Notes from HJL:

Don’t forget to send me that article you’ve been putting off. There are over $11,000 in prizes that need your attention! See our contest page for details on the requirements to be eligable for those fantastic prizes. I am also still waiting to hear back from several whom I requested changes in your articles.

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The new CFAPA.org website has been updated with new credentials PDFs that are easier to print. Thanks for your patience.

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Make sure to visit Camping Survival’s Mountain House sale this week. Hop on over to their site and check out the savings. They’re offering up to 25% off of #10 cans and 15% off of pouches.

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Seed for Securityis running their first ever sale right now. You can get their Super Survival pack for 20% off. That’s a total of four pounds of seeds and two pints of grains. Plus, all of their seed is heirloom, non-GMO.

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Today we present another entry for Round 52 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $11,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  4. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  5. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  7. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  9. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  12. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. A full set of all 26 books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),
  9. Autrey’s Armory – specialists in AR-15, M4s, parts, and accessories is donating a $250 gift certificate,
  10. Dri-Harvestfoods.com in Bozeman, Montana is providing a prize bundle with Beans, Buttermilk Powder, Montana Hard Red Wheat, Drink Mixes, and White Rice, valued at $333,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  12. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. A MURS Dakota Alert Base Station Kit with a retail value of $240 from JRH Enterprises,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  7. Ambra Le Roy Medical Products in North Carolina is donating a bundle of their traditional wound care and first aid supplies, with a value of $208.
  8. SurvivalBased.com is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.

Round 52 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

How To Choose A Bug Out Bike, by B.B.

Many of us plan to use bicycles for transportation during TEOTWAWKI, or we’ll use them as bug out vehicles in the event that roadways are snarled. The need to take the bike off-road will necessitate that you have mountain bikes. Not only are mountain bikes best suited for off-road travel, they have the ability to pull a light trailer. In addition, the rider sits a little more upright on a mountain bike than on a road bike. This gives the rider a wider range of vision to look for threats, as well as giving the ability to wear a backpack or rucksack.

What to Look For in a Bike

All bikes with the mountain bike moniker are not created equal. The bikes that are sold at the big box stores as mountain bikes are not built for off-road riding. They are fine for cruising around your neighborhood and possibly riding on smooth double-track (dirt roads made by off-road vehicle wheel tracks). These bikes will not hold up to the rigors of TEOTWAWKI. In my opinion, the brands to avoid include Next, Roadmaster, Ozona, or Pacific.

Mountain bikes come in two styles– hardtail and softtail. Hardtail bikes do not have any type of shock absorber or spring on the rear of the frame. The ride is rougher on this style of bike, but there are fewer things to break. A softtail has a rear suspension that makes riding over rough terrain a little less hard on the body parts, but this is one more thing that can break. Under most riding conditions, a hard tail is the better choice. Mountain bikes also come with or without front shock absorbers. Get one with the front shocks.

A low-end, true mountain bike from a bike shop will begin at about $500 and can quickly run into the thousands. The reason is that they are constructed to withstand trail riding under very difficult conditions. The rims are double-walled to withstand hitting rocks, roots, and holes on the trail without bending. Even double-walled rims can taco (yes, that means fold up like a taco), if the rider is over 200 pounds and tries a turn in deep sand. The frames on quality mountain bikes also have double and sometimes triple thickness of metal, where all of the joints are welded together and are double/triple welded for strength. This is called double-butting or triple-butting. The cheap mountain bikes have single-walled rims and are single-butted; they will break under off-road conditions.

The drive train or transmission is the heart of your bike and, thus, is the most expensive part. If you are going to spend extra money on the bike, spend it on the drive train. The chain rings (the front gears) on cheap bikes are stamped metal, and the teeth are prone to bending when you ride over a log or a rock. Quality chain rings are made of higher quality metal and are machined so that the chain shifts smoothly from one ring to another. The highest quality chain rings can even be shifted while climbing under a load without jamming or jumping off the ring. The second part of the transmission is the rear gears. Mountain bikes usually come with nine gears in a gear ratio suitable for climbing steep inclines.

