Are all 7 of these essential skills in your survival inventory? Taking some time to see if you’ve safely covered all of the essential elements of survival skills.

1 – Find and Keep Clean Water Water is critical to our survival and is a top priority if you’re faced with a natural disaster or other emergency situation. While it’s a good idea to stockpile plenty of water, there’s only so much you can pack with you if you have to leave your home. Learn how to identify water sources and purify the water so it is safe to drink.

2 – Find Sustainable Food Sources Growing your own food in a garden is a great way to ensure you will be able to feed your family if the food supply is affected. If you have to leave your home, or if you need supplemental food supplies, it is essential that you are able to hunt and gather food outdoors. Hunting and fishing are excellent ways to supplement your food supply. Learn to identify edible plants and bugs to supplement your meals.

3 – Start Fire Fire-starting is one of the most important skills you can learn. Fire gives you the ability to cook food, boil water and stay warm. Make sure you include fire-starting tools in your survival kit. Learn how to build a fire in wet and dry conditions.

4 – Use First Aid Techniques Every survival kit should include first aid supplies, but they don’t do much good if you don’t know how to use them. It is important that you learn basic first aid skills such as CPR, cleaning and dressing wounds, making splints or slings and treating shock.

5 – Master Simple Sewing Many people fail to consider sewing when thinking about survival skills. However, this skill is one of the most important skills you can learn. This skill allows you to repair clothing, blankets and other fabrics that you will need to survive.

6 – Use Self-Defense Techniques In a true emergency, you may be required to defend yourself from desperate people or hungry wildlife. It will be up to you to defend yourself and your loved ones. Take self-defense classes and learn how to use a firearm. Make sure you have a quality knife in your survival kit.

7 – Develop a Survival Mentality When you’re faced with an emergency situation, it is important that you stay mentally strong. Survival training teaches you how to deal with a variety of possible scenarios so that you will be prepared when disaster strikes. With proper training and preparation, you will be ready to face any situation that may arise.

If you want to be prepared, do an inventory of your survival skills and start practicing the elements that need work.

Let’s face it, many of us prefer convenience. Today’s technology has bundled our needs together into compact devices. We’re now able to call, read mail, news, and even navigate from one item in the palm of our hand.

But all tools have limits, and our smartphones are no different. They’re relatively delicate, expensive to replace and may not excel where we need them to in certain functions. There is a particularly popular feature on smartphones that’s essential for everyday use, but it wholly insufficient.

The flashlight feature on phones can be handy for finding your keys when you drop them in a movie theater, but the usefulness stops there. The flashlight feature on most smartphones is simply an extension of the camera’s flash. The effective range is limited to a few feet, and is part of a fragile platform.

The simple and effective solution to this is to carry a flashlight on your person.

Lighting technology has come a long way since your dad’s Maglite. Lights the size of a pinky finger can cast intense beams of light over long distances.

The construction of modern lights also allows them to be used for self-defense.

Many lights are built from aluminum with bezels carved out to be more effective blunt striking weapons. Some also come with strobe functions that can allow the user to disorient an attacker or signal for help.

They’re quicker to operate and function far better than cell phone lights for clearing a room, finding your car in a dark parking lot, or navigating the office during a power outage.

Today’s light market offers near endless options for users.

The main things to consider with lights are the power source, output and run-time. CR 123 type batteries will generally provide more power and longer battery life, but AA and AAA batteries are more common and less expensive.

For run-time, look for a light that has a high power function that runs for more than an hour and a low function that lasts for more than 24 hours. How bright you need your light to be depends on what you’re doing on a daily basis.

Having a proper flashlight on your person allows you to be ready for a variety of scenarios.

If the power goes you in your workplace, you’re a pocket away from lighting up the room and servicing the outage or making your way around in the building (this has happened to me on a few occasions). You also have another self-defense tool at your disposal with the light working as a blinding and striking tool.

A light can also prevent an attack by making it known that you’re aware and actively looking for threats that may be around you in a dark environment.

Remember, there’s no app for being prepared. Don’t get left in the dark.

Maintaining a healthy level of fitness is about more than just keeping your mind and body in good shape. Fitness is also part of being prepared for the unexpected.

When the time comes, you need to be prepared to get places without a vehicle. You’ll likely be carrying your gear over long distances when disaster strikes and you need to get to a safe place.

While cardiovascular exercises, weight lifting and stretching can all help you be ready to move, there are a few simple tests to make sure you can get yourself and your gear to your destination. Wilderness professionals use these tests to gauge their readiness for their jobs.

