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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Friday, February 17, 2017

Prepper: 52 Survival Skills Your Kids Should Be Learning

Prepper: 52 Survival Skills Your Kids Should Be Learning
Here is some of the latest coming from the world of prepping/survivalism
Prayer is the most important! Be spiritually ready for ANYTHING!
Growing up, the preparedness lifestyle was pretty much common place. It was just something we did and pretty much everyone I knew, lived the same way. Between common power outages in our neighborhood, playing in the woods, camping with our families, hunting, fishing and growing up with Depression Era grandparents, preparedness was an essential part of our lives.

Today, we have gotten so complacent about the world around us that we often forget that history has a tendency to repeat itself. Many of us have forgotten the importance of teaching our children survival skills. With grocery store shelves stocked with canned goods, our heat coming from electric base boards and the push that children shouldn’t be taught how to use a firearm, let alone how to hunt, we’ve set ourselves and our children up for failure.
Any new skill that anyone learns takes time to develop. It’s up to us to teach our children what they need to know to survive. We never know if God For Bid we will get separated from our children, but knowing we’ve equipped them as much as possible can offer a bit of peace if something so horrific should happen. It’s also good to note that the more your child is able to learn, the more of an asset they will be to your family unit if SHTF.
I do realize that every child learns at their own pace and many skills take time to develop.

52 Survival Skills Your Kids Should Be Learning

    1. Make sure your child knows your family’s plan – Are you hunkering down? Are you bugging out? If you are leaving, where are you going?
    2. Plant their own food – Planting a garden as a family, from seed to plant is an excellent way to teach this skill.
    3. How to identify local edible plants – There may not always be meat to eat or canned goods on the shelves. This book is a pretty good resource.
    4. How to make a fire and fire safety
    5. How to cook – And more than just on an electric or gas stove. Cooking on an open fire is an essential part of survival.
    6. How to safely use a knife.
    7. How to use a sling shot.
    8. How to hunt small game – trapping, snares, sling shot, and with a gun when they are old enough.
    9. How to fish.
    10. How to use a bow.
    11. How to clean fish and wild game.
    12. How to find water and identify if it’s safe to drink.
    13. How to purify water.
    14. Basic first-aid.
    15. How to build a shelter.
    16. How to defend themselves.
    17. How to make a basic weapon.
    18. How to climb a tree.
    19. Navigation skills – maps/compass/GPS/using the sky.
    20. Know which homes in your neighborhood are safe for them to go to in case of an emergency.
    21. To be aware of their surroundings.
    22. How to prepare food.
    23. How to open food packages and cans.
    24. Emergency phone numbers and how to call 911.
    25. How to swim.
    26. Basic sewing.
    27. How to tie different knots.
    28. How important it is to stay warm, dry or cool depending on the situation.
    29. How to pitch a tent.
    30. How to use a walkie-talkie.
    31. Be able to identify dangerous animals.
    32. Be able to identify poisonous plants.
    33. How to use basic hand tools.
    34. How to home-can foods.
    35. How to smoke different meats.
    36. How to dehydrate foods.
    37. How to freeze foods properly.
    38. Basic hygiene.
    39. How to follow a recipe.
    40. How to measure.
    41. How to work with a team.
    42. How to pack their own bag.
    43. How to signal for help (using a whistle will use less energy than teaching your child to yell for help).
    44. How to eat healthy and stay fit.
    45. How to barter.
    46. Wood-working skills.
    47. How to make fish hooks.
    48. The different uses for paracord.
    49. How to track animals.
    50. Identifying medicinal plants.
    51. How to hide.
    52. How to stay mentally focused.

Stockpiling Ammo for SHTF

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Editor’s Note: This post was contributed by Brady. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

Once you have a firearm you need to consider what it is going to take to feed your weapon. You can think of it in the way of just getting enough ammo for a particular hunt or recreation, but I suggest you take a good hard look at stockpiling ammo for the just in case scenario. There are some good guidelines and tips on stockpiling ammo that will simplify this process for you and make it easier than it sounds on some forums you may have come across.

Stockpiling Ammunition: Amounts and Types

First we will go over the best amounts and types of ammunition to stockpile. This could be specific to the caliber and gauge of the firearms you so they may be somewhat generalized. The first type is the ultra popular 22LR. It is common and popular for good reason because it is light, effective, and generally cost efficient. The fact that you can generally get larger lots of this ammo for a fraction of the cost makes it an absolute staple in any ammo stockpile. Chances are you already own a 22LR and if you are new to firearms they are great way to get into shooting because of the lack of harsh noise and absence of recoil making it easy to get your fundamentals down. If you are able to master your shooting fundamentals with a gun that uses cheap ammunition you will be way ahead rather than trying to buy a gun to make you better. 22LR is now becoming a little easier to get a hold of in the 500 round lots again so it is a good time to go out and grab some. My recommendation for the amount to keep on hand is 2,000 rounds that you actually keep stockpiled away from your normal shooting stash. In the event you need to hunt for food this gives you a lot of opportunities with minimal space to store it and weight of the cache. This is only 4 cases of the 500 round “bricks” you typically see people buying.

