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

combo

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.

bivvy

 

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.

skivvy-roll

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

bob

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!

tarp

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,

creek-stewart-survivalist

Build A Guaranteed Fire Kit

Spring’s a comin’ and many of you are reorganizing your gear and kits for warm weather on the horizon.  I’ve written posts before about Survival Fire Kits but I’ve never listed suggested contents in detail.  In this post I’d like to share with you what I call a Guaranteed Fire Survival Kit.  When it comes to fire, I don’t screw around. I want guaranteed fire and I want multiple options to get it – no matter what The Mutha’ might throw at me.  This is my current fire kit and one that I believe is fairly thorough.  I’ve also listed the exact contents just in case you want to build your own or modify your existing fire kit.  The fully assembled kits are also available for those who may be looking for a turn-key solution: Creek’s Guaranteed Fire Kit

fire-kit-post

Below is a description of my Guaranteed Survival Fire Kit contents:

  • QTY 1: Maxpedition EDC Pocket: The entire kit is packed in the Maxpedition EDC pocket. I love Maxpedition gear and this is a great little kit. It’s a 5″x7″x.75″ clam shell MOLLE compatible case with tons on interior storage pockets and loops for all kinds of fire implements. It’s made from 105-denier water and abrasion resistant ballistic nylon fabric and is built like a little tank. It makes for a great packable fire kit container. It’s also triple polyurethane treated for water resistance and has taped interior seams.
  • QTY 1: Char Cloth Tin: This is a 2 5/16″ x 3 11/16″ x 13/16″ metal tin (Altoids size) with a hole punched in the lid. 100% natural fabrics like cotton can be made into Char Cloth, which is an outstanding fire starting material. When you have a fire, it’s important to plan for future fires. This tin allows you to make Char Cloth and plan for future fires. See my article here about how to make char cloth: CREEK SHOWS HOW TO MAKE CHAR CLOTH
  • QTY 25: 2″x2″ 100% Cotton fabric squares. These can be used to make char cloth using the tin above. These are sealed in a water-proof resealable bag.
  • QTY 4: Tinder Quik Fire Tinder: These are a compressed, cotton based, fuel impregnated fire tinder. They are also waterproof. Each of these will light with just a spark and will burn for a solid 2 minutes!
  • QTY 15: UCO Survival Matches: These storm proof matches come in a sealed reusable plastic waterproof match case with 2 replaceable strikers. Each match will burn for 12 seconds. These are like matches on STEROIDS! They are also wind and waterproof!
  • QTY 1: 9-Hour Candle: Whether using this candle to dry fire tinder or shaving off the wax to be used as a fuel extender, this is an often overlooked piece of fire kit. This sucker will burn for 9 hours!
  • QTY 1: Light My Fire Mini Fire Steel: Light My Fire Firesteels are my favorite. They are made in Sweden and are a really great piece of kit. This one is good for 1500 strikes and produces sparks that burn up to 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit. This is without a doubt one of the best fire starting tools on the market. It is small, compact and effective. It will great sparks in virtually any weather condition on Planet Earth.
  • QTY 6: FireStix: These compressed fiber and wax impregnated sticks will light instantly with flame or sparks. They will ignite even when wet and are odorless. Great source of kindling in a pinch.
  • QTY 2: Fatwood Sticks: This all natural fire starter is one of the best I’ve used. These are harvested from stumps of pine (fatwood) from the highlands of Mexico. With their 80% pine resin content, these little guys are extremely easy to light and work even when wet. These burn long and hot and will light about any fire you can imagine. They ignite with spark or flame – must shave into shavings to ignite with sparks.
  • QTY 2: 6″ length of Jute Twine: These pieces of Jute serve as the lanyard for the Fatwood Sticks. Jute is one of the best natural firestarting tinders on Planet Earth. Buff up one of these 6″ Jute lengths to make an instant tinder bundle. Invaluable fire-starter! Will ignite almost instantly with sparks!
  • QTY 2: WETFIRE CUBES: This is a man-made fire starting tinder that will ignite even while floating in water – I’ve done it on national television! One cube can burn up to six minutes. I’ve even used one of these cubes with my Esbit Stove before to make Ramen Noodles.
  • QTY 1: Solar Fresnel Lens: The sun comes up every day and no fire kit would be complete without at least 1 solar fire starting tool. I’ve used these little fresnel magnifiers to start fires countless times. They are lightweight and easy to use. Use it on char cloth, deer poop, punky wood, tinder fungus or any other fire tinder that will smolder. These will not produce flame. You’ll need to create an ember and blow it into flame using a tinder bundle (like the JUTE TWINE).
  • QTY 1: Punky Wood: I’ve hand gathered this punky wood from the forest here at Willow Haven Outdoor. This can be used to create a BIG FAT EMBER with the Fresnel Lens listed above.
  • QTY 3: Cotton Discs: These cotton pads (make-up removal pads) are perfect for catching a spark or mixing with chap stick, petroleum jelly or pine sap to create a long burning fire tinder.
  • QTY 1: Steel Wool: Steel wool is another one of those amazing fire tinders. It will smolder with just sparks and burns VERY hot. Use this to blow a tinder bundle into flame. This will ignite even after being dipped in water!
  • QTY 1: 6″x11″x3″ 5 MIL Barrier Pouch: This heavy duty resealable pouch can be used to keep extra tinder dry or to store more fire starting tools. I can also be used as a water container as well.
  • QTY 3: 4″x6″x2″ 5 MIL Barrier Pouch: These heavy duty resealable pouches are a perfect added layer of water proof protection for water sensitive fire materials such as cotton disks and punky wood.
  • QTY 1: Disposable lighter: Uses are obvious
  • QTY 1: Carmex Lip Balm:  This can be mixed with tinder fibers (Jute/Cotton) to make the flame burn much longer – also known as a fire extender. Click here to read about how I make PET BALLS: Creek’s PET BALL Recipe

