Preparedness Map Icons

There isn’t much of a good selection of mapping icons on the internet today, particularly preparedness related ones. So lately I’ve been spending a bit of time creating a matching set of my own so I can use them for marking important features on maps.

They are all 512x512px so are great quality and are a simple enough design to be understood even when they are displayed at a tiny size. The most comprehensive set I could find on the internet for free was on “https://mapicons.mapsmarker.com/” which I was using prior to creating my own. The problem with this set is that the full download of icons skips some of the icons that can be found if you download the packs individually. Download the full pack and then the food icons and check one-by-one to see if all the food icons are in the full pack and you’ll see what I mean – unless they fixed this of course. Also you can’t customise the entire set of icons if you download them all at once so you’ll be stuck with whatever colours they have. I also found that they were far too detailed for being displayed on small maps on high PPI devices like my Samsung Galaxy S8+.

Not to hate on the producer because they’re doing great work especially considering they are free, but far fewer lines can convey the same message of the icon and make it simpler to understand. Below are a few examples of their icons and the ones I compiled. Take particular notice to the sushi icon where it’s hard enough to tell what it is at 100x100px and not 30×30 which is what it would generally be displayed as on a map. I also say “compiled” earlier because I didn’t draw the icons, simply added a background, rescaled them to fit better and sometimes combined two icons to better describe what I was going for such as my “Stealth Camping” icon. That’s why when you look at the full quality version there are diagonal lines over the icon. I’m not using them for commercial purposes and I only need 1/20th of the original quality so I figured why not use them as the lines can’t be rendered when they are displayed that small anyway. So this is why I can’t unfortunately upload a RAR of all 1,011 icons.

IconIconIconIconIconIcon

I’m not a fan of the arrow point at the bottom of the images as well since Alpine Quest centres the icons in the middle and can’t be set at the bottom. Even if I could I’d prefer to have the icon on the spot it’s found at, but I’m sure most people would like the arrow due to being able to see exactly the location it’s at.

Here’s a few more of the icons I created sorted into the categories I like to have which make it easier to find what I want:


Attractions
Anything that provides entertainment from a theatre to camping.
IconIconIcon

Events
Events that can affect a location such as wars and car crashes.
IconIconIcon

Food
Any types of locations you can purchase food or drink.
IconIconIcon

Information
Informational queues about a location or anything that doesn’t come under another category.
IconIconIcon

Nature
Any natural elements such as mountains or animals.
IconIconIcon

Places
Any modern places you can visit such as buildings or parks that don’t come under attractions.
IconIconIcon

Routes
Preparedness planning such as bug out routes and cache locations.
IconIconIcon

Shops
Any modern shops excluding food shops.
IconIconIcon

Sport
All types of sports and sports grounds.
IconIconIcon

Transport
Transportation of all types from aircraft to ferries.
IconIconIcon

Utilities
Utilities that are common in today’s age such as government centres, hospitals or police stations.
IconIconIcon


MOBAC .bsh Map Files

Lately I’ve been downloading maps of my region for bug-out planning and redundancies if the internet goes down. It’s been extremely helpful so far especially when camping in areas without internet access as well as marking points of interest on Alpine Quest for future reference.

However it wasn’t easy to find usable maps to download, especially when I have to “code” the .bsh files myself to make the maps downloadable via MOBAC.

I have uploaded some map files usable with any MOBAC version that can read the .bsh files which is typically version 2.0.0 onwards. This lets you view and download any portion of the map. All you have to do is place them in the “mapsource” folder of MOBAC and restart the program (if it’s open already).

Note: Don’t download more than you need or these services may block all connections from MOBAC and then nobody can download any maps. MOBAC has a built in limit of 500,000 tiles as it is and that already seems a bit too large for people’s needs.

The “z__” number in the file name is the maximum zoom level of that map. So Google Terrain only goes down to zoom level 15, where Google Maps goes to z20.


The map files are as follows and have an example image from Sydney showing what that map looks like:

Google Maps
• Max Zoom: Zoom 20
• Map Extent: Worldwide
• Map Type: Detail Map
Download Google Maps Bash File

MOBAC bsh Files
Fig1. – Google Maps. (Detail Map)

Google Terrain
• Max Zoom: Zoom 15
• Map Extent: Worldwide
• Map Type: Topographic Map
Download Google Terrain Bash File

MOBAC bsh Files
Fig2. – Google Terrain. (Topographic Map)

Google Hybrid
• Max Zoom: Zoom 20
• Map Extent: Worldwide
• Map Type: Hybrid Map
Download Google Hybrid Bash File

MOBAC bsh Files
Fig3. – Google Satellite Hybrid. (Satellite w/Place Names)

Google Satellite
• Max Zoom: Zoom 20
• Map Extent: Worldwide
• Map Type: Satellite Map
Download Google Satellite Bash File

MOBAC bsh Files
Fig4. – Google Satellite. (Satellite wo/place names)

Open Street Map – Transport
• Max Zoom: Zoom 18
• Map Extent: Worldwide
• Map Type: Transport Map
Download Open Street Map – Transport Bash File

MOBAC bsh Files
Fig5. – Open Street Map – Transport. (Transport Map)

Open Street Map – Humanitarian
• Max Zoom: Zoom 18
• Map Extent: Worldwide
• Map Type: Specialist Map
Download Open Street Map – Humanitarian Bash File

MOBAC bsh Files
Fig6. – Open Street Map – Humanitarian. (Specialist Map)

Queensland Topo
• Max Zoom: Zoom 15
• Map Extent: Australia – Queensland
• Map Type: Topographic Map
Download QTopo Bash File

MOBAC bsh Files
Fig7. – Queensland Topo Map. (Topographic Map)

If you’d like me to make a .bsh of a mapping service found on the internet let me know the site and I’ll give it a go depending on how busy I am.

TPE Release – Version 1

As you may already know, we live in an extremely fragile world where reliance on the government, nature, water systems, electricity, internet, sewage, trucks etc, etc, etc, can all be disrupted so easily by events such as natural disasters, wars or simply bad luck. Humanity in general has had life pretty easy since WW2 ended with an explosion in technology and countless inventions to make life just that little bit easier. Unfortunately all this dependence has made us less reliant on ourselves and more on these fragile modern networks which are so delicately balanced. Over the years we’ve seen horrific disasters occur in other parts of the world and think that it will never happen here for various reasons, but eventually every region has their disaster and global disasters in particular are ones that nobody can hide from.

TPE Picture
Fig1. – The PDF version of TPE on a smart phone.

That’s where TPE comes in. Giving you that vital knowledge to help you survive WHEN disaster strikes on basically every field related to preparedness or survivalism. This however is only the first step in being prepared, knowledge is about 10% of the battle and practise being the other 90%. So don’t think this guide will instantly give you all the skills needed to survive WW3 in the future, you have to start now.

TPE Picture
Fig2. – The categories found in the spreadsheet.

The official release of The Preparedness Encyclopedia which I started back in June 2017 is now open to the public. It contains vital information on every conceivable subject related to survival and preparedness which should be of use when the worst does happen whether it’s a local or global event. The guide currently comes in two different formats:

1. The first being the mobile/portable version which is designed to run as fast as possible on handheld devices. It’s a PDF file coming in at about 32mb at the moment.

2. The second type is the file I edit the guide with being the Excel file (.xlsx). It’s much slower than the PDF counterpart and it may lag, or not even open on mobile devices. However this version is editable and has hyperlinks to make it easy to transition between different sections.

(All images can be clicked on for the full size, and then zoomed in to even more)

TPE Picture
Fig3. – The start of the preparedness section.

Getting Started
To get started with TPE all you need is:
(For using the PDF version)
• The guide itself
• A smart phone/tablet/pc
• Any PDF reader app

All of these can be obtained free of charge assuming you have a phone already!
Although donations towards the meticulous crafting of the guide are welcome too, where how to instructions can be found under the contact page on my website.


Downloading
You can find TPE on my website by clicking “Main Website” up the top left of this page, and then using the navigation bar to find “TPE” under the “Resources” menu. From there you can download any of the versions I currently have.

Or Click Here


TPE
Fig4. – Some great preparedness resources can be found listed in the guide in the MEDIA section. Contact me if you’d like your resource to be added.

Categories
There’s 4 primary headings in the guide which can be seen on the far left of any of the images of TPE. Content is divided between these sections to make reading and navigation easier. The first column is the section type such as “MEDIA” in the image above. Then in the same example it goes into “YouTube” > “Other Videos” > Then for this example there’s a blank category because I didn’t need to go any deeper, however other sections make use of all the sections. You can think of these divisions as folders, so inside the “MEDIA” folder are the “YouTube” and “Books” folders, and inside the “YouTube” folder are the “Prepping”, “Survival / Outdoors”, “Gear Reviews” and “Other Videos” folders.

Image Detail
Below is a comparison of screenshots from my phone showing the detail in the map which could come handy in a wide array of opportunities if you don’t have access to internet.

TPETPETPE

Fig5-7. – A side by side comparison of the quality of imagery in TPE zooming in each shot.

Below are more images to help persuade you to give it a try:

TPE
Fig8. – A screenshot of the navigation section.

In the NAVIGATION section you will learn about using compasses, magnetic declination, navigation using the sun, stars and your watch, reading maps and more.

TPE
Fig9. – A screenshot of the entertainment section featuring crosswords and many other puzzles.

Lots of entertainment to help keep your mind occupied and in a sane state. If you’re worrying about everything that’s going on around you all the time you will adopt a very negative state of mind over time and that’s exactly what the entertainment section aims to counter, regardless if you’re bugging out alone or have your family with you – there’s something for every situation.

TPE
Fig10. – Codes and ciphers can be found in the COMMUNICATION section.

It may be of benefit to communicate in code sometimes so the government or others don’t understand your message and that’s where the COMMUNICATION section comes in handy. It can also be used to decipher codes of others if required and contains most of the commonly used codes today.

Are you convinced to download it yet? Follow the link below or keep scrolling until you are!
TPE

TPE
Fig11. – The natural disaster section detailing volcano explosivity indexes.

The Volcano subsection is housed within the NATURAL DISASTERS category of the guide. This section discusses any and all types of natural disasters from earthquakes to a tsunamis and how to prepare for them and what to do if they occur.

TPE
Fig12. – An excerpt from the fire lighting section found under FIRE. Note: “o” indicates that there’s no information in this cell yet.

The FIRE section is obviously about how to start fires with various methods, tools and equipment, how to extinguish fires and finding natural tinders in the environment. There’s also information on fire types, flame colours and their effects and what is required to start a fire.

TPE
Fig13. – Details about landform types and their advantages and disadvantages.

Looking for a location to set up camp or to bug out to may be a challenge when also faced with the overall intensity of a disaster, so this section is aimed at giving pros and cons of each environmental position as well as any hazards you may not realize prior to calling it home.

TPE
Fig14. – Signals for communicating with aircraft if you wish to be rescued.

For those times when you’re lost and you need to communicate with rescuers who are unable to land in your area. Also shown on the picture above is a list of ground signals which hikers and other trail-goers may leave for others to take note of, but these are generally used in situations where you want to be found.

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Fig15. – Details of types of preppers and their scale on the preparedness index.

An interesting little list which can be fun to try and place yourself on as a prepper as well as understanding the other levels of prepared people out there. Higher is not always better!

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Fig16. – There’s an entire fictional novel also included.

The entire novel of Robinson Crusoe is also included as a distraction from the disasters that may be going on around you to try to ease your mind. The entertainment section is arguably one of the most important sections as it can boost your, and your parties morale greatly in those hard times.

Hopefully by now you’ve decided to see what all the fuss is about and download TPE to your device as a “Just In Case” method to help safeguard your existence against end of the world. You will have much greater chance to survive a disaster if you read and hone your skills prior to any disaster happening, so start reading it today! One thing is fact, and that is that you never know when disaster is around the corner…

The Conflict Between Preparedness and Minimalism

Is it possible to be both a prepper and a minimalist? At first glance it doesn’t seem like it. Preppers often stockpile mountains of food, water, barter items and supplies which they believe will be required in a time of disaster. This flies directly in the face of minimalism where people try to have as few possessions as possible – typically under 100 items or a single backpack of gear.

Minimalism is about leaving behind a materialistic lifestyle where we live pay-check to pay-check irrelevant of the amount we’re making. Because we’re making more money on promotion we take this new found financial opportunity and stability to upgrade our household items faster, getting that new TV we’ve been waiting to buy and storing the other in another room for the kids. Eventually over a few years of this most families end up with countless electronics, furniture, heirlooms and toys and this is where the minimalism lifestyle comes in.

It seems like two incompatible lifestyles, but I’m giving it a try anyway and logging my findings over multiple posts as I learn more via experience. My theory is that if I have a single backpack of preparedness products I can count that as a single minimalist item, especially if stored out of sight and mind but still easy to reach.

This is where things get a bit difficult as a few of the items included in the BOB may have some overlap between daily use ones such as cutlery, portable stoves and utensils. You’re trying not to double up on items you own, but you also want everything in one backpack which is quick to grab in the event a catastrophic disaster arises. It’s a real pain to take items from the bag, use them, wash and dry them then return them to the bag every use, not to mention that you may have to do some digging to find them in the first place. Due to this I’ve chosen to keep a duplicate item in the backpack so I can just grab it and go if needed and not waste precious moments looking for what I’ve taken out – which could be the difference between life and death.


The ultimate aim of minimalism is to spend less and have the freedom to travel more without being weighed down by all your “stuff”. Therefore if you own something but aren’t attached to it and are prepared to give it up at the drop of a hat you can just abandon it and re-purchase a new one when you’re at your new location. This is the loophole I’m going to use, and as long as they’re neatly stored away they shouldn’t be included in the minimalism item count. Out of sight, out of mind.

Currently it’s only me living alone so I’ll only need enough food for myself to last about 2 months – which is 8x 12.5L decor storage containers. Each of these has on average 18 cans of food in them coming out to about 2.5 cans a day. In a tiny house this will be fairly easy to conceal within a pantry. Having a farm can drastically reduce the amount of food you require if your house is your Bug Out Location (BOL), just be sure to have enough stored for the harsher months.

Water is a little easier especially if you have a quality water filter which has a long lifespan and a river or lake nearby. There should be at least a week of drinking water on hand or a large water tank nearby.

Nothing can replace knowledge in a disaster and knowing how to acquire food and water during a disaster is vital to keeping your item count to a minimum. More Knowledge = Less Things.

There will have to be some form of compromise between prepping and minimalism. You can’t have that huge underground pantry with every type of food imaginable, not only is it more vulnerable to theft and disasters but you become attached to it and won’t want to leave if the situation demands. At least with a few storage boxes of food and portable water you can load up your vehicle and get out within 15 minutes. You can’t just grab a pantry shelf and throw it in the car, you’d have to put everything into boxes first and then load the car.