For semiautomatic weapons such as your AR-15 and AR-10 platforms, as well as semiautomatic pistols it is a good idea to keep around 2,000 rounds as well because these types of rifles can really chew through your ammunition stock if you do a lot of shooting. It’s pretty much nothing to go out and shoot 100 rounds in an afternoon and that is just a little over 3 standard 30 round magazines. If you can keep stock of more than this it is even better but aiming for 2,000 rounds in reserve plus whatever amount you deem for practice shooting is a great goal to shoot for. It is the easiest and most affordable to buy FMJ (full metal jacket) ammunition because it is the most available and in the largest lots if you want to get bulk pack. A good goal is to have around 200 rounds of the more specialty type ammunition such as ballistic tip, hollow point, and match ammo because they are great for what they are designed for but are often over double the price of the conventional FMJ type ammunition.
For your bigger bolt guns and magnum rifles try to keep around 250 rounds in your reserve stash. The reason for this being a lower number is factored by two main reasons: cost and amount typically used. If you own a 300 win mag you know how expensive it is to shoot and the fact you don’t typically go out and try to shoot 100 rounds in a day unless your shoulder is made out of granite. However if you do a lot of long-range shooting you may go through more of this ammo so keep in mind the 250 rounds is just the amount of ammo you are saving for an emergency not included in your normal shooting ammo. For shotguns aim for about 500 rounds because regardless of gauge this is a lot of firepower. It might be a good idea to get a variety of loads besides just basic #7 bird-shot. 00 buckshot is great because of its effectiveness at self-protection and slugs for hunting.

Storage Solutions for your stockpiled ammo

MTM 50 Caliber Ammo Storage Can – $10
Now that you have a better idea of how much ammunition to keep on hand I’ll go over the best ways to store it for long-term storage. First you will need some good containers such as plastic or metal ammo cans. These come with a gasket in the lid to make a strong seal when snapped shut making moisture and humidity difficult to permeate. I recommend leaving the ammunition in the boxes it comes in just for organizational sake to keep a bunch of loose rounds from rolling around. If you buy larger lots they sometimes come in an ammo can already so that will save you a step looking for a container. You can buy replacement gaskets so if a gasket ever starts to fall apart or dry up you can simply throw in a new gasket to keep the integrity of the ammo can. The best thing to do is keep desiccant packages inside the ammo can to absorb any moisture that would be inside the can keeping the rounds dry.  These are cheap and you can usually find them in things you already purchased in the packaging. Make sure to mark each box with what is inside either with some tape to write on or stencils so it is easy for you to identify if in a hurry.

Cost effective way to start stockpiling ammo

If you do not have the money to drop $350+ on a big lot of ammo you can simply go for a small box of ammo every week or couple of weeks. Just as an example say you will get a box of 20 rounds of .223/5.56 every week at around $9 a box for basic FMJ will add up to only $36 dollars a month and give you 1,200 rounds year. So basically you can incrementally add to your ammo stockpile instead of have to buy in bulk. It does offer some cost savings to purchase larger lots but may be a little easier to budget for a smaller weekly expense. As long as you take some simple steps to budget and prepare for it you will be able to begin getting a good cache built up.

Ensure Your Family Has Safe Water If the Grid Goes Down

Water is a critical component of life.  Go without any for three days, and your chances of being dead are very high.  We are used to water being available at every tap, water fountain and purveyor of beverages.  The only problem is, this continuous availability of water depends on a lot of infrastructure, and if some or all of that collapses, water is going to “dry up” quickly.  And if you head out into the wilderness, taps, fountains and retail sellers are few and far between.  You should always be keeping an eye out to make sure you have “enough” water and/or a way to get water.

Different Types of Water

Water is water, but not all water is the same.  There is pure water, just combinations of two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom (H2O).  Generally the closest you can get to this is distilled water.  This is useful and fairly harmless, although it is hypotonic (has a lower solute concentration than do human cells) and can cause hemolysis (rupturing of red blood cells); this is usually not a major concern even if this is all that is available to drink.  Using it on wounds may delay healing a bit; and it might be a problem for people with ulcers (bleeding in the stomach).  But this is still way better than no water.  On the other end of the scale are various degrees of contaminated water, polluted with chemicals and/or biological organisms, which can make you very sick and even kill you.  Salt water can be considered in this latter class as well, even if there is nothing else in it besides the salt.  In between are various types of water, all of which are potable (suitable for drinking without major harmful effects).
Determining what water is potable and what is not can be quite a challenge.  If it is in a sealed container and properly labeled, then it MIGHT be OK.  Labels have been known to be inaccurate (accidentally and even deliberately).  If it comes from a municipal tap, then it MIGHT be OK.  Just ask the people of Flint, Michigan about that.  If it is from a known well, it MIGHT be OK.  My dad’s well was found to contain arsenic.  And if the water is from an open source, such as a stream or pond, there is a chance it might be OK, but the odds are very high that it is contaminated.

Market failure.
Even if some water does not have anything seriously harmful in it, there might be particulates (sand, silt, plant or insect parts and the like) which would make the water unpleasant and/or things which might be only relatively harmless.
During “normal” times, pre-packaged or professionally provided water is usually tolerable, but if the water infrastructure breaks down for any reason, all water is not to be trusted as is.  Open water should always be viewed with suspicion regardless of the state of the surroundings.

