Why Prepare?

So, we know what ‘prepping’ is, but what are we ‘prepping’ for?

Keep an Open Mind.

There is no shortage of tv shows, YouTube channels and books which promote the notion of preparing for a particular event.

Once again, I don’t have to go further than American reality tv show ‘Doomsday Preppers’ for a great example.

Propaganda from the media

At the beginning of every own segment, individuals featured on the program explain the particular event they are preparing for and why they think it poses the greatest threat. You will see people preparing for an EMP which will wipe out all technology; or an invasion by a hostile power; or a pandemic infecting the majority of the population; or a global financial crisis. The examples are near endless and to my mind, unbalanced. In my own experience, most preppers do not prepare for a single, or specific, event.

Now, who can say if these people are fed content by producers or if they are free to express their true opinions, but I think we must bear in mind always, that programs like ‘Doomsday Preppers’ are first and foremost created to entertain. It is true you may pick up some interesting and useful ideas of what to do or what not to do from other preppers, but we must remember that these programs are created to entertain, not educate. It is important to ask yourself, what motivates the individuals featured on the program? Why share their preparations with the world?

Let me give you an example of what I mean. On a recent episode of ‘America Unplugged’, I watched a profile of a couple in California who shared their fear and surety that it was only a matter of time before their state would be hit by a tsunami. Instead of leaving the state, or living at a ‘safe’ altitude, they chose to ride out the impending tsunami in an underground, unventilated bunker.

Hmm, an unusual decision but it’s not my role to dump on other people’s fears or life choices, so I kept watching, interested to hear their grand plan. It soon became apparent that this couple were in the business of selling underground bunkers and I heard the sound of a penny drop, or was it a CaChing!…

As for myself, I took their view on prepping with a healthy grain of salt. My advice to all those thinking of prepping or even well into your preps: keep your own mind open at all times.

 

Disaster Probability Vs Impact

The problem with preparing for a particular event is, of course, that it may never happen.

A person who has spent decades preparing specifically for an EMP which will wipe out technology, will eventually begin to wane, become disillusioned, embarrassed, or think they have wasted their time, money and resources. They may even abandon prepping and go back to their old ways.

So, let’s take a quick look at a sample of common disaster scenarios and consider their probability against their impact.

Drought

Epidemic

Road cut off, can’t get out for a week

Natural disaster or flood

Power Outage

Terrorism

Climate change

Unemployment

 

The Great Depression. Of course massive job loss could never occur again…

I am sure that you would agree that many of these items have occurred in our lifetimes.  We have all heard of these events occurring, or have experienced some of them first hand.  These are events which we should have in mind when we are developing our preparations.

Then there are the events which could occur, and if they did happen they would definitely have a severe impact, yet the chance of their happening is very remote

 

Nuclear War

Global Pandemic

Asteroid impact

War

Coronal Mass Ejection or a massive Electro-Magnetic Pulse

The events listed above could occur… yet I am sure you can agree that the chance of one of these events occurring is very remote.  For example, it is very uncommon for a high fatality Global Pandemic to strike.  The last one, according to the World Health Organisation, was in the late 1960s (called the Hong Kong Flu) where it killed up to a million people.  Of course, most people know of the Spanish Flu from 1918, which is reported to have killed between 20 to 100 million people.

All these events can occur, yet planning for the events with the least chance of occurrence is not intelligent.

 

Enriched Living

I believe we should live for today, but plan for tomorrow. Keep the mental and practical aspects of your planning balanced and be realistic. Planning for the more likely events will lead to being better prepared for the less likely ones.  The steps we can make towards preparing for the likely events can enrich our lives and allow us to live a more balanced life.

Don’t forget to live your life. If you do it right, your lifestyle can be enriched by the activities of preparing. For example: gardening; fishing; breeding animals; basic construction; or even just reading.

What is self-sufficiency

SELF-SUFFICIENCY

It’s a popular term these days, but what does it really mean?

The term itself is new, but the concept is old as the hills, literally. Humans were self-sufficient long before pre-history. Their lives depended on it, but how did they do it? They didn’t have coffee-table books full of glossy pictures, YouTube videos, lifestyle tv shows or ex-Navy Seals to show them the way.

They did it just as we should: together. They watched, talked and listened. To the successes and failures of their neighbours, their Elders and Ancestors and the patterns and surprises within the natural world.

Of course, self-sufficiency had a different name back then: survival. In order to survive, families had to plan, to prepare and co-operate with each other. This they did, and because they did, we are here today.