Hope you’ve found something here that’s useful.  Your turn – what’s in YOUR fire kit?

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

creek-stewart-survivalist

The truth about eating insects: Can you eat bugs to survive?

We’ve all watched the scenes on survival television shows when the host chomps into the most disgusting bloated white grub for the sake of “survival.” Most of Western civilization cringes at the thought of it, while many in the East lick their lips in jealousy.

Eating insects for survival isn’t taboo for the majority of the world’s population. In fact, over 1,000 different insects are eaten by 80 percent of the world’s nations. This comes as no surprise if you’ve ever been to an Asian street market. Eating insects is so common that a word even exists to define it – entomophagy. With a scientific sounding name like that, it must be legit.

Like most reading this article, I have zero interest in eating grasshoppers for lunch today. However, as a survival instructor, it’s a topic that comes up rather frequently and one that warrants discussion.

plated-hoppers

All primitive cultures I’ve studied, including Native American Indians, ate insects. All primitive cultures still in existence still eat them as well.  In survival, all edibles are fair game, and I wouldn’t hesitate for one second to eat creepy crawlies when starvation is the alternative. I had an uncle who ate insects while held capture in the Korean war. He ate other unspeakable things that kept him alive as well.

Insects may sound gross at this moment. That’s because you’re not starving. Perspective is the first to change when hunger sets in. Things you’d never consider as food start looking edible. In the case of insects, not only are they edible, many taste good and are incredibly nutritious.

Believe it or not, most insects are edible. There are, however, some major classes that are more popular than others. Beetles rank in at No. 1. Caterpillars, bees, ants, wasps, cicadas, grasshoppers, termites, locusts, crickets, larvae and grubs fall closely behind. Insects are rich in protein, minerals, vitamins, amino acids and fats. They are surprisingly comparable to beef and fish in the amounts of these nutrients.

I’ve personally eaten a variety of unknown beetle grubs (raw and cooked – the cooked ones taste like bacon fat), crickets, larvae, earthworms (which taste like chicken skin cooked), bees and bee larvae, ants and snails.  I’ve found all of them to be surprisingly good.  It really is a mental challenge more than anything.

Regardless of what’s shown on television, there are some basic guidelines that should be observed when dining on insects in the wild.

Guideline No. 1: Avoid brightly colored insects. Typically, bright colors are warning signs in nature. This is no exception when it comes to insects. A brightly colored insect is nature’s way of saying back off. Choose insects with natural earth tones if given the choice.

