Thursday, February 17, 2011

Animated Knots

Learning how to make knots for Climbing, Hiking, Camping, and Fishing can be a vital skill for many survival situations. Learning how to make knots takes both time and training. There are some great guides online where you can see how the knots are made in the form of animations. Two of these sites are Animated Knots by Grog and The Rope People.

Paracord is nylon lightweight rope with a protective outer layer and a number of core threads. The normal type: Paracord 550 have a minimum breaking strength of 550 lb (249 kilograms). Paracord can have a number of uses in the field to construct shelter, secure equipment, as shoes laces, to secure tents and other form of shelter etc. When you cut Paracord use a lighter to melt the end of cord, this prevents the cord from unfolding and breaking. You can also add Paracord around Water bottles to ensure that you always have some with you as Every Day Carry. Paracord comes in a number of different colors.

Paracord Bracelet
Paracord is often made into bracelets or watch straps so that it can be carried at all times. One Guide for how to make Paracord Bracelets can be found on Finished Bracelets can also be bought from some internet stores.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Recommended Books and Your Survival Library

Today it is often possible to find much information online in a quick and easy way. However, much of the information available on the net does not have the in-depth of an ordinary book. Having a physical collection of books can be a resource both as an everyday reference source and an advantage during a long lasting blackout or during a communication interruption. Books are a great resource to learn new knowledge and gain new perspectives. Buying books can be costly so don’t forget to use your local library if you have one available, buying books second hand may be another alternative.

Survival Handbooks
So what books could you start with? As your first book I would recommend that you get “The SAS Survival Handbook” by John “Lofty” Wiseman. This is one of the best survival handbooks that have ever been written and contains everything from advice for equipment, surviving in different types of terrain, navigation, first aid and medical advice, different types of natural disasters and many other fields. When you read the book for the first time write down the most important thing you read in a notebook. This book is also available in pocket size and can be an interesting alternative for a Bug Out Bag, however I recommend that you read the whole book and try to learn the skills that is described in the book instead. Wiseman has also written two other handbooks that can be interesting: “The SAS Urban Survival Handbook” and “The SAS Self Defense Handbook”. Wiseman has also started a Survival School called the “Trueways Survival School”.
• "The SAS Self-Defense Handbook" - John Wiseman
• "The SAS Survival Handbook" - John Wiseman
• "The SAS Urban Survival Handbook" - John Wiseman

There is also a number of other survival Handbooks on the market. The American author and survival expert Tom Brown has written a number of handbooks like: “Tom Browns Field Guide: City and Suburban Survival”, “Tom Browns Field Guide: Wilderness Survival”, “Way of the Scout” and “The Science and Art of Tracking”. Brown also has a survival school called The Tracker School if you would like learn from him first hand.
• “Tom Browns Field Guide: City and Suburban Survival” - Tom Brown
• “Tom Browns Field Guide: Wilderness Survival” – Tom Brown
• “Way of the Scout” – Tom Brown
• “The Science and Art of Tracking” – Tom Brown

In most countries there is also Survival Handbooks that is produced by the national military; these handbooks often contain very useful advice for your local climate and context. One example is the US Army Survival Manual: FM 21-76. This handbook can be downloaded for free from the Survivalist Boards.

First Aid
The book “The Wilderness First Responder” is an excellent handbook and reference for how to handle different types of medical emergencies during wilderness setting or setting when professional assistance may not be available. The book is a great reference but when it comes to first aid it is very important to train these skills on a regular basis, I suggest that you take First Aid and CPR courses as often as you, once per five years as an absolute minimum.
• "Wilderness First Responder: How to Recognize, Treat and Prevent Emergencies in the Backcountry" - Buck Tilton

The Collapse of Civilizations
• “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” - Jared Diamond. Diamond can be seen in the National Geographic Documentary “2210: The Collapse” and in the TED talk “Why Societies Collapse
• "Guns, Germs and Steel" - Jared Diamond
• “The Collapse of Complex Societies” – Joseph Tainter
• “Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects” - Dmitry Orlov

Natural Disasters
"Natural Disasters" by Patrick L. Abbott is one of the best books on the subjects that describe most types of Natural Disasters with illustrations and historical examples.

Intelligence Analysis
Intelligence Analysis may not be a direct subject for survival but is however an important subject when it gives an understanding for the problems that different types of Intelligence Agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency faces.
• “National Intelligence Systems” - Gregory F. Treverton & Wilhelm Agrell
• “Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations” – Roger Z. George and James B. Bruce
• “Introduction to Private and Public Intelligence: The Swedish School of Competitive Intelligence” – Klaus Solberg Solein
• “Psychology of Intelligence Analysis” - Richard J. Heuer, Jr. This book can be read for free on the CIA homepage.

