New class announcement – Realistic Bug Out Planning


Date: January 20, 2018
Time: 9:00AM-12:00PM
Cost: $15 per person
Discounts available for multiple people attending together, see below.

210 East Commerce Court
Elkhorn, WI 53121

One of the most common topics in the prepper and survival world is bugging out. Unfortunately, the subject is also filled with myths and half-truths, with tons of truly ridiculous information about it floating around online and elsewhere. In this class, we’re going to take a practical, down to earth look at emergency evacuation. What it means, what it doesn’t mean, and how to prepare for it.

We’ll cover:
–Red flags that should tell you to get moving ahead of the crowd
–Choosing bug out locations (hint: you don’t need to buy 100 acres of wilderness)
–Route planning
–Transportation considerations

We’re going to discuss in detail what should be in a bug out bag (BOB), common mistakes often made when assembling a BOB, and frequently forgotten items. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own bug out bags to the class.

We will also have samples of several different types of food that are commonly included in bug out bags, such as freeze-dried meals, dehydrated food, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), and ration bars. This is a great opportunity to try a few different options to decide what might be best for you.

And, of course, we always have giveaways at every class, too!

Cost is $15.00 per person. For multiple people attending together, such as husband and wife, mother and two sons, or small groups, each additional person is $10.00. However, to claim the discount all persons must be paid for at the same time.

Class size is limited so reserve your spot soon. First come, first served. Payments must be made in advance. PayPal is preferred (link for payment). You can pay via PayPal even if you don’t have a PayPal account and they do take credit cards. If you’re unable or unwilling to use PayPal, send us an email and we’ll work something out.

Fees are only refundable if class is cancelled. If you’ve paid to attend but find at the last minute you can’t make it, you are allowed to apply it toward a future class.

To register, simply send in your payment along with a note with the first names of everyone in your group who will be attending. We also need an email address so we can send you information about the class (what to bring, that sort of thing).

Any questions, please email See you there!

#TeamNewt Charity Raffle

If you don’t know this guy already, please meet Newt Martin. He’s a world class knife maker, a military veteran, and for over a year now, a leukemia patient.

Last year, we raised some dough for Newt and his family through an online auction. This year, we’re going to do a raffle for the same purpose. See, here’s the thing. When you’re self-employed, there is no paid time off. There are no sick days, no paid vacations, none of that fun stuff. If you aren’t working, you aren’t earning, simple as that. Newt’s family has been stretched thin helping to take care of him and they deserve a break.

Tell you something else. Ed Martin, Hank Martin, even Newt – none of them knew we were going to do this for them. Newt paid me a kindness a few years ago when I first met him at BLADE Show. I want to return the favor and do what I can to help him and his family get through this.

We’re raffling off three blades. The first is the Martin Knives Savage, shown here.

This is a classic bushcraft style knife. It has great lines and will stand up to just about anything you want to throw at it. Here are the specs:

Overall length: 8.5″
Blade length: 4.0″
Steel: S35VN
Sheath: Leather
Weight: 6.7 oz
MSRP: $295.00

This knife was sent to me by Ed Martin to be used for a magazine article. Rather than keep it for my own use, I’m donating it to the raffle.

The second knife we’re raffling off is the Baronyx Machete, shown here.

This is a rough and tumble tool, made to last. Here are the specs:

Overall length: 23.25″
Blade length: 16″
Steel: 1075 high carbon
Sheath: Leather
Weight: 1lb 10oz
MSRP: $69.98
Learn more about the machete here. This machete was kindly donated by survival instructor Kevin Estela.

The third knife is a Bark River Adventurer II, shown here.

This is a great EDC blade. The sheath has magnets inside to retain the knife, which is really pretty cool. Here are the specs:

Overall length: 7.875″
Blade length: 3.75″
Steel: CPM20CV
Sheath: Leather
MSRP: $210.00

This knife is from my own private collection. It is in brand new condition. Seriously, it hasn’t even been used to open a package or envelope.

So, how do you enter to win one of these bad boys? Each entry is $10.00 sent via PayPal (Friends and Family option please, as this is for a charitable cause) to Every single penny will be going directly to Newt and his family. We’re paying all shipping and other costs out of our own pockets.

With your payment, you must include a note indicate which raffle(s) you’re entering. If you want specific entry numbers, you MUST put that in the note with your PayPal payment. First come, first served. Any entries lacking such a note will be assigned entry numbers in the order received.

The deadline to enter is December 10th. If all slots are filled prior to December 10th, we’ll go ahead and draw the winners early, of course. Winners will be chosen using The selection process will be shot on video and posted here. Winners will be notified by email and announced here as well as on Facebook.

If we do not fill all slots prior to December 10th, we will make a judgment call as to whether to go forward with the raffle. If we determine we have not had enough participants, all funds will be returned to the entrants.

If you have questions, please email me direct –

I will fill in the slots below as payments are received.

Martin Knives Savage – 30 total entries available.

1. Alison H.
2. Benjamin L.
3. Benjamin L.
4. Kevin Estela
5. Benjamin L.
6. Truman M.
7. Doyle W.
8. Mark P.
9. Brennan W.
10. Brennan W.
11. Mark P.
12. Julia W.
13. Julia W.
14. Mark P.
15. Scooter
16. Scooter
17. James L.
18. James L.
19. Brian V.
20. Kevin Estela
21. Mark P.
22. Kelly B.
23. Brian V.
24. Brian V.
25. Mark P.
26. Christopher W.
27. Christopher W.
28. Christopher W.
29. Christopher W.
30. Christopher W.

Baronyx Machete – 15 available entries

1. Alison H.
2. Benjamin L.
3. Jerry P.
4. Doyle W.
5. Julia W.
6. Julia W.
7. Rose J.
8. Massage & Healing Arts
9. Brennan W.
10. Brennan W.
11. Massage & Healing Arts
12. Massage & Healing Arts
13. Massage & Healing Arts
14. Massage & Healing Arts
15. Brennan W.

Bark River Adventurer II – 25 available entries

1. Alison H.
2. Benjamin L.
3. Benjamin L.
4. Truman M.
5. Doyle W.
6. Julia W.
7. Julia W.
8. Dan T.
9. Brennan W.
10. Brennan W.
11. Kelly B.
12. Doyle B.
13. Rose J.
14. Rebecca S.
15. Rebecca S.
16. Massage & Healing Arts
17. Massage & Healing Arts
18. Massage & Healing Arts
19. Massage & Healing Arts
20. Massage & Healing Arts
21. Brennan W.
22. Dan T.
23. Brennan W.
24. Brennan W.
25. Brennan W.

Thank you to everyone who entered the raffles. We raised $700 for Newt and his family! As promised, here is the video of the winners being chosen.

Martin Knives Savage – Benjamin L.
Baronyx Machete – Massage & Healing Arts
Bark River Adventurer II – Brennan W.

My Holiday Wish List

Every blogger worth their salt will be coming out with holiday shopping lists in the next week or so. I’m taking a slightly different approach. Here are things I’m hoping will be under MY tree come Christmas morning. I figure if they are on my list, odds are the prepper or survivalist in your life would probably appreciate one of them as well, right? Plus, this way I can just send a link to the blog post right to Santa’s email.

Flagrant Beard HAVOC
I first saw the HAVOC in a recent issue of American Survival Guide and I’ve been lusting after it ever since. The folks at Flagrant Beard know what the hell they are doing when it comes to purpose-built products. The HAVOC has but one purpose – to completely and utterly ruin the day for anyone who you feel deserves it. The HAVOC comes with a Kydex sheath that can be mounted at a variety of angles and positions.

Exotac polySTRIKER XL
I’m a HUGE fan of Exotac. Their gear is both great-looking and very functional. The polySTRIKER XL is a ferrocerium rod with a striker that fits right into the handle for safekeeping. Plus, the tungsten carbide striker is specially made and shaped to scrape ridiculously huge showers of sparks from the ferro rod. I’ll admit, I’m something of a ferro rod junkie and the polySTRIKER really caught my attention the first time I saw it.

Exotac titanLIGHT
Most survival instructors recommend having a lighter in your pocket or in your fire kit. Sure, knowing how to get a fire going using a bow drill or other primitive means is awesome. But, in a real survival situation, you might need fire NOW and a lighter is what will make that happen. The titanLIGHT uses Zippo fuel or the equivalent. There are two O rings that prevent the fuel from leaking or evaporating when the lighter is not being used. Brilliant.

Graphic Audio E-Card
I love audiobooks and I absolutely love Graphic Audio adaptations. They are full-fledged audio productions, with diverse casts, special effects, and more. Their tagline is “A movie in your mind” and that’s no exaggeration. They have a ton of great stuff, from westerns to post-apocalyptic stories like THE SURVIVALIST by Jerry and Sharon Ahern. Just great, great stuff. Conveniently, they do offer gift certificates, too.

Silky GOMBOY Folding Saw
I’ve been wanting a Silky folding saw for a while now. I’ve not owned one but I’ve heard nothing but good things about Silky. The GOMBOY looks to be a great size for the pack, folding down to about 10 inches. A good saw is far safer than swinging a hatchet or axe.

Work Sharp Field Sharpener

Work Sharp Field Sharpener
This is something I’ve wanted to play around with for a while now. It isn’t as fancy as the belt sander model but it is also about $100 cheaper. I’ll admit, I struggle with getting that hair popping edge on my knives so I’m always on the hunt for something that will help me turn that corner. The Work Sharp has an excellent reputation in that regard.

Atienza Kali Knife
Okay, I’ll admit it. I have an inappropriate level of desire when it comes to this knife. My friend Kevin Estela showed it off in an article he did recently and I fell in love with the knife. It just has great lines and is obviously designed to be used, not just sit on a shelf collecting dust. Someday….

So, there you have it. If you’re looking to surprise me with a gift this holiday season, I made it as easy as I can for you. And any prepper or survivalist on your shopping list would appreciate any of the above, too.

P.S. You can send your holiday cards and such to Jim Cobb, c/o Survival Weekly, PO Box 596, Woodstock, IL 60098.

100 Hikes and Counting!

I’ve mentioned this a time or two before on social media, even did a blog post about it some time back, but we hit a milestone so I wanted to revisit the topic. Back in late 2015, my wife and I decided, kind of on a lark to be honest, that we would commit to going on at least one hike per week for all of 2016. We weren’t in training for anything. We just both enjoy hiking and we were of putting things off, due to kids, jobs, and just basic adulting. You know how it goes. Work, bills, responsibilities in general tend to build up and prevent us from doing the stuff we truly want to do.

Honestly, it was my wife’s idea. She was the one who said, “Enough’s enough” and decided we’d do this hiking thing. The focus has never been on speed nor distance. Instead, it has always just been about getting fresh air and exercise while spending quality time together. The shortest hike we’ve done was less than a mile – bad weather, very cold and rainy and just wanted to get it done. The longest was about 28 miles. That one took place in October 2016 and we’d planned on doing it again this year but life just got in the way and we weren’t able to get it done. We may still find a different hike of comparable length to do yet this fall or winter.

One thing we learned was just how many parks, preserves, and other nature areas there are just in our county, let alone the surrounding ones. I mean, when we started out, we figured we’d end up hitting most places several times throughout the year, just for a lack of options. As it turned out, we managed to find a new place to go almost every week the first year. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. There were a few state forests or state parks that had multiple trails. So, we might have visited Kettle Moraine State Park several times but each time we took a different trail.

I’ll tell you something. For my wife and I, it doesn’t matter how crappy of a day we’re having, within 15 minutes or so of hitting the trail, we begin to feel better. It is as though a weight gets lifted. A lot of the stress (and believe me, we have our lion’s share of stress) melts away. That doesn’t last forever, of course. Much of it comes back later. But, at least for the time we’re out and about, we feel better.

We both take photos along the way, often just using our phones though occasionally my wife will bring one of our actual cameras. She typically takes far more photos than I, at about a 20:1 ratio in many cases.

We’ve hiked all sorts of terrain, from forests to prairies, lake shores to rocky cliffs. Some of my favorite hikes were along or near Lake Michigan. Honestly, I think I could sit and listen to the waves for hours. I also really liked Devil’s Lake State Park, though hiking up the cliffs was a lot of work. The views, though, are spectacular.

This week marks 100 weeks in a row that we’ve gone hiking. We’re pretty damn proud of that. And, we’re not stopping yet. We’ll keep going, not out of any sense of obligation but just because we truly enjoy it.

Board Games as Boredom Relievers

Any time the subject of boredom relievers comes up in a prepper context, board games usually appear near the top of the list. The basic idea is to have at least a few games or other activities stashed away for a rainy day. If the power goes out and stays out for a considerable length of time, the tech heads in the family are going to eventually start climbing the walls. Sure, portable power packs and the like can keep them going on Facebook for a while but they aren’t going to last forever. Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to have the entire family doing something together, even if only for a few hours?

My wife and I have been together for over 25 years and we have three children. As a result, we have accumulated a ton of games over the years. Conservatively, I’d estimate we have at least 50 different board games in our cabinets and closets. Interestingly, I only recall actually buying a few of them. I swear, I think they breed when no one is around. Most of the ones I do remember buying were purchased at Goodwill or rummage sales.

Last month, my wife set out a goal for our family that we’d play one game every day for at least a month. After all, what’s the point of having all these games if we never play them? This is something I suggest you do as well if board games fit into your plans. See, you might find that a game that looked really fun turns out to be a dud. Or, you might learn that you’re missing several key pieces. Or the instructions are so poorly written or confusing that you immediately lose any interest in attempting to play the game. You might also rediscover fun games you haven’t played in years and maybe make a few new favorites, too.

We’ve been at this for a few weeks now and have been having a blast. We’ll break out some snacks and I’ll fire up the laptop to provide some music accompaniment as we play the games. Usually I’ll surf through YouTube or bring up Amazon Music using my Prime account. My wife and I have had some fun introducing our kids to some of the music we enjoyed when we were their age and, perhaps surprisingly, they’ve been getting into it.

Here are a few things we’ve learned so far.

1) You can never have too many extra dice laying around. A while back, I bought this set of 100 dice so we could play Tenzie, which is a game where each player has their own set of 10 dice. The set is cheap enough and we’ve borrowed from it a few times as we’ve found dice missing in other games. Of course, we’re always careful to put the dice back when we’re done.

2) Pay close attention to the box before purchasing. We came across at least a few games that we thought we could play as a family but were actually just for two players.

3) Many games involve keeping score on scratch paper. Make life easier and toss a couple of pencils and some paper into the game box ahead of time.

4) Don’t be afraid to tweak the rules as you feel necessary. Nobody from the Boardgame Players Association (yes, that’s a real thing) is going to show up at your door and chastise you for not following the rules to the letter.

5) If the game uses batteries, keep a set of them in the game box. Don’t leave them in the game, though, as they may leak over time. Just have them in the box for use when needed.

We haven’t come across any true duds among the games we’ve played so far. But, some games were more fun than others. Here are a few of our favorites.

Sort of a game board version of hide and seek, this game is deceptively difficult. There are nine tiles that make up the playing board. These tiles are two-sided and there’s no wrong way to assemble the board. Each tile is illustrated with a truly random assortment of illustrations. Game play involves drawing a card and following the instructions, such as finding a certain number of vehicles or leaves in the allotted time. This is a great game for youngsters, too, as there’s little reading involved.

We just played this for the very first time a couple of nights ago and it was a lot of fun. I’ve never played actual dominos so I don’t know how the Tri version compares. The gist of the game involves matching triangle shaped game pieces and scoring points based on the numbers on each piece played.

Who Would Win
This one can be kind of silly but can also lead to some interesting discussions and debates. Two cards are chosen, each with a celebrity name on them, and they are pitted against one another in some sort of contest. For example, who would win in an egg tossing contest, Batman or Elvis? Who would be better at massage – Thomas Edison or Nelson Mandela? The upside of this game is the entertaining reasons people come up with to defend their assigned celebrity. Downside is younger players might have no clue who some of these people are. Tweak the rules and let the kids pick names until they find one they know.

