Posts Tagged With: Gear

9 Extras Guaranteed to Make First-Time Campers Happy

by Todd Walker

9 Extras Guaranteed to Make First-Timer Campers Happy ~

We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home.”

~ George Washington Sears – “Nessmuk”, Woodcraft

A tenderfoot’s first camping trip will be remembered forever, good or bad. Whether car camping or backpacking, comfort in the woods should be the aim. There are no “Roughing It” badges awarded in camp life. The more pleasant the experience, the more likely you’ll want to go again.

New to camping? Our last article on knife craft may be of interest to you. Click on this highlighted link to read more.

No matter how many times I camp, I’ve learned that the following items in my pack are multifunctional and comfort-adders to my outdoor experience. Add these to your normal camp checklist.

Extra Tarp(s) 

Shelter comes to mind first. My ENO ProFly rain offers enough cover for my hammock and personal gear. If teaching a class at gatherings/campouts, I haul more stuff which needs to be sheltered. Car camping affords the luxury of packing several tarps whether you sleep in a hammock or tent.

9 Extras Guaranteed to Make First-Timer Campers Happy ~

Besides my ENO Rainfly, I use extra tarps for equipment/supplies and a welcome mat under my hammock.

Employ an extra tarp as a ground cover under your tent or a welcome mat under your hammock. I find rolling out of my hammock onto a dry surface comforting. No wet/dirty feet to dry before lacing my boots. My haversack and extra gear rests on this vapor barrier preventing ground moisture from transferring while I sleep.

An extra tarp has come in handy on trips when it rained sideways. Tarps can be quickly set up over your camp kitchen or eating area for shade and rain protection. Think of being cooped up in your sleeping quarters on a rainy day in the woods. An 8×10 tarp will provide a dry outdoor living room to enjoy the sound of falling rain while whittling a tent stake, watching wilderness TV (a.k.a. – campfire), or cooking meals. Be sure to set your tarp high enough over a campfire so it won’t melt – 7-8 feet works with an open fire.

Poly tarps are relatively cheap but add max comfort when camping. Don’t hit the trail without an extra one or three. And blue tarps are okay. In fact, one of my Pathfinder instructors once told me that blue is easier to spot in the woods than other colors if you need to be found.

Extra Cordage

If you’re like me, my hammock and rain fly has cordage attached and ready for quick setup. Did you bring enough line to hang extra tarps and stuff? And what line should you use?

I like 550 paracord for certain jobs like ridge lines. However, braided nylon tarred bank line comes in a compact spool with hundreds of feet. A one pound spool of #36 bank from Wally World offers over 500 feet of cordage. Don’t want to take a whole spool, pull off 50 foot hanks and stow in your pack. Below is a photo of how I store hanks of cordage…

9 Extras Guaranteed to Make First-Timer Campers Happy ~

Take the hank of cord off your fingers, wrap the loose end a few times in the middle of the hank, and tie with a half-hitch.

There are too many uses around camp for rope to not pack extra.

Extra Towels

No matter the season, it is my practice, when water is available, to sleep clean. However, when water is scarce, I whip out the wipes and clean a day of sticky, sweaty funk off my body.

Get small packs designed for diaper bags if backpacking. If weight isn’t an issue, buy the jumbo container to clean the whole family. They’re also handy to clean dirty picnic tables and pet fur. Moose and Abby, our fur-babies, make it their mission to rub their neck in the most disgusting, rotted, foul-smelling stuff in the woods.

9 Extras Guaranteed to Make First-Timer Campers Happy ~

Dry towel and wet wipes.

When cooking at home, I sometimes hang a hand towel over my shoulder like my daddy. I do the same at camp. Only difference is I tuck it into my belt or dangled from my front pocket. I wipe my hands often while cooking and use it as a napkin while eating. When done, toss the towel in a ziplock bag and stow it in my cook kit.

I carry both cloth and paper towels. Used paper towels are burned or packed out. The beauty of cloth towels is they can be washed and hung out to dry.

Extra Lighting

I have three primary sources of light when I camp: Luci solar lantern, head lamp, and LED Light Specs. Here’s the breakdown of each…

I clip my Luci lantern on my hammock ridge line for nighttime illumination (see top photo). This cool solar lantern never runs out of batteries. Just inflate it like a beach ball and choose the setting; low, high, or flashing. It lights up my entire hammock area and only weighs 4 ounces.


A safe, renewable lighting source

A head lamp frees you to use both hands for camp tasks. Keep a set of spare batteries taped together and labeled with the date of manufacture. This allows you track when you need to add fresh batteries in your pack. If you purchase a head lamp, buy one with a red light to keep your camping mates happy. Nothing ticks folks off more than having a white, blinding light in the eyes.

My reading glasses have LED lights on the outside of both lenses. I know. Coolest thing ever! I use these to find stuff hidden in my pack at night. When I turn in for the evening, they go in my hammock pouch along with my head lamp.

Extra Plastic Bottle

This tip is for our guy readers. Sorry ladies, not much help to you. To stay nice and cozy in your hammock or tent when nature calls, a sports drink bottle is a reliving solution. Do your business carefully, cap the bottle, and sit it aside.

