Category Archives: Wilderness Survival

Bug Out Supplies

Six Common Things To Leave Out Of Your Go Bag

There are about a million blog posts out there on what to put in your Go Bag, and that’s great. Let’s talk about things not to pack in your get out of dodge bag:

Glass Jar1. Glass/Fragile items – Anything that is in a glass container needs t
o be transferred to something more suited for rough travel. Plastic or Lexan is a better alternative for portable liquid storage.
Sure you want some of Grandma’s jam on the go, but the mason jar rattling around in your bag is a no go.

Flammable liquid2. Flammable Fluids – Speaking of liquids, if you are carrying any liquid fuel, find a way to pack that on the outside of your bag. If you have it inside and the container it is in cracks or leaks, you now have a bag soaked with fuel and anything inside, especially food, will be unusable. Water bottle carriers, or ammo dump pouches work great with cylinder type fuel containers.

3. Food – Wait, that should be “food that is not suited for long term storage”. Canned,dried and packaged camping/trail foods are the way to go here. Foods that expire quickly or damage easily have no place in your bag.

4. Huge/Heavy Items – There seems to be a tendency to pack everything and the kitchen sink in a bug out bag. There is always that guy who is trying to cram a family tent, a tailgating sized grill …do not try and carry more than 25% of your body weight, so if you are 200 pounds, avoid carrying a pack that weighs over 50 pounds. It may not seem like a lot, but put 50 pounds on your back and carry it all day is not something you want to do for days on end. Keep gear light and durable. You will need to be able to move, not drag behind and keep the rest of your group waiting for you to catch up. The disaster you are trying to move away from can and will spread given time.

Defibrillator5. Unfamiliar Medical Equipment and Medicine – Not everyone is a trained medic, so do not try and act like one by loading up your gear with medical equipment you are not trained to use properly. The same goes for meds, getting the dosage wrong can be fatal in a situation when emergency medical services are going to be strained and a response unit could be hours if not days from coming to assist you. Unless someone in your bug out group is properly trained, do not be tempted to do any medical procedures outside of common first aid. Take some Red Cross classes, get certified in basic first aid and CPR. If you the the time, get EMT trained. Just because you watched MASH and ER a few times doesn’t count.

M16 breakdown6. Unfamiliar/Illegal Possession Weapons – Like the unfamiliar medical equipment, do not carry weapons (firearms, edged weapons) that: A. You do not know how to use or care for properly and B. Are not allowed in your state to possess. What you are allowed/permitted by law to carry or have packed on your person or in your vehicle will vary by state. Check your local laws before putting your bug out plan together. At some point the crisis you are in will be over and the law will be restored to your area. Make sure you don’t survive the situation only to be arrested for what you are carrying. If you state allows it, apply for a firearms permit and take a carry class. And make sure you know how to use and care for that firearm properly.




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!

Why is it Important to Purify Your Water?

GiardiaNo water coming from the tap? Lost in the wilderness and thirsty? Locating a water source may only be half the battle. Most surface water contains microbes that may make you sick (or worse). It is always important to purify your water unless you are sure it is clean to keep you healthy and functional.

Here are the most commonly water borne illnesses:

  1. Giardiasis is diarrhea which is caused by Giardia intestinalis and can develop in two weeks after a victim’s exposure to these organisms. The Giardia intestinalis parasites can live in the victim’s intestines. They can pass outside the anus through feces. When outside, they can survive on surfaces for several months. They can become causes of diarrhea, greasy stool, abdominal cramps, and gas attacks.
  2. Amebiasis is another waterborne illness due to Entamoeba histolytica, a waterborne protozoon. A sufferer can experience severe abdominal pain, bloating, loose stools, and weight loss. The victim can also suffer from liver abscess when the parasite invades the liver.
  3. Cholera is another waterborne disease that you should be careful about. It is caused by a viral intestinal infection through taking in water and food that is contaminated with Vibro cholerae. These bacteria can have a short incubation in your intestines. When it’s full blown, you can suffer from acute diarrhea that can cause complications such as kidney failure, dehydration, or even death. Cholera is accounted to about 118, 932 in Africa alone in 2000 and that tolled to more than 4000 deaths in the same year.
  4. Gastroenteritis is caused by parasites and bacteria in water and is sometimes known as a stomach flu, which is caused by the norovirus. Signs and symptoms include diarrhea, low-grade fever, and dehydration. Usually, the symptoms surface within two days after the victim’s exposure to the virus and disappear after two days.
  5. Cryptosporidiosis is another waterborne disease that is caused by Cryptosporidium parvum, a type of parasite that cannot be killed by chlorine. You can become infected by this disease even if you filter your water. Some symptoms that come with the disease include weight loss, mild fever, nausea, and vomiting.

You will noticed that these won’t make you sick right away. So if you find yourself in a short term survival situation, without the means to water glasspurify the water, you may want to drink the water if comes down to life or death. Then visit a doctor as soon as possible.

Microorganism are not the only thing that can cause harm. There are both mineral and chemical compounds that may be present in any water supply that could also hurt you. I recommend always having a water filter at home, in the car, and in your pack if you are backpacking.

Basic Survival Skills

survival2Basic survival skills are something that will always come in handy whether you are an outdoors-man or not. You just never know when you might be in a situation where your skills will dictate if you make it out alive. Some of the skills that will be critical to your survival are your attitude, building a shelter, finding water, building a fire, and finding food.

Your attitude toward your survival will probably be the biggest tool you use for survival. The mind is a very powerful thing and if you believe you can make it and survive; then you probably will. It is easy to get down on yourself if you are caught in a bad situation that you might not see a way out of, but it is important that you don’t let that happen. Action is the key to your survival.

Water will be critical to your ability to survive; dehydration can wreak havoc on your body. Finding water should be a top priority in your basic survival skills. The optimal situation for clean drinking water is to locate a spring. If a spring cannot be located then you will have to make do with what you find; however, in any event you should not drink untreated water. The best, and easiest, way is to boil the water. Boiling will kill any bacteria or viruses that may be contained in the water.

If you determine that you will have to be someplace for an extended time before rescue, a shelter should be one of your first tasks. The shelter does not have to be something extravagant, it just needs to keep the wind, rain, or snow off you. Probably the easiest form of shelter is to find a cave. If a cave is not available your next best bet is to construct a hut from the available materials around you.

Once your shelter is built then you will need to turn your attention to building a fire. A fire will do a couple of things for you. It will help to keep you warm. Hypothermia is one of the greatest dangers when you are in a survival situation. Your fire will also come in handy for cooking and boiling water. Building a fire is something that takes a little skill if you find yourself with no form of ignition. It is wise to practice building outdoor fires because you do not want to have to learn when it counts.

Food will be the next thing that will need your attention. Studies show that a person can live up to three weeks with no food, but that is something that you would not be wise to try. Wild plant life will be your best bet for a food source. There are plants that are poisonous, so caution must be exercised. Do not eat plants unless you are certain they are non-poisonous. Small game animals are also a good source of nutrition. There are many insects that can also be eaten.

As you can see a few basic survival skills can go a long way to helping you survive a bad situation. If you are going to be in an area where you might need these skills it would not hurt to brush up. This knowledge might serve to save your life.