Bicycles: The Ultimate SHTF Ground Transportation

By: David Merriman

www.dmbiketech.com

bikeThink about it.  What other machine is hugely inexpensive, human-propelled, can move sizeable weight over long distances, on multiple road conditions and varying terrains, at reasonably good speed?  The title gave it away but a bicycle is a remarkably efficient form of transportation and very relevant to prepping plans.

I thought I’d offer my thoughts because even though there are several references to bicycles as SHTF transportation but there isn’t much detail in which bike would be optimal for most people.  Not only can a bike be simple and dependable transportation, but the right kind of bike can carry a lot of stuff.  In my case, full disclosure…I’m a bike technician, I have several suitable bikes ready to head for the hills and I wanted to share a few guidelines on what may be appropriate for your prepping.

bikeBikes are inexpensive, quiet, and easy to maintain, and last a long time if you just keep them out of the elements.  You may have seen riders with saddle bags (called “panniers” in bike lingo) of various sizes where you live.  There is a resurgence of ‘bike packing’ now so people are venturing out with camping equipment intending on a truly self-contained adventure.  With this new interest, there are several technological improvements that will benefit your bug out bike.

Don’t forget that before SHTF you can use your bike for exploring and local errands or even exercise! It’s a fun type of exercise, though.

So here are my suggestions to get you geared up.

Buy used…Always!

bikeUsed bikes are everywhere, and with the exception of high-end road or mountain bikes for enthusiasts, they depreciate at an amazing rate.  New bicycles lose 40-60% of their retail value within the first year after purchase. The main reason is because people think they want to get into cycling, buy a brand new bike, and discover that oddly enough, it does require a certain amount of effort to ride.  Too much effort for many and hence, used bikes in great condition are abundant.  I discovered this several years ago and haven’t bought ‘new’ since.  I have eight bikes of varying configurations in my family.

Check Craigslist first; there are always good, functional, and frankly, cheap bikes there.  Use the search options for price and words like “touring bike”, “mountain bike”, “MTB” to save time.  The most listings seem to come out in the fall/winter but there are always bikes for sale.

If your community has a ‘bike swap’ you can usually find some really nice bikes for a good deal.

What kind of bike? 

The best choice to bug out is either a touring bike, which is ready for racks and wide tires, and mountain bikes, even though you may not ride in any mountains.  They are typically built from sturdier materials and components, the frame geometry is designed for balance and carrying cargo, have wider tires suitable for nearly all road surfaces, and typically, lower gearing that will take you and your gear just about anywhere.

bikeMy suggestion is that you find a bike that has cargo rack mounting “eyelets” on the front fork and rear dropouts (that’s where the wheels attach to the bike).  These are integrated into the frame and easy to spot.  Look either for small “circles” or threaded holes on the dropouts.  When you have these, you can add racks that will carry a LOT of stuff both on the front and rear.  Add a handlebar rack and pack and you can pretty much travel wherever you want to go for as long as you can stand it.

When you find an interesting bike, make sure it fits you.  Be patient.  Find the right size.

  • Stand flat footed over the bike. If it touches you in your nether regions, it’s too big…don’t buy it.  1-2 inches of clearance is ideal because you don’t want to get hurt if you have to bail out or hit something that causes you to become unseated.  If it’s any smaller than that, proceed with caution.  A too-small bike will be relatively unstable and can stress some of the components because you have the seat post and handlebars extended beyond the safe limits.
  • You also have to be able to move the seat and handlebars up and down to fit you. If those don’t adjust to fit you better, proceed with caution.  I’ve seen a seat post that was irreparably seized inside the bike.

Which brand?   You really won’t go wrong if you find a brand that would be available at your local bike shop, because the quality is much higher than that of the big box stores.  You may have seen the brands, names like Giant, Trek, Cannondale, and Specialized are the biggies and used bikes are everywhere, but don’t walk away from brands like Fuji, Motobecane, Surly, and Novara (REI’s house brand) .  Do a quick web search on a bike you find if you’re uncertain.  The big box names won’t typically show up (except in blogs with people complaining.)

Just a quick word on the big box bikes that you can get everywhere from your grocery store to Wal-Mart.  Yes, they’re cheap, but in the bike biz they’re considered practically disposable because they cost more to repair than buying a new one.  You do get what you pay for.

How much should I expect to spend?

A fully equipped bike that’s ready to bug out can be as expensive as you want it so I’ll take it piece by piece:

  • Bike: You should be able to pick up something very functional for $75 up…shop around. Higher prices typically result in newer bikes with better components like brakes and shifters.  If you’re in the $200-500 range, you’ll get a lot of bike.
  • Tires/Tubes: Gotta have these. Order online and look for sales.  Figure $20-50 for tires, $8 for tubes.  Search: “discount bike tires”
  • Racks/bags: Try to find a bike that already has some if you can, because racks are $30+ new for both front and rear and bags can be $60+. Search: “bicycle touring racks and panniers”.
  • Parts: New brake and shift cables, cable housing, and brake pads will run you somewhere around $70-100 installed at your local shop and they’ll tune it up for you. Do this unless you’re confident in your mechanical skills.  If you need one, chains are $25 and up depending on how many gears you have on the back.  A new chain can be a blessing.
  • I highly recommend adding a frame pump. These mount to the frame and super-efficient and super low-tech.  Get one that can fill big, high volume tires.  You’re only going up to 50-60 psi. Search: bicycle frame pumps.
  • Don’t forget that bike trailers are readily available and can double your carrying capacity.

Does it’s age matter? 

It could, because bikes before the early 90’s tended to have fewer gears.  Gears help you move efficiently so you ideally want a wide range for varying terrain.

What should I look for?

  • Give it a good look all over with an eye to spotting abuse or neglect. Rust, especially on the chain, would indicate that it had been left outside.  Water will obviously wreck steel components. Proceed with caution. Tip:  Look for ‘quick release’ levers on both wheels because they can make your life a lot easier if you get a flat.  This is also a very subtle indication of the quality of the bike.  Quick releases indicate a bit better bike.  If you see a regular nut on either end you’ll need a wrench to change a flat.  Big hassle.
  • Pick it up to gauge the weight. Most bikes in this class will weigh 25-35 pounds.
  • Spin the wheels to see if they’re wobbly. If they’re too warped or there’s a big dent and won’t freely spin, you should probably look elsewhere. If they rub a little bit, that can be easily fixed by a bike shop.  Maybe as much as $25 to “true” each wheel.
  • Grab the brake handles. If they bottom out, they may be disconnected, the cables broken, the brake pads are worn down.
  • See if the pedals or the cranks (the pedals are attached to the cranks) are seriously loose or damaged. Could be expensive to repair.
  • How many chain rings are on the crankset? Three rings (called a ‘triple’) will give you a lower gear range which is better for carrying lots of stuff, especially if you’re going uphill. Two rings will work, though.  See if there’s a big cog on the back.  This is your granny gear.
  • Ride it. If the seller is accommodating and will help you move the seat up to better fit you that’s awesome.  Check to see if it shifts and stops alright and if the handlebars are loose.  Remember, if it runs pretty well but makes some noises, or is slow to shift, or the braking is marginal it’s just a matter of adjustment.

Bottom line: if it looks like a basket case, it probably is, so move on.  You’ll find the right one.

