I’m not the greatest navigator. I learned a long time ago that I have a poor sense of direction. Put it this way…I can become turned around in a culdesac! I CAN read a map, but knowing north from south when walking or navigating is something I’m pretty miserable at. When my GPS on my phone says “head west toward Johnson Street,” I get upset because if I knew which way WEST was I might not need to use the frickin’ GPS!

Anyway…this method uses nothing but a few sticks and as long a the sun is shining you can use it. I can even use it. Ron Hood discuses this technique in one of my favorite survival skills videos that I wrote about on this site: Survival Basics. This method assumes that you’re in the Northern Hemisphere.

Take a straight stick and poke it into the ground so it stands up straight. Find where the shadow falls from the stick and place a medium-sized rock at this point, at the top of the shadow. Let some time go by. You’ll see that the shadow has moved. Place a second rock on the tip of this second shadow.

I did this at home on a recent sunny day. At first I went out there after 15 minutes and you could see that the shadow had moved, but it was not a great change. The movement is a lot more noticeable if you let an hour or so go by, but if you’re in a hurry to do your navigating you can pretty quickly tell which is which. Of course, this has its drawbacks if the weather is not consistently sunny.

navigating with a stick and a rock
The first rock placement.
navigating with a stick and a rock
The second rock placement after an hour or so.
navigating without a compass
The end of the shadow.

I found that the irregularity of the grass made the end of the shadow, where you put the rock, hard to see. But it’s there, as you can see in the photo of my hand.

Obviously, given that we know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, you’ll know that the line created by the two rocks is the east-west line. Allow some more time to go by for a third point, and mark it with a third rock. The direction in front of the stick is north. If you’re on the move, you can do this a few times throughout the day to ensure that you stay on course.

navigating with shadows
The final rock placement, showing a clear east-west line.

After I placed four more rocks over the course of an afternoon, a clear east-west line emerged, which you can see in the photo above.

If you’re on the move at night, use the moon and the stars. Many people learned as children that the “Big Dipper” or “Plough” constellation points north. If you find the handle of the Big Dipper and follow it along to the farthest “Edge” stars and follow them on farther up, those point to the North Star, Polaris. This star is helpful because while other stars rotate in the night sky, Polaris stays relatively fixed. The Dipper does rotate around Polaris, but those “saucepan” stars always point to it.

Polaris is also the end star in the handle of the Little Dipper constellation. Of course, it’s helpful to not have too many clouds in the sky to use the stars.

The moon can be helpful but I have a harder time remembering this and if I was in a panicked situation I would worry that I would remember wrong! The moon also rises in the east and sets in the west. The horns of its crescent point to south when a line is drawn from the top point to the bottom point and then extended to the ground.

Also (and this is the part I get mixed up on!), if the moon is rising before the sun sets, the bright side of the moon will always face west. But if the moon doesn’t rise until late in the night, the bright side of the moon will always face east. If you think about it it makes sense, right? The bright part is reflecting the sun’s light, so whichever side is bright tells you east or west.

Like many of you out there, I have a variety of survival gear. I have duplicates of some things. I have multiples of other things. I have it organized fairly well…it’s in a couple of bags and some boxes in a storage area. I feel well prepared for a basic to mid-level emergency. Problem is, the bags that I have packed are too heavy!

I’m happy with one of the bags I have. It was a thrift store find of an insulated cooler backpack . . . I hadn’t seen these before but when I saw it I knew it would be perfect for a gear bag. It has a large main pocket and a smaller outer pocket that both close with zippers. Because it’s a cooler, it’s lined with waterproof fabric and the outside of it is plastic. And it has wheels. I liked that it was more waterproof than your typical backpack and it rolled, and I didn’t have to pay survival gear bag prices for it.

The other bag is a bowling ball bag that is also a plastic-y material making it more waterproof than typical fabric, but it doesn’t hold as much as the other one. One drawback to using these bags is that they aren’t fully MOLLE’d like “real” survival gear bags. But I like them, I’m using what I have, and I saved money on the deal.

