How to Make Char Cloth Indoors

by Erich on April 11th, 2015

If there were one fire-making skill I’d recommend all preppers get good at it would probably be making fire from char cloth.

It’s a great skill for truly learning and understanding how to build a fire since it prevents fire-making “laziness” — something we can easily develop in the days of lighters and matches — since it forces you to collect and use only good materials and have your skills down pat.

In addition, these skills will also help you easily translate to getting a fire going from a primitive bow-drill, hand-drill or any other friction-fire method.

And finally, if the time ever came where you really needed to get a fire going, and you had an easier fire-starting tool like a lighter (which you should carry with you anyways), it will be that much simpler.

With that long winded intro, how do you go about making charcloth anyways?

Well, that’s the focus of this post and video.

The process is super simple but first let’s start with getting some ingredients:

What You’ll Need:

  • Some metal or tin container: This could be an Altoids tin, a chew tin, or like I use an old pellet tin from my pellet gun.
  • Some plant-based material: Cotton balls, cotton makeup remover pads, even cut up pieces from an old cotton t-shirt will work great. Other materials like flax, hemp, and burlap are also great.
  • A heat source: This heat source is typically an open fire but it can also be your outdoor grill or even your indoor stove top if you need to (for which I”ll explain how to minimize the smoke so your significant other doesn’t kill you)

How to Make Charcloth

Making charcloth is a very simple process. If you’d prefer a visual demonstration, be sure to check out my video on making char cloth here:

Here’s the written description of the process:

Step 1: Step one is just to prepare your heat source if necessary. If this is an open flame than make sure it has burned down to a decent amount of coals for a coal bed. Other wise you can just use your grill or stove.

Step 2: Punch a hole in the top cover of the tin with a small nail

Step 3: Fill your tin with your cotton (or other) material and cover it up.

Step 4: Place your tin on top of the heat source

Step 5: After placing your tin on the heat source you’ll notice smoke starting to come out of the top hole. This smoke will continue until it stops at which time you’ll know the charcloth is complete.

How to Make Charcloth Indoors (without getting in trouble)

Making it indoors is the same process as above but instead of letting the smoke just bellow out of the hole and filling your kitchen and home, you can light the smoke with a flame. It will stay lit much like a candle. When that flame goes out, your charcoal is complete.

Copyright © 2015 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

How to Make Rope from a Trash Bag [Video]

by Erich on April 2nd, 2015
This post is sponsored by Survival Hunting The Only Complete End-To-End Survival Hunting Course Designed Specifically For Preppers Like You, Where You’ll Uncover How To Easily Secure An Abundance Of Game From The Field, Onto Your Plate, And Into Your Long-Term Storage

This video is a follow up to the previous blog post on 18 Bug-Out Uses for a Trash Bag.

In the following video I demonstrate how you can make a very strong and functional piece of rope from one or more trash bags.

How to Make Rope from a Trash Bag

Copyright © 2015 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

18 Reasons a Trash Bag (or three) Should be in Your Bug Out Bag Right Now

by Erich on March 27th, 2015

When it comes to your bug-out bag — given the limits you have in terms of space and weight — the best survival items you can pack are those that are lightweight, have multiple uses, and don’t take up much space.

I’m sure you know the importance of duct-tape and paracord (and likely have those in your bag right now) however, there is one item that many of us overlook that should also be in there…

A trash bag.

Yes, trash bags — especially heavy-duty contract bags — are one of those excellent cost-effective, space-saving, multi-use items that should be in every bug out bag. They have a plethora of uses, 18 of which I’ll be listing in this article.

So without further ado, here are 18 uncommon uses (and reasons) why a trash bag (or two) should be in your bug-out bag if it isn’t yet…

18 Uncommon Bug-Out Uses for a Trash Bag

  1. Warm Shower: Fill your trash bag with water, tie it up above your head and let it sit in the warm sun. The black color of the bag will absorb the sun’s rays heating up the water. Once the water has reached your desired temperature, poke some tiny holes to enjoy a nice warm shower.
  2. *Note: Some trash bags (not so much with contractor bags) are lined with chemicals on the inside to prevent odors and mold. It’s not a bad idea to turn the bags inside out if using them for the next three uses.

  3. Food Transporter: Whether you just took some game while bugging out or if you’ve opened your packaged food and need a clean place to put it in, a trash bag makes for a great container for transporting and protecting game meats, opened food, etc.
  4. Water Container: Besides a one-time use shower, a trash bag can make a decent way of transporting a fair amount of water if you’ve lost or don’t have a water container. Here’s where having a contractor bag would be idea given their strength.

    *Note: Some trash bags (not so much contractor bags) are lined with chemicals on the inside to prevent odors and mold. It’s not a bad idea to turn the bags inside out if using them for the above purpose>

  5. Water Collector: Dig a hole around 2 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep, tear open your bag so it’s one large piece and lay it over the hole to set up a makeshift rain water collector or container.