Appropriate frame materials:

Steel: It’s strong and can typically carry a lot of weight in the combination of rider and equipment but it is heavier and some of them can be real tanks.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but just be aware-Aluminum alloy: Also very strong, light weight, relatively inexpensive, and of course, rust free.  You get more bike for your buck.

There are other materials like carbon fiber, titanium, even bamboo.  Unless you want to spend some big bucks, my suggestion is to stay away.

What if I find a bike that I like, but needs some work?

bikeBicycles are a combination of simple mechanical devices with fairly standardized repair needs. Maintaining a used bike is relatively simple, and if you’re even a little bit mechanically inclined and have some basic metric tools like Allen wrenches, sockets, open end wrenches, etc you can probably get it done.  You can easily buy parts at your local shop and DIY.  YouTube has vids that will show you how to do just about anything.  As I tell my customers, “It ain’t rocket surgery.”

But, when in doubt…don’t.  Trust your local bike shop to do it for you.  They’ll do it right and it will last a very long time.

If you find a used bike that works, taking it to your local bike ship should only cost $50-100 to get all of the mechanicals working properly and safely. There are also dozens of online sources for “consumables” like tires, tubes, chains, cables, etc, etc, if you want to DIY.  And YouTube can teach you just about anything you need to know for basic maintenance.  Just a note here, I try to support local bike businesses…but only to the extent where it hurts my wallet.

I’m all set.  Now what?

Aren’t we about being prepared?  Well, get prepared for the basics like a flat tire or other mechanical issues.

Get a tool bag and put in it:

  • Two spare tubes;
  • A patch kit;
  • Two tire Levers;
  • A multi-tool with a chain accessory (if you break a chain…it happens); Search: bicycle multi tool
  • Beer opener. (That’s one of my must-haves.)

Now, go back to YouTube and search “how to fix a flat bike tire” or something similar.  Three are over a dozen good videos there.  Hint: if the tires on your new bike need to be replaced, do it yourself.  It’s good practice.

Also, search for maintenance tips.  You’ll get a lot of good information to increase your skill set and frankly, it’s kind of fun working on your own bike and knowing how stuff functions.

I’m happy to answer any questions or offer purchase advice.  Feel free to email me at [email protected] and please, pictures are very helpful!

Happy prepping!

Six or Seven EDC Lessons You May Not Have Seen In Print Until Now

A guest post by Randall B

Preparedness began for me with Hurricanes. I am slow, but after several severe storms struck Houston, followed by many weeks of power outages and food shortages etc., I finally got with it and started to prepare.

Lesson 1: it is never too late to start. (You might have seen this one in print) Food, fuel, cash were first, followed by a Berkey water filtration unit (try explaining that one to a resistant spouse), propane stove, and lots of propane. Last came the everyday carry bag (EDC). Frankly this was last because it seemed the least important. Boy was I wrong.

Lesson 2: As a new Prepper – start your preparations with the EDC bag, prepping for nuclear war can wait. I built my EDC bag originally as a possibles bag for my reenacting programs. But good stuff kept coming to my attention, so it quickly filled with all kinds of small gizmos and gadgets. Short of a few thousand board-feet of lumber, I could rebuild a war-torn city from my EDC bag. Then disaster struck. Not a big disaster, just a cut. I have kept band aids in my wallet since my kids were little. But I had run out and failed to resupply. So band aids were added to the EDC, along with ointments, gauze, and tape.

Lesson 3: EDC should have first aid supplies before tools, fire starters, flashlights, and miniature saws. We had failed to keep up our shooting training, so I took my boys and son-in-law (retired Marine, but still my boy) to the range to throw lead down field.

My first shot with my 9mm (not my everyday carry gun), mind you, the very first shot, brought the slide back and cut a huge gash in my thumb. It was one of those nasty bleeders. It exhausted my wallet band-aid stock, soaked my handkerchief, dripped on the range desk, and stained my cool tactical pants. It just kept going.

Light headiness couldn’t be far behind! I had forgotten to bring my EDC. I went into the range store to find the bathroom. The charming woman at the register smiled knowingly and pulled out a big box of band-aids for me. She gave me more than I asked for (obviously experienced with the situation) and pointed to the bathroom. Eventually, I got the bleeding under control long enough to bandage it up.

Lesson 4: Carry your EDC bag every day (now I understand the name – I am an idiot) The next day I remembered an old fashion gadget used for shaving cuts. I thought it was called a septic pen, but its official name is Styptic Pencil. Would it work for my cut? My thumb still bled generously so it was in perfect shape for an experiment.

You know what they say: “always test your gear”. The local drug store had styptic pencils so I bought one. I dampened the end and applied it to the cut – the bleeding stopped almost immediately.

Lesson 5: see Lesson 3 & 4, and include a styptic pencil.

I can only imagine how easy the day prior would have been if I had one of these babies!Following all this came the annual craft show I sell at. I had my EDC with me, or course doesn’t everyone? My EDC had a flash drive, as well as all the equipment to rebuild a city and care forthe wounded But I needed something to keep some notes on my sales.

My EDC had no pens, no pencils, and no paper. You are literate after all, so the tools of the literate are critical for everyday. So another list of items for the EDC was born.

Lesson 6: Include a pad of paper and something to write with, in your EDC. With Christmas just around the corner, I thought about EDCs for all my kids. They are all adults or close to it, so an EDC bag seemed a good gift idea. The first supplies that went in were first aid supplies followed by a pad and pen.

Lesson 7: make sure you pass along your life’s lessons to those that come behind, put the lessons in an EDC bag if they will fit!

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you.

Bugout Bike Essentials

This is an entry in our Non-Fiction Writing contest – By Professor Prepper

Bikes in a TEOTWAWKI situation may be the standard form of transportation and highly valued.  I’m speaking more about mountain bikes (MB) than the traditional multi-speed road bike. Mountain bikes are a great utility vehicle. They can traverse rough terrain, are rugged, and geared to make pulling a small trailer much easier.

This article is more about other things that you might need to support your bike, but first a few things about mountain bikes.  Buy your mountain bikes ahead of a world-changing event – now.  Not all MBs are created equal.  Mass produced bikes that are sold by WalMart, Target, etc. are cheaply made and designed for riding on hard surfaces. They are not designed for off-road riding.  Brands such as Giant, Specialized, Fisher or Cannon are designed for the rigors of off-road riding. They are double or triple butted at the frame joints for better strength. They also use double-walled rims that will endure hitting rocks and roots without folding like a taco. BTW, the term “tacoing” is used to describe a wheel that basically folded in half on a rough trail. They use quick release wheels for easier repair. But the greatest difference is in the quality of the drive-train. The shifters, sprockets, derailleurs, and chain are the heart and soul of your bike. The bike brands mentioned above will use higher quality components in the drive train,  that will withstand off-road conditions without breaking. Not only are the materials more durable, but they are machined so as to shift gears more smoothly, even when under torque during climbing.

In a situation where a trip to the bike shop isn’t possible, you need to have high-quality bikes to begin with. And because bike shops might not be available, you will need essential tools and spare parts to be able to make repairs yourself.  A great reference for your survival bookshelf is, Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance, by Leonard Zinn. This book describes, with good illustrations, how to adjust or repair anything on your MB.

