Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) Chronicles: The Final Post : Series Post #6

It’s been a few months since my last post about the progress of my new Bug Out Vehicle.  Well… I’m happy to announce that it’s finished and I’m really loving it.  So let’s see a before picture to remind you what it looked like when I first got it. IMG_2423

And now….after my modifications.


Pictures speak louder than words so below are a few close up shots. creek-stewart-truck-load-out creek-stewart-truck-winch

I’d also like to point out a couple of cool features I added: creek-stewart-truck-camo-tarp

I picked up a camo net from www.camonettingstore.com and it hooks perfectly on the roof rack of the truck cap.  I can rig it up in a variety of ways for shade or for camouflage.

creek-stewart-bug-out-vehicle creek-stewart-bug-out-truck creek-stewart-bov

Using PVC piping I also attached a camo tarp that I can roll out and rig up in just a few minutes. creek-stewart-tarp

I know… I know… this BOV doesn’t blend in with the crowd.

I’ll be the first to admit that I broke the #1 rule of a BOV – BLEND IN WITH THE CROWD.  What I haven’t told you yet, though, is that I outfitted this BOV while writing my new book, BUILD THE PERFECT BUG OUT VEHICLE.


I couldn’t in good conscious write a book about BOVs and not give you some good eye candy.  So, I made a judgement call and tricked it out a bit more than necessary because everyone likes looking at cool pictures, including me.

Like my Mom used to say – it doesn’t matter what she looks like on the outside.  It’s the inside that counts.


This is REALLY true with a BOV.  The outside can look like crap – it’s what’s inside that is important.  It’s critical that the engine and other mechanical parts are reliable and trustworthy.  The survival supplies you pack inside are quantum leaps more important that the paint job or bumpers.  How you outfit your BOV on the inside is what matters most.  Here’s a sneak peak into the back of my BOV.  There way more to discuss about outfitting BOVs than I could ever do in an on-line post.


Build the Perfect Bug Out Vehicle

For those of you who read my first book, Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag, this book is in that same vein.  It is an A-Z manual about choosing and outfitting the perfect BOV.  I leave no stone unturned.  Not only do I discuss different categories and types of BOVs but I walk through everything that you should and shouldn’t consider when outfitting it with maintenance supplies, survival tools, weapons, water, food, etc.  I cover storage ideas and creative ways to work with ‘the vehicle you have right now’.


If you like reading about survival, bugging out and vehicles…

Then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book.  It’s been many months in the making and took a ton of effort as you can imagine.  I learned a lot along the way as well and share many of those ups and downs.  It seems learning is more about trial and error than anything.

header-truck   creek-stewart-truck

A short run of Build the Perfect Bug Out Vehicle is now available on Amazon and I have limited signed copies available at our NOT IF BUT WHEN store.  Below are the links if you’re interested in ordering it.



As always – thanks so much for all of your support.



That’s right, just by sharing your AMAZON book review of BUILD THE PERFECT BUG OUT VEHICLE you could win this pack!  Below are the details – GOOD LUCK!

  • Prize is shown above
  • To enter, you must copy and paste your amazon book review to one of the following outlets:
  1. THIS BLOG POST – see the comments section below (be sure to follow the comments so you can see who wins)
  2. INSTAGRAM using the hastag #buildtheperfectbugoutvehiclereview
  • All of the comments will be gathered and one random winner will be chosen and contacted via private message to get their mailing address.
  • Winner will be chosen on July 28th, 2014 – CREEK’S BIRTHDAY!

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


6 Strategies to Lighten Your Bug Out Bag

Is it time for BOB to go on a diet???

