fbpx

The four tips for building your self-defense system will ensure that your system is ready when your life depends on it. There are many videos on YouTube® that one can find about the various aspects of self-defense. A growing body of work is on building active-shooter kits or bags, setting up body armor, or building a firearms range bag. My analysis of these presentations is that they fall short in telling the viewer about some fundamental aspects of building your firearms-related kit. These presentations assume that the viewer is already familiar with the fundamental elements of self-defense, CCW, and the law. Therefore, we will cover these essential aspects of building your system.

1. Familiarity with Your Self-Defense System

The most basic level of building a self-defense system with firearms is Familiarity. Familiarity requires training and experience. An important question to ask yourself is, how familiar are you with some firearm or tactical gear that interests you?

Moreover, becoming familiar with your self-defense system means to train repeatedly with it. If you do not regularly train with your equipment and gear, you will fail to employ your system in an emergency.

For example, how efficient are you at pulling out that AR pistol from your deployment gear bag in the trunk or back seat of your car during the mad-minute of violent contact with a  criminal? It is nice to be able to create a well-equipped active-shooter bag. It is quite another at being able to employ those tools in less than thirty seconds under duress. The accomplishment of this essential aspect of your system requires repeatedly training to use it in a stress-induced training environment.

2. Practicality of Employment of Your Self-Defense System

Your self-defense system should be built on the principle of practicality. Practicality will influence the kinds of gear that will become part of your system. Many aspects of urban survival and preparedness revolve around having tactical equipment. Unfortunately, many do not understand such gear’s purpose or how to use it properly within its designed purpose. Thus, a key question is whether or not a piece of equipment is practical for you. For example, if you do not understand how to use, wear, and set up body armor, you may want to consider a different option.

3. Accessibility of Your Self-Defense System

One of the more essential considerations for your system is accessibility in an emergency. Some people will recommend nicely outfitted bags or backpacks to be stored behind the seat or trunk box of their truck or in the trunk of their car. However, how accessible is that gear in an emergency?

There is a reason that law enforcement professionals carry rifles or shotguns in a rack in their cruisers and wear body armor under their uniforms. There is not enough time when you are being engaged with gunfire to fumble around with your gear. Therefore, ensure that your system is easily accessible in an emergency.

4. Other Considerations Regarding Your Self-Defense System

Additionally, there are many aspects to consider when preparing to defend yourself with your gear. These considerations are: understanding the mad minute and violence of action, the psychological effects of using deadly force, understanding the effects of weapons ammunition, and understanding the law and your rights to protect yourself.

A. Reacting to Contact

Finally, as you build your firearm-based system, you will need to be proficient in reacting to contact using your gear. In other words, you should be skilled at reacting to life-threatening situations when engaged by a criminal. Again, this means training regularly with your equipment. The U.S. Army has a saying, “train as you fight.” Thus, train with your gear as you would use it during a sudden, violent encounter. Therefore, use your gear in the training scenarios that will simulate situations that you are most likely to face.

B. The Mad Minute

Our previous article on staying safe this summer briefly mentioned the mad minute and the psychological aspects of combat. It is one thing to train yourself by shooting at paper targets and plywood cutouts. By contrast, it is quite another matter when shooting at an actual human being. In the mad minute, the violence of action will render you incapable of thinking through the situation if you are not mentally and physically prepared for such an encounter. Those that adjust quickly will be able to shoot, move, and communicate more effectively in a life-threatening situation. Thus, you must train in such a way that stress and surprise develop your reactions to violent encounters.

C. The Psychological Effects

The psychological effects of using deadly force against another human being will change you in ways that you will not understand. The leadership of the United States military continues to seek ways to mitigate the psychological effects of combat on soldiers. The taking of another person’s life should not be glorified or admired in any manner. Thus, your mental and emotional health will gain strength by understanding the psychological effects that you may cause yourself when preparing to use a firearm. Are you ready for that outcome?

D. The Law

The legal aspects are just as important as the others mentioned above. Despite how one may feel about the law, second amendment rights, or self-defense, the law governs how and when it is legal to defend yourself with a firearm.

As you build your system, it is imperative that your understanding of the law reflects how you will employ your gear in an emergency. If you know yourself, your equipment, and the law, you will increase your chances of successfully defending yourself in an emergency.

Final Thoughts

Your firearm-based self-defense system is an integral part of preparing for an emergency. There are cost-to-benefit considerations to think about when attempting to build such a system. The system that you create for yourself should be highly individualized. Furthermore, if you cannot afford the time or money to train regularly, it is an indicator that you should be focusing on the creation of your self-defense system in other areas until you can prepare adequately. Remember, there are many components to building a sound self-defense system. It will take time to create one, but it will be worth it when you need it in an emergency.

 

How to build a personal urban survival kit will add flexibility to your overall survival and preparedness foundation. We are witnessing an increasing amount of uncertainty in our daily lives. The events of recent months and weeks indicate that this trend may continue.  Therefore, it is wise to develop and maintain a personal urban survival kit to store in your Everyday Carry (EDC) bag or pack. Your addressing the following areas in your kit will give you a good foundation from which to build and improve your kit.

Preliminary Considerations

It is essential to think about what you want for a survival kit before you begin to build one; this is true for any kit. Also, you will want to consider the size of your kit. Some people consider an entire backpack to be their urban survival kit. Others think a kit that is no larger than an Altoids® tin to be their survival kit. So, you must have some practical idea of what you want for a personal urban survival kit. I am recommending that you consider a small-to-medium pouch, such as a 6 x 6 MOLLE pouch or container, such as the GSI® Glacier Stainless 1.1 L Boiler Cup, as a guide for keeping your kit small and compact.

Cutting Device

The first item that should be in your urban survival kit is a cutting device. A fixed-blade or pocket knife is the most common way to address your cutting needs. However, there some other options to think about when choosing a cutting instrument for your kit. A good option is a multitool.  One of the best multitools on the market for this purpose is the Leatherman® Rebar or Sidekick.

Another option for a cutting device would be a good Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. They come as a more traditional pocket knife configuration. However, they still are considered a multitool. One of the best Swiss Army Knives for an urban survival kit is the Huntsman version. The knife has over ten tools that give you a wide range of employment options in an emergency.

Fire Making Device

Fire making is a core element in survival preparation. The second item to have in your kit is one that allows you to make an emergency fire. The best thing for this task is a simple Bic® lighter. However, it is wise to have a second option for making a fire. The UCO® Survival Fire Striker or NATO weatherproof matches also are good options.

Furthermore, having a good tinder source is the second part of your fire-making option. The best tinder source for making fire is the UST® WetFire™ cubes. They will light on fire even if they are wet. Another option for tinder is cotton tinder tabs.

Food Procurement Tools

Food procurement in an urban or suburban setting is different than obtaining food in the wilderness. You will have to muster some creativity in this area. Your food procurement tools might consist of carrying cash or change, an energy bar or bag of trail mix, or keeping a small pry bar or lock pick set. I recommend keeping an energy bar, granola bar, or some trail mix in your kit.

Water Procurement

Your ability to obtain water in an emergency in an urban or suburban environment also will require some creativity on your part. Therefore, it is wise to carry a sillcock key in your kit. The sillcock key will allow you access to water on the side of an office building or gas station. It is also wise to carry a LifeStraw® or Aquatabs® to filter and purify water from questionable sources.

