2014 How-to Guides & Instructions

How to Start a Fire – Survival Fire Starting – Methods, Techniques, & Skills


Start a fire in survial situation
A fire can save your life to fend off hypothermia or as a means to purify water. Practice a number of these techniques before you really have to depend on them in an emergency situation. A key to most of these skills is preparation.

Wilderness Fire Starting Techniques
Flint and Steel – Many rocks will work in place of true flint. But a cheap file from the dollar store and find a rock that creates sparks. Use a low temp tender for the sparks to land in (low temp tenders are discussed at the bottom of the page).

Friction Methods
Bow Drill – The components of the bow drill are a bow, a spindle, fire board, a pivot stone, and a nest to receive the ember you’ll create. The type of wood used is an important factor when making a bow drill fire. Birch, Willow, Alder, and Poplar are all acceptable. Find wood that is dry from dead limbs. Avoid getting wood that has been on the forest floor as it is probably wet or punky (i.e. starting to break down). The notch is critical in the fire board, without it the hot wood fibers will have no place to collect. Preparing a nest before hand is incredibly important. Focus on steady pressure and consistent bow strokes. Try to practice with someone with experience.

Two Man Friction Drill – Use the same setup as the bow drill but have a second person act as the drilling force. Simply leave out the drill and replace it with a second person using a rope, wrapped around the spindle twice, and pulling back and forth on the rope to rotate the spindle. One man can focus on the pressure and the other can focus on rotation. Prepare the fireboard the same as other drill type fires.

Hand Drill – This method is prefered in extremely dry climates. Yucca plants provide the best spindles but other types of plants work as well. The trick is to exert enough downward pressure will maintaining enough rotations to increase the temperature. Making your hands sticky with crushed raisins or sap can assist you in more traction. With a second person the strokes can be more regular and helps prevent over exertion. This method is difficult.

Fire Plow- This is best in dry climates as well. It requires a great deal of strength and dedication to get it started.

Fire Pump – This method uses a fly wheel on a spindle assist in wrapping the draw cord onto the spindle. A fire board with a notch is required to make this pump drill to work.

Fire Saw- If you can make a number of flat pieces of wood this is a good method. Make a sandwich with the bottom piece of wood, place fine tender in the middle layer, and then top it off with another layer of wood. Add two spacer pieces of wood on each end so the tender doesn’t get too compressed. Lash everything together and make sure everything call hold together. Place the two pieces of wood with the gap facing upwards. Press down in a position over the gap, with the tender in between, use the third piece of flat wood as a saw. Saw with deep, heavy pressure. Hot fibers will fall into the gap and ignite the tender. This same method can be used with dry bamboo with a small stick holding the tender into the flat area where the saw will pierce, bringing hot coals to the prepared tender.

Fire Starting Gadgets
Bic Lighter – The most common and easiest ways to start a fire. Limitations are fuel running out, it breaking, and the fuel not performing well when it is cold. For most situations this would work fine.

Matches – Waterproof, strike anywhere matches are best. There is a technique to lighting a match. If your hands are cold you risk breaking the match. The optimal way to light a match is to brace the back of the match head with a finger and use a steady stroke.

FireSteel Striker – These ferrocerium or magnesium compound strikers can produce sparks up to 5500 degrees. Many survivalist prefer these because they make dependable fires in almost all conditions. When coupled with some pre-made tender this gadget can help light a fire no matter where you are.

Piston Fire Starter – This gadget uses the rapid compression of air to ignite tender. It takes a little practice but it can produce hot coals for starting a fire.

Note: No matter what technique or gadget you use basic fire starting principles always apply. You must prepare dry, fine tender. Having a ready source of kindling is also necessary.

Electrical Heat and Sparks
9V Battery & Steel Wool – Touch the battery terminals against the fine steel wool and watch as the fine metal ignites. This produces a hot fire that can start most all tenders.

Car Battery and Jumper Cables – The sparks created with jumper cables is hotter than most sparks generated. Place the tender between the jumper cables and touch them together. Be aware that this can permenately damage a battery. It would be best to use a battery that you don’t mind ruining.

Chemical Reactions

Hand Warmer Fire Starter – This is a MYTH! Unless you can chemically break down the elements in a hand warmer it will never get hot enough to light. I’ve tried a few different things, researched for hours, and have yet to see any results.

Glycerin & Potassium Permanganate – These are two items found in some first aid kits. Potassium permanganate is used in water purification and is a powerful oxidizer. I found a good price here http://shop.chemicalstore.com/navigation/detail.asp?MySessionID=110-626540203&id=PP100

Potassium Permanganate & Sugar (mixed 9:1) – When put under pressure and ground this mixture will ignite. It is best to keep both seperate until you need to use them as dropping the mixture can cause it to ignite.

Sodium Chlorate & Sugar Mix 3:1 – “The active ingredient sodium chlorate is found in a variety of commercial herbicides. Some trade names for products containing sodium chlorate include Atlacide, Defol, De-Fol-Ate, Drop-Leaf, Fall, Harvest-Aid, Kusatol, Leafex, and Tumbleaf.” Wikipedia. Potassium chlorate and sugar (3.1 ratio) is also very combustible. Potassium chlorate was an ingredient in some throat tablets.

