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Test Gear In The Field

August 18, 2011 by  

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.

Scott B. Williams

has been exploring wild places and seeking adventure on both land and sea for most of his life. He has written about his experiences in several books, including On Island Time: Kayaking the Caribbean, and is the author of the survival books Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late, and the recently released Getting Out Alive: 13 Deadly Scenarios and How Others Survived. More of his thoughts on survival topics can be found on his blog: Bug Out Survival.

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  • FreedomFighter

    Have to agree Mr. Williams.

    Small Example Boots:

    Bought a great pair of all purpose boots, nice comfortable, lace up types. Yea they were great around town and occasional mud stomp, but for wilderness they proved a nightmare.

    Then I did my first winter camping and found out that 49.99 pair of boots didnt cut it the wild. The water proofing didnt hold up, the insulation was lacking and treading 15 or 20 miles in them blistered my feet. My trip was cut short, my vacation ruined, my feet bleeding and on the verge of frostbite… I barely made it back to the truck to go home.

    The boots hit the trash the minute I was home. Now I have Perfekt boots from Cabela’s 250 plus dollars, well worth it too.

    Laus Deo
    Semper Fi

  • PMS

    Thanks for the story Freedom Fighter! I’ve been putting off spending the money on good footwear but your story now has me motivated to do something about this. Any recommendations? I’m very lacking in this department.

    • FreedomFighter

      Yea look at those high end boots at Cabela’s, read the reviews, and for god sakes fit them, break them in around the house.

      Laus Deo
      Semper Fi

  • Backwoodskidd

    Good article. You must practice and test your skills. At our house, the fire for the weekend cookout is started by the kids and the 10 year old grand daughter with a different method each time and using different tenders such as dryer lint, cotton ball and petrolium jelly. This weekend’s dogs and burgers fire will be started with steel wool and a 9 volt.

  • Arecee

    We had a camp out in the back yard with grand kids last night (our yard is tiny). Put up the tent, lit a fire (in the pit) and roasted hotdogs for dinner. The Three boys loved playing scrabble by lantern and then pancakes on the grill for breakfast. You have to do what you can do with what you have and get used to it or if that day ever happens you won’t know what to do with all those things you’ve put aside. Same with stored foods. Get used to adding some of those items into your every day life. Two easy things is powdered milk and powdered eggs in your baked goods. Most of the time no one will even notice. The boys didn’t know they were in the pancakes, just add water!!!

  • s c

    I have a fairly comprehensive manual that tells about every item you might need for an extended ‘adventure.’ I’ve dabbled with “civilian” MREs, and the moron who thought up the formula must be an ex-government type. Canned sardines are better. You need to experiment with food. Families may make things complicated (age, responsibility), but if you can get your kids interested at an early age, you won’t regret it.
    When it comes to the rest of the equation, I have come across some books that were supposedly written for Special Forces and SEALS. Unless you plan to find a place way out in the boonies, I suggest you settle in an area where you have like-minded neighbors. Good luck with making your own power.

    • FreedomFighter

      Limited budget minded power from portable SolarPanel/Battery-converter setup- comes on wheels. The setup is very limited power, but will run a few things like powertools/radio/laptop/toasteroven and such, for short amounts of time.

      Rechargeable batteries with solar panel charger helps also.

      I looked into a steam/electric generator:

      Expensive, needs allot of wood/coal, have to constantly feed, 20 min intervals feed firebox. Takes a bit of time to get a head o steam up, it can be very dangerous to the inexperianced – explode

      Wood is mostly free, high durability, excellent output(can run entire house easly) its hot heavy and hard to steal, makes plenty of heat and hot water.

      Laus Deo
      Semper Fi


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