Freecycle for Preppers

The Freecycle organization has been around for several years, yet there are still lots of folks out there who’ve not heard of it. Freecycle can be an excellent resource for rehoming your unwanted stuff and occasionally receiving items of use to you.

Taken from the website:
The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,206 groups with 8,600,848 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.

Once upon a time, Freecycle groups used the Groups feature on Yahoo. Nowadays, pretty much everything is done via the Freecycle website. Here’s how this works.

Visit and open an account there. You’ll need to provide a username, password, and email address. The link to sign up is located at the top of the screen on the main page.

After you’ve logged in, it will prompt you to find groups in your area. In the search box, put in the city closest to you. There may not be a group based in your exact town but you should be able to find one reasonably nearby. You can certainly join more than one group, too, if there are multiple groups in your immediate area. For example, I travel a lot for work so I’ve joined groups in the areas I visit most often, as well as the groups nearest my home.

As you join different groups, be sure to check your email settings with each one. If you click on the My Groups tab, you’ll see a list of all the groups you’ve joined. For each one, you’ll see a button that says, “Change Settings.” There are three options:

None apart from ADMINs — this means you’ll only receive emails that are special notices from the group administrators. To view the actual group posts, you’ll have to visit the website.

Email digest — you’ll receive one email a day, with all group posts contained within it.

One for each post — you’ll receive each post to the group as an individual email.

What gets posted to the group?

There are two main types of posts — Offer and Wanted.

When people have something they want to get rid of, they’ll post it as an Offer. Typically, they will tell you what the item is, the condition of the item, and a general idea of where they are located. Here’s a sample Offer post:

OFFER: Coleman lantern
I have a Coleman lantern up for grabs. It is in fairly good condition, though I’ve not used it in several years. Located on east side of Chicago

The other type of post is a Wanted post. These can get sort of tricky, believe it or not. In many groups, you’ll see far more Wanted posts than you’ll see Offers. You can’t expect to ask for, and then receive, a ton of high-end gear. Posting a wish list is usually not very well received by group members. Instead, here is a typical Wanted type of post.

WANTED: Coleman lantern
In need of one or two lanterns for an upcoming camping trip. I can pick up anywhere local either evenings this week or any time this weekend.

No big long story about why you need the item, just the basic facts. Offering to pick up the item is actually pretty much a given as whether the post is an Offer or a Wanted, the recipient is typically expected to arrange for pickup of the item.

Responding to a post

If you see an Offer of something you want, you’ll contact the person who posted it, either via the website or via email. It always pays to be very polite. Keep in mind that you likely aren’t the only person contacting them. Don’t give them a sob story about how much you need the item, though. That gets old quickly. Just explain that you are interested in the item and give them a time frame of when you might be able to pick it up.

Hi, I’m very interested in the Coleman lantern. I live just outside Chicago and could pick up as quickly as this evening, if you’ll be around. Otherwise, I work days and any evening this week should work. Thanks!

Rules of the group

While there are some standard rules that are common to almost all Freecycle groups, such as nothing illegal is offered, no drugs, no weapons, etc., each group may have their own little foibles as well. Some groups require new members to make at least one Offer post before posting a Wanted, for example. The rules of the group should be found on the group’s page on the Freecycle website.

I’ve been a member of many different Freecycle groups over the years. Some were great, others were terrible. Often, it comes down to how the group is run by the admins. Now, Freecycle folks are all volunteer. They don’t get paid for the work they do, so keep that in mind. Occasionally, though, you may find an admin who apparently just has entirely too much time on their hands. They will reject posts for seemingly random reasons. Or, they will argue with members about what is appropriate to be posted and what is not. The groups run by iron-fisted admins tend to peter out after a while because members tire quickly of that nonsense.

Common sense safety concerns

Unless you happen to know personally the person you’ll be meeting, it pays to exercise good common sense. If you are going to them, make sure a family member or friend knows where you’re going, who you’re meeting, and when you should return. If they are coming to you, what many folks do is leave the item on the front porch in a bag or box with the recipient’s name on it. This reduces the danger of having to open your door to a stranger.

Many people will agree to meet at a public location, such as a fast food restaurant parking lot. But, if the item is large or cumbersome, that might not be an option.

