February – Month of Fire

The ability to create and sustain fire is an essential safety requirement in a survival situation.  Fire provides warmth when environmental conditions cause body heat to start dropping below safe limits.  Fire provides the ability to sterilize food and items for safer consumption and use.  Fire also provides some levels of safety at night from wild animals or ability signal one’s location.  The ability to create fire has served as one of the core differentiators between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom as well as essential to the development of mankind’s modern era.

I wanted to ensure that for my bug out bag (BOB) my ability to generate fire could be accomplished via multiple and variable ways.  I also wanted to ensure that the BOB had fire generation capabilities ranging from immediate emergency, worst case need to long term sustainment.  The two largest factors that influence these capabilities are moisture and wind.  Both of which in excessive quantities can be detrimental to being able to generate and sustain a good fire.  Consequently, two key legs of the fire triangle, fire and fuel, become critical needs for a good BOB plan.

Making a fire is as much art as it is science.  There are a plethora of ways to make fire.  They key is finding the way that is most successful for you and the situation – which requires trial and practice.  This is why I have such a range of items to generate fire.  Also, fuel sources are generally plentiful and many.  I paired down the list to just what I thought best to pack, with the expectation that majority of combustible material could be scavenged.


  • Bic Lighter x 3; up to 3K ignitions, does not work below 32°, or well when wet.  Two for the bag, one for the pocket or waist pouch. (I’ll cover packing diversity when I cover the bag itself and load out at the end of the year.)
  • Stormproof Match Kit; 25 matches and 3 strikers in weather proof case.  You can also buy or make (1 or 2) waterproof matches and store in a container.
  • FireSteel Armageddon by Firesteel.com; around 12K ignitions – with the right fuel. I would recommend watching a firesteel evaluation video by JungleCrafty.
  • Bow Drill; ignitions as long as cord is functional – the components can be scavenged, but recommend packing some multiuse paracord.  Fire bow and fire drill kits for practice or packing can be purchased from Amazon.  I would recommend watching Andy’s bow drill guide over at InnerBark Outdoors.
  • Fresnel Lens; infinite ignitions with full noon-day sun, does not work in suboptimal light or darkness.  To learn more, watch an overview video from Reality Survival.


  • WetFire; lights and burns even in water.
  • Live Fire Original; 25-30min of burn time, but used momentarily as a starter.  (Their 550 FireCord is pretty cool as well.)
  • Fatwood; great for making shavings and starting a fire when time is of the essence or tinder availability is low.
  • Cotton balls; multiuse item, can control rate of burn if covered with petroleum jelly, which is another multiuse item.  You can take it a couple steps further and make tinder almost like WetFire using cotton balls, petroleum jelly, and wax.  Read Erich’s how-to post at Tactical Intelligence.
BOB Fire Resources

Bug Out Bag – Fire Resources (Photos courtesy of Amazon)

January – Month of Water

One of my objectives this year is to build a decent bug out bag (BOB).  To that end, each month I am focusing on one specific area of need for the BOB.  January was the month I focused on water – hence my previous posts about emergency water purification and the Sawyer mini.  Culminating my research for the month of water I have put together a decent gear load out to assist with sustaining hydration.

I determined that the ability to carry about three (3) liters of water per person was a good starting point.  While there are many ways to accomplish this, I ended up with two major options centered around two hard bottles and one collapsible bottle.

  1. 1 Nalgene + 1 Stainless Steel Kleen Kanteen + 1 Platypus Platy bottle collapsible bag  (Pro: A clear Nalgene can make visible inspection and consumption tracking easier.)
  2. 2 Stainless Steel Kleen Kanteen + 1 Platypus collapsible bag  (Pro: Two steel containers allows for boiling twice as much if needed.)

The next set of requirements were based on the amount of time one might have to stop and resupply.  The more time one has, the less consumable water purification resources may be used.  Additionally, one can mix and match these capabilities based on the available resources and the situation, such as using the gravity filter supplemented by boiling at the same time.