9 Extras Guaranteed to Make First-Timer Campers Happy ~

The label is for unsuspecting, thirsty friends 🙂

On a funny note, one of our Georgia Bushcraft members had a horrible hammock experience. It seems he forgot his mosquito net was surrounding him as he attempted to toss the contents of the open bottle. Not a happy camper!

Extra Toilet Paper

While we’re on the subject of bodily functions, you don’t want to run out of this essential item! There are ways to perform the needed paperwork without TP, but a novice may find them a bit primitive. Cowboy toilet paper is an option. So pack plenty of your favorite, soft wipes, even at campgrounds.

Extra Plastic Bags

Do not forget these! Pack several different ziplock sizes. They keep stuff dry and sealed or wet stuff separate from your dry stuff. Use them to pack trash and other dirty stuff out when you break camp.

Oh, and always pack extra trash bags, the big ones. All my packs have a minimum of two contractor grade trash bags. They’re useful for collecting firewood and keeping it dry, pack covers, and even emergency ponchos. Too many uses for these bags to list here.

Extra Shoes

Your feet are an important part to comfortably enjoying camp life. They got you to your scenic spot, now pamper them. In warm weather camp, my flip-flops are welcome relief after a long day in my boots. On colder trips, I change into my insulated leather house slippers while sitting around the campfire. Neither pair weighs much, but boy do they add comfort to my tired feet!

Extra Tape


Use a carabiner to attach the duct taped lighter to your kit

Last, but certainly not least, is duct tape. Not all duct tape is created equal. Gorilla Tape is the strongest I’ve found. My buddy, Dave, teaches a class on making duct tape water containers. If you do it right, a water-tight container can be fashioned from this often forgotten piece of gear.

Here are just a few uses:

  • Emergency first aid uses; bandages, splints, etc.
  • Repair leaky tarps and tents
  • Wrap a camp ax handle for temporary repair. Makes an expedient ax sheath too.
9 Extras Guaranteed to Make First-Timer Campers Happy ~

Gorilla tape wrapped around a piece of cardboard for the win!

  • Grommet hole repair
  • Wet weather fire starter. Burns like napalm.

  • Your imagination is the only limiting factor for duct tape.


These are the extras that make me a happy camper. How about you experienced campers? What extras comfort items do you take camping?

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

Sherpa Gear Review: The Idiot Proof Emberlit-UL Stove

by Todd Walker

A light load is your friend. Whether camping, or if necessary, getting out of dodge.

Emberlit1 - Copy

This past weekend, DRG and I unpacked our old bug out bags to winterize supplies and set up our new BOB’s. Thanks Santa! After unpacking, I realized how many shiny survival objects wouldn’t make it back in our new bags. Prioritizing and finding redundancy in items is my plan to lighten our loads. With DRG’s body weakened by her year-long battle with cancer, I’ll be carrying the bulk, if not all the weight if we had to hump on foot to our designated safe retreat.

I’m middle-aged (50 is the new 30, right?), in good physical condition, and could carry the weight in my old BOB. But why put my body through undue stress. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. But if I did, I’d make losing weight my number one priority. NOT, body weight – weight in my BOB and other burdens weighing heavily on my mind, soul, and spirit. Let’s deal with the physical bug out bag first.

Ounces count – and add up in a bag. I’ve looked for a camp stove that doesn’t require the added weight of fuel containers – something light, self-sustaining, and tough. I’ve built alcohol stoves before, but they require fuel (extra ounces). Presently, I pack a MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove. It’s just over 3 oz. and very compact. Then there’s the pesky added weight of a fuel container. I love my little stove. It’s just not sustainable unless you pack fuel. I wanted a stove that could run on stuff we walk past and over – sticks and twigs.

Enter the Emberlit-UL (Titanium) stove. Made in America (Utah), this 5.45 oz. stove arrived in my mail box three days after ordering. It would have been sooner except for the holiday on January 1. I ordered from Amazon. Before pressing the buy button, I sent a question to the company concerning whether this model on Amazon came with the Crossbar Pot Adapters shown on the Emberlit website. Within just a few minutes, I had my answer in my inbox. The crossbars come with it.

Upon arrival, I unpacked my new stove excitedly. When disassembled and stacked it measures just over 1/8 inches thick. Instructions for assembling the stove are idiot proof. Being a guy, DRG knew I wouldn’t read the instructions before assembly. I put it together in under a minute, placed it on the open palm of my left hand, and showed her my new creation. Test time.

5 pieces plus the crossbars

5 pieces plus the crossbars

Emberlit3 - Copy

My backyard is loaded with an assortment of oak trees constantly dropping dead limbs. Perfect. I collected a small bundle of twigs, pencil sized sticks, and a few finger sized branches. I set the stove on my fire pit and commenced to make fire. Using wax-coated jute twine and unraveled plain jute for my nest, two strikes on my ferro rod produced fire.

I added my smallest twigs on top of the burning nest to feed the fire in my stove. Then, pencil size sticks were added. The vent holes in the sides of the stove worked well to draft air up the chimney. At that point I added a few shavings of pine fat lighter (fatwood) before adding the largest fuel. I love fatwood for fire starting – not necessary – just fire starter insurance.

Emberlit4 - Copy

Once I had a decent fire with a few coals in the bottom of the stove, I added water to my Army canteen cup. I advise using the crossbar inserts on top of the stove for smaller cooking containers. The crossbars allow containers smaller than 3 inches in diameter to be utilized.

