Odds & Ends - Miscellaneous Equipment and Clothing
On this page we will try to tie up loose ends and make suggestions on equipment, clothing and other things not covered on the other pages. On our other pages we have tried to cover as much as possible on some key areas, from the essentials to optional equipment. Given that the concept of survival is one of long term there are any number of things that may not come to mind immediately, plus we want to make things as easy as possible in your planning.
Although there is no way we can cover every possible scenario, gear or option we will try to cover things that we haven't covered on the other pages. As in any plan, you have to balance what you want, what you need and what you can afford or improvise. Use this page and the other pages in the Suggested Gear and Clothing section to guide you and help you get the gear you need to cover the situations you may need to contend with.
Clothing & footwear
When it comes to non-winter clothing you want to pick good quality items that will last a long time. Shirts and pants can be made fairly easily, but socks and underwear are harder to make. Stock up on socks and underwear, they don't take up much room and sure beat itchy wool next to your skin. Buy thread and needles, buttons and snaps (including snap repair kits from leather working or hobby stores).
As we've mentioned before a good pair of boots are a must. A good pair of boots will last for years and can be re-soled, stopping in at your local shoe repair place to pick up a pair of replacement soles doesn't cost much and ensures that you can replace the soles on your boots when they wear out. If you have special needs for your footwear such as wide or narrow feet or orthopedic footwear try to get extras. Well made running shoes can be found for low cost, COSTCO's brand of plain white leather tennis shoes are well made and at $15 are hard to beat price wise. For general use cheaper, less durable footwear is ok, but for any distance you want good footwear... you want to know that they will last without causing any aches or pains.
Furniture, hygiene & misc. household things
Folding camp chairs are lightweight, easy to transport and give you some furniture to sit on. Buy good quality ones with a sturdy frame, the fabric can always be replaced in the future if needed. There are chair, rocker and lounge versions available. Folding camp tables are another option.
When it comes to lighting there are a lot of alternatives. Kerosene lanterns, tiki torches, LED flashlights and lanterns, propane lanterns and more. Most of these require some sort of fuel or energy to produce light. You can get battery operated lanterns and lights and rechargeable batteries with a solar recharger. Another option is to get solar powered patio or yard lights, these can be used inside as long as you remember to put them in a window or outside so that they recharge. If getting solar powered patio lights the best bet would be to get metal ones, these will last longer than plastic. Candles are always an option, there are any number of candle lanterns that use "tea light" candles.
Many people forget simple things like soap, tooth paste, tooth brushes and other hygiene and cleaning items. You not only have to clean yourself but you have to clean your clothes and dishes. The Cal Ben Soap Company makes getting it all at once fairly easy and relatively cheaply. Made from 100% natural ingredients it is generally highly thought of. Grab a back brush from the store, it makes getting your back clean easier and comes in handy if you're injured. Those solar shower bags are an option. Make sure you have one or two wash basins, good quality plastic totes can be used for this once you get there and unpack what was in them. A washboard, clothes pegs and clothes line should round out your washing and hygiene kit. Don't forget to pack toilet paper, the more you can get the better (they take up less room if vacuum sealed and they stay dry!). You may want to get one of those plastic bucket type portable toilets, a spare toilet seat to use in an outhouse isn't a bad idea either.