Derailleurs are the things that shift the chain onto the different gears. They are activated via a shifter, located on the handlebars near the grips. There is a derailleur for the three front chain rings and one for the rear gears. The derailleurs on cheap bikes are made of weak metals (sometimes aluminum) or even plastic. The derailleurs on a quality bike are made to withstand trail conditions and hard riding. There are two major brands– Shimano and SRAM. The derailleurs come in varying levels of quality and associated expense. Shimano derailleurs, in order of lowest to highest quality, are Shimano SIS, Tourney, Altus, Acera, Alivio, Deore, SLX, XT, Zee, and XTR. The SIS, Tourney, and Altus are entry-level derailleurs, while the last three would be used by pro racers. Think of the SIS as a Jeep Liberty and the XTR as a Baja racer. Which one would you want to take across the Baja desert? Acera- through XT-level derailleurs would be good choices, based on my riding experience, for most off-road riding. They will provide the durability needed, while shifting reliably and smoothly. The SCRAM brand derailleurs begin at X3 for the lowest end with the X0, XX and XX1 at the top end. Both brands are excellent. A quality Shimano or SRAM chain completes the drive train. Once you know what to look for, good deals on used bikes can be found on e-bay or Craigslist. Just do not buy a used bike until you know what to look for.

How to Fit Yourself to the Bike

If you just go buy a bike off the rack, you may be disappointed if you don’t get the right size to fit you. A bike that is too short will cause serious knee injuries. A bike that is too tall for you will stretch you too much and impede your balance. Mountain bike sizes are measured in inches. You measure the seat tube from the top of the crank to the top of the seat tube. I am 5’9” and I ride a 17” bike comfortably. Have the bike shop fit you to a bike. It makes all of the difference in the world when riding 20 miles or more to have a bike that fits you properly and is adjusted correctly. If the employees don’t know how to fit you to a bike, then go to another bike shop. This one is run by amateurs.

Conditioning and Skills

Many preppers buy equipment and place it up on a shelf until it’s needed for TEOTWAWKI. Don’t make this mistake with your mountain bike. If you don’t ride regularly, the first time that you ride may be a miserable experience. Your thighs will be burning after a few miles, and the part where your body meets the bike seat will be extremely tender. You must ride your bike regularly to build the conditioning you will need, especially if you plan to use bikes as your BOV. You can cover up to 100 miles a day on a mountain bike if you are properly conditioned. Most of us won’t be able to make anywhere near that mileage. If you plan on pulling a trailer, you need to practice pulling it loaded to develop the conditioning needed as well as the balance.

In addition to general conditioning, riding off-road requires some skills. Negotiating trails requires that you develop a sense of balance to keep from getting bucked off. Going up and down hills also requires a specific set of skills. Going up a steep hill may require that you stand up on the pedals to get maximum power, yet you have to keep most of your weight over the rear wheel to maintain traction. Riding down a steep hill requires that you slide off the seat and hover your weight further back on the bike to keep from going over the handle bars. The proper use of the front and rear brakes is also an acquired skill when riding downhill. During the bug out is not the time to be learning how to ride your mountain bike. Most mountain biking clubs are great at helping beginners learn the basic skills. Check to see if there is one in your area.

Common Tools You Will Need

  1. A Chain Tool. Chains stretch through use, and links must sometimes be removed to maintain the proper length. If your chain is too long, it can jump off the gears or cause the derailleurs not to shift properly. Chains also break and can be reconnected by removing the broken link and rejoining the chain. You absolutely must have a chain breaking tool to remove and re-insert the link pins. I’ve watched many a mountain biker walking his bike to the trailhead because he didn’t carry this small tool.
  2. Tire Repair Tools. The basic list of tire repair tools you need include:
    1. two tire levers
    2. an air pump or CO2 dispenser, and
    3. a spare inner tube (or more) or a patch kit.