On other top feeding stoves, one must lift the cooking container off the stove to feed the fire. With the Emberlit design, the feed door allows you to leave the container on the heat source and feed the fire at the same time. The chimney design works well to draw air and efficiently burn the fuel. As the fuel burned, I simply pushed the longer sticks into the stove to maintain the fire. My water reached a rolling boil in 5 minutes. Tea time.Emberlit5 - Copy

The company claims the stove’s ability to support cast iron cookware. I fetched a cast iron skillet, bacon grease, and an egg from the kitchen. No, I don’t pack cast iron in my BOB. I wanted to test the claim of strength from the company. If the stove is on a level, stable surface, it will indeed support a heavy cooking container. I fried one egg with no problems – the way I like them – over easy.

Emberlit6 - CopyEmberlit7 - Copy

I’m very pleased with the performance on my first run in the backyard. I see no reason why it wouldn’t stand up to more demanding, prolonged use. The stove’s sturdy and simple design, weight, and compact size make the Emberlit Camp Stove my favorite. I only wish the storage sleeve was included with the stove instead of being sold separately.

The same stove is available in stainless steel for about half the price of the titanium, but over twice the weight (11.3 oz.). I’m thinking of ordering a stainless steel model for our vehicle emergency kit. The titanium stove cost me $68 including S/H. The overwhelming demand has caused a back order on this item. Go ahead and get your order in if you want one.

The company offers personal customer service and guaranteed satisfaction. Here’s their warranty statement:

“WARRANTY: I want you to be happy with your purchase. Emberlit Stoves and accessories come with a lifetime guarantee. Should your stove fail I will refund or replace it. If you ever have any trouble whatsoever with your stove or questions about your order contact me, and I’ll make it right.”

I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. By the way, I have no financial interest or benefit in this company except that I’m really impressed with their product. I bought my stove with my own funds.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

The Regular Guy Strategy: Escaping Prepper Prison

by Todd Walker

I read lots of folks lamenting over family and friends who don’t embrace prepping. I can’t blame them. Images of being holed up in an underground bunker, sleeping on a canvas cot, crapping in a coffee can doesn’t appeal to them. Me either.

Even though it’s going more mainstream, “prepping” is prison. You feel shackled. You can’t tell anyone you’re storing extra food, bullets, or even band aids. If we don’t observe OpSec (Operational Security) we get labeled “prepper”, “survivalists” – or even worse, extremist. We wake up in a puddle of sweat worried that we’re not ready for TEOTWAWKI and TSHTF because we’re not living off-grid in the boonies with three years of food storage, fuel storage, and the latest weapons. We’re scared to build community – afraid to blow our cover. It’s that OpSec thing again.

Welcome to Prepper Prison. The bars and razor wire are in our minds and souls. Fear rules. Doom and gloom is upon us! The experts tell us how to get ready. What to buy. Skills to learn. Books to read. Where to move. Lists to make. Here’s a news flash: We’ll never be completely ready. You might possess expert knowledge in one area, but no person can do it all. Don’t underestimate the importance of community in making your jailbreak.

I began tunneling out of my cell last month. I felt like “Andy” in Shawshank Redemption. He was wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He finally quite accepting the institutional ‘authorities’ plan for his life. He planned his escape. He had lots of time and a will to be free. His tools of freedom were a rock hammer, a pin-up poster, and his fellow inmates – “Red” in particular. Pressure and time did the rest. It was a simple choice: “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” He chose living.

I often wonder if I’m good enough. Do I have enough stuff to get me through the next two inches of snow? Don’t laugh my Yankee friends. We shut down around here with a light dusting. A run on bread, milk, eggs, and PBR soon follows.

With Dirt Road Girl not working, we’ve slashed our survival supplies. Honesty is a crazy quality. I’m the first to admit I’m no guru at preparedness or self-reliance. I’m just a regular guy trying to become as self-reliant and prepared as humanly possible. Compared to preparedness experts, and I’ve read many of their books, I don’t even come close to being ready. I don’t own any night vision goggles or fancy optics for my guns. Would those be cool to own? Sure. I just don’t have $3,000.00 extra fiat dollars lying on top of my stash of gold bullion. Dang, I forgot OPSEC! There is no gold in my underground bunker. Now that we are in Great Depression II, I’m guessing many are a little short on money to buy what the ‘experts’ recommend. So I thought I’d share my Regular Guy Preparedness Plan.

1.) Build community. This is a freebie. It cost some time, but that’s it. Building relationships in the community is the most important, yet it’s a glaring weakness of mine. A lone wolf will always object to this strategy. I realize the importance of flying under the radar. Uninvited attention is bad. I got that part. It’s just so anti-me in the other compartments of my life. I’m very social. So are we stuck with the YOYO (Your Own Your Own) method of survival? Not hardly. Retreating to the jungle to live off the land is so Hollywood. Stop the fantasy.

Is mediocre good enough? I hope so. I’m a serial multi-tasker – read mediocre at lots of stuff. I’m also well aware that I can’t provide all that I need for long-term survival. I’m below average at first aid and medical skills. I’m not going to spend time trying to become a combat field doctor or a RN. I’m not that interested in the field. For those that are, great! For our immediate group, we have someone who is medically trained. Then there’s that motor head cousin of mine that can rebuild an engine blindfolded. Not me. I can do the basics. There are other areas that need to be shored up in our group. That’s where building community comes in. But how?

