Monday, August 5, 2013

DIY Heavy-Duty Shelving Plans!

Are you struggling to gain more storage room? Have you thought abouit building shelves, but the project seems a bit beyond your personal ability to construct them correctly? Hopefully this DIY blog will help you gain more storage space! 

Our basement was a wreck ever since we moved in, and we were never been able to do much with everything besides just pile it up and move the piles around down there. We finally decided we needed some shelving to get a bunch of the junk up off of the floor. (we also needed to throw some stuff away!)

We had a pile of 3/4" plywood and a pile of 2x4's that were about 3' long that a good friend gave to us a while back. We've been using them for odds and end projects around the yard and barn, but were hardly putting a dent in both piles.

So, we figured out that we could use these materials we already had plus just buy a few 8' 2x4's and have a nice set of high shelves. So, we made a quick trip to Lowes and bought the 2x4's.

All the materials you need for one set of 8' wide x 8' tall shelves are:
Two sheets of 1/2" or 3/4" plywood
8 qty 2x4's that are 8' long
16 qty 2x4's that are 31" long (or 8 qty 2x4" x 6' boards)
a bunch of heavy nails, I think the ones we used are "16" nails
coarse thread drywall screws 2-3" long
circular saw, tape measure, marker, square, hammer & drill/screwdriver

To get started, you need to mark and cut all of your wood. 8 of the 8' 2x4s do not need to be cut (they will be your verticals), but they all need to be marked at exactly the same spots for where you'd like your shelves to rest. We made some shelves that were 24" apart and some that were 18" apart, and we did not put the top-most shelf all the way at the top of the shelf.

If you have higher than 8' ceilings, I would recommend just spacing your shelves 24" apart and letting the floor be the bottom shelf. (so you'd have 5 total shelves in the unit)

Next, you need to cut your plywood down for use as the shelves. Since they come in 48x96" sheets, all you have to do is cut them in half lengthwise. Ending up with 4 total 24"x96" sheets. We put a mark at each end and held up one of the straighter 2x4's and traced down it for a "straight" cut.

Then, it's time to cut the cross-boards. If your shelves are 24" wide, then add the width of the two boards (3.5" each x 2 = 7") to come up with 31" total length each. This can be time consuming if you're making a few sets of these shelves.

Now, it's time to make some "ladders". Take your smaller cut 2x4's and place them on top of your 8' 2x4's where you marked them all earlier. Nail them in place; make sure they are all nailed squarely! We stacked them all up when we nailed them to be sure that they were all in the same places on the boards. We used 3 nails at each junction to make sure that everything was triangulated and boards did not shift. The nails we used were a bit too long, so we had to pry the boards back apart, and then bend the ends of the nails over for safety.

Now, you have all of the basic parts to make your shelves! Plus, you know how to make homemade ladders now.

We made one shelf that was 8' long and one that was 4' long, as we had a 12' long area we wanted the shelf to span (between the wall and an I-beam support post). The 4' long one was MUCH easier than the 8' shelf, however, it was nowhere near as sturdy free-standing.

Put the ends of the shelves flush with the edges of the 2x4 posts, screw the very bottom one in, and then screw the very top one in, making sure everything is flush. If it is - the center ones will be a piece of cake and the 2x4's are already tweaked to where they are as straight as possible. I put 4 screws in the end of each shelf into the cross beam 2x4.

Then, it was time to start the 2nd shelf. Since they are sitting next to each other, we screwed the end of the 2nd shelf into the end of the 1st one. That made it easier to work with and also made them sturdier.

After that, I slid the two center pieces down next to the one end; this made getting the other board in much easier, especially since I couldn't slide them in the end with the support jack in my way.

Then, just screw you other boards in on both ends of the shelves, leave the middle shelf supports at the one end until your ends are all in there securely.

Getting some of them in there was a trick, I would not recommend spacing your shelves closer than 18" apart with 24" wide boards.

Now, you need to mark where you want your center supports to hit at on your 8' widths. You may want to measure your totes or boxes if you plan on putting them on these shelves, that could help you get better space usage out of the shelves.