Final thoughts

It is best to look at Freecycle as a way to get rid of stuff you no longer need, rather than just expecting to get a ton of free stuff. It really is about paying things forward. That said, there are people out there who have stuff like tents, backpacks, books, camping gear, and other cool stuff that they might be looking to part with, if only they knew it was wanted by someone else.

4 Great Martial Arts for Survivalists

Let me say at the outset that I’m not suggesting these are the BEST martial arts for survivalists or preppers. I don’t like that term “best” as things are different for everyone. What works well for one person might not be a great thing for another. Instead, what you’ll find here are suggestions for a few different martial arts that are well suited for the likely needs of survivalists and preppers.

Eskrima / Kali / Arnis

These are the traditional martial arts of the Philippines. Focus is on the use of weapons, such as knives, sticks, and machetes. What is interesting about Eskrima is that most students learn weapons first, then advance to empty-hand techniques. This is the complete opposite of most other martial arts. In fact, with Eskrima, many of the weapon techniques utilize the exact same or very similar body movements as do the empty hand techniques. This allows for a greater utilization of muscle memory.

Students learn how to defend against angles of attack, rather than against specific types of strikes or styles of fighting. This makes Eskrima rather fluid and a proficient student is able to quickly counter an attack regardless of the aggressor’s fighting style.

While it is all but impossible to truly learn any martial art simply by studying a book, this one will give you solid information on Eskrima, enough for you to make a fully informed decision on whether to pursue study in it.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is about as “real world” as a martial art gets. It combines techniques from street fighting, boxing, wrestling, judo, aikido, and several other arts. Krav Maga was developed in the 1930s and 1940s in Israel. As with most martial arts, the emphasis is on avoiding a fight if at all possible. However, if it is unavoidable, Krav Maga teaches students to end the fight as quickly and decisively as possible.

It is a brutal art, teaching students how to exploit any weakness and how to cause as much pain and injury as possible. As I said, this is real world stuff, not really suited for tournaments and such.

An excellent primer on Krav Maga is Complete Krav Maga: The Ultimate Guide to Over 230 Self-Defense and Combative Techniques.

Jeet Kune Do

Like Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do (JKD) is a hybrid art. It was founded in the mid-1960s by Bruce Lee. JKD incorporates a wide range of techniques, including strikes, grappling, and kicks. The main idea is for the student to be able to flow from one technique to another seamlessly.

One of the key elements to traditional JKD is the idea of not telegraphing your intentions. In many martial arts, there are specific poses or stances one adopts. In JKD, the focus is on surprising the attacker by not tensing your muscles or even twitching until you strike. When done successfully by a practiced student, the attacker (now the victim) will not be able to defend. JKD as an art is based on the concept of staying loose and flexible.

Learn more by reading Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method: The Complete Edition.


Like most boys growing up in the 1980s, I was infatuated with all things ninja. However, like most things portrayed in the media, real life ninjutsu isn’t much like what you’ve seen in the movies. You aren’t going to be tossing around throwing stars, at least not right away. Nor are you going to be lurking in the shadows, waiting for someone to assassinate.

Honestly, ninjutsu is very much the survivalist version of the martial arts, when you get right down to it. Ninjutsu is a very well rounded art, encompassing everything from empty hand combat to weapons to situational awareness.

Stephen K. Hayes is one of the most well known American instructors. He has been referred to as the “Father of American Ninjutsu” and has written several great books on the subject. One of his latest, The Ninja Defense: A Modern Master’s Approach to Universal Dangers, even includes a lengthy DVD.

Whether you choose one of these arts or a different one, take the time to fully check out the school and instructor. Talk to current students and sit in for a class or two. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Go in knowing you aren’t going to become any sort of master in just a few weeks. However, it won’t take long before you notice an increase in your physical fitness as well as your self-confidence.

Guerilla Gardening

Yes, it is only January and, for most of us at least, actual gardening is still a ways off. But, as the snow flies and temperatures dip, this can be the best time to sit down and plan out your gardens for the coming season.

Many of my readers live in an area that, for one reason or another, isn’t great for planting gardens. If you’re in a condo or apartment, there’s just not enough space. If you’re in a neighborhood governed by a homeowners association, the rules might not allow it. Fortunately, there are still some options available to you, if you’re willing to get creative a bit.

Guerilla gardening is basically growing food under the radar, so to speak. Rather than having actual plots of land where you carefully sow your seeds in neat little patches, you’re using a variety of techniques to keep things at least reasonably hidden from plain sight.

