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.

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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.

Tent 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 it.
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.

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

TPE Plant Database

Lately I’ve been working on the Plant Identification section of TPE and it has been sooooooo slow… Considering there’s over 5,200 edible plants to add, 8-9 text fields and 2-3 pictures to add for each species.

Here’s an example of a plant – in text format because I’m not sure how to add tables in WP yet.
 


Ephedra viridis
(Mormon Tea, Brigham Tea, Long Leaf Ephedra, Mountain Joint Fir, Mormon Tea, Ephedra)

Family: Ephedraceae
Hardiness: 6-11
Edibility: 2
Medicinal: 3

Range – South-western N. America – California to Colorado and Arizona.
Habitats – Dry rocky slopes, gravel terraces and canyon walls, often on limestone, at elevations of 800 – 2500 metres.
Domestic Habitat – Cultivated Beds;

Known Hazards – None known

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Fruit – raw. A sweet flavour. Seed – cooked. A bitter flavour, it is roasted and ground into a powder and used to make a bread or mush. A delicious tea is made by steeping the green or dried twigs in boiling water. The flavour is said to be improved if the stems are roasted first.

Medicinal Uses
Blood purifier; Diuretic; Kidney; Poultice; Stomachic; Tonic; VD.

This plant has a wide reputation as a cure for syphilis. A strong decoction of the stems was drunk and a poultice of the pulverized or boiled stems applied to the sores. The stems are blood purifier, diuretic and tonic. An infusion has been used in the treatment of coughs and colds, anaemia, rheumatism, stomach ulcers and other disorders, kidney problems. The dried, powdered stems are used as a dressing on sores and burns. The stems of most members of this genus contain the alkaloid ephedrine and are valuable in the treatment of asthma and many other complaints of the respiratory system. The whole plant can be used at much lower concentrations than the isolated constituents – unlike using the isolated ephedrine, using the whole plant rarely gives rise to side-effects. Ephedra does not cure asthma but in many cases it is very effective in treating the symptoms and thus making life somewhat easier for the sufferer. The stems can be used fresh or dried and are usually made into a tea, though they can also be eaten raw. The young stems are best if eating them raw, though older stems can be used if a tea is made. The stems can be harvested at any time of the year and are dried for later use.

Other Uses
Dye.
The twigs, boiled with alum, produce a light tan dye

Cultivation Details
Landscape Uses: Erosion control, Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden. Requires a well-drained loamy soil and a sunny position. Established plants are drought resistant and are also lime tolerant. This species is not very hardy in Britain, it succeeds well in a cold greenhouse but is often killed outdoors by a combination of cold and wet conditions. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if fruit and seed is required. Special Features: Attractive foliage, North American native.

Propagation
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a greenhouse. It can also be sown in spring in a greenhouse in a sandy compost. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in the spring or early summer after the last expected frosts and give some protection in their first winter. Division in spring or autumn. Layering.


 
This should be enough information to make an accurate identification, find which parts are edible and how to process and eat them as well as medicinal uses which could be helpful to preppers who are in the wilderness. Is there any other information people may need to know? Leave a comment if you have an idea.

To break down how long it’s going to take:
5,200 plants at 1 minute each for the text only, another 2m to add identification pictures for each
So 5200 mins + 10400 mins = 15,600 minutes which comes to 260 hours or 10.84 days straight. I’ve been aiming to do 60 plants a day which will certainly break the workload up but it will still take 86 days to get them all done, and that’s only the text. Pictures are another matter.

There’s a few other sections of large databases in TPE such as medicinal procedures, medication and animal identification. So I still have these to look forward to. Yay!

The information is basically copied straight from various websites so it’s still copyright but there will be no copyrights in SHTF and this information will save lives, especially if the internet is down. All work is credited to its original owner and there’s the URL reference to where the information came from.

Low Fuel Reserves in Australia

In the past week the new Australian federal budget has been released to the public and there’s been some shocking discoveries. Such as very low fuel levels with only up to 20 days of petrol left for the entire country.

The other stats are:
• 22 days of crude oil
• 59 days of LPG
• 20 days of petrol
• 19 days of aviation fuel
• 21 days of diesel remaining

Link to News Article

Not that I know what these stats even mean – why would the government store fuel? I always thought it was the independent companies that had to import it themselves and then sell it at the fuel stations.

