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2018-06-01 RECOIL OFFGRID

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Teach Your Family
How to Resist
and Outsmart
Human
Predators
PREPARATION
SURVIVAL
MOBILITY
DEFENSE
MEDICAL
GEAR
COMMUNICATING
WITHOUT A
TRANSLATOR
P. 58
BUILD AND STASH
YOUR OWN
PVC PIPE CACHE
P. 44
STORMPROOF
BACKPACKS
P. 76
IMPROVISED
EVACUATION GEAR
P. 70
ISSUE 25
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MODEL
SIZE
GRIP
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P320 X-Carry
Carry
X-Series
9mm
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7KH;&DUU\LVDSUHPLXPVKRRWLQJH[SHULHQFHXQLTXHO\DGDSWHG
IRUFRQFHDOHGFDUU\
#myp320
#EDC
www.sigsauer.com
CONTENTS
ISSUE 25
FEATURES
DEPARTMENTS
36
06
Victim-Proof
You or Your Child May be
Targeted for Assault or
Kidnapping. Learn What the Risk
Factors are and How to Stay One
Step Ahead
44
Buried Treasure
Learn Why You Should Cache
Important Survival Implements.
Then We’ll Show You a Simple
Method How
52
58
Breaking the
Language Barrier
Tips to Communicate Efectively
Outside Your Native Tongue
64
Improvised
Evacuation Methods
Options for Getting Wounded
to Safety During a Crisis
76
Stormproof Sacks
A Buyer’s Guide to
Bug-Out Bags That Can
Endure Extreme Weather
Product Disclaimer
Prices and details for products and
services featured in RECOIL OFFGRID are
communicated by manufacturers, retailers,
and agencies, and are subject to change
without notice.
Throughout this issue you will
see certain images are labeled
as being 100% Actual Size. This
designation is for the print edition of this
issue. Because of the various screen sizes
on different tablets and computers, we
cannot always provide actual life size
images in digital versions. We apologize if
this causes any confusion and thank you
for your understanding.
Gear Up
The Latest and
Greatest Products
14
Pocket Preps
Carabiners
18
What If?
Your Child Disappears
While Traveling?
26
Survivalist Spotlight
26
36
Survival Lessons From
South of the Border
84
Health
Edible Plants and Their
Dangerous Doppelgängers
90
Hands On
Review of the Cauldryn
Fire Water Bottle
Pistol Caliber
Compatibility
Rugers New PCC May Have a
Place in Your Bug-Out Plan
70
10
Make the Right Call
How Pay Phones and
Household Landlines Might
End Up Being Your Lifeline
During an Emergency
Editor’s Letter
Every Parent’s
Worst Nightmare
94
Debunked
58
The Myth of Not Getting Water
From Plants in North America
96
On the Grid
Staying Plugged-In
98
The Last Page
Review of The Savage
52
Cover photos: Jorge Nuñez;
webphotographeer, Berezko/istockphoto.com
Recoil OFFGRID, June/July 2018; Number
25, is published bimonthly by TEN:
Publishing Media, LLC, 1212 Avenue of the
Americas, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10036.
Copyright 2018 by TEN: Publishing Media,
LLC. All Rights Reserved. Periodicals
postage pending at New York, NY and
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FACILITIES: send address changes to
Recoil OFFGRID, P.O. Box 420235, Palm
Coast, FL 32142-0235.
64
76
70
ISSUE 25
006
EDITOR’SLETTER
Every Parent’s
Worst Nightmare
By John Schwartze,
Network Manager & Acting Editor // RECOIL OFFGRID
’m the product of a very overprotective mother. Growing up,
I had a hard time understanding her insistence on always
knowing where I was and what I was doing. When I was a
kid, I remember she had a bumper sticker on her car with a
phone number to call for anyone with information about a
missing girl named Laura Bradbury.
Laura, who was 3½ years old at the time of her disappearance, was
abducted in the fall of 1984 during a family outing in Joshua Tree,
California. She accompanied her brother to a campsite restroom and
waited outside. When he returned moments later, she had vanished.
No one saw a thing. A subsequent search of the area and exhaustive
investigation turned up little if any promising leads. The case went cold.
Recently, I began thinking about the disappearance again
and wondered if it’d ever been solved. I came across this
article (http://www.lacp.org/2010-Articles-Main/092010TheMysteryOfLauraBradbury.htm), which discussed what
happened to the family in the years following and the ultimate
outcome of Laura’s abduction. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a
happy ending.
It was heartbreaking to not only learn the bad news Laura’s family
waited years to be given, but also the feeling of deprivation they’ve
experienced and how it changed each of their lives. What’s even
more disturbing is that the person or people who abducted Laura are
probably still out there looking for others to victimize — if they haven’t
already. Whether you’re a parent or not, I encourage you to read this
article. Then afterward take a deep breath, hug your kids or someone
else you love, and let’s talk about how we can defend ourselves and
protect the next generation of survivalists.
It makes sense to teach our kids the “stranger danger” concept, but
we also must be cognizant of the fact that many times an attacker
may be someone we know (or at least think we know) who’s secretly
conspiring against us. There are predators roaming the streets with
compulsions that are beyond our comprehension. Google David
Parker Ray or Otis Toole, and you’ll see what I mean.
People who find fulfillment in inflicting pain or kidnap for financial
gain spend years perfecting their ability to strike and get away with
it. We can ponder the origins of this sadistic behavior all day long,
but one thing is for sure … you can’t reason with insanity. Be that as
it may, we’re all born with the instinct to protect our own lives and
those of our loved ones. There’s a word for this … survival. That makes
us all survivalists. You can’t be there 24/7 to safeguard your children
from the world’s monsters — but you can teach them how to survive
among them. So let’s get started.
I
Remedios/istockphoto.com
We posed a question to two of our contributors — what would they
do if their child went missing in a foreign country? I think you’ll find
their ideas for prep and action items during the crisis an informative
read. Mykel Hawke has also returned to grace our pages with tips on
how to communicate when dealing with a language barrier. We’ve
also thrown in some information on how to prepare yourself and your
kids for possible assault or kidnappings, with some tips on situational
awareness and how children can defend themselves against a much
larger attacker.
In our survivalist spotlight, we had the pleasure of getting to know
Ed Calderon, a counter-custody expert who has worked some of the
toughest groups and areas south of the border. Enrolling in one of his
classes is an eye-opening experience that I’d recommend you check
out. Getting a glimpse of the kind of remorseless abductions that
happen each year puts a new perspective on how you view the world.
Remember, you’re worth something to someone. Don’t give those
who view you as a dollar sign a chance to add your life’s worth to their
criminal cofers. Be aware of how they select their targets.
Monitor both your own and your kids’ online behavior — don’t
put vanity ahead of the safety of privacy. Discuss options with your
loved ones on how they can get in contact with you during situations
where communications are limited (see also our piece on having and
locating landlines). You might also want to invest in a device like a
Gizmo Watch after reading this story: http://ktla.com/2016/08/11/9year-old-utah-boy-escapes-kidnapper-uses-smartwatch-to-callfor-help/. No matter the problem, there’s always a solution.
The world is a dangerous place, and unfortunately those who
choose murder, manipulation, and ransom as their pastime don’t
come with a warning label stamped on their foreheads. RECOIL
OFFGRID is here to provide you with the tools to protect the gift of
life we’ve all been given, so you can stack the survival odds in your
favor. We all have the wherewithal to outsmart the bad guys. It’s just
a question if you have the willingness to learn. I’m sure we both know
the answer to that.
And one more thing … thanks, mom. I get it now.
Love you always.
CORRECTION:
In Issue 25’s article, “Ignite Your Inner
MacGyver,” when discussing using a chainsaw as an improvised
fire-starting device, we neglected to mention that the chainsaw
must be close enough to create a ground. For the updated
version of the article, please visit www.offgridweb.com/survival/
advanced-fire-starting-techniques-in-cold-weather.
Editorial.
®
Executive Editor/ Rob Curtis
Senior Editor/ Tom Marshall
Managing Editor/ Laura Peltakian
Contributing Editor/ Steven Kuo
Web Editor/ Patrick McCarthy
Photography Studio Manager/ Jorge Nuñez
Contributors/ AZPhotoMan, Jacki Billings, Jim Cobb, Richard Duarte,
Mykel Hawke, Ryan Houtekamer, Jordan Lance, Tim MacWelch,
Chad McBroom, Ryan Lee Price, Mark Saint, Andrew Schrader,
Patrick Vuong, Jared Wihongi
FLASH SIGHT PICTURE,
REDEFINED.
Special Thanks/ Sophia, Carson Schwartze, Chris Schwartze
Art Direction & Design.
THE ENHANCED F PISTOL WITH
QUICK SIGHT SYSTEM
PLACES BOTH THE FRONT AND
REAR SIGHTS ON A SINGLE FOCAL
PLANE, ENABLING THE SHOOTER
TO ACQUIRE A SIGHT PICTURE,
EXTREMELY FAST.
Senior Art Director/ Gene Coo
Art Director/ Sarah Lampert
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Printed in the USA
Copyright © 2018 by
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All Rights Reserved.
ISSUE 25
010
GEARUP
1
MAKE & MODEL
Outdoor Edge
Le Duck
2
MAKE & MODEL
Air Venturi
Dust Devil Frangible BBs
3
MAKE & MODEL
Trayvax
Summit Notebook
OAL
QUANTITY
DIMENSIONS
6.25 inches
1,500 per box
3.5 by 3 by 0.75 inches
MSRP
MSRP
MSRP
$35
$13
$66
URL
URL
URL
www.outdooredge.com
www.airventuri.com
www.trayvax.com
NOTES
NOTES
NOTES
Outdoor Edge makes a variety of
tools that are smartly designed,
well built, and crazy affordable.
One such example is the Le
Duck, named so for its fowllooking pommel. This little knife
is adaptable thanks to its blade
profile and carry options. Made
of 8Cr14MoV stainless steel with
a Blackstone coating, the razorsharp fixed blade has a generous
belly that allows for detailed slicing and a strong point for thrusting. It comes with a polymer
sheath that has a removable clip,
which can rotate 360 degrees
for multiple carry positions. Also
included is a paracord lanyard
so you can use the Le Duck as
a neck knife. Though made of
thermoplastic rubber and a little
small even for our medium-sized
hands, the handle is comfortable
and moisture resistant. Overall,
it’s a versatile backup blade for
an inexpensive price.
Airguns are great fun, not to
mention fantastic survival tools.
Unlike firearms, air rifles let you
take small game (sometimes
even bigger animals, depending
on your caliber and model) in
a post-SHTF situation without
alerting every human and critter
within earshot. The problem with
BBs is that they can ricochet if
you miss. That’s why Air Venturi
has come out with what they
claim to be the world’s first
frangible BB. Rather than bounce
in unsafe directions after hitting
something solid, these BBs
shatter into a puff of powder.
Manufactured from a special
alloy, the 4.35-grain, .177-caliber
Dust Devils are lead-free and
reportedly 10-percent faster than
steel BBs. They come in an easypour box that makes reloading
faster. Made in the USA.
Trayvax is a relatively new
company that aims to upend the
traditional bifold wallet by offering minimalist models with fresh
designs that are made with such
materials as anodized aluminum.
Now the Washington state-based
company is looking to do the
same with the leather journal.
The Summit Notebook combines
Trayvax’s Summit wallet with an
all-weather, 20-page notepad
and Fisher Bullet Space Pen
wrapped in an oiled latigo leather
cover, giving you a multipurpose
everyday-carry package without
overburdening your pocket. The
notepad uses Rite in the Rain
paper, which is waterproof and
won’t turn to mush when wet
or exposed to oil and grime.
The Summit Notebook fits up
to eight cards, has heavy-duty
nylon stitching, and comes with a
65-year heirloom warranty. Made
in the USA.
1
4
MAKE & MODEL
Streamlight
Microstream USB
Pocket Light
OAL
3.87 inches
MSRP
$50
URL
www.streamlight.com
NOTES
Everyday-carry (EDC) lights tend
to be short but stout, due mostly
because of their stubby CR123
batteries. But battery technology is constantly improving, and
Streamlight’s helping to push it
further along. The company’s
updated Microstream fits in
the palm of your hand or sits
unobtrusively in your pocket
because its lithium-ion cell pack
is so compact — yet puts out 250
lumens for 1.5 hours on high, or
50 lumens for 3.5 hours on low. It
recharges in four hours without
having to remove the battery;
just slide the sleeve forward on
its anodized aluminum body to
reveal the USB charging port. The
Microstream is water resistant,
impact resistant up to 1 meter,
and has a removable pocket clip
that can be attached to a hat
brim for hands-free use.
3
4
2
5
MAKE & MODEL
6
Arcade Belt Co.
Guide
SIZE
MAKE & MODEL
7
Peltor Sport
SecureFit 400
Eye Protection
One size fits most (up to 40
inches)
QUANTITY
MSRP
MSRP
$14
URL
URL
www.arcadebelts.com
www.3m.com
NOTES
Arcade Belt Co. was founded
by outdoor adventurers who
disliked the casual belts on the
market. They wanted something
that would feel better, last
longer, and outperform the
competition. So, they crafted
their own out of synthetic fibers
and natural rubber, resulting in
webbing that’s lightweight and
quick drying, yet can stretch
with the user’s movements. The
Guide is a scuff-resistant utility
belt that definitely exemplifies
those qualities. The alloy
belt buckle is nonslip, sturdy,
and sharp looking, while the
reinforced stretching is solid.
From everyday wear to hiking
steep trails, we’ve worn the
Guide comfortably for months
and found it’s delivered as
promised. Available in a variety
of colors, including brown,
camo, and burgundy.
Canyon Coolers
Copper Adventure
Tumblers
8
MAKE & MODEL
Zippo
Tinder Shreds
DIMENSIONS
20 ounces, 30 ounces
2 inches long by 1-inch
diameter (per shred)
MSRP
MSRP
CAPACITY
Three per pack
$30
MAKE & MODEL
$25, $30
$5
URL
URL
www.canyoncoolers.com
www.zippo.com
NOTES
NOTES
NOTES
If you’re saving up for a food
cache or an extra power
generator, then you might cringe
at the thought of paying $100
for a pair of Wiley X or Oakley
shooting glasses. Thankfully 3M’s
Peltor Sport has the affordable
SecureFit 400 series of eye
protection. This three-pack
provides eye protection for you
and two loved ones for less
than the cost of three caramel
macchiatos. Each pair features
impact-resistant lenses that meet
ANSI Z87.1-2001 standards and
come with an anti-fog coating
and 99-percent UV protection.
The soft-touch nosepiece and
temples ensure a comfortable fit
while the flat, low-profile arms let
you wear earmuff-style hearing
protection without any pinching.
The glasses come with clear,
amber, and gray lenses.
When it comes to enjoying a
beverage, there’s almost nothing more annoying than having
a hot coffee or an iced tea
go lukewarm. Talk about blah.
Fortunately, Canyon Coolers
recently released its new lineup
of Copper Adventure Tumblers.
Thanks to their vacuum-insulated, double-walled construction,
the containers can keep hot
beverages hot and cold drinks
cold for hours on end. The tumblers are manufactured from
food-grade 18-8 stainless steel
with a copper coating on the
exterior, making them safe and
stylish yet durable. They feature
sliding lids that prevent leaks
and spillage. Plus, Canyon Coolers say they’ll fit in 99 percent
of cupholders.
Without fire, there can be no life
in a survival situation if the timeline’s long enough — especially if
there’s inclement weather. Rain,
wind, and snow can dampen
even a master bushcrafter’s best
efforts to get a campfire going.
The Zippo Tinder Shreds can help
make things a bit easier in difficult times. Made of shredded pine
and coated with water-resistant
paraffin wax, these coils of tinder
light quickly, burn long enough
for you to stoke the flames, and
are easy to pack in your care.
Each set comes with 10 shreds in
a resealable clamshell container.
8
5
7
ISSUE 25
6
OFFGRIDWEB.COM
011
ISSUE 25
012
GEARUP
9
MAKE & MODEL
CenterPoint Archery
Volt 300
10
MAKE & MODEL
Sustain Supply Co.
Essentials2
NUMBER OF ITEMS
BOLT VELOCITY
11
MAKE & MODEL
Rogue Ridge
Ridge Warrior RB1000
12
MAKE & MODEL
CGear
Original Sand-Free Mat
CARGO CAPACITY
COLORS
300 pounds
MSRP
12 products (29 individual
pieces, not counting the firstaid kit)
Blue/Green, Green,
and Orange/Tan
$300
MSRP
$4,600
MSRP
URL
$99
URL
$60
www.crosman.com
URL
www.rogueridge.com
URL
NOTES
www.getcyalume.com
NOTES
www.cgear-sandfree.com
300 feet per second
Long before Daryl of The Walking Dead made crossbows cool
among the zombie apocalypse
crowd, soldiers and hunters used
this ranged weapon to great
effect for centuries. That’s why
some crossbows nowadays can
cost more than a quality AR-15.
Don’t have an extra grand or two
lying around? Crosman hopes to
ease that financial squeeze by
offering the Volt 300 from its
CenterPoint Archery brand. It
includes a quiver, carbon arrows,
an adjustable buttstock, and a
1x40mm three-dot optic for $300.
With a reduced draw weight of
130 pounds, it’s ideal for those
looking for a smaller-framed
model that’s easier to cock yet
still delivers plenty of velocity. Also, it has quad limbs, an
auto-safety trigger mechanism,
a fully machined cams system,
and interchangeable grips and
buttstock. The Volt 300 should be
available come mid-May.
NOTES
A great many go-bags on the
market are covered with PALS
webbing and camo patterns. If
you’re bugging out during an
urban disaster, those rucksacks
will scream, “Look, I have
valuable stuff!” The Essentials2
is a prepackaged survival kit
that’s much more discreet — and
comes with 72 hours’ worth of
life-sustaining supplies for two
people. It includes food rations,
a first-aid kit, a MoraKniv fixed
blade, a Sawyer mini water
filter, and more. The backpack
has various convenient features,
such as side mesh pockets,
padded adjustable shoulder
straps, and a robust grab
handle at the top. While we’d
prefer the company’s name
not be so obvious on the front,
the Essentials2 is an otherwise
inconspicuous and solid pack
to start with if you’re looking
to buy a bug-out bag instead of
building one yourself.
MSRP
Bicycles, e-bikes, and motorcycles are all potential bug-out
vehicles; each has its pros
and cons. Take the RB1000 for
example. It features a 1,000-watt
motor, a 13-amp-hour Panasonic
battery, and Kenda Juggernaut
Pro tires, giving you the off-road
capabilities of a human-powered
fat bike, but with the added
boost of a rechargeable engine.
You can ride up to 30 mph with
a range of 29 miles or up to 60
miles in Pedal-Assist Mode. The
drawbacks, however, are limited
cargo space and single occupancy. Still, the Ridge Warrior’s
6061 aluminum alloy frame can
hold 300 pounds, making it ideal
for hunters who’ve bagged fresh
game or a survivalist who’s
bugging out.
11
NOTES
Whether it’s a camping trip or
a day at the beach, it’s almost
impossible to lay down a tarp
or towel and not have sand or
dirt scattered all over it within
minutes. The Sand-Free Mat can
stop that. Originally designed
to allow military helicopters
to land without “brownout”
obscuring the pilot’s vision, the
mat is made up of a patented
multilayer weave that lets
particles fall through to the
bottom, but prevents them from
coming back up. Plus, it has
D-rings to pin the mat down
with stakes. It comes in multiple
colors and sizes, from small
(6 by 6 feet) to extra-large (12
by 12 feet). Note: they’re not
lightweight like common tarps,
with the smallest mat already
clocking in at 3.15 pounds. Still,
the Sand-Free Mat is a smart
design and ideal for RVers,
campers, and beachcombers.
9
10
12
desert warrior®
39 ounces | 5 inch barrel
available in .45 ACP
trust is earned
america’s best rely on kimber—so should you.
made in a merica
what all guns should be™
(888) 243-4522
kimberamerica.com
©2018, kimber mfg., inc. all rights reserved. information and specifications are for reference only and subject to change without notice.
ISSUE 25
014
Pocket PREPS
CARABINERS
I
By Patrick Vuong
f you haven’t thought about getting a
carabiner, you’ll be a convert soon after
trying one. It’s an incredibly useful tool,
and you don’t have to be a mountain
climber to appreciate it.
Aside from using them for climbing, rappelling,
or caving as intended, ’biners have all sorts of
improvised functions, including, but not limited
to, rigging a shelter, acting as a tourniquet (when
coupled with a cord), being used as a striking
implement, and linking smaller packs to your getout-of-dodge bag. Of course, you can use them
for more mundane roles, such as a keychain or to
attach a water bottle to your hiking pack.
The predecessor of the carabiner was made in the
1800s for French cavalry troops called carabiniers,
who used metal spring hooks and slings to carry
their carbines whilst on horseback. However, it wasn’t
until after the 1910s when legendary German climber
Otto Herzog is credited as having created the first
modern ’biner by incorporating a springloaded gate
(the component that opens and closes). The German
term karabinerhaken means “spring hook,” but
translates literally as “carbine hook.”
Today ’biners generally come in four types:
asymmetric D-shaped, D-shaped, oval, and
pear-shaped. The other important element is the
gate, since it’s the part that opens to connect
to another object and closes to ensure it stays
connected that way. There are three gate types:
straight, bent, and wire. Gates can further be
grouped into locking and non-locking.
While there are many more factors to consider
if you’re using carabiners for load-bearing
activities, we’re not delving that deeply here.
However, the seven carabiners here give you
a quick glimpse at the wide array of options
available on the market now. Their uses are
limited only by your imagination.
1
3
2
1
Bison
Designs LLC
G10 ClipTex
Carabiner
MATERIALS
G10
OAL
2.75 inches
WEIGHT
0.7 ounces
MSRP
$14
URL
www.bison
designs.com
Black Diamond
2 Equipment
Tuff Writer
3 Aluminum
RockLock Twistlock
Carabiner - Red
MATERIALS
Aluminum
MATERIALS
6061-T6 aluminum
OAL
4.5 inches
OAL
3 inches
WEIGHT
3.1 ounces
WEIGHT
1.1 ounces
MSRP
$19
MSRP
$40
URL
www.blackdiamond
equipment.com
URL
www.tuffwriter.com
DISCLAIMER:
Not all of the carabiners
reviewed here are rated
for climbing or repelling.
Also, don’t attempt any
load-bearing activities
without irst obtaining
proper instruction from
a qualiied instructor.
6
5
4
7
Kikkerland Design Inc.
4 Key Tools
MATERIALS
Unlisted
OAL
2 inches
WEIGHT
1 ounce
MSRP
$10
URL
www.kikkerland.com
Nite Ize
5 S-Biner Dual Carabiner
Stainless Steel #4
Nomad
6 Carabiner – Lightning
MATERIALS
Stainless steel
MATERIALS
Stainless steel and
polycarbonate
OAL
3.52 inches
OAL
3.75 inches
WEIGHT
1.6 ounces
WEIGHT
1.7 ounces
MSRP
$3
MSRP
$30
URL
www.niteize.com
URL
www.hellonomad.com
Petzl
7 Am’D Triact-Lock
MATERIALS
Aluminum
OAL
4.5 inches
WEIGHT
2.6 ounces
MSRP
$23
URL
www.petzl.com
ISSUE 25
OFFGRIDWEB.COM
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ISSUE 25
016
Pocket PREPS
Bison Designs
G10 ClipTex
Black Diamond
RockLock
Twistlock
Tuff Writer
Aluminum
Carabiner – Red
Kikkerland
Key Tools
Nite Ize
S-Biner Dual
Carabiner
Nomad
Goods, Inc.
Carabiner –
Lightning
Petzl
Am’D Triact-Lock
The ClipTex is advertised as the world’s
first carabiner made of
G10. This glass-based
epoxy resin laminate
was originally made
for use as a base in circuit boards and is now
widely used for firearm
grips and knife handle
scales. Why? It’s strong
yet lightweight, as well
as non-conductive,
non-corrosive, and
resistant to extreme
temperatures. It also
doesn’t shrink or absorb water. This makes
for an incredibly
durable carabiner, but
note that this asymmetric D-shaped ’biner
isn’t rated for any loadbearing functions.
As Black Diamond’s
largest belay and rappel locking carabiner,
the RockLock features
a twistlock gate that
can be operated with
one hand. Simply
rotate the gate sleeve
clockwise, then pull it
back to open. To lock
it, simply let go and it
returns to the closed
position automatically. Since it’s made
of aluminum, it’s
tremendously strong
— the RockLock has a
closed-gate strength
rating of 24 kiloNewtons (or 5,395 pounds),
yet is quite lightweight.
Plus, it feels great in
hand in our mediumsized hands. Made in
the USA.
Tuf Writer makes
some of the industry’s
best tactical pens.
Now the Arizonabased company has
teamed up with D22
Manufacturing to turn
its sights on carabiners. The Aluminum
Carabiner is made out
of, well, aluminum —
6061-T6 to be exact —
and features the same
precise machining
and balance between
form and function as
the Tuf Writer pens.
Also available in black
blue, and purple, as
well as with an aged
brass frame (for $80)
and a flamed titanium
frame (for $120). Made
in the USA.
Kikkerland is known
for putting a fresh twist
on common light-duty
devices by redesigning
them in clever ways.
(See our review of
the Kikkerland Wood
Axe Multi Tool in Issue
24.) But let’s be clear:
The asymmetrical
D-shaped carabiner
that comes with this
Key Tools set isn’t
fooling anyone. Its
sole purpose is to act
as a means to attach
the key ring and the
included bottle opener
and two screwdrivers
(flathead and Phillips)
to your pack or belt
loop. Beyond that, it’s
not likely to impress
many.