Here are some places to network, build community, and plan your prison-break.

  • Local meet up groups. Face to face and local is both real and productive.
  • Family – if possible. This one is often times the hardest to penetrate in many cases. This is whispered at some Thanksgiving dinners – “Okay sweetie, stay away from crazy Uncle Henry. He totes guns and raises chickens in his yard.
  • Local farmers markets and food co-ops. Buying local builds community.
  • Gun/hunting/hiking/outdoor clubs. It’s easy to bring up preparedness speak with folks sitting around a fire eating beans and sipping rot-gut coffee or bourbon. “Man, what if we had to do this for more than a long weekend?
  • Church, school, and work. Like fishing, you have to go where they are to catch them. Even then, they don’t always take what you offer.
  • Internet prepper groups: Wolfe Blog, Prepper Groups, American Preppers Network, Alt-Market, A.N.T.S. (Americans Networking To Survive). Be wise about sharing personal info until you establish trust. Face to face meetings can follow when both parties are ready. I know, it sounds like online dating.

2.) Regular Guy Skills. People tell me I’m handy – right before they ask me to do stuff for free. I like adding skills to my toolbox. I’m best at those that I enjoy and interest me. You probably are too. Skills don’t cost much, but offer a great return on my time. Here are some Regular Guy Skills I find helpful and relatively cheap:

Chemistry: The most overlooked skill in survival. I’d like to recommend “Caveman Chemistry” by Kevin M. Dunn. Mr. Dunn offers 28 projects to help you become a producer, more self-reliant, and a cool science nerd. Want to make your own mead, gunpowder, soap, pharmaceuticals, and plastics? Get the book.

Build stuff with your hands. If you already do this in your day job, start reading the book above. Or try this one: Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World. Read broadly to stretch your mind outside the preparedness world. Diversify.

For those that are trapped in cubicle hell, find little things to do around the house to shrink that honey-do-list. Make your own gear. Learn to restore and sharpen an axe or other bladed tool. Here’s an old adze I restored last month.

Treating an adze I found at a flea market

I recently made a cedar bench for Dirt Road Girl with pioneer hand tools – I did cheat and use my chainsaw twice. I ended up building a shaving horse in the process. Another useful bonus tool created from this bench project.

Make stuff with paracord.

Learn to sew. Check out my wool hunting shirt I made from a 20 dollar, 100% wool army blanket.

More Dave Canterbury inspired gear

Stock your toolbox. You can pick up pioneer tools and other off-grid hand tools cheaply at yard sales, estate sales, Free Cycle, thrift stores, and grandma’s attic. I like new stuff as long as it’s old. I bought a set of bits and a brace from a guy off the side of the road for $10. The local antique malls charge $25 to $45 for these items. If you buy nice, you only buy once. Avoid cheaply made junk.

Bits for my brace

What’s on your wall?

Wish these were mine. Shot these at the Foxfire Museum this summer.

3.) Regular Guy Priorities. I use conventional wisdom from experts when preparing for SHTF sometimes. Chew on the hay, spit out the sticks. Other times I kick conventional wisdom to the curb. I’m unorthodox. For instance, I don’t store a lot of wheat. Your kidding, right!? No. It’s not something I eat. The experts tell me to stock things that I use in my eating plan now and practice cooking from my food storage. I stock stuff I eat. There’s logic for ya.

I write IEP’s (Individualized Education Plan) for students with special needs. Preparedness should be no different. Each of us should write our own IPP (Individualized Preparedness Plan). There so much information out there that most folks have no idea where to start. Avoid information overload by starting with your unique, individual situation. Throw out the cookie cutter books and build your own IPP. Priorities for your family will differ from our family (ex: environment, finances, mindset, fitness level, diet, health, spirituality, location, etc.).

Start with the basics: water, food, shelter, and a way to protect yourself. This is enough material for an article all to itself. I’ll try to keep it short. Develop your IPP based on your individualized needs. I hope I’m preaching to the choir about self-defense. If you’re not comfortable owning evil guns, develop a plan to defend your family with other tools. Guns are simply tools by the way. No different from your Smart Car, garden hoe, or blender. Your faith may be a roadblock to owning these fine tools. If so, check out Kathy Jackson’s article tackling Christians and Passivism.

If you’ve got a spring or well on your property, water is less a priority than someone who lives in the Arizona desert. My point here is to keep ringing the individualized bell. Break the mold. Be yourself. Prepare for yourself and the unique needs of your family… no matter what the experts tell you. To assume their plan will work for you and me is dangerous and costly.

Think. For. Yourself.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, DIY Preparedness Projects, Economic Collapse, Firearms, First Aid, Food Storage, Frugal Preps, Preparedness, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, Self Defense, Self-reliance, SHTF, Survival, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

5 Shiny Objects Every Prepper Should Buy

by Todd Walker

SOS – Shiny Object Survival lures preppers into a false sense of preparedness. You see it. You even lust for it. You gotta have it. You start imagining how cool it would look strapped on your back. You save up to buy that SHTF-proof bug out bag with a built-in Rambo Night Vision Navigational System. Congratulations! You’ve got your fist in the coconut.