Preppers can also have a BOL in another part of the country stocked with food and other resources which they flee to in a disaster. This is another plausible idea which demands less carried survival items on you all the time. You just need to have enough food, water and fuel for 3 days to get you to your shelter – as you can get almost anywhere in a country (by car) in 3 days if you’re determined.

A final solution similar to the BOL would be storing smaller caches underground at various locations around the country with about a weeks worth of food and water inside. Or perhaps you could hire storage locations and fill them with supplies. Even if they are broken into pre-disaster, who would want to steal 1,000 cans of food and water? You could also offer your family / friends some money to keep some supplies in a corner of their house for you, you don’t even have to tell them what you’re storing if you wish – as long as you express it’s not illegal substances and that the items aren’t worth much.

Being prepared doesn’t mean “having a lot of stuff” stored for use in a disaster, that’s only a small part of the equation. The other parts of preparedness is preparing mentally, preparing physically, having contacts and like-minded people, gaining skills, gaining knowledge and gaining experience. It’s a culmination of these things that creates the ultimate prepper. The unskilled, unintelligent and ill-prepared people who need spoon feeding from pre-stocked cans of food, the real preppers can acquire all these from the wild foraging, farming and hunting.

Choosing a BOB/Camping Cookware Set

It’s an arduous task to decide on a cookware set for your bug out bag which is minimalist, lightweight and easy to clean. There are so many options today that it’s easy to get carried away and bring too much gear you won’t even use.

I don’t know about you but I buying love a nice new shiny pot which I aim to take everywhere and use as my primary cooking pot on every trip. But often it’s used once and pushed to the back of the cupboard in anticipation of new cookware. If you stick with one piece of gear it becomes part of you and the more you use it the more skill you have with it and over time it shows its age and develops character. If you own a collection of pots as I do it becomes a problem of which one to take, how many you should pack in your bag before it becomes overkill and how well they stack.

Below is a simple guide for choosing an encompassing set of cookware for every need, because every person is different so your gear will differ.

Cookware Uses
The first question you come across is what will you be using the pot(s) for? It’s essential that you have at least one form of steel pot in the wild to complete the various tasks over the fire you’ll need to accomplish. Every scenario is different and you may need to cook larger chunks of meat which is difficult to complete without a large frying pan. Generally however you will have canned or freeze-dried meals which should easily fit into any modern steel cookware unit.

Requirements
• Food Cooking – Something to eat from and cook on
• Water Boiling – Something to drink from and boil water on
• Cooking Pan – A pan to cook larger meats or hunted game on
• Cup – An (insulated) cup to drink from

Food Cooking
The eating and cooking one is obvious as you will definitely need a way to warm up and cook food, and you can eat out of the same pot to save weight. Freeze dried meals require water to be boiled beforehand which you could then add the food to the water or add the water to the package and still only use one pot.

Titanium pots have a tendency to get hot in one area and spread the heat less effectively than aluminium or steel but are very lightweight and the same strength as stainless steel. Cast iron is extremely heavy and is not recommended for your BOB, but they are handy if you’re just camping as long as they are seasoned properly. Aluminium has a low melting pot and could melt if left directly on a fire for too long so I don’t recommend it, however it does cook foods evenly. Stainless steel is my preferred option of pot due to even cooking of foods, a solid feel to it and it won’t rust, but it’s moderately heavy depending on how thick it is. It should last the longest out of all of the other metals as well.

Do not pick ordinary kitchen cookware as flames melt anything that’s not metal on them and basically renders them unusable. This has happened to a friend of mine while camping where even the top of the billy’s lid which was plastic melted away in a fire.

Your cooking pot should be small enough for a 1 serve meal with not much space left over as the efficiency of heat will drop sharply as the pot gets bigger. This occurred to friends of mine while we were camping who brought a 10L pot aimed at cooking both their meals at once. They filled it with water and rice and tried to cook it over a canister gas flame in 5 degree Celsius temperatures. I even grabbed my flambĂ© torch, attached it to another gas canister and tried to heat it up at the same time… but to little effect. Basically the water got warm and never boiled so they had to eat undercooked rice.

There’s a lot of “done it for you” cookware sets out there which are aimed at campers and picnic’ers which often include everything including the kitchen sink. These types of sets often have many items that are overly heavy for their purpose or that come in sets designed for X amount of people, half of which you may never use. I once bought a Stanley cookware set which came with two green insulated cups inside which fitted quite snugly and allowed no space for anything else. However when removed I could fit a gas cylinder, gas stove, cleaning brush and a spork inside which is much more useful then two cups.

Water Boiling
You’ll likely need to boil water throughout your trip at one point or another and a container that can withstand the temperature and hold enough water is vital. After boiling you’ll generally pour the water into your bottle after it had cooled a little for drinking at another time, as well as for preventing the transferral of remaining bacteria from the outside of the pot to your stomach if you used the same pot to obtain the water.