Historically, guerilla gardening referred to using vacant city lots, highway medians, and other such unused areas for planting food crops. The idea was to put to use these abandoned areas, not only providing food but also improving the aesthetics. This is certainly one option you might consider, should you have a vacant lot in your immediate area. However, I would caution you that if you don’t own the land yourself, you could be opening up a large can of worms. If the owners decide they want to build an apartment building on that lot, there is typically nothing you will be able to do to prevent them from destroying the gardens, as many such gardeners have found over the years.

That said, if you have what seems to be a suitable vacant lot in mind, you might consider tracking down the owner. Contact them and see if you can get permission to plant a garden on the lot, with the understanding being that if the lot is ever sold or the owners decide to build on it, it is up to you to either move the garden or let it be razed as needed. It can’t hurt to ask, right?

Container gardening is a viable option for most apartment and condo dwellers. While you certainly won’t be able to grow a ton of food in this way, some is better than none. Basically, container gardening is where you use planters and such on your patio or driveway to grow your plants. Using a cold frame would fall into this category as well, I think.

For most plants suited to container gardening, you’ll want pots or planters around 16″-18″ deep. While pretty much any plant can conceivably be grown in a container, provided the container is large enough, some that work particularly well are pole beans, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Potatoes can be done as well, but you need a fairly large container to end up with a decent crop. One method that works well for taters is to use a container about two feet deep. Plant the potatoes at the bottom and as the plants grow, add more soil and compost to cover the tubers. Keep repeating this process all season long. Toward fall, when the plants die off, dump out all the potatoes.

Dwarf or miniature fruit trees are something to consider for those living in a tight space. As the name implies, these are smaller versions of the standard plants. Be sure to do your homework, though, as many varieties require two or more of them in close proximity for pollination.

Edible landscaping is another option, particularly for those living in HOA communities. Basically, this involves using food-bearing plants to decorate your yard. For example, rather than planting hedges along the border, try using blueberry or blackberry bushes. If you have landscape beds in your front or back yard, consider scattering some food plants in with the decorative shrubs. Just be sure they will get plenty of light throughout the day. Some good choices for these beds would be broccoli, lettuce, and kale. Strawberries make for an attractive ground cover, too.

Whenever possible, be sure to purchase or otherwise obtain heirloom seeds. This means the seeds obtained from the fruit or vegetable grown can be planted and will grow true. Most of the seeds found in big box retailers are not heirloom but are hybrids. Trying to grow viable plants from hybrid seeds is usually a fruitless endeavor.

Be Prepared: Active Shooter

It has sadly become more and more common to hear about active shooter situations playing out all over the country. It can happen at schools and universities, office buildings, movie theaters, just about anywhere you can imagine. As with most other types of disasters and emergencies, understanding ahead of time what you should do can help you remain reasonably calm and able to take action rather than freezing up.

First, if at all possible, flee the area. Do not look to engage the shooter in any way, whether you are armed or not. All too often, keyboard warriors indicate they will take down the shooter in a heartbeat. Unless you have been trained in combat shooting, which is far different then just sending some rounds downrange on a sunny day, forget about it. Odds are good that you’ll be dealing with chaotic, low light conditions.

If, despite that advice, you decide to shoot back with your legally permissible concealed carry weapon, be damn sure you know what you’re doing. If the round you fire misses and hits another victim, things are not going to go well for you later. Same goes if the round you fire goes through the assailant and hits someone else.

Now, before my inbox explodes, let me also say this. If you feel you have no other choice but to immediately defend yourself against the shooter, do so using whatever means you have available to you.

As soon as you can, call 911. While you likely won’t be the only one doing so, don’t make the assumption that someone else is going to make the call. Give the dispatcher as much information as you can — location of the shooter, description of the shooter, number and location of victims if known, and where you are located. Your description of the shooter will ideally contain the following:

–Approximate age
–Race or skin color
–Color of hair
–Presence or absence of facial hair
–What they’re wearing
–How they are armed (handgun, shotgun, knife, etc.)

If you and the shooter are in a building, try to get outside and away from the area. If that is not feasible, find someplace you can hunker down, such as an office or closet. Do what you can to barricade the door. Turn off all lights and remain quiet. If there is something to hide behind or under in the room, do so. Either way, do not remain in front of the door. Stay out of the likely line of fire should the shooter enter the room. Stay there until you are rescued or until you hear an all clear sounded.