Emergency Shelter

The kit that I am recommending will not be large enough to carry a tarp, tent, or sleeping bag. Thus, you will have to exercise some ingenuity when it comes to shelter. In an urban environment, a shelter can be an abandoned building, garage, or overpass. Remember that your clothing is your first layer of shelter. It is advisable to carry an emergency blanket or bivy sack as part of your emergency kit. These items may have to be carried separately from your kit conveyance, such as in a trousers cargo pocket.

Illumination Device

The urban and suburban areas will have plenty of illumination as a general rule. However, if the electricity is out because a transformer or relay station is out, then having an excellent illumination device is essential. I recommend that you carry a headlamp in your bag or pack. Additionally, it is helpful to keep a micro-flashlight in your emergency kit conveyance. One of the best micro-flashlights on the market is the LRI® Photon Freedom LED Keychain Micro-Light with Covert Nose. We recommend that you get a microlight with a red light to help maintain your night vision.

Signal or Communication Device

A question that arises in an emergency is how you are going to signal for help or communicate with first responders. Our article on the PACE plan for communication will assist your efforts in this area. Your micro-flash light or headlamp can function as a signaling device at night. Your smartphone, with a charge, can be a source of communication. However, a great daytime signaling device is a signal mirror. A small signal mirror will be a vital asset in your kit. Additionally, you will want to add a writing instrument and some paper.

Navigation Device

Most wilderness survival kits have a button or wristband compass. Navigating through a city requires something more than a compass. It would be helpful to carry a folding, laminated map of your town if one is available. In a similar way to the emergency bivy, you might need to store a map in your bag or backpack separate from your emergency kit pouch. Yet, it is essential to have a map available for you to reference at all times.

Medical Considerations

Medical care in an emergency is a universal concern whether you are in a city or the deep woods. It is advisable to carry some first aid items in your kit. A good start for addressing these needs will be an assortment of band-aids, triple antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, a triangular bandage, and Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT).

Remember that your emergency kit is a last-ditch tool to enable your survival. Therefore, the first-aid items that you place in your emergency kit are not meant to be a fully stocked first-aid kit. A larger first-aid kit should already be in your bag or backpack.

Personal Security Considerations

A final consideration for your urban emergency kit will be personal security. One thing that could be part of your emergency kit is a pepper spray canister, personal emergency alarm, or stun gun. The size of your kit will determine what you will place in it to address your security concerns.

As before, remember that your emergency kit is a last-ditch source to enable your survival. The intent is not to build a comprehensive kit. Therefore, avoid the temptation to put too many items in it.

The Carrying Mechanism

The carrying mechanism that you choose in which to store your items should fit your needs. A common mistake is to buy the pouch or box before the items have been purchased. Therefore, assemble the individual pieces before you attempt to buy something with which to carry them. You should try to keep the kit as small as possible while maintaining its practicality for use in your situation.

As you consider your carrying mechanism, there are many options on the market. One of the best ways to keep most of your stuff is the 5.11 MOLLE 6 x 6 or General Purpose Pouch or similar product. One drawback is that these kinds of pouches are not entirely waterproof.

Another consideration would be a one or two-liter dry sack. Yet, one drawback with a dry bag is that you can not carry it on your belt or the cargo pocket of your trousers. The Maxpedition® ERZ or Beefy Organizer also are good options to consider. So, you will have to experiment to see what works best for you.

Final Thoughts

A personal urban emergency kit is a highly individualized kit. It is up to you to assemble it in such a way that it is practical for your needs. There is a tendency to overfill the kit to address every possible emergency scenario. Your emergency or EDC bag or backpack is designed to address the broader concerns and contains more robust survival items.

Remember, your emergency kit is not an exhaustive solution in an emergency. Therefore, as you assemble the items for your kit, ensure that you are entirely comfortable with using them for their intended purpose.

The five tips for personal security this summer will assist in your avoiding dangerous situations. The recent events of the last several weeks highlights the need to protect yourself. Those in the personal security professions will advise that personal protection requires a good plan. The rise of criminal and violent activity means that you can not take your security for granted. For example, many public parking areas post signs about not leaving valuables in your car.

As such, many people are obtaining a carry-concealed weapons (CCW) license and carrying a handgun. However, there is a psychology that comes with carrying a concealed firearm and being ready, willing, and able to employ it in an emergency. The analysis of military combat reveals that sudden, violent, and intense engagements can mentally paralyze even the best trained individuals. There is a name for this kind of sudden threat to your safety, it is called the mad minute.

Therefore, as you consider your personal security protection plan, you must account for situations that possibly will catch you by surprise. Military ambushes are an example of such situations. Most violent crime is perpetrated in less than one minute by catching the victim by surprise. Consequently, violent crime should be considered as a kind of ambush. These six recommendations can help reduce your risk for being a victim of a crime or violent activity

1. Vary Movements and Routines

The first way you can help increase your safety posture is to vary your movements and routines. It is helpful to leave at differing times and returning home if you commute to work. Criminals conduct reconnaissance on their targets. Many look for targets of opportunity.

Consequently, if you make it more difficult for them to assess your vulnerability, they will move on to another target. Thus, if you are a person who habitually leaves for work at 6:30 am, you might want to leave earlier or later by ten minutes every few days.

In the military, there is a saying, “Don’t be a creature of habit.” The saying is applies to movement security and personal protection. Habit and routine can guarantee your being noticed by people that may have criminal designs against you.

The principle, here, also applies to the routes that you take to go places. Leave for work using one route, but use a different route to get home. If you like to shop at certain grocery store, then vary where you park and the time of day that you shop. If you have to go downtown in your city, then vary how you get to the location and how you depart. Most importantly, do not loiter; get in, get out of your location.

2. Do Not Stand Out In A Crowd

Another technique to help increase your security and protection is by not standing out in a crowd. Some of the videos being posted of people being attacked by rioters show that they are standing out. The victims are wearing contrasting clothing, opposite colors, or they are by themselves. Some are so bold as to enter a hostile crowd wearing provocative clothing. That is not the best way to stay safe.

The military uses the acronym BLISS to help servicemembers to keep a low-profile. The survival and prepping communities call it being a grey man. BLISS stands for (B)blend, (L)low silhouette, (I)irregular shape, (S)small, (S) secluded location.

It is hard in an urban or suburban environment to employ this acronym literally. Yet, the concepts it reflects should be part of your security plan. You should blend in to your environment. It is essential to keep a low-silhouette. A person can keep their profile or outline from looking symmetrical by the way you wear your clothing. Your keeping to a small or secluded location comes with using building shadows or crowds of people to hide your movements from criminals targeting you.

3. Avoid Potential Danger Areas

The third way you can help increase your security this summer is by avoiding potential danger areas. Your avoiding potentially dangerous areas in your town or city will keep you safe in most situations. The most effective way to do this is to pay attention to the traffic alerts in your area.

Additionally, criminal and violent activity tends to be in certain areas of every urban or suburban area. For example, there are neighborhoods in Los Angeles that are well-known for gang activity. Consequently, the only people who enter these areas are those that live in those neighborhoods. Therefore, avoid areas as much as possible that have a reputation for criminal or violent activity.

4. Strength In Numbers

Your safety considerations should be one of moving with another person or in groups. The old saying that there is strength in numbers applies to the current climate of uncertainty. The U.S. Army teaches soldiers to have a battle buddy when going somewhere. The use of this concept keeps the likelihood of a problem to a minimum.