I highly recommend a pot with both handles on the side and one on top so you can pick it up with both a stick and your hands to drink from it normally. What I’ve found while camping is that it’s certainly a pain to try and pour the boiling water into another container without touching it with your hands, and a top handle with a small spout on the side is very helpful to prevent spilling the precious liquid.

Having a 1L pot will keep boiling times fairly low and provide you with enough water to top up most plastic bottles, you can also disinfect water easier in a 1L pot using tablets then having to measure it out or estimate 1 litre. Water boiling requires the steam to escape unless you want an epic explosion, so be sure to have a vent of some kind on your container otherwise the lid may pop off and fall into the fire.

Cooking Pan
A pan would be recommended if your bug out plan consists of hunting your own game and preparing it for consumption. A pot simply won’t be large enough and won’t cook very evenly unless it’s cut up into small pieces and stirred often. It’s also easier to reach into a pan and cooking things like eggs and sausages also becomes difficult if you have to reach into a tall container with a spork – believe me I’ve tried it. Look for a pan with a long handle and if possible a metal loop over the top to make it easier to grab when in a fire. You could add a metal handle yourself with a simple drill if it doesn’t come with one.

Cup
A metal cup could be useful in your BOB if it fits snugly inside or around another item to save maximum space. I personally have an Olicamp cup which fits around my plastic 1L Nalgene bottle that I use often, sometimes to cook on as a backup as it fits about 600ml. Mine has folding handles to save a bit more space and weight.

Combinations
It’s possible to combine some of the cookware together like as the eating and water boiling pot but this could lead to difficulties later and will require cleaning after every use, not to mention you won’t be able to have a cup of coffee while you are enjoying a hot meal without another form of cup or pot. But if minimalism and a light backpack is what you’re aiming for then this could work.

Stacking containers such as canteens which combine a pot with a bottle are commonplace for the army as they can easily be put together to save a lot of space. The downside is that you aren’t able to fit a gas stove, gas canisters, spork and the cleaning brush inside of it so they are better used for open fires.

If you’ll be cooking on gas, ideally the cookware container should be large enough to fit:
• Gas Stove
• Gas Canister
• Cleaning Cloth/Brush
• Eating Utensil

Doing so will save a little more space in your bag but not as much as an open fire cooking situation.

Special Requirements
Are you a gourmand which absolutely must have an array of pots and pans for every situation? You may be able to take a lot of cookware in your BOB but is it really worth the effort? Bugging out is very different to camping. You can basically take as much gear as you can fit into your car and it’s a recreational activity which is meant to be enjoyed. The other is meant to be a life or death situation and it will really put a “damper” on things if you’re lugging around 2kg of cookware gear. I find it so hard to leave behind my cookware as well, but it’s all for the greater good in the end.

Summary
In the end I decided I’m going to carry two primary cookware pots with what I can stack around and in them as a bonus. I’ll also have a Nalgene stackable cup which will essentially take up no extra space and give me a nice cup to drink from as well as an emergency cooking pot if necessary.

My Cookware:
• 1 stainless steel kidney shape canteen
• 1 stainless steel kidney shape pot which stacks on the canteen. Some come with a lid.
• 1 stainless steel billy-style pot 900ml (30.4oz) containing cooking gear, stove etc. Comes with a lid.
• 1 Olicamp Cup which fits snugly around my nalgene bottle

The canteen cup will be my primary bowl and fits nicely over the base of the canteen. Some brands come with an extra lid for the cup to keep in the steam and cook food faster which is a great option if you need it.

This setup lets me boil a nice amount of water in the kettle and doubles as an eating container and is very effective over a fire due to the extra hanging handle on top. I only wish it was a full 1L to fill my 1L nalgene bottle in one boil. Although generally the manufacturer underestimates the full capacity of these things so they can’t be sued so it’s probably closer to 1L.

The final component is my cup which I use for scooping water as well as filtering water into and the obvious uses such as drinking tea and coffee. I’ve used it for cooking Frankfurts before but it was difficult due to the height of the cup.

I hope this has helped you make an informed decision on selecting your cookware for bug out situations, or even when camping.
Leave a message if you have a question about anything.

Concealed Storage

When you’ve accumulated a lot of valuables in your house such as spare cash or precious metals you begin to run into the problem of where to store it, the most common way to store them would be in a safe or small vault of some kind. These are quite hard to break into if made of solid metal, however it’s extremely obvious to any criminal. I looked into storing my valuables inside disguised products such as the below Heinz Can of beans, it’s inconspicuous on the outside but has quite a nice amount of space inside for about 30 oz of silver and a lot of paper notes as well to prevent rubbing on the inside.

Heinz Beanz Tin
Fig1. – The Heinz Beanz Tin.

But open up the bottom…

Heinz Beanz Tin Interior
Fig2. – The inside of the Tin.