It is also important to have a basic understanding of how law enforcement will respond to reports of an active shooter. For starters, the first officers on the scene are going to be focused on locating the shooter and eliminating the threat. They will not be stopping along the way to check on injured victims. There will be rescue teams following that will take care of that. If you know where the shooter is, by all means inform the officers. But otherwise, just stay the hell out of their way.

Stay down until you are specifically told otherwise by an officer. Remember, this is a high stress situation and you don’t want to do anything that could cause an officer to think you are possibly involved with the shooting. Keep your hands visible and drop any packages or bags you might be carrying. Do not get offended by any rough treatment by an officer, such as them grabbing you and pulling you out of the area. Do what you’re told when you’re told to do it.

Being involved in an active shooter scenario is no one’s idea of a good time. It is terrifying and stressful. But, knowing what to do ahead of time can help you stay calm and reduce your reaction time.

[Original photo obtained here and modified with title font and such.]

Goals for 2015

At the end of the year, many of us try to determine what we hope to accomplish in the next 12 months. These aren’t “resolutions” but rather goals we want to achieve. I thought I’d share with you some of my own goals for 2015, partially in hopes you’ll help keep me accountable for them and partially because seeing some of these might help you decide what you hope to achieve in 2015. Those of you who subscribe to our free newsletter already heard about several of these goals.

Professional Goals:

Focus on
For quite some time now, I’ve been missing out on the “Weekly” part of Updates have been hit and miss, rarely approaching any sort of regularity. The plan for 2015 is to get back on at least a semi-fixed schedule. This includes:

–One new informative post or article every week.
–One review (book, magazine, or product) every week.
–Two videos a month.

Product Development
For quite some time now, I’ve had several ideas running through my head of products I’d like to market. Nothing extravagant or complicated, just a few things that I think would be popular among my readers. This year, I’m looking to get these ideas out of my head and into the real world.

Writing Goals:

While much of this category would seem to fall in line with professional goals, they are different enough to qualify for their own heading, at least as far as I’m concerned.

Prepper Books
I’m currently working with Ulysses Press on the topic of my next book with them. We’ve been toying with a few different ideas, just a matter of narrowing it down. The original plan was to do two books in 2015. We’ll see how it goes.

Untitled Novel
While I’ve started my first novel, work on it has been hit and miss the last several months. I plan to finish the rough draft by June and have it ready for publication by September or so. I’ve been considering self-publishing the novel but we’ll see if any publishers are interested in it first. Don’t ask for more info on this project as I’m keeping all story details hush hush.

Magazine Articles
My goal in 2015 is to sell at least one article to each of my favorite magazines. I’ve already made strong headway on this, having sold material to SURVIVOR’S EDGE, COUNTRYSIDE, and SELF RELIANCE ILLUSTRATED. Still working on pitches for OFFGRID, BACKWOODSMAN, BACK HOME, NEW PIONEER, AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN, and BACKWOODS HOME.

Personal Goals

Naturally, on top of goals geared toward professional success, I have some personal things I’m hoping to achieve.

I finally went and had a physical exam done about a week ago. I don’t typically visit the doctor unless I absolutely must, so going for a routine exam is a big achievement in and of itself. I have a family history of heart issues so I figure it is high time I start taking care of things. Thankfully, I found I’m in pretty good health, though my “good” cholesterol is a bit low. I’m not setting any goals of losing x amount of weight or anything. Rather, I just want to make sure I stay active and also improve my diet a bit.

I work a lot. Typically, between the day job and all of my writing and related endeavors, I put in around 70 hours a week. I don’t mind the work as I truly enjoy 90% of it. But, I need to slow down a bit and enjoy life, too. My kids aren’t getting any younger and neither am I. To that end, my wife and I have been making plans for things we want to do as a family this year.

So, what are your goals for 2015?

Cold Weather Survival Tips

The following is a guest post by Chris Ruiz from The Bug Out Bag Guide.

Huddled within the snow-block Quinzee his father had built, snuggled up next to his sister with a campfire burning out front, it was almost possible for Jacob Voss to imagine he was playing in a snow fort, enjoying an outdoor adventure with his family. Almost.

Only hours before, the Voss family had been forced to flee the warmth and comfort of their home and take refuge in the wilderness. Sunlight lasted for only an hour, just enough time to find a place to camp and set up shelter.