Wildland Firefighter Pack Tests

The wildland firefighter pack tests are set to make sure Forest Service personnel are prepared for the physical demands of battling wildfires. Search and rescue teams also use these tests for fitness exams. There are three tiers of testing, each carrying an increased level of difficulty. All of these are done on level terrain wearing boots.

Remember to train before doing these tests and also consult your physician before substantially increasing your level of physical activity.

Light: The easiest of the three. The light test is a one-mile hike in 16 minutes. You don’t need to be carrying anything, but feel free to bring a small amount of water and equipment.

Moderate: This is the first test involving a pack. It comprises of a two-mile hike with a 25-pound pack in half an hour. For many of us, this could comprise of a general field kit. If you’re adding weight to your pack, make sure it’s evenly placed. Many people use sand bags to weigh down their rucks.

While this is an easy way to give you the required weight for the test, it can also cause a it of discomfort with how the sand will pull down on the pack. How this works out will depend on the type of pack to use. Remember, you don’t want to go far beyond your body’s tolerance for these exercises. It doesn’t make sense to delay your training with avoidable injuries.

Arduous: This test involves the most weight and the longest hike. Carry a 45-pound pack for three miles in 45 minutes. Lane county Search and Rescue uses this as one testing option for candidates and members. However, because 45 pounds can be a substantial amount of weight for someone who may weigh, say, 120 pounds, EMR adjusts the weight for 45 pounds or one third of the person’s body weight, whichever is less.

Search and Rescue Pack Tests

While Eugene Mountain Rescue and other Lane county SAR teams do use the arduous test for members and candidates, we have other tests that we use to assess physical fitness.

Search and rescue missions will often go off of flat land and into higher elevations on steep slopes over long distances. Our tests have longer distances than the arduous test with more elevation gain, but with more time for members to complete. Here is an example of one our more commonly used tests.

Load a pack with 25 percent of your body weight, up to 40 pounds. Hike a hill that allows you to travel up, down and up again for an uphill elevation gain of 2,000 feet. This test must be completed in less than two hours. Sometimes the downhill leg of the test will vary depending the hill you use.

For instance, a hill that goes up 1,500 feet will only require 500 feet of downhill travel to allow for the 2,000 feet required uphill. The distance may also vary. One slope we use for this test covers a little more than four miles.

These pack tests or “rucks” can give you a good benchmark for your physical fitness outside the weight room or treadmill. Try them out and see what works for you and the kit you plan on carrying.

Have you wondered what you would do if you were faced with a massive disaster such as a terrorist attack, natural disaster, widespread blackout, or other situation?

If the thought of surviving such an event is frightening and overwhelming, you’re not alone. Obviously, it’s impossible to predict the future to know exactly what type of situation may arise. However, there are a number of steps you can take to help you survive against the odds.

1 – Water

Water is absolutely necessary for survival. In case of a disaster, the water from your tap may no longer be safe to drink. In your home, you should store large drums of water and have several bottles of water you can easily grab should you need to evacuate. A good rule of thumb is to have one gallon of water per person per day.

Three days’ worth of water is usually recommended, but if you truly want to be prepared for a catastrophe, you’ll want a whole lot more.

In addition to storing plenty of water, identify water sources that can serve as a long-term water supply. Purchase a high-quality water filter and/or some iodine drops so that you can purify any water that you find.

This long-term water supply is your only chance of survival if the damage from the catastrophe lasts several weeks, months, or years.

2 – Food

Although you can survive for a while without food, you’ll need food on hand to keep your energy up when faced with a disaster. In an emergency situation, you may not have access to a grocery store or convenience store – or the shelves may have already been emptied of food.

Keep a supply of filling, shelf-stable foods on hand. Freeze-dried foods are an excellent option.

When you head to the grocery store each week, purchase a little extra of the foods you already eat such as spaghetti, pasta sauce, coffee, and canned tuna and soups. This habit will build up your food supply so you won’t have to be one of the desperate masses flocking to the grocery store to buy whatever is left on the shelves.

3 – Self-Defense

In a true disaster, you’ll need some form of self-defense to keep you and your family safe. The ability to defend your loved ones and your property will be essential.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Dehydrated, hungry and injured people may do anything to get the supplies they need—and you need to be prepared.

Create a home defense plan, which should include a firearm and ammunition.

4 – Survival Kit

Put together a bag of supplies that you can have on hand—or that you can quickly grab and take with you in case you need to evacuate. At minimum, this bag should include flashlights, a quality first aid kit, fire starting tools, a survival knife and an emergency blanket. Don’t forget to include packable food and bottled water in your kit.