Contaminants in Water

There is a tremendous variety of contaminants.  Some are “natural”, such a minerals in water drawn from a well, or silt from the bed of a river.  Some are man-made, and leaked into surface water accidentally or even deliberately; some eventually work their way into the water table.  Some are added accidentally or even deliberately by water distribution networks or packaging.  For convenience, let us group contaminates into particulates, organisms, organic chemicals (contain carbon), inorganic chemicals and salt (a special case of inorganic chemical).
Determining some specific contaminates can be done with a “pocket-sized” kit, but many require chemical tests which may be a challenge for people without lab access.  But you can get a compact “TDS” meter cheap which will tell you the “Total Dissolved Solids” in your water.  As an example, fish tank water gave a reading of 448, tap water read 229, and reverse osmosis water read 17.  We don’t know WHAT contaminants are there, but we have an idea of HOW MUCH.  Some of these meters also measure “EC” (Electrical Conductivity); pure water is an insulator and it is the ions added to it which makes it conductive, so TDS and EC are closely related.

Purifying Water

There are six common, practical philosophies of treating contaminated or suspected water.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses.
  1. Chemical reaction changes harmful chemicals (usually inorganic) to harmless ones (such as ion exchange), or adsorb (attract to the surface and “grab onto”) some chemicals (usually organic).
  2. Filtration removes particulates and bigger organisms; most filters allow some organisms (particularly viruses) and all chemicals through.  Salt water cannot be purified by filtration and can damage the filter.
  3. Boiling kills all organisms; it is useless against particulates, salt and chemicals
  4. Chemical treatment has pretty much the same effect as boiling, without the cost in fuel, but often adding an unpleasant taste (you are adding chemicals).
  5. Distillation is an extension to boiling which, if done correctly, should be able to deal with biological, particulate and most chemical contamination, as well as salt.
  6. UV radiation kills organisms exposed to it as long as the water is pretty clear; it is useless against particulates, salt and chemicals
There may be other methodologies which I am not familiar with, particularly large-scale, but these six would seem to be those of most interest for survival purposes.
Since no method is perfect, often two or more methods are used together.

Chemical Reaction

The most common form of this is “activated charcoal”.  This is carbon (charcoal) media which has been treated with Oxygen to create a myriad of tiny pores between the atoms, resulting in a massive surface area of potential chemical bonds.  The carbon attracts some chemicals, particularly organic ones, and they bond to the surface (adsorption).  These usually cannot be cleaned, so clog up and must be replaced fairly quickly.  Also, if the carbon media is granular, some dust sneaks out, requiring a pre-flush of the filter before normal use.  Because the intention is for the contaminants to bond with the carbon, we want the contaminants to be in contact with the carbon for a “long time”.  Thus, the better ones of these have a slow production rate, and arguably the “best” of these uses “carbon block” technology where the media is fused together into a mildly porous solid.
You have probably heard of one common Ion Exchange device, the ubiquitous water softener.  It exchanges two sodium (salt) ions for each calcium or magnesium ion.  This is for non-drinking reasons, because calcium and magnesium are often better for you than salt, and tastes better too.  For water purification, the process has two different beads which exchange inorganic ions to produce Hydrogen ions and Hydroxyl (OH) ions, which combine to form H2O (pure water) to replace the chemicals.  Of course, the ions are used up rapidly, they are for a specific list of chemicals, and the beads need to be regenerated.  And of course, this method has no effect on organisms or particulates.  These are fairly rare; an example would be the MB series filters from CustomPure.com which also include carbon filtration for some of the things Ion Exchange won’t handle. They claim it can remove “sodium” which is salt, but I doubt it would be able to handle the amount of salt in salt water.

Water Filtration

Filtration is very simple in concept.  You pass the contaminated water through a medium with holes smaller than what you want to take out.   As such, a key specification for any filter is what size the “holes” are.  This is usually specified in “microns”, or “micrometers”.  That is, one millionth of a meter.  Some claim this measurement (micron) is obsolete, but it still seems to be the measurement of choice for filters.  Some recent purifiers specify their size in “nanometers”, where 1 nanometer is .001 micron.  Keeping with the “metric” measurements, filter capacity (how much water can be processed before replacement) is often specified in Liters (L); for a rough estimate, a Liter is approximately the same volume as a quart, so four Liters is approximately a gallon.