There’s quite a lot of different designs you can buy, I purchased mine off Ebay from Britian and noticed a tomato soup can, spaghetti can, a dictionary, coke can, a fake candle and even a fake rock for storing things outside which is probably more fitting for a key. It costed me $30 AUD and you could make your own for cheaper quite easily by hollowing out any common object.

It would be best to also have a safe in your cupboard with semi-valuable items in it to trick criminals into believing they have the best loot.

Silver Coin Stockpile

Lately I’ve been slowly adding to my silver stockpile due to the low (relative) prices this year. Currently it’s at $16.16 USD on the 27th June 2018 and dropping which is quite below its mean of $16.50 but not by much.

Some of the uses of silver include:
• Bartering
• Water Purification (Kind of)
• Colloidal Silver (For Health Issues)
• Antibacterial

Remember that either way you look at it, silver will always be an investment and you can sell it later on for almost the same amount if you need some quick cash.

Gold is useful as well to store large amounts of cash, but there’s not a lot you can buy with that much money in a SHTF scenario. Most of your transactions will be small change for cans of food, water and survival gear – which you should already have stocked. Currently Gold is at $1253.74 USD which is a little lower than average but then again gold has fewer uses than silver in a survival situation. However it is worth it to have at least one oz of gold handy.

Cash on the other hand will depreciate very quickly in a disaster, people will soon realize this piece of paper isn’t worth the value written on it by the Federal Reserve and value will shift back into valuable metals which can’t simply be printed into existence. When this occurs the three most valuable entities in the world will be Materials/Possessions, Precious Metals/Gems and Skills/Experience.

Don’t forget to keep your valuables safe and secure in a hidden location either in a safe, under floorboards, at the back of a wardrobe or buried in the back yard. You could perhaps find some extremely strange places to store valuables too, such as inside a hot water tank where it will not only stay safe but slowly purify your water. The only problem with that is getting them in and out but at least you won’t be inclined to spend them.

Nalgene Sipper Lid

I’m always on the look out for new little products to buy that will improve my life while camping and lately I found this little gem.

Nalgene Sipper Lid
Fig1. – The nalgene sipper on a bottle.

It lets you insert it into a typical wide mouth Nalgene bottle to make it easier to drink from. I agree it was a problem I faced with such a wide mouth on a bottle, which is inconvenient to drink from – especially when on the move.

Nalgene Sipper Lid
Fig2. – The nalgene sipper on a bottle.

It stacks with my Pillid stackable lid as well to allow easier sipping and storage of water treatment options. I love the Nalgene bottles overall with their unbreakable Tritan material and “modding” options for their merchandise. They are only a few dollars on ebay, however currently not many people sell it so it may be hard to acquire one.

Nalgene Sipper Lid
Fig3. – The nalgene sipper on a bottle.

Darche Superdome Review

Last year I purchased a Darche swag after a careful consideration of the features I wanted, like a conservative size and green-ish colour to blend in with the environment as well as room for my camping backpack inside while sleeping. I would be using it for regular camping trips as well as a bugging out if the need arises.

Darche Superdome
Fig1. – The set up Darche Superdome on a camping trip.
Darche Superdome
Fig2. – The packaged swag.

Setting Up
Upon receiving the swag I immediately set it up outside which only took 15 minutes for the first time. The poles felt like they would snap given how much tension they are under when bent, but overall they seem to have been designed for it and they are going strong. I then had a good inspection of it for any faults before dousing it with water to prime the canvas material. Soaking it binds the fibres together more tightly to decrease the chance of rain getting between them and should always be done before using canvas swags. I soaked it two times thoroughly on all sides before hopping in to check for any leaks but thankfully there weren’t any drops in the inside. After letting it dry completely I then pulled the vacuum packed mattress out of the bag and let it expand to 5 times its size.

Darche Superdome
Fig3. – The swag set up to test for leaks.
Darche Superdome
Fig4. – Priming the swag.

The Swag
I love every part of the design of this swag, someone obviously spent a good deal of time working out what should go where and improving the previous versions. Some notable features are the mosquito nets on both entrances, the incredibly easy to move zippers and the little clip at the top to hold a torch or lantern.

The Max-Treme ripstop canvas thickness is very heavy duty coming in at 16oz and 600gsm for the PVC floor. The mesh is 125gsm and compliments the heavy duty nature of the rest of the swag. I would say it feels slightly more flexible then fly-screen mesh. I don’t see anything happening to damage this swag when out on the field from animals trying to get in to branches falling on the top, you’ll surely be safe and snug inside. The downside for all this strength is the weight which is a hefty 13.9 Kg. Not something you should bug out with, especially with the mattress. I will exchange the mattress for an inflatable one when bugging out as it takes up so much space in a car or especially a bike. Valuing the methodical construction of the swag and it’s durability I see it as a valuable investment to my prepping supplies as it will likely last a lifetime.

Darche Superdome
Fig5. – View from the inside of the swag.

I would have preferred canvas loops for the poles instead of the black clips to improve the strength and rigidity of the structure, but then it may be a little harder to set up. Another reason why I prefer it is to conceal the outline of the swag further as currently there are obvious black loops going around the outside which may make it easier to spot when wild camping.