    *Note: Some trash bags (not so much with contractor bags) are lined with chemicals on the inside to prevent odors and mold. Given that, it’s not a bad idea to turn the bags inside out if using them for the above purpose>

  6. Poncho: Trash bags make for excellent ponchos. Just rip a hole in the bottom of the bag for your head and two on the side for your arms and it will do a fine job at keeping the wet weather at bay.
  7. Waterproof Leggings: Take two trash bags and place one foot with your shoes on inside each. Tie up the bags around your ankles and calves with some duct tape or cordage (both of which aren’t bad ideas to have in your BOB). Now you have some decent waterproof leggings to temporarily cross through shallow brooks or streams or traversing over deep, wet snow.
  8. Gear Protector (Dry Bag): You can use the bags to keep your gear stored in your BOB dry while traveling in wet conditions. In addition, you can enclose your entire bug-out bag with the trash bag (cutting slits for your backpack straps to get through) for a makeshift poncho for your bag.
  9. Makeshift Toilets: If you happen to have bugged out to an urban area and there aren’t many places to dig a latrine, trash bags make for excellent makeshift toilet liners (like in a 5-gallon bucket or in a non-functioning toilet if the grid’s down).
  10. Comforter and Pillow: Large trash bags filled with leaves or other light debris make for great expedient comforters that can be placed on top of you when it’s cold out. In addition, a smaller bag (or a large one only partly filled with leaves) will work pretty decent as a pillow (it would be best to place a piece of cloth on it (like a Shemagh or bandana) for your face to lie on for more comfort.

    Although less than ideal, you could also partially inflate the bag for a pillow (but it will be less comfortable than leaves or other soft debris).

  11. Strong Rope: Yes, trash bags can actually make surprisingly strong cordage and rope when braided correctly. I plan on doing a video of this pretty soon so I’ll update this article with that when I do.
  12. Ground Cloth: One thing that’s very important when setting up a tent or other makeshift shelter is laying down a groundcloth to keep the moisture from coming up from the ground into your shelter at night. A trash bag cut open and laid out will help in this way.
  13. Makeshift Shelter/Lean-To: While obviously not ideal, a trash bag can work as a fair shelter against wind, rain and the sun’s rays. Just stretch it out and tie it off as you would with a standard lean-to shelter.
  14. Life Preserver/Flotation Device: While certainly not Coast Guard approved, trash bags can be blown up with air like a balloon, tied off, and be used to provide flotation while crossing bodies of water. A few of these can also be tied to a makeshift raft to aid in buoyancy. Again, the stronger the bag (like a contractor bag) the better to prevent tearing and puncturing.
  15. Arm Sling: Similar to how the boy scouts use their neckerchiefs for slings, you can follow the same approach to sling someone’s arm if recently injured.
  16. Bandage Protector: If you’ve just finished bandaging up someone’s wound, you can use a strip of a trash bag to wrap over the bandage and tie it off to further protect the bandage and wound from getting dirty.
  17. Bug Out Washing Machine: For extended bug-out travels you can place your dirty clothes in a bag, some soap scrapings (or if you packed small amounts of detergent) and some water, twist or tie off the bag and vigorously shake the bag for a few minutes. Drain the dirty water, replace with clean water and repeat for the rinse cycle.
  18. Window Black Outs: While at your bug-out location or when bugging in, you can use trash bags to cover your windows at night — preventing a “light signal” to those less-than-friendly people looking for occupied residences. Again, it’s best to use contractor bags here since some thinner bags will require multiple layers.
  19. Cold Compress: Trash bags can be filled with snow or ice (if available) to provide for a makeshift compress for treating inflammation caused by injury.

Final Thoughts

In addition, let me just stress again that while normal trash bags can work in the above examples in a pinch, again, ideally you want to pack contractor bags which you can find at most any hardware stores.

Also, as a side note, others have mentioned using trash bags as “thermal underwear”. While it will hold in heat, it’s not a good idea since it also traps in moisture, which when cold outside can easily lead to hypothermia. True thermal underwear “breathes” to allow the moisture to escape.

Copyright © 2015 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

Activated Charcoal: A Must-Have Item in Every Preppers Med Kit

by Erich on March 17th, 2015

If I were to guess, activated charcoal is probably not one of the items found in your med kit right now.

Well, it’s time you change that…

The thing is, in a long-term disaster or a post-collapse situation, you’ll likely not have access to professional medical help. And if you or your loved one accidentally ingests something poisonous, it could end up being a very bad day for you or yours.

That’s where having activated charcoal could be a very real life saver.

In this article you’ll discover just what activated charcoal is and how it can be used to ward off potential disaster when things go very bad. In addition, you’ll learn about many of the other potential uses that this long-standing “medicine” has.

Activated Charcoal Throughout History

The first recorded use of charcoal for medicinal purposes comes from Egyptian papyri around 1500 B.C. as a method of staving off infection of open wounds. Since then, activated charcoal has continued to be an effective form of treatment for a variety of ailments down to the present time.

In fact, it’s common to find activated charcoal in modern emergency rooms for treatment of drug overdose and poisoning.

How does it work you ask? Well, read on…

How Activated Charcoal Performs its “Magic”

It may at first seem a bit unbelievable as to how a simple black powder can be so effective at removing poisons from the body. But there’s real scientific reasons as to why.

Activated charcoal works mainly by adsorption (no I didn’t spell that incorrectly). Since activated charcoal is 100% alkaline (i.e. negatively charged), this negative ionic charge attracts postive ionic charges like toxins and poisons, causing them to bind to the charcoal which then gets escorted out of your body through the eliminative process of your intestines.

Even when made as a poultice (a moist paste of charcoal and water that you spread over a wound or sting) this adsorption process will work to draw out poisons caused by stings and bites of animals.

Basically the process that creates activated charcoal (steam heating and oxidation) ends up creating an internal lattice of very fine pores. This structure allow s charcoal to adsorb over 100 times its weight in bacteria, toxins and other positively charged chemicals (like drugs and unwanted medicine).

