Courtesy of Gun Digest‘s sister brand, Living Ready, here are the 29 items you'll want to stock up on now (other than ammo) when facing uncertain times. The well-prepared citizen will already have these items on hand, but it's never too late to start.
Fruit, canned and fresh
Vegetables (canned and root vegetables)
Lamp oil and oil lanterns
Propane, propane stoves
What other items can you think of to add to this list? Leave a comment below.
Tired of venison jerky that's a chore to make and tastes like cardboard? Here's the absolute best venison jerky recipe. It's simple and is made in the oven.
The world has you convinced that venison jerky needs to be a gristly jawbreaker of edible cardboard. That the best venison jerky recipes must involve a smoker you'll use once a year, a dehydrator in pieces somewhere in the basement or an impossible-to-clean oven rack. That unless you nick your thumb with a knife while filleting venison down to the width of a toothpick, you're doing it wrong.
No, friends, the world is wrong.
The Best Venison Jerky Recipe
The following is what I believe to be the absolute best venison jerky recipe. You might call it “nugget-style venison jerky” or “steak-style venison jerky.” I'm calling it “Living Ready style venison jerky.”
Step 1: Prep the Cuts
Use a sharp knife to cut chunks of venison about the size of your index finger. There isn't an exact science, but do keep the cuts under a half-inch thick. The cuts don't need to be uniform, but it helps.
Step 2: Salt Soak
Place the venison cuts in salted water for 24 hours to draw out the blood. This step is easy to overlook, but it keeps the jerky tender.
Step 3: Find the Cure
Buy a bag of commercial curing mix, available at sporting goods stores (it looks like regular salt). It's important the mix contains either sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate. It can be pre-seasoned or unseasoned. If it's unseasoned, buy a dry rub to combine with the cure.
Don't like sodium nitrite/nitrate? You're not going to have much luck with this venison jerky recipe. These agents of preservation mean the difference between tender, flavorful jerky and dry steak chunks as appetizing as poker chips.
Step 4: Making Magic
Remove the venison cuts from the salt soak. Place them in a sealable, plastic freezer bag and mix in the cure (including dry seasonings). Coat the cuts, seal the bags and let it all sit in the fridge for 24 hours. Behold the power of chemistry in action as the venison transforms from mere meat to pre-dried jerky.
Step 5: Head to the Oven
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the venison cuts on a pizza pan with holes in the bottom or on a wire rack over a cookie sheet. The idea is to allow airflow underneath the pieces.
Step 6: Wait 5 Hours
Cook the venison cuts in the oven at 200 for five hours. Flip each piece at the 2.5-hour mark.
Final Step: Eat Up
Have a bite after the jerky completely cools. You'll understand why this is the best venison jerky recipe of all time.
Because this jerky is larger and softer, it's much more versatile than the standard strips. Here are some possible uses:
The best laid SHTF plans don't start and end with survival shelters and gear. They're often grounded in a particular moral or philosophical worldview.
There's plenty of evidence for this in Living Ready‘s poll about the role of faith in preparedness. Readers told Living Ready that regardless of their faith or lack thereof, some sort of worldview informs each decision they make.
When it comes to actually applying those views in a survival situation, the waters get a little murky. Living Ready asked readers on its Facebook page what they would do in this scenario:
The SHTF a month ago, but you're plenty prepared to ride things out for a long time. You look out the window of your fortified shelter and see a toddler clearly starving to death. There are no other people around except the toddler. What do you do?
Readers Respond with Their SHTF Survival Shelter Plans
“I will let God guide me. Until we know exactly what we are up against there is no way to figure out in advance how I will react to anything. But……I may find myself with a whole bunch of new grandkids.” – Laurie Blanchette
“I wouldn't trust that there would be no other people around. We'd have people out watching and doing a check of the close and far perimeter (maybe someone has sent him in and they're half a mile away with a scope, watching) before we engage the child and bring him/her in.” – Carrie Bartkowiak
“By that time many that weren't prepared will be extremely desperate and they will try to take advantage of our emotions. Luckily my group has good situational awareness and contingencies for said event. That kid would be coming inside with us regardless if it were a trap or not.” – Justin King
“Living through a SHTF knowing you made the decision to allow that child to die would not be a world worth living in. We follow what Jesus would do.” – Susan Anderson
“Discreetly secure a perimeter and use counter surveillance/counter sniper techniques while observing and assessing the toddler. Ultimately we would ensure the child's safety, but only after very careful consideration. There are a number of ways that this could play out.” – Jeff Tremblay
“I would think it was a trap. Toddlers don't just appear out of nowhere. Desperate people would use anything to lure you out of your safety zone. However, since I have plenty of back-up, I would probably take the kid in after a waiting period and a perimeter search. I guess you don't know for sure until it actually happens.” – Julie Campbell
“I would care for and feed a child in a heartbeat. HOWEVER, that toddler didn't get to our place on its own. It wouldn't have survived. So there would have to be some checking done of just who and where those adults were.” – Kathi McBride Martin
“One: Stop looking out the window! Two: How fortified is your shelter if it has a window you can look out!?” – Michael Tardie
“I would save the child, even if it is a biological outbreak. I would not rush out right away, though. I would circle around the perimeter, then wait, depending on what I feel at the moment, either circle back to the entrance I came out of, or do a wider perimeter search with a vantage point towards my shelter and the child.” – Jazer Andrew Sotomayor
What's Your Survival Shelter SHTF Plan?