For example, many ladies like to go shopping with their friends. As things begin to develop in our nation, it would be wise to make this practice a habit rather than an occasional pastime.

5. Maintain Situational Awareness

The key to maintaining personal security at all times is maintaining situational awareness at all times. It is not only true when you are planning on a day out running errands, it is also true as you are moving from your car to a store, walking in your downtown area, or going on a trip.

When I was in Germany in 1990, there were times when we were told to avoid going downtown because of anti-nuclear weapons demonstrations. The purpose was to help U.S. servicemembers from getting caught up in a potentially violent protest.

The war on terrorism brought a new twist to maintaining personal security. It is important to drive and walk with a sense of staying sensitive to your environment. In Europe, we had to drive in such a way as to keep aware of people getting too close or attempting to block us in at a stop. The recent events where freeways were blocked by protestors means having an alternate route to access in an emergency. The ability to do that requires being situationally aware at all times.

Final Thoughts

Your personal security is up to you. It is essential that you are proactive and not reactive when it comes to your security planning. Understand the threats around you and have a plan to reduce their risk to you and your family. Criminals tend to seek out those they perceive are weak, unprepared, or vulnerable. These five recommendations are not a comprehensive set of techniques to guarantee your safety. However, they will increase your chances of ensuring your personal safety and those who are with you.

Five EDC considerations for the Summer that can help address your seasonal requirements. Summer is upon us. The current circumstances may hinder us from being outdoors as much as we prefer. However, one this is for sure, we do leave our homes daily for various reasons. The EDC gear we carry is as relent now as it was previously. Summer brings particular concerns and risks to mitigate, such as hydration or heat-related injuries. The following items can help you with your seasonal EDC loadout.

1. Outdoor Element Firebiner EDC Carabiner

One of the first items that you may want to consider is the Firebiner sold at the Sigma 3 Survival store. The Firebiner is a carabiner with an enhancement that will function as a multipurpose item. This carabiner has a spark wheel built into it. As such, it will give you another option for starting a fire in an emergency. I carry a large carabiner on the outside of my backpack to hold my gloves or headgear when it is not needed. The large size of the Firebiner will also function in this manner. Therefore, consider adding some options to your EDC with a Firebiner.

2. Folding Lock Pick Pocket Set

The second consideration to add to your EDC loadout is the Folding Lock Pick Pocket set, also sold at the Sigma 3 Survival store. The urban upheaval of recent weeks indicates that having this option available is important. Many people have to interact with an urban environment, even if your residence in a rural area. Therefore, you could find yourself stuck in a downtown area of your city in an emergency. How many people found themselves stuck on the streets as their way home was suddenly blocked or interrupted by civil unrest? A pocket-sized lock picking set would be handy if you had to make a quick escape into a locked building. Thus, it would be wise to include this small tool in your EDC bag.

3. Buck Knives® 112 Slim Select Pocket Knife

Survival experts acknowledge that having some form of a cutting device is essential to enable survival in an emergency. The kinds and types of knives that one may carry are subject to local, state, or federal laws. Therefore, the knife one carries daily should comply with the law. One pocket knife to consider is the Buck Knives® 112 Slim Select Pocket Knife. The 112 Slim fits will in your EDC bag or your pocket. These knives are excellent for the urban or suburban environment. They will also come in handy as a backup or camp knife in a wilderness environment.

Buck Knives describes this pocket knife as follows:

A new EDC based on an American classic, the 112 Ranger, the 112 Slim possesses the same traditional features but sports a more modern look. The deep carry pocket clip is added based on the overwhelming customer demand and allows for quick and easy access in any situation. With the easy one-handed opening, the 420HC stainless steel blade provides supreme edge retention and is finished with Buck’s Advanced Edge2x Blade Technology. The 7.25” knife folds down to a convenient 4.25” when closed. To decrease the weight and thickness, the heavy bolster and handles are replaced with a lightweight molded nylon while still maintaining the same quality and rigidity of the original 112. Available in four colors; red, blue, black, and chartreuse.

4. Ballistic Panel or Insert

We have seen in recent weeks how quickly civil unrest can arise. Moreover, we also have seen in past years how a lone shooter can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting crowd or public event. As life becomes more uncertain, it would be prudent to consider adding a bulletproof panel or insert for your EDC bag or backpack. Several companies are manufacturing ballistic panels of various sizes. Safe Life Defense® and Bullet Blocker® are two companies that offer high quality, Level III ballistic inserts for your backpack. The addition of a ballistic panel in your backpack will give you a measure of safety instead of some type of body armor. Additionally, a ballistic insert in your EDC bag or pack will help you maintain a low profile while giving some protection against gunshots.

5. EuroSCHIRM® Automatic Dainty® Umbrella

The fifth consideration for your EDC summer loadout would be a quality umbrella that can fit in your bag or backpack. An umbrella can give you shade from the heat or protect you from the rain. One of the best umbrellas on the market is the Automatic Dainty by EuroSHIRM®. EuroSHIRM® is a German company. As such, they offer high-quality backpacking umbrellas that would be practical in any situation. These umbrellas come in a variety of solid colors and patterns. They also provide one with UV protection and one with light reflection. The summertime is no stranger to afternoon thundershowers. Moreover, we are in the hurricane season. A durable, high-quality compact umbrella is a wonderful consideration for your summer EDC needs.

Final Thoughts

Summertime is an excellent time of the year. People tend to get out more in the Summer than at any other time of the year. The gear you carry every day will help make the summer season more enjoyable. As you venture out this Summer, your EDC gear should address your seasonal concerns. It is wise to up our game, as well, when it comes to personal protection and safety. Our EDC gear can help us or hinder us in that effort. These five considerations for EDC gear will ensure that your summer loadout is taken to a higher level of effectiveness in an emergency.

Three basic firearms to include in your security plan will help enable the safety of your family, property, or business. Our U.S. Constitution affords us the right to own firearms as well as all the things related to them. It was clear from our colonial period that one’s basic survival depended on some firearm. Thus, the musket rifle has been one of the many symbols that identify the liberty that we enjoy. Recent events reveal the importance of a home and business security plan that includes a firearm. American’s realize this as reports of soaring firearm and ammunition sales indicate. Therefore, it is only wise to include firearms as part of your security plan.

Firearms come in many forms of handguns and rifles with many applications such as military, hunting, or law enforcement. One should not purchase a firearm haphazardly. It would be best if you kept only those weapons that you are familiar with shooting, cleaning, and maintaining. Admittedly, some firearms are easier to maintain than others. If you are a novice about guns and handling them, get some training by a professional before even thinking about settling on a particular firearm. Equally, one should have some understanding of ammunition and its effects. For example, you should know the difference between a ball-round and a hollow point, or rifle ammunition from shotgun ammunition.

1. Pistol

Your first consideration for a firearm should be a pistol. Pistols often are called handguns. Handguns feature two types of configuration: semi-automatic and revolver. Handguns also come in two types of action: single action and double action. For example, my Beretta® 92FS is a double-action, semi-automatic pistol. My father’s Ruger® Blackhawk .357 is a single-action revolver.