For that reason, it’s important that you don’t ingest charcoal if you’ve recently (within the last 2 – 4 hours) taken perscription medicine for medical reasons since it can also adsorb certain medicines as it does poisons.

Charcoal Remedies

Here are just some of the examples of charcoal remedies (both internal external) that you’ll find used in modern as well as folk medicine:

Internal Uses:

  • food poisoning / drug overdose: This is really the only remedy I’ve found where charcoal is used in modern medicine. My ER doctor friend has used charcoal a number of times in the Emergency Room for drug-overdose patients.
  • elimination of toxins that contribute to anemia in cancer patients
  • stomach bug/flu: This has worked very well in my family. Anytime we feel a stomach bug coming on we take a teaspoon of charcoal in a cup of water which stops it in its tracks.
  • filter toxins from blood
  • headaches
  • minor arthritic symptoms
  • diarrhea
  • sore throat irritation
  • tooth abscesses

External Uses:

  • disinfect wounds
  • teeth whitening: Charcoal surprisingly does an excellent job at removing tartar and plaque buildup on teeth (no the black will not stain your teeth) and even removes stains (especially those caused by coffee).
  • cold sores
  • insect bites: Very effective against bee and wasp stings. I’ve personally seen this work wonders for my 4-year old daughter with a wasp sting. The pain subsided very quickly after making a poultice and covering her sting.
  • snake bites

Is Activated Charcoal Something I Can Make?

As a quick warning, this is not the charcoal that comes as briquettes that you use in your charcoal grill. Since many of them are laden with dangerous fillers and petrochemicals (firestarter) to help them ignite, ingesting or using these for medical purposes could certainly lead to a very bad day for you or your loved ones.

True activated charcoal is made industrially through a process of exposing pure charcoal to hot steam in order to oxidize it. So while you can certainly make normal charcoal from a woodfire and grind it up fine enough to be somewhat effective (if that’s all you had available to you), it’s not the same.

Given the purity that you can buy as well as it’s practically limitless shelf life I would still highly recommend you purchase it.

Where Can I Purchase Activated Charcoal and How Can I Learn To Use It?

It’s important that you purchase a high-quality charcoal. Here’s the one that I recommend and buy for my own family:

Hardwood Activated Charcoal Powder 16 oz (1 lb) in Mylar Bag

In addition, if you want to learn all of the fantastic ways to use this as well as dosing information be sure to check out some of these resources:

Activated Charcoal: Antidote, Remedy, and Health Aid

Charcoal Remedies

Copyright © 2015 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

How to Make Homemade Desiccant

by Erich on February 28th, 2015

As preppers we all know the importance of keeping our firearms and electronics free from moisture when they are put away for storage. For this reason, before caching or storing items such as these for the long term its crucial you include some type of desiccant (or water absorber) in with your stored items.

Most preppers use silica gel, but what if you don’t have any on hand?

Well, here in the US, there is a huge supply of desiccant that you can readily use in a pinch if you can’t get a hold of silica gel.

What is it you ask? Well, it’s none other than drywall. Yup, common gypsum wallboard found in most homes throughout the US.

How to Make Homemade Desiccant

Similar to silica gel, if you want to activate drywall to become a anahydrate or desiccant you need to heat it up long enough to remove the moisture. Here’s the process:

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 450F

Step 2: Grab a 1/2 foot x 1/2 foot piece of drywall.

Step 3: Remove the paper (it helps by wetting the paper first) and break it up in 1″ square pieces, then place those pieces on a cookie sheet and into the oven.

Step 4: Let it heat for about an hour which will remove all the moisture.
Step 5: Remove from oven and while hot, immediately place in an air-tight container that won’t melt from heat (a mason jar is a perfect container for this).

How to Use your DIY Desiccant

To use your desiccant place a handful of it inside a sock and stash it in the storage container that is housing your electronics, firearms or other items you’re interested in keeping away from moisture.

Here are just a few examples of where to use your homemade desiccant:

  • In the bottom of your gun safe
  • In your survival cache tube (like a PVC pipe where you cache your firearms)
  • Inside a sealed Mylar bag that contains your electronics
  • In your gym bag to prevent mold, mildew, and odors
  • With silver jewelry or silverware to slow tarnishing
  • In your toolbox to prevent rusting
  • Inside containers holding stored clothes and blankets to prevent mildew
  • Inside of anything you store in the basement
  • In a safe with important documents
  • Inside of cases with seed packets to keep them from molding
  • and much more..!

The following pictures give an example of how effective this is as a desiccant. I threw a handful of these desiccants in a mason jar that just came out of the dishwasher. After a few minutes the homemade desiccant had absorbed all the water in the jar.

A Quick Related Tip

As a quick side note (in case you missed the reference above), be sure to hang onto any silica gel packets you come across that are packaged in various products you’ve purchased. They can also be reused by heating them up in the oven and storing them as described above.

Copyright © 2015 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

Ebola Prevention in a Grid-Down World

by Erich on October 25th, 2014

Hey guys, just wanted to quickly let you know about a document I found buried in the CDC website. It’s an older document (written in 1998) that provides an excellent resource for Ebola prevention in a time when modern medical facilities might not be available.

Originally written for healthcare workers fighting Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers (like Ebola) in austere conditions like West Africa, it deals with prevention, early diagnosis and response within a limited infrastructure (again, something we might face during an outbreak and associated civil collapse).

This would obviously be important knowledge to have and I wanted to make sure you guys have it.

