bug-out hammock

Bug-Out Hammock: An Essential Addition To Any BOB

bug-out hammock

When bugging out, your foremost consideration (after ensuring you do, indeed, have the essentials for survival) is weight – you can’t use what you can’t carry. Many times, it is gear for shelter and sleeping that tend to add the most bulk; this is where a bug-out hammock can provide a real advantage. Hammocks offer a versatile sleeping solution in a very compact package, allowing you to sleep comfortably almost anywhere.

bug-out hammock
A bug-out hammock is a light and comfortable option for sleeping that’s easy to set up and take down.

If your thoughts turn to relaxing by the beach between palm trees when you hear the word ‘hammock,’ you are not far off. Hammocks are easy to set up, comfortable, and provide a sturdy, elevated place to sleep – there may not be any cocktails served, but a hammock can prove quite useful in survival situations.

The inspiration for this article was borne out of a recent backpacking trip where a friend of mine had brought several hammocks and continually raved about their comfort. Trying it out for myself, I found the setup simple and, yes, they were indeed quite comfortable. This got me thinking: Could hammocks make an excellent addition to a bug-out bag? I think the answer is a definite yes, and have written this article with the purpose of examining camping hammocks as they apply to survival, exploring key features to look for, and checking out the top-rated ones on the market.

Key Components Of Camping Hammocks

When it comes to hammocks, there are four main components you will want to pay attention to: Material, hardware, cordage, and optional add-ons.

bug-out hammock


Generally, most hammocks you find will be made from lightweight parachute material. Although this material is ultra-thin, rest assured that it is very strong and durable. A ripstop stitching pattern is desirable as it resists tears and prevents them from growing; it also dries very quickly.

bug-out hammock
Kammok engineers material that is both super-strong and ultra light, with a comfortable soft texture.

Hammocks are typically stored in a pouch that is either sewn to the side or separate; this can double as a great stow-away area for gear you will need close at hand as you sleep, such as a flashlight or a multitool. While the full-size hammock may look impossible to fit back into its pouch, they are surprisingly easy to re-pack.

For the best hammock material, look for reinforced seams and triple stitching at the joints, as this makes for extra toughness required in a survival scenario.



The hardware on your hammock is a very important component as it affects setup and the type of straps that can be used. The best hammocks will have a carabiner at either end that can be clipped to rope or webbing. Carabiners are preferred to S-hooks, as they are less likely to become accidentally detached when shifting your weight in the hammock.

bug-out hammock
Wiregate carabiners are lighter, though locking carabiners may be more useful for other tasks besides hanging a hammock, such as securing gear to MOLLE webbing.

While most carabiners are made out of heavy-duty aluminum or steel, there are lightweight versions available. If your hammock doesn’t come with carabiners, it is more than worth it to purchase them separately as they not only make setup easier, but also are versatile tools with endless survival uses.

Black Diamond Neutrino Carabiner
Silishape Outdoors Carabiner
Metolius Bravo Key Lock Carabiner
Click the image to view current price on Amazon.


Certain hammocks do not come with a means for hanging; if this is the case with your hammock, you will need to purchase hanging cords separately. There are two basic options: Rope or webbing straps.

If using rope, you probably already have paracord in your bug-out bag that can be used, just ensure to use a heavy enough gauge to support your weight. However, tying rope may require some tinkering in order to get the tension right; if this not something you feel comfortable with, webbing straps may be a better choice.

bug-out hammock
Whether you’re hanging a hammock with rope or straps, tree sleeves minimize damage to the bark. The Fox Outfitters Neolite Hammocks come with tree sleeves.

If using webbing straps, the advantage is that there are multiple attachment points sewn in and therefore adapt easily to different trunk sizes and distances between trees. If you’re environmentally conscious, you can purchase ‘tree savers,’ which are cover sleeves that your straps can be threaded through to minimize damage to the tree bark when hanging your hammock.

Eagles Nest Outfitters Atlas Strap
Eagles Nest Outfitters Slap Strap
OxStraps Hammock Straps
Click the image for current price on Amazon.

Optional Add-Ons

The first optional add-on you will want to consider is the size of your hammock. Camping hammocks generally come in single or double sizes; which you prefer is a matter of personal preference. Even when sleeping one person, some people feel more secure with the extra fabric provided by a double-wide hammock.

Additionally, while two adults can sleep in a double hammock, you need to be cognizant of the weight limit and always test out your hammock for comfort beforehand. In the case of a long-term sleeping arrangement, you may be better off using two single hammocks.

bug-out hammock

Protection is another consideration, with the main concerns being mosquitos and the elements. If you will be bugging out in an area where mosquitos will be a concern, choose a bug-out hammock with an integrated bug net. A bug net features a zipper closure as well as additional guy lines to keep the net suspended above you while you sleep.

bug-out hammock
Standing water attracts mosquitos so try to hang your hammock a good distance away from any large puddles.

If you want to use the hammock without the net, simply flip it over and it becomes a regular hammock. To prevent mosquitos biting through the bottom of the hammock, plan to line the bottom with a pad or blanket. To keep wind, rain, or other elements off your bug-out hammock, you can add a custom tarp.

ENO ProFly Rain Tarp
Kelty Noah's Tarp Shelter
Ultimate Survival Technologies 1.0 BASE Tube Tarp
Hammock Bliss Mosquito Net Cocoon
ENO Guardian Bug Net
Ohuhu Lightweight Sleeping Bag
Click the image to view current price on Amazon.

How To Use A Camping Hammock

Sleeping in a hammock is actually quite comfortable – the fabric is supportive and generous enough to fully encase your body. The experience is preferable to sleeping on hard ground where stiff backs and sore hips can result. Aside from comfort, they are also very easy to set up as you don’t need to spend time scouting around for level ground or worrying about whether or not rocks will poke you as you sleep. To set up a hammock, all you need are two vertical supports (typically trees) spaced roughly 10 feet apart.

bug-out hammock
Wouldn’t you rather sleep up off the ground in a sturdy hammock?

Setting Up

To secure your bug-out hammock for sleeping, make sure the end where your head will rest is only an inch or two higher than where your feet will be; this ensures a comfortable pitch but isn’t steep enough that you will slide down. You can hang your hammock anywhere that suits your needs, however keeping the center near waist height will make it easier to get in and out of.

If you’ve decided to use rope to hang your bug-out hammock, check out the YouTube video below that demonstrates how to tie strong knots that release quickly when you’re ready to take down the hammock.

