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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Putting Food By: Strawberries

Fragaria × ananassa 'Chandler,' a short-day co...Image via Wikipedia
Hi everyone! I'm so sorry for the lack of posts lately. There has been SOOOO much to do around here lately!! I feel as if I haven't been able to keep up, which has been frustrating. With a few of the projects I can actually see the end in sight, so I hope things will be starting to look up soon! :)

So, it's strawberry season!! Whether you have them growing on your homestead or have been getting them cheaply in the stores lately, now is a great time to put some of those berries up for later when they're not in season. There are quite a few ways you can do that.......

First off, you can freeze them for later use in breakfasts, deserts, or smoothies. Wash and core berries, pat dry and lay on a baking sheet. Set in the freezer for a short while until frozen. Remove and fill freezer bags or boxes.

Dehydrated Strawberries
Choose ripe, juicy, red berries. Gently wash. Remove caps. Cut into 1/2-inch slices. Dry at 130 to 135 degrees until pliable to almost crisp.

Strawberry Jam--No Pectin
Wash 2 quarts strawberries; drain. Remove stems. Crush strawberries one layer at a time. Combine strawberries and 6 cups sugar in a large sauce pot. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly to gelling point. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 4 pints
**This will yield a more 'cooked-fruit' taste. For a more 'fresh-fruit' taste and less cooking time, use a box of fruit pectin and follow their directions.

Strawberry Syrup (This is SO yummy on pancakes!!)
Wash 2 1/2 quarts strawberries; drain. Stem and crush strawberries. Combine strawberries, 1 1/2 cups water and 1 2-inch strip of lemon peel in a medium sauce pot. Simmer 5 minutes. Strain through a damp jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth. Combine 2 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups water in a medium sauce pot; boil to 230 degrees F. Add strawberry juice and 3 1/2 cups corn syrup to sugar syrup. Boil 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tbsps. lemon juice. Ladle hot syrup into hot jars, leaving 1/4 -inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 3 pints

If you happen to have rhubarb available then you can make:

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam
Combine 2 cups crushed strawberries, 2 cups chopped rhubarb, 1 package powdered pectin and 1/4 cup lemon juice in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add 5 1/2 cups sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 6 half-pints

If you end up putting lots of berries in the freezer you can use some of them in the fall for one of our favorite recipes.......
Strawberry Applesauce
Peel, core, and chop 1-5lb. bag of apples. Toss with 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice in a large, no -reactive pot. Add 2 qts of strawberries (wash, hull, and crush). Add 2 c. sugar; mix well. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes or until the apple pieces break down, stirring often. (I then put this through a 'masher' because we like a smooth consistency. Reheat if it happens to cool down too much.) Ladle into prepared jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Seal. Process 1/2 pints-15 minutes; pints-20 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield 4 pints.

In an emergency situation, having lots of jams and jellies on hand will be great to add flavor to breads, biscuits, and other bread items which will probably be very easy to make and will feed big numbers of people. Try to make (or buy) a few different kinds!

Prep On!
Gen-IL Homesteader

Join the APN Forum at www.AmericanPreppersNetwork.net
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A Perennial Food Supply, by L.H.

