Category Archives: travel

Backpacks and BOBs

Here is an article on choosing a backpack for a Bug Out Bag (BOB) and a two part review of a reasonably priced candidate:


Introduction Article


Local Lion Olympus III part 1

Local Lion Olympus III part 2


If you’d like to get one of these packs, or some other outdoors products from GearBest, they have a 15% off coupon by using code  OUT15OFF





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Radio Communication for Survival

Communications can be a problem during an emergency, or even just “on the road” or “on the trail”.  Here is an overview of the options for wireless comms:

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Inflatable Solar Lanterns review

Here’s another of my “pro” blogs:

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Sharpening System.

Good ideas if you need to sharpen your knife and don’t have a sharpener handy.


Link to an earlier post about knife sharpeners:

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Knife Laws

Most survival kits include a knife or two.  With good reason, since a good knife is one of the better tools to help in many survival situations.  My research has been into what are the best knives.  I forgot to consider the legal aspect.

Now in a survival situation, having the right knife is the most important thing, and frankly, if I am lost or stranded somewhere, being arrested does not seem like the worst possible happenstance.  But it would be obnoxious to have legal difficulties just because you happened to have the “wrong” knife in your kit.

It is critical that you investigate the laws on what you can own and carry in your home state/county/city.  And keep up with the law, which tends to change over time.  And when you travel, check out the laws in the areas you will be passing through and particularly heading for.  You can be perfectly legal one instant, and a moment later be in violation of the law.  There are three things to look for:

1) What is legal to own?

2) What is legal to carry?

3) Most confusing and important, what is the definition of “carry”?

Some states prohibit ownership of certain knives.  “Ballistic knives” (ones which shoot the blade) seem to be most commonly outlawed.  Other common types include switchblades, balisong (butterfly) knives, gravity blades, throwing stars and “camouflaged” knives (those which don’t look like knives, such as sword canes or belt buckle knives).  These typically are not good choices for survival, so that is generally not a problem.  Most states do not outlaw ownership of knives suitable for survival; although several states do have prohibitions about “bowie” knives and/or lock blade pocket knives, which could be a problem.  Some states are specific about what is allowed and what is prohibited; others are generic and leave it up to the courts, which can be quite variable in interpretation and very difficult to predict your legality.

Owning is one thing, but carrying it is another.  In many states, having a knife in your vehicle is not a problem, but in others, your car is considered “part of your person” and subject to any carrying limitations.  Almost always the limitations for carrying a knife not concealed are rather more lenient than when it is concealed.  Thus, if your knife is strapped to the survival kit or on your belt, it will be legal more places than if it is in your pocket or even pack.  Of course, a visible knife could cause other (non-legal) problems due to the general silliness of the majority of people nowadays.  Oh, and WHERE you are when you are carrying a knife varies.  For instance, in many states, no or very limited knives may be carried or even possessed on school property.

Basically, obey the law whenever practical, and if not practical, do everything you can to not be caught…  I don’t plan to change any of my kits even if they are technically illegal in some places, since each contains the “perfect” knife for that kit and the hope is that being packed away rather than “readily available” might minimize any problems.  My EDC choices need to be revisited, as I found one of my choices to be illegal to carry some of the places I go, and illegal to even possess one place I spend a lot of time.  The other is illegal to carry in a few states and close enough to the generic description in some others that it might be a problem to be caught carrying it.  Very annoying, but not having a decent knife could be even more disastrous.

Here is a summary of the knife laws of all 50 states:

Of course, this site should not be relied on for legal advice; check with local authorities or a lawyer for the most accurate and up to date interpretation for any particular location.


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Drinking straws for survival

Yes, really.  But not for drinking through, although there may be a few scenarios where that might be useful.  No, the common drinking straw can be used to make a tiny container for solids, liquids, powders and pastes.

To do this, cut a piece longer than you need.  Take a pair of pinch nose pliers or equivalent, and carefully smash down one end, with about 1/8″ of flattened straw sticking out from the pliers jaws.  Use a flame source (like a Bic lighter) to melt the exposed straw tip, then quickly move the pliers to the melted area and crimp to seal the end.  The other end can be sealed in the same manner for “one use” contents.  For times when you need access to just some of the contents, you can fold over the open end, squeeze the sides together into a “U” shape, and slip a 1/2″ piece of the same straw over the folded end to hold the fold closed.

