Bug Out Bag: All Alone on a Cold Night

It’s a cold night and you’re all alone.

You wake to the sound of a noise alien to your ears.

Why are footsteps rustling leaves in your bedroom?

You remember you’re not in your house after all. Below you is not the comfy bed calling you back to a slumber. Instead the ground is hard, the air cold on your face. The noise comes again and you realise you’re in a forest somewhere, the ache in your legs reminding you of the long journey from danger, your travel in a vague direction without a compass. The wind confirms the thin layer of canvass between you and whatever’s making those footfalls, whatever’s cracking those twigs.

You reach to your side, pulling your hand from out of your sleeping bag and into your pack. Your fingers twitch around the contents, search out the reassuring touch of what?

Your heart rate spikes, adrenaline courses as you try to remember what you packed in your bug out bag for just this scenario?


As part of my Bug Out Bag series, today I’m looking at another key item of kit in my bug out bag. Self defence.

Whilst preparing this post I put the question to my friends and I had some great suggestions, but in the end it descended into a list of harrowing weaponry, leaving me surprised when no one mentioned packing a tank!

panzer-2466145_1280.png

The Criteria

As with everything in the bag, it needs to be light and portable and worth the space it takes up, so anything that’s multi-purpose has a significant advantage. Of course it needs to work well as a weapon. We’re talking self defence here and we need to know its ability to pierce skull!

I’m based in the UK, so I’ll say this right from the start. We can’t get guns legally. Can’t carry them. Can’t have them at home, so I’ve left them out of this review. However, if I lived in the US or somewhere where I could carry a gun in the kit, then of course it would be straight in there. With that covered, I’ll move on.

To start I’ve taken all the suggestions, added a few old favourites and a few of mine, some of the more reasonable suggestions from my friends and listed them below. Later we’ll look at some good examples in a bit more detail and see how they fair.

Domestic Items (Including Tools)

IMG_4044

  • Claw Hammer
  • Crow bar
  • Handheld Mattock
  • Hatchet
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Gas Powered Nail Gun
  • Chainsaw
  • Baseball Bat
  • Wit / Charisma
  • Pool Cue / Pool Balls in a sock
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Hunting knife

Weaponscrossbow-2959534_1280

  • Cross Bow
  • Tomahawk
  • Katana
  • Knuckle dusters
  • Shurikan / throwing star
  • Caltrops, made from nails

As with my previous posts on other items in the bug out bag, I’ve picked out key items, mainly those which are light and feasible to carry around, for discussion in a bit more detail below. Each item is scored from 0 to 5, with 5 being highest score. At the end we add the scores together to give us a total.

Here’s a reminder of the criteria we’ve decided to use:

  • Weight – The lighter the better, I’m sure you’ll agreed.
  • Lethality – For striking through the skulls of the undead.
  • Threat Factor – For putting off fellow survivors who might want to take your stuff.
  • Utility – What else could it be used for? The more uses the better.
  • Maintenance – Does it need to be maintained or take any fuel to keep it working?
  • Accessibility – How easy is it to get hold of for the bag?

Claw Hammer

It’s the current weapon in the bug out back and so is our reference, but can we do better?

  • Weight – 850 grams  – 3/5Amazon_co_uk__claw_hammer
  • Lethality – A blunt weapon one end and a penetrating claw the other side – 4/5
  • Threat Factor – You have to get close to use it, but it looks like it’s going to hurt – 4/5
  • Utility – Bring nails and it expands the possibilities – 3/5
  • Maintenance – Polish it if you want, but there’s nothing you need to do to make sure it can bring the pain – 5/5
  • Accessibility – You should already have one, unless you always get a man in! – 5/5

Score = 24 / 30


Multi-Axe

Whilst researching axes and hatchets to review I came across this bad boy. It’s an axe, it’s a hammer, nail puller and a pry bar! The reviews indicates the axe arrives dull, but it’s very easy to sharpen, which is great on one hand, but shows it wouldn’t be as good as a fully fledged axe.

  • Weight – 1kg grams  – 2/5Amtech_A3380_Multi-Axe__Clear__Amazon_co_uk__DIY___Tools
  • Lethality – Even a blunt axe will do a lot of damage – 4/5
  • Threat Factor – Not as striking as some of the other weapons, but like the hammer it looks like it’s going to hurt – 4/5
  • Utility – It’s a four in one tool, each role being a compromise over the dedicated tool, but for a third of the weight – 5/5
  • Maintenance – It’s going to need regular sharpening, which means you’re going to need something to regularly sharpen it with – 4/5
  • Accessibility – Very inexpensive from the online store – 5/5

Score = 24 / 30


Handheld Mattock

The micro mattock in my shed is cutter mattock, but I’ve also find the pick version pictured which seems more appropriate.

  • Weight – 700 grams – 4/5Roughneck_64011_Micro_Pick_Mattock_with_Fibreglass_Handle__Amazon_co_uk__DIY___Tools
  • Lethality – Easier to swing and with a sharp point on the end, it’s going to hurt – 5/5
  • Threat Factor – It’s sharp and pointy – 4/5
  • Utility – Dig stuff up. Knock stuff down – 4/5
  • Maintenance – Nothing needed other than cleaning off the muck – 5/5
  • Accessibility – If you haven’t already got one (I have) then you soon could have – 4/5

Score = 26 / 30


Gas Powered Nail GunAmazon_co_uk__gas_nail_gun

  • Weight – At nearly 5 kilos (11 lbs), it’s going to have to be worth it! – 1/5
  • Lethality – With a little modification it’ll fire the nails before your assailant gets in reach, but I doubt it would stop anything which didn’t have feelings – 2/5
  • Threat Factor – It’ll be painful and it looks like it’ll be painful – 4/5
  • Utility – Great for building a shelter and quick! – 5/5
  • Maintenance – You’re going to need a supply of nails and gas canisters – 1/5
  • Accessibility – Easy to buy, but it’s gonna cost you – 2/5

Score = 15  / 30


Wit / Charismawoman-3219507_1920

  • Weight – You’ve either got it or you haven’t and it you have it has no weight – 5/5
  • Lethality – You’re not going to charm the undead, but you just might convince fellow survivors you’re not a threat or worth bothering with – 1/5
  • Threat Factor – It’s the opposite. With the gift of the gab, you might get away with it – 2/5
  • Utility – If you’re any good then maybe you can convince them to give you stuff you need – 3/5
  • Maintenance – Keep it fed and watered and it might keep you safe for a while – 4/5
  • Accessiblity – You either have it or you don’t, and most don’t! – 2/5

Score = 17 / 30


Baseball Batbaseball-1646091_1920

  • Weight – It’s heavy and cumbersome, you’ll either have to carry it or strap it to your pack – 2/5
  • Lethality – It’s blunt so unless you’re super strong, you’re just going to have to swing again and again – 3/5
  • Threat Factor – I wouldn’t want it swinging in my direction – 4/5
  • Utility – You could always get a ball? – 2/5
  • Maintenance – None required – 5/5
  • Accessibility – Any sports shop will do, and there’s always the internet – 5/5

