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3 Warning Signs That Your Survival Knife Sucks

If you’re no survival veteran it can be easy to fall for the hogwash ads from the knife manufacturers.

You want to be cool and prepared for whatever comes your way. You’ve seen Bear Grylls on TV and want to be just like him.

I get it… but not all survival knife features are actually useful in an emergency.

Some even reduce your knife’s strength and durability which is a no-go for any real survival situation.

If you see a knife with any of the three features from below don’t just walk away.

Run and never look back because you do not want to bet your life on shitty manufacturing and false advertising.

#1 Cheap Compass

A compass at your knifes rear prevents you from using it to cut wood properly.

If there’s a cheap compass attached to the rear of your knife you know it’s a toy not a real knife.

First you don’t want to run around with your knife unsheathed while you search for directions.

Second these compasses are cheap China garbage and you could have a far superior model hanging from your hip belt for less than $10.

The biggest problem with a compass survival knife though is that they are usually fixed to your knife’s butt and once you try to smash the rear of your knife with a piece of wood or a stone – to build a survival shelter or cut firewood for example – you’re guaranteed to smash your compass into pieces.

#2 Hollow Handle

A hollow handle reduces your knife’s strength and durability.

To buy a survival knife with a hollow handle is an outright life-threatening choice.

By definition a hollow handle survival knife can’t have a full tang.

That combined with the absence of a solid core inside the handle makes for a knife that is about as strong as a piece of paper.

As a result your knife will gladly break the very first time you subject it to heavy use.

The tiny additional storage space is simply not worth the huge reduction in knife strength and durability.

Worse, when you break, lose or drop your knife into water, you can say goodbye to whatever you’ve stored inside the handle.

Many amateurs put matches in their hollow handle and once you lose your knife you’ll have lost your primary fire starter AND your backup. How stupid is that?!

#3 Serrated Blade

A serrated blade cuts worse than a straight blade and is impossible to sharpen properly.

There’s a big debate if survival knives should have serrated blades or not.

I’d advise you to buy one without serration and go for a straight blade instead.

Surprisingly any real outdoor veteran will tell you that the straight edge of your blade will cut rope, wood and even metal just as well as a serrated blade, which makes them kind of pointless.

The real problem though is that serrated blades are almost impossible to sharpen without special tools and you’ll end up with half of your knife being dull and unusable.

Now, if you really want to survive in the wilderness you’ll avoid these three features like the plague.

That said if you just care about looking like Rambo, then, well, go for it ;-)…

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FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Are there survival combat knives for close quarter fighting?

Yes! There are many military survival knives to choose from, most of them pretty good.

When in need of a knife for survival AND combat there is simply no better knife than the KA-BAR US Marine Corps Fighting Knife. If you’re not interested in combat there are better choices though.

If you serve in the USAF (United States Air Force) or are a private pilot check out the Ontario 499 Air Force Survival Knife.

It’s essentially the same as the KA-BAR except that it has a fully serrated top which is very useful to cut through thin metal sheets and airplane equipment (like seat belts) after a crash.

I like the Rambo movies, would you recommend Rambo’s survival knife?

Rambo: The original motherfucker.

No, his knife is actually utter garbage.

But then it probably doesn’t matter if you’re fighting with a gun, a knife or a toothpick when you’re Rambo.

You can buy a functional replica of the Rambo survival knife from the movies here.

Comes with a compass, a hollow handle filled with matches and Sylvester Stallone’s signature.

Great for boasting in front of your friends but do yourself a favor and never try to actually use it in the woods.

Is the Gerber’s Bear Grylls knife a good survival knife?

It depends: There are about half a dozen different Bear Grylls knives.

The Gerber 31 Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is cheap, functional and comes with a free fire starter and knife sharpener.

While certainly not the best survival knife you could do worse, especially on a tight budget. You can read more about the Bear Grylls Ultimate in my review above.

My wife once asked “How many knives do you need?” I answered “I don’t understand the question.”

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Bug Out Bag Checklist: 44 Essentials & Gear

When SHTF you want to be far away from the overcrowded cities:

Riots, looters or the government trying to “impose order”, it’s better to be somewhere safe with your family.

Somewhere you have supplies and don’t need to worry about people who were not smart enough to prep.

It’s a good idea to plan a retreat to a safe location out of the way and away from home, that’s called a “bug out location”.

There you can stack your supplies and don’t worry about “friends” that’ll come knock on your door once they run out of food or neighbors that want what you have.

But as your bug out location is far away from your home or the city, how do you get there?

Streets jammed with panicked people and public transport gone your only option is walking. For that you’ll need enough supplies in one bag to get to your (hopefully) secret hideout.

How To Make Your Own Bug Out Bag

There are three principles to a good bug out bag needs to adhere to:

  • Your bug out bag has to contain every essential item and survival gear to survive for at least 72 hours (that’s also the time estimate for how long it’ll take rescue organizations to respond after a major natural disaster).
  • The bag shouldn’t be too heavy. Be honest with yourself: Can you really walk for twenty miles a day, three days in a row with a 50 pound bag on your shoulders? You want to get away from danger so speed is important.
  • You don’t want to appear as a target. So keep it simple, effective and don’t bring your golden Rolex.

These principles are hard to unite.

How can you build the most effective bug out bag and what should you put inside?

First you need to choose the right tactical backpack to do the job for you.

I covered this in a separate article: Top 3 Survival, Military & Tactical Backpacks

Next you add the most important survival items to your bag.

The 44 Bug Out Bag Essentials

What’s important and what not? How do you decide?

It all depends on the type of emergency, your location and your surroundings.

To have an extra pair of socks can come in really handy when it’s cold but is pointless when you life on the beach in Mexico.

That said there are eleven basic categories of survival items that you need under any circumstance.

If you don’t pack at least one item for each category chances are good you won’t even make it trough the first night.


Survival is about covering the basics. There’s no point to drive around in a tank with flame throwers and a bazooka if you don’t have any clean drinking water.

1) Water

You will die after three days without water. Less if you engage in strenuous activity.

Since you’ll walk to your bug out location you should assume that you’ll need two to three liters per day and person.

You’ll have to bring:

  • At minimum of three liters of bottled water for the first day.
  • A LifeStraw or at least some water purification tablets so you can purify water on the way to your destination.
  • Collapsible water bottles or non lubricated condoms to store extra liquids.

2) Outdoor Clothes

Without shelter and warmth you can die within a couple of hours when it’s cold (or get a sunstroke when it’s hot).

But without the right clothes you won’t even make it that far.

Based on your location you’ll want:

  • A rain coat or wind breaker. To be wet weighs you down, makes you sick and is unpleasant to say the least.
  • Wool clothes stay warm even when wet and cool when it’s hot. Dump cotton or polyester clothes. Wool is the survival fabric king.
  • A bandana to protect you from the sun and because you can do many cool things with it.
  • Sturdy boots to brave rough terrain.

Think about the terrain you’ll face and the weather in advance.

If you live in a place with seasons you should really have two separate sets of clothing for your bug out bag.

3) Light

You’ll never know what time of the day things go down the drain and you don’t want to have to run trough the night or try to locate a temporary shelter without an adequate light source.

Have two flashlights and a couple of spare batteries ready.

4) Gear

The most important thing to add to your bug out bag is the best survival knife you can afford.

A good knife will make everything else easier. From chopping firewood, building a survival shelter to self defense, a survival knife replaces a multi tool and half a dozen other survival tools.

You should also pack:

  • A whistle in case one of your family members gets lost or incapacitated and needs to call for help.
  • Money to barter or buy items when you come upon other survivors.
  • Repair supplies like super-glue, duct tape and safety pins so you can fix broken gear on the way.
  • Survival books to consult in case you’re not sure what to do. The Amazon Kindle holds up to three thousand books and it’s battery lasts for weeks.

Read: Survival Gear: 27 Life Saving Must-Have’s

5) Shelter

You don’t want to spend a night outside in the rain so you’ll have to bring equipment to build a shelter.

In theory a good survival knife is enough to build a makeshift shelter but after a days long hike you’ll be tired and the gear below will improve how fast you can set up camp and the coziness of your shelter.

  • A tent, tarp or at least some plastic trash bags as a roof.
  • Paracord, rope or flexible cable ties to make everything hold together.
  • Space blankets or sleeping bags.
  • Another waterproof tarp to cover the ground below your shelter.
  • Thin blankets and a teddy bear for your little ones.

Don’t skimp on your shelter.

You will be exhausted after a whole day of walking and you don’t want to be sleep deprived in a situation where you need your awareness and mental capacity to stay alive.

6) Fire

Shelter and warm clothes are great but sooner or later you want to cook some food, boil water (to purify it or clean wounds) or just be a little more comfortable.

To make a fire bring a fire starting rod or a regular lighter.

Don’t bother with waterproof matches.

They only limit how many fires you can start. Both fire starters and lighters are waterproof anyway.

Next on you need tinder.

The best tinder for survival situations are Vaseline soaked cotton balls.

Make two dozens of them and seal them in a plastic bag. They’re water proof, burn even in a thunderstorm and will give you a six inch high flame that burns for up to one minute. You won’t find a better tinder than that.

Read: How To Start A Fire In 3 Easy Steps

7) Food

You probably don’t want to go three days without food.

Three great foods that are cheap, healthy, energy dense and make good bug out bag food are:

  • Peanut butter
  • Trail mix
  • Homemade energy bars

Don’t bother with hunting or fishing equipment.

Rather try to set up food supplies or a renewable food source at your bug out location and make it your goal to get there as fast as possible.

Read more here:

Build Your Own DIY Survival Kit For Less Than $80 (#6 Food) 41+ Survival Foods, Prices, Shelf Life & Checklists

It’s also a good idea to bring some aluminium foil or aluminium trays for campfire cooking.

8) Navigation

Your primary goal is to get your family out of danger and walk somewhere safe.

That might mean you’ll have to avoid busy roads, bridges or urban areas and hike trough the wilderness.

To know how to get to your destination without getting lost should to be a major concern for you.

To reach your bug out location unscathed:

  • Have a travel plan ready. Take a map, plot a course and make sure you’ve actually walked that course at least once so you know potential obstacles.
  • An area map so you can switch course when necessary.
  • A compass or GPS to determine in which direction you should go when you’re lost (happens to the best of us!).
  • Binoculars to scout the way ahead and avoid obstacles that would force you to backtrack like an impassable mountain pass or a road block.

It pays to know how to read the sun and the star for directions.

If you depend on your gear alone you put yourself in a dangerous position. Your compass might break or you may lose half of your gear when crossing a river.

The best survival gear is always the knowledge in your head.

9) First Air

Hiking on rough terrain all day has great potential for injury. You can either buy a first aid kit online or make a cheaper, lighter version yourself.

The absolute first aid essentials you need are:

  • Bandages and cloth tape to dress injuries.
  • Antiseptic wipes or rubbing alcohol to sterilize wounds.
  • Pain killers (ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol) and antibiotics.
  • Cold and heat compresses.
  • A safety respirator.
  • Latex gloves.

Make sure you know what you’re doing. A first aid training course is a real boon. If you do first aid wrong you risk to make any injury worse rather than better.

10) Hygiene

You might think it’s only 72 hours.

But if you throw hygiene over board you dramatically increase your risk to get sick. You can’t walk a dozen miles a day when you’re incapacitated by fever, pain and weakness.

And it’s just disgusting not to brush your teeth for three days or not to have anything to wipe you bottom after you’ve shit in the forest.

To keep a modicum of civilization bring:

  • Enough toilet paper (seriously man)
  • Female pads / napkins
  • Toothbrush, paste and floss
  • Hand sanitizer and soap
  • A small towel

11) Self Defense

Let’s get this out of the way:

The best way to survive is to stay under the radar and avoid any encounters with other humans.

You do NOT want to run out of your office with a gun in each hand shooting left and right like James Bond. That’ll just get you killed.

Avoid violence at all cost. Only consider self defense if you can’t get away any other way.

It’s much better to take a less populated route to your bug out location than to go and expect trouble.

But if you do stumble over other survivors it’s good to carry around:

  • Bear spray because it’s great to deter both animals and unarmed humans.
  • A handgun and some ammunition for when you have no other choice than to kill or be killed.

These are the most important items to put in your bug out bag. It’s up to you to add more things just keep in mind that your bug out bag shouldn’t be too heavy.

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41+ Survival Foods, Prices, Shelf Life & Checklists

Ever been on a diet?

Good. Then you’ll know how much it sucks.

In theory you can survive 3 weeks without food: This guy actually survived for 382 days without eating in a laboratory in Scotland.

He had “no ill symptoms” during the fast and lost 267 pounds (121 kg).

So why bother with survival food?

Starving affects your body from the very first day.

Within 24 to 48 hours you will start to feel dizzy, have flu like symptoms and lose strength. With every passing day thereafter you’ll be weaker, more exhausted and mentally fogged until you die.

But when you’re in a life threatening situation you will need all your physical and mental capabilities to survive.

Imagine you hadn’t eaten for five days and were just too exhausted to brave the very mountain that would bring you back to safety.

Second, TEOTWAWKI is always around the corner.

Our food supply system is incredible vulnerable:

One earthquake, chemical spill or flood can bring down the whole food chain.

Supermarkets stock only enough food for three days and will emptied by looters and hoarders within hours of an emergency.

To stock three months of survival food for yourself and your loved ones is the most important emergency preparation you can do.

You can avoid armed conflict, protect your family and property from natural disaster, but you can’t really survive without food.

And since everyone hast to eat survival food becomes one of the best trade and barter item in a world after SHTF.

What you’ll learn: There are eight categories of survival foods. To survive you’ll need to stock at least some foods from each category. You’ll learn what the best survival foods are, how much they cost and how to store them properly.

What makes a decent emergency food?

  • Health: You can’t survive on candy bars only. Your body needs vitamins, minerals and energy. If you deprive your body of essential nutrients you’ll become weak, slow, depressed and ultimately… die.
  • Storage: Survival foods need to have a long shelf life, low weight and volume and you shouldn’t need a degree in rocket science to store them properly.
  • Delicious: In emergencies food must be prepared quickly, without a need for fuel or appliances, but still taste good. Because your kids wont stay sane eating nothing but military MREs.
  • Cheap: Because we’re all honest folk here and no friggin’ bankers. Right? Keep reading to prevent your family from starving.

Energy: The 3 Best Staple Foods

  • White rice
  • Instant mashed potatoes
  • Steel cut oats or “Irish oatmeal”

BAD survival staple foods: Hard grains, wheat flour, pasta.

Nutrients: Fruits, Vegetables And Nuts

Some fresh fruits and vegetables can be stored for a surprisingly long time:

Fruits: Apples, oranges, pomegranates (citrus fruits in general)

Vegetables: Onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, squash (pumpkin, acorn, winter), celery, radishes, beets, cabbage shallots, raw green beans mixed with salt.