The minimum tools and equipment you should have include spare tubes in your bike’s size, tire levers, AND several tube repair kits.  Replacing a damaged tube with a new one is faster and gets you back on the road faster. Tire levers assist in breaking the bead between the tire and rim so that the tube can be removed. Save the damaged tube to be patched later and reused. Tube repair kits contain sandpaper for roughing the area to be patched, several sized patches, and glue. Patching a tube requires a bit of practice and should be learned before the skill is needed.  To re-inflate the tire, you will need a hand-pump.  Many riders carry CO2 dispensers to inflate tires, but you will quickly run out of CO2 canisters.  Hand pumps are more work, but you never run out.  Spare tubes filled with Slime (a name brand sealing compound) will also self-seal small punctures and keep you moving until you can get to a safe location and in my opinion are worth the extra expense.

You should also have spare tires stored at your location. Tires eventually wear out, but also may be punctured to the point they cannot be repaired. Plain rubber tires are the least expensive, but tires impregnated with Kevlar are more puncture resistant and will last longer (and a bit pricier).

A broken chain can be fixed in a matter of minutes if you have a chain tool. A chain tool runs $10-15 and the price beats walking home if your chain breaks.  Chain tools simply hold a link in place while the pin is pushed out or pushed back in.  It keeps the pin aligned with the link.  The broken link can be removed and two links rejoined with this tool. Again, fixing a chain requires practice that should be done ahead of time. You don’t want to be learning these skills on the side of the road, especially in a WROL world. Spair chains should also be kept on hand.

Many parts of a MB use hex screws. There are three common sizes. While you can carry three hex wrenches, bike shops sell a three-in-one tool with a handle that is very convenient and not as easy to misplace.

A key to keeping your drive train in good shape is to regularly clean the system and lube it. Depending on where you ride, the chain lube will attract and hold sand and dirt. Sand and dirt are the enemy to closely machined moving parts. There are many compounds that will clean dirty chains and sprockets, but a 10% mixture of Simple Green and an old toothbrush is economical and effective.  Scrub the sand and dirt out of each link with the toothbrush and clean in between each gear sprocket. Use the toothbrush to also clean each roller and tensioner.  Once clean, re-lube using chain lube.  DO NOT lube with WD 40. WD 40 works to unfreeze a rusted chain, but the lubricant does not stay where it is needed. Even 30 weight motor oil is better than WD 40 for you drive-train.

In summary, if you plan on depending on a bike during TEOTWAWKI, purchase a quality machine first. Be prepared to pay at minimum $500 for a new bike. Be sure to stock up on spare tubes (store in cool, dry place), spare tires, tire repair tools, a chain tool (and spare chains), along with hex wrenches and a good multi-tool.  And finally, get in shape by riding your MB regularly and gaining the off-road riding skills you will need…

Prizes For This Round (Ends July 29, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

First Prize:

Second Prize: 

Third Prize:

Please read the rules that are listed below BEFORE emailing me your entry… my email address can be found here – please include “writing contest entry” in the subject line.

The more original and helpful your article is, the deeply and less basic it is, the better the chance, that I will publish it, and you will win. Only non-fiction how-to-do-it type articles, please.

A Prepper’s Guide to Preparing a Get Home Bag

Contributed by Charles T

Have you ever imagined being stranded far from home with no transportation available to carry you back quickly? What would you do if you were at work and something prevented you from getting back home the normal way? Or your car got stuck during a blizzard and you had to stay in a stranger’s house while you waited for the plows to clear the roads? Would you have what you needed to walk home or stay in place for a few days?

These are the questions that get you thinking about the concept of a Get Home Bag (GHB).

A Get Home Bag is similar to a bug out bag, except that instead of being focused on leaving home like a 72hr Bug Out Bag, the Get Home Bag is designed to provide the tools you need to get home in an emergency.

What you need to pack and where you keep your Get Home Bag depends on your lifestyle.

Where to keep your Get Home Bag
If you have a car and drive a distance to work, the most logical way to pack is to have a bag with the supplies you need to walk from your work to home stored in your vehicle. Keeping it in your vehicle ensures that you have it even if an emergency strikes when you are out doing errands. It also allows you to complement your car emergency kit with the gear that you may want in an automotive emergency and what you need if you need to go mobile. Keeping these items close together but separate saves time if you need to leave your vehicle quickly.

If you take public transportation to work, it makes sense to store your get home bag at your place of employment. If you go this route, make sure you do not have any items in your bag that violate your companies policies.

Packing your Get Home Bag
The supplies you will put in your Get Home Bag reflect the difficulties you expect to face on your journey home. They should follow the same general guidelines for what you would include as for a 72hr Bug Out Bag, but with a much more limited scope.

Your Get Home Bag assumes that you are trying to get home as soon as possible. Therefore it is essential to pack very light, and therefore not include some of the “luxury” items you may have in a 72hr Bug Out Bag.

As is commonly discussed for Bug Out Bags, the four major factor to think about are air, shelter, water and food.

Air
In many emergencies that may cause you to leave work and head home, there is a good chance of airborne pollution being a problem. People fleeing their workplaces during the attacks on September 11, 2001 were inundated by toxic smoke from burning and pulverized debris as can be commonly seen in footage from the event.

To prepare for this, having two (or more if you are planning on being altruistic since you probably won’t be alone in the emergency) n95 face masks at the top of your Get Home Bag could be extremely useful.

Shelter
The first idea of shelter we need to talk about is clothing.

Many jobs require attire that is less than optimal for spending a few rough nights on the side of the road. Both men and women’s fashion calls for good looking but impractical footwear in the modern workplace. Either strapped to or kept near your Get Home Bag should be a pair of functional shoes that will help you on your trek. These can be changed depending on the season or the route you are expecting. For most summer/spring/fall seasons, a pair of almost worn out sneakers will be better to have on hand then anything you would normally wear to work. In the winter pack some boots that you are not afraid to walk through snow in. These could prove very handy as a pairing with your Automotive Emergency Kit as well in case you get stuck in snow while driving.

Socks appropriate to the weather should be packed as well, bring at least as many pairs as days you expect to walk home. A full day of walking will result in some sweaty socks and having a fresh pair to change into at night can help keep your feet warm and prevent blisters and foot fatigue through extended walking.

If you don’t do a lot of walking, in general, plan on getting some blisters. The best way to do this is to get some Moleskin for your bag that you apply when you start to feel chafing. Don’t wait until you already have a blister, it’s better to reinforce the area at the first sign of trouble then try to fix it later.

Once you are set in the shoes department, look at what you need to keep your legs and torso sheltered.

A pair of lightweight convertible hiking Pants should meet most needs during warmer months, and in the winter switch out with heavier material with a wool underlayer for extra warmth.

In any temperature range you should plan on bringing two spare pair of hiking Compression Shorts. These will help minimize chafing and discomfort on the trip.

Depending on your climate either a Long Sleeve or Short Sleeve undershirt can help keep sweat away from your body. This helps either in cold or hot temperatures, so having a good undershirt is very important.

The top layer of clothing is especially seasonally dependent. In the summer an extra t-shirt or two may suffice. In the winter you will want to make sure you have access to multiple layers in case you need to survive a frigid night outside.

Your extremities such as your head and hands need consideration too. If you keep a pair of Mechanics Gloves as part of your Car Emergency Kit they should suffice for hand protection in the warmer months and be of some help in the fall. In the winter though you will want to make sure to bring a good pair of mittens to keep your fingers warm.

On your head you will want either a Baseball or Boonie style hat for sun and insect protection. In the winter at least have a Wool Beanie in your bag for extra warmth.