Most experts will advise that a revolver is the best handgun for home defense. A revolver is not subject to jamming as semi-automatic pistols are known to do. Therefore, they will fire when needed in an emergency. One drawback with revolvers is they are limited in the amount of ammunition they can hold. Moreover, a common mistake that people make with ammunition is they try to use .45 ACP in a .45 caliber revolver. Not good. That is why it is essential to know ammunition as well as handguns. Nevertheless, a pistol of any type should be part of your basic suite of firearms for your security plan.  Additionally, ensure that you get your conceal carry license before carrying your pistol.

2. Rifle

A second firearm consideration for your security plan should be a rifle. Rifles in most states are not under the same kinds of laws that govern the purchase of handguns, like 90-day waiting periods. There are many styles of rifles. Rifles come in two common types: bolt-action and semi-automatic.

A bolt-action rifle characterizes the basic big-game hunting rifle. You have to manually pull the bolt back and push it forward to place a bullet in the firing position. A semi-automatic rifle puts the cartridge into the firing position through the automatic action between the magazine and bolt. These are called semi-automatic because you get one shot with one pull of the trigger. However, you do not have to load each bullet manually as you would with a bolt-action rifle. The classic Colt® AR-15 (M-16/4) rifle is representative of a semi-automatic rifle.

Therefore, before deciding on a particular rifle, have a good idea of why you want that specific firearm. For example, do you want your rifle for hunting game, protecting your storefront, or both? The answer to that question will influence what kind of rifle you will purchase.

3. Shotgun

The final consideration for a firearm in your security plan is a shotgun. Shotguns have been around for many years. There are two basic kinds of shotguns: single barrel and double barrel. Shotguns come in three types of action: manual, pump, and semi-automatic. The manual, double-barrel shotgun is more well-known because of the western movies. A pump shotgun probably is the second most recognizable weapon due to the police and gangster movies. Shotguns have several calibers of ammunition that they fire. The most common ammunition is the 12-gauge, followed by the 20.

The primary purpose of a shotgun is hunting fowl. Shotguns are great for this purpose because they fire small balls or pellets in a circular pattern. These shot pellets are small enough that they will not damage the meat on a duck, goose, or pheasant. Many poor people in rural areas own shotguns because they are an inexpensive firearm. Shotguns serve a dual function in rural communities: hunting and home security. Yet, in recent years the cost of shotguns has gone up with their increasing sophistication and popularity. Just like with the other two considerations, ensure you know why you want a shotgun and how it will function in your security plan.

Final Thoughts

These three kinds of firearms (pistol, rifle, shotgun) serve as a foundation for your security plan. We acknowledge that there is more to consider when developing a security plan for your home or business. Local, state, and federal laws need to be understood with an assessment of how they will influence your strategy. These factors require you to develop a risk mitigation plan to incorporate into how you go forward with your plan. The firearms that you choose to be part of your security apparatus should be chosen with care. In an emergency, you do not want to be fumbling around in the dark, trying to disengage the safety. Most criminal activity that results in firearm employment lasts less than a minute in most cases. You do not have the luxury of learning about your weapon at the same time you are attempting to protect your home or business. Therefore, choose wisely, get trained, practice gun employment, and regularly clean and maintain your firearms. They will help you keep your home or business secure in an emergency.

There are 12 tips to become more independent. The latest global crisis has exposed many to the reality of being dependent on others for their basic needs. Many in the prepping and survival community already know about the need to prepare for unforeseen circumstances and being independent. Yet, you do not know what you will need until a situation arises. For example, the current crisis exposed everyone to the need to keep N95 masks. However, getting through the next crisis may require you to store an abundance of an item that you never knew that you would need. The x-factor of preparing for an emergency is anticipating the resources necessary to endure it. Here are twelve practical tips to help you satisfy your basic needs and become more independent.

1. Plant a Garden

My maternal grandfather was a twenty-something during the Great Depression. He grew up on a farm in Oklahoma. He moved to California after his father died at an early age from tuberculosis. He always advised us to grow our food in some way. He practiced what he preached. My grandfather always was growing some sort of vegetables, whether in his apartment or the backyard of his home.

One of the best ways to start growing vegetables is by using planter boxes, pots, or troughs. The hobby of Square-Foot Gardening is an excellent way to begin this process. Small, inexpensive plastic planting pots can be purchased at your local nursery or hardware store. If you have a little more money to spend, you can obtain plastic planting troughs. Additionally, a great way to start growing your fruits and vegetables is with the use of an AeroGarden®.

2. Get Out of Debt and Save Money

Another piece of wisdom imparted to us from my grandfather was to save money and never purchase anything you can not pay for completely. In essence, he advocated paying cash for everything, including a new car. However, times have changed since his passing on in death. The cost of living forces many to finance many things that our grandparents would never do. A different aspect of our current era is the credit card. Yet, the advice of my grandfather would be the same as that advocated by the finance experts today; get out of debt and save your money. Additionally, the saving of money does not necessarily imply keeping it in the bank if you are afraid of a bank run in an economic crisis.

3. Learn To Make or Repair Clothing

A pleasant surprise of the current crisis is the rise of the home sewing projects to create cloth face masks. However, sewing has waned in popularity in the last few decades. Yet, as we have learned, there are still many people who sew. One way to be more independent is to learn how to make and repair your clothes. The Mennonites and Amish communities do this as part of their culture. You can help yourself by employing this habit as a way of limiting your dependence on the modern supply chain and boxed stores.

4. Keep A Freezer Stocked

A stand-alone freezer is an excellent help in keeping your food stocks ready to go when a crisis happens. Many people who live in apartments and condominiums have limited space to hold a freezer. However, with some innovation, you can keep a small freezer in an apartment or condo. Those who live in subdivisions can maintain a large freezer in the garage. One limitation of freezers is electricity. If the electrical grid goes down, the food stored in a freezer will soon become compromised. Therefore, there is a risk-reward analysis that one must do when determining if keeping a freezer is suitable for your situation.

5. Learn To Maintain Your Home and Property

Your home is your castle. It is also your primary means for shelter in a crisis. The same is true for apartments and condominiums. Therefore, one way to be more independent is to learn to maintain your home and property. Many apartment complexes have limitations on residents making repairs. However, home repair is still an excellent skill to develop even if you are under some limits where you live.

It is a good thing to become a handyman around your dwelling place. The skill will save you money. Additionally, it will help you to be less dependent on outside services except for the most critical aspects concerning your home.

6. Keep Chickens and Goats

The keeping of small livestock such as chickens and goats has been part of human experience for thousands of years. We know that local ordinances have rules concerning the keeping of chickens or goats. Therefore, we recommend that you exercise a bit of wisdom about what to keep. For example, in my city, you can keep hens but not roosters due to the maintaining of a noise ordinance in the suburbs.

Your keeping of chickens helps with supplying with meat and eggs. Goats provide a supplement for cow’s milk as well as beef. There is a cost, as well as a maintenance consideration for keeping chickens or goats. Some homesteaders like to keep rabbits for meat if they are not able to maintain goats.

7. Learn To Safely Harvest Water Sources

Water is a core resource to obtain and maintain for long-term sustainability and your independence. The harvesting of rainwater is controversial in some places and can be illegal. Thus, exercise some wisdom about setting up rain-catch barrels.

However, there are other ways to gain and maintain drinkable water sources that will help you to become less reliant upon the grocery store to provide such resources.

8. Reuse and Repurpose Items

The average home has many things that can be reused or repurposed. Many of our containers are made of plastic, which makes them candidates for reusing or repurposing. Additionally, there are many metal containers in our homes. For example, my paternal grandfather liked to reuse his empty metal coffee can to store his medications. He would take the can with him on trips when he and my grandmother would come to visit us. There are many other examples one could list on ways to reuse or repurpose the various things in our homes.

9. Learn How To Make Soap and Candles

A dying skill in our society is the ability to make soap and candles. The activity has to become more than just an occasional hobby. Candles allow you to have light when the electricity is down, and batteries are dead.  Soap is an essential item for maintaining personal hygiene and home sanitation. If you can learn to make soap (bar, liquid, powder) in quantity, then this is another item you do not have to worry about purchasing at the store.

10. Learn How To Use and Maintain Firearms

There is more to having firearms than just point and shoot. Maintenance and repair of weapons are critical to keeping firearms in your home. Gun safety and security is another vital component of owning firearms. Recent events have demonstrated that keeping firearms is a sure way to maintaining the security of your home and property when law enforcement is unable to assist.

11. Network with Local Farmers

A great way to help yourself become more independent is to network with your local farmers and cattle ranchers. Local farmers and cattle ranchers can help you obtain beef, dairy, fruits, and vegetables to supplement your grocery list. Local and state laws govern some of the ways that farmers and cattle ranchers interact with individuals. For example, in some places, you have to pay into a cooperative agreement with a cattle owner to obtain milk from one of their cows.

12. Keep and Maintain a Reliable Mode of Transportation

We have heard much about keeping a bug-out vehicle (BOV). There are many suggestions that one can find about types, styles, or equipment to consider for a BOV. Yet, the most reliable transportation is the one you own. If you have the money to dedicate to a specialized BOV, that is a wonderful advantage. However, most people do not have that kind of cash to throw around. Therefore, keep your current vehicle maintained and fueled (topped-off) at all times. Just remember that one tank of gas averages about 300 miles. If you keep your car fueled, then you have at least a guaranteed 300-miles of travel in an emergency.

Final Thoughts

It is essential to strive to become more independent the further we go in this century. World, national, regional, or local disruption to our daily lives can happen in less than twenty-four hours. Therefore, we no longer have the luxury of waiting until payday to go to the store. The wisdom of the day dictates that becoming more independent is a necessity and not a luxury.

The best U.S. military field gear to consider for your loadout can give you an advantage in the outdoors. Military surplus gear is a favorite among many people. Whether you are an urban prepper or an expert outdoor adventurer, military field gear will be part of your loadout in some way. Therefore, as we consider the best U.S. military field gear to consider adding to your packing list, it is acknowledged that there are many opinions about the equipment in this list. Nevertheless, the gear in this list has stood the test of time. The gear is durable, reliable, and available in most military surplus stores.

1. The U.S. Air Force Pilot’s Survival Knife

The U.S. Air Force Pilot’s Survival Knife tops the list of U.S. military gear to consider for your kit. The knife is not a favorite of bushcrafters. However, for those with limitations on their spending, the pilot’s survival knife (PSK) is the best way forward in assembling your loadout. Outdoor and survival experts agree that a knife is the most critical tool that you will have at your disposal in a survival situation. You will not go wrong with this knife.

The knife is currently produced by the Ontario Knife Company (OKC) as the 499 Survival Knife. It carries the national stock number (NSN) 7340-00-098-4327. However, the knife is no longer part of the U.S. Government inventory. OKC sells the knife for around $50-60, in most outdoor stores like Cabela’s or Sportsman’s Warehouse. If you are interested in more information about this knife, you can read my article on the history of the U.S. Air Force Pilot’s Survival Knife.

2. The Gore-Tex Bivy from the Modular Sleep System (MSS).

Another piece of field gear to consider for your packing list is the Gore-Tex Bivy sack from the military modular sleep system (MSS) produced by Tennier Industries. There are two versions available on the market, woodland camouflage and Army Combat Uniform (Foliage) camouflage. I prefer the woodland camouflage version. However, the camouflage pattern does not matter because the bivys are identical except for the coloring. As of this writing, I am not sure if they have started producing an operational combat uniform (OCP/Multicam) version.

Gore-Tex is an excellent material for the field as it is waterproof, windproof, and abrasion-resistant. That does not mean that it is immune from tearing. It means that with proper use, it will last a long time before any holes or tears appear. Furthermore, the bivy can be used as a hasty shelter in an emergency in conjunction with an emergency blanket or bivy. Thus, as a piece of survival gear, you will not be disappointed by the Gore-Tex bivy sack from the military modular sleep system.

3. The Medium/Large ALICE Rucksack

Second to knives, backpacks are always a favorite topic of conversation among outdoorsmen, bushcrafters, or preppers. It seems everyone has their preferences about backpacks for everyday carry (EDC), backwoods hunting, through-hiking, a Get-Home bag (GHB), or a bugout bag (BOB). A piece of military gear that has stood the test of time is the U.S. Army and USMC ALICE rucksacks. ALICE is an acronym for All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment. The ALICE rucksack was issued in a medium and large version attached to an LC-2 Rucksack Frame. A small ALICE rucksack was issued, but it was not widely accepted or used, so it was quickly phased out of U.S. Government inventories.

The medium and large ALICE rucksacks have a lot of storage space for their size. They are made of heavy-duty nylon and strapping. The medium ruck has a capacity of roughly 2400 cubic inches or about 39 liters. By contrast, the large ruck has a capacity of approximately 3800 cubic inches or about 60 liters. There are some advantages and disadvantages with these military rucksacks. However, overall, they are an excellent start to your prepping or outdoor adventuring activities.

4. The Gen I ECWCS Parka and Trousers

A third military gear item that you should consider is the Gen I Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS) parka and trousers. Some commercial replicas are just as good. However, for the price, the surplus Gen I or Gen II parka and trousers are a bargain. If your budget can only allow for one item, I would recommend purchasing the parka before the trousers. These items are bulky. So, for space and weight considerations, I would take the parka over the trousers.

The Gen I ECWCS park and trousers are durable and reliable. The main difference between the Gen I and Gen II parka is that the Gen I parka has an inner liner. The Gen II parka has no liner allowing it to have a dual function as a rain parka. The primary color of the Gen I parka and trousers are woodland camouflage. The parka has a national stock number of NSN 8415-01-228-1306 to 8415-01-228-1322. The trousers have a national stock number of NSN 8415-01-228-1336 to 8415-01-228-1352. The Gen I ECWCS parka and trousers are becoming more difficult to find. Therefore, if you can find one in your size, purchase it.

5. One-Quart Canteen with Nesting Cup and Stove

Military canteens are favorite items for most people. They are readily available in most surplus stores. The U.S. military 1-quart canteens that are the most common on the market are made of heavy-duty plastic. It is rare to find a U.S. military canteen that is stainless steel. However, there are some companies producing replicas in stainless steel with a narrow mouth. These represent World War II and Korea War versions.
The U.S. canteen comes with a stainless steel nesting cup and a stainless steel stove insert.

Therefore, if you purchase the plastic canteen, I recommend purchasing the canteen cup and stove to make it a complete field worthy kit. One disadvantage with the plastic canteens is that they are more susceptible to getting mold on the inside. Surplus stores do not clean the canteens out before they sell them. Therefore, ensure they are bleached out, washed, and dried before using them. All U.S. 1-quart canteens will fit in the ALICE or MOLLE Canteen cover.