After raw fruits / vegetables expire you can make them last longer by:

  • Freezing
  • Canning
  • Drying

Also do / storage:

  • Plant a fruit tree / garden
  • Keep a good multi-vitamin supplement
  • Homemade jams
  • Nuts

Protein Sources: Meat, Fish And Beans

You’ll survive without carbohydrates but without protein you will die.

Protein is the most satisfying food group and proteins are essential for proper muscle and brain function.

Long term meat storage:

  • Frozen
  • Canned
  • Smoked / salted
  • Dried (beef jerky or pemmican)

Other great protein sources with a long shelf life:

  • Cheese
  • Beans, peas and lentils (dried or canned)


Important for long term health, especially salt.

Salt is not as unhealthy as you think and probably the most scarce survival food in any long term survival situations unless you live by the ocean.

Without salt you die.

Salt is great for many other things like: Food storage, medical applications, homemade toothpaste, seasoning…

Other condiments you should stock:

  • Salt & pepper
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Alcohol
  • Dried herbs (pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, paprika…)
  • Apple cider vinegar (cleaning, cooking, antibiotic properties)
  • Baking soda (great for cleaning too)
  • Baking powder
  • Yeast
  • Cocoa powder or maple syrup
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Tomato paste

Best oils to store: Most oils store for a long time but coconut and olive oil are the healthiest.

Staying Sane: Comfort Foods

Reasons to stock comfort foods:

  1. The biggest danger in survival situations is not lack of food but going crazy.
  2. If you change your diet your body needs time to adapt.
  3. Some comfort foods are really great survival foods too!

Best survival comfort foods:

  • Peanut butter
  • Chocolate
  • Energy bars
  • Trail mix
  • Jello & pudding mixes
  • Candies


Can be life saving if you’re injured and can’t prepare or cook anything. Offer a good weight to calorie to cost ratio.

  • Coffee / tea (caffeine addiction)
  • Instant milk
  • Powdered fortified juice (vitamins)

Livestock Food & Seeds

Sooner or later you’ll need a renewable food source. Livestock or a garden can will increase how long your survival food stock will last.

  • Pet food for dogs
  • Livestock breeding pairs, “livestock emergency food” and medicine
  • Seeds

Don’t Forget: Water

Often forgotten but oh so important.

You – hopefully – have a well in the garden, a river nearby and a couple barrels of stored tap water in the garage.

Why should you still have water tucked away in your pantry?

The pantry is the best place to store a small quantity of distilled water to have close at hand for emergencies that happen right there in your home.

Distilled water is basically a step up the ladder from purified water. You don’t usually drink that stuff but use it when you need to be absolutely certain that the water you’ll use is 100% free of any contamination’s.

You use distilled water to cool your cars engine. If you’d put regular water in your cars radiator you’d ruin your engine over time because non-distilled water still contains contaminants like lime or chlorine.

Why is this important?

People prepare for all kinds of doubtful disasters like bear attacks or tanks rolling down the street but often overlook simple and boring everyday emergencies.

Imagine your wife is giving birth due to a shortage of condoms and good TV shows. Do you really want to clean the freshly cut umbilical cord of your newborn baby with water from the river that contains God knows what?

Do you have enough of time to hike to the river, break the ice, bring the water home, boil it and then help your wife deliver the baby?

What if you break a leg fixing the kitchen sink and no one else is home? Do you really want to crawl to the damn well and purify some water to clean your wound?

Bottom line: Distilled water is cheap (you can even make your own), extremely useful and doesn’t need to be rotated in storage. You should keep at least 3 gallons (10 liters) handy in your survival food pantry.

More uses of distilled water:

  • Best cleaning agent for open wounds from minor injuries to major surgery.
  • Used to maintain and extend the lifespan of machine parts like cars, batteries or generators.
  • Safe drinking water when no other water source is available.
  • Helpful for everyday survival: Use it to cook without worrying about water contamination or fill your steam iron to flatten your Bug out Suit.

Now you know what to put in your survival pantry.

But why do I advise to store only enough food for three months?

The truth is that most people are way too obsessed about their survival food pantry.

If an emergency cuts your family off the food supply for longer than three months no amount of stockpiled peanut butter will save you.

In the long run you’d better get down to the grind of setting up a renewable food source like farming, hunting or fishing.

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How To Start A Fire In 3 Easy Steps

Fire gave rise to mankind.

Without fire we’d still crawl into caves at night, afraid of what lurks out in the dark.

Fire gives us warmth, light and let’s us cook delicious steaks and grilled potatoes.

Dare I say that without fire we’d all be a depressed bunch of mushroom eaters.

With all our sparkling toys like LED lights, electric stoves and warm water heaters we take heat for granted. But what if it’s not?

Why Build A Fire?

Once you’re somewhere cold and wet you’ll quickly realize that fire is something that has to be earned. Things don’t just start to burn.

