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I am an experienced outdoorsman with an eye for conservation and sustainable land use

Besides being a writer and researcher for The Prepared, I consult in the outdoor industry and work as a precision rifle instructor. I am an experienced hunter and angler and have spent thousands of hours in the outdoors catching fish, hunting, bird watching, and exploring planet Earth.  

Here to answer any questions about hunting, angling, or general outdoor activities. Questions related to gear selection, ethics, game recipes, stalking, training, mindset, and hunt preparation are welcome.  

Here are a few photos from a recent mule deer hunt in Central New Mexico. 

A tripod is an excellent tool in the woods. 

Approaching with caution and reverence. 

Solid kit. Mystery Ranch pack, semi-custom Remington 700 rifle, Athlon scope. 

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Prepping for civil unrest

Anyone here anticipating/prepping for civil unrest? 

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Caching a tent and sleeping bag – Should I do it?

I was browsing through Reddit and saw a post titled: “Advice whether to cache tent and sleeping bag?”

At first glance, this seems like a wonderful idea! Tents are heavy, sleeping bags are bulky. I’m just thinking about how compact and light my BOB will be if I don’t have to carry these two items.

I’m not quite sure how I would create a cache though that would be durable and waterproof. 

What are your thoughts? Is this something you can see yourself doing?

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Heating your home (without electricity)

We’re heading into winter. If something goes down and the power gets shut off, staying warm is suuuuuuper important.

I’m a renter, and our home has central air (electrical) and no fireplace. Anyone have experience to share with the rest of us? 

In the beginner’s checklist is a link to a few propane-fueled heaters; I would love to hear about those, in addition to any other ideas.

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Prepping’s lessons for quarantine

Greetings.  My scenario stands at the 3-way intersection of prepping, quarantine, and vanlife, and it’s not a hypothetical scenario so much as an actual procedure that we had to follow, and may need to follow again.  

 This past summer, my husband and I drove our off-grid van almost 3,000 miles from our home in the U.S. to undeveloped land that I own in eastern Canada, observing the isolation rules along the way.  Once we crossed the border into Canada, we had to drive 450 miles without entering any premises or contacting any person.  And then we were legally required to remain on my property for two weeks, a property that contains no electrical, water, or sewer utilities – it’s just forested land with a small private road into it.  

 DH and I had already spent several years engineering our van with a solar-lithium-inverter-alternator-generator combination that makes us power-unlimited in most contexts, but I had to step up my game to enhance the rest of our preps, because we had never before been cut off from normal consumer supplies such as groceries, hardware, pharma, etc.  Some ideas I pull from the boating community, which is the other big group that is off-grid almost continually by definition, but increasingly I’m checking out the prepping community for ideas on strategies and gear.  Every piece of equipment has to be completely thought out and tested, ever piece has to be reliable, and every contingency has to be accounted for.  Plus, there are more comfortable and less comfortable ways of doing things, and I’d rather thrive than survive.

 We enjoyed our 2 weeks of “exile” (as my Canadian father called it) far more than we thought we would, to the point where I almost hope for the opportunity to do it again.  When do any of us get 2 unbroken weeks where we are completely segregated from society and not compelled to be answerable to outside demands on our time, where we can just focus on being present and developing our skills?  It hardly ever happens.  We’re looking forward to more, and for that, I need more learnin’. 


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Home heating sans electricity?

Hello, and thanks again to all the awesome people who make this website possible.  It truly is a wonderful resource.

I am researching various methods/options for heating my home in the case of an extended power outage.  I have a traditional masonary fireplace that I never use because it’s so innefficient, but am considering a fireplace insert or other options.  I’m curious if anyone has gone down this road and has words of wisdom to share.

A fireplace insert would be nice, but they’re also spendy, and outside of an emergency and/or the occasional holiday-time fire, I would likely rarely use it, so I am also eager to find safe alternatives, if there are any.  

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Are you doing something extra to prepare for this winter, because of Covid or else?

There’s a good chance that this winter we’ll go into a second lockdown because of Covid (paired with flu). So I am taking extra steps now in preparation for this winter, something that in normal circumstances I would have not felt the urgent need to do right now. 