Kings in the Corner
This is one of my personal favorites. The game is very easy to learn and takes very little time to set up. Just a deck of cards and the game board. Really, the game could be played without the board but it makes things a lot easier. Basically, the game is played a lot like Solitaire, but with other people. Sounds weird, I know, but the game is a lot of fun.

Cards Against Humanity
Okay, here’s the thing about this game. It should absolutely never be played if anyone under the age of 18 is within earshot. Maybe that should be 21. And playing it with your children, no matter how old they are, might be uncomfortable for all involved. All of that said, if you’re in the right frame of mind the game can be absolutely hysterical. Might be a great option for inviting the neighbors over during a power outage.

As mentioned earlier as well, there’s nothing wrong with time spent together as a family. Entirely too many families, mine included, tend to split off like the Blue Angels, each person doing their own thing. Make a concerted effort to try and get everyone together periodically, whether it is for dinner, a game, a movie, or whatever. Board games can be had cheap at most thrift stores and rummage sales. Just be sure to always check to see if all of the pieces are there. If you’re missing a few things, you could try contacting the game manufacturer. Failing that, I’m sure you can probably find them for sale on ebay.

Sustain Supply Emergency Kits

Recently, I was asked to team up with Cyalume Technologies on a project involving the creation of some emergency kits. Cyalume has long been at the forefront of the emergency lighting field and are known the world over for their SnapLights. They are now expanding into the emergency equipment field with these kits from their offshoot imprint Sustain Supply.

Currently, there are two kits available, a 2 Person and a 4 Person. The only real differences between the two is the color of the pack and the amount of supplies included.

We designed these kits to be robust and to meet the basic needs for sheltering in place during an emergency. We also wanted the kits to be very portable in the event that the crisis requires you to evacuate the area without little or no warning. When I came on board for this project, I was adamant that I didn’t want any dollar store crap in these kits. Instead, you’ll find quality gear that you can trust.

Here’s a quick rundown of the contents of each kit.

Sustain Supply 2 Person Kit

2 Person Kit
Large Backpack
24 Packets of Datrex® Water
12 Mountain House® Food Servings
Sawyer® Mini Water Filtration
Morakniv® Knife
4 Cyalume® SnapLights• LED Lantern
LED Flashlight
First Aid Kit
8 Bath Wipes
2 Emergency Blankets
Portable Stove and Cookware
2 Bowls and Utensils
Ferrocerium Rod
2 Instafire® Tinder
2 Whistles

Sustain Supply 4 Person Emergency Kit

4 Person Kit
Large Backpack
48 Packets of Datrex® Water
24 Mountain House® Food Servings
Sawyer® Squeeze Water Filtration
Morakniv® Knife
8 Cyalume® SnapLights
2 LED Lanterns
2 LED Flashlights
1 First Aid Kit
16 Bath Wipes
4 Emergency Blankets
Portable Stove and Cookware
4 Bowls and Utensils
Ferrocerium Rod
4 Instafire® Tinder
4 Whistles

These kits are available from Sustain Supply as well as Amazon.

I’m pretty proud of these kits. They are a great solution for those who want to be better prepared for emergencies but aren’t sure where to begin. Any commercial kit will need to be customized and tweaked to fully fit the needs of each individual and family, of course. But, these kits from Sustain Supply allow someone to have a giant step forward in putting together a great assemblage of gear and supplies that will keep them safe and alive until help arrives.

Score! A situational awareness exercise

Situational awareness is a popular topic in the prepper and survival community. Basically, situational awareness refers to keeping your head up, your eyes open, and paying attention to the world around you.

I like to think of situational awareness as being present in your life. Rather than just going through the motions, you’re actively engaged, even if only mentally, in your world.

The idea is to be able to better react to threats by seeing them before they are up close and personal. Keep in mind, too, that we’re not just talking about threats that move about on two legs. For example, if you’re out hiking in the great beyond, odds are you probably aren’t going to need to worry too much about a mugger, right? But, you still need to be aware of potential threats like stepping on a snake, camping under a widow maker, and traversing uneven or unstable ground.

Around the house, situational awareness would include things like paying close attention to where you set up your ladder before climbing to the roof – make sure you’re not jostling a hornet nest and be certain the ladder is secure and the legs aren’t going to slip out from under you. In cold weather, take second look at the wet sidewalk and driveway to make sure it isn’t just a sheet of ice.