When comparing filters, the one with the smaller holes would seem to be the better choice.  The problem is that some companies have varying sizes of holes, and claim the size of the smallest hole in their filter rather than the biggest.  Since it is easier for the water to get through a bigger hole and much of it does, this can be a seriously misleading rating.  In your final analysis, try to find out the actual percentage of contaminants removed.  This is the most accurate way of determining filter effectiveness.  Another term which can sometimes be used in a misleading manner is water “purifier”.  The correct use of this term is for a unit which removes the much smaller viruses.  Units which remove particulates and organisms as small as bacteria are simply to be called “filters”.
Some filters become “plugged up” quickly and are rated for a specified number of gallons (or liters), while others can be cleaned and restored to service or even are self-cleaning.  Reverse osmosis (RO) is a prime example of purification and self-cleaning.  It forces the water through a semi-permeable membrane and continuously washes any contaminates off of the source side of the membrane.  This is a very effective system (see the TDS meter example above), but requires the water to be pressurized, and worse, the wash water now has an even higher level of contamination than it had at the beginning.  In many systems, you “throw away” as much as four gallons of water for each gallon purified.  I’ve heard of one household system where the wash water is fed into the hot water line rather than the drain, but I’m not seeing how the pressure in that line is overcome.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter – $20
Other filters run the gamut from several layers of cloth or a coffee filter, suitable only for large particulates, to 0.01 micron (or less) water purifiers; from pocket-sized to counter-top and bigger.  Since the smaller the holes, the slower the filtration and the more likely it is to clog up, often filter systems have multiple filters, starting with a pre-filter for “chunks”, course filters for large particulates, possibly some medium-sized filters and ending up with the finest filter.  Smaller holes require more “energy” to force the water through the holes; this can be from gravity, or more effectively, a pump or suction.
In filters (i.e., won’t remove viruses), perhaps the most compact and simplest to use is the “Lifestraw“.  This is rated at 0.2 micron, with a 264 gallon capacity.  It is light, easy to carry and reasonably priced.  To use it, stick the input end into contaminated water and suck the water from the other end just like from a straw.  It takes a few seconds of sucking to start delivering water.  There also seems to be a Lifestraw Steel model, which adds a metal body and an activated carbon filter to remove some chemicals.  This latter part is replaceable, which is good because its capacity is 26 gallons, only a tenth of the main filter capability.  Another popular compact option is the Sawyer Mini system.  This is rated at 0.1 micron, and can be cleaned to provide up to 100,000 gallons of filtered water.  It can be pressurized by squeezing a pouch of contaminated water, or used inline with a hydration pack, from a standard soda bottle, or used as a straw from an open source.
As for portable purification, an example is the pump powered MSR Guardian, rated at .02 microns and with about a 2500 gallon capacity.  Another, bigger option is the Lifestraw Family, rated at .02 microns and with a 2600 gallon capacity.  I found a particularly compact suction powered (straw) system which sounds promising; the Etekcity 1500L rated at .01 microns with a 396 gallon capacity, but don’t know anything about the company.  They have a wide range of products, so it’s not like they specialize in water purification.
A countertop system is an option at a fixed location.  An example of this is the gravity powered Big Berkey (actually, the whole Berkey family).  This company doesn’t provide a micron rating since it can be misleading as mentioned above; they stand on their contamination removal percentages.  Their filter cartridges have a capacity of 3000 gallons per filter element, with two to four elements installed in the system.  More elements don’t filter any better, just faster.  Not only is it very effective against virus (and bigger things), but many chemicals as well.  And you can get an add on filter for each element which takes out Fluoride, Arsenic and a couple of other additional chemicals, with a capacity of 500 gallons per add-on filter.

3 Types of Backpacks to Meet Your Gear Loadout Needs

When you are selecting a backpack to serve as your Bug Out Bag, INCH bag, or maybe just for a pack to carry with you to the park.  It is important to understand the types of backpacks that are available on the market today and how each of the bag parts can provide you with additional benefit for your method of use.  Just as in mechanics, there is the “right tool for the right job”, with backpacks, there is the “right pack for your trek”.  Without this information during your bag selection process, you may find yourself in a really uncomfortable situation.
This article is part two of a three part bag selection series. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out part one where we looked at the 9 factors in choosing a pack to make sure you have all the information relative to finding what pack fit your mission, environment, and personal needs the best.

Types of Packs

All packs can basically be summed up into three main design types based their support structure.
  • Frameless Packs
  • External Frame Packs
  • Internal Frame Packs

Frameless Packs

Frameless backpacks are basically a bag with shoulder straps.  Think of the typical backpack we carried to grade school with our lunchbox and 20lbs of books inside.  They provide no rigid support structure for the back and all of the weight in the pack is carried on the shoulders.  The shoulder muscle groups aren’t capable of carrying as much weight as the muscle groups associated with hip carry.  This is why frameless packs are ok for carrying heavy loads for short periods of time, but are by no means the best solution for the long term.
Frameless packs are dependent on the gear being carried and the loadout of the gear to provide support for the back.  Any rigid items not packed correctly can protrude (due to lack of a frame) and make contact with the back causing discomfort during carry.  In addition, because of the lack of frame, it also makes it more difficult to balance the load.
You can find frameless packs that have a foam insert along the back of the pack such as the Osprey Daylite or Osprey Daylite Plus.  This provides some padding on the spine to Osprey Daylite at Work
increase comfort.  Many of the foam inserts also have cut outs to increase airflow and ventilation.  This foam structure helps provide some bag structure and can provide a little leeway with rigid items and touching the back, as mentioned above.
This type of pack is usually cheaper and lighter weight, but provides significantly less support.  Because of this it is advantageous to look for frameless packs that include a waist, sternum, and compression straps when possible.
Some options, like the Osprey mentioned above, come with a removable waist belt to allow for the removal of the waist strap when not in use.  This can be advantageous for day users who find waist belts more of an irritation during short treks, but want the pack to be functional and more stable for longer trips.
Some long distance hikers prefer this type of bag due to the weight savings, while others prefer the little extra weight of an internal frame that brings more support and stability.  The weight, support needs, and balance between the two, are a consideration you will have to take into account when selecting your bag.external-frame

External Frame Packs

External frame packs are an older technology and becoming more and more difficult to find. Most are being replaced by internal frame packs.  External frame packs are still available and provide the most rigid support structure of all other types of packs.  They are useful for carrying irregular or large objects where the external frame can serve as a tie down point.  They have a larger profile, are heavier, and more susceptible to snags since the frame is external to the pack.  Unless you have one lying around or you have a really special circumstance, we recommend you look at internal frame packs.

