Monthly Archives: April 2016

SHTF Self-Education Book Review: Wolves Among the Sheep….

From, “Stop Shouting!

Looks to be an excellent read.  You can pre-order at Amazon if you wish, or be sent an email when it’s available.  Once we get it and have it read, we’ll post a review.

‘Stop Shouting’ has provided very good information in the past, so we’re taking it on faith that the book will be worthwhile.

wolfsheep

Isaacs

“It is a book concerned with recognition of danger and of malefactors.  On the surface, it would seem to approach the topic from the point of view of solely concerning Churches and other ministry activities, but to dismiss it as such is to do yourself and your loved ones a profound disservice.  I approached this topic with some skepticism and from the viewpoint of a lapsed Catholic life, thinking this was only about Churches.  I was so, so wrong, as it is so much more than that.  The book rewards those with faith in the message itself, not in any specific faith overview.  It is eminently practical advice of great utility in anyone’s life.  If you have children, even more so.”

Looking forward to the book!  Here’s a synopsis taken from the review (emphasis added):

“…understand that this is not a tactical manual, or a work on small unit leadership.  It is, however, suitable for someone with zero experience in these issues to pick up and read, yet provides a depth that professionals will find great utility in.  This work is designed to provide awareness of a lethal problem, how to recognize, assess and categorize it – as well as how to engage, de-escalate and mitigate. This is a work by an experienced, credentialed man on a mission to help you save the lives of those around you.  The book is well worth your time and is a gateway to other works and authors that Dr. Isaacs lists and credits in his work.”

One Type Of Realistic Planning And Training

Watch this again.

This dramatization promises to be a great teaching video that demonstrates various survival techniques that will work.  Note the size of the ruck sack, personal and equipment camouflage, and how he moves.  If one were moving from Point A to Point B (the safer location), one might use some of the techniques demonstrated.  Last note:  PT…can’t carry a full ruck (ammo, food, water, etc), rifle, web gear without being in shape.

Mason Dixon Tactical

A good friend posted this awesome video that shows one type of training scenario you can run that involves multiple skills you should be practicing if you are truly a Survivalist. Realistic scenario based planning, training, and preps (not the fantastical BS so many do because it makes them feel like they’re in the military) is what you should be doing. Is this scenario possible? Sure, especially in Alaska. Is it probable? No clue. We don’t have a Damned crystal ball, so it’s train for the worst and hardest to survive scenario, and the rest are easier.

JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

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Band Wagon Post: Don’t Try to Have your NPT Look Like a Regular Military Outfit

A picture’s worth a thousand words, isn’t it?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yeah….I want to join THOSE guys….not.

Our very good friend, JC Dodge, has a post about, “Perception vs. Subtance” that attempts to convince survivalists, preppers, and those forming NPT’s of the folly of trying to look similar to active duty military down to rank innsignia.  Following that, the Virginia Freeman’s Society address the same subject from a slightly different perspective, but the point is only underscored and rightfully calls for all of us to get a bit more critical of ourselves.

Many, many, many groups of preppers, survivalists, and NPTs are, now, today, spending a great amount of money on looking really ‘dangerous’ by emulating the way various active duty military and contract organizations are dressed and armed (as much as possible, anyway).

This is a mistake.  The reasons are many, and can be found easily, but the primary reason is that emulating by appearance an active duty organization, when one is not, violates internationally agreed upon ‘laws of war’, and should SHTF, one can find themselves in a world of hurt just for wearing a rank, or a patch, or a particular camouflage pattern.  Go:  research, and find out.

DTG is also adding its voice to the growing chorus of trainers that are eschewing the more ‘dynamic’ clothing choices for plain old earth tones.  In fact, we’ve been doing it for a number of years now (since 2012, if memory serves).   We were happy to find that JC Dodge and us had coincidentally chosen the same type of clothing for about the same reasons, and have continued to beat that drum since we made the choice.  DTG had been doing the multi cam thing well before the US military adopted it.  It was a good pattern, worked pretty well, and we flat out liked it.  Then, when the US military pretty much decided the same thing, as frustrating as it was, we had to acknowledge that we could be viewed as attempting to emulate something we are not, and bring down a world of hurt on ourselves and families.  So, we had to change our choices.

We’ve got a huge mix now:  Obsolete Woodland, British DPM, Coyote Brown, ASAT (All Season All Terrain (civilian hunting pattern)), assorted pieces (never worn together) of MC, etc.  And here’s the great thing:  The mix and match works!

