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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Survival Debate: What is the Ultimate Survival Vehicle

Unicat Ultimate Survival Vehicle But Out Vehicle
We spend a lot of time talking about bug out bags, survival gear, long term food storage and weapons here at Survival Cache but we haven’t spent a lot of time debating the Ultimate Survival Vehicle (Bug Out Vehicle).  In the event of a major crisis, there is a very real possibility (especially if you live in a more urban area) that you may have to leave your primary refuge.  During a disaster, following your Plan A and staying in your home fortress might be derailed due to any number of reasons (ex: flooding, urban unrest, biological/chemical, nuclear fallout, viral pandemic, economic collapse, TEOTWAWKI, etc.).  When you have to turn to a Plan B and you have your bug out bag in hand, which method of transportation do you turn to?   (Ultimate Survival Vehicles listed in random order)

1.  Earth Roamer XV-LT:

Let’s just start off by saying this Ultimate Survival Vehicle is pretty Earthroamer XV LTS Ultimate Survival Vehicle Bug Outcool.  If you have 5 people or less and had to make it to your Bug Out location during TEOTWAWKI, this would be a very nice way to get there.  This is basically a modified truck bed camper attached to a Ford Super Duty F-550 truck chassis and then totally tricked out.  This Ultimate Survival Vehicle comes with a twin turbo diesel engine, 10,000 pound towing capacity, solar power with large battery back up pack, 85 gallons of fresh water, dual water filtration system, cassette waste management system, propane free appliances (everything runs on diesel fuel).  This rig also comes with heavy duty off-road tires, brush guard, full size spare tire, 16,500 pound front winch, 9,500 pound rear winch, 90 gallon optional fuel tank, on board air compressor and much much more.  If James Bond had a survival vehicle, this might be it.
Earthroamer-XV-LT-Ultimate-Survival VehicleClick for Large View
Pro’s – too many to list, this thing is a beast.  We are sure that there is an option for a twin .50 cal machine gun turret on top of this thing, we just could not find it on the Earth Roamer website.
Con’s – If you are the Octomom with 8 or more people in your family this might not be the best choice, take a look at a school bus.  Needs fuel to run.  The Earth Roamer XV-LT isn’t cheap, with a price tag of $225k to $300k you might have to sell your baseball card collection to get it.

2.  All Terrain Vehicle (ATV):

There are a lot of people out there who own ATVs and they make a pretty good argument forATV-Bug-Out-Vehicle-Ultimate-Survival-Vehicle the Ultimate Survival Vehicle.  With powerful engines, 4 wheel drive, aggressive tires and a width of only 48 inches (or less), this Ultimate Survival Vehicle can go anywhere and over almost any obstacle.  There are many after market options for ATVs and a lot of those options make sense for an Ultimate Survival Vehicle such as a small utility trailer to go behind your ATVs for added carrying capacity.
Pro’s – Can go almost anywhere, Can cover difficult ground at great speeds, Fairly fuel efficient, Built for the extreme so they are fairly reliable if you buy a solid brand (ex: Honda, Polaris), Affordable (you can pick up a used one pretty cheap)
Con’s – Limited protection from the elements, Limited range (bring a fuel can), Limited carrying capacity (even with trailer), requires fuel, Limited number of passengers

3.  The Human Body:

This can be your first option and it most certainly will be your last resort regardless of any bug-out-bag-survival-rifle-survival-knifeother fancy options you may use along the way.  When everything else fails your body will still be there with you.  Hopefully you’ve been able to take care of it along the way so that it can help you “save your skin” literally.  Let’s face it, you and your body have a vested interest in survival.  When thinking about a bug out situation, you might end up walking, climbing, running or swimming.  You may have to huddle for long periods in dark places or uncomfortable positions while you wait for a “clear” path to freedom.  Here are some things to think about:  How much weight can you functionally carry and for how long?   Do you have a bug out bag, does it contain truly useful items?  Have you hiked with it before?  Do you have a good pair of broken in shoes or boots?  When is the last time you walked more than 10 miles in those shoes/boots?  Are they water proof or can they dry out quickly?  Consider breath-ability vs. waterproof features.
Pro’s – The Human Body can go most anywhere and cross any type of terrain.  It does not require any type of processed fossil fuel (user level energy procurement from raw materials), very cost effective (for a small amount of money you can outfit your whole body) and it can be very quiet.
Con’s – Very limited carrying capacity, Low speed, Limited protection from the elements, difficult to move the young and the old by this method