Guideline No. 2: Avoid hairy insects. Hairy insects can irritate the mouth and throat. Oftentimes, hairs can also be disguised as stingers. It’s best to avoid insects that appear to be fuzzy or hairy.

Guideline No. 3: Avoid smelly and pungent insects. Scent is another natural warning. If the insect stinks or sprays some kind of stinking liquid, then avoid it all together.

Guideline No. 4: Cook all insects. Though some insects can be consumed raw, it’s always best to cook them (and any other wild game). Many insects contain parasites, and cooking can put your mind at ease. Cooking also softens hard shells and helps to eliminate the “ick” factor of squishy guts.

Guideline No. 5: Avoid insects that feed on poisonous plants. Snails and slugs are notorious for dining on poisonous mushroom and fungi.  While they themselves are edible, the stuff in their system might not be and could end up causing you problems.  The solution is to starve them for a day or so or purge them on other edible plants.  Don’t take any chances.  The calorie reward isn’t worth the risk.

Humans can survive for over three weeks without food. In fact, it is our least important survival priority. Shelter, water and fire are all more important. Survivors are opportunists and should never turn down an easy snack, even if it’s a cricket. Gathering food in a survival scenario is oftentimes a collection of many different sources, and the occasional insect could very well be a part of that mix.

Remember, it’s not IF, but WHEN.

creek-stewart-survivalist

 

7 Awesome Movie Survival Blades

In many movies, the cool knives get more attention than the actors themselves.  I certainly have my favorite survival blades over the years and they all aren’t necessarily knives.  You’re already thinking of some I’m sure.  Below are my TOP 7 SURVIVAL MOVIE BLADES.

 

# 1: First Blood: Rambo’s Survival Knife

rambo-knife

How could this knife not be #1.  RAMBO is synonymous with survival and this knife is basically where the phrase “survival knife” came from.  The design with hollow handle and included mini survival kit was revolutionary at the time and everyone had to have one.  This knife was my first survival knife.  I got a cheaper knock-off version of the authentic movie replica but I was 10 years old and didn’t care.  It was and still is my RAMBO knife.  I still have it.  It’s actually in a shadow box hanging on my wall.  This knife played a big part in my love for survival.  Below is the one I got when I was 10.

creeks-rambo

 

The authentic version looks like this.

rambo-first-blood

Here’s a link to a great history of the Rambo knives if you’re interested: http://www.cartertown.com/rambo1.htm

 

#2 The Edge: The Lockback Folder

edge-knife

I love that this knife isn’t an ‘in your face’ survival knife.  It’s a basic lockback folder.  THE EDGE is one of my favorite movies with a classic survival story; a plane crashes and a group of guys have to survive deep in the bush (while also being hunted by a blood thirsty grizzly).  Even though it’s just a movie, it is a simple reminder that even a basic every day carry pocket knife can make a huge difference in helping to provide basic survival needs.  If you don’t already, consider carrying an every day carry pocket knife.  It just makes good survival sense – you never know!

Want to own a knife just like this?  Here is the guy that made the movie version: http://www.lyttleknives.com/gedgcm.htm

 

#3: Book of Eli: Wicked Machete

eli-machete

This is definitely on my short list of favorite survival movies.  In my opinion, Eli’s machete is one of the coolest in any movie I’ve watched.  I think, though, that it’s his skill in using it that makes it so cool.  This is the trick with all good blades and weapons, the effectiveness is really in the hands of the one who wields it.  Choose your blade and practice using it.  Skill and effectiveness will soon follow.  That’s where the admirable stuff comes from.  Anyone can buy a knife.

The Book of Eli movie image Denzel Washington

 

 

#4: Rambo First Blood Part II: Rambo’s Push Daggers

partii-knife

These daggers are often overlooked when discussing Rambo blades but these little suckers were critical in getting him out of mess.  He used them to lay waste to an entire boat full of bad guys.  Having back up blades on our person ‘just in case’ is a great idea.  There are so many concealable and comfortable options these days.  There is really no reason to ever be unarmed.  I love these blades and this is one of my favorite scenes in the whole Rambo series.