If you’re using webbing straps, make sure to wrap them around the tree and pass the end through the loop at the other end. This way, the tension of your weight will tighten the strap around the tree and keep it firmly in place. To achieve your desired height, simply clip the carabiner onto one of the loops along the strap.

Extras For Utility And Comfort

Oft times, sleeping in a hammock can be colder than on the ground as air flows freely all around you. When bugging-out in colder temperatures, it’s a good idea to use a sleeping bag or a mat, or even slip a mylar emergency blanket in the storage pouch. However, when bugging-out in extreme heat, a hammock provides an effective way to cool down as the parachute material is very breathable.

bug-out hammock
Pair a hammock with a lightweight sleeping bag for cooler climates. Add a tarp for a complete sleep shelter set up.

Having a bug-out hammock on hand also provides for a quick way to sit down and have a rest. The setup and takedown is so quick and easy that it can be used anytime, such as stopping for a water break or tuning into your emergency radio for updates. For those with kids, it also provides a great way to give them break after a long hike.

bug-out hammock
Camping hammocks are kid-friendly and make a perfect place to let them rest anytime they need it.

Additionally, hammocks can also double as an emergency blanket when sheltering from a storm and offer another rather unexpected advantage – they are great for toting bulky gear! I found this out haphazardly as I needed a means to carry sleeping bags and pillows over several miles back to my car after a backpacking trip. I piled the items into my hammock, crisscrossed the ends over my shoulders, and fastened the carabiners together around my waist; it worked fabulously and held up just fine.

bug-out hammock
Chilly morning? Just unhook your hammock and bundle up in it! The ENO DoubleNest is generously sized.

Our Top Picks For Bug-Out Hammocks

Here are our tip picks for the best camping hammocks that can double as bug-out hammocks, along with their key features. For more details, please click the image to be taken to Amazon.

Single HammocksKey FeaturesMax. Wt.Wt.
Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro Hammock
• Mosquito netting provides full protection when needed
• Flips over for use without netting
• Quality construction with triple stitched mesh and nylon
400 lbs28 oz
Eagles Nest Outfitters SingleNest Hammock
• Reinforced seams for durability
• Aluminum wiregate carabiners are lightweight and strong
• Packs down to the size of a softball in the attached stuff sack
400 lbs16 oz
Neolite Trek Camping Hammock
• Quick dry fabric is strong yet breathable and very lightweight
• Solid steel carabiners
• Includes two nautical grade hang ropes with protective tree sleeves
400 lbs13 oz
Himal Hammock
• Breathable 210T nylon is comfortable and supportive
• Includes 0.31mm diameter braided nylon rope and stainless steel carabiners
• Mildew resistant fabric also dries quickly
500 lbs18 oz
Kammok Roo Hammock
• Specially engineered fabric is stronger, lighter and softer for better comfort
• Includes 2 Dyneema slings for suspension
• Water-resistant pouch
500 lbs23 oz
Double HammocksKey FeaturesMax. Wt.Wt.
Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock - LNT Special Edition
• Sturdy aluminum carabiners easily connect to any type of strap
• Triple interlocking stitching for strength and durability
• Compression stuff sack is attached for convenient storage
400 lbs19 oz
Fox Outfitters Neolite Double Camping Hammock
• Generously sized for two people
• Includes tree saver sleeves and two lengths of hang rope
• High quality reinforced construction is durable and ultra lightweight
400 lbs19 oz
Trek Light Gear Double Hammock
• Parachute nylon is rot- and mildew-resistant
• Over six feet wide, allowing for multiple sleep configurations
• No-flip design prevents accidental spills
400 lbs20 oz
Eagles Nest Outfitters JungleNest Sleep System

• Complete sleep system includes insect net, rain fly, straps, steel carabiners, and aluminum stakes
• Full length side zipper for ease of getting in and out
• Internal ridgeline adjustment
400 lbs32 oz
Click on the image to view current price on Amazon.

A Closer Look At Top-Rated Hammocks

Eagle Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock

  • Generously sized and very comfortable
  • Enough fabric to wrap around yourself; can fit two adults or one adult and one child
  • Rated for up to 400 pounds – fabric is very durable and has triple interlocking stitching
  • Aluminum wiregate carabiners are lightweight but strong; makes for easy set-up
  • Packs down to about a five inch ball
  • Attached stuff sack has a belt with a side release buckle, allowing you to clip it onto the outside of your pack, MOLLE, or hang from a branch when not in use
  • Only drawback: Tree straps need to be purchased separately
bug-out hammock
The attached stuff sack on the ENO DoubleNest serves as bedside storage for a flashlight, map, whistle, or any other gear you want on hand.

Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro Hammock

  • The Skeeter Beeter offers a great solution to mosquitos (which are not only annoying, but also carry deadly diseases) – an integrated no-see-um mesh net
  • The net is fully attached, with a zipper on one side for getting in and out
  • Long ropes are included for holding the netting up and away from your body, affording freedom of movement
  • Can be used without the net by flipping it upside down and laying on the bottom surface
  • Made from durable parachute fabric with triple-interlocking stitching
  • Carabiners and rope included.

Kammok Roo Hammock

  • Has a maximum weight of 500 pounds, making it a super strong camping hammock
  • The Lunar Wave ripstop nylon fabric is engineered to be even stronger, lighter, and softer than typical parachute fabric
  • UV and mildew resistant
  • There are several utility loops on the edge for clipping gear to
  • Attached stuff sack provides additional storage close at hand
  • The stuff sack is water-resistant; especially handy if it starts to rain when your hammock is clipped to the outside of your bug-out bag
  • Included are two climbing rated carabiners and two Dyneema slings that are very easy to use
bug-out hammock
Kammok Roo comes with 2 wiregate carabiners and 2 compression slings.

Fox Outfitters Neolite Double Camping Hammock

  • Very breathable fabric with heavy duty triple interlocking stitching
  • Supportive and comfortable, even for two people
  • Includes two solid steel carabiners to attach to two 5’6” lengths of nautical grade rope
  • Includes two tree sleeves to protect trees from rope damage


Hammocks are a lightweight alternative to traditional means of sleeping and shelter when camping and can be a valued addition to a bug-out bag due to their low weight and comfort. Camping hammocks can be used for a full night’s sleep or simply for a moment’s rest. Paired with a tarp, you can protect yourself from insects, wind and rain. Additionally, the fabric is versatile and durable and can be used for many other applications. Consider adding a bug-out hammock to your bug-out or get-home bag.