Here’s some of the points it covers:

  • How to set up isolation precautions in rural areas.
  • How to use common, low-cost supplies to prevent transmission of Ebola
  • Necessary safety precautions
  • How to properly isolate (ie quarantine) potential and actual carriers of Ebola
  • Proper procedures for putting on and taking off protective clothing
  • Disinfection methods
  • Proper Ebola-contaminated waste disposal
  • Safe burial practices of deceased Ebola victims
  • How to make protective clothing with low-cost items
  • and much more…

This is a must have document that should be part of everyone’s Survival Library so be sure to download it here:

Ebola Prevention in Austere Conditions

Copyright © 2015 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

Why Now Is the Time to Get Your Ham License

by Erich on August 23rd, 2014


Most preppers get the idea that communication is an important capability to have during an emergency.

Despite this understanding though, few preppers have a solid communication plan in place beyond a few two-way walkie-talkie devices and the false hope that their cellphone will still function.

If that describes you (like it did me a few years ago), this article should hopefully open your eyes and inspire you to change that.

The Dangers of a Communication Blackout are Very Real

We take our ability to instantly communicate with others around the nation and the globe for granted. In reality though, the methods we depend on to communicate — internet and cellphone primarily — are extremely fragile.

One common theme you see in any widespread disaster (or even overcrowded sporting events) is that people are unable to make use of their cell phones for outgoing or incoming calls. We saw this with 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and Sandy, as well as the Boston terrorist bombings.

This is just a small glimpse into what might happen if there was a more widespread natural disaster or terrorist event – it would wreak havoc on our telecommunications

History has proven that when cell towers go down during an emergency, the whole network is at risk of being overloaded (or may fail entirely).

Can you imagine what a major emergency would cause?

What about Landlines?

Landlines aren’t much better. If things got so bad that our basic utilities were to shut down, landlines wouldn’t be far behind even though they run on their own power source.


GMRS/FRS radios (ie walkie-talkies), while great for certain scenarios, just don’t have the range if we plan on talking with anyone outside of a couple miles…let alone out of the state or in another country.

Satellite Phones?

Satellite phones, while they can be very effective in an emergency, still have their drawbacks in that they’re very expensive to purchase and operate (~$30/mo for only 10 min of talking time) and they are still dependent on a 3rd party maintaining their satellites as well as keeping your account active (which may not be possible in an extended post-collapse scenario).

Also, they don’t work indoors or where there’s thick canopy (like in the jungle or thick woods). You need clear access to the sky where the satellites either pass over or are situated (depending on if the sat network has roving or stationary satellites).

What’s the Answer Then…?

That leads us to the only reliable emergency communication method that we have available to us when the SHTF. It’s a method that’s not dependent upon the grid and can be used for local, regional, and even global communication.

What is it?…

Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio

Homer_HamRadioAmateur radio, or more commonly referred to as “ham radio”, is used by city, county, and federal emergency communications teams; by private relief organizations throughout the world; and by a large number of dedicated citizens who are active, knowledgeable, and have the skills and ability to respond and assist in emergencies.

And if you haven’t yet, it’s something that you definitely need to learn if you want to have an effective emergency communications plan in pace.

Now don’t misunderstand the word “amateur”. It has nothing to do with it requiring less skill or having less capabilites than a “professional” (if that exists) might use. Amateur in this case only means that it is not broadcast for purposes of making money (like much of FM radio is).

Pros and Cons of Amateur (Ham) Radio

The ultimate benefit of Ham radio is that there really isn’t any restriction to how far you can communicate. It can be used to communicate locally, regionally and worldwide.

In addition, it’s not dependent upon any public or private communications’ infrastructure and can be used on top of a mountain or in a crowded city, powered on the grid, or completely off by using a generator, a battery backup, or a solar setup.

The biggest downside (which can be a plus for us fellow hams) is that you need to be licensed and in addition, there is some ramp up time to get comfortable with communicating and using the equipment (it’s actually a skill that you will develop over a lifetime since there’s so much you can do with Amateur radio).

Why Should I Bother With A License Since It Won’t Matter When The SHTF Anyways?

This is a common question I get, and my answer is always the same: Since amateur radio isn’t something you can simply pick up and use without prior experience, you need to practice NOW before things go south; and you can’t properly practice without getting a license first.

There are a lot of things you need to learn such as antenna theory, skywave and NVIS propagation, which bands to use at what times and how solar activity and other environmental phenomenon can affect your transmissions.

And besides, there are still a lot of other emergencies (local and regional) that don’t involve the end of the world to be here to still warrant having EMCOMM abilities.

The Secret to Getting Your Ham License

I’m happy to tell you that it is much easier to get a Ham license than ever before.

Back in my Father’s Day, he needed to learn Morse code in order to get his ham operator license. I, on the other hand, was able to to not only get the entry-level “Technician” license but the “General” license (to operate on the HF frequencies that allow for regional and global communication) all in one day without needing to know a bit of Morse code.

Note: I’m not saying that Morse code is not a bad thing to learn (in fact it’s something that I am hoping to pick up soon) however the good news is since 2006 it’s not required anymore when getting your ham operator license.

Since most of the real learning you’ll do with ham-radio operating is through doing it, to get going with the “doing” part, all you need to do is pass the test. And passing the test for licensing only requires you to know what the right answers are.

Luckily, the entire pool of questions for each license type and their answers is available for study. Since the tests are multiple choice, you don’t even need to understand the theory behind the questions, just the right answers (this is more true for Technician than the others).