4.  Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV):

The SUV is another good choice for the Ultimate Survival Vehicle.  They have a good range on Bug-Out-Vehicle-SUV-Ultimate-Survival-Survival-Rifle-Survival-Knife-Bushcrafta full tank of gas and with 4 wheel drive and fairly aggressive tires they can traverse most terrains you will encounter.  With a roof rack, towing capacity and seating for five or more, the SUV can carry a large family and a lot of gear.

Pro’s – Diversity (Can be your everyday vehicle and your Bug Out Vehicle), Good carry capacity, Good range, Decent off-road capability depending on model and set up, Can double as a place to sleep for a small family.
Con’s – Not very fuel efficient, requires fuel, Cannot handle extreme terrain unless modified

5.  BMW R 1200 GS Adventure:

This BMW Motorcycle is built with the extreme in mind.  With an 8.7 Gallon fuel tank and an BMW-R1200-GS-Adventure-Ultimate-Survival-Vehicle-Off-Road-Survival-Rifleestimated cruising range of 465 miles, compared to other motorcycles this thing can go along ways before it becomes thirsty.  With 1200cc and 110 Hp, this bike will take you and whatever you can pile on it (including extra gas) almost anywhere.  It also comes with reinforced aluminium side bags and top case for extra secure storage.
Pro’s – For a single person this is a great Ultimate Survival Vehicle, Great range, Very fuel efficient, Good off road capability, It is fast, Can double as your everyday vehicle if you like motorcycles
Con’s- Limited carrying capacity, requires fuel, exposure to the elements

6.  The Campa EVS:

Campa EVS (Expeditionary Vehicle System) this state-of-the art vehicle was designed for Campa-USA-EVS-Survival-Vehicleoutdoor enthusiasts, disaster management personnel and military officials who desire a completely self-contained vehicle system.  Many of the same features that you will find in Campa’s trailers have been added to the EVS.  Built on a Toyota Tacoma 4×4 V6 chassis, this is the perfect marriage of efficiency and carrying capacity.  This system has a lot of cool features from ammo boxes to a katadyn water purification system with a go anywhere attitude.  Campa USA also makes a cool expeditionary truck trailer with a pop out tent that you should check out.  It might be the perfect addition to your pick-up truck or SUV.
Pro’s - More fuel efficient that larger trucks, Well thought out emergency survival scenario of what you will need in order to be out on your own for a long period, Full kitchen, Truck chassis upgrade in areas for off road ability
Con’s - Limited in the number of people you can carry, V-6 could limit your towing capacity, Tent setup could be difficult in adverse weather

7.  The Unicat:

If money is no object to you, then a UNICAT Expeditionary Vehicle is what you need to buy. Unicat-Ultimate-Survival-Vehicle-Bug-Out-Bag This thing is a monster.  Although UNICAT offers different variations of its vehicles, we decided that the 6×6 Amerigo International with the motorcycle/bike rack mounted on the back was the way to go.  Built on an International Truck 7400 chassis, this monster will crush those who would stand in its way.  As you could expect with the title “Expeditionary Vehicle” this thing comes with 112 Gallons of fresh water, satellite communications, all wheel drive, 2 x 120 gallon gas tanks (9mm skid plates for protection) with a 2,000 mile range , water fording capability over 5 ft, extra retractable bolts and cylinder locks to secure all doors, theft proof windows, solar power, and much more.  TEOTWAWKI here we come.
Pro’s - Too many to list, you will have to go to the website and read them for yourself.  With 6×6, 310 Hp, and reinforced doors this monster was built with TEOTWAWKI in mind.
Con’s - Expensive (a used one is about $600k), At 8 MPG you will be sucking down the fuel but on the other hand you have 2 x 120 Gallon tanks so let them drink until you and your family reach safety.