Screw those supports in and you're done! I would recommend securing this shelf to something solid, especially if you have kids that may possibly climb on these and or pull them over, or you plan on storingf HEAVY items on them. I braced them around the ceiling I-beams in my basement. These shelves hold a LOT!!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

DIY Spear Gun for under $25!

After browsing YouTube a few weeks ago, we decided to try an idea we saw in a video. We've been wanting to start bow-fishing and frog gigging soon, since we eat the ones we catch; it really does not matter how they are caught - as long as it is legal within the fishing regulations.

The videos we saw were about how to modify a $15 slingshot into a "spear gun". Here is one link for more info than I provide below:

The parts/tools required for this project are:
A: 3/8"x36" Oak Dowel Rods - check them for straightness at the store
B: Slingshot; must be this type for this project.
C: Hose Clamps, or zip ties can be substituted
D: 1.5" PVC Pipe (cut down to 11")
E: PVC Cement
F: Hacksaw/Sawzall to cut the PVC
G: Two PVC End caps (already assembled in this photo)
H: Sandpaper (if you plan on painting the PVC or getting a good glue bond)
I: Measuring Tape/Marker
J: Leaves for Camo
Not Pictured: Drill & 7/16" or 1/2" bit, spray paint, screwdriver/nutdriver to tighten the clamps

First, you get all of the items out of their packaging and ready to work with. I tried to get everything rounded up for my photo, but forgot I had already moved some tools away to their spots for the night.

To start, you cut your PVC into an 11 or 12" section with your hacksaw. Then you sand down the PVC pipe and end caps where you will be applying glue to them. Then you take your drill and drill a hole in the center of each cap - be careful.

Then, you apply the PVC cement and push the pieces together, it should set up really quick. After this step I spray painted the assembled PVC piece, but didn't like it just drab green. So, I walked outside and grabbed the first two leaves I could find. Then, I hunted through the paint I had until I found flat black (actually BBQ grill paint).

After this is dry, figure out where you want it mounted front-to-rear on your slingshot. Once you're ready; fasten it on with the hose clamps or zip ties you have. The "gun" is ready for action.

Now, take your dowel rod and sharpen one end. insert the rod through the rear hole and through the front hole. Your project is ready to fire.

Remember to never point these at anyone, as with any other weapon or tool: RESPECT IT. THIS IS NOT A KID'S TOY!

Also, if you have any old arrows with bad fletching - it will fire these also if you remove the rest of the fletching; allowing for broadheads, etc. or just eliminating the need to sharpen sticks.

I would recommend replacing the stock rubber bands with heavier bands, this is my next step. You can purchase stronger bands online ( has them cheap), or possibly some retailers may stock them; but I haven't seen any in stores around here.

Also, here is a good video on making your own fishing arrow tips: He doesn't sauder the barbs in place, but that is my recommended modification.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My thoughts on the benefits of a Bug Out Bike

With the demise and subsequent selling of my Subaru, I have taken to the bicycle  as my primary modus vehiculum. For me this is an upgrade from what I had before, the reasons are plenty but I will not bore you with those facts. What I am going to discuss is how this decision has affected my bug out plans and the benefits I feel I gain from being a cyclist.

