I had a computer meltdown on September 29th and it took me until yesterday to get it functioning again. Which explains why this newsletter is a week late. It didn't occur to me until I had it fixed that I should have backed up the Bugging In article for this newsletter onto a thumb drive. Then I could have just gone to the library and uploaded it. Duh.
Once again I would greatly appreciate some feedback from you on the Prepper articles from my upcoming book, "Bugging-In" I include with each issue. Are they helpful? Stupid? Do you even bother to read them?
New subscribers who have missed previous editions of my Newsletter can find the past volumes on my website www.RaymondDeanWhite.com by clicking the Newsletter link.
I am still finding CreateSpace table of contents templates rather user unfriendly if you have a book with 50 chapters, but I am determined to persevere.
I. Will. Get. This. Done.
And now for more of that Prepper content I've been delivering to you. This is an excerpt from a non-fiction book I'm working on titled:
Home Sweet Home
I wasn’t even going to include a chapter on shelter because, after all, we’re bugging-in. So our homes are our shelter.
If you were bugging out we could discuss remote cabins and farms, caves, abandoned mines or maybe even a Costco Warehouse but we’re not.
In previous chapters I’ve discussed fortifying your home and neighborhood so in this chapter we’re going to discuss the most basic form of shelter there is: clothing.
If you’ve watched any episode of “Naked and Afraid” the first things the couples try to do after finding a water source is erect a shelter. They have no clothes so shelter from the elements leaps to the top of survival needs. If they had clothing the show would be much more boring and the couples would suffer substantially less.
Lucky you, you have clothing AND a house. So, comparatively speaking, you’re quite well off.
But seriously, what is your most important item of clothing? I think most people would respond that it would depend on the time of year and the weather. They would go for some item that covered their private parts. I disagree. I’m going to state flat out that footwear is your most important item.
If I had to bolt from my home and only had time to grab one item of clothing it would be shoes or better yet boots. So long as your feet are taken care of you can go for help and you can move around and assist others. Keep in mind I live in Arizona in a place where most all the native plants have thorns that could flay a water buffalo’s hide and the soil is mostly broken rock. Anyone trying to walk on that surface without adequate foot coverings will not get far.
But even if I lived somewhere with five feet of snow on the ground I’d take boots or shoes before anything else. So long as your feet are protected your naked body can withstand cold temperatures for much longer than you’d think possible. Certainly long enough to reach another shelter, be it your car or a neighbor’s place, or an unheated storage shed.
And if you keep an Every Day Carry (EDC) bag by the door you’ll soon have at least a poncho or rain gear to put on and a means to start a fire to keep warm.
So let’s talk footwear.
Normally I slip into a pair of tennis shoes to go outside for casual errands like harvesting from the gardens or taking out the trash. That’s because I’m too lazy to lace up my boots for such minor chores. But if I’m going for a walk or planning on doing any serious work I put on my walking shoes or work boots. Remember the old saw, “If you take care of your feet they’ll take care of you.
I know I covered much of this in the transportation chapter but bear with me. I know what you view as appropriate footwear is up to you, but in a SHTF world you should have several pairs as well as different types. And to do it right you should have pairs in your current size and in at least one size larger than you normally wear. Why would I buy shoes that are too big? Because, if you are on your feet all day walking or working your feet will swell. And if it’s cold outside you should be wearing two pairs of socks.
Back in my winter mountaineering days I wore a thin liner sock under a heavy wool sock inside my hiking boots, ski boots or whatever else I was putting on my feet. The liner sock was often made of nylon, or polyester though I had a couple of pairs made of silk. Such materials are almost frictionless so they help prevent blister formation. The heavy wool is will keep your feet warm even if they get wet. Wool also helps to keep your feet dry by wicking sweat away. There is no substitute for good quality wool socks if you are hiking or travelling cross-country on foot.
I just Googled liner socks and was somewhat surprised to find that almost forty years after my backpacking/mountaineering days they are still made of nylon, polyester or silk. Though today’s are “engineered” to wick moisture away from your feet and some are made from recycled materials.
