The Smart Prepper

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

October 17, 2015

Dog camping supplies

Man’s best friend

Camping is an excellent chance to get away from the normal day to day grind of computers and working. When you plan your next camping trip plan on taking your dog. Most camping sites allow dogs on leashes and almost all hiking trails allow pets. When I go camping I make sure I have prepared everything for my family (including our little shitzu Kola). Having an emergency and not being prepared is one way to really tarnish a vacation getaway. In order to make sure my dog and family have a good memorable time I make sure I have the following list items when we go camping.

Dog camping supplies

Do I really need all this stuff?

Dog camping supplies list

  • Poop bags – Left over plastic shopping bags work the best. Most hiking trails and campsites are dog friendly. Just be polite and pick up your dog’s poop.
  • Dog food – Pack your normal dog food in a bag. Your dog will eat this plus any leftovers from your camp cooking.
  • Backpack for dogs – There are several type of backpacks you can put on your dog when you go hiking. Some of the dog backpacks have lots of extra pockets and room, ranging from sizes from small to extra large depending on your dog’s size. Having your dog carry its own food and water helps lessen everything you need to carry when hiking.
  • Long leash – A longer leash is used when you are at your campsite to give your dog a larger radius of free roaming. These longer leashes can be something as simple as a rope cut to a desired length and tied to a bench or tree.
  • Walking leash – You will want a shorter leash for going on hikes or walks. All dogs love hiking and are great at it. You will just need to keep them under control because they will want to run everywhere and mark their territory with every chance they get.
  • Feeding bowl(s) – One bowl can be sufficient for your dog’s food and water (just not at the same time). One item that my wife and I love for our dog is a portable bowl set that goes flat and stores easily when we aren’t using it.
  • First Aid for Dogs – We have first aid kits for our families – dogs just need a few extra items.
    • Tick Medication – Ticks are very easy to contract in tall grasses.
    • Flee medication – Being around other pets your dog can easily contract flees.
    • Deworming pills – Dogs can pick up worms in public areas very easily. If another animal in the area has had worms and your dog decides to roll through it’s feces there is a chance your dog will contract worms.
    • Dog probiotics – For diarrhea or dog allergies. Ultimately helps digestive problems.
  • Old towel – Often times if you take your pet out hiking or walking it will get very dirty. When you are done camping and on your way home it will be nice to have an old towel or blanket for your dog to sit on, thus preventing the dog’s dirt from getting everywhere. Also if you go hiking anywhere with water you will need something to help keep your dog dry and stop it from spreading mud and filth to everything else.
  • Dog snacks – You are out to have a good time, why not your dog? Any small snacks or chew bones are an added bonus for man’s best friend.
  • Clothes – Sometimes in the high mountains the temperature gets cold fast at night. My dog doesn’t have a lot of insulation on him and we take a few extra dog clothes for him to help keep him warm.



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 12, 2015

Number 1 choice of hunting video cameras

What is the number one choice of hunting video cameras?

Safety is the highest priority when you are out hunting. When you have a weapon in your hands you should not be trying to toggle your phone camera and weapon at the same time. This is for your safety and the safety of everyone in your hunting party. If you want to capture your hunting expedition then you need a hunting video camera that is hands free. The best practice for making a video to capture the hunt is to just have a camera rolling the entire time. You can easily download the video file and edit out all the parts you don’t want – thus making the movie shorter and covering only the highlights that you want to share with everyone. The GoPro camera listed below even comes with software to make your editing experience trivially easy. The GoPro HERO4 SILVER is the most used camera for all sorts of outdoor activities and this is the best choice of all the options for hunting video cameras. They are very robust, can handle getting dropped, and even waterproof for wetter days. Because the GoPro cameras are so popular there are some excellent accessories. The accessories allow you to strap the camera to your head, chest, weapon, or trusty hunting dog. Being able to record the thrill of the hunt and preserve it in video is like taking a snapshot in time that you can enjoy forever.