Colorado-based Nite
Ize impresses us
with not only the diversity and quality of its
products, but also how
brilliantly they’re engineered. Case in point:
The S-Biner lineup.
They come in a variety
of sizes and materials,
but we reviewed the
#4 (second largest)
model from the
stainless-steel series.
It’s an oval-shaped
carabiner that features
dual wire-gates on
either side, making it
much easier to connect and disconnect
items. Not intended for
climbing, this tough
yet lightweight ’biner
is rated to hold up to
75 pounds.
In this Digital Age, it
was only a matter of
time before someone
did it — Nomad Goods
has combined the
frame of an asymmetric D-shaped carabiner
with a charging cord,
giving you a light-duty
’biner that doubles as
a backup Lightning
cable. It’s USB 2.0 certified to charge up to
2.4 amperes and sync
your iPhone or iPad.
(Micro USB and DSLR
versions are also available.) Not meant to
be a primary charging
cable, the Carabiner –
Lightning is ruggedly
built … even if it’s not
meant for climbing.
Fernand Petzl was a
caving expert who
founded his namesake
corporation in 1975
to mass produce
quality gear for technical rescue workers
and vertical sports
athletes. Since then it’s
developed a strong
global reputation.
The Am’D Triact-Lock
continues that legacy.
It feels great in hand,
has an auto-locking
gate, and can handle
27 kiloNewtons (6,070
pounds). Though this
is the tactical (all black)
version, the Am’D is
also available in various colors with a balllock or a screw-lock.
Made in France.
Pros:
A featherweight at
less than an ounce
Super strong and
durable
Wire-gate opens
smoothly and closes
quickly
Comes with a keyring
Pros:
Automatic twistlock
ensures solid lockup
One-handed operation
Awesome strengthto-weight ratio
Slightly curved spine
allows for easy gate
opening
Pros:
Strong wire-gate
spring that’s smooth
to open and snaps
shut.
Light yet durable
Hybrid oval-shaped
’biner is aesthetically
pleasing and works
well as a keyring
retainer
Pros:
The included screwdrivers work well in
a pinch, and their
key-like shape helps
provide torqueing
leverage despite their
short length.
The Key Tools set as
a whole is a smart,
convenient idea.
Pros:
Dual-gate design
Strong and tough, yet
lightweight
Crazy afordable
price
Good quality despite
being manufactured
in China
Pros:
Ideal for the minimalist commuter or an
emergency situation
in which you need
your iPhone for
communication or
navigation
Surprisingly rugged
construction
Lightweight and
versatile size
Pros:
Aluminum frame
ofers some serious
strength in a lightweight package
Size has greater gate
opening, making it
easier to link up.
With its asymmetric
D-shaped body and
automatic Triact-Lock
system, it’s ideal for
belaying or holding
equipment.
Cons:
Not rated for loadbearing activities
Cons:
Cons? Um … let us
think about this one.
Cons:
As a keychain accessory, it isn’t rated
for weight-bearing
activities.
Smaller size means
its gate opening is a
tad narrow.
Cons:
The spring in the
gate is barely strong
enough to keep the
gate closed.
We were unable to
determine its materials before press time,
but we suspect the
carabiner is soft
aluminum.
This ’biner and its
gate opening is teeny.
Cons:
Though it can hold
up to 75 pounds, it’s
not rated for climbing or rappelling.
Cons:
Short cable, forcing
you to keep your
phone within 5
inches of the power
source.
Not for load-bearing
functions
Tool doesn’t fit its
pouch as well as
we’d like
Cons:
The Triact-Lock isn’t
the easiest to unlock
with one hand; you
must push the gate
sleeve up then, while
holding it up, rotate
it clockwise before
pulling it back.
This triple-action gate
opening is especially
awkward for lefties
to operate.
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018
WHAT IF?
Your Child Disappears While Traveling?
Story By Tim MacWelch
Illustrations by Jordan Lance
ne minute, she was there — holding my
hand, just like she always did. And the
next minute she was gone. The sickening panic began to rise within me, like a
surge of nausea — but far worse. I whirled
in circles looking for her, but in the press of people, there
was no trace. As soon as my wife saw the look of fear on
O
my face and realized our child wasn’t standing with us,
she began to shout our daughter’s name. But over the din
of the busy public square, no response could be heard.
Our child was gone.
In this installment of RECOIL OFFGRID’s What If?, the
editors asked us to explain our own approach to one of
the most horrifying scenarios that a parent can face — a potential abduction. Continuing our new format, the authors
explain what we’d personally do, should we find ourselves
in this type of emergency situation. As a parent, this has
been one of the most unsettling What If’s that RECOIL
OFFGRID has formulated.
The Scenario
SITUATION TYPE
Traveling in a foreign country on vacation
YOUR CREW
You, your spouse, and your 6-year-old child
LOCATION
Paris, France
SEASON
Winter
WEATHER
Rainy; high 47 degrees F, low 39 degrees F
OFFGRIDWEB.COM
ISSUE 25
The Setup: You’ve finally made good on your promise
to take your spouse to Europe, and as it happens, you’re
taking your young child along too. You’ve planned an unforgettable vacation together, and you’re looking forward to
giving your spouse an unforgettable anniversary.
The Complication: While visiting Paris during a walking
tour you prearranged, you’re venturing down the ChampsÉlysées with your group when you stop to listen to the
guide’s spiel on the Arc de Triomphe. Your 6-year-old lets go
of your hand for a moment, and you think nothing of it. Only
a minute goes by while you’re watching the tour guide. You
look down to discover your child is no longer next to you.
As you search through the group and the immediate vicinity, you cannot find your child. What do you do? Did they
just get distracted by something and are aimlessly wandering somewhere you can’t see them? Were they abducted
by assailants stalking the tour group? What’s your response
plan? There’s no way to determine for sure what happened,
and you’re losing precious time.
If you were home you’d call 911 or ask people in the vicinity. But you’re in a foreign country where residents may be
unfriendly toward Americans, your child doesn’t have their
own phone, you don’t know any French, and people in the
area might speak limited English. How do you deal with
this? Contact the police? Attempt to communicate with the
rest of your tour group and mobilize them? Do you search
with only your spouse? Try to call the child’s name?
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ISSUE 25
JOURNALIST AND MOTHER:
Prep
As any parent knows, a simple trip to the
grocery store with a child in tow can quickly
turn into a nightmare without some foresight;
so a trip overseas definitely entails some
heavy preplanning. To avoid any hiccups, I’d
focus on four areas:
Research and more research: Months
before we even set foot on an Air France
flight, I’d begin to meticulously gather data
about our French destination. Aside from
the usual hotel and restaurant recommendations, I’d seek out specific data on the tourist
locations we intend to visit. I’d want to know
when the busiest times are, if there are any
sketchy neighborhoods nearby, if there are
travel advisories for the area, and the location
of important establishments like police stations, hospitals, and the U.S. Embassy.
I’d pick up a physical map of the areas and
mark all these locations on my physical copy,
then also store the information in my smartphone. Since I always carry a notepad, I’d also
jot down relevant numbers like police, hotel,
etc,. to keep on my person should I need to
dial a number from another phone. To round
out my research, I’d familiarize myself with local customs and etiquette so my family could
better assimilate into the local culture.
Bring on the tech: During the research
phase I’d also tackle technology. My first
step would be to call my particular cell
phone carrier and verify whether they ofer
international service and ensure I was placed
on that plan. I’d also inquire as to whether
my cell phone would work overseas. If not,
I’d purchase an unlocked phone that would
allow me to make and receive calls and texts
while in France. While I’m tracking down techrelated information, I’d also take the time to
research GPS devices for my child. Though
we heavily emphasize sticking together, the
reality is that sometimes kids wander of. To
ensure we keep tabs on our 6-year-old, I’d
purchase a good GPS locator that we can use
while in France to track his location should
we become separated.
Learn the language: Communication
and the ability to understand basic concepts
Jacki Billings’ Approach
and words is vital when traveling overseas.
While I don’t expect my family to become
native speakers overnight, I’d insist that we
start learning French months before the
actual trip. I’d most likely sign us up for actual
classes, but if cost or scheduling proved too
dificult, we’d, at the very least, use software
or online tutorials. Setting time aside each
day to study, I’d make it a priority for us to
know how to communicate on a basic level.
In addition to actually studying, I’d invest in
a pocket phrase book/dictionary equipped
with basic and commonly used phrases for
us to keep on our person while in France.
This would prove useful if we need something specific and are conversing with a
French speaker who knows little English.
Prepping my child: One of the most
critical steps in the preplan process would be
prepping my child. Though visiting France
would be an exciting and fun-filled adventure
for him, it does mean lifting him out of his
normal schedule and routine. Doing so might
cause some unpredictable behavior that I’d
want to mitigate before stepping on French
soil. We’d start by including him in the French
lessons, teaching him basic words and
phrases to help him communicate. Knowing how to tell someone who he is, who his
parents are, and key phrases like “Help me”
or “I’m lost” would be vital should he become
separated or one of us become hurt or
injured while overseas.
We’d also make a point to continue reviewing our policy on “bad guys” and how to
defend one’s self — information we’ve already
covered with our child but that we want to
continually refresh. Since he’s just 6 years old,
wielding a gun or knife isn’t really practical,
so I’d focus on encouraging him to use basic
self-defense skills to ward of potential kidnappers. Criminals rarely want attention drawn to
themselves so if my child creates enough of
a distraction, he might prove too dificult for a
kidnapper to move to another location — an
act that likely leads to death.
To prep him for what he might face in
the real world, we’d role play to allow him
to practice yelling our names, screaming,
biting, scratching/gouging, kicking, and hitting. Though we regularly reinforce what to
do if he becomes lost, we’d certainly amp
up those conversations. We’d review that
it’s best to stay put and yell for mom or dad,
using our real names, until we locate him. If
we’re nowhere in sight, we’d reinforce that
he should look for police oficers or security
guards to ask for help. Lastly, I’d purchase a
whistle for my child to wear while in France.
Since it can be heard more clearly over street
noise, we’d practice using it if someone tries
to grab him and run.
On Site
After a long flight trying to entertain a
6-year-old, I’d be ready to kick back at the hotel for a bit. Before slipping into a jet-lagged
coma, I’d take a little time to attend to some
details. First, I’d confirm that our cell phones
do, in fact, work in France. If they consistently show no signal, we’d purchase burner
phones to use while in country.
Once we got some rest and before we
headed out on our Champs-Élysées adventure, I’d snap a picture of my child on my
phone. This picture could prove useful if he
became separated, with the most up-to-date
information on what he looks like and what
he’s wearing. Speaking of clothes, I’d also
outfit him in bright colors or patterns, such as
oranges and lime greens, so he’d better stick
out in a crowd and thus be easier to spot.
We’d review safety information with our
child, including what to do if he became lost
(look for police oficers in the area) and what
to do if someone tried to take him (fight and
draw attention). I’d also whip out the whistle
for him to wear around his neck as well as
the GPS locator watch I bought to track him.
Before we left the hotel, I’d verify the GPS
system is working properly with my phone to
make tracking my child easier and eficient.
Finally before heading out, I’d equip my
son with a sliver of paper from my handy
notepad with his name and age in addition to our information on it. This paper
would serve as an important tool should he
become too nervous to recall his French and
WHAT
IF?
unable to communicate who he is and who
his parents are.
Once we arrived at the Champs, my
husband and I would, once again, reiterate
that our child should always have “hands
on” mommy or daddy and that, at no time,
should he wander of or let go of us. We’d
also, again, review what to do if he became
lost or someone attempted to take him
somewhere else.
While we gather with our tour group, I’d
take special note of the area. I’d look for
any individuals that seem out of place or
as if they’re paying special attention to my
family in particular. If anything seems off, I’d
alert my husband so we could keep an eye
on them and a tighter grasp on our child.
This awareness would continue throughout
the tour.
As we prepare to embark on our tour, we’d
want to also take some time to familiarize
ourselves with our tour group and guide.
We’d look for anyone within the group who
speaks English and suss out any potential
dual French-English speakers. Introducing
ourselves would be the easiest way to ascertain that information and become friendly
with those we’ll be spending the next few
hours with. We’d need to take some time to
introduce ourselves to the tour guide. While
I’d have selected a tour with a dual FrenchEnglish–speaking tour guide, we’d need to
check out just how much English he/she
knows so that if we need anything we know
the level at which we’ll have to communicate.
Crisis
search of our child, I’d look at my device to
see if I can track our child via the GPS watch I
had slipped on his little wrist earlier. Best-case
scenario, it’d alert me to his location nearby;
however, if we couldn’t establish his proximity, we’d relay the GPS information to police
as we followed the tracker. During this time,
we’d keep eyes and ears peeled for any signs
of struggle in the crowd. Knowing that we
taught our child to fight back, create a scene,
and cause as much noise and disruption as
possible, I’d be listening for my name or the
whistle and watching for gawking crowds or
signs of distress.
took earlier. I’d pass the picture around the
group while I continued to call out for my
child and track down a phone.
Once we got a working phone, we’d use
the notepad I carry with emergency numbers to dial local police. We’d want to report
our child missing as soon as possible. If our
child turns up nearby, a simple case of wandering of, we can simply apologize for his
misbehavior with just mild embarrassment.
On the other hand, if he has been taken,
quick police response and a perimeter might
save my child’s life.
While my husband is working with the tour
group and members begin spreading out in
Assuming he hasn’t turned up by the time
police arrive on scene, I’d produce the picture of my child I snapped that morning. With
police now on hand, my husband would call
the embassy and notify them of the situation,
hoping to be granted additional resources to
locate our child.
Conclusion
A missing child is a terrifying ordeal for all
parties involved, but preplanning to eliminate
certain variables as well as staying aware
and responding quickly to his disappearance
would maximize our chances to bring him
back safe and sound.
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ISSUE 25
A parent’s worst nightmare — what
started out as the trip of a lifetime has quickly
devolved into panic as our child has gone
missing. Despite the fact that we’ve discussed at length that he should never let go
of mommy or daddy’s hand, he’s no longer
beside us. We’re left wondering whether he
simply became distracted and walked of or if
more sinister forces are at play.
After calling his name and quickly searching our nearby vicinity, we’d make the
decision to alert the tour guide and group.
Putting those French classes and our dictionaries to use, my husband would communicate to the tour leader and group that our
child is missing. While he was informing our
tour guide, I’d grab my cell phone to call the
police. Let’s say it had no signal in the area
— I’d want to locate a working cell phone as
soon as possible.
When we arrived on site, I found the English speakers in my tour group. I’d immediately ask them to help me locate a phone and
start sweeping the area for signs of my child.
Even if my phone has no signal, it does carry
a vital piece of information — the picture I
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ISSUE 25
SURVIVAL EXPERT:
Prep
Do My Homework: Planning and research
are a vital part of all forms of preparedness.
So the planning for a trip so far from home
would be much more extensive than the
planning for a local getaway. I’d endeavor to
find out as much information about higher
crime areas in Paris, then pick a hotel and
plan activities in a “safer” part of town.
We’d also take the time to learn a little bit
of the language. Yes, English is a common
language in Europe, but it’d be foolish to
expect everyone to speak a little English. To
increase our chances of successful communication despite the language barrier, I’d
pick up an English to French dictionary. Any
traveler should know more than just “Where’s
the bathroom?” in the local language.
Wherever you travel, it’s smart to learn the
words for “yes,” “no,” “please,” “thank you,”
Tim MacWelch’s Approach
“excuse me,” “hello,” “goodbye,” “I don’t understand,” “I’m lost,” “Do you speak English?”,
and of course, “Where’s the bathroom?” And
make the efort to pronounce your new
words correctly — it really helps.
Set Up My Phone For Travel: The
ordinary mobile phone may not work “as is”
if taken to another country, but that can usually be remedied. Before the trip, I’d visit my
local phone carrier store and ask for help.
A great deal of confusion can be avoided
by working face-to-face with a professional.
There are several issues that can prevent a
phone from working abroad, and a knowledgeable customer service rep should be
able to handle them all. They can tell me
whether the phone is locked or unlocked,
if the carrier has a partner in the city and
region I’ll be traveling to, and so many other
tech issues.
I’d also look into the possibility of purchasing
a local SIM card when I arrive in Paris, France.
This may be much cheaper than buying an
international phone plan or paying the high
price for roaming. And speaking of phones,
we’d need some phone numbers to call if we
ran into trouble. I’d write down the local emergency numbers in Paris, and, just as important,
I’d get the number for the U.S. Embassy there.
School My Child: The lessons of “stranger
danger” tend to take away some of a child’s
innocence, but these are necessary lessons
in today’s messed-up world. Child abductions are a painful reality that must be faced
by today’s parents. The best way to face this
issue is to give our kids the tools they need to
recognize and react to a dangerous situation.
And while we don’t want to make children
paranoid, they really should be prepared for
dangerous situations.
WHAT
IF?
Teach your little ones (and even your
teens) that they should never go with a
stranger, regardless of what the person says.
They should never get into a vehicle, go into
a room, or enter a building with a stranger.
Finally, children should be taught to listen
to their instincts. If any adult (even family
friends and acquaintances) asks them to
keep secrets, go with them unexpectedly,
or do anything that makes them uncomfortable, the child should shout “No” loudly and
go for help.
Going a bit further, children don’t always
need conventional weapons to defend
themselves. They can be taught self-defense
tactics (screaming, biting, gouging eyes) that
can be used during an attempted abduction.
And when the emergency isn’t an abduction,
just a simple matter of getting lost, we teach
our children to stay put.
A simple set of instructions (like stand
still and start counting) will give them
something to focus upon (besides fear),
and standing still makes them easier to
find. Finally, if your child realizes they’re in
trouble, instruct them to go to a uniformed
police officer or similar law keeper. You can
even specify that they go to a female law
enforcement professional, who may be naturally less intimidating to a little child than a
male officer.
On Site
Crisis
From the first moment we lost track of
our child, my wife and I tried our hardest to
swallow the panic that’d be threatening to
overwhelm us. With our child missing, and
since we didn’t know if it was a kidnapping or
just a lost child, we informed the tour group
leader and approached the nearest authorities patrolling the area. And we continued to
follow any parent’s instinct — calling for our
child — but we knew that a law enforcement
BOLO (be-on-the-look-out) would be even
more helpful than our frantic searching.
With the English-to-French dictionary
in hand, I communicated “lost” and “child”
to the first police oficers we found in the
square. Since our child had the hotel information, my wife decided to go back to the
hotel, and I stayed in the park with a few
oficers and the tour group leader. After a
very tense 15 minutes, my mobile phone
began to ring. I was in shock from the whole
ordeal, so the phone rang a few times before
I was responsive enough to answer it. The
call came from my wife. She was at the hotel
with a very nice young female police oficer
— and our daughter — who had left my side
to look at pigeons and gotten disoriented. It
turned out that when the oficer saw a lone
child crying and looking around in a panic —
she intervened.
Our upset child didn’t remember the info
card in her pocket, just the brochure from
the hotel, but that was all that the oficer
needed to see. Overwhelmed with relief
and gratitude, I told the oficers and the tour
group leader, and I ran back to the hotel. My
wife, my daughter, and I held each other for
several minutes — so relieved that this had
only been a “lost child” situation and nothing
more sinister. And after another chat with the
police, we headed back to our room to regain
our composure and rethink our plans to visit
crowded places in Paris.
OFFGRIDWEB.COM
ISSUE 25
Once we reached Paris, my family made
our way to the hotel to relax. Our phones
were working, thanks to our eforts to ready
them for international usage. Due to the flight
time and the short winter days, we arrived
late in the evening, so we decided to get a
good night’s sleep before we began our exploration of the city. While the girls were getting ready for bad, I slipped out to the hotel’s
little gift shop, where I bought an overpriced
local map.
Since I had no familiarity with the area,
this map would be a key part of navigating through the city. Bringing it back to the
room, along with some interesting-looking
French snacks, I then studied the street
layout carefully. This map would go in our
daypack as a reference, but we’d try to avoid
walking around with it. Standing there with
a map would be a dead giveaway we were
tourists, and that could draw attention that
we didn’t want. After tossing and turning
on the hard small bed (and suspecting that
bedbugs were biting me), we ate a cold and
wildly overpriced room service breakfast.
During the meal, we went over the hotel
name and address with our child, as well
as mom’s phone number just in case we
became separated. Every child should know
at least one parent’s phone number by heart,
starting at the youngest age possible. We
also made sure she was carrying a card in
her pocket with the hotel name and phone
number, and her name and our phone numbers. As we left the hotel, I grabbed one of
the hotel brochures for our daughter to carry.
It had a picture of the building on the front,
as well as the address and phone number. I
folded it in half for her and she slid the brochure into her pocket.
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WHAT
IF?
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Conclusion
When the worst has happened — your
loved one is missing — what can you do to
help? The first and most important thing
you can do to help your loved one is to
maintain your calm as best you can in the
terrifying situation and contact the authorities. If the incident has happened in your
home country, of course you’d contact the
local authorities (and federal law enforcement, if abduction was suspected). But if
the issue has occurred abroad, try to reach
your embassy or consulate to seek help.
In France and most other countries, you
can reach out to the U.S. Embassy and ask
for American Citizen Services. They can
coordinate with local law enforcement and
any American FBI ofices in the area.
If (for some strange reason) you can’t
get help from your own countrymen, then
you’ll have to rely on the local authorities
or local government ofice. Whoever ends
up assisting you, be patient with those
who are helping you and don’t expect a
quick resolution to this personal crisis.
Even though the odds of your child being
kidnapped by a stranger are very low in
the U.S., France, and most countries, it’d be
very nerve-racking to wonder “what if” for
even a short time while your child is lost.
For more information on protecting your
family, visit the website of the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children
at www.missingkids.com.
About
the
Authors
Tim MacWelch
has been a survival instructor
for more than 20
years, training
people from
all walks of life,
including members from all branches of
the U.S. Armed Forces, the State Department, DOD, and DOJ personnel. He’s a frequent public speaker for preparedness
groups and events. He’s also the author of
three New York Times-bestselling survival books, and the new Ultimate Bushcrat
Survival Manual. When he’s not teaching
survival or writing about it, MacWelch
lives a self-reliant lifestyle with his
family in Virginia. Check out more at
www.advancedsurvivaltraining.com.
Jacki Billings is
a gun journalist
and single mom
of two. She holds
a black belt in the
Korean mixed
martial art of
Yongmoodo in addition to NRA Basic
Pistol and Refuse to Be a Victim Instructor certiication. She’s put in 17 years as
an American Heart Association Basic
Life Support instructor, teaching CPR,
irst aid, and BLS classes. With a degree in
journalism and a minor in criminology,
she uses her experiences and knowledge
to ofer classes through her training site,
Freelance Tactical. Check out more at
jackibillings.com.
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SURVIVAL
LESSONS FROM
SOUTH
OF THE
BORDER
We Sit Down With Counter-Custody Expert
Ed Calderon to Learn More About
the Man Behind the Manifesto
Story by Tom Marshall
Photos by Mark Saint
A
t first glance, it’d be easy to overlook
Ed Calderon as a survival instructor. He
doesn’t walk around in bare feet, have
a lumberjack beard, or spend copious
amounts of time talking to a camera from
inside a tent. But the skills that one can learn from Ed’s
Manifesto aren’t meant for long-term prosperity in harsh
weather conditions. They’re meant to ensure survival in its
most immediate and primal context — the continuance of
one’s existence in the face of imminent physical danger
and threat of imprisonment.
Many survivalists consider the forces of nature to be
their ultimate foe, but the brutality of other human beings
may pose a far greater threat. Abduction by criminals is
one of the most dangerous situations that any of us could
possibly face. Mr. Calderon is more experienced than
most when it comes to this subject matter. He spent years
working in Mexican law enforcement, where he regularly
encountered the results of a nationwide epidemic of
kidnapping-for-profit.
In an article published by the Latin Times, Mexico experienced a 245-percent increase in kidnapping between 2003
and 2013. To put hard numbers on that, in 2003, an average of 34 people were released from kidnaps each month.
In 2009, that number was up to 96 per month. By 2013
it was 1,162 per month. We spent several hours with Ed,
wherein he shed some harsh light on the reality of cartel
activity, philosophy, and the lessons he learned which he
now passes on to civilians, law enforcement agencies, and
military units around the country.
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Ed holding his
government
issued MP5
somewhere in
Northern Mexico.
RECOIL OFFGRID: Can you tell us a little bit about your
childhood and where you grew up?
Ed Calderon: I was born and raised in Tijuana. I witnessed
my first cartel hit when I was 12. My mom and I were at a gas
station when four guys came out of a car and approached
the owner. They asked him a bunch of questions about who
he was. There was some back and forth between the owner
and the cartel guys, then they shot him point blank in the
face. My mom grew up in violent places as well, and knew
well enough to hide me behind the engine block.
How did this afect you going forward?
EC: Culturally speaking, my main influences growing up
were all American. Most of my friends were American, I
watched American television, and held American values.
My mom was very much the same way, and I got most of
my values from her. Originally, I never had any interest in
law enforcement. But I was in my second year of medical
school when Sept. 11 happened and put most of our [Mexican] economy in the tank. I was looking for work and saw
an ad in the paper promising a career for young, unmarried
people who had stalled out in university. It was vaguely
worded, but I knew it was some kind of law enforcement.
That’s how I got started.
What can you tell us about your military/law
enforcement experience?
