All posts by C Bracken Meyers


Wild Plants That Repel Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are pesky disease carrying bugs we all want to avoid. Knowing a few key plants that are easy to find could make any situation more bearable.

All these plants will help repel mosquitoes by smell. Crush them up till they get juice and then rub them on your body. Typically, the effect will last a few hours. You can also dry them and light them on fire or get them smoldering to create bug repelling smoke.

North America



Sagebrush, Wormwood, and Mugwort are in the same plant grouping and are easy to find in most dry climates. All of these species can be used as an aromatic smudge that is known to be a very effective mosquito repellent. Crush the leaves and rub them directly on your skin. These species grow in the drier habitats of the west, including the plains, deserts, and mountainous regions.

Vanilla Leaf (Achlys triphylla) is a plant native to the northwest and Japan. It grows most often in shady and moist areas. The plant can be rubbed on the skin fresh or dried. Indigenous peoples were known to hang bundles of the dried plants in and around their homes to keep mosquitoes and other insects away.

Pineapple Weed

Pineapple Weed

Pineapple weed (Matricaria matricarioides) is a common weedy species that grows all over North America. The aromatic crushed plant can be applied directly to your skin. You can also dry the leaves to make an interesting tea.

Nodding onion (Allium cernuum) is found in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It grows in dry woods, rock outcroppings, and prairies. Grind or blend the leaves to extract the juice and then apply to skin.

Wild Begamot (Monarda) is a wildflower that is part of the mint family and is native to much of North America. It has unmistakeable purple flowers and green leaves. Crush or grind the peddles and leaves and apply to skin.  It is also used to treat colds and make tea.



Snowbrush (Ceanothus velutinus) is a shrub tree generally in mountain areas in the United States and Canada. It has white blossom balls that are easy to identify. The natural scent of the planet repels bugs, rub it on your skin or carry some with you. You can also place it around your camp to help keeps bugs from area.




Peppermint (M. balsamea Willd) is indigenous to Europe, but may be found elsewhere through human cultivation. Generally found near streams or wet areas.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) is native to the Mediterranean area. Fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and multi-colored flowers. Grind the leaves and apply to skin or place some around your camp. Rosemary can also be used to make herbal tea.


Tea Tree

Tea Tree

Tea Tree (Melaleuca) is native to Australia. It has very strong and distinct scent that is strong enough repel bugs when rubbed on the skin. It can also be used as topical solution for bug bites.


NOTE: Always ensure you have properly identified the correct plant and that you are not allergic to it. Many wild plants can be dangerous.

Glow Sticks, Are They Useful?

During any crisis situations, whether you are out in the wild or at your own home, having a reliable source of lighting is important. For the last three decades, people have effectively used glow sticks in almost every situations.

Advantage: No power source needed
Unlike a flashlight, a glow stick does not need a battery to operate. As soon as the glow stick is activated, it will provide lighting for up 12 hours or more. They are also water proof and can be used in wet environments.

Advantage: Safe
Glow sticks are a very safe lighting source. You do not have to worry about accidently starting a fire. There is also no risk of being electrocuted. Even children are able to safely use glow sticks.

Advantage: Lightweight
Glow sticks are very lightweight, which means that several of them can be easily transported in a backpack. Glow sticks also take up very little space.

Advantage: Inexpensive
Even military-grade glow sticks are very inexpensive. Although glow sticks can be purchased individually, the best approach is to buy in bulk. They can be stored in a variety of places including the trunk of a car and a home closet.

Disadvantage: Low light
Although glow sticks are able to illuminate the surrounding area, they do not deliver a bright light. A rescue plane or boat may not be able to see the light of a glow stick from a long distance away. They generally do not give enough light to read with.

Disadvantage: Fragile
Although some glow sticks are engineered to be relatively robust, their durability fails in comparison to a candle or flashlight. The vial can easily become damaged when handled aggressively, this commonly happens if they are in your hiking bag that gets thrown around a lot.

Disadvantage: Expire
To the surprise of many, glow sticks expire. Most glow sticks are good for about 5 years. They must be replaced on a schedule if you want to depend on them.

So are glow sticks useful? It’s up for you to decide. They have uses, but with the limitation they are not always the best choice. I do love glow sticks, I think they are fun. I have them in my house, car, ditch bags, and my hiking bag. I personally use the Cyalume 6” Green. A single one will illuminate my entire living room enough to move around or illuminate the ground directly below your fee if you are walking outside.


Navigating with the Sun

desert_sun Navigating with the sun is a great skill to have. It doesn’t need any equipment, works anywhere and never breaks. As long as you understand how the sun interacts with the Earth you can identify the points of the compass and use this to set your route. It’s all based on a few simple facts. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere the sun will be due south at noon, and if you’re in the southern hemisphere it will be due north. Remember those details and you’ll be able to work out directions from the Sun.