The end of the world may happen tomorrow or who knows when.  Hard times are happening now and may get even harder.  A food storage system and MREs act as a life jacket when times get tough.  But you need to have a plan for when things get even tougher or if your finances or food supplies run out.  Once established, perennials can be a simple, minimal labor answer to a permanent and reliable food source and first aid kit. 
Perennials have the advantage of being planted once and then being around to enjoy for many years without the limitations of weather impacting planting or the yearly time commitment.  They can be planted at a survival retreat and be allowed to fend for themselves or in an urban yard as a part of your landscaping.  One interesting advantage is that as more perennials are planted, less time and resources are needed to mow the lawn.   
After the initial cost in time or money, perennials will more than pay for themselves.  Annuals require yearly dependency on a supplier while perennials offer independence. Other than a few trees, perennials are less likely to be a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). Perennials also show their value when it comes to trade.  It seems that everyone grows beans or tomatoes, but asparagus or raspberries, now that’s a treat.  See how much more value you can get when you’re trading with a bowl of asparagus or raspberries than a bowl of green beans.
Plan.  Do some investigating before you start to buy your plants.  You need to determine the amount of space you have as well as know your planting zone.  Choose local, heritage varieties over hybrids.  If you buy from an internet or catalogue nursery, be sure that you are buying from a nursery that raises the plants in your zone.  Northern folk need to be concerned about winter hardiness and southerners need to think about summer heat.  Just because a plant, in theory can survive a Montana winter, doesn’t mean that it will if its parent stock has never seen freezing weather for many generations.  There are lots of nurseries and seed companies located in the temperate areas along the coasts.  These are great areas for raising seed, but you want to make sure that your plants can withstand your local climate conditions.  We have been pleased with St. Lawrence Nursery in Potsdam, New York.  It is a nursery that grows trees and shrubs in a zone 3 location. 
The book Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier offers a great deal of information as you start your search.  Permaculture is a growing movement that uses perennials in landscaping.  Local groups are starting and can be good resources for local information.  More information about Permaculture is available at Permaculture.org.   Another resource that has an interesting selection of plants is EdibleLandscaping.com.
You don’t have to restrict your search to nurseries.  In the spring, gardening clubs often have annual plant sales.  Keep an eye out for the end of the spring rush when the stores start to put their plants on sale.  Just asking a gardening friend to share when they thin out their plants is the least expensive way to find good plants.
Some plants may be perennials in warmer climes, but are only annuals in the north.  Although it requires more work, this can be overcome by over-wintering plants in containers indoors.  We live in a zone 4 area.  If transportation shuts down, we would truly miss coffee and bananas so we are considering having a few plants.  Of course these could live outside all summer, but would have to come indoors by fall.  Chicory could be grown as a possible coffee substitute or for its greens.  In general, seeds take longer than plants to get established, but are considerably less expensive.
Trees.  Start with trees.  They will take the longest to get established, but they will also provide the largest amount of food as well as shelter from sun and wind.  Think of the fruit trees that will flourish in your climate.  Fruit gets expensive to buy and if anything disrupts shipping, there won’t be any available to purchase. Apples are happier in the northern regions and citrus trees need the southern warmth.  Since trees provide so much food, consider what you will do when faced with a sudden rush of bounty.  Many fruits dry very easily.  Just peel, slice and put in a food dryer.  Other preserving options include canning, fermenting and juicing.  Don’t limit your tree selection to fruits.  Nut trees provide protein and fats and nuts are easy to store.  Although labor intensive to produce,   syrup from maple or birch trees is a wonderful substitute for sugar.
Shrubs.  Shrubs or bushes have the added advantage of providing a privacy screen or low wind break as well as providing food.  Berry bushes are an excellent starting point.  They are easy to care for, nutritious and tasty.  Every home should have an elder bush to make elderberry syrup to fight winter colds and flues.  Hawthorn bushes provide an effective treatment for heart issues.  Since hawthorns have impressive thorns they were traditionally used as fences in hedgerows to keep out unwelcome visitors.  Rugosa roses are beautiful, winter hardy, and [their hips] are an excellent source of Vitamin C.
Vines.  The first vine that comes to mind is grapes.  But don’t limit yourself to just the fruit.  Grape leaves are used as a wrap in a number of dishes such as the Greek dolma.  Adding a grape leaf to a jar of homemade pickles will keep them crisp.  Kiwis and groundnuts, also known as the potato bean are two more examples of hardy perennial vines.  Chayote or vegetable pear is a pear shaped squash that is very popular in Central America.
Vegetables and Herbs.  Most people think there are only two perennial vegetables, rhubarb and asparagus.  But there are more. Artichoke is a perennial in warmer climates.  Jerusalem artichoke, also called sunchoke, looks like a sunflower but produces a tuber.  Sea kale of the cabbage family grows in climate zones 6-9.  Green leafy plants that add variety to salads include sorrel, New Zealand spinach and lambs quarters.  I like to include lettuce in with my greens since it so easily self seeds itself.  Lovage is an old plant that can be used in place of celery.  The buds, stalks and roots of the cardoon or artichoke thistle can all be eaten, although it is grown only in warmer areas.  The vegetable source of rennet, which is used to make cheese, is the stem of the cardoon. 
Herbs are more likely to be perennials in the southern states, but even the northern states have chives.  The mint family seems to survive almost anything.  In northern areas herbs are easy to dig up in the fall and winter inside in a container.  This saves the cost of buying seeds or new plants yearly. Walking onions will continue to grow and reproduce while providing for your family. Yarrow should be in every first aid kit to care for bleeding and bruises.  Aloe is another essential plant to have on hand for burns.   
Animals.  Perennials not only provide food for your family, they can also provide for your animals.  Pigs were traditionally fattened on acorns.  We have been hearing interesting things about the Siberian pea shrub and started growing our first batch this year.  This is a perennial shrub that is a legume.  It produces a podded “pea” that is 36% protein and can be used for flour, sprouting and animal feed.  Of course many animals will enjoy the leftovers of all of your fruits and vegetables.  Comfrey, which is very prolific, can be grown as a food supplement for some of your animals.  I also consider it to be essential to have in my first aid kit. 
Wildcrafting.  There are many wild growing perennials and self seeding plants.  Of course, rural homes have a larger area and variety available to them.  Nettles aren’t just weeds, but are a great spring tonic.  Urban homes still have a nice selection of plants available to use as long as no chemicals are used on the lawn.  No home should be without plantain, either fresh or as a salve or tincture.  It is an incredibly useful first aid tool for the skin and things that bite, itch or sting.  Dandelions used to be so valued for food and medicine that people used to save the seeds and bring them when they were pioneering a new area.  Mushrooms are another treat which can be wild crafted or seeded or inoculated in a given area.  Morels are easily identified, but hard to find.  In general it is best to learn how to find mushrooms under the direct guidance of a very experienced person.
Don’t limit yourself to a few traditional fruit trees.  Staghorn sumac, lingonberries, buffalo berries, nanny berries are all unique and wonderful sources of food that require little work on your part that allow you time to deal with other essentials.  Start to explore all of the perennial food options that will grow in your local area, your neighbors will think that you are landscaping, but you will know that you are adding a long term food supply.

