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.

The Path to Minimalism

Lately I’ve been binge watching everything I could find on YouTube about the minimalism lifestyle after my girlfriend mentioned my – let’s just say “untidy habits” and the collections of stuff and preps that I have in my rooms.

Let’s be clear, I don’t own a house and am currently renting 2 bedrooms where I keep everything from my stove, fridge, bed, computer system, cutlery, BOB’s and my stocks of food and water for disasters. It’s quite the collection if I’m honest, however the “stuff” on the floor was kind of getting old. There was a point where I couldn’t even see the floor – but not because of a lack of tidiness but moreso the lack of storage options and furniture.

I’m not even an untidy person, being an OCD clean freak it’s a strange kind of “untidy”. I know where everything is but due to a lack of storage all the gear I own is in it’s own storage location – on the floor.

Over the weekend I have been busy head down in my rooms picking up one item at a time and deciding:

Decisions
• Do I need this to survive?
• Do I have an emotional attachment to this item?
• When have I last used this item?
• Is it a tool?
• Is it worth selling?

Then I put it into a pile based on what I wanted to do with it, those piles are as follows:

The Seven Piles
• A keep pile
• A rubbish pile
• A sell pile
• A give away pile
• A take to work pile (or other location)
• A decide later pile
• A “to digitize” pile

The keep pile is for all the items I have strong attachments to, currently use weekly or that I will use in the future for sure – such as my preps. (Debatable that that will be used, but still…)

The rubbish pile is for items that I don’t need and is just considered clutter or those items that haven’t been used in months.

The sell pile contains items that are worth some money that I wish to get rid of and make a little back on. Remember that if you can’t sell them after trying you should just give them away or throw them out and not just believe you’ll try again at some point in the future.

And the give away piles are for items in decent quality that someone else might like to own. It also feels good to donate items to people in need and you know that the item will have another life away from home.

The take to work pile means I store the items at work – these generally include items which I have to keep for 7 years such as travel receipts, medical certificates, excess food I can eat at work and a few other small items.

The decide later pile is for complex items which requires more thought as I try to go through the pile of items as fast as possible so I don’t well up feelings and attachment for them again.

The “to digitize” pile is for cards, documents, certificates or nostalgic items from past events which I want to remember but I don’t need the physical item, therefore I take a picture of it and discard the item.


Sorting
While going through my items I found there were a lot of tough decisions and I found myself picking up the same item multiple times because I couldn’t decide on it. My mistake was having a “decide later” pile which I had to keep going through to whittle it down to nothing again, but unfortunately most of that pile ended up as keep… for now.

The most difficult item to get rid of is my Obutto R3volution gaming desktop which is tremendously heavy, large and hard to dismantle. Not only that but my screens and pc are extremely embedded with it with cables intertwined around it and the screens screwed to the stand. I hope I can sell it as the buttkickers (which add a level of vibration to the seat and footrest) are probably worth a fair $500.

Over the time I have been cleaning up I feel the weight literally fall off as I throw each additional bag in the bin and sigh with relief. It gets much easier the more you clean and feel like you’re making a dent in all your possessions, and it inspires you to continue and become more critical with your decision making.

Just a note – buy the extra heavy duty garbage bags so they don’t break open when you lift them. I’m so glad I bought these as my other bags were getting holes in them and were beginning to split open before I bagged them in the heavy duty ones, because I own a lot of sharp electronics.

At the end of the weekend I ended up with 4 bags of items I could throw out – some were even electronics that I had never used such as a 4 port switch. Fortunately for me I don’t have any really strong attachments to most of my items except a few of my electronics due to their multifunction nature such as my phone – which I would never throw away unless I had a replacement anyway.

Aim
My aim is to have two backpacks worth of camping / preparedness gear, one suitcase worth of clothing / electronics, one storage container of misc gaer such as power tools (to build my tiny house with), cables for my pc, pens, paper and books and finally 8 or so food storage containers which contain a weeks worth of food for 1 person each which I will be storing in my tiny house when it’s complete.

I also have a few large items such as a typical king size bed, a folding camping bed, a tent, a swag, two fans, an air conditioner and a few small pieces of portable furniture. I hope to remove the small pieces of furniture when I’m near the end of my cleaning but there’s a lot of items I can’t really make a decision on due to it being preparedness based such as my camo net.

My absolute aim is to have one “Mazda 2” sized car load of stuff I own and nothing more – which will require me to cut out a large amount of the furniture and remove the bed entirely. Another motive for reducing the amount of things I have is simplicity, happiness and being able to fit it all into my tiny house, as well as not being fixed to one location and I can pick up and go within 1 hour if required in an emergency.

I will be blogging a more detailed article on how one can be both a prepper and a minimalist at the same time even though upon first glance they may appear to be complete opposites. Preparedness is about stocking up on everything you will need in the future and minimalism is about having only what you need at the current point in time and nothing more.

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.

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.