Off-Grid Cooking with the Amazing HERC Tea Light Oven


One of the challenges during a power outage is cooking meals.  While there are many options, most require cooking outdoors using stove-type methods such as a rocket stove, BBQ grill, fire pit or camp stove.  These methods work great, especially if they are coupled with a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven.

The problem, however, is that we can not predict or time when the power will go out.  Nor can we predetermine how long the grid will be down; it may be hours or it may be days or even weeks.  Not only that, what if the power goes out for a week during the coldest part of the year, with 10 inches of snow on the ground and a howling wind? 

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The Ultimate Compact Survival Kit-Winter Blast Giveaway

The Ultimate Pocket Survival Kit

The Winter Blast Giveaway has been a lot of fun and a lot of great products have been reviewed and offered as reader giveaways.  That said, one of the most fun items is something a little less mundane, namely a compact survival kit plus a pocket sized fishing kit.  There is something about something that is small, yet well thought out and well made that captures my attention and makes it fun and well as functional, you know what I mean?

I have always been fascinated by those survival kits that are packaged in tins.  For years, do-it-yourselfers have repurposed breath mint tins to create portable first aid kits, sewing kits, and pocket survival kits. 

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Fast Track Prep Tip #3: Buy What You Need and Use What You Buy


Acquiring survival and prepping gear can be both a blessing and a curse.  The blessing part is easy to figure out; if there is an emergency, you will have what it takes to purify water, stay warm, cook food, render first aid and ward off the bad guys.  The curse part?  You may end up with a closet full of stuff with nary a clue as to how it works or even if it will work when the time comes.

In all fairness, I say this from my own personal experience and might be judging the rest of you unfairly.  But I think not.

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Everyday Light and Water-Winter Blast Giveaway


Often times it is the simplest of things that are missing just when you need them.  Some good examples include a Band-Aid or safety pin or even a pen and a piece of paper to write on.

For those of us that like to be prepared for anything, we carry with us is a greatly expanded list of items that includes everything from a roll of duct tape, to some paracord, to food, water and a personal weapon.  We have our bug-out-bag, our get home back, our every day carry kit, our travel kit – the list goes on and one.

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The Tactical Traveler Bug Out Bag – Review and Giveaway


Let’s face it.  No matter how much we hope we will never have to evacuate the comfort of our homes, there is always a possibility that circumstances will require that we gather our emergency supplies and leave on a moment’s notice.  When that happens, you want to be ready to grab your spouse, your kids, the family pet and a well stocked bug-out-bag with enough gear to get you by for at least 72 hours.

Where do you start?  If you are like me, you started with a very basic kit using items you already owned.  From there, you advanced to a more robust pack filled with the esoteric items of survival: an emergency radio, a tactical knife, some rudimentary shelter, a first aid kit, and fire-making supplies.

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Backdoor Survival Holiday Gift Guide


The frenzy of the holiday season is upon us.  Or I should say some of us.  For years, the holiday season in my own household has been quiet.  We spend the days leading up to the end of December doing enjoyable activities together such as reading by the fireplace or playing board games.  That is our tradition and it is right for us.

For others, the holiday tradition includes parties, festive meals, decorations and the exchange of gifts, large and small.  To help you with the gifting tradition – and especially the small gifts – I have come up with a holiday gift guide to help you select the perfect gift for loved ones close to you.

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Fall in Love With Cast Iron


Shortly after starting this website, I purchased a cast iron skillet for use when cooking outdoors.  Little did I know that three years later my expensive, department store cookware would be cast aside and I would be using inexpensive cast iron for almost all of my cooking, both indoors and out.

I experienced a lot of trial and error as I learned to cook with cast iron.  Probably the most important thing I learned was to wear gloves when handling the hot skillet or pot and also be make sure that the piece was completely dry before putting it aside for next time.

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Secrets of Successful Fuel Storage


One of the benefits of maintaining the Backdoor Survival website is that I am often asked to review various products of interest to the preparedness community.  I have personally tested and used all of the products I have written up and as you know, it is always more than a simple “two-liner” or just the rewrite of a pile technical specs or press releases.

But there are some products that I can’t effectively review because the Survival Husband and I do not always have the necessary review tools. In such cases, I occasionally turn to my long-time friend George Ure at Urban Survival, who’s one of the “old hands” at prepping, having exited from big city life in early 2003.