In this picture of an active group, at 100 meters, who do you think they could be mistaken as?  While imitation is sometimes called the most sincere form of flattery, the end result might not be so good.  At least these guys seem to do their PT, or are at least not observably obese.  Plain fact:  Any prepper, NPT member, or survivalist that isn’t doing their level best to get into decent shape and shed unnecessary poundage to reduce what JC calls, “the Mobile Food Storage Unit,” isn’t doing themselves, their family, or their NPT or other group any good whatsoever.  In fact, you’re limiting the growth of your group, because the perception (and perception is sometimes reality) is that you’re only a ‘wannabe’ and are most likely a clown.  If that offends you, there’s a butthurt form somewhere on the blog…search for it, find it, and fill it out.  Send it to us so we can process it.  Or, ask yourself why you’re offended, and then take action to become more capable.

AJAM Border Militia_46.JPG

Then there’s the patch thing.  Sure, I still have a couple patches from my active duty days that I’ll wear on one or another item of clothing, but I earned those.  I don’t need to have 15 different morale patches and neither do you!  It serves no purpose other than to attract attention and provide some sort of self-gratification by advertising who you are, what you think, and so on.  That is why we do not have a ‘DTG NPT’ patch or whatever for students who complete various courses of instruction.  It’s great advertising, sure, but it is also a ‘tell’ to anyone meaning you harm.  It’s better, in our opinion, to keep the knowledge of what you know and where you’ve trained to yourself, and if you’re spreading the word to your friends, family, or NPT members, word of mouth is best.

That’s where ‘substance’ comes in.  Folks, we’ve got to be able to DO the tasks we read and write about.  Specifically, the BASICS.  Like basic marksmanship.  Or fieldcraft.  Or land navigation.  Or humping our ‘heavy on purpose’ ruck during training.  True story:  I had a guy once in my NPT organization that carried a Mosin Nagant full sized rifle.  He loved it.  It was all he could afford, and that was fine.  However, we had a standard that each member had to score a 125 on the AQT (shot at 25 and 100 meters) before being allowed to do ANYTHING more advanced with firearms.  He never once qualified minimally, and would suggest that we do thousand yard firing or fire from moving vehicles.  Of course, he didn’t last long, especially when he was told that before he did anything exotic, he needed to qualify, and qualify well, and finally left after filling out a ‘butt hurt’ form.  The major issue with the guy was that he was doing things for the wrong reason:  He wasn’t in it for skill mastery; he was in it for self-gratification and the sensation of doing, ‘neat shit.’

And that’s where a lot of the problem lies in the NPT/survivalist training world:  Too much ‘hoorah’ thrill seeking and not enough ‘nose to the grindstone’ time in study and practice to learn what you need, especially the ‘boring crap.’  Take first aid or communications.  A lot less exciting than putting rounds down range on reactive targets, and that’s a fact.  However, being skilled in first aid and communications is arguably as important as being good with your personal defense carbine or pistol.

So, let’s start working more on substance, and when we are substantive in our capabilities, the perception will change, and you’ll find your NPT start to grow.  Get out and do some PT….and grab a ruck while you’re at it.

Ruck walk

SHTF Kit Planning: What to Have and Why – Part IV

For convenience, here are parts 1, 2, & 3.

wiggys bag

Next up from shelters is what we sleep in.  Up front, know this is entirely temperature range dependent.  What works where I am in summer may be way too much for you if you’re, say, in central Texas or central Utah.  But put it on your checklist:  A good, quality, sleeping bag.  Or at least several good, quality components that can make up a ‘taco’ (improvised sleeping bag).  If going the commercially manufactured way, the one we recommend is the Wiggy’s FTRS system.  Wiggy’s bags actually repel water away from the fibers and provide more real warmth due to the insulation used than similarly or higher priced bags.  Here’s a link to Wiggy’s that explains how and why it works so well.  His bags are extremely durable, and get better when they’re laundered.  An added benefit is that he runs specials on a routine basis if you’re saving your pennies.   His bags also come with a pretty robust stuff sack, which, after a liberal application of Camp Dry or other waterproofing spray, will keep your bag nice and dry, especially if you have it stored inside your ruck.  Here’s an anecdotal example of a young man purposely soaking his Wiggy’s bag and sleeping in it in winter:

We use the FTRSS over bag for 2 to 3 seasons (it’s good down to +35) backed up with a, “Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme Thermolite Liner.”  Until we actually break down and load the main bag, too, we might throw in a ‘woobie’ (aka, ‘poncho liner’).  I’ve been asked why don’t I just use the main bag, and the answer is simple:  Layering.  In summer I might not use anything but my woobie, or if it’s an unusually cold summer night, I might throw on the Sea to Summit and woobie.  I like to have the option.  About mid-September though, the main bag goes in the ruck.  DIGRESSION WARNING:  Another nice thing about Wiggy’s bags is that they can be compressed in the stuff sack or your ruck indefinitely and not ruin the pile (meaning the cold rating).  It’s all in the fiber used.  That means you can keep your ruck loaded up for use most of the time (personally, I take mine apart a couple times a year to inspect for damage and let the sleeping bag air out (my old school habit).  I walk with my ruck already packed regularly, so there’s a better chance of something being out of whack. Deep winter is a subject for its own post, so it won’t be covered here, except to say that you don’t want to have to relocate in winter if at all possible.  Make sure you’ve got yourself into the best place you can be with plenty of food, water, and warmth.  You don’t want to try to spend the winter in something like this….even from just a hygiene perspective, let alone a comfort and day to day living perspective.  Sure…it can be done, but it’s a last resort.  Which, by the way, you need to be trained in and practice (consistent pattern here, I know….training, practice, fitness, training, practice, fitness) regularly as these skills are all perishable to one extent or the other.  End of digression.

winter shelter

If you’re going the quality component method, there are a great many good products out there.  It’s your choice.  Something that will help you make a choice is to get some good training in survival, which always includes learning about improvised shelters and insulation.  And trust me, staying warm is all about the insulation…with a little bit of wind consciousness thrown in.  I’ve made and slept in parachute panel sleeping bags with natural insulation and stayed warm enough to sleep, but remember, if this is your choice, you’re going to spend a LOT of time gathering your insulation material, and if everything’s already wet, you’re SOL for that type of set up.  To keep dry if it gets wet after you’re in the bag/shelter, you need a couple of FEET of insulation, give or take, with the rule of thumb being MORE is better when trying to stay warm and dry.  Check this example out:

survival sleeping bag

That’s why I prefer the commercially available bags designed to keep me warm and dry.  Less time needs to be spent achieving resting state.  And know that time spent equates to energy expended, and as you’re moving a good distance to your ‘hidey hole’ or ‘fall back’ or ‘retreat’ or…whatever you’re calling it, there is a chance that you may exhaust yourself, depending on your fitness level, distance, and the quality of food and water you have available to you while you’re en route.  A great dramatization of someone ‘evading’ is here.  Only the first installment is available currently, but as the presenter is vouched for by someone I trust implicitly, and have known of him for some years now, I suspect that it will stay realistic and demonstrate various skills and scenarios you could possibly face while employing your SHTF kit.

As far as what we’ve put together so far, we’re talking quality equipment (what priority are you putting on your life?) which should be the best you can afford.  Whatever you choose, make sure it’s not a ‘knock off’ and can do what it advertises, including anything you see here.  If you have a problem with the quality of anything we’ve recommended, please, by all means, let us know, because A:  we have no interest in the products other than they work and we own them, and B:  we will always go to a superior product, test it, and then either talk about it…or not, depending on the outcome.

So, we’ve got boots, socks, packs, hydration, food, hygiene, shelter, and sleeping covered.  Next installment we’ll delve into basic clothing.  Hint:  It ain’t all about the latest and greatest camouflage pattern adopted by our armed forces, either.

SHTF Kit Planning: What to Have and Why – Part III

bear-at-the-shelter

Here we are at shelters already.  I’m going to cut to the chase and (possibly) tick off a few readers at the ‘get go.’

Forget a tent.  Period.  It’s too bulky, too heavy, and is not a ‘multiple use’ item.  Further, when you’re inside one, you won’t have an advantage of increased warmth (without generating it by a heat source), and you’re blind.  Imagine, if you will, the photo above, and you were snug in your tent, not hearing anything….until right before you unzipped the fly and looked out….to see an inquisitive bear (not necessarily a Grizzly, as pictured).  Now you’ve got to do something about the bear and all the shit inside your tent from involuntary bodily functions,  possibly the bear has run off from all the screams of those in the tent with you, and the ensuing ‘circular firing squad as everyone with a weapon decides to shoot/kill/scare off the intruder.

The mind boggles with the comedy of it all.

Forget the ‘one man bivy tent’ as well.  It’s a cocoon.  You’re trapped and blind.  If you must have a waterproof covering for just yourself, then get over to Wiggy’s and get one of his waterproof sleeping bag covers.  They’re on sale at 20% off right now.  At least you’re not blind.  And they DO work.  One caveat:  They are truly waterproof, which means your bag will be wet from condensation when you wake up.  This isn’t so bad in deep cold, because you can air the bag and literally ‘freeze dry’ the condensation on it, and then turn the bivy bag inside out and do the same.  Warm weather requires a bit more airing out to dry it.

