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      15+ Survival Items To Keep In Your Car At All Times For SHTF

      15+ Survival Items To Keep In Your Car At All Times For SHTF

      We Americans sometimes overlook how much the automobile is integrated into our lifestyle. We are so accustomed to driving everywhere, that we don’t even think of it. Yet, our lives, especially suburban life, is designed around the idea that we drive everywhere. We readily accept things being spread out, because it’s really not an inconvenience to us. But without the car, it certainly would be.

      That’s why I keep my car ready for survival. This is something I’ve done for over four decades now. The trunk of my car is a well-stocked emergency closet, with a large assortment of things that stay there all the time, so that I’m ready for whatever may come.

      If you think about it, chances are pretty high that when a SHTF scenario occurs, you won’t be at home. Rather, you’ll be at work, school or any of a hundred other activities that occupy our time. But you can just about be sure that wherever you are, your car won’t be far away. That makes your car an ideal place to keep an assortment of emergency equipment, just for those times when you need it.

      So, what sorts of things should you carry in the trunk of your car? Well, the list can get a bit extensive:

      Get Home Bag

      The starting point is to have a get home bag. This is a survival kit, which has enough gear in it to make sure that you can make it home, no matter what.

      That may include doing so on foot, if something happens where the roads are closed or the bridges are down.

      Speaking of bridges, if you work on the other side of the river from where you live, it might be difficult to get home, if the bridge is down. Keeping an inner tube in the trunk of your car may seem a bit extreme, but it will be handy if you have to get across that river and the bridge is down.

      I combine my Get Home Bag and my EDC bag, so my bag has a lot of other useful things in it, such as personal hygiene items, paper clips and extra batteries for my flashlight. I try and make it complete enough to take care of anything and everything I might need, not just for SHTF, but the everyday problems I run across in my life.

      One of My Most Used Items

      Rain happens, just in case you hadn’t noticed. How many times have you been away from home and it started pouring? We all say that we need to keep an umbrella with us, but that doesn’t mean we do. Either that, or we just have one umbrella and it is never where we need it.

      I have umbrellas in all our vehicles, in the house, and in both by wife’s office and mine. That way, we’ve always got one available, no matter where we are. In addition, I keep a good rain poncho in the trunk of my car. It’s one of the most used items there.

      Good Walking Shoes

      If you dress in business clothing at work, then you want to make sure you’ve got some good walking shoes in the trunk of the car. An old pair of tennis shoes or even loafers, which you don’t really use any more, will make it much easier if you have to walk home from work.


      You should always have a jacket, hat and gloves available to you, even in the summer. I change these out with the seasons, so as to always make sure that I have something seasonally appropriate to use. In the summertime, I carry a hat that provides good shade, while in the winter I have one that is better insulated.

      When I say gloves here, I’m thinking of two different things. Obviously you want to have some warm gloves or even mittens, if you live somewhere where it gets really cold. But the other thing is to have some good work gloves, to protect your hands if you have to do something like dig your car out, if its stuck or move a tree branch that’s laying across the road.


      I carry every day, so I don’t leave a weapon in my car, unless you count the fighting knife that’s beside the seat.

      But I do keep an extra box of ammo in the car, just in case I find myself in a situation where I’m in a firefight. Chances of that are slim, but with all the unrest going on in the country, it’s not a chance I’m willing to take.

      If you don’t carry concealed and the laws in the state you live in allow it, I’d recommend keeping a gun in your car. But if you do, get a lockbox for it and bolt that down in the trunk. That way, anyone who wants to steal your gun has to break into your trunk and then into the lockbox.


      I always keep some food in my car, mostly high energy items and things that will keep me going for a while, like granola bars and jerky. While it’s possible to live for several days, without food, it’s not enjoyable. Keeping some food in the car just makes things easier if I get stuck somewhere in it.

      Extra Water

      I guess it comes from owning old cars, but I always have a couple of gallons of water in the trunk. It’s great for those times when the engine overheats, as well as those times when you overheat.

      If you have some soap in your get home bag, you can wash your hands with the water, after changing a tire or dealing with some other problem.

      Trauma First-aid Kit

      You never know when you’re going to get hurt or run across someone else who is. I’ve kept a trauma first-aid kit in my car for as long as I’ve been driving.

      There have been several times, when I was the first one on the scene of an accident, even if that accident was nothing more than a kid falling off their bicycle.

      By having a good first-aid kit in my trunk, I’m able to at least start taking care of them, before the ambulance gets there.

      Of course, if you’re going to carry that trauma kit, you need to know what to do with it. So take the time to watch some good first-aid videos on YouTube or take a Red Cross first-aid class. My concealed carry insurance carrier offered an excellent class in treating gunshot wounds, which I took.

