I have recently started a new project taking select military FMs and TMs in the public domain that are available as PDFs but hard to find and/or expensive as hardcopies and releasing them as affordable hardcopies for people to add to their prepping libraries. Let’s face it, if the SHTF one of the first things to disappear will be the internet and shortly after that electronics will run out of juice without reliable electricity. The advantage of hardcopies is paper doesn’t have to be recharged.
I have the first ff these already available. It is the Operator’s and Direct Maintenance manuals for the M1911A1 .45 pistol. The -12 and -35 in army parlance it is available through Createspace at: https://www.createspace.com/6456315
The next will be FM 23-35 Combat Training with Pistols and Revolvers from Oct 88. I will probably be releasing these at the rate of one every other month or so for a while as I have a list of about 30 manuals I would like to make available. There is a dizzying array of manuals that the military has put together over the years and not all of them deal directly with closing with and destroying the enemy. Many are directly relatable to non-combat prepping tasks. I will primarily be using the Army versions of these manuals because they are what I personally am most familiar with.
If anyone has ideas for good manuals that should be available as hardcopies but are not lets discuss which ones should be out there. Thoughts?

NAT Geo just made all USGS maps easily printable from Home

I posted about free downloadable USGS maps of the United States last year here: USGS Topo Maps for Free.  The official USGS site is great for finding accurate small-scale (1:24,000) topo maps of whatever part of the US you would like to have.  The problem with the site, or at least the maps you can get is that they don’t easily print at home because the sheets are sized for large format printers that are typically only found at commercial printing centers forcing you to download the files and pay to have them printed.

National Geographic Maps Page

National Geographic Maps Page

National Geographic has fixed that with the debut of a new site on their page called PDF Quads that lets you search for and download home-printable copies of every USGS quad for the US.  NatGeo has packaged each quad into a 5-page package that includes:

  • Page 1 is an overview map showing the Quad in context
  • Pages 2 through 5 are the standard USGS Quads cut in quarters to fit on standard printers
  • Hillshading has been added to each page of the PDF to help visualize the topography

They are sized such that you can print them from home, cut off the white edges, and tape them together to have a navigation ready map of the quad you want.  The page includes and interactive, zoomable map similar to the google maps interface that lets you quickly find the map quad you are looking for and download it.  I have included the PDF file for Mine Mountain in the Nevada test site so you can look at it and see what the NatGeo file looks like.

To repeat, the link to the NatGeo maps page is PDF Quads.

Mine Mountain Map PDF file

I am on the lookout for map products as useful the USGS quads for the rest of the world but while there are some good map sites out there, I have yet to fins free map products anywhere else in the world that come even close to matching what the USGS provides for the United States.  If anyone knows of some good sites please eave a comment.

USGS Topo Maps for Free

Did you know you can get USGS Topographic Maps for free?  I didn’t either until I started screwing around on the web looking for maps.  The place to go is the USGS Map Locator & Downloader.  From that page you can find the map you want and download it to your computer or device for browsing or printing.  The interface is quite simple and and it is easy to download.  You can either print the maps out at home or take the file to a print shop and you can get the whole sheet printed on a plotter so you can laminate it.  I even found a shop near me that will print large maps on waterproof material so I don’t have to screw around laminating them and making them bulkier than they need to be.

The USGS Map Locator interface page

The USGS Map Locator interface page

An Example of a BOB First Aid Kit & My Current Kit

I put out an example of a BOB Bag First Aid Kit Checklist in The Simple Survival Smart Book. Since then I have continued to tweak my gear and the mix of stuff I pack in my bag. There are several considerations for what to pack, especially in a First Aid Kit. The first I think is the size of the pouch or bag you are going to carry the kit in and the second is what conditions or injuries do you expect to have to treat. The second consideration does much to determine the first. With those two considerations in mind I developed my list.