October 12, 2015

Great realistic prepper fiction stories

Realistic Prepper Fiction

realistic prepper fictionThe purpose of being a prepper is to be prepared no matter what happens. Statistically speaking most end of the world scenarios where all governments fall into anarchy is very unlikely. What is more likely is being put in an emergency survival situation where you will need to evacuate your home due to a fire, or get stuck in the wilderness because your car ran out of gas. In these situations you will need to know what to do. These stories are all about surviving when the odds are stacked against you. They are situations that could really happen. I loved all of these books and read them many times when I was a child. I love reading because it is an escape from the day to day grime we all face. There is a part of me that craves adventure and these books make you feel like you are living the adventure. You feel like you are fighting to survive just like the main characters in these stories.

List of my favorite prepper fiction stories


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 09, 2015

Try a winter activity and buy some snow shoes

Why go snow shoeing

The beauty of nature when hiking in snow shoes.Getting a pair of snow shoes and going hiking in the backcountry is a great source of seeing a side of nature you never had the chance to explore before. Hiking through the snow is a great type of exercise and the releasing of endorphins will make you feel wonderful. This can be a very cheap activity if you want to just rent some snowshoes for the weekend. I live in the Rocky Mountains and Utah Vally University has a great rental place with snowshoes including poles for only $15. Compared to the cost of skiing, renting a pair of snowshoes is like throwing pennies in a bucket. The best times to go hiking in the snow is either after a fresh snowfall or when there is a slight humidity in the air because the trees will develop awesome phenomenon known as hoarfrost that is absolutely beautiful. The picture to the left shows an example of hoarfrost in Utah – when the moisture in the air just freezes to the trees. It will make you feel like you are really in a winter wonderland. Makes for great photoshoots.


why you need snow shoes - deep snowThe benefit of a good pair of snow shoes over a regular pair of shoes is the area imprint on the ground. Most of the time snow is pretty powdery, at least until it melts and freezes again. Walking with a regular pair of boots in the snow is a lot of work, especially if the snow is deep because you spend that much more energy making larger steps. Snow shoes help disperse the weight of your body over a larger area giving you the ability to not sink deep in the snow. The picture to the left shows how deep snow can get where I lived as a child. Snow shoes or cross country skis are the only way to traverse this deep snow.

One of the funnest activities you can do in a group is to make a list of pictures to take. This is a game I often play when I go hiking in the snow with my friends or family. Everyone has a camera on their phone or a go cam. Whoever gets the most pictures from the list wins. If there is a tie then you simply vote whose photos are better. Make your list consisting of several wild animals that roam during the winter where you will be hiking, nice winter scenes like hoarfrost on a tree, specific type of trees, a frozen waterfall, a stream, a person in a particular pose or action, or any combination of things in a scene.

Start your adventure snow shoeing

Walking uphill

There are a couple of different techniques that you should use depending on the snow conditions. If you are going up particular steep hill or terrain a lot of snow shoes have an extra feature called a heel lift on the heal of the snow shoe. Flip this up for easier ascents .

  • Powder Snow – When the snow is really fine or powdery you will want to kick hard into the snow with every step. Kicking toe first will help create a good a good step with enough pressure underneath from the packed snow to give you the ability to keep walking uphill.
  • Hardpacked Snow – This type of snow has usually melted on the top and frozen again. This type snow really doesn’t need the extra imprint from the size of the snow shoes, rather you will need to rely on the claws on the bottom of the snow shoe for traction. This is also where having a set of poles can really be beneficial. Poles have points in the bottom that will pierce the ice crusted snow and help your momentum in moving forward.

Walking downhill

Having poles with you during this part of your winter hiking journey will help. I have had a lot of experiences where I started sliding downhill because the snow gave way. Keeping your poles in front of you, angled away, and pushed into the snow will help give you added traction to keep you safe. If you overstep you have the chance of getting the snow shoe stuck too. Walking downhill can be a lot of fun, especially if you get speed and just go down a hill of fresh powder. The most important thing to realize is know your limits and be safe.