Internal Frame Packs

The majority of backpackers carry an internal frame pack.  They provide the right balance of pack weight with the support preferred for longer distances.  Internal frame packs incorporate a rigid suspension system inside the main body of the kelty redwing 44-1
pack.  This allows the bag to maintain a low profile as opposed to external frame packs and minimize snags since the frame is built into the bag.
There are a number of different designs incorporating a number of different materials such as aluminum stays, carbon fiber, or rigid plastic frames.  They are designed to contour the spine and provide rigidity to keep the loadout from directly impacting the back.  Most incorporate padded shoulder straps with a sternum strap and padded waist belt to stabilize the load and improve the balance of the carrier with uneven terrain.
This type of pack is better with heavier loads as it distributes the weight of the load to the hips and takes weight off the neck and shoulders.  This slows the rate of fatigue for the carrier by shifting the load to larger muscle groups around the hips and off sensitive ones around the neck.
At Talon Survival, we use and recommend Internal Frame packs the majority of the time when the method of use involves moderate to heavier loads or longer travel distances (over 5 miles).  We use the Kelty Redwing 44 and Kelty Women’s Redwing 40 as our Bug Out Bag and are very happy with its performance and feature set.  It provides 44 liters (and 40 liters respectively) of storage space, features a plastic frame with aluminum stays, and weighs just over 2.5 lbs.
For the average user, Internal Frame packs provide the best bag weight to carry weight ratio while still providing good back support and a low profile.

Bag Parts

There are a number of parts to a bag which provide different capabilities.  Typically, the more features described below that are included, the better weight distribution and long term comfort you are able to obtain.


Frames are found with internal and external frame pack types.  Internal frames are usually composed of metal stays or rods, which are connected or directly molded into the back panel.  As mentioned above, these add a little weight but allow for more weight distributions options and improve fatigue and balance. In external frame packs, the frame is usually composed of a metal tube frame surrounding the external of the pack.
Obviously frameless packs do not have a frame.  If a frameless pack is all you can find or afford, you can use a semi-rigid pad such as a sit pad or a sleeping pad against the back fabric panel to give your back some padding.  It will never be the same as a rigid frame, but is better than raw gear on the back.

Back Panel

osprey daylite- back panel
The foam back panel shown here with air venting can provide additional protection and air flow in a frameless packs

On internal frame packs, the back panel is connected to the metal frame to provide support throughout the lumbar facing side of the pack.  This protects your back from gear protrusions and usually provides some type of air vent pockets to allow air flow which limits perspiration.
Some frameless packs include a foam back panel to provide back protection and allow for air flow, however, due to limited lumbar rigidity, most of the weight is still carried on the shoulders, even with frameless packs that have a waist belt.

Compression Straps

Compression straps are a must have.  They are straps found on the sides of the main gear pocket(s) which allow you to secure your gear loadout and keep it from shifting.  This helps you to balance the weight of your gear when your pack isn’t completely full and also keeps it from making noise.  Less noise improves your security in a survival situation as it limits the ability of others to hear you coming.

Shoulder Straps

I don’t think you can have a backpack without a shoulder strap.  This allows you to secure the pack to your shoulders and carry it.  Try to avoid backpacks that have only one strap as they do not balance the load evenly and can cause uneven muscle use and fatigue to the neck and shoulders.  When a waist strap is not available, all of the weight of the pack and the load are carried with the shoulder straps.  The more padding in the shoulder strap, the more comfortable you will be over longer periods of time.
For The Ladies: Ladies may need a thinner strap to be comfortable, as wider straps (designed for males) can dig in to the neck and cause pain or chafing.  Many women specific packs such as the Kelty Women’s Redwing 40 provide slightly thinner shoulder straps, shorter torso length, and other ergonomic designs to meet a woman’s figure and be more comfortable.

Hip Belt / Waist Strap

kelty redwing waist strap
Always look for a backpack that includes a hip belt.  Why? Because on framed packs, a hip belt transfers up to 90% of the weight in your bag from your shoulders to your hips, greatly minimizing fatigue.  In all cases (both framed and frameless packs) it helps to minimize bag movement at faster paces and can improve balance by helping to eliminate weight shift.  More padding on the hip belt can help to provide more comfort and further eliminate fatigue. And if you don’t want to use it for short trips?  You can strap it down, or even remove it completely on some models.
For the Ladies: Many women specific bags also contour their hip belts specific to the female contour which can be more comfortable than unisex or male pack designs.

