quickly. This is just my setup and why I have chosen it. You have to figure out what will work best for you.

You are going to want a couple of good light sources. I carry a small light similar to the smaller mag lights that take two AA batteries. I also carry a good quality headlamp. It is much easier moving and doing things with your hands free. Since I have the Ultimate Survival Kit I also have a small keychain light as well. You are going to want a couple of good light sources. Nobody likes to be left in the dark! You will also need to pack batteries. Pack them separately and properly, this way your batteries will be fresh and not ruin your light source if they leak acid for some reason.

Another item worth adding to your bag is a set of two way radios. I recommend getting a set that can both take batteries and be recharged by plugging them in. This way you will have two options for power. If you have a family, buy enough radios so that everyone can have one in their own bag and predetermine the channel that you will use, that way everybody knows ahead of time. It may be worth writing the channel on each radio or marking each radio somehow. These can come in very handy if you get split up or if someone gets lost.

One thing I highly recommend adding to your bag is a good quality multi-tool. Do not skimp here and buy a cheap one! You will most likely be using this tool a lot and you don’t want it failing or breaking on you. Many of the cheap multi-tools break very easily and are not made well. I recommend buying a SOG, Leatherman or Gerber.

One simple cheap item I would also recommend adding to any emergency bag is a deck of cards. They are cheap but could save your life. By playing a card game it will get your mind off of the stress of the emergency situation and will actual calm you and put you in a better frame of mind. If you have kids this is a must. This will give them a sense of normalcy, it will give them something to occupy their time and it will keep them calm.

Tomorrow I will delve into this subject a bit further. I will go over some optional things you can add to your emergency bag depending on your situation and if you desire for your emergency bag to be more of a bug out bag.  If you do not have an emergency bag now, do not become overwhelmed that you need to go out and buy all kinds of expensive things. Start slowly and do what you can. For meals you can simply use oatmeal packets, ramen noodles and any other prepackaged foods. You can make your own cook stove out of a recycled container. There are many ways to start cheap and at least have a basic emergency bag. It’s better to have something than nothing at all. Are you prepared for any of the possible natural disasters that might happen in your area?

Starting an Emergency Bag

Many people have different names for this bag as well as different reasons for having one. Some like to call it a 72hour bag well others like to call it a bug out bag. For all tense and purposes it is a bag that will help aid in you surviving an emergency, natural disaster  or will help you survive well you travel to another safe location. Everybody has different thoughts on what should go in this bag. From those that want everything and anything including the kitchen sink to those that choose to travel much lighter. I am not going to demean anybody for what they choose to carry in there bag. I am just going to give you a starting point. I will delve into this subject much further another time and I will also give you a glimpse into my emergency bag. This is just a basis for getting a bag started.

The very first thing you are going to need is a bag, but what bag should you get? Well it depends a lot on you. Can you handle a lot of weight? Are you going to carry a lot of gear? Is your goal to keep your bag as light as possible? Are you planning on using your bag in the wilderness or for short term emergencies? These are all questions that you will have to answer for yourself. I personally use a Rothco medium transport bag. I like this bag because it is very durable and has a lot of broken up compartments. By having a lot of compartments instead of one big open bag you are able to separate things and know where each thing is instead of having to unload your bag every time you want or need something. I also like this bag because it is a medium size bag. So even if I fill the bag it will not be way too heavy to carry a long distance. For people that are not able to carry a lot of weight on their back, I recommend scaling down the amount of gear you pack and use lighter weight packs made out of ripstop nylon. These bags are not as durable as heavier weight bags but you’ll have to make some calculated compromises to overcome different disabilities. I use ripstop nylon bags all the time for lightweight backpacking and they work great. The last thing I will say about bags for now is to stay away from camouflage. Get a bag that is one solid color. You don’t want to stand out in a crowd as one that is prepared or may be militarily trained. People that are starving may come searching for your food and supplies. People that are starving are willing to do whatever it takes to fill their hunger.

The next thing I recommend, is finding yourself a good quality knife. You want something that is full tang. Don’t buy a knife that has a hollow handle. Knives like these are very weak and often break right near the handle. Look around online and read reviews. There are a lot of quality knives out there. I carry a green Gerber LMF II. I love this knife and haven’t been able to find one that I like better. Mora, Condor, Blind Horse Knives, Esee, Kabar and Gerber are just a few companies that make some good knives. There are many other good quality knife makers out there so search around. You will also want a way to sharpen your knife so remember to get some sort of sharpening implement to keep with your knife or in your bag.