Likely the most common thing most people will endure that gives them reason to dig into their BOB’s is when Mother Nature happens. One thing that I have noticed is the mad dash for the gas pumps and stores to get the supplies everyone forgot to get before they began their pre-spring preparations. When power goes out, I am not trying to decide between fuel and food. Nor am I wasting gas waiting to get gas and driving around trying to find a parking spot before the shelves are bare. I also am not going to have to deal with the grid lock conditions one might encounter. In and out is easier for a cyclist.
 Not on topic but I just thought about the NASCAR event from a few years back, where traffic was bumper to bumper for 36 miles. Could have parked the car and took to bikes to get to the race….if I was into NASCAR.
 Let us think on every SHTF movie or series. What is the backdrop to every city effected by to topic of the movie? Cars, hundreds of dead cars. When the exodus from the city happens, you see every major, and sometimes minor, roads out of the city choked with cars and people.  Each car is loaded down with possessions that become useless when the people are forced to abandon it to go on foot because it’s not packed to be slung on their backs. Some may have carts but the loads are such that they do not get far very fast.
 Cycles are said to be one of the best inventions when it comes to input/output ratio. They have the capability of bearing impossible loads while still able to be ridden and they can go just about anywhere. All that on zero gallons of gas. You can ride roads less traveled, rail ways (tho not comfortably) trails and through congestion, just watch a bike messenger in action.
 If a car were in my BOB equation, I would make certain my gear would be capable of mounting to my bike or be transferred to my wagon so that I would not share the fate of the masses. According to the details on my rack and wagon, I could haul 150 pounds of gear, that being according to the recommendations of the manufacturer’s specs. Both the TrolleyTote and wagon break down to reduce storage space, so including it in a car would not be an issue and can be road ready in mins. This is not including all the cargo capabilities available for bikes. Just Google Bikepacking to see what people can do.
 Range is another asset to the bike.  The average walking speed 2.8 miles per hour for older pedestrians and 3.4 miles per hour for younger pedestrians. This is unencumbered. Google search turned up 2 to 3 miles an hour for hikers. I can only get this speed when walking the bike. Even at the lowest gear, I can get an average of 8 to11 miles per hour with 13 being my typical average unencumbered. I recently loaded down the wagon with groceries with an estimation of 35 pounds and still maintained 13 mph on average without much exertion. In a 10 hour period the person on foot might clear a max of 30 miles to my 130 miles.
 Other areas of benefit of a bike is that the bike can be turned into a means to generate electricity, power non-electric devices, like grinders, blenders (why should we not be able to make a smoothie when SHTF?), pumps, etc and with the gearing available on most bikes, anyone can take a turn.
 My recommendation is to add bikes to your bug out plan to give yourself more options to work with.

by primalheathen

A SLC-360 Instructor

Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Clean a Peking Duck

How to Clean a Peking Duck

We have some ducks that we purchased this spring along with our chicks at tractor Supply Company, and we also had another duck that was given to us a few months ago. Once the ducklings caught up to the size of the larger duck, we realized that was as big as any of them were going to get and decided it was time to slaughter them. 

We looked up other's experiences online with slaughtering ducks for meat and decided to take their advice on cleaning them. They recommended only taking the breast meat from smaller ducks like ours, as the combined rest of the meat on the duck only amounts to around another 1/2 cup, and would make the cleaning significantly longer and harder to accomplish. 

For this project you will need:
Wood block
hatchet or heavy cleaver
freezer bags
bowl of clean cold water with ice cubes (for putting the meat in)
bowl of clean cold water with a dab of bleach (for cleaning)
sharp knife (we used a filet knife)
bucket for carcass
disposal area for carcass
wear old clothes

We started with isolating the ducks from the rest of the animals for monitoring for 24 hours. If you are going to process the whole duck (or any other animal), place them in an isolation pen for 24 hours with only water to clean out their digestive system. 

After deciding that all of the ducks looked healthy and had no physical problems or illnesses we proceeded with starting the process.

First, we strung a piece of paracord between two posts and added some slip-knots for the feet. One slip-knot would be adequate, we just processed our ducks two at a time. 

We had researched the different ways of bleeding them out or removing their heads and others' experiences with both ways. From their and our previous experiences; it seems to be best to separate the head from the body as quickly as possible. We went with a block of tree trunk we have used in the past, and a small heavy hatchet. Two people makes this part much easier, but one could do it easily enough I would think. 

I had my assistant hold the Duck by the beak with one hand, and down by the base if the neck with the other hand while I took care of the hatchet work. (Be careful to be sure you have control of your hatchet, as whatever it hits it will do major damage to!) Strike the hatchet firmly through the neck (severing it) into the wood. The hatchet will bury itself into the wood, and the head and body will be two parts. Drop the head onto the ground, or into a bucket for disposal later. Take the body and slide the feet through a loop on your rope for the body to bleed out upside down. 

Once all muscles have relaxed and the blood has stopped dripping, take it over to your table for processing. Feel the chest for the breastbone (it is very long). You should be able to determine the beginning and the end of it easily. Grasp the bird and the knife and make an incision along the breast bone to get the skin started for pulling back. Now you should be able to pull the skin and work the knife to expose the breast meat. Once you see the bottom of the meat (near the abdominal cavity) expose it around towards the ducks sides and proceed up towards the shoulder joint. I also made a few cuts in the skin to allow better access to the meat for the next part of the process. 