EC: I worked directly for the Mexican government. I went
through a selection process targeting young unmarried
individuals between 21 and 35. The selection lasted four
months, and was incredibly physically intensive. It was
designed specifically to weed out potential double agents
from the cartels. In addition to the physical training, every
candidate underwent a full FBI background check and
polygraph, financials investigation, and home visits. Being
trustworthy was vital.
After all this, we were placed into a regional police
academy in Northern Mexico — initial training here was
very much like military boot camp. The people in charge
of the training were primarily military oficers and former
Mexican Special Operations soldiers. One of them was
Colonel Leyzaola. There’s a documentary about him called
The Bravest Man in Mexico. They’d shave our heads with
a razor and make us do marching practice for hours in the
sun. Many of us would develop blisters on our heads from
being out so long. We weren’t soldiers, but the training was
highly militaristic.
After the first four months, it became more academic,
and we learned all the core functions of law enforcement.
Firearms training was cursory. We shot 50 rounds through
our Beretta 92FS pistols, about 20 rounds of shotgun, and
two mags or so through our AR and G3 rifles. Once we left
training and got to the field we were issued Glocks with
no holster and one spare magazine, plus soft body armor,
which didn’t do any good against the rifles carried by cartel
fighters.
In the field, we were formed into an operations group
that included members of my unit, military special operations, and various branches of Mexican police. Our primary
duties included anti-kidnapping and counter-narcotics
missions, including eradication of drug growing and
production facilities. We also conducted investigations and
executed high-risk warrants. But in many ways our work
was primarily preventive. We spent a lot of time looking
for clandestine transport hubs throughout the peninsula.
Sometimes we set up observation posts in an area of
known cartel activity. But we also followed up on local police reports and tips. In terms of movement, we had some
access to aircraft, but primarily used vehicles to patrol.
Were there any particular crime scenes or experiences
that left the biggest impression on you?
EC: There were several. One was having some of my work
colleagues be abducted. They went out as a pair, and were
picked up by fake federal police oficers. They were found
dead several hours later. One of them came up through
SURVIVAL LESSONS FROM
SOUTH OF THE BORDER
the unit with me, all the way back to the academy. It taught
me that we were “on” 24/7, with no ability to just relax after
hours. It instilled a fear that to this day is in the back of my
mind: It’s easy for somebody to just come take you.
During this time, the cartels had declared open season
on our unit. Anybody who could come in with our credentials would be given a reward. Lieutenant Colonel Leyzaola
took this as a compliment. He had a lot of us stay at the
military barracks, and it caused us to change tactics from
law enforcement methods to counter-insurgency methods.
It really allowed us to bring the fight back to the cartel. This
was right around the time of Felipe Calderon’s [no relation]
“call to arms.”
Finally, there were several times that we would hit a
house or cartel facility and find background check notes
and personal information about members of our unit, pictures of our houses and license plate numbers, and other
personal information. There were also Santa Muerte (holy
death) altars with pictures of our guys.
How does the occult play into cartel operations?
EC: Colonel Leyzaola used to say, “The hand that steals will
always hide. The hand that gives thanks will always show
itself.” What this meant was that cartel business operations are always very clandestine, but charity and public
works were very high profile. They regularly did things
like upgrading churches, paying for burials, and throwing
lavish quinciñeras in neighborhoods where kids don’t even
wear shoes. There’s a lot of faith involved in some of these
groups. They often used Santa Muerte altars. Some in the
cartels think this belief gives them an edge, or karma, in the
execution of their mission. It’s sort of an attempt to bribe
their way into heaven, or at least into success. There are a
couple of patrons that cartel members looked to for this
kind of extra boost.
One was Santa Muerte (“The Holy Death”), an oldschool Aztec religious deity. Santa Muerte is an under-
Below let:
Fortiied
restraints with
angle cut zip-tie
barbs in side
the cuf, meant
to stab in to the
victims wrist.
The cards are
commonly seen
as part of the
cartels’ occult
practices.
Below: Ed going
through the
anatomy of an
abduction at a
Counter Custody
Class.
world goddess who, through the years, was influenced by
European religions, Freemasons, and even [famous English occultist] Aleister Crowley. She’s often seen as a “last
ditch” saint to pray to. If praying to other saints doesn’t
work, you pray to Santa Muerte.
Cartel members and police oficers would go to the Santa Muerte priestess to get protection rosaries made. These
are a promise to protect them as long as they pay her
— either in silver, because she doesn’t take gold, or blood.
For the latter, hit men or cops would have to acknowledge
that certain kills were done in sacrifice. There are rumors
about how these particular kills were marked. For example,
certain bodies would be found handcufed in the front or
left facedown, but it was all hearsay. But belief in Santa
Muerte is widespread, and not just within the cartels, either.
Soldiers, policemen, and politicians are all part of it, but
their afiliation is often hidden from the public. The military
has standing orders to destroy any shrines or altars that are
found during missions.
The other occult deity is Malverde — a more regional,
Sinaloa-based patron saint of drug trafickers. He’s depicted
as a young guy, well dressed with a moustache, sort of like
a Mexican Robin Hood (much like El Chapo is viewed now).
There’s a shrine to Malverde in Sinaloa where senior cartel
members leave oferings and thank you letters.
Do you think the media tends to ignore or falsify
information about cartels and the drug war? If so, what
aren’t they covering that people need to know about?
EC: One thing I don’t see much coverage on is the fact that
the cartels are already here. They’ve been having kids in
the U.S. that are now coming of age in places like Chicago
and California, where most people wouldn’t think actually
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Mexico, I destroyed acres and acres of marijuana fields and
you guys [U.S. government] paid for the gas, the rifles, the
uniforms. Then I traveled to Colorado and walked into a
dispensary, and it really left me with a sense of futility and
wasted eforts.
have significant cartel presence. Much of what they do is
aimed at the immigrant network, so it doesn’t get reported.
For example, cartel members will dress as ICE agents to
carry out abductions.
Also, we refuse to acknowledge that the drug war, as a
whole, is essentially a lost cause. Many Americans think we
can just throw money at the problem, and this has yet to
prove efective. Many of the resources that the American
people put into Mexico don’t go where people think it
should. The U.S. and its people should look more carefully
at exactly where their money is going. Viewing the drug
war as a foreign problem is dangerous because it blinds
people to the operations that the cartels are conducting
openly on U.S. soil.
Do you think legalizing drugs would help eliminate or
drastically reduce the problems we’re seeing on both
sides of the border? If so, how?
EC: I don’t see how. The cartels are diversified. Some of
the bigger ones make money through laundering, shell
corporations, and property holdings on both sides of the
border. They pay for people’s college degrees, immigration
processes, human traficking, sex traficking, stolen vehicle
and chop-shop rackets, and gun-running. They move meth
precursors (ingredients) from China. There’s extortion,
abduction, and protection schemes. Even if you legalized
drugs tomorrow they’d simply focus on the other parts of
their businesses. The problem is more systemic, rooted in
the political and cultural system. When I was on the job in
Above: A small
assortment
of Mexican
criminal occult
iconography, and
icepick death
threat, Malverde
necklace and
Santa Muerte
rosarie.
Above right: An
assortment of
premade and
improvised
escape tools that
Ed shows how
to carry and use
in his classes,
including several
elements from
SerePick.
How many of the kidnappings that take place in Mexico
and in the U.S. are directly connected to the cartels?
EC: In my opinion, probably around 80 percent is cartel
related in Mexico. The rest would be interpersonal violence
or sexual predators whose crimes are specifically disguised
or carried out in a way to make them look like cartel activity.
I believe Mexico actually has one of the largest active serial
killer populations in Latin America.
There are always rumors of organ harvesting for black
market sale in Mexico. From what I’ve heard, and my sources, some of that does happen. But there are also some
isolated stories of more occult-related organ harvesting,
including for rituals or even for cannibalistic consumption.
Walk us through what you think a typical kidnapping
scenario would look like — or is there such a thing as a
typical scenario?
EC: There is a wide variance in terms of how a target is
selected and how surveillance is conducted. The environment has a large impact on this — do the abductors have
police/military support? Is the kidnapper a former lover or a
family member? I start my material preparing for the point
of abduction. There’ll usually be some sort of observational
period, this could be anywhere from a few minutes to a
week or more, where the kidnappers are establishing patterns of life, looking for an optimal opportunity for physical
abduction. There’s a process of figuring this out, which can
be widely diferent depending on the victim selection.
But you do usually see some type of restraint, whether it’s
physical, chemical, or psychological. Usually there’s a team.
SURVIVAL LESSONS FROM
SOUTH OF THE BORDER
The larger, more professional operations include a security
ring to block roads, chase vehicles, and lead vehicles. It usually takes three to four people to pull somebody into a van
or vehicle. Kidnappers dressing as military or local police
is also very common. There are ways to spot this — for
example, someone might be dressed as a soldier, but not
carrying the issued weapon of the local military.
Initial searches are typically very cursory. They’re worried
about being seen, so they bring the victim to some place
they can control, like a vehicle or pre-set room. They’re
betting on you being scared and overwhelmed and not
knowledgeable on how these things go down. During the
initial search, things can get missed.
Then there’s initial transport phase. At this point they’re
worried about 1) maintaining control of the victim, and 2)
if they were spotted by authorities or bystanders. This is a
good time to consider making a run for it, accessing tools,
or trying to fight. They may move you to a temporary
holding site like a parking lot, for a vehicle switch or to wait
and see if they were followed or noticed. At this point they’ll
likely perform a more in-depth search of the victim.
Victims may be incapacitated. After this, you get moved
to a long-term holding site. At this point you’re typically
down to your underwear and most of your equipment
will be gone. The long-term holding site will likely have
bars on the doors and windows, tarp or plastic sheeting
on the ground, windows covered with aluminum foil, or
makeshift cages. There’ll be equipment for long-term bondage — locks, chains, handcufs, etc. That’s when you know
you’re in for the long haul. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a latrine
bucket.
The plastic covering is put on the ground for two reasons:
first for cleanliness, because it’s easier to change out, and
second, it makes noise. There’s no way to move around
quietly on a plastic sheet. I’ve never seen or heard that part
discussed publicly.
How do kidnapping scenarios and motives difer from
country to country?
EC: In execution, there are differences down to what they
use to tie you up, how you’re held, the amount of torture
inflicted, and what the life expectancy is for somebody
getting abducted. Motivation is also key; religious and
ideological versus an organized criminal enterprise.
Specific environmental factors such as police or military
support for the kidnappers will also be different from
place to place.
What are the public’s biggest misconceptions about
how kidnappings are carried out?
EC: One of the biggest misconceptions is that people
believe they’ll be immediately thoroughly searched and
everything on them will be taken away. There’s actually a lot
of opportunity to conceal tools, even past the abduction.
Overlooking the
busiest border
crossing on the
planet between
San Diego and
Tijuana.
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Stress modiiers
used in some
of the more
advanced
counter custody
materials include
the use of dogs to
get people in the
right mindset.
Actress Kelly
Carlson and
her dog, Kara,
are seen here
participating
in the demo
with one of Ed’s
students.
People also believe they’ll never be able to overcome
the numbers. But there are lots of cases of people getting
away by either spotting the indicators before the abduction
or even jumping out of an abduction vehicle after breaking restraints. Training and equipment helps, but mindset
is probably the most important factor. Don’t give in to the
kidnappers’ illusion that they’re in complete control, and
you are helpless to fight back.
What’s the usual outcome for the victims if the kidnappers’ demands aren’t met?
EC: Death is usually the immediate outcome. Body disposal
in Mexico occurs on an industrial level, and you will likely
never be found. They’re very professional when it comes to
body disposal. Caustic sodas, pig farms, and mass graves
are all over the place, and the forensic science isn’t at the
level where you will be identified post-mortem.
What factors make someone a target for kidnapping?
EC: Signs of wealth, demonstrated by their possessions.
Their social media, either through demonstration of wealth
and status or establishing patterns of life and real-time locations. It’s an open window into your daily life that can be very
easily used to target you. If the abduction is ideologically
motivated, expressions of your nationality based on clothing,
language, attitude, body language, etc., can also be a factor.
You talk a lot on your site about understanding the perspective of a criminal or abductor. What do you think
the average person should know about that?
EC: They don’t have everything they need, and therefore
they learn how to improvise. Criminals won’t go on the Internet to order their equipment. People assume a lot about
capabilities, but creativity is something that gets underestimated when assessing criminals.
What is the usual M.O. of the kidnappers?
EC: Nowadays it’s very common for kidnappers to use social
media to select and research targets. They may use your routine to help set up surveillance. They typically choose younger,
fitter, military-aged males for actual abduction teams. Targets
are almost always searched before they’re bound.
What’s the biggest lesson children should be taught
about potential abductions?
EC: The value of resisting somebody trying to grab onto
you. A karate class or self-defense class isn’t enough. Any
sort of preparation of that nature has to include the parents. People should know that kids playing hide and seek
SURVIVAL LESSONS FROM
SOUTH OF THE BORDER
are learning a survival skill. Being able to incorporate a play
element doesn’t demean or devalue the training. It may
actually help them absorb the information. Even with my
students, I like to make a game of teaching them situational
awareness. I have them pass a card of on each other, without the receiving student knowing the card is on them. The
loser may or may not have to sing karaoke.
Include your kids in any kind of training, like firearms or
survival, so they can get experience at a young age. There’s
no such thing as an R-rated abduction story for kids. They
need to know what the boogeyman looks like. It’s not gonna
be a guy in a trench coat ofering a lollipop. Evil has many
faces, and they’re usually pretty charming. It’s not about fear
mongering, they just need to be aware that those things are
real. Let them know the options, including breaking somebody’s grasp. Above all, I think situational awareness is the
most valuable, and easily teachable skill for children.
Tell us about the types of courses you teach.
EC: I teach two types of courses, one mainly focused on
counter-custody or trying to escape any kind of irregular
custody. Much of the experience I draw on for counter-custody was simply based on what I witnessed in the field, as
opposed to any specific training I received. Also, just speakKidnappers
won’t make it
easy on you.
Individual digital
restraints can be
used to negate
the manipulation
of escape tools.
Levis 504s are
great to hide tools
because of their
abundance of
pockets. Use of
seamstress tape
is an additional
way of making
tool concealment
pockets on
clothing.
ing to the Mexican populous and finding out how everyday
people prepare themselves for possible abduction. Being
abducted was a daily worry for our guys. We looked for
specific training in this skillset, and it was incredibly dificult
to find. So we reverse-engineered based of the tactics of
the cartels. But the courses I teach aren’t specific to cartel
abductions. I draw from anecdotal stories and parallels to
Middle Eastern and European threats as well.
Much of it revolves around making yourself a harder
target. But there’s also knowing what kinds of restraints
are being used. Everyone focuses on zip ties and duct
tape, but there are also psychological restraints, like telling
somebody their loved ones will be harmed if they escape.
Or restraint through mutilation, like cutting the bottoms of
the feet, or injecting saline solution into the soles of the feet
so you can’t run. There’s also chemical restraint through
being drugged or placed under the influence of narcotics. I
don’t see a lot of that information being taught, and I think
it’s something people should be aware of. I really like taking
the approach of having students use role play to self-assess
their situation and their own level of preparedness to confront these kinds of threats.
There’s a big movement to be the “gray man.” I believe
there are some limits to this theory. Instead of trying to be
a chameleon, be a zebra. Create a narrative other than your
real narrative and learn that. This will give you a camouflage regardless of where you are, instead of trying to blend
into each individual environment.
I also teach people how to hide things on their body.
How to sew homemade pockets and weave cordage into
their clothing. Most of these things I learned from the people we chased, not the people who trained us. It’s a very
criminally based mindset, but it’s highly efective. Escape
tools must be carried redundantly in case you’re bound in
front or back. Criminals are looking at the same YouTube
videos you are. They’re researching the same social media
and Internet-based information you do. That black paracord survival bracelet isn’t fooling anyone. Example: They
are counter-acting the “body break” zip tie technique by
making angled cuts in the zip ties to slit your wrists when
you put weight on them. They are “hardening” their abduction techniques to beat SERE-level training. Also duct-taping
individual fingers to prevent access to tools.
My students learn to prepare accordingly for their region
before travelling there, and prepare for the kinds of threats
you actually are going to encounter. How to weaponize everyday items. How to hide things on your body, and justify the
things you’re hiding. How to source or procure items locally. In
the end they must go through a full abduction scenario both
as an abductor and as a victim. Each scenario is debriefed so
that students can assess themselves going forward.
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There are also my Weaponology classes, which are more
focused on improvised weapons of both impact and pointy
kind, and how to get them past inspection. I have students
practice on organic media. Basically I show them how to
use the worst, most evil street techniques that I’ve encountered in my career. I also teach how to negate weapons
access for an attacker.
Ed’s EDC
PHLSTER Flat Pack
Tourniquet Carrier
LensLight flashlight
Oscar Delta SAD Tool
Oscar Delta Gulag Shim
Oscar Delta Poorman’s
Tablet
SerePick Bogota lock
picks
SerePick ceramic razor,
diamond wire, Advanced
Handcuff Key, mini
chemlight, pee lighter
(these are concealed
in some of the things in
the picture)
Tracker Dan Elvia knife
Eric Kramer Voodoo
knife
Flask (gifted, no
markings)
Bird call (no markings)
Metal rat traps (bought
in Mexico City, no
markings)
Generic Scribe and
soapstone marker
Then sometimes I’ll do small one-day classes on Mexican
occult criminal practices and urban movement — the mental aspects to movement through a hostile urban area.
Speaking of weapons, what are the firearms laws like in
Mexico? Do you think they’ve helped reduce crime or reduced the general public’s ability to defend themselves?
EC: Firearms laws in Mexico are very strict. There aren’t individual state laws in Mexico. There’s one blanket federal law.
It limits calibers, where you can buy a firearm, how many
you can have, and where you can use them. Basically, you
can’t have anything outside of the parameters of the law.
For example, a .380 Glock is legal to own, but you cannot
carry it. If you belong to a shooting club, you can take it to
the club and back. The only gun stores in Mexico are run by
the Mexican military. But everyone has a gun in Mexico. The
law is very strict, but only the law-abiding citizens follow it.
The criminals are armed to the teeth. I think it’s one of the
saddest things that the culture of disarming the citizens is
still being pushed. Buybacks happen regularly and, usually,
there’s a spike in break-ins and robberies in an area immediately after a successful buyback. So I don’t think these laws
do anything to help anybody but the criminals.
What do you think most survivalists or TV survival
shows overlook about real-life urban survivalism?
EC: Actually doing their research on the cultural dimensions of the region they’re moving into. I get a kick out
of these guys wearing 5.11 clothes and bracelets and big
bowie knives. I focus on “going local.” Religious iconography, slang, sports teams, how those things will get you into
places you didn’t think you could get into, even without
speaking the language. Cultural research is just not something you see many people focusing on. For example, what
does being Catholic mean in Mexico? Does it mean they’ll
have a good place for me to sleep? Does it mean I can hide
out in a church? Or are those churches cartel-controlled?
Another great skill is how to barter — I can get into more
places by bartering. Learn what is of value to the people
around you. For example: SureFire flashlights get you into
Mexican nightclubs. Even without knowing the culture, I
know he’s a doorman at a nightclub, and light is important to
him. What do people need/want in that area? Also, bribery.
Knowing how to bribe somebody. Can you approach a police oficer in a third-world country? How much does it take
to get out of running a stop sign, or an accusation of DUI? It’s
not the most exciting thing to learn about, but it has saved
me in more situations than anything else. It can save you so
much hassle if you just do your research beforehand and
then talk to local people when you get there and “learn the
flavor.” I guess urban survival in a grid-down situation may be
SURVIVAL LESSONS FROM
SOUTH OF THE BORDER
diferent than urban survival as a traveler in a hostile foreign
country. But bartering and bribery are universal.
What do you think is the one survival item people
should never leave their house without?
EC: A knife. A knife can be a medical tool, a survival tool, it
can make you other things, can help you make a fire. It can
also be used as a weapon. Historically, it is the No. 1 anti-rape
tool. Women in many cultures would always carry around a
small knife. There are accounts of this across history, from Vikings to Japan to Indonesia. In Mexico, women carry knives a
lot, specifically prostitutes. It’s part of the reason many edged
weapons schools teach a lot of low-body targeting.
So what do you carry with you on a daily basis?
EC: A lighter, a roll of duct tape around that lighter, a small
knife (usually a Victorinox fruit knife because it belongs
everywhere). A set of titanium Bogota lock picks from
SEREPICK. Kevlar cordage because it’s pretty strong and
can be used to tie or to cut. It’s infused all over my body
through my clothing. A tourniquet. Finally, I always carry
a pack of cigarettes. I don’t smoke, but it helps make a lot
of friends. Oh, I do carry a silver flask of tequila, for two
reasons: because of its soothing alcohol goodness, but
also because the alcohol content is so high as to be almost
medical grade. This can make an excellent field-expedient
disinfectant. It also works as a social lubricant, in the sense
that taking a sip from a flask in public is a really reliable
conversation starter and friend-maker.
Ed Calderon
AGE: 35
HOMETOWN:
Tijuana, México
REQUIRED READING LIST
FOR SURVIVALISTS:
The Book of Five Rings:
A Classic Text on the
Japanese Way of the Sword
by Miyamoto Musashi
Social Engineering: The Art
of Human Hacking (2010)
by Christopher Hadnagy
The Liar The Cheat and The
Thief: Deception and the
Art of Sword
by Maija Soderholm
The Art of Deception:
Controlling the Human
Element of Security (2003)
by Kevin D. Mitnick
Black Box Thinking: Why
Most People Never Learn
from Their Mistakes — But
Some Do (2015)
by Matthew Syed
The Cartel
by Don Winslow
LAST MEAL REQUEST:
Four New York steak tacos
from Tacos El Gallo in Tijuana
— trust me on this one.
PERSONAL FIREARMS:
H&K MP5 and Glock 19
FAVORITE QUOTE:
Do not sleep under a roof.
Carry no money or food. Go
alone to places frightening
to the common brand of
men. Become a criminal of
purpose. Be put in jail, and
extricate yourself by your
own wisdom.
— Miyamoto Musash
URL:
edsmanifesto.com
ISSUE 25
036 OFFGRIDWEB.COM
VICTIM
PROOF
You or Your Child May be Targeted for Assault or
Kidnapping. Learn the Risk Factors and How to Stay
One Step Ahead
By Jared Wihongi
Photos and self-defense sequences courtesy of
Amber Staklinski and Ryan Hoover of Aperture Fight Focused
S
ixteen years ago while working as a
police oficer for Salt Lake City PD, I
was involved in an intense and frantic
search for a missing juvenile. It was the
stuf of every parent’s nightmare. In the
middle of the night, a cold and calculated psychopath crept through the window of a teenage girl’s
bedroom while her family slept. He kidnapped her
at knifepoint and, with the help of his wife, subjected
her to nine months of intense mental, physical, and
sexual abuse. Miraculously, the victim, Elizabeth
Smart, was found and rescued. Most victims of
such crimes aren’t so lucky.
Women and children continue to be some of the
most vulnerable members of society to crimes of
this nature. On average, 321,500 people are victims
of rape and sexual assault in the United States.
Eighty-two percent of juvenile victims are female.
Ninety percent of adult victims are female. Females
between the ages of 16 to 19 are four times more
likely than the general population to be victims
of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Not all
crimes perpetrated against women and children
are sexual in nature either. The sociopathic nature
of violent criminals is to target those they perceive
to be easy targets. Another alarming statistic is that
there are 21-million people traficked for sexual exploitation worldwide each year, 96 percent of which
are women and girls.
So what steps can be taken to become less
vulnerable? How can we teach our loved ones to be
less vulnerable? Let’s examine some of the conditions and environments in which crimes against
women and children commonly take place:
DISCLAIMER:
The concepts shown here are
for illustrative purposes only.
Seek professional training from
a reputable instructor before
attempting any techniques
discussed or shown in this story.
Rapes and Sexual Assaults
Where:
48% of victims were sleeping or performing another activity at home when attacked
29% were traveling to work, school, or other places
12% were working
7% were attending school
Who: Statistically, it isn’t a masked man hiding in the
bushes who commits most of these types of crimes.
Sixty-six percent of rape victims know their assailant, while
48 percent are raped by a friend or acquaintance. Thirty
percent are perpetrated by a complete stranger.
When: The majority of rapes, 43 percent, happen during
the six hours between 6 p.m. and midnight. The second
highest six-hour window is midnight to 6 a.m., when 24 percent of rapes happen. The remaining 33 percent happen
during the 12-hour time frame from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Alcohol is commonly a factor in rapes and sexual assaults. It’s the most common substance utilized in drug-
1. A woman loses focus of her surroundings while buckling her daughter into
her car seat.
2. She’s grabbed around the waist from
behind by the first attacker.
5. She stays on the offensive, using the knife as an extension of her hand. She continues to strike with her empty hand while stabbing and slashing at the eyes, neck, and
whatever targets she can reach with the knife.
facilitated sexual assaults, considered the number-one date
rape drug. Approximately 50 percent of sexual assault
cases involve use of alcohol by the perpetrator, the victim,
or both.
Child Abductions
Where and When
Child abductions are most commonly perpetrated or
attempted when the victim is traveling to and from school,
or school-related activities, between the hours of 2 and 7
p.m. This accounts for about 32 percent of these crimes.
In 70 percent of child abductions, the perpetrator was
driving a vehicle, attempting to force the child into the
vehicle. The average age of child abduction victims is 11,
with 37 percent being between 10 and 14 years old.