• “The Psychology of Risk” – Glynis M Breakwell
• “Survival Psychology” – John Leach
• “Deep Survival” – Laurence Gonzales
• “The Lucifer Effect” – Philip Zimbardo

Crisis Management
• “Key Readings in Crisis Management: Systems and structures for prevention and recovery” - Denis Smith and Domenic Elliot
• “The Politics of Crisis Management: Public Leadership under Pressure” - Arjen Boin, Pault Hart, Eric Stern and Bengt Sundelius
• “At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability and Disasters” - Ben Wisner, Piers M. Blaikie and Terry Cannon

War, Conflict and International Relations
• “Understanding International Conflict” – Joseph S. Nye
• “New and Old Wars” - Mary Kaldor
• “Shake hands with the Devil: The failure of humanity in Rwanda” - Romeo Dallaire
• “Corporate Warriors” – Peter S Singer

Root Causes of Terrorism: Myths, Reality and ways Forward" – ed Tore Bjorgo
My Life is a Weapon: A Modern Story of Suicide Bombing” – Christoph Reuter
Terrorism versus Democracy: The Liberal State Response” – Paul Wilkinson

Europol also follow the trend of terrorism and every year makes a report of the situation called EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT). These reports can be viewed and read for free online:
TE-SAT 2010
TE-SAT 2009
TE-SAT 2008

Peak Oil
• “Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World” - Michael Ruppert
• “The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century” – James Howard Kunstler.
• “Beyond Oil: The view from Hubbert’s Peak” – Kenneth S. Deffeyes
• “Why Your World is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller” – Jeff Rubin
• “The Party’s Over” – Richard Heinberg
• “Peak Everything” – Richard Heinberg
• “The Limits to Growth: 30 Year Update” – Donella H. Meadows, Dennis Meadows and Jorgen Randers
• "Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture" - Dale Allen Pheiffer

"Getting to Yes: Negotiating Without Giving In" - Roger Fisher, William Ury & Bruce Patton

Fictional Books
• “One Second After” – William R. Forstchen
• “Patriots: A Novel about Survival in the Coming Collapse” – James Wesley Rawles

Other Books

• “Emergency” - Neil Strauss
• “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Other parts of Your Library
[ ] Inventory list of what equipment you have available and the location of this equipment. Lists for water and food storage may also be a good addition. Write down in your calendar when you should rotate your water.
[ ] Pens
[ ] Paper
[ ] Light
[ ] Notebooks (I recommend the notebooks from Rite-In-The-Rain and Moleskine)
[ ] Phonebook with addresses, phone numbers and birthdays to your friends and family
[ ] Your local phonebook
[ ] Diary
[ ] Calendar
[ ] Photographs of your family members
[ ] Passports and ID
[ ] Vaccination cards
[ ] Birth certificate
[ ] Insurance papers
[ ] Paper versions of Risk Assessments made by local organizations

[ ] City
[ ] Local
[ ] Road Maps
[ ] Regional
[ ] Country
[ ] World
[ ] Sea charts

Translation and Communication
During some situations you might encounter people that do not speak the same language that you do, for these times it can be good to have some kind of tool for communication. The Kwikpoint is a chart designed for communication during travel and other situations that can be used for communicating if you do not know the language that the other person speaks. The Kwikpoints also come in specialized versions for military personnel, first responder and other medical personnel, law enforcement and travel. However if you go to a country where you don’t speak the language, try to learn a few phrases and basic words before you go.
[ ] Dictionaries
[ ] Kwikpoint

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Every Day Carry (EDC)

The equipment that you carry with you on an everyday basis may be the only thing that you will have available if a survival or crisis situation hits. This equipment is often referred to as Every Day Carry or EDC. This article will give some examples to equipment that you can carry with you to give you some resources to handle a survival situation or everyday problems.

A Survival Knife is one of the most versatile tools that you can carry with you. Knives come in many shapes and forms. Fixed Blade Knives are great for hiking, hunting and other wilderness activities but are not an item that can be carried in your pocket. For every day carry more compact alternatives such as a Folding Knife, Swiss Army Knife or Multi-Tool is a more practical solution. A Compact Folding Knife like the Fällkniven U-4, Spyderco Ladybug, Victorinox Classic SD or Wenger Executive 81 can easily be carried along with you keys. Leatherman and Gerber also have a number of compact Multi-Tools designed to be carried on Key rings.