There’s a decent amount of space inside even with the mattress. I’m quite thin myself so I slept with my bag beside my torso and still had enough space to roll during the night. I felt headroom was lacking a little and it would be nearly impossible to turn around or get dressed inside when you’re all zipped up. It’s definitely only a 1 person swag, although if pressed and faced with certain death, you could fit two people in if you leave your gear outside the swag.

Darche Superdome
Fig6. – The other side of the swag also showing the front.
Darche Superdome
Fig7. – The base of the swag.

Colour
The colour scheme is very similar to what I was looking for, something to blend the swag into the environment to help stay hidden when bugging out or when simply stealth camping. There is however a large “Darche” logo on the front of the swag in a med-bright orange which is actually the opposite colour to the main green of the swag thus making it very obvious to people. I will attempt to paint over it in a green paint to at least lessen the colour to a degree because it’s vital to remain hidden from the sight of others when surviving in a foreign location. The guy ropes are also the same bright orange but these can easily be replaced with green ones if you require.

Darche Superdome
Fig8. – The fabric and stitching.
Darche Superdome
Fig9. – The front of the Superdome wit the flaps open.

The Mattress
The mattress feels very nice, it’s a luxury size and gives plenty of room for movement inside the swag even though it reduces head space by 5cm as you sink into the mattress about 2cm. It fits perfectly inside the swag except for the end where there’s about 7cm of free space remaining. This could be beneficial however as it gives you more storage space for items inside. The foam inside the mattress cover had a half-tennis ball sized concave indent the whole width of one end, but that’s no biggie as you can just flip it over or use it at the feet end.

Softness wise, it’s a bit harder than a regular mattress – depending on what you’re used to. It does provide a nice amount of rigidity for your back and I would say it’s definitely better then lying on an inflatable mattress. I felt the mattress lacked a certain softness overall, like it needed a convoluted eggshell layer on the top to feel like a regular mattress – even with a sleeping bag under me. Knowing that this isn’t supposed to feel exactly like a real mattress it did a great job simulating it. If the mattress was half as rigid I believe it would be a nice mix of softness and rigidity as well as being more portable. Which brings me to one negative point – the size. It comes very well vacuum packed in a reasonable size about 35cm diameter and 90cm long. However when expanded it becomes a large 90x210x7cm. I loved how it didn’t make any squeaking or typical “air mattress” sounds when trying to sleep like my inflatable mattresses did on the PVC bucket floor.

Preparedness Categories
Fig10. – Inside of the superdome when closed up.
Darche Superdome
Fig11. – The attached small paqlite to the hook inside the swag.

Other Features
One important feature I like is the ability of having two entrances, one in the top and one in the front. The one in the front can be used as a prone position where you can lay with your gun or crossbow and hunt animals… or people. The front entry takes as little longer to get in and out of but may let less insects in if you can master it. You do have to hop in feet first though. The top entrance is the one I prefer because you just need to lift over the canvas flap and unzip the netting and then just in fast. There was a time when I had to get out of the swag fast during one night because I thought my car was being broken into, so I whipped it open and bolted towards the car turning my 2000lm light to max to find the perpetrator… who was only my camping friends, and it wan’t even my car… But it shows how fast you can get out of it. The only problem, I didn’t have time to put my boots on because the zip makes an obvious and semi loud noise when unzipping it quickly and that would have given them time to run had it been criminals.

Darche Superdome
Fig12. – A low shot of the swag to show how it blends with the surroundings.

Conclusion
The price is reasonable coming in at A$490 including delivery. I however bought it on a special for 15% more off so keep an eye out for those if you’re interested in buying one. I love mine and would buy another if for some reason it was destroyed.

Wild Camping Protection

Tent protection is an important consideration when choosing one to bug-out with, assuming you don’t have a BOL. It has to stand up against incline weather, prying eyes, and animals as well as provide protection from those pesky critters that come out after dark – mosquito’s I’m looking at you.

Recently I’ve gone through the tough task of choosing a bug-out tent factoring in every possible risk in my area. The categories below are my most important to the least important features I’m looking for in a tent. You can’t have a “Perfect” tent so you need to prioritize the features you need the most first above others that are nice to have. I ended up buying a Darche Superdome swag after going through what criteria I wanted in a Bug Out tent. Even though it’s not a classic “tent” it still qualifies as a suitable shelter from threats and a comfy bed. Although I should mention that during Bug-out I won’t take the mattress with me due to the sheer size and weight of it. Instead I will be using my inflatable Klymit Static V Recon mattress.


Tent Protection Features

Waterproof
Probably my most vital feature is waterproofing as you absolutely don’t want wet clothes in the winter months. Make sure it doesn’t leak when you get it and have a contingency plan if you happen to poke holes in it such as tent patches. Waterproofing doesn’t only include protection from rain but from the water run-off that you may encounter if you incorrectly selected your camping site. My tent has a bucket base up to 3 inches high to provide a very high level of protection from ground water.

