tactical fitness

How Tactical Fitness Prepares Your Body For Survival

tactical fitness

Note: This post was contributed by Garry Bowman, writer for 911gear.ca. Read more about him in the About The Author section below.

Fitness has a new category now-Tactical Fitness. The fitness programs for Military, Police, Fire Fighter, and Special Ops have all been clubbed under one category known as Tactical Fitness. This has become so popular that training associations like the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) have a certified program for Tactical Strength and Conditioning (TSAC).  

So, this new category will see an upsurge unlike other concepts, such as boot camp workouts, which have lost their ground over time. The following article highlights this new genre of fitness along with a fine line difference between the tactical fitness and regular fitness.

tactical fitness

What Is Tactical Fitness?

tactical fitness

Tactical Fitness is more about work and not workouts. It is not designed for having a good workout but for facing real life situations like lifts, carries, crawls, runs, rucks, swims, and mobility, even situations which demand logical and innovative thinking.

It makes use of non-traditional tools and equipment for carrying up unbalanced loads. Tactical Fitness is more about handling life and death situations for you, your buddy, or anyone whom you are trying to help. And such situations not only demand physical fitness but mental alertness and readiness to act and not react in stressful situations.

tactical fitness

Tactical fitness demands you to be a team player as well. You need to coordinate not just between your body and mind but also with your buddies to handle the situation.

Better your workout, better you will be at the real-time situation.

Building Blocks Of Tactical Fitness

tactical fitness

Tactical fitness is not just about a healthy heart, blood pressure, sugar levels, and weight, but you need to be a master of the following elements of fitness as well:

  • Speed and Endurance – It includes running and gradually improving pace.
  • Vigor and Power – It includes lifting of various equipment, gear, and even people.
  • Flexibility and Mobility – It includes moving over uneven terrain and between the obstacles.
  • Muscle endurance – This includes moving yourself and gearing up, over, under, and through space.
  • Old Man Grip – This includes holding gear, climbing over the mountain or rope.
  • Other Skills – This includes learning to swim, river crossing etc.

Incorporating these elements into your daily workout routine will better prepare you for real situations. Systems like TACTFIT Commando and Girls Gone Strong offer structured workouts based on tactical fitness. Read on for more information on these programs and to find out how to get started now.

tactical fitness

Difference between Tactical Athletes and Traditional Athletes

tactical fitness

Although you will attain a level near to perfection with these fitness elements, it is natural to have weaknesses. So, you need to determine the weaknesses and work upon them to achieve an excellence in them.

Being a Tactical Athlete and getting trained for all of these elements is not going to land you among the strongest or fastest persons in the country, but you will develop a good level of strength, endurance and stamina- all of which come into play in survival situations.

tactical fitness

An advanced Tactical Athlete can easily do 20 pull-ups and dead lift twice his body weight of 200 pounds and still can run for several miles.  Even after such exceptional numbers, a Tactical Athlete may still be beatable by a cross country runner but maintains an upper hand in strength events.  

tactical fitness

There are many fitness elements that are not even in the dictionary of a normal athlete but a Tactical Athlete is a master of all those fitness points.

Training of a Tactical Athlete

tactical fitness

There are particular stages of training for a Tactical Athlete. The aspiring candidates have to be exceptionally good to grab a chance for these public service professions. The typical fitness tests includes: pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, 1.5 mile runs, and sprint or swim test.

Growth Cycles of Tactical Athletes

tactical fitness

Training and active-duty scenario are entirely different worlds in a career of a Tactical Athlete. The training years prepare you for jobs that demand running, swimming, diving, lifting, etc.

tactical fitness

Maintenance programs include conditioning programs that make you strong, fast, well-conditioned and flexible. Learning about periodization is the key to arrange workouts that can help you to cope with the demands of job -country, overseas or your community.

Therefore, tactical fitness is about winning real-life situations which can be a matter of life and death for someone.

Where To Get Started

Finding an effective tactical fitness regime that fits into your busy life can be challenging. Below are training options for men and women that maximize results in a manageable amount of time, so you can stick with it and achieve your goals.

TACFIT Commando

The TACFIT Commando system by Scott Sonnon packs a full body workout into just 20 minutes per day. Using only your body weight as resistance, you can improve your strength and agility without the need for expensive equipment or gym memberships. And because the workouts can be performed anywhere, it is easier to keep up your program even when you travel.

tactical fitness
Click to transform your workout into tactical training with TACFIT Commando TODAY!

The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training

Specifically designed for women, The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training by Girls Gone Strong is a step-by-step system to help you actualize your fitness goals. Develop a strong and healthy body without spending hours at the gym. The workouts are aligned with the Minimum Effective Dose approach and you progress at your own pace to keep yourself challenged.

tactical fitness
Click to get started with The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training TODAY!

About The Author

Garry Bowman is a blogger and content writer at 911gear.ca, the finest dealer of tactical gear in Canada. 911gear.ca also provides superior quality of tactical equipment for law enforcement, military, EMS, security professionals, corrections officers, and preppers.

Your Thoughts

Are you ready to motivate? What are your fitness goals? Share your prepper workout tips in the Comments section below, thanks!

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cold weather survival gear

Cold Weather Survival Gear & Tips For Battling The Snow

cold weather survival gear

Winter can be a beautiful and highly enjoyable season with lots of holiday celebrations and exciting sports; however, if you live in an area where snow is inevitable, winter presents some unique threats to your survival you need to be prepared for with appropriate cold weather survival gear.

The temperature drop itself can be a huge threat. In the cold, your body will need to work harder and require more calories and warmth to sustain itself. Additionally, basic survival activities such as harvesting water, gathering food, and lighting a fire become increasingly challenging when faced with snow-covered ground.

cold weather survival gear
Be prepared for winter survival scenarios that can leave you out in the cold.

However, the best reason to prepare yourself and your family with cold weather survival gear is that you need not only be prepared for bugging out, but also for the chance that a major blizzard could leave you stranded in your home without power, or worse, out in the elements. In this article, we will address the challenges and threats you could possibly face this winter and provide some key tips and recommendations on cold weather survival gear to help you be prepared.