Food & water
Although we plan on raising our own food, depending on the time of the year we may be looking at close to a year before we can expect a harvest. Plan on things being lean in this respect and get as much food as you can afford and can fit into your vehicle. Canned goods are fine, and the cheapest way to build up a food supply but they are bulky and heavy. You may want to consider freeze dried/dehydrated or military MREs. Canned food and MREs are temperature sensitive meaning that changes in temperature can affect how long the food will keep. Freeze dried/dehydrated food is less temperature sensitive. For more information of basic food and water storage click here. Get as much food as you can get and your vehicle can safely transport, ideally a year supply for every person in your immediate family. It is better to have food that you can not transport than to not have enough food. If you start with canned goods now you will be amazed at how quickly they accumulate. STORE WHAT YOU EAT. Make sure that before you buy a case of food that you try some and like it. Most retailers will have sample packs or you can order individuals of each item you are thinking about. Below are links to a number of manufacturers and retailers:
Freeze Dry Guy Mountain House AlpineAire Ready Reserve Foods Freeze-Dry Foods HeaterMeals Long Life Food Depot Nitro Pak Ready Reserve Foods Sopakco Walton Feed Wornick Ameriqual eFoodsDirect - J. Michael Stevens Group
Don't forget to buy seeds, heirloom or other seeds that will allow you to save seeds and will grow the next year are the best bet. If you can find them, try to get seeds for plants that can be harvested in 90 days or less, this is the least amount of time we will have to grow and harvest crops, shorter growing times will allow for multiple harvests in the growing season. Crops that take more than 90 days will have to be started in some sort of green house or indoor setting and then transplanted into gardens or fields. See the Plant Hardiness Zones link on the left for more information. A great site to brush up on gardening and farming is Dave's Garden, a great book to have is Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. Below are some links to sites that sell heirloom seeds, you will have to browse their sites (or contact them) to find crops with a 90 day or less plant to harvest cycle:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds www.heirloomseeds.com The Victory Seed Company
Seed Savers Exchange Seeds Trust Amishland Heirloom Seeds Heirloom Acres Seeds
Although Forestfarm does not say whether they sell heirloom seeds you can search via US Hardiness zone.
Agrestal Organic Heritage Seeds Gardeners Web - Alberta Nurseries Green Space Design
Ontario Seed Company Prairie Garden Seeds The Garden Path Stellarseeds Sunshine Farms
For a list of heritage, organic and open pollinated seeds see Seeds of Diversity - Canada's Heritage Seed Program. The top part of the page lists Canadian growers/retailers while the bottom part of the page lists US growers/retailers.
Recently I received a Survival Seed package from Hometown Seeds, currently (August 2010) selling for $39.95 plus shipping. The seeds come packaged in a heavy mylar bag that is resealable, with each type of seed in its own plastic bag (not resealable). Each seed bag contains the name of the seed, the weight and information for germination, planting and spacing... all the basic information you need to get them in the ground. There are 16 varieties of seed included in the Survival Seed package:
Lincoln Pea 5 oz.(appx. 625 seeds)
Detroit Dark Red Beets 10 grams (appx. 535 seeds)
Kentucky Wonder Brown Pole Bean 5 oz. (appx.435 seeds)
Yolo Wonder Pepper 5 grams (appx. 250 seeds)
Champion Radish 10 grams (appx. 895 seeds)
Lucullus Swiss Chard 10 grams (appx. 465 seeds)
Black Beauty Zucchini 10 grams (appx. 110 seeds)
Waltham Butternut Winter Squash 10 grams (appx. 70 seeds)
Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach 10 grams (appx. 890 seeds)
Scarlet Nantes Carrots 10 grams (appx. 6,800 seeds)
Long Green Improved Cucumber 10 grams (appx. 360 seeds)
Rutgers Tomato 5 grams (appx. 1,800 seeds)
Golden Acre Cabbage 10 grams (appx. 2,500 seeds)
Romaine Paris Island Cos Lettuce 5 grams (appx. 2,500 seeds)
Golden Bantem Sweet Corn 5 oz. (appx. 780 seeds)
Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion 10 grams (appx. 2,850 seeds)
Also included is small pamphlet with quite a bit of information on planting each of the seeds included as well as basic gardening tips. The weight of the seeds is over a pound and a half, quite a bit of seed. All are non-nybrid, non-GMO and seeds can be saved from year to year. The shelf life on these is 5 years minimum, 10 years if kept in a freezer. For the money this is a great buy. You may not like swiss chard, spinach or zucchini like me, but they can be traded to others for things you do like. No survival seed collection you buy will be perfect for everyone but the seeds selected are there for a reason - together they represent a good balance of early/late harvest and good nutrional balance. As with anything off the shelf not everyone will be 100% satisfied. Most people will like at least 75% fo the seeds in this kit, and that alone is worth the money when you compare heirloom, non-GMO seeds at the store. These seeds are prepared and packaged for long term storage while the average store bought seeds are not. The seed selection with any of the "survival seed kits" are pretty much the same. I am happy with the seeds. Check out the Survival Seed and the other offerings from Hometown Seeds, they have a good selection of seeds on an easy to navigate site.