 

#5: The Patriot: Tomahawk

patriot-tomahawk

Ok, there is nothing cooler than accurately throwing a tomahawk.  That is just flat out awesome.  This scene where Mel takes out an entire mess of redcoats is gory but his use of the tomahawk is beyond impressive.  It’s no wonder why natives used them so extensively.  This is one of the few ‘tools’ that also doubles as an incredibly awesome looking weapon.  I was at the Blade Show in GA a couple years ago and met two brothers who make some of the coolest tomahawks I’ve ever had the honor of holding.  If you’re looking for a sweet hawk you have to check them out: http://www.2hawks.net/.

 

#6: The Hunted: Tom Brown Tracker Knife

tracker

Benicio Del Toro uses this knife like a beast in the movie THE HUNTED.  Most people either love or hate this knife.  I like it.  The movie made it famous but I appreciate the unique design regardless.  It’s hard to design a new and unique knife and I think Mr. Brown did a great job keeping it simple and functional.  It’s definitely different.  I also like that it’s designed by a survival instructor.  It actually comes with a manual that describes the many ways one can use it.  Here is a link to the instruction manual if you’re curious: http://topsknives.com/pdf/topsknives_tracker_instructions.pdf.  It’s made by TOPS and some more photos can be found here: http://www.topsknives.com/product_info.php?products_id=155

 

#7: Crocodile Dundee: Dundee’s Bowie Knife

dundee-knife

Chuckle.  “That’s not a knife… this is a knife.”  You know you’ve said it!  This is one of the most famous movie quotes in the history of television.  I remember when you could carry knives like that.  Now, people look at you like you’ve got a bomb strapped to your forehead.  That fact still doesn’t sway my love for a good well-made classic bowie knife.  Though he made this knife style famous, they have the reputation to back it up.

 

Conclusion

I’m sure there are plenty of other great movie survival knives out there.  Which ones am I missing?  What are your favorites?  Have you ever bought a movie replica knife?

Remember, it’s not IF but when,

creek-stewart-survivalist

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.

creeks-bov-side-long

 

design-1

 

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.

urban-yet-4

 

urban-yet-3

 

urban-yet-2

 

urban-yet

 

 

Now, time for the official install.

urban-rear-driver

 

urban-passenger

 

urban-hood

 

urban-front-driver

 

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.

ipf-single

 

ipf-front

 

jerry-can-mount

 

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??!?!?!!

truck-side

 

truck-profile-side

 

 

truck-angle

 

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,

creek-stewart-survivalist

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.

IMG_2424

front-angle

 

creeks-bov-side-long

 

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…

 

creeks-bov-up-side

 

creeks-bov-top

 

creeks-bov-side

 

creeks-bov-rear-quarter

 

creeks-bov-rear-far

 

creeks-bov-hood

 

creeks-bov-front-corner

 

creeks-bov-angle

 

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.

design-2

 

design-1

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!

creek-stewart-survivalist

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.

 

baja-seat-cover

 

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

 

mag-light

 

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.

 

holster-1

 

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

 

bigskyrack

 

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.

 

streamlight

 

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

 

tornado-pepper-spray

 

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.

 

midland-cb

 

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

 

holster-2

 

fire-extinguisher-mountfire-extinguisher

 

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.

 

ram-mount

 

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.

 

lock-chain

 

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,

CR///EK

creek-stewart-logo

This belt could save your life! How to make a Paracord Every Day Carry (EDC) belt. by Anthony and Kelly Braun

NOTE:  This is a post written by Anthony and Kelly Braun.

After attending Creek’s Survival 101 course and a talk from him about Every Day Carry (EDC) I began looking at my EDC.  I wasn’t carrying much survival gear as my EDC, so I began investigating mini survival kits. I wanted to find something that I didn’t have to remember to grab every day and something unobtrusive that didn’t take up a lot of bulk in my pocket. The typical mint tin version was out. I wanted to create an EDC mini survival kit that I would easily remember and would not take up too much space. I had been making paracord bracelets for 6 months prior to taking Creek’s courses and found one particularly useful weave called the Ladder Rack or Trilobite. (Here is the video link to making the bracelet that I used.) A nice feature of this weave is that it has approx 2 feet of paracord per inch of bracelet. (The standard Cobra Knot has about 1 foot of cord per inch of bracelet.) Looking at that weave I envisioned trapping items inside the cavity of the weave for safe keeping. In order to accommodate everything I wanted, I realized I would need a longer area than a bracelet, so I thought; why not make it a belt? I wear one daily anyway, it doesn’t take up space in my pockets, and by making it this way no one would suspect I have an EDC survival kit with supplies to do many things.