I remember telling the story of hunters in Africa using shiny objects in a coconut to capture monkeys to Sunday School class years ago. The hunter would drill a hole in the anchored coconut large enough for the monkey to fit an open hand in and grab a shiny trinket. With the object clinched in his fist, he hears the hunter approaching, but is unwilling to escape to safety with an empty hand. His unwillingness to let go lands him on the dinner table.

I have no clue if they hunt monkeys this way. But it paints a parable of many modern preppers suffering from SOS.

Shiny objects use to reek havoc on my attention like a kid with ADHD in Ms. Higginbothom’s 45 minute lecture on the importance of participles. It is hard not to want the latest gadgets shimmering on your computer screen. In the midst of Great Depression II, I ask myself and the reader, does it make sense (cents) to buy shiny objects?

Five Shiny Objects Every Prepper Should Buy or Make

Here are five areas where buying shiny objects makes survival sense and cents. Dave Canterbury has a video on his 5C’s of Survivability here. His system is based on the ability to conserve hydration, core temperature, and calories.

1.) Cutting tool: In any survival situation, a cutting tool is on top of the list. It can be used to make the remaining four C’s listed below. When buying, find the best you can afford. The “best” doesn’t always mean the most expensive. I own several knives in a variety of price ranges. My go to blade while camping and hunting is my Mora neck knife. I paid under $15 for it a few years ago. You can spend more on a knife, but my Mora has held up to the dirt-time-test (actually doing the stuff).

Don’t mind the toes inserted. It’s how I roll.

Love this inexpensive knife!

2.) Combustion: You don’t have to be a pyromaniac to appreciate the importance of fire. Boiling water, cooking, controlling core temperature, and signaling rescue are just a few uses. Making fire for survival burns lots of calories without modern combustion devices. While you could go all hardcore pure-primitive and stick to only bow drills, I think you’d be making a big mistake to not buy fire starters.

I have the Sparkie Fire Starter Orange in a couple of my kits. I like this fire gadget because it allows me to start a fire with one hand if I had to. Pack several different fire starters for redundancy: strike-anywhere matches, butane lighter, fire steel, etc.


Don’t forget to pack quick starting tender. I’ve used cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, but prefer my DIY tender: jute twine saturated in melted wax or crayons. Fat wood (called fat lighter’d where I came from) is a great fire starter. It’s the resin rich heart in dead pine trees. The key is having something that lights YOUR fire with ease in crazy conditions.

Cordage: I can make my own cordage. But it makes sense (time, energy, and money) to stock up on commercial cordage for emergencies. So I keep copious amounts of paracord in all my kits (BOB – bug out bag, GHB – get home bag, hunting bag, car kits, and survival bracelets). The many uses of cordage include, but not limited to: traps, tarps, medical slings, water procurement, DIY hammocks, lashings, sutures, climbing, and for the fashion conscious – matching survival bracelets :). Buy it!

Covering: I’m a tarp man. You may be a tent woman. Whatever you choose, it must be something that offers weather protection. Controlling your core temperature is priority. “But I could build a debris hut,” you say. That’s a fine skill to have and practice. However, building shelter from scratch burns a great deal of calories that could be conserved if you packed a tarp in your kit. In hot, humid climates, dehydration is possible in your prized debris hut. Plus, they aren’t mobile. Buy covering!

Container: It’s just a cup! Taken for granted, the humble container is in Dave’s five C’s for good reason. His TV partner, Cody Lundin, notes that entire civilizations have been built around containers. Again, you could make a container for cooking in the bush after you finish your debris hut using natural cordage you cut with the flint-knapped knife you crafted, but only if you didn’t pack this essential shiny object.

It’s great to be able to make all of these items if you have the skill and time. If not, go buy these five essential shiny objects! You’ll be glad you did.

Doing the stuff,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.


Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, equipment, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Light-weight Collapsible Survival Water Storage Containers

[SS Note: Creek Stewart, author of Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag, has a great article on water storage containers on his site. Check out his site and book.]

Source: Willow Haven Outdoors

March 5, 2012 By

There  is a reason why I post so much about WATER.


Some experts say that the next greatest world resource shortage will be WATER.  In many parts of the world, access to clean drinking water is already almost nonexistent.  The ability to source, carry, store and disinfect water should be at the top of your survival preps and skill sets.

There are all kinds of different skills and products that are relevant to a discussion about SURVIVAL H2O.  Today, I’d like to discuss 4 SMALL Collapsible Containers with BIG Potential.


In many aspects of survival, portability is key.  Containers that are collapsible make sense to the survivalist for several reasons:

  • They weigh less
  • They take us less space
  • Can be carried easily in a BOB or BOV
Collapsible containers, however, are typically not as durable as their rigid counterparts.  You will have to decide when portability outweighs durability.
Below are 4 Collapsible Water Containers that I own – each have a slightly different place and purpose in my survival tool chest of products.  I detail why I own them, what I plan on or currently use them for, and where you can get them should you decide to add them to your survival preps.