Sunlight Refraction (Using Sunlight to Start Fire)
Magnifying Glass – Many compasses have magnifying glasses built into the plastic. This is the easiest way to start a fire if the sun is shinning.
Top Can and Chocolate Bar – Take a Coke can, flip it upside down, polish the bottom with chocolate using a piece of the tin. It will take about an hour and the whole bar of chocolate to get the mirror like finish you need. Hersheys works ok but Trobalone is the best

Saran Wrap, Balloon, or Condom filled with water. To make this work you need to make a ball of water using one of the items here. For saran wrap try making a liner for your cup, filling it with water, and gathering all four corners to make your round water droplet. With the condom or balloon try twisting a segment off to avoid long shapes.

Clear Ice Lens – You need some clear ice, a saw, and a pipe. Ice tends to be clearer toward the edges. Find at least a 3 inch piece of clear ice. Cut it into a cube, a octagon, then use the end of a pipe (which needs to be slightly smaller than the rough piece of ice) to make an ice ball. Polish the final ball with your gloves or snow.

Eye Glasses – Try using your eye glasses at different angles to focus the sun’s energy. Note: Most glasses don’t work.

Flashlight (Headlight) Reflector – Disassemble the top of your flashlight being careful not to lose anything. The shiny reflective piece in the flashlight can be used to concentrate the suns rays to start a fire. Place your tightly packed tender in the hole where the bulb would usually be. This method requires a certain amount of heat to be stored up in the tender before transporting it to a prepared tender nest. Tightly folded paper worked for me.

Two Liter Bottle Filled with Water – You will need the 2-liter bottles with the round top for this method to work. Make sure their are no bubbles in the water as this may hinder the focusing power. Set up the water bottle and point it into the tender. You may need to let this one sit for a while. Practice on your hand to feel what the hottest rays look like (get the basic shape). Once you get an understanding of what the hottest concentration looks like point the focal point at your tender.

Spark Temperature and Tender Options
All wilderness fire starting depends on using the correct tender to accept a spark. If you are using a low temp spark on the wrong tender you may have a difficult time getting a fire started. These are some ideas for low temp and high temp tenders.
Extra Fine Tinder for Receiving a Low Temp Spark
All sparks are not the same temperature. The temperature of the sparks can vary greatly. Sparks from fire strickers and battery terminals are very hot (in excess of 5,000 degrees). Sparks from lighters or traditional flint and steel are much less in temperature. These colder sparks need extra fine kindling to receive the spark.

Char Cloth – Char cloth is made from cotton using a special technique. Basically, cotton is burned without oxygen to produce char cloth. This requires an air tight metal tin and a fire. Place the cotton pieces into a sealed can. You will need a small vent hole initially as the cotton reaches the right temperature in the fire. When smoke stops comming from the vent remove the can and stop the hole with a wooden plug. A pointed stick works great as a plug. Allow the cloth to sit and cook. When the can has cooled down open the can and retrieve the char cloth. If you use an Altoid tin the char cloth can be left in the can as a container. Video

Tinder Fungus – Generally grows on Birch trees and looks like a big black infection. Cut a piece off and allow to dry naturally. It is difficult to speed up the drying process so some extra preparation is needed.

Horse Shoe Fungus – This requires to be boiled and pounded flat so it won’t be much help unless you’ve done some preparation. It looks like a light brown clam shell (or horse hoof) growing from a tree.

Lint From Cotton Socks – Pinch the small fibers from your cotton socks until you have at least a dime sized amount of fibers. This tender works great but burns quickly. Be prepared with other fine tender once you get a spark to catch.

Ultra Fine Steal Wool – This needs to be the finest steal wool you can find without any cleaning agents in it (SOS pads will not work).

Magnesium Powder – Places that sell firework materials is a good source of magnesium powder/shavings. Skylighter.com is a dependable website. Tip: Use a thin layer of Vasiline to hold the powder/chips in place.

Hot Spark Tender (Accepts High Temp Sparks)

Cotton Ball (add Vaseline for extra flammability and burn time)

Dryer Lint – This catches sparks really well but has a hard time spreading the heat of a coal into a flame.

Juniper Bark – Receives sparks and embers very well. The longer you rub it together the more fine tender it will produce.

Trioxane Fuel Bar – Instant Blue Flame that works when wet. A valuable thing to add to your bug out bag.

Weird things that work.
Potato Fire Starter – Cut a potato in half and scoop the contents out of the lower half. Mix 1:1 toothpaste and salt in the lower half. Shove two wires through the top portion of the potato and bend them at a 90 degree angle before pushing them into the goo. Close the potato, add some cotton to one of the exposed wires, and wait five minutes. Touch the two wires together and you’ll get a hot little spark.

Citrus Fruit Fire – Push a copper wire and a galvanized nail into a softened fruit (roll it around to break up the insides). Wrap some cotton around the nail. Wait a few minutes and touch the wires together. A penny and nickel will also work in place of a copper wire and a galvanized nail.

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How to Watch TV with a Computer and the Internet


Watch TV using a computer or laptop.
To get free cable and TV you’ll need a few things. The easiest set up is to use a laptop with an S-Video out. This basically makes your TV a monitor. Once you are hooked up click ‘view full screen’ and you’re set. If you are buying a new laptop or computer make sure it has S-Video. If you have S-Video your computer can hook up to almost all types of TVs. Most flat screen TVs have a VGA hook up you can use directly with any laptop or video card.