All of these items are great as long as the weather is good, but if it is raining out you will need to either draw on some Emergency Ponchos from your car emergency kit or have another option. If you have ever used the cheap plastic emergency ponchos you know they don’t work well in the wind and tend to move around. The Frog Togg Brand of Ponchos are lightweight alternative and provide a great addition to a get home bag.

This covers the immediate shelter offered by clothing. The next step is looking at additional items to bring that can help you if you need to plan on staying the night outside.

If you are walking home following some emergency that happened when you were driving in your car or at work, you need to bring what would allow you to be self-sufficient until you got home. In a better case scenario, you could stay at a coworkers house or check into a hotel and ride out the crisis out of harms way. For this reason plan on having at least, $300 in cash in mostly 20’s with $100 worth of 10, 5 and 1 dollar bills. Having the cash will allow you to stay even if the credit card systems are down. The money can be used also for things like taxi’s and vending machines in the case that cards aren’t accepted for normal items as well. Throw in $5 worth of quarters and you should be set as far as cash is concerned.

If you can’t find a hotel or a friend to crash with, you may have to spend a night outdoors. Since this is a short-term emergency, you should not worry about a tent or hammock or advanced sleeping system. As long as what you have allows you to moderately rest and protects you from the elements you should be ok. Either a Cheap or More Expensive emergency bivvy should suffice for a few nights. If you have lots of space in your bag, you could consider a ground pad, but realistically this luxury can probably be left behind unless you really want it and have the space. In lieu of a pad make sure to pile up some pine needles or some sort of layer so that you have something to insulate you from the ground.

 

Water
It is essential to think about how you will provide yourself with enough water for your trip. Keeping lots of water in your get home bag may be impractical, but having at least 3 half-liter water bottles is a good start. These won’t get you very far though, so bringing a good lightweight Water Filter and Iodine Tablets is very important. Pair you filtered water with Powdered Gatorade to cover any odd tastes and to provide you body with additional nutrients.

If you live in an arid area where these is no potential for resupplying your water, you should plan on packing all the water you need to get home in your bag. Yes, this is heavy and impractical. But without enough water you won’t get home. And that is what this bag is here to help you do. Ditch some other items, but do not skimp on water.

Because of the short duration of the trip, do not plan on boiling water, as this would require you bringing pots and to make a fire on the way, which would be time-consuming and probably very impractical/illegal if you are walking in a city or suburban area.

Food
To minimize weight in your get home bag, it is recommended that you only bring food items that are ready to eat with minimum (ideally no) preparation. So no foods that require additional water or cooking. Civilian MRE style foods are your best bet here. Pack one for each day you expect to be on the road. You don’t need a ton of food to get by, and it is ok if you get home hungry. Pair the MRE’s with Cliff and Power Bars to provide some extra energy. The key thing to remember when eating is that food requires water to digest. If you don’t drink while you are eating, your body will pull the water from your cells and dehydrate you quickly. If you don’t have anything to drink, DO NOT EAT. You will kill yourself from dehydration and you can go a lot longer without food than water.

This covers the primary elements of Air, Shelter, Water and Food for your get home bag. But what else should you bring?

Depending on your route home there are other specific tools you may need. Thes are:

Compass (if you are expecting to stay off the main roads).
Backup Cell Phone Battery (if you want to make sure your phone has juice in case you can’t charge it).
Lighter (in the unlikely case you need to start a fire).
Fixed Blade Knife (for applications where a multitool may not be strong enough, potentially defense).
Multitool (for anything and everything if it is not already in your every day carry.
Mini Bolt Cutters (if you will be going through an urban area and expect to hit a lot of chain link fences and are OK damaging other people’s property).
Mace (for a non-lethal defense tool that may be okay to store at your employer).
Whistle (for signaling, scaring off potential attackers who don’t want attention).

And while you may survive just thinking about the main concerns of air, shelter, water and food, you want to make sure you have a small medical kit to keep any minor injuries from becoming big problems. The Adventure Medical Kit 2.0 offers a decent foundation to start with, but it needs some extra items to be really valuable. Make sure you include:

Sun Screen packets.
Hand Sanitizer.

Bug Spray.

Chapstick.

Keep all of your items in a medium sized backpack. Ideally, you want to pick something that will not draw any attention. Stay away from tactical or molle type bags. In an urban area nothing stands out more than military looking equipment. Just a regular bag by SwissGear or another reputable brand should suffice.

Conclusion

Your get home kit is not meant to be an extensive all-inclusive survival package. It is the bare minimum of equipment to help you make it to your home in case of an emergency where you are left with only your feet for transportation. Let’s hope you never need to use it!

Things To Consider Before Bugging Out

Guest post by Michael

A year or so ago, I became interested in preparing for a disaster, so I went to the Internet to see what other folks are doing to prepare. I was surprised to learn the number of people who have been preparing for quite some time, and also at the level of their preparations; purchasing remote properties, building up a personal arsenal, and buying and storing food stocks for their families.

I figured I needed to ‘get on board’ and start my own preparations. I had a lot to do and a lot to consider; food stocks, weapons and ammunition, off-the-grid livingcommunications, tools, skills, bug out bag, get home bag, maps, cash, precious metals, and much more. Whew!

I am a planning-type person, and I don’t usually do anything without careful consideration and a solid plan. I like to think through what I will do, what I might need in the way of tools, parts, etc., and what my desired results are before I begin a project. Like all my projects, whether they be a family vacation, changing the brakes on my car, or preparing for a disaster, I feel a need to plan.

I decided to work on my preparedness tasks in parallel. As I was building up my food stocks, I also built up my weapons and ammo stock, and continued to read and learn about preparedness and survival. When I began to tackle a bug out plan, I found the task quite difficult as I thought through the three elements of how I tackle projects:

  1. What is the task or tasks involved?
  2. What items and tools will I need?
  3. What are my desired results?

Right away, I knew the answer to question three. In a bug out situation, I desired to stay alive and have the best quality of life possible for the situation. Answering questions one and two were not so easy. The planning gene in my head caused me to think about what actually is involved with pre and post “bugging out” in order to answer the first two questions. As I thought about making my plan, a sound solution to bugging out became quite murky.

There are many websites, blogs, and videos available via the Internet that provide information, ideas, and examples of bug out situations, bug out equipment, and bug out strategies, and I eagerly studied as much as a I could. I initially thought bugging out was a mighty fine idea when the SHTF. After careful consideration, though, I have concluded that bugging out should be my last resort, my “plan Z”, and only after I’ve tried every possible way to avoid it. I offer these bug out cons for your consideration:

The Plan

Everyone should have a plan and equipment for bugging out for those extreme situations when your back is to the wall, or marauding gangs are torching every house on your street. If you must bug out, have a pre-planned destination, and you must get there before your supplies run out. Essential to your bug out plan is to clearly define the condition(s) that would trigger your “got to bug out” alarm.

Remember, though, you’ll be quitting your job, abandoning your house, and your bills will pile up in your overflowing mailbox and remain unpaid. When a crisis occurs, you will not have time to make a successful bug out plan, so you must make your plan now. Anyone can make a plan, but it takes careful thought and consideration to make a successful plan.

Quality Of Life

The notion of bugging out is quite simple; grab your stuff and go. However, after bugging out and arriving “somewhere”, then what? What will you do and what will be your quality of life? When you are at home, all your equipment, food stocks, weapons, and gear are basically within easy reach.