So, what’s the ideal SHTF shelter?  In the simplest terms, a tarp shelter.  It keeps the wind off (which is how you stay warm), let’s you see out at all times, at least in one, and up to 3 directions, depending on your set up, and is fairly cheap, depending on the material you choose.  In deep winter with good snow cover, I’ve used a simple 6X8′ white tarp and had my shelter disappear from observation (camouflage is always a good thing).  The drawback is that it’s noisy setting up and taking down, because the tarp is a heavy plastic and makes noise when being folded, except in really warm weather.  Again, it’s all about the quality and how much you can and how much you choose to spend.

Here’s what I currently use and recommend:

allweather_1

I got mine here though I don’t know if they still stock it or have replaced it with something similar.  I do know that I’ve used mine in all 4 seasons and it’s worked out very, very well.  Room enough to configure as I need it for whatever I’m training for and I can fit me and 2 other people and rucks inside (tightly, but it works).  There are other good ones; this is just what I use.   I did add some 24 inch long bungees to the outfit to give me some versatility in setting it up, so I know the ounces I’m adding means I have to sacrifice somewhere else.   The color is basic light forest green (kind of OD) that is flat with no shine, even when it’s wet.  Blends reasonably well, especially if you site your overnight location somewhere off the beaten path in as much flora and fauna as necessary.  Nice sunshade in super bright/hot weather, too.

When you set up your shelter, keep in mind that you want the opening to be pointed at your primary field of observation, and you want your shelter to be sited in an area that doesn’t attract attention and won’t be noticed by anyone passing through.  You’ll also want to ensure you are at least slightly elevated (drainage) and about 30 to 50 meters away from any water source.  Yes, I digressed again.

What shelter tips do you have?

Next installment:  Tools.

SHTF Kit Planning: What to Have and Why – Part II

heavypacks.jpg-300x224

In Part I, here, we began to build the foundation for a SHTF kit at its cornerstone, good boots, and moved on to the pack itself, some pros and cons, and then to personal protection.  One thing we didn’t mention, and should have, was socks.  Good, quality socks, and at least 6 pair per person.  We like a merino wool blend, over the calf style, that wicks and is good for a minimum of 3 seasons.  3 season socks aren’t too heavy, and in winter, so long as you’re walking, your feet will stay comfortable.  It’s when you stop that you need the heavier type.  That said, we are HUGE ‘Vermont Darn Tough’ fans.  The particular model we like is the USMC “Darn Tough” over the calf, extra cushion type (model 1501).  They’re getting harder to find, and are expensive, but they’re well worth the cost.  YMMV.  They have another one, too, for much warmer climates. It’s their ‘tactical’ (everything seems to be ‘tactical’ these days…sigh) mid calf full cushion sock, that’s somewhat light weight.  Definitely not a cold weather sock.  As with other items we talk about, there definitely are other good brands, this is simply the one we find to be best suited to our particular needs.

Vermont 1501

As the picture above is meant to illustrate, over-packing is a dangerous habit that many in the preparedness/liberty community seem to be burdened with (pun intended), especially with the demonstrated lack of fitness one can witness at any gun show or preparedness exposition.   Thousands of people buying enough junk (literally, because the quality is generally suspect) to fill several large rucks, and having to get a hand cart to take their purchases to their vehicles, building up a sweat loading it in the trunk.  These folks can be viewed as ‘resupply points of opportunity’ because when you find them, dead on the road or in the woods, you might be able to recover something of use.  Yes, it’s harsh, but the point is that physical fitness is your friend; High Fructose Corn Syrup, processed foods, a couch, and your flat screen are not.  Together, those things conspire to rob you of your strength, stamina, and set you up to die of a heart attack within the first half mile of your ‘bug out’ trek.  Ignore this at your own peril.

discipline

Now, the next category we need to cover is water.  You can live longer without food than you can with water, as the body has an amazing ability to convert stored fat into energy when food intake becomes extremely low.  Sure, you can’t go on forever, but you can go on, so long as you have water.  Water weighs 8 lbs per gallon.  That 8 lbs doesn’t take into account the water carrier, either.  Depending on what you decide to have, each gallon might weigh 9 lbs; take for example if you have a couple of two quart canteens.  These were ‘all the rage’ back in my day, as typically we had a couple of 1 quart hard plastic canteens balancing out our web belts to the outside and a couple more on the ruck sack (if we were lucky).  These nice thing about these is they’re flexible, and you can easily nullify any sloshing that you can’t do with a hard canteen or container.