The next thing I recommend is a good survival kit. The one that is available at my store is the same one that I carry in my bag. It is called the Ultimate Survival Kit. Here is the link: http://armstrongsurvivalgear.com/ultimate-survival-kit/

This Survival Kit contains: an orange emergency blanket, a StarFlash mirror, a Pocket Chainsaw, a “pico” style light, 12 Industrial Revolution Stormproof Matches, a 4seasons Spark Lite with 10 Tinder-Quik fire starters, a Jetscream whistle, one of our Survival Pods (20feet of 20lb test fishing line, 2 hooks, 2 swivels and 2 weights), a pin on compass, a Gerber mini paraframe pocket knife, a Frontier Filter (water filter straw) and its all contained in an Otterbox 3000. There’s even room to fit your favorite bag of tea and a small piece of hard candy or stick of gum. This whole kit weighs less than 1.5 lbs. This kit takes care of a lot of things you would be putting into your bag anyways but now it’s all contained in a strong container that will float.

The next thing you will want to add is some sort of shelter. To save weight I use a lightweight tarp made out of silicone impregnated ripstop nylon, a piece of Tyvek for the ground cloth, titanium stakes and some 550 para cord. By using this type of shelter instead of a tent you’ll save yourself a lot of weight in your emergency bag. Another option is a hammock incorporated with a lightweight tarp. This is also a light option as well as very comfortable.

Now you want to begin to think about adding some food to your bag. Some people recommend having enough food to last 72 hours and others believe you should have more food. This all depends on your plans, your intentions for this bag, your physical needs and abilities and the types of disasters you are planning for. I can only tell you what I do. This is by no means what you have to follow strictly. I carry a 3600 calorie Mainstay food bar to use in the initial stages of an emergency. If an emergency happens you probably won’t have time to stop and cook or heat something up. This gives you 1 ½ days worth of calories that can be eaten on the go. I also have 5 days worth of Mountain House meals. That’s 15 meals all together, breakfast, lunch and dinner for 5 days. These meals are easy to prepare. Just heat up water and add to the package and allow the food to get warm. This makes for easy preparation and cleanup. I also have a bag of jerky and some tea bags as well. This way I have enough food for a week no problem without ever needing to hunt or forage. The food could also be rationed to last much longer than a week.

The last thing we will look at today is hydration. You will want some water in your bag but you will also want a way to purify water as well. If you have our Ultimate Survival Kit you will already have two ways to purify water. Using the frontier filter straw or fire to purify any water collected. I also carry an Aquamira Filter Bottle. This way I can just fill it up quick and be on my way. I also have a stainless steel cup and lid for heating up water for meals or for purification if I lose the filter bottle. I place a few bottles of water in my bag so that I have quick access to water for the first stage of an emergency.

That is where I must end for today. I hope that it was helpful and that it helps you get started putting an emergency bag, 72 hour bag or bug out bag together. Tomorrow I will give you some more ideas about what should go into your emergency bag. You don’t need to follow what I do exactly or use the brands that I use. These are just examples to help get you thinking about being better prepared for natural disasters or emergencies. Again everything is customizable to your needs and abilities. One more thing that I will leave you with; no tool or amount of gear can ever replace any survival or bushcraft skills or knowledge you may have. Well you are able to, learn and gain as many skills as you possibly can. Learn primitive ways of starting fires, making tools and making shelters. Learn how to use what’s already available in the wilderness. This will help make you less reliant on gear that might break or wear out. Do you have an emergency bag of some sort? If not, do you plan on putting one together?

Review of Dash Yogurt Maker

Review of Dash Yogurt Maker

This is a review for the Dash DSY007CM STAINLESS 7 Jar Home Yogurt Maker w/ One Year Warranty. My wife and I have wanted to make our own yogurt for a long time. We did test making it without a yogurt maker and it can be done but we had a hard time having consistent temperatures for the yogurt and it always came out very runny.  So we finally decided to invest in a yogurt maker.

One of our stipulations was that we wanted the yogurt to be made in glass containers instead of plastic containers. That limited our options big time. I also went online and read a ton of reviews. I found that one of the brands had a common problem running through all their lines of yogurt makers. The heating element would go bad in a short amount of time and would get to hot, which would in turn kill the bacteria. You would end up with soup instead of yogurt. We definitely didn’t want that.

So after doing a search for yogurt makers, and reading a ton of reviews, up popped the Dash yogurt maker. I liked that it used glass jars and as I began reading all the reviews I began to realize that this was the yogurt maker for us. So we ordered one. It only cost us $43.15 with free shipping from Amazon. I didn’t think that was a bad price at all.