Now, take your knife and slide it down along the side of the breast bone length-wise removing the breast meat. Slide the knife along the ribs to remove the rest of the meat. Be careful NOT to enter the abdominal cavity. There is a large artery along the shoulder area that will release a little blood onto the meat when you cut it, but do not worry about it. remove the meat from the neck and shoulder area, and place your meat into the cold water. Remove the other breast the same way and put the remaining carcass into the disposal bucket. 

Once you are done, take the meat inside and wash off any feathers, etc that may still remain on the meat. Place it in your refrigerator or freezer depending on when you're planning on using the meat. Enjoy!

(Article submitted by SLC-360 Contributing writer)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Barn Water Collection System

Barn Roof
Gutter and Downspout
Our home is on a cistern collection system, so we are familiar with rain water collection... But, most of our animals are out in the new barn down the hill a bit. The least fun part of the chores around here is filling water jugs and carrying them down the hill every day for the animals.

Downspout and Gutter into Tank
Our barn has a large metal roof on it (I need to get an exact measurement later), so we realized it would be a great source of water with its large surface area.

The other day we were at Lowes picking up materials for another home project (basement shelves), and we remembered that we were planning on adding gutters to the barn. So, we
grabbed some gutters and downspouts while we were there. (gutters are surprisingly cheap!)

Tank Outlet
It was pretty straightforward mounting the gutters, besides the fact that my bandboard is curved, lol. (the barn was built without all those fancy tools everyone else uses; mostly just a chainsaw and eyeballing it, lol) Basically you just hold them up there and screw them on in a case like this, then pop rivet them together. (just make sure that there is a downward slope to it; water ALWAYS runs downhill!) To locate the best location for the downspout, I took two 2-liters of water down to the barn and poured it in the gutter. I located the lowest spot by seeing where the water went to and sat. It ended up in a great location.

From there, I cut the gutter with a utility knife and mounted the downspout; I had to saw off a bit of one board to gain entry, but that only took a few minutes with a small hand-saw.

After looking around for solutions I saw a couple of old gutters we still had around from when we replaced gutters on another house. One of them was a PERFECT length. It has worked great and there are no leaks at all.

Note: I know I need to add a screen/filter to the water entering the tank, that is something else I did not have on hand today.

I mounted the tank securely (this is very important), on a platform in the barn, this way once water is in the tank gravity will give me good pressure. I didn't want to mount it any higher, as water from the gutters had to flow down-hill to get into the tank.

Water Pressure!
Once the water is in the tank I made a custom outlet valve from PVC with a 2" ball valve to completely shut off water, and a regular garden hose spicket on the
end to connect a small length of hose to. (we're going to use an old washer hose, since the watering dish is underneath the spicket.

This should make daily chores much easier! It could even allow a "day off" without worries if we put the water on a slow drip into the water dish... now I'm thinking of even more ideas!

(Article Submitted by SLC-360 Contributing Writer)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Not 200 years too late

If you’re reading this blog more than likely you fall into one of a few categories: A prepper,  survivalist, bushcrafter or homesteader. You may even be a combination of all of them. You might be a tracker or a modern primitive. You could have hit the wrong key making a Google search and be none of these. One thing all of these above groups have in common is a way of thinking that is not common in today’s world.

Each of these have a mindset closer aligned to people years ago than most of those today. People in these groups say things like “I was born 200 years too late” truth is you were born just right. People like us were born now, to show the rest what it was like, what it could be like, and that there is another way.

Take anyone who gardens. Most think you’re nuts, why cause if you want tomatoes go get them for $1.39 a can. It’s crazy to start seeds, then water them, then till ground and prepare it, transfer the plants and water and weed. That’s like work. That’s crazy if you add all your time up, your tomatoes in time alone could be upward of $5. Ever hear of the store?

 Preppers. You stock water and food. You prepare for emergencies you devote time money in training for something we pay the government for. Ever hear of fema? They take care of those things.