Score = 21 / 30


Hunting Knife71ytckcAdzL._SL1500_

  • Weight – We’ve got it in the kit already, so there’s no added weight – 5/5
  • Lethality – Get close enough and jab it in the right place and it’s going to do the job – 4/5
  • Threat Factor – No one wants holes where they weren’t before – 4/5
  • Utility – It’s already in the pack for so many reasons. Top score – 5/5
  • Maintenance – Keep it sharp and it should serve you well – 4/5
  • Accessibility – Although illegal to carry in the street, they’re easy to get hold of from the internet – 5/5

Score = 27 / 30


CrossbowAnglo_Arms_Cerberus_150lb_Short_Stock_Crossbow

  • Weight – Heavy at 2 kgs or 6 lbs and it won’t fit in your pack – 1/5
  • Lethality – A single shot can take them down and without getting close – 5/5
  • Threat Factor – I’m scared already and it’s only a picture – 5/5
  • Utility – Great for hunting, but not much else – 2/5
  • Maintenance – With moving parts and with a need for a supply bolts, it’s a low score – 1/5
  • Accessibility – Expensive, but easy to buy online – 2/5

Score = 16 / 30


Knuckle DustersFat-Boy-2-Camo-Belt-Buckle-Brass-Knuckle-Dusters

  • Weight – With negligable weight it’s a good score – 5/5
  • Lethality – You’re going to have to get up close and hit hard over and over – 2/5
  • Threat Factor – Difficult to see, you could easily pass this by – 1/5
  • Utility – Um? – 1/5
  • Maintenance – Nothing needed to keep it going – 5/5
  • Accessibility – Illegal in the UK, but can be bought online – 3/5

Score = 17 / 30


And the winner is?

I wanted the crossbow to come out well, but its cost, weight and the maintenance required has dragged the score right down. The outright winner is the hunting knife, which is already in the pack so it scored well on weight alone, but I don’t like the close contact its use would require. I’ll be adding the handheld mattock / pick to the bag. With a big swing it’ll deal with most ‘things’ that’ll come out you out in the wilderness, plus we’ve shaved a bit of weight over the hammer!


Honourable Mentions

Whilst discussing the ideas with my friends there were a few mentions about what we could look out for and scavenge as weapons if it all went to pot. Some of the more memorable are mentioned below:

  • Spray Can & Lighter – Both items are common in most homes and will give you a low power flame thrower! Light this baby up and you’ve got a ranged weapon I certainly would think twice about coming near. Just hope it doesn’t explode in your hand.
  • Wooden Spears – Use the knife to sharpen long straight lengths of wood. Collect a few and work on them in your rest time and you’ve got yourself a ranged weapon. With some practice you might be quite formidable.

Like what you see here, why not take a look at my other posts where I discussed the contents of the bug out bag.

If there’s anything else you want me to add to the comparison, then just mention it in the comments and I’ll take a look.


In the End…Why not read about what happens to IMG_3486a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Here’s Season One to get you started!

My Publishing Journey – An Update – So much to do!

I’m about to embark into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End. Here I document my honest journey so far and the steps I think I’ll need to take. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new or if anyone comments with some useful or important information.

This is the first update after a week of activity on the project. All the updated sections are highlighted in blue.

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book. DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486


Step Three

Under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, they’ll be no development editing of the work. It’s done! Now I need to get the work polished and hunt out those pesky typos, or mistakes as a good friend calls them! It’s the area I’m weakest at so I have to rely on my wife to do it for me and she’s a busy lady so I’m trying to be patient.

I’ve also decided to look through the work again myself and I’m glad I did. Although I’m not breaking my own rule set out above, I am changed more of the words and phrases than I thought I would have too. In the last week I’ve got through about three quarters of the chapters and I’m really enjoying re-reading!


Step Four

Figure out how the hell I’m going to get this published on Amazon. I want to publish as an e-book and also use Amazon’s print-on-demand service. CreateSpace. So I’ve bought the top selling books on the subject from Amazon which the reviews seem to think will guide me through the process! Lots and lots to learn here, so much more information to be added.

It seems that using an Amazon Print on Demand services was the right choice from what I’ve read so far and much easier to format the work this way and then publish for Kindle. Plus it’s free to get your book on the shelves and if you want a copy it only costs the price of the book through the Amazon store. However I’d assumed I’d be using CreateSpace, but during my research I discovered KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). This is also a service from Amazon and from what I’ve read it seems a newer and improved service, with benefits to those authors outside of the UK. This calls for more research!

I’ve started to read through the books and straight away new tasks are popping out:

  • Decide on the title. Is it right?
  • Same too for the strap line.
  • Come up with Keywords and Categories so people can find it when it’s sitting on the virtual shelves. Amazon is basically a search engine after all.
  • Come up with the blurb. Now that is a daunting task!!
  • Acknowledgements
  • I need to decide if I want to pay hundreds for my own ISBN I can use across all editions or just use the free Amazon one.
  • Figure out what i’m going to put in the back end of the book. Options include:
    • A call to action for Season Two
    • Short Biography
    • A link to my WordPress pages / Facebook
  • Back page cover image. Hadn’t thought of that!

Step Five

Continue to build the community and market the book. Lots to learn here. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Preparing a Amazon product / home page for the book
  • Blogging (as above) – World building and about the process
  • Writing Season Three and releasing on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book
  • Print and send out author copies for review

Other decisions to make:

  • Investigate Goodreads as a promo platform

Step Six

Publish I guess. I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three.

Want to read Season One before I take it down? Here it is.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.

 

Bug Out Bag: Bartering for Your Life!

As part of my Bug Out Bag series, today I’m testing another item key item of kit in my bug out bag. Items for bartering.

Thanks to James Norbury www.jamesnorbury.com for his thoughts and collaborations on this post. He’s an amazing artist and the great designer who produced the artwork for my latest book cover.

Why do we need to prepare to trade?

Can you predict the future? No. Nor can I. In an emergency situation I want to be light and agile which means I can’t carry everything for every possibility in the bag. So let’s face the fact we’re not able to know exactly what you’re going to need in a world where currency may no longer have value. The new currency will be whatever other people, often desperate people, need to survive or to make their life more comfortable.

So let’s look at what we could carry in the bag to use for bartering.

IMG_2445

Everything in the kit has value in a survival situation. That’s why it’s there. However here we’re talking about including items in the kit specifically for the purpose of trading. You’d need to think long and hard before trading something in the kit you’d spent lots of time and effect selecting!

My initial thoughts were to carry gold in small denominations, but James disagreed, suggesting spending £1,000 / $1,300 on gold coins was a waste of money when many more items with their own uses in the survival world could more valuable if people were stripped back to their barest needs. So here we are.

What gives value in a survival / emergency situation?

Demand! When considering how valuable items would be in a survival situation we would consider those items which fulfil the needs of people in the world, with the most valuable providing the basic needs for life such as water, fuel, first aid. After those needs have been satisfied it would be anything else which would make life easier or more comfortable, but it’s not all about the value. We have to consider many other factors as we make preparations for a situation we hope never happens.