Well we received it and couldn’t wait to make some yogurt. The first batch came out soupy but my wife realized it was her fault because when she was checking the temperature of the mixture, she did so without stirring so she ended up overcooking some of yogurt mix. You need to be very careful about not over heating the yogurt mix. Since then every batch has been amazing. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful our yogurt tastes. The wonderful thing is we know what is and isn’t going into our yogurt. We use organic milk for our yogurt. No preservatives and no artificial flavors. We like to add our favorite fruit, a spoonful of homemade jelly or some granola, although the yogurt does taste good enough to eat all by itself.
So far we have not had one single problem with this yogurt maker. Its works exactly like it’s suppose to with no problems at all. The only minor issue I do have is the amount you are able to make. We have a family of six and we love our yogurt. I wish that they made this yogurt maker twice the size that it is. As nice as that would be and as convenient as that would be I’m not sure if that might affect the quality of the yogurt or the possibility of it not thickening. We overcome this slight issue by getting extra jars and making more batches consistently.

Out of a possible 5 stars I give it 4.9 stars. Only because I wish it made larger quantities does it not get a 5. I do highly recommend this machine if you are contemplating making your own yogurt. It’s always nice to know what you are eating and putting into your body. The more things you can make at home for yourself the better off you’ll be and hay its always more satisfying making your own food from scratch and eating it to. Let me know if this review helped you in any way and if you enjoy making your own yogurt. What kinds of things do you add to your yogurt and why?

Trail Recipes: Lunches

I’ll start off by saying that these are just a few lunch ideas that I use. These are not my only lunch “recipes” but may give you some extra ideas for your own trail lunches. In general I don’t like to stop for too long a period of time when I’m stopping for lunch. Because of that I try to eat something that doesn’t need to be warmed up or cooked unless it is going to be cold and I know in advance that I will want something to warm me up.

For quick lunches I like to pack homemade flour tortillas or homemade dinner rolls. I keep these at the top of my bag so that they don’t get crushed. Bread products do actually last for awhile on the trail. It just depends on how hot it is going to be. I then pack peanut butter packets, jelly packets and sometimes some honey. The honey is also great to have to sweeten your tea at night or possibly coffee. I squeeze these onto a roll or tortilla shell and I’ve got a sandwich. This way I can also keep hiking well eating if I would like. I bring a small baggy to place the used packets of peanut butter, jelly and honey in so I don’t end up with a mess in my pack. Sometimes I will also bring tuna fish that is in the pouches and mayonnaise packets so that I can make a tuna fish sandwich. Here are the recipes for the tortilla shells and dinner rolls I use.

 

DINNER ROLLS

3 ½ to 3 ¾ cups all-purpose or bread flour

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt

1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

½ cup very warm water (120-130 degrees)

½ cup very warm milk (120-130 degrees)

1 large egg

 

1) Mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, ¼ cup butter, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add warm water and warm milk and egg. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

2) Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Place dough in large bowl greased with shortening, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until double. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

3) Grease rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches, with shortening.

4) Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough into 15 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball; place in pan. Brush with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until double.

5) Heat oven to 375 degrees.

6) Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cool.

 

FLOUR TORTILLAS

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for the counter

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 –inch pieces

4 Tablespoons nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening or lard, cut into ½-inch pieces

 

1) Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and shortening, and rub them into the flour mixture with your hands until you have pea-size lumps. Slowly add 1 ½ cups of warm water to the mixture, tossing with your hands as you go. Add an additional 1 tablespoon of water at a time (but don’t use more than 4 additional tablespoons) until you have a slightly sticky dough. Lay a clean, damp dish towel over the bowl. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

 

2) Flour the counter and divide the dough into 16 balls, each about 3 inches in diameter. Cover the balls with the damp towel and let rest for 5 minutes. Start heating a dry skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. (If you have two skillets, use them both.)

 

3) Use the rolling pin to roll out your first tortilla to 8 inches in diameter and 1/16 inch thick. Put it in the skillet and cook for 1 minute on each side, or until it is bubbly and starting to brown. Use the spatula to remove the tortilla from the pan. Repeat with the other balls of dough. Serve immediately or store covered, in a warm oven or under a warm, damp cloth until ready to serve.

For a warm meal I take a Ziploc bag and place 1-2 servings of instant potatoes in it. Then I add enough powdered milk to cover the needed milk for the instant potatoes (dependant on how many servings of instant potatoes you use). If you want butter in the potatoes just bring some butter packets to use. Now just add some dehydrated vegetables and some dehydrated meat of your choosing (or maybe TVP if you are vegetarian) and you’re all set. Just add to some hot water and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes and you’ve got a wonderful warm lunch. I also use this for my dinners once in awhile.