Like many people, I spent a good deal of time perusing the internet looking at photos and videos from this year’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas. It goes without saying that I’m a gear nut and enjoy seeing the new equipment on display. Everything from packs to knives to electronics catches my eye.

Many companies use SHOT Show to debut new products to the media. Some update existing lines of equipment while others show off completely new pieces. One such company doing so was Maxpedition, and it made a move that I believe solidifies a trend in the tactical nylon industry.

Maxpedition just released its “Advanced Gear Research” line of packs, bags and pouches with streamlined construction and materials that give the products a low profile look, yet maintain the functionality of tactical products with molle webbing and hook and loop panels. The products seem geared for the urban jungle with looks that would draw less attention to the user than, say, a 3-day assault pack. They’re not exactly “covert” since they look like something Ethan Hunt would use in the sixth Mission Impossible movie.


Maxpedition’s release in my opinion signals what could now be considered an actual movement in the tactical nylon business. Tactical companies have long been making products with a “discreet” or “covert” appearance. The only thing separating these products from their military style counterparts was a lack of molle webbing and at times dedicated compartments for laptops and other items carried on a daily basis by someone working a regular nine to five.

For many years, there have been problems in design. Large companies known for good tactical products would release “covert” products that would carry awkward and at times unappealing looks. While function comes first, appearances matter. In order for a bag or pack with tactical functions to blend in, it has to appear like a product from any standard retail outlet.

The past year has seen a huge leap in design across multiple companies. After years of testing and product upgrades, we’re finally seeing products that are designed from the ground up with tactical function and civilian fashion both in mind. These packs and bags now blend in with a crowd, yet carry items such as dedicated hook and loop pockets and interior panels that allow the user to ultimately decide how to carry equipment. Companies like Maxpedition, Vanquest Condor and 5.11 have introduced designs and in some cases whole product lines that revolve around discreet tactical functionality.

For us gear nuts, it’s an exciting time. We can expect to see products that allow us to carry EDC and anything other gear in a package that fits into our surroundings. People who commit to preparedness now have more options to carry their equipment without standing out in the city. With increased competition between companies to draw out customers with such demands, the race for better equipment will continue to put out more promising material designed around the end user.

Want to see more from Maxpedition? Click here to check out their catalog.

If you’re faced with an emergency, your traditional communication sources may not be available. What do you do if you need assistance? Consider using these communication devices to help you communicate with others and get the assistance you need.

1) Cell Phone

Because you probably have your cell phone on you at all times, it should be your first option–as long as you’re in cell phone range. You can use it to contact your friends or family to let them know about the situation.

However, you should never rely solely on your cell phone as your sole method of communication if you’re faced with an emergency situation. In true emergencies, cell phone towers can get tied up due to a dramatic increase in usage and you may be unable to make a call or send a text. Similarly, if you’re out in the wilderness, you may be out of cell phone range and you will need another method of communication.

2) Social Network

These days, nearly everyone is part of a social network. Most people also have smartphones that allow them to access the Internet or use an app. Posting a message on a social media network will let you inform a large number of people about your emergency. Unfortunately, this form of communication only works if you have a smartphone with a data plan or a computer that can connect to the Internet.

3) Two-Way Handheld Radio

Two-way radios, commonly called walkie talkies, are relatively inexpensive communication devices. It is a good idea to carry walkie talkies when you’re traveling with a group to communicate navigation plans or to find each other if someone gets lost. Two-way radios are also useful tools for situations in which you are unable to communicate by cell phone. The communication radius for a two-way radio depends on the type, but they are limited to a maximum radius of about 35 miles.

4) Satellite Phone

Satellite phones are a type of mobile phone that connects to satellites instead of cell phone towers. Satellite phones are expensive, but a satellite phone may save your life if you’re stranded in the wilderness or if you’re faced with a natural disaster. Because satellite phones don’t use local cell networks, they are unlikely to be affected by a drastic increase in cell phone usage.

5) CB Radio

Citizens band radios, commonly called CB radios, are great to have in case of an emergency. They allow people to make contact with others via radio communications, which can be transmitted within an approximately 25-mile radius.

6) Ham Radio

The ham radio has been used during emergencies in the United States for more than a century. There is some skill needed to be able to operate a ham radio, and you must take a test to obtain a license to operate a ham radio. However, many survivalists feel that the ham radio is the most effective communication method in case of a widespread disaster.

Prepare for the worst by knowing your communication abilities. Preparing for an emergency means taking every possible scenario into account, so test and practice using these communication devices regularly.

If you are stranded in the wilderness, it is absolutely essential that you are able to start a fire. In many locations, temperatures at night can get dangerously cold. Even if the temperatures are not frigid, you still may be in danger. Hypothermia can occur in temperatures as warm as 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

When you are out in the backcountry, a fire can serve many purposes. It will not only serve as a heat source to warm your body, its flickering light and smoke may act as a signal to rescuers that will lead them to your location.

Because the ability to create a fire is so important, it is a good idea to have several fire starters in your survival kit.

  • Lighter. A Bic lighter is a convenient fire starter to have around a campground. It can be used to light a stove or a campfire. However, Bic lighters may not be reliable when you’re out in the elements. In addition, they require a significant amount of coordination to work. If your hands are numb from cold, you might not be able to light it. Further, these types of lighters are not reliable at high elevations.
  • Stormproof matches. Stormproof matches also provide a quick fire starter, and can be used in rainy and windy conditions. However, lighting a match also takes a significant amount of coordination that you may not have if you’re cold or injured.
  • Spark rod. Spark rods are reliable in wet conditions, and because they require gross motor skills to work, they can be used by individuals who may be suffering from numbness in their fingers. Spark rods come in many different varieties including ferrocerium, magnesium, or a combination of materials.
  • Tinder. All of the fire starters in the world will be of no use if there is nothing to ignite. For this reason, you should always include tinder in your survival kit. Cotton balls coated in Vaseline make excellent fire starters, even when wet. Vaseline-coated cotton balls can burn for up to five minutes (just make sure you pull them apart a bit to expose the fibers). These coated cotton balls can be stored in an empty film canister or in a plastic sandwich bag. It is a good idea to carry five or more of these in your survival kit.

Although fire starters are important tools to have when you’re stranded in the wilderness, building a fire is a skill that must be developed. Practice using your fire starters and make sure you understand the basics of building a fire before you hit the trail.

Fire provides many benefits to people in the wilderness, but wildfires are extremely destructive. If you build a fire, never leave it unattended. Make sure your fire is out cold before you leave the area.

Are you well-stocked as part of your emergency preparedness strategy? The key for preppers is having a good supply of food, water, and other essentials on-hand in the event a catastrophic event presents itself. Do you have what you need?

Do you have food that is both nutritious and easy to work with?
When you’re doing your inventory, be sure that you have a mixture of foods that are flavorful and easy to work with. Check the nutritional facts to be sure they contain a variety of essential nutrients. Choose foods that don’t require extensive or special preparation.

  • White or brown rice is filling and full of vitamins and calories.
  • Items like beans, sugar, salt, flour, and oats are good base ingredients that make the foundation of a variety of dishes.
  • Canned goods like fruit and vegetables have a long shelf life and don’t require extensive preparation.
  • Peanut butter is full of protein and calories. It can also double as a sweet sugary treat.
  • Powdered drink mixes and multivitamins are easy ways to make sure you’re getting required nutrition in a quick form.

Do you have enough food for your specific needs?
It’s not enough to just have food stored away. You’ll need a plan and a menu for distributing foods equally and making it last over a period of at least 2 weeks. Take some time to consider who may be with you and their unique nutritional needs.

  • Store items like beans, rice and flour in large quantities, probably over 5 pounds of each. They last a long time, but are used for many things.
  • Canned goods are perishable once they’re opened. Have enough to use each can as a one-time meal.
  • Test your inventory by doing a trial run. Try to spend a weekend cooking only from your storage. You’ll notice the small things you probably forgot.

Do you have emergency supplies that fit your needs?
There are some supplies that are universal. Most you can find in the sporting goods section of a big department store. Take care to go with quality items, even though you’ll (hopefully) never need them. You’ll be glad you have top-quality goods when the time comes.

  • 5 gallon water containers. When you get home, fill it with tap water.
  • Buy a minimum of 250 rounds of ammunition for your main defense weapon. Add a cleaning kit to keep the firearm functioning properly and to battle degradation over time.
  • Pick up a good quality LED flashlight for your emergency preparedness inventory. Throw in some extra batteries and a bulb. In addition to that, get two boxes of wooden matches and several multi-purpose lighters. Be certain to date, use, and rotate. It’s a first in, first out process.

You’ll find these to be useful tools in aiding you to be prepared for the unexpected. Evaluate your inventory and do trial runs regularly to be sure everything is in order and up-to-date.