One very popular question I get is about Bug Out Bag weight.  Unfortunately, it’s never that there is TOO MUCH space left over in the pack.  I’m always ask for ideas about how to reduce pack weight and eliminate unnecessary items.  Below are 6 tips I’ve come up with for cutting weight from your BOB.  Hopefully, one will work for you or at least help you brainstorm a creative solution.  I’ve found that when you’re really getting serious about cutting Bug Out Bag weight then you must go through your pack one item at a time.  You can’t just look at your pack from across the room and hope to come up with weight saving ideas.  This needs to be a methodical and strategic process that involves deliberate thought and consideration about every single piece of kit in your BOB.  This is a perfect process for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

TIP #1: Trim the Food Fat

By this, I mean cut out everything that has to do with food except for 6 high calorie energy bars (I pack CLIF bars).  The average human can survive for 3 weeks without food and still have no ill effects to the body.  In fact, I read one time that the record human fast was 1 year.  That makes eating less during a 72 hour Bug Out seem more than possible!  I’m not suggesting not to eat at all during a Bug Out, I’m simply suggesting to cut out all the food related items that you don’t need and only pack high calorie energy bars.  Things to remove include stoves, fuel canisters/tabs, pots, pans, silverware, spices – EVERYTHING related to cooking and eating food.  This stuff is bulky, heavy and at the end of the day, unnecessary for a 72-hour Bug Out.  DATREX Rations are another compact calorie dense food option.

TIP # 2: Sleep System


Let’s face it, sleeping bags are one of the bulkiest and heaviest items in our BOBs.  I’ve long experimented with ways to reduce weight and bulk in the sleeping department.  One solution I’ve discovered is to go with a lighter and smaller higher degree bag.  Some of the new 50 degree rated bags are only $30-$60 and pack down to about the size of a small melon.  This alone isn’t sufficient for cold weather Bug Outs.  A way to add about 20 degrees to a bag like this and drop it to a 30 degree bag is to combine it with a reflective emergency bivvy like the SOL Emergency Bivvy (combo seen above).  It’s certainly not as comfortable as a nice fluffy ZERO degree bag but it sure weighs a lot less and takes up a lot less space if you need to drop weight in your BOB.  You’ll probably notice some condensation in the bivvy but a couple shakes and a few minutes in open air and it dries out quick.



TIP # 3: Every Ounce Counts

Take a lesson from ultra light weight backpackers who literally account for every ounce of weight in their pack and weigh it on a scale.  Their motto is “Every Ounce Counts” and if there’s a way to cut out an ounce they will find it.  Some strategies I’ve heard of are:

  • Trimming the edges from maps (I’m not kidding)
  • Cutting down the tooth brush handle
  • Using lighter weight ‘tooth powder’ instead of tooth paste
  • Trimming unnecessary pieces from packs such as removing the sternum strap if you don’t use it
  • Cutting tags out of cloths, sleeping bags and sacks
  • If your electronics use AA batteries then find replacements that don’t use batteries at all or that use lighter weight AAA instead
  • Use titanium where possible; pots, pans, mugs, bottles, stoves, utensils, tent stakes.  It’s expensive but it’s as light as it gets.
  • Put pills and medicines in zip-lock bags instead of prescription bottles
  • Drill holes in stuff.  Anything that you can drill a hole in without affecting function will cut weight.

Along these same lines, try to stay true to the Bug Out timeline of 72-hours.  Try to only pack what you need for that specific timeline.  If you’ve tossed in a roll of dental floss, consider measuring out what you need for three days instead.  Same goes for soap, deodorant, etc.  You may be able to cut down the portions for several items in your pack.  This will certainly reduce weight.

TIP # 4: Clothing Items

Extra clothing is a luxury, not a necessity.  From a hygiene standpoint you should only be concerned about an extra set of underwear, socks and t-shirt.  Consider the clothes you’re wearing when you leave the house to be your only set (so dress in weather appropriate clothing BEFORE evacuating).  Then, for the sake of hygiene, pack only one SKIVVY ROLL.  A military friend of mine introduced me to the phrase SKIVVY ROLL.  It’s a way of neatly folding your socks, underwear and t-shirt into a nice compact bundle.  Folded this way, these items are easy to pack and easy to find and pack down into a surprising small little bundle.  Below is a photo tutorial about how to make a SKIVVY ROLL.


TIP # 5: Replace Your Tent Shelter with a Tarp Shelter System


I personally pack a lightweight backpacking tent in my BOB – actually strapped to the outside as you can see in the photo.  However, a tent is a luxury.  You can really cut weight if you decide to pack a couple sil-nylon tarps instead.  Of course, constructing a tarp shelter certainly takes more skill than assembling a tent.  This reduction in pack weight does come with sacrifices.  First, tarp shelters are not as good as tents – I don’t care how you set them up.  I’ve slept in both many, many times and I’ll always prefer a tent except for the occasional perfect 40 degree fall night in October.  Tarp shelters always have at least one open wall which allows for the entry of a variety of nuisances – moisture, insects, snow, light, smoke, etc.  Below is one of my favorite tarp configurations that I call THE WEDGE.  A tarp can be erected this way in under 1 minute and provides excellent protection from the elements.  NOTE:  Wind direction comes toward the back!