I don’t expect to have to treat any major traumas in a bugout situation but I do include minimal gear to treat at least myself should one occur.. In fact, most major trauma’s I can think of will probably be fatal shortly after you experience them in a SHTF situation. I do have some major trauma stuff in my kit but most of my material is oriented towards treating minor injuries to avoid those becoming major issues. Remember, an untreated scratch can become infected and turn life-threatening in the inherently unsanitary conditions of a true bugout situation.
Remember that A BOB kit is not the all-encompassing kit that will has everything you need. Actually the everything kit is called a hospital and you can’t fit one of these in your back pocket. A BOB kit is the minimum you think necessary to survive 72 hours so a first aid kit should in your BOB should do the same. Keeping that in mind I have thus far come up with the following list of First Aid supplies I want to have in my BOB.First Aid Kit # 2

Medium Pouch – I have a CONDOR EMT Pouch, which is awesome for the organizing loops and pockets inside that keep everything from spilling out when I open it.
Utility Pouch with Speed Clips – This pouch is not exactly the same as my ten-year old Blackhawk pouch but it is substantially similar with the exception that it uses Blackhawk Speed Clips instead of MOLLE straps for attachment
1X3 in fabric Band-Aids, 30 ea.
Medium Butterfly Wound Closures, 10 ea.
Large Butterfly Wound Closures, 10 ea.
4×4 Gauze Pads, 5 ea.
Nitrile gloves, 3 pair – These are not sterile, they are just to keep me from getting someone else’s blood all over my hands
Cortizone Cream, 1oz. tube
Benadryl Itch Relief Stick, 1ea
Polysporin Ointment, 1 Ounce
Neosporin Cream, 0.5-Ounce Tube
Neosporin Antiseptic Spray, 0.26 Ounce
Alcohol Prep pads, 30 ea – These also make handy Fire starters
Waterproof bandage tape, 1 ea. 30 foot roll
Regular 1 in wide fabric bandage tape, 2 ea. 30 foots rolls
4 1/2 inch Kerlex roll, 1 ea.
200mg Ibuprofen tablets, 1 ea. 250 count bottle – This is soldier candy and I always have a bottle on me.  I take some of the cotton out and add more tables with just enough cotton to keep it from rattling too much
Medical Shears Combination Pack, 1 ea
4″ Israeli Battle Dressing Bandage, 1 ea.
C-A-T Combat Application Tourniquet All black version, 1 ea.
Military Cravat, 1 ea.

Interior view when packed

Interior view when packed

I pack just about everything in ziplac bags to further waterproof them.  I use 8 mil heavy duty bags because I found that they are much more durable than even freezer bags and thus worth the extra cost.  They also come in multiple different sizes.  The two sizes I use in my First Aid Kit are 5X8 inch and 3X5 inch bags.

This kit is subject to adjustment and is constantly adjusted based on things I think of and experience actually using the kit because I have two of them, one on my BOB that I tote around daily and one on my GOTH kit.  The basics remain the same but I am constantly tweaking it in the search fr the elusive perfect kit for me.  In fact, the more I think about it, there probably is no standard First AId Kit that suits everybody, at least not one that is light and portable.  My kit is optimized for the needs of my wife and I and neither of us have any chronic diseases that require medication to manage so I have none of that stuff in the kit.

Packed with IFAK Components

Packed with IFAK Components

I sat down and did the math and the complete kit counting that for some items I had to buy way more than I needed, ie, a 100 pack of butterfly closures or an entire box of bandaids, the cost for my kit, pouches and all is just north of $200. The most expensive items other than the pouches is the CAT tourniquet at $30 and the Shear set at $20 so just those two items are roughly 25% of the cost with the pouches being another 25%.  Then again, I made a conscious decision to not be a cheapskate on medical supplies, I don’t want to regret not getting something because I was not willing to spend an extra $5-$10.

I think the best advice for a First Aid Kit I can give is to take a basic setup and then evaluate the contents removing those you do not think you will need or don’t know how to use and adding things you do or might need based on your individual circumstances.

Book Review: The Survival Medicine Handbook, 2nd ed. by Joseph & Amy Alton

Since most people are neither EMTs nor doctors a medical reference guide for use in survival situations is a must have. You cannot go much wrong with The Survival Medicine Handbook: A guide for when help is NOT on the way 2nd ed. by Joseph and Amy Alton. I had the first edition and have had the second edition since shortly after it was released in 2013. It is a significant update from the first edition and an outstanding book in its own right.

The authors are a husband and wife team. Dr. Joseph Alton is a surgeon and OB/GYN while his wife Amy is a Registered Nurse Practitioner. The book itself is 512 pages of text divided into 10 topical sections. It also includes a reference list, glossary of terms, and index.

This wide ranging book is not just a step by step guide to treating injuries and common ailments. The authors take a whole person approach and talk about not just how treat but also how to manage health in a survival situation. All the recommendations are based on decades of medical practice and it is evident that some serious thought has gone into the requirements a group medic would need in a situation where modern medical care is no longer available. I particularly appreciated the realistic appraisal of some of the less mainstream medical methods and treatment options they assess. The authors also bluntly state that many diseases and injuries that are almost considered routine in the modern world were frequently deadly prior to the advent of modern medicine and why said diseases should be seriously planned for in the event of a collapse.

One of the most informative and I thought well written, sections was the one on essential oils. It has become all the rage in prepping circles to talk about essential oils as if they represent some sort of panacea. A realistic assessment of the benefits of essential oils and the results, or actually lack thereof, of scientific studies on their efficacy are addressed. They do not discourage the use of essential oils, but they caution that the supposed benefits of many oils have not been reliably studied and are therefore almost wholly anecdotal in nature. Maybe I like this section the best because I am personally skeptical of essential oils since most of the people that sell these come off as snake oil salesman or even worse, fanatics about the benefits these oils provide. I will admit that I have some essential oils in my own toolkit, but they are a supplement and not a main or even close to an essential element in my kit.

One of the best sections from an information standpoint was the section on wound closure. The detailed description of how to anesthetize and suture skin wounds was most informative and one of the most well written sections of its kind I have seen. The discussion of environmental factors and how to properly manage them to help maintain health was also very good. But the best section of the book from my perspective was that on hygiene and sanitation. This is a subject that is most often either ignored or glossed over in most survival books and I have yet to figure out why as poor hygiene is much more likely to kill you in a survival situation than are some roving band of Mad Max style bandits. I think it is mostly ignored because it is not sexy. I admit that talking about how to keep clean and how to dispose of waste is borderline boring, but it is a vital subject that every prepper/survivalist should be knowledgeable about.

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A guide for when help is NOT on the way 2nd ed. is a fairly hefty book, weighing in at slightly over two pounds. I am not sure that I would tote this around in my BOB bag as it represents a significant weight investment. The print version is also somewhat pricey at almost $31 as of this writing. That being said, it is well worth the price and this outstanding book should not only be on every preppers shelf you should read it too. I highly recommend this book.


The Mundane of Everyday Survival-The Sewing Kit


GOTH Sewing Kit on the left and BOB Sewing Kit on the Right

In line with my contention that most prepping sites spend an awful lot of time talking about politics and/or weapons here is an attempt on my part to change that. Just about every BOB/GOTH list out there has a sewing kit on it. What they don’t really talk about are minimum content requirements.
At a minimum, the items in your sewing kit are dual use. That is, if you can sew up a ripped pant leg with it then you can equally sew up a ripped leg. The thread and needles in a typical sewing kit are not designed for sewing up flesh but when needs must, they can double as a suture kit in a pinch although I would not necessarily plan on using it as such except in the complete absence of suitable suture material. The danger of introducing infection by using the thread in your kit is pretty high but in my book the risks of bleeding to death because you don’t suture a wound versus maybe getting an infection from dirty thread kind of balance out and there is a lot you can do as far as wound care to lessen the risks of infection even further.