Weight & Size

You’ve got to carry it on your back and you’re already carrying a lot. The lighter the better and the more of the item you can carry.

Utility

Whole you’re not trading it, can we use for something else?

Fragility

broken-eggs-1711144_640

Can it survive the journey? There’s no point taking eggs! They’ll crack the first time you fall over. If they survive the hike you better eat them before they turn bad.

Abundance in an emergency

How easy will the item be to get hold of in a survival situation? The less abundant, the higher the value.

Abundance Before it all goes wrong

We have to get hold of whatever it is now, so it’s a key consideration, including its value now.


Where do we start?

I’ve made a short list of all the types of items I think will become valuable in a survival situation.

  • Water / Food
  • Treats – Alcohol / Chocolate / Cigarettes
  • Cooking Equipment
  • Sanitary Items – Toilet Paper / Feminine Hygiene / Soap / Nappies
  • Weapons
  • Survival Items – Paracord / Compass
  • Medical Items – Dressings / Pain Killers / First Aid / Medication / Vitamins
  • Fire Supplies – Matches / Fire Steel / Cotton wool / Kindling
  • Hand Tools
  • Toothpaste / Toothbrushes
  • Amusements – Playing cards / Dice
  • Salt – For food preservation
  • Batteries
  • Pencils and Paper
  • Books
  • Seeds

I’ve picked out some key items, mainly those which are light and feasible to carry around, for discussion in a bit more detail below. Each item is scored from 0 to 5, with 5 being highest score. At the end I’ll add the scores together and the items with the highest score will be the winner.


Goldeuro-1353420_1920

  • Demand – Everyone wants gold, right? Maybe not when the world’s gone to the wall – 2/5
  • Weight & Size – 28 grams & very small – 5/5
  • Utility – 0/5
  • Fragility – It’s metal – 5/5
  • Survival Abundance – The banks won’t have their doors locked, but still – 3/5
  • Abundance Now – Easy to buy, but pricey – $1,300 / £1,000 for the 28 gram – 2/5

Score = 17 / 30


Razor Bladespepperoni-273985_640

  • Demand – With many uses, it’s a high score – 4/5
  • Weight & Size – 180 grams for 100 – 5/5
  • Utility – Many uses – 5/5
  • Fragility – Keep them dry & they should be okay – 4/5
  • Survival Abundance – Depends if you’re the first to break into the DIY store – 2/5
  • Abundance Now – They’re everywhere & £10 for a hundred – 5/5

Score = 25 / 30


Water Purification Straw

LifeStraw®_Personal_Water_Filter_for_Hiking__Camping__Travel__Backpacking_Outdoor_Sports_and_Emergency_Preparedness__Removes_Bacteria_and_Protozoa__5-__2-_or_1-pack__Amazon_co_uk__Sport
LifeStraw® Personal Water Filter
  • Demand – High. Purifies 3,000 litres of clean water from any source! – 5/5
  • Weight & Size – 58 grams, but it’s 9 inches long. You won’t be able to carry many – 3/5
  • Utility – Only has one use, but it’s a good one, that’s why add already added one to the pack – 5/5
  • Fragility – It’s plastic, so a midway score – 3/5
  • Survival Abundance – Can only get them from an online or camping store, so would be near impossible when the internet or your luck is down. That’s good for the value – 5/5
  • Abundance Now – The internet is everywhere, only marked down for its £18 price tag – 3/5

Watch out for a future post about how to get clean water in a survival situation.

Score = 24 / 30


Antibiotics

  • Demand – High. They’ll save lives – 5/5
  • Weight & Size – Minimal – 5/5
  • Utility – Only one, but you might need them too. It’s not a perfect score because there are so many different types which fight different groups of bacteria – 4/5
  • Fragility – You’re going to have to look after them. Keep the safe and dry and they’ll have an expiry – 3/5
  • Survival Abundance – There’s a chemist / pharmacy in every town so at first they’ll be reasonably easy to get hold of – 3/5
  • Abundance Now – Prescription only, so difficult – 1/5

Score = 21 / 30


ChocolateyiOJ5AoySHCgNUp2x%SXXA

  • Demand – Medium. Who can resist? Maybe a drink of water first – 3/5
  • Weight & Size – Okay, but not as light as the blades – 4/5
  • Utility – You can eat it so many different ways, but… – 1/5
  • Fragility – Smack it around, crush it, get it a little wet and it’s still chocolate, but get it hot and it’s ruining the rest of your kit – 3/5
  • Survival Abundance – Store on every corner, still going to be easy to find in an urban environment, at first – 2/5
  • Abundance Now – Just add it to your weekly shop – 5/5

Score = 18 / 30


Toilet Paper

  • Demand – Only ultra-soft will do! – 1/5
  • Weight & Size – Lightweight, but even when you take out the tube, it’s bulky – 2/5
  • Utility – Help start fires, write notes you’re not too bothered about keeping… – 2/5
  • Fragility – You can throw it around in your pack, but don’t get it wet – 2/5
  • Survival Abundance – Once the local store is out, that’s it – 2/5
  • Abundance Now – Local store is full to the rafters – 5/5

Score = 14 / 30


Pain Killers / Vitaminspill-1884775_640

  • Demand – With a lack of food or water, these suckers will make things a lot easier and keep those middle age conditions at bay – 4/5
  • Weight & Size – Minimal – 5/5
  • Utility – Only one real use – 1/5
  • Fragility – Retained in their packaging they should keep safe from water and the shelf life is pretty long – 4/5
  • Survival Abundance – Who’s keeping the shop open when the lights go out? – 3/5
  • Abundance Now – Easy pickings, although the cost of vitamins is not to be sniffed at – 4/5

Score = 21 / 30


Batteriesbattery-1688883_640

  • Demand – High. Who can resist? – 4/5
  • Weight & Size – 10 AA batteries = 250grams & the box is bulky too- 2/5
  • Utility – So many things to power. Add in a bit of wire wool and you have yourself a fire – 5/5
  • Fragility – Keep them dry and you should be fine – 4/5
  • Survival Abundance – Rare as rocking horse poop – 2/5
  • Abundance Now – 30p per battery – 5/5

Score = 22 / 30


Salt

Those little salt satchels you get in fast food restaurants

  • Demand – Medium. Water first, then food, then shelter, then tasty food? – 2/5
  • Weight & Size – Minimal – 5/5
  • Utility – Preserve food. Keep the slugs away from where you sleep? – 2/5
  • Fragility – Can take the knocks, but it has to stay dry – 2/5
  • Survival Abundance – Like most things, they’ll be around in the first few days – 2/5
  • Abundance Now – Buy in bulk or get a decent pile for free. Start collecting now! – 5/5

Score = 18 / 30


And the winner is?

Razor blades, with the Water Purification Straw coming a close second. There’s many other great items which score high, so there’s lots to choose from and maybe the lesson here is to bring a range. Different objects will have different values to different people and you never know, to yourself too!


The list isn’t definitive, but the items I’ve looked at help to illustrate the various points.

If there’s anything else you want me to add to the comparison, then just mention it in the comments and I’ll take a look.

Keep an eye out for further posts testing the rest of the kit and see if I’ve made the right choices.