For example, when I first got my license, I studied for a total of 8 hours and was able to pass both the Technician and General tests in one sitting with over 90% each — just because I memorized the answers for the most part.

If you’d prefer to learn all the theory behind the questions before testing, that’s certainly your prerogative.

Here are a number of resources you can use to study the question pools and answers for each of the license exams:

  • – This was the resource I used to help me study and pass the Technician and General exams. For the Extra, I had to study a bit more in depth which I used the next resource for…
  • – This is my friend PI’s site (K1RV). He’s got a great resource that will actually tutor you so you really understand the theory and not just the answers.

Where Can I Take My Ham Radio Exam?

Most license exams are offered out of the many Amateur Radio clubs found throughout the US. Depending on where you live, you should be able to find one nearby at any week of the year.

Here are some resources to find and exam site near you:

  • The ARRL: The ARRL has a nice search functionality that you just need to enter your zip code and it will spit out a number of tests given nearby along with their date and location.
  • HamDepot.comhas a listing of most of the clubs throughout the US. Since most clubs are the ones giving the tests, you can contact a nearby one and find out when the next test is.

Is The Testing Expensive?


The test is only around $15 dollars to cover filing with the FCC and other handling fees.

Another great bonus is you can take all of the tests in one sitting if you so wish for the same price. You just need to be sure you pass each in order before going on to the next one.

Final Thoughts and Resources

Hopefully by now you see the benefits in adding Amateur Radio to your preps.

After all, when the grid goes down and cell phones and land lines no longer function, while everyone else is in the dark, all you’ll need is a wire, a battery, and a radio and you’ll be communicating with your loved ones and others around the world. That’s the ultimate benefit of ham radio.

For more info on getting started, here are a couple more links:

  • Ham Radio For DummiesIf Ham Radio is brand new to you you’d have to be a dummy not to read this. It provides a great overview to get you started. You can even just go to the bookstore and sit down with a nice hot drink and get through it that way.
  • Stealth Amateur Radio: Operate From Anywhere A great resource for communication OPSEC. For preppers looking to hide their radio station from nosy neighbors and other prying eyes, this book will teach you how.

Copyright © 2015 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

Product Review: SunJack Portable Solar Array

by Erich on August 23rd, 2014

For preppers, survivalists and others desiring to have other means of electricity when the grid goes down, solar has always been a valid means of off-grid power.

And in recent years, there’s been significant advances and interest in portable solar chargers that are capable of charging cellphones, tablets and other small electronics while in an emergency, on the go, bugging out, or any other reason that would require you to power and charge your devices when the grid is not available.

Well, I recently got my hands on a fantastic little portable solar-panel array that is perfect for small electronics like your Android, iPhone/iPad or anything else able to charge up from a USB port.

It’s called the SunJack and is marketed as “the most powerful solar charger in the world, capable of charging your phone as fast as a wall-outlet with plenty of power to spare.”

Does it live up to it’s claims? Let’s find out in this week’s product review…

SunJack Overview

Overall Size and Makeup

The 14 watt SunJack is a portable solar array made up of four solar panels organized in a black cloth foldable case. Overall it seems to be a very durable and well-made product.

When closed up, the unit measures around 6″ L x 9″ W x 1″ H (slightly smaller than the size of an iPad although a bit thicker):

It measures approximately 24″ long when fully opened:

The battery, charging cable, and USB ports are located in a mesh bag behind the charger.

The solar array has two USB ports which (when in full sun) will each produce an output of 2 amps. This allows you to easily charge a smartphone, an iPad, or other tablet requiring 2 amps to charge its internal battery directly from the sun.

External Battery

It also comes with an external battery (that will connect to one of the USB ports on the array) to hold the energy harnessed by the sun — providing you with a source of power to charge your electronics when the sun is down.

In direct sunlight, it will fully charge the 8000mAh lithium polymer battery in around five hours with this 14 watt SunJack model (the manufacturer also sells a 20-watt version that comes with two batteries).

When the battery is at full capacity (again, after only 5 hours) it has enough power to charge an iPhone around 4-5 times.

Personal Testing Results

When I first received this, the battery was already around 1/2 full so I couldn’t test the 5 hour charge time stated by the manufacturer. But after putting it in the direct sun (it was slightly cloudy that day) it took just under 3 hours to bring it to a full charge. From just this initial test I’d say they’re probably pretty accurate.

How is it able to charge this fast? Here’s what SunJack’s representative had to say…

“We’ve found a way to optimize filling up the battery from sunlight – think of it as being able to get more water out of your faucet faster. The SunJack is able to get more electrons flowing into the battery faster than any solar charger available, which means you get wall-outlet charging speeds in an incredibly portable form-factor.”

Wall-Speed Charging Capabilities

There are other folding solar panel chargers similar to the SunJack on the market that I’ve seen on Amazon, but from reviews I’ve read they don’t have the “wall-speed” charging abilities. In other words, they take a long time to charge up your phone or worse, your tablet compared to charging it from a standard wall outlet — barely making a dent after hours of charging.

How does the SunJack fare? To test this, I timed how long it took to charge two of my devices (an iPad and an iPhone) directly from the fully charged battery.

Here are the results:

Device Starting % Ending % Battery Time Wall Time
iPad 40% 80% ~90 min ~90 min
iPhone 60% 100% ~45 min ~45 min

Basically for both tests of each device I started at 40% for the iPad and 60% charge for the iPhone and charged each of them 40% more — first on the SunJack battery and then in the wall (after discharging the iPad and iPhone to 40% and 60% respectively).