Maintaining Core Body Temperature

For your body to function properly, it must maintain a temperature of 98.6℉. If your body deviates from this temperature, there are built-in mechanisms that kick in to help restore the core temperature and warm you up.

cold weather survival gear

Typical outward signs that your body is working harder to keep you warm include shivering, teeth chattering, and goosebumps. If your body goes through prolonged periods of exposure to cold temperatures, your heartbeat will decrease and blood pressure will slow, reducing the delivery of oxygen to your organs.

This will effectively cut off your extremities from heat sources as body warmth is focused on vital organs (at this point, your hands and feet will turn purple, becoming tingly and then numb; for more information, please click on this link). These changes can severely affect your ability to think and move, becoming life-threatening in the worst-case scenario.

cold weather survival gear
Hypothermia isn’t only a concern outdoors. Without electricity, your home can become dangerously cold.

The best way to protect yourself against the cold is to dress in layers. Three layers are best, beginning with a thermal layer, then an insulating layer, and finishing with a shell or outer layer.

What to Look For in Thermal Layers

cold weather survival gear

For the most effective thermal layer that will keep you warm and dry, look for the following fabrics:

  • Synthetic polyester blends. These fabrics will wick moisture away from the skin and are lightweight; they include rayon, nylon, polypropylene, and spandex. An added benefit is that they move well with you due to their stretchy nature and can fit tightly under other layers without restricting movement.
  • Merino wool. This fine-fibered wool will not cause itching as traditional wool does and evaporates moisture within the fabric to help keep you dry. It is naturally antibacterial, unlike synthetics, which makes a big difference when you will need to wear your thermal layers for an extended period of time.
  • Silk. Silk fabric can be treated to enhance wicking and is very soft, however it typically requires washing after each wear, making it an unfavorable choice for survival conditions.
  • Cotton. While cotton is a soft and comfortable fabric, it also retains moisture, which is not only uncomfortable but also works against keeping you warm as evaporating perspiration will actually cool your skin.

In terms of fit, look for a close-fitting thermal layer, as this lends itself well to adding on additional layers. Ensure that the arms and legs are long enough that they completely cover your wrists and ankles, and that the waist and shirt overlap in order to protect your back when squatting or bending.

Thermal Layers For Men And WomenKey Features  
Carhartt Men's Base Force Performance Super Cold Weather Crew Neck Top
• Heavy knit Polyester-Spandex fights extreme cold
• Wicks moisture away from the skin and resists odors
• Crewneck and droptail back lock in body heat
Carhartt Men's Base Force Performance Super Cold Weather Bottom
• Heavy knit Polyester-Spandex fights extreme cold
• Wicks moisture away from the skin and resists odors
• Long, fitted rib-knit cuffs prevent riding up at the ankle
Rothco ECWCS Poly Crew Neck Top
• 100% Polyester with ultra-soft fleece lining
• Tiny air pockets trap heat close to the skin
• Same Extended Cold Weather Clothing System used by U.S. Armed Forces
Rothco Gen III Level II Underwear Bottoms
• Highly breathable Polyester-Spandex grid-fleece with moisture-wicking technology
• Microban fabric ideal for long-term use
• Level II of the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System used by U.S. Armed Forces
The First Outdoor Women's Thermal Underwear Set
• Polyester-Spandex fabric with suede lining for added comfort
• Fabric resists pilling in high friction areas
• Athletic seams on shirt and pants for ease of movement
Duofold Women's Heavy Weight Double Layer Thermal Shirt
• Double layer Polyester-Spandex blend designed for extreme cold
• 4-way stretch and princess seams provide a contoured fit that moves with you
• Anti-microbial fabric ideal for long wear
Duofold Women's Heavy Weight Double Layer Thermal Leggings
• Double layer Polyester-Spandex blend designed for extreme cold
• Flatlock seams prevent skin irritation
• Drawstring for an adjustable fit
Sportown®Women's Odor-resistant Merino Wool Base Layer Shirt
• 100% Merino wool is extra soft against the skin
• Moisture wicking technology keeps you dry
• Lightweight and designed for active use
Click on the images to view current pricing on Amazon.

What to Look For in Insulating Layers

Once you’ve established a solid thermal layer, your next layer should be made of insulating material such as wool, fleece, or down. Wool, and some types of fleece, will still insulate when wet, however down is best in dry conditions as it loses its insulative qualities when wet. In extreme conditions, there is always the option of adding additional insulating layers.

Insulative Layers For Men And WomenKey Features
Columbia Women's Fast Trek II Full-Zip Fleece Jacket
• 100% Polyester with four-way comfort stretch for mobility
• Full zip doubles as a jacket in warmer weather
• Zippered pockets on front and sleeve for keeping gear close at hand
The North Face Womens Glacier 1/4 Zip
• Polartec Micro fleece dries quickly to keep you warm
• 1/4 zip allows for ventilation during rigorous activity
• Lightweight and great for layering
Minus33 Merino Wool Women's Sequoia Midweight 1/4 Zip
• 100% Merino wool with interlock knit construction to trap heat
• Flatlock seams make for a low profile when layering
• 1/4 zip allows for ventilation
Columbia Men's Steens Mountain Front-Zip Fleece Jacket
• 100% Polyester filament fleece is soft yet rugged
• Standing collar provides extra neck protection
• Zippered pockets ideal for hand warmers
The North Face Mens TKA 100 Glacier 1/4 Zip
• Ultra-soft TKA 100 fleece insulates against the cold
• Reverse-coil 1/4 zipper reduces bulk around the collar
• Thin and comfortable for layering
Minus33 Merino Wool Men's Isolation Midweight 1/4 Zip
• 100% Merino wool with interlock knit construction to trap heat
• Flatlock seams make for a low profile when layering
• 1/4 zip allows for ventilation
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

What to Look For in a Shell or Outer Layer

The ideal outer layer for cold weather survival is breathable, allows for movement, and protects against the elements such as wind, rain and snow. Breathability is key in order to allow perspiration to evaporate, otherwise, it will condense on the inside of your shell and cause you to feel colder. Good options for lining that allow for air circulation while keeping you warm include Gortex and eVent.