      A Great Tool to Have

      This is a great all-around tool and not too bad a weapon. I have a machete attached to my BOB and I keep one in the trunk of my car as well. Mine has a saw blade on the back edge. Overall, a machete is more useful than a hatchet or saw as a general survival tool and will freak out anyone who is thinking of giving you a hard time.

      Pry Bar

      If the S really Hits the Fan, you may find yourself needing to do some scavenging. While the ethical and legal issues of this can be a bit sticky, survival comes first.

      Having a pry bar could allow you to get into somewhere that will provide you with critical survival supplies, or even get into somewhere so you can get a night’s sleep out of the rain.

      I’m tempted to replace my pry bar with a breaching tool, which could double as a walking stick, but I’m concerned about the weight. Besides that, I’m not sure if it would be a bit of overkill. I don’t want to end up carrying so much gear, that it slows me down going home.

      A Godsend Tool

      A small, collapsible shovel can be a godsend if your car gets stuck. I’ve had times when I needed to dig a car out of the snow, the sand and the mud. While it is never fun, it’s better than leaving the car there. The one I have is a bit big and heavy for carrying in my BOB, which is how it ended up in the trunk of the car.

      Basic Mechanic’s Tools

      I always have a set of tools in my car, so that I can make emergency repairs. Basically, you need box-end wrenches, a socket set, screwdrivers and a pair of pliers. You can do a lot of repairs with just that.

      Of course, more than the tools, you need to know what to do with them. But even if you don’t, carry them. You never know who might come along that has the knowledge, but doesn’t have the tools.

      Vehicle Liquids

      It’s always a good idea to keep a couple of extra quarts of oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid in the trunk. While you should be checking those regularly, we all forget from time to time. When we do, our cars have a horrible tendency to surprise us. Carrying those few bottles along can ruin the surprise for our cars.



      A good flashlight is a great thing to have, but a good headlamp is an even better thing to have in your car. That way, you have light, while having both hands free.

      I’d recommend going for one that gives you a wide-angle of light, rather than just a spotlight. I’d also recommend buying the brightest one you can find. When you’re trying to fix something in the dark of night, you’ll want that extra light.

      But those really bright lights tend to go through the batteries, so make sure you’ve got extra batteries on hand. Check your batteries often, as neither lithium nor alkaline batteries handle heat well. They can go bad, and you won’t even know it.


      I got started keeping rolls of toilet paper and paper towels in the trunk of my car when I was traveling a lot in Mexico. You can’t always be sure that you’re going to find TP in the bathroom, even if you can find a bathroom to use. It’s just prudence to have your own. Besides, if you’ve got it, you can go just about anywhere you can find some privacy.

      For paper towels, I always carry the heavy blue shop towels. That started for emergency car repairs, but I’ve found that they’re better for a lot of things. They’re also better when I have to disinfect things, in the world of COVID-19 we now live in.

      Masks, Gloves & Booties

      Finally, on this side of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t go anywhere, without being ready to protect ourselves from infection. That’s what the disinfectant up there with the paper towels is for, as well as the masks, gloves and booties. I’m one who still believes in wearing rubber gloves in the grocery store, but when I come out, I throw them away. If you’re going to use disposable gloves or masks, you’ve got to make sure you’re disposing of them.

      I also buy Tyvek booties to put over my shoes. As with the gloves, that gives me something I can throw away, when I come out of the store. But they’re also useful if you find yourself stuck in the mud and you have your good shoes on.

      12 Things You Need to Know Before Choosing Your Bug Out Location

      12 Things You Need to Know Before Choosing Your Bug Out Location - American Survivalist - Survival Gear

      Bug out plans are part and parcel of good prepping. While bugging in is the more popular option, for a number of reasons, there is always the risk of being caught in a situation where your home becomes untenable. When that happens, you’ve got to have a Plan B: your bug out plan.

      Sadly, very few preppers have a complete bug out plan. Oh, they’ll have something; some sort of general plan about what they are going to do. But in most cases, they’re missing the most important ingredient; a bug out location.

      Without someplace definitive to go to, all they have is an escape plan, not a complete bug out plan. The bug out location is the single most important part of that plan, while also being the single hardest part of the plan to come up with.

      Part of what makes it hard to come up with a bug out location is cost. Few of us have the extra cash sitting around to buy the cabin in the woods we’d really like to have. Since we can’t afford that, we tend to run out of other ideas to do. But that doesn’t cut out the need for a bug out location. We just need to be a bit more creative.

      Even so, before looking for a bug out location, there are some key things we need to know. Otherwise, we’re not going to come close to making a good decision. Basically, these things we need to know fall into two categories; things about us and our bug out and things about the place itself.