The Maxpedition Falcon III is an update to the company’s popular Falcon II backpack. While the main upgrade is the pack’s expanded size of 28 liters, some modern touches make the Falcon III a versatile outdoor and tactical pack. This bag is at home in a variety of environments and fits into a multitude of roles.


The exterior of the Falcon III is 1050 denier nylon. The fabric provides a high degree of abrasion resistance. I was impressed with how it performed on concrete drag tests while only showing slight wear on the outside webbing. The fabric is also treated with a Teflon coating, which gives the pack more water resistance.

I was impressed with the pack’s ability to shed water. For testing, I dragged the front of the pack across the surface of a river near the Shadow Fox HQ. The water beaded and rolled off the outside of the pack. However, the pack is not impervious. After opening the pockets, I saw that some water was able to get in through the stitching that held the webbing to the pack. While the pack isn’t entirely waterproof, it will keep things safe in a short drizzle or while trekking on a snowy day.

Webbing on the front and sides allow for attaching pouches to fit whatever your mission. Four side and a top compression strap keep the pack neat. For the top, I would like to see a longer strap to allow for carrying rope or a jacket when the pack is fully loaded.


The Falcon III comes with a mesh back panel and shoulder straps. The Falcon II had mesh shoulder straps, but a nylon back panel. The Falcon III uses a more open mesh that is well padded. Another item is the quick release buckle on each strap. This allows for easier and quicker removal when wearing thick layers.

Unlike the Falcon II, the Falcon III does not have a dedicated hydration pocket. A pouch in the main compartment will hold up to a three liter bladder. The hose can be routed through a port on either side of the pack. The bladder will bulge out into the back a little, but not enough to make it uncomfortable. The hydration pouch can also fit a 15-inch MacBook Pro with sleeve.

Overall, the pack is comfortable to wear. There is no frame, so loads over 30 pounds may be uncomfortable over long distances. The straps are well cut and a sternum strap helps keep the weight from bearing into the shoulders. Load lifter straps on the shoulders also help pull the weight towards the back. A webbing hip belt also secures the pack to the body.


The Falcon III carries a basic administrative pocket that can carry pens, a multi tool or folding knife, along with a phone and light. A key fob is also sewn into the pocket. While it does carry the essentials, I prefer a dedicated pouch for my phone to keep it from moving around and easily accessible. A few more organizational features would help the pack fit better into the EDC role.

The pack’s secondary compartment is lined with loop Velcro. This compartment can carry your hook-backed holsters and pouches. The Falcon II had loop Velcro on the hydration compartment for this purpose.

Ideal Use

The Falcon III functions well in the outdoors, but can also be used as a travel and daily carry pack. I was able to compress the pack down to keep the profile low when carrying a light hiking load, but the pack was also large enough to carry what I needed for an overnight snowboarding trip. The 28-liter size also allows for carrying more equipment for winter hikes or gear for the tactical professional on a callout.

Don’t get stranded out in the cold. Winter is here. The cold winds and snow are beautiful but deadly if you’re not prepared. Here’s how to get ready for anything Old Man Winter can throw at you.

The two main places people are at the most are in their homes or cars. You must have the right tools at your disposal in the event of a winter weather emergency. The worst can happen when you least expect it.

Ride out Winter Storms at Home
One of the biggest survival tips is having enough food and supplies. Winter is the time of year to always be prepared in case of a blizzard, ice storm, or other turbulent storms that sweep through.

Be certain to have fully charged cell phones in case electricity goes out. Have functioning chargers and a good stock of batteries on-hand for flashlights and radios. Don’t forget to have smoke detectors in good working order as well. Be certain there’s plenty of water around and that you have an emergency heating source. Lastly, it’s smart to have a fire extinguisher at home.

Prepare Your Car for Treacherous Roads
When traveling in your car, you never know when a winter emergency will arise. Sometimes things will be going along just fine until a rapid cold front changes everything in the way of a weather pattern. This makes roads treacherous and unpredictable. If something happens, you’re in the middle of nowhere and on your own. Depending on help isn’t the way to think in a dire situation. This is where self-preservation must kick in.

Having a fully charged cell phone is one of the top survival tips when going out. Call friends and give them an estimated time of arrival so someone has an idea as to when they should hunt you up if you don’t show up when expected. Have a full tank of gas and emergency fuel with you.

Other winter survival tips for cars is to have warm blankets and extra food and water. In case you’re stranded, you want to be cover up and not go hungry.

Preparing for emergencies is what winter survival tips are all about. These valuable tools may save your life.