These statistics help us understand the three themes
that constantly reoccur when teaching about situational
awareness: people, places, and things. Before learning
physical self-defense techniques, the most important thing
3. She lowers her base and gets her hips away from the attacker, making it more difficult for him to lift her. As soon as
she breaks his grip, she attacks with elbows to the head.
6. After doing sufficient damage to ward of the first attacker,
she turns to face second one. She keeps her face covered and
hands up to stay protected and continues fighting.
VICTIM
PROOF
to understand is how to avoid being in a position where
you’d ever need to use self-defense techniques.
Understanding statistics can help us know where, when,
and how these types of crimes are committed, which in
turn can help us with our general situational awareness
— not making assumptions as to who is or isn’t capable of
such crimes, and making sound decisions as to where we
should or shouldn’t be, and what we should or should not
be doing. It’s also important to train for situations in which
no matter what steps we’ve taken regarding awareness
and prevention, things sometimes just happen and we
need to be prepared. At the end of the day, we can’t hide
from the world, but we can prepare to defend against the
bad people in it.
Jef Cooper’s color codes can be valuable when
teaching general situational awareness and are worth
further study. As mentioned earlier, people, places, and
things are constant themes that come up with Cooper
color codes Let’s examine each of these themes in depth:
People: Many people wrongly associate negativity
with the term “profiling,” when in reality profiling is an
essential component of situational awareness. While
profiling based strictly on race is certainly wrong, race
is one of many factors that contribute to an individual’s
profile. Other things include the individual’s gender, age,
size, hair style and color, actions, clothing, demeanor, accent/language, verbiage, personal belongings, and odor,
to name a few.
Does the profile of a person in your general environment stand out for some reason? If so, you might shift
from Condition Yellow — general awareness — into Condition Orange, or a heightened sense of awareness of one
or more people around you. Do they look, act, speak, or
smell like they’re intoxicated? Does their clothing suggest
they could be concealing a weapon? Does their general
demeanor suggest they’re nervous or paranoid?
Are they in a group, and if so how many? Are they in a
place where they shouldn’t be, based on the location or
4. While continuing to strike and turning to face the attacker, she draws a concealed fixed blade knife from her waist
7. The second attacker swings at her head. She
defends the punch, using a reinforced high
cover, while preparing to counter attack.
8. She counterattacks, punching with the pommel of the knife then stabbing and slashing until
the second attacker flees.
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Not being
aware of your
surroundings
will make you
a target. Trust
your instincts
about things that
look out of place,
like a stranger
approaching
you while you’re
alone. Scan the
area and remove
yourself from the
situation if you
feel something
poses a threat.
The ight you’re
never in is
the ight you’ll
never lose.
time? Instead of just teaching “stranger danger” to your
children, teach them to never approach a stranger’s vehicle
if being lured under any circumstances. Practice creating
“what-if” plans in your mind whenever you see someone
who has caught your attention. Teach your children to do
the same if approached by a stranger.
Places: Part of being situationally aware is being
aware of what kinds of situations you should avoid.
One thing I often say is “the fight you’ll always survive
is the one you’ve been able to avoid.” Avoiding places
that have a higher likelihood of getting you into trouble
is always a good idea when possible. This might be a
certain part of town, a particular nightclub or bar, or a
party where you know bad people will be or are known
to congregate. Teaching this principle to your children is
essential. Not just where they shouldn’t be, but to avoid
being alone or traveling isolated routes while walking to
and from school.
Whenever you find yourself in unfamiliar environments,
whether it be another part of town or another country,
constantly be on the alert as to your surroundings. Assessing points of egress is also part of being familiar with
your environment. Whenever possible, position yourself
with your back to a wall with visibility of entrance points
and proximity to points of egress. Take advantage of
reflective windows or surfaces to see who’s behind you,
or casually stop to act as though you’re checking your
phone, if you feel you’re being followed to further assess a
situation. Prepared but not paranoid.
Things: Being aware of things in your general
environment can also highlight lifesaving information.
It might be something suspicious, like an unattended
bag or package in a subway station. It might be things
in the hands of a stranger who’s walking toward you in a
parking lot (or the inability to see what things he might
have in his hands). When something suspicious catches
your attention, be aware of what things you have in
your hands or are in the general environment that can
be used as weapons or distractions when hurled at an
assailant’s face. Don’t get too attached to material things.
If someone is stealing your wallet, purse, or car and
you’re confident that’s all they want, give it to them. Don’t
risk your life over replaceable things.
This may seem like a lot of information, so how can
we condition ourselves to a state of perpetual vigilance?
Try to make a game out of it. When in public, constantly
practice running “what-if” scenarios through your mind.
Not only is this a great way to become more aware of
your surroundings, but assessing “what-if” scenarios
can actually help you react much faster and more
appropriately to a threat should it materialize, and as
you’ve already identified it before it happened. To teach
ljubaphoto/istockphoto.com
VICTIM
PROOF
1. Having recognized a potential threat, the mom sends her child to
hide under the vehicle. She prepares the contents of her hands (a
mug full of hot coffee) to be used as an improvised weapon.
2. The attackers are coming at different angles, so in order to keep
distance and create a distraction, she throws hot coffee into the face
of the first attacker.
3. Continuing to stay on the offensive, she turns to face the second
attacker, ready to strike with the coffee mug.
4. Using a backhand hammer type strike, she hits the second attacker
in the jaw with the mug.
5. She immediately follows with an oblique stomp kick to the attacker’s knee.
6. Because the initial attacker is still a threat and blocking a safe entry
to the vehicle, she uses her shin ...
7. ... and boot to kick him in the head.
8. Once the threat is no longer imminent, she locates her child and
moves to safety while calling 911.
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your children, make fun games out of it. When in a
supermarket or shopping mall, ask them to point out the
nearest exit. Where’s the car parked? The man who just
walked by — what were in his hands? How many people
were in the room we just left? Help them to pay attention
to people, places, and things.
Tools for Self-Defense
Sometimes, no matter what steps you take to avoid a
bad situation, you may find yourself fighting to defend
yourself. If forced into a self-defense situation, there are a
few things that statistically have proved to be effective:
Force multipliers. Weapons. In November last
year, a female jogger in Utah was sexually assaulted
while jogging during the early morning hours. She was
carrying a knife for protection and was able to stab her
attacker several times, forcing him to flee. When dealing
with an attacker who’s larger than you, improvised
weapons or weapons by design can not only be great
equalizers, but they can turn the tide dramatically in the
defender’s favor.
Distractions. Like weapons, these can be improvised
or distraction devices by design and can buy you time
to draw a weapon, deliver a counter-attack, or disengage
from the situation. Examples of improvised distractions
could be whatever you happen to be holding thrown into
someone’s face. Examples of distraction devices could be
a tactical light (strobe or otherwise), pepper spray, or a
conductive electronic weapon (stun gun).
Martial arts: Fundamental, gross motor defensive
techniques that tap into natural movement and athleticism can be easier to learn and retain at a functional level
for the long term. The sequences illustrated here incorporate these principles. While we give you some ideas
for self-defense to add to your tool belt, it’s impossible
to build a solid base of functional skills from reading an
article. You need to get out and train — even better under
the tutelage of a competent and credible self-defense instructor. Locate and research martial arts schools in your
area and take trial classes to find an instructor you like.
Get involved in different groups and networks that host
self-defense or martial arts seminars and workshops.
Keep it fun, or it won’t last long.
bitten off more than they can chew. Research has shown
some common patterns with children who escaped attempted abductions.
1. They were physically proactive in their defense, including active resistance and running away when possible,
as opposed to passive behavior.
2. They were loud in addition to being physically aggressive, screaming and yelling to attract attention.
When being physically proactive, the more control a
child can have in their aggression, the more successful
they’ll be. Part of controlled aggression is to understand
the concepts of weapons and targets. In the absence of
improvised weapons, empty-handed weapons include
kicks, punches, elbows, knees, clawing attacks, and biting. Sensitive targets on the body should be the focus of
these weapons. For example:
Clawing at eyes with the fingers
Punches or elbows to the nose and throat
Knees or kicks to the groin, shins, or face, if it can
be reached
Conclusion
SOURCES
FOR
STATISTICS
> www.equality
now.org/sextrafficking-factsheet
> www.usatoday.
com/story/
news/nation/
2013/10/28/
alcohol-most
-common-drug
-in-sexualassaults/
3285139/
> www.parents.
com/kids/
safety/
strangersafety/childabduction-facts/
> www.missing
kids.com/Key
Facts
> www.rainn.org/
statistics
The goal as always is survival, and even if the prospect
of physically incapacitating a much larger attacker isn’t
entirely realistic, just convincing them that they’ll be hurt
or caught can be enough to send them packing.
Find ways to make yourself a hard target. Being within
the most victimized demographic doesn’t mean you have
to become a statistic. Don’t be of the mindset that it could
never happen to you — that can put you in a vulnerable
state of mind. Rather, be of the mindset that it’s only a
matter of time until someone will try to victimize you, and
do all you can to be prepared for that moment.
About
the Author
Jared Wihongi is a 16-year veteran law enforcement oicer with considerable time serving in the SWAT community, a specialist in closequarter combatives, and one of a handful of master-level instructors of
Fending Of a Larger Attacker
the Filipino combat art Pekiti-Tirsia Kali. Moreover, Wihongi has more
Size and strength dynamics between prey and
predator will always be a factor. But just like in the
animal kingdom, it’s fully possible and plausible for
much smaller prey to drive off their would-be attacker.
Many predators aren’t willing to get hurt or risk getting
caught, and will quickly flee once they realize they’ve
than a decade of experience instructing armed forces around the globe.
He’s the tactical consultant and frontman for Browning’s Black Label line
of knives. Learn more about him at:
www.jaredwihongi.com.
ISSUE 25
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BURIED
TREASURE
Learn Why You Should Cache
Important Survival Implements. Then
We’ll Show You How
ou fled your home several days ago when
you received word of mass rioting heading
your way. You haven’t eaten since losing
your bug-out bag to a horde of attackers
two days ago, but you managed to get away
with a few cuts and bruises — and most importantly, your
life. You’re cold, tired, hungry … and still at least 20 miles
from your bug-out location.
As you crest the next hill, your mood improves as you see
how close you are to that proverbial X that marks the spot.
Within an hour, you’ve dug up one of the caches you squirreled away along your planned route, and if your upturn of
luck continues, you’ll recover the rest and replenish your
supplies. You now have water boiling over a fire, almost
ready to pour into a bag of freeze-dried food. You’re warm,
dry, and just about ready to tackle the last leg of your journey. Morale is improving, energy is returning, and gratitude
is at an all-time high because you’d taken the time to bury
Y
By Jim Cobb
these important items. Who knows what’s become of those
who thought they’d never encounter this situation and never
bothered to stash some lifesaving tools.
A cache, pronounced “cash,” not “cash-ay,” is simply a
collection of gear and supplies you’ve hidden away for
future use. For the last few decades, they’ve traditionally
been made using PVC tubing of various diameters. I was first
introduced to the concept back in the mid-1980s in a book
by old-time survivalist Ragnar Benson.
Other common cache containers include ammo cans
and 5-gallon plastic buckets. The popularity of geocaching
has led to the creation of many types of purpose-built cache
containers in every imaginable size and shape, from small
ones the size of a 35mm film canister to caches resembling
a log.
The size of the cache container dictates what you can
stash inside. Fortunately, many of the high-priority items we’ll
want to cache aren’t that large.
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While camoulage is obviously
an important part
of stashing your
cache, the last
thing you want
is for someone
to ind and steal
your goods.
Always consider
burying your
goods in a rustproof, watertight
container.
Shelter
One of the first survival needs you may need to address
is protection from the elements. If you read the news
recently, we had snow in all 50 states at the same time.
In other words, don’t overlook the importance of staying
warm. Items such as an emergency blanket take up very
little space in a cache. A bivvy may be beneficial as well. A
wool hat, cold-weather gloves, and a shemagh will help if
you’re forced to bug out in the cold months.
Space permitting, consider tossing in a small tarp and
cordage, such as tarred bank line or paracord. This will
allow you to construct an expedient shelter to protect
you from rain, wind, or snow. An extra pair of socks may
also prove to be something you never thought you’d be
so excited to see again, especially if you’re desperate for
warm, dry clothing.
Water
Use a two-pronged approach to meeting hydration
needs with your cache. A variety of companies make
water pouches. You often see these in first-aid kits; they’re
small, easily storable, and filled with purified water. Most
are rated to last a few years. Depending on the company’s
ratings, the pouches usually won’t burst if they freeze,
though you should be careful to bury your cache well
below the frost line anyway.
Cache enough water pouches to prepare at least a
couple of meals as well as to hydrate you and those you
expect to be with you. Two pouches equal one cup, and
there are 16 cups in a gallon. Health authorities commonly
recommend eight 8-ounce glasses (or a ½ gallon) per
person, each day. It may sound like a daunting task to
cache this much water, but it’s all about prioritizing — you’ll
be thankful you did if it means the diference between life
and death.
In addition to the water pouches, the second prong
to fulfill your hydration needs would be to cache a small
water filter and collapsible container. Check out RECOIL
OFFGRID Issue 15 for our buyer’s guide on water filters.
A receptacle for water, like the Aqua-Pouch from Survival
Resources, folds flat, and takes up almost no space in a
cache, but will hold a full liter of water when deployed.
Continues on Page 50
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Selecting
Cache Locations
Once you’ve built a cache, you need to ind a home
Think it through and determine what direction you’ll
for it. One of the best locations, of course, is hidden on
likely head in an emergency and bury caches along
property you own. If you own the property, there’s nobody
the way in areas that make sense. Do your research
to complain about digging holes. Next on the list would
on the ownership of the land, any proposed future
be property owned by someone you know and trust and
construction, or any other circumstances that could
who has given you permission to place a cache there.
put you in jeopardy if your belongings are found. If you
The next option is public land. Here’s the thing, though
cache a firearm, you can imagine what would happen
— legalities. There may be a nice park down the street
if someone finds it. If you feel you have to store in
that has an out-of-the-way corner you like or you might
locations that flirt with legal ramifications, do so at your
fancy the area right beneath the headstone of a deceased
own risk.
relative, but if there’s a big patch of dirt that looks like it
Also, don’t be like Vern in Stand By Me, with only a
was recently dug up, some city employees or groundskee-
general idea of where your jar of pennies was buried.
pers who routinely landscape and service the area might
Keep a map (and copies of that map) in your bug-out bags,
check if someone put something there they shouldn’t.
vehicles, in your wallet, and anyplace else you can think
The trick is to ind places that won’t be disturbed or look
of to help you easily locate your caches. Practice finding
like an obvious burial site. You wouldn’t put that hide-a-key
them to help become more familiar with those locations
that mimics a rock in an area where it’s the only rock and
in case of an emergency. Sometimes geography, foliage,
sticks out like a sore thumb, would you? Even if you have
landmarks, and various other surroundings change over
that perfect place next to a power pole in an easement
time. Think of all the times you’ve returned to a location
that gets little foot traic, you’re likely prohibited from
a year later to find that it looks quite a bit different. What
digging in public locations. But like Ed Calderon (featured
good are caches if you can’t find them? Check your
elsewhere in this issue) would say, “What you’re allowed to
locations at regular intervals to ensure your survival
do and what you can do are two diferent things.”
trove is still there.
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DIY SURVIVAL
CACHE
Creating a PVC Pipe Storage Solution
By Ryan Houtekamer
here are many reasons why you’d want to build a watertight storage container. Here we walk you through
one method to make your own, small cache.
T
Tools and Parts Required
Tape
ABS or PVC pipe cement
Handsaw
Thick grease
2x plastic bags
Test plug
A few materials
required:
1. 1-foot ABS pipe
2. Desiccant
package
3. ABS cement
4. Test Plug
Sandpaper
PVC or ABS pipe of
required diameter
PVC or ABS pipe endcap
String/paracord
Desiccant
Your first trip should be to the hardware store to pick up
some ABS or PVC pipe. We chose 4-inch-diameter ABS. It has
a fair amount of space to store supplies, is easy to bury, and
fits easily in hand or a bag. You’ll also need an endcap, test
plug, and some PVC or ABS cement.
Black tube is ABS; white is PVC. For all intents and purposes for building a cache, you can’t go wrong with either.
ABS is said to be a bit stronger and able to better withstand
cold, but it’s really more a matter of using what’s available
and large enough to store the contents you wish to cache.
These pipe segments are the main components of your
storage system. You can cut or have a length of pipe cut to
your preferred size at the hardware store, but for this cache
project, we focus on a 1-foot length of ABS pipe.
You can cut it yourself using a chop saw or handsaw. The
taller your blade, the straighter the cut you’ll get. A hacksaw
will tend to wander when you make the cut, so try using a regular handsaw for wood. Once you’ve cut your pipe, clean the
edges of the pipe to ensure it seats well. Run a fine-toothed
file or a piece of sandpaper over the outside and inside edge
1
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to clean it up. This will get rid of any burrs from cutting it and
allow you to get a better seal.
Next, test-fit your endcap onto the pipe and use tape to
mark where it ends on the tube. This isn’t obligatory, but
it ensures that you cover the entire area of overlap with
adhesive. When taping something that you plan to remove,
double over the end of the tape to make a small tab. This
makes it much easier to pull of. Take the cap of and run the
brush from your can of cement around the inside edges of
the cap. Do the same for the outside surface above the tape
on the pipe. Don’t worry about getting adhesive on the tape
since you’ll pull it of later. Remove the tape and slide the cap
on. Give the cap a quarter turn, as this will help the adhesive
spread out.
With the bottom capped of, wait until the cement has
dried and start placing items inside the tube. The first thing
you should put in the tube is the desiccant pack. This will
help control any moisture inside the pipe. If you can’t procure a desiccant, you can improvise with a small sock filled
with cat litter.
This next part is optional, but we definitely recommend
it. Place your items in a bag and wrap a loop of cord around
them, which will make much easier to pull the items out of the
tube later (think of how some tubes of survival matches are
packaged). We also toss another desiccant pack in the bag.
Never hurts to ensure your contents stay dry.
With your desired items stufed in the tube, we need to seal
it from the elements. This is where the test plug comes in. You
may have seen other caches constructed using a screw-on
PVC endcap. The issue with this method that you might need
a wrench to open it. The test plug uses a butterfly nut that you
can screw with your fingers to get a seal.
When you tighten the nut, it crushes the rubber seal, forcing
it into the interior walls of the pipe. We recommend greasing
up the metal parts heavily, though, to save you some grief
later. For a bit of added security, take your last bag, toss it over
the pipe, and then tape it to the pipe. This will keep any excess
moisture from afecting the test plug and your metal parts.
When you dig it up, you just need to tear through your bag
and unscrew the top.
1 Sand burrs
2 Sand edges
3 Mark area to be glued
4 Cement here and there
5 Cement cap
6 Twist
7 Make Paracord Loop
8 Pull supplies out
9 Voilà!
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Food
Storing food items in a cache can be somewhat
problematic as you can’t rotate the supply like you would at
home or in your bug-out bag, but that doesn’t mean you’re
totally without options. What you put in your cache might
be there for years, and it’s up to you to be cognizant of
when it was stored and how long it’ll last buried.
Stick with dehydrated or freeze-dried options. These
require nothing more than hot water to prepare, and you
can rehydrate the food right in the pouch. The amount of
water needed is noted on the pouch, typically one or two
cups. It isn’t absolutely necessary to use hot water. Cold
water roughly doubles the time needed to rehydrate the
food, but hot water does improve the taste considerably
and won’t decrease your core temperature.
Depending on the size of your cache, a metal pot large
enough to boil water as well as utensils could also be stored.
Check out our portable utensil buyer’s guide in Issue 23.
Fire
Fire is life. You’ll need a way to heat the water for your
freeze-dried vittles, stay warm, dry out, and just generally
keep your morale up. Store multiple ways to light a fire.
Options include good quality disposable lighters like BICs,
a waterproof container of strike-anywhere matches, and a
ferrocerium rod with a striker. Waterproof matches should
also be considered. Bottom line — have multiple methods
to start a fire stored in case one unexpectedly fails.
Packing lighters in a sealed plastic bag will help reduce
any chance of corrosion if your cache leaks, or having fuel
from the lighters leak and afect other stored items.
In addition, pack tinder of your choice in a sealed
container within the cache so it stays dry. Instafire is a great
store-bought option, as are WetFire Cubes. A common DIY
option is cotton balls smeared with petroleum jelly. You won’t
want to deal with finding dry tinder if it’s pouring rain out.
cool and dry, most remedies will remain viable for many
years, even after the stamped or printed expiration date
on the package. Exceptions to this include nitroglycerin
and insulin. For each medication you plan to include in the
cache, do your homework and talk to a pharmacist or your
doctor to determine just how long they’ll remain useful and
under what conditions they’ll become toxic or inefective.
You can also use a vacuum sealer (see Issue 10) to seal
and protect items that you store in your cache. Items in
vacuum sealed bags aren’t too pliable once they’re sealed,
so give some prior thought to how you group your items
and consider trimming bags to fit your items.
A cache is a great way to supplement your bug-out
bag and other gear. Like most of our survival supplies, we
hope we’ll never truly need them, but it’s reassuring to
know it’s there.
Storage Units:
The Ultimate Cache?
We know what you’re thinking. Self-storage places are
usually in the heart of the city, and that’s exactly where
you don’t want to be if things are falling apart. Look a little harder,
and you’ll probably ind storage places that are of the beaten path
but still readily accessible.
Many people use a storage unit at some point. Why not have it
serve double duty? Choose a location that would be along your
bug-out route and that isn’t likely to be a bad area to visit in a crisis.
Along with your old dishes and photo albums, store some survival
gear and supplies. Make extra sets of keys to keep in various places
so you won’t have a problem accessing it. This isn’t a perfect solution
for everyone, but for those who can make it work, it might be exactly
what they need.
Tools
A good knife is one of your most valuable assets in a
survival situation. Got a few? Stash one in each cache you
create. Lighting is also beneficial, so think about storing
some flashlights in your caches. Store the batteries
separately from the light. Toss in a few chem lights as
well. They glow very bright and don’t require batteries to
operate; simply crack and shake.
First aid
You, or someone with you, might very well be in rough
shape when it comes time to access the cache. Adhesive
bandages, gauze pads, and other basic first-aid items
should store just fine. As for medications, if they’re kept
chandlerphoto/istockphoto.com
MAKE THE
RIGHT CALL
How Pay Phones and Household Landlines Might End Up Being
Your Lifelines During an Emergency
By Richard Duarte
andline phones and public telephone booths were
once as common as typewriters, transistor radios, and
corner mailboxes. Fast-forward 30 years, however, and
everything about how we communicate has drastically
changed. Today, pay phones and landline phones are
on the endangered species list, while the use of cellular and Internetbased phone networks has exploded.
In January 2017, a report from the Pew Research Center concluded
that the vast majority of Americans (95 percent) now own a cellphone of some kind. With so many cell phones, and the proliferation
of high-speed internet communications, are pay phones and landline
phones really just a relic of the past? And can the wired technology of
the last century be of any practical use in an era dominated by smart
devices and the ever-growing availability of wireless comms?
Pay phones and landline phones may be going the way of the dinosaurs, but if you know where to look, there’s still tremendous value
to be found in this dated technology.
In this article, we discuss how the landline phones that many folks
consider to be dead and buried may actually still have quite a bit
more to ofer, especially when the high-tech modern communications systems we rely on go dark.
L
The Wireless Revolution
It all started on April 3, 1973. On that date, Motorola engineer
Martin Cooper made the world’s first mobile phone call. The historic
call was reportedly made to Motorola’s main competitor at Bell
Systems to let them know that Motorola had done it first — it must
have been some conversation.
Ten years later, the world’s first mobile phone hit the market at
a cost of $3,995 (roughly $5,800 in today’s money). Few people at
that time could have ever imagined just how significant that first
call really was, and how it set in motion the events that’d change
everything about how we communicate.
Today, locating an actual landline phone or even a public pay
phone is getting more and more dificult. Mobile phones and wireless devices are ubiquitous, and they've all but replaced their wired
predecessors. However, that smartphone of yours may wind up as
little more than a paperweight if the grid goes down.
The Achilles’ Heel
Technology can be a wondrous thing. It ofers comfort, convenience, and a multitude of amazing features. But it can also foster
a potentially dangerous dependency. Almost 45 years since that
first mobile phone call, many people have been lulled into exclusive reliance on wireless communications and mobile devices for
all of their daily needs. Smartphones are now used to not only
make phone calls, but to send and receive all sorts of personal
and financial data.
This undeniably convenient technology is often taken completely for granted and is expected to function flawlessly and
without interruption, no matter the circumstances. Few people
actually consider the possibility that cell service may one day be
interrupted by a natural or manmade disaster. Fewer still have
any backup plans should their wireless devices stop working. This
unrealistic reliance tends to create a false sense of confidence and
can potentially result in very serious consequences.
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A natural disaster
could wipe out
cellular networks
indeinitely.
Spend some
time researching where public
pay phones are
located in your
area or invest in
a landline so you
have alternative
methods of communicating in the
event of outages.
One recent example is Tropical Storm Harvey, which made
landfall along the Texas coast on August 25, 2017, bringing
winds in excess of 100 mph. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Harvey’s impact resulted in
widespread cell blackouts, including the disruption of 17 emergency call centers and 320 cellular sites. In a few Texas counties,
blackouts afected more than 80 percent of the cell sites. (In
Aransas County, Texas, for example, 18 out of 19 cell sites reportedly went down.)
