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Thursday, August 12, 2010

all-new episode of DUAL SURVIVAL


On an all-new episode of DUAL SURVIVAL tomorrow at 10PM ET/PT: In a hurricane's aftermath, Cody and Dave find survival resources in an unlikely place--trash. But their journey to the Dominican Republic's coast is filled with creatures that sting, and Dave ignores Cody's advice about hunting the deadliest of them all.

Embeddable clips from Friday night's episode are available at the below links.

Dual Survival - Operation Pooh Bear | After the Storm
Dual Survival - Treacherous Descent | After the Storm

Creating Secure Perimeter Fencing with Plant Life

Red pommes of Firethorn (Pyracantha). Shot nea...Image via Wikipedia
I’ve read enough about the Golden Horde, mutant zombie biker gangs, and the occasional parent who will do anything to feed their family to know that in a TEOTWAWKI situation not only do I not want anyone breaking into my house, I don’t want anyone to be able to get past the perimeter of my property. I live in a very rural area of the South, surrounded by a few neighbors that would do anything to help someone out, cotton farms, and cows. I’m as far out in the hinterboonies as is possible in this part of the US. Yet, if I were to construct a perimeter fence that would properly keep people out, everyone in the general area would be talking about “that strange anti-social family” since most properties in this area have only decorative fencing, simple electric fencing, or none at all. Neither my husband nor I really want to spend the 11th hour adding more barbed wire around the livestock pens, gardens, orchards, or the house. Because of this we’ve decided to take a slightly more natural approach to our perimeter fencing. In our area it’s not uncommon to see wooded areas with vast overgrowth so we’ve decided to create a perimeter fence that’s impenetrable and looks like an abandoned wooded area.

When creating a plant based perimeter fence there are three main criteria you need to consider:

1. Is the plant native or common to your specific area? (For example, at a retreat in the southwest various species of cacti would be perfectly appropriate whereas in my area that would be a dead giveaway that someone lives beyond the overgrowth)

2. Will it grow rapidly without much intervention? (This is very important; you don’t want to waste water that could be used for drinking, household duties, or your garden on your perimeter fence)

3. Will it be difficult to get through? (You want to be sure to use plants that are thorny and grow in extremely dense)
Another criterion that you can look at is will your perimeter plants provide you with additional resources. Because my retreat is in an area that allows for such a diversity of plant life to grow without human intervention I added on that final criterion to narrow down the choices. The plants my husband and I chose are Bamboo, Pyracantha, Blackberries, and Spanish Bayonet. So, the reasons why we chose these plants

Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant on earth, and an invasive plant at that. Some species can grow as fast as 48” in a 24 hour period. It is also an extraordinarily diverse plant that can be used in construction, cooking, even as medicine. For perimeter fencing having an invasive plant is a good thing because it means it will grow without much human intervention and it will become very dense, which is better for keeping people out. For my fence I went with a clumping variety instead of a running variety because it’s easier to contain clumping varieties. One great thing about bamboo is there are varieties that will grow from climate zone 4 to zone 11; you’ll just have to do a little bit of research to see which specific species of bamboo will work in your region. Also be sure to look around your area to see what sort of bamboo appears to be growing wild, remember, you want your perimeter to blend in. We’ve managed to make sure we get bamboo common to our area by scouting craigslist, freecycle, and various local classifieds for people offering up free bamboo plants. Because it is such an invasive species of plant, man people will give bamboo away as long as you’re willing to uproot it for them because they can no longer contain it.

Pyracantha (sometimes called Firethorn) can grow to be about 20 feet high, produce edible berries, and they are covered in thorns. I’ve read a few articles that suggest cultivating Pyracantha around windows for home defense because of how densely the thorns grow. Where I live, beyond extra watering when first planting a Pyracantha tree they need no human intervention to grow. Another benefit is the berries, they attract deer and birds which make for excellent hunting and you can pick the berries to feed to chickens who don’t mind the bitter flavor. For human consumption you just need to boil down the berries to create a tasty jelly with about 40 calories per tbsp; 4 ½ cups of berries will produce approximately 2 cups of jelly. Pyracantha does best and is fully evergreen in zones 7 through 9 though with some research you can find strains that have been bred for hardiness in colder climates.

