Test Gear In The Field

Discussions of what gear and equipment to include in a survival kit or bug-out bag are common among survival enthusiasts and preppers, and this topic is often seen in books, articles, blog posts and discussion forums. It’s natural for those interested in this subject to become fixated on the gear that they imagine will enable them to prevail in a difficult situation, and it’s true that the right equipment can go a long way in making certain tasks easier. Today’s technology can offer many advantages our primitive ancestors could not have imagined. But what our ancestors lacked in tools, they made up for in skills that were put into practice on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, many people today assume they can simply buy things to make up for these skills, and in doing so create for themselves an illusion of preparedness that they have never tested in the field.

Survival skills cannot be bought, but they can be learned and honed over time. The best way to do this is by participating in outdoor activities related to survival as often as possible. A weekend or week spent camping in adverse conditions will provide more information about what works and what doesn’t than any amount of reading in books or on the Internet. Throughout my own books, I have tried to reinforce this idea and have always recommended to my readers that they should not necessarily go by the gear list that I use for my specific purposes, but instead should test and fine-tune their own checklists for their particular environment and needs. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be suddenly thrust into an all-out survival situation without first becoming comfortable with roughing it in the wild in situations where life and death are not in the balance.

In my newest book, Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters, scheduled to be released in October, I point out that readers who are interested in preparing a bug-out vehicle — whether it be a 4WD SUV, motorcycle, boat, ATV, RV or mountain bike — should use these vehicles for recreation and fun regardless of if they are ever needed for bug-out purposes. One of the benefits of writing such a book was all the research I’ve done in the field testing and using such vehicles. By using the gear you buy, whether it is as expensive as a motor home or as cheap as a pair of sturdy hiking boots, you can justify what you spend on your preps and get the benefits of a healthy outdoor lifestyle whether some major breakdown or disaster ever occurs that forces you to use it. So shut down the computer, put away the books and plan your next adventure. I guarantee that the time you spend afield will be worth it and that you will learn something you could not have learned from any other source.

Prepare For Vehicular Emergencies

I recently returned from a trip to a mountainous part of the Pacific Northwest where I spent a good part of my time driving off the beaten path on forest service and other remote roads. A recent news story about a woman who was found alive in her van after being stranded for seven weeks on a remote road in a Nevada wilderness brought to mind the countless survivor stories I uncovered while researching my book Getting Out Alive. Though the scenarios I explored included a broad spectrum of environments such as deserts, open sea, jungle and mountains, the recurring theme in so many of these stories was that of an individual, couple or family venturing out in some kind of motorized vehicle or boat to a remote place they would not normally be willing or able to walk into (or back out of). Trusting fully in technology to get them there and back, they strike out with little in the way of extra gear or supplies, fully expecting to return to the comfort of civilization after their brief foray into the wild.

The trouble begins when the vehicle either breaks down or gets stuck or somehow disabled. Imagine being 20 miles from the nearest paved road in the desert with only a couple bottles of water, or stranded on a snowy mountain pass with no means of starting a fire and no sleeping bag or adequate warm clothing for the extreme-low temperatures of the nighttime hours. Such scenarios unfold time and time again, no matter how many stories are published or make the evening news — all because people put too much trust in technology and fail to take the “what-ifs” into consideration.

To be fully prepared to go into a remote place, you have to imagine what you would do without the vehicle that takes you there and what you would need if circumstances extended your stay much longer than expected. A lifetime of hiking with a backpack, riding into remote places on motorcycles and mountain bikes and traveling by sea kayak, canoe and sailboat has reinforced this idea in my consciousness time and time again. As a result, I always have extra food and water, even for the shortest excursions. And a sleeping bag, Therm-a-Rest® pad, tarp, machete, fire-starting tools and other essentials are as much a part of my vehicle’s equipment as a spare tire and jack. There have been times when having these extras has saved me from great discomfort. If you travel off the beaten path enough, there will come a time when you will need them, too.

Compact Water Purification For The Bug Out Bag

Most people immediately think of filtration systems when considering water purification methods in a survival situation.

There are many excellent filter systems on the market today that will do the job and are popular in the survival and prepping community. While I own and have used various filters myself, when packing for a long wilderness excursion or preparing a compact bug-out or everyday carry bag for emergencies, I want something smaller, lighter weight and absolutely dependable for short or long-term use.

While there are some compact drinking straw filters that fit the small and light weight criteria, they are not so convenient for everyday use and, like all filters, have a limited life before they must be replaced.

The purification system I have come to rely on in this role is Polar Pure Water Disinfectant. Unlike filter systems, Polar Pure is a chemical water treatment that uses iodine crystals trapped in a specially designed small glass bottle.

Other compact chemical treatment systems in the form of tablets work in much the same way, but are only good for one use. Because the iodine in a bottle of Polar Pure remains trapped in the bottle, a single bottle can last for years in storage or with intermittent use and can treat up to 2,000 quarts of water. 