Your Thoughts

Would you trade in your tent for a hammock in your bug-out situation? Have you ever used a hammock while out camping? What was your experience? What advantages / disadvantages do hammocks have over traditional camping gear? Let us know in the Comments section below, thanks!

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surviving a drought

Surviving a Drought: Learn How To Harvest Water From Natural Sources

surviving a drought

Imagine, your mind a complete fog, your body unable to lift itself due to extreme dizziness, and nausea and cramping so bad you can barely move. This is what happens to your body after only three days without water – it’s called dehydration. While symptoms and severity can vary, the chances of survival after three days without water are slim.

In civilized society, droughts are thought of more as an inconvenience than a threat; however, in a disaster scenario, the threat of a drought – especially in times of extreme heat – becomes much more real when clean drinking water is a scarce resource.

No matter how thorough your prepping, there is a limit to the amount of water you are able to store. In a long-term survival situation, sooner or later, you’ll need to find a natural water source suitable for drinking. The good news is, even in the driest of times, there are always ways of harvesting water both above and below the ground.

In this article, we’re going to take you through the various methods you can use to harvest water in the wild, teach you to identify and find signs of water, and show you ways to purify harvested water so it’s suitable for drinking.

3 Key Methods for Harvesting Water

surviving a drought
When the pipes run dry, will you be able to harvest water from natural sources?

Solar Still

A great way to extract water straight from the ground is by using a solar still. To build one, you will need the following:

  • Collection bucket (this can be any type of wide-brimmed container to collect the water; basically, anything water-tight. In a pinch, even a plastic bag will work, as long as it can be secured so it will not tip and spill the water)
  • Large sheet of plastic
  • Rocks
  • Long straw (optional)

Once you’ve collected your items, choose a sunny spot and dig a wide hole; at the base of the hole, dig a fitted spot large enough for your collection bucket to rest in. If there is any leafy, green vegetation around, place it in the hole around the opening of the bucket; this will enhance your water collection rate by drawing moisture from the plants as well as the air.

Next, lay the sheet of plastic over the top of the hole and use your rocks to secure it firmly in place. Place a small stone in the center of the plastic to create a low-joint point, just above the top of the bucket to allow condensation to collect and drip into the bucket. Even in the desert, a solar still can collect up to a quart of water per day. To access the water without disturbing your still, use a long straw or piece of tubing.

surviving a drought
Solar Still Design. Make sure the plastic sheet overlaps the edge of the hole enough to lay the rocks.


Although water falling from the sky may seem like a lottery win to someone suffering from dehydration, be aware that rainwater is not technically safe for drinking due to pollutants in the air (such as arsenic) that make their way into the rainwater. There are ways to purify this polluted water to make it safe for drinking; several strategies are discussed later in this article.

If you are in the wilderness, collecting rainwater is as simple as setting up as many containers as you can. Be sure to place your containers in unobscured locations in order to obtain rainwater directly from the sky, and not water that has dripped off plants.

surviving a drought
Water dripping off plants can contain debris and pollutants, so collect rain away from foliage.

Harvesting rainwater from your home is accomplished by setting up rain barrels below your roof gutters to catch the runoff. However, be aware that in addition to pollutants, water from roofs will also typically have bugs and bird feces and not be particularly suitable for consumption.

There are some barrels available with built-in filtration systems that will remove solid waste; allowing the rain to rinse the roof for about 10 minutes before connecting your barrel will also help decrease the amount of debris and contamination.

Plant Sources

If there are green plants, there is water to be harvested. There are several ways to extract water from plants, just be sure to choose the non-poisonous ones!

Transpiration Bag

Plants take up water in the process of photosynthesis and during transpiration, water is one of the by-products released into the air. To capture this water, place a clear plastic bag over the end of a leafy branch and secure it with a cord. Within a few hours, several ounces of water will be available.

Before consuming water from natural sources, we recommend purifying it for safety. For a great visual demonstration on setting up a transpiration bag, take a look at this YouTube video:

Directly Off the Leaves 

Plants have many adaptations for surviving a drought. In desperate times, plants that have leaves with a natural cup shape can be a source of water. The leaves specifically grow in that shape to funnel rainwater towards the trunk and act like a natural scoop. Look for plants with leaves growing directly from the base of the stem or trees that have clusters of leaves growing out of the trunk. The Traveler’s Tree can hold several pints of water this way.

surviving a drought
Plants are good at storing water to survive a drought. A refreshing drink may be waiting in the leaves.

Tapping Into the Trunk

In a tree trunk, xylem transport water from the roots to the leaves in a vertical fashion; this water can be collected similar to how sap is collected from maple trees. To do this, you will need a strong, tubular stick about the diameter of your thumb (alternatively, a hollowed out length of bamboo works as well) or a drip stick; a means of cutting a notch and hammering in the drip stick; and a collection reservoir.

surviving a drought
Sap is simply sugar water and it can save your life.

Sharpen the tube at one end and gently tap it into the trunk at a 70 degree angle – you do not need to drive it in more than a few inches – and set up a collection reservoir below to catch the dripping water. Your collection reservoir can be a plastic bag, large leaf, or, ideally, a bucket. Collection will take a while, but the water collected is safe to drink. For a great instructional video on the drip stick method, check out this YouTube video:

From the Roots

While the roots of plants do contain water, it is quite a laborious task to extract it. To harvest water from plant roots, start by cutting a large root and stripping the bark. Then, use rocks to mash the root into a pulp, this will produce droplets of water and the root pulp can be pressed into a collection container for consumption. If you happen to be bugging-out in Australia, blood woods, water trees, and desert oaks are known for a high yield of root water.

surviving a drought
The inside of a barrel cactus can also be mashed and drained to yield water.

Bamboo Plants

Bamboo plants serve as a great source for water as they store it in the cavities between their joints. When looking for bamboo plants, look for those that are most yellow as these typically have more water. Once you’ve found a piece of bamboo, tap and listen for a low thud, indicating it is not hollow, then locate a section with water, cut a notch just above the lower joint, and collect the water that runs out. While this water is safe to drink directly, we recommend purifying in order to protect against disease.


