Bug Out Bag: There’s No One to Call!

Your blurring vision settles on your arm, the double image slowly combining to one as the raw skin beads with drops of blood. You move your head, pain slowing the turn, your shoulders held back by the weight on your back and with no understanding how you got on your ass, your ankle throbbing, you look up to the crack of the daylight shining from above. 

In the latest in the bug out bag series we’re discussing what we can carry in the bag to prepare for medical situations while outside the home and maybe, just maybe when the ambulance won’t be on the other end of the line to take your call.

I’m Not a Medical Professionalattention-303861_1280

Disclaimer. I’m not a medic, trained or otherwise. This post is compiled from research and experience of being out there in the wilderness. Should you suffer any ailment or symptoms you should seek immediate medical attention, but if this is not possible this post is intended as a guide as to what you could pack in your bug out bag to help provide first aid to a range of situations in order that you can get to any professional help you may require. Please ensure you only use any product listed here as per the manufacturers guidance and use your common sense. Disclaimer done.

Common Wilderness Ailments

Strains & Sprains

A good walking / hiking shoe will help prevent these painful injuries. I used to wear a walking shoe which finished below the ankle, but after I lost my footing walking along the side of a hill, the drop to my left hidden by a sea of tall fern, I always wear a boot. The boot wouldn’t have prevented the fall or the raptures of laughter from my companions, but it would have provided much more support in the aftermath. In the middle of nowhere I had not real choice but to walk it off, taking plenty of pain killers to keep me going.

ankle-2253057_1920As luck would have it we were not too far from where we could lay up for the night and I took off my boot, something I shouldn’t have done if I’d wanted to put it back on that day. In the morning I had to keep it elevated for a good hour until I could get the boot back on, popping pain killers throughout the day to enable me to walk twenty miles out from the middle of nowhere. I was left with pain for three weeks whilst resting from long walks and running, but it has been fine ever since.

The advice here in an ideal situation is to take painkillers, ideally with an anti-inflammatory and rest, keeping the ankle elevated. If it’s clear it’s broken or something just isn’t right, there’s no chance you’re walking on it, keep the pressure off. You’re going to have to get some help, if it’s not going to come, you’re going to have to improvise crutches. You can immobilise sprains and strains to keep yourself from doing any more damage using bandages from your first aid kit to strap foraged wood above and below the injury. Gaffer tape over the bandages can add much needed strength to the bindings, but be careful not to cut off the blood supply.


Always practice good fire safety and give it the respect it deserves. As we all know, burns can be one of the most painful injuries.

Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm water. It’s unlikely you will have ice but if you do, don’t use it or you risk burning further with the cold. If you’re low on water then anything cold will do, just make sure it’s not going to stick to the wound. Once the burn has cooled, apply cling film to the area. This keeps moisture in and infection out, plus allows you to keep an eye on the progress of the wound.

Sun Burn


No lectures here, we should all know the long term dangers of sun burn and the short term pain it can cause, but if you’re not able to prevent it by wearing a good wide brimmed hat and regularly applying sun lotion, then treat it as per a burn, cooling and protecting. Apply after-sun lotion and moisturiser containing aloe vera to help lessen the pain.

Stings and Insect Bites


You should pack based on where you’re travelling or bugging out to. If you’re in the US or Australia, be prepared for snake and spider bites. In the UK the worst we can expect would be a hornet, bee or wasp stings, or stinging nettles and the annoyance of mosquitoes. Insect repellant is a great idea, or if you’re camping then citronella candles can be a great help to keep the bugs at bay.

Use the built in insect netting if you’re camping in a tent, or a mosquito net if you’re planning to sleep under the stars, particularly if you’re near any amount of water. If you do get stung, scrape the stinger and any remaining insect from the wound with a straight edge or fingernail to avoid squeezing more venom into the wound. Applying antihistamine cream can help tame the itching.


A special note about ticks. Ticks are related to spiders, mites and scorpions and carry many diseases. There are different sorts of ticks, each of which are hosted on different animals and vary around the world. Habitats also vary across the world but often include woodland, heathland, moorland, rough pasture, forests and urban parks

In the UK 15% of ticks carry Lime’s disease and they’re a real problem in the US too.

If untreated, symptoms may include loss of the ability to move one or both sides of the face, joint pains, severe headaches with neck stiffness, or heart palpitations and can cause arthritis. Along with Lime’s, they can transmit meningitis, among other diseases.

CDC_EMLook for the symptoms which can happen between 3-30 days after a bite and include fever, chills, aches and pains and a rash. The circular rash with Lime’s disease is distinctive and a typical presentation is shown opposite.