The Water Bob

As you can see in the photo above, the Water Bob is a collapsible water liner that fits in your bath tub.  In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, the Water Bob can be deployed in a matter of minutes and holds a staggering 100 gallons of water.
The Water Bob also comes with a siphon for drawing out smaller portions of water.  Sure, you can just fill your bath tub up with no liner if you are desperate, but the food grade liner protects the water from A) Your nasty bath tub and B) Dust, debris, insects and air-born particles.
If you are limited on space for water storage in your house or apartment and you have a bath tub, the Water Bob might be a good solution for you.  If you see this fitting into your survival mix, you can order one at  for $24.95.

The 5-Gallon Collapsible Container

I bought this container from for $9.97.  Versions of this style container can be found in almost any camping section at any big box retailer.  I’ve seem them in hunting stores like Gander Mountain and even Wal-mart.  These are a great light-weight, portable solution for toting water from a water source back to camp or a Bug Out Location.  They can also be frozen.  This one is fitted with an easy ON/OFF spigot which is a nice feature.

The Jolly Tank

The Jolly Tank is my new favorite survival water storage container.  My friend (and occasional Guest Author on this site and owner of  JJ Johnson recently introduced me to the Jolly Tank.  I’ve been in the survival biz for 15 years and have never seen this particular product.  It holds 2 gallons of water or fuel (6 hour limit on fuel) and folds down to about the size of your wallet.  And, it only weighs a few ounces.  I’ve added one of these to my BOB, my Bronco and also to my in-home safe room.  Trust me, I need one in my Bronco – that thing SUCKS THE GAS.
JJ has done an excellent review on this item at  He also sells them for $10.  Other than his site, I don’t know of anywhere else to get them.

The Platypus Water Bottle

I’ve used a Collapsible Platypus Bottle ( ) for as long as I can remember.  I use it as 1 of my 3 Bug Out Bag water containers.  I have the 2 liter version and it literally rolls up into nothing when empty.  It’s the best use of space I can think of in a BOB.  I’ve used the same one for over 10 years so I can attest to its durability.  I love that I can reduce the bulk in my pack as I consume the water in this bottle.  It is just one of those items that makes sense.

The Big Drawback

The obvious drawback of collapsible containers in their thin walled design.  Though most of them are surprisingly durable, they are definitely more susceptible to being cut or punctured.  This needs to be taken into consideration when using and packing these types of containers.  In a survival scenario where weight is critical, the pros of these containers certainly OUTWEIGH the cons.
Are you using a collapsible container that the rest of us should know about?  If so, tell us about it in the comments below.
Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

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About Willow Haven Outdoor & Creek Stewart
Creek Stewart is the Owner and Lead Instructor at Willow Haven Outdoor – a leading Survival and Preparedness Training Facility located on 21-acres in Central Indiana.  For more information on Survival Courses and Clinics offered at WHO, click HERE.  Creek is also author of the new book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit.  His book is currently available for preorder on AMAZON.COM for only $11.20 – LIMITED TIME ONLY.  If you enjoy Creek’s Blog Posts, you will also enjoy his new book.  You can contact Creek directly at
Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, equipment, Potable Water, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, Water | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ten unconventional additions to your emergency medical kit

Hat tip to Tess Pennington for adding this outside-the-box post over at her site Ready Nutrition.

Source: Medically Speaking

By Lizzie Bennett

Okay, I am sure you all have a medical kit to be proud of, you’ve got all the bandages, the slings, the ointments and creams, but sometimes, just sometimes, the most mundane items can make life simpler, especially if you need to move fast, or find yourself in a situation where you need to improvise, or, the stuff you have just isn’t right for the job in hand. Here are a few ideas, and examples of what to use them for.


These are great for a good deal more than stuffing in a hole in the wall of your bank. Scraping out a sting with the edge of a plastic card is preferable to fingernails or tweezers, both of which, just by the pinching action pump the last bit of venom from the sting into the skin.

Cut into strips they are excellent splints for broken fingers, and the gaps between the strips allow for swelling. Position either side of the finger and tape into place.

Used whole they can help inflate a deflated lung caused by a sucking chest wound. Put over the hole and tape on three sides only, the card acts as a flutter valve, preventing air from entering the wound but allowing air outside of the lung but inside the chest cavity to escape as the lung inflates.


I love duct tape, it needs to be good tape, not a cheapo one that is not very sticky. Use to secure the card to the chest as described above. It can be used to hold splints on limbs in place, to secure pressure dressings,and even to make a makeshift stretcher to carry a casualty if wrapped around two poles and stuck to itself across the gap between them. There are dozens of uses for this stuff.


Clear plastic bags form a great barrier between a wound and the air, preventing pathogens from getting into the body. They are great for wounds and burns on hands and feet and are carried in ambulances for this reason. Duct tape into place and the wound will stay clean until you can deal with it. This is particularly beneficial if you are near water and you want to prevent contamination.

Use as a flutter valve on large sucking chest wounds. Fix on three sides as described for the card method above.


Sanitary pads make really good pressure dressings. Put over the wound and tape tightly down covering the whole pad with tape, extend the tape a good distance from all edges of the pad to make sure the pressure is maintained.


Tea leaves contain tannin which has anti-inflammatory and vaso-constrictor properties. To wash out an eye make as you would tea, leave to cool and lean forward so the liquid in the container reaches the eye and open and close the eye whilst in the liquid. The tea bag can be placed on the eye afterwards, to reduce any swelling and irritation.