Flashlights can be used for many things during your everyday life. During a survival situation a flashlight may provide light, be a tool for searching after people or lost equipment and signaling for help. I recommend that you get a compact LED Flashlight that uses either an AA or AAA battery since these are widely available and has a low price. Modern high quality flashlight are often digitally regulated and can give a very low or high output of light making it possible to have the advantage of very strong light for signaling with possibility of very long battery life if this would be necessary. There are many companies but the flashlight from Fenix and 4Sevens are among the very best. Some interesting models are the
Fenix LD-10
Fenix L0D / Fenix LD01 / Fenix E01
Fenix LD05 Pen Light / Fenix LD03 Pen Light
4Sevens Quark MiNi AA
4Sevens Preon 2 Pen lamp
4Sevens Preon 1 / 4Sevens Preon ReVO

The anglelights / headlamps from ZebraLight or the Streamlight Sidewinder Compact can also be an interesting alternative. There also a number of compact key ring lights like the Photon Micro-Light II, the Photon ReX Rechargeable, Streamlight Nano Light, Streamlight Key-Mate, and the rechargeable Skylight LED lamp with solar panels from Exped.

A compact First Aid Kit containing some basic medication can help you if you would get a headache, diarrhea or smaller cuts. Plasters, sutures, sutures, disinfection wet-wipes, hand disinfection, pain-killers and anti-diarrheal tablets can help you cope with many problems. A compact tweezers can be used to remove splinters and other small discomforts. If you have any medical condition that requires medication like asthma or allergies make sure to include these in your Every Day Carry.

A Water Bottle is an excellent item to carry with you on an everyday basis. It allows you to always have water available. A normal soda bottle or mineral water bottle works very well but there are also high quality water bottles from Nalgene, Camelbak, Klean Kanteen, SIGG and other companies available.

Even if you are not a smoker some item that allows you to start a fire can be useful. A Lighter, a box of matches or a Fire Steel is the most common tools used. A normal BIC lighter is one of the cheapest and most effective methods of starting a fire but if you want a more good looking alternative you can check out the lighters from Zippo, Silva and Wenger.

The Cell Phone is a very useful item today. It allows you the contact friends gather information and call for help during an emergency. Many modern cell phones also have GPS, a flashlight, FM/AM radio, camera and many other features. A water proof container is a very useful thing to have when hiking or traveling through bad weather since it protects your phone from dirty and water. If you put In Case of Emergency (ICE) numbers in your phone it’s easy for other to contact your friends and family if you would ever be in an accident. If the battery capacity for your phone is low a spare battery or charger may be a wise addition to carry with you.

A wrist watch allows you to always keep track of time and can also be used for navigation if you learn this skill. Many watches also have other useful functions like electronic compass, altimeter, barometer, countdown timer, thermometer, sunrise-sunset alarm and other features. Suunto and Casio make some watches that have many of these features. There are also compact button compasses that are designed to be carried on a watch strap like the Silva Carabineer 40 and Suunto Clipper.

Pen and Paper are useful items that allow you to leave a message to other during an emergency and write down useful information. A normal notebook will do just fine for most occasions but if you often have to make notes outdoors or in bad weather I recommend that you get one of the notebooks from Rite-In-The-Rain. There are also very useful notebook covers from Snigel Design, Maxpedition and Blackhawk. A normal pen will make do for almost every situation but there are a long number of companies that makes high quality pens like the Fisher Space Pen. Some companies also makes what is referred to as “tactical pens”, these pens are often very expensive, made from very sturdy materials and may include features like a glasbreaker. Benchmade, CRKT and Surefire are some of the companies that make this type of pens.

550 Paracord is another very useful item that can be used for repair, to secure equipment and much more. Paracord is often made into bracelets so that it can be carried with you at all times.

Your wallet normally contains critical items like ID, Passport, Vaccination Card, Credit Cards, Cash and Coins for making calls. There are also credit card tool kits like the Victorinox SwissCard Lite and kits from Tool Logic that can be easily carried with you at all times. There are also other specialized credit card kits like sewing kits available. A fake wallet with an old ID and a little cash can be a useful item to have if crime rate and the risk of robbery are high in your area.

There is compact Nylon Pockets designed to either be carried in the pockets of cargo pants or packs called EDC Organizers from Maxpedition, Blackhawk and other companies. These pockets can make it easy to store all the items in one location, keep them organized and move them from one set of clothing to another. If you have much of your gear in a bag larger pocket or containers can also be an interesting alternative. There are many alternatives that can hold your gear, if you want a container that keeps your items even more safe an alternative can be the compact containers from Pelican. The Pro Survival Kit Company have a belt called the “Multi Purpose Belt” with small pockets that can hold some basic items concealed and make it easy to always have some gear with you.