Sternum Strap

The purpose of the sternum strap is to pull the shoulder straps closer together and keeps them from sliding to the edges of your shoulder with repetitive movement.  This helps to relieve stress from your back and shoulders and improves stability.  Many packs like the Osprey Daylite allow for these to be adjusted up and down along the shoulder strap to meet different chest sizes. Adjust them until they fit comfortably in the middle of the chest.

Load Lifter Strap

Load lifter straps connect the top of the pack with the top of the shoulder strap.  They allow you to stop the pack from leaning away from your back when adjusted correctly.  These straps should be at a 45 angle away from the body and toward the pack.   This will help to take additional weight off your shoulders.

Hip Belt Stabilizer

These straps connect the bottom sides of the pack to the hip belt and help to compress the hip belt to stabilize the load.  They also minimize vertical movement of the bag.  This can also help provide more balance and comfort with minor adjustments during carry.
We are currently working on part three the final article of this three part series on pack selection.  Be sure to check it out when it releases in a few days.  If you would like this article sent directly to your email, sign up for your Talon Communique newsletter on the right side of the screen or by clicking here.

Bag Parts Diagram

Bag Parts Diagram

25 Things NOT To Do If You Bug In

There are countless articles and videos with lists of tips, hacks, and things to do if you bug in during a disaster. However, there aren’t many lists of things NOT to do. That is the subject of this video by Reality Survival.

If you’ve never bugged in for an extended period of time without power, then you probably have no idea all the mistakes people make when doing this. If you’re not careful, you could get your family sick, draw unwanted attention, waste your resources, and even get yourself killed.
Here are the first five tips:
1. Don’t burn treated wood because the chemicals in it could make you sick.
2. Don’t cook inside unless you have an exhaust system or you will get carbon monoxide poisoning.
3. Don’t board up the windows from the outside. Rather, board them up from the inside.
4. Don’t cook with galvanized metal containers because of the dangerous chemicals in them.
5. Don’t burn green lumber or pine in your fireplace or stove as it will cause creosote to build up which can catch fire.
Watch the video below for the rest of the things not to do while bugging in.


7 Heal-Anything Medicinal Plants You Can Grow Indoors

7 Heal-Anything Medicinal Plants You Can Grow Indoors
Marigold. Image source: Pixabay.com
There is absolutely nothing like having fresh medicinal plants that you can pick and use right on the spot, when you need them.
Plus, you can dry them, and then use a mortise and pestle to grind them and encapsulate your own medicinal plants. You know they were never sprayed with pesticides. And you know all about the nutrients that were fed to them.
You can grow them in decorative planters in the kitchen if you have the lighting for it.
Many people set up a multi-tiered rack that allows planter pots to be set at a forward-facing angle. This allows you to put the back of it against a wall, and the plants grow at a forward-facing angle.
Other people like to use wire hangers and hang the pots from a wall in rows or a pattern. If you’re going to do this, then test the strength of your wall.
If you have a sunroom or a sunroom-like area, these make great growing spaces, too.
Learn How To Make Powerful Herbal Medicines, Right in Your Kitchen!
Here are seven of the best medicinal plants you can grow indoors:
1. St John’s Wort. This plant will grow year-round with a grow light in the morning or evening to extend the growing hours of the day. If you find that it’s not flowering, then it may need longer hours of light.
7 Heal-Anything Medicinal Plants You Can Grow Indoors
St. John’s Wort. Image source: Pixabay.com
It’s a great-looking plant with attractive yellow flowers and can really brighten up a home.
  • May be as effective as some prescription medication for treating depression1.
  • Helps alleviate the symptoms of PMS and menopause2.
  • May help with the symptoms of ADD (attention deficit disorder)2.
2. Thyme. This is a hearty plant that can be used in cooking, as it’s one of the most popular herbs around. It’s hearty, grows pretty easily and doesn’t require much care at all.
  • Thyme has been shown to aid in the relief of chest and respiratory problems, including coughs, bronchitis and chest congestion3.
  • Thyme has been shown to have a strong antimicrobial activity, neutralizing such bacteria and fungi as Staphalococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli and Shigella sonnei4.
3. Sage. Its genus name, Salvia, means “to heal.” As long as you give it light, adequate water and good soil, you almost can’t kill it. Sage is one of the herbs that makes everyone look like they’ve got a green thumb.
7 Heal-Anything Medicinal Plants You Can Grow Indoors
Sage. Image source: Pixabay.com
  • May lessen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s 5.
  • Has been shown to lower both blood glucose and cholesterol5.
4. Parsley. Too many people think of parsley as a garnish on their plate. But parsley is one of the best green foods around.
It grows rather easily, and you shouldn’t have a problem so long as you keep its soil damp.
  • Can help with bad breath6.
  • Can help detoxify the brain of ammonia, thereby reducing the feelings of a hangover.
  • May be a potent anticancer agent and has been shown to be chemo-protective7.
5. Marigold. A truly unique and beautiful flowing medicinal, marigold will grow with only just a little bit of TLC needed.
  • The flowers have long been touted to posses near legendary anti-inflammatory properties that have shown to fight eczema and allergic reactions.
  • Relieves pain of arthritis.
  • Can be made into tinctures and ointments that have shown to sooth rashes, bed sores, diaper rash, sun burns and other types of burns.
6. Lavender. This is one of the most fragrant medicinal plants you can grow in your home. Lavender is a little more work to grow inside and it needs a little more space.
  • Put lavender in your pillow to have a restful sleep and avoid insomnia8.
  • Helps with nervousness, headache, stomach nerves, restlessness and stress8.
7 Heal-Anything Medicinal Plants You Can Grow Indoors
Image source: Pixabay.com
7. Echinacea. Here you have the granddaddy of all medicinal plants. It grows easily, as long as you give it a grow light.
  • Several studies show that Echinacea helps boost the immune10.
  • Echinacea has shown to be very promising in treating most any kind of infection, from sinusitis to vaginal yeast infections to ear infections10.
  • Shows promise in treating colon cancer and athlete’s foot10.