To build, start and maintain a fire is a skill any outdoors-man and survivor needs to master before you heed into the wild. It’s the most basic way to bring a little bit of civilization into the woods and comfort and security to your bones.

You’ll want to know how to start a fire because:

Warmth: It’s not fun to freeze your love apples off.

Cooking: Prepare food to make it safe, digestible and tasty.

Water: If you forgot to bring a LifeStraw a fire is the most basic way to purify water.

Light: Save those precious batteries. A campfire illuminates your whole campsite.

Safety: Fire scares off many wild animals and can lead search and rescue teams to your location.

You’ll also be able to see your wife sneaking out of your tent to your neighbors tent.

Comfort: Let’s face it… most fires get built for the cozy effect. The crackling flames dancing in the wind, with a beer and a long haired fellow playing guitar.

Many of our best memories are made with friends and family around a campfire.

So let’s start to get these flames crackin’ eh?

What You Need To Start A Fire

To start your fire you need exactly four things:

Heat source:

Something that already burns, creates hot sparks or can somehow else ignite your tinder.

Examples include lighters, magnesium fire starters, flint and steel or a flame thrower.


Because wood doesn’t ignite as easily as you’d think you’ll need tinder.

Anything that burns easily works well. You can forage dry leaves from the forest or use paper and clothes when starting your own “I am a hobo, I need a fire in a barrel” project.

There is “survival tinder” you can buy online. But hands down the best tinder I can think of are Vaseline soaked cotton balls.

Take two dozen cotton balls, soak them in Vaseline and zip them up in a plastic bag. Each cotton ball will give you a six inch high flame for up to one minute once ignited.

Beats the shit out of dry leaves I tell you.


To burn wet or damp forest wood you need some serious heat. The water has to evaporate first because the wood will catch on fire.

Instead of trying to burn a feet long log you split the wood with your survival knife into many small pieces that catch fire easily. This is called batoning.

Finger length size works well but you can also work with whatever you find like small branches, twigs, dead saplings or dry bush.

Wood or fuel:

Once you got your fire going you’re ready to add wood or any other fuel have.

Make sure to collect enough wood before you start your fire. Once it’s burned out you’ll have to start over from the beginning.

Got everything you need? Good. Next you’ll learn how to build a fire pit.

How To Build A Fire Pit

You can’t just start a fire anywhere.

Where and how you start you fire will make all the difference between getting cozy in a few minutes or working for hours and the damn thing still won’t burn.

1. First, you have to find and prepare the right location for your fire:

Find a place that is sheltered from wind but allows some air flow.

A clearing in between trees is a good place. An exposed hill is a bad place (too much wind will blow your fire out), your tent is a bad place too (not enough air flow to keep your fire going).

Make sure you to check which direction the wind blows so you won’t make a smokestack out of your campsite.

2. Second, you want to build a foundation for your fire:

When it’s very windy you can either dig a small hole (no more than half a feet deep) and start your fire in there or create a wind barrier by laying rocks around your fire.

If the ground is very cold or damp it will be hard to ignite your fire. The ground will literally steal your fires heat. In that case build a foundation out of dry rocks on which you can start the fire.

3. Third, now it’s time to build your wood tepee:

Put a big log in the middle of your fire pit as a backbone.

Then arrange the tinder around the base of the log and nestle your kindling in a mesh like structure over your tinder.

Don’t cover your tinder completely. You want it to be able to “breathe”. Last lean more wood logs and branches on your backbone log in the form of an Indian tepee.

Once you’re done, that’s it. Congratulations! You’re ready to start burning the forest down.

The Best Way To Start Your Fire

Now how do you actually ignite your campfire?

Take your heat source and ignite the tinder. If you’ve done everything right that should be it.

If your tinder burns down without setting the kindling on flame you’ve either not used enough tinder, your kindling is too wet (or big) or your fire is not compact enough.

Add more tinder, place everything closer together and try again until it works.

When you can’t apply your heat source directly to the tinder under your wood pile (like flint and steel or a bow drill) use two piles of tinder. One below your wood tepee and another next to your fire.

Ignite the outside tinder first and then push it next to the other tinder inside your wood tepee.

A Million Ways To Start A Fire

I am sure you’ve been flabbergasted by all the fire making articles around the web lately.

Ten new ways to start a fire, with only ice, a spoon and a wolf pelt! Amazing!

There are about a million ways to start a fire once you understand the underlying chemical principle of exothermic reactions.

Every chemistry undergrad knows how to burn concrete, ignite steel or create a bonfire with nothing but water and an old mobile phone battery.

But why am I telling you this?

The truth is that you’re far better off to learn how to use one or two fire starting methods and become proficient in them.

The best way to start a fire is to use a lighter (get a Zippo if you can) or a knife with a fire rod.

Lighters are great for the short term while fire rods are great for longer trips where you want to start many fires.

I’ve read an article today about starting a fire with brake fluid and chlorine.

Apart from the fact that’d you probably create a mini Auschwitz that way… if you’re in a place with cars (like a garage) or places that stock chlorine (like a hardware store) you could probably find a lighter within two minutes.