    It is much faster to just replace the tube and patch the damaged tube later when you are secure and have more time. Fixing a flat tire is a skill that you should practice ahead of time. I know a guy that can change the tube in a tire and be back on the trail in less than a minute, but it takes me more than five minutes on a good day. When the SHTF, you don’t want to be trying to figure out how to fix your flat. I suggest having a supply of tubes with you. Off road, you will encounter thorns, broken glass, old barbed wire, and many other tire hazards. If you have the money, you can buy tires lined with Kevlar that are not puncture proof but are very puncture resistant. You can also get tubes filled with green slime that seals small punctures and will keep you rolling until you can get to safety. Buy lots of spare tubes and a few spare tires while they are available. Also, buy lots of tube patches.

  3. Hex wrenches. Most things that need tightening on a mountain bike require hex wrenches. Three sizes of hex wrenches will take care of most things that work their way loose. Spoke wrenches are used to tighten loose spokes. Spokes must be kept at the proper tightness to prevent the rim from going out of round. You may also want to carry a few spare spokes. Broken spokes are easy to replace, but they require the spoke wrench to tighten them to the proper tightness. A multi-tool will take care of most other needs.
  4. A few miscellaneous items and instruction book. The other things that I carry with me are zip ties, electrical tape, and small pieces of wire. The final thing you need to learn is how to make minor repairs to your bike and keep everything in adjustment. Derailleurs require minor adjustments to keep them shifting properly. Brake pads wear and must be adjusted. Chains either stretch or break and must be adjusted or repaired. Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance by Leonard Zinn is the standard reference book for maintaining your mountain bike.

Mountain biking is a great sport. It provides you with a little adrenaline rush, while keeping you at a high level of fitness. In addition, I’ve met some great people in the sport. Yet, the critical thing is to buy a quality bike and learn how to ride it.

Letter Re: First Aid Kits

HJL,

On the subject of first aid kits, a great item to have in the kit is an emergency manual, such as “Mosby’s Outdoor Emergency First Aid Manual.” The book is spiral bound and indexed to common injuries. You need to update the CPR instructions– rescue breaths are out; only chest compressions are in. To get the proper number of compressions, try humming “Another one bites the dust” by Queen or “Staying Alive” by the Beegees. EMTs and nurses carry pocket manuals all the time. In a stress-filled situation you don’t want to rely on an adrenaline soaked brain to remember details. – B.C.

Hugh Replies: I know we all (EMTs) carry those manuals, but that is really a legal requirement because of some lawsuit years back. (Or perhaps fear of a lawsuit.) Reading a manual to remember how many ccs of 1:1000 Epi to inject a person who is in a anaphylactic shock is not really a prudent thing to do when they need it. I realize that the human brain just doesn’t work very efficiently at 0300, when awoken from a deep sleep but that is why you train. A manual looks good, but if you can’t remember how to perform something in an emergency, you probably won’t remember how to look it up either. We carry those in our pockets to have something to read when sitting on standby. If you use the manual to refresh your training every once in a while, you can get some decent use out of them, but if you are depending on the manual to know how to perform first-aid or use a piece of equipment in an emergency, you are really wasting your space. If you have a manual, be sure to study it!

Economics and Investing:

U.S. Exports A Record Amount Of Gold To Hong Kong In January – S.T.

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This will have an impact on all sovereign debts. A person can read between the lines and see why the U.S. would have an interest in backing Argentina. Argentina Asks Supreme Court to Protect It From ‘Vulture’ Hedge Fund – E.B.

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Items from The Economatrix:

How Washington Spends Your Taxes

Number Of Middle Age Californians Living With Their Parents Soars

Collapse Of Western Ponzi Scheme To Send Gold Skyrocketing

Billionaire Warns: Yellen Collapse ‘Will Be Unlike Any Other’

Odds ‘n Sods:

More on the ridiculous militarization of civilian police: Obama’s Civilian Police Army Now Includes Officers in Military-Style Grass Camouflage (Video) – B.B.

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UF student, officer’s daughter calls out Alachua County Sheriff’s Office . That thin blue line again. – D.E.