Primitive Village

Is it just me, or is there a sense of resurgence to the simple living of our Ancestors? Increasing numbers of us are coming to realize we cannot rely on ‘the Government’ to provide for us or look after us. We see that in times of sudden change: such as natural disaster, or economic downturn, the assistance we can expect to receive from a Government is limited. I believe we must look to ourselves, and each other, to sustain healthy and resilient communities.

So, what can we do to better look after ourselves and our loved ones? It’s easier than you might think but… it depends on your expectations. If your aim is to live a good life where your basic needs are met and anything else is honey, you’re in luck and… you’re in the right place to learn how.

I strive toward a realistic self-sufficient lifestyle but, I am a realist. I am not trying to go ‘off-grid’. I have children to feed and educate and I enjoy living in a community. In fact, I believe it’s almost impossible to be fully self-sufficient, producing all your own food, water, electricity, medicine and every other thing you need (soap, clothes, etc). I’m not saying it’s impossible to do, but such a level of self-sufficiency would be difficult to achieve and even harder to maintain in the modern day.

Here is the good news: you don’t need to be fully self-sufficient.

You need not do as I did and move your family from drought affected mainland to lush green Tasmania. You need not live in the country. Whether you live on a small parcel of land or an inner- city apartment, I will help you learn basic skills, and introduce you to lots of interesting ideas and people.

Feel free to pick’n’mix, take from me what makes most sense to you, or what skills or ideas you are able to adapt to within your own lifestyle.

So, if you’re ready to ditch the hype and get some dirt under your nails, read on and join me, and my special guests, on our path to no-fuss self-sufficiency.

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.

Yes, I used the word in the title of my site: Prepper.

Prepper. Why do we hate that word? It is a regular word. Derived from Preparation or Prepared, surely it is a good thing, a good word. Another title which has been maligned is Survival, or Survivalist.

So why do these words have such a bad rap? Perhaps it raises images of a crazed gun toting loner protecting his horde of barrelled grain or some dude hunkered down in an underground bunker waiting for the bomb to fall? It implies extremism. Those who shun mainstream society and seem to almost want something bad to happen to affirm their choices.

Part of the reason Preppers get a bad rep

In recent years there have been many examples of this stereotype of a ‘Prepper’ and ‘Survivalist’ in mainstream media. They are strangely amusing, almost mesmerizing, like a potentially dangerous circus act. The crazy ‘Prepper’: entertaining to watch from a distance, but you wouldn’t want to live next door to one.

I remember my Mother, back in the 1970’s, carefully checking and stocking the pantry shelves. As an adult and parent myself now, I look back and see that she was a ‘Prepper’. With four children and one income, she always ensured the pantry was well stocked. If we used a can of baked beans, she would replace it with 2 cans of baked beans. We never ran out, and if we had a lean week with lots of big bills, there was always enough to feed the family. She was a ‘Prepper’ before it was considered good or bad to be a ‘Prepper”.

And we weren’t alone, lots of families did the same thing. Putting a little money away every week to cover the bills, or Christmas, that’s prepping too. Thinking ahead, planning, preparing.

We should none of us be ashamed or embarrassed for our interest in, or efforts toward being prepared. No matter where you live, your financial status or family situation, being prepared makes sense.

I believe that prepping and self-sufficiency are two sides of the one coin, so closely linked that to be self-sufficient means that you are prepared… and to be prepared means that you are (at least partly) self-sufficient.

So, I ask you to reject the stereotype of the crazy ‘Prepper’ and at every opportunity remind yourself and others, that in truth, prepping is self-responsibility, self-care and most of all, smart.

A water filter for my Get home Bag

My get home kit is now (as far as I am aware) complete.  I just received a Sawyer Mini water filter from an online retailer and it arrived today.  I so excited to get this item I have had on my wish list for nearly two years… yet every time I planned to buy it we would have something come up and I couldn’t justify the expenditure.  When Father’s day came last month, Kitty forgot to buy me a present.  We don’t normally go big on Father’s/Mother’s day, yet she decided to surprise me with this item.  Kitty found the item in our eBay cart, as I place it there every time I decide to buy it (yet, as I said, I never do).

 

I wanted the orange version, despite their offering many different colours.  Why did I choose orange?  I figured that when I drop it, I want to be able to find it easily.  Imagine buying the camouflaged version and never finding it if you dropped it in the wilderness!  Not my idea of a great time.

One of the great things about the Sawyer water filter is the huge volume it can purify.  The label states that it can purify 100,000 gallons of water… which is over 378k litres of water!  More than I could consume.  I have read that the flow rate is pretty slow, yet I am willing to forgive that for the great size, cost and life span.