Teaching situational awareness can be problematic, though, especially with children. Where do you start? One approach is to quiz the student from time to time, asking them to close their eyes and describe what’s going on around them. That method works but for some people it is just frustrating, especially when they are just starting out.

Here’s a game we play with the kids when we’re on the road. My wife came up with the idea some time ago and while the original intent was just a game to pass the time, I’ve found it really does work to get everyone engaged and paying attention. We never named the game but for our purposes here we’ll just call it Score. The objective is to find yellow vehicles and be the first to yell Score! You must then identify where the vehicle is, either verbally or by pointing. Any passenger vehicle counts, including cars, trucks, semis, and buses (though we limit it to one Score when there’s a fleet of school buses). We do not count construction vehicles, golf carts, or anything else that you typically won’t see used on the road.

Why yellow? Because it is a rather uncommon color for cars and trucks. Not incredibly rare, of course, but not nearly as common as blue or red. Granted, we don’t play this game in urban areas so we’re not overwhelmed with taxis running here and there. If cities are your area of operation, you might want to come up with a different approach.

We usually don’t keep track of points. However, if your family is the competitive sort, have at it. The winner gets an ice cream when you reach your destination.

At first, you’ll only hear Score when you see a school bus or a big semi hauling a trailer. Over time, though, they’ll get more observant. You’ll hear Score and they’ll point out a car in a subdivision you can hardly see from the Interstate.

You’re not teaching them to just notice yellow cars, of course. Over time, you’ll find they are paying closer attention to their world. They’re noticing other things during drives, like people in the cars around them, deer and other animals running through fields, junk people have left sitting at the end of driveways or on the side of roads. Gradually, you’re expanding their horizons and they’ll see that there’s far more to the world than what they’re seeing on their phone or tablet.

Self-Storage Facilities – The Ultimate Cache?

The idea of setting up one or more caches is a popular one among preppers and survivalists. A cache is a collection of gear and supplies that is positioned for later use when you are away from home or perhaps on your way to your bug out location (BOL). Basically, a cache is a resupply point, intended to give you a boost in supplies as you make your way to your final destination.

By the way, the word cache is pronounced like cash, not cash-ay. Sorry, pet peeve.

The PVC tube type of cache is typically buried and left in place until needed. There are a few things to keep in mind, of course, such as making sure you’ll be able to find it again and, once found, that you’ll be able to open the PVC and get at the goodies inside. That will usually mean having a saw to cut off the end of the tube. I can’t imagine many things more frustrating than going to all the work of digging up your cache tube while tired and starving, only to find you have no way to open the tube and get to the contents inside.

Self-storage facilities have been around since the late 1950s but they really became popular in the 90s. They are largely an American phenomenon, which actually makes sense. There are few cultures outside the U.S. that place such a high value on stuff more than Americans.

Even if you’ve never used a self-storage facility before, you’re familiar with the basic concept. You’re renting what amounts to a small room or perhaps just a large closet in which you can store the overflow from your home. Usually this consists of household goods such as furniture, old clothes, dishes, and such. The facility itself is usually block construction and often outfitted with at least some sort of climate control. Decent ones are dry and the contents are as secure as the lock the user affixes to the door.

The most common size seems to be 10’ x 10’, though there are other sizes usually available, from 5’ x 10’ all the way to 20’ x 20’ or larger. Of course, this will vary from facility to facility, as will the rates. Locally, the smaller units run about $70 per month and the 10’ x 10’ ones are about $100 a month.

That’s a lot to pay just for a cache, obviously. However, if you’re considering renting a storage unit anyway, due to remodeling, moving, downsizing, death in the family, whatever, consider looking at it as an opportunity to set up a survival cache and select the facility with that in mind.

While many self-storage facilities are located in urban areas, and often not in the greatest parts of the city, there are numerous facilities out in the sticks. From where I’m sitting in my office in the middle of a city of about 30,000, I know of at least three different self-storage businesses far enough outside the city limits that I’d be comfortable going there at any time of day or night and not worry about who I might run across while I’m there.

Another consideration is whether you’ll be able to access the facility if the power goes out. Many of them utilize some sort of gate that is opened by key card or keypad. While all three facilities I referenced above are surrounded by fencing and use gated access, two of them have fences short enough that I’d easily be able to get over them in an emergency.

One argument often made against using self-storage facilities as emergency cache locations is the idea that they will be targeted by looters. Personally, I don’t see that happening, at least not until long after the store shelves and such have been wiped clean. See, people operate on a risk versus reward basis. There would be considerable effort involved with breaking into a self-storage facility, including just making the trip a few miles or more out of town to get to it. And for what? The vast majority of the units will have nothing more than long out of fashion couches and boxes of clothes the owners will never fit into again. Unless someone has a good reason to believe there is food or valuables kept inside the facility, odds are they’ll pass and look for an easier target.

That said, you could hedge your bet, so to speak, by hiding your supplies within the unit. Simply label boxes as “Grandma’s clothes” or “Christmas decorations” and put your supplies inside. You might even go so far as to camouflage your items by putting old clothes or whatever on top of your supplies before closing the box.

If the unit is large enough, I could easily see it being used as a temporary shelter while you’re on your way to a BOL. Stash a cot and blanket at the back of the unit and you’re good to go.

All other things being equal, choose a self-storage facility that is located along or near your primary bug out route. Select one that is out in the sticks so you won’t be dealing with crowds. Make sure you’ll be able to access your unit during a power outage.

Again, I’m not suggesting you run out and drop $1,200 a year or more just to maintain a survival cache. What I am saying is that if you’re going to be spending money on a storage unit anyway, choose the location using a prepper perspective and outfit it with some supplies and gear, just in case.

Extreme Wilderness Survival by Craig Caudill

I don’t review very many books these days. There are a few different reasons for that. Honestly, I don’t have much time lately to do read a whole lot, recreational or otherwise. On top of that, I’ve gotten to know so many authors and instructors in the last several years that I fear a good review will just be seen as nepotism and a bad review seen as me trying to bad mouth a competitor. Neither are ever the case, whether we’re talking about books or gear. I like what I like and I dislike what doesn’t work for me, simple as that.

Extreme Wilderness Survival by Craig Caudill works. It works really, really well.

Here’s what I can tell you about Craig. He’s been there and done that. He knows what works and what doesn’t, having learned from practical experience. He is the founder of Nature Reliance School as well as its chief instructor. Craig has taught survival and tracking to members of the military as well as law enforcement officers from federal, state, and local agencies. On top of all that, he’s a damn fine human being. Simply put, he’ll do to ride the river with.

One thing I really appreciate about Craig is his intelligence and that really comes through in this book. He is able to take very complex subjects and break them down in a way that is easy to comprehend, which is a sign of a truly gifted instructor.

The title, Extreme Wilderness Survival, is actually sort of misleading. Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of wilderness survival information here. But, there’s far more here than just how to build a fire and keep warm.

The book really gets started at page 11, with the previous pages being used for the Table of Contents and such. From page 11 through page 43 is absolutely essential reading on the survival mindset. Seriously folks, those 32 pages alone are worth the price of admission. This is an area that is often either glossed over or missed entirely in many survival manuals.

In this part of the book, Craig discusses a few training aids to help with situational awareness, memory, and observation skills, all of which are important for survival. Personally, I love the “Sit Spot” exercise and highly recommend it. Basically, this involves choosing a location out in the field and visiting it as often as possible over the course of a month or so. Just sit and observe the world around you. Write down things you notice and make sketches. The drawings don’t need to be art studio quality. The idea is that sketching will help you remember details better. Over time, you’ll start to learn patterns to things, such as when certain critters are most active. Plus, there is something peaceful and centering about just sitting out in nature for a while.

From there, he goes into personal safety. In this section, Craig covers everything from basic first aid to map reading to self-defense. While these topics are obviously very complex, he breaks them down into manageable chunks. Naturally, this single volume isn’t going to cover everything you’d ever need to know on any of those subjects but there is quite a bit of practical, actionable information shared in just a few pages.