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Finally! Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt? To Be Released Sept. 12

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Apparently working at a Subway in Chicago is synonymous with working at an all-night quick-mart. Bulletproof Subways A Sign Of Violent Times?. – P.S.

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How Drugs Used to Cure Are Actually Harming You.

Notes from HJL:

April 24th, today, is the birthday of Carolyn Cole(born 1961), a well-known staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times. For a few years in the late 1960s, the Cole family lived next door to JWR’s parents’ house in Livermore, California. That little girl with whom I played hide-and-seek would grow up to earn a Pulitzer Prize, two World Press Photo awards, and be named Photojournalist Of The Year. Congrats and Happy Birthday, Carolyn!

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SurvivalBlog Mobile Readers: Do not despair; you are not forgotten! I am working the issue as a top priority.

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Today we present another entry for Round 52 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $11,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  4. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  5. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  7. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  9. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  12. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. A full set of all 26 books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),
  9. Autrey’s Armory – specialists in AR-15, M4s, parts, and accessories is donating a $250 gift certificate,
  10. Dri-Harvestfoods.com in Bozeman, Montana is providing a prize bundle with Beans, Buttermilk Powder, Montana Hard Red Wheat, Drink Mixes, and White Rice, valued at $333,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  12. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. A MURS Dakota Alert Base Station Kit with a retail value of $240 from JRH Enterprises,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  7. Ambra Le Roy Medical Products in North Carolina is donating a bundle of their traditional wound care and first aid supplies, with a value of $208.
  8. SurvivalBased.com is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.

Round 52 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The “Smart” Prepper: Purchasing With A Purpose, by L.D.M.

I was turned onto the idea of prepping about two years ago, and thankfully, shortly thereafter, found SurvivalBlog.com. This website has been one of many important and cherished resources to a “rookie prepper,” and I count it a true blessing to have so much shared knowledge at our fingertips.

One of the many important resources that I have found in SurvivalBlog.com are the advertisers on the site. In a digital world full of endless choices when it comes to preparedness supplies, it can be very daunting to not only decide WHAT you need and in what quantity you need it but where you can find the best quality for the best price. When I first began my journey into the world of prepping, I threw caution to the wind. Like so many, I spent a ton of money on things I would find online, without truly understanding its applicability to my own situation or the cost/value benefit. To be certain, I came into a lot of quality product from some great companies. Many of those companies, which I found right here on SurvivalBlog.com, have been a regular and important part of my access to important resources. I feel a real sense of trust in the quality of company that JWR and his team allow to advertise on the site. I’m confident that I can deal with any one of these advertisers with complete peace of mind in knowing I’m buying quality product from a quality vendor that has been vetted by the SurvivalBlog staff. That alone eliminates a lot of guesswork and shooting blind when it comes to deciding where and with whom to do business.

For those of you who have read all of JWR’s books, you know that How To Survive the End of the World As We Know It (HTSTEOTAWKI) is the prepper’s bible. I have read and re-read that book many times. I often turn to it in reference for things, like battery information and how to use dry ice in packaging long-term bulk storage. One of the biggest “take aways” from the book for me has been the importance of creating a real balance in not just WHAT you store but how you come about those storage items. JWR makes many an excellent recommendation in the book about websites and vendors to call on for certain product. He also gives some great lessons on how to do it yourself when it comes to sourcing and procuring preps. For those few who are reading this who have limitless financial resources when it comes to your preps, you can count yourself blessed but not immune to the dangers of avoiding this balance I speak of.

Take the guy who has an endless supply of cash to spend, who we’ll call Prepper #1. He orders the pre-packaged one-year food supply for $5000 from a great, reputable dealer. It’s delivered right to his garage, packaged nice and neat on a pallet, and he doesn’t have to lift a finger until disaster strikes. He is the same guy who buys the $1500 pre-made BOB from another online vendor, who has taken all of the guesswork out of “what” to include in a quality BOB. He receives it from UPS, throws it in his car, and fearlessly awaits the day it’s called into action. The disadvantage that Prepper #1 finds himself in is that he has not truly prepared for anything. He has ordered product that he didn’t have any hand in sourcing, that will sit quietly and await disaster. His BOB contains a great tool for sawing branches and cutting trees, but much to his dismay, it won’t do him any good. He lives in the middle of a large urban neighborhood with no trees for 20 miles. His “bug out” scenario would be very different than someone who lives in the Texas hill country.