Once you have the connection worked out you’ll need a cable. These are the most common cords for hooking up your TV to your computer:

The most popular website to watch cable TV shows is Hulu.com. But you probably already know that already!

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Guide to Edible Wild Plants in North America


If you are reading this there is a good chance you already know some edible wild plants. There are a surprising number of North American plants that can be used for food. As you will quickly learn some plant are extremely dangerous and should be avoided. Other plants have many medicinal and nutritional values. The best thing you can do is to print out the quick reference guide and go see how much food you can actually find in the wild. Knowing what foods are edible and poisonous could save your life someday.


  • Don’t eat too much of a new food at one time. Give yourself some time to adjust to the new food. Boiling will prevent bloating and some other issues you may experience.
  • Many plants within the same genius can be poisonous making correct identification critical.
  • If a plant is bitter try soaking it in a mixture of water and baking soda for an hour (1 quart water to 1 tablespoon baking soda).

Red Clover
Trifolium pratense
red clover
All clovers are edible and are high in Vitamins and some parts of the plant are high in protein. The red clover is easily identified by the red purple flower and the lighter colored ‘V’ on the leaves. Every part of the clover is edible. To avoid bloating you should boil,roast, or soak clover before you eat it. Avoid any clover that has started to decay as they may be poisonous.

red clover distribution

Oak Acorns
acorn with leaf
Acorns are rich in carbohydrates, protein, and fats but contain tannic acid which can make you sick. If eaten raw for an extended amount of time acorns can damage your heart and kidneys. Fortunately raw acorns are naturally bitter (which prevent most peope from eating them raw). The key to eating acorns is leaching out as much tannic acid as possible. Native Americans had a ways to leach the tannic acid from the acorns. One method involved leaving the acorns in a basket in a fast flowing stream for three to four days. Anther method involved burying the acorns in moist soil for three to four mouths. For faster consumption you can boil the acorns many times to remove the acid. Boil and replace the brown water until the water is clear. When the acorns are ready they wont be bitter and will be slightly brown. The will taste similar to water chestnuts. You can eat the nuts wet or slow roast them in a fire for an hour or more. It is possible to make an acorn meal (or flour) by crushing raw acorns and leaching them with standing water. Soak the acorns in water and replace the brown water until the flesh is mild without the bitter residue.

Typha latifolia

Cattail - Typha Latifolia

This plant is easily identifiable and can be eaten year round. It is very nutritious and is packed with a lot of carbohydrates. In the spring you can eat new growth and young shoots whole. In the early summer eat the tender stems. When raw they taste like cucumber and if they are cooked they tasted like corn. You are looking for the parts of the plant that are still white (near the bottom of the stem). In mid-summer you can eat the undeveloped seed pods. While they are green you can roast them like corn. Towards the end of the summer the same seed pods will shed yellow pollen. Collect this with a bag to be used to thicken soup, teas, and many other uses. In the fall and winter the cattail moves all its engery stores to it deep horizontal roots. You will need to get in the water and feel for the horizontal roots. If you pull from the surface only the top part will come up. These roots be boiled (replace the water a couple times) or beat into a pulp for a starchy secretion at the bottom of your pot. The cattail has other uses beyond food. The fluffy head can be used as insulation to augment your current clothing or used in a mattress. It can also be used for kindling for starting a fire. It is also possible to use the fresh and old reeds to weave into mats. By far this is one of the best plants you could use in a survival setting.

Cattail distribution in America

Wild Prickly Lettuce
Lactuca Serriola L.


This plant is closely related to the dandelion. It is bitter, creates white sap, and has small spines when mature. Despite these things it is still edible. The leaves change depending on how much water and sunlight it receives. For best results try to pick and eat young leaves that are getting a good amount of water. Young leaves will be less bitter and not as rigid, or spiny, as the hardened adult. Can be eaten raw or cooked. Prickly lettuce is high in Vitamin A and Fiber. Small amounts of other vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and carbohydrates.


Alpine Sweetvetch
Hedysarum alpinum L.

Grizzly bears dig up the roots of the Alpine Sweetvetch and eat them in quantities. They are part of the pea family. Their root is particularly rich in protein and starch. They grow in the vicinity of meadows, streams, rivers, and lakes. The leaves and flowers provide good foraging for wildlife. Sweetvetch provides many of the same nutritional qualities as alfalfa. In addition to eating the root you can make a vitamin rich tea with the leaves and flowers. Early spring before the plant flowers is the best time to eat the root but it can be eaten at anytime. Do not confuse the purple flowers and the plant with the poisonous LocoWeed.
WARNING – Most Vetch type plants are poisonous. Be absolutely certain you’ve identified the plant correctly before you eat anything.



Distribution of Alpine Sweetvetch

Distribution of Alpine Sweetvetch

Edible Nuts & Fruit

Sweet Water (European) Chestnut
Castanea sativa
sweet water chestnut castanea sativa
This specific chestnut is edible but not very common in North America. The chestnut casing has hair like spikes while the more common Horse Chestnut has a casing that looks like a medieval flail (fewer distinct spikes). Horse Chestnuts (or Buckeye Chestnuts) are poisonous.

sweet chestnut distribution

More Edible Wild Plants

Water Lilly
The root ball (or tuber) and the fruit are edible.