We chose blackberries for a few reasons; one being that they are my absolute favorite berry and providing food is always a good idea when preparing for TEOTWAWKI, especially a food as healthy and diverse as blackberries. Blackberries are notable for their high nutritional contents of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid - a B vitamin, and the essential mineral, manganese and they rank highly among fruits for antioxidant strength, particularly due to their dense contents of polyphenolic compounds, such as ellagic acid, tannins, ellagitannins, quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyanins and cyanidins. Blackberry root and leaves are also common in herbal medicines to help with ailments such as diarrhea, dysentery, and more. But the security reasons being that they are everywhere where we live, to the point where during blackberry season all you have to do is walk along any road in the area and you’ll be likely to pick enough blackberries in one day to feed your family blackberry cobbler for a year. They are extraordinarily invasive and require no human intervention to thrive. And they are extremely dense, thorny plants, since Pyracantha grow so tall their thorns only affect the upper half of a person, blackberries will take care of the lower half. Blackberries do best in zones 7 through 9; though you can grow blackberry bushes in slightly colder climates they’re unlikely to produce any fruit.

Spanish Bayonet
The final plant we decided to add to our perimeter is the Spanish Bayonet, named so because it’s leaves will puncture someone even through thick layers of clothing. The Spanish Bayonet becomes top heavy between 5 to 20 feet when the it topples over, then the tip curves upwards and continues growing. Meanwhile it readily sends out shoots around the base rapidly becoming a thick, impenetrable clump of bayonet like leaves. Though these provide no additional purposes beyond security, these are the sharpest and easiest plants to take care of in our specific area and therefore a very worthy plant to add into our plant perimeter fence. The Spanish Bayonet grows best in zones 8 through 11.

I always think getting your plants from a local nursery is best because then you know for sure the plant will survive in your specific climate and the conditions in your particular area, not to mention most local nursery owners are willing to help you and they’re a lot more knowledgeable than your average big box employee when it comes to the plants they sell you. Depending on how big of a perimeter you need to create and how much time, and money you have could make it difficult to get all of your plants from the same local nursery. If there are only 1 or 2 local nurseries and you’re unable to get all the plants you need for your perimeter from them I would suggest seeing if you can find a somewhat local nursery that you can order from online. For those on a budget, of which I am one, build up your perimeter fence over time. Simply find the weakest points of your property and start there. You can find plants for free or cheap on craigslist, freecycle, even by searching for garden club plant exchanges. Remember, you don’t have to use the same exact plants around the entire perimeter, just make sure whatever plants you use match the criteria you need. In fact, the more diverse your plant perimeter is, the more likely it is to resemble overgrown woods.

When creating your perimeter fence you’ll want to layer your plants in a way that provides the most protection. We’ve chosen to plant the Spanish Bayonet on the outside, then Pyracantha, Bamboo, another row of Pyracantha, and then let the blackberries run crazy throughout. Behind the plant perimeter we’ve constructed a sturdy barbed wire reinforced fence that will help keep our livestock in and provide an extra layer of security if someone manages to make it through the dense, thorny perimeter we’ve created. The major weak point to this is of course the point of entry through our driveway, after all, someone may not be able to fight their way through the plant life but who needs to when you can walk up a driveway and find the home easily? We’ve handled that problem by putting in a livestock grate and standard livestock gate that is chained shut and kept locked. By not maintaining the entry point into the property from the road it appears to be merely an entry to a livestock pasture that’s become overgrown from years of disuse. In case of TEOTWAWKI we can remove the grate, fill in the hole with barbed wire, tangle foot wire, or even create a punji pit using some of the bamboo from our perimeter fence.

Backpacking Tips: First Aid Kit Items

You can buy a pre-packaged first aid kit at a price and added weight, or you can tailor your own to fit your needs and situation.

Alternate version of the first aid symbolImage via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia
If you choose to do your own first aid kit, make it up to fit your backpacking trip. Take into account where you will be hiking and how long your trip will be. Also consider the number of people in your group.
Keep your kit small and light – under 10 ounces if possible.
- large and small bandaids
- half-inch wide cloth tape
- 4 x 4 inch sterile dressings
- 2 x 2 inch sterile dressings
- 3 x 4 inch sterile non-adherent pads
- roll of sterile gauze wrap
- conforming gauze bandage
- knuckle adhesive bandages
- butterfly bandages for closing wounds
- antibiotic ointment
- antiseptic towelettes
- povidone iodine anticeptic
- benzalkonium disinfectant
- tincture of benzoin
- safety pins
- sterile, cotton-tipped applicators
-  aloe vera gel with lidocaine (local anesthetic)
- duct tape,
- moleskin
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- extra-strength acetaminophen
- ibuprofen
- aspirin
-imodium caplets for diarrhea control
-antacid tablets
- antihistamine packets
- throat lozenges for sore throat
Caveat: This must not be construed as medical advice. The above list is made up of suggested first aid items in different categories for your first aid kit. It is not a definitive list. You may add to it or subtract from it items according to your specific situation and needs.
by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.

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EDC Bag - 7/4/2010

I took a spontaneous trip out of town for the weekend of the 4th--about a 7 hour drive from home, 3 day trip. Literally just threw some clothes in my new EDC pack and hopped in the car--about 2 minutes of packing time.

I've used a shoulder bag as a general purpose/EDC bag for about the past 6 years, but recently had the hankering to move to a backpack. Shoulder bags are handy and all, but don't work for much more than about 10 lbs. I'm starting a Masters program in the fall and will be hauling around a full sized laptop, books, etc. and knew a shoulder bag wasn't going to cut it. Also, I was looking for something that I could do 2-3 day trips with. A backpack was a must-have.

After a search, I settled on the Camelbak Urban Assault. For whatever reason, this pack is seeing a limited release and is fairly hard to track down. Not available on Amazon. Botach has 'em for low prices, but I've never ordered from Botach and have heard some less-than-stellar things about 'em.

This is a really well made pack, with the sturdy, overbuilt construction that people have come to expect from Camelbak's Military/LEO line. Good, comfortably padded shoulder straps. Tons of internal organization and space. Easy to tote a full size laptop around with, plus 2-3 days worth of clothes, plus EDC/office/school kit, plus water bottles, plus more. Camelbak hit this design out of the park; wicked awesome EDC pack.

Aside from being bombproof, well thought out and spacious, it's also  a very nondescript looking pack; the black color flies under the radar and blends in.

Here's what I packed. 'cept for the clothes, all of this rides in the pack full time.With clothes, 6 pound laptop and full water bottle, this weighs in at around 20 pounds. Off the top of my head:
This bag is a pleasure to travel with; access to everything is quick and easy--not a lot of digging around.  There was plenty of room to spare in the main compartment and the entire overflow pouch. I ended up using the overflow pouch for dirty clothes; handy for keeping them separated from the cleans.

I ended up using plenty of the kit; was visiting relatives who, well, we'll just say they're are pretty highly "unprepared"-- as in I was giving them the ibuprofen out of my pack, needing my own shampoo, etc. The TekCharge came in handy--the cigarette lighter on my car stopped working, and I used it to recharge a dying cell phone and GPS. Cliff bars were eaten and flashlights were used to navigate around a cluttered room and during fireworks viewing on the 4th.

So far, I'm loving the Urban Assault. Great bag, highly recommended.

Can't find the camera at the moment, but will edit this post with pics as soon as I can. In the meantime, Milspec Monkey has a review and comprehensive pics of the bag. Note that my bag came with a 2 liter military-style Camelbak bladder instead of a water bottle.

NOTE: Now with a few pics! Sorry about the quality; my 'good' camera is traveling the world. That and it's really bright out today.
Here's the main pack. Pretty nondescript looking.
This is the main organization pocket, filled with EDC stuff. The pocket is quite deep--there are 4 Cliff bars and a hank of paracord riding on the bottom. Plenty of space still. My electronics kit usually rides on top of that. Also visible - AA LED Flashlight, Moleskin cahier notebook, gorilla tape card and Altoids kit.

Here's the main compartment of the pack; my Oakley sunglasses case fit perfectly in the black zipper pocket. My toiletry/snivvel kit rides on the bottom of this pocket, alongside a spare pair of socks. Mesh sleeve along the back of the compartment is handy for papers and magazines.
Main laptop sleeve. This is well padded. Also doubles as the hydration sleeve.
And a padded electronics/MP3 player is the upper most pocket. That's a small portable mouse riding in the pocket.

Prepare: Go into debt to prep?

NEW YORK - MAY 20:  In this photo illustration...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Did you see the episode of Wife Swap on ABC recently? It featured a "survivalist" family who was prepping for end times. Usual spin on that one, but not the point.


The survivalist family went into debt buying a bunch of furnishings and other stuff on credit believing that after 2012, they would no longer owe anything as the poop would have hit the fan by then and who cares about debt and credit card bills after that moment. So is it a good idea?

Also, on the other hand, many survival experts say paying off debt is part of survival planning. What is the basis for this?

First, going into debt to buy preps is dumb. D-U-M-B. Unless that credit card bill can be paid off at the end of the month, it needs to go back in the wallet (or left home). Preps should only be purchased when money is available and unless there is disposable income (money after bills have been paid and savings set aside) they should not be bought at all.

We all like to prep. The secret to successful prepping is to save money by living frugally and using the savings to buy extra food and supplies in bulk and at a discount. Another option I like is to have a second source of income and use that money only for preps.

Debt will only come back to haunt buyers. If the debt cannot be maintained (i,e paid off or paid down in a reasonable amount of time), then it can take over all finances and force the buyer to sell preps or worse, lose their car and home.

What is the reason so many experts advise would be preppers to get rid of all debts including house payments?

First, having a clean balane sheet allows the prepper freed up resources to make preparedness purchases without worry.

Second, being free of debt helps the prepper live even further below the the "radar". A person in debt is owned in some respects, by another. Debt is slavery.

Finally, the lessons from the Great Depression. He who did not own his farm or house could have lost it if the bank called the note home. This scenario could happen again if banks decide to purge their books of "toxic assets" like mortgages owned by persons without the ability to pay. An all too common result of our poor economy.

The bottom line is to avoid debt. Don't go into debt to make prep purchases and pay off debt as securely and quickly as possible.

Power Outage

“I have the body of an eighteen year old. I keep it in the fridge.”
- humorist Spike Milligan When the power goes out, a refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if UNOPENED. A full freezer will hold the temperature for up to two days if the door remains CLOSED (24 hours if the freezer is only half full).
More than 250 diseases can be caused by bacteria found in contaminated food. After a long outage, you can NOT rely on appearance or odor for food safety. Never taste food to determine if it’s safe use a food thermometer instead. Discard all perishable foods (meat, milk, soft cheeses, cooked leftovers) that have been above 40°F for 2 hours. Discard items that have come into contact with raw meat juices. If frozen food still contains ice crystals or is below 40 °F, it is safe to refreeze; otherwise toss it.
You can help preserve your food by moving any item you must use (like milk or soda for the children) into a cooler with ice. Then wrap tape or rope around your fridge and freezer to keep it closed from prying young fingers.
Bottom Line
For a list of foods and which are "safe" or not when warm, check out http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/keeping_food_Safe_during_an_emergency/index.asp
Another good site is http://www.uri.edu/ce/ceec/food/factsheets/powerout.html
If you don't have a food thermometer, then keep two ice cubes in a bag on a freezer shelf. If the ice has completely melted when the power returns, you can be pretty sure the food is not safe to keep.