Here’s a link: http://www.rei.com/product/860633/rei-ecomade-coolmax-liner-socks?cm_mmc=cse_PLA-_-pla-_-8606330007&mr:trackingCode=32C6C421-B911-E311-A755-BC305BF82162&mr:referralID=NA&mr:device=c&mr:adType=plaonline&mr:ad=86749100560&mr:keyword=&mr:match=&mr:filter=79924463440&msid=CkDqiBiQ_dc%7Cpcrid%7C86749100560%7C&lsft=cm_mmc:cse_PLA&gclid=CjwKEAjw0NytBRD-1d3QsdHNpR0SJACGXqgRCAtejd9KCTpPVZbN3J3H6w53l7Ir0Cdv-vJ03wvVRRoC-nPw_wcB
A word about color. I always wore white socks (so geeky me) because I didn’t want dyes soaking into my feet if I had a blister and it broke. I was told that if that happened colored dyes added to the chance of infection. I never verified that statement just went with it because I never really cared a whit about what color my socks were.
The kind of boots you need really does depend on where you live. Here in the desert I prefer boots with solid arch and ankle support and breathable uppers to let heat and sweat escape. I use them for hiking in rough terrain as well as for working (“digging” in our rocky soils or when I’m in carpenter mode building something).
In the Colorado mountains I wore stiff, Vibram-soled boots with great ankle support and heavy leather uppers. Never once did I suffer a sprained ankle or any other foot injury more dangerous than a blister--and I soon learned how to not get blisters. I also learned to carry spare laces so you might want to note that they’d be a good item to stock.
If you live a swampy, or at least wetter area you might want hip waders or pac boots with rubber lowers and leather uppers. The point is, you know best what you’ll need in your neighborhood. My only advice is to buy good quality items that fit correctly because if TSHTF you will be working and working hard in whatever footwear you choose.
Now for a quick word about specialty foot coverings. Today you can get a specialty shoe or boot for almost any endeavor. One that you might want to look into is a boot you can ford streams in without having to worry about damaging the boot--or walking forever with wet feet. Lots of folks use Crocs as camp shoes and for fording wet areas. In my day we didn’t have crocs so I either slogged through then dried my feet and put on dry wool socks or, if I knew I’d have to ford multiple times, I’d take off my socks and just wear my camp shoes. When done fording for the final time I’d dry my feet with my bandanna and get back into my wool socks and hiking boots.
I’m not going to get into all the infinite varieties of tennis shoes and other footwear out there except to mention two: slippers and moccasins. I’m including these here because after a hard days work or hike taking your boots off is somewhat akin to heaven. Even when I went backpacking I took a lightweight pair of elk-hide moccasins to slip into after I made camp for the night. A good pair of slippers will feel like nirvana to your poor tired feet. As mentioned above many backpackers use Crocs for this purpose now.
This is not going to be a discussion of boxers vs tighty whities. Lots of folks, admittedly mostly guys, don’t bother with underwear and I can sympathize. Going commando is pretty comfortable but if you live in a place where winter cold can snap trees, long (or insulated) underwear can be your best friend if you work outside.
Material: When it comes to men, cotton is the fabric of choice of most manufacturers, but for my money (and it is pricey) silk is best from a purely practical standpoint. It doesn’t chafe and feels warm in winter and cool in summer. Hard to beat that. Silk is especially good for longies, which are available at both LL Bean and REI.
I think most women would agree that silk is the primo material for underwear. You might be surprised at the brownie points you can garner from your wife or girlfriend if you get her silk undies and I’m not talking Victoria’s Secret stuff here (unless she likes that). And if you don’t know her size get her a gift certificate to Nordstrom’s or her favorite place to shop for such things.
Because of the amount of physical activity most of us will be required to do if TSHTF she might want to consider getting some “sports” bras. My wife says they give great support and keep “the girls” from jostling around.
Pants and Shorts
For most of my life I was a jeans man but since we’ve moved to Arizona I wear shorts almost year round. Oh, I’ll still put the long pants on when I’m working outside, especially if I have to get down on my knees to do anything, but in this heat shorts are more comfortable. If I lived someplace greener and buggier I’d go with tough, durable, jeans for sure. Once again, you know your environment better than I do so choose for durability as well as comfort.
And for you women, well, while pioneer women wore long dresses I’d still advise pants, but that is up to you.
I predict long sleeved shirts will make a big comeback if TSHTF so I’d advise stocking up on them. If nothing else they’ll be a great trade item. The reason for my thinking is this. We’ll all be spending much more time outdoors, which means we’ll want more protection from the elements and from bugs. Long sleeves, much like long pants, accomplishes this. And oddly enough they are warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
I like 100% cotton shirts but I have several wool flannel shirts too. Actually, come to think of it I have a few cotton flannel shirts as well. None of these get much use here in Arizona but I just can’t bring myself to give them up.