Tannin is a vasoconstrictor, it causes blood vessels to contract and therefore slows blood loss. It would be no use at all for anything major, but for nosebleeds, traumatic tooth extractions and minor cuts and abrasions, it works well. Put just enough boiling water on the tea bag to make it swell to its maximum size and show a little liquid leaking from it, then when it has cooled sufficiently apply it to the tooth socket, cut etc. for nose bleeds roll the bag as small as you can and plug the nostril with as much of it as you can, you can cut it in half if need be and roll so as the cut edge is on the inside of the roll. There is no worry about sterility with a nose bleed.


There are times when the smells around you are almost too much to bear. Infected wounds, corpses, human waste all give off gut-wrenching odours and dabbing vapour rub under your nose helps a great deal.

I have heard occasionally that a dab under the nose of someone having an asthma attack, who does not have an inhaler with them, helps open the airways a little making breathing somewhat easier. I have no experience of this and therefore cannot vouch for it. Having said that an asthma sufferer without an inhaler will not come to any harm by trying this.


The inner tube from a bicycle tyre is very stretchy and it makes an excellent tourniquet. It is also possible to use it as a fire starter, and it will burn even when it is pouring with rain, and it burns for a long while, often long enough to dry out a little damp tinder placed very near it.


These microfibre cloths are very light weight and take up almost no space. They are excellent for drying around wounds so that dressings and tapes stick more easily. As they hold a good amount of liquid, one dunked in water and lightly squeezed out is useful for giving a casualty that cannot sit properly sips of water, they just suck on the cloth.


Cut off the top and bottom and then cut it along it’s length. This gives you a sheet of strong plastic that rolls back into a tube when you let it go. These make great splints, keeping clothing etc away from a wound or helping to immobilise a broken bone. Unroll, place around the limb and gently let it go back into its tube shape. Then, very gently, close the plastic up, one edge will slide under the other with little effort. Fix in place with a piece of tape. To store, roll it up tight and secure with a rubber band. We used this method in hospitals to stop babies and toddlers ripping off their dressings, works very well.


Get an adult pair of knee high socks and force them over a large, full soda bottle to stretch them. When stretched for a couple of days, roll them down the bottle so what you end up with resembles a donut, store them in this shape so that they can be rolled onto a limb rather than forced up over it causing pain and possibly more injury. They are great for holding a leg dressing in place, and make a good sling for arm injuries. Roll onto the arm, position the arm comfortably and safety pin to the patients clothing in a couple of places, beats messing about with a triangular bandage if you are in a hurry. If they have long sleeves, position the arm and pin the sleeve to the body of their clothing.

Well there you have it, a few conventional items with a few unconventional uses.

Take care


Categories: First Aid, Frugal Preps, Medical, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop Bad-Brain-Think: Strategic Investment in Tangibles

by Todd Walker

Q: Why does stupid create bad results?

A: Evolution.

Now before you write me off as some nut case or evolutionist who believes we evolved from monkeys, let me explain. The effort here is to highlight our need to rethink bad ideas. When we continue to follow bad advise promoted by government, schools, churches, or any other person or entity, bad turns to worse. Darwin’s theory of evolution should wipe out bad ideas. However, bad brains that create bad ideas seem to be winning the battle.

Here are a few bright ideas spread by bad brains. Save and invest your money in the stock market (only if you are a well-connected insider like politicians and elites). Buy real estate (you never really own real estate, you just rent it from the government collective – don’t pay your property taxes and watch for the black boots to come knocking). Eat according to the USDA food pyramid (only if you want to be sick and die early). I know, we all want a little slice of the American dream. The dream is becoming a nightmare many. What to do?

My solution. Turn everything you’ve been told about investing on its head. Think for yourself. Train your mind to question everything. Look at what is not seen.

There’s not enough time here to delve into the cause of bad brained ideas. Since we can’t get rid of the bad brain collective, here’s a way to minimize the effects of their stupid ideas…until the evolutionary forces take over and they die along with their ideas.

There is a pronounced tendency when confronted with important questions to consider only what is seen and ignore that which is not seen. Frédéric Bastiat

In 1980, John A. Pugsley wrote Alpha Strategy. It’s a free download and worth printing a hard copy. We see prices of food, gas, and other basic commodities going up. I graduated from high school the year Mr. Pugsley penned his book. Oh to have known and practiced his Alpha Strategy then. It’s not too late. Start now.

Since the debasement of our money began with the creature from Jekyll Island (The Federal Reserve) and removing the gold standard, the age of inflation was born and is here to stay. Hiding paper money under the fireproof mattress is like building a pine box to cache food under the earth. The elements and environment will destroy the value. Inflation is our greatest enemy. A day of reckoning is coming. How do we prepare for the dollar collapse? Invest in tangibles.

James Wesley Rawles of SurvivalBlog gives sage advice below on how and what tangibles to acquire. Read the full article here.

Which tangibles? I recommend buying farm land, common caliber ammunition, guns, hand tools, good quality knives, silver bullion coins, and gold bullion coins.