Initial Thoughts

There are some drawbacks to this project, the first one being the belt sizing. It is not adjustable, so once it’s made significant weight gain or loss will cause you to have to make another belt. Second, it’s not quick-release to access supplies or use the paracord, as it takes some time to unweave the belt. (My first attempt took me 20 minutes to unwind) Third, specific items in the belt cannot be accessed individually, one would have to unweave the belt and get access to all the items. But once the belt is unraveled, it contains quite a few supplies that would greatly aid survival if I had nothing else and was stranded– I would be far ahead of the curve, at least.

If you have not seen the ladder rack weave or made a bracelet with it, I suggest you practice before attempting the belt. Learning the pattern without trying to hold extra items inside will make the construction much easier. I modified the weave a bit by adding an extra turn of cord down the length of the belt.   This added some width (and therefore more holding room for supplies), and added to the amount of paracord per inch of finished belt. Here is how I made my belt:

 

Supply list (and the use I foresee):

  • paracord 100ft (multiple uses including shelter)
  • whistle on buckle (rescue)
  • 3 snack size ziploc bags (water collection/carrying, keeping tinder dry)
  • condom (water carrying)
  • coffee filter (water filtration)
  • cotton PET ball (fire starting)
  • 30 in of jute twine (fire starting tinder)
  • 30in of military trip wire (snare making for food)
  • safety pin (quick repairs, spare fish hook, splinter removal)
  • 3 zip ties (attaching/lashing items, makeshift handcuffs)
  • 4 storm proof matches with striker (fire making)
  • 30 feet of fishing line with fishing hook (food)
  • camping wire saw (cutting wood for fire or shelter)
  • 20in of latex tubing (straw to get hard to reach water, tourniquet, slingshot for hunting)
  • flexible mirror (signaling)
  • 2 water purification tablets, individually wrapped
  • 1 electrolyte replacement tab (dehydration prevention)

full-supplies
There are many ways to modify this list and customize the belt.  Just remember that everything you add needs to be able to be stored in essentially a long thin tube.

The belt making process

I started with 100 feet of paracord, a buckle, and all the survival gear I wanted to include. This changed throughout the process, as some items just didn’t fit and others I had to eliminate when I ran out of space. The list above is my final supply list that actually went into the belt. As I mentioned above it’s a one size belt and not adjustable; so, I started with one of my current belts and used that for measurements. I measured out the 50 ft mark in my paracord and looped a hitch knot in one end of the buckle through it (I used the female end). The other end of the buckle I laid at my belt hole that I use to buckle my regular belt and ran both ends of the paracord through it. Instead of just bringing the ends back to the female end of the buckle and starting the weave like I would for a bracelet, I threaded them through the female end one more time and brought the two ends back up to the male end to start my weave there.

larks-head

 

looping-through

In the picture you can see there are four lines running between the 2 ends of the buckle. Then I brought the 2 loose ends back along the outside to the male end once more and started the knot to begin the weave.

two-buckles

first-knot

weave-beginning

 

Here is the starting knot pulled tight. If you are not careful it is easy for the length of the whole belt to change while tightening the first knot. I had to remeasure it frequently and keep tweaking it to keep the same length. Once you get a few rounds of the weave  down, the length holds tight and its no longer an issue.

weave-start-1

weave-start

Also, at this point I did a few other things to make it easier to do the weave with such a large amount of cord:

First, I baled each length of cord into about 8 inch loops and secured them so I was just weaving with bundle instead of the entire length of cord (which would just knot up). For the majority of the belt there is plenty of slack and it works great. If you get to the end and have a large bale left you will need to undo it and just thread the cord as a single strand.

coil

Then I also took some tape and secured the four inner cords just to keep them lined up so they didn’t become twisted during the weaving process.

tape

Then the final thing I did to help identify the lines and keep them straight (but also to secure materials for the kit) was to wrap the jute  around one of the outer cords. I secured this with an overhand knot at each end and wrapped the snare wire around the other side.