If your SHTF plan depends on riding things out in a survival shelter, what would you do in this scenario?
Here's my recipe for venison stuffed cabbage rolls. There are many venison recipes out there, but this one stands out. Be sure to check out my tips for preparing venison the right way before giving this recipe a try. And if you have a lot of venison to spare, don't miss the secret to the best venison jerky period.
Venison Stuffed Cabbage Rolls: Ingredients
Michilli cabbage (or any type of cabbage on hand, but use two) Few cloves of crushed garlic Olive oil 1.5 quarts of homemade, canned whole tomatoes (or a 14.5-ounce can of crushed tomatoes from the store) Lemon juice Water Spoonful of flour Chopped onions Tomato paste Ground venison Milk Salt Pepper Two eggs Cooked rice
Less than 100 years ago, 50 million people died from an influenza pandemic. Since then, the planet has become only more crowded as some areas of medicine run out of treatment options, creating conditions suitable for another global outbreak.
Here are five pandemics that could wipe out humanity in the near future, along with my own unscientific odds of it actually happening and a prep tip to keep you grounded.
Pandemic #1: The Return of the Spanish Flu
Although the trendy term for a TEOTWAWKI health event today is “pandemic,” the worst and most recent such outbreak in modern history was labeled under the deceivingly mundane “flu” name: The Spanish Flu. It was so devastating it practically ended World War I in 1918 all by itself.
Although the Spanish Flu actually originated somewhere else in World War I Europe, neutral Spain got stuck with the name likely because of the Allies' and Central Powers' propaganda machines containing information along the Western front.
Regardless of where it started, around 50 million people worldwide would later die from the Spanish Flu. Many of them had only hours to live after first noticing the symptoms. Thankfully, it burned itself out by the end of 1919, exiting the stage just in time for the 20th Century “good ol' days” of the Great Depression, another world war and the start of a decades-long Cold War. Yep, the Spanish Flu is a thing of the past.
Or is it?
Diseases adapt to their environments. The fast-killing strains had to go away because they ran out of hosts. The slower moving ones mutated into what became today's worst flu strains. (P.S. Go read Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond for a fascinating history lesson on how diseases shaped humanity.)
Remember swine flu from a few years back? And bird flu in the mid-2000s? Those were all distant relatives of the Spanish Flu. From ABC News comes this Spanish Flu news:
Health experts are concerned that the Spanish flu that ravaged the world has many similarities to the avian flu now found throughout Southeast Asia.
The 1918 flu strain itself originated as an avian flu that mutated into a form that could jump between humans. And the 1918 strain, according to research published this week in the scientific journals Nature and Science, has several of the same genetic mutations as the current avian flu strain.
Could a deadly pandemic happen again? Some doctors say yes.
On the plus side, maybe the Spanish won't get the shaft on naming rights this time around.
SHTF Odds: 21%
The Verdict: The Spanish Flu never went away, but thankfully its modern relatives are under close observation by health agencies.
The Prep: The more self-sufficient you are, the less likely you are to go out into the great unwashed masses. Check out the Little House in the Suburbs book to get started.
Pandemic #2: Drug-Resistant Bacteria
Viruses like the Spanish Flu don't get to have all the fun. Bacteria want a piece of the action, too. In an ironic twist, the harder humanity tries to get rid of them, the stronger bacteria become.
Here's how that happens. A dose of antibiotics in sick humans, livestock or other animals wipes out harmful bacteria causing the illness. But a small number of bacteria survive because of some quirk in their genetics. Those bacteria reproduce and can spread to other hosts, living as long as a stronger antibiotic doesn't kill them.
When antibiotics are overused, you wind up with stronger bacteria. Some may even become resistant to any antibiotics. It's important to find a balance to prevent so-called “superbugs” from developing.
Not to worry, Dr. Uncle Sam is on the case. As this PBS article on drug-resistant bacteria highlights, Congress started the Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance in 1999 to address the problem, with predictable results:
Part of the problem is that there’s been very little attention at the highest levels of government to antibiotic resistance. Although Congress created an Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance in 1999, the committee hasn’t put together the “coordinated, national surveillance plan” its own action plan recommended in 2001. The task force has no dedicated staff and when we asked the CDC to tell us about it, we learned that the body has only met in person 11 times.
I guess that's where the phrase “death by committee” originated.
And that's not an article posted years ago. PBS ran that this week. There's not enough space here to get into why antibiotics are overused, but it's certainly a concern.
SHTF Odds: 29%
The Verdict: Until humanity can figure out how to find a balance with antibiotics, those odds are only going to go up. This is a scary one. Watch this PBS video report if you don't believe me.
The Prep: Learn how to use a First Aid kit effectively, like this comprehensive Grizzly Adventure Medical Kit at the Living Ready Store. Quick treatment of injuries can prevent you needing antibiotics in the first place. Don't be part of the problem.
Pandemic #3: SARS/MERS
It's already been 10 years this month since the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak infamously hit Toronto, Canada, after making its way from Asia. The outbreak ended in 2004 after claiming less than 1,000 lives worldwide, as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports on its SARS website.
On October 5, 2012, the National Select Agent Registry Program published a final rule declaring SARS coronavirus a select agent.A select agent is a bacterium, virus or toxin that has the potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety.
Well, anything could be a potential. I could potentially be hit by an elephant dropping out of the sky. That doesn't mean it's going to happen, right?