To spell this out in greater detail, I recommend:

  • Productive farm land that is in a lightly-populated region with plentiful water and rich topsoil.
  • Factory made ammunition in common calibers (“ballistic wampum“) such as: 308, .30-06, .30-30, .223, .7.62×39, 12 Gauge, .22 Long Rifle (rimfire) .45 ACP, .40 S&W, and 9mm Parabellum (Luger). For your investment and barter stockpile, buy only name brands like Winchester, Remington, and Federal–and perhaps Hornady and CCI.
  • High quality guns from name makers, chambered in common calibers. Good choices include M4geries, AR-15s, Steyr AUG-A3s, HK91 clones, HK93 clones, Galil Golanis, Ruger Mini-14s, FN-FAL clones, M1As, .308 Winchester bolt actions, Glock double column magazine pistols, XD pistols, Colt and Kimber M1911 .45 pistols, and Saiga 12 gauge shotguns.
  • Well-made hand tools, with an emphasis on 19th Century technology tools, such as: shingle froes, scythes, adzes, draw knives, axes, crosscut saws, and so forth. BTW, many other old-fashioned tools are available from Lehman’s.
  • Well-made knives, such as: Swiss Army knives (of various models), CRKT knives, and Cold Steel knives. [Sherpa Note: ESEE Knives are great and made in the USA]
  • Silver bullion coins should probably be 1 ounce or less. Either buy 1-ounce bullion “rounds” from a name brand supplier like Northwest Territorial Mint or Tulving, or pre-1965 circulated US. silver quarters from a company like AMPEX.
  • Buy gold bullion coins only after you have secured at least 500 ounces of silver bullion coins. (Always prepare for a “disaster barter” situation first, and then move on to buying gold coins as a long term investment and inflation hedge.) In the U.S., I recommend buying only the most readily-recognizable gold bullion coins: American Eagles, Canadian Maple Leafs and Krugerrands.

It is difficult to predict when substantial inflation will emerge in the United States. There are too many variables that cannot be predicted. Some of them are essentially political, such as debt monetization, currency pegs, bailout programs, and changes in tax laws. Just be watchful for signs of resumed inflation, and be ready to act swiftly to get the balance of your investments out of dollars.

I’m thankful that my parents had the foresight to buy productive farm land 40 years ago. They bought over 200 acres at $200 an acre. It’s worth $5,000 an acre now. Of course, we’re not selling. It truly is a priceless family heirloom!

Develop a strategy that fits your individual needs. Get creative. And don’t forget to enjoy the process and journey.


Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Barter, Economic Collapse, equipment, Firearms, Gold, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, Silver | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lighten Your BOB: Pack The Alpha Tent

I spotted this while visiting Paratus Familia Blog. Here’s Enola Gay’s full post on their experiment with the Alpha Tent.

The Awesome Alpha Tent

When we posted our adventures with the Survival Net, one of our readers sent a link that he thought Sir Knight might enjoy.  The link was for the Alpha tent, fashioned from nothing more than a USGI Military Issue Poncho, tent poles and 4 wire nuts.  Thats it!  The wonderful thing about this tent is that is consists mainly of things you already carry in your gear so you are not adding unnecessary weight and bulk.  And, did I mention this was really cool?  To get the real skinny on this tent, and the gentlemen who came up with the idea, you must go to his site, Alpharubicon.  He has dimensions, specifics on the components and explanations for the uses of the Alpha tent.

Knowing a good thing when he sees it, Sir Knight began compiling the necessary articles to put together his own Alpha tent.  He already had a USGI poncho, so he laid it on the ground and measured it to be sure it was the same size as the one used on the Alpha tent site.  Next, he dug up some tent poles that we had saved from a long-ago defunct tent, measured them and proceeded to cut them down to the correct size for the tent.  Sir Knight cut each pole to the same size, rather than just cutting down the one pole that was too long, so that the tent poles bent in the correct manner when inserted into the poncho.  After cutting the poles, he strung the shock cord through the modified poles, tied it off at the end and fitted RED wire nuts to each end of the poles.  The wire nuts keep the poles from going through the grommets on the corners of the poncho and red wire nuts are the perfect size.  The directions on the Alpha tent website instruct you to drill a hole through the wire nuts and run the shock cord through the holes and tie them off.  Because of technical difficulties with our poles, we glued the wire nuts on instead.  The shock cord through the nuts would have been a better option, however, we made do with the materials that were available to us.

Wire nuts through the grommets

Once the tent poles were inserted into the grommets, we tied them down with cording that was already in the poncho.  It was almost like they were designed with the Alpha tent in mind!  Within a matter of minutes we had put together a lightweight one man tent, camouflaged and with a reduced IR signature, with nothing but a poncho, 4 wire nuts and some cast-off tent poles.  The folks at Alpharubicon really know their stuff!

Poles tied to the cording
The Alpha tent can even float your gear across creeks!
Very roomy

It makes perfect sense to fill your 1st and 2nd line kits with a few articles that have multiple purposes.  Rather than carrying a poncho and survival net and a hammock and a tent, you can carry a poncho, a net and a few odds and ends and still have all your bases covered.

USGI Poncho’s can be challenging to find, but really, you can use any poncho.  The difference is that you will have to measure your poncho and customize your tent poles accordingly.

Thank you for coming along for the ride as Sir Knight and I pare down our kits to the bare essentials and find out what works and what doesn’t.  Try an Alpha tent of your own and let us know what you think.


Categories: Bushcrafting, Camping, DIY Preparedness, DIY Preparedness Projects, Equipment, Frugal Preps, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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