If you’ve ever seen Arabs or other desert dwellers they wear loose flowing robes with long sleeves and usually they are wearing white--a nice reflective color. Again, if you’ve ever noticed Mexican laborers working in fields or at landscaping they are all well covered. Those folks know how to dress for heat and we’d be well advised to follow their example. I’ll definitely be wearing long pants and long sleeves. Camo would be nice. ☺
For cold weather climates few things can beat a good set of insulated coveralls. You ever see people on snowmobiles odds are that’s what they have on--though they call them snowmobile suits. I wore them, at least in the early mornings, while building houses in the mountains of Colorado in the wintertime. Actually working in them they’d soon get too warm and so they’d come off and I’d end up working in a medium or lightweight jacket. The important thing was to dress in layers and to shed a layer as soon as you started to sweat. You do not want to get wet while working in the cold because when you stop you’ll get chilled and that can lead to fevers and illness--definitely something to be avoided.
Hoodies are a popular and I think well-chosen outer garment for urban winter wear. I like the ones with the kangaroo pouch pocket in front as it’s a good place to conceal a gun or knife. Hey, hundreds of muggers can’t be wrong.
I’ve always been a fan of ponchos and carry one in by Get Home Bag in my car. They are a wonderful invention that in addition to keeping the rain off of you can be used to fashion a waterproof shelter or to shade you from a fierce summer sun. They make a great windbreak and a terrific ground cloth to keep moisture from wicking up from the ground into your sleeping bag if you’re forced to sleep outside. A poncho is probably the most flexible garment you can own.
If you live in one of those swampy areas, or if you just like to get in the water to fish, hip-waders will be in your closet.
Heavy canvas or duck pants or even leather chaps will come in handy if you have to work through thick brush but as there isn’t much of that in suburbia that’s all I’ll say about them.
A trench coat or duster can look cool but I’ve always thought they’d be cumbersome. I’ve never owned one so will reserve all comments save one. A friend told me his can completely conceal a shoulder-slung Mossberg 500 shotgun. Oookay.
Raincoats and foul weather gear are staples in some folk’s lives. If you’re a commercial fisherman for example you know more about good quality foul weather gear than I do. And while raincoats are far more fashionable than a poncho I’ve already made my preference clear. To each their own and all that.
In my opinion a hat should have a brim wide enough to shade your face, ears and the back of your neck. A chinstrap is a very good idea in windy areas like the desert, the mountains, the plains or if you’re talking to a politician. But even a headscarf or a bandanna is better than nothing.
I’ve already mentioned my favorite desert hat but it’s worth repeating. My hat is from the Herschel Hat Company. It is a model called the Aussie Breezer and is designed for desert living. It has a broad enough brim to shade my face and neck, a mesh sideband for ventilation and a solid crown for shade. Mine is a color called “Earth” and like most Herschel Hats is American made. It’s crushable, yet retains its form and I’ve beat mine to death for seven years now with no worries.
I’ve seen guys who work outside all summer in our intense heat wearing flap hats. Some of these resemble a ball cap with a wrap around flap of material that shades their neck and ears. Others look more like mine but again with that flap of material. Here’s a link.
We need to keep our heads from over heating or over cooling. In fact, because there is so much blood circulating through our brains, we lose more heat through our heads than any other area of our body. So if it’s cold out put on a hat, or at least a knit cap. The ball cap/hoodie combination is popular and effective. And if it’s hot out a hat will help prevent sunburn and overheating, especially if your hair doesn’t cover quite as much of your scalp as it used to.
Now I suppose the ideal headwear for post-SHTF times would be a Kevlar helmet. It certainly would be a good idea to have one if you anticipate getting shot at. Here’s a link if you’re interested.
Likewise you should always carry at least one bandanna. Here’s another totally flexible and useful item. It can be used as a dust mask by pulling it up over your nose, a washcloth, or simply wet and tied around your neck to cool you down. You can tie them around your forehead as a sweatband. Another very cool personal cooler is the Eudora Cool Bandanna or Personal Towel. You activate it by soaking it in water, wringing out the excess and giving it a sharp jerk. Then simply wear it around your neck or over your head and you will feel twenty degrees cooler for hours. My wife and I got ours at Lowe’s.
I’ve probably worn out hundreds of pairs of leather gloves in my lifetime, but I just keep coming back to them. Can’t think of anything better for keeping stickers, splinters and other unwelcome guests out of my hands. They are also great for avoiding black widow spider bites when rooting through the woodpile. My absolute favorites were made of elk hide but I know folks who swear by deer, goat or pigskin. The thing I liked about the elk hide gloves was their durability and dexterity. I could pick up small and thin objects with these gloves on. They ran about $20 per pair but then again regular old cowhide gloves cost close to that now.