Final Thoughts

Military surplus field gear has been in use for generations. Remember that you have already purchased U.S. military field gear indirectly through your federal income tax. Part of your federal income tax goes to purchasing this rugged and reliable gear for our military service members. You will not go wrong adding some of this excellent gear into your packing list. It has stood the test of time. It is reliable, practical, and will continue to last if it is properly maintained.

You can modernize the SAS survival mess kit for the twenty-first century. The SAS survival mess kit has been around since the 1970s. John “Lofty” Wiseman, who is a retired SAS Sergeant Major, popularized the use of the survival mess kit in his book, SAS Survival Handbook (1986). Wiseman calls it the Survival Pouch in his book.

As with the survival tin, the contents of Wiseman’s survival mess kit reflect the technology and practices of the 1970s. The kit functions as a complementary element with the survival tin. Therefore, one can understand the survival tin as “part A” and the mess kit as “part B.” How can this piece of survival gear be upgraded to address 21st-century concerns?

The Container

The SAS survival mess kit utilizes the standard issued British Royal Army mess kit. They call it a “mess tin.” The mess tin has two nested parts, a large and smaller piece with folding handles to secure them together to form a box-like look. It measures roughly 7 x 5.3 x 2.4 inches. The modern versions of this item are made of kitchen-grade aluminum rather than stainless steel. I prefer stainless steel items when they are available.

The mess tin fits into a large military pouch, such as the ones that hold a box of ammunition for a squad automatic weapon (SAW). The ESEE Mess Tin Kit is the closest equivalent on the market. However, the ESEE kit has a lid rather than a smaller mess tin to fit inside of it. Additionally, there are stainless steel lunch boxes of similar size on the market that can function as a modern upgrade to the British mess tin.

The Purpose of the Container

The mess tin has purposes beyond being a container for survival gear. The primary purpose of the mess tin is for preparing and eating food. As such, Wiseman suggests putting food items in the survival mess tin. The British mess tin is a better mess kit than the U.S. Army one because it can collect and boil water more efficiently. A bushcraft cook pot functions in a similar way to the British mess tin.

Assessment of the Container

The British mess tin is a practical item for enabling survival in an emergency. Therefore, the survival mess tin is a wonderful addition to your survival gear if you are looking to enhance your wilderness, vehicle, or urban survival loadouts.

The Contents

The contents that Wiseman recommends for his survival mess tin are fifteen items. However, these items can be sorted into eight categories of consideration: fire making, illumination, emergency food, food preparation, emergency signaling, and additional contents. As with the survival tin, the size of the mess kit will influence what kinds of contents to store in it.

1. Fire Making

Wiseman suggests putting more survival matches into the mess kit. The principle of incorporating redundancy into your kit considerations is at work here. Again, understand that the mess kit is a complimentary item to the survival tin. Therefore, including extra survival matches is prudent. The best survival matches on the market are the UCO Stormproof Matches. However, the UCO Survival Matches are smaller and come with a waterproof plastic container.

However, if you wish to stay with the military-grade matches, then the NATO Survival Matches by ProForce® should be a consideration. Additionally, there are other fire-making items to consider as substitutes for the matches. You could include a UCO Fire Steel, a regular-sized Bic ® lighter, the SOL Fire Lite Sparker with Tinder, or a NATO Spark Lite kit with extra tinder tabs.

2. Lighting or Illumination

Lighting and illumination in the SAS Survival Pouch is a small LED flashlight. The mini-MAGLITE® flashlight is an example of the flashlight illustrated in the SAS Survival Handbook. However, MAGLITE® and other companies make smaller flashlights that use alkaline batteries, lithium batteries, or have rechargeable batteries. Therefore, when considering a more modern upgrade to a small flashlight, my preference is a MAGLITE Solitaire. Others may recommend O-Light or Streamlight® products. Those are equally good flashlight products.

3. Emergency Food Items

Wiseman recommends putting food items in the mess kit. He also suggests putting a “brew kit” in the tin. The “brew kit” would be tea or coffee bags. However, many beverage companies currently make single-use instant coffee or tea packets, as well as flavored drink mixes like Kool-Aid or Wyler’s® drink mixes. An even better drink mix besides instant coffee or tea would be the sports drink mixes in single-use packets such as Gator-Aide or Propel mixes. A local health food store can assist in helping you find healthy tea or electrolyte drink mixes in single-use packets.

Wiseman makes a strong recommendation for high-fat foods. One of the best items for this is the peanut butter or cheese packets that come with the current Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MRE). However, there is a growing number of people with peanut allergies, so be careful about what kinds of food items to put in your mess tin. Trail Mix nut packets, beef jerky, or Cliff® Energy Bars are good items to consider for the survival mess kit.

4. Food Preparation Items

The SAS Survival Pouch calls for a pocket-sized folding stove and hexamine fuel tabs. The folding stove that is illustrated in the SAS Survival Handbook is the Esbit Compact Folding Stove. There are more up-to-date substitutes for the pocket folding stove, such as the Vargo Titanium Hexagon Backpacking Wood Stove. The Toaks Titanium Alcohol Stove Pot Stand also is a good option. The Toaks and Vargo stoves fold into a more flat configuration, which makes more room for other items in the mess kit.

5. Emergency Signaling

One of the differences between the survival tin and the mess kit is emergency signaling items. Wiseman suggests the inclusion of a pen flare kit and a signaling panel in the mess kit. The pen flare kit available in the U.S. is the Orion Pocket Rocket Signal Kit. The pen flare kit illustrated in Wiseman’s book is an issued item for the survival vest worn by military pilots. Therefore, the exact one shown in the book is unavailable to most personal. Again, this fact demonstrates the trouble with using military items for non-military purposes.

The signal panel also is a military issued item. However, some alternatives would be just as useful, such as a blaze orange bandana or the small ResQBrite™ panel by Survival Metrics.
Another aspect of signaling is writing messages and keeping notes. Wiseman also suggests keeping writing material in the kit. Some excellent considerations would be the Rite in the Rain Mini Notebook with a golf pencil, small ink pen, or miniature Sharpie® marker.

6. Additional Items

There are some other items to consider if there is room in your mess kit. An emergency whistle such as the rescue howler sold by the Orion company is a good addition. The Best Glide Aviation Survival Equipment Compact Emergency Signal Mirror is an excellent complement to the kit. A good backup compass to consider would be the Sun Company MiniComp II – Miniature Orienteering Compass with Rotating Bezel. A backup knife also should be an option if there is room in the kit. The SOG Instinct fixed-blade knife would be great in the survival mess kit as an additional item.

Final Thoughts

The survival tin and mess kit discussed by John “Lofty” Wiseman are great starts for thinking about resourcing your survival. Your preferences on items will mean your kits will be customized for your unique needs. One can view the survival tin and mess kit as a two-part survival system that will be useful to the outdoorsman, prepper, or survival enthusiast. Therefore, take the time to explore and experiment with different configurations with these kits to find the best one for your needs in the 21st century.

You can modernize the SAS survival tin for the twenty-first century. The SAS survival tin has been around since the 1970s. John “Lofty” Wiseman, who is a retired SAS Sergeant Major, popularized the use of the survival tin in his book, SAS Survival Handbook (1986). The book is currently in its third edition. Additionally, The survival and prepping worlds have made use of Wiseman’s suggestions for the construction of a survival kit.

