Archive for December, 2009

The Free-Stuff is In!

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

free-stuffJust wanted to quickly point out that over the last couple of weeks I’ve been getting a bunch of that free stuff that I signed up for online: diapers, shampoo samples, food, otc medicine, more diapers…

Since most of these things are smaller, one-time use products, they make great additions to your bug-out bags. And the best part of it all is that they’re free! I’m still waiting for that Snuggie to come in (I’m not holding my breath though :().

If you missed the article, and want to learn how you can get free samples as well, you can check it out here: Bored Surfing the Web? Stock up on Free Stuff Instead.

free-samples

Off-Grid Cooking Part 2: Fixed Cooking Options

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

In part 2 of this article I’ll be dealing with the primary fixed off-grid cooking options available. If you’ve missed part one, be sure to check it out. In it, I had covered the main types of portable off-grid cooking stoves that you should be aware of when looking to equip your 72-hour kit (bug-out bag).

If the grid were to go down tomorrow and you had no access to gas or electricity, would you still be able to heat and cook your food? Do you have a backup plan available that can last you ay least 3 months? If not, then this article will give you a first step in opening your mind to the options available to you.

I’m actually in the same boat as many of you. When it comes to long-term cooking, unfortunately I’m completely dependent upon the grid (dependency…I hate that feeling). This article is actually a result of the research that I’ve done in figuring out a way to still be able to cook meals for my family if the grid were to go down.

Gas & Liquid Fuel Stoves

Unless you have an alcohol still, gas and liquid fuel stoves for long term or indefinite use are obviously not the best option. But for those who can either store large amounts of fuel for the long term or better yet can make it themselves, than these types of stoves are a viable option. Here are some of the choices available:

  • Propane Stoves: propane_grillPropane stoves come in many shapes and sizes — everything from a standard home stove to an outdoor grill. While it provides clean reliable burning the downside is you’ll need to forget about trying to make it yourself. The only option is to store a bunch away. Better check your local zoning laws.
  • Multi-fuel Camp Stoves: coleman_two_burnerAlthough this was covered in the previous article, they are still good options for fixed and long-term cooking. Some of the double-burner camp stoves that are available — while too cumbersome for bugging-out — are perfect for long-term use. And since many will run off of grain alcohol, they are perfect if you can make your own fuel.
  • Marine Diesel Stove/Oven: Typically used on larger boats (as well as RVs) for cooking, marine ovens/stoves are a valid option for the home as well. If you have the ability to store diesel fuel, than these types of stoves/ovens might be a good choice. Be prepared to pay a hefty price though.

Keep in mind with all fuel-based stoves (wood also) that you need to be wary of carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation and are following all of the manufacturers recommendations.

Solar Cooking

300px-Minimum_Solar_Box_Cooker_Photo_small
For those who live in an area with plenty of sunlight, harnessing the power of the sun can be a readily available and effective method of cooking. Solar cookers can cook stews, bake breads, and even fry eggs.

If you want to build your own simple-to-make solar cookers check out this great resource: http://www.solarcooking.org/plans/

Wood Stoves

When it comes to cooking food, wood has been the fuel of choice for millenia. Fortunately, due to modern technology, cooking via wood has come a long way since the basic three-stone fire.

Wood Burning Cook Stove

wood_burning_stoveModern cook stoves serve as dual purpose heating and cooking stoves. They are constructed much like wood heating stoves but are specially designed to focus the heat at particular surface areas for cooking. Some of the higher-end stoves also have ovens for baking and some even have the ability to heat water for your hot-water needs. The newer ones are definitely pricey but I’ve seen many of the older ones selling for under $500 on craigslist in my area.

For more information or if your interested in purchasing one of your own, check out these links:

Rocket Stove

rocket-stoveFor those a bit strapped on cash at the moment but still want an effective form of cooking off-grid, the rocket stove is a perfect choice. Invented by Dr. Larry Winiarski, the rocket stove is a highly-efficient cooking stove that requires very little wood to cook an entire meal. Due to its design that allows for complete combustion, with just a few twigs and sticks you can maintain a hot burning fire that’s super clean and produces practically no smoke.

There are a number of resources online that teach you how to make your own rocket stove for under $20. If you don’t have the time (like me) or paitence you can purchase your own from the Aprovecho center (Winiarski is director of it) through Stovetec.net. Here’s a video demonstrating the StoveTec stove (this is the one I just recently ordered):

Here’s a videos on how to make the stove yourself:

Additional Resources

Here are some additional resources into off-grid cooking options that you can easily build yourself:

Off-Grid Cooking Part 1: Portable Stoves

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Hobo_stove_convection Having the ability to cook your food if you’re forced to travel off-grid or if the grid itself (electricity, gas etc) goes down should be an essential part of your preparations. In this two-part article, I’ll be discussing both portable and fixed off-grid survival cooking options, their pros and cons, and hopefully be able to leave you with a better idea of what would be best for your situation.

The Need for Portable Stoves

An integral part of every preppers bug-out bag (or 3rd tier survival kit) is the ability to cook while on the go. Of course building a campfire is a definite option (since you should have fire making implements with you in your kit anyways) but as I’ve stressed before, redundancy is key and having another way to cook food is ideal. This is where a small portable camp stove comes in handy.

So when, besides camping, would you ever need this type of stove? Well, many different scenarios come to mind, but they all involve one basic condition — you’re away from your home base and do not have access to your fixed-stove options. This could be a forced retreat of your home due to a natural disaster or civil unrest. It may also be as simple as being stranded in your car for a few days until help arrives. Either way, having the option to cook food while on the go or if stranded miles away from home should be on every preppers priority list.

Main Types of Portable Stoves

The three main types of portable stoves are gas/liquid fuel stoves, solid fuel stoves, and wood burning stoves. Even though wood is a solid fuel, for ease of discussion I’ll put it in its own category.

Gas/Liquid Fuel Stoves

While there are many different types of gas/liquid fuel stoves available on the market, the ones I would recommend are the variety that are compact and can burn multiple types of fuel.

primus_omnifuelThe stove that I love is the Primus Omni-Fuel (The MSR Dragonfly is also a good option). Not only does it run on standard disposable LP (liquified petroleum -> aka propane) gas cartridges that you’ll find at most camping/outdoor stores, but if you use the optional fuel bottle it can run on almost any other type of fuel: aviation fuel, white gas, normal unleaded gasoline, diesel, alchohol, and kerosene. This is a definite bonus since disposable LP cartridges aren’t as easy to come by when on the go like the other options.

The benefits to this type of stove is the ease of use, adjustable heat, lightweight design, ability to function in extreme environments, and multitude of available fuels.

Keep in mind, while the stove itself is light, the additional fuel canisters you may want to pack can add up and take up space. Since there are moving parts, they can also get damaged out in the field. And worst of all, when your fuel supply does run out, that $150 stove of yours is about as useful as a poke in the eye. For this reason it’s not the best long-term solution, but for bugging out a short time it’s great.

Solid Fuel Stoves

esbitSimilar to gas/liquid fuel stoves, solid fuel stoves come in many different varieties. The two most common are the alcohol gel (Sterno) stove and the hexamine tablet types (ESBIT stove).

The great benefit of these types of stoves is that the fuel and stove are both very lightweight and cheap. They’re also easy to pack in that they hardly take up any space and since there are no moving parts, they can take a beating and still function.

The downsides are that the heat output is difficult to regulate and they don’t burn as hot as gas/liquid type stoves. Also similar to the gas/liquid stoves when the fuel is out that’s it, hexamine tablets are pretty hard to come by in nature.

Wood Burning Hiking Stoves

Portable wood-burning hiking stoves may be the oldest form of portable cooking stove around. And just like gas, liquid, and solid fuel stoves wood burning hiking stoves come in many different varieties — from the simplest hobo stoves to the more cutting-edge Kelly Kettle.

One stove that I haven’t had the opportunity to test out yet but that I’ve heard great things about is the the Bush Buddy. It’s a more state-of-the-art type of hobo stove that is able to preheat the air coming into the combustion chamber through a double-walled set up. This creates an effective bellow-like system that burns the wood much more efficiently. Here’s a great video review to give you a better idea:

Homemade portable wood stoves — most often referred to as “hobo stoves” — have been commonplace cooking devices for hobos, homeless, and backpackers for years. They are easily fashioned from old tin cans and are surprisingly quite effective for cooking and heating. There are a great number of sites online with various versions of the basic hobo stove that you can learn from.

There are obvious benefits to this type of stove. One of the main ones being that the fuel is free and (depending on the area) widely available. Also, the homemade varieties range from costing nothing to under $10.

The flip side to wood burning stoves is the more skill required to light it. This is especially apparent during wet weather. If you find lighting campfires difficult under optimal conditions, you may want to stay away from these types of stoves until your skill level improves. Keep in mind however that most wood stoves can double as Esbit-type stoves. Taking along some extra Esbit tablets as backup is always a good idea under any conditions.

Conclusion

I hope after reading this you have a better idea of the various portable stoves that are available and which ones might best suit your needs. In the next article I’ll be covering some of the best available options for fixed off-grid cooking options. Stay tuned…

The Ultimate Survival Firearm

Friday, December 11th, 2009

ruger-10-22Part of my tier-2 survival kit (which I keep in my car) is a Ruger 10/22 rifle. From a pure survival perspective (I’m talking wilderness survival not end-of-the-world scenario where you’re fending off looters) I feel a 22 LR rifle (especially the Ruger 10/22) is the ultimate survival firearm. Here are the benefits:

  • It’s super reliable: Whether you’re in an environment that is sandy, cold, hot, dry, or humid the 10/22 can take the stress and keep on shooting. I’ve shot Ruger 10/22s that haven’t been cleaned for over a decade with regular use and it still fires not only reliably but accurately as well.
  • They are cheap: For under $250 you can get yourself a brand-new rifle and for under $200 you can get a great used one.
  • The ammo is dirt cheap: From a price perspective, the cost of 22LR ammunition is almost negligible. Even in the current high-demand environment you can get a box of 550 rounds for around $13! No other ammo can compare.
  • The ammo is light: My bug-out bag contains a box of 550 rounds of 22LR ammunition which is a considerable amount of ammunition and a negligible amount of weight. All very important when mobility is key.
  • They are relatively quiet: When shooting the 22 LR it sounds more like a glorified BB gun then a rifle. This can be a huge advantage if you need a meal and don’t want to attract attention (I also love the crossbow for this reason…more on that in another post). If you want even less sound then be sure to purchase subsonic rounds (these are a bit more expensive).
  • They’re very accurate: If you’re shooting within 100 yards, the 22L rifle is extremely accurate. Perfect for small game.
  • They’re easy to store and maintain: Most 22 LR rifles (like the Ruger 10/22) are very easy to maintain and when broken down they can fit into a bug-out bag without a problem.

Let me reiterate that I do not recommend the 10/22 or any 22 LR rifle as a home defense weapon. For that purpose, there are far better options available like a shotgun, pistol, or larger-caliber semi-auto carbine like an AR-15 or AK.

But with that said, I wouldn’t trade my 10/22 for any other firearm when caught out in the wilds. So what are you waiting for? Go out and get yourself one!