  1. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stjohnswort/sjw-and-depression.htm
  2. https://draxe.com/st-johns-wort-uses/
  3. Kelm MA, Nair MG, Strasburg GM, DeWitt DL. Antioxidant and cyclooxygenase inhibitory phenolic compounds from Ocimum sanctum Linn. Phytomedicine 2000 Mar;7(1):7-13. 2000. PMID:12240.
  4. Bagamboula CF, Uyttendaeleand M, Debevere J. Inhibitory effect of thyme and basil essential oils, carvacrol, thymol, estragol, linalool and p-cymene towards Shigella sonnei and S. flexneri. Food Microbio 2004 Feb;21 (1):33-42. 2004.
  5. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266480.php
  6. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-parsley.html
  7. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf00013a020
  8. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lavender
  9. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/echinacea

Ten useful tips to defend your home

Ten useful tips to defend your home In a world where the future is unknown, prepping becomes a necessity. One of the most important things you can do is make sure you are able to defend your home. Home invasion is a real danger during a crisis scenario and you need to be prepared.
Thieves won’t wait for the brown stuff to hit the fan to do an inventory of the things you own. Home invasions are a real concern even during times of tranquility. According to a United States department of justice report, 38% of assaults and 60% of rapes occur during home invasions. It is estimated that one of every five homes will experience a break-in or home invasion. To avoid being one of the numbers in those statistics here are ten easy ways to defend your home.

Useful tips to defend your home:

  1. Buy and install a deadbolt lock

There are a lot of well-made deadbolt locks available on the market. This is an effective attack stopper and becomes an ideal tool to defend your home. Install it on a solid door and you have a good combination to keep uninvited guest from ruining your sleep. I recommend installing a vertical deadbolt because it’s bolted to the inside face of the door, at the top. An intruder will not be able to pry your door open as it can happen with horizontal deadbolts.
  1. Install motion sensor lights or alarms

These sensors should be placed near windows and doors. The main purpose of motion sensors is to sense an intruder and create an alert. Some motion sensors are connected to a monitoring center and they send signals to your cellphone or to recording devices. To defend your home for possible intruders you should install sensors that are designed to work even when you’re at home (at night). Most people install sensors that work when they are not home, or when they tell the system they are not there.
  1. Install a camera at the front door

Since this is your main point of access, you should be able to monitor it properly. Besides finding out who’s been stealing your Amazon packages, you can also use it to check what’s happening on your front porch. This can become useful in case of riots or flash mobs and you will have an idea of what you have to deal with. Some preppers have cameras installed all around their home. Although a better alternative, sometimes the cost to defend your home is also a factor. Go with a wireless camera that can be placed anywhere. Consider the capacity for expansion based on your budget.
  1. Don’t forget about the sliding doors

Sliding patio doors are the favorite point of entry for home invaders. They can easily be manipulated and you don’t need to use force to open them. You can’t properly defend your home if you don’t secure the weakest points. A security bar can be installed and prevent your door from being forced open. Most often, security bars can also be used to block standard doors. I have a master lock security bar for my patio door and I plan on getting two more for other doors.
  1. A guard dog (or two) is all you need

Growing up, we had two German shepherds that were worth more than any alarm system. If you think about it, dogs are the most popular forms of home defense. Our ancestors were dependent on their four-legged friends to keep intruders at bay. The best part about a guard dog is that is both an alarm system and a deterrent. However, the trick is to professionally train your dog if you want it to defend your home. A dog needs only one master (not the entire family) and its master needs to invest time in training it.
  1. Use an alarm system

I lived for two years in South America and I can tell you how important an alarm system is. If you plan to invest some money to defend your home, chose one that provides professional monitoring. There are professional companies that provide services to meet any need. It doesn’t matter if you’re at home or on vacation, someone will take care of your home. A professional monitoring system is preferred by most of the women living alone.
  1. Install or make a safe room

If you’re not able to defend your home using the means you have, a safe room is a must. Usually, a safe room is included during the construction stage of your home. However, there are also aftermarket solutions that are just as good. There are alternatives to include a panic room in most existing structures. If you lack the space and the two alternatives from above are not possible, you still have a fighting chance. If someone gets inside your home, chose a solid room and barricade yourself inside. Call for help as soon as possible.
  1. Think about getting some kick resistant plates

These type of plates are recommended with each quality lock and deadbolt. The reason is that a door frame can give way if kicked hard enough. Most kick resistant plates are designed to reinforce the frame. They are capable of stopping even the most crazed home invader.

