best tactical pants

Gear Up: How To Choose the Best Tactical Pants

best tactical pants

Here at The Bug Out Bag Guide, we asked our readers what areas of survival preparedness they were most interested in learning more about and overwhelmingly the answer was tactical clothing for bug-out and get-home scenarios. To provide you with the most complete and comprehensive resource on tactical survival clothing, we’re writing a series of articles starting with this one on the best tactical pants to pack for your survival plans.

Believe it or not, the clothing you choose for your bug-out or get-home bag can have a substantial impact on your chances for survival. The right clothing can improve your performance, especially in harsh conditions, and provide an advantage that can greatly improve your odds for survival.

The whole point of having a bug-out or get-home bag prepared and ready to go is that you never know when you will need it. What if you find yourself bugging-out in a suit and tie, or in the middle of the night? Trekking through dangerous wilderness or navigating panic-stricken streets would be next to impossible without the right tactical gear to protect you from the elements.

In this article, you will learn the various advantages that tactical pants have over average streetwear and how to choose the best tactical pants for your situation, along with our top picks.

Tactical Pants For MenFeaturesIdeal ForRipstopWater ResistantWaist
5.11 Tactical #74273 Men's TacLite Pro Pant
Breathable fabric is teflon treated for spill resistance
D-ring for quick access to keys or tools
Bartacking protects high stress areas from tearing
Hot, humid climatesYesYesAction waistband
TRU-SPEC Men's Lightweight 24-7 Pant
Reinforced knee with built-in knee pad pocket
Magazine compartments in cargo pockets for extra ammo
An economical choice that performs well
Moderate to hot weather
Concealed carry
Propper Men's Lightweight Tactical Pant
Ripstop material is strong but flexible to allow for movement
Belt loops are positioned to allow for side holsters
Nine pockets for storing gear
Includes matching belt
Hot, humid climatesYesYesAdjustable
Blackhawk Men's Lightweight Tactical Pant
Elastic webbing in cargo pockets holds flashlights, knives, magazines upright for quick access
Silicon shirt keeper waist band keeps shirt tucked in while on the move
Added protection from double layering in seat and knees
Warmer climates
Concealed carry
Columbia Men's Silver Ridge Convertible Pant
Zip-off legs to quickly convert to shorts
Lightweight fabric with Omni-Wick evaporation to keep you dry
Zippered cargo pocket secures your gear
Hot, humid climatesYesNoAdjustable
5.11 Tactical #74290 Covert Cargo Pants
Low profile design for a more inconspicuous look
Comfortable peached cotton canvas moves silently
Double deep hip pockets with secondary storage for pistol magazines or gear
Cooler climates
Gray man
Blackhawk Men's I.T.S. HPFU Pants
Athletic cut for increased mobility
Knee patches protect against abrasion
Blousing ties on ankles to fit snuggly inside boots
Tournequets integrated into thighs for emergency first aid
Cooler climates
Under Armour Men's UA Storm Tactical Duty Pants
30+ UPF rating for protection from harmful UV rays
Large dual cargo pockets provide plenty of room for gear
Quick drying, breathable, and anti-microbe lining prevents odor and moisture build up
Hidden document pocket for personal ID
All weather, including snowYesYesAdjustable
Vertx Men's Original Tactical Pants
Zippered cargo pockets offer a low profile appearance
Articulated knee design prevents riding up when seated or crouching
Cotton/lycra stretch fabric provides a comfortable fit
Warm to cold climates
Gray Man
NoYesSide stretch
Click the images to view size and color options on Amazon.
Tactical Pants For WomenFeaturesIdeal ForRipstopWater ResistantWaist
5.11 Tactical Women's TacLite Pro Pant
Breathable fabric is teflon treated for spill resistance
D-ring for quick access to keys or tools
Bartacking protects high stress areas from tearing
Hot, humid climatesYesYesAction waistband
TRU-SPEC Women's Lightweight 24-7 Pant
Reinforced knee with built-in knee pad pocket
Magazine compartments in cargo pockets for extra ammo
An economical choice that performs well
Moderate to hot weather
Concealed carry
Propper Women's Tactical Pant
Durable canvas fabric is Teflon treated to repel liquids
Belt loops are positioned to allow for side holsters
Nine pockets for storing gear
Includes matching belt
Cooler climatesYesYesAction stretch
Blackhawk Women's Lightweight Tactical Pant
Elastic webbing in cargo pockets holds flashlights, knives, magazines upright for quick access
Added protection from double layering in seat and knees
Warmer climates
Concealed carry
Columbia Women's Silver Ridge Convertible Pant
Roll up legs to quickly convert to shorts
Lightweight fabric with Omni-Wick evaporation to keep you dry
Zippered cargo pocket secures your gear
Hot, humid climatesYesNoAdjustable
Vertx Women's Original Tactical Pants
Zippered cargo pockets offer a low profile appearance
Articulated knee design prevents riding up when seated or crouching
Cotton/lycra stretch fabric provides a comfortable fit
Warm to cold climates
Concealed carry
NoYesSide stretch
Under Armour Women's UA Tactical Patrol Pant
Ripstop polyester blend with wicking action keeps you dry
Comfortable low waist has hidden elastic to stay put even when pockets are loaded
May run small, consider ordering a size up
Warm to cold climatesYesYesSide stretch
Click the images to view color and size options on Amazon.

All About Tactical Pants – Why You Need Them, What To Look For

Tactical pants, or tactical trousers, were originally developed as practical work attire for woodsmen and were quickly adopted by both military and police forces as the clothing proved very useful in combat situations.

Tactical pants offer many advantages over jeans or typical street clothes including a better fit and easier movement. Well-made tactical pants will have plenty of easily-accessible storage areas, be made of high-performance fabric, and have reinforced seams.

Additionally, you can find some tactical pants that offer pockets for inserting knee pads as well as ankle drawstrings for cinching into your boots to keep out dust, water and insects.

best tactical pants
Tapered or cinched ankles make it easier to tuck into socks and boots for warmth or protection against insects.

For our pick of the best tactical pant with reinforced knee and built-in knee pocket pad, check out TRU-SPEC Men’s Lightweight 24-7 Pant, or Blackhawk Men’s I.T.S. HPFU Pants for excellent blousing ankle ties that fit snuggly inside boots.

The ‘must-have’ features for ideal tactical pants varies by person and situation and are highly dependent on the climate in which they will be used and your particular survival plan. No matter your individual needs, there are several areas in which you will need your tactical pants to perform: weather resistance and protection; durability; ease of movement; and strategic cargo storage and accessibility (layout of the pants).

Weather Resistance and Protection

For many people, protection from water or harsh storms is a major priority in choosing tactical pants; how your pants will perform in wet conditions is highly dependent on the type of fabric they are made from, how that fabric is treated, and how the seams come together.

For most scenarios, water resistance will suffice, but for more treacherous survival plans, consider fabric treated with Teflon, which seals out water and causes it to bead and roll off; however, Teflon does not necessarily provide protection against complete submersion. If your survival plan takes you through a body of water, your best bet is to choose a quick-drying material that won’t weigh you down. For our top Teflon choice, check out the Men’s TacLite Pro Pant.

When choosing the best tactical pants for your survival plan, keep in mind the types of activities you are most likely to be performing. Lightweight tactical pants are excellent for providing protection from scraping your skin while scrambling over rocks or through thorny bushes; they also act as a great defense against mosquitoes and ticks.

best tactical pants
Rugged terrain calls for durable clothing to protect against injuries.