TIP # 6: Replace Gear with Knowledge

You’ve all heard it before: Knowledge weighs nothing.  But boy does it takes up time!  Some would rather pack the weight than spend the time.  

Knowledge takes time.  Some would rather pack the weight than spend the time.  -Creek Stewart

 However, the more you learn about shelter, water, fire and food, the less gear you’ll need to pack – period.  I’ve long been a fan of redundancy in the CORE FOUR Survival Needs: SHELTER, WATER, FIRE and FOOD.  I often recommend that people carry a back up fire starter, or a water filter or emergency shelter in addition to their tent but these redundant items become less necessary as your level of practice and experience increases.  Is there an area where you can replace weight with knowledge?

Yo, you gotta tip?

What have you guys done to cut weight in your BOB?  I’m sure there are some really creative ideas out there that others can learn from and implement as well.  Don’t be shy, do tell.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) Chronicles: The Urban Camo Layer : Series Post #5

If you remember, in Series Post # 4, I had just wrapped the truck in camo and left you hanging with some modern shaped black designs on a table.  Below are 2 pictures for reference.





Below is a photo series showing how I used those black designs.  Also, I officially put the bed cap on, added some off-road lights and mounted 2 Jerry Cans to the rear fenders.  First, I had to tape on the matte black vinyl graphics for placement.










Now, time for the official install.









Now, time to add some IPF 968 Series Off Road Lights from http://store.arbusa.com/IPF-968-Series-Light-Kit-968CSG-P3643.aspx and 10 more gallons of fuel storage.







Below is the reveal up until this point!

Thanks to everyone for their input into this project.  Even though I don’t use all the ideas/suggestions I appreciate the comments and advice.  All of it is making this a very fun BOV build.  If only I didn’t have a budget??!?!?!!








As always, thoughts and comments are appreciated.

BTW – I have some incredible news to share with you in the coming weeks.  I know I haven’t been posting much lately – I swear there is a reason and I also swear it’s worth it.  Stay tuned!!!!!

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) Chronicles: Oh no he didn’t! : Series Post #4

Oh yes I did!  My apologies in advance to all of you BOV Purists out there – I had to do it.  I just couldn’t stop myself.  I know, I know… the original bad paint job would have blended better in a crowd of vehicles over the camo.  But trust me, this thing isn’t going to blend in after I’m done with it anyway.  For those of you who need a reminder what the truck looked like prior to this step then here are a few photos below.  The first is when I first got it.  The second is after a few exterior upgrades.  The third is how it looks during this post.






Keep in mind that the photos below are still a work in progress.  This is not the finished truck by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, this new camo pattern isn’t even done yet.  There is an entire other layer that goes on next.  I’ll give away a hint at the end about that.  I decided to go with a vinyl wrap for the camo.  I paid a little extra for a matte overlaminate to reduce glare.  I’ve always liked the desert camo colors so decided to go with a color scheme in this family.  I also decided to go with a big chunky pattern.  Everything about this truck is big and chunky so the new camo feels right at home.  Oh, and I mounted a tire to the Warrior Products spare tire mount.  A tire shop down the street had this one laying around and I picked it up for just a few bucks.  They were glad to get rid of it.  Again, I painted the rim with black grill paint.

Below is a photo series of the exterior updates…


















Don’t forget, I still have the matte black bed cap that goes on back.  Below are a couple photos to tease the next phase.  HINT:  These are matte black vinyl decals I hand cut myself.




Let me know what you think.  I’ll keep the updates coming.  I wish everyone an amazing New Year.  As for me – I better get this thing ready!!!  This could be the year of the Great Bug Out.

Remember, friends, it’s not IF but WHEN!


Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) Chronicles: Creek’s Project BOV Truck: Series Post #3

Since my last post I’ve taken some time to do a few interior upgrades to the BOV Truck Project.  First, let me remind you of what it used to look like with a few interior photos from when I first got the old fella.


IMG_2439 IMG_2436 IMG_2435


I’ve always said to choose a BOV that is a very common make/model.  This not only helps with parts availability post collapse but certainly helps when making any upgrades or replacements in general – even during times of plenty.  I was able to find replacement door panels and a dash board for reasonable prices.  These additions quickly cleaned up the inside.


new-dash seat-before door-panel-mag-light



Next, I ordered one of those Blanket Baja Seat Covers to clean up the seat a bit.  I think it turned out pretty good.




Then, I added a few toys.  First, a driver’s side Mag-Lite / Beating Club.




Second, I added a few mounts for some firepower.  I picked up a custom under dash mount right hand draw holster for my Glock 19 from Texas Custom Holsters.  It’s pretty sweet.




Then, I added an overhead shotgun/AR rack from Big Sky Racks.




You’ll notice also that I mounted a pistol grip rechargeable spot light.  This is from StreamLight and has an infinite number of uses both in and out of a Bug Out Scenario.




On the dash I also mounted a canister of Tornado Pepper Spray.  It came with a pretty cool thumb release surface mount system.




Just below and to the right of the steering wheel I mounted a Midland CB.  I’m a big CB fan and it’s one communication tool that myself and the others in my Bug Out Convoy will use to keep in touch while in route.




In the center console I mounted a fire extinguisher and custom aluminum billet quick release mount from H3R Performance.






I also picked up an X-Grip cell phone window mount from Ram Mounts.  If the cell service works, great.  If not, I still have off-line maps loaded that can be used independently of cell and internet connections.  If you haven’t considered a Smart Phone App that allows off-line navigation, you may want to think about it.  The one I use with my DROID is called CoPilot GPS.  It does not require cell or wifi connections and is not Google Maps dependent.




The military used a chain that is bolted to the floor under the driver’s seat to lock the steering wheel to prevent theft.  I picked up a pad-lock for that as well.  Simple but effective anti-theft tool.




I’ve still got several interior upgrades planned, including dash mount 12V and USB charger ports, but I thought I’d share a quick update of what I’ve done so far.  The interior is looking pretty darn good – especially considering what I started with.

You’re not going to believe what you see in the next post!  I’m taking the exterior of this truck to a completely new level.  I know I should keep it plain but I just can’t stand it 🙂

Be well and Happy Thanksgiving my friends.

As always, thoughts and ideas are appreciated.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,



Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) Chronicles: Creek’s Project BOV Truck: Series Post #2

Anyone wondering what I’ve been doing to the BOV????  Well… here’s another update.

I found a Truck Cap

I bought a really nice black aluminum truck cap on craigslist for $200  It’s got locking side doors and locking back barn doors with metal mesh across the inside of the windows.  It’s rock solid and it has a nice roof rack which I will put to use later.  I plan on adding an extra locking pad-lock latch to each door.




I put it on the truck and it fits like a glove.  I think the truck looks more beefy with it on so I’m really pleased with the look.  I still need to remove the tailgate but that’s an easy fix.


cap-angle cap-back


 The beauty of high heat grill paint

I picked up some standard BBQ grill spray paint at the local hardware store and went to work on the cap.  I’m not so fond of the glossy black paint on the truck cap.




After me and some buddies taped off the windows we had the cap painted in just a few hours.  Definitely more BOV style.




That put me in the mood to do some more spray painting so I decided to touch up all the accents on the truck like the handles, mirrors, bumpers and brush guard.  Before I did this I sanded everything down really good and went ahead and sanded down all the crusty spots on the truck paint as well.  I’ve got some ideas for this but we’ll get to this in a future post.

I also welded on a sweet SPARE TIRE mount from my friends over at WARRIOR PRODUCTS.  This is the one I chose: http://www.warriorproducts.com/catalog-new/product-category/rack-systems/spare-tire-mount/  I can’t wait to mount a big fat tire on the front of that brush guard.








 My new Boots Arrived

Well, sortof.  New boots for the truck at least.  I upgraded the tires to some FREAKING AWESOME Super Swampers from INTERCO TIRE CORPORATION: http://www.intercotire.com/.  Holy tires Batman – these things are incredible.