In the End…Why not read about what happens to IMG_3486a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Here’s Season One to get you started!

Bug Out Bag: Cooking for Survival!

As part of my Bug Out Bag series, today I’m testing another item key item of kit in my bug out bag, the camping stove.

During years of hiking and camping I’ve used the Trangia Camping Stove together with methylated spirits for all my cooking needs, so I assumed it would be an essential addition to the bug out bag. However I always knew the key fault would be its reliance on a supply of liquid fuel. The fuel is heavy and would be difficult to source refills in an emergency situation. So inspired by a comment on a previous post, thank you thejohnhoman, I decided to look for a multi-fuel stove as another option.

After some research I opted to test the Wolfyok Outdoor Camp Stove with the MSR Alpine Stowaway Pot as an alternative to the Trangia.

The Wolfyok Outdoor Camp Stove can be used with either solid alcohol fuel tablets or burning firewood, or anything combustable. You simply stack the stainless steel components in different configurations in order to use the different fuels.

The Test

With a concrete slab placed on my decking, I set up the two stoves side by side and put them through their paces.

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But first a chance to learn from my stupidity

Before we dive into the results I want to issue a bit of a warning. Using the alcohol dish I thought it would be a great idea to put both stoves to the test on liquid fuel, so I poured the spirits into the metal dish, lit it with one strike of the flint and steel and only then thought about how I could put out the flame once I’d finished.

The Trangia comes with a cap which you drop on top of the burner when you’re done. It’s very safe and lets you save the unburnt fuel for next time. This is not so for the Wolfyok. Why was this you ask? I soon found out it was because it is not intended for use with liquid fuel. Once I’d compared the speed of boiling water on the same fuel, both comparing well, the Wolfyok only being a minute behind the Trangia, I decided it would be a great idea to drop a small lump of wood on top of the alcohol dish to extinguish the flame, an improvised version of the Trangia’s cap.

Looking back now I know it was a dumb thing to do, but at the time it seemed quite reasonable until the dish toppled, spilling the meths all over the cooker and the concrete slab (I was thankful for my forethought on that one!). I had to just leave the near invisible flame to burnt itself out, which it did in less than thirty seconds. Phew. I won’t be doing that again. Needless to say I won’t be included that test in the results below!

Okay, so now down to the results, split down by what I consider are the key aspects of performance in the context of an emergency bug out bag.


Portability

We all want a light bug out bag, right?

Much like the Trangia, all the components of the Wolfyok can be folded down to fit snuggly inside the MSR Alpine Stowaway 775ml pot, along with a single 80g pack of solidified alcohol tablets. The Trangia with no fuel is heavier by 100 grams / 3.5 ounces and larger when all packed down, taking up valuable space in the bag.

Winner – Wolfyok

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Wolfyok is quite a bit smaller than the Trangia when packed up

Cost

Let’s hope we don’t need it, so spend as little as you can.

  • Wolfyok & MSR 775ml Pot – £34 / $35
  • Trangia 25 – Kettle, 2 pan and 1 Fry Pan – £54 / $110
Prices approximate and correct on Amazon.com ($ price) & amazon.co.uk (£ price) as of June 2018.

Winner – Wolfyok – £19 / $75 Cheaper


Set Up

Speed and hassle for unpacking, setting up and deconstructing where you’re ready to move on.

Let’s call this one a tie. Both are simple to set up and deconstruct in no time at all.

Winner – Tie


 

Lighting

Getting the flame burning with a flint & steel

The Trangia is very simple to light. One or two strikes is all it needs.

Esbit_spirit_tables_4_grams__Amazon_co_uk__Sports___Outdoors

Wolfyok (Using Solid Alcohol Tablets) – With no luck lighting the alcohol with the flint and steel directly, I used lessons learnt from my recent post about fire in the wilderness and with a pinch of cotton wool taken from the kit, it lit with no hassle

 

 

IMG_3996

Wolfyok (Using with Wood / Twigs) – Okay, so here’s when the fun really started. I knew this would not be the simplest operation.

First I gathered dried twigs and set them in the burner around a ball of screwed up newspaper. I added kindling from my kindling block and then a pinch of cotton wool.

Strike one. Strike two. I had a flame, but it was going to take a bit more patience to light. So instead I put a single block of solid alcohol tab (half would probably have done) on top of the pile of wood and paper, then a pinch more of cotton wool and on the first strike it lit. Boom. Off it went. It was very smokey at first, but after a minute or so the flames roared and the smoke cleared.

Winner – 1st – Trangia

2nd – Wolfyok with Solid Alcohol blocks


 

Time to Boil

This test looks at how long it takes for each stove to boil the same quantity of water and secondly, how much fuel was used in the process, an important consideration if you need to carry the fuel with you.

Trangia – 6 mins and when done the fuel can be easily extinguished for later use. Total weight of fuel to boil in the kettle – 10g – Bottle standard fuel bottle has 500 grams – so could boil 50 times on one bottle.

Wolfyok (Solid Alcohol mode) – 8 minutes and having burnt through three tabs (12g), the water was just hot. I estimate it would take double the amount of tabs to boil (24g). For the same weight as the liquid fuel you would be able to boil water 21 times with the solid fuel.

Wolfyok (Wood burning mode) – with only one alcohol tab required (4g) and probably able to get away with 2g, the rest of the fuel would just need to be scavenged. Time to boil was 7 minutes. If you wanted to put the fire out before it burnt out by itself, you would need to use water, which if you weren’t next to a plentiful source then it could cost you dear. For the same weight of fuel you would get 250 uses.

Winner – Speed – Trangia

Winner – Fuel Efficiency – Wolfyok (Wood burning mode)

Using a fifth of weight of imported fuel plus it could still light it but would just be more time consuming.

 

Summary Table

  • Portability – Wolfyok
  • Cost – Wolfyok
  • Setup – Tie
  • Lighting – Trangia
  • Time to Boil – Trangia
  • Fuel Efficiency – Wolfyok

Winner

The results are in. In a survival situation the Wolfyok is the clear winner. It’s lighter, smaller, consumes less imported fuel and can be used without any need foe fuel which cannot be scavenged if needed. This means your pack will either be lighter so you can travel further, run away faster or use less energy, or have more space for other important items. Plus it’s considerably less expensive and you won’t feel quite so bad at leaving it inside your bug out bag, hopefully never having to use it.

The Trangia, although it is easier to use, which is great for camping and convenience, it’s  out of the bug out bag and the Wolfyok with MSR pot is in!

I haven’t updated the kit bug out bag contents yet as I’m planning a big update in the coming weeks after a load of testing posts you’ll see soon.

In the End…Why not read about what happens to IMG_3486a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Here’s Season One to get you started!

Fire! A test for survival!

The next instalment testing the contents of my bug out bag: How to start a fire!

The essentials for survival: Water, Warmth & Food.

It’s no secret that the key ingredients to successful survival are clean drinking water, shelter from the elements, including warmth, and the ability to cook any food you can catch, but unless you’re stranded in a supermarket, for each of these you’re going to need a good fire.