jute-wire

Here are the items ready to start weaving the in the belt.  I wrapped each stormproof match in aluminum foil then secured that to the camp saw. I did the same for the fishing line. I did this to keep the small items from moving around and possibly falling out of the belt (or stabbing me in the back) and also to cover the saw so it didn’t wear through the paracord wrapped around it. I stored the condom in one of the ziploc bags rolling it lengthwise. I also folded and secured the coffee filter in another ziploc bag, and the PET cotton ball in a third. I took each one of the  zip ties and rolled one of the ziploc bags around it.

supplies

Basically I just laid the items on top of the 4 strands of the cord through the middle of the belt and wove around it. I had to overlap some of the items  lengthwise so they fit but I tried to even everything out so it didn’t make the belt too stiff in some parts and flimsy in others.

interior

Above is the belt in process. I didn’t worry too much about getting everything tight and even at the beginning. I just wove the belt so everything was trapped in it then afterwards went back through and tightened everything up starting at the far end working down toward the end where the unsecured lines were. I tightened 2 rows at a time so it was easier to keep track of which part I needed to pull on next to tighten.

end

The initially completed belt is seen above. Then below is the belt in process of it being pulled tight. As you can see there was significant slop in the initially completed belt. I only had about one foot of cord left when I first finished.  After tightening the entire belt I ended up with about 9 feet extra on each piece. All that is left is to finish the belt by your preferred finishing method– either by cutting off and melting the ends or using fibs to tuck a length of cord back into a half dozen or so weaves.

tails

 

Here is the finished product.

finished-belt

One final piece I added was the 2 metal key rings that came with the camp saw about 6 inches from either end. That places them right about where my hands fall. I use them for clipping carabiners and carrying additional items.

metal-ring

 

Final thoughts/ Re-evaluation

The belt did end up being a little tight around my waist, as  I forgot to take into account how thick the tubing (along with everything else layered in there) would end up. When I make my next one, I will probably try to add a half inch to the initial length of the belt. The other thing I was considering was using a flat rubber tourniquet in place of the tubing. I would then lose the straw capabilities but would decrease the belt’s bulk significantly. Another thing that could possibly be used would be flat surgical tubing (sometimes called a Penrose drain). This could be used for the straw purpose but would be kind of like sucking the end of a freezer pop. But this  would make a good tourniquet and slingshot. Also, I put all the items on what would be the inside of the belt but some of the aluminum foil shifted and ended up on the front surface, and it is now somewhat visible.   This is not a huge problem but it brings attention to the fact that this is not just a belt but something more. I would like to deaden the reflection somehow. Another area to change might be the buckle itself.  I have seen different belt buckles for sale that have had a small compartment to store items (the water tabs?) or one that has a compass on it. I happened to have whistle buckles around so I used one of them.

So, what do you think? Feel free to comment on ways to improve or other ideas this might spark for you.

Creek’s Additional Comments

First, that is amazing that you guys were able to get those supplies (and paracord) into a compact, nondescript belt.  That is a full blown survival kit!  I love it when people push the limits of creativity when it comes to carrying basic survival supplies on their person.  History reports time and time again (almost every week) that victims of sudden and unexpected survival scenarios could dramatically benefit from very simple survival supplies like the ones you’ve included in this EDC belt.  I wear a belt every single day and it’s the perfect clothing item to modify in such a way.  After reading this post, I’m only left with one question: WHEN CAN I BUY ONE?????

NOTE:  This is a post written by Anthony and Kelly Braun.

Wild Game for the Holiday Season??? Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living by Stacy Harris

As the Holiday Seasons approach, some of you may be looking for ways to incorporate hunted or gathered wild edibles into your Holiday meals.  If so, I’d like to remind you of a great Wild Game cook book that I reviewed a few months ago – Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living by Stacy Harris.

SustainableLivingFullCover_FInal_2-3 copy

 

 

Stacy is hands down an authority on wild game cooking.  Click here for my original review:

A Wildly Fantastic Wild Game Cook Book Author: Stacy Harris

http://willowhavenoutdoor.com/featured-wilderness-survival-blog-entries/a-wildly-fantastic-wild-game-cook-book-author-stacy-harris/

 

Here’s also the Amazon link if you’re interested in adding it to your library:

http://www.amazon.com/Recipes-Sustainable-Living-Stacy-Harris/dp/1440235554/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379433252&sr=8-1&keywords=recipes+and+tips+for+sustainable+living

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

 

How to Make a Primitive Funnel Fish Trap that keeps on giving.

