This guest post is by Justin J and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
A common theme in many survivalist blogs and forums is the importance of having gear that can serve multiple functions. The last thing any body wants in a SHTF or emergency situation is a bunch of single purpose equipment weighing them down, so maximizing the uses of each piece of your gear is a priority in preparing any type of kit. This is especially true for every day carry, get home bags, vehicle kits, bug out bags, etc.
If you have ever used a sun shade in your car you should already know that they do an excellent job of reflecting solar radiation outwards and keeping your car less hot in the summer. Unfortunately this is usually where the uses of this product end with the common consumer…but not a prepared survivalist. Aside from keeping the heat out of your car, a sun shade can be put to many different uses in a survival situation.
With a few simple modifications which you can read about here, http://solarcooking.org/plans/windshield-cooker.htm, you can use a sun shade to purify water and cook food. The key tools to efficient solar cooking are a reflector (sun shade), an absorber (dark colored container), and glazing (cooking bag). When the sun shines into the funnel shaped sun shade it’s rays reflect back through the cooking bag and hit the container. When the sun rays hit the container they basically radiate and and get trapped in the bag thus heating the container. The container itself must be a dark colored object in order to absorb the sun’s rays. It is much like how you get hotter wearing black clothing in the summer time compared to white clothing that does not absorb as much.
The ability to purify water and cook food in this manner is very useful. For one, you do not need to have fire which could save you vital calories in a survival situation since you would not need to collect tinder, fire wood, and expend energy trying to start the fire. It is also a very stealth way of cooking as there is no noise, no smoke, and no scent if you are only purifying water. The only real downside is that it takes a little longer to heat up but the trade-off can be acceptable in many scenarios.
Here are a few tips that I have picked up from using this. Unless you are carrying a black camping cook kit with you, it may be hard to find a container that will absorb the heat on the fly. While a variety of clear plastic and glass bottles could still be used without the cooking bag to achieve water purification though SODIS, you will probably have to improvise to make a cooking container. What I found useful is to paint the outside of a stainless steel water bottle with black BBQ paint. It is already a piece of gear that I carry anyway that had been “charred” on the outside from heating water next to a fire on different occasions. This works well in the cooking bag and I have even been able to use it in a clear poncho too. I’ve also found that both a folding sterno cook stove and a cooking ring can be used as a stand for the bottle inside the funnel.
While the ability to cook with the sun shade is pretty awesome by itself, I’ve found some other uses for the sun shade as well. The one that I purchased folds up and is very lightweight and I actually roll it up inside a backpacking bed roll when camping. This thing could quite possibly be the biggest signal mirror you could ever have on you in a survival situation as it would definitely help in catching the attention of any rescue planes or helicopters. It is also a great way to reflect the heat of a campfire back towards your camp. You can put it underneath your sleeping bag at night and it will reflect your body heat back to you and help keep your core temperature up. I’ve also put 2 of them inside the top of my tent before to keep the tent cooler in the summer time.
In my opinion, this is one great piece of gear to keep in your car at the very least. Not only are they useful in a variety of ways, but they are cheap (usually around $3 at a dollar store), are lightweight, and can be folded up so that it doesn’t take up much space at all. What other ways could a sun shade be used for survival?
This contest will end on December 16 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive a Go Berkey Kit water filter valued at $150 and a copy of my book “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness ” and a copy of “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat“.
- Second Place: $150 gift certificate for Magtech Ammo.
- Third Place: $50 Cash.