The reality:

Fire can clean dirty water, keeps you warm, cooks your food and is a great moral booster. To survive in most emergency situations which require you to live outside your home, you must make sure the ability to make fire is contained within any bug out bag.

So how do you start a fire?

Fire_triangle_-_Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

We need the three elements of the fire triangle. We have oxygen in abundance, so all we need to consider is the heat and fuel.

Fuel: Why not just use wood and a bit of rolled up newspaper? I hear you say. The idea is sound in theory, but in practice wood is heavy and you wouldn’t want to encumbered lugging around, sapping all your energy and slowing any journey. With a little luck it might be available where you intend to camp, or in an urban situation you may be able to find some other fuel, such as cardboard. Newspaper on the other hand burns very quickly and it great to help get a fire established, but it easily ruins if it gets damp.

Heat: A lighter, now that’s a good idea. Or is it? Lighters need fuel and they’re no good in the wet. Same with matches, there’s only a finite supply. So what should you carry in the bug out bag instead?

To start a fire, you generally need two types of fuel. A lightweight material which burns quickly, but catches alight with ease, and then a slower burning material which can really establish the heat, but often is more difficult to catch. In a non-emergency scenario, such as camping, a liquid fuel is both easy to light and will provide a hot flame, but the flame is only localised enough to boil a kettle of water, i.e. in a camping stove like the Trangia. When you want a full blown fire, you need tinder and heavy logs. Ideally you need a few different types of tinder, fast and slower burning, so once you’ve go a flame, it won’t burn through all the easily burning material quicker than you can get your main fuel to catch and get the fire roaring for the long night.

In my bag I recently added a resinated block of wood bought from a famous online store. It’s waterproof and with a knife you can easily carve off shavings to give yourself tinder. Or that’s what the label says! Yes the block of wood has a label. Yes I bought a block of wood from Amazon, telling myself it was special wood and well worth the price!

Now to the heat. A flint and steel does the job every time. You can use it to light your camping stove with a liquid fuel and is great as a source of ignition in many survival situations. It’s lightweight, you can use it if it gets wet and it will never run out.

So gather up some dried wood, put the knife, tinder block and the flint and steel together and you’ve got everything you need. Right? I’ve never actually done this before, so one sunny afternoon I thought I’d put it to the test.

IMG_3537

It didn’t work.

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The thousand degree sparks kept coming, but there was never any danger the wooden shards would catch. It soon became obvious I needed something which would catch much quicker and just at the time I was scratching my head, out walks my fourteen-year-old daughter into the garden where I sat frustrated around the flame free fire pit. 

“In girl guides we used cotton wool,” she said and walked back away from my huddle, warm only from the sun pouring down. Okay, I thought. Couldn’t hurt to try. I live in a house with three woman so we must have cotton wool somewhere. Five minutes later I return outside with a massive bundle of the stuff in my hands, ready and kinda hoping this wasn’t going to work. I pinched a ball from the end, carefully placing it on top of the resin soaked tinder.

Strike one. It didn’t catch and I felt a certain feeling of victory in my stomach.

Strike two. Still nothing, but now I felt the victory turning to frustration. If this wasn’t going to work then what would?

Strike three. Nothing. But wait, the edge of cotton wool went black, then within a breath a flame sprung to life, soon catching on my wood from Amazon. I had a flame and if this was a real situation, I had time to add the main fuel, I had time to get a proper warming, water boiling, meat cooking fire going!

I was impressed, as was my daughter too, who I caught watching out of her bedroom window, looking at me with a smile bright on my lips. I nodded. Yes, I’d give her the victory and shouted a well done as she disappeared back out of view.

So there it is. Two lessons learnt.

Lesson One. A pinch of cotton wool in a baggy, maybe two for good measure, is a great edition to the bug out bag.

Lesson Two. Test your kit. Know how it works, then modify and overcome the challenges when you’re comfy at home so it will work if you every really need to rely on it.

And maybe there’s a third in there somewhere…talk to your kids. Listen to what they say! Take pride when they’re right and know more about a subject than you!

Here’s a list of the rest of the kit, which I’ve updated with the baggies of cotton wool!

Keep an eye out for further posts testing the rest of the kit and see if I’ve made the right choices.

In the End…Why not read about what happens to IMG_3486a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Here’s Season One to get you started!

My Publishing Journey – The Beginning

The latest version of this post is available here.

I’m about to embark into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End. This is my honest journey so far and the steps I think I’ll need to take. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new or if anyone comments with some useful or important information.

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book. DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486

  • Release chapters of the book to the world on WordPress. DONE – A new chapter released each day. Season Two published in the same way.
  • Blog about the world. Write blogs about all kinds of things to do with the world the book is set in. Our world, but there’s a terrible disease and life has just become a whole lot harder!
  • Blog about the process. That’s what this is all about!
  • Get WordPress followers, get Facebook followers and build excitement about the book’s release
  • Commission a cover – DONE

Step Three

Under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, they’ll be no development editing of the work. It’s done! Now I need to get the work polished and hunt out those pesky typos, or mistakes as a good friend calls them! It’s the area I’m weakest at so I have to rely on my wife to do it for me and she’s a busy lady so I’m trying to be patient.


Step Four

Figure out how the hell I’m going to get this published on Amazon. I want to publish as an e-book and also use Amazon’s print-on-demand service. CreateSpace? So I’ve bought the top selling books on the subject from Amazon which the reviews seem to think will guide me through the process! Lots and lots to learn here, so much more information to be added.


Step Five

Continue to build the community and market the book. Lots to learn here. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Blogging (as above) – World building and about the process
  • Writing Season Three and releasing on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book

Step Six

Publish I guess. I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three.

Want to read Season One before I take it down. Here it is.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.

Kit List for Emergency Kit / Bug Out Bag

Up to date and maintained list of the essential kit for an emergency situation or scenario. Find out how it fairs here.

Tangia Camping Stove – This trusted weatherproof camping stove has been in development since the 1940s and I’ve been using them for 24 years for all sorts of camping and family days out. It’s light, weatherproof, fast to put together and to take down too and it’s super quick to boil water in the provided kettle.

Fire Steel – Lightweight and able to use in all weathers for lighting the stove and making a traditional fire too.

Two Baggies of Cotton Wool – Recently added as fast burning tinder when I found out wood shaving just wouldn’t do the job alone.

Proper Knife – I’ve ditched the folding fruit knife for something more substantial. Great for carving wood and helping to make a shelter, plus more comforting when I don’t know what I’ll face while I’m out there and the world has gone to the dogs.

Dry bags – Keeps your stuff dry, need I say more?

Wooly hats and gloves – It’s January and a few months away from fifteen degrees celsius during the day.

Wash Kit – A compact kit with toothbrush and paste. You want to look after your teeth. I for one don’t fancy self extracting a tooth!

Low light torch – With four colours of light to select from, it’s great for keeping yourself concealed and not damaging your sensitive night vision when you use it. Who knows what’s going to be hunting you down at night?

Wind up Torch – Works without batteries. Enough said?

Clothes – Quick dry trousers, essential in any weather. Layers of technical clothes, the best way to stay warm. Hiking socks are a no brainer for comfort.