Actually, SARS is slowly crawling its way back into the spotlight. Reports out of Mecca in Saudi Arabia indicate a new type of SARS, called MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus), is infecting religious pilgrims. A SARS report fromThe National in September lays it out:
Countries sending pilgrims to the Haj in Saudi Arabia should increase surveillance for a deadly virus that has killed more than 50 people in the kingdom, the World Health Organisation’s emergency committee has said.
While the committee said the Mers coronavirus outbreak is not yet a public health emergency, the Haj pilgrimage, which begins next month [October] and last year attracted 3 million pilgrims, has raised concerns that the virus could spread globally.
The concern here is having that many people in one spot with a relatively unknown virus on the loose. Cramped quarters in World War I led to the Spanish Flu. Could the Haj be ground zero for the same kind of outbreak?
SHTF Odds: 12%
The Verdict: The Haj ended earlier this month without much fanfare on the viral front. Still, MERS will and should be a concern for this annual Islamic pilgrimage. Time will tell, but officials are already screening pilgrims for MERS in and out of Mecca, a good sign that the lessons from the Spanish Flu are being heeded. However, pandemics love, love, love high concentrations of people in small areas.
The Prep: Don't lose too much sleep over this one. Read a book instead with this bundle of survival guides and gear at the Living Ready Store. It includes two Creek Stewart survival books and some cool gear at a great discount.
Pandemic #4: The Bubonic Plague
Sensing a pattern yet? Diseases don't go away. They just change shape and lurk until the right moment.
The Bubonic Plague (aka, “The Black Death,” “The Plague” or – as I like to call it – “The Reason I Don't Feel Bad About Mouse Traps Disease”) is still around. Last year, 256 people in Madagascar died from the Plague. Rats are to blame, as they were in the 14th Century, for the outbreak. Or more specifically, the fleas that transmit the disease from rats to humans.
Not surprisingly, overcrowding is the spark for the latest Plague outbreak, this time in rat-infested prisons. Here's the latest on the Madagascar prison Plague from The Guardian:
Christoph Vogt, head of the ICRC delegation in Madagascar, said: “The chronic overcrowding and the unhygienic conditions in prisons can bring on new cases of the disease. That's dangerous not only for the inmates but also for the population in general.”
An average of 500 cases have been recorded on the island every year since 2009. October is the peak month as hot humid weather attracts fleas, which transmit the disease from rats and other animals to humans.
Containing the rats is critical. Because if the disease ever jumped the prison wall…
Christophe Rogier of the Pasteur Institute of Madagascar told the BBC: “If the plague gets into prisons there could be a sort of atomic explosion of plague within the town. The prison walls will never prevent the plague from getting out and invading the rest of the town.”
AUDIE CORNISH: For most of us, plague is something that maybe we read about in history books. In the 14th Century, it wiped out half of Europe's population. But the bacteria is busy killing wildlife now in the American West. By studying small mammals scientists have learned that plague is far more pervasive a killer than anyone thought.
BIGGINS: Plague would come from this unknown source and invade quickly into a prairie dog town, explode and kill almost all the prairie dogs, and then disappear back into its reservoir form where it existed without damaging anything too much.
And from the same article:
Plague is killing various kinds of mice and ground squirrels in New Mexico and Mexican wood rats in Colorado.
All it would take is a way for the Plague to get from these U.S. rodents to humans, and you'd have yourself a pandemic straight out of the 14th Century. It may already be happening. Last month, The New York Times reported that the U.S. is near the top of Plague countries:
The United States now ranks 11th in the world in cases of plague, according to a new survey of the disease.
With 57 cases in a decade, it is far below the hardest-hit countries, Congo with 10,581 and Madagascar with 7,182. Still, it is the only wealthy country on the list; 97 percent of cases are in Africa.
Feel free to set a mouse trap tonight.
SHTF Odds: 17%
The Verdict: The Plague is out there, but the reports are scattered. This is one that will probably sneak up on humanity, starting off in some remote town or even a cabin. Fortunately, we've come a long way in the hygiene department since the 14th Century, so it hopefully won't get too far.
The Prep: You have some time to prepare with this one. Check out the Living Ready Ultimate Survival Workshop. It's packed with 10 hours of video instruction from preparedness and self-sufficiency experts, four books and a lot more.
Pandemic #5: The Unknown
Pandemics don't check in with the CDC before unleashing hell on humanity. There are “known unknowns” out there that could pop up without any warning. Still, science can make educated guesses. This article on the next big pandemic in the New York Times outlines the traits to watch for:
Prediction is difficult. But we can be reasonably confident on a few points. The worst new diseases of the future, like those of the recent past, will be zoonotic [This means they came from nonhuman animals and made the leap to humans]. Unfamiliar pathogens come to people from wildlife or livestock. The scariest of the new bugs will probably be viruses. Formidable, hardy, opportunistic and impervious to antibiotics, viruses replicate and evolve quickly. They exist in extraordinary diversity and seem ever ready to colonize new hosts.
Experts believe that the next global pandemic is likely to be caused by a virus with high “intrinsic evolvability,” meaning that it mutates especially quickly or recombines elements of its genetic material during the process of replication. It crackles and snaps with accidental variation. Darwin told us that variation is the raw material of adaptive change; and adaptive change is what enables an organism to thrive in unfamiliar conditions — including human hosts.
