Tag Archives: Featured


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.


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

empty car trunk

Car Survival Kit

empty car trunkOftentimes when people start getting things together for emergency preparedness the car survival kit is forgotten. Your car is probably the first place you would want an emergency kit. A lot of time is spent in the car and if trouble should arise it is smart to be prepared.

The first thing you are going to want to get is a durable bag to hold your kit. There will be several items going into your kit and you want it to be organized. The best material is nylon because of its durability. You will have a choice of backpack or duffel styles. Each has their advantages. The backpack style is portable and handy if you have to hike. The duffel style will give you more room.

These are the items you should include in your bag. These are listed in no particular order.

  • Folding shovel- This will come in handy if it becomes necessary to dig out your car, or if you need to build a shelter.
  • Jumper cables- Used if your battery dies.
  • Duct tape and paracord- These items can be used to secure various things. Most importantly if you have the need to build a shelter.
  • Multi-Tool- A must have tool for survival. There are several tools combined into one.
  • First Aid Kit- A basic kit is all you will probably need.
  • Extra clothing- Should your clothes get wet, or you need the extra warmth.
  • Emergency blanket- Used for warmth. Can also be used in shelter situations.
  • Extra fuses- Many times simply changing fuses will make the repair and get you on your way.
  • Compass- Needed if you decide you need to hike for help.
  • Fire starting material- This can be matches, lighters, or magnesium stick.
  • Non-perishable food- If you are stuck for a while you will need food.
  • Water purification tablets- Water is vital for survival.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries- Used for situations when light is needed.
  • Pre-paid cell phone- Make sure it is fully charged and has minutes available for use. When your main cell phone dies you will be grateful to have this.
  • Map- A map of the area you are traveling might help you save yourself, or direct rescuers to you.
  • Whistle- Used to signal for help.

As with anything it is good practice to make yourself familiar with the use of these items before you are pressed to use them. As an example do some research on reading a compass, building a fire, and using jumper cables.

The items listed are a good basic kit. Of course items can be changed and added to suit your individual tastes and needs. However, you should not stray too far from these basic things.