Water – As well as bringing as much as you can carry, NHS guidelines are for 1.2 litres per day to keep dehydration at bay, but you will need a constant supply. If the water is contaminated in a nuclear fallout, there’s not a great deal sterilisation and filtering can do, but in every other circumstance a filtration straw will let you filter up to 2,000 litres / 530 gallons direct from the source. It’s a no brainer.

Sleeping bag – It’s small, lightweight and three season. Should deal with most of what the English weather can throw at me as long as I have shelter.

Tent – Again, small and portable, weighing just over 2kg / 4.4lbs it gives options for where I can eventually go.

Paracords – With boundless uses in survival situations and lightweight, it’s a must.

Emergency Kit – Contains 21 different items to help you survive, including a fishing line and hook, tinder and a knife, all wrapped in woven paracord.

Passport – You never know. In an emergency I’m sure the rules would be relaxed, but when it all settles down, if it ever does, then it would make resettling so much easier, if there’s anything left. Keep positive. Probably the most important lesson.

Cash & Gold Coins – When the world comes down around your shoulders the cash will be of use, but only in the short term. If the shit really hits the fan, its jewellery, precious stones and metals that hold all the bartering value. Gold is easy for anyone to recognise their value. Gold will always be in demand, even when states fail. Buy small denominations, 4 grams half Sovereigns or 8 gram Sovereigns or American Quarter Eagles so you don’t have to pay a higher price for the want of change.

Hammer – It’s heavy, but has many uses, including as a weapon, helping to build a shelter or to break into an abandoned supermarket to restock supplies if it really goes down.

Paracetamol – Access to doctors may be limited. Pain could be a new feature of life. Whether it’s a strain from walking, a headache or problems with your teeth, you’ll be glad of bringing plenty of these lightweight tablets with you, plus they’ll be great for bartering if you have spare.

Food – Dense, dry ingredients are best. Even better are those that don’t need water to eat. Tinned goods are next because they’ll last so long, it’s been shown they’ll last long after their official expiration date, but they’re heavy and too many will weigh you down. Chocolate and sugar dense sweets are great too, but only if you’re taking care of your teeth, access to dentists may be limited, if available at all.

Emergency Rations – In their simplest form they are high calorie biscuits which in emergency situations can sustain one person for 72 hours. They have a five year shelf life, but will still keep the calories after. At half a kilo, they’re heavy, but worth the weight.

Nails – I’m bringing a hammer so why not long nails too? Gives me options for building shelters.

Hand sanitiser – It won’t last long, but used sparingly it will help stave off stomach bugs, plus it’s flammable.

Batteries – The more the merrier. The torch is useless without them and can help start a fire if needed. Consider candles, but only to be used when inside a shelter, not a tent!

Emergency Blankets – Only single use, but can keep you warm if you fall into a river, giving you enough chance to recover.

Alcohol – Full of calories and a treat to keep you warm at night.

Vitamins – If food is scarce, these will be a handy top up. Lightweight too. Empty out the paracetamol from their packets and pile them in the vitamin bottle to save space.

Antihistamines – If you suffer from hay fever then it’s a must, but also useful for bee stings and for all things that go bump in the night. It likely won’t save your life, but if you’re going to be living outdoors for the next few months, they could make it a lot more bearable.

Wind up radio – You can get them with solar power too, plus USB charge to give you that first kick start, plus they come with powerful emergency lights. Keep on top of the latest details of the emergency.

Compass – Even without a proper map you can travel in a vague direction and keep yourself on a course. Overlooked first time around, but invaluable, especially if you already have one.

Camping mattress – It may seem trivial, but not when you’re lying on the cold hard ground trying to sleep with one eye open.

IMG_3486In the End…Why not read about what happens to a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Season One

Your Ten Minutes are Up!

The pack’s on my back, my hand on the door handle, but I pause before I pull down and rush back to the phone, my finger jabbing at the digits for the second time. There’s still no answer. They’re doing what I should be doing. Running.

Pulling open the door, I hang back behind the threshold. I look left, look right and my brain freezes, I have no idea where I’m going. The only decision I’ve made is to go it alone and not follow the crowd. If this thing is a contagious disease, if it’s an invasion or reanimated bodies wandering the streets, I want to be well away from everyone else. That said, I need to meet with my friends. We’d talked about this, usually drunk in the pub. Someone mentioned Ikea Southampton would be the place to go, plenty of beds right? Then again, I think I suggested there’d be no food and it would be a terrible place to defend, so big and in a major city. That idea’s a bust, but I can’t remember if we decided somewhere else.

The only other place we ever talked about was Dartmoor, somewhere we’d spent so many weekends. It’s desolate, deserted and full of wildlife, well ponies. I just hope they have the same idea.

I walk to the car, holding back from opening the door, the keys in my hand and the street is clear, the road quiet. For a moment I wonder, did I dream all this?

I jump in the car, having decided to drive as far as the quarter tank of diesel will take me, about a third of the hundred and eighty miles if my estimate is sound. Just then I notice people streaming from their houses, some with packs on their backs, others surrounded with stuff in their hands, shoving duvets into car boots, loading furniture on roof racks. Traffic is already building and I can wait no longer. Why am I waiting at all?!

I turn off my street and into a trading estate; the road is blocked with traffic trying to head the same way. I turn the car around before I get to the back of the queue. The road’s blocked going the other way now too. I pull over to the side of the road, lock the car and start my journey on foot. People are still streaming out of their houses, I try not to look them in the eye, try not to judge their decisions, try not to think of those people in developing countries you see on the news carrying their whole life on their heads. I avoid their paths, the clutter of their possessions strewn along the road, dropped by the side of their cars as they try to pack everything in. They won’t get away before it’s too late. I resist the urge to shout for everyone to run, to get out of here as quick as they can, like the alert said.

Diverting through a park, the pedestrian traffic is much less, but as I leave one road behind, the angry shouts and the call of car horns are ready to greet me on the other side. I live in the suburbs of a town and it’s about 3 miles, 4 km, until the map looks green from above, so I divert north west, knowing I need to get away from the buildings, or away from people as quick as I can.

My choice of pack, if not my choice of footwear, stands me in good stead for the light jog, diverting this way and that to avoid crowds who seem to surge together for safety, even though they’re shouting and hollering in each other’s faces. As time goes by and the buildings thin, I slow, wondering if whatever caused the alert has happened, was it all over, had the crisis really hit? I look to the cloudless sky, but seeing no meteors streaming down, seeing the sky empty of parachutes, or rockets raining down, or dust rising on the horizon, I think myself a little silly and slow, but not silly enough to turn around. That’s when I realise there is something missing from my kit. A radio, preferably a wind up, or solar powered.

I’m in a small wood a few miles from my house and I’ve seen only a scattering of people as I walk with my pace quick across a place I walked before, where I’d walked with family and friends, guided dogs sniffing every fallen leaf, pissing up every tree trunk. Now I don’t care for the scenery as the woods thin, the motorway in the distance, cars crawling along. I divert again, following parallel to the road, but trudging through field after field, tracking across fallow, boggy land to save the hazardous climb of fences never intended to make my journey easy.