This is what I’m doing before the winter:

Changing my car’s tires. They’re not awful right now but they’re getting to the point that they need to be replaced. In normal circumstances I would have waited until next spring/summer, but in the event that something actually happens to them while we’re into a second lockdown and shops are closed I am doing that now. Winters are also snowy and icy in here so I don’t want to take any chances. Bloodwork. I have avoided doing tests (routine  or otherwise) or go to the dentist throughout the summer, but I am taking advantage of this window where infections are lower to keep on top of my health. My GP herself suggested I’d wait on all of the other stuff, but she’s of the opinion that I could at least do some quick bloodwork now. It should be quick, in and out. Let’s call it a calculated risk.  CCW permit. Ok, the reason why I feel compelled to that that now rather than later, is more political than infection-related. Although this is not the place to open that can of worms, I always hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Yup, I’m taking my CCW permit in case shtf in Nov.

Are you doing something extra now to prepare for this winter?

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Toilet when there’s no water?

Here’s something I’ve been wondering about for a while when thinking about prepping. What happens in a scenario where we lose water at home as far as toileting needs are concerned?

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How will you get notified?

How will you get notified when something happens in your area? How will you stay tuned to updates?

I’m currently signed up for my county alert system, so I hope I’ll get a text if something is going down, but I’m not sure I will hear it if I’m asleep.

I’m also realizing a neighborhood or street text group may be super helpful.

Based on the helpful social media thread recently I’m collecting a list of social media accounts in a notes doc on my phone I can check if something is going down.

How will you a) hear about local emergencies and b) stay tuned to updates?

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New to Prepping & specific questions re CA/fire strategy

I just joined, but the general idea has been “top of mind” since Feb/March, here in CA specifically COVID related, but also civil unrest/race relations/political instability, and now, it’s “fire season” and we are in Elk Grove (15 mi. south of state Capitol, Sacramento).

We are approx. 30 miles (as the crow flies) from the southeasternmost edge of what is known as the LNU Fires Complex, started 4 days ago and already at 220k+ acres.  []  and [;d:2020-08-19..2020-08-20;l:countries,street;@-121.8,38.3,10z .]  Links provided for reference and because if you just “googlemap” it, doesn’t show the actual fire AREA covered, just a flame icon inside the area.  Edited map attached below (showing locations/landmarks/distance) for clarity.

The whole state received (yesterday or the day before) a general “EVERYone should be ready to grab & go” from OES, because of how wide-spread all the (then 367 separate) fires are, rapidly changing-conditions and already-strained resources.  Sidenote/perspective:  a close friend of mine was a Paradise resident, she and her family very narrowly escaped with their lives but lost their home, pets, all but the clothes on their back.

We have had food/supplies well-stocked since early March (still do).  I know I’m “skipping” steps (in that I’m NOT generally, financially/legally etc prepared), but the potential to have to USE the preparedness as it relates specifically to fire, now, within the next (hours? week(s)?) has kicked me into high gear, taking steps last night/throughout TODAY to work on the OTHER, more “immediate” stuff [list/organization TO create BOB & car bag, etc., + home & self defense I delayed before on (window film & fortified door jams/sliding door & window locks to supplement alarm & dog, shotgun + pistol)]… and I apologize, because I know this is both HIGHLY specific and a little all over the place… but this forum seems like possibly the best resource to get (smart/rational/helpful) feedback.

There are not currently any Evac Orders OR Warnings, for us right here, right now.  It’s hot (been 100+ all week), 35% humidity, not too windy (3-4 mph currently), but possibly more lightening forecast for Sun-Tues.  I have subscribed to and have all the push notifications (email, text & phone from CalFire, CAOES, SacOES, SacPD, EGPD) set up so I can hear if warnings/order happen/are issued.

But I’m not relying on JUST the notifications/warnings/orders, I’m not “waiting” for that.  I’m checking (regularly, but not obsessively) to see if the fire moves significantly or quickly this way.  If we need to evacuate, all of Yolo County + at least City of Sacramento (so, potentially 700k+ residents…) will have needed to do so first/as well… and they’d be headed this way (and/or onto same routes I’d be).  Does it seem reasonable to have as a “go now” trigger, the following:

If fire continues to spread east, and gets as far as the “Deep Water Channel”, GO soon (as in, within the hour?); If it gets to/approaches the west banks of the Sacramento River, GO IMMEDIATELY; If it gets as far as I-5, it’s too late to get out mainly because of the mass exodus traffic that (potential evacuation would cause) and options limited to soak what I can outside and surface streets to whatever “localized” Evac Center.