Consequently, there are many commercial and private versions of this survival item currently available. The primary purpose of the survival tin is to enable survival in an emergency. As useful as Wiseman’s survival kit is to wilderness survival, its contents reflect the technology and understanding of survival from the 1970s. How can this kit be upgraded to address 21st-century concerns?

The Container

A typical survival-type tin utilizes a simple metal box that measures around two inches in width by three inches in length and three-quarters of an inch in depth. It is sometimes called an Altoids® tin. The current SAS Survival Tin being used is 3.5 x 4.625 x 1.25 inches. Therefore, it is larger than the commercial Altoids tin. Moreover, there are arguments about the practicality of using such a container for emergency survival purposes. These arguments reflect the trouble of taking a military item and adapting it for non-military uses.

The Purpose of the Container

The tin box has purposes beyond being a container of smaller items. For example, the use of such a small box allows for making charred cloth for fire-making. Similar boxes on the market have a rubber or foam seal under the lid to make them watertight or waterproof. These features defeat the purpose of the box. The survival tin box has more than one purpose or function. A sealed version of the tin can still be placed in a fire to make charred cloth, but the seals will melt and become useless to keep out water.

Secondary Uses of the Container

Another purpose of the tin is for water collection. A soldier escaping and evading the enemy is always on the move. The tin can be used to quickly gather water from a stream or during a rainstorm for quick consumption. The survival tin also can be employed as a simple stove to purify water or cook a simple meal of edible plants, insects, or small fish. Wiseman suggests wrapping duct tape around the edges to help make the tin watertight until it needs to be used. Unfortunately, the contents become vulnerable to moisture once the tape is removed

Assessment of the Container

The survival tin should not be disregarded as a legitimate container for a survival kit. Its small and compact size makes it ideal for backpacks, cargo pockets on pants, glove compartments in vehicles, toolboxes, or tackle boxes. However, there are some things that you can do to keep the contents dry. The first is using a small Ziploc-type bag. The second is vacuum sealing the contents. A third option would be to put a Ranger band around the edges instead of the duct tape.

The Contents

The contents that Wiseman recommends for his survival tin are fifteen items. However, these items can be sorted into eight categories of consideration: fire making, land navigation, illumination, food procurement, water procurement, wood processing, first-aid, and equipment repair. Furthermore, the size of the container dictates what kinds of items to place into it.

1. Fire Making

The first category of consideration in a survival tin is that of fire-making. How will you make a fire? Wiseman suggests a “matches” and a “flint steel.” Flint steel is a ferrocerium rod. The author suggests the storage of simple wood matches dipped in wax with the stems trimmed. The flint-and-striker that is pictured in the diagram is still available on the market. However, the idea is to have a mini-Ferro rod in the kit. What would be an upgrade to these fire-making items?

One of the most popular replacements for the matches and ferro rod is the miniature Bic® lighter. You can find many survival tins being discussed on YouTube® that have the miniature Bic® lighter in them. However, in sticking with the military nature of Wiseman’s tin, a simple mini-ferro rod with a striker would be sufficient. An example of such an item would be the Bayite® mini-ferro rod. The NATO Survival Matches by ProForce® are a significant upgrade to the simple wooden matches.

2. Lighting or Illumination

Lighting or illumination is a genuine concern in a survival situation. Wiseman suggests a tea candle and a “Beta Light.” Does anyone know what a beta-light is? A beta light is a self-illuminating light using tritium. These are not an item on the market in the United States. A U.S. equivalent version of this U.K. item would be the snap lights or chemlights produced by Cyalume®. Therefore, an option to consider is the micro-flashlight or a mini chemlight by Cyalume®.

Tea candles have been a suggestion for survival kits for many years. There have been improvements to the tea candle. One such improved tea candle is made with bee’s wax. An example of bee’s wax tea candle is those sold by Best Glide-Aviation Survival Equipment. Exotac® also offers a version of the tea candle, the candleTIN™ Nano. These can be a consideration for an upgrade to the SAS Survival Tin.

3. Food Procurement

Food is an essential part of survival. A person’s ability to procure and process food in an emergency survival situation can determine the difference between life or death. The SAS Survival Handbook suggests placing snare wire and some fishing items in the survival tin. These items continue to be a recommendation for survival kits. However, your food procurement items must be tailored to your environment. For example, a fishing kit may not be necessary for a metroplex environment. Nevertheless, an excellent upgrade to the fishing items in the SAS survival tin would be Readyman’s® Enhanced Wilderness Survival Card or the Fisherman’s Survival Card. You can also read my article on making an emergency fishing kit and place that in the tin.

4. Land Navigation

Land navigation is an important skill to know when you are outdoors hunting, fishing, or backpacking. Interestingly, land navigation also is essential for an urban environment. I recently had an experience with OnStar®, where I came within 300 yards of accidentally crossing into Mexico at night. It turned out that the operator put the wrong destination into the directions as it led me through the city where I live.
The SAS Survival Tin calls for a button compass. A button compass is still a good option if you have no compass at all. However, some excellent wrist compasses would make a significant improvement over the button compass. The Suunto Clipper wrist compass is an example of such a compass.

5. Wood Processing

The early survival kits contained a wire saw. The wire saw, or flexible saw is part of the SAS Survival Tin recommendations. However, the quality of the commercial saws tended to be substandard and often failed when employed in the field. BCB USA/UK still sells a wire saw that is constructed using the military standards and specifications for the U.S. Government. A secondary option for a saw would be a small hacksaw blade cut to 1-2 inches in length.

6. Equipment Repair

Equipment and clothing will always need repair. Many combinations of needles and thread will do the task of mending clothing or tears in a pouch or backpack. However, the best dual-use thread is the Kevlar nylon thread. It is useful for repairing damages or as a fishing line. Therefore, I recommend taking a plastic floss sewing bobbin and wrapping as much Kevlar nylon thread on as is practical for both fishing and equipment repairs.

7. First Aid

Medical treatment always will be a concern in a survival situation. Wiseman recommends several medical items to make up a small emergency first-aid kit. Many of the questions are still available on the market. Therefore, use your best judgment about what to put in your kit. The purpose of a survival tin is as an instrument of last-resort to enable survival in an emergency. As such, it will not hold everything that you may desire for your first-aid items.

8. Water Procurement

One of the more interesting pieces of the SAS Survival Tin is the inclusion of a non-lubricated condom to be used as a water-carrying device. The kits sold by BCB in Britain still include a condom. Yet, condoms can fail in the time of need. A more sure replacement for the condom would be the NASCO Survival 1 liter Water Bag. They are thin enough that two could be included in the kit.

Additionally, Wiseman calls for water treatment tablets. Water purification tablets used to come in bulky packaging, forcing them to be placed in a smaller container. However, water purification tablets now come in aluminum foil packaging in sets of ten tablets each. The new packaging makes it easier to put water purification tablets in a survival tin.