In other words, it's like trying to predict where a home run ball is going to hit the outfield bleachers. You know the ball will be somewhere in that area, but all you can do is bring a glove in hopes of catching it before it knocks someone else in the melon. It boils down to good timing, educated guessing and just plain luck.
Live ready, friends.
SHTF Odds: 99.99%
The Verdict: When survival experts like Creek Stewart say things like, “It's WHEN not IF,” they may as well be talking about pandemics. They may or may not claim lives in the millions. But they're certainly going to happen. Diseases will be around as long as there are people.
The Prep: Pick up yourself one of these survival knives from the Living Ready Store. The knife is the most basic yet essential piece of survival gear you can own. It's also the most practical. Let it serve as a reminder to live ready: prepared, skilled and aware.
It's a bit of an oxymoron to use the words “quick slow-cooker” in the name of this survival bread recipe. But that's exactly what this is: a quick way to make survival bread in a slow cooker (aka “crock pot”). The baking time may be long, but the prep time is lightning fast.
What is Survival Bread?
As explained in a previous post about survival bread recipes, there are two criteria that must be met for this type of preparedness food:
The survival bread recipe must use only ingredients that can be stored for a long time.
It must be cooked using basic appliances (i.e. nothing crazy about the baking methods).
As it often does, simplicity equals versatility when it comes to survival bread. This allows for endless experiments in the kitchen – indoors and out. The following is one of my favorite off-the-beaten path recipes.
Quick Slow Cooker Survival Bread Recipe
3/4 cup warm water
1 yeast packet
1 1/2 cups flour
Dash of salt
Spoonful of sugar
Proof the yeast in the water for a few minutes. Add the flour, the salt and the sugar. Make a dough ball and set it on a greased piece of parchment paper that's a couple inches larger than the dough.
Turn the slow cooker on high and set the paper inside so it separates the pot from the dough. There's no need to let the dough rise before putting it in the slow cooker. Let the bread bake for 1.5 hours, or until a toothpick comes out of the middle clean. Make sure it's cooked completely or it'll turn out gummy.
This recipe turned out better than expected. The loaf was dense and moist, perfect for homemade jam. Don't expect the bread to brown up, though. It'll likely be pale from top to bottom.
If you prefer a boost of flavor, add some dried spices. It'd be easy enough to whip up a sweet or herbed version.
Experiment with baking in your slow cooker. Unlike an oven, these handy gadgets don't suck a ton of power. Should you be running electricity through a generator, a slow cooker might become your oven for every meal.
Davey Tree submitted these tips for flood preparedness and tree management. The two might seem unrelated, but they actually have quite a bit in common. Sick trees are more likely to become dislodged during a flood. They can cause damage to your property or to a neighboring area.
Even healthy trees can be a concern in flood-prone areas. This is especially true after a flood. From Davey Tree:
Flooding can drown a tree’s roots and the root cells die due to the lack of oxygen
Organic matter decomposition releases carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen sulfide and other harmful gases
Foliage submerged for prolonged periods will have a difficult time recovering
Floating debris can cause damage to the tree and bark
Excessive water removes soil from root zones and leads to an instable trunk
The best way to address these issues is to either remove the tree yourself or get in touch with an arborist. In either case, the decision should be a thoughtful one. Trees take too long to grow and add too much value to property to jump into a decision.
Flood Preparedness: 5 Things to Watch for with Trees
Davey Tree suggested watching for these five factors when it comes to trees:
Premature fall color
Wilted leaves, discolored foliage and die-back are all caused by flooding
The emergence of pest infestations
Exposed roots or unstable trunk
Flood Preparedness: Tree Management Options
Total removal of a tree isn't always necessary. Here are some other options to consider, as offered by Davey Tree.
Corrective pruning of dead/broken branches
Re-setting or staking trees that are unstable or leaning
Flush sediments and leach the soil
Pest management as needed
Add mulching to protect new sensitive roots and improve aeration
Management of mineral nutrition with micro-nutrients and slow-release nitrogen sources
Where salt water has intruded, the soil may need to be leached to remove the sodium
Sediment deposits should be removed to return soil level to original grade
Trees that are kept in a healthy condition will be better able to withstand massive flooding
In any case, the goal is always to have trees that can stay strong before and after a flood. Don't skip this straightforward and important bit of flood preparedness.
From solar and wind to portable generators and PowerPots, prepared folks are always curious about alternative energy sources. They can provide energy security when mainstream sources fail, and even cost savings in the long run.
One question that pops up quite a bit is that of E85 fuel for vehicles. This blend of 85% ethanol and 15% traditional gasoline offers an alternative when prices at the pump skyrocket. Ethanol is made from corn grown in the United States, insulating the commodity against foreign events, such as war or political unrest. Claims have also been made about E85's fuel efficiency.
That said, is it worth it to convert a vehicle from traditional gasoline to E85? One Living Ready reader, Clay Atnip, crunched the numbers for his conversion, then sent in the results. Here's what he determined.
Researching the E85 Conversion
“I was researching switching my 2002 Ford Taurus SE Station Wagon E85. There are only a few differences between the regular and E85 version of my car: PCM, fuel injectors, ECU and different plugs. The gas lines, fuel pump, seals, rings and etcetera all have the same parts numbers from unleaded to E85. The myth that E85 will melt the fuel system of a non-E85 vehicle is a myth.
“The cost of putting E85 parts on my car was high, too high to consider.