8.  Jeep Wrangler:

The Jeep Wrangler is in a class by itself when it comes to off road capability.  What it lacks inJeep-Best-Bug-Out-Vehicle carrying capacity it makes up for with its ability to go almost anywhere at ATV can travel.  Another great advantage of the jeep is the after market parts that are available, from tires to under armor protection.  If you can dream it, then it is probably available for the Jeep Wrangler including a snorkel for deep water crossings.
Pro’s - Unrivaled in off road capability, Great after market parts to build the Ultimate Survival Vehicle, Good range, Can cover difficult terrain at good speeds, Can pull a travel trailer
Jeep-Best-Bug-Out-Vehicle-Survival-RifleIs the Jeep Wrangler the #1?
Con’s – Limited carrying capacity, Hard to sleep in (bring a tent), Requires fuel

9.  The Modern “Blue Water” Sail Boat:

Before you laugh think about this, ⅔ of the earth is covered by water and this is the only Bug-Out-Boat-Hallberg-RassyUltimate Survival Vehicle on this list that can traverse most of the earth under the power of the wind, make its own fresh water and has access to an unlimited supply of fresh food.  The term “Blue Water” refers to a class of sailing boat that are built with the harsh seas of the open ocean in mind.  The modern sailing boat is truly something of a marvel.  New technology allows the modern sailor to use solar and wind power to create and store energy in large battery banks without the need of starting the diesel engine to recharge the batteries.  The modern sail boat also has a powerful diesel engine with a large fuel storage tank to get you out of a jam.  The interesting part of a sail boat is that under the power of the wind, it can move in any direction except for directly into the wind.  That means that it can travel in a 315 degree arch without burning any fuel and at speeds between 5 to 15 knots depending on type of sail boat.
Pro’s – Make your own fresh water with battery powered desalination, Solar and wind powered energy sources available, Total isolation from people, Full kitchen, As long as the wind is blowing you are moving, good source of fresh food (need to like fish), large comfortable living space, endless range.
Con’s – If things go bad the bail out plan in the open ocean is not good (see our book review “Adrift”), Need to have a back up source of vitamins, If the wind isn’t blowing you won’t be moving very fast

10.  Sportsmobile 4WD Adventure Vehicle:

TV repairman meets the A-Team. The Sportsmobile 4WD Vehicle is for the most discerning of Ultimate-Bug-Out-Vehicle-Surival-Knifeoff-road enthusiasts. Only the best heavy duty components are used to give the absolute best off-road performance while maintaining excellent on-road performance.  This is a Ford E350 Extended Cargo Van jacked up on steroids.   You will have to read the website to see all the upgrades but just to let you know they are not playing around they put a Dynatrac Pro-Roc 60 front axle and Dana 60 Rear Axle on the Sportsmobile.
Pro’s – This thing is built from the ground up to go anywhere, 46 gallon fuel tank provides a good range (600+ miles), 32 Gallons of Fresh Water, Well thought out living space with the pop up tent camper, Full kitchen, So many off road upgrades that it will make your redneck friends drool.
Bug-Out-Vehicle-SportsmobileWe are not here to fix your cable
Con’s – Looks like a cargo van, A little to tall and wide for some off road trails, Needs fuel.

11.  The Knight XV:

If you live in a high threat big city environment and you have some extra cash and a spare Bug-Out-Vehicle-Conquest-Knight-XV-Survivalparking spot, you might want to look at the Knight XV from Conquest Vehicles.  This 13,000 pound urban assault vehicle would make the perfect escape from New York vehicle for some Wall Street big shot.  With under body magnetic bomb detection, external smoke screen, night vision cameras, electrostatic window opaquing (tinting system), run flat tires, armor that laughs at anything under a .50 cal round and….oh did we mention heated seats.  This vehicle will get you and your personal security detail out of the city in a hurry.
Pro’s – a lot of cool features for a high threat environment
Con’s – Expensive ($450k), Needs fuel, Not a lot of sustainability features like a kitchen or water storage