His neighbor, Prepper #2, who must budget what and when he spends on prepping carefully, amasses the same year supply of food, except he doesn’t order it pre-packaged in one lot. He makes several smaller orders each paycheck, carefully selecting what food he is going to store. He knows his children won’t eat peas and his wife is averse to nuts. He knows that the family loves to gather around the kitchen together every Sunday and bake bread for the week ahead. They eat mashed potatoes with every meal, but one of the kids won’t drink milk. He would be doing his family’s comfort and safety a disservice to order product and food that wouldn’t get eaten in times of disaster. He has discovered that not only can he not afford to buy larger, pre-packaged food stores, he SHOULDN’T buy that way. He makes use of both Internet and local brick-and-mortar businesses, as well as DIY projects to prepare for his family. He spends time researching not only the best products but the “best bang for his buck”. After all, he has to budget carefully every dollar he spends on his preps.

Both of these men are preparing for disaster, and both are legitimate ways in which to do so. I would argue that Prepper #2 will be far more prepared and comfortable in a SHTF scenario. Not only will he have on hand what his family needs and wants, he will have gone through the process of putting it all together piece mill. He will be familiar with the do’s and don’ts of long-term food storage. He will understand that a case of hard red wheat does you no good without a quality mill and that powdered milk and drink mixes will be just powder without a supply of drinking water. He is less likely to lose to waste and expiration and will likely have a more holistic approach to all of his preps.

For many of us, the Internet has become an important, if not primary, resource for acquiring our preps, but that doesn’t mean that all of your purchasing should be had from online vendors. Take this personal example. (As a disclaimer, I am not a member of the Mormon church, but they welcome non-members with open arms, as their church doctrine includes a lot on preparing for the hard times.) In an Internet search recently for dealers of bulk grains, I found countless resources online. However, I just couldn’t understand why a 5-pound bucket of hard red wheat costs so much. After reading JWR’s HTSTEOTAWKI, I knew that bulk storage of grains, oats, and beans was by far the cheapest route for these types of foods. I searched further, refusing to resign to the fact that $75 was my only option for one bucket of wheat. I stumbled upon the LDS Cannery in Carrollton, Texas. The LDS church has home storage centers located all over the country, but this is one of twelve home storage centers operated by the Mormon church in the United States that also allow you the opportunity to package bulk products that you purchase there. Lo and behold, one of them was a 15-minute drive from my home. (You can find information about these centers at www.providentliving.org.) All of these centers have packaged and bulk products as well as very friendly volunteers, who will show you around and help you decide exactly what you need. I left there with 100 pounds of hard red wheat and 100 pounds of sugar for $76. I went straight home, and using the method described in HTSTEOTAWKI (Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and dry ice), stored them in food grade, 5-gallon buckets with gamma seal lids. These are absolutely good for the next 30+ years. The buckets I purchased from Amazon using my Prime membership (a must if you order online; $99 gets you a year’s worth of free 2-day shipping on everything you order). The gamma seal lids, Mylar bags, and oxygen absorbers I purchased from one of the SurvivalBlog.com advertisers, and the dry ice I picked up from the grocery store up the street. The total cost per bucket (including the bucket, bags, lids, and food) of wheat was about $25 and $30 for the sugar. That gives me 100 pounds of food at a fraction of the cost of a pre-packaged solution for 30 years. Now, THAT is piece of mind!

Take a “medical” bag as another example. I had amassed many medical and first aid items over the past couple of years, and I recently decided it was important to create a medical or “trauma” bag. The Internet and SurvivalBlog.com advertisers offer some EXCELLENT solutions for pre-made and loaded first aid bags and kits. Many of us are not medical professionals and really wouldn’t have the slightest clue what items we might need in event of an emergency. For those of you who are most comfortable not having to think about it, this is a great resource for you. However, believing that first aid and medical supplies will be in very short supply when SHTF, it was important to me to not only familiarize myself with what would comprise my supply but to ensure I was getting it at the best prices possible. That likely meant not ordering everything from one source. I have found that by doing some diligent searching on Amazon, it is usually the best place to acquire over-the-counter medications. (Again, don’t forget, you get free shipping with Prime). For instance, I take an allergy medication every single day and will for the rest of my life to prevent excessive itching. In a grid down scenario, going without that simple OTC allergy medicine would be unbearable for me. This particular medication is also one of the most expensive OTC allergy medications on the market, so it was important for me to avoid just stocking up at the local pharmacy. After some searching on Amazon, I found that there was a generic brand that made 365-count bottles for about the same price I pay at the local pharmacy for a 90-count bottle. Things like ibuprofen and cough medicine can also be sourced online from reputable vendors for far less than you will purchase it on your weekly grocery shopping trip. I found bulk packages of Band-Aids, burn creams, antiseptic wipes, and all of the “run of the mill” items you would want in a first aid kit at very low costs online. However, I also ordered a pre-packaged and inexpensive “trauma kit” to include as a part of my larger kit from another SurvivalBlog.com advertiser. I felt that the items they put together in this kit for gunshot wounds or severe trauma were a great value and a “must have” addition to my larger kit. When searching for latex gloves, I found that prices for the same product were all over the board. Take some time to save yourself some money when doing this shopping. The money you save here and there can only add more to your preps.

Water is one of my highest prepping priorities. I live smack dab in the middle of Dallas, Texas, and while I’m familiar with where to access water in my area when SHTF, I don’t’ have access to gravity-fed streams or underground water sources. I have no choice but to truly plan ahead and have large water stores that are both permanent and portable. When I first began prepping, I began to order cases of canned water online. They promised long storage life, were convenient with a small footprint, and seemed to make sense. This cost about $50 for 12 cans, which are 2 gallons of water. More recently, I had seen some great products on the market lately for water storage, including water bricks and large bags that can go under your bed. However, it was important for me to find a solution that would be large enough to supply my needs in a bug in scenario and also be portable in a bug out scenario. Most importantly, they needed to save me some money. After diligently searching online, I found some high quality 7-gallon contaiuners with a removable spout and strong handles for carrying. The price for this exact item ranged online from $14.95 to $29.95 each. Pay close attention to whether or not shipping is included or free, and even whether they are in stock or backordered. I elected to go with the item priced at $17.95 each with free shipping. I have ten of these particular jugs, totaling 70 gallons of drinking water. It is an important addition to my barrels and bottles that are also a part of my preps. Because of a little diligence, I now can get 21 gallons of water (three of the 7-gallon jugs) for the same price as I was getting 2 gallons (12 cans) before. Now, let me be clear, the canned water is a quality and superior product for SOME applications. This is why a one-size fits all approach to prepping is impossible. You have to decide, after careful and purposeful thought, what suits your needs best and what type of situation will you find yourself in when SHTF.