As cold as he was, Jacob felt thankful. His family had been prepared and he was confident his father knew how to keep them alive. Others hadn’t been so lucky. He had seen his classmates running from their homes with nothing more than sweatshirts and sneakers. He was safe, his family was safe, and due to his father’s knowledge of outdoor survival, they were comfortable.

Bugging out in cold weather can challenge the survival skills of even the best outdoorsmen and requires significant training and preparation. If you live in an area where bugging out in winter is a possibility, make sure you regularly check you bug-out-bag to ensure you have the proper gear for the elements.

In this article, we will provide you with the survival knowledge you’ll need to keep yourself and your family safe in cold weather including staying warm, building shelter and fire, and performing first aid.

Staying Warm

The key to surviving cold weather is to keep your core temperature warm. This is especially difficult in harsh winter conditions when shorter days (less sunlight), wind chill, lower temperatures, and ice and snow are all working against you to steal your body heat and energy. In order to stay warm, your body is going to need to work harder and consume more calories than normal to keep you going.

Here are our top tips for staying warm in frigid conditions:


Layer Up

Unlike his ill-prepared neighbors, Jacob Voss had several layers to help keep him warm. Layering multiple items is preferable to one thick layer as air gets trapped between the layers and is warmed by your body to act as an insulator against the cold.

For an average adult, three to five layers is most desirable, starting with a light wicking layer closest to your skin to keep perspiration off. Your outer layer should be both wind resistant and waterproof to minimize heat exchange and keep water out. The great part about layering is that you can add or remove layers as needed to regulate your body temperature.

If you happen to be bugging out with children, like the Vosses, make sure to dress them in one additional layer than yourself to ensure they stay warm.


Stay Active

It may be tempting to bunker down and wait out the cold, but by keeping yourself moving you’ll ensure you keep your heart rate up and provide a good flow of warm blood to your extremities.

Remember to keep a moderate pace and maintain your body temperature by adding or removing layers as needed. By over-exerting yourself, you risk becoming drenched in sweat, which will create moisture that takes heat away from you.


Keep Hydrated and Nourished

Hydration and calories are key to keeping your body going in freezing temperatures. To fuel the extra energy you’ll spend keeping yourself warm, make sure to keep your bug-out-bag stocked with high calorie/low weight options such as nuts, granola bars, energy gels, and powerbars. For hydration, Gatorade powder can be mixed with water or melted snow, which will keep you hydrated longer than water alone.


Cover Your Head

A covered head is a key source of warmth – in fact, up to 90% of heat loss will be through your head if it isn’t properly covered. Make sure to pack a hat or jacket with a hood – or both – to keep your head covered in the snow. A hat or hood also provides an easy layer to put on or remove to regulate your temperature.


Building Shelter and Fire

After addressing your core temperature, building shelter should be next on your cold weather survival priority list. In the case of the Vosses, they built a Quinzee out of snow, but there are other options as well. The video below provides step-by-step instructions on how to construct a Quinzee if that’s the option you’ve chosen.

Another alternative is to create a basic A-Frame or Lean-To shelter using branches and piling snow on top. While it may be cold to the touch, snow is an excellent insulator and makes a great outer layer for a shelter. If your survival pack includes an emergency blanket, poncho, or tarp, these can all be used as a roof for your shelter by laying them on top of your branch frame. Additionally, if you have a spare, you can use one of these items on the floor of your shelter for added insulation. The video below provides practical guidelines for building a winter survival shelter:

Your next consideration should be building a fire. If you plan to have your fire inside your shelter, always ensure you provide for proper ventilation to avoid suffocation.

In cold weather situations, fire is essential for two reasons:

1. Keeping warm – while this may seem obvious, keeping warm has other less tangible benefits such as raising morale and keeping freezing-related medical issues off everyone’s mind.

2. Melting snow – the great thing about snow is that it provides a nearly limitless supply of water; make sure to boil melted snow before drinking to ensure all pathogens are killed.

When gathering kindle for your fire, look for dead branches on the lower parts of trees and stay away from those on the ground or in the snow – the moisture will make them harder to burn.

Performing First Aid

Besides the plethora of injuries that can arise when bugging out (check out my First Aid article for preparing for and treating typical injuries), cold weather offers the added dangers of hypothermia and frostbite.