“I researched E85 converters that plug into your injectors. They ran about $400 for kits that are completely automatic and sense the octane and alcohol level, to $200 for kits that have a sliding switch on the side to manually adjust the setting ‘by ear.'”
The Verdict: E85 Conversion Not Worth It
“I then researched the ‘savings' I would get from E85 and how long it would take me to pay off the conversion kit from the ‘savings.'
“There aren't any. You don't save money by switching to E85. My Taurus gets an average of 19 mpg on unleaded and 14 mpg on E85. That's a loss of about 30%.
“Currently E85 prices versus unleaded prices locally are a difference of 3%. Do the math, there are no savings there.
“I had read that you can produce your own ethanol for $0.75 per gallon. However, building an ethanol still is even more expensive. Buying a pre-built one can cost $10,000 to $19,000. Even if you have the plans and build it yourself the cost can be high.”
An Alternative to the E85 Conversion
Atnip then looked at ways to increase fuel efficiency without a lot of work. Here are his tips:
Make sure tires are at the correct pressure
Get rid of excess weight, such as heavy tools stored in the vehicle
Change the oil, spark plugs and air filters on a regular basis
Don't idle for long periods of time (that goes for winter warm-ups, too)
Use air conditioning sparingly
Try adding 100% acetone to the gas tank, about 2 ounces per 10 gallons, and track the mileage difference
Reduce drag on the vehicle by keeping it clean
Ever Attempted an E85 Conversion?
What do you think of this experiment? Ever attempted an E85 conversion for yourself? Leave a comment below.
From rolling blackouts to hurricanes, floods to tornadoes, power can go out at a moment's notice. If the grid fails, the PowerPot will keep you charging! The PowerPot thermoelectric generator converts any heat source directly into power that charges your USB handheld devices. Get Yours Now
When the folks at our sister brand, Deer & Deer Hunting, first brought over this Icey-Tek 55-quart cooler for the Living Ready staff to check out, I couldn't believe it. Not the cooler. The price tag.
“You paid $295 for a cooler?” I said. “In that case, I'd like to tell you about the ocean front property I'm looking to sell cheap.”
But it soon became clear why the Deer & Deer Hunting crew had the cooler. It's not just a cooler. It's a time machine.
Which is to say, time ceases to exist inside it. That makes it the ultimate emergency food storage container.
The ultimate emergency food storage container
Here's what I mean. An average $50 or so cooler off the shelf at the local superstore will keep things cold for about 12 hours. After that, the ice melts and you're left with cooler soup.
The Deer & Deer Hunting crew had no use for cooler soup. What they needed something like a portable, non-electric refrigerator for keeping game fresh for long periods of time.
They got it with the Icey-Tek coolers. It's almost magical how ice doesn't melt inside the cooler. The super-insulated cooler will keep ice solid for days, not hours. Adding wild game and other food doesn't change that performance.
Stack that against the typical survival food buckets and survival food storage containers out there, and suddenly $50 doesn't look like such a great deal.
Not just for emergency food storage
While it's clear how the Icey-Tek coolers could help hunters, campers and others in the outdoors, the preparedness community might still need help seeing the benefits. After all, $295 is just one of the price points. They go up from there, too. That's money that could be spent on other preps.
Look at it this way. Icey-Tek coolers aren't just for survival food storage. They could be used for…
Keeping medicine, such as insulin, cold during extended blackouts
Storing food from the fridge and freezer when the power is out
Keeping heirloom seeds fresh at a stable temperature (remember that coolers don't make things hot or cold, they just retain the temperature inside)
Storing ammunition in a cool, dark, dry place
Coolers can seem like an afterthought. But a cooler isn't a cooler. There are good ones and bad ones. Your preparedness is only as good as its weakest link.
It's always great when readers of Living Ready‘s magazine and newsletter write in with questions. If the staff can't answer them, we usually know someone else with the right know-how. But this one has us stumped. Can you solve this riddle of cold weather car survival kits?
Jeff W. lives near Chicago, where the winters can get brutally cold. The summers can get just as hot. This makes it tough to balance the items in his car survival kit, or “go bag” as he calls it.
With the winter approaching, he wrote in with this question. It's a really good one.
When talking about go bags, most people think of being fully prepared for 72 hours or more. Up here north of Chicago, if I leave my bags in the car for a long shopping stop everything will freeze solid in the winter, and the inside of the vehicle will get north of 140 degrees in the summer.
Anything in a pressurized can, such as Fix-a-Flat, would not only freeze, but you run a real risk of it exploding along with your other supplies. Any cans of food, even solids like candles, can break to pieces at the slightest good bump.
In the summer, you have chances of your food spoiling or melting, fire starters possibility causing a fire, not to mention ammo and other flammables causing a fire.
Plus, all these huge swings in temperatures have to even affect items like tents, freeze-dried food, and other equipment shortening their life span also.
I have several go bags, but I really can't see a safe way to carry them on a regular basis in the above conditions in my vehicles. I guess you could always only carry the items that travel safely under the above conditions but that could leave you very short on supplies when you really need them.
I'm sorry but I can't figure an easy way around this issue.
Here was my suggestion:
You need two bags. One goes in the cab with you. The other one goes in the trunk.
The items that need to stay warm in the winter or cool in the summer (like a can of Fix-a-Flat) go in the bag in the front. That air will be conditioned to be cooler or warmer depending on the season. Even if you don't have AC, body heat or rolled down windows can help a lot.
The bag in the trunk is for things that need to stay out of the sun during the summer, aren't as sensitive to temperatures in the winter or just should stay in the trunk.
What about you? Have any suggestions? This riddle is the challenging reality everyone with car survival kits in a cold state (and warm states sometimes) faces with each extreme temperature swing.
From rolling blackouts to hurricanes, floods to tornadoes, power can go out at a moment's notice. If the grid fails, the PowerPot will keep you charging! The PowerPot thermoelectric generator converts any heat source directly into power that charges your USB handheld devices. Get Yours Now
Despite my initials, I have no intention of leading you into pastures of bovine manure when it comes to survival gear, friends. Neither does the rest of the Living Ready staff. Case in point: the Living Ready Store.
On a daily basis, we receive solicitations from survival gear companies to place products in our store. While this is certainly flattering, our response is always the same: Send a sample for us to test, and we'll add it if we like it. That leaves some products out in the cold and others straight to the highlight reel.
So when it seems like I and the Living Ready team are trying to sell you something, it's because that's exactly what we're doing. We're trying to put the best survival gear we could find into your hands. We don't want you to get lost on Amazon or Biff's Survival Website for Chumps and wind up with junk.
That said, it's about time for a rundown of the best survival gear in the Living Ready Store. The categories are:
Best Portable Generator (small)
Best Portable Generator (large)
Best Rocket Stove
Best Portable Water Filter Bottle
Best Insulated Cooler
Best Survival Knife for the Money
Best Gun Accessory
Best Survival Kit Item
1. Best Portable Generator (small): The PowerPot
The PowerPot is the reigning champ of innovative survival gear products. It converts hot water into electricity for charging batteries and gadgets. It's simple, easy-to-use and packs a massive “cool” factor.
Not that there's anything cooler than having electricity during an emergency in the first place. But when you think of the best survival gear innovations of the 21st Century, this is on top. You can read my full review here or order the PowerPot for $149 from LivingReadyStore.com right now.
2. Best Portable Generator (large): Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit
The great advantage of the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit is what it doesn't do. Unlike gasoline- and diesel-powered portable generators, this one doesn't make noise or require it be used outdoors.
This is a bigger deal than some might think. Gas generators have a tendency to walk away, especially during a crisis where people are desperate.
The Goal Zero Yeti 1250 can be brought indoors where it's safe. It packs enough juice to run an entire house for a day or two. It can then be recharged with the included solar panels or a wall outlet prior to a disaster. That means no worrying about gas stations running dry.
Any rocket stove worth its weight must use scrap fuel (think twigs and branches) in the most efficient way possible. The EcoZoom Versa gets things hot in a hurry using minimal fuel sources and a smart design that actually doesn't try to kill the person using it (imagine that!). Living Ready contributor Charley Hogwood of P.R.E.P. reviewed the EcoZoom Versa with flying colors, and he has the bacon to prove it.
Even better, for each Versa sold, EcoZoom will donate a rocket stove to a needy family. Now that's a true commitment to preparedness.
4. Best Portable Water Filter Bottle: Aqua Vessel Insulated Filtration Bottle
While dedicated water filters like the LifeStraw are indeed phenomenal products, they don't often leave survival kits. The modern prepared person needs something that works well for survival, but doesn't scream “look at the weirdo” when you bring it everywhere you go.
The Aqua Vessel Insulated Filtration Bottle is the solution. It marries form and function into a stylish, insulated bottle. Inside is a filter that removes 99% of nasties. It'll fit in at the office, the gym, hunting camp or when the SHTF.
Boy oh boy, did I catch flak from readers the first time the premium Icey-Tek ice chests were featured in the Living Ready newsletter. “You want $325 for a cooler? A cooler!?” was about the gist of it. But sure enough, the Icey-Tek line of insulated ice chests proved to be the best-selling items at Living Ready Store for several months.
Here's the deal. Icey-Tek ice chests aren't like the coolers you find at the gas station. These are more like electricity-free refrigerators that keep contents cold for days and days – not just an afternoon of fishing. The passage of time means nothing inside an Icey-Tek cooler. I wouldn't be surprised if Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones slept inside one of these things.
6. Best Survival Knife for the Money: SOG Team Leader
I'm a knife nut. I originally started at F&W Media (parent company of Living Ready) as a print editor for BLADE magazine a few presidential elections ago. As such, I look at knives like I look at steak: If you have to melt a bunch of cheese on top to sell it, there must be something wrong with what's underneath.
Simplicity is deceiving. That's why the best knifemakers in the world are constantly churning out “oh, I could do that”-looking knives and selling them for thousands of dollars. It's harder than it looks.
The Living Ready team sorted through a ton of stellar survival knives to find the best. Then we crunched the numbers to see how we could get one of those to you for under $100.
We did even better than that and wound up with the SOG Team Leader for under $50. It's a full tang, fixed blade knife ready and willing to be beaten and pounded on like the Vikings defense (sorry, but I'm a Packers fan). But in this case, there's no cheese necessary. The SOG Team Leader is without a doubt the best survival knife for the money.
The SnagMag found its way to Living Ready from sister pub Gun Digest. Stock quickly fell to zero, and Living Ready Store immediately ordered extra.
The SnagMag‘s popularity comes from its “wish I'd thought of that” design. It makes carrying a spare pistol magazine in your pocket a breeze. Handgunners and concealed carry permit holders, this is one for you.