For outer fabric, look for something treated with weather proofing, such as teflon, as this will keep out wind, rain and snow to keep you dry and retain body heat. Also opt for a hood in your cold weather survival gear to provide protection for your neck and head – some hoods even have a built-in brim to keep rain and snow off your face, helping to prevent frostbite.

cold weather survival gear
Protect as much skin as possible from exposure to the cold air.

While heavy, bulky winter coats are a great source of warmth, they do little to allow for sufficient movement to perform survival tasks. Look for an ‘athletic fit,’ which will typically be trimmer and stitched to accommodate arm movement.

Finally, don’t neglect your legs, they need protection too! When looking for a cold weather survival snow pant, the same favorable qualities you would look for in an outer shell apply: breathability, mobility, and wind/water proof. Additionally, look for plenty of pockets so you’re able to keep cold weather survival gear close at hand.

Outer Shell Layers For Men And WomenKey Features
Arc'teryx Men's Theta AR Jacket

Arc'teryx Women's Theta AR Jacket
• 100% Polyester is rugged and durable
• Reinforced to add support to high wear areas
• Gore-Tex shell is light and breathable with side vents to cool off during exertion
• High collar keeps heat in and protects the neck
• Hood is roomy enough for a helmet but cinches for normal wear, with brim to shed rain
• Athletic fit eliminates bulk and longer length provides extra coverage from wind and snow
Mountain Hardwear Kelvinator Hooded Jacket Men's

Mountain Hardwear Kelvinator Hooded Jacket Women's
• 20D Ripstop Nylon shell is water repellant and designed to handle tough outdoor use
• Filled with Q.Shield Down treated to maintain insulating performance even when wet
• Compresses easily for packing due to stitch-through quilting
• Dual draw cords at the hem lock out cold air and adjust easily on the move
• Side zip pockets for warming hands or stashing gear
The North Face Apex Elevation Jacket Men's

The North Face Apex Elevation Jacket Women's
• Durable ripstop Polyester treated to be water resistant and block out wind
• Tight weave is abrasion resistant on the exterior and brushed on the interior for comfort
• Insulated body, hood, and sleeves provide superior warmth in harsh conditions
• Four zippered pockets with interior headphone slit perfect for listening to an emergency weather radio
Arctix Men's Mountain Snowboard Shell Cargo Pants

Arctix Women's Mountain Snowboard Shell Cargo Pants
• Waterproof, breathable nylon construction with reinforced seams and abrasion resistance
• Zippered hip pockets and velcro cargo pockets for holding tools
• Articulated knee for improved mobility especially when squatting by the fire
• Boot gaiters have grippers to keep them tucked into boots
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

Using Hand Warmers For Maximum Effectiveness

For those who participate in winter sports, hand and foot warmers are most likely a very familiar item. In everyday use, they make activities such as skiing or sitting in a football stadium much easier on your body, and in survival use, they prevent frostbite and lack of circulation to extremities. In terms of value, they are relatively inexpensive and can provide hours of heat without adding unnecessary bulk or weight.

Hand warmers work by using the exothermic reaction of oxidizing iron and forming rust. When sealed, the lack of air (oxygen) prevents the process from starting. After opening the package, shake it vigorously to allow air to enter the breathable cloth and mix with the iron, this activates the reaction and starts the production of heat. Once activated, place your warmers in an enclosed space, such as gloves, boots or pockets, trapping the heat and allowing it to build up continuously.

cold weather survival gear
Your hands are one of your most important survival tools! Keep them warm and protected.
Hand And Foot Warmers  
HotHands Hand Warmers 15 Pair Value Pack
Heat Factory Premium Hand Warmer, 40 Pairs
Zippo Refillable Handwarmer
HotHands Adhesive Toe Warmer 6 pair Value Pack
Grabber Foot Warmer
Little Hotties Adhesive Toe Warmers, 30 Pairs
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

The Benefits of Wearing Snowshoes

cold weather survival gear

If you’ve ever had to trek through deep snow, you know how laborious it can be, but an additional concern in a survival situation is that it increases the risk of frostbite to your feet. With snowshoes, not only can you keep your boots above the snow, but also you conserve energy as it takes less effort to walk.

This can become of the highest importance in a situation where you find yourself stranded and need to walk to a nearby town or make your daily commute on foot due to a snowstorm.

cold weather survival gear
Stash a pair of snow shoes in your car in case you get stuck and need to continue on foot.
Snowshoes For Men, Women, And YouthKey Features
Chinook Trekker Snowshoes
• Aluminum frame is curved for ergonomic comfort
• Dual ratchet bindings adjust for a perfect fit and quick-release heel strap makes removal easy even with cold hands
• Heavy-duty crampons provide grip on slopes or icy areas
• Includes carry bag with mesh panels for ventilation
Alps Performance Light Weight Snowshoes
• Frame is designed for maximum floatation in heavy snow
• Aluminum tubing with TPU-85 plastic engineered for heavy use in cold temperatures
• Heel and toe crampons prevent slipping
• Bindings are situated to eliminate pressure points
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe
• Toothed frame with lateral crampons sustains 360 degree traction
• Ergo Televator heel lifts reduce calf fatigue when ascending and can be activated using a pole grip
• Modular tails (sold separately) can be added for deeper snow conditions
• PosiLock bindings contour to any boot for a secure fit every time
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

Cold Weather Survival Gear & Tools

There are two major obstacles you will come across in winter that will impede your survival activities: clearing snow and starting a fire.

Clearing Snow

cold weather survival gear

You can never truly understand the importance of having snow removal gear on-hand until you’ve been through a situation where you needed it and it wasn’t there. On a personal note, this author will never forget the time I landed at the airport at night only to discover an unexpected blizzard had completely covered my car in over a foot of snow.

It was early in the season for snow, so having not expected it, I was left without any scraper or brush and had to use my bare arms and hands to clear the snow from my car. Now, I travel with snow removal tools year-round!

For stocking your bug-out bag, a folding shovel works great. Not only is this a compact tool, it also has multiple uses including clearing a spot for a fire, digging a shelter, and collecting snow to melt for drinking, among many other essential tasks.

Starting a Fire in the Snow

cold weather survival gear

When it comes to fire starting implements, if you have one, you have none. Carrying multiple means of starting a fire and packing them separately is a measure of precaution that most preppers live by.