Stinging Nettle

Ponderosa Pine

Eastern White Pine Logs



Prickly Pear Cactus

Seagul Lilly

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Water Purificaiton Methods for Survival, Emergency, & Backpacking


Water is a top priority as you can’t survive beyond three days without it. Unclean drinking water can have harmful bacteria, protozoa, cryptosporidiums, viruses, and chemicals in it. Waterborne illnesses can cause flu-like symptoms, watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, substantial loss of weight, bloating, increased gas, nausea, fever, chills, coughing, muscle aches, cramps, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, seizures, paralysis, and even death. You don’t want to mess around with water that has not been purified.

Take the necessary precautions and purify your water before you drink it. Simple rules like drinking clear water or water that is moving quickly don’t always apply. Dead animals and feces can be in the water supply further up stream. Even water supplies that have been known to be safe can become contaminated at a later date.

These are the most common methods to purify water in survival or backpacking setting.

iodine tablets
Iodine Tablets

Light weight
Easy to use

Tastes like Iodine
Results aren’t instant

chlorine dioxide
Chlorine Dioxide Tablets

Light weight
Dependable & Easy
Better Tasting Than Idodine

Doesn’t Filter Particles
Limited to 30 Quarts

MSR Miox Pen
Chlorine Pens – MSR MIOX Purifier

Compact & Small
No Filters to Worry About
Unlimited Uses

Requires Batteries & Salt
Can leave chlorine taste

water bottle purifier
Water Bottle Purifiers

Self Contained Filter and Bottle
No Wait Time or Setup
Fast Drinking

Difficult for large quantities
Average Filtering (but still safe)

Bottle and Filter Combined
Pump & Bottle – Lifesaver 4000

Self Contained Filter and Bottle
Easy setup & usage
Advanced filtering

Difficult for large quantities

filter straw
Water Filter Straws

Super small & light
Easy to use
Fast drinking

Difficult for large quantities
Average filtering (but still safe)

Ultra Violet Light – SteriPen

Small & light
Easy to use
No aftertaste

Requires batteries
Leaves particles in water

pump miniworks filter
MSR Pump Filter

Can make large quantities
Fits onto Nalgene bottles
Filters out particles

Longer Setup Time
Can require maintenance

titanium pot for boiling water
Pot to Boil Water

Proven method
No filters to replace

Can take a long time
Requires a fire or stove

Tips for Improving Taste

  • If the water is murky or cloudy first filter the water through a clean cloth. Coffee filters are also very good to fix murky water.
  • Try to find water that is free running and already clear. Avoid stagnant water. Avoid water that has been contaminated with animal or human waste.
  • If water tastes like iodine, chlorine, or is stale, pour the water between two containers or shake the water in a bottle to add oxygen to the water.
  • Vitamin C tablets can help improve the chlorinated taste that is present in water sometimes. Because chlorine is a base the acid helps adjust the PH level and adds flavor.

Survival Purification Methods

Sterilize with Sunlight – Ultraviolet rays can kill micro organisms if exposed for enough time. You will need a clear water bottle. Remove any dirt and labels found on the bottle. Fill the bottle 3/4 the way full and shake it for 30 seconds. Fill the bottle the rest of the way, making sure the water is clear with no particles in it. If the water is cloudy or murky this method will not work. Place the water bottle (no larger than 4″ in diameter) on a reflective surface for 6 hours on a sunny day. If there are clouds present it may require 48 hours or more to be effective. If dense clouds or rainy conditions are present this method will not work. Video

Solar Still & Evaporation Methods – A solar still uses moisture found in plants and in the soil and collects it. To make a solar still you will need a tarp, a cup, something to dig with, and a drinking tube. Dig a pit slightly smaller than your tarp. Add parts of live plants and other things that have moisture to the pit. In the middle of the pit place a cup to collect the distilled water. Place the tarp over everything and pin down the edges with heavy stones or logs. Place a rock in the middle of the tarp making sure to center the depression over the collection cup. As the water in the plants and in the soil evaporates it will collect on the tarp and drip into your cup. Drink the water from the cup periodically. The tarp can also act as a means to collect rain water as well. This method can remove salt from water as well if you are near the ocean.

Earth Filter – It is possible to make an earth filter using charcoal, sand, and grass. You will need a container like an old water bottle or birch tree bark folded into a cone. Add alternating layers of charcoal and sand with the grass on top. Filter the water through the container and into your collection cup. Personally I don’t trust this method and would only use it as a last resort.

Emergency Water Sources
Urine – It is possible to drink your urine twice in succession before it becomes toxic. Drinking urine a couple times will not harm you because it is sterile. There are some people that drink urine regularly for medicinal purposes.

Water that doesn’t need to be purified

Rain Water – Use a tarp, your coat, a poncho, or a tent’s rain fly to collect and store water. If water is running down a rock face you can lie a rope along one of the veins where the water is running. Use the end of the rope to guide the water into your water bottle. Even if the water is only dripping you’ll soon have gallons of clean water.

Melted Snow – It is not advisable to eat snow if you are lost in the winter. Eating snow will lower your core temperature and could put you at risk of hypothermia. Try to melt snow before drinking the water from it.

Spring Water – Hike to the top of a stream or look for areas where the water is coming from the ground or from a rock.