I knew the cooler bag was too heavy. But I moved some things around in that storage room over the weekend and I realized that it were WAY too heavy. What to do?I know that I need to keep them lightweight, so I’m going to start looking for some new bags. Ideally, my husband could take the heaviest bag and our son can take the lightest bag. But SHTF situations are rarely “ideal” and we’re not going to plan for an ideal situation.

Keep it light

When planning your bug-out bag. Be realistic about weight. You might be along. You might be injured. You might have children with you that also need your help. If you have multiple bags, spread your gear out among the bags so that your bag is light enough for you to actually handle and yet also contains your essential stuff.

Pack large, heavy items on the bottom.

Put items on the bottom that you don’t think you’ll need as much, and also anything squishy that can handle being compressed by the weight of things above it.

Keep frequently used items at the top.

Items that I’d keep at hand are fire starting equipment, rain gear (so you’re not digging for it in the, you know, rain), lighting, and one serving of food or snacks and water.


Utilize bags or containers to keep things together. For instance, your fire starting material all in one pouch and your first aid all in one kit.

Review your pack occasionally.

If it’s been months since you packed your bag and stored it away, get it out and go through it. There’s nothing worse than knowing you have something but not being able to find it. Or thinking that you have something but then realizing it’s not there or not what you thought it was. It’s a good idea to continually edit and curate the items in your survival bag anyway. You may discover that you’re lacking something or you find gear that you like better than what you already have.

And, actually use the stuff.

That last point is key. If you get gear, use it. Try it out. Become familiar with it. Think about how you would handle a stressful situation if you were trying to get a fire built or filter water and you were trying to read a label or product instruction manual in the dark, in the rain, in the freezing cold, because you never used it beforehand and didn’t know what to do. Yeah. That’s genuinely a situation to avoid being in.

So repack your gear! And get out there and use it.


Here in the Pacific Northwest, we just had a few days of very springlike weather. The fruit trees started blooming, daffodils poked their heads up and friends and coworkers started gushing about how they could wear t-shirts. And today? Snow. Yeah. The weather does strange things.

We didn’t get a lot of snow, but the temperatures are expected to plummet tonight and possibly coincide with wet roads, leading to black ice. If you’re ever stuck somewhere, like in a broken down car or on a hiking trail, when weather you’re not expecting comes down on you, here are some tips for how to avoid a cold-weather casualty.

Be Prepared
The first tip, and the most important one, is to never underestimate the weather. Don’t go out in just a t-shirt. Pack some extra garb and a blanket in your car. Carry a windbreaker pr jacket with you, no matter how warm you believe it will be.

Gear Up Your Car
My car’s trunk has a military wool blanket in it, a tarp, a folding shovel, a jug of water, and my survival bag. Inside that bag is the following (among others):

  • whistle
  • poncho
  • food
  • fire starting material
  • knife
  • socks
  • hand warmer packets

These are all basic gear that will keep you alive in a snowstorm. Hand warmer packers are .99c or less, so stock up on those and keep them in all of your bags, just so you always have some.

If you live in a snowy place, keep these items on hand:

  • sunglasses (to provide visibility without being snowblinded) – I learned that this is a real thing when I took a trip to Alaska one February a few years ago and did’t take my sunglasses. I didn’t think I’d need them! But I regretted not having them as we drove many miles along highways covered with snow.
  • chapstick – if you’re dehydrated, this will help you avoid dry, cracking lips
  • hat, gloves, scarf, extra pair of wool socks- just keep some backups in your car or bag
  • sunscreen – not what you think of in the snow, but it’s similar to snowblindness in that you actually can get sunburn from too much reflecting UV rays on bright white snow.

Avoid These

Cotton kills! Cotton is not a good choice for clothing of any layer during the winter months. It absorbs moisture and holds on to it, so you can’t dry out or warm up. It also does not hold in heat well, particularly when it is wet. don’t wear flannel, jeans or your Carhartt pants or jackets in the snow.

