Doomsday is coming…again.

“It has happened before – it will happen again.” You’ve probably heard that cliche as often as I have (usually in the context of asteroid impacts). And I’d hate that saying if it weren’t so true. Over the 4.5 billion years of earth’s history there have been five mass extinctions which killed more than 75% of all species on earth. Many more have killed over 50% of the species. Even more killed over 25%. These were “world shaking” types of events that effected all life on earth, but the larger species have always been the ones hit the hardest. Not even a “blip” on the mass extinction radar, 71,000 years ago early humans almost went extinct due to a super-volcano eruption on the other side of the planet.

The point being it wouldn’t require a 6-mile wide asteroid striking earth to bring doomsday for us humans. Ebola kills 90% of the humans it infects: if this bug mutates to become more contagious, the Plague of the middle-ages (which killed over 30% of Europe’s population) could seem like it was a minor cold in comparison. The Yellowstone super-volcano erupts on average every 600,000 years: it is 40,000 years over-due. And today, the world’s population is so reliant on electricity that even a biologically benign solar-storm could shut off our power – resulting in mass deaths from starvation. We don’t have to wait for a once in a billion year event, or even a once in 100,000 year event to bring doomsday – even a once every 200 year event could bring “dark days” for us humans.

The point of being a prepper is “being prepared.”

Although there may be some “wacos” who call themselves preppers, I believe preppers are more rational than most people. Preppers don’t bury their heads in the sand like ostridges ignoring the facts. Preppers know and accept the risks of living in this world. Then they make measured and appropriate preparations in response to those risks. Arming yourself with adequate prepping supplies is one of the those preparations. Everyone will eventually die. And no matter how many preparations a person makes, some doomsday events would not be survivable (like a moon slamming into earth). But many, many more events are survivable – but only if proper steps are taken to prepare for them.

The Bug-out Bag

The core item of any prepper’s gear should be a well thought-out, and adequately stocked “bug-out” bag. A bug-out bag is just a backpack loaded with survival gear providing for the basic human needs should they need to “bug-out” to somewhere safe. Ideally, a prepper would also have one (or more) “bug-out” locations stocked with even more prepper supplies, but I see no reason a well-planned bug-out bag couldn’t help keep someone going for a year – or even more. After a year either the effects of the doomsday have passed, or they haven’t. If they have – great! Go find someplace to call Home and start rebuilding your life as best as you can. If they haven’t – then the cold, hard truth is that many people have already died and this frees up more potential resources to help you in surviving. But all this relies on getting your bug-bag bag stocked with the basic tools to provide for your water, food, fire and shelter needs.

Survival Water Supply

Water is life!! Water is essential for survival and providing enough to last is a critical factor in carrying out preparations. A person can stay alive for at most 3 days without water. On average, it is recommended that you provide at least a half-gallon of drinking water per person per day. This amount can vary depending on a number of factors such as: body weight – kids need less, and climate – obviously walking around in a hot desert will cause your water needs to soar. However carrying enough water to last for long is clearly impractical as each gallon of water weighs over 8 pounds! So to keep the weight of your bug-out bag down, you must consider how to harvest water from nature.

But water from natural sources can contain contaminants like bacteria, viruses, protozoa, etc. And impure drinking water can make you sick, resulting in vomiting and therefore dehydration (and if bad enough – death)! So it is critical that water be purified before drinking. For fresh water sources this can be accomplished by boiling water for 30 minutes, but are you sure the water you boiled didn’t contain nasty little creatures? So another option is a good survival water filter which can continue removing bugs from fresh water for years (but in general not viruses). Ideally, you should carry both a survival water filter to remove bugs and then a metal container to boil the filtered water and kill viruses. Water purification tabs can also be used in an emergency, but present potential problems such as allergic reactions in some people and consumption of the harsh chemicals which kill the bugs may not be healthy for long-term use.

Sea water can also be used to produce drinking water but comes with a unique challenge – you must remove the salt first. The best solution for desalinating sea water is a good survival water still which not only removes salt from sea water, but also produces pure, distilled water. In fact, I would recommend a survival water still for every prepper bug-out bag as it can not only desalinate sea water, but can purify fresh water and be used for cooking as well.

However drinking water does not cover all your water needs. You will need to think of washing and cleaning and these activities do consume a lot of water. You may think any water would be safe for these purposes, but you would be wrong – contaminated water which comes in contact with your skin can produce the same bad results as drinking it. For all the activities, a gallon per day would do it, and for these purposes water purification tablets may suffice. Rain water is much cleaner than water collected from static sources but you may also need to filter it.

Survival Foods

While water supplies are the first item to prepare for, your survival food supplies should be number two. Although technically a person could stay alive for 30 days without food after a day or two without the calories for energy, performing tasks becomes much more difficult. Keep in mind that your brain uses 25% of your calories, so if you haven’t eaten in days you won’t be thinking correctly or analyzing your situation appropriately – which could be lethal. On top of all that, in a survival situation you will likely be burning more calories than you would be normally. Bottom-line is don’t underestimate just how important food really is.