Morning Dew – Spread out your tarp or tent’s rain fly the night before. Dew will collect on the surface of these over night. In the morning gather the ends of the tarp making a pool at the bottom of the tarp for dew collection. Carefully unwrap the tarp and collect the water at the bottom. You can also use items of clothing to absorb dew. Once the clothing is wet wring out the moisture into your mouth or water bottle.

Wet Earth Water Extraction – If you are in an area that has a lot of water in the soil you can extract it using this method. You will need a long drinking tube and a shovel. Dig a deep hole in the ground. Add a layer of dry grass on the bottom of the hole. Place the end of your drinking straw on top of the pile of dry grass. Add another layer of dry grass and cover whole thing with the wet soil you removed. Let the water filter through the grass and drink it from the tube.

Tapping Trees in Early Spring (February until March) – Hardwood trees send up gallons of sugary sap in preparation for Spring. To tap the tree make a small hole with the tip of your knife and insert a wood spile to guide the watery sap. Collect the water into your cup or canteen. Once you’ve collected enough water seal the hole. Video

Water in Food – The juice and moisture found in foods can provide valuable water to your diet. Berries, roots, worms, and even blood in animals and fish can provide clean water to your survival effort. One survival technique suggests eating the eyes of fish as a water source.

Watch for water on the lids of containers – While the water in the container the water around the lid may still be contaminated. Pour the water to another container before drinking.

Rinsing Food Off
– You may inadvertently contaminate your food by rinsing it in bad water. Washing off berries or food you dropped on the ground in a stream may subject you to micro organisms.

Contaminated Bottles Mixing With Clean Bottles – If a container has been used to transport unclean water is later filled with clean water it may contaminate the clean water. Make sure to completely dry out unclean containers in sunlight before using them as clean water containers.

Other Purification Methods
Household bleach – Use standard bleach without any scents or other cleaning agents. The bleach must contain chlorine to work. For bleach with 5% chlorine content use 8 drops of bleach per gallon or 2 drops per liter of water. Adjust the dosage based of the percent of chlorine content. Once you’ve added the bleach shake or stir well and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water is dirty or cold double the dosage and the wait time. Some words of warning with bleach, it kills some but not all contaminates and it degrades over time.

Calcium Hypochlorite – This chemical, sometimes called pool shock, can be purchased at any swimming pool store and is superior to bleach. When chlorine is in liquid form it degrades and becomes useless within a few years (and quicker if it is stored in the heat). The advantage of calcium hypochlorite is that it is in powder form and stores indefinitely. It kills all kinds of micro organisms in the water while bleach kills most but not all organisms. This chemical is extremely concentrated and will need to be diluted twice. The first step is to make the concentrated chlorine solution. Mix 5 milliliters (or 1 teaspoon) of Calcium Hypochlorite (78% grade powder) to 7.5 Liters (or 2 gallons) of water. Do not drink this concentrated mix. It is still very concentrated and could kill you. It starts to deteriorate once it’s in liquid form so don’t mix up more than you can use in 6 months. Add 1 part solution for every 100 parts water. For a smaller batch mix 2 teaspoons concentrated liquid for every 1 quart (or liter) of water. Allow this mixture to sit for 30 minutes if the water is clear (If the water is not clear or murky allow it to sit for an hour). For larger batches add 1 cup of concentrate to every 6.25 gallons of water. Notes on finding 1/100 ratio starting from drips. 24 drips = 1/4 tsp. 96 drips = 1 tsp. 203 teaspoons per liter. 192 teaspoons in a quart. 2 tsp (or 10 ml) to every 1 liter of water fulfills the 1/100 ratio.

Potassium Permanganate – This chemical can be found in some first aid kits. It kills micro-organisms through oxidizing the water. Adding this chemical will make the water slightly pink. This is an extremely dangerous option as too much of this chemical in the water could be lethal. Exercise extreme caution when using potassium permanganate.

Additional Resources:

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Bug Out Bag Checklist of Contents


The Pack

Bug Out Bag – Eberlestock Tactical

Your bug out bag should be designed to carry heavy loads and tough. Go on a three mile hike with your bag fully loaded. Get a feel for what you like and dislike about your bag and your gear. The bag listed above is made of Gortex material and is designed for hunters carrying heavy loads. You will want one for each family member and have an additional gear in your car. If you can’t buy a new backpack, use what you have because something is better than nothing. M.O.L.L.E. straps on the outside makes your bag expandable.




Fixed Blade Knife – Gerber LMF II Infantry Knife

These have an advantage over folding blade knifes for extended survival situations. With less moving parts fix blades are more durable. Fixed blades can be used to chop through wood, can be modified to become a spear, and for serious self defense. While folding blades and multi-tool blades can do some of these things they don’t do it as good as a 4-5″ fixed blade knife. Don’t get carried away. Carrying a machete or 8-10 inch knife is a waste of energy and adds unneeded weight in most situations. Also, check out the SOG Seal Pup Elite


Rope – 550 Paracord

Cordage can be made in the wild but having some in your bag can be the difference between life and death. If you need to make a shelter, a tourniquet, or make a snare cordage is invaluable. This particular cordage has smaller diameter cordage inside the larger cordage which can be used for small traps or other purposes. This rope is really a two in one cordage application.


Headlamp – Petzl LED with Red Filter

Headlamps are preferred over flashlights because they allow you to keep your hands free. LED bulbs last a very long time and produce a lot of light. My wife has had her Petzl LED headlamp for 6 years without having to replace the battery. The red light filter helps you maintain your night vision. Regular white light contracts your pupils and takes five minutes to first adjust to darkness and close to 45 minutes to completely readjust your eyes. Head lamps are light weight and are invaluable.