If you have prepared and planned well, you can stay indoors for quite some time and enjoy a high quality of life. You can continue to sleep in your bed, have a bathroom down the hall, and even keep up with current events and what’s happening in your neighborhood.

The act of bugging out brings on its own set of potentially dangerous problems that you will have to deal with and suffer through “on the fly.” In all of my Internet travels, I have yet to see a bug out bag that was stocked and equipped as well my home. Bug out bags usually provide basic survival-type equipment and rations for up to 7 days.

The prospect that my situation would become that much more precarious after my rations ran out is none too appealing. Can I really depend upon hunting, fishing, and berry scavenging?

Land Mines

You are much safer in your own home in most situations. With adequate planning and supplies, you can hunker down and survive through chemical and even biological gas clouds. You can still call the police who might be able to assist you. You and your neighbors might band together to improve your collective security. Think long and hard before you engage in bugging out.

On your way to your pre-determined bug out destination, you need to avoid being ambushed, injured, robbed, or worse. You will not know who is friend or foe, and you must remain as inconspicuous and “normal” as possible.

I think it is unwise to assume you can and will homestead in the forest, hunting and fishing like Daniel Boone until “someone” gives an “all clear” and you can return home. You will not be the only person in the forest, and any food that is available will quickly be hunted or scared away. Your forest will soon be overrun with survivalist who claim hunting territories, and battles will ensue. Gangs will form and if you’re a loner, you will not survive.

Under such conditions, it would be nearly impossible for you to rest or sleep. You’d have to be on your guard 24/7. You couldn’t leave your camp to hunt or fish for fear of coming back to nothing, or a pack of squatters who have taken over your camp and everything you depend upon.

If you knew or sensed that others were in your forest, having a camp fire would be a bad idea because it would give away your location. How would you stay warm, or cook your kill? What if someone off in the distance sees smoke and calls 911 to report a forest fire? What about the winter cold or the summer mosquitos?

What would you do? Remember, you took only your bug out bag which did not have a sleeping bag or multi-season clothing. Sure, you have your big bowie-knife, your .22 rifle, and your length of para cord, but what about those other hundred items you need now that are back home?

Remote Hideaway

If you are one of the fortunate individuals who has some land in a remote location that you have already set up to be your bugged out location, great! The difficult task for you is to know when to bug out and before the crisis or disaster occurs. Timing will be critical. Bugging out after the crisis only increases your chances that you’ll be stuck in gridlock traffic, apprehended, robbed, or again, even worse.

Predicting when and where a disaster or crisis will occur is anyone’s guess. If you guess wrong, then you would have bugged out for nothing, and increased your chances of coming home to a looted and ransacked house.

Abort! Abort!

If you decide to return home, your immediate task would be to navigate your way through or around newly formed gangs and other non-friendlies you might encounter. If you bugged out with your get home bag, it is safe to say that any food you had in your get home bag would have already been eaten a long time ago.

You might arrive home only to find that your house has been looted, and all the food, gear, weapons, and supplies you didn’t take with you when you bugged out are gone. Your windows are broken, your electronics have disappeared, and you quickly discover thieves stole all the copper wires and pipes in your house, along with your refrigerator.

We all know that thieves are not a considerate lot. Since they took your copper pipes and left the water turned on, your house is now flooded, and your water bill is over $1,000. To add insult to injury, every thread of clothing, shoes, tools, and anything of any value that you had is now gone. Was it bugging out or going home that was the wrong decision?

Conclusion

I am unable to convince myself that I, after being so dependent upon grocery stores, utilities on demand, and sound shelter for decades, could just set up camp in the forest for an unknown length of time with only a bug out bag. You know, I am not the MacGyver type.

What do you think is “bugging out” a better plan than “bugging in”?

Driven DVD & Survival Guide

A couple of weeks ago Infidel Body Armor sent me a copy of their “Driven DVD & Survival Guide” product and I have to say that I was impressed with the product and the information provided.

I’ve read so many survival and prepping type books over the years that I can’t even remember them all because… well let’s be honest, they mostly just repeat what has already been said 500 times before, but the “Driven DVD & Survival Guide” wasn’t like the norm.

They actually put a lot of thought and work into producing a quality produce full of usable info that isn’t found in other survival / prepping type books. Every prepper can find some usable information in this book and DVD set but it will be most useful for those planning to bug out by vehicle.

Recommended.

Vehicular survival basics and tools that will keep you alive when disaster strikes and you’re on the road and away from home

By Brian D

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

The world we live in today is unstable.  We face the possibility of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, viral outbreaks, power outages, water shortages, the list goes on and on.  Hurricane Katrina showed proved that the government cannot protect everyone in the aftermath of a large-scale disaster.  This was a wake-up call for many that in order to survive you must take your fate into your own hands.  Regardless of personal feelings about what may be coming or ending, it is growing more and more important to maintain a basic level of readiness for whatever may disrupt life and interrupt the ability to acquire a supply of water, food, and shelter.

Whether you are a hard-core, end of the world “prepper” or just take the Boy Scout motto seriously, there is no shortage of good information on prepping for disaster.  If you plan to “bug out” or “bug in” or just learn what items are best to carry every day, you can find numerous resources and opinions on what gear to buy and what skills are necessary, but one area that often fails to get enough attention in preparedness discussions is preparing and maintaining your vehicle for emergencies.

When disaster strikes, whatever the disaster may be, you might be lucky enough to already be in your safe zone, your “bug-in” site.  But what if you’re not?  What if you’re caught out and need to get home?  Many people focus on what makes up a good EDC or a bug out bag, but your vehicle is capable of handling so much more!

By all means, maintain a solid bug out bag and keep your EDC updated so you have the best tools for whatever you encounter every day, but take a good look at the vehicle that may be your best hope of getting where you need to be to survive.  Some of what is suggested here may be redundant with what you already have in your bag or on your person, but redundancy is a good thing in a survival situation.  You can recreate most of what you’d normally have in a bug out bag or a “get home bag” in your vehicle.  Every vehicle should have some basic safety/maintenance items on board.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Spare Tire/lug wrench/bottle jack
  • Tool kit
  • Can of Fix-a-Flat
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight w/ extra batteries

Now we take this list a step further and add items that will aid in various situations.  For example, inclement/winter weather, treating an injury, or just stuck for an extended period of time.  A few basic items can increase survivability and comfort in most situations.  Here are some suggested items to store in your vehicle:

  • Umbrella
  • First Aid kit
  • Tarp
  • Knife
  • Length of paracord/rope
  • Hat (ball cap and wool watch cap/beanie)
  • Glow sticks
  • Duct tape
  • Cell phone charger
  • Hand warmers
  • Ice scraper
  • Gloves (winter, work &surgical)
  • Leatherman type multi-tool
  • Bottled water
  • Lighter/fire starter
  • Granola bars/snacks
  • MRE/dehydrated meals
  • Blanket/Mylar emergency blankets
  • Rain poncho
  • Heavy duty trash bags
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Fishing rod & small fishing kit
  • Firearm and ammo
  • Extra jacket
  • Daypack/small backpack
  • Maps of the area

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather some basics to work from.  You will want to tailor your list not just to your environment/climate, but to any specific needs you may have.  Most of these items you probably already have laying around in duplicate or can pick up fairly cheap.  Several of these items are seasonal in their usefulness and can be rotated in/out according to the weather, but it’s easier to keep them all in the vehicle so you don’t forget to add them back as needed.  A few of these items are worth paying a bit more attention to.  I won’t go into great detail on many of these because there are plenty of reviews and resources out there already. Instead, I’ll touch briefly on items worth a little more thought than just something to toss into your glove box.