Avoid exposing your skin. Keep your heat in by covering up your head, hands and feet. Frostbite can happen more quickly than you think when your skin is exposed.




Those of you who have been reading this site for a while now know that I have written about and enjoyed a couple other Ron Hood survival videos. Read our review of “Ultimate Survival Guide” and “Advanced Survival Guide.”

His videos are not only funny but full of useful information all in one place. I know you’re going to want to watch these videos over and over again. I got a new one, “Survival Basics I and II,” and I wanted to tell you what I thought of that one as well.

I really liked this one because it covers the first 48 hours after an emergency as well as key things such as staying dry and minimizing heat loss. You may think you already know all there is to know about these basic subjects but somehow Ron hood finds a new angle. I mean, I don’t think I would ever have thought to fill a trash bag with pine needles as a make-shift blanket. The fact that he covers basics also makes these videos a great gift for your kids or your younger prepper friends who are just getting started. It’s great to read a book but watching a video has more richness to it. I only wish we hadn’t lost Ron Hood a few years ago because I think he would have been really great at maximizing the fun of a YouTube channel. There are a lot of those channels now and they’re fun to watch too, but Ron Hood’s personality is part of the appeal of these older videos.

Some of the basics that he covers is firemaking, which you can’t learn too much about in my opinion. The techniques on wayfinding were incredibly valuable. Watch these techniques and take notes in your offline prepper notebook. You can easily tell direction both during the day and at night with the techniques that Ron clearly explains.

It goes over what to include in your own mini kits and maxi kits and all kinds of other things. The coolest things to me were the wayfinding sections with shadows and a watch, and the figure 4 trap looked like something worth trying out. All you need to make a small animal trap is a knife and the diagram of this cool leverage-based trap in your mind. As in the other videos, Ron’s wife Karen helped out with sections on how to clean fish and how to cook maggots. These and other survival videos by Ron Hood and others are available at Stoney-Wolf Productions.

No matter how much gear you have in your pack or bug-out bag, if you don’t know how to use them or have some basic survival skills, you’re not going to last very long. These are the top 5 skills you must have if you’re going to survive TEOTWAWKI or a SHTF social breakdown situation of any kind.

1. Find and Purify Water

There are a number of ways to do this. We’ve written about “collecting water in the desert” as well as “building a better rainwater harvest system, ” so click around on this site for ideas. You must have some sort of purifier like a Lifestraw, or know how to collect water through condensation. Even in the desert there is some amount of water in the air. I’m lucky enough to live in a place with an abundance of water, so to be honest I’ve never actually tried any of the water-collecting methods I talked about in that first article, but I’m inspired to try them now. Look for an upcoming column about how some of these methods actually work.

2. Start a Fire

Another topic we’ve written about before…Click around for articles like “testing petroleum soaked cotton balls for firestarters” and “firestarter options and backups.” I personally have a small biofuel stove at home, which efficiently burns sticks, twigs, pinecones and stuff. I have a 2-quart plastic container in my utility room full of stuff that I picked up off the ground in mid-summer . . .  twigs, moss, fir cones, pine needles and other things that are bone dry and will readily burn. I have a packet of char cloth (both purchased and home-made), I have a fire piston (which utilizes only char cloth to make a spark), a magnesium scraper, matches, lighters, and a magnifying glass. Someday I’ll learn how to make a fire with sticks. Seriously, making a fire and having dry tinder is crucial. Have many options for fire starting available to you.