However if these reach 0, or of they even get close to 0 there will be chaos in the streets with people rioting over fuel and being fist fights over a liter. I don’t know how this happened but people are starting to panic and from what I’ve seen, they’ve been grabbing the biggest fuel can they can find and heading to their nearest fuel station and filling it to the brim. Not that taking fuel home is going to help you if it runs out, people will see you as a target having an extremely obvious moving vehicle among other paperweights.

There’s been a number of fuel stations I’ve passed lately that have been sold out of 91 Unleaded, 95 Unleaded, 98 Unleaded and E10. It made me instantly panicked when I headed to my local fuel station to fill up as I only had 1/8th a tank left and there were sold out signs on every bowser.

I eventually managed to find some fuel at another station the next day, but having that little and wondering how I would get to work the next day if I couldn’t find any really makes me reconsider my preps…

I’ve always had a bike on my to-buy list but never got around to it, and if I buy one that’s at least one mode of transport I could get to work if there was no fuel, not that I’d be worried about getting to work if that does happen though due to bigger problems on the horizon.

If the fuel supplies run out, the trucks stop. If the trucks stop, the food stops. If the food stops, sanity stops. Thus the collapse of a nation occurs and all a prepper can do it bug out or bug in until it’s solved.

Thinking about how I would prepare if this disaster were to happen, I came upon only two reasonable solutions. Either buying a bike and not relying on fuels altogether – which wouldn’t be much point as I’m sure jobs would dissipate quickly. The other option would be to store additional water and purchase more food before people see it as a luxury when transport stops.

Not that I believe this will happen because I’m sure a desperate government with the people on their backs would likely over compensate and store a lot more fuel then necessary – at least until the next budget is released and people see they’ve slipped back into their old ways.

Yellowstone Earthquakes and Eruptions

There’s been a lot of hype around Yellowstone lately with its increased activity and fears it may blow into the first modern super eruption which could cause the next ice age. There is also an ongoing eruption at Hawaii at the moment where people are being evacuated due to the slow flowing lava heading into towns and destroying houses which doesn’t help the doomsday theorists waving their arms and saying these are signs. I’m no seismologist and haven’t been to Yellowstone but I have seen the Supervolcano movie by BBC One which pretty accurately goes through what would happen if this monstrosity were to erupt. The effects were widespread across the globe with few survivors near the epicenter of the disaster and a LOT of ash everywhere preventing travel, plant growth and plummeting temperatures. If you wish to watch it I’ve added a link to it below on YouTube.

Supervolcano 2004 BBC One

There’s a lot of great information throughout as it’s a documentary style movie, such as knowing only a few inches of pumice can collapse a roof and half of that if it’s wet, as well as its effects on our bodies if breathed in. It’s a far fetched movie for this event to ever occur in our lifetime at the scale it’s depicted, but great for fine tuning your preps if you live near an active volcano as it may contain information you never knew.

I’m in Australia where there’s almost no danger of any volcanos or earthquakes to be of much concern, the nearest volcano to Brisbane is in New Zealand and that’s a little smaller than Yellowstone. However there’s never any reason to slack in your preparedness duties as even the most remote possibility of an event could still happen. I recommend looking into volcanic disasters and buying one extra item this week to compliment your gear if you don’t have one of the following:

• Air Filter Mask or N95 Mask and spare filters (For rock particulate)
• Goggles (If you don’t have a full face filter mask)
• Road Flares (For visibility during any disaster)
• Duct Tape (To block car air vents)
• Heavy Duty LED Flashlight (To see and signal through the thick ash, 2,000+ Lumens Recommended)
• Radio with NOAA Weather Station

You might also want to take a look at this list of countries ranked by natural disaster risk, I was surprised to see that Australia was rated higher than the UK, US and Canada at 4.22% chance.
Interestingly the highest is Vanuatu at 36.28% and the lowest is Qatar at 0.08% risk.
Country Natural Disaster Risk

Another very useful map is The Global Risk Map where you select what natural disaster you want and it will display the current risk or the history of that disaster in an area you specify.
Global Risk Map

Stay prepared!

Folding Sporks – A Terrible Idea

I don’t know what genius thought of making folding cutlery where the handle folds onto the bottom of itself because when you try to eat with it the whole thing just snaps back into the folded position when enough force is applied (Which isn’t much). This occurs a lot more when you’re digging into tougher foods and as a result you often get food on your hands when it folds unexpectedly, plunging your thumb straight into it. Yes, I’ve tried sliding the bracing bar down to the end but it doesn’t help much at all, it should lock into position if you do.