It also offers protection against bacteria and protozoa, removing 99.99% of all these little undesirables.  This is much more protection than I think I would need, and if I combined it with some water purification tablets (which I also carry) I think it would remove any chance of getting a nasty bug.  I also carry a few powdered drinks that can be added to the water to improve the flavour.

I will be giving the filter a proper work out when the weather clears up, as I am planning several hiking trips with my kids.  Hopefully this will be a great Spring/summer.

The older you become, the harder it is to make friends.

As an older person, it can be hard to meet new people that I like.  I have a group of friends that know me, they have accepted me and my imperfections.  Meeting new people can be an inconvenience and can allow you to be being taken advantage or for granted.  I was very surprised when I recently met someone who lives (relatively) near me and shares similar views on prepping.  It all happened due to my sons, who have a couple of friends with whom they attend school.  Kitty drove my boys over to visit their friends recently and while she was there she was chatting to the parents… they have some property and seemed interested in self-sufficiency (which is, in my opinion, an indicator that the person may be a prepper).  They also have several dogs, one of which is a Maremma.  When Kitty told me they have a Maremma I instantly said I need to go see the dog when it was time for my son’s to be picked up.  You see, I still miss my old dog George who we had to give away to be re-homed.

When I arrived there I was greeted by the owners of the house, who were happy for me to come see their dog.  As dog lovers themselves they appreciated my enthusiasm for their canine companions.  While giving their Maremma a good scratch on his head, I got to talking to the gentleman who owns the house with his partner.  He has a sizable piece of land which he is using to provide for his family’s needs, working with his partner to tend to their animals and grow food.  They are working hard towards the ideal of being self sufficent.  They have pigs, sheep, goats, bees, pheasants, chickens, ducks, and a bunch of other animals I can’t remember.  He has committed to providing all his families meat requirements from his flock, supplemented with hunting and fishing.  I can’t even begin to explain how amazed I was at their set up… it was very inspiring.

These people are very advanced along the path of self sufficiency, producing fodder for their animals and using all the produce they can gather to provide for their needs.  They were also very welcoming, which is (as I mentioned above) something I am not used to experiencing… yet it is very welcome.

We talked for ages… all about his plans and the work he was doing on his property.  I talked about some of the things which I was working on and we had a great old chat.  After a while I realised I should get going, so he and I wandered over to Kitty and his partner who were having a good chat themselves.  It was then that Kitty told them they should check out my blog for more information on my projects.  To be honest, I freaked out a little… I don’t tell people when I first meet them that I am a Prepper… I prefer to wait a little while before broaching that subject.  Despite the fact that Prepping has become more common place, I still worry a little how people will react to news that I prepare.  They asked my blog address, which I told them (all the while feeling very self-conscious), and they looked at each other and said “Prepper?”  I prepared myself for the jokes which often accompany this, yet I was surprised when they said that they too were Preppers.  I laughed, saying I should have realised from the topics of our conversation.  We got to chatting about more “on topic” prepping subjects before I was asked if I was interested in coming over one evening for some Wallaby hunting…. This is something I have been keen on doing so I accepted the offer and told them I would be in touch later.

Just a generic stock image of people meeting people.

When we drove away from the house, I felt great.  Meeting people who share your views on issues is rare for me and it always surprises me when I do meet someone who is a Prepper.  I think I have become trapped in a bit of a cycle of not meeting new people.  To be honest, I normally dislike meeting new people… having to tip-toe around topics that may offend them, listen to their views on subjects which I believe are wrong (yet being too polite to argue), etc.  Meeting this family has made me feel great and not so alone.  I feel that they will have a lot to teach me, and I may be able to help them in some way.

I know many people in the Prepping community are reluctant to meet new people, yet I would recommend that you give it a try.  You don’t need to advertise your preps to people, yet I believe that you should be willing to discuss your views with new people.  Know why you prepare, and why you feel it is important.  Which brings me to some tips for talking to people about Prepping?

  • Be polite – You don’t need to force people to prepare.  If you explain your position in a polite fashion people will be more inclined to at least listen.
  • Be knowledgeable – You don’t need to make up facts of figures, you just need to plainly explain why you believe preparing is important.
  • Be willing to back away – Some people don’t want to know about Prepping.  I have a friend who gets anxiety attacks when she thinks about Prepping, so I just don’t talk to her about it.  If someone is being antagonistic, or not interested in discussing the topic, I would recommend that you steer away from the subject of Prepping.  Some battles are not worth having.