While vines can be a source of water, caution must be taken in choosing which to use as those with milky sap tend to be poisonous. If there is no milky substance in the vine you chose, proceed by cutting a deep notch in the top of the vine. Then, cut off the tip of the vine to allow water to flow and continue to work your way up the vine, cutting sections and collecting water until no more water flows. It’s important to notch the topmost part of the plant first, otherwise it will respond by drawing all the water in the vine back towards the base of the plant.

Surviving A Drought By Extracting Water From the Air

It is possible to extract water from the air, and World War: Water, a must-have survival resource, will teach you how. Click here to order your copy!

Searching for Water – 4 Key Signs You Must Look For

surviving a drought
Surviving a drought involves knowing how water behaves in nature.

Growing Vegetation

Even if the landscape you are looking out at seems barren and devoid of water, take a closer look for small trees, bushes, or clusters of tall grass. If this vegetation is growing in a line, there is likely to be an underground stream sustaining it. To confirm, dig a small hole at the base of a group of plants.

Following Insects and Birds

Following insects and birds can lead you directly to water. Bees in particular need fresh water to survive and will typically build their hive no more than a few miles from a fresh water supply; should you find a hive, immediately start looking for other signs of water.

surviving a drought
Signs of life can lead you to water if you know how to read them.

Mosquitos, as pesky as they might be, are good to follow as they breed in pools of standing water. The mason fly can lead you to underground springs as it uses mud to build and therefore seeks out moist soil for this purpose.

Another reliable water indicator is wild pigeons; after feeding on grain all day, they seek out water at dusk. Pigeons that are flying low and swift are typically headed towards a watering hole, while flying from tree to tree is a sign they are returning from the water hole. The added weight of water in their stomach slows them down and causes them to use more caution to avoid predators. Carefully observing the activities of wildlife is key for finding signs of water.

Following Animal Tracks

Grazing animals need to drink in the morning and the evening to digest their diet of grass. If you come across a hoof print, look downhill to locate where their water source might be. You may be lucky enough to find more tracks to follow, but also look for snapped twigs, scat, scraped bark, and other signs of larger animals.

Often the path to the water hole is heavily trodden and clear of obstacles; the careful eye can pick up signs of wear on the ground indicating the trail.

surviving a drought
Mark any animals signs you find and carefully scan the area for more.

Terrain Indicators

The ground itself can serve as an excellent roadmap in locating water. Water obeys gravity, flowing downward, and therefore your best chance of finding water is to seek low ground. Walking parallel to a mountain gives you a good chance of finding an outlet of fresh water, or at least a dry stream bed.

While a dry stream bed itself is of no use to someone who’s parched, there may be water accessible beneath the surface. The ideal stream bed to investigate will have dark green vegetation along it, but any vegetation is still a good sign. Examine the stream bed for dark patches of earth or dampness, the outer side of a bend, or natural depressions in the dirt – these are ideal places to dig.

surviving a drought
A stream like this may not look like it has much water but with a little digging, it can be your key to surviving a drought.

Underground water can be harvested by digging a seep – a hole two to three feet in diameter and at least one foot deep. After digging your seep, groundwater should slowly start to seep into the hole, and by lining the bottom with rocks, you will prevent much of the sediment from stirring up.

Fresh groundwater is considered safe to drink but we always recommend sterilization as it’s better to be safe than sorry; additionally, leaving your hole unattended may invite wildlife to share in your water supply so purification is a must.

Essential Water Purification Techniques

If you’ve been able to harvest enough water to drink using your drought survival skills, there’s still the problem of purifying to ensure it’s safe to drink. The following are our suggestions for the best water purification techniques when surviving a drought:


To filter water, pour it through a bandanna to get rid of any sediment. You can layer charcoal, sand, and dried grass in a sock or another piece of fabric, then pour murky water through it and collect what seeps through in a container; you may need to repeat this a few times to achieve clear water. It’s important to remember that this water will have sediment removed, but not microscopic contaminants such as bacteria and viruses.

Gypsy Filter

If you happen to come across a pool of water but have no means of purifying it, dig a hole deeper than the pool about one foot away from its edge; this will cause water to flow in. The initial water will be muddy and should be discarded, but eventually, after being drawn through the layers of sediment between the pool and your hole, the water will be filtered.

DIY Charcoal Straw Filter

To build a charcoal straw filter, first find a hollow reed or other tube. Then, stuff in some dry grass followed by a layer of crushed charcoal and top it off with more dried grass to hold the charcoal in place. Pack it firmly, but not so tight that air can’t be pulled through, and then, using it as a straw, draw water up through the filtering layers.


A Steripen uses UV light to sterilize water. Before treating, water should be filtered and clear. Once your water has been filtered, turn on the steripen and stir in your water until the indicator light turns green. The UV light targets the DNA of microorganisms, rendering them unable to reproduce and thus unable to infect you. A steripen is 99.9% effective at destroying pathogens.


When it comes to surviving a drought, a LifeStraw not only filters water, but also removes 95% of the bacteria as well. They are easy to use, very portable, and allow you to drink directly from the water source without having to pre-filter or sterilize. Each straw filters up to 1,000 liters of water.


To boil your water, first remove any sediment and bring your water to a rolling boil for one minute (three minutes at altitudes above 5,000 ft.); this will kill any pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Allow the water to cool and transfer any water for storage to a clean container that can be tightly sealed.

UV Purification

UV purification can be accomplished using clear plastic PET bottles or glass containers. First, filter your water to get rid of sediment, then fill the bottles and seal tightly using a lid or improvised material. Second, lay the bottles out in the sun for six hours (or two days if the weather is overcast) to allow the UV rays from the sun to kill any bacteria. The water can continue to be stored or consumed straight from the bottle.

surviving a drought
If nothing else is available, you can use the sun to purify your water.

Unscented Chlorine Bleach

Unscented chlorine bleach can be used to disinfect water using the following ratios:

WaterChlorine Bleach
1 Quart2 Drops
1 Gallon6 Drops
8 Gallons1/2 Teaspoon
Water purification ratios for chlorine bleach.


Add the bleach to the water and allow to sit for 30 minutes. There will be a slight chlorine odor, and if there isn’t, repeat the dosage. Allowing the water to stand for a few hours in a clean container will reduce the taste and smell of chlorine.