The concept of purchasing with a purpose can even extend into your training and acquisition of new skills. Recently, I decided (after re-reading Patriots– a novel by JWR) that I would get my Ham radio license. I don’t have a particular interest in Ham radios as a hobby, but you bet your tail I believe in the importance of that type of communication in a grid down scenario. Not knowing the first thing about where to start that journey, I went online and found that locally a number of classes are offered to prepare you for the FCC Technician Class exam. (This is the first Ham license you will get.) In addition, I found a number of online classes for $59 and up that offered to prepare you for the same exam. After doing a little more research and e-mailing my local Ham radio club, I decided to purchase the book Technician Class online for under $20, with free shipping. This book has a unique approach to preparing you for the exam, eliminating the need for a “how to” course at a traditional brick and mortar type center. Now, truth be told, if you are interested in the nuts and bolts and “ins and outs” of the radio world and have an interest in Ham as a real hobby, you might then want to take a more in-depth course of learning, as this method is primarily meant to prepare you to pass the test and get your license, which is required to communicate on Ham radios. For my purposes in adding this “skill” and equipment to my overall prepping plan, it was perfect. I plan on taking the exam within the next week or so. (There are exams given every single week almost everywhere in the entire country. To find an exam location in your area, go to www.arrl.org.) After passing the exam, it’s time to purchase my first Ham radio. My suggestion is to talk to some Hams in your local area. (Again, go to www.arrl.org to find your local Ham radio club.) Get their suggestions on what to purchase, based on your skill level and needs. Don’t be afraid to tell them WHY you got into Ham radio. Hams live for assisting with emergency communication and being a part of disaster relief. You will be welcomed with open arms and make a lot of new friends who likely share the same ideas that you do when it comes to preparedness. Once you decide on your radio, you have two options– get back online and price shop till you drop (SurvivalBlog.com has an electronics page with links to some of these radios from Amazon, and using these links gives a little bit of financial support back to SurvivalBlog.com) or go down to your local radio shop and allow them to help you. The benefit to using a local radio shop is that once you decide on and purchase a radio, they can usually pre-program some of the popular repeater channels that are used in your area, so you can begin communicating with other Hams right away.

The Internet can and should be a very powerful and useful tool for your preps. For those of you who are more averse to using the Internet for shopping, whether it be due to inexperience or plain ole’ stubbornness, you will do yourself and your family a favor by harnessing the money-saving power the Internet has to offer you. Also, for those of you who don’t ever look beyond the Internet, you will miss incredible resources, like the LDS Cannery I found by reading through some local discussion forums online. Striking a balance in your preparedness planning is as important as balance in your marriage and family lives. SurvivalBlog offers us convenience and comfort in the advertisers they bring on board. I show my support to these companies every chance I get; after all, it is their dollars that allow this important website to function. However, I also know that you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket, and there are many different resources out there that should be included as a part of your prepping.

When you purchase, purchase with a purpose. Be comfortable knowing that you have researched, planned, and purposely bought and acquired what you need, with the smallest impact on your wallet as possible.

Letter: Cataracts

Hugh,

I was diagnosed with a cataract about ten years ago. Because it was new, I was having depth perception issues and even had a rear end car crash. An alternative newsletter by a doctor at the time recommended the following drops. I still have one cataract, but the other one never developed. My eye doctor nurse tells me I have what people pay to have. I see distance with one eye and up close with the other, which has the cataract. I use reading glasses for certain focal lengths, such as a computer screen. My vision has not changed since taking the drops. Before the drops, I was developing floaters, and while dove hunting I could not tell the difference between the doves and floaters. That problem is gone. The active ingredient is NAC, and other companies use the same ingredient and are less expensive. The doctor is aware of the drops and of course would prefer to do the surgery, but he cannot deny the positive results.

Letter: Michael Ruppert

Hello Jim and Hugh,

I have only just become aware of this awful event that occurred last week. Mike was well known in Peak Oil circles and is likely familiar to many of the readers of Survival Blog. While I certainly don’t agree with the decision he made to take his own life, it was fairly obvious to me that he was deeply troubled by the state of our civilization and the path we seem to be marching towards.

I thought the readership may want to be aware of this event, if they weren’t already. I know Jim was on his radio show last year, I believe.

Mike Ruppert is the one who “awakened” me back in 2009 to some of the predicaments and limits we face, which led me very quickly to Survival Blog. My life has changed fairly drastically since that time (for the better, despite the challenges of a self-sufficient lifestyle!), and I never had the opportunity to thank him for that.

I wanted to take the opportunity to thank both of you for the work you do as I haven’t bothered to do so as of yet, and I don’t particularly enjoy the hint of regret I am feeling now for not doing that with Mr. Ruppert. I suppose events like this put some things in perspective. I feel much more aware of how critical perceived strangers can be in your life and the importance of recognizing their positive contributions to your well being.

A sincere and heartfelt thanks for what you folks do! – J.M.