Hypothermia occurs when your body’s core temperature drops to the point where your body can no longer self-regulate (typically below 95 degrees Fahrenheit). The onset of hypothermia can come rapidly, especially if someone falls through thin ice into cold water, such as a stream or lake.

The following are symptoms of hypothermia:
● Shivering
● Loss of coordination
● Weak pulse
● Drowsiness
● Slow speech
● Confusion or memory loss

To ensure survival, hypothermia must be treated immediately. If you suspect that you, or someone in your group, have hypothermia, try the following treatments:
● If possible, seek emergency medical attention
● Replace any wet clothes with dry ones or dry items such as blankets or sleeping bags
● Ensure protection from wind or other elements that could cause heat loss
● Seek immediate shelter
● Warm the person up through shelter, a fire, or body heat from another person
● Have the person drink warm liquids as this can help bring their temperature back up


An exposed body part – usually a nose or ear – can become so cold that ice crystals will begin to form in the tissues. This is frostbite. Without immediate treatment, it can lead to the loss of the affected body part.

Symptoms of frostbite include the following:
● Numbness in the affected area
● White patches on your skin, which will turn black with severe frostbite
● Hardening of the affected area

If you suspect that you, or someone in your group, have frostbite, try the following treatments:
● If possible, seek emergency medical attention
● Gradually warm the affected area by moving it closer to shelter, fire, and away from the elements
● Applying warm water to affected area

In the case of frostbite, make sure you AVOID the following:
● Placing anything hot on the affected area – this can cause burns that are not felt as the area is numb
● Walking on frostbitten toes or feet – this can cause additional damage
● Rubbing the affected area to warm it up


Survival in the winter can prove to be one of the most challenging and brutal bug-out situations you can find yourself in. However, armed with knowledge and the proper gear, you will greatly increase your chances of survival.

There is no better test of preparedness than facing the elements head-on. To ensure you and your loved ones are properly equipped, spend a weekend in the wilderness practicing and honing your winter survival skills. Not only will this help test your preparedness in a controlled environment, but also highlight areas you may need additional training or gear for.

If you’re ever faced with bugging out in winter, you want yourself and your loved ones to be safe, comfortable, and perhaps imagining it as a family adventure, like Jacob Voss. Don’t get caught wishing you had been prepared, like his ill-fated neighbors.

About The Author
Chris Ruiz is a lifelong outdoorsman and has been interested in survival tactics and practices for many years. He currently helps people prepare for unforeseen disasters at The Bug Out Bag Guide. For more information on disaster preparedness, emergency planning, survival skills, every day carry, or picking bug out gear, please visit:

DIY: World’s Smallest Fishing Kit

Ok, there might be one or two homemade kits smaller than this but probably not too many. I have to give credit to my youngest son for turning me on to this project idea. Big thanks, T-Man!

For this project, you’ll need the following:

Two plastic soda bottles, a glue gun, a hacksaw, sandpaper, scissors, marker, and an old gift card or something similar. Here’s we used one of those fake credits cards you get in the mail from time to time.

Start by cutting the threaded tops off of both soda bottles. Cut just behind the plastic ridge, as shown here:

Next, sand down the cut edges as smooth as you can. You might not be able to get them absolutely perfect, but that’s ok.

Now, take one of the bottle tops and place it on the credit card and trace around it.

Cut out that circle, trying to make the cut as clean as you can. While you’re doing this, plug in the glue gun so it heats up.

Run a bead of glue all around the plastic disk, then carefully center one of the bottle tops onto it.

Let the glue set up for a minute, then turn the bottle top upside down, run another bead of glue around the disk, and attach the other bottle top.

Now, you could stop right here. What you have at this point is a nifty little storage container, suitable for things like tinder or meds. You could even omit the plastic disk and have a larger, single interior rather than double-sided.

But, I promised you a fishing kit so here’s what to do next. Cut the plastic ring off of one of the bottle tops. Then, tie on some fishing line and wind it around the bottle top, being careful to not go onto the threads. When I made this one, I stopped at 55′ of line. Crimp a split shot sinker on the loose end of the line and drop it into the bottle top, then screw down the cap.

Toss some hooks and split shot sinkers into the other side.

Again, it might not be the absolute smallest fishing kit in the world but it is pretty damn tiny. Toss one in your pocket and you’ll hardly know it is there. Be sure to use braided fishing line as other types have a “memory” and tend to end up in a coiled mess.