The bottle is small enough to fit in a pocket, and while it is made of glass, I’ve never broken one in over 20 years of use in every kind of wilderness environment. It typically sells for less than $15 per bottle at online retail sites.

Using Polar Pure is simple. You fill the bottle with water from any source available, shake it well and let it sit for an hour. This creates a saturated iodine solution in the bottle that is then measured using the bottle cap for addition into your drinking water container. I typically use 1-quart Nalgene bottles for my drinking water, and these make great containers for Polar Pure treatment. The amount of solution and the time you have to wait before drinking after adding it is determined by the water temperature. A thermometer is built-in to the side of the Polar Pure bottle.

Polar Pure has worked for me on countless wilderness trips of a few days to months in duration. I’ve used it to purify drinking water from clear mountain streams to muddy Deep South swamp water and even pathogen-infested jungle rivers of tropical Latin America without once getting ill from bad water.

For the cost and tiny amount of space it will take up in your gear, Polar Pure is well worth considering as a backup, even if you do prefer a filter for your primary water purification system. For more information, visit the Polar Pure site at: http://www.polarequipment.com/index.htm

 –Scott B. Williams

Building A Fire In Wet Conditions

Many people dismiss fire building as a no-brainer—just get some wood and light it with a match.

Nothing could be farther from the truth and real backwoods experts know that fire building is an art and a craft.  In freezing cold conditions the ability to build a fire can save you from certain hypothermia if you are caught out in the wilds without adequate clothing or shelter to stay warm.

All fires depend on fuel in the form of combustible material and, in the woods, this usually means dry leaves, twigs, branches and other chunks of wood. If it’s raining out, how do you find dry wood?  It’s easier than you think if you know where to look.

Not every piece of wood in the forest gets soaked in a rainstorm. The most accessible dead branches you find lying around on the ground that work well in fair weather will be wet however, so you must look elsewhere.

Standing trees are much less likely to absorb water than those lying on the forest floor. Often you can find dry dead branches still attached to the lower trunks of pine and spruce trees, shielded from falling rain by the dense needles of the living branches. The outer layers of these limbs may be wet, however, so you will need a knife, machete or axe to cut it away and reach the dry wood inside.

A sharp cutting tool will give you the ability to split large pieces of wet wood to get at the dry interior, or even to cut down small standing dead trees that can then be split into useable fuel.

Even better than wood that is merely dry on the inside is the wood you can sometimes find in old stumps that are full of concentrated pine resin. Called “lighter knots” or “fat lighter” by country folk, this resin-rich wood will burn with a hot and bright flame even when wet, if you first cut it into little pieces of kindling to light it.

You can identify such fat lighter by the smell and color of the wood when you cut into it. It will smell like pine pitch or tar and is bright yellow or orange inside, often oozing sap. It can be found in any forest where there are conifers such as pine, spruce or cedar.

Once you find a source of ignitable fuel, try to locate your fire so that it is at least partially sheltered from more falling rain.  Don’t give up on a fire just because it’s raining. Remember there is always dry wood somewhere in a forest, but it takes a little effort and a sharp blade to get it. 

–Scott B. Williams

An Unusual Kind Of Commodity Stock That Can Return 1,000 Percent

How can you safely make 1,000 percent gains in the commodity market?

Through hoarding.

Back then (in 2005), I was doing my graduate work in geology. A newsletter writer friend of mine called to ask my opinion about the geology involved in projects owned by a tiny gold company called Seabridge Gold. That call resulted in a 995 percent gain.

You see, Seabridge wasn’t operating as a gold mine, and it wasn’t running an exploration program. This company’s managers were bullish on gold, so they were buying gold deposits that weren’t worth much at $400 per ounce gold but would be incredibly valuable if gold shot to $900 or $1,200.

They were "hoarding" cheap gold.

Remember… back then, the gold price was around $400 per ounce. As gold took off (as the managers expected), the value of Seabridge’s properties soared… and my friend’s readers booked a 10-bagger. It’s an incredible story on the value of hoarding cheap assets when nobody wants them.

I’m interested in this story because right now, a commodity’s sitting where gold was years ago: cheap and hated, with lots of upside.

The commodity is natural gas.

The price of natural gas has been crushed in the past few years. New drilling techniques have brought on enormous new supplies of natural gas and have sent prices from $12 to less than $4.

The price of natural gas is so low it’s not economical to drill for it, and natural gas properties are going for peanuts. There’s zero investor interest in the stuff. Everybody thinks natural gas is dead, which is when good contrarians buy with both hands. Here’s why…

China is ravenous for fuels that can fire electrical power plants, which could send coal prices much higher. If China will pay more for coal, our miners will ship it to China. The Energy Information Administration expects coal exports from the U.S. to rise 58 percent this year.

It’s neither difficult nor all that expensive to convert a coal power plant to a gas power plant. If that happens, natural gas prices will rebound. You can see where I’m going with this…

It’s time to hoard natural gas. It’s time to hoard "PUDs."

PUD stands for Proven Undeveloped Reserves. These are deposits of natural gas we know for sure are in the ground. They’re just waiting to be drilled. In a lot of cases, the stock market is offering vast amounts of cheap PUDs.