Purification Tablets

Purification tablets are similar to using chlorine but easier to carry with you; one tablet treats two quarts of water. To use, simply drop a tablet into your water and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Perfecting Your Drought Survival Skills

Now that you know the basics of harvesting, finding, and purifying water to survive a drought, it’s time to take your knowledge to the next level. In order to be fully versed in drought survival skills, there are two resources you need to be familiar with. The first is The Bug Out Bag Guide’s Survival Skills article, which builds on the information in this article to provide a holistic guide to surviving in the wild.

The second, a resource no prudent prepper should be without, is World War: Water, a fascinating read that discusses the oncoming drought our world is facing and presents novel harvesting methods to ensure you don’t run out of water. Click here to get your very own copy!

surviving a drought
Click the cover image to find out how to harvest clean filtered water right out of the air!


The devastating effects of dehydration are something no one wants to be faced with; it is essential for your survival that you learn water-harvesting techniques to sustain yourself during a drought. Remember – the human body can only survive for three days without water, and what a grueling three days they are!

To build your water-harvesting knowledge, consider researching local plant life in your area to find out which types are likely to be the best sources for water. Also, remember to ensure your bug-out-bag is stocked with plenty of supplies that will allow you to purify any found water. While you may (literally) be so thirsty you could die, safety first; always protect yourself from illness and never consume water without first treating it.

Your Thoughts

Have you ever harvested for water in a drought? What was your experience like? Share your comments and stories with us in the Comments section below, thanks!

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survival fitness

Are You Fit to Bug-Out? An Essential Guide to Prepper Fitness

prepper fitness

Why Fitness is an Integral Part of Disaster Scenario Preparedness

“Look at the abs on that woman scrounging for food!” Said no one, ever.

Improving your survival fitness doesn’t mean perfecting your body to fitness model standards, it means conditioning your fitness level to enable your body to handle the various physical tasks that will be necessary in a disaster scenario – and it’s just as important as any other aspect of your prepping plan.

While you may have stockpiles of food and water, a bug-out-bag packed and ready to go, and a bug-out plan tweaked to perfection, none of that will matter if you get out into the wilderness and literally can’t hack it. Conditioning yourself to sustain the grueling physical requirements of surviving off the grid will substantially increase the chances of survival for even the most prepared prepper.

prepper fitness
You don’t need to be a body builder to be fit to survive.

Prepper fitness is not about aesthetics or running an extra mile on the treadmill, it’s about gradually increasing your body’s ability to handle the various tasks that your survival will depend on during a disaster scenario.

Improving your survival fitness is something you can start now that will continue to pay dividends down the road and can actually make up for deficiencies you may have in other survival areas. For instance, tasks such as hunting for food, digging a well, or even defending yourself against attackers, can all be augmented with improved physical strength.

To maximize your survival fitness, take a look at your bug-out plan and consider all the activities involved in its execution. In this article, we will examine common scenarios likely to arise in a disaster situation and provide daily workouts to help you achieve your prepper fitness goals. However, before beginning any physical training, it is always best to check with your doctor to ensure you’re in good health and able to safely follow the fitness routine.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Prepper Fitness Guide

Walk For Your Life

Walking is an easy, healthy way to begin conditioning your body for endurance – and it’s something you can do with the whole family!

Not only is walking useful for building up your physical endurance, but also conditioning yourself to walk several miles at a time can be essential for reaching your bug-out location. How many miles do you and your family walk on a daily basis? The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week; if you’re just beginning, start walking for 30 minutes, 5 times per week.

As you get stronger, start to increase the distance you cover as well as the difficulty of the path you take, gradually choosing rougher terrain and steeper inclines to better prepare you for the realities of bugging-out. 

Carry Your Weight

Once you’ve conditioned yourself to walk the distance required to your bug-out location, the next milestone is to ensure you can walk the the distance while carrying your bug-out bag, or other necessities, during a crisis.

prepper fitness
Don’t be intimidated by lifting weights – your bug-out bag will help you get in shape!

Don’t exhaust yourself – start slow by carrying your bag only partially packed a couple times per week. Work your way up to carrying the bag fully packed, all the way to your bug-out location. This also serves as a great exercise to determine if there are any non-essential (especially heavy) items that can be removed from your bug-out bag.

Learning to trek with gear doesn’t have to be an onerous exercise – make a weekend of it! Plan weekend camping trips with your family, gradually increasing the difficulty of the trail you follow to your campsite. Eventually, your entire family will be ready to trek through the woods at a moment’s notice – and you’ll have some fun doing it!

Make a Run For It

While you always hope that in a bug-out scenario walking will suffice, there may be times when you and your family are forced to pick up the pace – whether to cover more ground quickly or to evade threats. Best to start early in training your body to endure bursts of speed as well as longer intervals.

Sprint training can easily be worked into your existing walking routine by adding vigorous sprints at 5 or 10 minute intervals. Sprints are a great way to kick up your heart rate and condition your body, but they also put added strain on your joints and muscles; always stretch well before and after attempting this type of exercise routine.

prepper fitness
Picking up the pace in your survival fitness routine will better prepare you for disaster.

Eventually, you can turn your walk-sprints into a jog, and then a full-fledged run. Running for only 75 minutes per week will do wonders for your cardiovascular health and adds the desirable benefit of helping to trim down excess weight – introducing a running element to your fitness routine is definitely a win-win!

Strengthen Your Chances For Survival

Cardio training is essential for getting you to your bug-out location, while strength training is necessary to help you combat obstacles that may get in your way, as well as surviving the general increase in activity that accompanies living off the grid.

prepper fitness
The world may look very different in the aftermath of a disaster. You never know what obstacles will stand in your way.

If you’re curious as to what level of strength is necessary, it really depends on your particular situation, locale and bug-out crew – are you able to clear an obstacle from your path such as a downed tree (likely in a rural bug-out) or vehicle (likely in an urban bug-out)? Can you lift your children up and over your head? If you were hanging, are you able to drop one hand and offer it as help to someone else? Situations such as these require a strong and developed core.

prepper fitness
There’s a reason push-ups are used in military and athletic training – they work!

The good news is – you don’t need expensive equipment or gym memberships to build a sturdy core. There are plenty of exercises you can do right in your own home using your own body weight as resistance – push-ups, sit-ups, and squats are some great examples. If you prefer a little more guidance and structure, try Run, Prepper, Run! by Dan F. Sullivan to help build your core strength, as well as many other aspects of prepper fitness.

In addition to structured workouts, try taking up a sport to build your prepper fitness. You can typically start at any level and there are generally options for playing sports indoors and outdoors for year-round access. In terms of getting a full-body workout, rock climbing provides an outstanding experience.