In terms of firestarting tools, lighter fluid is not ideal in extremely low temperatures and tools such as Ferro rods or flint will be much more reliable.

cold weather survival gear
In heavily packed snow, you can create a bed of bark for the fire to rest on.

For collecting firewood, start as early as possible, avoiding waiting until dusk if possible, as you will need a fair amount to keep the fire burning all night. Pine trees are good to scout for as they naturally shelter their undergrowth and there are typically plenty of dry dead branches beneath dense evergreen that can be collected for firewood with little effort.

cold weather survival gear
The denser the foliage, the more protected the base will be so look for evergreens that have thick lower branches.

However, obtaining larger dry logs can prove a bit more challenging, so it’s always prudent to carry a hatchet or tomahawk with you as these tools prove immensely helpful in cutting through thicker wood.

Even if the outside is damp, a fallen tree can provide enough fuel for one night if you can split the logs and cut away the damp portion to use the dry, inner part for firewood.

Once the fire is burning large and hot, you can add the occasional green log, which doesn’t produce as much heat as dead wood, but does burn much longer.

cold weather survival gear
Collect a pile of wood about six feet long by 3 feet high to ensure you have enough to last the night.

An excellent option for quickly and easily starting fires in windy, cold conditions is the Everstyke Survival Lighter. Click here to read more about this essential cold weather survival tool and how you can get your very own!

cold weather survival gear
The Everstryke Pro combines both a fuel-based system and flint and steel striker, so you can spark a fire under any conditions.

Harvest Water Safely in Cold Conditions

Yes, snow and ice are made of water, but there are still some unique obstacles to navigate through in obtaining life-saving, clean drinking water.

Harvesting Directly From Snow

Clean snow, such as fresh snow scooped directly off branches or brushes, is considered reasonably safe to consume. The part you’ll want to watch out for is that consuming snow (which is frozen) will result in lowering your core body temperature, making your hard work to preserve your body heat all for naught. If possible, boil the snow before drinking it and bring the water down to a consumable temperature by placing your drinking container in the snow.

Harvesting From Lakes, Rivers and Streams

The challenge with harvesting from an iced-over body of water is the danger that you may fall in and have hypothermia set in. Hypothermia is life-threatening and can be triggered by something as simple as submerging your feet in cold water, which can cause a significant drop in body temperature and increase your risk for frostbite.

When conducting survival activities around frozen or partially-frozen bodies of water, it’s always best to put safety first. One way to avoid coming too close to the edge is to carry cordage with you: throw a rock or log to make a hole in the ice within reach from shore, then tie your water bottle to a length of paracord (make sure it is secure so you don’t lose your water bottle!), then safely submerge the water bottle from solid ground and reel it in when it is full.

Before drinking, be sure to filter, boil, or treat your water as Giardia bacteria can survive in very cold temperatures, even ice!

cold weather survival gear
Keep a safe distance from icy rivers and always purify water – even ice contains harmful bacteria.

To be able to drink your harvested water safely without having to worry about bacteria or contamination, consider packing Lifestraws in your bug-out bag. These ingenious tools make it easy to turn harvested water into safe drinking water. Click here to learn more about Lifestraws and find out how to get your very own!

cold weather survival gear

Conclusion

Survival is challenging, but the additional threats posed by cold weather make survival activities extra challenging in winter, including maintaining your core body temperature, starting a fire, and harvesting water. However, with the proper knowledge and the right cold weather survival gear, you’ll be prepared to survive anything nature throws at you!

More Great Cold Weather Survival Gear


Your Thoughts

What is your most essential winter survival tool? What other winter survival gear do you pack? Tell us in the Comments section below, thanks!

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bug out vehicle gear

What Bug Out Vehicle Gear Should YOU pack?

bug out vehicle gear

Note: This article was contributed by James Smith. Read more about him in the About The Author section below.

While having the most reliable and dependable vehicle to get you to your bug out location should be high on your list of needs – the gear that you bring with you in your vehicle is much more likely to mean the difference between extreme hardship and preparedness.

When packing your bug out vehicle gear it’s important to consider that your car may be a home on wheels of sorts for some time. In a SHTF situation, you will not be able to go shopping or seek medical attention and may even get stuck while you’re out driving.

bug out vehicle gear

Wrench-in-plan situations could include having to go off-road (or take an alternate route) to avoid a bottleneck, getting lost, camping overnight, getting injured or just something going wrong with your vehicle itself.

Needed bug out vehicle gear and considerations can be broken down into a few categories that I discuss in more detail below:

Tools and Equipment

bug out vehicle gear
Your bug out vehicle gear should include a tire iron or socket wrench for changing the tires, as well as other tools for maintenance and repairs.

You will want to make sure that you have the basic tools needed for minor repairs to your vehicle and other belongings. This can include vehicle replacement parts, tow cables, rope, straps, jumper cables and duct tape. Additionally, a fire extinguisher for emergencies may come in handy. Other indispensable items include a shovel, multitool, car jump starter (check out our favorite, The Anker Compact Car Jump Starter), and heavy gloves.

bug out vehicle gear

bug out vehicle gear

Shelter and Clothing

Fuel should be treated as a finite resource so you will not want to run the engine any more than is necessary for driving. While it is tempting to crank the heat when parked, a better option is to pack extra layers and bedding to keep everyone warm. Ensure that you add a roof top cargo carrier to your vehicle and pack your extra weather appropriate clothing, shopping bags, hiking boots/shoes, and hand warmers.

bug out vehicle gear

All of these things that will help you stay warm and beat hypothermia should you get stuck and take longer to get to your bug out location. Plan to include a tent, tarp, and sleeping bags in your bug out vehicle gear if it will take you some time to reach your ultimate destination.

bug out vehicle gear
You probably won’t have access to these along the way so it’s extra important to conserve fuel in your bug out vehicle.

Fire and Lighting

Always carry multiple flashlights and various lighters, matches, and strikers. These items are essential for warmth, preparing food, and sterilizing water. You will also need to be able to see to access gear, make repairs, read maps, and scan the area for danger.

Flashlights and fires make excellent distress signals that are visible over long distances, should you need to send out for help. A tactical flashlight, such as the Nitecore P12 Tactical Flashlight (pictured above), offers extra features for breaching and self-defense.