I picked up some old rims on craigslist and spray painted them with the black grill paint as well.  I loaded up the tires and went to the local tire shop as fast as possible.  Luckily I got that hernia fixed.




 Closing shots

So here’s what she looks like so far (without the cap).  Definitely coming together.  I can’t wait to show you my ideas for the paint.  I know… I know… I should leave it alone and blend in.  But you know just as well as I do that it would be boring.  I’ve got to give you some eye candy so give me a break.







 Keeping it Real

As a special touch and to really it make it feel like my BOV, I added a reminder above the seat inside that I thought you’d appreciate.



 Hit me

Ok, so tell me your thoughts.  THE WINCH IS COMING – I PROMISE!!!

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) Chronicles: Creek’s Project BOV Truck: Series Post #1

Hello friends.  I’ve owned several Bug Out Vehicles over the years.  Some have been my daily drivers and others have been a dedicated stand alone vehicle.  Some have been new and some have been old.  I had a pretty cool 4×4 Ford Cargo Van that I really liked.  I’ve had a couple old Broncos and I even had a 90s Explorer.

A new project:

I decided a few months ago to take on a special BOV project.  I wanted this one to be different.  First, I’ve never owned a Diesel and it was about time I got one.  Second, I wanted a dedicated BOV that was truly EMP proof so it needed to already have no electronics/computers or it needed to be such that I could eliminate these items without too many compromises.  Thirdly, I’ve never owned a military surplus truck and I’ve always wanted one.  And lastly, like most of us, I was on a budget.  I wanted the biggest bang for my buck.  Oh, and I didn’t want too much of a project.  I’m not the best mechanic in the world and I didn’t want to get in over my head with too much of a fixer-upper.  Tall order, right?


The decision:

After much debate.  I decided on a M1028 retired military CUCV (pronounced CUK-VEE).  It is a 1985 Chevrolet pick-up truck.  I found it on-line and after a few basic mechanical fixes I’ve got about $5000 into it.  Starting with this article, I am going to chronicle my entire build from start to finish of this BOV.  It will take months but I thought it would be a cool project to share here on the blog.  And, I thought you could help provide input and feedback as well.  These posts may at times be very informal – simply an update with my thoughts and/or goals for the project.  I’ll start with a few pictures of the truck and a little bit of background information.


Truck Details:

  • 1985 Chevrolet Pickup
  • GM (Detroit Diesel) 379 cu in. (6.2L) J-series non-emissions diesel V-8 engine, 135hp@3600rpm
  • 1 1/4 Ton
  • 4×4
  • All axles full floating. Front axle is Dana 60 with Spicer Trac-lok (limited slip) and locking hubs, ratio: 4.56:1.
  • Rear axle is 10.5 inch Corporate 14 Bolt with “No-spin/Detroit” differential locker.
  • GM TH400 (Turbo Hydramatic 400) automatic transmission with 3 forward and 1 reverse speeds
  • 5800 lbs (2633 kg)
  • Payload: 3600 lbs (1634 kg)
  • 12/24 volt dual voltage
  • Equipped to tow M101 Series 3/4 ton trailers with maximum towed load of 3100 Ibs. Tongue load not to exceed 300 Ibs.
  • Fuel Tank: 20 Gallons US (75.7 liters)
  • Max Speed: 1st 25 mph (40.2 kph)
  • Max Speed: 2nd 35 mph (56.3 kph)
  • Max Speed: Drv 55 mph (88.5 kph)
  • Max Speed: Rev 9 mph (24.5 kph)





What I like about this truck:

There are many things I like about this truck.  Here is a short list – I’m sure I’ll get into more details as the weeks go by.