When it comes to water there are lots of options available. From storing 20 oz bottles of water to one gallon bottles of water or 10 gallon jugs. You can buy the water already bottled or bottle your own. There are also 4 oz packets of Coastguard approved water. Some people store water in food grade plastic drums up to 55 gallons in size. Keep in mind that water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon, storing large amounts of water can make it difficult to transport. On the Cooking Gear and Basic Pack pages (see menu on left) we have suggested a few water purifiers. These are not the only options out there. The options shown below either require batteries or have limited effectiveness/lifespan.
We've covered storing and growing food but we have not touched on gathering wild plants, hunting or fishing. Gathering wild plants is a skill you can develop over time. One way to develop this skill is to get some good books on wild plants in your area. If you get books on other areas these can be kept with your gear and will provide the information you need when/if you have to leave your usual area. Everyone should have a basic fishing kit that includes a rod, reel, hooks, lures, etc. There are decent telescoping rod and reel sets that come with some basic hooks and lures. A slingshot is small and easy to pack and won't raise any eyebrows, they are also fairly cheap as is shot (basically steel ball bearings), both are readily available at Wal-Mart in the sporting goods section. Slingshots are good for small game such as rabbits. Bows and crossbows are another option for various sized game. BB and pellet guns can be used for small game, pellets and BBs are very cheap, with better airguns running to $500 but with much higher velocities than your standard Daisey or Crossman airgun. If you look around at sites such as Cold Steel you will find that spear heads are fairly easy to find, you can always find a good piece of wood to make the spear shaft out of.
Now we come to firearms. Of course guns can be used for hunting. Keep in mind that local, state/provincial as well as US/Canadian laws differ greatly when it comes to firearms. Because of that we will keep mention of firearms to a minimum. When it comes to hunting guns the most used are shotguns and rifles. The most common shotgun rounds are 12 guage and .410. For rifles there is the .22 for small game and .303, 30-30, and .308 for larger game. The .303, 30-30 and .308 will take down most large game in North America. This minimal mention of firearms is not to treated as the last word on firearms, check with family, friends, etc for more information. This is just meant to give you a very basic primer.
Batteries and small electrical items
There are any number of things that we would like to bring with us that require batteries or electricity. For battery powered items this isn't such a huge issue. Rechargeable batteries and a solar recharger will allow you to use these items. Make sure you have lots of good quality rechargeable batteries. You can also use a regular AC recharger along with a car battery, AC-DC inverter and a small solar panel to recharge the car battery.
For a large selection of inverters, backup power and related items see Xantrex.
Communications, both receiving and transmitting can bring in a lot of information. Having a standard AM/FM radio is one way to get information, but there are a couple of better options. A good radio to keep you informed is the Kaito KA009 which has AM/FM/Shortwave/Weather/TV(2-13)/Aviation bands and can be powered by regular batteries, AC adapter, crank, solar. The reception on these radios is very good, and at a price of $55 from the Kaito website, less if you shop around, very affordable. Kaito has a number of very good radios, in fact the US military has ordered tens of thousands of Kaito radios for use in Iraq. A radio such as this, whether the Kaito or another brand, is a must in any emergency situation. Another option is to get a scanner which will cover just about all of the public radio bands. Scanners can be more expensive but they do have wider coverage.
For the ability to transmit and to keep in touch we suggest FRS/GMRS radios, these can be used to keep in touch with members of your family over short distances (no more than 14 miles). Optional headsets allow you to have hands free communication if your family is using more than one vehicle. With other members of your group having FRS/GMRS radios these will come in handy once you reach your destination. A good CB, with upper/lower SSB (Single Side Band) preferably, is a good thing to have on the road. You can listen in to the truckers to find out road conditions ahead of you and to keep up on any breaking news. On long hauls it can also help keep you company and keep you awake. CBs generally have a range of about 5 miles - terrain, antenna, output power affect transmission and reception. Although you may be tempted to get a handheld CB be advised that the reception and transmission on these is poor. Make sure you have a good quality antenna, the large metal whip antennas provide the best reception. A ham radio, 2m (2 meter) can also come in handy. With the ability to transmit and receive from much further than FRS/GMRS or CB, these can literally save your life. In the US you do not need to have a FCC license to own a ham radio or to listen but you do need a license to transmit or talk. The exception to the license rule is in life or death emergencies, in this case the FCC will not come after you for transmitting/talking without a license. 2m handheld radios can be found for under $100 used, often as little as $50 in good working condition. Keep in mind that once again, the handheld models will not have the transmitting power of "base" models, although an amplifier can resolve this problem. Marine radios can use the same antenna as a 2m ham radio, and although they are generally used on the water there are certain bands that can be used on land. It is also likely that very few people will be listening to marine radio frequencies on land so it can be an alternative to CBs or FRS/GMRS radios when your family is using more than one vehicle.