Although it’s rare to feel a tick biting you, when it’s finished its feed it will fall off, if you find a tick, you need to make sure you remove it properly without squashing it.  https://www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk/about-ticks/tick-removal

Add a tick removal tool to your bug out bag and your camping first aid kit!

Preventing can be easy, wear long trousers, not shorts, especially when walking through raised vegetation such as long grasses

Cuts, Scrapes and Scratches

Clean the wound with antiseptic wipes, very important when you’re out of the home. Use saline solution to wash out larger wounds. If you have nothing else then use cooled boiled water, boiled for at least one minute and prepared as if you were going to drink it. When clean and dried, dress the wound. Either with a liquid plaster for minor cuts and scrapes, which forms a flexible water resistant layer, or a suitable dressing. Try and keep the wound dry and out of streams and rivers if you can, otherwise use a waterproof dressing. For larger, gaping cuts, use butterfly bandages, but if these don’t keep the wound closed, use superglue.

Tweezers for thorns and splinter removal are a must. You should be carrying scissors and a knife for preparing the dressings. Change the dressing as often as you can, especially after periods of prolonged activity or sleep.

Basic First Aid Kit List

A well-stocked basic first aid kit suitable for the bug out back should contain:

  • Adhesive bandages of various sizes
  • Blister plasters
  • Butterfly bandages – For closing wounds
  • Gauze pads of various sizes or gauze roll
  • Antiseptic creams and ointments
  • Sterile wipes and rinse solutions
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Hydrocortisone cream – Anti itching cream
  • Tweezers, scissors, safety pins, and knife
  • Anti-diarrhoea medicine – normally I wouldn’t recommend these as they stop a natural process and just bung you up, but if the symptoms are debilitating and you’re on a long journey, they could be key.
  • Antihistamine for allergic reactions
  • Eye drops / wash
  • Triple antibiotic ointment – Not available in the UK without a prescription, but you can get on eBay for a price
  • Tick removal tool
  • Cling film

Additional items – These are not necessarily for first aid but are either used in the promotion of good health or have secondary uses for first aid.

  • Duct tape – Binding a split, sealing a wound in an emergency, the list really is endless, we could have a post all about this wonderful stuff.
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Super glue
  • Aloe vera
  • Sunscreen
  • Epi pen or other essential prescription medications you may need. For me it’s a salbutamol inhaler
  • Emergency blanket

Emergency card

This is one for your everyday life too. We have special places in your phones for your important medical information, but when you’re out and about your phone might be out of charge. Why not carry a laminated piece of paper with your important medical information on, including your blood type and details of any allergies and your next of kin and their contact details? These could help you so much if you have to be rescued unconscious and you’re unable to tell them this important information.

Do you know your blood type?

In an emergency you’d be lucky to be escaping with me as I’m O Negative. This means anyone can accept my blood, but the price I pay is that I can only receive O Negative blood if I’m the one with a the good stuff pouring from an injury. Why not donate blood and you too can find out your blood type?


As often happens, in writing this post I’ve learnt a lot and I can see I need to update my very basic first aid kit. Plus I checked the dates and I have some refreshing to do as well! I’ll be adding eye wash, the spray on plaster, updating my supply of antiseptic wipes, grabbing a tick removal tool and butterfly bandages.

I’ve be added another item to my shopping basket and I’m embarrassed to say why. After writing this post I checked my home first aid kit too only to find everything expired over eight years ago. Please take a minute to check your kit. You’ll be thankful if you ever come to need it!

Let me know your thoughts

If you have any great tips or experiences you’d like to share, or if you want to set me straight in something I’ve said or missed, then please drop me a message in the comments.

In the End

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.


Bug out Bag: Survival Skills

Inspired by my discussion about what I should pack in the bug out bag for protection, it was suggested a bow and arrow would be a great weapon for after civilisation has fallen around your ears. It was of course a great idea, but the key problem was where are you going to get your bow and a constant source of arrows from?

This set me thinking about what skills would be most useful in a survival / fall of civilisation, or even just any emergency where the bug out bag would be required. In this we post look at skills you could learn to help should those days come.

explosion-123690_1920There are many phases to an emergency situation. P1, the initial incident and the immediate survival of the first few days. P2, establishment of a bit of normality after a few weeks. P3, rebuilding of the world. These could apply to many reasons why you could need the bug out bag and the skills you have, or decide to learn in preparation, will and should have an effect on what you carry in the bag, be it tools or supplies etc.

We’re looking at skills here, although some of these are occupations, we’re talking about skills you can pick up which you don’t have, unless you decide to make the ultimate change and move profession. Most will have an impact on multiple phases, so we’ll score their impact in each phase from 1 to 3, with three being the most impact, then we’ll add the scores for each phase up at the end.