These containers can be used for spices, pills, matches, and even small fishing or other gear.  A 2″ piece can have a Vaseline soaked cotton ball shoved into it;  just clip off one end and pull out some of the fibers to light it.  A 1″ piece can be used for a single use antibiotic ointment packet.  Powders and liquids are also possibilities.  For these, leave an air pocket so if the container gets “smooshed” the odds of it “exploding” and coating your other get is reduced.

Straws are available in many colors, which can aid in identifying the contents, and if brightly colored, finding it in your pack or if dropped.  On the other hand, clear straws let you SEE the contents.  In either case, use a fine tipped, permanent, Magic Marker to list the contents, and any expiration information necessary.  There are various sizes of straws; use the diameter most appropriate to the contents and the kit they go into.  Heavy duty straws are usually a better choice than flimsy ones, and of course, use plastic, not paper or fiber.  Those which have an accordion “flex” may or may not be useful.  If the length needed is the length of the flex area or longer, these may be superior due to the larger interior volume.  However, it is likely that trying to “seal” the flex part of a straw will be less reliable than straws sealed using the straight part.




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Survival Kits for Travel

Generally, when designing a survival kit, you figure out potential situations and how big/heavy it can be, then cram in all the important survival gear which could be needed and will fit.  However, there are times when you are traveling or otherwise restricted in what you can have with you.  Particularly if flying (via commercial airline) or going though customs or other security checkpoints.

The first step is to find out what is allowable and what is forbidden and what is questionable at each place where you might be checked.  Currently, as these tend to change over time.  This requires some research on your part; it is best to document what you find out by printing out screen shots, keeping copies of paper handouts, and the names of people you talk with, and having this information with you.  Break your survival gear into categories: cannot be taken, requires special handling (such as ok if in checked baggage), potentially a problem, and not a problem.  Make a note of any in the first three categories which is commonly available for sale at your destination(s) or which has a usable alternative or which can be adequately disassembled and/or camouflaged.  Also, any item whose only risk is of confiscation, and which is cheap enough and replaceable enough that this risk is acceptable.

Areas of most concern will likely be knives and edged items, weapons, other tools, things which can be used as weapons (I once was prevented from going into the courthouse while carrying a tape measure), highly flammable or explosive stuff, and things which appear to be chemicals, particularly liquids.  Be aware that wire or rope might be a problem in some cases.  Pack your remaining gear accordingly – special handling separately, possible problem stuff separately or “hidden”, and safe stuff normally.

The next step is to expand your (remaining) kit to consider “non-emergency” situations which can happen when traveling.  Basically, if something happens to transportation and you are “stuck” somewhere.  This is always an annoyance, but sometimes can be more serious if the place you are stuck is not capable of supporting all the people who are stuck there long term.  Or takes the opportunity to gouge the people stuck there by astronomically raising prices.  Keep in mind that these events are more likely than emergency situations, but usually less dangerous.  Surviving is critical, but why not prepare for unpleasantness mitigation as well?

Thus, food and water are a bit more important than normal.  When flying, they may not allow you to take water through security, so have some empty containers (bladders may be most convenient) which you fill at the fountain after making it through security.  Plus at least one ready-to-eat meal or equivalent.  This can help you through being stuck on the plane many hours waiting to take off.  In addition, you will want to have a water filter and/or purification tablets, plus some additional compact food in case you are stuck someplace with questionable water and/or limited or vastly overpriced food.

Of course, “extra” money is good to have to deal with unexpected expenses.   Not only a credit card, but travelers checks, local currency and possibly small amounts of silver and even gold.  Variety is good to be able to handle the widest range of possible situations.  Good identification is important as well.

Furthermore, be aware of the potential for disease in crowded conditions.  Having virus resistant masks and surgical gloves is a good idea.  A good general purpose first aid kit, including common remedies and extra of your critical prescription items is also suggested.

When you are in your “home” area, you know where to go to eat, for entertainment, to shop and handle medical issues.  It is wise to research your destination(s) before leaving, particularly local customs which can get you in trouble, and medical resources.  Plus where to shop to replace survival items you were forced to leave behind or which were impractical to bring.


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