All told, I think it took my son and I maybe 15 minutes to put this together. And, that’s with stopping at each step to take photos. Admittedly, we could have taken the time to use a Dremel tool or something to clean up the cuts and such but that’s just window dressing, really.

Have some fun with this project and let me know how you end up customizing it for yourself!

Prepper Magazine Subscriptions – The Gift That Keeps On Giving

For those scrambling to find relatively inexpensive gifts for the preppers on your holiday list this year, you might consider giving them a subscription to one or another prepper/survival magazines. While they might not have a big wrapped gift to open, they’ll surely appreciate the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Here are my favorite publications, any of which would make for awesome holiday gifts this season.

Self Reliance Illustrated
Of all the magazines I get in the mail or pick up at the newsstand, SRI is my favorite. Each issue is chock full of great articles, most of which are DIY in nature or approach. What I really appreciate is that the folks featured in the magazine are real people doing stuff, rather than just fluff pieces featuring the latest and greatest gadgets and doodads. They offer a one year (4 issues) subscription that comes with DVD containing electronic copies of six additional issues, all for $31.00 plus shipping for the DVD.

Countryside and Small Stock Journal
Countryside has been around what seems like forever. It is geared toward the homesteading crowd, though they’ve expanded into the prepping world with the last couple of issues, something that is planned to continue at least for the next year or more. Countryside is a great, very down to earth, publication. They offer a one year (six issues) subscription for $18.00.

Survivor’s Edge
A relative newcomer to the prepper magazine market, Survivor’s Edge’s first two issues were impressive. Very professionally done, packed with great content of interest to both new and experienced survivalists. They offer a one year subscription (4 issues) for $23.97.

New Pioneer
Published by the same folks that do Survivor’s Edge, New Pioneer is focused on homesteading with a scattering of survival information here and there. Like Survivor’s Edge, very well done and the articles are largely written by folks who are out there doing the work every day, rather than just reading about it. They offer a one year subscription (4 issues) for $24.97.

Backwoods Home
Very similar in content to Countryside, with perhaps a touch more info on prepping in some issues. Something I really like about Backwoods Home is the informal tone of most of the articles. Many of the contributors aren’t professional writers but they darn sure know the material about which they’re writing. They offer a one year (6 issue) subscription for $24.95.

If you have someone on your list who truly appreciates primitive living, bushcraft, and historical lore, this is the magazine for them. Like some of the others featured in this list, Backwoodsman is largely reader-written. These are regular folks who are out doing what they love, then writing about it. They offer a one year (6 issue) subscription for $24.00.

Give the gift that keeps on giving, all year long!

Free Prepper Info!

Don’t say I never gave you anything. In the next several weeks, you’ll probably be spending a considerable amount of money on holiday gifts. Well, here’s one gift I have for you and it won’t cost you a dime outside of ink for your printer.

I asked several of my fellow prepper/survival bloggers for links to where my readers could find free downloadable checklists, forms, and other info. What I suggest to you is you warm up the printer, make sure you have plenty of ink, then spend a couple of hours going through these links, printing out hard copies of the stuff you find most useful for you and your family.

Might want to grab a cup of coffee, too, as you may be at this for a while….

The Busy B Homemaker — First Aid Kit Checklist: You’ll find the PDF linked toward the bottom of the article. Take the time to read the info there, too, as there’s some great advice found in this blog post.

The Home Ready Home — Grab-n-Go Binder: Another great article, well worth the read. You’ll find the PDF toward the bottom.

Your Own Home Store — Important Documents: As you go through this article, you’ll find a ton of different printable documents and forms, all centered upon collating your important information in one easy to access binder or folder.

Food Storage & Survival — Shelf Life Chart: This is a great resource for anyone concerned about how long their peanut butter, canned goods, and other stored foods will last.

Food Storage & Survival — Car Emergency Kit Checklist: Kit content lists are a dime a dozen online but this is one of the better ones.

The Survival Mom — Giant List of Checklists: Ok, that’s not what she calls it but the name fits. Here, you’ll find tons of printable checklists and forms, covering a wide range of topics. Very, very comprehensive.