Preparedness Categories

Fig1. – The Sea to Summit spork.

Obviously the designer never tested the product and then sent it to market. This isn’t just Sea to Summit though (They are great in general), but everybody else seemed to follow suit and now you’re hard pressed to find one that folds the correct way. Wouldn’t it be much easier to design it correctly in the first place so when you’re scooping the ice cream from the bucket it presses against the bend instead of folding with it? Or perhaps it’s my fault for not just buying a regular spork… Let me know in the comments if you’ve had any similar experiences.

Preparedness Categories

Fig2. – The spork folded – in the wrong direction.

Bug Out Maps

It’s essential for preppers to have a good map they can rely on while bugging out, whether that’s the good old paper maps or something more modern and digital like apps where you can make changes on the go and takes up less space and weight. A digital topographical map is your best bet when venturing into unfamiliar grounds during bugging out as it provides endless features you just can’t get on a paper map, however the most important factor in a digital map is that it must be available offline. Lately I’ve been downloading quite a lot of local maps in a few different mapping styles, such as Google Street Maps, Google Topographic Maps and Microsoft Earth Maps. Each has their own benefits when bugging out which I discuss in more detail below.

Preparedness Categories
Fig1. – Google Maps Region of Brisbane.

Google Street Maps
These maps are generally used for road navigation and turn by turn direction, the Zoom Level of 19 lets you go much deeper than the topographic map to provide a great view of individual house numbering and what sorts of facilities are nearby. These maps are obviously most useful in the cities and pretty useless in the country or other remote locations. They display some great locations such as power and water plants as well as things to avoid such as prisons and detention centers. They could also assist in helping you loot locations in SHTF by knowing where the water treatment plants, police stations and hospitals are that may be tucked away.

Preparedness Categories
Fig2. – Google Topo Region of Brisbane.

Google Topographic Maps
These maps are perfect for hiking as they display the terrain height and how much of an ascent or descent it will be from point to point as well as helping you find local landmarks to assist in the navigation process. The zoom level isn’t as high as the Street Map at Zoom Level 15 but it’s still excellent for hiking with.

Preparedness Categories
Fig3. – Microsoft Earth Region of Brisbane.

Microsoft Earth Maps
The most unique map showing satellite pictures of the landscape from space. This is amazing to find features not shown on the other maps such as small ponds, undiscovered buildings, and even telling what types of trees are in an area! The zoom level is very high and boasts the same level as the Street Maps coming in at Zoom 19. However all this comes at a cost of a greater filesize when downloading areas, I would say that these photo maps are about 6 times the size of the other two.

If you don’t know how the zoom levels work they start at zoom level 1 which is a shot of the entire globe as 9 tiles, then zoom level 2 you have the whole globe at 25 tiles, then level 3 at 81 tiles, level 4 = 289 tiles, level 8 = 66,049 tiles, level 13 = 67,125,249 tiles and level 19 having a whopping 274,878,955,521 tiles! There must be some massive servers out there somewhere to hold that many tiles. This is also why you select a region to download, it would be impossible to download the whole world at level 19! Not to mention you would only use the tiniest percentage of that area and downloading the entire earth would include the majority of ocean and Antarctica which are both useless. Although the struggle as being preppers we need to think of every possibility and this often requires us to download a large amount of area for bugging out and finding new routes if the internet no longer works. Personally I’ve downloaded the entirety of Australia using the Google Topographic Map, but to do this I had to use a rather low zoom level to fit it all in.

My application of choice for downloading tiles is Mobile Atlas Creator 1.8. This version lets me utilize the Google and Microsoft Maps which have been removed from the newer version of the program due to complaints of excessive server usage – which I can definitely see why. I used to have Backcountry Navigator as my go to mapping app which I loved, but it’s more expensive and I couldn’t get any good maps for it, even though it has my favourite map type – QTOPO which is Queensland Topo and the state I live in. QTOPO is even a lot more accurate than Google Topo but alas it wasn’t included in the MOBAC map source list.

Preparedness Categories

Fig4. – The differences between the three map types.