  • I love the Black-Out Switch.  Flip a switch on the dash and all the lights go out – even the brakes.  That’s a pretty cool bug out feature!  Sometimes you just want to go covert.
  • There are no electronic or computer parts on this truck – everything is manual.  Minus a few fuses – this thing is theoretically EMP proof as it stands.
  • Gun racks.  It has 2 vertical gun racks behind the seat – cool.
  • Brush guard.  The stock brush guard isn’t fancy, but it sure is functional.  I like it.
  • Beefy shackles.  It’s got several beefy shackles throughout.
  • 83,000 miles.  I’m sure these 83K miles were ‘hard-use’ miles but this is nothing for the diesel engine inside
  • It’s diesel.  Though this has positives and negatives – I like the fact that I have a diesel truck option.
  • 4×4 w/ detroit locker.  This is a real 4×4 truck.
  • Decent gas mileage – I’m getting over 20 mpg with this truck.
  • 8 foot bed
  • No rust hardly at all!






What I don’t like about this truck:

  • The paint is crap.  The guy who had it before me painted it with some kind of janky house exterior paint.  This is going to take some work.
  • This thing starts groaning like a ticked off grizzly bear when you hit 50 mph.  It’s geared for towing, not speed.
  • AC – yeah right.
  • Interior is shot to you know where – everything needs replaced
  • It’s old.  I like that it’s old for EMP sake but I hate that it’s old at the same time.  Old is less reliable – period.
  • It’s beat up.  I guess this is to be expected with an 85 military truck but I will want to spend some time on the cosmetics.  While I’m not overly obsessed with how it looks – I want it to look better than it does now
  • I hate the tires
  • Not much interior storage space – may need a cap on back – must think about this


Some initial thoughts:

  • Need more storage – A LOT MORE – begin search for truck cap
  • Look for tires – and maybe wheels
  • Sand down nasty paint spots and pop out tons of dents
  • Fix some minor things – blinkers, windows (very hard to roll up and down)
  • Get to work on the interior – go to junk yard to find suitable replacements
  • Do an initial test drive to my Bug Out Location – calculate time in transit and also fuel expenditures








Immediate / Long Term Goals:

  • Find a truck cap to create more secure storage
  • Come up with some kind of a camo pattern for exterior / decide on color scheme and overall look
  • Start search for tires/wheels
  • Interior gun racks/storage
  • Source interior trim/panels/seat covers
  • Begin installation of communication tools (CB/HAM)
  • Install DC power points for chargers, etc.
  • More exterior lighting???

What are your initial thoughts?  Any initial ideas for the build?  I want to tackle larger tasks at first and handle the details later.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


DIY: Bug Out Meals Ready To Eat

I recently received a package in the mail that I thought was worthy of sharing.  I’ve got to give credit to Dutch from Texas for this awesome DIY Bug Out Meal idea!  When I opened the box I found a couple homemade vacuum sealed food kits.  UPS delivers here right before lunch so it was hard for me not to cut them open and gorge myself right then and there.  The enclosed letter explained a really cool concept: DIY At Home Bug Out Meals Ready To Eat Kits.



 My Opinion About Bug Out Meals

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of simple, “Open & Eat” Bug Out Meals.  I like the idea of being able to eat on-the-go versus spending too much time having to prepare meals.  Bugging Out is all about getting from Point A to Point B.  In fact, I currently only pack high calorie energy bars in my BOB but this recent package is making me reconsider.  Regardless, Bug Out Meals should meet the following criteria:

  • Long shelf life: ideally at least a year – minimum 6 months
  • Open & Eat: Nothing that takes too much time, energy or resources to prepare
  • Calorie Rich: Be sure to choose foods that are high in calories – our body converts calories to energy
  • As small as possible in both weight and size (remember, they have to go in your Bug Out Bag)

DIY At Home MREs

As Dutch mentions in his letter, traditional MREs can be very expensive and are jam packed with sodium and preservatives.  In addition, one single meal is rather bulky.  His solution is to gather meal items and snacks from a local grocery store and vacuum seal them into Full Day Bug Out Meal Kits.



Below is what Dutch puts in his meal kits.  This is taken directly from his letter:

  1. BREAKFAST: Qty 2 Kellogs Fiber plus breakfast bars.  I also use Instant Oatmeal or Oatmeal Squares.  Nescafe Tasters Choice Coffee, or if not a coffee drinker, throw in a tea bag.
  2. LUNCH: Crackers and SPAM or Kipper-Snacks or a can of Sardines.  All of which can be eaten cold and on the march.  Rspeberry Lemonade drink mix, just add to a bottle or canteen of water.
  3. SNACK: On grueling hikes, you have to keep your blood-sugar levels up, so these have 2 packages of peanut butter crackers and several packs of Peanut M&Ms to be eaten between meals.
  4. DINNER: I try to have a least one hot meal a day.  I advocate Ramen Noodles.  I also pack beef jerkey to break up and add to the soup.