3. Build a Shelter

Depending on the geographical area where you are, the materials and techniques you use to create a shelter will be wildly different. In my part of the country, I would use the teepee approach by cutting down saplings and lashing them together. Then I’d take any tarps I had and use that as a covering and enhance that with branches. It would be tough to make it sturdy when one of our windstorms kicked in, which is why it’s so important to have some tools and rope available. I found this video that I thought had a good example that anyone could do provided they had a tarp:

4. Find Food

I’ve invested in a few books about identifying and using wold foods and you should too. I’m familiar with what grows around me and I keep an eye out for what foods are in my area. I know where the nearest stand of cattails is from my house and I no longer pull the cleavers out of my yard now that I know they are edible. Take a course on “how to eat acorns” like I did, and get either books specific to the wild food that is available in your area or learn from a skilled forager.

5. Basic First Aid

Everything I mentioned before will keep you alive, but it won’t help you if you get an infection (because there’s no soap or hand sanitizer) or you gash your leg and bleed out. We’ve reviewed the book “Bushcraft First Aid” and that’s a good start. Have some basic supplies in your kit and know what to do in a variety of situations. Just taking a basic first aid course through the local Red Cross would be a good start.

I’ve long known that you could eat acorns. I just didn’t know how. I knew that Native Americans relied on acorns as a food source and that they somehow had a way to turn them into flour for little cakes.

I live in an area that has some oak trees, and eventually I became curious about how to actually utilize this resource. As you may know, there are numerous YouTube videos and chapters in books and website pages about processing acorns. The problem is, though, that once I started looking around, I found so much information I didn’t know what was reliable. There are many different ways that you can process acorns to make them edible. I wanted to know what really worked.

The resources I had also didn’t answer some basic questions such as whether it matters if the acorns are green or brown. One of the trees near me had acorns all over the ground, but they were all green. Does it matter if they have their caps on or not? I saw one resource on using acorns as a survival food that said acorn flour needed to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. How will needing to keep the flour cold help me if I’m in a survival situation?

So when I saw that a group near me was offering a workshop on acorn processing, I immediately signed up. I was one of 10 students who spent most of a day with an instructor from a school of botanical studies (they teach herbalism and wild plant foods). We walked around an area with a lot of oak trees, learned to identify the different native species we have in my area (Oregon), and what the trees’ growth patterns can tell us about the environment. Regardless of what type of trees you have around you, all varieties of acorns are edible!

It’s fine to read books and watch videos, but if you have a chance to learn from a real instructor in person, that is highly preferable. You can ask questions, see, hear, smell and taste in a way that you never can by watching a video, no matter how detailed the instruction. Here’s what I learned about using acorns as a survival food. And to be honest, the acorn “mush” turned out so good that you might want to eat it all the time.

A grove of oak trees

Our group walked around to learn how the trees grow. We learned that Douglas firs and other fast-growing trees compete with oaks for light, and if an oak doesn’t get enough sun over time it will die. Knowing what trees you might need to remove can help you manage oak trees if you want to make sure that the trees in your area stay healthy and keep producing. We also learned that oaks have some years where they just don’t produce much, and some years, called “mast” years, where the nuts are abundant.

Our instructor also reinforced the fact that native people had collected acorns from right where we were walking for thousands of years. It was a great feeling to know that we were learning how to keep this craft alive and that we were learning how to truly eat food on a local level.

After we walked around and talked, we collected our nuts. We learned to avoid acorns that still had their caps on. We picked up only brown acorns, avoided ones that had a hole in them which was due to an acorn weevil (more on that delicious little protein morsel later!) and we avoided ones that were cracked.

A purple bag filled with acorns

Then we got to work processing them. Our instructor let us spend a few minutes cracking fresh acorns before telling us that it would never work to turn fresh nuts into flour! So that’s survival lesson number one…if you want to use acorns as a survival food, plan ahead. They must be dried before you can pound them into flour. You can let them naturally dry over months, you can use an oven, or a dehydrator, or put them by a wood stove. But either way they can’t be used right when you collect them off the ground.

Here are some photos of the dried nuts she had pre-dried for us to use.


As you can see, the whole nuts that you use should be free of mold and yellow or green discoloration. The variation in color is ok as long as they are “clean” looking.