Hiking with poles

Where I grew up as a kid there were absolutely no hills to climb. Snow shoeing in the winter was fun, but there was no need for poles. Poles are beneficial if you will be doing any type of uphill or downhill hiking. The best type of poles to get are adjustable or retractable. There will be times when you don’t need to use poles and if you can fold them up and clip them onto your belt or jacket you will save lots of energy. Your arms can get tired from carrying poles and using them as extra traction. Most poles come with straps that help keep the pole grounded to your hand.

Be Safe

  • Wear good shoes. Insulated winter waterproof boots are best. Wear with wool socks
  • Have layered clothes. Avoid cotton because it retains sweat and moisture. When you’re wet you get cold fast, which means a higher risk of getting sick.
    1. First layer – wool or some other synthetic that will keep you warm even when wet. This can be long underwear or just some tight clothing. Patagonia Capilene®, UnderArmor ColdGear®.
    2. Second layer – Something made from polyester. This will help keep heat in and allow water or sweat out as you hike through the snow.
    3. Last layer – A layer of Gore-Tex is best. Something that breathes and yet fairly waterproof.
  • Winter hazards – Be careful about crossing streams and snow conditions that could trigger an avalanche. Most national and state parks have avalanche condition statuses on their websites.
  • Have a float plan – Make a written document of where you will be when and roughly when you will be there. Make sure that someone who does not go out with you knows your float plan. This way if you don’t return back safely rescuers will have a good idea of where you were and where to start looking. Another item I always take with me is my Baofeng ham radio transceiver. You need to be licensed to use a ham radio, but if you are in an emergency you are allowed to use the radio on any channel. The Baofeng is so cheap that it would be a good idea to just keep with you even if you are not licensed for emergencies.
  • Stay warm and dry
  • Don’t get dehydrated – You will sweat a lot when you go out hiking in the snow and because it is cold outside you will not feel dehydrated. Take a bottle of water. When it is empty you can put fresh snow in the bottle and keep the bottle inside your coat. The heat from your body will melt the snow giving you fresh water.
  • Take high calorie foods – Any snacks high in carbohydrates and electrolytes.

Where to go snow shoe hiking

Often times trails in the mountains get closed during the winter because the roads leading to them are closed due to the high snowfall and adverse weather conditions of winter. Not all roads are closed in national forests or BLM land. These are open to the public making them free and great places to go hiking in the snow. Find an outdoor store that rents gear and go rent a pair of snow shoes. They will have some great locations in your area that you can go hiking that are popular and safe. If you are going to go out more than five to ten days over your lifetime then it would be prudent to buy a pair of snow shoes rather than rent them.

Which snow shoe is right

There are several types of snow shoes available pretty much anywhere. You can even make your own, which is a great family activity to do in the winter. When purchasing a pair of snowshoes there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Seeing how other people who have purchased the snow shoes and rated them will help.

  • External Traction – Good snow shoes need to have some type of clamps or spikes on the bottom to help with areas that are more icy than snow.
  • Durable – Obviously you do not want to be out hiking when a piece of plastic breaks or metal bends. See if there is a weight limit on the shoes. The larger the shoes the more the weight is dispersed, so if you are like me you will want a larger snow shoe size.
  • Adaptable – Some snow shoes have extras like the heel lift. See if the snow show is adaptable to various scenarios like hiking up steep hills or in muddy areas. Also see if there are attachments that make them more floatable (larger area to keep from sinking in the snow).


October 08, 2015

Best Snowboots For Winter

Being outside in the winter

South Dakota snow - need snowbootsThere are so many fun activities to do in the winter. I grew up in an old creaky house located in small town South Dakota. Some years we had several feet of snowfall. As a kid this is the greatest thing that can happen because it usually means having school closures due to the adverse weather. My brothers and I would often go sledding down giant hills of snow out in a parking lot or build some awesome snow fort by digging out holes in the already five feet of snow in our yard. My parents naturally worried about us going outside because the weather can get very cold and snow is just water – melt it in your shoes for example and you can get sick fast. They didn’t prohibit us from going outside by any means, but rather wanted us to be protected. We would always  have good quality waterproof snowboots, some type of jumper or snow pants to go with them, a warm duck down coat, and excellent gloves and head gear. I have gone outside in the winter with just my tennis shoes when I had to shovel the sidewalk. The snow accumulated next to my ankles and began to melt. This made my feet all wet and uncomfortable because the heat from my feet left faster with my feet being wet rather than dry. Dry feet equals warmer – remember that!