A well stocked bug-out bag should consist mostly of food. But not just any food – you want light-weight, high-calorie, high-nutrient content food. Now assuming you’ve already accounted for your survival water needs, you have an ample supply of water – right? So carrying around food supplies which contain water (like MREs) is just going to weight you down and won’t be able to carry as much food. Dry beans are awesome to pack and are loaded with much needed protein (kidney beans are very high in both macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients). Rice is good too due to the high amount of energy-loaded carbohydrates. But you are going to need much more than rice and beans to keep healthy, and this is where dehydrated survival food packets come in.

A number of emergency food suppliers offer dehydrated food packets ranging from just vegetables to complete meals, and you should plan on packing a bunch of these in your bug-out bag. Remember that each and every unique food item you eat contains some completely different micro-nutrients other foods may not have. So make sure you carry a variety of the food packets. This is not just to keep from eating the same, boring food everyday, but more importantly to ensure you are covering all your nutrition needs. You should carry much more of the dehydrated veggies than anything else – veggies being more nutrient dense.

It may not always be practical (or efficient) to stop, setup camp, purify some water and then cook your food. Sometimes you’ll just want a quick snack. A few pounds of emergency protein bars in your bug-out bag will help you keep going without the all effort of cooking every meal. The best survival bars are high in vitamins as well as protein, and provide yet another source of variety.

To ensure the food you’ve packed lasts as long as possible, you’re going to have to consider tapping into your “inner hunter / gatherer” for additional food. Become knowledgeable in which types of plants are editable, and which are not. Even if you think you can eat some plant, rub a small amount on your arm and if after 30 minutes that area reddens – don’t eat it. In general I recommend making your way towards the ocean after most doomsday events, so fishing can provide a valuable source of food. For fishing I would definitely pack a net – it is much easier to catch fish this way. For hunting, don’t count on their being too many large game animals being available – think instead of smaller animals, where a small trap is more appropriate.

I have made FIRE!!

Most people remember Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away when he finally got a fire started. But also remember that during that process he injured himself trying to rub some sticks together. So while you can definitely start a fire with just some sticks, the motion required is prone to producing an injury – which you absolutely don’t want in a survival situation. The point of being a prepper is in being “prepared” – as in preparing in advance – right? So why do so many want to rely on making a survival fire by rubbing a couple of sticks together? Just seems silly to me as there a numerous survival products available to easily make a fire whenever you want – without risking infection because you shoved a stick into your hand. One of the best of these products is the fire piston.

Fire Piston

The fire piston works because when you compress something – it heats up. Specifically, the fire piston compresses air in a tube causing it to heat up to about 500 F. This is more than hot enough to set most flammable materials on fire. You use a fire piston to make a fire in multiple stages. First you gather thin, dry sticks and make a small, loose pile where you want your fire to be. Next gather some dry kindling – dry grass, bark, etc. and setup close to your pile of sticks. Now grab your fire piston, put a small amount of kindling inside the piston and push the plunger quickly. It may take a few tries, but eventually the kindling will get hot enough to glow so that if you blow on it – it catches fire. Now quickly transfer that mini-fire to your remaining kindling and get that burning. Lastly transfer that fire to your stick pile to set those ablaze. From there, you can start building the fire with bigger sticks, and logs. Ideally you will be on the lookout for good kindling and fodder

Magnesium Fire Starter

Probably the most popular emergency fire starting product is the magnesium fire starter. This product works by creating sparks that could then catch kindling on fire. Striking the magnesium with metal (like a survival knife) is what creates the sparks. You would follow the same basic steps as using the fire piston, but this time you get the kindling burning using the sparks created by striking the magnesium fire starter with metal (like a survival knife). Many survivalists swear by this device, but what I dislike about it is that it is a consumable – eventually the magnesium wears away from use. But the magnesium fire starter is light weight, very compact and you can pack a bunch of these as back-ups.

Gear to survive the elements.

Although a fire can go a long way in helping you survive the elements, you will need more than that for long-term survival. I group not just tents and sleeping bags into the “shelter” category, but anything that protects you from the weather in general. So clearly clothes would also fall into this category, as would tools to help you build a structure.

Your first line of defense

Clothing is your first line of defense against the elements and your survival wardrobe should be very rugged and ensure you have a way to avoid sun-exposure, wet weather and have enough layers to take off when warm, or put on when cold. A rain poncho is a great item to carry as it can also add another layer for warmth, or even be used to catch rain water for drinking. Of all your clothing, shoes are the single most important item to have the very best of. Carry two of the most sturdy, long-wearing boots you can find as in a survival situation you will walking much more than you do now.

Your home away from Home

Tents and sleeping bags provide shelter and warmth at night when setting up camp and sleeping. As with all prepper gear, you want the best. Light-weight, sturdy and easy to setup tents are good rules of thumb but if you currently live in a northern climate you’ll want to account for really cold weather too. But as great as tents are at providing shelter, I suspect that after some time of carrying the extra weight you may want to just leave it by the roadside. A survival ax is one of those great survival items and can help you build a survival shelter quickly. If I had to make a choice between a tent and a good ax – the multi-purpose ax would win due to its utility.

Don’t be an ostridge

Accept that disasters happen and more importantly – that you can do something to increase your (and your family’s) chances of surviving a disaster. People buy insurance every day. What is a bug-out bag except another form of insurance? Make no mistake – bugging out and surviving out in nature would be hard – very hard. But it need not be lethal if you have a properly setup bug-out bag accounting for the basics of water, food, fire and shelter.