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Survival Friday: How to Use a Bandana to Save the Day


Who would have thought that something as ubiquitous as the common bandana would have so many uses?  I know that I have used these colorful squares of cloth for many purposes over the years, not the least of which was keeping my hair in place and wiping the sweat off my brow in hot weather.

If you have not put a lot of thought into the usefulness of a bandana, think again.  As far as I am concerned, you should have one available as part of your every day carry kit and more than a few in your bug out bag and your stash of survival supplies.

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The Basics of Ham Radio


Today I continue the conversation with George Ure of Urban Survival as he shares  his thoughts on the value of getting a ham radio license as well as an explanation of some ham radio basics for those of us that are just getting started with this mode of emergency commination.

But first, what exactly is ham radio?  According to Wikipedia:

Amateur radio (also called ham radio) is the use of designated radio frequency spectra for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication. The term “amateur” is used to specify persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without direct pecuniary interest, and to differentiate it from commercial broadcasting, public safety (such as police and fire), or professional two-way radio services (such as maritime, aviation, taxis, etc.).

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Shortwave Radio For Preppers


A year and a half ago, I asked my friend George Ure at Urban Survival to help with an article on emergency communications.  And since he’s the kind of guy who will build you a watch even if all you wanted to know is the time is, he turned out a really good article which can still be found over on our Strategic Living site.

More recently, as I have started to get serious about both shortwave and HAM radio, I asked him some additional questions during our weekly video conference. What started out as a phone conversation, turned into a lengthy discussion of the whys and the wherefores of shortwave, amateur radio (ham) and the gear to get started/

Why Preppers Need Shortwave Radio

While we all understand the need to have a viable method of communication both during and after a catastrophic emergency, most of us think of a NOAA weather radio first and a shortwave band last.  But in reality, both are important.  So I asked George: “Practically speaking, why would a person want to have a shortwave radio?”

If America ever had a really worst case kind of event, like an electromagnetic pulse attack, a shortwave radio could get you news and information from halfway around the world.  You would have the ability to know what is going on.  That could be important if all official news and information sources have been destroyed or damaged.

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Grinding Wheat with the Incredible WonderMill


When I first started prepping, the last thing on my mind was purchasing wheat for long term storage.  Heck, what was I going to do with 100 pounds of wheat berries?  Eat them raw?  Cook them? Sprout them?  Turn them into flour? I did not have a clue.  My my, how things have changed.

Today I am thrilled to share with you my experience learning how to mill my own flour with the incredible WonderMill.  Not only that, the nice folks at WonderMill have set aside one of their grain mills for one very lucky Backdoor Survival reader.  But more about that later.

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Every Self-Respecting Prepper Needs Duct Tape


I have always been in love with duct tape.  From the cheap stuff you get at the dollar store to the standard stuff from the local hardware store to the fancy and ever so effective Gorilla Tape – I just love this stuff.

A year ago I posted an article on the many uses of duct tape for survival.  It went viral.  Even so, I think that as a team, we can do better.  I would like to see 50, 80 or even 101 uses of duct tape for survival purposes.


So there you go. 

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Survival Friday: Every Prepper Needs a Whistle or Two

In recent months, I have been adding a number of small, inexpensive items to my existing cache of survival gear.  I have added flashlights (Blocklite’s in particular), paracord, mini-tools, and pocket knives as well as other handy items to my stash of portable survival kits.

One item that I have purchased in bulk and stowed everywhere I can think of is a whistle.  As with everything, I have my favorites including the WindStorm (nicely made in the USA) and the dirt-cheap SE 5 in 1 whistle.

An inexpensive SE 5-in-1 whistle

My personal preference notwithstanding, today my friend Above Average Joe shares his thoughts on survival whistles. 

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Gear Review: Trademark 4 in 1 Hunting Knife

It must be a guy thing.  One knife is never enough and neither are two or three.  Most men that I know have a collection of blades, each serving a slightly (with the emphasis on “slightly”) different purpose.  That said, when planning for emergencies, you should have a reliable knife in your pocket, in your vehicle, in your pack and in your tool box.  In our household, we have pocket knives, multi-tools, tactical knives. machetes and more.  And in all fairness to the men out there, I have three knives of my own.

Knowing how useful knives are, when Knife Depot contacted me about a gear review, I jumped an the opportunity to let the Survival Husband get another blade for his collection. 

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The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter Review

I first learned about the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter a year ago when one of the readers of Backdoor Survival sent me an email extoling its virtues.  Although it sounded cool and the price (about $20) was right, I did not bother to test one myself.   After all, I already had a Berkey Sport bottle, a Nalgene water bottle and some water purification tabs in my pack.  I was all set.

Or so I thought. 

During my recent trip to Alaska, I decided to carry along a LifeStraw and use it for some field testing.  After all, what better place to stick a straw in the water and drink than a beautiful Alaskan glacial pond or stream?

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Survival Basics: Water

Be Prepared Not Scared with Backdoor Survival

A frequent theme in the preparedness community is the importance of water.  Where to find it, how to store it, how to purify it and how to filter it.  Whether you are a prepping newbie or an experienced survivalist, water should be high on your list of prepping priorities.

Every year or so, I like to share an article on water, not only for the benefit of the many prepping newbies that visit Backdoor Survival, but also as a refresher course for those of us that are more experienced.  Today’s article is an update to information that I have previously shared but that does not make it any less important.

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Survival Friday: Three Essential Storage Tools

Sometimes it can be the simple things that will stop you in your tracks when it comes to getting things done.  On today’s Survival Friday, Above Average Joe shares three dirt cheap tools that can save you time and hassle when working with your food and water storage.


In one of my past jobs, I worked in a warehouse that created and shipped dozens of different products. I even got the chance to help develop several of these.  It was a fun job while it lasted, but there were a few very specific tools that I used on a daily basis that I could not have done my job without.

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The Amazing SunVolt Power Station

How often have your been warned to print out copies of all of your survival and prepping manuals because when the grid is down, the batteries on your electronic gizmos will run down, making them useless?

Personally, I have shunned from printing out my survival and prepping reference material.  Why?  Well first of all, if bugging out, I would rather carry food, water and first aid supplies on my back than a pile of paper.  And second?  There are ways to charge the gizmos without power, the most practical being an emergency radio such as the Kaito that has a solar panel and a hand crank. 

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A Primer on Propane for Prepping and Survival – Part Two

Two weeks ago, when I posted an article on prepper propane, I had no idea that there was such a thirst for knowledge on the topic.  Nor did I expect my technical consultant, Chris Newman, to respond to each and every comment asked not only here but also on Before Its News.

Today I am sharing Part Two in the series “A Primer on Propane for Prepping and Survival”.  If you have not read it yet, part one covered covered propane safety, various types of tanks, the cost-benefit of refilling empty tanks and how to obtain free (or cheap) old-style bulk tanks. 

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Getting a Bead on Setting Up a Simple Solar Panel Kit


When it comes to understanding electricity, my mind tends to blank out when it gets to the point where I have to determine volts, amps, amp-hours, voltage under load and other terms that are second nature to the electricity savvy.  Let me make it clear that this is not a girl thing or a guy thing.  It is simply that some of us are better at understanding how power and electricity works than others.

In all fairness, in my boating days I was quite familiar with the operation of our house batteries and the inverter.  Using this set-up, I had fresh coffee in the morning and power for my laptop. 

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The Mini-Sentry Trip Alarm Goes BOOM

A while back my friend Dennis Evers sent me a Mini-Sentry trip alarm for testing and review purposes.

This little device is designed to deter intruders by setting off a charge when someone steps through the wire. I decided that this was a good job for the Survival Husband so I set him on a mission of getting the right type of charges and for testing the unit itself.

Before we get into his comments, here is short little video that will give you a sense of what it sounds like when the mini-sentry wire is tripped.



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A Primer on Propane for Prepping and Survival

Call it serendipity if you will but a couple of months ago when I was contacted by Chris Newman, inventor of the InstaBed Cubic Foot Garden System, I had no idea that I was about to meet and get to know a really smart guy with MacGyver like skills and knowledge in all aspects of prepping and survival.

Chris has been generous in sharing his knowledge with me – from gardening to solar energy to grains and more – and has graciously agreed to become a technical consultant to Backdoor Survival.  He is doing this in the spirit of spreading the preparedness message and hopefully making our world a bit greener and more livable in the process.

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Every Prepper Needs a Big Beautiful Cast Iron Skillet

When the going gets tough, the tough get cast iron.  I say that a bit tongue in cheek but there is a lot of truth to that.  After all, when the grid is down and you need to cook over an open fire, you can bet that you will not be using your $200 department store pan.  That is why I say that when it comes to cooking, the most useful item you can have in your kitchen or pantry is a good, solid cast iron skillet.

Or put another way, every prepper needs a big, beautiful cast iron skillet!

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