So go on out there and meet some new people.

An Everyday Carry bag can help ease some of life’s little problems.

A recent fire drill at work started me thinking about the use of an “Everyday carry bag”.  What is an ECB?  It is similar to the “Everyday Carry” which many Preppers espouse, yet it is a bag.  I usually don’t go anywhere without a backpack… it is something I have done for decades.  In addition, I can carry much more in a backpack than I can fit in my pockets.

I have posted previously about my Get Home Bag (GHB) which I keep in my car.  The ECB is meant to assist me in getting to my GHB, or (in a pinch) serve as a rudimentary Get Home Bag.

As I mentioned, it was during a fire drill at my work that I started thinking about the need to write about this essential piece of equipment.  It was as I was walking down the stairs to the ground floor when someone asked why I was bothering to carry my backpack out.  I told them that I would take it if it was a real evacuation, and that it contained everything I needed for an emergency.

Why doesn’t every Prepper carry an ECB?  I don’t know… It could be that they worry about how people may perceive them.  It could be that they worry people will think they are Preppers… or it could be that they just don’t want to carry a backpack.

I think this leads to a good question… what bag makes a good EDC bag?

When considering which backpack to carry, I would recommend steering away from military style bags.  I love the design and look of a military backpack as much as the next guy, yet I think going in this direction will make you stand out more than the normal person carrying a backpack.  I know that when I see someone wearing military style clothing, or carrying a military backpack, I pay them a little more attention.  This may not be something you wish to do.  It is also important to choose a bag which you are comfortable carrying, will allow you to carry everything you need, and also a bag which is within your budget.  Finally, you will need to consider how large your back should/could be.  It will need to be large enough for your needs.

The bag which I carry was purchased off eBay and was pretty inexpensive.  It isn’t the greatest bag in the world, yet it serves most of my requirements.  In my case, I wanted a backpack which would carry well on my back, wouldn’t scream “Tactical”, and also featured a separate lower area that would allow me to place all my Everyday Carry items without mixing them with the stuff I needed for my work day (such as my lunch).

 

Contents of pack

Firstly, I have to say that my bag contains a lot of junk.  I use it every day and I keep receipts, empty packets of food, and other things in my bag till I do my weekly dump.  Secondly, I don’t have the money to buy high quality items, so I have to make do with what I can afford.  If you want to make your own bag, don’t copy mine.  Think about what you believe you need and head towards making it a reality.

I some of the items I have included are:

  • heavy-duty poncho
  • around 20m of Paracord
  • a Multi-tool
  • a large woolen blanket
  • some snack foods
  • basic first aid supplies
  • head lamp
  • small pocket survival kit
  • Emergency blanket
  •  A small roll of duct tape

 

Why are these items included?

For the majority of the items included in the bag, the reason is that they can serve multiple uses.  I also wanted them to be able to be used in non-survival, “Prepper” type situations (such as a broken button on my pants).  This bag isn’t for the end of the world… it is for the more likely events which happen in the real world.  What do I mean by that?  Well, I am not sure if I have talked about this before, so please forgive me if I have.  A year or so ago, I was walking through Hobart city.  As I walked, through the crowded lunch-time streets, I noticed that my inner thigh area was feeling cool and breezy.  I stopped at a pedestrian crossing and looked down, my heart skipped a beat in my chest…. the inner seam of my pants (on one of my pant legs) was split open from my crotch to near my knee.  I did have my bag with me, yet it wasn’t as kitted as it is now.  It didn’t contain any of the current items which would have allowed me to fix this situation.  As it was, I had to (as discreetly as could in crowded city on a lovely sunny day) walk back to work and put on a spare pair of pants I kept in my desk.  If I had my current bag I could have slipped into a public restroom and repaired my pants.

I will explain some of my considerations for a couple of these items.

The poncho is chiefly for situations when it rains and I don’t have a rain coat.  I can easily cover up and protect myself from the elements.  It also is large, features clasps and has grommet holes.  It could easily be fashioned into a spacious shelter with some additional items.

The paracord is useful in case of repairs which may need to be fashioned, use as a tourniquet in a medical emergency, or it can be combined with my poncho to make the shelter I mentioned previously.

The multi-tool combines a large number of useful tools (such as a screwdriver, a knife, pliers and other tools).  It can help repair most issues and is reassuring just to have it should I need it.