Insect Proof
Flies, mosquitoes and other nuisance insects are extremely prevalent in Australia which is why I opted for a netting on sections where there’s no walls. Zip it up at night and they won’t be able to get in, but you’ll also be able to see out to observe the environment for threats.

Size
If you’re camping in the woods you want to be hidden from view which makes a lower profile tent very useful in this regard. Generally the bigger the tent the more likely that something happens to it such as falling branches. Anything below 70cm is perfect for stealth camping. Tents between 70-100cm are going to be much more obvious unless you’re surrounded by high grass. Over 100cm is definitely not recommended as it’s likely to be easily spotted from a human’s height perspective.

Colour
Even though colour doesn’t directly affect the protection the tent provides, the less it’s seen, the less likely that humans or animals will intentionally damage it. My primary concern was being spotted by other humans so I wanted a green, brown or camo colour theme to blend in with the surroundings. It doesn’t snow here in Australia so I didn’t factor in a white cover sheet or anything to put over it in winter months. There is a portion of orange writing on the sides which is almost the exact spectrum opposite colour to green so I will be painting over that to diffuse it a bit.

Material
The second most important consideration for me as there’s many wild animals which can easily tear through the thin polyester of regular tents. Not to mention there could be debris falling from trees such as branches which can not only tear holes but injure you as well. Also it’s generally unwise to pitch under a tree. I went with a canvas tent and although it’s much heavier the durability will last almost forever and provide a lot more protection from anything that wants to get inside the tent. There’s also a degree of feeling safe and secure in a tent that will assist in giving you a good nights sleep.

Profile
Different profiles have different strengths and can withstand various weather events such as strong wind. There’s many different types of shelters from tents to bivvy bags and swags. Choosing one should be based on your ideal space for movement and how concealed you want to be. Even tents have multiple different profiles from dome to teepee. I went with a swag as a medium between a tent and bivvy. I needed something I could fit my backpack into as well to prevent it getting wet.

Breathable
Breathability is lower in my list of requirements as, again, Australia doesn’t get too cold and thus it won’t gather much condensation overnight. To combat heat I will pitch in shade and keep the top and side flaps open when necessary.

Features
I like the ability of having two entrances to my swag, one in the top and one in the front for multiple ways to get in and out in case something prevents me getting out one of the sides. The top way would be the fastest as you just have to unzip the fly screen and then pull off the canvas. The front entrance could also be used for proning and looking out with a gun or crossbow with while maintaining comfort and stealth. It also allows you to relatively sneakily get out of the tent if there’s an obstacle such as long grass just outside the entry.

Weight / Size
A weighty tent provides a nice solid foundation and assists it keeping it put if water or wind tries to push it away. I love the level of comfort and security that comes from a thick and weighty tent, knowing there’s a sturdy wall between me and the outside world – most of which wants to harm me. Weight is also the least of my concerns as I’ll have a bug out bike or car to transport it. If for some reason I MUST bug out on foot I’ll probably have a Snugpak Stratosphere/Ionosphere for a lightweight alternative even though it will sacrifice my security heavily.

Price
I lied, price was actually my lowest consideration. I didn’t care how much I spent as long as I had the features I wanted. Coincidentally one reason I bought a Darche swag is that it was on special around the time I was working out what type of shelter I wanted, as well as having all the features I wanted.


While deciding what sort of shelter you want, take a look at this list of plausible risks that could affect it or you in the wild. I’ve detailed what I can think of below to get your mind on the right track.

Tent Damage Risks
Falling Branches – These can tear holes in lightweight tents such as polyester with ease, especially dangerous in windy conditions.
Ground Rocks / Sticks – Can puncture your floor (and your mattress) if the floor isn’t thick enough to withstand these hazards.
Water / Flooding – Water can rot a canvas tent and seep through any cracks in the roof or floor and provide an uncomfortable nights sleep.
Strong Wind – Can blow your tent over if not properly secured to the ground. Some shapes shed it easier then others.
Animals – They sure like to sniff around your campsite when you’ve gone to bed and try to eat any remaining scraps. Some of them have sharp claws and could slice through the walls if they try to climb on top.
Insects – Mosquito and fly protection is important to keep your sanity during the nights. You don’t want to be slapping your face every 10 seconds because one got into your tent and you can hear it somewhere.
Sharp Objects – You are just as likely to damage the tent yourself if the walls aren’t thick enough by forgetting you have keys, knives or pins in your pocket.
Time – Just as strong as any other force of nature, and due to the fact that everything degrades over time it leaves it more open to becoming damaged.

So that’s it. Overall this post was a merge between tent protection and choosing a tent but it seemed like it worked anyway. If you’re looking at a Bug Out shelter jot down your requirements and what you need most. Also write down the critical features you need and don’t settle for one without them. My criticals were Green/Camo colour, mosquito mesh and Canvas material. Everything else I could live without in some way or another.

If you would like to see my review of the Darche Superdome, check it out. Darche Superdome Review