It takes about 20 minutes to pound about 1/2 cup of the nuts into flour using a mortar and pestle. If you use this method, pound, don’t grind. If you grind, you’ll release the oils, which will make it turn into nut butter. Maybe that’s what you want, but in this case we were going for finely ground flour.

If you have a meat grinder, that’s a much faster way to process the acorns. You’ll get some fine flour and some “chips” or “grits” size pieces. Those can be sifted out and finely ground by hand or cooked in a soup. You can also use a grain mill or some other technology if you have it available.

Acorns going through a meat grinder


After you start processing your nuts, you’ll sooner or later find one of these acorn weevils. Go ahead and eat it! The little protein morsel tastes like nuts. It’s slightly sweet, and only a tiny bit chewy along the edges. If no one else in your group is willing to eat them, then good, that’s more protein for you. I ate one, and I lived to tell the tale.


An acorn weevil crawling in a cracked acorn

After you collect the flour, it’s time to leach the tannins out of the nuts. The tannins are what make them bitter and you want to remove the tannins before you eat the nuts. There are many ways this can be done. One thing I was surprised to learn is that if you try to leach whole nuts (in the shell) it can take months. One person in the class had a brilliant idea of putting a bag of whole acorns into their toilet tank, so they were constantly being “flushed” through with fresh water. You can soak them in a large bucket. This takes months. Longer than you think. But the acorns are fine in the water for a long time. It’s better to store the whole nuts and process them into flour when you’re ready to use them rather than trying to store the flour. The flour won’t stay fresh for very long without freezing or refrigeration.

The smaller the acorn pieces, the faster they leach. We leached them in two methods…the first was to put the finely ground flour into a jar filled with hot water (photo 1 below). This could take about a week. You can taste it, and when the nut meal tastes good to you, you can use them. Replace the water when it turns brown. If you have the option, place the jar in a refrigerator because if it is hot out it can begin to ferment.

The second way was to put the flour into a bowl, pour water over it to cover and stir, then pour the whole thing through a mesh bag that you can get at a homebrew store (photo 2 below). Pour more water over the flour until it tastes good. You can “hot leach” the acorns by simmering them over a flame or on a woodstove. It can take over a day to leach whole nuts this way.


Our instructor had some already leached flour that we cooked with a little water into “mush.” One cup of flour will expand to about 3 cups of “mush.” The taste was good. It was nutty, but bland. The flavor really woke up when I put some salt on it. If you have any toppings like butter, onions, or salt and pepper, that would make the mush taste much better. But even with no flavorings at all, it was edible and even good, just bland.

Our instructor also had some already-prepared chili that she had made using whole acorns cooked in place of beans. The other ingredients were the same as what you would normally put into chili. The flavor of the chili was great, it was just odd because the nuts oxidized and turned the whole jar of chili a dark, inky black color. If you just focus on the taste and not the color, that too was good! The flour could be made into bread or pasta just as you would use any other flour.

One caution I have is that people can apparently be sensitive to acorns. My partner is allergic to pecans and walnuts, and when he ate the mush, he said it made his tongue feel fuzzy the same way that other nuts do that he can’t eat. So he’s not into using acorns as a survival food because of this. If anyone in your family does have a tree nut sensitivity, you might test it out and see if they can safely eat acorns before you plan for that to be a source of sustenance.

Acorn flour cooked in a pot with water.
Cooking the acorn mush.

Bottom line…I will collect acorns now whenever I have a chance to. Do your research, read your books and watch your videos. But if you get a chance to learn from an expert, do it. It’s the best way to really master a survival skill.

I took my acorn workshop through Columbines School of Botanical Studies.

All serious preppers and even people who aren’t preppers at all have heard of the Global Seed Vault. This is an underground vault located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, which is the westernmost part of the Norwegian archipelago. It borders the Arctic Ocean, the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea. It truly is a remote place, although it is actually a fairly large island and is permanently populated.