Be Flexible

When building physical fitness, never neglect flexibility! Having flexible joints is essential to preventing discomfort and injury while performing the many tasks a bug-out will require of you, such as crawling through a tunnel or squatting by a fire.

prepper fitness
An exercise ball is a great tool for flexibility training.

Building flexibility can be as simple as adding stretches to your fitness routine or, for even greater flexibility, pursuing a flexibility-oriented activity such as yoga. For those just starting out, a great stretch to include in your workout is the toe-touch:

The object of the toe-touch is to stretch the backs of your legs by bending at the waist. Begin with a stance placing your feet shoulder-width apart (feel free to use a countertop or table to support your upper body and assist with keeping your back straight). Once you can easily bend at a 90 degree angle, swing your arms towards the floor and hang there – but don’t bounce! With each exhale, move yourself deeper into the bend.

prepper fitness
Just a few poses a day can really improve your prepper fitness level.

Yoga positions are also excellent for both conditioning and enhancing flexibility. For legs and obliques (the muscles that run up your sides), try warrior stances; for the shoulders, lower back, and hips, alternating cat and cow positions will do the trick; a downward facing dog position will help lengthen your spine while providing a solid stretch for your arms and legs. For further yoga positions, check out this helpful video.

Take to the Water

Having solid skills in and around the water is essential for bugging-out. At the very least you, and everyone in your crew, should know how to swim as well as be familiar with water rescue techniques and how to steer a boat with paddles.

The ability to swim not only opens up your bug-out plan to alternate routes, but can also be a life-saving skill. Especially in the case of a natural disaster, there could be severe flooding that forces you to evacuate using a raft; additionally, in the course of bugging-out, a family member may fall into a river or other body of water – do you have the skills to rescue them?

prepper fitness
A flood is not the time to learn basic water survival techniques.

For adults who have never learned to swim or have a fear of the water, rest assured you are not alone. Plenty of organizations, most notably the YMCA, offer both youth and adult swim lessons that will teach you the basics such as how to tread water, back float, and free-style swim.

For those that are comfortable in the water, consider augmenting your water survival skills by taking a lifeguard certification class, which can provide you with the knowledge needed to assist others to shore, whether they are conscious or not.

prepper fitness
This lifesaving skill is a great one to add to your survival fitness goals.

Learning some basic steering skills for watercrafts, particularly with paddles, can also save you tremendous hardship in a crisis situation. This is definitely not a skill you want to try and pick up on the fly.

prepper fitness
Canoeing is great exercise, too!

You can learn the positioning required to stop, turn and propel a boat quickly by taking a weekend and trying it out with a rented or borrowed canoe. For some essential pointers, check out this video.

Defend Yourself

No matter what the reason for bugging-out, there will always be a need to know self-defense. In the case of civil unrest, the need is obvious, but even in the case of natural disasters, you will undoubtedly need to protect yourself and your family against those who are less-prepared and desperate enough to take your supplies by force.

Depending on your size and build, hand-to-hand combat may not be the most ideal form of defense, but there are ways in which you can maximize the power behind your punches no matter how mismatched the fight. For smaller people, power can be amplified by targeting the eyes, nose, ears, neck, groin, knee and legs of your attacker; you can also learn different ways to free yourself from an attacker’s hold.

Martial arts offers great training for preppers of any size and has the added benefit of building both self-defense and fitness capabilities. Best of all, it’s an activity the entire family can do together to build the positive attributes of self-discipline, strength, and defensive skills.

Final Words on Prepper Fitness

When it comes to building endurance for prepper fitness, every little bit helps. Much like stockpiling food, if you add a little to your survival fitness regime every day, your conditioning will continue to grow. Even fitting in a half-hour walk every day will make you better prepared than those who don’t – and you’ll be surprised at what you’re able to accomplish when you stick to your goals!

If you’re serious about prepper fitness, then Dan F. Sullivan’s ‘Run, Prepper, Run! survival fitness training program is a must. CLICK HERE NOW to visit the training program and learn how ANYONE can improve their physical fitness to bug out!

prepper fitness
Click on the book to learn more about prepper fitness.

Your Thoughts

Do you find it challenging to add fitness into your prepping? Do you have a survival fitness regime you’d like to share? Share your experiences in the Comments section below, thanks!

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best lightweight tent

How To Choose The Best Lightweight Tent For Camping, Recreation, and Bugging Out

best lightweight tent

We recently published a great article that provided tips for building shelter in any survival situation, which we highly recommend that you read and familiarize yourself with. However, while learning to build shelter from found materials is a skill we feel everyone should have, there are also many advantages to carrying a tent with you for excursions into the wilderness.

Having a tent saves the effort and time of preparing shelter from scratch – allotting you more energy to expend on other aspects of your camp – and can provide life-saving shelter in cases of extreme weather or ready-made shelter when bugging out at night.

Whether for backpacking, recreation, or bugging out in a disaster, having a tent on-hand can be indispensable. However, especially in disaster scenarios, size matters: the smaller and more lightweight your tent, the better. In the case of your bug-out bag, not only are you looking for gear that is light enough to be carried over long distances, but also that doesn’t take up so much room that other survival essentials are left behind.

What is ‘lightweight’? Generally, for a one-person tent, it can be as light as a few pounds, with anything up to approximately seven pounds still considered lightweight.

Choosing the Best Lightweight Tent – Features to Look for

When choosing the best lightweight tent, there are generally two features that are must haves: weatherproof and waterproof; and ease of set-up.

Weatherproof and Waterproof

All it takes is one night out in a torrential downpour to learn the importance of having a lightweight tent that is also properly fitted to withstand the elements. To ensure a lightweight survival tent that is sure to shield you from the elements, we recommend using a bathtub bottom, extra tarp, protected seams, and a rainfly.

best lightweight tent
Click the image to see the best price for the Hilleberg Janu and user reviews on Amazon.

Bathtub Bottom

When I purchased my first survival tent, the key feature I looked for was size to accommodate the large group I was camping with in the northeastern U.S. during the summer. I soon regretted focusing on size and not looking into different fabrics and sealing methods as we were hit by thunderstorms on three out of three trips. Even with a tarp underneath the tent, the interior floor was soaked.