  1. Trim your plants and shrubs

Most thieves spend quite some time analyzing the perimeter of your home. They do so from the safety and cover offered by the hiding spots you left for them. Keeping bushes and other vegetation trimmed eliminates this possibility. Even more, I recommend planting bushes or plants that have nasty thorns. These are the worthy deterrents for any home intruder.
  1. Get the appropriate guns for self-defense

No matter your view on gun control and such topics, you can’t defend your home without proper firepower. The bad guys will always have access to guns. It won’t do you any much good throwing plates at an armed intruder. However, if you shot first and ask questions later, you won’t become one of the gruesome statistics of home invasion. There are many options of guns you can chose from, but I say to stick with the one that you’re used to. The one you can shot well and hit the target without too much effort.
If you want to defend your home from a possible intruder, the tips listed above are a good start. Do a good job to defend your home by using some of, if not all these preps. When society surrenders to chaos you should be prepared. Statistically, there are over 8,000 home invasions per day in North America. Think about how much that number will increase during a prolonged regional or national emergency.

9 Tips For Prepping With Pets

If you have pets, your furry critters depend on you to save them. By planning ahead, you should be able to safely escape any disaster with your pets.

9 tips for prepping with pets
Typically, if it is not safe for you, it is unsafe for your pets too. Your animals need to be protected, as would any member of your family.
At the same time, pets are great companion animals but when you’re also fighting for your survival, they can quickly become a burden.
And if you only have a small space to store some supplies, finding room for pet food can be difficult.
Training your pets with emergencies in mind and prepping for them too may be the deciding factor of their survival.
And well trained pets won’t put you in danger and can actually help in a survival situation.
Today we’ll cover some important tips for prepping with a pet.

Your Pets In An Emergency

There are two main survival situations to consider – a small natural disaster that may force you to evacuate and find shelter elsewhere, and the other is full blown SHTF.
We’ll go into more detail about both soon, but in both situations pets still need to eat and go to the bathroom, and they may get sick or need regular medications.
Planning To Evacuate….
1. Identify and document details about pet friendly areas in the vicinity and in surrounding area and also disaster relief agencies well before anything happens. Always keep the phone numbers of your vet, pet friendly hotels, nearby animal hospitals/shelters as well as any relief agencies around in your vicinity.
The Red Cross and other organizations have sometimes supplied portable animal shelters for domestic animals during a crisis in certain locations of the United States.
Most local disaster relief shelters are intended for people and don’t allow anyone to bring animals of any kind because of the mess and dangers of an animal attacking someone or another animal.
If you plan to go to a relative’s home, ask ahead of time if they are alright with taking your pets in too.
2. Make sure your pet has all of their current vaccinations / shots and that you have any necessary medicines available. Flea and tick medications are important too. Your house may not have fleas or ticks but shelters will have them and other temporary locations may have them too. If your pet requires any allergy medicines, heartworm medicine, or prescriptions, make a small stockpile of them.
3. Bring food for your pet. Dried foods in the original packaging would be easiest to store. Canned foods is heavy and will add significant weight to any pack or kit. Many times your pet can simply eat whatever you do, so it’s a good way to save space. Tuna or canned beef stew could be eaten by both of you, for example.
4. People generally need one gallon of water every day to stay hydrated, but your pets will not want that much unless they’re huge dogs, but you should still plan on at least 1/2 gallon a day for every pet.
5. Food and water bowls, along with covers, chew toys, leashes, collars, harnesses, maybe even warm clothes for certain pets should be in your kit. Make your leashes and collars from paracord and you can disassemble them in an emergency.
6. Indoor cats will still need their litter boxes in a shelter, and you must have scoops and bags to dispose of the used litter.
7. Up-to-date pictures and/or descriptions of your pets needs to be in the kit as well so other people can help look for for your animals if you get split up.
8. If you’re going to be in a shelter pet accidents will happen, so be ready. Pack newspapers and plastic bags for waste.
9. Pet id’s are important, though personal privacy should be a concern. Your pet should have tags attached with your information on them in case your pet gets lost or ends up at a shelter, but you’re also exposing your info during a time that you may want to remain more anonymous.
Other Considerations
You may not be home during an emergency, and you might not be able to get home for a while. Find a reliable buddy or next door neighbor you can contact take care of your pet until you can get back home. And of course, any pet sitter would need to have a key or access to a hidden key.
You can be prepared for survival and still panic and freak out. Your animals will be freaking out too, but it may not be as obvious. They may not listen to you at all, so don’t trust them to simply run around you or obey your commands, be prepared with a leash.
SHTF Survival Situation
In a long term SHTF situation, everything changes. Think about if you could never go to a store again, what would you need to take care of and transition your pets off the grid?
Are you bugging in or bugging out? What would you do if your dogs make noise at the wrong time? How long can you spare food and water? Are they going to be more of a hindrance or a help?
These are very tough questions to answer, and sometimes it means making a hard choice. Check out this video for a breakdown of what you might face.