 Survivalist there is a bunch for you. I’ve seen the shows- you got your camo and your guns. You know how to live in the desert and in the deep forest. You can sew your own cuts with fishing line and you have those gadget knives that do everything. Ever hear of the Rambo?

 Bushcrafters, you're making stuff out of wood and leather. You act like you're part animal spending so much time in nature living in the wild. You Go around starting fire by rubbing together sticks. Building places to sleep with debris off the ground. Ever hear of parks and RVs?

 Homesteaders. Its 2013 nobody has to live that way anymore. We have electric, we have stores you can buy whatever you need. There are schools to teach your children.

 Modern primitives and tribalist. You have no tribe. You’re a mixed bunch with no common ground. Get a job go to school, and be productive…..

 NO common ground you say!

 While everything listed above are Not my thoughts or feelings. We have all heard these and going by Tribal Hawk and fitting nicely into most of these groups; I’ve heard them all.  I beg to differ with the common beliefs about us. While we were born in just the right time, it may not feel like it. Because what these groups have in common is not so common any more. We believe in self reliance, not needing someone to take care of us. We believe Nature is more important than the mall. We believe in putting sweat and love into the things we grow and make. People matter to us, not things and if you’re going to do something you make it count.

 Standing all day in a line pushing a button may pay the bills and it may be called work but, there is no labor of love involved with it. We do what we do because of the love we have and the passion that burns in our souls. The world has become just like those old cities in movies, they have a pretty front but there is nothing behind them. They have no substance, No soul. We do what we do because we have heart. We believe in doing things that matter. Most of the world we live in is held together by illusion. As long as that illusion is reinforced and believed by the masses it stays in place, but we have seen behind the curtain, we know it’s empty there. We have seen the heart and soul of this world. We have seen the beauty in nature, in each other and we step away from the lie that empty things have value.

 Value is in making a difference, it’s in Nature, and it’s in the heart and soul of every one of us “who were born 200 years too late”
Tim Clifton 

“Putting the Power in your Hands"
SLC-360© 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

I have nothing to eat!

One of the Groups we are in on Facebook had a Challenge, Go outside and walk around where you live and post pictures of five edible plants. Amanda found these in our yard.
Wood Strawberry

Rumex Crispus, Curly Dock
Broad-leaf Plantain 

Wood Sorrel
It’s Amazing the amount of food people step on, cut down, or worse yet spray weed kill on. Once you start learning, it’s surprising the amount around you that you never saw before. I highly recommend:

 The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer 

WildMan Steve Brill’s app
Wild Edibles Full By WinterRoot LLC.

With these guides and training from an expert you will never have to say I have Nothing to eat ever again.

So what’s in your yard? Feel free to post your pictures to our Facebook page at

Warning! Never eat anything that has not been positively identified, always consult local experts. 

The recommended items from this blog can be found at the following links.

Happy Foraging
Tim Clifton 
SLC-360© 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Ima Lost" The Art of Staying Found

"Ima Lost" The Art of Staying Found

Ever been lost? Your pulse races, you vision tunnels. The best thing you can do when you get lost is to STOP! My father used this in a lot of his classes “Stop Think Observe Plan.” Take an inventory of the items you have with you. See each item as an asset. Don’t mourn the forgotten or lost items. Once you’ve calmed down and taken inventory, determine where you think you are. Have you crossed any major highway? Have you crossed any major waterways? Can you determine the directions. Can you see the sun? Do you know how long you have been walking? All these things will help determine where you are.

Can you see me?
I spent many years in Search and Rescue, now I teach Primitive and Survival Skills and I noticed something. There are classes for just about every primitive and bush craft skill, but very little about what you do if you are lost. If you watch Survival style TV shows or the movies about the people lost in the wilderness, you will see a lot of “don’ts” when it comes to the Search and Rescue (S&R) aspects of being lost. Trail running is one “don’t” often seen and is common among young kids when lost and frightened. 

From a S&R standpoint it’s nice if the victim stays put. I once was on a search where a lady was constantly on the move. This extended the amount of time it took to find her. So staying put is always nice, if you know they're looking for you. Another thing that’s helpful is if the victim is easy to spot. So while requiring everyone who may get lost to wear fluorescent is a Search and Rescue (S&R) persons deam, there are things you can do to help.