Feel free to use these recipes or come up with your own but just know that you are not stuck having to buy trail food from your local sporting goods store. I do use mountain house meals once in awhile but I can’t imagine the cost of eating those strictly well on long hikes and they are generally full of sodium. I like to save money and I rather enjoy putting my own healthier meals together. I hope this post helps encourage you to come up with your own trail meals instead of settling for prepackaged. What meals do you make for lunch well on the trail?

Quick Tip #3

For an easy fire starting kit place a small lighter (like a bic minny) and a tea light candle in a baggy or plastic wrap. Just stick the kit in your bag or pocket. When you’re ready to start a fire just grab some kindling, larger sticks and some small logs or thicker sticks. Now just set the candle down and light it with the lighter and start adding kindling and then twigs. As the fire starts to get going add sticks until you have the desired size fire. The candle is great because it has a long burning time which gives you plenty of time to get a fire going. This is a great starter fire kit for those just starting out learning how to start simple fires. This kit will give you a better chance at not failing to start a fire. This is just one of many ways of starting a fire. Try to practice and learn as many different ways as possible to start a fire. The more skills you learn and know, the better off and safer you’ll be in the wilderness.

Clothing Materials of Choice

I will start off by saying that these are my personal preferences and they have worked well for me thus far. I know that everybody has their own personal preferences when it comes to outdoor clothing, I just wanted to put my two cents in. I hope it’s at least worth that much!

For winter hiking and hunting I like to start with a base layer preferably made of wool, synthetic if I have to. Good quality wool socks as well. Then I do wear heavy duty tactical style pants that are made of 100% cotton or 50/50 cotton/poly blend. All of the tactical pants on the market have cotton in them unless you buy lightweight nylon hiking pants or gore tex pants. I find it funny to hear guys saying all the time to never wear denim jeans (which I wouldn’t) or cotton pants but then recommend all these tactical pants that are made of some part cotton. It’s as if they never looked at the labels. I know everybody says cotton kills and to stay away from it but there is a use for cotton in the outdoors community if used properly and as long as you are familiar with its limitations. I try to never put myself in a situation where I end up wet but if my pants became soaked I could just take them off and dry them over a fire well still wearing my base layer of wool.  I wear a flannel shirt and then a good quality wool coat. I love wool for the fact that it still insulates when wet (it does lose some insulation value once wet), it is antimicrobial and it does not stain or hold dirt that I am aware of or that I’ve been able to tell. Also you don’t have to worry about sparks or flames from a fire like you do with synthetic materials.

I do use synthetic clothing for some things but the older I get the more that I am tending to use them less. Yes they tend to be lighter and pack smaller but have you smelled your under armor shirt after a day of hiking on a warm summer day. It’s not good.

For summer I wear nylon hiking pants. I wear hiking pants all year long just because I’ve never really been into wearing shorts a whole lot. That’s just me. One thing I wish somebody would make is ripstop nylon hiking pants. For the life of me I can’t find anybody that does and I’m thinking of contacting a seamstress to have some specially made for me and my sons. I carry an under armor base layer but either wear a cotton shirt or light polyester button up hiking shirt well hiking during the day. This way at the end of the day when I’m not working hard and sweating, I can change into the synthetic clothing for warmth well giving the cotton shirt a chance to dry out.  I can also wear the base layers on rainy days instead of having a soaking wet cotton shirt. I plan ahead for the limitations of wearing any cotton clothing. Again this is just my preference and I am aware of cottons limits. I just got sick and tired of the smell of my under armor shirts. Don’t get me wrong I do love under armor. I only use their name because everyone is familiar with their products and that’s just what I own. There are cheaper brands out there as well, obviously.

Depending on the season and the weather where I’m going to be hiking my clothing choices do change. I do own a lot of synthetic clothing and do highly recommend some of it but I think many people have just gone a little crazy with the cotton kills statement or death cloth, whichever you prefer. I just think everybody needs to take another look at natural materials as well. We all know nothing beats a down sleeping bag or quality wool blanket. Yes they may weigh a little more or not pack down quite as much but they are worth using to me. I would never head out into the wilderness wearing all cotton and don’t recommend it to anybody but I do wear some and take the necessary precautions in case it might get wet. Just like any gear you might carry or use, learn how to use it properly and learn its strengths and limitations.  What natural materials do you use? Do you “dare” to wear cotton? All my years in the construction industry, all we wore for warmth in the winter were carhartt jackets and overalls. Guess what they are made of? Yup that’s right.