I actually have two different sewing kits, one in my GOTH kit that has more in it and another, smaller kit in my BOB. I bought both at Exchange Military Clothing Sales stores while I was still in the Army but kits that are substantially the same are available commercially. My GOTH sewing kit is an ACU/ABU sewing kit from Vanguard and I have added some things to it and also repacked it a little. Rothco has a GI Style Sewing Kit that is almost exactly the same as my original kit except for the carrying pouch. My small kit in my BOB is a Raine Military Sewing Kitand can be bought commercially although the price on Amazon is about double what I paid for mine. There are plenty of other kits out there and which one you carry is really a matter of personal preference.

My GOTH sewing kit is 4in X 4.5 in X 1 in thick and weighs 65g while the one in my BOB is 3 in X 3 in X ½ in thick and only weighs 40g. I have a random stuff pouch on my BOB and that is where I keep my sewing kit. I am still in the process of tweaking my GOTH setup (and waiting for my new ruck to get back to me), so I have not finalized where it will be there but probably somewhere synonymous.


My handy matchbox needle carrier. I am sure you could find a small aluminum or plastic case for this but the matchbox works just as well and did not cost anything.

Let’s talk about contents. The absolute minimum gear you should have in your sewing kit are a needle, thread, and some spare buttons. My GOTH sewing kit has more than that, actually quite a bit, but my BOB kit has just the basics.  One thing I have done is put all the small loose items into small Ziploc bags to keep them from floating around inside the pouch and potentially getting dropped and lost when you open the pouch.  I also took all the needles and pins in my GOTH Sewing Kit and put them into a matchbox I had laying around.  This keeps the needles together and keeps me from sticking myself with them when I am digging around in the kit.

Here are the lists:


BOB Sewing Kit opened

BOB Sewing Kit Contents

  • Carrying Pouch – The pouch has three internal pockets to keep stuff organized
  • Thread – 2 spools; one black one green
  • Sewing Needles – 2
  • Safety pins – 2
  • Stick Pins – 2
  • One pair foldable scissors
  • Fatigue Buttons – 5

GOTH Sewing Kit opened

GOTH Sewing Kit Contents

  • Carrying Pouch – The pouch has one internal pocket and a bunch of elastic loops inside to keep stuff organized
  • Thread – 8 spools; 3 black, 2 green, 1 tan, 1 yellow, 1 white
  • Sewing Needles – 6
  • Safety pins – 4
  • Stick Pins – 4
  • One pair small scissors
  • Various Buttons – 12
  • Thimble
  • Needle Threader – 1
  • Measuring Tape – 5 feet long

Of Course here are the Amazon Links to sewing kits similar to the two kits I am using and have modified

Tying Knots # 5: The Fisherman’s Knot

The fisherman’s knot is a symmetrical bend made with two overhand knots tied around the standing part of the other.  A drawback of the fisherman’s knot is that it can slip when tied in nylon monofilament or other slippery lines. However, if more holding strength is required you can simply double or even triple the overhand knots. It is a compact knot that jams when tightened and the working ends can be cropped very close to the knot. It is easily tied with cold, wet hands.  A common use for this knot is to tie to lines together to extend the reach of your rope or cord.

Tying Knots # 4: The Bowline Knot

The Bowline is a knot that makes a simple loop that is easy to tie and untie.  It comes untied very easily even after a lot of strain is placed on the knot.  This is a good knot for simple things such as hanging game or any other application where ease of untying is needed because you must only tie something for a short time.  I would not put my life in the hands of this knot because it comes untied so easily! 

Tying Knots # 3: The Clove-Hitch

A Clove Hitch is simply two successive half-hitches tied around an object. It is used to secure a rope to a standing object and can also be used to tie two or more objects together making a lashing. This knot is sueful when making improvised shelters, building a travois, raft, or any other application in which you must lash two or more objects together. 

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