Craig then uses the next several chapters to go into detail on the survival basics – shelter, fire, water, and food. In each chapter, he goes into detail on what works and what doesn’t. Again, practicality reigns throughout. Craig will show you how to make and use a bow drill but he’s also the first to tell you that if Daniel Boone could have carried a lighter with him, he’d have done so.

In the chapter on shelter, Craig goes into great detail on how to maintain your core temperature, sharing excellent information on layering, building shelters, and using tarps. Again, he goes a step beyond the standard survival manuals by suggesting you actually get outside and test out your skills by doing an overnight.

For food and water, he explains different methods for locating and procuring what you need. I love the table he includes in the water chapter, showing the effectiveness of various water filtration methods compared to one another. Very valuable information to have when deciding what to invest in when you’re putting together your own survival gear.

In the food chapter, Craig mentions another little tidbit that is often overlooked. The mere process of eating and digesting food will burn calories. Many people don’t realize that it takes far more calories to consume meat than it does to consume plants. When you are running a calorie deficit, this is important information to know.

The third section of the book is focused on tactics. This is a broad section that includes topics such as forming a group, deciding to hunker down or bug out, patrolling and movement with weapons, and tracking. That last one is probably my favorite chapter in the book. See, among Craig’s varied talents and skills is that he is an extremely capable tracker. This is an area I hope to learn much more soon and this chapter is an excellent primer on the subject.

The last section is on gear. It covers selection, methods of carry, weapons, and concludes with a reality check. Again, that last is something frequently missing from most survival manuals. As with the rest of the book, there is little to no fluff here. Just practical information on each and every page.

There are a ton of survival manuals on the market today. I can and do recommend Extreme Wilderness Survival without reservation. Find it here on Amazon. The book is scheduled for release on March 21, 2017.

Build a BOB: Useful Odds and Ends

On top of the mistakes listed above, there are a few things that I notice are missing from many if not most bug out bag content lists. While these items may not be utterly crucial to survival, they can sure make life a bit easier in an already stressful situation.

Knife sharpener
Knives and other blades are a no brainer for a bug out bag but few people think to toss in a small sharpener. A dull knife is far more dangerous to you than a sharp one.

Empty plastic bags
While many preppers pack their gear in plastic bags, which is an excellent idea, keeping several empty ones in your pack adds virtually no weight or bulk. The empty bags will come in handy for packing goodies you may find your travels, such as edible plants, tinder, or even water.

Hygiene supplies
Being able to clean up a bit is a great boost to morale as well as a way to stay healthy. Survival Resources has a great little hygiene kit for bug out bags. Or, make your own by tossing travel size toiletries (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss) and a couple of washcloths into a ziploc bag.

Lip balm
Yeah, I know, it sounds so metrosexual but bugging out generally means you’ll be outdoors, exposed to the sun and wind, which leads to chapped lips. This can actually be a rather painful condition. Lip balm takes up almost no space in your bug out bag. Plus, if it is petroleum based, it can double as a way to help get a fire going.

Notepad and pencils

Whether it is used for trying to keep track of where you are and where you’ve been or for just collecting your thoughts, being able to jot down notes is an excellent, and again a low weight, addition to the bug out bag.

Sewing kit
A few needles and a spool or two of good thread will be very welcome after you’ve ripped out a pocket on your pants or torn a hole in your shirt. Duct tape works, too.

Zip ties
As far as I’m concerned, these are almost as handy as duct tape. They have a wide range of uses in a survival situation. I keep a bunch in different sizes in each of my packs.

Cash and coins
We often think of bugging out as running off to the woods. Odds are, though, that at least some of your journey will be through civilized portions of the country. It makes sense to have some cash on hand to make purchases, should the need and opportunity arise. Think about it like this – it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Pack enough cash to get you a room at a midrange motel, someplace clean and that doesn’t charge by the hour. Add in a little more cover a meal or two and you should be good to go. Stick with small bills, nothing larger than a ten or twenty. Don’t forget a few dollars in change for vending machines.

Get caught up on the other installments in this series here:
First aid / Hygiene
Signaling and Communication
Choosing the Pack or Container
Common Mistakes