Free Download - Water Treatment Primer

Natural Water Source

Being thirsty can be powerful motivation when it comes to needing water. Most people think of food first and water second. In actuality, you will need water long before you will need food. Knowing how to properly treat your water to make it safe for use is an essential part of being prepared. Here is a free download in PDF format that covers many of the essential items you will need to know to properly treat and store your water.

It also includes instructions for making a DIY stove stop still to distill your water or a slow sand filter. It also includes help on diagnosing many different kinds of problems that may occur with your water supply. This 1.8MB download is 37 pages of very useful information.

Download the Water Treatment Primer here:

Water Treatment Primer.PDF (1.8MB)

Staying above the water treatment line!

NY Times: Imagining Life Without Oil, and Being Ready


As oil continued to pour into the Gulf of Mexico on a recent Saturday, Jennifer Wilkerson spent three hours on the phone talking about life after petroleum.

For Mrs. Wilkerson, 33, a moderate Democrat from Oakton, Va., who designs computer interfaces, the spill reinforced what she had been obsessing over for more than a year — that oil use was outstripping the world’s supply. She worried about what would come after: maybe food shortages, a collapse of the economy, a breakdown of civil order. Her call was part of a telephone course about how to live through it all.

In bleak times, there is a boom in doom.

Americans have long been fascinated by disaster scenarios, from the population explosion to the cold war to global warming. These days the doomers, as Mrs. Wilkerson jokingly calls herself and likeminded others, have a new focus: peak oil. They argue that oil supplies peaked as early as 2008 and will decline rapidly, taking the economy with them.

Located somewhere between the environmental movement and the bunkered survivalists, the peak oil crowd is small but growing, reaching from health food stores to Congress, where a Democrat and a Republican formed a Congressional Peak Oil Caucus.

And they have been resourceful, sharing the concerns of other “collapsitarians,” including global debt and climate change — both caused by overuse of diminishing oil supplies, they maintain.

Many people dispute the peak oil hypothesis, including Daniel Yergin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power” and chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a company that advises governments and industry. Mr. Yergin has argued that new technology continues to bring more oil.

Andre Angelantoni is not taking that chance. In his home in San Rafael, Calif., he has stocked food reserves in case an oil squeeze prevents food from reaching market and has converted his investments into gold and silver.

The effects of peak oil, including high energy prices, will not be gentle, said Mr. Angelantoni, a Web designer whose company, Post Peak Living, offers the telephone class and a handful of online courses for life after a collapse.

“Our whole economy depends on greater and greater energy supplies, and that just isn’t possible,” he said. “I wish I could say we’ll quietly accept having many millions of people unemployed, their homes foreclosed. But it’s hard to see the whole country transitioning to a low-energy future without people becoming angry. There’s going to be quite a bit of social turmoil on the way down.”

Transition US, a British transplant that seeks to help towns brace for life after oil, including a “population die-off” from shortages of oil, food and medicine, now has 68 official chapters around the country, since starting with just two in 2008. Group projects range from community vegetable gardens to creating local currency in case the national one crashes.

Bleak books like James Howard Kunstler’s “The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century” and Richard Heinberg’s “The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies” have sold 100,000 and 50,000 copies, respectively, according to their publishers.

In Congress in 2005, Representative Roscoe G. Bartlett, Republican of Maryland, and Senator Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat who was a representative at the time, created the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus. Web sites, online videos and numerous social networks connect adherents in ways that would once have been impossible.

Mr. Angelantoni, 40, came to his concern about peak oil from an interest in climate change, because he felt its impact would be more precipitous. “The peak oil conversation is where the climate change conversation was 20 years ago,” he said. He distinguished the peak oil crowd from the environmental movement. “The Sierra Club tells people that if we use less energy, the underlying model is sound,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the case.”

Like several people in the telephone class, he said his concern with peak oil had strained his relationship with his spouse, creating an “unbridgeable” distance between them.

“It’s very difficult for people to hear that this form of the economy is breaking down,” he said. “They think that because it hasn’t happened yet that it won’t ever happen.”

Mrs. Wilkerson has now read two dozen books about peak oil and related topics. For a while, she became depressed at work and had trouble discussing her feelings with her husband because the conversations were so dire, she said. At work, her colleagues told her directly “that they were tired of hearing about it,” she said. “They felt I was going to an extreme, thinking collapse was going to happen.”

She added, “I was ready to move out to the country and be an organic farmer, but I learned that’s not the way to do it. You need a community.”

Despite the rapid growth of Transition US, the movement was much easier to sell in England, said Raven Gray, who came to this country to found a branch here. While Americans embrace doomsday scenarios, they are less likely to work together on how to live afterward, she said.

“There’s lot of apocalyptic people in environmental circles,” she said. “A lot of those people were outraged that we presented an optimistic view of the future. There’s a dark vision driving us, but we’re about moving toward a positive picture of what can be done.”

For Mrs. Wilkerson, who is now growing vegetables in her kitchen, the course, which cost $175, gave her encouragement to move in that direction.

“Whether or not collapse happens, being able to teach other people to grow food so they can weather any adversity is a good investment of my time,” she said.