Take Rex Energy (REXX), for example. Rex is a small-cap oil and gas producer that trades for 14 times current gross profit. That’s about right for oil and gas companies, which means it’s trading just on its current production.

However, Rex also owns a huge swath of the Marcellus shale. The Marcellus is the lowest-cost natural gas field in the U.S. About 70 percent of Rex’s proven reserves remain in the ground, undrilled. The market isn’t taking that into account. That means we get all those PUDs… about 40 billion cubic feet of natural gas reserves… for free.

Should gas rise from $4 to $6 or $8 in the coming years, these assets will skyrocket in value.

Rex is no exception. There are plenty around, in the "left for dead" section of the stock market — exactly where we should be looking for new investments.

If you are patient, like the management and shareholders of Seabridge, you can turn a natural gas investment today into a huge capital gain down the road.

Good investing,

Matt Badiali
Editor, S&A Resource Report

P.S. One way to acquire natural gas assets is to use a unique moneymaking strategy favored by the likes of Bill Clinton… and even Barrack Obama. Whether or not you agree with their politics, you have to admit the strategy is brilliant. It’s a way to make just one investment… and then get paid over and over again. We recently put together a special video report that details this "unorthodox" income-generating secret. Click here to watch it.

How To Make 120 Percent In One Month Trading Gold Stocks

While most investors are fretting about unemployment and weak housing reports, a bonanza is happening in one tiny area of the market…

It’s an area that doesn’t worry about housing reports… and it hasn’t been hampered at all by the 6 percent decline in stocks since April. It’s an area that maybe one investor out of a thousand follows.

That area is "junior" gold stocks… and the returns this sector is generating right now are extraordinary.

These "junior golds" are the bloodhounds of the gold business. They are tiny companies (typically under $250 million market cap) that scour the world looking for the next big deposit of precious metals. When one of them finds a huge deposit, shares can absolutely skyrocket.

For example, in 2005 Esperanza Silver made an amazing discovery called San Luis. And with each hole the company drilled, it found more gold. Here’s what happened to the stock…

Esperanza Silver Corp.

As you can see from the chart, shares of Esperanza soared from $0.25 in summer of 2005 to more than $4 by early 2007. That’s 1,500 percent in just over 18 months.

Believe it or not, this kind of climb happens often. A good discovery (gold or otherwise) blows the lid off these shares. Here are some other recent examples:

  • Ventana Gold went from $0.14 a share to $12 in 12 months.
  • Canplat jumped from $0.27 a share to $5.28 in six months.
  • Hathor rose from $0.47 a share to $4.34 in seven months.
  • Underworld Resources went from $0.13 a share to $2.64 in six months.

The junior gold industry exists because major mining companies do little of their own exploration. Big mining companies prefer to let thousands of these tiny companies do the work of looking for big deposits. Then they simply swoop in and buy the small company.

To give you an idea of the extreme difference in the size of juniors versus large miners, consider a junior gold stock with a $30 million market cap versus giant Newmont Mining, which sports a $30 billion market cap. Newmont is 1,000 times bigger.

Now that gold is well above $1,000 per ounce, large gold stocks are finally enjoying a solid increase in cash flows… and shares in big gold companies like Newmont are up 15 percent 30 percent this year (while stocks in general are flat). But the juniors are ringing up much larger gains…

For example, last October I recommended buying shares of a tiny gold exploration firm called ATAC Resources to readers of Phase 1 Investor, an exclusive trading service. ATAC has found a potentially huge gold deposit in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Recent drill results have been positive. This news helped send ATAC up nearly 120 percent in August… and up 540 percent since my recommendation.

ATAC isn’t an isolated case, either. Another gold stock we’ve held in the Phase 1 portfolio is tiny AuEx Ventures, a gold prospector like ATAC. A potential buyout sent AuEx shares up 80 percent in August. Many other junior golds are up 30 percent to 50 percent in the past few months.

These extraordinary gains are an example of what can happen when folks get just a little interested in this sector. As legendary mining speculator Doug Casey often points out, the gold stock sector is tiny compared to most other sectors… so if there’s a big rush to own gold stocks, "it will be like trying to siphon the contents of the Hoover Dam through a garden hose." Since folks are interested in buying all things related to gold in general, the juniors are really flying, thanks to their small size.

I can’t guarantee you these sorts of gains will continue all year. All I can say is gold is the strongest uptrend anywhere in the world right now. It’s a trend that benefits from worries over government debt and the soundness of paper currencies. I can also tell you uptrends in gold stocks can last longer than most people would believe.

That’s why I recommend all investors become interested in gold stocks right now — and stay interested in the coming years.

Good investing,

Matt Badiali
Editor, S&A Resource Report

P.S. While super-small junior golds are simply too small to recommend to a large audience like readers of my S&A Resource Report, we are still making extraordinary gains in gold and silver. I’ve prepared a short video that details how you can get in on these gains right now. Click here to watch it.