Fire Starter – Swedish Firesteel – Army Model

These types of fire-starters are preferred over matches or lighters because they produce consistent sparks. Good fire starting principles apply for any kind of fire. You will need a nest of tender to receive the spark and kindling ready. If you’ve made traditional flint and steal or a bow drill fire you will appreciate 5,500 degree sparks these strikers produce. Be sure to carry some cotton balls coated in vaseline as a quick start tender. If you don’t have some dry tender these won’t do much good.




Purification Tablets – Chlorine Dioxide

Chlorine Dioxide have a number of advantages over other purification methods. It’s light weight and tastes better than iodine tablets. Pump operated purifiers are heavy and can have additional risks. If you drop a pump water purifier it can crack the element, letting protozoa and harmful bacteria through the filter. An added risk to pump purifiers is storing them wet which can grow nasty things on the wrong side of the filter. The instant purification straws are handy but don’t provide protection against smaller organisms. These tablets will provide enough water purification for nearly 8 gallons of water.

Stainless Steele Water Bottle

Stainless steel water bottles have many advantages over plastic and polycarbonate bottles. Stainless canteens can boil water, be used for cooking, and are nearly indestructible. They also keep your water tasting clean. Many canteens made of plastic maintain a memory of liquids you’ve had in them. If you’ve put Kool-Aid or anything else in other plastic bottles you’ll taste Kool-Aid for months to come. In the survival settings I’ve seen these stainless steel bottles go through hell and back. They are incredibly tough and versatile. They are also easy to clean and never leak. The loop from the body to the lid can be used to snap it your bug out bag with a carabiner.

To cook with this bottle simply tie a loop of snare wire below the ridge to hold the bottle over the flames.



Backup Water – MSR Dromedary Bag (10 Liter)

A water bladder is preferred over adding extra water bottles because they are light and can carry a lot of water. You may consider getting the six or ten liter bags since water supplies may be few and far between. You can always use 1 or 2 liters if you don’t want the added weight and having the extra capacity may be a good idea in the long run. These bladders are preferred over plastic bladders (from Platypus or Camblebak) because they don’t get old and rigid. The MSR bags are also more puncture resistant and durable. These bags can be hung from a tree limb and provide easy access for hand washing, rinsing pots, and can even be used as a shower. You may also consider a hydration tube with a bit valve for added convenience. A drinking tube with a bite valve makes hiking much easier. It saves time by providing quick access to your water without having to stop and pull out your water bottle. When connected to the water bladder you will have two liters of drinking water accessible. The tube can also be used for a variety of survival techniques, including a solar evaporative still.



food rations

Food – High Calorie Food Rations

A bar like this packs a lot of energy, protein, and vitamins you need for extended hiking. Add a can of peanut butter, walnuts, jerky, trail mix, or anything with high fat and calories and you’ll stay energized. These bars have a shelf life of over 5 years, are ready to eat, and don’t taste that bad. This provides 3,600 which would provide 1,200 calories a day but you’d be happier if you doubled (or trippled) that, especially if you are hiking with a pack.



Woodland Camo Poncho

Shelter is the first priority if you are lost and temperature is dropping fast or its raining. This poncho is designed to cover a backpack while you’re hiking and doubles as a tarp for a quick shelter. When the weather turns bad you’ll be prepared. The benefit of this poncho over a tent is its light weight and multiple uses. If you do add a tent consider a bivy or this tent from Eureka. Even if you add a tent consider adding the poncho for protection while hiking. You may also consider adding a Poncho Liner for added warmth and for use as a ground cloth when you sleep. Another item that is a must have is Gore Tex Bivy for your sleeping bag. With this item you could sleep in a foot of snow and stay dry and warm. No matter what they say about down sleeping bags, a wet sleeping bag is going to suck, no matter what it’s made out of.

Sleeping Bag – 0 Degree Down Bag

Down bags are preferred because they light and can pack to be very small (especially with a compression sack). A goretex biv sack would is a good idea to keep the down dry. Most people say down is a bad idea because it’s worthless when it gets wet but I can’t think of anything that would keep you warm if it was wet. Try to have your bag be 5 lbs or less. Sleeping bag ratings are generally “off” by 30 degrees if you’re going for comfort. If a bag rated at 40 degrees it really would be comfortable to 60-70 (basically a sleep over bag in someone’s house). Be sure to add that into the equation when you are selecting your bag. Some tricks to make a bag warmer is to zip your coat up and pull it over your feet, wrap your poncho around the outside of your sleeping bag, get in a tent or biv sack (adding 10 degrees), and zipping bags together to stay warm with another person. If you wash your bag incorrectly or it gets wet it could ruin the insulation properties.



First Aid Kit –
Tactical Trauma Kit

A first aid kit is one of the most used items in extended survival settings. This is only for the carrying case and you’ll want to add your own first-aid items including moleskin and antiseptic wipes.Quikclot will save your life if you have a deep wound that won’t stop bleeding. A SWAT Tourniquet and Suture Kit are also a good ideas.