The four-gallon CanCooker came to the Living Ready Store from the folks at Deer & Deer Hunting. They had hunting camp meals in mind, but I found its true calling is as a survival kit canister.
Fill up all four gallons of the CanCooker with your survival kit essentials and a desiccant pack, then snap the lid shut for an airtight seal. This will keep gear dry and secure.
You could get the same functionality out of an ammo box, but you'd be missing what the CanCooker was designed to do all along: cook things. In an emergency, unpack your survival gear, then use the CanCooker to boil water and cook food. It doesn't get better than that.
If living healthy means taking care of yourself as well as your family and friends, are you obligated to let them know about life-changing warnings? Let's say, the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI)?
It's not as irrelevant a question as it seems. Last week, Ukrainian astronomers predicted that a large asteroid may collide with Earth in 2032. The chances of this happening are slim, but they're still higher than the typical flyby (and there are a lot of them, check out this asteroid flyby chart and try to sleep tight tonight). Even more alarming, this 2032 asteroid is so large it's designated as a “minor planet.”
Did those scientists have a duty to report that dire warning to the world? With odds so low, it's easy to say yes. But what if the odds were 100 percent? Would it be responsible to tell others?
That's what Living Ready asked readers on its Facebook page. The most interesting answers are below.
Here's one last disturbing thought. Many people said they wouldn't tell a soul if they knew TEOTWAWKI was coming. By that reasoning, there could be someone – a scientist, politician, religious leader or just an average Joe – out there right now with that kind of knowledge and you'd never know it. If TEOTWAWKI was coming tomorrow, you wouldn't receive a heads up.
What Would You Do If You Knew TEOTWAWKI Was Coming?
“I'd tell everyone that I knew.” – Cheryl Lien
“If I was the only one who knew, I wouldn't tell a another soul.” – Jonathan Cooper
“Morally obligated to tell someone…problem is, as a known ‘paranoid' (someone who does a little prepping) no one would listen to me, any more than they give any regard to my suggestions to put some gear and food aside for simple prudence.” – Jcharles Tower
“I think the real question is, if all the world governments knew, would they tell us?” – Joyce L. Suich
“Odd question. How any ONE person could know this without anyone else knowing is impossible to imagine. On the other hand, I watch the weather where I have family living and don't hesitate to call if something bad is heading their way.” – Mike Phillips
“I'd tell everyone and have one hell of a week long party!” – Paul Kendall
“I'd tell my family members and announce it on my Facebook page. Probably my immediate neighbors, too. They're nice folks.” – Carrie Bartkowiak
“Well, if I was going to tell someone, it would only be people who could keep it a secret. And it would not be people in a city or in high population areas.” – James Thomas Hyde, Jr.
Which is more important to preparedness: hunting guns or survival food? Find out why a bullet might be better than a breadstick in this interesting feature.
All components of SHTF plans are important: survival communication, food, shelter, survival or hunting guns, medicine and gear are just a few. In a perfect world, a household would have enough money to purchase everything needed or all the skills to fill in the gaps. But that's just not the case.
With mortgages, insurance, day-to-day expenses and other financial burdens, prepared people have to make quick decisions about the preps they purchase. To put this into context, we asked readers to choose between survival guns and preserved food. The question was:
For long-term survival, would you rather have all the hunting guns, ammo and gear you could ever need and have to hunt for every meal you ate OR would you rather have all the food you could ever eat but never be able to use firearms, bows or other hunting gear?
Survival Guns or Food?
Many readers chimed in with their views. Just about everyone agreed that in the scenario above, hunting guns trump food.
“Firearms serve a dual purpose for both hunting and protection. So, truthfully, as tempting as an infinite food cache sounds, I'd stick with the firearms for the above reason.” – Steve Chapel
“I've never hunted a day in my life, but I would learn in a hurry.” – Ian Graham
“Either way you choose there is a good possibility that you will in the long run end up hungry and or dying. The food without any means of protecting it can easily be taken from you. Then you will have nothing. Having all the guns is no guarantee that you will be able to bring down game enough every single day or month. Balance is the key to life.” – Echo Moon
“Guns and gear. It's more work to hunt for your food, but you need protection.” – Julie Campbell
“You could trade gear for food VERY easy, not so much food for guns!” – Damon Stelly
“Hunting gear. It could serve dual purpose, like protection.” – Dale Durgin
“I'm going with the gear. Just have to get my wife to adjust her tastes a bit.” – Kyle Balek
An outbreak of the zombie virus spread across the globe overnight. Some say it's man-made. Others claim it's from outer space. Either way, TEOTWAWKI is here.
If you're reading this, you're one of the few survivors still with Internet. The following is the best zombie gear for the apocalypse from the Living Ready Store. Good luck.
1) Best Zombie Machete: Woodman's Pal Military
Everyone knows that the only way to kill a zombie is through decapitation. And if you don't, you will soon. Zombies are squirrely sunuvaguns, so you'll need gear that can really pack a bite on contact.
2) Best Zombie Emergency Radio: Eton American Red Cross FRX 3
For the latest news on the zombie outbreak, you'll need a radio that doesn't run out of batteries. So long as you can turn a hand crank 360 degrees, you'll always be in touch with the Eton American Red Cross FRX 3.