2 Qt canteen

This is also why we’re fans of a hydration bladder except in deep cold (which we mitigate by the way we wear it).  The one we’re partial to is by Camelbak, and again, it comes from their military line.  It’s the USMC FILBE bladder.  Not trying to sound like a surplus store commercial, but many items we use are acquired more

FILBE bladderSimply put, this one has baffles, holds 100 ounces, and can have a mini-filter, like the one here by Sawyer, attached, so in worse case scenarios, you can fill your bladder with questionable water and still drink it.  We get ours from Great Lake Survival Products, here.  You’ll also notice other Sawyer products that would fill the water purification niche.  We’ve used and own all them, including the Zero Two Bucket System for our ‘shelter in place’ purification needs, but I digress.

Back to the bladder:  Why are baffles important?  In a typical hydration bladder, as the water is consumed, it stays at the bottom – the baffles keep the hydration bladder flatter by helping to keep the water distributed throughout.  This item also falls into the rare case where two is better than one.  One is kept in the ruck, and used first.  The other, if you have two, is on the self-defense harness/vest, and is reserved for when you may be leaving your pack in a small over night location and doing some sort of task that you need to be able to move much more quickly than you would carrying your ruck.

So, now we’ve got our locomotion (feet) and hydration taken care of, and we can move on to food.  Let’s make it simple:  You’re going to be using a lot of carbs and protein while losing fat if you’re going a good long ways on foot carrying your SHTF pack or even a small child on your back.  So, you need some high-octane fuel.  You don’t know if you can heat your food, you don’t know if you’ll be able to rehydrate it (freeze dried), and you need some easily ingested food that will do the trick.  Here’s something to think about:  Diversify what you are putting in your pack.  Example:

  • Six Meal Replacement bars (30/35 gr protein)  – These come in all sorts of flavors, and are great for those times you can’t heat food up, stop, or otherwise take the time to prepare a meal.  Six of these are basically 3 days worth of food at two of them a day.
  • Four ‘mountain house type’ freeze dried entree’s (serves 2) – Of whatever you like.  Comfort food.  Very light.  All it needs is hot water, right?  Here’s the reason for the larger ‘serves 2’ sizes:  They typically run 200 – 250 calories per serving, have lots of carbs, and some fat, with protein being the lowest major component.  You need the carbs and fat, and having, “Beef Stroganoff” or “Chicken and Rice” or “Beef Stew” as a morale builder helps.
  • Four ‘field stripped’ MRE type meals – That means just the spoon, entree, side dish, and desert.  No excess cardboard, packing, etc.

Now you’ve got food for 7 days in your SHTF kit for yourself.  You need to do the same (portion dependent, of course) for the others in your family, depending on their size and strength.

Morale items:  Some candy, coffee, tea, cider mix, anything that can make water seem like it’s more than it is.  Personally, if they had a powdered IPA mix, I’d have some of that with me….alas, but they haven’t invented that yet.

Right along side food in importance, is hygeine, because what goes in, must come out, right?  Ok, you can do the roll of toilet paper in a zip lock bag if you want, just remember that in a ‘normal situation’ in a non-SHTF environment, a woman will use a roll of toilet paper in 5 to 7 days, depending on the roll.  So, if you think you’ll take about 2 to 3 weeks to get to your fall back (believe me, it’s going to take you a LOT longer to get there than you think), you need to have that amount of toilet paper for the ladies.  Men are different…we use about a roll every 2 to 3 weeks.  Different plumbing – different needs.  If you’re worried about room, because toilet paper is bulky, here’s an alternative.

compressed ass wipeThere really neat.  You put a few drops of water on one of them (which is about the size of a US nickel) and wait a bit.  It expands and unfolds, is soft, because it’s barely damp, and is strong enough for cleansing one’s body after voiding waste.  Not too awfully expensive, but remember, you get what you pay for.  You’re paying for compressed TP.  That means ‘room’ and less weight.  So, it’s about $12 for 2 packs of 50.  100 butt wipes, if you use one towelette for each ‘incident’.  That’s not bad.  If you had 3 ‘incidents’ a day, it’d last one person over a month.  Putting 2 of those packs in my pack makes me basically self-sufficient regarding hygiene for a good long time.  But I’m a man, so YMMV.  Check it out, here.  Your call, though.  Just have enough of whatever you choose to get you to your ‘hidey hole.’  You do NOT want to have to learn the hard way on what grass or leaves you should have wiped your ass with…or not.

Next time, we’ll talk about shelter and associated equipment.