A large woolen blanket is there due to the fact we are in the middle of winter.  I would prefer to carry a micro sleeping bag, yet they are expensive.  The blanket will serve as a poor replacement till I can afford the item I wish to buy.  Why a blanket?  If I am stuck in my car due to a breakdown, it can help keep me warm.  I can use it if I am assisting someone injured, to help prevent shock, I can also use it as a blanket for when I eat lunch in the park with my friends or family.

Snacks… these are important to include as I travel far to and from home each day.  Eating something while driving can help me to stay awake.

I have included some basic first aid supplies, such as some compression bandages, band aids, latex gloves, etc.  They take up so little room that it makes sense to include them as they could help prevent someone (or me) in the event of an accident.

These are the items which I believe I need to carry in my EDC bag.  I would love to be able to afford some lighter, smaller, and higher quality items… yet I only have so much money to spare on this.  Carrying this bag with me gives me a sense of security. Knowing that within reach I have the capacity to deal with most daily situations, or those unlikely events which can occur in our modern world.

A one in sixty year weather event

Wow… what a terrible storm.  Tasmania has just experienced a once 60 year weather event which took us by surprise.  It happened late Thursday night, with forecasts to expect windy weather…. I don’t think any of us expected the events that unfolded in the late night and early morning.

My family and I were mostly unaffected by the weather… we did have some excessive winds batter our home, yet it has stood for over 100 years, so I wasn’t too worried.  I did hear some of the roof panels battering about, so that is something I will have to check.  I suspect our being unscathed has something to do with our location.  We are in fairly flat land area, with small hills protecting us from most sides, and a safe bay the other.

I had kept an eye on the road alerts when I woke up on Friday morning to drive to work.  There were many road closures, yet it looked like I wouldn’t be too troubled.  It wasn’t until I started to drive that I realised the severity of the situation.  The roads were covered in debris, mostly leaves and small twigs, yet there were also larger branches strewn across the roads which made driving more difficult.  I listened to the local radio as I drove in the darkness, and they explained the situation.  Streets within the city were flooded, with cars being pushed around by the force of the currents.  Despite this, I decided to continue with my journey… I passed buses driven from Hobart on my travels, which gave me an indication the roads were still open.  One thing of interest I did note, was that the National radio broadcasts (ABC) were not working… so they provided no helpful information on the storm.

I passed many signs of disaster work on my drive, such as trees twisted from their trunks, roads covered in sawdust with sawn limbs on the side of the road, and sections of road covered in large rocks (rocks the size of my fist!).  The drive was a little dangerous, yet I took my time and ensured that I was driving carefully.

Once in the city I was surprised with how few cars were about.  The city streets were both devoid of the normally large amount of people walking to work, and the streets were littered with piles of fallen leaves. When I arrived at work I started to see the size of the damage from the previous night.  There were many roads closed in the city due to massive damage from the storm.  There were areas flooded, with many houses without power (14000 houses).

Some locations (very close to my old home in Collinsvale) were so badly effected that the bridges allowing access to the town of Molesworth were destroyed… stranding many families in a place so close to a capital city, yet unable to escape.  They had food delivered by helicopter as some families were running low on essentials.  Some of my friends have had their homes flooded, been cut off from driving on roads, and experienced some suffering from this disaster.

I don’t know how prepared someone could be for such a situation. I will ask my friends who were effected for any recommendations they may have.  I don’t think many Preppers could arrange themselves so that this disaster would pass them by without effect.  Keeping valuable, and easily damaged, items off the floor might be a good start… yet who could live like that – Always worried a flood will inundate their homes?  I don’t think the weather forecast predicted the flooding, so being vigilant isn’t a solution either.  Maybe this is just one of the disasters we can’t predict or prevent.  If you have some fore warning, preparations can be made, yet this isn’t always possible.  I hope that I can get some information soon from those who experienced the disaster first hand.

Making your own meal is so rewarding.

Have you ever made your own meal?  I am not talking about whipping up something from produce bought at the shop.. I mean planting, growing, harvesting your own vegetables, and incubating, raising, slaughtering, and butchering your own animal.

I have mentioned before that it is, almost, the end of the growing season.  I will be planting some things for the colder months, yet for all intents and purposes, I am harvesting the last of my produce.  While at this time of the year it is easy to think that the northern hemisphere has the better time of it, that isn’t the case.  It is not a reason to be sad… it is a time to celebrate.  So, what better way to celebrate than to harvest my own food and cook a delicious meal for my family.

The Roosters where much larger than this photo.