Passive trapping versus active hunting is almost always preferred in a survival scenario.  Not only does trapping typically require less energy, but it also enables one to focus on other important survival tasks such as shelter, fire, water, foraging and signaling.  Passive fish traps are among some of the oldest documented relics from indigenous cultures all over the globe.  Stone weirs built many hundred years ago in rivers and low tide areas still exist today.  Funneling fish for easier capture was a strategy used to put food on the table in almost every primitive culture.  While different trap designs exist, there is one design that seems to be universal – the woven funnel trap.  Whether made from bamboo in the wetlands of Asia, reeds on the coast of New Zealand or grapevine in the forests North America the funnel basket trap varied only slightly in design across multiple continents and cultures.  This speaks to its effectiveness in the field and I can confirm first hand that it is one of the most effective primitive methods for putting fish in the frying pan.  Below is one method I use to build a classic Primitive Funnel Style Basket Fish Trap.

catfish-in-trap

There are essentially two parts to the funnel basket trap: the body and the inverted cone cap.  The concept (as can be seen by the schematic below) is simple.  Lured by the scent of bait, the fish enter the main trap body through the inverted cone shaped cap.  Once inside they aren’t smart enough to figure out how to get back out.  It’s not at all uncommon to catch other types of water critters in these traps as well including crayfish, crabs, shrimp and even small turtles.

basket-trap-schematic

It all starts with building the main trap body, which is typically in the shape of large cone.  The size is based on the type of fish you’re attempting to catch.  I’ve had great success with traps that measure 4-5’ long and the main body opening in the 20-24” range.  To build the main body framework you’ll need 7 to 11 small saplings a little longer than your intended main body trap length.  The main body must have an odd number of ribs.  This is necessary for the over/under weaving pattern that we’ll discuss later.  The number you use isn’t important.  I normally use 7.

willow-staves

If you have cordage then this process will be easier.  In this example I’ve used willow bark cordage exclusively.  During the spring and summer months you can easily strip the bark from willow saplings in long strips.  These strips make perfect cordage for lashing together a funnel trap.

willow-bark-stripped-on-sapling

willow-bark-stripped

I start by lashing one end of my willow staves around a stick about 12” long x 2” in diameter.  This keeps the staves in a nice uniform circle.  Then, using a piece of grapevine and some willow bark I create a hoop to form the opening for the main body and quickly tie it to the inside of the other end of the willow staves.  This helps to create the main cone shape to the trap body.  The hoop will be removed after the trap is about ¼ woven.

base-lashed

base-lashed-bottom

grapevine-hoop

frame-hoop

Now is time for weaving.  I’ve used all kinds of different materials for weaving traps.  It really comes down to what is available.  In this example I start with some left over willow bark and then move to some cattail leaves.  I finish it with a variety of grapevine and Virginia creeper vine.  I’ve even used long pieces of grass before.  In some environments and seasons it can be difficult to find enough of what you need so it doesn’t have to be entirely woven from the same material.  Mine often are not.  The weaving pattern is simply an over/under pattern repeated.  When I weave in a new piece I normally overlap the previous one by at least one rib.  It’s important to pull everything nice and snug.

grapevine

trap-one-quarter-side-back

trap-one-quarter-top

trap-three-quarters

trap-three-quarters-inside

Once you get about ¼ done with the trap you can pull out the grapevine hoop at the top and the weaving will go much, much faster.  The hoop is just to hold the shape temporarily while you get started.  You can expect the weaving process to take at least 1-3 hours, depending on the size of the trap.  You can extend the length of the trap if you wish by shoving in longer ribs alongside the existing ones and continuing to weave.