This site was chosen for the Global Seed Vault as a place to store the world’s repository of food-bearing plant seeds. It was believed that the permafrost that exists on the island would provide “fail-safe” protection for the stories of seeds. Currently the vault holds more than 880,000 samples of seeds ranging from basic global food staples such as rice to unique varieties that are used only in certain areas. The idea was that these seeds would be safeguarded for use in the future in the event of a “doomsday scenario” such as an asteroid strike or a nuclear war. No word on how the average human in, say, the hills of Appalachia were supposed to acccess the seeds in this vault. But I guess it was supposed to make everyone feel better that they were sitting there. I kid.

But seriously. News reports now reveal that the seed vault has been breached by water from the surrounding melting glaciers. The Global Seed Vault is basically a concrete bunker in the side of a mountain. After a year of higher than normal temperatures, meltwater entered the entrance to the seed tunnel and then froze, so it was “like a glacier” when workers tried to walk into it. The reports went on to say that the water stayed at the entrance of the cavern and that the seeds were not in danger. Still, it is alarming. Alarming also is the thought that the designers of this seed vault, who say they planned it to keep the seeds safe for future generations, would not have arranged it so that melting water was not a problem. Maybe they need to rethink the design of this vault to prevent this from happening again. I personally believe that climate change is a real thing. And I support the work of the seed bank.

But you know what is the most important thing? That you, yes YOU, start saving heirloom seeds from your garden plants. Or at least stocking up on some seed packets of non-hybrid plants. We’ve written in the past about why only certain type of seeds work for seed storage. Learn more about that here:

  1. Why Your Survival Seeds Should Be Heirlooms
  2. Another Reason Why Seeds Should Be Part of Your Survival Kit


Image of the seed vault from telegraph.co.uk credit AFP

We recently learned that a Texas woman got stranded in a remote part of Arizona after she ran out of gas during a solo trip to the Grand Canyon. We didn’t hear about this case until after the show about this woman’s rescue aired on 20/20 in March. But it is an interesting example of many survival scenarios coming together along with something we’ve written about before . . . surviving in the desert. (Read: Seven Rules of Desert Survival). How did this young woman do? Let’s check it out.

Amber VanHecke is 24 years old and was stranded for five days. When I was 24 I would have had no idea how to survive,  having given emergency preparation zero thought back then, so she probably automatically did better than I would have at her age. A mishap with Google Maps caused her to go way off track in the Havasupai Reservation and consequently she ran out of gas. You can watch a short, minute-long video of her 20/20 appearance on this Dallas News.com page.


She prepared for the possibility of being stranded. She had extra food and water with her, including high energy foods like almonds, pumpkin seeds, Goldfish and dried fruit. And she ate only enough to keep from starving. She said her stash of food could have lasted her 18 days. She cooked ramen noodles by leaving them on the dashboard of the car.

She built a HELP sign out of rocks. She noticed that planes occasionally flew overhead. I’m not sure whether her sign was large enough to be visible from the planes, but it couldn’t have hurt.

She parked her car by a man-made structure. This increased the chances that someone would come by the structure, and it provided some shade. Unfortunately, though, this structure blocked the view of her car by the one truck that drove by.

She left a note in her vehicle explaining where she had gone when she left the car. She left the vehicle and hiked an estimated 11 miles to make a 911 call. The call dropped before her location could be pinpointed, but rescuers were able to zero in on an area where they started looking. They found her car, but it was empty. They went down the road the note indicated and found her.


She turned onto a road that didn’t exist. People are leaving nasty comments online about this decision and we admit that this as not a smart choice. After going so far on the initial Google Maps directions and then finding out that there was not a road where it was telling her to turn, that should have been her warning that she was not in the right place. The post she put on her Facebook page about the incident says that she thought the road may have washed away, so she turned anyway thinking she would encounter the road shortly. Instead, she came to a fence with no road in sight. At this point she had also lost her GPS.She backtracked then and found the road she was supposed to be on, but by then was out of gas. If your directions are telling you to turn and there’s no road where it’s telling you to turn, take this as a sign that you are doing something wrong.