Here's what Living Ready‘s Corey Graff had to say in his Eton FRX 3 review shortly before joining the legions on the undead:
The FRX3 is small, just 7.875″ high x 7″ wide x 3.5″ deep, but it’s packed with useful features, including a built in solar panel and rechargeable Ni-MH battery (3.6V/600mAh) for extended use when grocery stores aren’t stocking batteries. It also plays on 3 AAA batteries, for times when the sun isn’t out.
It eliminates 99 percent of zombie viruses, plus giardia, cryptosporidium and many more nasties, all on its own. Just fill the bottle with water, then drink. It's that easy. When paired with a purifying chemical or disinfected water, it's even more effective.
After a long day, sometimes you just don't feel like getting off the couch to hack up that grotesque walker lumbering through your front door. If you have the CRKT Kangee T-Hawk, there's no need to worry. Just give this tactical tomahawk a forehead-splitting toss and you're done.
Of course, there are many practical uses for the CRKT Kangee T-Hawk, too. It's perfect for quick chopping tasks outside – or in. The smart design keeps this tool firmly in your hand during smooth operation.
Overall Length: 13.75 inches
Weight: 1 lb. 8.4 ounces
Blade Length: 2.93 inches
Thickness: 0.23 inches
Material: SK5 Carbon Steel
Finish: Black Powder Coat
Style: Axe Edge Front with Spike
Click here to get this best zombie ax from the Living Ready Store signed by its designer, Ryan Johnson.
5) Best Zombie First Aid Instruction
A zombie bite, just like any wound far from help, is serious business. The best thing to do is to quickly clean and close the wound, then see a doctor. But what if one isn't around and all you have are a few basic First Aid items?
If you've taken the How to Treat Wounds & Burns Online Course from Living Ready University, you'll know exactly what to do. Dr. James Hubbard, MD (aka The Survival Doctor) explains the must-know steps to take for treating wounds on the fly.
The reaction to this comic book was mixed. On the one hand, it's reaching audiences that may not have otherwise considered preparedness seriously.
On the other, is it responsible for the CDC to blur the lines between fiction and reality in an age when there is so much misinformation on the Internet already?
The topic was examined in-depth last year in Living Ready‘s article, The CDC's Zombie Survival Guide PDF Could Cost Real Lives. In a nutshell, it's better to draw a clear line of distinction between reality and fiction when it comes to disaster preparedness. Just as Jaws stoked paranoia about sharks – one that actually impacted shark populations – the blurring of entertainment and reality can become a problem.
At Living Ready, zombies are treated as pure fiction. There's no confusion between what is real and what isn't. Even in the recent article, 5 Best Zombie Gear Items for the Apocalypse, there's no mistaking reality for fiction.
Where the line tends to blur is with survival gear and information designed specifically for zombie preparedness. Zombie ammunition, zombie guns, zombie knives, zombie everything.
Should someone actually use those items on another person, the legal consequences would be severe.
Self-defense cases, even where a person is justified in using force, will examine every aspect of the situation. Zombie gear calls into question the mental faculties of the defendant. You can bet a prosecutor will exploit that for all its worth.
Don't bother with zombie-themed survival gear. Stick with the perennial products that don't hinge on fads. They'll probably work better anyway.
It's easy to think the entire family will be together when a disaster hits, but that's not always the case. In most survival scenarios, logistics will be a challenge. Everyone, from big city dwellers to rural homesteaders, needs to figure out how to gather everyone in one spot.
A natural disaster (like a flood or a fire) is only an hour from hitting your home. You decide to evacuate your family to safer territory, but one of the kids is at a friend's house located more than an hour away. You know the friend's family doesn't practice preparedness and is in harm's way. Do you evacuate the family you have with you knowing you'll be completely safe from the disaster? Or do you risk driving through the disaster as it hits to pick up the kid at the friend's house?
Basically, is it better to have a 100 percent chance of survival for most of your family, or a 50 percent chance of survival for all of your family? You could adjust that 50 percent to a different percentage if you wish, but the question is the essentially the same.
Your Responses to this Survival Scenario
The responses overwhelmingly endorsed splitting the family up, with one person going to collect the stray kid. That would require two vehicles and at least two drivers. Does this change your own family's emergency plan?
“Realistically, the wife and son/daughter would evacuate to safety with a 2-way radio, and I would go after the kid with the other radio.” – Justin King
“No child of mine would be left behind. I would go get them, regardless of the cost.” – Karen Walker Grummer
“If you must, rescue the child, but don't put the whole family in danger. Send as many of them on to safety as you can spare.” – Stephen Ledington
“Send the others to safety, and you are only risking yourself to rescue the kid.” – Laurie Blanchette
“Risk it all for my family.” – Janie Frieze
“I would go for the rescue of said kid BUT would also call and ask the people to meet me halfway with my child.” – Belinda Chedville Mason
“Number one, no way my child would be an hour away with someone that doesn't understand preparedness. That said, I would send everyone else on and go retrieve them myself. But, who would sit there knowing disaster is an hour away? Even those not in sync with reality would see it coming.” – Chet Castor
“Depends on the topographical map between you and your missing kid and on weather or not those folks are willingly leaving or not.” – Nick Kearney
“My family's plan is for mom and dad to go to our rally point while I move to extract my brother if he is unable to.” – Jesse VanderBie
“Easy. Split up. Send those I can to safety, and go get my child. No one gets left behind. Period.” – Jcharles Tower
“Split up, if there are two responsible adults or even one is an older teen. Send the family to safety while the adult goes after the remaining child. Keep in contact with each other via radio or text or what ever is available.” – Susan Anderson