When the stakes are this high, overreliance on wireless communications can have serious consequences. Enter the landline.
What’s a Landline?
During the majority of the 20th century, the only way for
most people to place or receive a telephone call was to use
a landline phone — public or private, these devices could be
found just about everywhere.
A landline telephone uses copper wiring to make and
receive phone calls, as opposed to a cellular phone that uses
radio waves. Landline phones can be hardwired (tethered)
directly to the dedicated physical phone line or can use a
cordless handset that’s connected wirelessly to a fixed base
unit nearby that’s then hardwired into the landline.
In a nutshell, the landline between the home and the
phone company consists of a pair of copper wires. The phone
paylessimages/istockphoto.com
company supplies the power needed to operate the phone,
assuming that the landline phone isn’t cordless. This is why
landline phones often continue to work even during severe
weather and widespread power outages — they have their
own power supply. If the phone was cordless, then you still
needed an independent power supply to power the operation
of the corresponding base unit.
Today, many home phones (even the ones with wires) are
connected not to an actual landline, but to the internet — a
cheaper alternative. This is called Voice Over Internet Protocol
(VoIP). Internet phone plans often provide access to both
domestic and international calling options; you can keep your
existing phone number. The phone operates in much the
same way as its landline predecessors — you even get a dial
tone. However, there’s one major diference — calls are placed
over an internet connection. In order for the phone to work,
you must have electricity and a fully functional internet connection in your home or ofice.
In comparison to cell phones and VoIP, a landline phone is
almost bulletproof. Even if the grid power in your neighborhood goes down, the landline phone will continue to work so
long as the telephone company's independent power source
stays live; this is a huge advantage over a phone that relies on
grid power and the internet. Public landline pay phones operate in much the same way.
MAKE THE
RIGHT CALL
Public Pay Phones - Pay As You Go
By some estimates, there are now fewer than 500,000 pay
phones in the entire United States. While these relics of the
20th century are becoming a very rare sight, if you happen
upon one, you should be prepared to pay.
Most of us are accustomed to dialing a number and getting
connected with no concerns about costs or with making
immediate payment. Public pay phones, such as those found
in train stations, government buildings, and hotels, charge
varying rates depending on the type of call you make and the
length of the conversation. Some of these rates can be much
more expensive than what a similar phone call would cost
on a cellular phone, private landline, or internet-based phone.
Make sure to confirm those costs before placing your call. To
make payment for the call, there are a number of options:
Cash/coin Pick up the receiver, drop in the coins, and dial
the desired phone number when you hear the dial tone. (And
hope the phone doesn’t eat your change.)
Credit cards Can be used to make long-distance calls on
landlines or public pay phones. Rates can be very expensive
for these calls.
Prepaid calling cards These cards are available for
purchase for a flat fee and can be used to make long-distance
calls using an access number and a PIN that’s printed on the
back of the card.
Collect calls Also known as a reverse-charge call, this is
when the calling party requests that the person being called
pays for the charges. This type of call requires approval from
the paying party and can be expensive.
Toll-free numbers Calls to toll-free numbers don’t
require payment. Here’s a survival tip: Individuals can obtain
a toll-free number for themselves (i.e., 888, 877, or 866). A
toll-free number means others can call you for no cost to the
caller. This may come in handy if family or other members of
your inner circle are trying to reach you during a crisis.
Remember that you can always place an emergency call to
“911” or to an operator “0” at no charge from any pay phone in
the U.S.
Note: International calls from the U.S. work much the same.
To phone another country, dial 011, the numerical code for the
country you’re calling, and the phone number. Payment for
these calls can be made by one of the methods shown above.
Survival Ready
Understanding the diferences between landline and cellular phones makes it easy to see the distinct benefits and
advantages. Since you most likely already have a cell phone,
consider adding a landline phone to your survival plan for
additional communications options. The following is a list of
our top five tips for incorporating landline phones into your
survival planning:
Add a landline phone. Call your local provider and find
out if true landline service is still available in your area and
how much it will cost. Remember you’ll also need a landline
phone with a physical cord that’ll connect to the telephone
wires coming into your home. Adding a cordless phone to
a landline defeats the purpose of having a landline, since
cordless phones still require electricity and/or a rechargeable
battery to power the base unit.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Since internet phones are often
plugged into traditional-looking phone jacks, it’s sometimes
dificult to distinguish between a true landline and a VoIP
phone. If you’re in doubt, call your service provider and ask,
or look at your phone/internet bill. One sure way to find out
is to cut all electrical power going into your home at the
main circuit breaker panel. If the phone still works, even with
all the power cut of, it’s a true landline.
If the power goes out and you’re using an internet phone
service, you’re big-time SOL. A true landline has its own
power from the phone company, which is used to energize
the phone itself and to transmit the call signal. With an
internet phone, you need electricity to operate the modem
and the internet connection. It’s confusing because AT&T,
for example, sets up your internet phone service so that it’s
routed through the home’s modem, but it’s still wired into
the telephone copper wires within the home.
To any casual observer, it’s dificult to tell that it’s not a
landline since the phone plugs into the wall jacks and looks
just like a normal landline phone. But if the power goes out —
that’s it. You’re toast and can’t use the landline.
New Doesn’t
Mean Better
According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (yes, CDC has been tracking phone ownership in the U.S. since 2004)
landline phones are rapidly losing ground against mobile phones. The following table shows the dramatic shit that’s taken place in just the last 12 years.
U.S. Households with a landline phone:
U.S. Households with a cell phone only:
2004
92.7%
5.0%
2016
45.9%
50.8%
The numbers for younger Americans were even higher. “More than 70 percent of all adults aged 25 to 34 and of adults renting their homes were living in
wireless-only households,” according to National Center for Health Statistics.
Public pay phones have fared no better. Since reaching a peak of 2.6 million in the mid 1990s, public pay phones now number fewer than 500,000
in the entire United States, according to the American Public Communications Council.
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Just because
a home phone
is wired into a
pre-existing jack
doesn’t necessarily mean it’s on
the older copper
wire system with
its own power
source. Ask your
landline phone
provider if your
system is routed
through a cellular network or
not. A landline
powered by a
cellular network
may not work
in the event of a
power outage.
On a true landline, the phone company runs copper wires
to your house that connect directly into the phone (without
a modem to translate audio signals into data to transmit over
the internet). This phone will work come hell or high water, as
long as the signal from the phone company is intact and the
RR-Photo/istockphoto.com
copper wires aren’t damaged or cut. Although you may have
an older home built with a phone jack that was once powered
by a copper wire setup, that doesn’t necessarily mean your
current phone system still operates through the original infrastructure. Again, call your home phone provider to check.
Get a community landline. If you can’t aford the
monthly cost of a landline all by yourself, consider a community landline to be shared among neighbors. This arrangement allows various people to pool their resources and get
one landline to be shared among all the paying neighbors. If
the cost is split among a small group, it becomes way more
afordable, while still providing benefits to the entire group.
Do your research. Do a search of your immediate area
for public landline pay phones and mark the locations on a
map. Knowing where these phones are in advance of a disaster will save you time and efort at a later date. Start your
search in the likely places — train stations, libraries, airports,
government buildings, bus terminals, and schools. Just make
sure that these locations will be accessible during a crisis.
Don’t forget to look in other independently owned places —
bars, restaurants, gas stations, and convenience stores.
You can also do an internet search for “nearest pay phone”
and orient to your address. Sometimes these searches can
be outdated, so if you’re searching somewhere nearby, scout
them out ahead of time to ensure they’re still in the location
identified by your online search and fully functional.
AT&T or other providers own their pay phones. They
place them based on how much profit they might make.
It’s up to the phone company and property owner to keep
them in service. In many cases, pay phones have been
removed at city facilities over the years because they were no
Travel Telephone Tips
If you go abroad without a mobile phone, you can still stay in
Be advised that not all public pay phones in foreign countries
touch using public telephones. Below is a summary of how using
accept coins. Be prepared to make payment with a calling card or
public phones may difer abroad and some of the standards you
a credit card
should know if you’re in a foreign country.
Even though public pay phones are also disappearing in other
If all else fails, remember that you can still try your luck with
a public computer at an internet café or a hotel lobby. Using one
countries, many can still be found in train stations, post oices,
of these devices, you can try to make an internet call, or use a
and other government buildings.
Google or Skype account to log in and place your call. Planning
The most cost-efective way to place long-distance and interna-
ahead will save you time and money, and keep you connected.
tional calls is to use a prepaid calling card. These phone cards can
(Be very guarded with your personal information on public
be purchased at your destination from train stations, newsstands,
computers, especially with credit card information.) Another
and street concessions. Or you can buy them in the U.S. prior to
option is to subscribe to a satellite phone service, though this can
traveling. Buying a calling card in the U.S. will allow you to famil-
be extremely expensive depending on your needs and destina-
iarize yourself with the calling procedures and costs in advance,
tion. Like anything, your layers of protection and communication
while avoiding possible scams.
should be layered.
MAKE THE
RIGHT CALL
longer used — hence no profit. AT&T and other companies
required a certain profit from the pay phones and forced
property owners to pay if the phones on their property
didn’t produce. Because of that, many property owners are
removing them permanently.
Purchase a calling card. A calling card will allow you to
use a public pay phone to make calls (local or long distance)
without having to keep a pocket full of change or a credit
card. A calling card can be useful even when using another
person’s landline phone, since you can call anywhere without worrying about the charges.
Maintain a physical list of names and phone numbers. Speed dialing is eficient and very convenient, but it
also makes it really easy not to have to remember phone
numbers. Maintain a list of important telephone numbers
and have various copies as backup. Like older phones themselves, using an address book to maintain current contact
info or making regular prinouts will come in very handy
when you need it.
More Bad News for Landline Phones
If you live in any of the 21 states (Alabama, Arkansas,
California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada,
North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee,
Texas, and Wisconsin) where AT&T is the primary telephone
service provider, you may soon need to say goodbye to
your landline phone service.
Reportedly, AT&T has been spearheading eforts for
legislation to end landline phone service in those markets.
According to reports from the Chicago Tribune, lawmakers
in 20 of these states have already voted to allow AT&T to
end landline service in their respective states.
While AT&T will still need FCC approval before it can terminate landline service, there’s a good chance that landline
customers in those states may soon face a choice between
upgrading their service to more modern alternatives or
face disconnection.
Opponents to AT&T’s eforts to eliminate landlines include
groups like AARP (a nonprofit organization that helps people
over 50 years of age). AARP representatives claim that the
bill will be especially harmful to the elderly, and the organization says it intends to fight the law at the national level.
While it’s unclear how any of these eforts will afect the
eventual outcome, or when actual landline service elimination may take place, maintaining an aging landline network
is expensive, and it’s unlikely that other providers will step
in to ofer traditional landline services at anything close to
afordable rates. Current landline service averages about
$50 per month, depending on the market and the plan’s
features and usage.
Conclusion
Cutting cords changed everything, and going back to
devices tethered by wires seems unimaginable. And while
few people will ever give up their mobile devices, having a
landline phone adds a very useful and efective component
to your overall survival strategy and planning. Stay safe and
be prepared.
How a
Landline
Became My
Lifeline
In late August 1992, Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 Storm, slammed into
South Florida. At the time I was living in the suburban community of Country
Walk, just north of Homestead, Florida. My home, along with many others
in the community, was totally destroyed by Andrew. The morning ater the
storm I walked out of the shell that had once been my home with nothing
more than the clothes on my back.
As I emerged outside for the irst time, I was struck by the sheer magnitude
of the devastation. Nothing was spared — trees, utility poles, power lines,
vehicles, and homes were all completely obliterated or heavily damaged.
I needed to get word to my friends and family that I was OK. But with so
much damage and destruction, and no power, how would I communicate
with the outside world? Today most people would no doubt reach for their
cell phones and hope they had service. But in 1992, few average people had
access to what was still very expensive technology.
Out of desperation and habit, I reached for my landline phone — in 1992 just
about every home still had one. I was amazed to hear a dial tone; it was actually working. I didn’t know it at the time, but the reason the landline phone
still worked in spite of the complete loss of power was because the phone
company was still supplying it with electricity. I saw irsthand that landlines
work even during a blackout.
I started to dial so fast that I got the number wrong and had to hang up and
start again. When my cousin — who lived further north and had not been
afected by Andrew — picked up on the other end, I was so happy I almost
started to cry. With this landline I was able to reach out to friends and family
to advise them of my condition. I could also obtain critical information about
the road and infrastructure damage outside of the most severe impact zone —
which I was currently standing in. With these crucial facts, I was able to plan
an evacuation. Ater a few more calls, I agreed to stay with my cousin until I
could make more permanent arrangements. The landline literally became
my lifeline.
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Tips to Communicate Efectively
Outside Your Native Tongue
By Mykel Hawke
hen it comes to survival, an often
overlooked but seriously critical skill
is language. You might be thinking,
how is a language going to help me
survive? It may not be able to start a
fire, but let’s look at how language is the spark that ignites
teamwork, a critical component of survival.
First, if you’re not leaving the country, how can a foreign
language help you survive? What if you’re lost, hurt, or need
help from a stranger who doesn’t speak English? Or stuck in
the middle of a large-scale disaster and good folks around
you only speak Spanish? Or if someone is conspiring to steal
from you, and you’re linguistically oblivious to their intentions?
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Spanish
Chinese
Italian
German
French
Arabic
2011 Language Mapper
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2007-2011
American Community Survey, Table B16001
Even if you have no plans to travel internationally,
language skills at home could wind up being critical to
saving your life or helping others. Think of the predominant cultures concentrated in diferent regions of the U.S.
Throughout the country, Spanish is the best foreign language to study, as it has the highest potential for use. But if
you’re in Louisiana or the Northeast near Canada, French
will serve you better. On the West Coast, Chinese might
be another survival language to study. Ask yourself where
you’re headed and examine some of the U.S. Census data
to determine which languages have a strong presence in
various areas of the country.
Familiarization with a second language for international travel is also an important survival skill. Overseas, not everyone
speaks English or is willing to use it even if they know it. In this
case, asking for a lighter in the native language of wherever
you are could indeed help you get a fire started — touché!
Fluency vs. Functionality
Most people who study a foreign language get discouraged quickly for one main reason — time. Teachers operate
on the logical premise that you want to become fluent, which
requires a strong foundational base and a lot of time. They
start with the alphabet and grammar rules, and it could be
months or years before you get to really use the language.
As a former Green Beret, we were often deployed on
short notice to strange locations around the globe. Usually,
no one spoke English, and we rarely had an interpreter or
linguist on the team. Without a translator, and back then
with no software or apps, we faced a lot of challenges and
misunderstandings. Sometimes the results were hilarious.
Sometimes, not so much.
After a few of these short-fuse missions, I realized there
was a pattern of what components of language were actually used. I wrote them down on paper and saw a pattern
of how to speak in a purely functional manner. It wasn’t
perfect, but it was mostly grammatically correct. I certainly
didn’t sound like a native, but I wasn’t trying to. Often, I
spoke like a simple child, but all my thoughts could be conveyed and my mission could be accomplished. And that’s
the survivalist’s way of learning a language on the fly.
Learn it the guerilla way — focus on the stuf that matters.
Analyze your own vocabulary in the course of a normal day
with family, friends, and coworkers, and you’ll find you typically only use about 200 words. Focusing your early efort
on learning basic vocabulary allows you to communicate
basic needs and maybe understand the gist of an overheard conversation.
Even basic vocabulary building still requires time and effort, but it’s not hard and you can start functioning on day
one. By week one, you can communicate the basics. There
are many books, apps, and other learning aids available to
help you learn the language info you need.
Forming Common Expressions
We’ll skip basic grammar and head directly into which
words are the most useful. Let’s break it down by familiar
parts of speech.
Nouns: people, place, and thing. Make a list of key nouns
you’ll use in tough situations such as food, water, and help.
Verbs: to need, to go, to do
Adjectives: good, bad, big, little. Start with one, and learn
its opposite.
Adverbs: well, poorly, quickly, and slowly. Again, learn
one and its antonym.
Prepositions: in, out, above, below, etc.
Conjugations: Start with two: I want and you want,
for example. Many languages have a root verb that
changes according to who says it. For example, I want
versus she wants.
Time: now, later, today, tomorrow, yesterday, before, after
Interrogatives: Who, what, when, where, why, how,
how much
Courtesy: If you open every time with please and close
with thank you, no matter how badly you hack their language, you’ll know you’re trying and you’ll score points
for politeness.
Salutations: hello, goodbye, my name is, what’s your name
Music: Buy some slower music, even children’s music, as a
great way to help your ear and brain adjust to the language
and pick up words. Stuf like “Old MacDonald” and other common nursery rhymes will turn what you’re already familiar
with into a new form. You can download them onto you
phone, tablet, or computer and listen whenever time allows.
Media: Watch children’s shows in the target language.
Buy some DVDs or watch some shows online. Download
them so you can watch when traveling or not connected
to the net. Try not to start with movies you know by heart,
as the speed and complexity of the spoken language with
plot subtexts is often not quite right in the translation and
you may learn some things wrong — and for sure you’ll be
overwhelmed.
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So, putting it all together, it may look something like: “Hello.
My name is John/Jane. I need water. Where, please? Thanks.”
Bam! Day one, speaking and communicating. Now, pick
your language, and we’ll look at some tools to help get you
there. An hour a day is a good start.
Training Tools
Books: A dictionary is key, but start with a youth version,
as it’ll help you learn how to pronounce and conjugate,
while utilizing simpler words. A phrase book showing the
language, your language, and phonetic pronunciation is
vital to quick learning.
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Top 10 Phrases
To Learn in Any Language
1. Hello. My name is _______.
8. Who can help? or Who
What is your name?
is that, please?
2. I need help or Can you
9. How much is best
instead of how long
help me, please?
3. Can, would, or are you
able to show me, please?
4. How do I get there or do
that, please?
or how far, as you
can always say how
much time, how much
distance, as well as the
5. Where is that person/
place/thing, please?
6. When is that or this,
usual how much does
something cost.
10. Thank you, goodbye,
until later, go in peace.
please?
7. What is that? or What do
I do, please?
AH86/istockphoto.com
While technology is great, there’s
no substitute
for committing things to
memory. Learning key phrases
like these in the
target language
can help get you
out of a bind in
an emergency
situation.
Also, if you have satellite radio or TV, try to find programming in your desired language. You can watch with subtitles,
which always helps, but without is still OK. The more you’re
exposed, the more you’ll begin to pick up the basics. Bottom
line, self-imposed immersion is a proven method. So listen and
watch, with or without subtitles — it all goes in. Even if it sounds
like machine gun rapid fire, the more you listen the more your
brain gets attuned and reprogrammed to pick it up.
For study aids, check out: Berlitz, Barron’s, Lonely Planet,
Langenscheidts, Oxford, Fodors and Pimsleur. Find the
ones that fit your style, needs, and budget. There are many
free products out there; try those first and then invest more
as you’re ready to get more out of it.
Mobile Applications
There are so many great mobile apps for learning languages. You can find free ones or pay for one. Usually, the
premium ones are ad free and work better.
There are apps that use your mobile device’s camera
to translate written language, and some that allow folks
to speak into your phone and they’ll attempt to translate.
These are awesome, but often slow, flawed, and, if not connected to the internet, they don’t work at all. Don’t become
reliant on technology to do the work for you. You need to
shoulder the bulk of the learning process in case you’re in a
situation where technology isn’t accessible.
Google Translate is one of the best. You can type in passages and translate more than 100 languages when con-
nected to the internet — about half that when you’re not. It can
work with more than 30 languages when translating photos
of signs, watching videos, and translating spoken language.
Microsoft isn’t quite able to match up to Google overall;
however, its real-time language translator is simply the best
one out there right now. SayHi is one of the better apps
for speech-to-speech translation, and, in general, Speak &
Translate as well as TripLingo are other excellent apps.
For Asian languages and their unique characters, some
apps specialize in these and are really good for native
European language speakers, such as Papago and Waygo.
There are also wearable translating devices, such as
the iLi and The Pilot. They have limitations, but are way
cheaper than hiring a personal translator.
Finally, there are some photo-translating apps that allow
you to take a photo of a sign or billboard, for example, and
then translate it. They require internet connectivity, so they
have some limitations on their utility, but signs are often
in a city or you can type the letters in your translator app
when not connected and read your downloaded dictionary
info to figure it out.
Not Everything Translates Equally
Gestures: A simple “OK” sign in America equates to calling
someone an “a**hole” in other countries. Do your homework.
Culture: In some places, people can become highly
offended if you stop and ask a woman for directions or
show the bottoms of your feet, for example. Be smart.
praetorianphoto/istockphoto.com
Don’t assume you’ll get off the hook for these offenses
because you’re a foreigner. And learn the common signs
of other cultures if you plan to travel there; not every nation uses U.S. or EU-style signage.
Also, some cultures yell as a way of communicating —
don’t take it personally. Yelling back doesn’t make them
understand you any better, so don’t get frustrated and
become the ugly American. Stay calm, expect mistakes,
and have a sense of humor. You’ll get through it. You may
make some lifelong friends along the way.
In the sidebar, we compiled a list of the top 10 phrases
to learn. The first key to success in using them is to choose
the easiest one for you to learn, remember it, and then use
the heck out of it!
The next key is to maximize use of the interrogatives and
always use polite words (please, thank you, excuse me, I’m
sorry) to cover any mistakes you make with general words
associated with kindness, as way to ensure the maximum
willingness and helpfulness from those you query.
Key Things to
Remember
Always repeat what you think someone said in the simplest way you
know. They’ll respond either “Yes, blah, blah blah” and you’ll know you
understood the gist or they’ll say “No, blah, blah, blah” and say more
words, and you can then focus on key words. Then you can focus on
listening for vital info like “go let” or “right,” etc.
Constantly listen and read, trying to understand everything you can.
Listen when folks are speaking to hear how the language is used.
Challenge yourself by asking, “How would I say ...” Then try to say it
without learning aids. This way, you’re using spare time to do mental
language training, converting passive vocabulary into active vocabulary
and usable phrases.
Memory Keys
About The Author:
Spend a day writing down words in your target language
and listen online how to say them. Then, write down how
that sounds to your ears, commit it to memory, and you
can speak in a day. Use memory keys or associations that
help you remember.
For example, the Russian word for “key” is pronounced
“clootch.” I associate that with “she uses a key to lock her
clutch bag,” and I can always recall the word via that association in my brain.
Mykel Hawke is a retired Special Forces combat commander and former
Kid’s Stuf
For media, always start with kid’s stuf, and work your
way up. Get as many things with subtitles as you can. It’s
like studying a martial art, don’t try to get into the ring and
fight competitively until you’ve mastered your own moves
first. Slow is fast, fast is slow — you’ll learn bad habits (getting words and meanings wrong), and it’ll take twice as
long to unlearn the bad and relearn them correctly.
Working in nine diferent conflicts over three decades, when
we had to find translators in a place where almost no one
spoke English, we mainly encountered two kinds — professors
and young adults. It wasn’t hard to understand how the professors learned English, but when asked, the kids almost all said
they learned English the same way — from MTV!
In the U.S., we take this generally accepted hand gesture
to mean “OK.” However, it’s not universally understood
that way, and you may unintentionally ofend
someone using it in another country. Do
your research and be cognizant of
what’s acceptable in other cultures.
Green Beret sergeant in medicine, communications, and intelligence with
a bachelor’s in biology and a master’s in psychology. He holds black belts in
Aikido and Judo, and has ratings in seven languages.
www.mykelhawke.com
Deagreez/istockphoto.com
ISSUE 25
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PISTOL
CALIBER
COMPATIBILITY
Ruger’s New PCC May Have a Place
in Your Bug-Out Plan
By Chad McBroom
Photos by AZPhotoMan
he sound of a roaring engine wakes you from your sleep. You
leap out of bed and look out the window, only to see your
truck speeding backward out of the driveway with a stranger
behind the wheel. As the man slams your truck into gear and
takes of down the block, you notice the neighbors frantically
throwing suitcases into their van. You can hear sirens echoing in the distance.
Whatever’s happening, it’s not good. Now's the time to get your family to a
safer location, but the highways are sure to be jammed with frantic drivers, so
you grab your bug-out bags and prepare to hit the road on foot.
In this hypothetical scenario, what weapons would you bring? A compact 9mm handgun, such as a Glock 19, provides a concealable means of
personal protection, so it would be a good place to start. However, relying
entirely on a pistol might be unwise in the long run. The limited range and
accuracy of a handgun may not sufice when the time comes to hunt for
food. On the other hand, running out of the city with a rifle in hand may
draw unwanted attention.
Long-time readers of this magazine might recall the Ruger 10/22 Takedown survival rifle we built in Issue 8. Such a rifle is lightweight, packable,
great for hunting small game, and could make a strong addition to your
bug-out loadout. However, it would also require carrying extra magazines
and .22LR ammo, a caliber that isn’t optimal for personal defense or hunting
larger animals.
Ruger has released a new rifle that shares the spirit of the 10/22 Takedown, but potentially ofers more versatility and stopping power. The Ruger
PC Carbine is a takedown model chambered in 9mm rather than .22LR.
Better yet, it’s compatible with the extra Glock magazines you’d already be
carrying in the scenario above. This means you’d need to carry fewer mags
and only one type of ammo, simplifying your load out.
Intrigued by the potential value of this rifle, we set out to learn more
about it and test one firsthand at the range.
T
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BACKGROUND
Bottom let: The
takedown capability of the PC
Carbine makes it
a welcome addition to a bug-out
bag. The gun
can be quickly
reassembled
by inserting the
barrel assembly
into the receiver
and turning it
clockwise until it
locks in place.