When you come to a finishing point, simple lash the last three wraps together in a few spots with some willow bark or cord and trim off the jutting ribs about 1 inch above the rim and the body portion of the trap is finished.  It’s now time to weave the cone which will form the cap/entrance of the trap.

cone-top-lashed

trap-done-lashed-top

The easiest way to form the cone/cap of the trap is to stick an odd number of stakes (ribs) in the ground to form a cone shape.  The bottom (smaller hole) of the cone should be large enough for your target fish to fit through.  In this case I’ve made mine about 4 inches in diameter.  The top (larger hole) should be right around the same diameter of the open mouth of the trap body you’ve just woven.  This cone will be a cap for the trap body and you want the two larger holes to mate up nicely.

cone-sticks-in-ground

Once you have the cone shape staked in the ground, it’s time to start weaving again.  I prefer smaller vines over larger hard to manage ones.  The ones in this example are about ¼ inch in diameter.  Weave them to the very top of the cone shape and lash them to finish it off just like the end of the body.

cone-side-view-not-finished-1\

cone-side-view-not-finished

cone-side-view

cone-finished-topview

Pull the cone from the ground and trim off any protruding ribs from the top and bottom holes.

cone-pulled-out-of-ground

cone-trimmed

This concludes all of the hard work.  Now, the trap is ready to be baited and set over and over again.  This is a self sustaining trap.  Each time something is caught, the inedible and unusable parts such as the intestines and some organs and bones are used to bait the trap again to catch more food.  Each caught fish provides food and future bait.  I’ve found that native fish parts and pieces produce much better results than store bought items such as chicken livers, bread or peanut butter.  All animals prefer to eat what they naturally would.

As you can see from the photos, the cone shape is inverted to cap the larger opening of the trap body.  Fish can easily swim inside but don’t have the logic and reasoning skills to find their way back out.  After baiting, I tie the cone cap on in three spots to ensure it doesn’t come loose.

finished-front

finished-front-angle

I’ve found it’s a good idea to contain the bait inside of something rather than just random tossing it inside the large trap body.  I’ve used all kinds of methods.  I’ve created little bait balls wrapped in a scrap piece of t-shirt and tied it hanging from the inside.  I’ve also used little wire cages.  Pinecones are a good primitive solution.  You can wrap and stuff your bait inside the stiff pinecone bodies and it keeps the bait in one place.  Then, this ‘bait ball’ can be hung from the back of the trap.  Using this method, fish have to come inside to get the bait rather than nibble it through the sides when it’s free-floating randomly inside the trap body.

pinecone-hanging

Now, it’s time to set the trap.  I don’t personally like getting in water when I don’t need to so I set this trap by tying it off to a stake or tree near the water’s edge and simply throw it a few feet off shore.  These traps will often float so you may need to toss one or two big rocks inside to weigh it down.  I had to do that to this one.  For bait, I sacrificed a small bullfrog and smashed the bits and pieces of him into the pinecone (except I kept the legs for dinner).

american-bullfrog-1

trap-floating

I checked the trap early the next morning and had a small bluegill.  I gutted it and kept the meat for dinner.  I stuffed and wrapped the guts, fins and head into the pinecone bait ball and threw the trap back in.  Some of the frog was still left over but the fresh scent is necessary.  Later that day I caught a larger bluegill.  I repeated the gutting and bait ball process.  The next morning I checked the trap again and found a large catfish.  Honestly, I’m not even sure how this monster wiggled its way into the trap.  His head was almost as big as the entry hole.  I didn’t set the trap a third time but you can see by the gut pile next to the catfish that there is plenty of bait to do so.  Like I mentioned, this is a self-sustaining trap.  It will keep giving and giving and is an amazing way to passively gather food in a survival scenario when saving calories is imperative.  I’ll choose passive trapping over active hunting all day long.

bluegill-first-small

bluegill-trap

catfish-in-trap

catfish-gutted

Below is a photo of Kevin from my SurviVacation II course with the first basket trap he ever made.  It’s a monster and he also caught a bluegill in an overnight set.  Experience isn’t necessary but patience is.  He spent several hours making sure it was woven well.  It’s important to pay careful attention to detail when weaving the trap.  Every fish inside counts – even the ones only 2” long.  A 2” fish can lead to a 10” whopper but the trap must be well made in order to catch even the smallest fish and crayfish.  This is one skill you just can’t rush.

kevin-trap

 

If you like learning primitive skills like this one, consider reading my latest book The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide which can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Unofficial-Hunger-Games-Wilderness-Survival/dp/1440328552

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN.

Creek