*NOTE: The meals he sent me were almost 1 year old and they showed no sign of mold or spoilage.  Good sign!




With traditional MREs and camp meals, the selection is fairly limited.  And Dutch is right, they are packed full of salt and preservatives.  Furthermore, if you’ve ever eaten MREs for very long they’ll back you up worse than traffic during mass exodus.

I’ll admit that these are pretty lavish Bug Out Meals but I really like this concept.  It allows you a ton of creative freedom when prepping your Bug Out (or BUG IN) emergency meals.  You aren’t limited to ‘stock’ entrees and each meal can be tailored to fit specific dietary needs.  Gluten Free?  No problem – pack non gluten items.  Peanut allergy?  No problem – your meal kits get plain M&Ms.  You get the point.  Vacuum sealing the meals not only helps to preserve them longer but also waterproofs them.  The added bonus is that they are also organized and very compact – 2 Bug Out Packing essential qualities.




 The Expiration Date Marks a Camping Trip

Write the expiration date on the outside of the package with a Sharpie Marker (you choose the time frame but I’d be just fine with 1 year).  Don’t throw away the meals when they expire.  That expiration date marks a much needed camping trip and your meals are now already packed!

Does anyone do something similar to this?

Is this a Bug Out Meal concept that you will consider?

What types of items will your include in your Vacuum Sealed Bug Out Meal?


Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


How to Bug-In: What You Need to Know to Survive a Grid-Down Disaster

Today, http://www.artofmanliness.com published an article I wrote title: How to Bug-In: What You Need to Know to Survive a Grid-Down Disaster

Hurricane Sandy is yet another sober reminder that none of us are exempt from disaster.  Sometimes, BUGGING OUT is not the best decision OR possible.  In this article I discuss a few thoughts about prepping for a potential Bug In Scenario.

Here is the link if you are interested in taking a look: http://artofmanliness.com/2012/11/01/how-to-bug-in-what-you-need-to-know-to-survive-a-grid-down-disaster/

Thank you to Brett and Kate McKay for the opportunity.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,



Bug Out Pack Review: The All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (A.L.I.C.E. Pack)

I wish I had $1 for every time someone mentioned or had a question about the military ALICE Pack.  This Bug Out Bag Review Post is long overdue.  In my experience with discussing the ALICE pack with survivalists, campers, soldiers and outdoors men and women, there seems to be very strong feelings about this pack – either people love them or hate them.  I’ve used an ALICE pack before for short overnights but never really put it through the rigors of a potential Bug Out Scenario or hiked with it fully loaded as a 72-Hour Kit.

So, with BUGGING OUT in mind, this post is a review of the MEDIUM Military ALICE Pack as a potential Bug Out Bag.

First, the specs:

  • Main compartment 19 inches x 11.5 inches x 9.5 inches
  • Three pouches (5 inches x 2.5 inches x 9 inches)
  • Main compartment capacity (approximately): 34 litres (2075 cubic inches)
  • Total capacity (approximately): 39.52 litres (2412 cubic inches) – this is maximum volume of all the compartments
  • Separate pouch inside large main compartment
  • Accessory loops for storing extra gear (12 on the top front under top flap, 2 on bottom, 3 on each side)
  • Capacity: 39.5 litres / 2413 cubic inches
  • Material/Fabric: Nylon


As I transferred over the contents from my existing BOB to the Medium ALICE for my 6 mile test hike, it was quite clear that everything wasn’t going to fit.  I normally recommend Bug Out Bags being in the 3000 cubic inch range and the Medium ALICE comes in at around 2400.  I now completely understand why the ALICE pack was traditionally paired with a Belt & Keeper system shown in the illustration below.

This system was designed to carry a variety of items including canteens, entrenching tools and ammunition pouches.  However, when you pair these two items together, you look exactly like a classic soldier – not really a look I’m going for in a Bug Out.  Thus, if using the ALICE pack as a BOB, I would opt not to use the Belt System.  However, the ALICE pack does come in a LARGE size which is about 3800 cubic inches – plenty big for a BOB.  So if after reading this post you decide you might want to try the ALICE – I might suggest the LARGE over the MEDIUM as a primary BOB.