      There are many potential places that could work as a bug out for each and every one of us, but the right place is going to be something that is going to do the best at meeting our survival needs. That’s something which not all potential locations will do equally well.


      This first list of things will help you know where to look for your bug out location.

      What Type of Disasters Are We Likely to Face?

      Any discussion about disaster planning, including bugging out, needs to start from the viewpoint of what disasters we are likely to face. That’s the only real way of making sure that we are developing a plan that will meet our needs. At the same time, it can help us to avoid wasting time and energy on things that won’t help us at all.

      When we’re talking about TEOTWAWKI events, like an EMP, it doesn’t matter how far we go, the problem will still exist. On the other hand, when we’re talking about natural disasters, the problem will be of a local, regional nature. In those cases, we want to be sure to get far enough away, so as to be out of the danger area.

      If you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, then you’ll need to take that into account for your bug out plan. Whatever location you choose, it will have to be far enough inland, so that even if the hurricane reaches that point, it will have lost much of its force. At the same time, it needs to be high enough above sea level to reduce the risk of flooding from storm surge and whatever rainfall the residual storm might dump on the area.

      How Far Can We Realistically Travel?

      As a general rule of thumb, the farther your bug out location is from your home, the greater the possibility that it will be unaffected by whatever disaster strikes your home. On the other hand, you can only travel so far, especially if you have to resort to bugging out on foot. Balancing those two contradictory realities is difficult.

      There are those with money who are buying bug out properties in New Zeeland, which is just about as far away as you can go on this planet. But how are they going to get there? If something like an EMP happens and disables their private jets, those bug out retreats may as well be on the moon. They’d better have a good sailboat, as well as some good sailing skills, if they ever expect to get there.

      How Many People Are in Our Survival Team?

      The size of your team will affect the location you need. If you’re a lone wolf survivalist (not recommended), you can make your survival retreat in a culvert or an abandoned mine shaft. But you can’t do that, if you’ve got your family with you. There’s even less of a chance if you have several families with you.

      Unless you are going to establish a survival retreat that can expand easily to accommodate more people, you’d better have your team put together, before settling on a location. Adding a few new people, to account for couples getting married and babies being born is one thing; adding whole families is another thing entirely.

      What Is the Health and Physical Condition of Our Survival Team?

      If we’re honest with ourselves, we realize that most of us aren’t in the best of physical condition. That affects our ability to travel, as well as our ability to do hard physical labor when we get to our destination. Any bug out plans must take that into consideration; specifically, how well are we going to be able to travel on foot and how well are we going to be able to build a shelter, once we get there.

      Finding the perfect survival retreat location, but not being able to get there, because it requires climbing up a cliff face, isn’t going to help anyone. Nor is finding a location which is too far our team to get to, because we’re all in bad shape. We’ve got to be realistic in our expectations of ourselves.

      Related: Emergency Shelters When You Are On The Move

      How Much Equipment and Supplies Are We Going to Store There?

      Any survival retreat is going to need equipment and supplies. Unfortunately, most don’t come with good storage. If you’re planning on bugging out to the wild somewhere, you’re probably not going to find a secure building there, which you can use to build a stockpile. You’ll either need to build something or install a shipping container. Either way, you would have to own the property or risk losing it all.

      The other option is having storage somewhere close by, which isn’t actually at your bug out location. If you’re going to bug out to a wilderness location or an abandoned building you know, which is close to a small town somewhere, perhaps there is storage available that you can rent in that town. If that’s the case, then you will be able to have your stockpile close by, even if it isn’t right at your intended destination.

      Of course, this means having some way of moving the equipment and supplies you have in your storage cache to the survival retreat; preferably something that doesn’t require a running vehicle.

      A large two-wheeled cart or wagon, which can be kept with the supply cache will work for this.


      Once you’ve found the right area, this will help you pinpoint your actual survival retreat.

      What Is the Potential Population Density in a Post-Disaster Scenario?

      Ideally, you want to be someplace with a low population density. The more people there are, the more any potential resources have to be spread around to meet everybody’s needs. Small towns are better than big cities and out in the wild can be even better than small towns. But there’s a tradeoff here; less population means that your team has to do everything for themselves. There’s nobody to barter with food goods and services.

      There are two different populations we need to think about here; the fixed population in the area and those who will try and go there in the event of a disaster. In any life-changing disaster, big cities are likely to empty out, as people go in search of the resources they need to survive. These people will most likely head to the smaller communities that are nearby, under the illusion that those communities will have an abundance of supplies.

      This will cause the population of many communities to rise exponentially, making them into potential death traps for anyone who ventures there. You want to avoid them, just as much as you do the cities themselves.

      What Is the Weather in the Area Like?

      Weather will play a much bigger role in a post-apocalyptic world than it does for us today. We Americans are very good at shutting ourselves off from the weather, with our modern air-conditioned and heated homes. But that won’t be available to us if the electric grid is down.

      So we want to make sure we take weather into consideration for any plan we make. Will we be able to survive the seasonal weather changes that exist where we are planning on bugging out?

      Are There Good, Reliable Water Sources?

      Water is one of the most critical survival priorities and one which we need to have constantly replenished. We don’t usually think of that, because we’re used to just turning on the tap and finding that there’s water. But that probably won’t exist in a post-disaster world.

      Here’s the other part of the problem though. Our nation’s waterways are filled with dams, used to generate electric power and create reservoirs which are used as water supplies. From our perspective, we need to be sure that we aren’t putting ourselves in a position where we are dependent on water sources that are likely to be shut off at the dam, upstream of us.

      This isn’t much of an issue if there is enough rainfall to keep those reservoirs filled. In that case, the overflow from the reservoir will keep us in water, even if the gates to the dam are closed. But if there is a time of drought, we may find that we don’t have any water at all, as nothing is flowing out of the reservoir.

      Whatever water sources you have available at your survival location, check them regularly to make sure that they are still reliable. You may lose them at some time and need to think about changing your plans to another bug out location.

      How Accessible Is the Area to Us? To Others?

      This point ties in directly to the one above about the physical condition of our survival team. We need to make sure that any survival retreat we select is something that we can get to.

      At the same time, it would be great if that location would be difficult for others to approach. Perhaps the direction you arrive from gives you good access, while other directions don’t. Perhaps there’s a hidden way to get there.

      Difficult access for others can greatly reduce the risk of needing to defend your retreat. People looking for help won’t go out of their way to find the hardest place to go to. Even those who intend to steal what you have will look for easier prey, before trying to come after you.

      How Much Wild Game Is in the Area?

      Chances are that whatever wild game there is, will be killed off in the first few months, as people try to prevent starving to death. There just isn’t enough wild game in the United States today to meet the needs of the size population we have. Other than some parts of the country with low populations, wild game won’t stand much of a chance.

      Nevertheless, if you can find an area with abundant wild game, your chances of getting at least some of it are improved. Perhaps you live in a part of the country which is already sparsely populated. That’s to your advantage. If you can bug out to a location which is even more sparsely populated, game will probably be in even more abundance.

      Don’t forget fish when you’re looking at the wild game situation. Fish are generally more plentiful, reproduce quickly and are easier to catch.

      How Hard Will it Be to Grow Food There?

      Regardless of the wild game situation at any potential survival retreat, you’re only going to be able to create long-term sustainability for yourself by growing food.

      How is the area for that? Is the soil good? Is it easy to dig in? Does it have abundant bio-mass and bugs in it to break down the necessary nutrients? Is there sufficient water available?

      Is There Adequate Fuel and Building Material Available?

      Finally, unless you are building that cabin in the woods or perhaps transporting a yurt to your survival retreat, you’re going to have to build some sort of shelter and provide heat for it. That means having ample woods to get those materials from.

      There are many parts of the country with little tree growth. While there are other ways of building shelters, such as using adobe bricks, the easiest way to build a shelter is usually out of wood. You’ll also need that wood for heating in pretty much any post-disaster scenario you can come up with. Selecting a spot in the woods or next to the woods helps ensure that you’re going to have trees to work with.

      Emergency Shelters When You Are On The Move

      Emergency Shelters When You Are On The Move - American Survivalist - Survival Gear

      Surviving is all about prioritizing your needs. There are a lot of things you need to stay alive and healthy, but you don’t need them all right now. Some things can wait a while, but others are more urgent. Ask any survival expert for the top priority and they’re going to say “emergency shelter”. Yes, you can only survive three days without water – but if you’re caught without shelter in a blizzard, or even a late fall night in the average northern forest, and you’re not going to have to worry about three days from now. Because you’re not going to be around by dawn.

      Shelter always features in a prepper’s plans, whether it’s a bugout (or bugin) location, or the tent you’ll be carrying on your way to one. Life doesn’t always go to plan though. What happens if you’re away from home when a crisis hits, and have to get back there without the gear you’d expected to have? What if you’re hunting or foraging in the woods, but get lost or injured and find yourself facing a night in the open?

      There are many scenarios that could see you having to improvise a shelter, so knowing how to do it is a key survival skill. In fact, if you don’t know this one the rest aren’t going to help you much.

      What Kind of Emergency Shelters Should You Make?

      There are a few basic shelter designs; the right one for you will depend on the environment you’re in, the weather and the materials you have to work with. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s best to know how to make them all. Here are the main emergency shelter types:

      Lean To

      The lean to is the simplest kind of shelter, and also one of the most versatile. It can be made from almost any materials and is easy to build in most locations. Basically, a lean to is a shelter made from a single roof panel, raised at one end and meeting the ground at the other.

      When putting up a lean to, aim to have the open end downwind. That way the wind will be hitting the edge that’s in contact with the ground, and deflecting up and over the shelter. You’ll be protected from wind chill, and there will also be a bubble of relatively still air just outside the shelter. Put a fire there and it will be protected too – and its heat will be able to get in the open end of the shelter, while smoke stays outside. Build a reflector of wet logs behind the fire to get the maximum benefit from its heat.

      If there’s a fence, wall or fallen tree handy it can be used to hold up the raised end of your lean-to (although this might stop you putting a fire downwind). Alternatively, you can support that end with two upright posts and, if you’re building the shelter from natural materials, a crossbar.

      A Frame/Tent Shape

      Shelters can be built in the shape of a classic tent. This is a bit more complicated than a lean to, but it gives better protection from the elements because it’s in contact with the ground on two sides. That does a better job of keeping warm air in and the wind and rain out. For maximum protection close off one end of the shelter, leaving one open as a door. Set up tent-style shelters with the door downwind; again, you can put a reflector fire here for extra warmth.

      In the woods, a tent-style shelter can be supported by a line or pole between two trees. In more open ground either a single pole or an A-frame of two poles lashed together will work fine. If you’re roofing it with natural materials add a ridge pole between the uprights; look for the straightest branch or sapling you can find.

      Flat Shelter

      Anyone who’s been in the Army has probably spent some time under a shelter half with its corners bungeed to four trees. This is a simple but useful shelter, especially if you’re worried about rain or frost, but not wind. One of the most useful things about it is that you can set it up at any height – 18 inches off the ground if you want to sleep under it, or eight feet up to give you and your buddies a place to stand out of the rain. If you’re using a tarp or groundsheet, a flat shelter will give you the maximum protected space underneath it.

      Of course, flat shelters do have disadvantages. They’re open all round, so there’s no protection from the wind. Water also tends to collect on top, and eventually its weight can bring the whole thing down. Add a slight slope if you can, and if you’re using a tarp get it stretched out as tight and flat as possible.

      Related: 3 Quick Shelters (The Last One is Invisible!)

      What Materials Can You Use to Make Your Emergency Shelter?

      Unless you’re actually in the desert you can build a shelter pretty much anywhere; you just need to know how to use the materials at hand. Luckily there’s a variety of things you can make a shelter from.

      Waterproof Sheets

      If you’re carrying a tarp, groundsheet, shelter half or even a rain cape, you’re going to have no trouble building a shelter. These make the most waterproof roofs you can get, and they’re also very light; that means the structure of the shelter can be simpler. For example, you can make a tent-style shelter with no ridgepole; the tarp needs, at most, a length of 550 cord to support it.

      Best of all, building a shelter with a waterproof sheet is fast and easy. If the weather’s gone bad in a hurry and you’re caught in it, every minute counts; minimize lost body heat and soaked gear by being able to build a shelter in five minutes rather than a couple of hours.

      Scavenged Plastic

      We’re a throwaway society these days, and usually that sucks. Sometimes you can be grateful for it, though. Even in rural areas there’s usually plenty plastic sheet lying around in the form of garbage. Old feed and fertilizer sacks, trash bags, even plastic bags from the grocery store – collect enough of them and they can be fixed to a lightweight frame to make a pretty watertight roof. Make the frame by lashing or weaving thin, straight branches together in a grid; plastic can then be tied to the bars of the grid. Start adding plastic from the bottom and overlap the layers, so water can’t penetrate between pieces.


      If you’ve stood under a tree in the rain you’ll know that leaves are pretty good at keeping the water off. They’ll do a good job on your shelter, too. Just don’t try tying individual leaves to the frame; you’ll be there forever.

      Instead, collect leafy branches. Again, start at the bottom and overlap layers. You’ll probably have to double up, as well; otherwise there will be gaps between leaves that rain and wind can get through.


      Long grass is even more effective that leaves, if you get enough on your shelter and fasten it the right way. In fact, thatched roofs – layered bundles of grass or reeds – were used on houses for centuries, and there are still plenty of them keeping homes warm and dry in England and other countries. Cut long grass and make it into bunches, tie them at the cut end, then fasten them to your shelter frame with the cut ends up. Again, start at the bottom and overlap; the rain will run down the stalks rather than finding its way through, and it’ll all end up on the ground instead of on you.