Signaling and Communication

To communicate with others and receive whatever transmissions are being sent, be sure to pack a radio and batteries or a reliable wind-up radio, a cell phone or prepaid phone with car adapter, portable CB radio, two-way radio, and whistle. Of course, make sure you know how to use them, and spend time practicing as much as possible.

best emergency weather radio

Navigation

bug out vehicle gear
Digital navigation can be very useful but often not as reliable as a printed map.

One of the most important things to stock in your bug out vehicle is proper navigation gear. Be sure you know both where you are going and all of the possible ways to get there. Prepare for unexpected detours and pack a GPS device, paper maps (both road and topographical), and a compass.

Water

Plan to keep plenty of extra water inside your vehicle – enough for you and your family to get to your bug-out location then add on a few extra liters or gallons person. It’s helpful to have a durable yet pliable water container/bladder that can be collapsed when not in use and be sure to carry water purification tablets and durable metal cups.

bug out vehicle gear
The wide fill port makes it easy to fill and to clean the Camelbak 100oz Antidote Reservoir. Click the image to view details on Amazon.

Food

Pack and carry extra food at the rate of 2500 daily calories per person. Pack up a stove and basic kitchen as well. If you have a knack for it – and live in an area where it would be useful or practical – consider packing up a fishing kit as well.

bug out vehicle gear
The Emberlit Stove uses wood so you don’t need to worry about storing fuel. It also folds flat, making it a great addition to your bug out vehicle gear. Click the image to view on Amazon.

First Aid

A proper and complete first aid kit is essential, and there are plenty of pre-packed ones on the market. They range from basic small first aid kits that include wound dressing and cleaning supplies –to more elaborate medical kits that also include blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, splints, scalpels, and suture kits. Get what you believe is best for your family’s budget, but remember that it’s always better to err on the side of being over-prepared than under.

Also, don’t forget the toilet paper, feminine hygiene products (if needed) and any important prescription medications.

Safety and Protection

Pack up flares and a good multipurpose knife. Road flares are made to burn in inclement weather, and they are easy to get going, don’t require the same finger dexterity that a finger and match does, and they burn for a really long time. If you are stuck in a dire emergency that you can’t work your fingers to light a fire flares would do the trick – and they work nicely as a torch as well.

bug out vehicle gear

A multipurpose knife is a must-have in any vehicle bug-out bag.  One top choice would be a KA-BAR Full-Size, Straight Edge – a true war-horse of a knife that many United States Marines call their one and only.

Premade Auto Emergency Kits

A quick and easy solution to have your car stocked with survival supplies is to get a premade auto emergency kit. They serve as an excellent foundation to get your car stocked with supplies and then you can build up from there by adding any additional items you see fit.

Pre-made car kits are a helpful (and economical) starting point for building your bug out vehicle gear. This kit from TopGear includes jumper cables, work gloves, basic first aid, and much more. Click the image to view a full list on Amazon.

 

We recommend the Always Prepared 65-Piece Roadside Assistance Auto Emergency Kit.

Extra Bug Out Vehicle Gear Considerations

Depending on your route and possible hiccups native to your unique location and geographical area you may want to consider any additional water and land specific needs. These might include packing up life jackets, life rafts, paddles, off-road tires, ice scrapers, and wrenches.

Also, ALWAYS make sure you have a car jump starter with you. It can easily save your life! Check out my favorite jump starter, The Anker Compact Car Jump Starter. It can even charge your phone or other devices!

Conclusion

Planning ahead for any unforeseeable situations can save you a lot of headache figuring out what to do to solve the problem in the moment. Being well prepared with the bug out vehicle gear you need will give you the peace of mind that your whole family deserves.

About The Author

James Smith is a survivalist, who loves to write about survival skills and techniques. He has extensive knowledge about different survival kits and other survival supplies which he loves to share with others by writing blog. Follow him on twitter @jamessmith1609.

Your Thoughts

Is a bug out vehicle part of your survival plan? Do you have one stocked and ready to go? (We’d love to see photos!) Share your tips and ideas in the Comments section below, thanks!

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diseases after shtf

Dealing With Diseases After SHTF

diseases after SHTF

Note: This article was contributed by James Smith. Read more in the About The Author section below.

Apart from preparing, planning and thinking for an SHTF situation, have you ever wondered what the most likely threat is for people? As common sense suggests, when people know a SHTF situation is eminent today or sometime soon, they will go mad stocking food and water and prepare survival tools and kits. But there is something more than this – diseases after SHTF. Even the most prepared survivalists can be faced with illness in the aftermath of disaster.

Doctors are the people who first come into our minds when it comes to any condition like this, but in a disaster situation, the doctors would be facing the same survival challenges and after all they won’t be leaving their families.

In the aftermath of disaster, people might fear for starvation the most, which can lead to death, but in actuality the real reason that increases the probability of mass deaths is even worse. Can you imagine a situation where you have prepared enough for your survival and have a very-well planned strategy for defense too? The tools, the stocked food and water, everything is enough to keep you alive – starvation does not seem crucial here. If you have thought over it, the bigger threat is of contracting diseases after SHTF!

It is likely that people might not put much thought into it so here are the details that will help you keep aware of and prepare for disease after SHTF.

Common Sources Of Diseases After SHTF

diseases after SHTF
You made it this far- now learn how to protect your loved ones from diseases after SHTF. Image via Mitch Barrie on flickr.

Water Sanitation And Poor Hygiene

The clean drinking and tap water that we use in our daily lives to fulfill human requirements is taken for granted by everyone. Imagine a situation where public water supplies cease to function – inevitably, there will be a rise in deadly disease then.

diseases after SHTF
Without purification methods, improvised water supplies can easily become contaminated. Image via SuSanA Secretariat on flickr.

When proper sanction becomes no longer a simple thing, here is when you should fear for lives. Water supplies will be contaminated in a SHTF situation causing an outbreak of typhoid, diarrhea, cholera, hepatitis A, gastroenteritis and diphtheria. People might not know what to do then and this is one of the reasons why you are advised to keep a water purifier kit.

diseases after SHTF
Flooding poses an even greater risk to sanitation.