Your first aid kit should be stocked according to your level of first aid training and knowledge.  For example, don’t invest in a field surgery kit if you have no idea how to perform any of the functions the kit was designed for.  Rather stick to what you know how to use.  You can start with a store bought first aid kit, but you’re likely to end up with tons of band aids and little of the other items you may need.  Stock useful items like ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea meds, allergy meds, anti-bacterial ointment, and cold/flu meds.

Be sure to have a selection of band-aids, gauze, tape, with scissors and tweezers.  Add a small mirror and a magnifying glass for those hard to get splinters. The magnifying glass can even double as an emergency fire starter. Some instant cold paks are a good idea, as well as Quick Clot for larger wounds.  Include a snake bite kit as well. Sawyer makes a good venom extractor kit for around $15.  Obviously, it’s always a good idea to expand your knowledge, so sign up for a first responder class or a rescue first aid class with your local Red Cross and add items to your kit accordingly.

When it comes to firearms obviously you’re going to spend some cash and quality items will set you back some, but this is not the kind of thing you can afford to have fail if you really need it, so select carefully.  This weapon should be in addition to your normal conceal carry weapon, so you aren’t as limited by size.  This is totally a personal choice and you can find endless discussions and arguments over what’s the best weapon to have in any given situation.  The important thing is to choose a weapon you are familiar with, practice with, and can rely on.  Of course, when it comes to carrying any weapon, be sure to check your state’s laws and act accordingly.

In addition to the basics, some other items worth investing in are a portable jump starter and a portable air compressor.  You can buy units that have both in one, like the Stanley J5C09 that is a best seller on Amazon. It has 500 Amp/1000 Peak Amp capability, a 120 psi compressor, and the ability to charge USB devices.  The unit is heavy, weighing in at around 18 pounds, but should be enough to jump start even a V8.

Another good option is the Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNC660, also an Amazon bestseller.  This unit is a professional grade jump starter and while missing the bells and whistles of the Stanley model, it boasts 1700 peak amps.  It also weighs in around 18 pounds.  This is a no-frills model, but might be your best bet if you’re in an area with long-term freezing temps that typically wreak havoc on vehicle batteries.  Both of these items come in between $80 and $130.  You can find a cheaper, lower amp model but if you have anything bigger than a 4 cylinder in warm weather, you may find that your unit doesn’t have enough “umph” to get you started.

As for emergency tire inflators, there are several good ones on the market.  Stick with something in the mid-priced range, somewhere between $40 and $60.  Viair, Kensun, and Q Industries are some names to look for.  Just be aware that much like the jump starters, you often get what you pay for.  If you have a big truck with big tires, you may not get much use out of a bargain mini compressor other than pumping up pool toys for the kids.

Now we’ve talked about the items to have in your vehicle, what about maintaining the vehicle itself?  After all, the real goal of the vehicle is to get from point A to point B in as efficient a manner as possible.  If the vehicle won’t go, it’s just an expensive shelter.

You know to get an oil change when the little sticker from the lube place says so, or the “Maintenance Required” light comes on.  You replace tires when someone points out the steel showing, but beyond that put little thought into vehicle maintenance until something goes wrong.  This could prove deadly in a survival situation.  You may not be a mechanic and may know little about the magic happening under the hood that makes your car go, but here are a few tips for keeping the vehicle on the road and available for use during an emergency.

At least once a month take the time to do a detailed inspection.   Start out by just cleaning up.  Get rid of the fast food wrappers, old drink cups, and bits of paper.  Go through your console and toss out anything you don’t need and reorganize the things you use the most frequently so they’re closer to hand.

In the warmer months items like ice scrapers, wool hats, hand warmers, etc., could be placed in a bag in the trunk and vice versa when the weather gets cold.  Rotate your unused snacks, MRE’s, and bottled water for fresher items.  Check to be sure you have copies of your current insurance card and vehicle registration.  Check your license plate to be sure it hasn’t expired.  These aren’t survival items, but a couple of minutes could save you a traffic stop.

Now check the head, tail, break, and reverse lights.  Check the turn signals.  Take a look at your tires and use a tire gauge to check air pressure.  Air pressure can vary with the temperature, so even if you don’t have a leak you could be a little low.  Remember that you can find the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure in your owner’s manual or on the tire placard on the vehicle door’s edge.  Check the tread wear of your tires.  A good way to test this is with a penny.  Insert the penny into your tread with Lincoln’s head facing you and upside down.  If you can see all of Lincoln’s head then you are below the recommended tread depth and should prepare to replace the tire as soon as possible.

Look under your car where you normally park.  Are there any signs of leaked fluid?  Pop the hood.  Check your oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and antifreeze with the vehicle off and on a flat surface.  Look over your hoses and belts for any thin places, bulges, or other signs of wear that may need to be addressed.

If you’re unsure how to do this, take a few minutes to read through your owner’s manual, check out some YouTube videos, or maybe look into a basic auto repair class at your local community college. You’ll never regret having those basic skills. If you have your car maintained periodically at a lube place or dealership, odds are they will check these items and more, but verify that with your particular servicer and don’t count on a periodic oil change service as your only problem detection.

Check things out with your own eyes.  In addition, be aware of changes in the way your vehicle handles.  Listen for different sounds.  For example, squealing when you stop is a good indicator that it’s time for new brake pads.  If you aren’t a mechanic yourself, find someone you trust to handle any repairs and remember that typically the earlier you discover and address a problem, the easier (and cheaper) it may be to repair.

Your vehicle may be your lifeline in an emergency situation.  Whether it gets you out of town when the world falls apart, or just gets you home from work, you never know what you might encounter along the way.  It pays to be confident in your ability to safely get to your destination, wherever that may be, so prep your vehicle just like you would your other gear and multiply your odds of survival!

Prizes For This Round (Ends April 12, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

  1. First place winner will receive –   A gift certificate for $150 off of  rifle ammo at Lucky Gunner, an Urban Survival Kit a $109 value courtesy of  TEOTWAWKI supplies, a WonderMix Deluxe Kitchen Mixer a $299 value courtesy of Kodiak Health and a LifeStraw Mission Filter a $109 value courtesy of EarthEasy, for a total prize value of $667
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – 30 Day Food Storage All-in-One Pail a $119 value courtesy of Augason Farms.com and Berkey Light with 2 (9″) Berkey Earth Elements a $157 value courtesy of LPC Survival, for a total prize value of $276.
  3. Third place winner will receive –  International MRE Meals Supply a $72.00 value, a LifeStraw Portable Water Filter a $19 value, Yoder’s Fully Cooked Canned Bacon a $15 value all courtesy of CampingSurvival and one copy of each of my books “The Prepper’s Primer” and a copy of “The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook“ for a total prize value of $137.

Getting home with a map and compass

by Maud’Dib

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

red-compassDriving distances to and from jobs have increased as companies moved to suburbs or further into rural areas. Daily commutes of 25, 30, or 40 miles each way are becoming typical. This presents a very serious problem if you should be at work and an event occurs that would necessitate you having to leave your vehicle behind and face a long walk home. It becomes more problematic if for some reason you have to avoid masses of rioters, martial law, or medical quarantine. An EMP, pandemic, or even an intense weather disaster like Katrina or a tornado could force you having to look at the possibility of walking for days over land that you are unfamiliar with.

The average person walks at about 2-3 miles per hour depending on their physical condition. Consequently, if you were facing a 40 mile hike, you are probably looking at a minimum of 3 days assuming you can cover 12 miles a day or so. In that same time, you will need water and nutrition. The nutrition part can be covered simply enough by having a stock of protein bars in your Get Home Bag. Water becomes more of an issue because it is heavy to carry. Researchers claim a person needs about a gallon of water a day if they are active. So given a 3-day hike, you would need at least 3 gallons of water, which at over 8 pounds per gallon becomes near impossible to carry without creating a heavy burden.

That leaves you with having to find water along the way or risk asking for help. Depending on the situation you may have to forgo dealing with people and find your own. Finding water can be made easier if you utilize satellite maps such as those found on Google Maps. These maps are also very beneficial in plotting a course to get you home safely by taking advantage of natural barriers such as trees, which would allow you maintain a stealth presence as you find your way home.

The first step in this process is to access Google Maps and after typing in your location, placing your location at the edge of the map in the direction from your home you would travel….if you are plotting the map from your job and you work to the West, put that location to the West and your home area to the East. Next re-size the map until your home is at the other edge of the map. If the distance is too great that the map is unreadable, make two or more maps as needed.

In doing this, you will have a map of the entire area of travel. Hopefully you will see various lakes, farm ponds or rivers somewhere near your intended path. Google Maps are not very informative beyond showing roads and waterways but if you click on that little square at the bottom left that says “Earth” it will give you a satellite view of exactly the same area, complete with waterways, roads, buildings and wooded areas. This can be re-sized to zoom in or out, which is very beneficial for finding landmarks and water.

Google Maps also has a neat feature that allows you to plot distances on the map. You simply place the cursor on top of the map and right click the mouse. A list will appear, and at the bottom will say “measure distance”. Move the mouse cursor to your starting location, click the left button and a small circle will appear with a short line. Hold the mouse button down and drag the line anywhere you want. You can change direction by clicking on the line which will create another small circle. Like before, hold the mouse button down and move the line wherever you want.

As you create your lines on the map have it lead to various water sources shown on the map so you can refill your water supply. (I use a Sawyer Mini filter…others use a Berkey Sports Bottle, the choice is yours) You may also have to find safe cover to spend the night, which is easily accomplished by zooming in on the map and picking a nice hiding place such as a stand of trees. You should also find landmarks such as buildings, waterways, water towers etc…along your line of travel that you can use to show when and where you should change course. When your course is plotted all the way to your home, print out your map on as large paper as you can. Most libraries can print 11×15 which should work well. You now have a plotted course that takes you to water sources as well as reasonably safe route all the way home.

Useful links and info on how-to Using a Map and Compass

Orienting a map so it matches Magnetic North is a fairly simple process. Since we are dealing with shorter line of sight distances, declination is not a major factor, so let’s begin by orienting the map so it coincides with the compass.

Follow this link to a very easy to understand set of directions using the lensatic compass.

http://www.land-navigation.com/orient-a-map.html

Once the map is oriented do not move it again.

Now its just a matter of figuring the angles of the lines you have created and their relationship to North. These are your “bearings” and they determine the direction of travel.

If you made note of landmarks on your line of travel its just a matter of sighting through the compass as shown in the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EadSo1fuRh4 while reading the bearing you created pointing toward the landmark. For example…if the first leg of your trip calls for a bearing of 45 deg.

Hold the compass level up to your eye as shown in the video.. and turn your body until a reading of 45 degrees appears in the sight glass. Without moving the compass, look through the sighting lens and line up the sighting wire while glancing down at the bearing. It sounds complicated but just watch the short video a few times and it will become easy.

Keep doing this sighting, traveling and reaching your landmarks until you are close to home…then it becomes unnecessary.

Prizes For This Round (Ends April 12, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

  1. First place winner will receive –   A gift certificate for $150 off of  rifle ammo at Lucky Gunner, an Urban Survival Kit a $109 value courtesy of  TEOTWAWKI supplies, a WonderMix Deluxe Kitchen Mixer a $299 value courtesy of Kodiak Health and a LifeStraw Mission Filter a $109 value courtesy of EarthEasy, for a total prize value of $667
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – 30 Day Food Storage All-in-One Pail a $119 value courtesy of Augason Farms.com and Berkey Light with 2 (9″) Berkey Earth Elements a $157 value courtesy of LPC Survival, for a total prize value of $276.
  3. Third place winner will receive –  International MRE Meals Supply a $72.00 value, a LifeStraw Portable Water Filter a $19 value, Yoder’s Fully Cooked Canned Bacon a $15 value all courtesy of CampingSurvival and one copy of each of my books “The Prepper’s Primer” and a copy of “The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook“ for a total prize value of $137.

How to put together your own bug out bag perimeter alarm kit… or how to sleep better at night when the “zombies” are on the move.

by Alexander T



In my bug out bag, or my get home bag, since I keep it in my vehicle at all times, I keep a little perimeter alarm kit. The whole kit is relatively small, lightweight and fits in a MOLLE mag pouch. I feel this kit is necessary should the SHTF. I figure that if this happens, I might have to be able to get home all by myself, over a long distance, possibly on foot.

Well, what if I have to spend the night who knows where? Maybe in an abandoned building. Or in a makeshift campsite in a clump of trees. Or maybe an old tractor-trailer. And if I have to sleep, I wouldn’t want to wake up with who knows standing over me or all my stuff gone. My trusty firearm won’t do me any good if I’m sleeping. So I put together a little perimeter alarm kit with the following features in mind.

  1. To be able to put up an alarm around a campsite.
  2. To be able to alarm doors and windows in a building.
  3. To be able to lock or secure doors in a building. This includes single doors, double doors, and doors that swing outward.
  4. To be able to black out windows preventing people from seeing in.
    The following is what I keep in my kit.
  5. door/window alarms. You can get them on eBay, home centers or Dollar General. I got mine at Dollar General, by Bell & Howell, 7 for 10 bucks.
  6. homemade alarm bases. These are just 3 ½ X 3 ½ pieces of ¾ in plywood.

I drilled a hole in each edge to be able to put a tent-peg thru. This allows me to place the alarm on a tent-peg. I also drilled 4 slots, on the face, ¼ in from each edge. This allows me to use a strap, rope or bungee cord around a pole or tree. I also put 2 pieces of Velcro tape 3” long on the back, along with the mating strips on the back of the alarm. This is so I don’t have to pull off the adhesive one time use strip on the back of the alarm. With the Velcro, I can reuse the base indefinitely, or not use the base if I don’t need it.

Snare wire and fishing line. (different colors) I believe this needs no explanation.

Two locks and 3 ft sections of chain. To lock a door if I’m able to. The 3 ft chain sections allows me to lock a gate or fence, and also double doors

Four door stops (wedges). To jam in between the door and the frame at he top, and the floor at the bottom, in case I can’t lock them.

Six door hinge pins. I made my using the pins from BBQ grill top hinges. I ground off the head and cut them in half to ¾ “ long using a hacksaw. They’re thicker and stronger than nails. On outward swinging doors, I take out a screw from the top and bottom hinge and insert the pins. This prevents someone from taking out the long pin holding the hinge together, pulling the hinge apart and lifting the door off.