If the numbers bore you then just skip past the table and we’ll get back to the discussion.

Skill Category Usefulness in Each Survival Phase Total Score
The First Few Days (P1) Establishing Normality (P2) Rebuilding Civilisation (P3)
Hunting / Fishing Food High High High 9
Foraging Food High High Low 7
Combat Skills Safety High High Medium 8
Mechanics / Engineering Transport (P1-3) / Building (P2-3) High High High 9
Sailing Transport High High Medium 8
Leadership Motivation High High High 9
Navigation Location Medium Medium Low 5
Flying / Piloting Transport High High Medium 8
Climbing Safety High Medium Low 6
Running Transport High Low Low 5
Weapon Making Safety / Food Low High Medium 6
Construction Building Low Medium High 6
Food Preservation Food Medium High 5
Carpentry Building Low High High 7
Soap & Candle Making Comfort Low High 4
Cobbling Safety Low Low High 5
First Aid / Medical Safety High High High 9
Dentistry Comfort Low Medium High 6
Farming Food Low High 4
Distilling Comfort High 3
Potting Comfort High 3


So we have a good range of scores, with lots of high numbers too. Let’s take a closer look at those which scored eight or over, meaning they would be useful is each of the stages of an emergency situation. I propose the key considerations when looking to learning a new skills are:

  • Accessibility. Does it cost lost of money to learn and requires specialist resources
  • Times to learn. We’re talking part time study here, not about changing your occupation in preparation.
  • Other uses. Is it something which can benefit you in everyday life, or is it solely for the dedicated!
  • Bug Out Bag. How does the skill effect what you’re going to carry in the bug out bag. If you’re going to weigh yourself down then it’s a low score.

As with my previous analysis we’ll score each consideration from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best score in the category.

Hunting / Fishingbonding-1868513_1920

Killing game or catching fish. Some call it a sport.

  • Accessibility – In the UK fishing is very accessible with plenty of places to learn and to practice the skill. You’re going to need a lot of patience, but that’s part of the fun. Isn’t it? Hunting on the other hand is available in the UK, but nowhere to the level of countries like the US. The score in this case is based on fishing and we’ve dropped it from the top spot because the kit is a cash sink hole – 4/5
  • Time to Learn – A few trips and I’m sure you can learn the basics, improving each time – 5/5
  • Everyday Benefit – I guess if you like fish and enjoy the hobby it’s got its advantages – 5/5
  • Bug Out Bag – We already have a fishing line and hook, but it’s not going to cut the mustard for long. It’s a low score because the fishing kit it large and cumbersome. The same could be said for hunting.  – 1/5

Score = 15 / 20

Combat Skillskarate-852619_1920

We’re not talking about joining the military, maybe the reserves is an option if you have the time, but there’s plenty of opportunity to learn a martial art like Judo or Karate, or even boxing, if you want to be the mean MF when no one else is going to come to your rescue. In the US we’re talking here about getting a gun and learning how to use it.

  • Accessibility – Open to anyone who has the time and temperament – 5/5
  • Time to Learn – Sources show it would typically take two classes a week for five years to become a black belt in Karate. That’s some time commitment – 2/5
  • Everyday Benefit – A lot of people get great enjoyment out of martial arts and combat sports – 4/5
  • Bug Out Bag – You are the weapon – 5/5

Score = 16 / 20

Mechanics / Engineeringworkshop-2104225_1920

An all-round set of skills which give you the mindset and the mental tools to turn your hand to most problems. Fix cars, build shelters, bridge a deep fissure splitting the ground at your feet. Essential skills when it all goes wrong. I should know 🙂

  • Accessibility – Mechanical and engineering skills can be taught, but it’s also about having a mindset to want to understand how things work and then using your skills to explore. No matter your specific discipline, most engineers can turn their hands to most engineering problems – 4/5
  • Time to Learn – Four to five years of university or the same for an apprenticeship, depending on the discipline, plus there’s a lifetime of experience to gain. It’s not a quick one – 1/5
  • Everyday Benefit – Fix stuff and have a great job at the same time. There’s no downside, right? – 5/5
  • Bug Out Bag – A limited set of generic tools would be worth bringing along, but they’re heavy, however you’re already carrying the best item in the tool kit, your mind – 4/5

Score = 14 / 20


Jumping on a boat and getting the heck out of dodge does have a lot of advantages, or maybe you can ferry supplies from somewhere where the ground isn’t alight!