Can you See me now?
Lets face it Most experienced primitive skills people and experience bushcrafters won’t normally get lost. Lets look at who does. 

Very young children general up to the age 3 are unaware of the concept of being lost. They tend to wander from one focal point to the next without a care, if they get tired they tend to lay down wherever  convenient. Ever see the cute pics of the kid asleep in some strange place. These children “tend” not to travel as far. Although my little one can make it across the ridge tops pretty fast.

 Children up to about age 6 get lost for the same reasons they tend to follow animals and trails. Once they realize they are lost they try to return to some place they know. This group will likely try to find shelter in bad weather or at night as opposed to the younger ones who will lay down where ever when tired.

Children up to about 11 often become more upset when they realize they are lost. These kids are the take a “shortcut” or I think its this way and end up getting lost. This age group also begins your trail runners. They will find a trail of any sort and take off running to get back to people fast.

Teens often will become lost as a group following a leader whom has gone too far trying to impress their friends. This group will revise plans for finding their way back or finding know landmark. They also will try to seek shelter in bad weather or darkness.   

Adults, Depending on what the adults are doing when they get lost has a great deal of bearing on getting found. Most of the time when an experienced outdoors man gets lost they have simply overestimated their ability. Ranging from having enough daylight or gas to get back ,to having problems with gps or compass. Even the greatest of navigators get misplaced from time to time “I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks” (Daniel Boone) . Sometimes people get injured and are unable to make it back on their own.

So what can you do to Help? Follow the tips below and if you're an Instructor add these tips to you classes.

 Tips on staying Found. 
  • Always tell someone where you're going and how long you plan on being gone.
  • Pack A whistle
  • Always take some form of brightly colored material (use bandanas so they can be placed in pack for when you don’t want to be found)
  • If you are lost stay put, while its ok to get into a clearing for better visibility, and if you have to move leave markers; place arrows of the ground in direction of travel, break limbs in directing of travel, drag feet in leaves, dirt or mud.
  • Use commonly known Signals: signal mirror, lights, smoke, flagging, arrows placed on the ground.
  • Pack a map and compass

Take classes in navigation, Pre Plan your trips using up to date topographical maps. Know the limits of your equipment and your own limits. If you're going to test either do it in a controlled situation with back up. Knowledge will help  you overcome fear. If you become lost “STOP”. Do an inventory of the items you have. Items that can be used to help you.  Putting your skills to use to keep you safe.

Information about lost people came from various lost person behavior reports as well as my own observations from years of S&R.

Tim Clifton 

SLC-360© 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

B.O.B. Lessons learned

Bug out Bags,

B.O.B.’s are one of the most talked about items In preparedness. Everyone has their own version of what is needed. A simple search of the web will provide you with a large number of items for you to pack, you will also find there are almost as many options for type and styles of bags to pack. In this world of information at your fingertips it can sometimes be overwhelming. I remember back in the mid 80’s when putting together my first pack with my father, most of my stuff was “hand me down” or second or third generation gear. My first pack was a military style canvas fanny pack. I was so excited to get my pack going that I could not wait to try it out.

The pack I had was to sustain me during extended search and rescue operations. All the gear was given to me or loaned to me from my father. His belief, as is mine, is use good quality gear regardless if it’s brand name or not. What matters is “Will it hold up and will it work for the job?” He once asked me, “You want your butt hanging over a cliff on a shoestring?” No, you got to use the right tools for the right job. This is one of the things that I find complicates things now. When we went to get a pack or something to go in our pack- there was no online searching for it, there weren’t thousands of advertisements all claiming their knife is so sharp it will cut your from 5 feet away. We drove to a shop and tried to find the best quality for the price. A good rule of thumb is to buy each item knowing it’s a tool to be used. The name on the side will not save you in a bad situation. That said, never pack a tool or item in your bag you have not already used and proven to be worthy of your use and abuse.

So let’s look into the idea of the bug out bag, the idea behind this style bag is that you are buggin’ out leaving where you are for a safer location. Some place that is less dangerous than where you currently are. Now some people have bug out locations and some have bug out vehicles. So the biggest factor in what gear to get and pack is What are you doing? Where are you going? and What do you think is going to cause you to have to bug out? If you think you may have to bug out because of a leak at the nuclear plant, How are you getting away? What is the distance you need to be to reach the safe zone?  