A Pocket Survival Kit is a simple concept that makes it easy to carry the most important items with you at all times. The Get Home Bag and Light Weight Bug Out Bag is also concepts that can make it easy to always have the most important gear with you. There is no clear line between Pocket Survival Kits, Get Home Bags, Light Weight Bug Out Bags and a comprehensive Every Day Carry.

Your clothing is also a very important part of your Every Day Carry. Your clothing provides you with your shield against elements like heat, cold, rain and wind. Your clothing must be appropriate for the climate where you live. A Shell Jacket provides excellent protection from wind and rain. Merino wool is an excellent fabric for base layers, t-shirts, socks and underwear that is both durable, still provides heat if it gets wet, is resistant to odors and can still be washed in a normal washing machine. Your foot wear is also critical, can you run or walk long distances in the shoes you are wearing and can they cope with the terrain around you? There are compact whistles that can be attached to zippers like the AeroWave, these whistles makes it easy to always have a whistle available for signaling, these are both compact and can be found for a price around 1 dollar.

How Much Items Should You Be Carrying?
How much items one should be carrying is a very hard question to answer. It’s fully possible to fit almost every conceivable item for survival into a pair of cargo pants. The important question is how much you feel comfortable with carrying. You must find a balance between the space and weight of the items in relation to you personal needs. It’s better to have a few important items that is always with you than to have a high number of items that you never carry with you. Some items you may never actually need and other items you may end up using almost every day. If you have a very comprehensive Every Day Carry and don’t want to carry your items inside a Get Home Bag or Light Weight Bug Out Bag there are Jackets and other form of clothing from the company SCOTTeVEST that have high number of pockets designed to carry an high amount of equipment.

Your personal situation may mean that you can’t carry all the items with you at all times, your work situation or other factors may prevent this. So for this reason it can be important to have a flexible system and EDC organizers can make this easier for you when they let you separate different gear but still make it easy to include them into your pack or clothing.

When you change your clothing ALWAYS put your Every Day Carry items at the same place or location, this makes it easy to always find your items and see if you have them with you or not. Your EDC items are not of much use if you never can find them. It’s also good if you always keep your items in the same pockets of your clothing or at the same place in your pack so that you can easily find them and notice if they are missing.

Your Every Day Carry is the set of items that you carry with you at all times to help you with your very day problems and provide tools to handle a crisis or survival situation. There is no set of gear that is perfect for every situation and every setting so you must find a set of gear that works for you and your specific situation. Since these are items that you carry with you at all times I suggest that you go for compact, light weight and high quality items.

It is possible to carry a very comprehensive set of equipment that can allow you to perform a high number of tasks or a smaller number of items. What you should be carrying and how much items you should carry is decision that you have to make based on your personal setting. Even if you can carry all items you would like to on your person it is still possible to have a few extra items in your jacket or bag, a small kit where you work, some basic tools or even a fully equipped Bug Out Bag in your vehicle. Find an overall solution that fits your specific needs.

Your equipment is only a small part of being prepared for disasters and survival situations. The most important part of being prepared is your own skills, knowledge, training, physical fitness, health and will to survive. The tools that you carry with you can be very useful but even if you have high quality equipment it can always be lost or break.

Also see:
Pocket Survival Kits
Get Home Bag (GHB)
Light Weight Bug Out Bags
Bug Out Bag and Checklist

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Survival Top 50

A new site that lists the Top 50 Survival Blogs has emerged called Survival Top 50. Not surprisingly James Wesley Rawles “Survival Blog” ranks number one. Other sites like The American Preppers Network (APN) also ranks high and comes in at 4th place, The Survival Mom at 16th place and Daily Survival and 17th place. The list does not seem to be complete yet but seems like a great place both for ranking and finding the different survival blogs on the net.

The Blog list does not includes forums and other sites and it would be interesting to see what other sites like the Survivalist Boards that ranks highest in this category. I personally hope that Top 50 Survival will continue to develop the site to include other sites like forums and survival related documentaries. It would also be interesting to see a similar listing for different countries since the Survival / Prepper movement seem to be expanding worldwide.

In Scandinavia a new blog written called “Preppers” show great promise. The blog is written in Swedish and have a broad focus over different survival related subjects. The blog also give news about what deals that can be found for survival related products. Preppers is a great complement to other Swedish blogs like Blott Sverige Svenska Preppers Har”. For more survival related information for the Scandinavian context check out the article: For Swedish Survivalists.