Most manual fire making methods are way harder than you’d think. Making a fire with a bow drill or the back of a shiny surface can take hours.

And let’s be real here:

If you’ve lost your lighter, your knife AND your fire starter, how good are the chances you haven’t lost your magnifying glass and got enough sun to get a fire going?

Do yourself a favor and stay with the basics.

Always carry around a lighter (or two), the best survival knife you can afford, Vaseline soaked cotton balls for tinder and a fire starter and you’ll be all set.

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21 Survival Skills For Urban & Wilderness Survival

Surviving life-threatening situations comes down to two things:

What you carry and what you know.

Even the best survival gear doesn’t help if you don’t know how to use it. And if you know how to start a fire you won’t get far if you didn’t bring any tinder.

It’s their knowledge though, their survival skills, where most people fail. It’s easy to buy an overpriced survival something and be proud of yourself.

But studying survival books and practicing what you’ve learned? Shouldn’t that be reserved for school kids?

The truth is you could spend your whole life learning and still be a dabbler. There are hundreds of dangerous situations and a thousand ways to brace them.

But some skills are so critical to your survival that you shouldn’t even think about leaving your house before you’ve mastered them.

So what do you need to know before you next adventure?

Basic Survival Skills

To ensure your bare survival you need to know how to:

  • Find a good place to set up camp
  • Build a survival shelter
  • Start a fire from tinder and a heat source
  • Locate water and purify it to make clean drinking water
  • Be your own doctor (first aid)
  • Signal rescuers your location
  • Stay mentally tough in frightening or painful situations

Outdoor & Wilderness Survival Skills

If you plan for a multi day outdoor adventure you should know how to:

  • Navigate using maps, your compass and read the sky and stars for directions
  • Use a knife without injuring yourself
  • Make a basic weapon (wooden spear)
  • Tie useful survival knots
  • Forage for wild edible plants, tubers and mushrooms
  • Catch fishes
  • Snare trap, hunt and clean game

Long-term And Urban Survival

What if SHTF or your community got hit by a natural disaster? You better know how to:

  • Parkour and free-run to escape from immediate threats (riots, looters)
  • Defend yourself with a gun and hand to hand combat
  • Grow a garden
  • Keep small scale lifestock like bees and chickens
  • Steal a car to get away from danger quickly
  • Start prepping so SHTF won’t surprise you
  • Trade and barter with and for everyday items

Read more here: Urban Survival Tips

The more you learn the better the chance that you’ll know the right technique or skill at the right moment and make it through the day.

But since you can’t learn everything I’d advise you to always carry around an Amazon Kindle filled to the brim with survival books. This way you’ll have the knowledge of hundreds of experts at your fingertips whenever you need it.

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33 Urban Survival Tips You Should Know

Tip #23: Find abandoned places to create secure backup hideouts.

You can divide most preppers into two categories:

Outdoor experts and city dwellers.

But life is unpredictable and you’ll never know where you are when shit hits the fan.

All your preparations could be for worthless if you are caught in a bad situation you couldn’t foresee.

Most preppers will agree that it’s best to get out of the city as fast as you can once things turn ugly. But what if you’re stuck for some reason?

Maybe you got caught shopping at the big mall, have to aid relatives who live in the city or your bug out vehicle got stolen.

In these situations it pays to know as much about urban survival as possible.

To give you a head start here are 33 urban survival tips you should know:

Escape & Everyday Carry

#1 Move out of the city if you can. Your chances of surviving any disaster instantly increase tenfold.

#2 Have a get home or everyday carry pack with you all the time to make it safely from your work to your house on a weekday.

#3 Ccreate small “get home bags” for your children and your wife. Teach them basic survival skills and set a meeting point in case you ever get separated.

#4 Pack a bug out bag, create a bug out plan and buy a bug out vehicle. Be ready to leave the city at first signs of trouble.

#5 Move FAST: Don’t wait until someone declares a state of emergency. Trust your instincts. Better to have a three day vacation in the countryside for no reason than to be trapped in a city full of hungry, violent people.

#6 Know how to “bug in”: Don’t put all your chips into leaving the crowds behind. You might be forced to stay in the city. Have a plan ready to fortify your current location and hold out until the situation improves.

#7 ALWAYS have a PLAN. When you have to react quickly there is nothing worse than not to know what to do.

#8 Arm yourself. It’s better to be a threat than a victim. Stay away from conflict but own multiple firearms, knives and pepper spray. Just in case. Also learn at least one self defense martial art like Krav Maga.

#9 Don’t be a hero if the odds are against you. Contrary to what you see in the movies it only takes one bullet to kill you. Permanently.

#10 Trust no one. Your best friends can turn on you like rabid dogs when they are afraid of their own life’s.

#11 Always carry a handkerchief to protect yourself from smoke and tear gas. Or to comfort your crying woman ;-).

Your Apartment / House

#12 Choose the location and neighborhood of your apartment carefully: Make sure there are safe routes to get to and away from it. You don’t want to live next to crowded places like supermarkets.