  • Approximately 80 percent of people who get lost are day hikers who did not plan for emergency situations.
  • Before you go out on a trip, tell someone your planned route. If you get off course like this, chances are you will be in an area close enough to your planned route that someone will have some idea of where to look for you.
  • If you’re in the desert, or truly, anywhere where there is harsh summer weather, always take extra water. You can’t survive without water and you may use all of your physical reserves looking for it.
  • Carry an emergency blanket. In the desert, temperatures drop wildly at night and rise high during the day.
  • Bring sunscreen and protective clothing such as hats and long sleeves.
  • Bring something to signal with, like a mirror, whistle or something brightly colored.
  • Carry a first-aid kit with basic supplies.
  • Rest. Conserve your energy as much as you can.
  • Keep a positive mental attitude. Keep something in your pack or car, like a deck of cards at a minimum, that can help you pass some time.
  • Keep a notebook and pen in your car so you can leave notes, as Amber did.

Image from Associated Press showing the positioning of Amber Van Hecke’s car by the silo and her HELP sign made of rocks.

I recently wrote a review of the first Ron Hood video I had ever watched. It was called “Advanced Survival Guide” and you can read that review here. I got three of his videos while I was at SHOT Show this past January and this is the second of the three reviews I have planned.

This one is called “The Ultimate Survival Guide” and it covers survival in cold climates and very hot, dry climates, as well as hot to do things we all got to do like poop. And in the case of women, deal with that time of the month. That’s what’s covered in the “Taboo Topics” chapter of this, and Karen Hood covers this tidbit of information for women, as would be expected.  If you have a lot of survival guides you may have heard of a lot of this information before. But a big part of the fun of watching a Ron Hood video is the presentation. He really has fun with it and presents the basic information in an easy to remember way, so it will not be something you really have to think a great deal about if you’re trying to remember it in a time of emergency.

For instance, the part about pooping in the woods…I watched this with my 9-year-old son and he was cracking up at all of the different ways that Ron found to say “poop.” For instance, “When you have to leave some trail timber…” Yes, Ron probably used euphemisms more times than he really needed to, because you knew exactly what he was talking about, but that was part of the fun. There’s a review of this video on Amazon that says it’s “a bit crass,” and I have to say I did not find it crass at all. I also really appreciated his attitude about people who poop in popular camping spots. He was right on in his advice to not poop in the first flat spot you come to, because that’s likely where someone is going to want to put a tent there. I wanted to see more of Karen, but she only had a couple of bit parts, talking about some women’s issues.

He started out the video with survival basics, talking about how many calories you need just to keep yourself alive. His advice, based on the amount of calories in say, beef, versus wild foods like a squirrel, which he gives, reveal that it is better to use your energy (burn your calories) making shelter than being out in the cold shivering.

He showed how to easily make a belt out of paracord, so you always have that on your body. That’s a quick and easy project that now my son wants to do. The inside of the paracord could come in handy if you follow Ron’s advice to make a bone fish hook. I appreciated that he showed how the process of carving and chipping away at the fragment of bone was actually done. He even showed that it doesn’t work exactly right all the time if it doesn’t break in the place where you want it to, but you can still fashion something useful.

There was a useful section about things to have in your car, which includes some items that did not make my recent post called “Assembling a Car Emergency Kit.” He recommends a shovel and tow chain and good gloves, which I agree is essential if you are driving in snow.

The desert survival section covered collecting water. He demonstrated that the technique of digging a hole and covering it with clear plastic that I wrote about in the how to collect water post doesn’t really work! By far the most water that he collected came from the technique of using the plant’s transpiration. And now I know the truth about how useful cactuses in the desert really are.