My legs are tiring, the adrenaline has well and truly drained to nothing, leaving that horrible lethargic hangover. I want for company, this is the first time I’ve hiked with a pack on my back alone. I think of my friends as I stop to take a rest, pouring water down my throat, crunching on a cereal bar. I’d like to say it was the first of the trip as I spot an isolated house on the horizon. A farmhouse I guess. I could find out the latest, they probably won’t be there anyway, should be on the motorway I can see has been stationary since I’ve been following, about an hour now. With that I turn my Apple Watch to low power mode and check my phone, it’s been no use since I left, no bars, just a cross in the corner.

Dogs bark as I come out of the field and into the yard. I see cows peering over the side of their stalls, the smell of stale shit wafting, clawing at my throat as I arrive at the door, trying to listen past the animals going crazy the other side. There can’t be anyone at home, no car around, just a tractor parked under a canopy a short walk off. There’s no chance I’m getting in the house with those crazed animals. I walk off. It’s getting dark. It’s the winter and it’s only three in the afternoon, I’ve been on the road for a few hours already, the only thing keeping me heading forward is the thought of not being able to find somewhere to put the tent up whilst its light.

I walk the next hour scouring the land for somewhere good to stop, somewhere well away from the road, away from those who might abandon the route and try to find shelter. I don’t want them to find mine. I stop and pull off my pack after diverting south, trying to keep my heading in the vague direction of the motorway, thinking all the time I should have brought the compass my hand passed over when I was packing.

I stop with just enough light to find somewhere flat enough next to a hedge with the lights of the cars on the motorway just disappearing and with no other noise around, I can just about see the contents of the tent spread across the long, yellowing grass. I’m thankful for my choice of tent, it’s lightweight and pitches in less than two minutes single handed. It would just about fit two, so it’s easy to fit me and my pack. As I lay on the ground checking for stones underneath, I think of the extra weight a camping mat or self-inflating mattress would have added. It seemed like a luxury at the time, but not right now.

Sitting up on the grass, the tent’s too shallow to sit up inside, I hug myself, the cold biting now I’ve stopped. I unpack the pack, getting the Trangia roaring with a mugful of hot water, wishing I’d brought coffee. Instead I shove in the rice and let it warm through. It’s a good meal and I eat it with the stars already bright in the sky and I spend the next half an hour figuring out I could be on the road with all my supplies gone by the time I reach Dartmoor. Five days, four if I’m lucky. I will have to find out what this is all about, figure out if I should stock up or find civilisation again, find the safety of the shelter they talked about on the bulletin or if I’m already out of harm’s way.

I can’t wait any longer to zip up the tent, choosing to unfold the knife, it looks so short as I lay it beside the hammer, taking off my boots for comfort, hoping I won’t regret the decision. I lay there with my eyes closed and listen. A hunger builds, which I force myself to ignore, whist trying not to concentrate on every unnatural noise in the night, hearing alien sounds making my mind work overtime whilst longing for the camping mat as I try to shake off the cold rising from the ground.

Lessons Learnt

I’ve added the following to the kit list, a copy of which is available and updated here.

Wind up radio – You can get them with solar power too, plus USB charge to give you that first kick start, plus they come with powerful emergency lights. Keep on top of the latest details of the emergency.

Proper Knife – I’ve ditched the folding fruit knife for something more substantial. Great for carving wood and helping to make a shelter, plus more comforting when I don’t know what I’ll face while I’m out there and the world has gone to the dogs.

 

Compass – Even without a proper map you can travel in a vague direction and keep yourself on a course. Overlooked first time around, but invaluable, especially if you already have one.

Camping mattress – It may seem trivial, but not when you’re lying on the cold hard ground trying to sleep with one eye open.

It’s a real shame I didn’t pack these extras, but I’ve got plenty of time for my regrets as I shiver on the hard floor waiting to see what comes for me in the night….

IMG_3486

In the End…Why not read about what happens to a group of friends whose worldcollapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Season One

IN THE END…There was a book cover

I’ve been working with my good friend and mega talent James Norbury to design the cover of my book IN THE END which is being released next quarter. Today he delivered the proofing draft, but before I sign off on the final design for James to finish to perfection, I thought I’d see what the critics think before it’s too late!

Please don’t be shy, have your say, good, bad or ugly, let me know!

IMG_3486

Ten Minutes to Go!

You have ten minutes. Now go!

The phone has rung. The emergency message pinged on your mobile. The radio comes alive and the rolling TV news has only one story. It’s happened, come true, the end of civilisation. Natural disaster. World War III. Alien invasion. A fast spreading equine influenza jumping the species boundary, or just a plain old zombie apocalypse. If you’re lucky it’ll be only one. Either way, you’ve got to evacuate. You have ten minutes. Now go!

Information coming out of ground zero is sketchy, you’re not being told what’s going on. All you know is you’ve got to move. There’s a safe haven, but it’s miles away, you have to leave quick. Maybe you have your own ideas of where it would be best to hide out from the worst. The least you know is you’ve got to get out of the town, away from the cities, heading to the country, the national parks or up the tallest mountain. Anywhere that’s not going to make it easy for any infection to spread, or where a stray bomb or laser bolt is going to crash into your head.

It’s coming. For your best chance of survival you have to be quick.

So what do you take?

I’m not prepared, but still I did the test. I took ten minutes to jump around the house and grab what I could, racing to think what I could carry on my back, hoping there was enough to sustain me for longer than a few days.

I’m downstairs when the call comes. I’m prepared mentally because this is only a test so I don’t spend precious moments locked in search of answers, trying my best to come to terms with what it all means. Still, I take a few seconds. I’m the outdoorsy sort, I go hiking and walking with my friends every year. I’ve wild camped more times than I can count and had to dig a hole for my waste in the wilderness a few times, so this will be easy. Right? A minute’s gone before I’m upstairs pulling old clothes out of the wardrobe to get to my rucksacks. I discard the ninety litre pack I take on three day expeditions. Fully loaded it can carry an awesome amount of stuff, but it slows you down to a causal pace. I won’t be wanting to take in the scenery on this journey, I bet. Speed will be key, I might have to run from people, from things I’ve never met. So I settle for a day pack with half the capacity, but it’s waterproof, and with loads of pockets, a great compromise.

With eight minutes left I’m at the cupboard where I keep my camping gear pulling out a Trangia camping stove. It’s the first thing in my bag. On top I throw in a fire steel, a folding knife, dry bags, woolly hats and gloves, it’s still winter for a few weeks. A small first aid kit goes in too, as well a personal wash kit, some unopened beef jerky from another trip goes on top. I have a low light torch, a spork and a tin mug. I look at the deodorant and shower gel on the shelf next door, but leave as I walk away. I stuff in a sleeping bag and inflatable pillow, shocked the bag is almost full, but still pile in a small emergency kit on top.