Diseases Caused By Insects

The best place to breed for insects is dirty and contaminated water and what can be better for them when you are facing SHTF disasters. I guess they would be the least bothered creatures on Earth then. Sounds funny, but is as dangerous as threatening the people’s lives.

diseases after SHTF
Small but deadly! Mosquitos are responsible for spreading severe diseases, such as Malaria and West Nile Virus.

Mosquitos, bugs, fleas, ticks, midges, rats and flies – almost like non-existent creatures could play the role of being the biggest creatures in a SHTF disaster by making you sick and that too, to such a severe extent that if not treated properly, people may die! Malaria, Lyme’s disease, Murine typhus, West Nile Virus and other contagious and life-threatening diseases spread like fire in the woods.

diseases after SHTF
Avoid camping near swamps and marshes, if possible. These areas attract insects.

It is important to have the knowledge beforehand and learn to keep clean drinking water and food. An insect repellant, non-prescribed anti-biotic medicines and hygiene accessories are therefore recommended to keep in a kit of emergency survival supplies. In areas of high risk for insect-borne diseases, be sure to include a mosquito net in your bug-out bag.

diseases after SHTF
Sleeping under the protection of a mosquito net is an effective way to prevent contracting insect-borne diseases. Image via Christian Haugen on flickr.

Respiratory Diseases And Infections

Respiratory infections and diseases are a major concern as they spread really quickly in disastrous situations. Cold, cough, flu and sore throat can still be treated through non-prescribed medicines (recommended to keep in a first-aid kit) however it becomes more threatening as there are certain bacteria and viruses that are drug-resistant. In a situation where all you can do is carry your own self safely; non-prescribed medicines will be of no use and won’t cure them.

diseases after SHTF
The flu virus is highly contagious and difficult to contain when living in close quarters.

These bacteria and viruses cause upper respiratory tract diseases such as bacterial pneumonia. It could be a major reason for massive death –imagine the unlimited food and water you’ve stocked, would it be of any help? Of course not, so is the reason why diseases are a bigger concern in the aftermath of SHTF.

diseases after SHTF
Dealing with diseases after SHTF will be challenging without access to modern medicine.

When fighting for their survival, survivalists live in groups with their families that increase the chances of transmission of air-borne diseases and infections from one person to another. Infants, elderly, and immune-deficient people are more susceptible to catching infections. The simplest example can be, you cough and then use the water-bucket that is shared, the other person uses it and here’s how he catches the disease.

diseases after SHTF
Take extra care to prevent infants from exposure to illness and disease.

Practicing good hygiene, like covering your cough, washing hands frequently, and avoiding shared utensils whenever possible will help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. If a member of your group becomes ill with a respiratory infection, it is best that they rest and limit interactions with others until they recover.

diseases after SHTF
Ah-choo! Catch your sneeze or cough to minimize airborne pathogens.

Wounds And Infections

In a SHTF scenario, it gets extremely crucial to take proper care of wounds and infections as tetanus shots and antibiotic medicines aren’t available. To clean them, you of course won’t be able to rely on other sources of water too being unsure about its contamination. Infections lead to conditions like sepsis and gangrene.

diseases after SHTF
One thing you can prepare is a well-stocked first aid kit for tending to injuries.

Prevention is better than cure and here would be the time to practically implement it. A simple wound in such a situation can lead to long-term disabilities, chronic wounds, infections in bone and unfortunately Death! Having knowledge and learning medical skills before such disastrous situations can help survivalists save their lives. Learning about medical emergencies, cleaning and sterilization will also help prevent infections.

diseases after SHTF
Important essentials for cleaning and bandaging wounds.

In order to be able to address wounds and injuries, you will need a well-stocked first aid kit. It should include bandages, antiseptic, and tools to help you quickly tend to injuries and prevent infections. For help with planning your first aid kit, CLICK HERE.

Food-Borne Diseases

While food plays an important role in your survival, it can also be a source for harmful bacterial infections. It is better to skip a meal and continue to look for food than to consume something that is questionable. Food-borne diseases can be deadly, especially without access to immediate medical intervention.

Foods that come from animal sources, such meat, eggs, and dairy products, may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. Also, cross-contamination can occur with other foods, such as produce. In a survival situation where sanitation is compromised, it can be difficult to maintain cleanliness and thoroughness when cooking. Do not consume undercooked meat or eggs! The resulting infection can cause fever, diarrhea, and cramps lasting several days. Depending on the person’s health, this can become very severe.

Another danger may be lurking in your pantry. Food-borne botulism can be contracted from canned foods that are not processed properly. Untreated, botulism can progress into paralysis of the arms, legs, torso, and even respiratory muscles. To help prevent contracting this disease, boil canned foods for ten minutes before consuming. For more information on canning safety, CLICK HERE.

canning safety guidelines

Conclusion

Your strategy for health is a major component of your survival. Dealing with diseases after SHTF requires planning ahead by educating yourself about disease prevention and treatment. Be aware of sources of contamination. Know how to recognize symptoms and do not dismiss them – even mild symptoms can be a sign of a more serious problem, especially when resources are limited. And always pack a first aid kit in your bug-out bag!

About The Author

James Smith is a survivalist, who loves to write about survival skills and techniques. He has extensive knowledge about different survival kits and other survival supplies which he loves to share with others by writing blog. Follow him on twitter @jamessmith1609.

Your Thoughts

Can you think of any other diseases that may arise post-disaster? Are you taking extra steps to prepare for disease after SHTF? Tell us about them in the Comments section below, thanks!

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canning safety guidelines

Safety Guidelines for Canning Your Own Food Supply

canning safety guidelines

Learning to preserve food through canning is a great step towards self-sufficiency. By canning your own food supply, you can prepare a stockpile of survival food for your pantry, develop your cooking skills, and use all of your harvested produce.