When I did winter mountaineering I had a pair of fleece-lined mittens--mittens being warmer than gloves. Snowmobilers and downhill skiers use much heavier insulated gloves and who can blame them.
For ski touring I used leather gloves with silk glove liners.
Race car drivers, Supercross riders, pit crews and construction workers dealing with high heat environments often wear vented Mechanix gloves. I may have to give these a try as regular leather gloves get pretty warm outside in an Arizona summer. Here’s a link.
Snipers, Special Forces operators and many of our boys overseas in the sandbox wear M Pact or M Pact 2 gloves from Mechanix. The design offers knuckle protection while freeing up the index finger for easier, smoother trigger guard access and mobility. I’ve decided I have to try a pair of these. Here’s a link.
Mechanix makes lots of other gloves too and they look to be very good quality. They have one pair with a full leather palm and breathable upper with knuckle impact resistant plastic that I would have loved to have back when I was a grease monkey in my dad’s service station. Imagine, no more barked knuckles when the wrench slips.
While I’m on the subject of gloves I think it wise to stock up on rubberized gloves and latex gloves. You’ll use the former for heavy duty cleaning (or for picking prickly pear fruits) and the latter for attending to people with bloody wounds (prevents the transmission of blood borne pathogens). Also useful as a trade item if you have a surplus.
But for gardening and my occasional carpentry projects I’ll stick to old-fashioned leather for now. If any of you know of something better please let me know.
In a harsh desert or even a sunny but snowy environment you need either polarized, or very dark sunglasses. Eyes get sunburned and in the worst cases you can go snow-blind without them so get them and use them if you don’t already. In a dimmer environment, indoors, dark forest or jungle you need light enhancing sunglasses.
But eye protection is just one reason to wear sunglasses. Have you heard the expression, “The eyes are the window to the soul?” Well, if you are wearing sunglasses your eyes are hard for someone else to read. That’s why so many policemen wear them, plus there is a bit of an intimidation factor, not that you or I would ever want to intimidate anyone--wink, wink.
Sunglasses are also great for keeping wind, dust and other foreign objects out of your eyes.
I’ve had a bad personal tendency my whole life to buy cheapo sunglasses. I’m hard on them. I lose them. I break them and I get them scratched up. That’s why I usually have three or four pairs laying around. I do NOT recommend cheap sunglasses for survival situations though stocking some as trade items might work.
I’m finally biting the bullet and buying a pair of Wiley X Revolvr sunglasses. Their smoke grey lenses are dark enough to protect your eyes in bright light but not so dark you can’t use them in dim light. They wrap around but allow full peripheral vision. They exceed the ANSI Z87.1 rating for high velocity ballistic glasses meaning you can use them as eye protection when shooting at the range. Yes, they’ll run me around $75.00 but they are excellent quality and replacement lenses are around $20. All Wiley X glasses come with a neck strap and a zippered case both of which I WiILL be using.
I only reason I haven’t already ordered the above sunglasses is because I’m still deciding between them and a pair of Wiley X Knife Black Ops Ballistic Sunglasses. These are a bit darker and the lenses are polarized which I like. As with all Wiley X glasses they are rated for ballistic wear. This means they are good shooting range glasses and they won’t shatter and put out your eye if you’re motorcycling around and hit a bumblebee. Given my personal preference for polarized sunglasses I’ll probably end up going with these.
Cloak of Invisibility
I know you think I’m joking but I’m not. A Ghillie suit can make a sniper virtually invisible and it can do the same for you. Google them and you’ll see you can get them from $40 and up. Or you can make your own--the most effective ones are always homemade from native materials. Here’s a link http://www.instructables.com/id/Proffesional-Ghillie-Suit/
But I’m not really talking about Ghillie suits. I’m talking about a for real cloak of invisibility. Think Harry Potter or the Klingon cloaking device except this is real world. A British company called HyperStealth Biotechnology has developed Quantum Stealth fabric that bend light waves around the wearer making it all but impossible to see them. It also hides the wearer from thermal and infrared scans. This is truly science fiction becoming science fact and I want one.
Here’s a link. It’s number 5 on the list. http://www.buzzfeed.com/donnad/27-science-fictions-that-became-science-facts-in-2#.vjVyyGmYyQ
That’s all I have to say about clothing/shelter. If you have things you think I should add please email me about via the contact me page on my website.