The day before the feast I “graduated” four of my roosters from my Chicken Tractor.  These Roosters were the only four males from the 15 which were the last offspring of Reggie.   How did I know the Roosters were ready to eat?  They started crowing… that, in my opinion, is the best time.  The process of graduating the Roosters was difficult.  Killing four chickens (one at a time), plucking them, and butchering them for the table took around 5 hours.  It would have taken less, yet I wanted to try a couple of things… for example, I collected the intestines of the chickens to try out making cordage.  This didn’t work out… so I will not show you the results.

The Rooster was cooked in my BBQ, stuffed with some dried apple, hazelnut (and breadcrumbs… the only part not grown here).  I can’t describe how amazing the chicken tasted… perfectly cooked.

 

Before I set the chicken in the BBQ, I got myself down to one of my potato beds, where I harvested around three kilograms of Purple “Vitelotte” Potatoes.  Not the greatest return on my effort (I might not grow more than one or two plants next season), yet I love the taste and colour of Vitelotte Potatoes.

These Potatoes were cooked with some white potatoes I planted in another bed (which yield much more per plant) in my BBQ.  I cooked them in Jacket Potato style, in foil with some butter (which I made from cream) and chives from the garden.  They had a great, crispy skin and really made the meal delicious.

Finally, I steamed some green peas and some carrots which I harvested from the garden.  They were, literally, harvested minutes before being cooked… you couldn’t get any fresher!  My daughter, who usually hates to eat peas, actually tried them and declared that she likes them now.

I finished the meal off with some gravy… made with store bought Gravox, yet I added some fat from the cooking chicken to give it an amazing taste.

I realise that I am not “self sufficient”, yet the fact that I can supplement our meals for some of the year.. and periodically make a whole meal “home grown” helps the family financially, nutritionally and gastronomically.  It also fills me with pride when I know that my hard work fed my family.

 

Winter Get Home Bag – 2018

The colder weather has started to make its presence felt, and I am currently re-examining my Get Home Bag (GHB) to meet the change in season.  It is important to do this periodically, to ensure all items are in working order, all food is within expiry dates, and to make sure that the contents match the requirements.  My kit has been kitted out for the warmer weather, with a large woolen blanket, minimal clothing, and no need for anything above a basic amount of shelter.  Due to the smaller amount of material I needed to carry, I was able to get by with a smaller pack.

 

Now with the change in season, I need to re-examine my bag and re-evaluate the contents.  I now need to carry a Sleeping bag that can handle the conditions, a change of clothes, cold weather gear (for the sections of the journey that may be covered in snow or just for terrible cold weather) and a add a more sturdy shelter.

When I create my GHB I try to follow Dave Canterbury’s five Cs.

  • Cover
  • Cutting
  • Container
  • Combustion
  • Cordage

This gives me a great foundation on which to build my bag.

The bag itself is a large hiking backpack.  It is possibly around 80 liters, yet I don’t fill it to maximum capacity.

Of course, I have some basic first aid supplies.  These are not extensive, yet are for more situations which I can foresee.   I have also included food in my pack.  This provides me with sustenance for any occasion.  If I have a break down, the contents can provide a quick snack.  If I am hungry while driving home from work, I can grab something from the bag (to be replaced once home) which will get me through the journey.  Or, if I am forced to hike, the food within can feed me for 3-5 days.  It isn’t great food, yet it is light, easy to eat and carry, and it is not expensive.  The food included are also items that I have eaten, and continue to eat… nothing weird here for me.  This isn’t within the five Cs, yet it is important to me.

Cover

I have included the large, 3 meter, tarp in the bag.  It is large enough that I can make a sizeable shelter for myself and anyone else with me.  When I use it with my 2/2 meter Australian Army Hoochie (which could be used for a floor covering) it can make the shelter very comfortable.  I also have a large poncho to keep the wet weather off me and my pack.

Finally, I have included a snow jacket and a light change of clothes.  These will allow me to change for the night to allow my hiking clothes to air for the evenings.

Cutting

I have a Gerber, full tang, knife in my pack.  I have had this knife for well over a decade and it has served me very well over the years.  This knife can do all the large jobs I may require of the item.

I have included my folding saw in the bag to allow me to process wood for fires, and (most importantly) for items to assist with securing the shelter to the ground (make a tent pole and ground stakes).

I have also added a small (and light) Smith and Wesson skeleton handled knife.  It is wrapped in Para cord and is there as a backup blade.

Finally, I have a Multi-tool which has all the usual items.  A great deal of usefulness in a small package.

 

Container

I have the Stainless steel, 1 liter, container I carry everywhere I go.  It is one I use at work and it travels with me in my everyday backpack.  I also have an old Australian Army canteen, which includes a steel cup.  I can boil water in the steel cup, or in the stainless steel water bottle.  Finally, I carry a couple of plastic water bottles in my car for convenience.  These all allow me to carry up to 4 liters of water, and to sterilise water by boiling (or the addition of purification tablets I have in my pack).

Combustion

I have a very capable disposable lighter in my kit.  It is super light and takes almost no room.  I also carry a couple of Ferro rods in my bag (one is attached to my Smith and Wesson knife, the other is in a survival kit which I reviewed many years ago).  These can be used to create a spark to make a fire.  Matches are also in my survival kit, along with some combustible cotton balls and a small tea candle.  Finally, I have some hexamine tablets which can be used to create a fire.  They are part of a little stove I carry.  With these items I am fairly confident I can light a fire.

While it isn’t “fire”, I will also include in this category the inclusion of a head light and a light camp lantern (with batteries for both).  These are used when hiking (as I can’t light camp fires in National Parks) yet they are also useful for any activity after the sun sets.  I have also thrown in a pencil light and a couple of disposable glow sticks.

 

Cordage

To erect my shelter I will need some cordage, and for that I have the usual Para cord.  I have around 15 meters of Para cord included, along with 15 meters of double braided rope.  Finally, I have a meter of copper wire and a basic sewing kit for emergencies.  These items are so light I have included them all in the bag.

I have all the basics covered, and with this pack I am very confident I can meet most situations that I expect I could encounter.  I have used this kit for many accidents that have occurred over the years, so much so that I don’t like driving anywhere without this in the back of the car.

 

What else do I need?

Despite my confidence in my bag there are other items I wish I could add to my inventory.  These are items which I feel could compliment the already included equipment, or make the pack more versatile.

Water is a big requirement.  If I need to walk for 3-5 days, I will need a large amount of water… more than I want to carry.

According to a few websites I have checked, most people need about a liter of water each hour of walking (not including water I would need for cooking).  So I don’t want to carry that much water.  In order to fulfill my needs I will need to procure water on the way.  I know that the path to my house has dozens of streams and water sources which I can use to collect water.  To that end, I believe I need to add a water filter to my pack.  I have researched this for a while and the best one I can find is a Sawyer mini water-filter.  It is small, light, and will last a long time.

I can also use this when I go camping with my kids… as we can use it to filter water for our longer hikes (my daughter really wants me to take her on a two day hike in the National Park).

 

I have a canteen, mess kit and a stainless steel water bottle… yet I want something a little better.  I have been very interested in something like David Canterbury’s Survival Mess Kit.  It has a great water bottle, a container for cooking.

It isn’t as high on my list as a water filter, yet it would make cooking easier.

I hope next time I update my GHB I will have at least one of the items I mention I require.

My kayak adventure

Thursday morning started early, as I needed to take care of my normal duties at home before I could set off. Today was the day that I decided to take my Kayaking to the next level… to paddle out from shore, explore an island, and paddle back. I feel that this is the next level of kayaking, and doing so would prove to myself that I could make use of a kayak.

The target for my exploration was Hope Island. It is almost 900 metres from shore, which is a significantly longer distance to paddle. I had been building up the strength and stamina over the last few weeks, so I felt I could do this. I decided to keep my provisions for the trip to a minimum. I would not be over there for more than a couple of hours, so I took ½ a litre of water, a few muesli bars, and some zip lock bags to keep my phone and car keys dry. While the day was overcast, I still slathered on the sunscreen before setting off from home around 11:30am.

It took me around 30 minutes to find the place from where I wanted to launch. It was along a dirt road, near the Tassel plant, and several times on the journey I had to check my map as I was sure I was in the wrong location. Eventually I found a place to park and start my paddle to the island. The island didn’t look very far away, yet after many minutes of paddling I realised it was much further than I had anticipated. I took several breaks from paddling to try to keep my stamina up, and when I reached the other shore my arms were aching and shacking. I had a lot of trouble holding my camera still for the video.

I carried the kayak up from the shore so that it was well above the high water mark… I didn’t want it to go floating off without me. I noticed I had a couple of scratches from getting into the kayak and landing on the island, yet they were not serious. Apart from the drone of the nearby fishing vessels, I was alone. I started to head inland on the island. I was very happy to notice not a single piece of trash on the island, so obviously it was well maintained. After a couple of minutes of walking I encountered a roughly marked animal trail amongst the densely growing plants. The island had an overabundance of Black Berry bushes, with many ripe berries ready for eating, so I filled the pocket of my bag as I walked and explored.

The island is over 800 metres at its longest, yet with all the thick vegetation, it is slow walking. I noticed many signs of large animals walking through areas, yet I wasn’t sure if it was a cow or a horse. Eventually, after 5 minutes of walking, I came to a structure that appeared to be a small barn. It was chained shut, yet I could see through the gap in the door to note several farming implements within. I left that and began walking to a large, metal roofed house. When I could see it clearly, I realised it was an old ruin, that (upon inspection) was part of the old Convict settlement in the area in the 1800s.

I sat down for a rest on the grass near the ruins and ate my muesli bars as well as the large amount of black berries I had collected on my walk. It was very peaceful there, with the sounds of the birds and bees around me, and the beautiful view of the bay before me. After 20 minutes of rest I decided I should begin my walk back to the kayak. As I stood, I noticed that not more than 10 metres from me (in the long grass) were two cows! The stood and watched me for a moment before walking away. Now I knew with who I was sharing the island, and it answered the questions of how the animal paths were created.

I considered that the island would be a great place to camp for the night, the quiet solitude would be great. The close proximity of the salmon farms could mean great fishing (according to people who I know), as well as the blackberries, there were also large amounts of mussels on the rocks of the shore and many clumps of good seaweed. This is something I will have to consider for the near future.

I walked back to the kayak and was very relieved to see it wasn’t stolen or washed away on a tide. The paddle back to the shore was a little easier this time as I had realised I could use a slow, steady stroke rather than the hurried one I used to get me to the island. Once at my car, I loaded the equipment and drove home, where the exhaustion of the trip finally kicked in. I will be back to Hope island, as it was a very restful place. I am sure if I circumnavigated the island I would see many other structures of interest, and that may be something to do soon.

All in all, my first solo Kayak exploration was a great success. 10/10 – would do again.

The Rule of Threes – why were they created?

The rule of threes… it is something that is regularly mentioned in the world of Preppers.  Where does it come from?  I have searched and I am unable to find a primary source for the quote.  I suspect it originated from military survival training.  I have checked out some of the old military training films, yet they don’t discuss it.  Maybe one of you reading this has some information on this.

An image from the 1944 Jungle Survival film for the US Airforce. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxpuk77pzVY

What is the rule of threes?  It appears to be a short, helpful guide which was created with the intention of reminding people to focus on the immediate priorities in a survival situation.  This is how the list appeared the first time I saw it, so I suspect it was the original list.

You can survive 3 hours without shelter

You can survive 3 days without water

You can survive 3 weeks without food

It was a list of three items, and it was easy to remember.  Basically, it boils down to this… when in a survival situation (lost in the wilderness, etc.), you need to look at what you require to get through it.  Rather than spend time hunting down a meal, you need to find a place to take shelter from the elements.  After that, you need a source of drinkable water… finally, you can seek a source of food.  This list serves the purpose well of reminding the person in danger of where they should focus their attention.

Since learning of the list, I have read some other lists of “Rule of threes” which contain the following.

You can survive 3 seconds without blood

You can survive 3 minutes without air

You can survive 3 hours without shelter

You can survive 3 days without water

You can survive 3 weeks without food

You can survive 3 months without security.

You can survive 3 years without love/hope/human contact

Seriously… who puts these lists together?  3 years without love?  3 seconds without hope?  I don’t understand the motive behind placing such items in the list.  How would someone die after three years without love/human contact?  It really irritates me that people are pushing this type of information.

Also, 3 months without Security?  I found this on the Reddit “Preppers” thread in their introduction section.  It annoys me… why not 2?  Does something happen at the three month mark which will kill a person?   Do enemies spawn from thin air and attack?

The “Air” addition makes a little sense… although it isn’t helpful when you are drowning.  I doubt someone drowning would forget that they need to breath and instead start looking for food.

I can understand some of the additions… 3 seconds without blood makes sense… although it is stupidly placed in the list.  It is important to focus on a wound, rather than a shelter.  I don’t think it needs to be in the list, yet it does make sense.

The additions of Hope and love… they really make me annoyed.  It just appears like someone trying to shoe-horn in their belief system into a useful tool.

The Rule of threes are a great tool to help you remember to focus on the most vital requirements to your survival.  I would recommend using this useful tool as a reminder when you really need it.  Don’t be caught up in the additions people keep making for their own purposes.  I guess it is similar to a tool, like an axe.  Some people use and put away, while others look for specialised axes with double heads, or rubber grips.  It is still a useful tool, despite the accessories people add to it.  Just remeber why it was created and you will use it correctly.