12.  Mountain Bike:

The modern day Mountain Bike is a true Ultimate Survival Vehicle.  With ultra strong light Bug-Out-Vehicle-Mountain-Bikeweigh construction, rack systems for storage, puncture resistant self sealing tires and peddling gears for almost any situation, the Mountain Bike of today can be a stand alone Survival Vehicle or used in conjunction with almost any other Survival Vehicle on this list.  In 1941 the Japanese Army successfully employed bicycles in their Southern campaign through Malaya on their way to capturing Singapore from Allied forces.  At one point they had 50,000 bicycle soldiers.  This proves that while riding a bicycle you can carry a rifle and a pack under stressful conditions.
Pro’s – Will go almost anywhere, easily attaches to trucks/cars/campers/SUVs, No fuel required, Quiet,  Can cover long distances (40 to 100 miles a day) depending on terrain
Con’s – limited carrying capacity, exposure to elements, difficult to move through snow

13.  The ARGO:

Argo Amphibious Vehicles are legendary in the Northern Territories of Canada and Alaska Bug-Out-Vehicle-Argo-Survival-Knifewhere water obstacles are a common problem.  When it comes to a vehicle that does not stop for deep snow or a major water crossing, it is the Argo.  With a top speed of 20 mph on land and around 2 mph in the water, the Argo can literally speed into the water, swim to the other side, and climb right out.  It comes in an 8×8 or a 6×6 version all wheel drive.
Pro’s – Will swim, Serious off road capability, Comes in a track version
Con’s – Limited carrying capacity, exposure to the elements, drives like a tank, Skid plate is optional but with a plastic shell it would be a good idea

14.  Oshkosh Tactical Protector Vehicle:

This might be the ugly brother of the Knight XV and maybe meaner.  With the ability to stop upOshkosh-TPV-Bug-Out-Vehicle-Survival-Rifle to 14.5 mm Armor Piercing Rounds, this Ultimate Survival Vehicle can take a beating and keep rolling.  Unlike the Knight XV, the Oshkosh TPV comes with side gun ports for blasting your way to freedom and a top gun turret for mounting your machine gun.  Another cool option on the TPV is the Nuclear, Biological, Chemical protection system which means you will have a full head of hair when you get to your bug out location while everyone else is bald from radiation poisoning.  Looking good during TEOTWAWKI is important.
Pro’s – A lot of cool features for a high threat environment like Somalia or TEOTWAWKI
Bug-Out-Bag-TruckDon't get in my way
Con’s - Expensive ($200k), Needs fuel, Not a lot of sustainability features like a kitchen or water storage

15.  Pick-Up Truck:

The great thing about this option is that they are very affordable as far as vehicles go (you can Survival-Bug-Out-Vehicle-Truckhave an older 2WD or a newer 4×4 depending on your budget), many of us already have one as a primary or secondary vehicle, you can carry a great deal of gear in the back and with a modified compartment kit you can even store equipment in compartments and have a bed set up above your storage area.  There are modifications that you can add to make your pickup truck more use-able (like a camper shell or regular shell, carpet kits, trailer etc..)
Pro’s – Can be a cheaper vehicle alternative to many of the other options, can be configured to suit needs depending on terrain and gear requirements, You won’t stand out as having an expensive vehicle that would make you a more attractive target to other folks who may be in a more desperate situation than you that you may run into along the way to your bug out spot (i.e. at checkpoints), Can pull a travel trailer, Can double as your everyday vehicle
Bug-Out-Truck-Rifle-SurvivalVersatility
Con’s – Can be difficult for a larger family to utilize however you can always put the kids in the back (you probably won’t have to worry about seat belt laws during TEOTWAWKI) or opt for an Xtra-Cab or 4 door model,  Requires fuel

Let the debate begin

Photo credits:
earthroamer.com, campingatv.com, natgeo.com, imcdb.org, afyacht.com, trucktrend.com, badgertruck.com, oshkosh-tacticalprotector.com, trailerlife.com, unicat.com

ATM Scams

"Consider this: I can go to Antarctica and get cash from an ATM without a glitch, but should I fall ill during my travels, a hospital there could not access my medical records or know what medications I am on." - Nathan Deal
Hopefully you're aware of ATM skimmers. I'll discuss them below but thought I would start with a low tech way to lose money at an ATM. San Francisco police caught a crook who stuffed napkins into ATM cash dispenser slots. When people tried to withdraw cash, it would get stuck behind the napkins. After they walked away frustrated, the crook dislodged the napkins, and walked away with their cash.