  • Forced March, on the go water purification: Katadyn Micropur x 30; purifies 30 liters (must prefilter turbid water – bandanna, coffee filter; takes two hours)
  • On Demand water filtration:  Sawyer Mini; filters up to 100,000 gallons
  • Operational Pause filtration: Platypus GravityWorks 4 Liter
  • Operational Recovery purification: Boil in Klean Kanteen as noted by Einar A.

As I mentioned in the previous emergency water supply post, these options address most of the issues one would face with water on the go, but not chemicals in the water.  To have some level level ability to address some heavy metals and other contaminants I have added a Berkey filter that I can place in my canteens post filtering or purifying with the other methods.  It may not have a large chemical filtration capability, but I see it as better than having nothing.

Bug Out Bag - Water

Bug Out Bag – Water Resources
(Photos courtesy of Amazon and Einar A.)

Sawyer Mini Water Filter

I recently was introduced to the Lifestraw (price) and other Vestergaard products when talking about hiking or emergency water needs with colleagues.  While doing my research I came across a good, quick article by Preparing for SHFT comparing the Lifestraw to the Sawyer Mini.  I jumped in and reviewed the Sawyer Mini (price) and other Sawyer water filtration products.

I really like the specifications and flexibility of the Sawyer Mini.  It is rated for filtration of up to 100,000 gallons of water at 0.1 microns.  That is 378 times the 264 gallon, 0.2 micron Lifestraw.  The Sawyer Mini should be thought of as a straw filter, requiring either gravity, manual pressure, or manual suction to force water through the filter.  Keep in mind the Sawyer Mini is a 0.1 micron filter.  This means the Sawyer Mini is much slower but has much greater filtration efficacy than other products on the market, such as Katadyn which sell 0.2 micron filters and can come with a pump.

When reviewing any potential add to my resources there are four factors to portable products: weight (how heavy is it), size (how much space is it going to consume), resource needs (what does it consume and how much – which has its own evaluations), time (how long to set it up, use, and store) and lifespan (how long before I need to conduct maintenance and replace it).  As far as water filters go, the Sawyer Mini is clearly a pack leader in the market space based on these factors.

Emergency Water Purification

Clean, safe water is one of the three foundational needs in a survival situation.  The baseline water requirement is around one-half to one gallon of water per person per day, more or less depending on activity and conditions.  The human body can generally survive for up to three days without water.  So having enough for fixed or mobile situations becomes a critical need as more time passes.

Both the situation and potential water concerns must be evaluated to support effective planning.  Water purification capabilities come in either portable or fixed applications, with portable ranging from straws to pumps.  There are five main areas of concern with water quality: clarity, protozoa, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals.  These contaminants are removed through one of, or a combination of, three methods:  filtration, energetic (boiling, UV lights), or chemical.  Not all methods work for all needs.  For example, filters come in a range of sizes.  A 2.0 micron filter removes most visible particulate for clarity.  A 1.0 micron filter will remove 99.9% of protozoa.  A 0.1 micron filter will remove most 99.9% of bacteria.  A 0.01 micron filter will remove 99.9% of viruses (most personal filters do not go down this far).  Chemical contamination requires special methods or equipment.

More detailed information about water needs and purification can be found at: FEMA, Red Cross, CDC (chart), Water Filter Dude, and Outdoor Gear Lab’s backpacking water guide.

Protected Rechargeable Batteries

While looking into rechargeable battery options for the Nitecore SRT5 I noticed some 18650 Li-ion batteries were marked “protected” and came with a slightly higher cost.  After some quick research it appears some rechargeable batteries come with a built in safety switch to help you get the most out of them you can.  Since I like self-correcting systems I would recommend spending a couple more dollars and let the batteries do the math for you.

Nitecore SRT 5

I am always interested in tactical flashlights.  I recently watched a review by Chris at Preparedmind101 reviewing the Fenix PD35 where I was introduced to the 750 lumen Nitecore SRT5.  I have never seen a flashlight that has as much versatility as the SRT 5.  I really like things that can serve more than one purpose.  You can find this little dazzler for sub $100.