I move to the dresser, swinging the pack over my shoulder, the sleeping bag spirals out and I clip it to the side of the bag. Grabbing a technical top and t-shirt, a fleece and quick dry trousers and we’re five minutes gone as I’m racing down the stairs. I try to stuff two large bottles of water in, realising there’s no chance, so I empty the contents of the bag onto the living room floor and run to the hallway cupboard. I tap in the code for the safe and repeat, this time in the right order and pull my passport and the small amount of cash I keep for emergencies. Intended more for a leaking pipe than the end of the world. I lock the door and think what next?

Food.

From the larder cupboard I grab packets of Uncle Ben’s rice. They’re pre-cooked, meant for a microwave, but they’re not bad heated on the Trangia and I can eat them cold if I must. I grab small tins of fish, mackerel and sardines, the latter of which I have no idea why they’re in there. I fill my arm with beans and cereal bars, nuts left over from Christmas. Passing by the bathroom, I add paracetamol and antihistamine too. Standing staring over the bag I take a moment, knowing I’m missing something big.

Shelter.

By the time I’ve found the shed keys and unlocked the back door, taking only seconds to look to the sky, pondering on how big the world suddenly seems, I’m unlocking the shed with just over a minute to go. Fighting to climb over everything in the way, a bike, tools and an office chair I have nowhere else to store, I eventually grab hold of a bottle of meths, it’s full and essential as the fuel for the Trangia burner. My eye falls on the tool rack and a claw hammer. Before I know it’s in my hand and I’m swinging it through the air in a way I never have before. It’s heavy, but I have a feeling it could be my new best friend. I pause to look around the shed, grab the small two man tent and panic that I didn’t pack it all inside the bags properly after it was last used. I haven’t got time to look now as the time counts down on my watch. The ten minutes is up and my new life is piled on the living room floor.

I take the extra time, another five minutes, pack everything in tight, discarding the pillow and grabbing my thick ski coat that’s never seen snow. Along with my hiking boots, I have everything at the door. I have to hope it wasn’t a hard deadline and remember I’m one of the lucky ones. I had warning.

So here’s what my kit looks like.

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Tangia Camping Stove – This trusted weatherproof camping stove has been in development since the 1940s and I’ve been using them for 24 years for all sorts of camping and family days out. It’s light, weatherproof, fast to put together and to take down too and it’s super quick to boil water in the provided kettle. However, for this situation the big drawback is the fuel. I run mine on methylated spirits, the purple liquid you get from the IMG_2453DIY store for cleaning brushes, and there’s gel available too, but the weight of the fuel is like that of water, so unless you’re cooking raw food or boiling water to make it safe, is it worth the weight and the hunt for a continuous supply? On balance it’s still coming with me, but it will be the first thing to ditch when the fuel runs out.

Fire Steel – Lightweight and able to use in all weathers for lighting the stove and making a traditional fire too.

Folding Knife – Useful for all sorts and kept in my pocket, not knowing what I’m facing when I open the front door.

Dry bags – Keeps your stuff dry, need I say more?

Wooly hats and gloves – It’s January and a few months away from fifteen degrees celsius during the day.

Wash Kit – A compact kit with tooth brush and paste. You want to look after your teeth. I for one don’t fancy self extracting a tooth!

Low light torch – With four colours of light to select from, it’s great for keeping yourself concealed and not damaging your sensitive night vision when you use it. Who knows what’s going to be hunting you down at night?

Clothes – Quick dry trousers, essential in any weather. Layers of technical clothes, the best way to stay warm. Hiking socks are a no brainer for comfort. On second thoughts I’d change into all this, rather than taking up room in my pack. There’s no room for spares, but this is survival, not a blind date.

Four Litres of water – NHS guidelines are for 1.2 litres per day to keep dehydration at bay. That gives me just over three days supply, but I’m expecting a long, arduous journey. It will probably last me two. I’m going to make finding more a priority. If there’s any space I’d do well to fit as much more in as I can.

Sleeping bag – It’s small, lightweight and three season. Should deal with most of what the English weather can throw at me, as long as I have shelter.

Tent – Again, small and portable, weighing just over 2kg / 4.4lbs it gives options for where I can eventually go.

Paracords – With boundless uses in survival situations and lightweight, it’s a must.

Emergency Kit – Contains 21 different items to help you survive, including a fishing line and hook, tinder and a knife, all wrapped in woven paracord.

Passport – You never know. In an emergency I’m sure the rules would be relaxed, but when it all settles down, if it ever does, then it would make resettling so much easier, if there’s anything left. Keep positive. Probably the most important lesson.

Cash – When the world comes down around your shoulders the cash will be of use, but only in the short term. If the shit really hits the fan, its jewellery, precious stones and metals that hold all the bartering value.

Hammer – It’s heavy, but has many uses, including as a weapon, helping to build a shelter or to break into an abandoned supermarket to restock supplies if it really goes down.

Paracetamol – Access to doctors may be limited. Pain could be a new feature of life. Whether it’s a strain from walking, a headache or problems with your teeth, you’ll be glad of bringing plenty of these lightweight tablets with you, plus they’ll be great for bartering if you have spare.

Food – Dense, dry ingredients are best. Even better are those that don’t need water to eat. Tinned goods are next because they’ll last so long, its been shown they’ll last long after their official expiration date, but they’re heavy and too many will weigh you down. Chocolate and sugar dense sweets are great too, but only if you’re taking care of your teeth, access to dentists may be limited, if available at all.

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Now take a breath. 

Okay, so we have the benefit of not being in a rush, so what else should I have packed and perhaps prepared for in advance?

Gold coins – Gold is easy for anyone to recognise their value. Gold will always be in demand, even when states fail. Buy small denominations, 4 grams half Sovereigns or 8 gram Sovereigns or American Quarter Eagles so you don’t have to pay a higher price for the want of change.

Water – We all know this will be a big issue. If the water is contaminated in a nuclear fallout there’s not a great deal sterilisation and filtering can do, but in every other circumstance a filtration straw will let you filter up to 2,000 litres / 530 gallons direct from the source. It’s a no brainer.

Nails – I’m bringing a hammer so why not long nails too? Gives me options for building shelters.

Hand sanitiser – It won’t last long, but used sparingly it will help stave off stomach bugs, plus it’s flammable.

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Batteries – The more the merrier. The torch is useless without them and can help start a fire if needed. Consider candles, but only to be used when inside a shelter, not a tent!

Wind Up Torch – In addition to the standard torch, a great idea would be to have a wind up torch too for when your supply of batteries runs dry.

Emergency Blankets – Only single use, but can keep you warm if you fall into a river, giving you enough chance to recover.

Alcohol – Full of calories and a treat to keep you warm at night. How could I forget!

Vitamins – If food is scarce, these will be a handy top up. Lightweight too. Empty out the paracetamol from their packets and pile them in the vitamin bottle to save space.

I’m sure you’ve all got some great ideas, so why not make your suggestions in the comments!

Lesson Learnt

It’s clear there’s no way this can be done in ten minutes. With another ten maybe you’ll have a chance, but you’ll forget something important. I’m going to pack my bag and leave it that way. You never know when it could save your life!

Now all I have to do is swing it on my back, open the front door and see what’s outside….

In the End…Why not read about what happens to a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re not at the top of the food chain…

In the End – Season One