There’s a hard download limit of 500,000 tiles in MOBAC as well (in all versions), so if you want a large area you either have to go up a few zoom levels or do multiple separate downloads. You can however select a few areas (less than 500K tiles) to download in one go which helps a little, but this is eventually blocked by another limit if you go over 5 Million tiles or something like that. (I’ve never checked the actual tile limit for that so it could be anywhere from 2 Mil to 10 Mil tiles)

So putting these maps back into Alpine Quest I combine these different layers to create a flexible map which can change based on my location which is very useful. If i’m in a city I pop on the Google Street view for higher detail and when i’m in the country I use the Topo and Earth shots to see what’s around me and the terrain features. The best features I adore about Alpine Quest is the ability to leave waypoints anywhere I desire, mark areas, draw routes, measure distances, measure slope angle, attach pictures to waypoints and even get alerts when you’re in range of a waypoint. Give it a try if you’re looking for a great mapping tool, and try out Backcountry Navigator as well to compare the differences between them and see which one has the features you need.

The Preparedness Encyclopedia

Since I first began researching preparedness I’ve been concatenating what I know into an Excel sheet to help refresh my mind when I need to remember what I’ve previously learnt. For example if I forget what ratio of Calcium Hypochlorite I need to add to water for the initial solution.

Preparedness Categories
Fig1. – The categories in The Preparedness Encyclopedia.

Each section seen above has a link you can click to jump to the section shown as well as subheadings when you get there to jump even further into the content you are looking for. An example being “Water > Acquiring Water”. The aim is to find any information you are looking for quickly and easily. Alternatively you could also use “Ctrl + F” to search for what you want if the wording is precise.

There are 11 columns of space of information, I chose this number because there are a lot of “10” row data fields and I usually add a description in the first column to give context about the row. There is also another 11 rows beyond the divider in the middle to allow for comments, discussion and answers which is used in the Entertainment section. Overall the column number goes to “AC” after which it’s then cut off to prevent unnecessary scrolling.

This document has slowly been growing over the past few months until now where it’s 10Mb. I carry this around on my phone at all times because you’ll never know when the information will come in handy.

As of today (2nd May 2018) there are 70 categories such as Water, Cooking, Barter, Foraging, Animal Identification, Homesteading, Gear, Fuel, Weapons, Medical and 60 more.

Each category has a percentage that it’s complete which I update as I fill in more information in that section. When every section is 100% the encyclopedia will be complete. I will however be disseminating the guide prior to completion as I will need assistance finishing it.

Up until now I’ve spent about 1573.25 hours compiling it which is calculated from the number of cells I have that contain information and using the assumption that each cell takes 1 minute to complete. Noting that that may be an overestimation I often come back to cells and edit the information and many of the cells take well over 1 minute to complete, so it averages out.

Unfortunately the document has been corrupted twice already in the past few months which is horrifying when it happens as I’ve spent so much time on this, but both times I’ve managed to recover it (or most of it). Therefore I now wish to blog my progress and upload parts of the guide so I always have an online backup to fall back on.

The first corruption I believe was due to it being saved incorrectly on my USB, which was fairly easily recovered by the built-in excel recoverer. After that terrifying moment I backed up the document 7 times as it was the only copy I had at the time. The second corruption I have no idea how it happened but when I tried to open it on my Windows 10 pc (As I usually edit it on a vista pc), it said it was unreadable and then proceeded to ERASE the file and ALL the 6 other backups I had on the USB. So now I’ve learnt my lesson to have off-USB backups as well. I had to use “Recuva” a brilliant program for recovering deleted and deep files from drives that are invisible to the eye.

After those panic attacks, I’m happy to say I now back them up online as well as on multiple PCs and USB’s, so I’d like to see it corrupt now. At most I can only lose one day’s worth of work.

Currently I’m working on the “Plant Identification” section which by far is the biggest with over 5,400 rows. I have recently added the name of every edible plant known on the planet and it’s scientific name. The next step is to find the information for each plant such as Physical Characteristics, Habitats, Known Hazards, Edible Parts, Medicinal Uses, Pictures and more. At this rate if I add 50 plants a day it would take 108 days to complete them all and it takes about 3 minutes to do a row. (That’s 270 hours to complete them all)

So that’s the simple introduction to TPE, if you wish to help add information to the article please let me know, although I’m not yet giving out the guide until it’s a little further along. I’m also unsure about the title of the guide, perhaps something without “The” at the start to use it more fluently in sentences.