      Being caught without shelter in a blizzard is one of the worst things that can happen to you – but, if you know what you’re doing, the blizzard itself will give you the materials you need to survive it. Don’t waste time trying to build an igloo, though. That’s a highly skilled job, and unless you’re an eskimo you probably don’t have the skills.

      Instead, just look for a deep snowdrift and burrow into one end of it. Excavate a tunnel, then a small cave long and wide enough to lie down in – just remember that the bigger you make it, the more of your body heat will go to heating it up.

      Smooth down the inside to reduce drips as snow melts, and push a stick through the roof; give that a wiggle occasionally, to keep an airhole open. You should also check the access tunnel to make sure drifting snow isn’t sealing it off. It’s easy to asphyxiate in a snow cave if you don’t keep some ventilation going. You can pack the excavated snow into rough blocks, then stack them into a wall to keep snow out of the tunnel.

      If you’re in the open and there aren’t any drifts handy, resurrect your childhood snowman-making skills. Make a big snowball, then roll it along the ground until it’s as big as you can push. Make three or four more and push them all together. Pack snow into any gaps, then tunnel into the middle of the pile.

      Pick the Right Neighborhood

      Lastly, don’t forget to find a good site for your shelter. Spending an extra two minutes looking for the right location can make all the difference. Here are some things to look for:

      • Even the best improvised shelter can take a beating in a high wind. Walls, rocks or folds in the ground can all take the worst out of the wind before it gets to you.
      • Save your roof some work, and pitch your shelter under a tree canopy. Some rain will get through the leaves, but a lot less than you’d get out in the open – and it won’t be traveling as fast, either, so the water pressure will be lower. Trees tend to shed water outwards, so if you’re inside the perimeter of its canopy you’ll be protected. Just avoid old or dead trees in a high wind.
      • Dips and hollows. These often look like great places to shelter. They’re not. Cold air sinks, so on a cold night being in a 15-foot-deep hollow can translate into an air temperature 5°F lower. Dips and hollows are bad in the rain, too – the bottom is likely to get soaked. If it’s a gulley you could even get caught in a flash flood. Don’t look for the high ground, but avoid the lowest spots too.

      3 Quick Shelters (The Last One is Invisible!)

      3 Quick Shelters (The Last One is Invisible!) - American Survivalist - Survival Gear

      The most powerful thing about being in the wilderness is the idea that there is zero concern about your wellbeing. Whether you live or die or get eaten alive by a black bear the leaves still dance in the wind and the squirrels still jump from limb to limb.

      In today’s world we have become so accustomed to a world that is truly concerned about the condition of others. It’s a beautiful thing but can often times leave us unprepared for the reality of our adventure.

      More people are hitting the woods now than ever before. There is a movement towards adventure and exploration.

      My theory is that people are so inundated with the electronic world that nature is providing a decompression. Our minds are tangled in diodes and Ethernet cables but forests give us the chance to disconnect.

      People get lost in the woods. People need shelter to survive in the unforgiving environment that is nature.

      This article will offer up three very easy shelters to put together. These shelters are all made using tarps and emergency blankets. They will offer you solutions a survival situation where you will need shelter.

      Emergency Blanket Shelter

      All of these shelters will require paracord and some form of anchor i.e. rocks, bricks, stakes or something along those lines.

      You will want to start this shelter with two good and sturdy trees. Check the area for any dead trees that could fall onto your shelter. That would mean certain death and we are talking about survival here, right? Tie a strong knot and assure that your line is taut between the two trees as this will hold up your emergency blanket.

      You will want your line to be about 2 feet off the ground which will allow you enough room to anchor the blanket to the floor of your location.

      Once you have the line tied and taut unpack your emergency blanket. The desire will be to width wise over the cord as that will appear to provide you a larger shelter area. These emergency blankets are not big enough for this. You will want to fold it over the cord lengthwise and anchor it with some sort of weight or stakes. I prefer weight for these thin blankets because they tear easily and that creates issues with stakes.

      If you have two emergency blankets you will have a very comfortable shelter. Using just one is very minimalist but this will keep you dry and conserve heat which is the point of all shelters. That said this shelter will not hold up to high winds. The material is simply not durable enough. It is also a great shelter for storing clothes, food or other things you want to stay dry as well.

      Poncho Shelter

      The poncho shelter is part of standard operating procedure in the military. This is a step up from the previously discuss shelter. For many of us when we travel we do so with a poncho or two in the car or in the bag. This shelter will also require some paracord and anchors as well. The material is much stronger and will stand up better to the elements.