Small bag of eye screws and “L” hooks, and tent pegs. If I’m in a building, I screw these into the walls to string the fishing line or snare wire in a variety of configurations to alarm multiple doors and windows. The tent pegs are for a campsite perimeter.

Plastic sandwich bags. I put these over the alarms should it be wet or raining outside.

Roll of 32 gal black trash bags. Using duct tape, I tape these to windows so people can’t see in.

I also keep a roll of duct tape, rubber bands, a few bungee cords, and a small multi-tool in the kit.

With this little handy kit, if I have to make my way home or have to bug out, hopefully I be able to alarm my surrounding and give myself a warning before my stuff gets stolen or wake up with someone standing over me.

I’m sure that the Wolf Pack has a wealth of other great ideas for bug out security – please share those ideas with the rest of the pack in the comments section below…

Things To Consider Before Bugging Out

Guest Post by Michael

A year or so ago, I became interested in preparing for a disaster, so I went to the Internet to see what other folks are doing to prepare. I was surprised to learn the number of people who have been preparing for quite some time, and also at the level of their preparations; purchasing remote properties, building up a personal arsenal, and buying and storing food stocks for their families.

I figured I needed to ‘get on board’ and start my own preparations. I had a lot to do and a lot to consider; food stocks, weapons and ammunition, off-the-grid living, communications, tools, skills, bug out bag, get home bag, maps, cash, precious metals, and much more. Whew!

I am a planning-type person, and I don’t usually do anything without careful consideration and a solid plan. I like to think through what I will do, what I might need in the way of tools, parts, etc., and what my desired results are before I begin a project. Like all my projects, whether they be a family vacation, changing the brakes on my car, or preparing for a disaster, I feel a need to plan.

I decided to work on my preparedness tasks in parallel. As I was building up my food stocks, I also built up my weapons and ammo stock, and continued to read and learn about preparedness and survival. When I began to tackle a bug out plan, I found the task quite difficult as I thought through the three elements of how I tackle projects:

  1. What is the task or tasks involved?
  2. What items and tools will I need?
  3. What are my desired results?

Right away, I knew the answer to question three. In a bug out situation, I desired to stay alive and have the best quality of life possible for the situation. Answering questions one and two were not so easy. The planning gene in my head caused me to think about what actually is involved with pre and post “bugging out” in order to answer the first two questions. As I thought about making my plan, a sound solution to bugging out became quite murky.

There are many websites, blogs, and videos available via the Internet that provide information, ideas, and examples of bug out situations, bug out equipment, and bug out strategies, and I eagerly studied as much as a I could. I initially thought bugging out was a mighty fine idea when the SHTF. After careful consideration, though, I have concluded that bugging out should be my last resort, my “plan Z”, and only after I’ve tried every possible way to avoid it. I offer these bug out cons for your consideration:

The Plan

Everyone should have a plan and equipment for bugging out for those extreme situations when your back is to the wall, or marauding gangs are torching every house on your street. If you must bug out, have a pre-planned destination, and you must get there before your supplies run out. Essential to your bug out plan is to clearly define the condition(s) that would trigger your “got to bug out” alarm.

Remember, though, you’ll be quitting your job, abandoning your house, and your bills will pile up in your overflowing mailbox and remain unpaid. When a crisis occurs, you will not have time to make a successful bug out plan, so you must make your plan now. Anyone can make a plan, but it takes careful thought and consideration to make a successful plan.

Quality of Life

The notion of bugging out is quite simple; grab your stuff and go. However, after bugging out and arriving “somewhere”, then what? What will you do and what will be your quality of life? When you are at home, all your equipment, food stocks, weapons, and gear are basically within easy reach.

If you have prepared and planned well, you can stay indoors for quite some time and enjoy a high quality of life. You can continue to sleep in your bed, have a bathroom down the hall, and even keep up with current events and what’s happening in your neighborhood.

The act of bugging out brings on its own set of potentially dangerous problems that you will have to deal with and suffer through “on the fly.” In all of my Internet travels, I have yet to see a bug out bag that was stocked and equipped as well my home. Bug out bags usually provide basic survival-type equipment and rations for up to 7 days.

The prospect that my situation would become that much more precarious after my rations ran out is none too appealing. Can I really depend upon hunting, fishing, and berry scavenging?

Land Mines

You are much safer in your own home in most situations. With adequate planning and supplies, you can hunker down and survive through chemical and even biological gas clouds. You can still call the police who might be able to assist you. You and your neighbors might band together to improve your collective security. Think long and hard before you engage in bugging out.

On your way to your pre-determined bug out destination, you need to avoid being ambushed, injured, robbed, or worse. You will not know who is friend or foe, and you must remain as inconspicuous and “normal” as possible.

I think it is unwise to assume you can and will homestead in the forest, hunting and fishing like Daniel Boone until “someone” gives an “all clear” and you can return home. You will not be the only person in the forest, and any food that is available will quickly be hunted or scared away. Your forest will soon be overrun with survivalist who claim hunting territories, and battles will ensue. Gangs will form and if you’re a loner, you will not survive.

Under such conditions, it would be nearly impossible for you to rest or sleep. You’d have to be on your guard 24/7. You couldn’t leave your camp to hunt or fish for fear of coming back to nothing, or a pack of squatters who have taken over your camp and everything you depend upon.

If you knew or sensed that others were in your forest, having a camp fire would be a bad idea because it would give away your location. How would you stay warm, or cook your kill? What if someone off in the distance sees smoke and calls 911 to report a forest fire? What about the winter cold or the summer mosquitos?

What would you do? Remember, you took only your bug out bag which did not have a sleeping bag or multi-season clothing. Sure, you have your big bowie-knife, your .22 rifle, and your length of para cord, but what about those other hundred items you need now that are back home?

Remote Hideaway

If you are one of the fortunate individuals who has some land in a remote location that you have already set up to be your bugged out location, great! The difficult task for you is to know when to bug out and before the crisis or disaster occurs. Timing will be critical. Bugging out after the crisis only increases your chances that you’ll be stuck in gridlock traffic, apprehended, robbed, or again, even worse.

Predicting when and where a disaster or crisis will occur is anyone’s guess. If you guess wrong, then you would have bugged out for nothing, and increased your chances of coming home to a looted and ransacked house.

Abort! Abort!

If you decide to return home, your immediate task would be to navigate your way through or around newly formed gangs and other non-friendlies you might encounter. If you bugged out with your get home bag, it is safe to say that any food you had in your get home bag would have already been eaten a long time ago.

You might arrive home only to find that your house has been looted, and all the food, gear, weapons, and supplies you didn’t take with you when you bugged out are gone. Your windows are broken, your electronics have disappeared, and you quickly discover thieves stole all the copper wires and pipes in your house, along with your refrigerator.

We all know that thieves are not a considerate lot. Since they took your copper pipes and left the water turned on, your house is now flooded, and your water bill is over $1,000. To add insult to injury, every thread of clothing, shoes, tools, and anything of any value that you had is now gone. Was it bugging out or going home that was the wrong decision?

Conclusion

I am unable to convince myself that I, after being so dependent upon grocery stores, utilities on demand, and sound shelter for decades, could just set up camp in the forest for an unknown length of time with only a bug out bag. You know, I am not the MacGyver type.

What do you think is “bugging out” a better plan than “bugging in”?

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