  • Accessibility – As an island nation, it’s pretty easy to find somewhere to learn how to sail and if you have pockets stuffed full of cash then you can keep your escape route in a secure boat shed just down the road. If not then it will take a could spend to get your skills up to par – 2/5
  • Time to Learn – You can learn the basics of sailing in a short course, but piloting a boat takes years of experience. You should start hanging around the coast in bars where the fishermen frequent and maybe they’ll let you take their livelihood out for a spin? – 2/5
  • Everyday Benefit – You get to sail a boat. Great for holidays, but unless you decide it’s a pirate’s life for you then it’s not going to be a great boon to your live – 1/5
  • Bug Out Bag – The boat won’t fit in the bag, maybe a life jacket, but I guess that should already be on the boat – 5/5

Score = 10 / 20


Why do you need the specialist skills to survive when you can just find other people and lead them to do it for you. People will be looking for someone to take charge. Are you up for the job? Can you inspire them to follow you? Can you make the decisions which could mean the difference between life and death?

  • Accessibility – Can you train to be a leader? I guess those guys who run leadership courses think so. The best route would be to do this through your job, tell the boss you want to be his boss eventually. Go on, give it a go – 3/5
  • Time to Learn – Again it’s experience which is going to be the key and it’ll take years to read the books, let alone to get the right tone to your voice – 2/5
  • Everyday Benefit – Get people to do what you want? Is that how it works? If it’s your job then being a great leader can give you a fast route to the top – 5/5
  • Bug Out Bag – Get someone else to carry the bag! – 6/5

Score = 16 / 20

Flying / Pilotinggirl-424918_1920

Like sailing, but with more cool. Slightly more difficult to find planes lying around, but you can get away quicker and further away, leaving the poor saps who can’t fly to deal with what you leave behind!

  • Accessibility – Like with sailing but much, much more expensive – 1/5
  • Time to Learn – Same again, but at least you get a licence if you can pass the test – 2/5
  • Everyday Benefit – Change jobs, or just get to places quicker than all your friends, plus you won’t be lying next time you use your usual chat up line – 3/5
  • Bug Out Bag – There’s always room for aviator glasses  – 5/5

Score = 11 / 20

First Aid / Medicalinjury-903342_1920

I know I’d want to be around someone who could save my life, who could squeeze the puss out of the infected spot. Wouldn’t you? Combine this with herbalism and you might have found you’ll be everyone’s new best friend.

  • Accessibility – First aid classes are easy to book, but for real usefulness we’re talking next level. More advanced skills are what we need, like those of a nurse, or a paramedic maybe, a GP would be the best. It all depends on how much time you want to put in. An excellent route for those not wanting to leave their job and go to university for the foreseeable future would be to join a volunteer ambulance service, like St John’s Ambulance Service here in the UK – 2/5
  • Time to Learn – Depending on the route you want to take, you can be up and running within a few months, but you won’t be performing open heart surgery for a good few years yet – 3/5
  • Everyday Benefit – You can save someone’s life before the world goes to the wall – 5/5
  • Bug Out Bag – You might need to bolster your first aid kit, but you’ll have to leave the defibrillator at home – 4/5

Score = 14 / 25


So the scores are in and summarised below:

  • Combat Skills – 16
  • Leadership – 16
  • Hunting / Fishing – 15
  • Mechanics / Engineering – 14
  • First Aid / Medical – 14
  • Flying / Piloting – 11
  • Sailing – 10

And the winning skill is….

With not much between the top five skills you’ve got a range to choose from and if you’re lucky enough to already have one or more of those skills then you need to decide if you want to rest on your laurels and sit back or learn another skill which will complement what you already have.

Combination Skillswoman-2209887_1920

As you can see the ability to use a bow and arrow wasn’t specifically addressed and that’s because it would take a combination of skills, three in fact, to make this a sustainable choice. You would need to first be able to make your own bows (becoming a bowyer), then make your own arrows, (a fletcher) and then acquire the ability to use those tools for hunting, or your own defence. However if you did, I’m pretty sure the combined skill would easily top the list.

There are many other of the skills we first discussed when combined together make potent combinations and I’m sure you can think of a few.

Thanks for taking the time to read and if you disagree with my conclusion or if I’ve missed an awesome skill then let me know in the comments.

In the End

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.


Bug Out Bag: Food Glorious Food?

Today we’re talking about food. In my post Ten Minutes to Go! the food in the bug out bag was chosen as I dashed around my kitchen hooking out what I thought would be the most calorific. Now it’s time to see if I could have made better choices, both with what I had in the cupboards and what I could purchase in readiness for an emergency.

What are the key considerations?