Pack Design

The ALICE pack was built with one purpose in mind – rugged performance.  Field tested by countless soldiers around the world, the ALICE has earned its reputation as a rugged beast of a pack.  With that said, it is a NO FRILLS pack.  Don’t expect the posh features and design of a recreational back-pack.

The Medium Alice has 1 Main compartment with 1 inside pocket, 3 outside pouches and 1 flat velcro pocket on the flap.  it is not hydration compatible but you could probably rig one using the large pocket inside of the main compartment.

The side of the pack does have several webbing loops (top, middle,bottom) which can serve as lashing points.  The middle webbing is horizontal and the top/bottom loops are vertical and though not designed to be MOLLE compatible you can still strap on MOLLE pouches.

The above photo is a view from the bottom of the pack.  Especially with the MEDIUM ALICE, you will have to strap your tent/tarp and foam pad to the bottom of the pack.  There is webbing on the bottom of the pack to help with this.  You can also use the aluminum frame as a lashing point as well.

Speaking of the frame, notice the pack in these photos is mounted to an aluminum frame.  You can use the ALICE pack without the frame but don’t waste your time – especially with loads of 40 lbs or more – it is really uncomfortable.  The frame helps to distribute the weight and makes a HUGE difference with heavy loads.  It also keeps the pack away from your back – which is nice in warm weather.

The ALICE pack isn’t the most comfortable pack in the world.  I can certainly tell the difference in the padded straps and hip belts versus some of my other recreational back-packs.  For extended hikes, this is important.  For this post, I hiked about 6 miles in the medium ALICE with about 35 lbs of gear and the comfort level was manageable, but less than desirable.

I’m used to easy access bottle pockets and without the belt accessory to carry a canteen, you pretty much have to take off the pack to get a drink of water unless you’ve jerry-rigged a hydration system.  This was a huge frustration for me.

My biggest frustration with the ALICE pack was the strap closures and adjustments.  I hate those OLD SCHOOL metal strap adjusters and closures where you have to feed the webbing in and out of the metal buckle to get open or adjust a pocket.  It is ridiculously time consuming and frustrating and nearly impossible in cold weather with gloves on.  I much prefer modern squeeze buckle closures.  Fortunately, the 3 pouches on the ALICE at least have snap closures but I hate snaps too.  The main compartment is controlled by the old school metal adjusters.


Bottom Line

The bottom line is I LIKE the Medium ALICE pack, but I don’t think I’ll be switching it to my BOB anytime soon.  I certainly wouldn’t turn it down or turn my nose up at it as a BOB, but it’s not my first pick.  Unlike many others I spoken with, I do not LOVE or HATE the ALICE pack.  In general I really like it, with a couple frustrations that would prevent me from getting too excited.  It would be a great secondary BOB for an additional family member.  The ALICE pack has been been phased out by MOLLE Packs in most of the military branches.  Thus, surplus units can be found on-line or in military surplus stores for a very affordable price – typically $60-$80.  This is an excellent value if your style is to go with a traditional military style pack versus a modern recreational style pack.  Everyone has different preferences and the fact is that some people just like and prefer military gear and some don’t.

As I’ve said many times before, choosing a BOB is a very personal decision and the fact is that MANY different types and styles of packs will work.


Medium ALICE Pack Pros/Cons


  • Built to last
  • Rugged & Tough
  • Versatile
  • 2 sizes (both sizes mount on the same frame)
  • Proven by 1000s of soldiers in the field
  • Very affordable
  • Not the most comfortable pack on the market
  • Old school metal adjusters and closures
  • No easy access pockets for bottles, etc.

If anyone is interested in picking up a Surplus Medium ALICE pack – we have a few in stock for $65.  Here is the link: http://willowhavenoutdoor.com/store/products/medium-surplus-military-alice-pack/

I know some of you LIKE the ALICE packs and some of you HATE the ALICE packs.  Help others reading this post make an informed decision by sharing your thoughts and personal reviews in the comments section.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


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