Transitioning to Seven Day Bug-Out Bags, by Firefighter Charles

I was standing in the living room, watching CNN.  I saw the devastation of Haiti.  I listened to how help is coming and arrived almost immediately.  Logistical issues hampered “helps” immediate aiding of the people in Haiti.  Weeks later, Chile was hit by a massive earthquake as well.  With Chile’s government not wanting any support at first, watched how Chile succumb to riots and looting in just three days after the quake.  Haiti broke down as well after five days of no food, water, or shelter.  Many people in Chile had to sleep in the streets due the unsafe conditions in their homes, uncertain if the structures of their homes were sound.  Many of the Chileans who stayed by their homes, slept outside in makeshift tents that were made out of blankets, sheets and plastic tarps.  In Haiti, hundreds of people made shelters out of wood, clothes, and cardboard boxes.  Needless to say both countries were unprepared.  At least the people in Haiti have an excuse.  Most of the people are poor and or uneducated.  The people in Chile have no excuse.  They live in earthquake country and [since they are more prosperous and better educated] they should have been better prepared.  In the case of Louisiana, people had time to get prepared and chose not to.  I guess most people in Louisiana figured it wasn’t going to get that bad or decided at the last minute to take whatever they needed.  Either way, “help” did not come for them for four long days, in some cases longer.  Many people died from dehydration along with other things such as drowning, infection, and medical complications.
Three Day Kits are Obsolete:
It hit me that the 72-hour Emergency Kit, 72-hour Bug Out Bag, or Bail Out Bag or whatever you call it is obsolete.  I am now convinced that the 5 or 7 day Bug Out Bag is the way to go.  Hurricane Katrina was a huge lesson to the American preparedness community.  We watched while a lot people struggled, died, and became victims.  Our financial situation here in the U.S. is crumbling.  Programs are being cut, resources running low, and politicians don’t ever think a disaster can happen to us or they might not care.  Either way help will be a long way off from three days.  Even if your Bug Out Location is only two days away by car.  Running into unforeseen problems could extend that trip (will discuss later).  For those who have flee on foot, vehicles, and boats having a 5 to 7 day bag might have extended some of these individuals’ lifespan.  Having more is a lot better than having less especially in a disaster situation.  Like many people say: "It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."
The Scenario:
     Now FEMA’s response times as we all know is pitiful.  FEMA’s response time also varies from situation to situation. But for our purposes, let's give FEMA the benefit of doubt.  The scenario i san unlikely yet devastating a 7.5 earthquake in New York City (Manhattan).  I’ll play with the numbers in their favor.  It might take them 8 to 12 hours to figure out logistics and if the area is safe.  It may take them another 10 to 12 hours to mobilize and get to the disaster area.  Then once there, they set up outside of the disaster area, which might take another 8 to 12 hours.  Also having engineers come in to analyze the tunnels and bridges, will further delay the rescue.  Depending on the bridge or tunnel they decide analyze, that only can take up to another 12 hours.  That would be an estimated FEMA’s response time.  You now exhausted your 72-hour bag.  Keep in mind that each disaster warrants a different approach.  Also understanding that getting to the disaster zone would take time because of the possibility of compromised bridges and tunnels, hence the engineers.  The total estimated time would be 62 to 84 hours.  Not including the process time to get into a FEMA camp.  A 5 or 7-Day Bug Out Bag is starting to look real good at this point.
     Now once FEMA has established itself in, near, and or around the disaster area.  It could take another 12-24 hours to receive one-on-one assistance.  Considering that thousands to Hundreds of thousands will also be on line waiting for “help”.  Now, picture yourself being on line for your favorite band and waiting 10-24 hours to get their tickets.  Now translate that to a disaster relief line.  You exhausted your 72-hour bag and now have to wait in a line for hours maybe even days to be sheltered and fed.  You will be beyond hungry, thirsty and tired.  Knowing that you are so close yet have to wait for hours more, will really agitate you.  Note: That waiting for FEMA support on a line of hundreds of thousands will bring out the good, the bad, and the worst.
     Using an earthquake scenario in New York City is one of the ultimate crises for usage of a 5 or 7-Day Bug Out Bag.  You will be using your tube tent, emergency blanket, emergency sleeping bag and or tarp for shelter and warmth.  Collapsed or compromised building will have you setting up a temporary home in Central Park, Van Cortland Park, Prospect Park, Yankee Stadium (Being the only sports arena in the five boroughs) or a safe clearing near the home.  Compromised water lines, the aqueduct, and sewer lines will have you depended on your hydro bladder and emergency water packets in your bag.  Along with using your purification tablets to purify possibly tainted water.  There are many other scenarios like a Nuclear Attack (which is less likely), Hurricanes, Civil Unrest, and other disasters that would make a 5 to 7-Day Bug Out Bag desirable.  Keep in mind that you should be sheltering in place for the previously mentioned disasters and have food storage but if you don’t, that’s where your Bug Out Bag can also come in handy.
      Now, on the early mentioning of running into problems while you are Bugging Out to your determine location.  You had already picked out your escape route.  Once on the road, you start running into multiple "road blocks".  Which now alters your escape a few times.  Now the three-day trip has turned into a 4 to 5 day trip.  Again, your 72 hour Bug Out Bag is now depleted.  Having your 5 to 7 day Bug Out Bag during an evacuation will sever you well in the case of major detours.  Keep in mind if you are a responsible prepper your Vehicle Bug Out Kit’s inventory should sustain you for a few days without having to tap into your Bug Out Bag.  I, myself have enough in my Vehicle Bug Out Kit that I would most likely not break into my Bail Out Bags, Start Up Supplies or Bug Out Bag.  Planning ahead with your supplies in your Bug Out Bag will go a long way if you go past your 72-hour mark.  Having more is better.  Having less is foolish.
Is It Really Too Much?    
     Some people might think that having a 5 or 7-Day Bug Out Bag is over the top but in the field of preparedness.  When being faced with uncertainties nothing is over the top, as long as you keep level headed and use common sense.  You are only adding a few more items to your already existing bag.  If you don’t have a bag of any kind and don’t have a lot of money to build a 5 or 7 day bag out right.  Start with a 3-day bag and build from there.  Make sure you end up with a 5 or 7-day bag, at the very least a 5-day bag. 
This or That?
     Some people are going to say “Why not just have a 7 day Bug Out Bag instead of a 5 day Bug Out Bag?”  It comes down to how much you are willing to spend on the items in the Bug Out Bag and how much you are willing to carry.  Trust me adding four more 4.222 oz of water packets add up in weight (you’ll feel a slight difference).  Three more (field stripped) MRE meals or canned goods add in weight.  I’m a weight lifter and a firefighter and am use to carrying heavy weight for long periods of time.  For some this kind of weight is not acceptable or doable.
Somewhat Of A History:   
     The Bug Out Bag was designed for evacuation purposes.  The Bug Out Bag is portable equipment full with survival to sustain you for 72 hours.  The typical items such as food, water, emergency blankets, flashlight, shelter, weapons, et cetera could be found in most bags.  The Bug Out Bag goes by a few names such as G.O.O.D. bag (Get Out Of Dodge), SHTF bag, Go Bag, Bail Out Bag and the 72 Hour Emergency Kit.  Nobody is sure where it started but some say that it was derived from those used by military aviators.
The New Idea (Somewhat):
    My Bug Out Kit is different from most people.  My Bug Out Bag is actually inside of my Bug Out Kit, which is a military duffle bag (sea bag), which also contains my Bug Out Rigging System.  My Bug Out Rigging System is a tactical vest with a 6x6 tactical pouch (emergency blanket, water proof matches, paracord, emergency poncho, food bars, flexible canteen and disposable lighter), fixed blade knife (mounted on the back), folded knife (on front left chest), a copy of the personal document kit (inside the vest behind the ballistic plate), and some items I don't discuss.  Inside the sea bag is a change of clothes, boots, tactical vest (Bug Out Rigging System), 6 – 0.5 liter bottles of water (to fill the hydro-bladder in the Bug Out Bag), Personal Medical Kit (thigh rigged, part of the Bug Out Rigging system), Main Personal Document Kit (everyone in your family), and a dump pouch (Folded up on my belt).  The Bug Out Bag is the 5.11Tactical brand 72 Hour Rush Backpack (trust me you can fit way more than 72 hours worth of gear in that bag).  Compartmentalize bags are the best option to go with.  If packed right you can get to anything you need without having to dig through it or dumping the entire bag just get one item.  When bugging out, you want to keep moving and create distant between you and the disaster.  So, knowing where the item is or having accessible is important.
     A Double Bug Out Bag system can be another option if you’re strong enough and packed correctly.  A Double Bug Out Bag can extend your bug out time.  It also allows you to carry more food, water, ammo, medical supply and or clothes.  The double bail out bag system does not have to be two big bags but a small and larger or two medium size bags.  Recommendation:  For the second Bug Out Bag I use Maxpedition’s Jumbo Versipack, which is medium size and pack a lot of extras.  Or Condor Outdoor’s Modular Style Deployment Bag, which is small but can pack a lot of extras.  I use the Condor Modular Deployment Bag for medical gear.  Plus, the Modular Style Deployment Bag can be “married” to one of your Bug Out Bags.
     A Vehicle Bug Out Bag/Bin is more like a kit that stays in the vehicle and is kept in the back.  It’s a back up kit to your Bug Out Bag.  While you are traveling in the vehicle, you utilize the bag or bin.  The difference in this Bug Out equipment is that most of the contents in that bag or bin will have vehicle related items like jumper cables, road reflectors, tire patching kit, flashlights, flares, ponchos, [12VDC] electronics charger, et cetera.  Not to mention water, food bars, and a back up weapon of some kind.  I own a small one in the back of my SUV.  It’s a bag not a bin.  I do store water and food bars under the rear seat of the last row.  I own a 2004 Ford Explorer so I use every inch of the vehicle. 
Recommendation: If you build a vehicular bin, make sure you also add crucial auto parts like a serpentine belt, water hoses, a good set of tools and things of that nature.  Note: Make sure you check your spare tire every six months.  Also have a realfull-size tire as a spare and not a "mini spare" donut.
     A Bail Out Bag is what I have design to be for the extreme case that I have to bail out of my vehicle and can’t grab anything else but that.  I keep my kit on the middle console.  My girlfriend’s bug-out bag is on the back of her seat.  In there I have 3 days of energy bars, 3 days of water (if used sparingly), packets of water soluble vitamins, mini flashlight, folded knife, paracord and a map.
Recommendation: I use Condor Outdoor’s Tactical Messenger Bag.  For those that carry firearms this bag is very compatible to those who carry rifle and side arms.  Since I don’t carry and can’t have a firearm here in New York City (Liberals).  With that in mine I have more room to store other items.
     A Bug Out Rigging System is a tactical vest and a thigh rig with items that will help during your bug out phase.  As I mention before my vest is more design to the standard of the state/city I live in.  For those who can own firearms strapping magazines to your vest with other survival items is key and adds more ammo to your firepower.  Having a thigh rigging system is also part of the Bug Out Rigging system.  Keeping a personal medical kit (for yourself), sidearm, fix blade knife, collapsible baton, or a 6x6 pouch full of “stuff” will help when needed.  Plus carrying extra food, water pouches, and or ammo always help.
Recommendation: I keep my thigh rigged Personal Medical Kit opposite my baton.  Using a 4x4 or 6x6 pouch would be the biggest I would go with on a thigh-rigged pouch.  Anything bigger will just get in the way.
[JWR Adds: In my experience, gear that is strapped to one's thighs tends to be fatiguing, when walking long distances. A small "fanny" pack or MOLLE pouch worn in front is far more convenient. They can be re-positioned if you ever need to low crawl.]
    A High Speed Kit/Bag is a bag I built with heavy tools, weapons, and a comprehensive medical kit for the small chance of an earthquake, building collapse, or bad hurricane here in the city.  The bag was built to help others.  In the bag I keep a mini axe, Stanley FatMax Xtreme [Halligan Tool], 200 ft nylon climbing rope, fixed blade knife, folding knife, hydro bladder, food bars, and emergency blankets (for trapped people).  The bag I use is Condor Outdoor’s Level 3 Assault Pack.  I came up with the idea to start my own bag after 9/11.  After experiencing not having my own equipment available, I now keep one on deck.  Recommendation: If you build your own bag, make sure you know how to use the tools and that the tools have a multi purpose use.  Pack enough according your area and the distance you are willing to travel to help.  Note:  A Good set of “irons” (Halligan bar and a full size [firefighter's] axe) goes a long way.  Carrying them around will tend to weigh after awhile but they are worth their weight in gold.  Note: There are other companies that make the Level 3 Assault Backpack.  Some are less expensive.  Some fall apart easily.  Some are just no good.  You have to choose the right one.
Carrying The Load:
     Carrying a Bug Out Bag can be heavy.  Let alone carrying a tactical vest, thigh rigged pouch, Bug Out Bag, and a second Bug Out Bag/Kit.  If you are on foot this stuff starts to weigh after a while.  Keeping in shape like Robert Neville in [the movie] I Am Legend is necessary.  I know working out is not a major “to do” on your list but it has to be done in the interest of family and self. Keeping in shape is key to allowing your body to deal with extra weight you might be carrying.  By working out and lifting weights, that allows me to carry a Double Bug Out Bag system.  You have to keep your core tight.  By strengthening your abs, back, and legs, you can do more without risking injury. Recommendation:  For workout tips read Muscle & Fitness, Men’s Health, or Flex magazine (keep in mind Flex magazine is more for the body builder but they do have good tips from time to time).  You can also read the recent two-part SurvivalBlog article: Fit To Survive.  It’s not a bad read and has good tips on going about getting strong.
Why Do It To Yourself?:
     One Person Bug Out Bags are your best choice.  Buying one of those Multi-person Bug Out Bag is somewhat for novice preppers.  Even so novice preppers should actually know better.  You can also look at it as being irresponsible.  Having all your belongings, food, water, shelter, et cetera in one bag is foolish.  Lets say you buy a 72- hour Bug Out Bag built for four people.  You have everything in one bag.  Now a disaster strikes & you have to bug out of town or the city.  What happens if one of the four family members gets separated?  Or the lead person carrying the 72-hour Bug Out Bag built for four gets separated?  Now, the other three family members are SOL. Or the one family member who got separated is now cold, hungry, and alone.  Recommendation:  Every able body should have their own Bug Out Bag.  With children under five years of age I would split their stuff between the adults’ Bug Out Bag.
The Personal Document Issue:
     Keeping personal documents safe is another priority all on it’s own.  Make sure everyone in your family has a Personal Document Kit on them & in their Bug Out Bags.  You (the head of the Family) keep everyone’s Personal Document on your person and in your Bug Out Bag.  Everyone in your family should have two full copies of Personal Documents, one on their persons and the other one in their Bug Out Bag.  If you have an infant then try putting on one on them.  Of course, they won’t have their own Bug Out Bag unless they are Spartan.  In any case, the extra copy of the infant’s Personal Documents will be in the mother’s Bug Out Bag.  The reason for putting one on a small child or an infant is in the small chance that you get separated from one another.  Some may say that keeping so many copies of personal documents is unnecessary but in a time of crisis things as we all know never go according to plan.  Having a main copy in your bag is good but with thieves lurking in every corner.  If your bag gets stolen, then at least you have a copy on yourself. Recommendation:  For every Bug Out Bag, Bail Out Bag, Vehicle Bug Out Bag, & Bug Out System you should have copies of key personal documents in each bag or system.
     The Preparedness field is forever changing.  There is no “set in stone way” of doing things.  Whatever works for you is what you stick to but never be afraid of new and approved ideas.  The different Bug Out Bag systems might work for you.  It works for me and still keeps my hands free.  It might seem overboard but again in the face of disaster, you’ll need as much help as you can safely carry.

Considerations for Urban Survivalist

Is there really a big divide between the urban/suburban survivalist and those who live in a rural setting? Sure is. And with most of us living in urban/suburban areas, we need to pay special attention to the differences.

Let's give it a run down:

Urban survivalists:
  • Have a small amount of land (house with yard) or no land at all (apartment/condo)
  • Have limited amounts of storage space--a basement if you're lucky, maybe much less if you're in an apartment.
  • Have neighbors who live in their immediate area--right next door, or even completely surrounding them in the case of apartment dwellers.
  • Have great opsec and concealment challenges to deal with--with neighbors twenty feet away, you've got to be especially cautious. No shooting rifles off the back porch.
  • Have a greater likelihood of dealing with large groups of attackers--angry mobs, gangs, etc.
  • Have greater government/law enforcement presence to contend with if these force become an issue (i.e. gun grabbing cops post-Katrina).
  • Have a greater likelihood of dealing with a terrorist attack or opposing force military strike--could be active shooter, N/B/C threats, car bombs, or whatever else the bad guy hadjis dream up.
  • Are more likely to be "gridlocked" in place during a bug out--stuck on the road with the bajillion other evacuees clogging the roadways like a rush hour from hell.
 On the plus side, urban survivalists have some benefits from living in built up areas:
  • Some of those neighbors/community members/thousands of other people who live nearby may be of assistance. With the thousands of people, there's a greater availability of skills--for example, in the city you can find a thousand auto mechanics. In the country, there might only be one or two.
  • Closer proximity to airports and mass transport
  • Closer to a wide variety of stores/shopping.
  • Closer proximity to shipping/receiving points. Shipyards, railyards, warehouses, factories, etc.
  • Closer to medical assistance and emergency responders. We can all fantasize about playing Rambo during a home invasion, but when a half dozen thugs are kicking in your front door, you'll want the whole SWAT team there, pronto.
  • The vast numbers make it easy for you go "grey man" and fade into the background. In a rural/small town, most everyone knows everyone. In the city, no one knows or cares who the heck you are.
  • Endless potential hiding places and firing positions. Read the accounts from guys who have done PSD in Iraq or Afghanistan. Urban areas are a nightmare--no way to check every window, shanty, rooftop or crappy car driving by.
  • Government will intervene more rapidly in a crisis situation--may mean rations, bottled water, medical assistance, etc. You can turn your nose up at it, but if you need it, you'll be glad it's there. Government handouts will limit looting from the hungry/thirsty.
Due to the nature of their area of operations, there are some skills that an urban survivor may want to focus on. A few that come to mind:
  • Rappelling, especially if you live in a particularly built up and densely populated area or a large apartment.
  • People skills/human networking skills. Having and building friendships with people in the right places will get you far in the city.
  • Lock picking
  • Mechanics and electrical repair
  • Grey man/hiding in plan sight strategies and techniques
  • Concealment/camouflage techniques for urban areas
Prep considerations:
  • Cash is more likely to be useful--bribes, purchasing supplies, paying for assistance, getting repairs, renting vehicles, etc. Make it a priority.
  • Firearms battery needs to be able to fight off potentially large groups of attackers. If any hunting is done, it will need to be done very quietly--silenced .22s.
  • Keep your firearm preps low profile. Instead of pelican cases and chest rigs, think nondescript duffel bags and belt set ups or fishing vests.
  • Due to storage constraints, supplies need to be compact, low-space/high yield, and carefully balanced--you can't fill whole storage rooms with TP and paper towels.
  • You'll need to be creative with any caches that you establish--storage units, rental lockers, hidden or plain-sight hides, homes of close friends, etc. 
  • Food self sufficiency will be difficult. Difficult to keep livestock, garden size is limited. Plan accordingly.
  • If you have your stuff squared away and still have leftover space, consider storing some important preps to equip neighbor allies.