Remember, this is a survival guide covering basics. He goes through  what to do if someone has heat exhaustion and heat stroke. How to wrap a blanket around yourself for the most coverage. And, perhaps most importantly, what to do when you have to cut some trail timber. Al told, another recommended video. I’d say, particularly if you are a visual learner, and you want demonstrations rather than reading about something in a book, or if you have a grandchild who wants to learn DIY things. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re new to “prepping” or you’re interested in survival, you can’t go wrong.

I’ve known about Ron Hood and his survival videos for a while. But I have to tell the truth…I had never watched any of the videos! While I was at SHOT Show earlier this year in January I got to meet the people behind the production company, Stoney-Wolf Productions. I even got to say a quick hello to his wife, Karen Hood, his widow who is carrying on the survival training since his passing in 2011. After watching the “Advanced Survival Guide” video, I was really sad that he was no longer around to make more videos.

I felt like I was in one of his training classes along with him. I really enjoyed his approach of both funny with practical information. I have a 10-year-old son who is big on watching survival videos on YouTube. He watches about 5 different channels religiously and to be honest, I felt that I wasn’t going to learn anything new in this Ron Hood video. It was filmed in 2009, and I wasn’t sure my son would stay interested and get anything out of it.

Let me tell you, not only did he get something out of it, he stayed glued to the television the entire two hour length of the video! I was amazed. In fact, me, my husband and my son watched the videos together and we felt like we were watching a thriller and we should have had some popcorn with it. We all enjoyed it. My husband, who hadn’t watched any Hood videos before either, said, “He’s knowledgeable, approachable and the information is still very relevant.” My husband and son got ideas for projects they can make together (Apache throwing stars!) and we all will never look at a tent pole and empty shotgun shells again (use them to make an impromptu hunting bow).

Hood even eats a slug at the start of the video! I already knew that cattails were edible, but Ron told me new things about cattails that I didn’t know, such as using the fluff as insulation, and making cordage out of the leaves and arrows out of the stalks. He also tells how to make a pocket for a handmade sling.

This video is divided into two parts. The first part is the Advanced Wilderness Survival Skills (Primitive Weapons, Tracking Basics, and the second part is Urban Survival Skills. That section was slightly less interesting, but still had some useful information on how to handle things around your home in the event of a social breakdown. Most other survival sites don’t really talk about what to do with our waste…urine and feces…but Hood approaches the topic of “deletion” with practicality and humor in a way that seems like it will work…as long as you have plenty of trash bags around!

He walks through how to get water from a hot water heater. It’s more involved than simply opening up the drain at the bottom. And to tell you the truth, we’ve lived in our house now for 5 years and it never occurred to me to clean out the hot water heater the way he suggests that we do it. That is definitely on my list of household tasks from now on.

Karen played a big role in this video. She spoke about how to use the concept of “copy canning” to build up your emergency food pantry. Essentially, whenever you eat something from your food supply, buy two next time you go to the grocery store. You’ll slowly build up a stock pile without going out and spending a lot of money all at once. She also has a segment on parking lot and vehicle safety, reminding everyone, but especially women, to be aware of your surrounds and vigilant everywhere you are, such as in the grocery store parking lot.

While watching this segment, I felt that it was unfortunate that her segments were so strictly gender based…Ron got to build the cool survival stuff and Karen got to talk about the food pantry. But I reminded myself of when this was filmed. Things really were different then as far as “prepping” being a more masculine thing to do. And the fact that they were bringing a woman into things in the first place was probably a big deal at the time. I even enjoyed watching their baby crawl around in some of the segments.

What really sets these videos apart is the fact that they’re real. Real knowledge from a real person who tells you how things are really going to go when you start making something. I’d recommend these videos for the beginning “prepper” or person who is worried about how they might survive in a SHTF fan situation. By watching this video you will get a lot of knowledge on how to use things you already have access to. You could watch many hours on YouTube without getting this much clear, concise education. I also recommend this video for kids who like DIY type projects. There’s a lot to learn for just about anyone here, even people who think they already know pretty much everything. Purchase this video and others from Stoney-Wolf Productions.