My dad is a great man. He loves to be prepared. In South Dakota you never know if you will get stuck in your car during a blizzard on the way to the nearest grocery store (the nearest grocery store at the time was over 20 miles from our house). We would always have winter survival kits in our cars. In this process my father also bought some of the most ridiculous looking winter snowboots. My brothers and I tease him to this day for his eccentric tastes. Be that as it may my dad knew what to look for in boots. Looking ridiculous is a price well worth it if the alternative is having frost bitten toes and having to have them amputated. Any of the snowboots I buy today follow the standard my dad has taught me. You need your boots to be warm, prevent snow from getting inside, and keep you dry from water on the outside.


Best snowboots for winter

When looking for a pair of snowboots there are several attributes that need to be taken into consideration. The following is a list my dad has taught me to keep in mind and then a couple of boots that I either have a pair, come highly recommended, or remind me of my dad.

  • Materials – It is difficult to determine the exact materials. If part is a polymer, it may be urethane, rubber, vinyl, or other such material. I do notice that if the part that actually touches the ground is a little flexible does help for traction. Really hard bottoms of boots can slip easier out from underneath you. Totally enclosed waterproof material keeps water out, yet will also keep sweat in. Can air circulate while walking? Some high tech materials like gortec can breathe somewhat and that can help. Your feet will be cold if the get wet from the inside also.
  • Construction –  Is the boot sewn, glued, or a combo of both. Today you cannot find any that do not use adhesive. They work. I have seen some of the adhesive’s hold an engine to a ceiling. Ice is a different animal all together. I have found that if the bottom is labeled slip resistant it does help, Lugs on the bottom may or may not help on ice. I have a couple pair of that slip over my boots that have ice spikes or cleats on them. It is good to have the lugs at angles and to have a little space between them, Think of snow tires.
  • Insulation – The thing I look for is how much insulation the boot has, especially below and above your actual foot area. Some cheap boots will give you foam at the top of the boot where you put your foot in but have just a thin layer around your foot, This will be cold. A leather upper works. Also think of buying a pair  thick socks (usually wool). I like to wear a liner sock over a wool one as the inner liner (usually made of part wool and synthetic and is thin) will wick away sweat away from your skin.
  • Comfort – This is determined on a case by case basis. You need to make sure the boots are comfortable for you.
  • Intent – There are two main types of snowboots. The first type you use as a cover over other shoes or boots.  They don’t have a great amount of insulation. The second type is a standard snowboot that you use by themselves.
  • Tread –  Tread is needed to keep traction in snow. Having lugs that will push down harder to interlock helps in snow.
  • Price – What are my other options (other snow quality shoes available) etc. Remember you do pay for what you get. Cheaper price can often mean cheaper quality materials.


October 07, 2015

Cheap Cowgirl Boots

Types of cowgirl boots.

Just like arguing over ford versus chevy, picking the right brand is something you have to do personally. Trying on boots is the only way you will know what style and fit you like and don’t like. In general cowgirl boots are an excellent type of shoe to have around your house. Leather boots are very durable especially if you take care of them. The best thing you can do for your boots is put Neatsfoot Oil on them. I have an uncle who spent his career as a power linemen. He often had very expensive leather boots and he wanted to make them last. He would periodically rub his boots down with the Neatsfoot Oil and then let them dry over night. Every time my uncle had to drudge through the snow or rain his boots would take a beating and again he would apply the oil. I asked him how much he think he extended the life of the boots by this one simple thing and he told me that his boots lasted three to five times what they would have done normally.  One of the benefits of having boots over a regular pair of sneakers or tennis shoes is the hard bottom helps them last longer if you are often having to hike over rocks or rough terrain. There are two main categories for cowgirl boots, western (or classic) and roper. The classic style have at least an inch heal and a cowgirl classic style will have a slightly larger heal than a cowboy’s boots. Classic cowgirl boots are taller than the roper style and classic boots tend to have a pointer toe than the roper cowgirl boots. In either of these two categories there are about four main brands – Justin, Roper, Ariat, and Tony Lama. These boots can go anywhere from $100 to $5000 for a pair. Some of them will last your lifetime. Picking a brand of shoe is like picking jeans over khakis. You just need to learn what your style is and embrace it.

Good quality cheap cowgirl boots

With everything you buy, you pay for what you get. However you don’t have to buy the main brand boots to look great. The following list is composed of very highly rated and yet still cheap cowgirl boots. See a style you like? Go ahead and check them out for yourself. Remember that you really should try on the shoes on before you purchase. If you absolutely know your size, you have read the reviews, and know that they are pretty spot on for the size then go ahead and just purchase the pair. Starting around $30 you really can’t go wrong.


October 06, 2015

Camping Tarp

What to do with a camping tarp

A camping tarp can be used for several different parts of camping. If your tent does not have a rainfly or seems to leak a little bit of water when it rains outside you can put a tarp over the tent and tie it down effectively making it act as a rainfly for your tent. I usually don’t do this as I prefer to just have a nice rainfly with my tent and I just spray it down with a waterproofing spray. However, if you buy a tent at a yard sale and it’s missing a rainfly then this is a good alternative. Another thing you can do with tarps is put them under your tent. Most areas usually have some form of ground moisture that sneaks up on you at night and can make for a wet experience if you don’t have a great bottom on your tent. I have a friend who had a tent where the bottom started to wear thin. He went out camping and laid his phone on the ground next to him. There was enough ground moisture that came up through the bottom of the tent that it short circuited his phone. I usually always put a tarp under the bottom of the tent to protect from ground moisture and it also helps preserve the bottom of the tent from sticks, rocks, or other sharp objects. One mistake I see people often make is when they put a tarp under their tent they don’t roll the edges of the tarp under the side of the tent. You DON’T want to see the ground tarp sticking out of any edge of your tent because if it rains the tarp then acts like a giant cup and just collects the water and pools it right under you. You want to just let the rain run off and flow into the ground. Another use for tarps is to make a quick shelter from them. With just a few sticks or rope you can make a small a-frame canopy that can protect you from the rain. This type of tent/shelter is super light weight and easy to carry if you go backpacking, but it generally doesn’t protect you from wind or insects.

What to look for in a camping tarp

There are generally two different types of camping tarps. Canvas, which is very durable and thick. I really like canvas tarps, but the biggest problem with them is when they get wet. The tarps are pretty water resistant, but they get very heavy. Canvas tarps are the heaviest type of camping tarp normally and are even worse when they are wet. The second type of tarp is polyethylene (plastic). These are the most common tarps you see for sale in the stores. They are very lightweight, very water resistant, and the cheapest of the tarps you can buy. One thing you need to do is pay attention to the tarps mill (thickness).

A mil is a measurement that equals one-thousandth of an inch, or 0.001 inch. Most human hair is One-thousandth of inch, or 0.001 inch. The most common size in the thickness rating for plastic sheeting is 6 mil. This is 6-thousandths of an inch, or 0.006 inch.

The thicker the camping tarp is the better (in most cases). I have bought thin tarps just because they are cheaper and I have had the wind completely destroy them. For a few extra dollars it is worth getting a thicker tarp. The only drawback with a thicker tarp is it does not fold into as small of a space as a thinner tarp. The weight difference is pretty negligible between low and high mills. The size of the tarp does matter too. If you get one for the bottom of the tent you should generally get one that is slightly larger than the base of the tent. Too big doesn’t matter, but too small can. If you are going to use a tarp as a rainfly then you will want one that can cover the top as will as the top parts of the side. Rain doesn’t always fall vertically from the sky and you won’t want one side of your tent to just be soaked.

Recommended Tarps