So… what do the experienced preppers say?  Am I over-thinking it/should I wait until/if there is an official warning/order?  Are there vital things I’m not taking into consideration?  Am I not planning to GO soon enough?

THANK YOU for any input/direction/suggestion/feedback.

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Cooking setup while bugged out?

So a problem I identified but haven’t solved is: It’s time to get out of Dodge, throw the go-bags and boxes in the car or hoof it out with packs etc., away we go, kids…

…and when we stop at some point, meal prep has to happen. Cleverly, I have food, camp stove, water and/or filters prepared. 

But I don’t have a good plan for cookware/dishes for meal prep. How are the rest of you planning for this? 

I’ve considered just shelling out for camping gear, which is lightweight enough, but seems undersized or not robust enough. Hauling heavy Dutch ovens or large iron skillets seems like a lot of weight.

Is it just a gnarly problem to feed a family on the go and I need to set aside resources for it? 🤔


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What did covid-19 expose as a weakness in your preps?

No prep is ever done or perfect. So whenever something bad happens I try to learn from it as a real-world stress test.

What did the last few months with covid make you realize was a weakness in your preps?

My husband and I already had the important supplies on hand like respirators and food. But the biggest “d’oh!” moment for us was that we didn’t have some of our food supplies labeled with purchase dates to know which food should be eaten first. It probably won’t matter, but if we needed to survive on what we have for a long time, it would be nice to know what will spoil first. We solved this by putting a Sharpie marker on a string by our food shelf and will write the year on everything we buy.

We also did not have enough gloves. We had a box of 100, but two people can run through those pretty quickly when using a pair or two every day over months.

If you could go back in time before COVID, what would you change about your preps?

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Pop culture prepping (not the crazy kind)

Any sane prepper-oriented podcasts/books/other media people have found useful and entertainig? Not so much subject matter how-to guides, I’m thinking more conceptual, scenario-driven or narrative-driven fiction (or nonfiction). I know the site did a round up of movies a while back. I found a couple new ones that way (and saw a couple I absolutely could not make it through–I’m not in it for the apocolypse long haul!) A few other things that come to mind are:

-The Big One podcast from KPCC. This actually is sort of a how-to guide, but interspersed with a speculative scenario and interviews with scientists and experts. I don’t live anywhere near earthquake territory, but I thought it was really interesting!

-My Side of the Mountain book by Elizabeth Criaghead George. I loved this book as a kid and I recently read it with my first grader, and now he is very into learning how to make fire, live in the wilderness, etc. Get em while they’re young, right?

-Pagami Creek Fire Entrapments — Facilitated Learning Analysis, published by the US Forest Service after a 2011 forest fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  I have spent a lot of time paddling and camping in the Boundary Waters and I found this report fascinating. It’s mostly a tick tock of the Forest Service’s emergency-response actions, but it is really well written. As part of that response involved interacting with campers near the impacted area it really got me thinking about how I would react in that situation. There’s also a 30 minute documentary with interviews with the rangers you can find on Youtube (search Pagami Fire from user WildlandFireLLC). I haven’t looked but I bet similar reports exist for other fires in other regions. Outside Magazine also had a really incredible piece about this fire from the perspective of campers

Any other suggestions?

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Any eyewitnesses on scene in Portland, Louisville, and other hot zones?

I’m just curious if any of our readers have been near the civil unrest in Portland, OR or any of the other hot spots. I’d love to hear first-person accounts of what’s happening in these places because I get the sense that we don’t get the full picture in the mainstream media.

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Thinking ahead: second order impacts?

With the realization that there is still a lot of uncertainty (both with the trajectory of the virus and people’s behaviors towards it) I’m curious what types of second order impacts (or third/fourth order impacts, at this point) might be in store for us.

For example: if stay at home orders persist, or people’s choices leave them at home (voluntary telework, etc.) more this summer – presumably everyone will be running their A/C on hot days, rather than leaving it off while at work.  Would that increase the strain on the electrical grid as compared to “normal” conditions and thereby increase the odds of rolling brownouts, etc?

At this point its all speculative (maybe people will spend more time outside instead?) just thinking out loud.  Any other medium-term impacts on the horizon?  Doesn’t have to be doom and gloom (I’m eating better/healthier, saving money, and fairly happy with my at-home haircuts, would be glad to maintain some of these new habits!).

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