  • Weight – A key consideration for your back and important for every item in the bag.
  • Dimension / Volume – The smaller the better so we don’t take up more space than is needed.
  • Calorie Content Per Weight – The more calories in the same weight of food means we’re making more efficient use of the weight we’re carrying. Kcal per 100 grams is the measure used here in the UK. Even if you use different units in your country, the analysis is still as relevant.
  • Shelf Life – When we need to eat the food it will last a few days, but it will be sitting inside the bag for years, hopefully never to be used, so we don’t want to keep replacing it, or forget and then be of no use when we come to need them.
  • Availability – Would you normally have the food in your cupboards at home or is it something you would have to buy?


What’s Already in the Bag?

  • Low Fast Biscuits x 6 – 260 grams – 1,000 kcals – Six months shelf life
  • Packet Cooked Rice x 6 – 1,500 grams – 2,400 kcals – Nine months shelf life
  • Tinned Fish x 4 – 560 grams – 1,400 kcals – Three years shelf life
  • Tinned Beans & Sausages – 1 can – 476 grams  – 475 kcals – Two years shelf life
  • Beef Jerky – 1 packet – 35 grams – 100 kcals – Two years shelf life

The Analysis

With a total weight of just under 3kg, less than three percent of which is packaging, we’re getting 5,400 kcals. That’s just over the recommended energy intake for a man for two days. There’s a decent range of flavours in there, but the ingredients will start to go out of date within six months.

So can we do better with a little research?

Based on the key drivers we’ve already identified, I’ve picked out a list of contenders, some of which we’ve already got in the bag. Like with my previous posts we’ll give them marks for each area out of 5, with 5 being the highest score.

Here’s what we’ll look at.

How high will this score?
  • Calories per 100g – This factor tells us how efficient the food is at delivering calories, no matter how much weight we decide to carry.
  • Packaging Weight – If you can’t find a really good use for the packaging after you’ve eaten the food then you’re wasting your energy carrying it on your back.
  • Dimension / Volume – Space is as important as weight.
  • Shelf Life – Hopefully you’re not going to need the pack, but when you do you want what’s in to be good to use and not have to update the contents every few months.
  • Fragility – Can it handle being packed in the bag? Can it handle what you might have to go through with it on your back?

In the results we’ll also look at whether these items would normally be in your store cupboard.

There are other key areas we could also consider, like nutritional diversity. This is what else you’re getting apart from the raw energy. How much protein, fats, vitamins etc, but for the purpose of this post, we’re only looking at carrying enough food to last a few days. Once it’s used you’re going to have to find another source. I sense a new post idea on its way!

Tinned Fishfish-3287443_1920

With so many varieties, each cooked in a multitude of sauces, you’ve got a lot to choose from.

  • Calories per 100g – 280 kcals – 3/5
  • Packaging Weight – 12% of the weight is the tin – 3/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Pretty compact – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – 3 years – 4/5
  • Fragility – In a tin, will take a lot of punishment – 5/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 19 / 25

Tinned Beans & Sausagesbreakfast-2894729_1920

It’s an every day staple. What’s not to like?

  • Calories per 100g – 113 kcals – 1/5
  • Packaging Weight – 12% of the weight is the tin – 3/5
  • Dimension / Volume – It’s a round, awkward tin – 3/5
  • Shelf Life – 2 years – 3/5
  • Fragility – In a tin, will take a lot of punishment – 5/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 15 / 25

Packet Ricerestaurant-1762493_1920

A colourful, spicy range of good tasting food.

  • Calories per 100g – 153 kcals – 2/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Squishes down and fills any hole you put it into – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – 9 months – 2/5
  • Fragility – In a flexible packet it should take a fair battering – 5/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 18 / 25

Low Fat Biscuitscookie-3216243_1920

Diet food is not the kind of thing I should have grabbed, but let’s see how it compares.

  • Calories per 100g – 380 kcals – 4/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Huge volume, very low density – 1/5
  • Shelf Life – 6 months – 1/5
  • Fragility – Drop your bag once or twice and you’ll be hoovering up crumbs – 1/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 12 / 25

Tinned Meatcanning-2694736_1920

Spam. So good they wrote a sketch about it. Okay, maybe they didn’t write the sketch because it was so great. It should do well here though.

  • Calories per 100g – 292 kcals – 4/5
  • Packaging Weight – 12% of the weight is the tin – 3/5
  • Dimension / Volume – It’s a rectangular, awkward tin – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – 3 years – 4/5
  • Fragility – In a tin, will take a lot of punishment – 5/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Not in mine , but it may be in some people’s

Score = 20 / 25

Survival BiscuitsSeven_Oceans_Food

Seven Oceans Standard Emergency Ration

Provides enough nutrition to last one person 72 hours in a survival situation and gives the highest possible ratio of balanced nutrition packed in nine separate bars with grease-proof paper. The biscuit ration requires no preparation and may be eaten directly from the box. This unit is protected by a water-repellent cardboard box and are issued to most life rafts worldwide.