Bottom right:
Even with a lessthan-perfect zero,
keeping rapidly
executed shots
in the upper Azones at 15 yards
was an easy task.
Ruger’s first attempt at a pistol-caliber carbine came in
the Ruger Police Carbine that hit the market in 1996. The
Police Carbine was marketed as a shoulder-fired companion for use alongside Ruger’s P-series pistol, as both used
the same feeding source. Citing low demand, the Police
Carbine was discontinued by Ruger in 2006.
Over the years, loyal customers have refused to accept
the demise of Ruger’s pistol-caliber carbine line and, according to president and CEO Chris Killoy, “have long been
requesting the return of a Ruger pistol-caliber carbine.”
Ruger obliged its customers’ requests with the reincarnation of its pistol-caliber carbine in the form of the PC Carbine. This versatile and highly customizable firearm brings
many desirable features that are sure to be as popular
with RECOIL OFFGRID readers as its price tag.
We met this lovechild of the Ruger Police Carbine and
the Ruger 10/22 Takedown a few weeks before its official
release date. After spending some time disassembling, reconfiguring, reassembling, and shooting this lovely medley of glass-filled nylon and steel, here’s what we learned.
OPERATION
Like its Police Carbine predecessor, this new carbine
utilizes a dead-blow action. The bolt is held forward by its
inertia and spring pressure. A custom tungsten dead-blow
weight shortens bolt travel and reduces felt recoil and
muzzle rise.
BARREL
The PC Carbine has a cold hammer-forged, chrome-moly steel barrel with precision rifling. The barrel is fluted for
weight reduction, bringing the gun in at just 6.8 pounds
with an empty tank. The Model 19100 featured here is
threaded with a ½-inch-28 thread pattern for use with
standard muzzle accessories and comes with a screwon thread protector. For those living in more restrictive
locales, the Model 19101 includes all the same features,
minus the scary barrel threading. (NOTE: This is the same
muzzle thread pitch as standard AR-15 barrels. Make sure
any muzzle device you attach to the PC Carbine is, in fact,
a 9mm muzzle device and not a 5.56mm muzzle device.)
BARREL ASSEMBLY TAKEDOWN
The Ruger 10/22 Takedown has been a popular weapon
among outdoorsmen and survivalists because the barrel
assembly can be quickly, easily, and safely disassembled
and reassembled without losing zero. Capitalizing on a
good thing, Ruger designed the PC Carbine in the same
fashion, using the already proven locking system of the
10/22 Takedown. Simply push the recessed locking lever
and rotate the barrel/fore end assembly counterclockwise
PISTOL CALIBER
COMPATIBILITY
to unlock the barrel from the receiver and break the carbine in half, making it backpack compatible.
release and remove the magwell assembly from the top.
Slide in the other magwell assembly, and you’re ready to
feed lead from your favorite Glock magazine.
INTERCHANGEABLE MAGAZINES
USER CUSTOMIZATION
Having options like ambidextrous controls used to be
a concern for only the small percentage of left-handed
shooters out there, but as shooting techniques and tactics
have continued to develop along with firearms technology, the need for customization has become more apparent. That need is compounded when we break away from
familiar tactical platforms like the AR-15 and try to carry
over our well-ingrained tactics. The customizable features
of the PC Carbine help bring the shooter to a happy place
where their weapon manipulation skills can be familiar
and efficient.
Out of the box, the PC Carbine is set up with the
magazine release button on the left side and the charging handle on the right side. Since we here at RECOIL
OFFGRID tend to look at things from the aforementioned
SHTF perspective, we decided to reconfigure this setup to
make it more combat friendly.
After working through some reloads and figuring out
the most efficient order of operations, we moved the
charging handle to the left side and the mag-release
button to the right side. Swapping the charging handle to
ISSUE 25
The most notable feature on the PC Carbine is its
interchangeable magazines. Ruger designed the PC
Carbine to accept common Ruger 9mm pistol magazines
like the SR-Series, Security 9, and Ruger American Pistol.
Ruger could have stopped there and called it a day, but
they took things one step further to ensure that this new
carbine would be a draw to more than just die-hard Ruger
fans. With a quick and easy magazine-well swap, the PC
Carbine will accept standard Glock 9mm magazines.
This is a somewhat unexpected move by Ruger, as they
aren’t known for being particularly well supported by the
aftermarket or even concerned with ease-of-compatibility
for the end user. We’re thankful to see it and, if the S ever
really does HTF, you’ll probably be thankful too.
Swapping out magazine well assemblies couldn’t be
any easier. Even without the aid of a user’s manual, we
were able to figure out how to exchange the preinstalled
SR-Series/Security 9 magazine well with the included
Glock-compatible magazine well in a matter of minutes.
With the barrel/fore end assembly removed, simply
remove the receiver from the stock via the two 5/32-inch
hex takedown screws, then compress the magazine
The PC Carbine
can be fully
disassembled
with a 5/32 Allen
wrench. Note
the plug-andplay magazine
well assemblies
accept either
Ruger SR-Series
or standard Glock
magazines.
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With lines drawn
from the Mini 14,
the PC Carbine is
undeniably Ruger. The compact
proile of a MRDS
makes it a perfect
match for this
packable carbine.
the left side allowed for FAL-style support-hand operation of
the bolt assembly. Having the mag-release on the left side
required us to hit the release at an awkward angle using
the thumb and reducing the eficiency of the reloading
procedure, whereas moving it to the right allowed us to slide
the support-hand straight back and hit the release with the
middle finger while en route to a fresh magazine on the belt.
To account for body size and length of pull variations
between shooters, the PC Carbine comes with three
½-inch spacers that allow the length of pull to be adjusted
from 12 5/8- to 14 1/8-inch in ½-inch increments. These
spacers sit between the buttstock and recoil pad and are
held in place with two hex screws.
TRIGGER
The bang switch on the PC Carbine uses 80-percent
10/22 components. The trigger is decent out of the box — it
has a crisp pull and positive reset with minimal overtravel.
Although we didn’t have a chance to test this theory, it’s
quite possible that if one were to obtain certain quality
10/22 aftermarket trigger parts, one might end up with an
enhanced trigger worthy of the highest accolades. But
again, it’s just a theory.
SIGHTS
The PC Carbine is outfitted with a ghost-ring adjustable
rear sight and a non-glare, protected front sight. Both sights
are mounted on the barrel forward of the receiver. This
reduces the sight radius but ensures consistency during
takedown and reassembly. All adjustments are made with
the rear sight by loosening the windage or elevation set
screws and sliding the aperture in the direction you want
bullet impact to shift.
The sighting system is probably the PC Carbine’s biggest
downfall. The free-sliding aperture and lack of positive click
adjustments make small sighting corrections more dificult
than necessary, but it's still a functional system. Fortunately,
the PC Carbine has plenty of rail space on the receiver, so
in keeping with the compact, packable nature of the gun,
we installed an EOTech Mini Red Dot Sight (MRDS) for use
during testing. It proved to be a perfect companion for the
PC Carbine.
LEAD DOWNRANGE
With the PC Carbine reconfigured to our liking, we
dropped in the Glock magazine well, grabbed a handful
of Gen4 9mm Glock magazines, courtesy of Elite Tactical
Systems, and headed to the range to see what this baby
could do. Included in the range bag were several boxes
of Federal’s 115-grain Train + Protect VHP and the newly
released 124-grain American Eagle Syntech ammunition.
After getting a quick zero with the MRDS at 25 yards
to make sure we were on paper, we moved back to the
50-yard line to get a more suitable zero. At 50 yards, shot
PISTOL CALIBER
COMPATIBILITY
Ruger
PC Carbine
Model 19102
CALIBER
9mm Luger
BARREL LENGTH
16.12 inches
OAL
34.37 inches
MAGAZINE CAPACITY
17
WEIGHT UNLOADED
6.8 pounds
MSRP
$649
URL
www.ruger.com
Functionally, the PC Carbine performed quite well. In
almost 400 rounds of hard running, we failed to experience a single malfunction. This brings us to our final word
of caution. The PC Carbine is extremely fun to shoot, so
if you’re not careful, you can easily blow through several
boxes of 9mm before you remember you’re not shooting
a 10/22.
The Elite Tactical
Systems Gen4
Glock 17, 19, and 18
magazines make
a great companion to the PC
Carbine.
CONCLUSION
If you’re looking for a packable long-arm that won’t break
the bank and is compatible with your beloved Glock or
Ruger-family 9mm pistol, the PC Carbine might just be the
answer. Your bug-out bag will welcome the addition.
ISSUE 25
grouping was consistently within 1.5 inches with both
the 115- and 124-grain. This is quite an acceptable level of
accuracy for a pistol-caliber weapon. What’s more, the PC
Carbine retained its zero after takedown and reassembly,
even with the optic mounted on the receiver.
We spent most of the range time running “up drills” at
15 yards — two- to three-round volleys. The barely noticeable recoil and red-dot optic made target acquisition and
follow-up shots quick and accurate. Our chief complaint
from a tactical standpoint would be the push-button safety,
which requires the shooter to break their shooting grip to
put the gun on safe. Not a deal-breaker, though, as this is a
common and reliable safety design.
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IMPROVISED
EVACUATION METHODS
Options for Getting Wounded to Safety During a Crisis
By Andrew Schrader
DISCLAIMER:
This article is meant to be an
overview and not a detailed guide
on evacuating injured individuals to
safety during an emergency. Seek
professional medical training before
attempting any of these techniques.
earning how to evacuate an injured person from
a hazardous or remote location, such as an
active-shooter event or a backcountry hike gone
wrong, is like paying down your credit card bill
rather than buying new stuf every month — in
your heart you know you should do it, but it’s just not as fun or
as sexy as other options.
We believe in a holistic approach to preparedness and recognize
that it’s just as important to know how to save the lives of others
as it is to protect your own. To find out more, we spoke with Eric
Soderlund, who has worked as a detective for a large Florida county
L
law enforcement agency for the last 13 years. Prior to that, he served
as U.S. Army military policeman (95B, now 31B) for eight years. He's
on the board of advisers for the Committee on Tactical Emergency
Combat Care (CTECC) and serves on the training cadre for the
Florida SWAT association’s tactical EMS course.
“It’s great to have a gun on you,” Eric says, “But it’s about more
than just being armed. Like we saw in Las Vegas, all of those
3,000 people in the crowd could have had a gun on them, and it
wouldn’t have done any good. So we need to be a student of the
game. And these days the game includes medical training and
knowing how to move injured people.”
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Look at your
environment
and ask yourself
what you have
at your disposal
that could serve
as an improvised
gurney or wheelchair to evacuate
someone from
danger quickly.
Breach Pen is a
small, portable
tool to quickly
cut through locks
and other metal
materials that
may be impassable otherwise.
Like any heatconducting
device, proper
training is important.
Use Your Surroundings
In the event that casualty evacuation becomes necessary,
Eric encourages trainees to first take a good look around
them. This doesn’t mean to go all MacGyver and build an
ultralight hang-glider to escape out a window. Instead, keep
it simple and just think about what makes sense. “Look at the
environment and see what’s ready to use,” Eric says. “If you
have a minute to look around, see if there’s something that
can make your life a little easier.”
If you’re in an ofice environment and a casualty can’t walk,
consider grabbing one of those ever-present rolling desk
chairs, placing them in the chair, and wheeling them out. You
may have to hold them from behind to keep them upright,
but it’ll still be easier than simply trying to drag them out with
your bare hands. “You don’t necessarily have to be Captain
Caveman, and lift and carry everything,” Eric adds. “Work
smarter, not harder.”
Otherwise, if you’re not immediately faced with a direct
threat and you have at least one other person to help you,
you could improvise a litter (like a flexible stretcher) out
carpeting on the floor. With the casualty laying down, cut an
outline around them using your knife. Then cut slits for handholds on the sides and another at the head, and roll your pa-
tient inside the carpet Corleone-style just like you’ve seen in
all those mafia movies. This will allow you to grab the carpet
much more easily and slide the casualty along the floor with
much less friction than otherwise. And if you decide that
you do want to add a dash of MacGyver, threading a pole or
mop handles through the cutout slits provide an even easier
handhold and improve the rigidity of the litter as well.
Find Alternate Paths
For those who work in the same place every day, it makes
sense to occasionally look around and think about what you
could use, and how you might be able to get out. “Think about
your situation ahead of time,” Eric says. “If you’re in a high-rise
building where a fire on top and bottom is a real possibility,
would you consider base jumping of the roof? That’s an
extreme example, but the idea is to look at your environment
and consider the possibilities. Think outside the box of leaving
the building using the stairs or an elevator.”
Many wooden doors can be broken down with a mule kick.
However, metal doors, as we’d find in a commercial or ofice
environment, aren’t quite so easy. But if we think outside the
box we might find that the walls either side of that door are
made from drywall and metal studs. In that case, there’s a
good chance you can bust through the drywall to access the
other side.
A commercially available Breach Pen cutting tool can be
used to burn your way through padlocks or chained doors,
and is much more portable than a bolt cutter. This lightweight
and packable tool, about the size of a small flare, allows you to
burn your way through any number of barriers. Additionally,
also consider keeping a fire-suppression tool on hand, like a
compact aerosol spray can fire extinguisher, such as those
from Blaze Defense Systems, which can quickly cool red hot
metal to hand-holdable temperatures.
Additionally, many ofice buildings have drop ceiling tiles. If
you can climb into the dropped ceiling space, you may well be
able to bypass locked doors and access other areas.
Last, consider breaking through windows to get out. Ten
to 15 years ago it’d never be an issue to break glass. But
depending on your location, the glass might be impact or
hurricane-rated, so you can’t necessarily just throw a chair
through it. To mitigate this, you could consider using a glassbreaking tool ofered on some fire-rescue–style knives such
as the TOPS/BUCK CSAR-T. If necessary, you might also think
about shooting through the glass, after taking a look to see
what’s outside first.
“Just remember,” Eric says, “you own every single round
that comes out of that barrel, regardless of what kind of
crazy situation is going on. So maybe consider shooting
out a lower corner of the window so you’re aiming at the
ground, reducing the likelihood of collateral damage.”
Get Formal
Training to Learn
Improvisation
It’s not easy to tell someone how to improvise ahead of time, for the
same reason that it’s hard to predict the future. But formal training will
give you a good foundation of skills to build on and make it easier to
recognize improvisational opportunities when you ind them.
Here are some companies Eric recommends that teach patient/
casualty movement as part of their courses.
Lone Star Medics
Medicine X Course
This two-day “ambush medicine” course focuses on providing
casualty care while being ired upon and includes coverage of rescue
rigging and rapid trauma assessments.
lonestarmedics.com
Special Operations Aid & Rescue (SOAR)
Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) Course
Based on national TECC committee guidelines and endorsed by the
National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT),
this two-day course teaches students how to treat casualties in
wounded environments, but also includes treatment of pediatric
patients and techniques for dragging and carrying victims to safety.
www.soarescue.com
Talon Defense
Combatant Casualty Care
An advanced four-day course that includes coverage of patient drags
using both improvised and commercial litters and rigging, it also
teaches more advanced medical treatment techniques which can be
incorporated to treat casualties in place prior to evacuation.
talondefense.us.com
If you can’t make it to one of these in-person classes, check out
these two online resources that provide expert-approved guidance for
civilians in active shooter situations.
www.ready.gov/until-help-arrives
This reference guide, produced with input from the Committee
on Tactical Emergency Combat Care (CTECC), includes a helpful
interactive video to teach kids in addition to more advanced
discussion for adult civilians.
www.avoiddenydefend.org
Developed by Texas State University, this 12-minute video
eschews the common “hiding” advice regarding active shooters.
It also expands beyond the common oice or school shooting
environments to include reasonable (and possibly life-saving)
response techniques for open retail store environments, churches,
movie theaters, and more.
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Consider Atermarket Solutions
In an ideal situation, you’ll have a full-size EMS stretcher
next to you, like the ones you see EMTs load into rescues
(ambulances). It’s 100-percent rigid, so all of the force you
use to push (or pull) the stretcher translates directly into
moving the stretcher. Realistically, of course, that’ll never
happen. So we trade rigidity for improved portability, and
we use packable soft litters instead of stretchers.
As litters get lighter and more portable, they also get
more flexible, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. With a
more flexible litter, the force that would’ve moved your patient is more likely to just bend your patient. It’s analogous
Can't ind anything nearby to
move someone
who is injured?
Why not carry
something with
you? The Foxtrot
Litter by Tactical
Medical Solutions
is a portable, lightweight platform
that can be used
to move someone
to safety when
seconds count.
It can be used to
carry a casualty in a low "bearcrawl" position,
minimizing exposure by maintaining a low proile
when needed.
to pushing a sturdy wooden crate versus trying to push a
canvas sack, or worse, a thin plastic bag filled with oranges.
Eric recommends training with commercial products
where available, because having trained with good
products will help show you how to improvise a solution
when the time comes. “The more you use the commercial
devices and formalized training,” Eric says, “the better you’ll
be at building improvised solutions because you’ll better
understand the concepts behind it.”
“Consider a commercial tourniquet, for example. If you’ve
used one you’ll know that you need a strap, a windlass,
and something to clip the tensioned windlass to. So don’t
eschew the commercial options just thinking you can ‘wing
it’ when you have to. Training with the real gear will help
you wing it.”
When it comes to commercially available products, Eric
has used several from Tactical Medical Solutions (TacMed
Solutions) that he favors. First is the Foxtrot Litter. “The Foxtrot is the Cadillac of litters, and it’s relatively inexpensive,”
Eric says. “It’s semi-rigid, striking a compromise between
usefulness and portability. For its size you can use a twoor four-person carry, or just drag it on the ground as you
would in a wilderness situation. A Skedco Sked (sled) is also
cool, but usually that’s not available unless you’re traveling
in a large vehicle or into overlanding with 4x4 Jeeps.”
For the photos seen in this article, we used a Rescue
Task Force (RTF) version of the Foxtrot Litter, which uses
somewhat beefed-up materials but is a similar concept. We
also used the Evacuation and Rigging Strap (ER-S) from
TacMed Solutions, which is inexpensive, small enough to
be packed inside any bag, and lets you perform a drag, a
backpack carry, or a modified half-litter carry on a casualty
with a few simple loops of the strap around them.
“Another soft litter is the Phantom from TacMed Solutions,” Eric says. “It can be thrown into a backpack or bag
easily. The trade-of is that you can’t drag it very far or you’ll
rip the sh*t out of it. It’s also super flexible, which actually
makes it harder to carry when you consider the patient
naturally flexing their knees and bending their hips.”
Decision to Move
When it comes to deciding whether or not you should attempt to move casualties during an active shooter event, the
recommendations are fairly simple. If the casualty is dead,
then there’s no need to move them. And if you’re in a “hot
zone” where the shooter is a direct threat to you, you should
worry about protecting yourself with your own firearm if
possible or evading instead. Otherwise, if you’re in a “warm
zone” where the threat is still out there, but not directly in
front of you, then you should attempt to move the injured
casualty to safety.
IMPROVISED
EVACUATION METHODS
Regardless of whether or not you suspect neck or spinal
injuries, unless you have advanced tactical medical training, don’t spend time trying to stabilize the patient's neck or
spine prior to evacuation. Chances are that you’ll just do it
wrong anyway, compounding the issue and wasting invaluable time. Instead, focus simply on getting the casualty to
professional care as soon as possible.
In a backcountry hiking or wilderness situation, it can be
dificult, if not impossible, to evacuate an injured party to
safety by yourself. In most situations it'll be safer for both
you and the casualty if you leave him or her to shelter in
place, and speed of by yourself to go find help. Otherwise,
you run the risk of running out of supplies or dying of exposure on your way out because of the slowed pace when
transporting casualties. The delay in medical care alone
may doom the casualty. The better option is to quickly alert
the local authorities, who can deploy a wilderness searchand-rescue team.
One way to use
the ER-S strap
from TacMed
Solutions is to lay
the casualty on
their back and
use the ER-S as a
convenient drag
strap, looped
around the casualty's arms and
chest.
Litter Use Tips
When you strap the patient into an aftermarket litters,
consider strapping them so that they’re laying on their side
as opposed to on their back, like you see in all the movies. This makes it easier for them to bend their bodies (or
you to bend their body for them) in order to navigate tight
corners or stairwells.
Think about it this way — if you’re laying on your back it’s
quite dificult to arch your body into any configuration besides straight up and down. But if placed on your side, it’s
easy to bend into an S-shape or maneuver to help you fit
where you need to. This also has the added benefit of the
patient being in the “recovery” position already, reducing
the chances of choking on vomit or blood, and making it
easier for them to breathe. You can also utilize a backpack,
jackets, towels, etc., to prop them up into the recovery position, or use these items to place in “hot spots,” bony areas
of the body that can take a beating if dragged in a litter
over rough terrain.
To summarize our tips: Try to use your environment to
help you, consider other ways besides doors to get out,
and consider purchasing aftermarket litters to train with
and carry with you. This way you’ll be helping not just
yourself and your family, but possibly the larger community
as well.
“Part of being prepared is being able to enable the
laypersons around you — showing them how to help others while you do it yourself,” Eric says. “So get your family
involved, and your kids and community. Get them involved
and thinking, it'll suck to have to carry some random casualty or your wife by yourself down three flights of stairs in
order to escape a threat.”
Applied in a different coniguration, the ER-S can
also be used to
hoist a casualty
and attach them
to you like a
backpack, which
is more appropriate for certain
conditions.
About the
Author
Andrew Schrader recently served as an Advisor/
Reviewer for the San Bernardino (California) City
Fire Department’s Ater Action Report (AAR)
of the Active Shooter Incident Response which
took place in December 2015. His company, Recon Response Engineering
LLC, educates ireighters and search and rescue teams on the subject of
urban search-and-rescue and building collapse. Most recently, he was deployed in Florida to support rescue operations following Hurricane Irma.
www.reconresponse.com
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A Buyer’s Guide for Bug-Out Bags That
Can Endure Extreme Weather
By Patrick Vuong
A
What to Look For
For recommendations that hold water, we went to two subject-matter experts (SMEs) with almost a half century of combined experience making gear for outdoor adventurers: Patrick
York Ma, the CEO and chief designer of Prometheus Design
Werx and Mel Terkla, an independent designer who’s worked for
a variety of companies, including Kifaru. Here are some things
they suggest you watch out for in a weatherproof pack.
Rain Cover: This is essentially a bag for your bag, and can
turn any backpack (even your favorite Jansport) into a stormproof sack. “Rain covers are ‘seamless’ covers with ample interior
coatings — typically polyurethane (P.U.) — that are sized to wrap
and cover your entire pack, except for the suspension,” Ma says.
Durable Fabric: “If I were looking for a stormproof pack, my
first priority would be durability,” Terkla says. After all, what good
is a stormproof pack if it’s just gonna rip and let moisture in?
Interior Coating: “Cordura can be had with a waterproof
coating on the inside layer of the fabric,” Terkla says. “Even without sealed seams or waterproof zippers, this makes the pack
extremely water resistant.”
Exterior Coating: Ma recommends getting a pack with a
good durable water repellent (DWR) coating on the outside,
too. DWR causes H2O to pool into beads on the fabric’s surface,
making it easier to shed the droplets.
bingokid/istockphoto.com
ny prepper worth their weight in MREs will
have SHTF packs set up in several locations
for any number of potential disasters. A bugout bag at home, a get-home pack at the
ofice, and an emergency kit in the vehicle.
But what if the bags themselves don’t hold up? What if they fall
apart under a heavy load or get ruined in a torrential downpour
paired with gale-force winds? Now your precious three-day cache
is soaked, useless, or strewn across the muddy forest floor.
With spring showers approaching, we’re taking a closer look
at durable bags available today that will both increase your daily
carry capacity and endure punishing weather.
For the sake of argument, we’re calling them “stormproof”
backpacks. Note: This is not a buyer’s guide exclusively on
waterproof bags, also known as dry bags. Because they tend
to have just one large compartment and look like sacks made
out of inflatable swimming pools, dry bags aren’t as versatile
for preppers and may stick out in urban settings. Though there
are two dry bags among the six models we’ve tested here, we
also got hands on with a dufel, a lumbar pack, a campus-style
knapsack, and a true trail pack.
Each one fits a particular niche, but are adaptable enough for
use in other situations — all with an eye toward keeping your
vital supplies safe and dry. But how do you go about choosing?
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Patrick York Ma
of Prometheus
Design Werx
recommends
avoiding packs
with PALS
webbing, as the
stitching are
tiny holes where
water gets in.
Photo courtesy of
Patrick York Ma
Seams: Try to look for bags with welded or taped seams.
“This type of pack construction will be the best at blocking
water penetration,” Ma says, adding that packs with these
types of seams usually come with coated interiors.
Zippers: Both SMEs recommend looking for zippers
covered with an external flap.
Top-Load Design: Top-load backpacks feature a main
compartment that opens at, well, the top — think Santa’s
toy sack, but with an large flap that covers the opening.
Meanwhile, front-load backpacks feature a main compartment that unzips in the shape of an “n” and unfolds like
a briefcase. While the latter design is easier to pack and
compartmentalizes your gear, the former is the way to go if
you want to keep your survival supplies dry, Ma says: “Top
loaders with single or double quick-release buckles generally block rain better than full-zip front-panel loaders.”
What to Avoid
On the flipside, our SMEs warned us to steer clear of
these attributes when shopping for a stormproof sack:
Lightweight Fabrics: Terkla says the priority of any
stormproof pack should always be durable materials. Even
with DWR, thin fabrics can fray against rocks or snag on
tree branches, allowing moisture to seep in. Likewise, Ma
says to skip “any hipster cotton canvas,” waxed or not.