In both cases I did not see any significant difference between charging on the wall or from the SunJack battery.

So again, it lives up to its promises by delivering “wall-speed” charging time.


One other thing that I really liked was the durability of this device.

Think it’s not tough enough to stand up to the rigors of a survival or bug-out lifestyle? Well, think again. It can withstand large drops
onto its corners on concrete and even work after a car runs it over (over the panels, not the battery):


In addition to durability, the SunJack promises longevity.

According to the manufacturer, the monocrystalline solar cells will still produce 80% of their power even after 25 years of use and the the lithium-polymer battery holds roughly 80% of it’s capacity after 1,000 cycles.

Assuming this is true (I couldn’t test this for obvious reasons) this is great news for us preppers who want products that can last not only through abuse (see the durability section above) but through the duration of a long-term collapse situation. And keep in mind, if it’s as long-lasting as they say it is, the SunJack will probably outlast any device you plan to charge with it anyways.


Currently the SunJack 14 watt that I have goes for $150.00 on Amazon. They also have a 20 watt version that goes for $250.

For my uses, the 14 watt is plenty.

Some Nice to Haves

The one feature I would like to have seen in this is that it were weather/waterproof. I’m not necessarily saying it needs to be submersible, but more so that it would hold up in a decent rain.

SunJack’s manufacturer has fortunately come up with a decent (although not ideal) workaround. You can purchase a weatherproof sleeve:

Their weatherproof sleeve is specially designed to maximize sunlight pass-through while protecting against the elements.

Final Thoughts

All in all I really found the SunJack to be a solid product and one that I would definitely recommend as part of your preps and especially in your Bug-Out Bag. In fact, with it’s existing loops and a carabiner (I don’t recommend using their supplied carabiners since they’re worthless), you can easily attach the SunJack to your BOB to charge while on the move:

The SunJack is ideal for preppers who want to have portable power available for small gadgets such as smartphones and tablets. I’ve also been able to successfully charge some Ni-MH batteries with a AA USB charger I have which is what I need to keep a small 2-way HAM radio going that I have.

Copyright © 2015 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

Warning: The Coming Pandemic and How You can Prepare Yourself

by Erich on August 6th, 2014

Back in 1995, Richard Preston wrote a #1 New York Time’s best-seller by the name of The Hot Zone which gave a startling view into the deadly seriousness and history of the Ebola Virus.

It’s a truly horrifying disease: bleeding from the ears, eyes, and anus; black vomit; liquefying organs and brain matter — death for 90% of those infected.

For years, the Ebola Virus has never been a huge issue because of the fast rate at which it kills its victims — allowing it to be contained and burn out relatively quickly within the small remote villages where it has primarily been found…up until now.

What’s Happening

Unlike previous outbreaks, this latest outbreak is spreading beyond its borders.

Before 2014, the Ebola Virus never had topped more than around 400 victims (that was historically the worst outbreak which spread over a years time) and had been localized at most to a few neighboring villages before it had burned out.

Now, since March of 2014 (in just 5 months), there have been over 1000 reported cases (with over half of those infected already dead) in the ongoing outbreak across Guinea, northern Liberia, and now eastern Sierra Leone. The number of patients is constantly evolving due to the on-going investigation.

So far, it seems to be contained to those areas of Africa, but with the recent scare in the UK (which hopefully is not a cover up) with the ease of world travel, there is definite possibility of it spreading outside of Africa into Europe and beyond.

Is the Current Ebola Scare Really That Serious?

Although I’m heavily into prepping, unlike some outsiders may think, I’m far from a pessimist. And if you’ve been a reader for a while now, you’ve probably noticed I don’t tend to jump on the fear-mongering bandwagon that many others do — but at the same time, it’s important to have a healthy sense of caution.

Now, when you look at it in perspective to other global health issues (for example, malaria kills around 2000 PER DAY and typhoid fever claims 550 people EVERY DAY globally) it doesn’t appear to be that serious with only around 1000 cases with this latest outbreak.

However, unlike the illnesses listed above, there is no known treatment for Ebola in humans.

Doctors can offer supportive therapy, such as hydration, oxygen and treatment of complicating infections, but mortality rates are still very high.

(As a side note, there has been some promise with an experimental drug by the name of ZMapp which recently helped two US aid workers but it is not in mass production or approved by the FDA yet.)

On the positive side though, Ebola is not spread through airborne transmission (or more accurately “droplet transmission”) — in other words, there’s no evidence you can get it through sneezing like the flu. The way Ebola is spread is through direct contact with an Ebola patient’s blood or other bodily fluids like urine, saliva, and sweat — with the highest concentration of the virus being in blood, vomit and diarrhea.

My own opinion is that as long as this strain of Ebola doesn’t mutate so as to be spread through airborne or droplet transmission, I don’t feel we have too much to worry about here in the West.

But what if it does mutate where it can spread via airborne transmission? Will this be the next widespread pandemic similar to the Black Plague or worse? And how can you prepare your family or group for that event?

Well, read on…

How to Protect You and Your Loved Ones From a Pandemic

A friend of mine, Kevin Reeve (owner of the tactical training school OnPoint Tactical), uses a term called “Social Distancing” to illustrate the need to self-quarantine during viral outbreaks or pandemics.

Similar to what they do in the island of Samoa as well as Japan, when there is an viral outbreak outside of the island, they will completely isolate themselves (no one is allowed on to or to leave the island) until that outbreak has burned itself out.

In a similar manner, you must think of your home or retreat as an island where nothing from the outside is allowed to enter and no one is allowed to leave.

How long?

Since most any viral pandemic will burn out in 90 days, this should be the base time for which you and your family or group should prepare.

Let’s take a look at each of the Six Pillars of Survival and how it relates to this 90-day social distancing.

Personal Health and Security:

Personal Health

When it comes to being isolated for 90 days straight, it is important — especially if you were dependent upon medication or other medical needs — that you have sufficient supply for that three-month period.

Again, there cannot be any contact made with the outside — so medical supplies and other needs MUST BE accounted for beforehand.

Sanitation will also be a very important part of this 90-day isolation.

Since it is likely that utilities will stop at sometime, unless you are on a septic system and have enough water stored up for flushing you will need to have other places where you can dispose of human waste.

One of the best options is to use a simple 5-gallon bucket lined with a heavy duty contractor bag.

Simply lay a couple 2x4s across the bucket’s rim for a makeshift seat (or even take off an existing toilet seat and place it on top of the 5 gallon bucket) and do your business into the bag-lined bucket — a very effective makeshift toilet:

After each elimination it’s a good idea to pour in some sand or sand/lime mix to ensure that the smell is kept to a minimum.

Once the bag becomes somewhat full (or the smell becomes unbearable) simply tie off the bag, remove it from the bucket and leave it outside of the door in front of your home or shelter to be disposed by the “Outside Man” (which I explain below) or left outside until the 90 days is over.


Security is another very important aspect during a pandemic.

Especially during a deadly contagion, any direct contact with other humans outside of your family or group should be considered as a deadly threat.

As such, you need to take appropriate measures to prevent this type of contact happening.

As I go into detail in Prepper Academy, for proper home or retreat security you need to set up a layered defense around your home.


Among the most important of these layers is your perimeter. This is an imaginary or physical border (like a fence, wall, or natural boundary) that surrounds your home or property.

How far out this perimeter extends beyond the outside surface (or skin layer) of your home depends on your property, other’s property lines and whether you live in the boonies or a city.

The most important rule to remember with that perimeter during a deadly contagion is that NO ONE is allowed to breach the perimeter without some type of defensive/offensive action being taken. What that action is should be decided upon by your family or group before you get into that type of situation.

The Outside Man

outside-manMy friend Kevin recommends having a designated “Outside Man” who acts as a mediator between the inside group and the outside world.

This Outside Man lives in a separate shelter and has no direct contact (physical contact) with the inside group and is tasked with guarding the perimeter as well performing any external logistics like waste disposal or communication with outsiders.

To use the example of waste disposal, to ensure that no contact is made with the inside group, there will be a designated spot (essentially a virtual sally port) where the the group or family can leave a trash bag outside of the home and only after they are fully closed up again in the home, will the Outside Man retrieve and dispose of it.

The same holds true for meals (if the OM doesn’t have their own supply), drink or anything else the OM requires from inside. But again, THIS IS UNIDIRECTIONAL — in other words, supplies and other things only come from the inside and go out and nothing comes into the home (with one notable exception listed in the next section).


This now brings us to the next portion of this 90-day pandemic plan, which is how to set up your home or shelter.

I already explained the importance of a perimeter. I also explained the function of the Outside Man and his/her role.

In addition, you might want to consider having a separate shelter setup outside of the home to be used as a quarantine area (which could be as simple as a tent).

The purpose of the quarantine area is to be used in the case when a family member or friend of the group desires to come into the group to wait out the pandemic.

Basically, they would stay in this quarantine shelter for the period or duration of the incubation time of that contagion to ensure that no symptoms are shown. Once the incubation time for that contagion has passed and the person has not shown any of the symptoms their clothes are to be burned and after a complete scrub down they are allowed to enter the main shelter to be with the group.


Water will be one of the most important things to have during this 90- day period and will be something that many people will have trouble securing since you’ll require, at minimum, 90 gallons of water per person (in other words, 1 gallon per person per day for the entire duration).

It’s likely that utilities will still be functioning during the initial period of a pandemic, but as it becomes more widespread they will shut off because people will not be able to man them. It’s during that short window that you’ll want to fill up your bathtubs and any other containers available beyond what you’ve already stored.

There are many storage options that you can use (many of which I explained in detail again in my Prepper Academy course) but by doing a simple Google search you’ll find many different water storage methods that you can use.

Heat, Light and Energy

Having sufficient fuel (whether that’s wood, propane, gasoline or any other fuel type) for heating, cooking, lighting and other needs will be another important aspect during this 90-day isolation period.

You may also want to include sufficient batteries and or various solar setups that will power things like an iPad, laptop, ham radios and other electronics. These will come in real handy during that time (as I explain in the Tools section below).


A 90-day supply of food is obviously crucial since you will not be able to secure food from external sources like grocery stores or hunting.

You’ll want to store up many easy-to-prepare meals such as macaroni and cheese (using powdered milk), canned goods, ready-made foods and so on.

It’s not a bad idea to also include some laxatives since activity will be limited in such a small confined area where digestion for some might be a problem.

This brings us to another point:

Although popular among preppers and survivalists, MREs are probably not the best idea to have during this 90-day time period. These concentrated foods lacking in sufficient fiber are intended for short missions by our military personnel.

These are not ideal foods to be stored and used for a long term period such as three months given that they’ll likely become “Meals Refusing to Exit” instead of “Meals Ready to Eat”. Again, if that’s all you have it’s not a bad idea to store up a good supply of laxatives.


Our final category is Tools. Tools include all those things that aren’t exactly required for survival but greatly aid you in a survival event.

One example in this case is communication equipment. This includes radio equipment (such as ham radios or emergency radios) to be able to communicate with or get updates from the outside world. It’s also an important tool if you are employing the use of an Outside Man.

Another important “tool” is entertainment.

Most will become very stir crazy being in such tight confines for that long without being able to go outside, therefore it is of primary importance that you have plenty of books and different types of entertainment to keep you occupied and stimulated during that time period.

Other Recommendations

For those who are interested in more of a step-by-step approach I highly recommend you check out Prepper Academy.

It goes into a lot more detail than what I cover in this short article which I do not have the time or space to do. Prepper Academy is built upon four modules that each sequentially build upon each other (as shown in the following graphic):

And by just completing the first two modules, your family will be more than enough prepared for a 90-day isolation period required in a national or global-wide pandemic.

In addition, here are some other resources that might be of interest to you:

Copyright © 2015 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

The Humble Bow: The Ultimate SHTF Weapon?

by Erich on July 31st, 2014

If you were in a SHTF situation, which one would you rather have – a bow or a firearm?

Before you gun nuts (me included) start saying there is no contest, I thought I’d use this article to maybe not so much change your mind but to expand your understanding of the capabilities and advantages of a bow that you may not have been aware.

So let’s take a look at some scenarios that you might face in a SHTF situation just to see how the bow stacks up:


The bow has been used as an effective hunting tool for thousands of years and continues to prove itself in this arena even in modern times. In fact, with improved technology, bow hunting has only gotten better.

For example, with the advent of compound bows, the improved performance along with their unique sighting systems makes accurate and effective shooting far easier to learn when compared to instinctive shooting methods required of recurve and long bows…

Crossbows further push the limits of performance by blending many of the advantages of rifle shooting (the use of a scope and shoulder stock) allowing a hunter to really spend time getting an accurate shot without needing to hold the bow in full draw:

The downside to the improved technology that comes with compound bows and crossbows is that with more mechanical features you have also a far greater chance of malfunction. This is where the old stick bow and recurve bow have the advantage.

Bugging Out

In a bug out situation where you might be traveling longer than anticipated and ran out of supplies, a bow would be a handy tool to have for harvesting on route to your bug out location (yes, even cities have edible critters running around).

When it comes to being discreet, one of the greatest benefits a bow has over a firearm is that it is silent. Yes, I do understand that you can have silencers for your firearms, but have you ever really heard a silenced firearm? Other than with a subsonic .22 round they really aren’t that silent. Not compared to a bow releasing an arrow that is.

Also arrows, unlike bullets, are reusable. Even if you could find the bullet buried in the animal (or zombie) carcass, it would most likely be deformed. Then having to reload that bullet would require you to find the ejected case and have powder and a reloading press on hand – something not realistic in a bug out situation.

Finally, although it’s not as concealable as say a handgun, the newer take-down recurve bows can be taken apart and stored quite easily in (or strapped to the outside of) a bug out bag — so portability is really not a huge issue.

Post Collapse

We’ve already discussed the silent advantage that bows have over firearms in a bug-out situation. This applies equally as well in a post-collapse situation.

In a situation where resupply is not possible, the ability to manufacture and maintain your own bow and arrows makes it an ideal post-collapse weapon.

I’ve successfully built both bows and arrows using materials found in nature as well as “urban” materials.

For example, using nothing but cedar for arrow shafts, glass bottle bottoms for arrow heads, and duct tape for fletchings, I’ve made very capable arrows that would do serious damage in both a hunting or self-defense situation.

For a bow stave, there are many things that you could use. In fact, people even make very powerful bows simply using PVC as you can see in the following video:

Using a Bow and Arrow in Combat

We all know that the bow and arrow has been an effective tool in ancient warfare for millennia. However, with the advent of the firearm it seems like the bow has played second fiddle.

When it comes to combat, most people think a bow wouldn’t be an effective weapon for modern times — especially when dealing with multiple threats. The thought is that “speed shooting”, as depicted by Legolas in The Lord of the Rings, isn’t possible.

You don’t either? Think again…

The reality is, not only is this possible but even faster speeds can be obtained. When it comes down to it, as we switched from bows to firearms, we lost a great deal of the combat abilities that were around during the ancient times with cultures like the Persians, Huns, and even our Native Americans. These ancient warriors were able to consistently shoot three arrows in under 1.5 seconds with deadly accuracy!

Still don’t believe me? Check out this video:

Combat Effectiveness

Another myth that people fall for is that arrows don’t have effective stopping ability. Having seen firsthand the damage a modern broadhead arrow tip can do to a deer, I’d much rather get shot by a .22 than one of those.

Finally, bows can be used to shoot arrows on top of structures or onto people hiding behind barricades. By taking advantage of its short parabolic flight by shooting an arrow at a steep upward angle, you can effectively hit the tops of structures and reach people behind barricades — something a firearm cannot do (at least the ones we have access to). Using flaming arrow tips to set roofs on fire are a perfect example of this.

Final Thoughts

Although I love shooting my recurve and compound bows, I am still very much a gun guy. And as such, I would prefer to have my guns with me in any of the situations above.

With that being said, I still do not disregard the extraordinary capabilities and effectiveness of archery in a SHTF situation and neither should you. Therefore I highly recommend you adding both firearms and archery to your SHTF plan.

Copyright © 2015 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved