The Smart Prepper

Life is hard, it's harder if you're stupid – John Wayne

August 05, 2016

Best Socket Set – One Size Fits All

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Versatility Makes The Best Socket Set

Having a set of tools is always valuable. For anybody who has read Robinson Crusoe there is a section of the book that sums up the importance of tools. After Robinson is shipwrecked the ship surfaces off the shore, but there is not much time as the tide that brought the ship in can easily take it out to see again. Faced with this dilemma Robinson Crusoe takes items from the ship in order of priority. The highest priority items are tools. If you are ever in a situation where you need to pack light and you need tools – the more versatile the tool the better as it is less for you to carry. That makes this Gator Socket wrench pretty awesome as it replaces the need for a whole set of various sizes of sockets and the need to have metric and US standards down to a single socket. Give it a try and you’ll agree it’s one of the best socket sets you can buy.

November 03, 2015

Primitive Survival Shelters


Primitive Survival ShelterIf you are ever in a survival situation you may need to build your own shelter. This is true especially true if you are in a wet or cold area. If you don’t protect yourself from the elements you can put yourself in extreme danger of becoming very ill or dead. As a young boy I loved building forts just like every other young kid my age. I would build forts every time my dad took me camping. As a teenager I built a snow fort and slept in it for boy scouts (see image below). Being an adult gives me more physical strength and more ideas of how to build forts. In a survival situation a fort becomes a shelter. A good strategy of being prepared is to practice. You should practice building a fort. This can also be a great family activity. If you build a fort and sleep in it at least once you will learn from experience things you like and don’t like about your fort. No matter where you go or what happens to you in life you take what you know with you. Your experience is what helps you be prepared for survival situations.  What qualifies a place as a shelter? Here we have some basics of what a shelter should be. Check out these awesome shelters people have built and get some ideas of what you can go try.

primitive survival shelter

What does a wilderness need to be?

In any survival situation the moral can be torn down very easily. There are a few things that help build moral more than others. The biggest moral booster is having a fire. The second biggest moral booster is having a good nights rest, which can directly correlate to having a shelter that meets your basic needs for the night or nights you will be using it.

  • Relatively quick to assemble. Most survival situations you will not have a lot of energy input into your body – AKA food. A wilderness shelter should not expend all your energy to build or you will not be able to continue on with another day’s activities. The decision of how much energy you put into a fort is really determined on a case by case basis. Ask the questions “How long will I stay here?” or “What is the risk of not building a good shelter?”
  • Protect from the harsh elements. In cold areas the wind is going to be your worst enemy. Sleeping in snow is cold, but not as cold as sleeping in the wind on top of snow. A wilderness shelter in that type of environment should block out the wind as much as possible. Alternatively if you in a rainy area you will want a shelter that helps block out the rain. Sleeping in the rain is so miserable. It is like Chinese water torture. I had a tent break on me one time in a freak hail storm and I ended up attempting to sleep in the rain. Needless to say I didn’t get much rest that night.
  • Protect from animals.  Everywhere in the world has insects. Sometimes they are bad enough to the point you cannot sleep on the ground. No matter where you are in the world you will need to protect yourself from some dangerous animal. You don’t need to build Fort Knox, but some type of a fort that creates a deterrent will help you from being easily attacked.
  • Sturdy. If you are above ground because of insects you don’t want the shelter to fall out from under you in the middle of the night, or if you are in the snow you don’t want a collapsed roof on top of you. The last thing you need is to have something go wrong when you are trying to sleep. The frame of your shelter should use the strongest materials you can find.


Check out these awesome primitive survival shelters

Lowland Wilderness Shelter

High Mountainous Wilderness Shelter

Simple Woven Mud Hut

Winter Survival Shelter

Long Term Wood Cabin Base Shelter

Basic Wood A-Frame Wilderness Survival Shelter



October 20, 2015

Lightest hiking water filter

When you go hiking or backpacking your are really just exercising with style. The average person needs to consume eight glasses of water every day when you are not exercising, and even more if you do work out.Water weighs 8.34 pounds or 3.78 kilograms for every gallon. Having to carry the amount of water you need when hiking is heavy and makes the hike seem to take longer than it normally would. A great alternative to having to carry all the water yourself is to take a water filter you can use at any water source on your hike. I have used several water filters  for hiking and backpacking over the years. Some can output high volumes of water without needing to change the filter often, but the flow rate is very low. Other hiking water filters output water faster, but the filters need to be changed more frequently. Filters are often expensive – almost as expensive as the original unit in some cases. The downside to most of the hiking water filters I have used over the years is they are bulky and don’t fit easily in a pocket. Finding the lightest hiking water filter will make hiking just that more enjoyable as you don’t have to carry so much extra gear or added water weight to go out and enjoy nature.

October 15, 2015

Best Emergency Radio

What does an emergency radio need to be?

  • Water resistant – If you get rained on the radio needs to continue to function.
  • Self powered – Solar cells or hand crank.
    • Hand cranked should be a positive turn usage, meaning you should not have to crank the power for one minute to just get ten seconds of usage. Even a 1 to 1 ratio is exhausting.
    • Solar isn’t as important to have high efficiency cells because you can just leave the radio in the sun while walking or driving. It can charge all day and be ready when you need it.
  • Rechargeable battery – If a power source is available then you should be able to plug into it and get fully charged.
  • Portable battery – Should be able to use the battery built in to charge other devices like your cell phone.
  • AM/FM/NOAA – The radio needs to be able to tune to both frequency and amplitude modulations. More importantly being able to tune into NOAA broadcasts for severe weather or emergency updates is crucial in an emergency.
  • Small – Portability is key in an emergency situation. You need to keep everything you carry as light as possible. A large emergency radio will only add unnecessary weight.
  • Flashlight – Like my dad has always said, “A person can never have too many flashlights.”
  • EMP – If you are worried about any type of electromagnetic pulse causing circuits to surge and break, having a radio that can still hear what is going on around you would be vital to have. There really are no radios or electronics that are EMP proof. You can either build a giant lead case for your electronics, or protect your electronics by building a faraday cage. They are pretty simple concepts and there are a lot of great instructions on the internet on how to build a faraday cage. You can use these for any electrical device you want to protect.
  • Cheap price – You don’t want to break the bank for an a good quality emergency radio.


October 14, 2015

Best hiking water bottle

What makes the best hiking water bottle

Water weighs 8.34 pounds or 3.78 kilograms for every gallon. Most day hiking you will drink near a gallon of water – that’s a lot of extra weight that you don’t need to carry. Often times I love hiking to some pristine lake or beautiful waterfall. There is plenty of cold water just begging me to take a drink, and if you are gutsy without minding getting diarrhea feel free to drink any water when you are out hiking. Most of the water sources in America tend to be limited to just bacterial infestations. Very rarely does the US have viral outbreaks in the water. This makes it easier as you just need to have a filter for eliminating microbes. My personal favorite is a filter called a Life Straw. I have one in all my survival bags and take the Life Straw Water Bottle every time I go out. This is my hiking water bottle of choice. Nothing tastes better than clean mountain water freshly melted from the snow or coming out of the ground. Taking one water bottle that can filter along the way can save you from carrying an extra 24 pounds of water weight, thus making your hike that much more enjoyable. Not every place I go hiking has water. In fact most of the area where I live is desert. In these situations I need to pack extra water and I absolutely LOVE to have my water stay cold for the hike. The second bottle listed below is one I use and love. Truth be told if you are hiking in a desert – like Arches National Park – you are going to need several bottles of water just to keep from getting too dehydrated.

October 11, 2015

Ham radio call signs

ham radio call signs

What are ham radio call signs

ham radio call signs
In broadcasting and amateur radio there are call signs, which are unique letters and numbers to identify the broadcaster. Hammies (Ham Radio Operators) are required to be licensed to use the various frequencies available to ham radios. To get licensed a person needs to take the ham radio test by licensed volunteers. After you pass the test the FCC will issue your ham radio call sign. According to the FCC: Each call sign has a one letter prefix (K, N, W) or a two letter prefix (AA-AL, KA-KZ, NA-NZ, WA-WZ) and a one, two, or three letter suffix separated by a numeral (0-9) indicating the geographic region. Certain combinations of letters are not used. When the call signs in any regional-group list are exhausted, the selection is made from the next lower group. The image to the left shows the numerical region of each state. When you get issued your ham radio call sign from the FCC you will have the number in your call sign. My call sign is KG7WHM because I received my license in the state of Utah. The suffix is a set of letters that are incremented with every new license issued.  When you broadcast on any radio frequency your license is good for you must broadcast your call sign at the end of every transmission or in ten minute intervals. If there is ever an emergency you can broadcast over a ham radio on any channel even if you are not licensed. Being prepared however it would be good to regularly practice transmitting over a ham radio, which means you should get your license. The license is very easy to get. The link earlier for the ham radio test has the exact test you will take and it’s just a matter of memorizing all the possible answers. Also note that if you get more than just the first license (Technician Class License) then you can become eligible for a vanity call sign (meaning you can chose it to some degree).


October 04, 2015

Bug Out Bag Checklist


Bug out bag checklistA bug out bag checklist really should consist of two categories. The first is things to physically pack and have ready to take with you at a moments notice. The second category is equally important and that is what you know. The bug out bag checklist is meant to be light weight. If a real emergency arrises a bug out is most likely not going to be permanent. If you need to carry your bag for miles upon miles – the heavier the bag is the faster you will wear down. You do not need to have a bag packed sitting by your door in case something happens, but rather have everything you would need in a bug out situation readily available so that you can finish packing a bag and leave. For example in California when residents were told they had to evacuate their homes due to fires they were given about an hour pack and leave. Imagine having one hour to pack your life away, what do you take? Also take into consideration that a bug out bag may need different equipment based on a bug out location. If you know where you would go in an emergency then maybe your location has the essentials you need and the bug out bag is more of a personal effects carrier. If you don’t have a bug out location then it is best to stick with the essentials. The list below is not a comprehensive list, but these are a few of the essentials that every bug out bag should have.

Physical things to pack

  • Three days of food
  • Water purifierlife straw or life straw water bottle are my personal favorites
  • USB with all legal documents on it – a bug out is most likely not going to be a permanent situation. There will come a point when you will need proof that you are who you say you are. Rather than keep original passports or birth certificates make copies and put them on a USB jump drive, and then put that jump drive in a waterproof container.
  • First aid kit
  • Change of clothes – this can vary based on the season. You will not want to wear shorts in the middle of winter.
  • Personal hygiene – hotel size toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap should work fine
  • Fire starting material – waterproof matches, lighter, or magnesium flint and steel (Magnesium burns so hot it will start anything wet on fire)
  • Ham radio – I strongly recommend the Beofeng UV5RA as it’s only $30. You will need to make sure you are licensed to use a ham radio.
  • Portable solar power – a portable solar panel for any electronic devices you have
  • Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Cash or other currency exchange
  • Something personal to quickly add – depending on the situation taking something priceless like journals or family heirlooms would be appropriate

Checklist of things to learn

Learning and preparing for emergencies is a lot like practicing a musical instrument. The more you practice the more muscle memory you build up. Soon your fingers know where to go without looking because you just know. Being prepared for emergencies is the same way. Doing dry practice runs or learning as much as you can will give you the advantage because you will just know what to do in a bug out situation.

  • Know basic to advanced first aid. Be able to set a broken bone, use a tunicate, or give someone stitches if needed.
  • Have an understanding of botany in your area. What plants are good to eat and what plants should be avoided.
  • Trap animals. Knowing how to catch, clean, and eat small game will help keep your energy up if food supplies run low.
  • Practice grabbing your bug out bag and going where you need to go.
  • Get licensed for ham radio. is a most excellent resource.
  • Learn to use a firearm