Tactical and Evasive Module

Most bug out or emergency situations are caused by natural disasters, home fires, and other normal things like your car breaking down. Other times it may be necessary to stay hidden from people (like the crazy violent people that came out of the woodworks after Katrina). And zombies, you should always be prepared for zombies. If you need to defend yourself, provide reconnaissance, or need to stay hidden add this module to your bug out bag.

  • Handgun – I prefer the Glock 9mm for two reasons. The Glock is the most reliable gun on the market and 9mm is a very common (and low cost) ammunition. There is more stopping power in a larger caliber gun but the magazines don’t hold as much ammo and ammo of other calibers are less common and more expensive.
  • Camoflage All items – Your bag, clothes, coat, pants, and poncho should all blend in to your environment. If you are in an urban environment consider dark or black clothing and plan on moving at night.
  • Ammo – 100 Rounds in your bug out bag with stashes in strategic positions. Ammo is heavy!
  • Snare wire for tripwires and early detection alarms.
  • Camo face paint
  • Night Vision Monocular
  • Ghillie Suit
  • Folding Shovel – Ground cover is an excellent way to stay out of the elements and from eye site. A shovel can help you dig a hole to conceal yourself in.
  • Gun cleaning kit

Rescue Module

There may be times you really want to be found. In addition to a good signal fire add these items to your bag.

  • Flares
  • Signal Mirror
  • Bright orange poncho
  • Whistle or a Fog Horn

Extended Camp Items

These items are items that would be useful in extended camp situations. These are items that would weigh you down if your bug out bag was only intended for three days but would be valuable if you needed to bug out for an extended period of time (a week to a month). If you think you’ll be bugging out for more than a month you should plan on having a bug out location complete with seeds, replenishable water, and a solid (low profile) shelter.

  • Tactical Knife/Tool – This knife can dig, pry, hammer, chop, cut, and saw. It can replace a hatchet, crowbar, and folding shovel.
  • Hammock
  • Ground Mat
  • Fishing Kit (10 LB Florocarbon Line, Treble Hooks Size 14, Bait Hooks Size 6, Clear Casting Bubble, Clip-on Weights)
  • Fish Net – Buy a replacement fishing net or remove the fishing net from a the frame
  • Knife Sharpener
  • Folding Saw
  • Folding Shovel
  • Hatchet
  • Leatherman – Multitool
  • Ruger 22 Rifle – For hunting and defense
  • Tarp
  • Dish Soap
  • Fork and Spoon
  • Mess Kit
  • MSR Titanium 0.85 Liter Pot – If you have the stainless steel water bottle you may not need this addition weight but it might be nice. This titanium pot is extremely light weight and very strong. Pots are preferred over mess-kits because they have the ability to boil more water. The lid on this model fits tight making for a quick boiling time and it keeps out ashes. The metal handles won’t melt in the fire and fold out of the way. These can boil stew and cook like a small skillet too. It can be used in a buried ground oven. If you have one thing for cooking it would be this pot.
  • Universal Fuel Backpacking Stove – I like the MSR International Whisperlite
  • White Gas Fuel with Container
  • Salt & Spices (Pepper & Garlic)
  • Tin Foil
  • Dish Rag
  • Trash Bags – Try to get black and clear bags but if you have to pick one go with clear
  • Duct Tape
  • Zip Lock Bags
  • Metal Coat Hanger and Snare Wire
  • Sewing Kit (with safety pins)

Communication Items

  • Notepad and Pencil
  • Solar/Crank Radio with built in solar charger.
  • Two Way Radios
  • Digital Camera
  • Cell Phone (with USB Cord)
  • Spare batteries

Comfort & Entertainment Module

  • Alcohol (Booze for trading, for comfort, or as an antiseptic or pain killer)
  • Tobacco ( Extremely valuable barter item)
  • Book for Reading (Survival, edible plant guide, and inspirational)
  • Deck of Cards
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Chap-stick
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Toilet Paper
  • Feminine Hygiene… if applicable

Navigation and ID Module

  • Important Documents (At least have copies of birth certificates, divers licenses, passport, social security card)
  • Money (Silver coins)
  • Maps
  • Compass – Make sure it has a signaling mirror and a magnifying glass (for making fire).
  • GPS
  • Pictures of Loved Ones – For possible identification
  • Jump Drive with important documents, photos, phone lists, and other things loaded on it.


The clothes you wear are the most important items that will be part of your survival strategy. Being prepared for weather conditions with a good coat, rain jacket, and good shoes will play an important role in your bag.

  • Hat (Wide Brim and breathable in the summer and warm and cozy in the winter.)
  • Underwear – It feels good to change into something fresh after a few days on the trail.
  • Socks – Wool in the winter and a pair of replacement socks in the summer.
  • Knee High Nylons – If you plan on walking long distances slipping these beneath regular socks can save your feet from major blisters.
  • Fleece Jacket – Try to avoid cotton and get something that pulls the moisture away from your skin.
  • Work Gloves – Good for going through brush, working, and cooking with a campfire.
  • Flip Flops – After a long hike it feels mighty good to put around camp in a pair of these. Getting out of your boots is a good way to prevent fungus and foot rot.
  • Insect Head Netting – This can be used to leach accorns, catch small minnows, and fend off hordes of mosquitoes and other bugs.
Don’t waste your space or money on:
  • Emergency blankets – They keep water off but they do not keep you warm. You will freeze to death if you try using them for warmth.
  • Excessive guns, knives, ammo. Ideally your bug out bag should get you to your bug out location or at least to a temporary stash of more supplies. In order to move quickly only carry enough ammo to get you to your retreat destination. Speed and concealment will be extremely important.
  • Butane stoves or lanterns – they won’t light when its cold and are usually heavy. You’d be better off getting multi-fuel stoves that can burn white gas, unleaded, and kerosene fuels.
  • Most Snake Bite Kits – From what I could tell most snake bite kits are outdated and dangerous to use. Research the snakes in your local area and put together your own kit based off your research.
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Olive Garden® Soup Recipe: Zuppa Toscana – Itialian Tuscan Soup Recipe


Delicious Tuscan Sausage Soup

Delicious Tuscan Sausage Soup

Zuppa Toscana is a sausage and potato based soup. It is both flavorful and nutritious. The kale in the recipe gives it some texture and added vitamin A, C, and B12. It can be made spicy or mild depending on what you like. The best part of the recipe is that it is very easy to put together and the whole family will love it. This particular recipe would feed 6-8 people as a main course. Adding some fresh bread sticks or a loaf of artisian bread and you’ll have a meal you could only find in the Tuscan region of Italy (or Olive Garden of course).

Printable Version

Ingredient List
1 Pound Mild Italian Sausage (Ground)
1 1/2 Teaspoons Crushed Red Peppers (Leave out for mild version)
1 Large Diced White Onion
1/4 Cup Diced Bacon Pieces
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
10 Cups Water
5 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Pound Sliced Russet Potatoes (Roughly 3 or 4 potatoes)
3 Leaves of Kale

Flavor Tips

  • Replace the 10 Cups of water and 5 Bouillon Cubes with 5 Cups Water and 80 Ounces of Chicken Broth (or roughly 5 small cans (14 oz) of chicken broth).
  • Replace the 2 Teaspoons of Garlic Powder with Two Garlic Cloves or Two Teaspoons Crushed Garlic.
  • Leave the skin on the Potatoes for added texture and vitamins.

Steps to Make the Soup
1) Saute sausage & red pepper. Drain fat, refriderate while preparing other ingredients.
2) Saute bacon, onions, and garlic over low to medium heat for approximately 15 minutes or until the onions are clear and soft.
3) Add chicken bouillon and water to pot. Bring to boil.
4) Add sliced potatoes and cook until soft. Check regularly to avoid overcooking.
5) Add heavy cream, kale, sausage and bring back to boil.
6) Remove from heat and enjoy!

Total Time to Make: 30 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy


How to grow a peach tree


Selecting and growing a peach tree involves a number of steps. If you follow the steps you’ll have a tree that produces fruit each year.

Selecting the tree. When selecting your tree there are two things you need to consider pollination and the planting zone.

Pollination – most trees require or improve fruit yield significantly when cross pollinated. You will need a with a compatible tree to help trees become pollinated. Luckily most peach trees are self pollinating. A second tree can help increase the harvest but is not required. There are only four varieties of peach trees that are self-unfruitful J.H. Hale, Hal-Berta, Candoka, Earlihale, and Mikado (June Elberta). All other common varieties are self fruitful.

Planting Zone – You need to find a tree that will do well in your current climate. Each variety of peach tree is ideal in certain planting zones. Your local home-mega-hardware-store sells fruit trees that are outside of your local planting zone. I found this out the hard way and bought a tree that wasn’t hardy enough to live through the cold winters where I live. It is advisable to avoid these types of stores all together and support local nurseries that sell trees in your
planting zone.
Planting Zones in the United States USA

Planting the Tree Try to plant your tree while it is dormant (with the leaves off). This is usually early spring or late fall. The damage to the roots and shock of transplanting is reduced if the tree is dormant. Select a area that has good drainage and full sunlight. Dig a whole twice as deep and wide as the root ball of your tree. If your ground is particularly rocky, or is hardened clay, try to loosen up the dirt a little deeper and wider. At the bottom of the hole add a bed of soil mixed with potting soil for the root ball to rest on. Try to free the root ball from growing in a circular and have it start to spread out its roots instead. Be careful to not harm the fine roots as they are the most important. Set the root ball in place and align the trunk so it is vertical. While holding the tree vertical push back the soil and fill in the hole. Pat the dirt in but be careful not to break off the fine roots you’ve just planted. Add some root stimulator and fertilizer over the fresh dirt and water the tree deeply everyday for a week. Deeply water every other day for a couple weeks after that. After five weeks make sure your tree is getting deep waterings at least twice a week. Mulch around the fresh dirt and under the dripline of the tree at least two inches deep. Use untreated wood chips instead of rubber to mulch. As the wood chips break down valuable nutrients and soil conditioners will further aid your tree. Fertilize in the fall and in the spring. Try to avoid using pesticides as you may be killing valuable bees in the process.

Peach Tree Details

Need Polinator Zone Ripen Date Fruit Size Notes
Reliance Peach
Reliance Peach
Self Polinating 4-8 July 20 Medium Cold hardy. Reliable canner.
Elberta Peach
Self Polinating 5-9 September 5 Large Used for Eating & Canning. Not dense fruit production.
Gold Peach
Self Polinating 7-9 November 10 Medium Good in the desert.
Veteran Peach
Self Polinating 5-9 August 30 Medium Cold hardy. Excellent winter peach. Good canning.