  • Calories per 100g – 500 kcals – 5/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – It’s the highest density of calories possible – 5/5
  • Shelf Life – 5 years – 5/5
  • Fragility – Dense blocks protected from water, these will take a fair bit of punishment – 4/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – No

Score = 24 / 25


It gets my vote even before we take a proper look. Let’s hope it gets the numbers and we’re packing toothpaste!

  • Calories per 100g – 534 kcals – 5/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Dense – 5/5
  • Shelf Life – The packaging shows around a year, but that’s to keep it at its optimum quality. We’ll get 3 years out of it easily before we have to eat it and replace, especially those without extra ingredients such as nuts – 4/5
  • Fragility – Water resistant packaging and product, it can get crumbled and it’ll still taste great, but get it too hot and you won’t be thankful – 4/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 23 / 25

Romney’s Kendle Mint Cake81nRkPHVjWL._SL1500_

Traditional survival fare, and it’s a sweet hit. Not as nice as chocolate to eat, but does the same damage to your teeth. Let’s see how it compares.

  • Calories per 100g – 320 kcals – 4/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Pretty compact – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – It’s flavoured sugar and will easily outlast anything else on this page – 5/5
  • Fragility – Less susceptible to heat than the chocolate but it’s going to crumble pretty easily – 3/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – No

Score = 21 / 25

MRE Ration Packsmaxresdefault

Meal Ready To Eat. These are military grade rations with each meal providing enough calories to keep a fighting force on its feet.

  • Calories per 100g – 150 kcals – 2/5
  • Packaging Weight – Small amount of packaging – 4/5
  • Dimension / Volume – They come in a big box meant to be moved around in lorries with the troops as the battle line is forced forward. Taking them from their packaging will make it easier to store, but will reduce the protection – 3/5
  • Shelf Life – 5 years – 5/5
  • Fragility – We’ve got to take it from the packaging – 4/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – No

Score = 18 / 25

Energy Bars

With so many varieties, all ready to eat from the packet, but are they the right thing to be carrying?

  • Calories per 100g – 280 kcals – 3/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Like the diet biscuits, you’re going to need a lot of them – 1/5
  • Shelf Life – 1 year – 2/5
  • Fragility – Has no protection from what could happen out there – 1/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – No

Score = 12 / 25

Preserved Meatsfennel-salami-recipe-600-px

There are lots of different types of preserved meats, each packing a decent punch of calories. There’s continental cured and fermented meats, with most requiring no preparation to eat, then there’s hard dried meats such as jerky or biltong which will last the longest and are very dense in calories. The last major type is the hard packed brined meats. This preservation process involves packing it in salt to dry it out and the result can last several years. However it requires soaking in water for a little while to pull out the salt and make it edible. Not an option for survival.

For this comparison we’ll look at the readily available cured, fermented and air dried meats like Salami or Chorizo, both of which have the same key characteristics we’re interested in.

  • Calories per 100g – 330 kcals – 4/5
  • Packaging Weight – You can eat pretty much all of it apart from the little metal clips at the end – 4/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Pretty compact – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – 2-3 years, if stored properly in a cool and well ventilated location which will help it develop, otherwise it should be kept in the fridge. We’re giving this the lowest score because it’s not feasible to keep it in the bag long term – 1/5
  • Fragility – It should take a fair battering – 4/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – May be in some

Score = 17 / 25

Peanut Butterpe_peanut_butter_0

Jam packed full of calories, it has the highest number out of all the foods we’ve looked at.

  • Calories per 100g – 610 kcals – 5/5
  • Packaging Weight – The plastic packaging is reusable and not as heavy as the metal tins, plus it’s resealable – 4/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Pretty compact – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – Stored outside of the fridge you’ve only got a few months to wait before you have rancid gloop – 1/5
  • Fragility – Plastic jars can easily be punctured, but it’s protected from water – 3/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 17 / 25


A staple cereal for years. Definitely one to consider.

  • Calories per 100g – 362 kcals – 4/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 4/5
  • Dimension / Volume – High volume because of all the pesky air in nature’s produce – 3/5
  • Shelf Life – Will last quite a few months in the cupboard, not sure how long stuffed in the bag – 3/5
  • Fragility – In just the bag its not going to be a pretty sight if it gets punctured – 2/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 16 / 25


Below is a summary of the scores, starting with the best performing. The (S) denotes it’s commonly available in the store cupboard.

  1. Survival Biscuits – 24
  2. Chocolate (S) – 23
  3. Kendle Mint Cake –  21
  4. Tinned Meat (S) – 20
  5. Tinned Fish (S) – 19
  6. MRE Ration Packs – 18
  7. Packet Rice (S) – 18
  8. Preserved Meats (S) – 17
  9. Peanut Butter (S) – 17
  10. Oats (S) – 16
  11. Tinned Beans & Sausages (S) – 15
  12. Energy Bars – 12
  13. Low Fat Biscuits (S) – 12

And the winner is….The product designed for job!

Even if we look at the nutritional balance, the survival biscuits would still come out of top. They’re inexpensive, not something you can say about the MRE Ration Packs and they’ll sit in the bag for a descent length of time without having to change them out.

It’s great to see some of the winners are available in the store cupboard, so if you don’t want to splash out on specialist gear you’re unlikely to use everyday then there are still some great choices.

What’s Going in the Bag?

With the results in I can see I didn’t make too many bad choices, but I could have done better. Now I need to make a decision about what we’re going to put in the bag. I can either extend the number of days I can live off the contents whilst carrying the same weight, or make the most of the weight reduction we’re getting whilst keeping the calorie content the same.

This is a personal choice and one you have to make depending on which circumstances you’re preparing your bag for.

I’ve chosen a bit of each strategy, so I’ll be cutting the weight and increasing the calorie count, but not drastically.

  • Oceans’ Emergency Rations  – With two packs, 1kg, we’re just about getting the same amount of calories but for a third of the weight.
  • Kendal Mint Cake – For variety we’re also going to add eight 85 gram bars of sweetness for a treat adding another fifty percent to the calorie count with only 680 grams of weight. I’ve chosen it over the chocolate because of its shelf life.

This means we’re packing 7,600 calories for just over half the weight of what we had in the bag before.

Is it the end of the story?

No. Depending on the situation you may have time to grab what you have in the cupboards and carry it separately to the bag, or you may be able to scavenge food whilst out in the new world and at least now you have some idea of what you should be grabbing first.

Food Gone bad?mold-2035457_1280

Whatever your choice, any food can still go bad. I’ve gone for a low maintenance option which should see me only need to replace every four to five years, but when it comes to needing to use the bag you still need to use your common sense, or your nose, as your guide. If it smells or tastes bad then don’t eat it. You don’t want to be crippled with food poisoning because you ate bad food. You’re better off going hungry or using your energy to get food from the land. Keep an eye out for a future post about surviving off the land.

In the End

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, despite those around every corner intent on hunting you down?


Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

Here’s Season One to get you started!


Bug Out Bag: Water, Water Everywhere: But it might just kill you!

As part of my Bug Out Bag series, today I’m looking at another key task the kit in my bug out bag needs to perform. Water Purification.

When I started researching this post I thought I knew everything I was going discuss and I would just be topping up my knowledge, but I was wrong. My research revealed many surprises which could have left me in serious trouble if I hadn’t prepared properly when it came to a time when I needed the bag. I’ve never been more thankful to the water utility provider I’ve always taken for granted!

In the UK we’re very lucky to have some of the cleanest water in world delivered to our sinks and toilets with just a turn of a wheel and we take no time to think of the process, the treatment and the effort which goes into making sure we don’t get sick every time we take a sip. But out there, out in the wild, we need to think about what’s in the water which could make us very, very ill and all at a time we need to be at the peak of our fitness and the peak of our awareness or we just won’t survive.

So what’s in the water?

Does it look clean to you?

The majority of the problems start and finish with poo. Yes, animal faeces, plus if the wilderness gets crowded we’ll need to concern ourselves with a growing problem of human faeces too. In a disaster scenario, the first priority is get safe, the second priority is to stop people from dying by giving them access to clean water and effective sanitation.


I’m no biologist, so the majority of the information in this post is taken either from the Centres For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, see link the below, and the product information for the LifeStraw.



Their technical name is Protozoa and we’re concerned with two common types, Cryptosporidium and Giardia Intestinalis. These organisms can cause nasty gastrointestinal illness, such as vomiting, cramps and diarrhoea in a healthy person, but much worse in someone with a compromised immune system.


Most of us would have heard of these culprits from limited outbreaks which make the news. Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella and E Coli. If you’ve ever had food poisoning then you’ll take this risk seriously. You’ll be lucky to get away with forty-eight hours of being unable to move from the toilet and the bucket, but imagine if you’re trying to run for your life at the same time!


As a sixteen year old in the welsh hills my dad was hiking with his friends, he needed to drink from a stream and so walked against the flow for a kilometre and having found nothing of concern, he walked back again to take his drink. It was only when he headed home following the same stream he came across a rotting sheep in the river two kilometres from where he’d drunk.

I’m not sure how long after, but he was soon rushed to hospital and within days he was in a coma, diagnosed with meningitis. He survived, but suffered severe nerve damage along one side of his body, leaving him with poor sensation in his extremities. Thankfully he went on to live a full life and is still around to tell the tale.

Enterovirus, hepatitis A, norovirus, rotavirus, meningitis, could all be present in the water and along with giving you a real bad time in your stomach, the damage to your health could be much more serious and long term.

What does it mean for us?

Will it fit in your pack?

We treat the water before we drink it. Seems obvious and it is, but what isn’t so clear is how we treat it. Before my research I thought the best way to treat water would be with chemicals. I’d tried this in the past, buying tablets to dissolve in the water, but its taste made me keen to find a better way.

What I found in my research surprised me and I’ve summarised for you all below.

The main ways to treat water start with a pre-filter. This means straining away the larger bits you can see, like plant life, bugs, dead & alive and larger bits of dirt and debris. I think coffee filters will be great for this, or nylon clothes would do just as well. We’ll look at the best choice in a later post. Pre-filtering does nothing to the nasties in the water, so now we’ll look how me neutralise what’s lurking to feed off your insides.

LifeStraw® Personal Water Filter

Rolling Boiling – This means continuously boiling the water. CDC recommend one minute of boiling, other sources recommend longer. The kit for doing this is in the bag, but it’s not quick and uses your valuable fuel or even more time gathering wood. The water will taste much like it did before you boiled it.

Filtration – With no pre-filtering required, we’re not just getting rid of what you can see, we’ll remove the nasties from the water, too. Different filter sizes are required to remove different contaminants, with the smallest being 0.3 microns. Quite literally this means the contaminants larger than the hole size won’t fit through and be drawn into your mouth. Currently there is nothing in the bag to do this, but a good example of the water filtration system is the LifeStraw discussed in my Battering for Your Life post.

Chemical Treatment / Disinfection – There are three common types of chemical treatment. Iodine, Chlorine and Chlorine Dioxide. All types of treatment are relatively common and available as either tablets or in liquid form, with the later being the result of mixing two liquids together. Chlorine Dioxide treatment is among the most common form of treatment used by municipal water authorities for the water in your pipes.

Each of the different treatment methods have varying effectiveness against the different hazards and I have summarised the information below, including the LifeStraw Personal on the right hand side as a good example of shop ready filtration method.


Effectiveness of treatment
Pre-filtration & Boiling (1 minute)
Iodine / Chlorine
Chlorine Dioxide
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter (0.2 micron)
Protozoa – Cryptosporidium
Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea
Very High
High (1 micron)
Low to Mod
Very High
Protozoa – Giardia intestinalis
Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea
Very High
(1 micron)
Low to Mod
Very High
Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea
Very High
(0.3 micron)
Very High
Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea, nerve damage, death
Very High
Salt Water (Ocean, Brackish)
Dehydration, death

* LifeStraw Mission – There is a version of the LifeStraw which is effective against viruses and chemicals, called the LifeStraw Mission. It has a much larger water capacity, but is however designed for use within a community and its price tag is over five times that of the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter.

** Salt Water – None of the methods listed above provide the ability to make salt water drinkable. Salt water is not drinkable because the kidneys are unable to make urine which has more salt than is present in salt water, therefore you need more water to process the salt content and you quickly become dehydrated. The salt needs to be removed from the water before you ingest it and we’ll cover this in a later post where we explore how to obtain drinking water when it’s not so obvious.



The main education I take from researching this post is the filtration method, specifically the LifeStraw. It doesn’t give you protection from viruses, but does give you a high degree of protection from the rest of the biological hazards. To me it’s clear, where you are able you should be pre-filtering, then boiling your water for at least one minute, but where you cannot achieve this, water should be collected, treated with Chlorine Dioxide tablets, then drunk through the LifeStraw or some other filtration device. This will give you a good level of protection against what might be lurking in the water source you stumble upon after hours of running for your life.

So in the bug out bag we’re adding the LifeStraw, but we’re also going to add a whole heap of Chlorine Dioxide tablets for when we don’t have a chance to get the burner roaring.

Like what you see here? Why not take a look at my other posts where I discuss the contents of the bug out bag.

So what do you think? Let me know your thoughts or stories in the comments.

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: 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!


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)


  • 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


  • 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


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


  • 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!

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.


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.


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



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.


  • 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
  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


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.


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.


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

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


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



Getting the flame burning with a flint & steel

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


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




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


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?


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.


It didn’t work.


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!

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