Canning is a great way to store healthy, homegrown food; here is a quick list of the benefits of home canning:

  • A simple, time-tested concept that has a wealth of how-to and recipe resources available
  • Less expensive than purchasing factory canned goods
  • Better for long-term storage than aluminum as glass decreases the risk of leaching chemicals
  • You can incorporate your own recipes, ingredients, and food to ensure your family will enjoy the meals and that there are no harmful additives – only the wholesome, organic ingredients you have selected
  • Preserves surplus from home garden harvests to reduce waste
  • Saves freezer space and is actually superior to freezing in that food will not spoil if the power goes out
canning safety guidelines
Imagine a pantry full of your favorite home-cooked foods! Image via thebittenword.com on flickr.

As with any food-related project, the key to success with canning lies in following the proper canning safety guidelines. By following the proper canning safety guidelines to keep your canned food safe, you will ensure that your hard work is not wasted and that your healthy, homemade food supply keeps for as long as possible.

In this article, we will cover the ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ of safe canning practices so that you can rest assured your canned food is safe for your family and can all enjoy the many benefits of home canning.

Why Canning Safety Is A Top Concern

Whether canning for survival or recreation, canning safety guidelines should be your top priority. If bacteria, even in small amounts, is present in canned goods, it can result in foodborne botulism, which is caused by consuming the toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. The repercussions of foodborne botulism can be quite nasty with worst-case untreated cases resulting in paralysis of the arms, legs, torso, and even respiratory muscles.

Early symptoms include blurred vision, slurred speech, dry mouth, and muscle weakness; however, symptoms may take hours to appear, with most appearing 18-36 hours after consumption. By the time you realize canned goods are contaminated, your whole family may have already consumed the toxic food.

While the spores of Clostridium botulinum bacteria are present on many foods, they remain dormant and harmless unless the right conditions exist – conditions that are precisely those present in canned goods – with the bacteria thriving in areas with moisture, low acidity, less than 2% oxygen, and a temperature between 40-120℉. This is why it is essential that you follow proper canning safety guidelines when canning for survival or recreation.  

For more information on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of botulism, please read this article from the CDC.

Quick Canning Safety Guidelines Reference

canning safety guidelines

Canning Safety Guidelines – Make Sure Your Food L.A.S.T.S.

To ensure your canned goods are safe, you’ll want to address the following areas: Lids, altitude, size, time, and storage.

Lids

A tightly sealed lid is a must for canning safety; in order to preserve freshness, food must remain vacuum sealed. To ensure a vacuum seal, process your filled jars in a hot water bath or pressure cooker/canner and then allow them to cool. Once the jars have cooled to room temperature, check the seal and examine the jars for any leakage.

Before canning, carefully inspect the rims of the jars you will be using for any chips or imperfections. Defective jars should not be used; however, they don’t have to go to waste – they can be repurposed as a vase for fresh herbs or as an LED lantern.

canning safety guidelines

Jar lids that come pre-treated with paraffin are for one-time use only; do not reuse the disks after they have already been heated. The heating process used in canning deforms the paraffin to create a seal, and once deformed, it will never be effective at sealing again. However, the metal rings or bands can most definitely be reused as long as you purchase extra paraffin-coated disks.

canning safety guidelines
The silicon gasket in this Tulid Mason Jar Lid is removable for ease of cleaning. Click the image to view on Amazon.

There are reusable lid kits available that consist of rubber or silicon gaskets to create a seal. Given proper care, they can be used many times; however, ensure they are BPA-free.

Canning Jar LidsKey Features
Ball Regular Canning or Mason Jar Lids, 8 dozen
• Single use lids work with standard mason jars and rings
• Value pack includes 96 BPA-free lids
Tattler Reusable Regular Size Canning Lids
• Gasket rings and lids are dishwasher safe and reusable
• BPA-free material also resists acid corrosion
Tulid Wide Mouth Mason Jar Lids (Pack of 3)
• Reusable lids fit wide-mouth Ball and Kerr mason jars
• BPA-free and dishwasher safe with writable surface for labeling
Click the images to view current prices on Amazon.

Altitude

The altitude at which you are boiling your canned foods is important as altitude affects boiling time and temperature. At high altitudes, boiling temperature is lower and therefore more time is needed during the boiling phase as water will not exceed its boiling temperature no matter how high the burner is set; starting at 2,000 feet above sea level, adjustments will need to be made. For more information, please read this article from the United States Department of Agriculture.

canning safety guidelines
The pressure dial on the Presto Pressure Canner allows you to carefully monitor each batch. Click the image to view on Amazon.

Size

When choosing jars for canning, look for jars that are tall, thin, and hold a smaller volume. As it is extremely important that all of the contents in the jar reach the desired temperature, taller, thinner and less voluminous jars will ensure uniform heating. If your jars are too wide, the outer contents will overcook or the inner contents will not get properly sterilized, resulting in a loss of food and effort.

canning safety guidelines

Using smaller jars also helps reduce waste when you are ready to consume your canned goods as you can adjust portions. Once a can is opened, it will need to be consumed and any leftovers will need to be refrigerated. If the power goes out, throw away any leftovers. Well portioned jars will help avoid excessive leftovers and reduce waste.

Canning Jars 
Ball Canning Regular Mouth Half Pint Canning Jar 8 oz. 12-Count
Ball Regular Mouth Quart Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 12
Kerr 1 Pint Canning Jar Regular Mouth 12-Count
Jarden Wide Mouth Ball Jar, 32-Ounce, Case of 12
Click the images to view current prices on Amazon.

Time

The time involved in processing while canning will depend on the type of food you are canning as processing time is a function of the acidity of the food. Highly acidic foods (those with a pH of less than 4.6) will require a shorter processing period (anywhere from 5-85 minutes depending on the type of food) as they naturally inhibit bacteria.

canning safety guidelines
Once processed, carefully remove jars from the water and allow to cool. Image via thebittenword.com on flickr.

Conversely, low acid foods (those with a pH of more than 4.6) will require a longer processing time that can range from 7-11 hours and must be at a temperature of 240-250℉.

Always make sure that you carefully follow the instructions for your pressure cooker to ensure you have the correct time and pressure settings for your recipe, and make sure to set a timer to keep track of cooking times.

Pressure CannersKey FeaturesCapacity
Presto Pressure Canner and Cooker
• Extra large capacity fits bigger jars and batches
• Full range pressure meter allows for precise readings, especially helpful at high altitudes
• Heavy-gauge aluminum heats evenly and resists warping
23 quarts
All American Pressure Cooker/Canner
• Processes 19 pint jars or 7 quart jars at once
• Metal to metal sealing system using tightening screws with no gaskets to replace
• Processes at 5, 10, and 15 PSI with an automatic overpressure release
21.5 quarts
Granite Ware Pressure Canner and Cooker/Steamer
• Smaller size great for homes with limited storage space
• Durable hard anondized aluminum construction
• Secondary backup safety valve sounds whistle alarm while releasing excess pressure
12 quarts
Click the images to view current prices on Amazon.

Storage

When it comes to storage, you’ll want to consider two factors: Storage conditions and shelf life.

Storage Conditions

After following proper canning safety guidelines while preparing your food, ensure the temperature of wherever you are storing your stockpile of canned foods is kept at a steady temperature, somewhere between 50-70℉. Avoid storing your canned food in areas that border heating vents, electronics, or any other devices that emit heat, as higher temperatures can affect the integrity of the seal, causing food to spoil.

You will also want to store your canned food in an area with low humidity and dark lighting. Low humidity is best for maintaining the metal lids as it prevents them from rusting and darkness is preferable as sunlight should be avoided completely – UV rays will degrade nutrients and can cause spoiling.

canning safety guidelines

Another consideration is the integrity of your storage shelving. It would be a shame to go through all the proper canning safety guidelines and properly preserve your food only to lose it due to faulty shelving or stacking. Always make sure that the shelf you are using is secure and that the weight of the cans is equally distributed. Rather than piling unsteady stacks, opt for single-layer storage and additional shelves to avoid the risk of your cans toppling over. For more ideas on storing your food preps, CLICK HERE.

Shelf Life

Generally, home-canned foods have a shelf life of one year. High-acid foods, such as tomatoes or vinegar, can typically last for 12-18 months while low-acid foods can last anywhere from 2-5 years (but this is typically for store bought versions).

When deciding whether or not food is safe to eat, always err on the side of caution. Look for things such as mold, discoloration, leakage, bulging lids, and putrid smells as an indication that the food has spoiled and should be discarded. If you find even one jar that has spoiled, make sure to check all the others from the same batch in case there was a problem with the canning process. When in doubt, throw it out – never taste food to determine whether or not it is safe to eat.

canning safety guidelines

To keep yourself organized, make sure you mark each lid with the canning date and organize your shelves so that the oldest canned food sits at the front and the newest at the back.

While it may be tempting to stockpile as much canned food as possible, a better strategy is to stockpile 1-2 months worth of food and then rotate out the older jars as you add new ones. By following this process, your family will become accustomed to eating the canned foods, but more importantly, you will prevent waste and ensure your supply stays fresh. If you want to build a supply that will last beyond several months, add more new cans than what you will consume.

Additional Canning Safety Tips

Choosing Food

When choosing food to can, always start with high quality, fresh ingredients. Ensure all foods to be canned are thoroughly washed and any seeds and stems are removed. For most recipes, you will be instructed to peel certain ingredients such as carrots, potatoes, and fruits.

canning safety guidelines

Timing

Always ensure you allow enough time for yourself to complete the canning process from start to finish. The less time your prepared foods spend exposed to air, the better. When filling your jars, make sure to fill them individually and close the lid before moving on to the next jar as this will minimize air exposure.

canning safety guidelines
The Presto 7 Function Canning Kit includes a timer for keeping track of cooking duration. Click the image to view on Amazon.

Air Bubbles and Heating

Get rid of any air bubbles by tapping the jar to move all air bubbles to the top – you do not want to trap air in the contents as this will rot the food. Before heating, make sure to leave about 1” of headspace at the top of the jar to allow for expansion during the heating process. Always keep a clean rag on hand to wipe the rim and threads of the jars so that no food can become trapped in the lid.

canning safety guidelines

Cooking Your Canned Foods

As an extra precaution, never consume your canned foods directly from the can. Boil your food for at least 10 minutes before consuming in order to kill any bacteria and destroy any toxins that may be present.

Helpful Canning Accessories

Canning AccessoriesKey Features
Bellemain 6 Piece Canning Tool Set
• Stainless steel tools have vinyl coating for improved grip
• Jar lifter allows you to safely remove jars from hot water
• Includes wrench for easily opening canned food lids
Presto 09995 7 Function Canning Kit
• Funnel fits in both regular and wide mouth jars
• Lid lifter is magnetized for removing lids from hot water
• Includes timer for keeping track of cook time
Norpro Small Canning Rack
• Keeps jars off of the direct heat and allows water to circulate for even cooking
• Vinyl grip handles fold flat for easy storage
• Holds 2 quart jars or 4 pint/halfpint jars
• Fits most pressure canners (8.25 inch diameter)
JarBox Canning Jar, Pint, Semi-Clear
• Stores and protects canned food
• Easily organize jars by contents, or plan a few day's meals
• Stackable and transportable for moving or sharing
Ball Jar Sure Tight Band Tool
• Be sure lids are tightened properly with less strain on wrists
• Also serves to unscrew rings, with integrated lid lifter for opening jars
Mirro 9605000B Stainless Steel Canning Accessories Food Press with Wooden Pestle Cookware, Silver
• Mash and strain fruits and vegetables, remove skins
• Stainless steel press seats in rack for convenience
• Pestle is shaped to fit for effectiveness
Click the images to view current prices on Amazon.

Conclusion

There are myriad benefits to canning your own food, including the ability to enjoy fresh, healthy foods year round and moving yourself closer to self-sufficiency. Canning is a tried and tested process that reduces waste and costs less than store-bought canned goods. However, the importance of practising canning safety guidelines while preparing your canned foods cannot be understated. Safety is of utmost importance, but when canning safety guidelines are followed, you will be rewarded with healthy, delicious meals that you and your family can enjoy year round.

If you haven’t canned your own food before, why not give it a try? Now that you know how to can your own food safely, it is the perfect time to give it a go and see if canning will work for your family as a means to develop a more self-sufficient household.

Your Thoughts

Do you plan on making canning part of your prepping plan? Are there any aspects of the canning process that intimidate you? Have you had an experience canning food on your own? We look forward to hearing from you in the Comments section below, thanks!

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