Getting around in the winter
Getting around in the winter can be a chore that saps your energy with seemingly little distance traveled. Winter gear can weigh a lot when you get into all of the things you need to stay alive and comfortable. Snow shoes can be used to keep you from sinking into the snow, but the going is slow. Cross country skis will allow you travel longer distances at a quicker pace but take more practice to master. To help with hauling your gear you may want to consider a sled or toboggan that you can pull behind you. Most militaries that practice winter maneuvers use a combination of cross country skis and sleds, the sleds are hooked to harnesses worn by one person in front and one person in the rear... in this way the person in the back makes sure that the sled does no overtake the person in the front. Sleds can make carrying your gear much easier and can carry more than you can.
Rope and climbing gear
Rope comes in handy in many ways. Everything from basic twine, parachute cord to strong climbing rope has a use. A couple of hundred feet of parachute cord can be bought for a small amount and has as many uses as duct tape. Common rope is very useful for many things from tying things down to making shelters. Climbing rope, 50 to 100 feet along with a basic climbing kit consisting of belt, hammer, some carbiners and pitons can make sure that any climbing you have to do is much easier and safer.
Leisure and entertainment
We will have times when we have nothing to do or when we can't do anything. If you don't plan for these times you could find yourself getting bored or depressed, which can affect your survival or just your happiness. With space at a minimum and weight an issue you may be thinking that there is no way you can pack anything to pass the time, you would be wrong. Aside from a favorite book there are cards, travel versions of popular games such as chess, checkers and backgammon among others. These pocket or travel games can be found in dollar stores, toy stores and in some auto parts stores. A book of card games goes well with a couple of decks of cards. There is also the GURPS role playing game from Steve Jackson Games which provides a basic set of universal rules that can be applied to multiple settings such as fantasy, wild west, etc... one book and a set of dice can provide years of entertainment (and teaching if you plan it right).
Musical instruments of all types, from penny whistles to guitars and drums can be part of any long term kit. These don't have to be the best quality if all you're looking for is to pass the time with family and friends. There are also small instruments that can be packed in your kit and carried with you.
Gas masks, etc
For those who want to prepare for every eventuality there are gas masks, nuclear radiation detectors as well as full NBC hazard suits. For gas masks, Scott and MSA are widely recognized as being the best. Nitro-Pak and Survival Logistics have a number of items beyond gas masks. If you want radiation detectors the place to go is Nuk Alert or KI4U, Inc, same company different websites, both have a lot of information on radiation and related preparedness.
You may want to consider a small trailer to keep everything stored in and ready to go. Trailers only take a few minutes to hook up. There are a number of other options available see Bug Out / Evacuation Cargo Carrying Options and Survival Transportation - Small & Midsize cars for more information on these options. For general vehicle information you may want to see BOV (Bug Out Vehicle) Basics which deals with an ideal situation.
In the end one way to figure out the things you may forget is to go through your house and list everything that you use on a daily basis. Make a separate list for each room. Once you have a list of everything go over each list and see what things you would be willing to live without. Then go through the remaining items and see which ones require power of some sort and note a manual alternative.
Although you would need a large vehicle and/or a trailer to transport everything found on the Suggested Gear and Clothing pages we have provided these items to give you an idea of the types of things you will need and some items that are optional and that you may want to bring. By no means are the items listed on these pages a must, each person or family must make decisions as to what items they consider essential and which items they can actually fit in their vehicles. Finances for each person or family differs which also factors into what items they can get before hand. These pages are here to provide ideas and goals to allow everyone to survive in as much comfort and with as much ease as possible.
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