Of course the sun confuses things by constantly moving across the sky, so it is not a precise marker. In the Northern Hemisphere, if shadowyou’re walking East your shadow will always be on your left side, but it will only be pointing due north at noon. In the morning it will swing from West, through north-west to north. In the afternoon, as the sun sets, it moves on until at sunset it’s pointing east. If you know what time it is you can roughly guess what direction your shadow points. A handy tip is to remember that your shadow is shortest at noon. Now this is all backwards if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.

When you’ve moving across country the ground usually makes it difficult to travel in a straight line. That’s when confusion often sets in. If you don’t keep track of where your shadow should be pointing, and where the sun should be in the sky, you can quickly drift off your planned course. Memorize this checklist and use it to keep you on track:

  • The sun rises in the east and sets in the west
  • In the Northern Hemisphere the sun is due south at noon
  • In the Southern Hemisphere the sun is due north at noon
  • Your shadow is shortest at noon

No matter how good you are at celestial navigation, you’ll never be as precise as you would be with proper navigational equipment. A better solution is to get yourself a good topographical map of the area and combine that with a quality compass. If you really want the ultimate in accuracy choose a Global Positioning System (GPS) handset. Companies like Garmin and Magellan have a wide range to suit most budgets, and these make pinpoint navigation easy. They won’t just tell you exactly where you are; they can track and record your course, store way-points and display local information. They can be a lot of fun too!


Pocket Chainsaw, Tiny Awesome Cutting Tool

Pocket chainsaws are pretty awesome tools that don’t take up a lot of space. They normally look similar to a chain on a normal gas chainsaw, but they have bidirectional teeth, so you cut on each stroke you make.

Pocket chainsaws are pretty simple and easy to use. The best technique is make sure you have proper leverage when sawing. If it is moveable, you can lay the piece on the ground and hold it with you pocketchainsaw_usefoot, you generally want to standard parallel with the log.  Cutting down a small tree is pretty easy, but be careful not to cut pieces directly above your head, unless a head ache is what you are going for.

Don’t apply too much tension the chain as you are cutting, it should be a relatively smooth and easy motion. You don’t want to dig the teeth in too far and have it catch. The nice pocket chainsaws can cut 3 inch branches in about 10 seconds without breaking a sweat. You should be able to cute through a 10 inch branch (soft wood) in about a minute.

Most of the pocket chainsaws don’t have handles, they have small metal rings. To make it easier on your hands, break some small branches and put them through the rings to use as handles. Alternatively, you can tie some larger paracord loops around the rings as handles.

So why is cutting stuff with a pocket chainsaw important? Just a few ideas:

  • Cut down and move trees in your path
  • Cutting firewood
  • Building a shelter
  • Making a raft
  • Cutting bone (yes, it could be needed!)

Survival pocket chainsaws: There are pocket chainsaws that look more like a wire than a chainsaw. These are still great survival tools and do work, they just take a little bit longer.

So be ready for whatever comes. Keep a pocket chainsaw handy at home, in your car, and in your ditch bag.

Toilet Paper Roll

Toilet Paper after the Apocalypse

Would you miss wiping? It is something we all have become accustomed too. Most preppers make sure to stock up on enough food, water, medical supplies, and even weapons, but they often forget the importance of toilet paper.

If you have ever been camping, you know how much of a drag it is to ‘use whatever you can find.’ So not only is toilet paper something you’ll really miss, but if nothing bad ever happens, sooner or later you’ll use it all up anyway. So it’s no real expense if you’ve got the storage space…so buy some and stock up.

Okay, but let’s say your supply still runs out, beside the leaf. What could you use?

The best option (in my opinion) is to use small sheets of cloth that you then place in a closed pot. These could then be washed (separate from your clothes!) and place in boiling water for sanitation. Similar to the ‘old-fashion’ cloth diaper concept.

Corn husks were used in early American history and sound pretty reasonable. The ancient Japanese would use thin wood stick like a scraper.  Lastly a sponge tethered to a stick was used in ancient Rome.

Featured Image by Esko Kurvineh/Flickr

Making Survival Bracelet

Survival bracelets are normally a made from 550 paracord. Paracord (and other strong cordage) has many wonderful uses in almost every survival situation. Before we talk about making them, let’s look at some possible uses of paracord:

  • Use to create a bow and arrow
  • Setting traps
  • Using as a bow drill for fire starting
  • Tying a tourniquet
  • Tying a shelter together

Here is what you need:

There are a several different styles of paracord bracelets. I tried to find the best video instructions for the most common styles. I personally recommend the Cobra style.

Cork Screw: Easy to make, fast to deploy, but not the longest or prettiest.

Cobra: Most common type, fashionable.

Two color (which means two paracord pieces when deployed)

One Color (one paracord for a longer single piece)

If you prefer written instructions, check this out:

Shop 550 Paracord Now:

Shop Pararcord Bracelets: