Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Month: January 2010

Berkey Light Water Filter Overview

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Over the past few months I have been putting a lot of thought into the “safe drinking water after a disaster” topic. My personal solution is divided into 3 stages:

Short Term – this is your bottled water. Regardless if its 1 pint plastic bottles, or 55 gallon drums, this is your short term solution.

Mid Term – This is something like a berkey water filter system – where you can take water from a river, lake, pond, or steam, filter it and make it safe to drink.

Long Term – private well. You have your own private water supply of safe drinking water.

For this article we will be discussing the Berkey Light Water Filter, which was supplied by Red Barn Workshop.

Over the past few months I have been seeing people talk about the Berkey line of filters, now I understand what the hype is about. Overall, I am impressed with the unit, how simple it works and how simple the design is.  The filters use gravity to pull the water through them.  This means that no external pressure has to be applied – which is great for a survival situation.  With any pressure system – something is required to supply the pressure, such as a pump, every pressure system has to have some kind of seal to hold the pressure in,,,, this all means there is more stuff to fail and break.  One of the good things about the Berkey water filter system – the only moving part is the faucet.


Urban survival and safe drinking water

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Over the past few weeks I have been putting a lot of thought into the availability of safe drinking water in an urban survival situation. Its not enough to have access to “water”, when its not safe to drink.

Its common knowledge that people require food, water and shelter to live. From those three points it breaks down into sub categories.  Such as what kind of food, what kind of shelter and what kind of water.

I have decided to break my water preps into 3 simple phases based on the amount of safe drinking water you have access to – short term, mid term, long term.

Short term – this is your bottled water. Regardless if its 1 pint plastic bottles, or 55 gallon drums, this is your short term solution.

Why is it short term? Because its in limited supply – sooner or later its going to run out.

Mid Term – This is something like a berkey water filter, something where you can take river, lake or pond water, filter it and make it safe to drink.

The mid term solution does not rely on stockpiling massive amounts of water. You keep a little water at your house, then use the filters to make water from outside sources safe to drink.

Filtration could be either a short or mid term solution – because the filters have a limited life. Even if the filter has a rating of 10,000 gallons, that is still a hard limit.

Long term – Something along the lines of a private well. You have your own private supply of safe drinking water.  Wells have allowed mankind to have safe drinking water for thousands of years. There is no reason why they will not work today.

One of the problems faced in the urban jungle – some cities prohibit citizens from having a private well. If that is the case, then the laws need to be changed.  People should have the right to access the water under their land.

In some areas, such as around chemical plants, the ground water might not be safe to drink. Dumping and leaking of chemicals have contaminated the ground water in places like Port Arthur Texas and Houston Texas.

Over the years I have seen a lot of water storage solutions discussed. Some of those solutions include – cases of bottled water, 35 and 55 gallon drums, water beds, 500 gallon above ground storage tanks, swimming pools, fish tanks, rivers, streams, private wells.

Regardless of the solution, it all goes back to – is the water safe to drink – yes or no? If the answer is no, what is required to make the water safe to drink? Is that solution a permanent solution? Or will it run out, or wear out – like a filter will do?

The next question is – is the water supply a permanent solution? Yes or no?

Bleach or other chemicals – not a permanent solution
Man Made Filters – not a permanent solution
Mechanical Desalination – not a permanent solution

The final goal is to have a permanent solution for safe drinking water.

Please post your comments in the Urban Survival Water Solutions thread of the forum.

Haiti and the 3 day food supply

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On January 12th, 2010 a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit about 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. The Haitians are now 5 days into the disaster, and relief efforts are being stifled by damage done to the cities infrastructure.

If we listen to FEMA, they suggest we keep 3 days of food and water stocked up. We can see through this real life situation, that 3 days worth of food and water is not enough.

Lets take a city like Houston, Texas that has a population of over 2 million people and is spread out over 600 square miles. 600 square miles,,, that is a lot of land. Now, lets take some kind of disaster that damages the local infrastructure – over passes collapse, buildings collapse (which block block major highways), cars and trucks run out of gas which further block the roads and highways,,, there would be no way for relief efforts to reach the inner city.

After a hurricane, major roads might be blocked by fallen trees – which are quickly removed with chainsaws and some sweat. This is in sharp contrast where collapsed buildings and overpasses block the roads – or where the roads no longer exist (such as an overpass).

Without major roads, relief efforts will come to a stand still – just like it has in Haiti. This is why its important for the family unit to have more then just 3 days of food and water.

Step back and take a look at your situation:

  • Where do you live – inner city, rural area, suburbs,,, or somewhere else.
  • If a situation like Haiti happened in your area, would relief efforts be able to reach your family?
  • Would you have access to clean drinking water?
  • Can you cook without electricity?
  • Do you have anyone with special medical needs?

The 3 day food and water supply might seem like a good idea, it might even be a good start, but its not enough. Families should have more like a 1 – 3 months supply of food stocked up, along with some water.

Hybrid Shake Flashlight Review

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One thing about a shake flashlight – you do not have to worry about the batteries going out.  A few days ago I was watching one of those TV shows about survival.  The guy in the show was talking about urban survival in a post apocalyptic world.

While scavenging through a building, the star of the show was talking about his flashlight, which was a maglight that used D sized batteries.   There was a mention of looking out for batteries for the flashlight.  My thought was – why not use a shake flashlight?  That way your not dependent on batteries.

Instead of having to rely on disposable batteries, look into getting a few hand crank – shake flashlights.  That way you do not have to worry about scavenging batteries.

One of the benefits of having shake flashlights at the bug out location, you do not have to worry about the batteries going dead.  While lithium batteries have anywhere from a 10 – 15 year shelf life, you do not have to worry about the batteries in a shake light going dead.

One of the drawbacks to a shake light, you are not going to light up a 10 acre field with it.

Lets say that some kind of long term shtf situation happens, you have a field planted with squash, corn, cucumbers, or spinach, you are not going to be able to use a shake light to look for raiders.  For security uses, something like the Surefire G2x Pro would be a better choice over a shake light.

The shake light would be best suited for using around the house when the power is out, or going to the shed or barn.  The light is not bright enough to blind someone like a tactical light, but is just bright enough so see around the house.  Need to open a #10 can of beef stew, a shake light will provide enough light to get the job done.

Post your comments in the Hybrid Shake Flashlight Review thread of the forums.  Special thanks goes to for supplying the flashlight for this review.

Stockpiling food for SHTF

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There is an interesting thread in the Survivalist Forum about Food Preps. Some of the topics being discussed are stockpiling canned goods, stockpiling dried or vacuum sealed foods, buying MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), canning your own food, stockpiling family sized or #10 cans of food, or something else.

Regardless of how much food you stockpile, its impossible to stockpile enough food for a lifetime.

Here is what my food preps look like:

Canned goods bought from local grocery store
Dried foods – dried beans, dried rice, and the such stored in mylar bags
MREs and Eversafe meals
Stockpiling as much seed as possible – beans, peas, corn, squash, okra, radishes,,, only to name a few.
Food stored in #10 cans
Freeze dried food in pouches with a 7 year life span

Canned goods and dried foods are not a self sustaining food supply – once you eat them, they are gone. You are not going to be able to plant an empty bean can, and expect it to sprout a bean plant; which will grow more canned beans – that is not the way it happens.

Stocking up on canned goods, dried foods, vacuum sealed foods, is a dead end. Regardless of how long your food supply will last – 3 months, 6 months, 8 months, 12 months, its going to come to an end sooner or later.

This is where stockpiling open pollinated seeds comes in. This can give you an unlimited supply of food, if you take care of the plants and seeds. But first, you have to learn how to grow the plants and harvest the seeds.

Go back and take a look at mankind 2,000 years ago. The Romans did not have a china-mart to buy rice or canned beans from. They had farmers that raised their own food.

If a wide spread disaster happens, the only long term food prep option is to have your own seeds to plant your own garden.


Food sources in a post apocalyptic world

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Lets discuss food sources in a post apocalyptic world after SHTF.  Survivalist have a wide range of ideas on how to get food in a post apocalyptic world.  Some of these ideas cover everything from living a hunter-gather lifestyle, to living off of food stocks until society recovers, to farming and gardening.   Lets take a look at some of these ideas and make some comparisons.

The plans that each Survivalist has will vary widely depending on actual experience and training.  The plans range from the very well thought out and tested plans, to spur of the moment ideas.

Lets set the tone for this article – a new virus has developed that has a 90% fatality rate.  This is like what the Black Death was in 1348 – 1350, where 1/3 of Europe died.   Society has broken down to the point where no food or fuel supplies are being shipped.  People will not leave their homes except to find food – which gets more difficult to find.  Finally, people have to do “something” so they do not starve to death.

One survivalist approach is to Bug Out to the wilderness and live off the land – this is also called the “Bug Out Bag” theory.  In the event of a world wide disaster, the survivalist is going to grab their Bug Out Bag, then take their family out to the wilderness to live off the land.

This is reminiscent of prehistoric man living a hunter-gather subsistence lifestyle. There are several problems with this situation:

  • There is no support chain – if you need help, your own your own.
  • Very few people have the skills to live a hunter-gather lifestyle.
  • People have difficulty adjusting to sudden changes in their lifestyle.
  • Deforestation has destroyed a lot of native edible plants.
  • A lot of wild edible plants are seasonal.
  • Unsafe drinking water – people that adhere to the Bug Out Bag theory, underestimate the effects of water borne pathogens, as their primary source of water will be from streams, lakes or rivers.
  • At the mercy of the weather – rain or shine, hot or cold, your just gonna have to tough it out.

To a lot of people, these points do not matter. If Homo Erectus, Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon and early Homo Sapiens could survive for tens of thousands of years with simple stone tools, then so can they.

Bug out bag theorist forget – once agriculture was developed, the hunter-gather lifestyle was abandoned. Why expend so much energy hunting and gathering food, when it can be grown?


Maxpedition Falcon-II and Pygmy Falcon-II

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When looking for a daypack, or lightweight pack for an overnight trip, there are 2 packs that should be seriously considered – and that is the Maxpedition Falcon-II and Pygmy Falcon-II. This is not about which pack is the better between the two, but which one will suite your needs the best.

Each pack has something different to offer.  So lets do an overview of each pack, look at what they have to offer, then compare tht to what the needs are.

Lets start out with a basic overview of the Maxpedition Falcon-II and Pygmy Falcon-II

Now lets move onto the details of each pack.


Example of a Personal Survival Kit

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A Personal Survival Kit is a kit that has been customized to what your personal needs are. The kit can be customized for urban survival, hiking and camping, or included in your get home bag. For backpacking, these kits are great for organizing your smaller items- such as extra batteries, memory cards, tape, pencil or pen, and paper. For urban survival, you can keep most of the same examples as for backpacking, but include some street maps, phone numbers, USB jump drive,,, and whatever else you want.

For this example we have included:

  • Empty plastic box that used to be a first aid
  • 1 gallon plastic bag – that can double as a canteen
  • Water Purification Tablets from
  • Lighter
  • Pencil or pen – carpenters pencil would be best, as you can shave off the wood to help build a fire.
  • Tape – for closing a wound and for taping notes on doors
  • Multi-tool
  • Hank Crank Flashlight from EDC Depot – that way you do not have to worry about batteries
  • Paper – for making notes, diary or leaving notes for other people
  • MRE accessory pack – this contains toilet paper, chewing gum, moist towelette, salt, pepper – all in a convenient sealed pack.
  • First aid kit from an Altoids tin – this contains pain killers, hand sanitizer, allergy tablets and super glue.  The allergy tablets are important for people who are allergic to bee stings or other insect bites.
  • USB drive – include digital maps, phone numbers, digital survival manuals, copies of important insurance papers, contact information,,,, anything else you can think of.

People that live in cold weather climates might want to include a space blanket. Maybe include some dryer lint and a flint steel for starting a fire.

Please post your comments in the Survival Kit thread of the Survivalist Forums.

2012 and extinctions every 27,000 years

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Before we begin, there is one issue that needs to be addressed – and that is the so called “scientific community” not being able to agree when early human species have gone extinct.  So look at this article as opinion and not as fact.

In December 2012 there is supposed to be a “galactic alignment” – where the sun aligns with the center of the universe. Most scientist say its not going to be a big deal. Ok, thats fine. Now lets go back in time 27,000 years and take a look at what was going on.

Around 27,000 years ago, 4 species of “people” roamed the earth – Homo Erectus, Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon and Homo Sapiens. Only one species is still alive today – Homo Sapiens – the modern human race.

Homo Erectus: The first fossils records of Homo Erectus date to around 1.8 – 3 million years ago. According to some sources, some Homo Erectus fossils date to as early as 30,000 years ago.

This means that Homo Erectus was around for at least 1.77 million years? What caused a species that was around so long to suddenly go extinct?

Neanderthal: The first records of Neanderthal date to around 300,000 years ago, and suddenly disappear around 30,000 years ago. This 30,000 year date is disputed. Some scientist think the Neanderthal was around as recent as 10,000 – 15,000 years ago.

What caused a species to disappear after being around for 270,000 years?

Cro-Magnon: The first records for Cro-Magnon show up around 30,000 years ago, and then just disappear.

Homo Sapiens: We’re still here, or else you would not be reading this.

What do Homo Erectus, Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon have in common? The extinction dates for all three species were put at around 27,000 – 30,000 years ago. The same date as the coming galactic alignment in 2012, which only happens every 27,000 years.

Now let back up to 54,000 years ago:

Why 54,000 years ago, because 27,000 + 27,000 = 54,000.

Hoodoo Mountain in northwestern British Columbia, Canada erupted 54,000 years ago.
The last glacial period last from 110,00 years ago – 10,000 years ago.

Lets do some math:

110,000 – 10,000 = 100,000.

100,000 / 2 = 50,000 years ago

54,000 years ago is only 4,000 years from being the middle of the last ice age.  This means that 2 of these galactic alignments was in the middle of the last ice age.

Genetic Adam lived in Africa around 59,000 years ago.  Just a few years from 2 galactic alignments ago.

One of the “Out of Africa theories” says that Homo Sapiens left Africa around 50,000 years ago – which is around the middle of the last ice age and 2 galactic alignments ago.

Lets review:

1 galactic alignment ago – around that same time 2 – 3 species of early humans went extinct. Depending on where you get your information from, 3 species of early humans went extinct – that is “if” the Neanderthal died off around 27,000 – 30,000 years ago, or 10,000 years ago.

2 galactic alignments ago – our planet was in the middle of an ice age, Homo Sapiens were on the move. One of the big questions is “why” did Homo Sapien move out of Africa when the rest of the world was in the middle of an ice age.

Please post your comments in this thread of the 2012 survival forum.

Vargo triad titanium alcohol stove review

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Back in my teenage years (1982 – 1986), when I was camping in the woods and marshes of Southeast Texas, a typical meal on a camping trip was some Wolf brand chili, vienna sausages,,,,, canned goods which were bulky and heavy. This was mostly because the cans were opened, then warmed up over the coals of the camp fire.

In the 1990s I was getting a little tired of packing cans in and out of the woods – and so were my camping buddies. One of the guys in the group bought a single burner stove that used a 1 pound propane cylinder. It was a trade off, the weight of the propane bottle replaced the weight of the cans. But now we could carry dried foods, such as noodles.

To be honest, the weight of the propane cylinders got a little “too” heavy and have certain disadvantages – such as the 1 pound not being able to be refilled. Once the propane has been used, most of the time it has to be thrown away. Some people refill their own bottles,,, but not everyone has the ability to do so.

The single burner propane stove might be fine for short hikes, or at a park. But on those 6+ mile hiking/camping trips we need something lighter. Over the past few years the single burner stove has been replaced with military Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). The MRE heater is a nice lightweight option, but it only works with MRE entrees, and only works once.

We need an option that is lightweight, reusable, and can heat up different types of food – unlike the MRE. This is where the Vargo Triad Titanium Alcohol Stove comes into play.


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