If your ATM money does not come out reach up into the slot and see if there's anything stuck there. If that fails, take a cellphone picture of the ATM screen for evidence and then call the number on the ATM for service or go inside the bank for help.

Now back to skimmers. These are devices designed to steal your card information and pin. Check out the photos at http://www.snopes.com/fraud/atm/atmcamera.asp and http://consumerist.com/2009/04/heres-what-a-card-skimmer-looks-like-on-an-atm.html

There are two things to worry about.

1. A camera that records the PIN you type in. At the snopes link above the camera is hidden inside a pamphlet holder next to the ATM (pictured above). At the consumerist site the camera is in a strip attached to the ceiling.

2. A card scanner attached to the ATM. At both sites the extra scanner is part of a panel affixed to the ATM and look absolutely authentic!  At this site, http://gizmodo.com/5453857/atm-card-skimmers-are-getting-frighteningly-sophisticated, the skimmer is quite thin and covers the card reader.

Bottom Line

What can you do to protect yourself. Not much I'm afraid. Try to cover your fingers as you type the PIN from prying eyes or camera. Use the same ATM and remember what it looks like. If anything changes on the outside of the machine, ask the bank before using the machine.

Any card scanner could be stealing information - at restaurants, gas pumps, grocery stores, etc. If money is stolen report it to the bank and file a police report.

Solar Cooker, Sun Oven, a quick look

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solar-cooker-sun-oven-cooking-pan


I enjoy experimenting with all things related to harnessing energy from the sun. Living in a part of California where the sun shines all summer long, I use solar energy to produce electricity, heat water, and sometimes to cook with. Learning to harness the sun’s photons (particles of energy) will not only save you money, but it brings you closer to self-sufficiency.
During the past several years I have built (and purchased) several solar cookers. The solar cooker that I purchased is named “Sun Oven”, and has been a reliable and HOT cooker during the 2 years I’ve had it. My home made solar cooker does not get as hot, but high temperature doesn’t really matter when it comes to cooking most foods.
I believe that a lot of people have it in their head that food has to be cooked at 350 degrees F, because it is the most often referenced temperature in recipe books. Most people would never dream to go below 325, for fear of under cooking their food.
That fear is not warranted, because so long as the internal temperature of most foods is heated to 165 degrees F, then it becomes safe to eat. A solar cooker that maintains 225 degrees for a long enough time, will easily cook the food up to 165 degrees. Of course, the higher the temperature of the solar cooker, the faster your food will reach 165 degrees.
My home made cooker has a hard time getting hot enough during the winter (although I have plans to build a new one that will be better!), whereas the “Sun Oven” does much, much better because it is more efficient at capturing and keeping the solar energy.


Hot Tip
————————–
For those of you starting out with solar cooker cooking, I want to tell you one of the secrets to getting even more deliciousness out of many meals, especially baked potatoes. OK, here it is… add some water to the pan, and keep it covered. Simple! Of course, spice it up to your delight.
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Since solar cookers generally cook sslowerrr than a conventional oven (except for the solar cookers that truly hit 350 degrees or better on a good day), a long slow cook at say, 275, combined with a bit of moisture for the food to draw in, will turn out scrumptious.
The food won’t burn (it generally doesn’t get hot enough to burn) and won’t overcook (exception being solar cookers that truly reach conventional oven temperatures). Even with these super efficient solar cookers though, since the optimal position of the sun moves throughout the day, a solar cooker facing in one optimal direction will become cooler as the sun moves further from that facing direction.
Most solar cookers will require that you move them several times throughout the day in order to stay facing the sun and to stay hot enough. During the summer months, when the sun is high in the sky, moving the solar cooker repeatedly to face the sun is generally not required, so long as it is facing the general direction. During the Spring, Fall, and Winter, you will probably need to keep up with it.
One problem during months when the sun is low in the sky, is more obstacles will get in the way and shade an area. So, unless you have a fairly wide open space, surrounding trees will become an issue. Being up on a hill helps too.
You can see the Sun Oven – Solar Cooker listed here.


Here is a short video showing the Sun Oven, tips about the right size pan, and the secret ingredient added to a couple of sweet potatoes to be added with dinner tonight.
Click here to view the embedded video.





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