#13 Know your neighbors. Living next to a friendly couple of preppers can safe your life. Living next to an insane asshat with a gun is a really bad idea.

#14 Secure your apartment: Locks, sturdy doors, tripwires, battery powered burglar alarms, a decoy safe and bulletproof or barred windows make it far less likely that you’ll ever have to deal with burglars or looters.

#15 Hide your stuff. Have a hidden gun safe, a storage room that has no obvious door and build a safe room your family can hide in when things get really ugly.

#16 Keep a dog to alarm you of and scare away intruders.

#17 Prep at least for the “big three”: Electricity (batteries, solar), water storage and survival food. If you can’t last at least seven days with what you have in your apartment right now, you are in deep trouble.

#18 Keep stocked up on hygiene items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Because, seriously, you don’t want to be boxed in your tiny apartment for weeks without a way to wipe your ass.

#19 Keep an Amazon Kindle ready for entertainment and to store survival books about topics too complicated to memorize like medicine or indoor farming.

#20 Keep your freezer full: The more packed your ice box is the longer it’ll stay cool after a brownout.

#21 Olive oil makes for a great light source (in candles) and a survival food that stores almost forever.

#22 Buy old, non electrical devices to combat brownouts. A hand crank generator is a real boon while an electric can opener is a REALLY bad idea.

#23 Find abandoned places around the city to create secure backup hideouts.

#24 Put a wireless battery powered camera into your apartment or your hideout so you can check remotely if it’s safe to go there.

Urban Survival Skills

#25 Be the “Gray Man“: Don’t stick out, don’t tell anyone about your preps. Dress simple, keep your survival gear hidden.

#26 Stay away from the crowds. Literally avoid crowded places like malls, subways, busy streets or places of worships. But also think outside of the crowd. If everyone does something, think very hard if you really should go along or if there is a better alternative.

#27 Know your city. Don’t trust your GPS. Know how to get from point A to point B anywhere in the city. Commit important routes to your memory and scout ahead for safe ways to get out of the city.

#28 Be fit. Go jogging or learn how to do parkour and free run. Traffic jams, fences and closed alleys will restrict your movements. You might need all the endurance your body can muster just to get home.

#29 Make friends. Not everyone is evil and wants to steal your stuff. You’ll need a second pair of eyes to keep watch while you sleep. Look for non preppers that you can help out once SHTF who can contribute to your own survival like doctors or Army veterans.

#30 Be a smart scavenger. Everyone will try to loot the big malls and supermarkets. Come up with looting targets that nobody else will think of early on instead like freight trains, cargo ships or fruit orchards.

#31 Identify nearby food sources: Are there ducks in the nearby pond? Doves on your neighbors roof? Or a zoo filled with goats?

#32 Learn how to grow stuff. Urban gardening, vertical farming, beekeeping: It’s hard to grow food in the city. Which only means you’ll have to work twice as hard.

#33 Cultivate a tough mindset that will help you to overcome obstacles. You can’t prep for everything. Learn how to not fall into panic and how to keep your mind sharp.

If you follow these urban survival tips I can guarantee you that you’ll be more likely to survive any catastrophe than any of your neighbors.

Don’t ignore the rules of urban survival: You’ll never know where you’ll be when SHTF.

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How To Purify Water: 7 Ways To Make Clean Drinking Water

What will you do when your water supply runs dry?

Ever sipped tap water in a foreign country and had to live on the toilet for the next three days?

Clean water should be your most important concern in any survival situation.

You can survive thirty days without any food, being shot and even contracting a dangerous disease like Ebola you have a slim chance to survive.

But without water? All you’ve got is 72 hours and you’re dead. Like certainly dead.

Even worse you not only need water but you’ll also need enough of it. While half a litre a day will keep you alive you’ll also experience troublesome side effects like headaches, dizziness, rapid heartbeat and breathing and – in the worst cases – hallucinations and delirium.

The good news is that water is literally anywhere. Rivers, lakes, oceans, your toilet bowl. Heck 71% of the earths surface is covered in water!

On the other side you can drink almost none of that directly. There was a time when men could quench his thirst straight from the river. But pollution, large scale farming and the destruction of aquatic ecosystems has made almost any water source undrinkable without prior water treatment.

When the local water treatment plant fails or you find yourself without ready access to bottled water, what will you do? Wing it, drink whatever you can find?

Drinking untreated water is a dumb idea:

Ancylostoma duodenale is looking forward to invade your intestines.
  • Bacteria and viruses that live in the water will make you sick. Symptoms range from diarrhea and fever to serious diseases like cholera, dysentery or salmonella.
  • Tiny dirt particles can clog up your lungs and irritate your throat.
  • Metal compounds leeched into the water from over-farming can cause life-threatening heavy metal poisoning.
  • Toxic chemicals (commonly called “pollution”) can burn and rip up your organs from the inside out.
  • Parasites that live in the water love to invade your digestive track and use it as a feeding and breeding ground. Some parasites can grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) inside you. They also lay eggs.

Sounds scary?

It doesn’t have to be. If you know how to purify water even the dirtiest water can be purified and made fit for consumption.

How you would purify your water depends on what tools you’ve brought and how contaminated your water source is.

Below are seven ways to make even the most disgusting puddle drinkable.

1) Boiling / Potting

Boiling water is the most basic water filtration method.

The easiest, most common but also least safe way to purify water.

Put the water into a pot or any other metal container and heat it until it’s bubbling.

Most bacteria will die the instant the water hits the boiling point but some bacteria have adapted to withstand high temperatures temporarily so make sure you boil your water for at least 5 to 10 minutes.

If you think just boiling water is enough to keep you safe though you’re in for some unpleasant surprises.

While boiling removes bacteria and parasites from your water, everything else is still in there. This includes dirt, pollutants and dangerous toxic chemicals.

Which brings me to the next filtration method:

2) Cloth Filtration

Any CLEAN piece of cloth will work.
Always carry a bandana or any other piece of fine woven cloth with you.When you have to purify murky or dirty water filter the water trough your clean cloth before you boil it.

Fixate the cloth with a rubber band or clippers to a container and slowly pour water on top of it while you watch it rinse trough the cloth into your container.

Wash out the cloth and repeat if necessary until the water looks clear.

Cloth filtration works well to remove larger particles like sand, dirt and to a small extend pollutants.

But you’ll do nothing to the bacteria and parasites that dwell in the water. Therefor you should always boil water after you purified it through cloth filtration.

3) DIY Coal, Sand And Earth Filtration

A DIY coal, sand and earth filter. pc
All around you the earth under your feet is a giant water filter.Once any kind of water reaches the ground it gets slowly absorbed through layers of vegetation, dirt, earth and stone until it reaches the ground water.From there cities pump it back up and use it as tap water.You can use this simple process to purify water when you have access to clean earth, sand or gravel:

Cut open the back of a plastic water bottle and add multiple layers of cloth, crushed coal, sand or earth in between the open end and the front of the bottle.

Next let your water drip through your homemade water purifier.

The coal will remove many kinds of bacteria and pollutants while the sand and earth filter dirt and other small particles out of your water.

Just make sure to add a thick layer of cloth at the bottom of your makeshift purifier so the other ingredients won’t slide trough into your freshly purified drinking water.

4) Water Purification Tablets

You can buy these really cheap online.

Water purification tablets work similar to how you keep the water in a swimming pool clean:

Throw one or two into your water, wait for at least half an hour and chemicals released from the tablets will have killed anything dangerous to a human.

These tablets combined with cloth filtration to remove dirt particles makes for very safe drinking water.

Your water will taste horrible so keep some ice tea or fruit juice powder handy.

5) Purification Pumps And LifeStraws

This is by far the safest way to obtain clean water from almost any source.

A LifeStraw is THE easiest solution to obtain clean drinking water.

Purification pumps are professional versions of your DIY coal, sand and earth purifier that use high pressure mechanics and multiple layers of active coal and tiny nano-scale meshes to remove harmful substances and organisms from your water.

That sounds expensive because it is.

If you don’t want to sell your kidney to get a full scale purification pump you can buy a LifeStraw which is a miniature version of former.

Instead of extracting the water from your water source and pumping it into a container you just dip the straw-like device into the water and drink from it.

Similar to how you would drink soda with a straw.

While you suck the water through the straw it will be purified in a similar process to a purification pump.

6) Distillation

The Pulpit Rock
This is how water distillation works. Infographic from
The only way to obtain drinkable water from salt water and also the safest way to purify water is called distillation.

Instead of filtering particles and organisms out of the water you reverse the process and filter the water out of everything else.

It’s easy: Add water to a pot and place an empty, smaller pot inside the bigger pot.

Next clamp a clean plastic sheet over both pots and weigh it down in the middle with a stone.

Bring the water to a boil and you’ll see how steam rises from the larger pot, condenses on the plastic sheet and clean water drops down into the smaller pot.

The more heat you supply the faster the water will evaporate.

You can make almost any water source completely safe by distilling it although the process takes a lot of time and energy and removes any minerals and trace elements from the water.

7) UV Purification / Solar Still

When not needed, your solar still can be used as hanging garden.

All you need for UV water purification is a transparent water bottle.

Filter your water trough cloth to remove large particles and dirt, pour the water into a transparent bottle and place it in a spot that gets hit directly by the sun. Make sure there is no air trapped in the bottle.

Now wait for at least twelve hours.

The ultra violet sun rays will kill bacteria and other organisms in your water over time.

This purification method isn’t very safe because you can’t tell for sure how long it’ll take until all micro organisms are dead.

It can take a very long time and if you live somewhere up North there might not be enough sunlight to complete the process at all.

If you like to tinker and have some spare time you can build a solar still similar to the purifier described in the distillation process, except that you use solar energy instead of heat from a fire to evaporate the water.

There you go, seven ways to purify water and make clean drinking water :-).