      Begin by using the same setup as mentioned above. We want two sturdy trees and a safe area to overnight. When you setup your paracord this time, however, make sure instead of a taut line that runs parallel with the ground you want the line to be tied and slope down slightly. I have also seen these shelters built with sticks using an A frame design. Since we are talking quick and shelters I would rather use the paracord method.

      Once you drape the poncho over your line your will need to anchor the four corners of your shelter. For the wider front opening of this shelter you will want stakes or sticks sharpened down to be such. The front of this shelter will want to slide down as it will be sloped. Your stakes will keep that from happening. The back of the tent could also be staked or anchor weighted.

      This shelter is time tested. It’s in the manuals of our military and has proven itself to be the most powerful quick shelter you can make from a poncho. You can store your belongings and yourself inside one of these and be comfortable. Of course my advice is the same as above. Carry two ponchos and you will have even more to work with.

      The “JW” Tree Trunk Shelter

      This is my answer to a quick shelter using a tarp. I wanted to offer something very easy here that could be used as shelter and as concealment. It will require a large tarp without holes. The best tarp would be colored brown or camo. I used this blue tarp because it was a good size and at arm length. It also helps you to differentiate from where the tree end and tarp begins very easily.

      You need to find a tree with a low hanging branch like the one you see here.

      Wrap the tarp around the tree and tight a tight knot in both ends that meet at the branch. This branch will keep the tarp up and basically hold the shelter up. If you find the right tree this will be an easy step.

      The tree will essentially work as a tent pole in the center of your shelter. Depending on the size of your tarp this could be a very comfortable shelter. You will want to inspect the base of your tree for things like ant nests. It would be terrible to setup your shelter only to find out through the night that you are covered in carpenter ants.

      Wrap your tarp around to meet the other side. The holes in the tarp can be sewn together by using a piece of paracord. I will sew them around the top and leave the bottom open. Then shape the bottom of your tarp to resemble the root system of a tree. Make sure the shelter tapers out the way a tree’s base would in nature. Once you have achieved the perfect shape anchor the bottom of your shelter in several places.

      Now imagine this image with a brown or camo tarp. In the dark of night you could walk right by this thing and not even realize it was a shelter.

      My intent was to create a shelter that would blend in with nature. This shelter does just that and with the proper use of color would be nearly indistinguishable at a distance even in daylight.

      MOD: You will want to wrap a few lengths of paracord around the top of the shelter just below where the knot is tied. This will keep the rain out. Otherwise it will let moisture in.

      Fire, Water and Shelter are the basics of survival and I hope you give some of these quick shelters a go on your next trip out into the wilderness. Like I said they may not be a Coleman but if you find yourself in a pinch these shelters will greatly increase the likelihood of your survival and hopefully provide you with a decent night’s sleep.

      4 Long-Lasting MREs You Should Make For Your Stockpile

      4 Long-Lasting MREs You Should Make For Your Stockpile - American Survivalist - Survival Gear

      Meals Ready to Eat have a bad reputation – three lies for the price of one, soldiers say – but they have a lot going for them as an emergency food supply.

      Long-lasting and packed with energy, you can store them for years and know that, when it comes down to it, they’ll keep you going for a couple of weeks until you can find some real food again.

      A case or two of MREs is a valuable addition to any prepper’s stockpile.

      What if you can’t get hold of actual MREs, though? They can be expensive, especially if you get them from a reliable source.

      Related: How to Make Delicious MREs at Home

      MREs for sale on eBay have often been rescued from a dumpster on some Army base, they can be close to – or past – their disposal date, and you have no idea how they’ve been stored.

      They could have been to Afghanistan and back in the freezing cold of a cargo plane, and left on a pallet beside a runway in the scorching sun in between.

      That won’t ruin an MRE the way it will normal food, but it certainly isn’t going to help. Then, of course, you might have a food intolerance that’s triggered by ingredients in military MREs, or you might simply hate the taste of them.

      Don’t panic, though – it is possible to make your own MREs at home. You can’t achieve the same shelf life and indestructibility of the military ones, but – especially if you have a dehydrator and a vacuum sealer – you can come pretty close. Here’s how I did it.

      Planning Your Meals

      US Army MREs come as one-meal packs, but I decided to do mine as 24-hour packs.

      If necessary each one can be broken down into three individual meals.

      My goal was for each MRE to have a breakfast that was easy to prepare but contained plenty of carbohydrates for energy, a lunch that would keep energy levels up but could be eaten on the go, and a cooked dinner.

      On top of that I decided to include extra snacks, hot drinks, toilet paper, paper towels and matches. Each pack should be enough to keep you going for 24 hours, so if you’re planning a three-day trip just grab three of them from the shelf.