P.U.-Coated Reverse-Coil Zippers: Not all zippers are
created equal. Both SMEs agree that the recent trend of “waterproof” P.U.-coated reverse-coil zippers should be avoided,
ironically enough. A regular zipper has its teeth, slider, and
puller visible on the exterior. These new reverse-coil zippers
have its teeth on the interior (hence the name) so that the
backside of the teeth (on the exterior) can be laminated with
water-resistant P.U. The problem is that P.U. gradually wears
out, and even more so with hard use. “These just become
more points of entry for rain as they wear out over time,” Ma
says. “A DWR-treated reverse-coil zipper is actually better at
repelling rain … but it’s not common, though.”
PALS Webbing: A MOLLE-style pack with PALS webbing
stitched on it is full of needle holes, Ma says, all of which are
tiny doorways for moisture to get in.
Also, survival expert and longtime RECOIL OFFGRID
contributor Tim MacWelch advocates avoiding go-bags
covered with PALS webbing in general, as they will attract
a lot more unwanted attention from the desperate and the
unprepared once SHTF.
Holes: It’s common sense not to select any stormproof
bags with drain holes or unprotected openings for wired
earphones or hydration bladders. “Any drain holes on the
bottom of a pack will let water in if you set it down on saturated ground or a puddle,” Ma says.
Weathering the Test
With these tips in mind, we put the backpacks in this
buyer’s guide to the test. But since we’re not Halle Berry in
an X-Men movie, we couldn’t conjure up a storm with our
mutant powers.
To simulate a downpour and assess each bag’s ability to
shut out H2O, we stufed each pack full of newsprint paper
as a substitute for our survival gear. Why? Newsprint turns
to mush when wet, so we’d know right away if water got
inside a pack. Next, we stuck each bag under a running
showerhead for 10 minutes. Then we wiped down the exteriors before unzipping each model, noting whether (and
where) any of the paper got soaked.
However, repelling water isn’t the only measure of a great
bug-out bag (BOB). We also looked at each pack’s cargo
capacity, internal storage organization, and comfort level
during use.
Whether you expect hail and showers in the coming
weeks, you live in a region prone to tornadoes in the spring
season, or you’re gonna hit the lake or river once the snow
melts, there’s no doubt a backpack option that can help
you weather the storm. Read on to see if one of the following six bags is right for you.
STORMPROOF
SACKS
BUYER’S GUIDE
Arc’teryx
malven57/istockphoto.com
Carrier Dule 55
Canadian company Arc’teryx has
an international reputation for making top-notch climbing, skiing, and
hiking gear. So, it shouldn’t surprise
anyone that its Carrier Duffle 55
is one tough, technical SOB. The
P.U.-coated nylon fabric combined
with sealed seams and Arc’teryx’s
trademarked WaterTight Zipper
shrug off rain, snow, and hail like
nobody’s business. In fact, in our
testing, not a single drop of water
got to the interior.
But how does it perform as a
go-bag? This duffel is definitely
durable. Designed for a variety of
uses (commuting, traveling, winter
sports, etc.), the Carrier Duffle 55
can withstand rigorous daily use
in assorted environments. From
the materials and hardware to the
straps and stitching, everything
spells sturdy. The quick-release
shoulder straps are both removable
and adjustable, so you can carry the
bag as if it’s a backpack, sling pack,
or briefcase (thanks in part to four
grab handles, which also work as
lash points). The interior is white,
allowing greater visibility inside.
On the flipside, most duffels
have only one compartment, and
this Arc’teryx model is no exception. So, if you’re bugging out,
the contents might slosh around
inside. Oh, and minor complaint:
When packed full, it looks like a big
shiny black pillow on our backs. Not
exactly indiscreet nor aesthetically
pleasing.
Overall, a hard-core pack that’s
highly weather resistant and versatile enough for various duties … but
its lack of interior divisions might
give preppers pause.
PROS:
Impressive weatherproofing
construction
Storm flap helps keep rain and
wind out
Can be carried like a backpack, sling
pack, or briefcase
When not in use, it can be stowed
compactly in the included mesh
bag. When in use, the mesh bag can
double as a travel organizer and be
thrown inside the duffel.
CONS:
Just one large compartment; no
dividers or pockets to keep your
gear organized.
It’s not the coolest looking nor the
most discreet duffel on the
market.
BODY FABRIC
Polyurethane-coated
NC400r-AC2 nylon
CAPACITY
55 liters (3,356 cubic inches)
DIMENSIONS
31 by 17 by 18 inches
WEIGHT
1.3 pounds
COLORS
Black (shown), Cardinal, Pilot
MSRP
$199
URL
www.arcteryx.com
Aquapac
Wet & Dry Backpack 35L
Aquapac set sail in 1983 when
three British friends had the idea of
making a case for a Sony Walkman
(which was like, you know, an oldschool MP3 player) so they could
listen to music while windsurfing.
Now the company produces waterproof protection for everything from
tablets and cameras to maps and
insulin pumps.
Aquapac’s Wet & Dry Backpack is
a stormproof bag with the standards
rating to prove it. It has an IPX6 rating, meaning it can withstand rain,
splashing, and rough sea conditions.
It’s no surprise, then, that the Wet &
Dry Backpack had no problems passing our shower test.
Unlike most dry bags, the Wet &
Dry Backpack has more than one
compartment. It lives up to its
name with a sizeable internal waterproof bag for separating clean
clothes from dirty ones. Furthermore, this yellow bag has a clear
pocket attached to it so you can
quickly find your keys, smartphone,
and other small objects without
having to dig around.
On the outside, the padded back
support can be removed to dry out,
be substituted with a hydration
bladder, or act as an improvised
seat cushion on rocky terrain. Mesh
pockets can hold water bottles or
other items. And there are multiple
lash points so you can clip on carabiners, lights, or other equipment.
At 35 liters, the Wet & Dry Backpack isn’t large, but it can serve
as a stellar daypack in turbulent
conditions.
PROS:
Truly stormproof thanks to its
coated nylon, taped seams, and rolltop closure
Ability to separate clean and dirty
gear
Waist strap, breathable mesh shoulder straps, and a sternum strap that
slides
Interior bag is bright yellow for
greater visibility.
CONS:
This medium-sized pack won’t fit
a lot of gear and supplies, so pack
judiciously.
BODY FABRIC
Polyurethane-coated
210-denier Taslan, 500-denier
Oxford polyester
CAPACITY
35 liters (2,135 cubic inches)
DIMENSIONS
23.6 by 15.7 by 8.7 inches
WEIGHT
1 pound, 14 ounces
COLORS
Black
MSRP
$110
URL
www.aquapacusa.com
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BUYER’S GUIDE
Granite Gear
Talus
The Talus is a part of Granite Gear’s
Barrier lineup, which has proprietary
technology (including water-resistant
zippers, Tarpaulite material, and Repelweave fabric) that aims to provide
protection from the elements.
Prior to our shower test, we
expected the Talus to fail because it
has no external zipper flaps. We were
surprised to find that the zippers and
the Repelweave fabric stayed true,
deterring water for seeping through
its teeth and weave, respectively.
Unfortunately, the seams betrayed
Granite Gear’s Barrier technology.
While newsprint at the top and
middle of the pack were bone dry, we
found that our newsprint was damp
where moisture had gotten through
the bottom corner seams
As a campus-style knapsack, this
bag has a padded, Tricot-lined sleeve
that fits most 17-inch laptops, as well as
a Tri-cot lined pocket for valuables like
eyewear, smartphone, or wallet — all of
which stayed dry during our tests.
However, you gotta take the pros
with the cons. The Talus’ tall-and-
slim design is meant to keep the
weight of your load as close to your
back as possible, easing the strain
on your spine and maintaining a
better center of gravity. This means
stacking your items on top of each
other in the main compartment;
not inherently a bad thing in and of
itself. But the odd thing is that the
zipper on this front-loading pack
doesn’t go past halfway, meaning
you can’t access stuff at the bottom
of the pack unless you remove the
items at the top first.
PROS:
Divided sections, laptop sleeve, and
mesh pockets help keep contents
organized
Sliding sternum strap, adjustable
shoulder straps, and “hideable”
waist strap
Tri-cot lined pocket for valuables
Affordable price tag
CONS:
Zipper on main compartment
doesn’t extend down far enough,
Kelty
Revol 65
Asher “Dick” Kelty is considered
by many to be the inventor of
the aluminum-framed backpack,
among many other innovations. The
Revol 65 carries on Kelty’s legacy,
offering an ergonomic pack that
lets you lug around a poopload of
life-sustaining cargo.
The aluminum and HDPE plastic
frame combined with Kelty’s brilliant
PerfectFIT adjustable suspension
system keep the cargo weight on
your hips and shoulders instead of
your lower back. Plus, the lumbar
support is adjustable and the Kinesis
hip belt actually moves with your every step to increase stability. If that
weren’t enough, there’s also a trapdoor compartment at the bottom
where you can access a sleeping bag
(or other gear) without unloading the
entire pack.
All this comes at a cost: weight.
It’s more than 4 pounds, the heaviest
pack in this buyer’s guide. If you load
up the Revol to its 65-liter capacity,
your three days’ worth of supplies
can easily weigh north of 50 pounds.
On paper, adding 4 pounds doesn’t
seem like much, but after a few hours
they’ll feel like an extra 40.
The Revol 65 is a top-loader with
two quick-release buckles, meaning
the main section is virtually shielded
from any drizzle or snow. However, in
our shower testing, we were shocked
to find that the bottom of the pack
got damp. It appeared some moisture
slipped into the trapdoor compartment through the stitching. Still, it’s
a technical trail pack that’s crazy
comfortable and highly functional.
PROS:
Padded back panels, adjustable
suspension system, and Kinesis
hip belt
Trap-door compartment
Three-day pack that doesn’t
scream “bug-out bag!”
It’s packed (pun intended) with
subtle smart features, including an
external hydration sleeve, zippered
pockets in the hip belt, dual grab
handles, loops for trekking poles
or ice axes, and a top stash pocket
to keep phone and sunglasses from
getting crushed.
CONS:
At more than 4 pounds, it’s about a
pound heavier than we’d like.
While the main section stayed dry,
the trapdoor compartment got damp
during our shower test.
BODY FABRIC
210-denier Robic nylon ripstop
CAPACITY
65 liters (3,950 cubic inches)
DIMENSIONS
30 by 12 by 10 inches
WEIGHT
4 pounds, 3 ounces
COLORS
Forest Green (shown), Raven
MSRP
$220
URL
www.kelty.com
making it awkward to get items from
the bottom of the pack.
Water seeped through the seams at
the bottom corners.
BODY FABRIC
Repelweave
CAPACITY
33 liters (2,015 cubic inches)
DIMENSIONS
20 by 12.75 by 9.25 inches
WEIGHT
2 pounds, 8 ounces
COLORS
Black (shown), Ember Orange,
Enamel Blue, Flint, Midnight Blue,
Rodin, Verbena
MSRP
$45
URL
www.granitegear.com
STORMPROOF
SACKS
Mountainsmith
Tanack 10L Lumbar Pack
filo, malven57/istockphoto.com
Founded almost four decades ago
by mountaineering guide Patrick
Smith, Mountainsmith has been a
staple among trailblazers because
of its many ground-breaking patents. In recent years, the company
has teamed up with photographer
Chris Burkard to create a series of
photography-focused packs. One
of the latest collaborations is the
Tanack 10 — the most hard-core
fanny pack you’ll ever see.
The Tanack 10’s Cordura fabric is
ridiculously tough, the zippers are
guarded by external flaps, and there’s
a removable rain cover hidden in the
base panel pocket. When encased in
said rain cover, this lumbar pack is
virtually waterproof. So naturally, we
took the rain cover off to see how
the lumbar pack would do naked. The
results? Not ideal. Water managed to
slip through, turning newsprint at the
top and bottom damp.
Still, the Tanack 10 has numerous
features to keep it as comfortable and
convenient as possible: removable
padded shoulder strap, two side pock-
ets for water bottles or other items,
detachable interior bag for accessories
that can be attached to the exterior,
and a quick-release padded waist belt
(which is compatible with the Moutainsmith Tanack 40 backpack).
Despite its name, the Tanack 10
actually has a 15-liter capacity —
not a whole lot. However, it can be
used as an improvised go-bag if
feces suddenly meets fan or as a
daypack on a hiking adventure. Of
course, if you’re into photography,
it works best for those who want to
stay mobile in challenging environments yet need quick access to their
camera. (Though you’ll need to pony
up an extra $60 if you want padded
dividers for your equipment.)
PROS:
Durable materials combined with
quality craftsmanship
Included rain cover provides
maximum protection from inclement
weather
Interior accessories pouch can transform into additional external storage
Delta Compression System helps you
adjust for different loads, cinching
up as needed.
CONS:
Too small to hold a substantial
amount of survival supplies, yet
weighs almost 2 pounds.
Without the rain cover, the interior
got wet while the exterior stayed
damp the longest of all the packs
tested.
BODY FABRIC
610-denier Cordura HP,
210-denier nylon liner
CAPACITY
15 liters (900 cubic inches)
DIMENSIONS
11.75 by 12.25 by 5.5 inches
WEIGHT
1 pound 13 ounces
COLORS
Barley (shown), Black
MSRP
$100
URL
www.mountainsmith.com
Is Budget Waterprooing Feasible?
Testing all the bags for our stormproof
backpack buyer’s guide got us thinking: Is it feasible and possible to make
a weather-resistant knapsack on the
cheap? After all, not everyone has a
hundred bucks lying around to spend
on a brand-new dry bag. But a bottle of
waterproofing wax runs for only $10.
To crat our own DIY stormproof
backpack, we looked for a backpack that
wasn’t just afordable but also common
(to approximate what one might ind in
an average household). Anyone who’s
ever attended high school in the past 50
years has owned or seen a JanSport bag,
so we selected the Trans by JanSport SuperMax. It features a 15-inch padded laptop sleeve, four zippered compartments,
and a lifetime guarantee. Price tag? Anywhere between $25 to $35 online.
Next came selecting the waterproof
coating. There are all sorts or protectants available today, from silicone aerosols to durable water repellents (DWR)
made of fluoropolymers. We chose a $9
bottle of Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof. Aside from being a water-based
formula that’s non-aerosol, non-flammable, and non-hazardous, it provides both
H2O repellency and shielding against
UV damage.
Following the directions, we sprayed
an even coat of Nikwax on the SuperMax, waited two minutes, and wiped
excess liquid with a damp cloth. We let
the pack dry overnight. The next day
we performed our in-house rain simulation: stuffed it full of newsprint paper,
closed all the zippers, and put it under
a running showerhead for 10 minutes.
Then we wiped off the droplets on the
pack’s exterior.
So how did our DIY stormproof pack
do? Like a drunk celebrity at a police
checkpoint, it failed miserably. While the
Nikwax did indeed help water bead up
and stay on the surface of the polyester
fabric, the coating couldn’t stop H2O
from flowing through the seams or zippers, where our newsprint paper was
most mush-like.
The lesson? You can paint a dinghy
to look like a submarine, but that won’t
stop it from taking on water when you hit
rough seas. If you’re looking for a truly
weatherproof pack for your next bug-out
bag, make sure it was manufactured with
weather-resistant properties in the irst
place, because a waterproof coating can
only do so much.
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Scrubba
Stealth Pack
H2O
Hack
As is the case with most survival gear,
the higher the standards of quality and
functionality we demand of our stormproof packs, the higher the price tags. So
how can you keep your supplies dry if
you can’t aford an expensive dry bag?
If you’re prepping on a budget, backpack designer Mel Terkla recommends
two economical strategies.
“A built-in waterproof pack rain cover
or a standalone one is the easiest way
to keep the rain at bay,” says Terkla, an
independent designer who’s worked for
a variety of companies including Kifaru.
the roll-top closure, then scrub the
garments for up to 3 minutes.
If you’re in need of a shower after
mucking around in the backcountry,
just fill this dry bag with water, hang
it from a tree, and let its black nylon
soak up some sunrays. Then turn
the valve and get a warm rinse in.
If you’re traveling, this Scrubba can
act as compression bag. Fill it with
clothes, squeeze out all the air, and
tighten the valve. It’ll stay compact,
saving you luggage space.
As a dry bag, the Stealth Pack
effortlessly passed our shower test
with flying colors.
For serious survivalists, the Stealth
Pack won’t suffice as a primary BOB,
but would shine as a valuable add-on
thanks to its multipurpose design.
Weatherproof design and
construction
Outside-the-box design
Excellent as a supplemental pack
CONS:
Limited 21-liter capacity
Like most dry bags, there’s just
one compartment; no internal or
external pockets or pouches.
BODY FABRIC
Waterproof 40-denier nylon fabric, 210-denier nylon back panel
CAPACITY
21 liters (1,281 cubic inches)
DIMENSIONS
21 by 13 by 7 inches
WEIGHT
1 pound
COLORS
Black
PROS:
Can quadruple as a dry bag, compression bag, portable washer, and
camp shower
“The other option is to separate all your
gear into waterproof bags” before placing
them in your backpack.
By “waterproof bags,” he’s referring to
airtight plastic pouches made by companies such as Loksak. They look like
zippered sandwich bags but are 100-percent waterproof, far more durable, and
come in a variety of sizes. For example,
Loksak’s OPSAK can be as small as 7 by
7 inches or as large as 28 by 20 inches
and start at $9.49 for a two-pack. If you’re
really pinching pennies, Terkla says,
then use that money to get a box of
Ziploc freezer bags and separate your
survival gear accordingly.
As for rain covers, if your backpack
doesn’t come with one, you can ind
generic models for as little as $5 or quality brand covers starting at about $15,
depending on size and compatibility.
“These two simple solutions will make
your bag absolutely stormproof without
any loss of durability,” Terkla says.
MSRP
$100
URL
www.thescrubba.com
filo, weerapatkiatdumrong, malven57/istockphoto.com
Certainly the most unique entry
in this buyer’s guide, the Scrubba
Stealth Pack is a four-in-one solution: a weatherproof backpack,
a compression dry bag, a camp
shower, and a portable washing
machine. Yes, you read those last
two functions correctly.
This invention came about when
Scrubba founder Ash Newland of Australia and a friend were planning to
climb Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in
2010. They realized their cold-weather
apparel and camping gear would take
up most of the cargo space, leaving
them room for just a few changes of
casual clothes. Soon enough the first
Scrubba bag was born.
The Stealth Pack version combines a waterproof roll-top bag, a
flexible integrated washboard, and a
multifunctional valve in one durable
package. To use it as a washer, place
your dirty clothes with some water
and detergent inside the bag, close
AK63DS
If someone ever tells you that you don’t need an AK, stop talking
to them, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
facebook.com/CenturyArms
Learn more at CenturyArms.com
instagram.com/CenturyArms
»
»
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ISSUE 25
084
Edible Plants and Their Dangerous Doppelgängers
By Andrew Schrader
theasis/istockphoto.com
ost of our readers already know that
our preference is for fresh meat in the
wild during a bug-out or backcountry
hiking scenario. And as Green Beret
Mykel Hawke noted in Issue 23 of
RECOIL OFFGRID, it’s much easier to get life-saving nutrients
and energy from animals than it is from plants.
That being said, animals aren’t always available to us.
And in a true survival situation we may need to end up for-
M
aging for plants in order to scrape by. The problem is that
foraging for plants, although easier because they can’t run
away from you, is complicated by the fact that some plants
can harm you and others can kill you. The second issue
is that some plants that resemble edible options and look
familiar to us can actually be quite harmful if ingested. If
you’ve ever seen the movie Into the Wild, this situation was
depicted to reflect one of the theories about how Christopher McCandless died.
WARNING!
This article is meant
to be an overview
and not a detailed
guide on identifying
and consuming edible
plants. Seek guidance
from a trained botanist
before attempting to
eat any plants. Any
attempt to consume
plants shall solely be
at the reader’s risk.
ISSUE 25
086
To help us sort things out, we tracked down professional backpacking and climbing guide Lee Vartanian.
These days, besides guiding in his “spare time,” he
works as the founder and head of Modern Icon, which
handcrafts K9 leashes and harnesses for high-end law
enforcement and military applications. He also helps
train U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) agencies in “the
art of vertical access in nonpermissive environments.” In
other words, using ropes and climbing skills to gain passage to areas that bad guys don’t want you to access.
Lee earned his bachelor’s degree in outdoor education, with a minor in environmental science, and has
been guiding professionally for 18 years. As a kid, he
practiced by foraging for food in his neighborhood
and constructing homemade snares. Besides reading every book on edible plants he could find, he also
hoarded magazine clippings from survivalists, including wild food proponent Euell Gibbons, author of
Stalking the Wild Asparagus, who some readers may
recognize from circa-1970s Grape Nuts commercials.
“Everyone thinks about clubbing a wild rabbit and
cooking it over a fire when they think of survival experiences,” Lee told us. “But they forget the importance of
being able to eat on the move. Killing and prepping wild
game with primitive tools is a challenge even on a good
day. Doing that while you’re malnourished, cold, and
sleep deprived can be close to impossible and potentially hazardous to your physical safety.”
If unexpectedly stranded in the backcountry, Lee’s
recommendation for most people, most of the time, is to
shelter in place and wait for rescue. Hiking out, however,
may sometimes be necessary. “In either scenario,” Lee
said, “you may have to rely on both hunting and gathering depending on how long you are lost. So don’t miss
out on the benefits of gathering plants that are plentiful
and won’t run away when you’re on the move.”
Kateryna Pavliuk/istockphoto.com
TESTING PLANTS
First of all, don’t just randomly chow down on the first
thing that looks like a tomato or a berry. Follow a series
of protocols to help make eating in the wild less hazardous (note that we never used the word “safe.”)
Crush the plant’s leaves and take a whif. If it smells
unpleasant, or like almonds, discard it.
Rub the juice of the crushed leaf on the inside of
your arm, and wait for 15 minutes. If no irritation develops, place a small piece on your lips, then in the corner
of your mouth, then the tip of your tongue, and finally
under your tongue, holding each for three minutes
before moving.
If the plant irritates your skin or mouth, treat it as
you would an acid. Pour water over your skin to remove toxins, and use alcohol or dish soap to clean off
the residue. Contaminated clothing must be washed
or thoroughly discarded.
If no negative side efects are observed, swallow a
small amount and wait for five hours, consuming nothing else in the meantime. Assuming nothing bad happens, the plant can be considered less hazardous to eat.
“The part a lot of people miss,” Lee said, “is ensuring
that whatever they’re testing is plentiful. Don’t let your
curiosity override your logic, and always consider boiling
the plant to make it more easily digestible.”
ACCIDENTAL INGESTION
If the sample you ate starts to give you a bad ride, or if
you or someone else inadvertently ate something that’s
turning out to be toxic, there aren’t a lot of great options.
An unpleasant reaction can turn deadly in a short amount
of time. The best thing to do is to make a note (or take
a sample) of the plant or plants ingested, then evacuate
immediately to a hospital. However, if you’re in such a bad
situation that you’re forced to eat plants in the first place,
it’s likely that immediate evacuation isn’t feasible.
If you can’t get your victim to a hospital, place them
into the recovery position (¾ prone) and prepare to wait
it out. Rest will give their body the best chance at fighting
the toxins in the event you’ve exhausted all other options.
Many people assume that the easy solution at this
point is to induce vomiting, but that’s really not the
answer. First, a toxic plant may cause vomiting on its
own, so if it’s going to happen, it’s probably already happening. Second, induced vomiting can cause caustic
substances to create more damage on the way up,
especially if the vomiting is projectile and goes through
the nose. Last, there’s also a chance to inadvertently
inhale the vomit accidentally, further complicating an
already bad situation.
Because your self-treatment options are so limited, it’s
critical to avoid eating anything that you can’t 100-percent positively identify in the first place. The mess you
don’t make is the mess you don’t need to clean up.
So now that you know how to test items, and just
how dangerous it can be to accidentally eat the wrong
thing, watch out for the following deadly doppelgängers
— though keep in mind that this is just a small sampling
of harmful plants. Our hope is that this listing will help
you more safely stalk your own wild asparagus and get
more nutrition with less nausea. Good luck out there, and
happy “hunting!”
EAT THIS,
NOT THAT
Wild Grapes
(Vitis riparia)
vs.
Black Nightshade
Range:
Southern and Western
United States,
British Columbia
Poisonous Virginia Creeper
(Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
“This is my favorite deadly doppelgänger comparison because
everyone seems to want to eat anything that resembles a
grape or berry,” Lee said. “When in season, wild grapes provide
a tremendous amount of nutrition with their fruit, leaves, and
even new shoots being edible, but keep in mind that the roots
are poisonous. Wild grapes also provide a great source of potable water through cutting their vines. Cut high first, then low,
to maximize the amount of water yielded per vine.”
Tell Them Apart: Wild grape tendrils are more conspicuous
and grow in branches, as opposed to Virginia Creeper, which
adhere using terminal pads. Also, Virginia Creeper leaves are
compound leaves, meaning that they consist of several leaflets
joined to a single stem. Wild grape leaves just have one leaf
attached to each stem.
Wild Grapes Range:
Eastern Half of Canada
and throughout the United
States, excluding the far
Southwest and
Southeast U.S.
Photo by
Wasrts
Photo by Richard A. Howard,
hosted by the USDA-NRCS
PLANTS Database
Photo by Larry Allain,
hosted by theUSDA-NRCS
PLANTS Database
Deadly Nightshade
Range:
Central United States,
Saskatchewan
Black Nightshade
(Solanum americanum)
vs.