For an excellent convertible tactical pant (zip-off legs quickly convert to shorts), check out Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant. In terms of temperature control, those in high-temperature climates may be tempted to reach for a lighter-fabric tactical pant, but remember that even in warm areas, nights can reach uncomfortable levels of cold. For those in dual-temperature climates, layering may be the best option.

UnderArmour Men’s UA Storm Tactical Duty Pants offer protection from harmful UV rays as well as ample storage, quick-drying and breathable material, and hidden pockets for IDs and documents. For strictly colder climates, a heavier fabric, such as Gortex (less breathable but very insulating), is your best choice. Consider layering thermals underneath or wearing slim, tactical snow pants that will allow you sufficient movement.


There are a variety of options to choose from when selecting the most durable material for tactical pants, including cotton, canvas and synthetic fabrics.

Cotton is a great choice as it is comfortable and durable; however, it also retains moisture and is generally heavier than other options. There are cotton blends available that offer wicking and therefore decrease weight. Additionally, cotton materials take to weatherproofing through silicone treatments better than purely synthetic materials. To learn more about weatherproofing your bug-out gear, CLICK HERE.

If you foresee your gear getting a lot of wear, canvas is an excellent choice (canvas is the same material used for sails and firehoses, so it can withstand substantial wear). However, it is a heavier fabric and offers little in the way of freedom of movement.

Synthetic fabric, such as lycra or spandex, is typically lightweight, provides for excellent flexibility, and most blends wick moisture well.

Ease of Movement

To allow for more movement, look for flexible fabric with some stretch to it as well as features such as pleats and gusseting in the knees. For a strong tactical pant that also allows for flexible movement, check out Propper Men’s Lightweight Tactical Pant.

best tactical pants
Street clothes can restrict motion and slow you down on your path to survival.

Strategic Cargo Storage and Accessibility

As any well-prepared survivalist knows, there are certain items that must be accessible quickly in a survival scenario such as a self-defense weapon, flashlight, knife, and multitool. To ensure the best access to your most-needed tools, look for tactical pants that have deep pockets and velcro or zipper closures.

survival weapons

Some will have inlaid pockets while others external cargo pockets; what’s most important is that there is room for all your most important gear and that it will be accessible on demand. Squared off pockets function well for clipping a knife, flashlight or pen; elastic webbing is great for holding gear in place; and sectioned off pockets will keep your gear nicely organized.

For our pick of the best tactical pants for elastic webbing cargo capacity, check out Blackhawk Men’s Lightweight Tactical Pant, as well as Vertex Men’s Original Tactical Pants for zippered cargo pockets that also offer a low profile appearance.

Additional Considerations for the Best Tactical Pants

When deciding on the best tactical pants for your survival plans, three additional areas warrant consideration: durability; portability (weight/storing); and color (Gray Man friendly vs. camo).


The durability of your tactical pants is an especially important consideration when preparing for an INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) scenario. This particular scenario may require investment in higher quality tactical pants that are built to withstand longer wear. Conversely, when prepping for your get-home bag, tactical pants that will simply see you through the night are sufficient.


It is important to think about how portable your tactical pants are in terms of both their weight and storage capabilities. If your tactical pants will be stored in your car, weight and bulk are less of a factor, but in terms of your bug-out bag, a lightweight and compactable fabric is most desirable.


Generally, your choices will be between regular-colored clothing and camo. Each has its own advantages depending on the locale and situation in which they will be used.

If your survival plan requires navigating a populated area, digital camo is not the most ideal choice. The reasoning follows the Gray Man principle: in a disaster scenario, the last thing you want to do is stand out as the prepared person amongst throngs of unprepared and chaotic citizens; by carrying gear that doesn’t look like survival gear, you will camouflage the fact that you are equipped and greatly increase your chances of survival.

best tactical pants
Sometimes blending into the crowd is your best bet to get out safely.

For an inconspicuous look, check out 5.11 Tactical #74290 Covert Cargo Pants.

Conversely, a wilderness survival situation would benefit from camouflage patterns or subtle earth tones as you would be able to blend in with natural surroundings.

best tactical pants
In other situations, blending in to the landscape is extremely beneficial.


When choosing the best tactical pants, the most important consideration is how well the pants will function in relation to your survival plan. Always remember to keep in mind the various elements you will face and the protection your pants can provide (water resistant, heat resistant, etc.), how much and what type of activities they can withstand, how easy it is to maneuver in them, and how much easily-accessible storage space they offer.

Additional considerations include the storability of the pants (how easy are they to pack/carry), whether a Gray Man or camo look is preferred, and how long will you need the pants to perform for. If you follow these tips you’ll be sure to find the best tactical pants for your specific survival needs.

Your Thoughts

Do you own a pair of awesome tactical pants that we should have included? What are their best features? Are you interested in more articles about tactical clothing? Tell us in the Comments section below, thanks!

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ranged survival weapons

Comparison of Ranged Survival Weapons

ranged survival weapons

Here at TBOBG, we’ve covered all kinds of preps. Among those, of course, are preps for defense and food procurement. Even though you’ve painstakingly researched and selected the ideal armament for your situation and have been religiously stocking up on ammunition, there may come a time when these careful preps aren’t sufficient.

Perhaps you’ll have suffered a raid, an unrepairable malfunction, or simply run out of ammo. In any of these instances, you would do well to have some alternatives to the usual collection of firearms. Read on to learn up on some of the best alternative ranged weapons.

As we look through our options, we’ll make sure to touch on some key decision-making factors for any ranged survival weapon. These factors will include:

  • Range: At what distance from the target can this weapon be effectively utilized?
  • Lethality: What is the effect on the target when this weapon is used against it?
  • Ease of Use: How difficult is this weapon to become proficient with?
  • Accessibility: How difficult is this weapon to obtain or build?
  • Ammunition: What is it, where can it be found, and how easy is it to replace?

Ranged Survival Weaponsranged survival weapons


The first alternative ranged weapon to come to mind for most folks will be the good ol’ bow and arrow. A decent bow is a fine alternative to a firearm, offering good range, high lethality, fairly easy learning curve, and pretty high accessibility.


Most adult-sized bows are easily capable of effective ranges beyond 40 yards. This brings their effective range close to that of most handguns. A high quality compound bow that has been set up correctly for a competent shooter is capable of accurate, effective shots out to as much as double that distance.


The whole idea behind a bow and arrow is to poke a hole through something from pretty far away and cause the target to bleed out. As with any piece of gear, proper equipment selection will make a huge difference here. Most bows will definitely be able to harvest deer, pigs, or other medium-to-large sized game.

From a defense standpoint, bows are equally effective to, though much different than a firearm. Do be aware that, unlike a firearm, there’s not a huge amount of hydrostatic shock when a target is hit with an arrow from even the most powerful bow. Unless there’s a direct heart shot, the target will likely be able to move and fight until it bleeds to death.ranged survival weapons

Ease of Use

Bows are simple in concept, but take a lot of practice and skill to master. Whether you’re inquiring about a modern compound bow, replete with pulleys and cables, or a traditional wood bow paired with a Flemish Twist string, any experienced bowyer will tell you that consistency is key.

If you’re making the smart move of setting yourself up with a survival bow in your preps, make sure to double down and practice with it! Go beyond just learning your anchor point and dialing in your release; shoot from different positions at different ranges. If you’re of the constitution, go bow hunting. You’ll not only get out in the woods and hone your technique, but you’ll likely end up with a freezer full of the finest organic, free-range meat available.