      For breakfast meals I decided on cereal and a protein bar, which don’t need any preparation, and instant oatmeal, which just needs some boiling water and a quick stir. Lunch is crackers, snack or protein bar, candy and peanuts or similar.

      For dinner I went with dehydrated sources of carbohydrate, livened up with some seasonings and dehydrated vegetables, plus long-life sausage to add more protein and fat. Here are the three menus I came up with:

      Menu 1


      • Cereal: I went for a presweetened brand (Cheerios) because if there’s no milk available they still taste OK dry.

      • Instant oatmeal: This is quick and easy to prepare; just tip it into a canteen cup and add some boiling water.

      • Protein bar: More energy, as well as protein, and something you can eat while you wait for the oatmeal.


      • Graham crackers: These are tasty, contain a decent amount of energy and add fat and fiber to your diet. I made up two packs of five crackers.

      • Salted peanuts: If you’re working hard you need to keep your electrolytes up, and a cup of peanuts is a good way to get salt into your body.

      • Protein bar

      • Candy bar: A Snickers is a good source of energy, and also a small luxury you can keep in your pocket for when you need a morale boost.

      • Haribo candy: “Morale-ibo” is a tasty source of sugar and energy.


      • Instant soup: This is quick and easy to prepare, and makes a great way to get some warmth inside you in a hurry if the weather’s bad.

      Just tip into a cup and add hot water.

      • Pasta: I took two packs of instant cup pasta and mixed them with a quarter cup of dried chopped onion and two tablespoons of grated Italian hard cheese.

      To prepare, you just have to tip it into ¾ of a canteen cup of boiling water, or if you’re short of cookware just open the pouch, prop it against a rock and slowly pour in boiling water until it’s filled to an inch below the top. Leave it to stand for five minutes, stir well and eat.

      • Sausage: I sliced two ounces of chorizo and vacuum sealed it in a separate pouch. This can be eaten on its own or added to the pasta.


       Sugar: for the tea and oatmeal
       Toilet paper
       Paper towels

      Menu 2


       Protein flapjack: Even Cheerios get boring if you have them every day. This pack has a large protein flapjack instead.
      • Instant oatmeal


       Graham crackers: One pack of five, this time.
       Instant couscous with chicken and mushroom: Just add boiling water and let stand for five minutes.
      • Protein bar
      • Candy bar
      • Haribo candy


      • Instant soup
       Mashed potato: One pack of instant mashed potato mix, with ¼ cup dried vegetables and 1Tsp Cajun spice mix.
       Snack sausages (two): These can be eaten as snacks or chopped and mixed into the mashed potato.

      Menu 3


      • Cereal
      • Instant oatmeal
      • Chocolate bar


      • Graham crackers: one pack of five
      • Bacon jerky: 3 slices
      • Chocolate bars (two)
      • Peanuts
      • Haribo candy


       Curried noodles: Two packs of ramen noodles, broken up and mixed with ¼ cup dried vegetables and 1 Tbsp English-style curry powder.
      • Snack sausages (two)
      • Candy bar

      As far as possible, I vacuum-sealed all the components of each meal into their own pouch, then put all the pouches into one large outer package which I sealed without a vacuum. That makes it easy to break each pack into individual meals, for convenience.

      This method does use a lot of vacuum pouches, but waterproof bags are always handy to have outdoors, and it also gives the meals some extra protection. Each 24-hour pack weighs around two pounds.

      Obviously, all these meals rely on you having a dehydrator and vacuum sealer. These are gadgets I use a lot, and I think they’re extremely useful for any prepper, but what if you don’t have access to them but still need to make MREs?

      Well, there are alternatives. They’re heavier and have less options, but they’ll still keep you going. Here’s my final menu:

      Menu 4


      • Protein flapjack
      • Instant oatmeal x2


      • Ramen noodles: A pack of ramen can be turned into a hot meal in less than five minutes.
      • Candy bar: Another Snickers won’t hurt.
      • Oatmeal crackers: These have plenty fiber and energy. They also come in snack packs of six crackers, which is handy if you can’t seal your own packs.
      • Hard candies


      • Instant soup
      • Canned chili: A canned meal is heavy, but it can also be relied on to last for years and if necessary you can eat it cold, straight out the can.
       Mashed potato: Instant mashed potato with cheese, so add some extra carbs.

      This pack came in at a little under 2.5 pounds, which is slightly heavier than the others but still acceptable for a 24-hour ration. It was also the easiest to prepare, because everything in it came pre-portioned.

      I packed each meal into one or more small Ziploc bags, then put all those in a heavy plastic bag that I then tightly wrapped in duct tape.

      A few feet of extra duct tape can make all the difference in a survival situation, and it also gives the ration some protection. Every little edge helps!