Deadly Nightshade
(Atropa belladonna)
American Black Nightshade berries and leaves are traditionally
eaten by Native Americans as well as modern cultures in Central American communities. Black Nightshade also has more
protein, calories, fiber, calcium, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin C
than spinach.
Photo by Bill Summers,
hosted by the USDA-NRCS
PLANTS Database
Photo by
Wasrts
Virginia
Creeper Range:
Eastern half of United
States and Canada
Deadly Nightshade, on the other hand, can cause delirium,
hallucinations, and death when eaten in large quantities. “This
is the most likely deadly doppelgänger to get you into trouble,”
Lee said. “Avoiding both varieties, if you’re unsure, would be
your best bet.”
Photo by James H. Miller,
hosted by the USDA-NRCS
PLANTS Database
OFFGRIDWEB.COM
ISSUE 25
Tell Them Apart: “The most obvious way to diferentiate between them is that the edible Black Nightshade berries grow in
bunches, as opposed to Deadly Nightshade berries which grow
individually. Remember that only the ripe berries can be eaten
safely, and the leaves still need to be boiled before consumption.”
087
ISSUE 25
088
Virginia Ground Cherry
(Physalis virginiana)
vs.
Wild Garlic
Range:
Eastern half of
United States and
Canada
Horse Nettles
(Solanum carolinense)
The Virginia Ground Cherry is edible when ripe, resembling
a small tomato. However, more often than not, any “wild
tomatoes” stumbled upon in the wild should be regarded with
suspicion due to their similarity to Horse Nettles.
Photo by Thomas G. Barnes,
hosted by the USDA-NRCS
PLANTS Database
Though they look quite similar to cherry tomatoes, all parts of
the horse nettle are poisonous and can cause abdominal pain,
nausea, vomiting, and death.
Tell Them Apart: Horse Nettle has large spiky prickles on
its stems, while the Ground Cherry only has thick, stif hairs.
Additionally, the fruits of the Ground Cherry are enclosed in a
papery husk while those of the Horse Nettle are bare.
Virginia
Ground Cherry
Range:
Central and Eastern
United States,
Eastern half of
Canada
Photo by
Katy Chayka
Photo by Al Schneider,
hosted by the USDA-NRCS
PLANTS Database
Horse Nettles
Range:
Throughout the
United States,
Parts of Eastern
Canada
Photo by Ted Bodner,
hosted by the USDA-NRCS
PLANTS Database
Photo by Jennifer Anderson,
hosted by the USDA-NRCS
PLANTS Database
Death Camas
Range:
Throughout the
United States and
Canada
Wild Garlic
(Allium canadense)
vs.
Death Camas
(Toxicoscordion venenosum and others)
s
Wild garlic should smell strongly of onions or garlic, and is
generally edible without issues. Use the chopped green leaves
as chives to make any food more palatable and eat the onionlike bulb. Be aware, though, that Death Camas also looks a lot
like an onion. It can cause loss of voluntary muscle movement,
diarrhea, vomiting, among other unpleasantries.
Tell Them Apart: Take a whif. Although the Death Camas
bulb looks like an onion, it won’t have the smell of garlic or
onion like its edible cousin.
EAT THIS,
NOT THAT
ADDITIONAL SOURCES
Wild Carrot aka Queen Anne’s Lace
(Daucus carota)
vs.
Poisonous Hemlock
(Conium maculatum)
Florida Native Plant Society
Ohio State University Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide
Purdue University Department of Agriculture
University of Texas, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service
The roots of young carrots are very edible, although as they
age they become more woody and inedible.
Tell Them Apart: Look for purple blotches or spots on the
smooth (hairless) stems of Poison Hemlock. Wild carrot stems
are usually covered in hairs, while hemlock is bare.
Wild Carrot
Range:
Throughout the
United States and
Canada
Lee’s Recommendations for
Where to
Learn More
Photo by
Joaquim Alves Gaspar
Books by Tom Brown Jr. and Courses at his
Tracker School in New Jersey
“Tom Brown is one of my literary mentors,” Lee says.
“Anything written by Tom is a sure bet, and any survival
courses at his school come highly recommended, even
though people think he is a little ‘out there’ with the
Poisonous
Hemlock Range:
Throughout the
United States and
Canada
spiritual side of things.”
www.trackerschool.com
Courses at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in
Western North Carolina
Look for courses titled Wilderness Survival 1 and Wilderness Survival 2. The irst course teaches you how to
survive the irst 72 hours in the wild, when most rescues
typically happen. In the second course, you learn what
to do ater the irst three days have passed, addressing
the need to survive on the move while self-rescuing.
www.noc.com
Photo by
Gary A. Monroe
Survival Courses from 88 Tactical at their
Tekamah Training Facility in Nebraska
With introductory to advanced courses ranging from 8
hours to 48 hours, 88 Tactical ofers skillset training you
can beneit from regardless of skill level.
Photo by Doug Goldman,
hosted by the USDA-NRCS
PLANTS Database
www.88tactical.com
ISSUE 25
090
HANDSON
HEAT ON TAP
Boil Water Anywhere with the Cauldryn Fyre Water Bottle
ot water is life — whether
on a mundane level, as
piping hot cofee keeps
people sane and civilized
during their everyday
routines, or in a survival situation where the
ability to sterilize water can keep you alive.
In RECOIL OFFGRID Issue 5, we reviewed
a selection of insulated and non-insulated
stainless steel water bottles. The best of the
insulated bottles did a great job of keeping
hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold. But all
they can do is maintain temperature as long
as possible. The Cauldryn Fyre water bottle
H
takes that a step further by incorporating a
heating element at the bottom of its stainless
steel, vacuum insulated bottle. You can attach a large rechargeable battery to heat on
the go, or dock the bottle on an AC- or DCpowered base and plug it into a wall outlet or
cigarette lighter socket in your car or boat.
The One Bottle To
Rule Them All?
With a name that Saruman would be
proud of, the Cauldryn Fyre aims to do it all.
The 16-ounce bottle is vacuum-insulated to
maintain temperatures on its own. It’s topped
with a screw-on lid with two openings — a
small one that flips open to sip from and a
larger spout with a threaded cap to pour
from. The pour spout also sports a pressure
release valve for boil mode. There’s a plastic
clip strap that keeps the lid attached to the
bottle and also includes a retention loop.
The heating element has two primary
modes accessed via two buttons on the
By Steven Kuo
bottle: maintain and boil. The former maintains a specified temperature; you can cycle
through four temperature ranges — 124-134
degrees, 135-145 degrees, 160-170 degrees,
and 194-204 degrees. Initiate the boil mode
and the element will stay on until the contents reach the boiling point (212 degrees).
The four LEDs on the side of the bottle light
up as the temperature reaches 104, 140, 176,
and 212 degrees.
Keeping Hot Stuf Kinda Warm
and Cold Stuf Kinda Cool
Unfortunately, as an insulated water bottle,
the Cauldryn didn’t stack up well against the
bottles we tested previously in Issue 5. To test
the Cauldryn’s ability to keep its contents hot,
we filled it to capacity with 200-degree water.
After 12 hours at an ambient temperature in
the high 60s, the water had cooled down to
80 degrees, a 120-degree diference. As a
point of comparison, in our previous testing,
the best-performing bottle from Zojirushi
went from 195 degrees to 151 degrees after
12 hours, a loss of just 44 degrees, while the
least efective of the products tested fell to
92 degrees, shedding 103 degrees.
For our cold water test, we filled the Cauldryn with 39-degree water. After just 15 hours,
the water had warmed to and remained
at ambient temperature, which was 65 degrees. In comparison, in our previous testing,
the Zojirushi bottle again topped the charts,
going from 36 degrees to 50 degrees after
24 hours, in an ambient temperature of
78 degrees. None of the previously tested
bottles reached ambient temperature in the
24-hour testing period; the worst bottle crept
up to 74 degrees after 24 hours.
Plan Ahead
So, the Cauldryn’s not a particularly good
insulated bottle, having performed noticeably worse than the least efective product
in our prior roundup. But it has something
none of those other bottles have — a heating
element. Using that element to maintain
temperature turned out to be our favorite
application for the Cauldryn, keeping cofee
and tea at our preferred temperature all day
without any fuss. We appreciated being able
to choose between the diferent temperature options, even enjoying hot soup. The
trade-of is that, due to its large battery, the
Cauldryn has much lower capacity and
weighs much more (a pound or more) than
traditional insulated bottles. With the battery
attached, it’s awkwardly tall, at over 12 inches.
We also tested the Cauldryn’s boil feature.
Untethered, we were able to get two boils
out of a fully charged battery. Starting with
16 ounces of 61-degree water, the Cauldryn
delivered boiling water as promised, taking
18 minutes to reach 212 degrees with the lid
closed. Without the lid, it took 20 minutes
and reached 211 degrees before automatically shutting of. We thought this was a
rather leisurely pace — until we conducted
the next test.
HANDSON
The Cauldryn comes bundled with a
handy AC-powered base on which you
can dock the bottle. Perhaps our base unit
was faulty, but it didn’t work well. Boiling
61-degree water with the Cauldryn plugged
into a power outlet took a long time. The
tree outside our ofice window seemed to
be growing faster than the water temperature in the bottle. Perhaps taking mercy on
us, the Cauldryn finally threw in the towel
and shut itself of early at 199 degrees, after
51 torturously long minutes. CIA operatives
take note: Waterboarding may no longer
be an approved enhanced interrogation
technique, but being forced to watch the
Cauldryn boil water on its AC-powered base
might be a close substitute.
Other Considerations
Boiling water takes a lot of energy, so the
battery module is quite heavy (1.3 pounds)
and boasts a robust 75.5 watt-hour rating.
It’s also designed to recharge via a hefty 19volt, 2-amp power supply. This is no big deal
when you have access to AC power or use
Cauldryn’s optional DC adapter. However, if
you’re out in the field with the bottle and its
battery, common portable charging options
such as USB power banks or solar chargers
won’t charge the battery, even with an (uncommon) USB cable that fits the battery’s
thirsty circular plug.
Four LEDs on the battery display its status,
and you can also charge other items with
the Cauldryn’s battery via two USB ports.
Both output 5 volts, with one rated at 1 amp
and the other at 2.1 amps. While charging an
iPad that regularly pulls up to 1.8 amps from
a wall charger, we measured output up to 1.5
amps from the Cauldryn battery.
Some of the Cauldryn’s controls weren’t
as user friendly as they could be. The
Red Rock Outdoor Gear
MAKE & MODEL
Cauldryn
Fyre Mobile
DIMENSIONS
8.25 x 3 7⁄16 (bottle)
4.25 x 3 3⁄16 (battery)
12 1⁄8 x 3 7⁄16 (attached)
WEIGHT
1 lb. (bottle)
1.3 lb. (battery)
2.3 lb. (total)
MSRP
$130
URL
www.cauldryn.com
maintain and boil buttons are unlabeled,
so you need to remember which is which.
The temperature LEDs are also unlabeled,
but they’re color coded so it’s easy to get
the drift. The 1A and 2A USB charging ports
aren’t labeled either. You also need to mind
the battery’s power button; we unintentionally actuated it several times. The retention
loop arrived broken, but that’s OK because
we didn’t like it anyway, as it’s made of plastic and protrudes inconveniently.
With exposed leads on the bottom of
the bottle, you need to exercise some
care in cleaning the bottle after use. You
can’t just dunk it in the sink or throw it in
the dishwasher.
There are many superior insulated bottles on the
market that are also lighter,
smaller, less expensive, and
higher-capacity, so we’d suggest you
only consider the Cauldryn if you plan to use
its heating element frequently. We felt the
sweet spot for the Cauldryn was in keeping
liquids warm at your exact desired temperature — handy for everyday use or on short
outings. However, if you don’t mind losing a
little bit of temperature over time, a highly
rated insulated bottle would be a cheaper,
lighter, and more convenient option. The
boiling function consumes so much battery
power that we’d reserve it for emergency
use when in the field — but it’s a nice capability to have and useful if you have ongoing
access to an AC or DC power source. As a
survival tool, though, the Cauldryn’s practicality comes up short.
HOT WATER TEST
COLD WATER TEST
Start
200 degrees
Start
2 hrs
146 degrees
4 hours 54 degrees
4 hrs
121 degrees
8 hours 60 degrees
8 hrs
93 degrees
12 hours 63 degrees
12 hrs
80 degrees
degrees
15 hours 65
(ambient)
Average ambient air
temperature at time of
testing: 68 degrees F
Average ambient air
temperature at time of
testing: 65 degrees F
Average humidity: 54%
Average humidity: 63%
39 degrees
We used a Kestrel Drop D3 data logger to collect the data.
Riot Sling Pack
MSRP $59.99
Proud maker of
backpacks, sling packs,
gun bags, tactical slings,
MOLLE attachments,
LBE, K9 gear,
and accessories.
View the full line:
rrog.com
1.800.342.4654
DEBUNKED
ISSUE 25
094
The Myth of Not Getting Water from Plants in North America
or those familiar with tropical survival techniques, you
already know that water-rich jungle climates are home
to many species of vines and plants that yield safe
drinking water. But what happens if you find yourself
in North America, staring down the barrel of dehydration? With only your surroundings as a resource, can you stay
hydrated from plant water sources?
F
The Myth
You’ve seen the cartoons. Just chop the top of a cactus and it will
be full of drinkable water. The only problem is, we’re not in a comic
book and that cactus is full of bitter, gelatinous pulp. There’s a myth
in the survival community (likely started by disillusioned cactus
choppers), that you can only extract drinking water from plants in
tropics. But that’s not true.
The Reality
Tap a Tree: In late winter and early spring, numerous trees produce drinkable water. Tree tapping is a simple operation, if you get
the timing and the species identification right. With a knife, drill, or
similar tool, bore a hole into the tree trunk. It should go through the
bark and a few inches into the wood. Insert a tube or some other
item to channel the sap flow into a waiting container, and wait for the
sap to start dripping. It typically flows best on days that are above
freezing that follow a sub-freezing night. Try diferent tree sizes and
locations of your chosen tree species.
A young strong tree may produce more sap than an older tree.
It’s also best to tap the sunny side of the tree, above a large root or
below a large limb. In mid to late winter, sycamore trees (Platanus
spp.) will have a very irregular sap run. These trees are found in the
east, as well as California and Arizona. In late winter, you can also tap
maple trees (Acer spp.), which are found throughout the country.
Maples can produce heavily; up to a gallon per day per tap during
the peak of the sap run.
Walnut (Juglans spp.) and hickory (Carya spp.) will produce around
the same time as maple. Birch (Betula spp.) is typically the last tree
to have a sap run. Walnut, hickory, and birch species are found
throughout the continent. But a word of caution, don’t drink any sap
from unfamiliar trees. There are more than a few toxic trees in North
America. Use a field guide!
Slice a Vine: After the sap run ends in usable trees, you have
another chance to collect sap for drinking water. Grape vines (the
genus Vitis) can be used on warm spring days. Chop the vine on an
pick-uppath/istockphoto.com
By Tim MacWelch
angle, place the pointed end into a container
and collect the water. Due to the higher tanThis article is meant to
nic acid level and low sugar content, grape
be a quick overview and
not a detailed guide on
sap will taste a little bitter and astringent,
identifying and consuming
but it is perfectly drinkable. Vines less than
edible plants. Seek
guidance from a trained
a ½ inch in diameter will drip for a few hours
botanist before attempting
before they stop, while larger vines will gush
to eat any plants. Any
attempt to consume
water like a faucet. Like tree tapping, this
plants shall solely be at
is all about timing. There’ll be days when
the reader’s risk.
the water will flow, and days when it won’t.
You’ll only know for sure when you try. Again, make certain that the
vine really is a grape, as there are some toxic vines with sap that
wouldn’t be safe to drink.
DISCLAIMER:
The Alternatives
Boil Down Syrup: If you’re lucky enough to have trees producing sugary sap you can boil of the water to make your own syrup.
All of the trees mentioned in this article can produce sweet syrup
(except the grape vine). Maple has the taste you already know and
love. Hickory is similar, with a hint of pecan. Walnut is sweet, with
walnut essence. Birch and sycamore have their own special flavors.
One quart of sap will boil down to a spoonful of delicious syrup.
This is well worth the trouble, especially if you have a fire going
anyway for warmth.
Berries as a Beverage: One frequently overlooked source of
hydration is the juice from edible berries. Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, mulberries, and other edible berries are found
throughout North America. These edibles are at their most plentiful in the summertime and ripe ones have a high water content.
You could, of course, eat them for solid food and moisture. But
when you lack water, it’s not wise to eat anything. Digesting food
and passing waste are both processes that require water. Your best
option is to positively identify the edible berries, wrap them in a
piece of clean cloth, crush them and wring out the juice. This juice
will provide much needed hydration, with accompanying sugar,
vitamins, and minerals.
Claim the Cactus: Remember the cactus pulp we discussed earlier? It’s not completely worthless. If you’re able to improvise some
distillation equipment, the cactus pulp can be added to your other
raw water sources. Whether you’ve built a still from a vessel and
some condensation coil, or you’ve dug a solar still pit in the ground,
cactus pulp will increase your water output. Use a local plant ID
guide to ensure that you’re not using any toxic greenery.
ISSUE 25
096
ONTHEGRID
Staying
Plugged-In
By Patrick McCarthy
urvival isn’t easy, but it’s certainly easier today
than it was in centuries past. Some of this can
be attributed to modern medicine, which helps
doctors save lives that might otherwise be lost
to illness or injury. It’s also a result of the global
economy, which gives us access to a greater selection of
afordable tools and provisions. But perhaps the greatest
survival advantage we have today is technology.
Now, before you remind us that a major disaster could
cripple the power grid and render electronics powerless, hear
us out. These devices are tools, and like any other tools, you
should be ready and able to survive without them. However, in
the meantime, you’d be foolish not to make the most of them.
For example, we wouldn’t head out into the woods without
a lighter simply because there’s a chance it could malfunction
or run out of fuel — but if it does, we’d have several backup
methods of starting a fire. Similarly, we wouldn’t leave a
smartphone behind in a bug-out situation, since it provides a
convenient means of communication and navigation, among
many other things. But if the device breaks, signal drops to
zero, or a catastrophic event permanently wipes out the
power grid, we’d go to plan B. This is the diference between
preparedness and dependence.
Even outside of SHTF situations, technology can be an
incredibly valuable tool for improving your survival skills. The
internet provides access to the answers to questions you’ve
never even thought to ask and a near-endless source of useful
tips, guides, and step-by-step tutorials — many are available
on OFFGRIDweb.com. Thanks to personal electronics and
the Internet, you can start learning virtually any survival skill
without setting foot outside your home. You just need time,
patience, and real-world practice to prove its efectiveness.
Our ancestors would be incredibly jealous.
Those of you who read this column last issue will recall our
emphasis on the value of participating in a community of survivalists. This, too, is made easier thanks to technology. While
social media is often used for posting cat pictures and arguing
about politics, it’s also a great way to stay in touch with likeminded people around the world. If you’re looking to connect
with preppers in your area, you shouldn’t have trouble finding
them with a quick search of local Facebook groups — it sure
S
beats the past alternatives of placing a wanted ad in the newspaper or nailing a notice to the bulletin board in front of
city hall. While you’re at it, you can follow our oficial social
media accounts at Facebook.com/OFFGRIDmag and
@recoiloffgridmagazine on Instagram for news, event
coverage, and useful articles.
So, how does 21st century tech factor into your preparation
strategy, and what sort of electronics (if any) are present in
your survival kits? Let me know by emailing me at pmccarthyoffgrid@gmail.com. You can also see what I’m currently
working on by following me on Instagram: @pmccarthy10.
Web Debriefing
In case you missed them, here are three web-exclusive stories that can
help you better incorporate tech into your preparedness plan.
Brandon Barton
onXmaps
Brandon Barton of Last Man
Projects built a $200 DIY
emergency power pack that
stays in the back of his bugout Ford Bronco. It keeps his
mobile electronics charged and
connects to a roof-mounted
solar panel for sustainable
power. www.offgridweb.
com/?p=10962
Andy Schrader discusses
the advantages of using
a smartphone for of-grid
navigation and how to
download maps to your device
for use in areas where cell
signal is nonexistent. He also
addresses ways to conserve
and recharge your phone’s
battery. www.offgridweb.
com/?p=9479
During short-term emergencies
and get-home scenarios, it’s
helpful to be able to quickly
recharge your devices
from a multitude of power
sources. This guide discusses
considerations for assembling
an everyday-carry electronics
kit. www.offgridweb.
com/?p=6087
For more web-exclusive content, head to OFFGRIDweb.com, like our page at Facebook.com/OFFGRIDmag, or follow us on Instagram at @recoiloffgridmagazine.
When SHTF, will you be
caught holding the bag?
Be prepared.
Mobile optimized, fully interactive,
and featuring our trademark mix of
witty writing and gorgeous art design,
OFFGRIDweb.com is chock full of
expert advice, tips, and techniques to
enhance your skillset. Plus, we have
honest and in-depth reviews of the
latest gear, gadgets, and supplies.
It’s where preppers, survivalists, and
those who want to be in the know come
to stay ready. Experience it for yourself.
OFFGRIDweb.com
www.recoilweb.com
www.facebook.com/Recoil.gun.lifestyle
ISSUE 25
098
THE LAST PAGE
A Glimpse of Things to Come?
Review of The Savage by Frank Bill
The Premise: Very rarely are novels reviewed in RECOIL
OFFGRID, as this column is mostly reserved for books that delve
into the how’s and what’s of surviving a variety of catastrophic
situations. Post-apocalyptic fiction still ofers teachable moments
about survival and human nature during desperate times, though,
so enter Frank Bill’s newest book, The Savage, a dark, dreary, gut
punch of a novel that’ll leave readers wanting to hug their children,
and be thankful for a house, job, and food on the table.
The story focuses on Van Dorn through the eyes of an
omniscient point of view, allowing the reader to see, hear,
and feel just enough of what’s going on to remain solidly in
the dark until a spotlight is splashed in your eyes at just the
right moment. We jump back and forth through a multiyear
period, alternating between when he was a young teen full of
petulance and disdain to a 20-something man, alone and fully
engulfed in the desperate world his father warned him about.
Chock full of violence, both past and present, we see a hostile world through Van Dorn’s eyes, one of death, bloodshed,
slavery, and ultimate despair.
The 411: In a word, The Savage is grim and will likely make
people uneasy. It’s choppy, staccato prose rat-tat-tats of of the
page in fits and jerks with long stretches of vagueness pointed
by sudden explosions of text, all of it purposefully jarring
your ability to remain comfortable. Mixed with that is horrific
imagery, presented in slow motion. When a man is shot point
blank, “blood spewed like a blown head gasket,” and he meets
survivors of this economic holocaust that have survived solely
on “the meat of man, woman, and child.”
With elements of other popular dystopian novels at its base,
like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, — The Savage presents a notso-distant future we want to remain fiction, but the book reads
like it’s happening tomorrow. There’s no clever turns of phrase as
with 1984 (“the clock strikes thirteen”) or languid, stretching prose
that settles you into a well-paced and linear timeline like The
Road. Bill holds neither punch nor gouge from the get-go and
doesn’t let up until you close the book at the end.
Of course, for the reader to not completely lose every bit of
hope of humanity in Van Dorn against “the savages,” which
are nothing more than packs of murderous kidnappers to
deal in skin and slavery — the plot curves into the realm of a
romance between young Van Dorn and a girl he knows called
Sheldon (whom we meet early on, while we’re still wondering
if Van Dorn is someone worth rooting for).
Shablon/istockphoto.com
By Ryan Lee Price
The Verdict: In order for a book to earn a space on these
pages, it usually must present itself as a tool for a life-afterdisaster scenario. Though this is a novel, there are some gems
of knowledge that can be gleaned from it. Bill succinctly describes the proper method of gutting a deer, for example, and
his fight scenes show a writer who has researched methods,
actions, and reactions.
They can/jar provisions, build fires, properly care for weapons, and Bill describes the harrowing instincts these bleak
survivors experience in an unforgiving wasteland, one that
nearly lacks all scruples and morals of any kind. However,
the minor characters themselves are rather two-dimensional
stereotypes (the burly white supremacist and the scholarly
Asian, for example), and the book contains more than its
share of astronomical coincidences that the reader’s suspension of disbelief will need to put in some overtime.
Bill’s style of writing is, at times, dificult to read without
stumbling. His reliance on gratuitous violence nearly hampers
his ability to shape characters that the reader can associate
with and adequately root for, and it doesn’t give the story a
chance to build suspenseful situations that pay of in later
chapters. The theme of “immediate satisfaction” shows
throughout the book and Bill’s overused motifs of
blood-spattered vengeance,
righteousness, and justice
appear obvious and tired to veteran dystopian novel readers.
That said, it’s a riveting book
set in the same universe (with
some of the same types of characters) as Bill’s previous novel,
Donnybrook. The loss of manufacturing jobs, the devaluing of
the dollar, the destruction of the
national power grid, a full-blown
drug epidemic, the desolation of
towns and communities, and the
domination of roving, warring
bands of cannibals are all thing
that feel too real, too close to
home, and seeming coming to a
town near you sooner than we’d
all like.
NOVEL & AUTHOR
The Savage
Frank Bill
PUBLISHER
FSG Originals
Publishing, New York
MSRP
$10.18
(Amazon.com)
URL
FSGOriginals.com
PAGES
400
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