SurviveHive — Checklist Generator: Rather different than the others on this list, here you can customize checklists to suit your individual needs. There are six different basic checklists (72 hour kit, first aid, food & water, vehicle gear, spices, health & hygiene). You decide from the master list in each category what items you want to put on your list, then print them out. Pretty cool!

Ed That Matters — Education After The Collapse: Free e-book on educating your children when public schools aren’t an option.

The Bug Out Bag Guide — Making a Customized Bug Out Plan: Very comprehensive approach to planning for bugging out.

Melissa K. Norris — Ultimate Food Preservation Guide: This great guide covers just about every method of food preservation out there, from home canning to root cellars and everything in between.

Prepared in Every Way — 100 Things Survivors Must Do: A handy guide to planning for death, including collecting important contact info, documents that should be drawn up, and making arrangements ahead of time.

Common Sense Home — Seed Starting Calendar: A very common dilemma among new gardeners is trying to figure out exactly when they should start planting certain seeds. This calendar takes all the guesswork out of the equation.

My Food Storage Cookbook — First Aid Kit Checklists: A great collection of six different first aid kit checklists, covering everything from medications to bandages.

2014 Holiday Shopping List for Preppers

Well, we’re rapidly reaching that time of year again. While the stores have been decorating for the holidays since Halloween, it isn’t until Thanksgiving that many of us start making out our gift lists. Naturally, every prepper blogger worth their salt is going to have a post like this sometime between now and Christmas. What follows are my suggestions for possible gifts for the preppers in your lives, or perhaps you’ll find a thing or two you might want to add to your own wish list.

Personally, books are always high on my own wish list. A few I’d recommend this year include:

The Survival Group Handbook by Charley Hogwood: This is the first book I’ve seen that addresses group dynamics, networking, and setting up any sort of survival community. Expertly written by someone who knows his stuff.

Practical Self Reliance by John D. McCann: John truly lives the self reliant life and it shows throughout this great book. It is packed with solid information, based on hard won experience rather than theory. If you are truly striving to become more independent, this book should be your guide.

Alien Invasion: Owners’ Resistance Manual by Sean T Page: If you have a sci-fi lover on your gift list, this is THE book for them. I’ve been a fan of Sean’s books for a while now. While they are quite funny, written with tongue firmly planted in cheek, there’s actually a fair amount of solid information scattered within. This book, like his previous Zombie Survival Manual, is written as a guide for those who think we might come to be at war with beings from beyond. Profusely illustrated and just tons of fun!

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters: The first in a planned trilogy, The Rule of Three is one of my favorite fiction reads this year. You can read my full review here.

Of course, I’d also have to point you in the direction of books I’ve written as well. If I didn’t, then my publishers would take to task for not doing so. You can find my books on Amazon as well as pretty much any other decent bookstore.

Every prepper needs a good quality knife, if not more than one, right? If you have someone on your list who has been exceptionally good this year, consider picking up for them a GNS Knife by LT Wright Knives. Honestly, I’ve owned a ton of blades over the years and the GNS remains my absolute favorite. A close second would be the Condor Bushlore. Very similar in size and shape, the Bushlore’s blade is a bit thinner and the steel just a tad inferior to the GNS. But, it is also less than half the price, so there’s that.

Flashlights are always a hit. The Coast HP550 is just crazy bright and is about the same size as the average Maglite. Seriously, you could land aircraft with this light!

One of the coolest things I reviewed this year is the Grid-It organizer. It is awesome for keeping all those little odds and ends in your pack from being scattered all over the place. It would also be perfect for the gadget hounds on your list as it works great at keeping chargers and other accessories organized and easily accessible.

Now, should you have that one person who seems impossible to buy for, and the budget allows for the purchase, the Echo-Sigma Get Home Bag is what I would consider to be one of the premier commercial survival kits on the market today. Very well built and packed with all sorts of high quality gear. Pricey, but worth it, in my opinion.

For those who do a fair amount of camping, the CanCooker line of products are awesome. Of course, they’d also be handy to have around the house for off-grid cooking should that be necessary. They basically pressure cookers, which allow you to cook large amounts of food fairly quickly and with far less fuel than you might otherwise need.

Lastly, coming soon will be the first three DVDs in the Make Ready to Survive series by Panteao Productions. I believe they’ll be available on Amazon at some point, though I’m not sure exactly when. You can buy them direct from Panteao, though, and even pre-order them if you’d like. The plan is to have the first three DVDs on the shelves in early December.