One major thing to consider when making any type of pack is weight, the average experienced hiker travels between 10 to 15 miles per day. So you take your 72 hour pack, three days walking 15 miles you’ve made it 45 miles, has that gotten you to the safe zone? If it hasn’t do you have enough to get you to your safe zone. You need to know where you're going and how long it will take you to get there. Don’t wait till your in an emergency situation to figure out your route. Plan it out and have maps with you. Include alternate routes in case yours is blocked. Three days of walking will wear most people out, most people are not use to packing 40 pounds mile after mile. Once you have arrived at your safe place, are there materials enough to provide for you or are you still going to be operating out of your pack?

Packing a heavy pack for days in a stressful event will take a lot out of you. There are those that will push themselves to the limit too far but when they do stop to rest or sleep they do so for  a lot longer than planned. Stress and fatigue will also cause you to do things that you normally would not do like stopping to tie your shoe and get a drink from your canteen only to realize hours later you left it sitting beside the log you propped your foot upon. When planning your bug out bag plan your trip and be sure to include rest stops and sleeping locations. You need your rest so you don’t make mistakes.

Make sure the gear matches the most probable emergency for your area. Living in Kentucky I don’t normally do hurricane planning, nor do I think i’m ever going to have to worry about a storm surge . If I do, I have bigger problems than my pack not having everything, like finding a very large wooden boat. I do have to worry about flash floods, tornadoes, pandemics and  winter storms. With this in mind, I pack appropriate items or gear to help me deal with the situations I may encounter. For example, I don’t want the winter clothing weighing down my pack in the summer, so I pack accordingly.

One of the most common mistakes people make is to make their bug out bag a camp bag as well. My Dad had many packs, each designed with a specific purpose in mind. He had bags for everything he thought we might need. We had medical bags, low angle rescue, high angle rescue and swift water rescue bags, While it is a great idea to have a bug out weekend camping trip to make sure your bag will work for what you want it to, buggin’ out is not exactly the summer camping trip. Unless you're a “thru hiker” your not going to breaking down camp each morning and heading out for the day again. Most campers set up camp, stay the allotted time then head home a day or two later. With a bug out bag the camping aspects should be very limited. The purpose of bugging out is to get you out of the area, so most of your time should be spent moving as opposed to setting up a camp.

You will want the basics. You need water, fire, shelter and food, everything beyond that is for comfort. No, I’m not knocking comfort. I like the comfort of a fire, the soft glow and the crackle of wood. Just the whiff of wood smoke on any give day transports my mind to a happier place, my body relaxes and some of the stress melts away. For me many wonderful childhood memories are associated with campfires, good company and even better stories.  I am soothed by all of the senses associated with a campfire so I normally have at least 5 different ways to start a fire.

 I also pack a water bladder as well as a water buffalo canteen. While they add a great deal in weight, it’s less time i’m spending in one place to treat and or purify water. If i’m stopped I’m eating or sleeping not working on stuff.

Shelter if I take the time to do more than curl up by a tree, my shelter can be in place in under 5 minutes. Once again, my purpose is to get out of the area so i’m not spending a lot of time to make a big fancy shelter or pitch a tent. Building a lean to or wiki up or debris hut takes time and while they have their place buggin out is not it.

Food, I pack finger foods for the most part. I want to be eating while i’m walking I really don’t want to set up and have to cook each meal. If i’m going to cook one it’s going to be when I’ve stopped to rest and have built a little fire, cooking something quickly like oatmeal or rice. Trail mix and energy bars or jerky are the traveling foods that I keep and are light weight. While it’s not the gourmet meals I like to eat while cooking out on an open flame, these serve the purpose for bugging out to keep my energy levels up while traveling.

So with bug out bags. Where are you going? What is it going to be like on the way there? How long is it going to take?  What do you need to get there? Pick the gear you need to answer those questions and remember knowledge is the best tool, easy to pack and light weight..

Tim Clifton (Tribal Hawk)

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