Final Thought

John “Lofty” Wiseman gives a solid starting point for thinking about resourcing your survival. One’s preferred content for a survival tin may vary. Yet, the concept of ensuring that you address the basic needs of survival will not change for any type of emergency survival kit. The answering of the questions about food, fire, water, shelter, and first-aid will characterize any survival kit configuration. The SAS Survival Tin is a great place to start thinking through these concerns. The recommended upgrade to the items in Wiseman’s kit will ensure that you have a kit that will address 21st-century survival in the outdoors or the city

Can you make your own MRE accessory packet? MRE stands for Meal, Ready-to-Eat. The MRE is the replacement field ration for the older C and K-rations from the Korean War and Vietnam War eras. MREs come in a box containing twelve different individual meals. The individual meals have an accessory packet that has various items such as salt that help make the consumption of the meal more pleasant. The concept behind the accessory packet is a good one, as one considers spending extended periods outdoors.

There are three different versions of the MRE accessory packet marked as A, B, or C. The accessory packet has twelve items in various combinations among the accessory packets. For example, one packet may have instant coffee while another may have a drink mix. The following twelve items can be part of your own meal accessory packet that you can create for your next outdoor adventure, home emergency kit, Bug Out Bag, or EDC loadout.

1. Coffee

Coffee is part of the MRE accessory packet A. Modern advances in science and manufacturing bring instant coffee to the outdoorsman’s list of food considerations. Another consideration for carrying coffee is the coffee bags. Furthermore, coffee is a favorite drink of choice for many backpackers. Many thru-hikers and multi-day hikers carry some ability to make coffee.

There are two kinds of instant coffee available on the market, regular coffee and gourmet. For example, Maxwell House® instant coffee and General Foods® International Coffee are an example of these categories of coffee. Folgers® and Starbucks® make the most popular forms of instant coffee that can be carried in your MRE accessory packet.

The best instant coffee packaging to carry in an MRE accessory packet is the slender tubular ones. Folgers and Starbucks sell this kind of instant coffee, and they can be purchased in most grocery stores. Folgers® sells both regular and decaf instant coffee in the tubular packets. Another way to carry coffee in your accessory packet is in the form of an individual coffee bag.

2. Tea

Some of the older versions of the MRE accessory packets would have a tea bag instead of coffee. The tea would be in accessory packet B. However, in recent years, the tea has been replaced with a drink mix. If you are not a coffee drinker, then a tea bag or two is a great option when making your MRE accessory packet. Additionally, there are many kinds of teas to consider, such as medicinal or therapeutic teas.

3. Drink Mix

Energy drink powders are a popular item to carry by many people. The last few years have seen the availability of energy drink powders and flavored drink powders in the singular tubular packaging similar to the instant coffee packaging. The best energy drink powders available in this kind of packaging are the Propel™ drink mixes made by Gatorade®. Wyler’s®, Crystal Lite®, and Hawaiian Punch® also make drink mixes in the single, tubular packaging.

4. Non-Dairy Powdered Creamer

Non-dairy creamer is part of the MRE accessory packet contents. The A and C accessory packets contain non-dairy powdered creamer. Some people like to have creamer with their coffee. Others want to stir it into their instant oatmeal. Still, other people want to put creamer in their hot tea.

Nevertheless, non-dairy creamer can be used in several different ways when eating food in the field. The best non-dairy powdered creamer on the market is Coffee Mate® by Nestle®. However, there are some other varieties of powdered creamer available such as organic creamer that can be part of your accessory packet. The best way to include non-dairy creamer into your accessory packet is as an individually wrapped packet or tube.

5. Sugar Packet

The consumption of sugar is a controversial topic among many people. However, the U.S. Army uses sugar in the MRE accessory packet for both quality of life considerations but also because it can be mixed with salt in a canteen of water to make a quick, field-expedient electrolyte drink. Sugar can be part of your accessory packet by using the individually wrapped packet or tube.

There are two kinds of sugar to consider for your accessory packet: refined and raw. Organic sugar can be either refined or raw. Refined sugar is also known as white sugar. Raw sugar is sometimes called dark or brownish sugar. The best raw sugar to consider for your packet is Sugar In The Raw® that comes in the individually wrapped packs. Refined sugar packets are more widely available and can be obtained almost anywhere.

6. Sugar Substitute

A sugar substitute is a popular alternative to regular sugar. Some people cannot consume sugar for medical reasons. A sugar substitute alleviates the concerns for those needing to limit their sugar intake. As with regular sugar, sugar substitutes come in many forms. Some examples of sugar substitutes are Sweet-n-Low®, Splenda®, and Stevia®. These also can found in packets that are similar to that of regular sugar.

7. Salt

The most ancient type of food accessory carried by humanity is salt. Salt is considered a commodity and was once used as money when trading with others in the ancient market places. Frontiersman and the pioneers of the old west carried salt as one of the staple items next to flour and sugar. Therefore, it is no surprise that current U.S. military MREs have salt in their accessory packets. A packet of salt combined with a pack of sugar mixed with one liter of water in a military canteen makes a quick electrolyte drink.

Salt helps the human body retain water. Thus, when salt is sprinkled over one’s food from an MRE, it will be both more pleasant to eat but also puts a vital nutrient back into the body. The consumption of salt also increases thirst, and therefore one will drink more water to alleviate the thirst created by eating salt.

8. Hot Sauce

The MREs that I consumed while in the U.S. Army had a miniature bottle of Tabasco® Hot Sauce in the accessory packet. I later learned that red pepper and cayenne pepper has health benefits. Hot Sauce is not part of the current MREs at this time. The newer MREs have a packet of red pepper flakes for a seasoning item. However, as you consider what to put in your MRE accessory packet, a miniature bottle of Tabasco® Hot Sauce would make a great addition.

9. Chewing Gum or Hard Candy

MRE accessory packets usually contained some type of chewing gum or hard candy. The candy’s purpose was to provide some level of quality of life in the field and keep morale high. The most common chewing gum was Chicklets®, and the most common hard candy was Charms®. The newer MREs no longer have these particular brands but offer similar gum or candy, in general, like Tootsie Rolls®, M&M®, or Skittles®. If you do not like gum or candy of any kind, then do not include them in your packet. You may want to add a more healthy food choice.

10. Toilet Paper

The toilet tissue paper that has been part of the MRE accessory packet was not intended to be used after a person defecated in the field. The more likely purpose was for drying hands after using the moist towelette or tinder to make a fire in the field.

11. Moist Towelette

The moist towelette has been part of the MRE from the beginning. The towelette helps to clean the hands before or after eating. The best towelette that you can place in your accessory packet is the Purell® hand sanitizing wipe.

12. Matches

The military MREs have always carried a book of paper matches in the accessory packets. Like other items, a book of matches is not present in some accessory packets in the newer MREs. The MRE matches were included during a time when cigarette smoking was more common among servicemembers.

MRE matches were not very consistent in giving a flame. Yet, during my time serving in Operation Desert Storm, one of our scout teams got lost during a practice maneuver. They used their MRE matches and toilet tissue to start a fire to keep warm before they were found. Consequently, our commanders required us to carry these two items on us at all times.  By contrast, you may not want to include the traditional book of paper matches in your MRE accessory packet. A good alternative would be to add five stormproof matches taped together with clear tape.

Final Thoughts

You can make your own MRE accessory packet from the twelve items discussed in this article. Your packet does not need to contain all twelve items. Once you have collected the items for your accessory packet, then you can vacuum seal them with a standard food sealer. Many people will use substitute items for their accessory packets. If your preferences in life are of an organic or holistic nature, there are comparable items on the market that meet that need. Therefore, have some fun putting together your MRE accessory packet.