Even if you don’t intend to bolster your preps in advance with a bow, it’s not a bad idea to find a range and take a few lessons. Like learning to drive a manual transmission, the muscle memory and basic understanding of the concept can pay off big time in a pinch.


Bows are quite easy to find, and nearly as easy to make. To purchase a new bow, your best bet is your local archery or hunting store. Otherwise, bows can be found in all the usual online marketplaces, or at gun shows, yard sales, and by word of mouth. Many bowhunters are dying to get rid of some of their old equipment to help fund the Next Best Bow.

Be sure to buy the right size bow, and don’t go overboard with the draw weight. Even the hunkiest prepper would do well to start off at a reasonable draw weight (45 pounds or so). Don’t skimp on your arrows, either; get them in the correct spine stiffness, length, and weight for your bow and intended use.

If you’re looking to make your own bow, you’ve taken on a very rewarding challenge. Whether your project is to design your ideal lifelong hunting partner, or just to gain experience for a “what if” scenario, you should be able to get from tree to complete bow in less than 15 hours of work. Many designs and options to be made from wood, PVC, or other materials are readily available online. Work carefully, pay attention to the details, and you’ll end up with a long lasting, sweet shooting product.


Bows shoot arrows, of course! The best arrows are store-bought. Though traditionalists like the notion of wood arrows, most will eventually agree that using proper carbon fiber or aluminum arrows will result in superior accuracy, reliability, and safety from any bow.

That said, arrows aren’t that difficult to make. Like a bow itself, arrow making is simply an investment of time that can pay big gains. Even the feathers that influence the arrow’s true flight, or fletching, can be made from a number of materials: Including, of course, duct tape!

Other Notes

ranged survival weapons
Photo by usfwmtnprairie on Flickr.

One of the most versatile of ranged weapons, a good survival bow can be outfitted to take almost any kind of game. A blunt point will do well for small critters like squirrels and rabbits. A barbed point and some line will turn a standard bow into a fine bowfishing rig capable of bringing in 20 pounds of fish at a time. Some creative use of string tied in loops on the business end of an arrow can increase your margin of error and bring birds out of the sky.

Preparing yourself to use or build a bow and arrow setup is an extremely valuable use of your time. The bow was instrumental in separating Man from beast, and can make the difference between a dangerous arms-length encounter and a safe kill from a distance. Do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with this fantastic piece of ranged weaponry.

BowsKey Features
Martin Jaguar Takedown Bow
Traditional style makes a good starter bow
Breaks down easily for packing in a BOB
Laminated wood and glass limbs provide a smooth draw
Spectre Compact Take-down Survival Bow
Modular design allows for 35, 45, or 55lbs of draw
Set includes quiver and arrows
Stores compactly in quiver
Siege Compound Bow
Accessory screw mount for bow fishing
55lb draw weight can handle larger game
Maximum speed 206 FPS
Click the images to view product details and pricing on Amazon.


Everybody’s favorite soft-hearted, zombie-slaying, post-apocalyptic TV redneck uses a crossbow for a reason; it’s accurate, powerful, silent, and easy to use. If you’re looking for a ranged survival weapon that will do its part in fending off the undead horde or take down a fortnight’s meat, a crossbow shouldn’t be far from the top of your list.


Crossbows are essentially a standard bow that has been turned on its side, attached to a rifle-like stock, and given a trigger mechanism that holds the string at the full draw position until the shooter is ready to fire. As such, the operator only has to draw the bow to its full draw position for a period of time sufficient for the trigger mechanism to lock the string in place. Because of this, the crossbow can be designed to use a much higher draw weight, and thus fire its projectile (though it looks like an arrow, it’s called a “bolt”) a greater distance with higher power. Expect 20-40% more range than a standard bow.


ranged survival weapons
Photo by wwworks on Flickr.

Crossbows are every bit as lethal as a typical upright bow. They poke the same size hole, but generally can do it from a greater distance.

Ease of Use

Crossbows tend to be a bit more forgiving to shoot than a regular bow. While not as easy or intuitive as a rifle for some, the crossbow has a relatively short learning curve. They do take a while to load, and thus likely aren’t the best pick for heated battles. Additionally, they can be awkward to store and transport.


Though fairly readily available pre-TEOTWAWKI, there isn’t likely to be a glut of these after the SHTF. In contrast to most of the other ranged survival weapons, the crossbow is pretty difficult to make with limited time or materials.


Crossbow bolts aren’t just short arrows. Bolts tend to be much stiffer, and don’t have any sort of nock at the rear. Because of the nature of the crossbow’s function, bolts must be very straight and very strong. It’s not recommended to make your own bolts unless there’s really no other option.

Other Notes

There are some specific advantages to the crossbow, namely the effective range and short learning curve. The cons can quickly begin outweigh the pros for many people, though. If you’re not equipped with one of these before TEOTWAWKI, don’t count on ending up with one after.

CrossbowsKey Features
Cobra System Self Cocking Pistol Tactical Crossbow
Self-cocking mechanism shortens reload time
Quiet and well-suited to hunting small game
Good beginner crossbow for a reasonable price
Barnett Jackal Crossbow
Powerful 150lb draw and 315 FPS for hunting larger game
Red dot scope for improved accuracy
Smooth 3.5lb trigger pull
Barnett Oudoors Ghost Crossbow
Carbon Riser Technology reduces overall weight
Anti Dry Fire Trigger system prevents firing without a bolt in place
Heavy duty crossbow for experienced hunters
Click the images to view product details and pricing on Amazon.

Throwing Arrows

ranged survival weapons
By Zeph77 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0]
Using a basic lever concept and aerodynamic projectile, a throwing arrow is a highly lethal, simple package that has been around since the earliest days of our species. The most common type of throwing arrow systems are the atlatl and the Swiss arrow. The atlatl is generally wood or some other rigid material, while a Swiss arrow setup uses rope or twine.


A single throwing arrow (or dart, to be technical) is generally effective at a medium range. Once you’re proficient with the thrower, 15-20 yard shots on deer-sized game will be quite achievable. Though the darts can be propelled much farther than this, accuracy wanes quickly.

Throwing arrows can be used quite effectively as a high-volume defense weapon. Though a single surgical kill shot is difficult to achieve beyond 20 or so yards, a great volume of flying darts can be more than a little intimidating. If your group is low on ammo and expecting a fight, consider equipping several members with throwing arrows and instructing them to fire simultaneously at a target.


A well-placed dart is as deadly as a sharp object can get. Even without perfect shot placement, darts will often hang out of a wound and further damage will be done as the exposed portion of the dart is dragged through brush or on the ground. Like the bow and crossbow, there’s not much in the way of hydrostatic shock; the intention is to cause the target to bleed out.

Ease of Use

Throwing arrows take a lot of time and practice to use effectively.  A general rule of thumb is to pretend as though you’re simply throwing a normal spear. Let the lever do the work.


Atlatls are quick and easy to make. The lever system can be made from nearly any wood or PVC or other available material, or the focus can be on making a Swiss arrow by using just a bootlace or twisted fiber. While simple in nature and construction, it’s important to recognize the end goal before you get started. Check around for build guides on the internet.


Darts can be made relatively easily from most straight, reasonably rigid materials. Darts should have some flex to them for best performance. Unlike arrows or crossbow bolts, throwing arrows don’t necessarily need to be fletched, although this does increase their accuracy and range.

Other Notes

Because throwing arrow systems are so easy to make, there’s no excuse not to practice at home before the need arises. If the time ever comes that an atlatl could make the difference between eating and not eating, you’ll be glad you did!

Throwing Spears/AtlatlsKey Features
Nanticoke Atlatl
Simple and durable design, easy to travel with
Knuckled handgrip for better control
Darts are made from ash lumber for straightness and elasticity
Kanakadea Atlatl
Fingerless rest holds dart in place
Comes with fletched 5' darts with field tips
Catatonk Atlatl
Engineered specifically for hunting
Hammer grips tranfers more power
Moderate shaft flex for improved control
Click the images to view product details and pricing on Amazon.


ranged survival weapons
Photo by psym on Flickr.

Evidently Dennis the Menace knew a thing or two about lightweight, portable weaponry. Though he generally used his to wreak havoc on his neighbors, the slingshot shouldn’t be discounted as a formidable light-duty ranged survival weapon. For our in-depth review of survival slingshots, CLICK slingshot


Slingshots work off of energy stored in an elastic band. Unlike the previous ranged weapon alternatives, the slingshot doesn’t have the assistance of leverage. As such, even the most well-executed models will be limited to shorter range work on smaller targets.


Slingshots aren’t particularly powerful. Even the compound-style slingshots that can be found these days are fairly anemic compared to other ranged weapons. With most slingshots, expect to be able to take small game at short range. Due to the ease of getting close to them, rabbits and birds are particularly good bets for hunting with a slingshot.

ranged survival weapons
Photo by thebusybrain on Flickr.

For defense use, don’t expect much from your slingshot. While shots can be painful, it’s rare that they’re deadly.

Ease of Use

While not difficult to get the hang of, slingshots can benefit from some quality practice. Much like a survival bow, consistency is key. When shooting a slingshot, always draw the band to the same length, and try to keep your arms in the same relation to one another. If angled shots are required, focus on keeping your upper body position the same and bending at the hips to account for the angle.


Slingshots are available at many big-box stores, and are really easy to make. Any highly elastic, durable rubber banding should be a good bet for the power plant, while a stout forked branch serves as the chassis.


The beautiful thing about slingshots is that ammo is prolific. While a ball bearing or similarly dense, spherical object is the ideal projectile, any rock or acorn or bolt nut can be used. If you’re equipped with a slingshot, keep on the lookout for good ammo. That said, don’t worry about saving and carrying anything but the very best of what you find; no need to carry mediocre ammunition when it’s available pretty much everywhere.

Other Notes

A slingshot can be a very handy secondary ranged weapon. They work very well for taking game that might not be worth risking damage to an arrow or bolt for a small amount of gain. Also, since it’s not necessary to carry a lot of complex ammunition, the slingshot can be a very lightweight, simple weapon to have in a back pocket, Dennis style.

Aftermath Kavia Elite Sport Slingshot
Adjustable sight and wrist support. Has unique push-button design to dispense ammo from the hollow handle.
Trumark FS-1 Folding Slingshot
Lightweight aluminum frame for easy carrying. Hollow handle has a flip valve for dispensing ammo quickly.
Saunders Wrist-Rocket Pro
Unique design allows for extreme velocity. Folds in a manner that allows you to padlock the slingshot to prevent children from using it.
Click the image for product details and pricing on Amazon.


ranged survival weapons
By Peter van der Sluijs. (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0]
Most famous for its involvement as the weapon of choice against a certain Goliath and its effectiveness in the skillful hands of Ayla from Jean M. Auel’s series of books, the sling is a simple but remarkable ranged weapon.


Slings are a good short-range weapon. The power and range of a sling is determined in large part by the size of projectile selected and the length of the sling itself. As with throwing arrows, a large number of stones being hurled by members of a party can be quite effective at even long ranges. Flying rocks always hurt.


Though technically capable of kills on larger game (or in defensive use), the sling is more appropriate as a tool for turning small game into food, and for dissuading would-be attackers before things get out of hand.

Ease of Use

Like most of the ranged survival weapons in this article, slings take some practice in order for a user to become proficient. Though the motions and the principles are quite simple, a good deal of learned coordination and muscle memory are required.


Premade slings can probably be ordered online (Really, what can’t?), but there’s no excuse to not make your own. A length of cordage and a pocket of stiff fabric or leather is about all you need. Aside from a driveway full of rocks, of course.


A sling is capable of propelling just about anything that fits in its pocket. Like the slingshot, there’s no sense in collecting and carrying any but the finest scavenged ammunition.

Other notes

While not much of a defense weapon against someone with anything more effective than a sling of their own, the sling does have its utility. Even due to nothing else besides its light weight, simple construction, and easy portability, a sling might be one of the most convenient alternative ranged weapons available.

SlingsKey Features
Paracord Sling
Handmade from 550 paracord
Pouch fits ammo up to the size of a golf ball
60" total length
Leather Sling
Moulded bison leather pouch cups ammo
54" total length
Click the images to view product details and pricing on Amazon.

Pepper Spray

Though not as permanently damaging as, and considerably less romantic than, many of the other ranged weapons we’ve covered, pepper spray is one seriously effective tool when used correctly.


Most pepper sprays have an effective range somewhere from 10 to 25 feet. This isn’t far, but it can quickly create time for you to get away from your attacker.


ranged survival weapons
Photo by smittypants on Flickr.

The relatively few deaths that have occurred due to pepper spray’s effects notwithstanding, pepper spray is not considered to be a lethal weapon. Using pepper spray for any sort of survival hunting would probably do more harm than good.

Ease of Use

Pepper spray is pretty simple: Point at attacker’s face, depress a button, and watch the sucker writhe in drool-inducing pain. You’ll probably only have one chance to get it right, though, so make it count.


Pepper spray is readily available in most states. Any local gun shop or big box store should have several options. After a big SHTF event, though, this may no longer be the case. If pepper spray is something you intend to rely on, make sure to stock up.


Pepper spray is self-contained. While there’s no doubt that some enterprising soul could probably find a way to mix up a home recipe and make it portable, it’s likely best to simply run what ya’ brung.

Other Notes

Be aware that pepper spray is just that: A liquid spray. If you’re downwind of this stuff, even if you’re not the target, you’re in trouble. Additionally, pepper spray is only going to bring a human down for a short time. During that short time, they can still be combative. Use pepper spray to create the opportunity to make space between yourself and the one you’ve just sprayed.

Pepper SprayKey Features
SABRE Pepper Spray
10 foot range puts distance between you and your target
Contains 25 bursts or 10 one second sprays for multiple uses
Quick release key ring to deploy quickly
Police Magnum Pepper Spray
17% OC solution is highest allowed by law
Flip top design deploys with one hand
Kimber Pepperblaster
Pistol-like design for grip and accuracy
Sprays at 90 mph to hit the target and only the target
Second reserve shot for backup
Click the images to view product details and pricing on Amazon.

Throwing Knife or Tomahawk

Don’t do it. Don’t ever throw a knife, axe, or any other hand tool as a weapon. At worst you’ll do no damage to your target and lose a valuable tool in the process. At best, you’ll do less damage than you’d like to the target and lose a valuable tool in the process. Knives and axes can be fun to throw for competition or a challenge, but not for hunting or in battle. Keep those tools and use them to make a more appropriate ranged survival weapon.

Closing Thoughts

ranged survival weapons
Photo by lee-yoshi on Flickr.

Now that you’ve got the information, it’s time to get started with the prepping! Consider your goals, and think long and hard about how you’ll approach the possibility of living without firearms during bad times. If you’re unsure about how to proceed, there’s no harm in trying each of the above ranged weapons. Most of them are fairly easy to make or purchase, and all will add a new dimension to your ability to defend, hunt, and succeed. There’s no time like the present to prepare for the future.

Your Thoughts

Do you have some experience with any of these alternative ranged survival weapons? Are your preps already stocked with firearm alternatives? Speak up about your experiences, successes, and failures in the Comments section below, thanks!

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how to build a survival shelter

Learn To Build Shelter For Any Survival Situation

how to build a survival shelterSummer’s right around the corner, and for many people that means getting back to the great outdoors, whether it be for a day hike or a weekend camping trip. This summer, take advantage of your time outdoors to practice the invaluable skill of building survival shelter. That’s right, you need to step out of your comfort zone, leave your four-person tent and goose-down sleeping bag, and try to construct adequate shelter with only the items that would be available to you in a disaster scenario.

It’s the perfect time because if something does go wrong, you can always retreat back into your tent and try again the next night. The summer camping months provide the perfect opportunity to hone your survival shelter skills; however, keep in mind that when the need arises to bug out, you won’t have the luxury of choosing what time of year it is. Practice building survival shelters year-round, especially if you live in a four-season climate where summer and winter present drastically different survival scenarios.

Why Learn to Build a Survival Shelter

Food, water, shelter – the essential elements of survival. Shelter can protect you from the elements and wildlife, as well as keep you warm or dry; finding appropriate shelter can literally mean the difference between living and dying in a survival situation. No matter what your circumstances, you want to be sure you can prepare suitable survival shelter for you and your loved ones.

how to build a survival shelter
Your shelter doesn’t have to be fancy – it just needs to keep you warm and dry.

Possible situations that may require impromptu or planned shelter include bugging out, get-home scenarios, getting lost while hiking or exploring, tending to an injured person while hiking or exploring, or getting caught in a storm. Depending on your situation, your survival shelter needs may differ.

For instance, in a get-home scenario you may only need short-term shelter for a few hours or a night, whereas when bugging out you may be indefinitely on your own. The need for building a lean-to can arise when you least expect it, so learn how to build a survival shelter in a number of different locales and with different resources.

Choosing the Best Location for Your Survival Shelter

Choosing the best location for building your survival shelter will be dependent on how long you intend to be using it – needs for short-term shelter will differ from those required for long-term shelter.

how to build a survival shelter
Take advantage of the landscape when building a survival shelter.

When searching for immediate, short-term shelter, look for trees (especially fallen trees), rocky overhangs, and caves. Trees are an obvious source of shelter and have many useful parts for building shelter including the trunk – which can be used as a support, the branches – which can be used as framework, and foliage – which can be used as insulating material.

Rocky overhangs and caves make excellent areas to take cover but depending on your locale or the time of year, may not be an option. Don’t panic, whether you’re stranded in desert terrain or it’s the middle of winter, you can still put together an effective survival shelter.

In desert terrain with little to no trees, consider using the slope of the land to seek protection and the steep side of a dune for shelter – keep in mind that the gradual side indicates the direction the prevailing wind is coming from and therefore the steep side will provide natural refuge.

If it’s the middle of winter and all available building supplies are frozen or buried under snow, remember that snow will have the same insulating effect as a stick-built shelter. For more cold weather survival tips, CLICK HERE. Additionally, always seek out shelter where the ground is dry. If it is raining, waterways may overflow their banks and ravines, and washes may form.

If you’re in it for the long haul, you will need to consider substantially more factors than sheltering for the short-term. When searching for long-term shelter, look for areas in proximity to water and food sources as well as civilization (if applicable), and for an area that provides adequate visibility for you to see what’s happening around you and for others to see you. In some case, staying hidden may be more beneficial to your survival.

Types of Survival Shelters

Type# of OccupantsTime to BuildDifficultyRequired Resources
Simple Frame and Tarp Method1 to 2Less than 1 hourEasyTarp or poncho
3-4 long straight branches
Cordage to secure frame
Several rocks to anchor tarp
Knife or multitool to cut wood and cord
Simple Body Heat Shelter1 to 2Less than 1 hourEasyLeaves, twigs, dirt, or snow
Sticks to support the opening
Shovel to build mound
Open Shelter or Lean-To1 to 43-5 hoursModerateTree branch to use as ridgepole
10 long straight branches to form a grid
Cordage and/or zip ties
Leafy branches, grasses, bark for roofing
Knife or multitool to cut wood and cord
A-Frame Shelter1 to 33-5 hoursModerateTree trunk to use as support for ridgepole
8 pairs of straight branches to form the sides
Cordage and/or zip ties
Leafy branches, grasses, bark for roofing
Knife or multitool to cut wood and cord
Teepee Variations1 to 23-5 hoursModerateSlender trunk for support pole (optional)
10-15 long straight branches
Cordage for lashing
Leafy branches, grasses, bark for roofing
Knife or multitool to cut wood and cord
Subterranean Survival Shelter1 to 2

4 to 8
1 hour

Weeks to months

Simple- mound of earth or snow, shovel

Complex- shipping container or other wall and floor materials, excavator, tools, plumbing and electrical supplies, power source
Long-Term Log Cabin1 to 4WeeksDifficultLong straight logs
Gravel for drainage and rocks for stilts
Tools for shaving bark and notching logs
Shovel to clear ground
Saw to cut down trees

Simple Frame and Tarp Method

If you happen to have the good fortune of having supplies with you (out backpacking or have bug-out gear) you may be in possession of a tarp that can be used in conjunction with a simple frame to create shelter for the night. To create a frame, lean poles against a lower branch or tree trunk in a manner that will fit under your tarp.

Make sure to remove any sharp edges from the wood or wrap leaves at the corners to ensure you don’t puncture the tarp. If you happen to be lucky enough to have cordage with you, tie it at an angle between two trees and drape your tarp over top, placing rocks on the sides to hold the tarp in place.

In an emergency, you can forgo the frame and simply wrap yourself and your gear in a poncho and huddle amongst the crook of a tree or other sheltered spot until morning.

how to build a survival shelter
A tarp makes an excellent short-term shelter but you may need to upgrade eventually.

Simple Body Heat Shelter

This shelter is fairly straight forward and easy to build – it is useful for short-term or unexpected situations and can comfortably accommodate one, possibly two, people.

To build a simple body heat shelter, use debris from the ground such as dirt, leaves, and twigs, to create a mound and use larger sticks to frame it. Clear a hole just big enough to crawl into and cover the opening to block air flow and limit the open space. Your body heat will be trapped inside the shelter, keeping you warm throughout the night.

If you are seeking shelter in the winter and the ground is covered in snow, use the snow to build your mound. Even though the snow is cold, it will still serve the purpose of insulating you from the elements outside and trapping your body heat.

how to build a survival shelter
Sheltering under the snow will insulate you from the cold and preserve your body heat.

Open Shelter or Lean-To

The benefits of an open shelter or lean-to are that it offers extra protection against the elements such as wind and rain, and can accommodate up to four people (for a typical lean-to, however they can be constructed as large as resources allow).

how to build a survival shelter
We built this lean-to using two tripods instead of trees for support. Zip ties made quick work of building the grid.

Depending on the supply of materials available, the construction can take anywhere from two to five hours. Start by looking for downed trees that have branches low enough to support the topmost point, known as the ridgepole. If you only locate one tree, use it as the ridgepole – lashing in place if necessary – but if you locate two downed trees near one another, lay a sturdy branch between them.

Gather approximately five to six poles to lean against the ridgepole at roughly a 45-60 degree angle, enough to create a comfortable space to fit your team and gear underneath. This will serve as your grid. To create the grid frame, attach 5 to 6 poles across the frame. Weave flexible boughs between poles at right angles and then use bark or leafy branches to thatch the roof, starting from the bottom and moving upwards.

how to build a survival shelter
Use the grid to weave foliage to create a weather barrier.

You can add additional walls for further protection using the same method. Should you be lucky enough to have a tarp or mylar survival blanket, you can hang it from the opening to act as a curtain.

A-Frame Shelter

The A-Frame shelter is constructed in much the same way as the lean-to, the only difference is that the ridgepole starts on the ground and extends up into tree, lashed at a height that allows enough space to sit underneath. In this way, two sides are constructed to create the A-frame shape, providing additional protection from weather or cold temperatures. For added warmth, locate your fire pit near the opening.

how to build a survival shelter
Square lashings are used throughout the A-frame shelter.
how to build a survival shelter
Side view of square lashing.

Teepee Variations

A teepee can stand alone or be built around the slender trunk of a tree. In some cases, it may be easier to use a slim tree as your center support, lashing poles around it to create a cone-shaped shelter, which will provide a sturdy frame, but also limit your interior space.

It’s up to you whether you choose to completely enclose the exterior and create an opening in the top for ventilation or keep the top secure from rain and leave an open doorway. Always make sure you account for ventilation, especially if you intend on building a small fire inside.

For stand alone teepees, start with three long straight poles and use a tripod lashing to join them. Try to locate a long pole with a Y-shaped joint at one end. This will provide the frame with stability as the next pole can rest within the Y-shape. To build the teepee, continually add pairs of similar sized poles and join them together at the top, leaving the base wide enough to curl up in and tall enough to sit comfortably.

how to build a survival shelter
This technique can be the framework for a teepee or provide ridgepole support for building a lean-to.

Once the frame is constructed, fill in the gaps using whatever materials are available to you including leafy branches, vines, mud and grass. Work your way up from the bottom – as you would with roofing tiles – so that the rain will drip down the overlapping layers instead of into your teepee.

Subterranean Survival Shelter

how to build a survival shelter
This fallen tree can provide adequate shelter – just watch out for critters!

For short-term shelter, a subterranean survival shelter can simply be hollowed out of a mound of earth, creating a warm place to sleep. An optimal location is the root base of fallen trees, as the roots provide structure and prevent caving in.

For a longer-term shelter, substantial planning and effort will be required. A long-term subterranean survival shelter is something you would build in preparation for when SHTF, as opposed to building in the aftermath while bugging out. Those who choose to build a long-term subterranean survival shelter either build one on their property or an offsite location. Designs can range from simple cellar-style rooms to complex homes that are fully outfitted with a power supply, furnished with necessities and comfort items, and have functioning defense systems.

Long-Term Log Cabin

If a crisis or disaster situation truly descends into chaos and it’s TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it), you may find yourself in the position where you need to build a solid and dependable home using only what the land provides. Obviously, this type of survival shelter requires a tremendous amount of time, resources and energy – therefore it’ll save you time and aggravation to learn the basics beforehand.

how to build a survival shelter
If you are permanently relocating, a log cabin may be the way to go.

A long-term log cabin is built using a similar method as Lincoln Logs you may have played with as a child; the general idea is to lay a frame of logs that interlock at the corners to form a rectangle. Before beginning, you will need to clear the ground of grass, level it, and top it with a layer of gravel for drainage. Locate large rocks that can serve as stilts to keep your cabin off the ground and place them at all four corners as well as every three to four feet.

After the rocks are placed, locate the base layer of logs, the sill logs, which will need to be larger than those used for the walls – about 12 inches in diameter. Once the sill logs are in place, you can add floorboards or skip ahead to building up the walls.

how to build a survival shelter
This notching pattern will help shed water away from the joints.

For the walls, look for trees that are seven to ten inches in diameter and cut them to fit the dimensions of your floor plan. To prepare the logs for the walls, flatten the top and bottom so that they sit flush and notch the ends to interlock them and form a sturdy corner – additionally, cutting a notch in the top log only will avoid pooling water in the joints while in wetter climates.

Once you reach your desired wall height, begin using logs in diminishing lengths on either end to create the peak. Notch and lay two long logs perpendicular across the length of the cabin to act as supports for the roof. Depending on the items you have available in terms of tools and lumber, you can construct your roof with split logs, cut shingles, or sod.

Survival Supplies Beneficial to Have on Hand

Undoubtedly, you’ve included tools and materials in both your bug-out and get-home bags that will lend themselves to building shelter; however, it’s important to consider what tools are must-haves if an unexpected need to shelter arises, such as during a hiking or backpacking expedition.

To ensure you have the proper tools, take inventory of the various tasks you will need to perform when building shelter such as cutting, de-branching, notching, lashing, digging, and weaving. Consider what tools could help with these tasks (and all the better if one tool can address several tasks) and make sure they are in your bug-out and get-home bags as well as on your person while you’re out exploring.

Here is our list of the top survival supplies that are crucial to have on-hand when building survival shelter:

ItemShelter Building Applications
Fixed Blade Knife
Cut cord, small branches
Remove bark from logs and branches from poles
Notch poles to fit snuggly before lashing
Saw through small branches
File sharp corners to prevent tearing tarp
Remove splinters
Loosen knots in cord
Larger cutting and debranching jobs
Cut down trees for a log cabin
Prevents dulling your knife and expending excessive effort
Tri-Fold Shovel
Clear the ground for your shelter
Dig in dirt or snow to make a body heat shelter
Level the ground for support poles
Excavating large rocks for stilts
Lightweight Tarp
Use as roof or door for your shelter
Wrap around you for warmth and protection from weather
Make a sling to hang supplies out of reach of animals
Survival Blanket/Bivvy Sack
Use as roof or door for your shelter
Wrap around you for warmth and protection from weather
Make a sling to hang supplies out of reach of animals
Lash poles for framework of shelter when building a lean-to, teepee, or a-frame
Make a line between 2 trees to hang a tarp shelter
Secure food supply in a tree to keep away from animals
Zip Ties
Attach smaller poles together, such as for the grid in a lean-to
Fasten roofing materials to make a rain barrier
Substitute for cord in light duty construction
Hang a lantern or flashlight in your shelter
Work Gloves
Protect your hands from injury while handling building materials and tools
Melt ends of cord to prevent fraying
Click the images to see current prices on

Survival Shelter Building Techniques

Knot Tying

how to build a survival shelter
Be sure to melt the cut ends of your paracord to prevent them from fraying.


Building A Frame


Wilderness Precautions

No matter where you choose to set up shelter, always be cognizant of what wildlife may be around. If you’ve found a great location, you are no doubt not the first to have discovered it, so make sure to survey the land for wildlife such as snakes in leaf piles or under fallen trees.

To stir up any creatures that may be hiding in brush or bushes, use a stick to prod the area before proceeding with your hands. Additionally, store any food you have tied up high in a tree to avoid attracting unwanted critters to your dwelling.

In terms of the wilderness itself, avoid any foliage that has a chalky white appearance as this is a mold that could spread through your shelter and impact your health. Also, if a tree contains a lot of ‘lacey’ leaves, that indicates it is probably infested with insects and best to be avoided. For more information on plants and foraging, CLICK HERE.bushcraft skills


Now that you have the basic skills necessary to plan and build your shelter, the next step is to get outside and get practicing! While techniques such as weaving and lashing can be practiced in your backyard, when it comes to building an effective survival shelter, there’s no substitute for the real deal. As you’re practicing, make sure to take note of pertinent factors such how long it takes you to gather materials and construct your shelter – knowing this timing can be life-saving in a real disaster scenario.

Be creative, be resourceful, and most of all – have fun!

Your Thoughts?

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to build a temporary shelter?What did you build? What tools do you carry that are useful in building a survival shelter? Share you thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below, thanks!

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prepping mistakes

7 Common Prepping Mistakes…And How You Can Avoid Making Them!

prepping mistakes

Note: This article was contributed by Dan F. Sullivan of  To learn more about Dan you can see the About the Author section at the end of the post.

7 Common Prepping Mistakes

Getting ready for the apocalypse is a somewhat complex matter because there’re a lot of variables involved: your age, your location, your financial situation, your current preparations, your neighbors, your location, the climate, your bug-out location, your family and many more.

Complexity leads to mistakes, not that there’s anything wrong with them; it’s always good to make them because that’s how we learn best. People who make the most are usually the ones that are more committed to their cause and have the highest chances of success.

Let’s see some of the most common mistakes you’re probably doing right now that could prove to be lethal if something serious were to happen right now.

Mistake #1: Not keeping quiet about their efforts

The first rule of fight club is… well, it’s true. People are going to think you’re nuts for preparing because they only think “zombies” and “the Apocalypse” when you try and talk to them. It’s a stereotype that clouds their judgement and it’s difficult to get them to change their mind.

I wrote an interesting piece about getting your loved ones to prepare where I talk about Noah and how we all feel like him when trying to get others to prepare. Noah was the first prepper in history. God spoke to him, meaning he relied on spiritual guidance and went against conventional wisdom and he prepared. He did it despite what everyone else thought of him…

Operations Security

He also did one more thing a lot of preppers aren’t: he got his family on board. He couldn’t have done it without them which leads me to mistake #2.

Mistake #2: Not getting their families on board

I know, I know. There are endless debates on whether or not you should “waste” your times getting your household members to prepare. But hear me out.

When disaster strikes, your loved ones might be the biggest threat to your safety. Whether you need to bug in or out, they’re going to be right there with you and influence the events that are unfolding.

So when your spouse is standing at the door, petrified, when your kids are hiding under the bed, screaming, how exactly are you going to put your evacuation plan into action? Are you going to bug out on your own, leaving them behind?

Of course not. What parent could ever do that? Instead, you’re going to drag them out kicking and screaming, wasting precious seconds and putting all your lives in danger. And even if you do manage to escape, the fact that they don’t even have bug out bags means you’re going to have to share with them the little you have. And that’s certain death, isn’t it?

The key to convincing your family to start preparing is to start small. Don’t talk to them about nation-wide Martial Law, a global EMP event or the Yellowstone erupting. They’ll just want to take a smoke of whatever it is you’re having because, they’ll judge, it must be really good.

A much better approach is to talk about smaller-scale disasters and critical events, such as earthquakes, flash floods, home invasions, assaults, rapes and so on. These are BELIEVABLE and easier to swallow. The whole point is to get them through the door, to have them to make the first step and worry about the rest later.

One more thing, try and talk to them about events that are likely to happen where you live. To do that, just browse the archives of your local news websites; you’ll surely find a lot of horrific accidents that happened less than a mile away from you.

prepping mistakes

Mistake #3: Stockpiling food they’re allergic to

I’m not talking about the case where you store peanuts and you know you’re allergic to. I’m talking about the allergies you’re not even aware of. Like the old saying: You don’t know what you don’t know.

Should you test yourself to find out what you’re allergic to? That’s a good idea but an even better one would be to actually eat from your stockpile. Not a lot, you don’t want to put your life in danger, but rotating your food is something you need to do anyway.

Mistake #4: Not practicing their skills

Reading is not the same as putting something into action. In most cases, when you try something for the first time, you screw it up. Big time.

That’s why you need to start practicing bugging out on every route imaginable, living out in the wild, evacuating in the face on an impending natural disaster, giving first-aid, eating survival food, using guns, defending your home and so on. Camping is a great way to learn survival because it’s a safe environment that will give you a small taste of what it’s like to be out there in the wild.

(Of course, camping and prepping are not even close to being the same thing but it’s a great first step, particularly for your spouse and kids.)

Heck, you can even practice in front of the mirror how you’re going to approach your loved ones to help you prep… because if you don’t sound confident, you’re gonna have a much tougher time.

prepping mistakes

Mistake #5: Putting all their stockpile in one place

Your basement could get flooded. Your house could get invaded. Your bug-out location could be compromised. Never put all your eggs in one basket because if that basket is stolen, destroyed or confiscated… you’re in trouble.

Hide your tools, clothes, food and medicine in various places inside your home, in your backyard, at your bug-out location and in your car.

Mistake #6: Overestimating how much they can carry

It’s easy to get the biggest backpack out there and to fill it with everything you think you might need. Only problem is, there’s only so much you can carry. Consider the fact that you’re going to be on the run for hours on end with that thing on your back. No matter how long you think you’ll last, you’re probably overestimating.

To prove this to you, walk for 2-3 miles with a fully loaded BOB and find out. It can be one of your escape routes to your BOL (bug-out location). Get a stopwatch and find out how long you can walk at a medium-fast pace without feeling the need to stop.

Consider that you may not be the one who needs to take a break; it could be one of your kids. And if they stop, you all have to stop.

Mistake #7: Not preparing for all seasons

A lot of the times, when we prepare, we have this image in our head that Doomsday is going to be on a warm, sunny day. But what if it’s freezing cold and 2 feet of snow outside? Or, quite the contrary, what if the temperatures are going to be extremely high?

prepping mistakes

Remember that old saying from Game of Thrones, winter is coming? Winter was no joke before we had all the modern-day conveniences and should never be taken lightly. The cold temperatures might compel people to find shelter and heat, your immune system will be lower, your crops will not grow and so on. Also, consider the fact that a disastrous event could span several seasons or even several years before things would get back to some sort of normal.


OK, that’s it. Those where it: a few of the biggest mistakes a lot of preppers make. You can find your own mistakes (not found in this list) by taking a long hard look at your preps and being honest to yourself. At the end of the day, the best way to discover your prepping holes is to practice everything, to put yourself in adverse situations, to see how you’ll react and then make improvements based on what happens.

Your Thoughts?

Are there any mistakes you see other preppers making?  Have you learned from a mistake that you made?  Please let us know in the Comment Section below, thanks!

About the Author

Dan F. Sullivan runs  He describes himself as:

My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don’t take orders from anyone. I’m taking matters into my own hands so I’m not just preparing, I’m going to friggin’ war!

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bushcraft skills

Bushcraft Skills: Foraging for food

bushcraft skills

Feeding yourself off the land can be a challenge even in favorable conditions and is one of the most important bushcraft skills to learn.  It takes a good knowledge of local plants and animals as well as the ability to actually catch or gather them to make a meal.  The field of bushcraft has lots of ways to make this easier.  For more basic information on getting started with Bushcraft, check out our article HERE.

Bushcraft Skills: Foraging for edible plants

Being able to forage for your dinner requires an in depth knowledge of the plants in your area.  You need to know not only what you CAN eat but also what you CAN’T eat.

bushcraft skills

What to look for

  • Roots and tubers:  Roots and tubers are found in the soil underneath the vine or stalk of a plant.  They are very nutritious but usually require cooking or boiling.  Potatoes, yams, and onions are all either roots or tubers.
  • Grasses: The young whitish tips of many grasses are edible and often palatable.  They can be eaten raw
  • Seeds & Nuts: The seeds and nuts of many plants are edible and provide a good source of nutrition.  If you taste a seed or nut and it has a bitter or acidic quality it is probably not safe to eat.  Frequently seeds and nuts can be made safe to eat by soaking them for 12 hours in water or boiling.
  • Fruit & Berries: We are used to seeing fruit in our supermarkets on a regular basis but it is important to note that the apples, pears, and bananas we consume are the product of thousands of years of cultivation by farmers.  Many berries and fruits found in the wild can be harmful if eaten.  Generally any fruit that is red in color should be avoided.  Unless you are sure a fruit or berry is safe to eat these are best avoided.
  • Leaves: The leaves of many plants are edible both raw and after boiling.  Some palatable ones to seek out are watercress and nettles (be careful when picking nettles as they can sting), both of which often grow near freshwater streams.  Beware leaves that have a strong bitter taste.

bushcraft skills

Things to avoid:

An important part of bushcraft foraging is knowing what to avoid.  Remember that there are exceptions to every rule so it is best to educate yourself about your local plants as much as possible.  Here are some general guidelines to follow.

Bad smelling plants – If a plant, or fruit has an off putting smell it is probably not ideal to eat.  Out sense of smell has evolved over thousands of years to warn us against dangerous foods.  Avoid anything that smells distasteful.

Taste of almond – This is usually an indication of the presence of prussic acid which is toxic to humans.  It can sometimes be removed by boiling the plant.  If you can no longer taste the almond bitterness after boiling or soaking it is probably safe.  Be sure to safely discard the water you boiled the plant in.

Acidity or Bitterness – Any plant that tasted extremely bitter or “hot” should be avoided.  This is a typical sign that it will make you sick or worse.

The Color Red – Seeing red leaves or fruit is a likely sign that a plant is dangerous to us.  There are some exceptions of course (strawberries, apples) but unless you KNOW a red plant or fruit is safe avoid it at all costs.

Fungus – There are some mushrooms out there that are edible and even tasty.  However these can be hard to differentiate between their lookalike toxic cousins. Again, unless you are SURE a mushroom is edible it is best to not eat them at all.

bushcraft skills

But what if?

If you are uncertain if something is edible or not and out of options the general approach is to taste a small bite of it WITHOUT swallowing it.  If it tastes OK (no bitterness or strong acidity) then swallow a small sample and wait 1 hour.  If not unpleasant reaction occurs it is safe to eat more.  Again, this approach is a last resort.  You are better off to keep on searching if you have any doubt in your mind.

Also remember that cooking or boiling can reduce or remove bitter tastes and in some cases toxins as well.  Again, it is essential to gain knowledge over your local plants to be able to use this option.

bushcraft skills Bushcraft Skills: Trapping and Hunting Game

Foraging Plants vs. Animals

When every calorie counts, there’s no question: Eating animals is the most efficient path to survival. Plants can offer additional nutrients, flavor, and supporting calories, but generally won’t contain enough calories to sustain you on their own. Most leafy plants will only offer 30-50 calories per ounce of weight. Contrast this with the 200 calories available from a small freshwater fish and 500 calories provided by a single fat squirrel. The numbers grow exponentially for larger game. Nuts, to be fair, do offer a respectable caloric payoff in the neighborhood of 150-200 calories per ounce. Most acorns will need a lot of preparation, but walnuts, beechnuts, and butternuts can be eaten fresh or kept for a few days after being dried in the sun.

Finding Food

Food sources are all around us; no less so when we’re in the backwoods. Regardless of your geographic location, you can rest assured there are plenty of indigenous wild edibles. One of your regular bushcraft projects should be to practice identifying and gathering some of these food items.
When moving in the woods, look constantly for animal sign. Scat, tracks, and eaten plants or nutshells are all indicators of recent animal activity. Gather convenient plants while you’re moving on other tasks; don’t devote valuable time to seeking out these lower calorie foods.

bushcraft skills

Traps and Snares:

If you’re in a situation that calls for feeding yourself, you’re likely to have a lot of work to do to stay alive. Moving toward safety, tending a fire (learn how to make a self feeding fire HERE!), securing water, and treating injuries take time and calories. Don’t waste either of those precious commodities on actively hunting for one animal at a time. Use snares and traps to multiply yourself. Snares will require wire or cordage. Keeping a few good sections of thin wire in your bushcraft backpack or survival kit is a good idea, and can be one of the more valuable bushcraft tools in a survival scenario.
When placing trap and snare sets, designs are limited only by your imagination. A few of the most common sets are:

  1. Figure-4 deadfall (video below)
  2. Basic peg trigger for spring-tree snare (picture above)
  3. Fish funnel
  4. Squirrel pole (video also below)

When setting traps, the key is to placing the trigger or snare loop where an animal is likely to hit it. Game trails, particularly those that lead to water or dens, are excellent locations. Place snares directly in the trail with the snare loop a couple inches off the ground at the height of a likely target animal’s head. Traps with baited triggers, like the Figure-4 Deadfall (see the video below), should have some tasty bait rubbed on the bait stick. Food wrappers or mashed up fish or frog parts work well for this.

Be sure to check your sets regularly. Remember, you’re not the only predator in the forest. A handy rabbit in a snare would make quite a good meal for a scavenging coyote.  Check out this video on making a Squirrel Pole:

Cleaning and Cooking Game

Once your carefully set traps have secured some food, don’t ruin the payoff with poor processing. It’s important to cleanly skin and gut game to adequately cook and minimize spoiling of the meat. Squirrels and rabbits are easily skinned with just a few knife strokes. Fish can generally be filleted and de-scaled in about the time it takes to peel an apple.
Cooking is a pretty simple affair. Roasting meat on a spit is simple and gets the job done. Fish is generally best grilled on a flat rock facing a fire. If you luck into enough meat to last for longer than one or two meals, consider smoking and drying the meat on a tipi-shaped rack made of green wood and covered with bark.  If you want to hone your primitive fire making skills, you can check out our How-To article HERE.

Bushcraft Tools for Wild Edibles:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When you’re going into the wilderness, make sure an EPIRB is in your bushcraft backpack. From there, a quality knife, plenty of snare wire, a primary and backup fire starter, and a small fabric bag for holding foraged food are all near-necessities.

One of my favorite Bushcraft Tools, the Gerber LMF II



As you can see, there are really a lot of options for feeding yourself in the wild.  As with most areas of survival the ability to do this comes down to knowledge and practice.  Many of the trap sets look fairly simple, but hands-on experience will pay off. Integrate these setups into your regular bushcraft projects (but check your local game laws first). Practicing these skills will ensure you’re well prepared when a real need arises.

If foraging is one of the many bushcraft skills you want to master, start by learning about the plants and animals around you and then get out there and try it.  I challenge you to try and feed yourself 1 meal from foraged or caught food the next time you head out to the woods!

Your Thoughts?

Do you have a foraging tip you would like to share?  What bushcraft skills do you want to learn more about?  Please let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

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