Learn from my mistake: the best lightweight tents will come with a bathtub bottom – a bathtub-like floor that extends several inches up the sides of the tent before attaching to the walls, ensuring no seams are sitting on the ground. The bottom panel is also treated with a chemical water sealant (typically polyurethane) to lock out moisture.

best lightweight tent
Click the image to see the best price for the Morrison Mountainsmith and user reviews on Amazon.

Extra Tarp

Even if you’ve purchased the absolute best lightweight tent, it is still advisable to bring along an extra footprint tarp that can be laid under your tent to protect from punctures that can result from roots, sticks, and rocks.

Most bug-out or survival tents will generally come with a custom-sized tarp, but if yours doesn’t, simply use a regular tarp and tuck the edges an inch or so inside the perimeter of the tent. Remember that if the ground cloth extends beyond the edge of the tent, rain water can collect and be driven between the tarp and the tent; it’s always best to let rain roll off your tent straight onto the ground.

Protected Seams

When looking for seams that will keep out the elements, folded seams with double stitching are much more durable and effective at keeping out water than single seams. Additionally, taped seams provide extra strength and protection as they have an extra layer of fabric sewn into the seams.

To further protect your seams from the elements, pretreat them with water sealant. Set up your tent outside on a dry, sunny day and treat all seams by applying water sealant to all threads both inside and outside (including those along doors and on the rainfly), allowing all seams several hours to thoroughly dry and then repeating the treatment. For optimal performance, apply water sealant annually.

Tent Seam Sealants  
Gear Aid Seam Sure
Coghlan’s Seam Seal
Silnet Silicone Seam Sealer
Coleman Seam Sealer
Kenyon Seam Sealer #3 - 4 Pack
Aqua Seal Water-Based Seam Sealer
Click the images to view current pricing on Amazon.


To test your seams to see if they are watertight, simply give them a pull: if tension is created on the seam and you can see light coming through the stitching holes, the seam is not watertight.


Most double-walled survival tents will come with a coordinated rainfly that can be drawn back to provide access to the tent. Choosing a lightweight tent with a rainfly is a simple and easy way of ensuring weather and waterproofing.

Ease of Set-Up

The best way to ensure that you will be able to quickly and easily assemble your lightweight tent in all manner of situations is to actually go out and practice! You don’t ever want to find yourself in a camping or (especially) survival situation without having practised setting up your tent.

While practice makes perfect, there are certain features that will make your survival tent easier to carry and set-up, including poles, stakes, stake loops, and guylines.


Generally, when looking for the best lightweight tent, your choices for poles will be between aluminum, fiberglass, or no poles. For backpacking and survival we recommend aluminum tent poles over fiberglass as they tend to be stronger, weigh less, and be easier to repair.

Aluminum is a stronger material than fiberglass, necessitating less to achieve the same strength; the added weight of fiberglass will be miniscule when camping in the backyard, but extremely important when heading for the hills with your BOB where every ounce counts.

Additionally, aluminum can be easier to repair than fiberglass. When fiberglass fractures, it can tear your tent and does not lend itself easily to repairs; if your fiberglass pole breaks, it will most likely need to be replaced. Conversely, aluminum will typically bend before it snaps, giving you more of a chance to perform long-lasting repairs – an advantage that is crucial for long-term survival.

There are, however, advantages to using fiberglass poles. For one, fiberglass does not corrode, whereas aluminum poles will – although they can be treated with anti-corrosive coating, it will eventually wear off, especially in wet climates. Also, fiberglass is typically priced a little lower than aluminum.

Stakes, Stake Loops, and Guylines

For anyone who has ever been camping, you know that it doesn’t take much of a breeze to send your tent rolling through the trees, potentially ripping or breaking it. Stakes are what keep your tent from blowing around and are an essential part of your tent shelter kit; using them properly can very literally mean the difference between a secure shelter and losing your tent completely in a survival situation. Choosing the right stakes for your survival tent can be equally as important as choosing the best lightweight tent.

Stakes should be driven into the ground at a slight angle, away from the direction of force of the line. Ultralight titanium stakes get the job done at 0.2 oz. apiece, but are likely to loosen in soft or loose terrain. Although they are quite thin, they are less susceptible to bending when hammered into place. Aluminum stakes are a sturdy option and can handle more abuse while being driven into the ground; however, they are also heavier to carry around. Steel stakes are the heaviest, weighing about an ounce apiece but are also heavy duty.

The shape of the stake will also have an effect on how easy it is to drive in and how well it stays put. If you find yourself in loose soil or sand, there are Y-beam and ‘V’ stakes that work well in these conditions and come in plastic or aluminum varieties. If you’re expecting snow, a curved stake with holes in it goes in easily and freezes in place.

Tent StakesDesign & MaterialBest ForWeight Per Stake
Tent Tools Ultralight Aluminum Tent Stakes (8-pack)
Y-Beam, AluminumAll terrains, especially loose soil and sand0.46 oz
TOAKS Titanium Shepherd's Hook Tent Stake (6-pack)
Shepherd's Hook, TitaniumPacked and/or rocky soil0.2 oz
MSR GroundHog Stakes (8-pack)
Y-Beam, 7000-series AluminumAll terrains, especially loose soil and sand0.46 oz
TOAKS Titanium V-shaped Tent Stakes (6-pack)
V-Beam, TitaniumAll terrain, especially snow and ice0.4 oz
10-Piece Galvanized Steel Tent Pegs (10-pack)
Shepherd's Hook, Galvanized SteelModerately packed soil
Short excursions
1.0 oz
Click the images to view current pricing on Amazon.

If you happen to find yourself on extremely rocky ground or without stakes at all, there is always the “big rock, little rock” method that you can use, as seen in the video below:

A final point to consider is how your tent will anchor to the stakes. Most tents will have nylon webbing loops at the base corners and sometimes midway up each side, as well as on the rainfly. These loops attach either directly to stakes or to guylines then to the stakes, to secure your tent and help keep its shape.

Depending on what type of stake you are using, you may wish to tie small loops of paracord to the webbing in order to better grip the stakes. Paracord is an excellent choice for long-term use as it has a high propensity for withstanding fraying due to friction. Measure out the amount of paracord you will need for your tent and pack that amount right in your tent bag, so that it will be available quickly in a bug-out situation.

Paracord Storage

To ensure your lines are taut, we recommend using guyline tensioners, which are plastic sliding devices that make adjusting your guylines easier than with tying knots; however, a tautline or midshipman’s hitch will also get the job done.

Additional Considerations For Choosing The Best Lightweight Tent

When selecting the best lightweight tent, especially for survival scenarios, in addition to the features covered above, you will also want to consider the amount of vestibules and storage pouches, shape, and color.

Vestibules and Storage Pouches

Having extra storage space can be a huge advantage – especially if you intend on bugging out for a long period of time – but is not as crucial as some other features. If your lightweight tent comes with plenty of storage space, great, but don’t add unneeded weight simply to try to fit in better storage.

A-frame tents will typically have a vestibule at either end while dome-shaped tents will usually have a rainfly that extends beyond the entrance to create a small, sheltered space.

The interior of your tent may contain mesh pockets for holding smaller gear, such as flashlights and multitools, which allow you to keep these important tools at-hand and available when you need them. Another useful feature you may look for in your tent is a loop at the apex, which is perfect for hanging a lantern from a caribiner to illuminate your tent at night.


Generally, there are two shapes your tent will come in: A-frame and dome. The biggest drawback of an A-frame tent is the lack of headroom allotted along the sides. How big of an inconvenience this is depends on the number of occupants; for a single-person tent, this is much less of a concern than for an entire family.

Dome shaped tents tend to have a square footprint and therefore allow for more vertical space close to the sides, making them an excellent choice when there are multiple people needing to fit inside. Additionally, domes provide slightly better weatherproofing as rain sheds more easily and wind passes over more smoothly due to their aerodynamic shape; however, these advantages diminish the larger the dome as surface area becomes a factor.

best lightweight tent
Click the image to see the Mountainsmith Genesee and user reviews on Amazon.


In most situations, the color of your tent will have little to no effect on its performance; however, keep in mind that dark colors (which absorb more light energy) can raise interior temperatures (beneficial in cold climates while detrimental in excessive heat), and bright colors (such as yellow or orange) do not blend well with natural landscapes and can be easily spotted (if staying hidden is a priority, choose earth tones or camouflage patterns).


Your choice of capacity will depend on your needs. Generally, the manufacturer will state the maximum number of sleep pads that can fit the footprint of the tent. This makes for a cozy but comfortable fit. Taller people or those with a larger build may benefit from going for one size larger than the actual number of people the tent is intended for, or going with an A-frame style which tends to be longer.

Additionally, if you are looking for options for a get-home bag, there is no need to lug around anything larger than a one-person tent. In the summer or as a back-up, a simple single use mylar shelter may suffice.

best lightweight tent
Click to see the Emergency Shelter Tent and user reviews on Amazon.

If you live in an area where low temperatures and precipitation are a regular occurrence, you may choose to upgrade to a full one-person tent. This is especially useful not only in harsh weather conditions but also if your journey lasts more than one night. Mylar shelters are not intended for repeated use but a one-person tent can easily be taken down, re-packed, and set-up again.

best lightweight tent
Click to see the Snugpack Ionosphere and user reviews on Amazon.

Our Top Picks For Best Lightweight Tent

Lightweight TentsKey FeaturesCapacityIdeal ForWeight
High Peak Outdoors Maxxlite Tent
• Bathtub bottom seals out rain and snow
• Aluminum poles offer structure
• Rain cover forms a vestibule at either end to store gear
2Cold weather
Rain, snow
6.70 lbs
Emergency Shelter Tent
• Include attached paracord for easy set up
• Doubles as a survival blanket
• Dual mylar layering is tough and insultating
2First aid
Day hikes
0.50 lbs
Eureka! Timberline 4 Tent
• Well-ventilated with windows that are hooded by the rain fly
• Interior mesh pockets, loops, and gear loft for storage
• Weight to size ratio makes it a good choice for a family of 4
3 season backpacking
7.81 lbs
Snugpak Ionosphere 1 Person Tent
• Slim 20" x 6" bundle easily fits into most packs
• Quick and easy to set up and take down, includes aluminum stakes
• Fits one person plus a good sized pack
1Long-term use
Moderate temperatures
3.34 lbs
Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person 3 Season Tent
• Bathtub floor with taped seams keep out the rain
• Rainfly creates additional 14 sq ft vestibule
• Aluminum "V" stakes stay put in a variety of terrains
• Includes reflective guylines with tension adjusters
2Rainy or windy climates
3 season backpacking
4.69 lbs
Wenzel Alpine 3 Person Tent
• Weather Armor polyester fabric seals out the elements
• Bathtub bottom with mud mat to keep interior clean
• Fiberglass poles
3Small families
Economical option
8.00 lbs
Mountainsmith Genesee 3 Season Tent
• Fully enclosed rainfly with protected top vents
• Superfine mesh keeps out insects
• Reflective guy lines include plastic tighteners
Windy and rainy climates
6.56 lbs
Hilleberg Jannu 2 Person Tent
• Low profile is effective at shedding sleet and snow
• Strong side wall and frame stand up to high winds
• Asymetric vestibule protects entryway and decreases draft
• Well worth the price for alpine camping
2Harsh winter conditions6.81 lbs
EUREKA Apex 2XT Tent
• Double-coated StormShield poylester fly and bathtub bottom to protect against weather
• Rain fly can be rotated 180 degrees for easier set-up
• Inner tent mesh wall provides good ventilation
• Heavy duty Coleman fiberglass frame is freestanding (do not have to thread through fabric sleeve)
23 season backpacking5.75 lbs
Click the images to view current pricing on Amazon.


Carrying a lightweight tent that offers an immediate shelter option can provide a real advantage over scrounging to find materials to build shelter, especially in the dark or harsh weather. However, trekking with a survival tent the many hours (or days) that may be needed in a bug-out scenario could prove extremely tiresome; for this reason, it is imperative that if you are going to pack a bug-out tent, pack one that is lightweight and therefore easy to carry across long distances.

Additionally, the less weight and space taken up by your tent, the more room left for you to pack other essential items you will need while bugging out.

When choosing the best lightweight tent for your needs, size and portability will always be your primary concerns. Secondary considerations should be the tent’s ability to stand up to the elements and how easy it is to set up. Additionally, look for vestibules and storage pouches, the best shape for your needs (A-frame vs. dome), the color that will perform best in your situation, and the desired capacity.

Your Thoughts

Do you think a lightweight tent is worth the extra weight in your bug-out bag and/or get-home bag? Do you have any tips or gear suggestions that have made it easier for you to set up a tent? Share your thoughts 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 HERE.best 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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