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Learn to Prep by Camping at Home

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
Learn to Prep by Camping at Home

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One of the wonderful things about blogging is that you become friendly with a diverse community of interesting people.  It happens serendipitously actually.  Perhaps there is a comment that is especially useful or an email or a message via Facebook.  Whatever the reason, I have been very lucky to connect with folks that are not only interesting, but helpful when it comes to my own preps.

Today, on Survival Friday, I have a very special article that came to me by way of a reader comment.  As I was reading a comment to 10 Things that Preppers Get Right, I happened upon a piece by fellow prepper, Ken, who is also knows as “Luxstar” on Instructables.

Learn to Prep by Camping at Home

He gave some common sense prepping advice that was so practical that I felt compelled to share it.  I contacted Ken and he has give me permission to share his advice on Backdoor Survival.  The background is that he was discussing disaster preparedness with friend at work and this friend/co-worker asked him to put the basics of preparedness in writing.

This is what he came up.

Camping At Home – The Easy Way to Prep

Dear Friend,

The following is in regard to the last time we talked about disaster preparedness. I do not consider myself any sort of an expert. I do not think there are very many people who really are. I think most people who are “prepared” have opinions which for the most part are valid and useful, so this is the short version of mine.

I am convinced from what I have read and experienced that most people are not prepared for disasters and disruptions. Anyone who is willing to really think through the issues and do something meaningful about it, is light years ahead of the average person.

For me, I am planning primarily for supply chain disruptions. What this means is that food, water, electricity, phones, gasoline etc. will for an extended period of time be unavailable. Also, I am planning on my house and possessions to be intact at least at the beginning of whatever happens. This means that I am not planning to relocate. If I have to do that, I will improvise when the time comes but more than likely we would stay with friends or family or they would stay with us if needed.  I think this works for California but may not work as well in areas that get hit by hurricanes.

So, I am planning to go camping at home. This makes planning easy since I have been back packing a couple of times.  By category, I will explain what I think is needed.

Here are the categories:

Fire Fighting

I left these off the list because I assume that I already have them: Shelter, Clothing, Meds.

Water:  Water is the most important category since most people die in less than a week without it. I have stored water. If a “worst case scenario” happens or if all my close friends and family show up at my house, I will not have enough water.

As a plan “B” I spent some time on Google Earth and located all the large publically accessible sources of water in my area. I also have pure bleach (sodium hypochlorite) with no additives to purify water if needed. I believe it is 4 – 8 drops of bleach per gallon but you can double check on the Red Cross web site. Also I think the recommendation is 1 gallon per person per day.

Food: This can be a complicated subject since there is so much information and products out there. I have some canned goods and some dry food of the normal every day variety. Things that keep for a long time and that we like to eat. I also have food that is primarily meant for survival. In that regard I came across a useful resource on the internet: //

The short version is that I watched several of the YouTube videos on the site and I made my own versions of the sprouters this guy sells (my version of the easy sprout is made from two stacking plastic cups and the lid from a jar of instant coffee {from Wal-Mart}).

Gaye’s note:  See Easy Bean Sprouter. It Works Great.

I have sprouted garbanzo beans, black eyed peas, mung beans, lentils, Fenugreek. So I have stocked up on these. Pinto beans are not as good as these. It does take a lot of water to make sprouts but I would re-use the water for cooking.

Several great things about sprouts: The seeds and beans keep for years (I sprouted lentils that were over 10 years old). They are cheap. They are solid compact food before you sprout them and you can more than double your volume of food when you sprout them. I am planning on adding sprouts to just about everything. I got most of my seeds and beans locally at India Sweets and Spices. You may want to read up on which plants can be eaten raw, I think all of these can but I don’t remember for sure. If you eat too much Fenugreek you will smell like maple syrup.

Lighting: A little bit goes a long way with LEDS (light emitting diodes) and having no light is no fun. So you can easily prepare for the bare minimum for your “camping trip” with a few flashlights (if they have a long run times).

I made and modified my own but there are some available for cheap that have run times of over 100 hours if you look around. Be sure to test any of them that you buy to make sure they really do what they are supposed to do and are reliable. In my opinion and experience, most of the shake lights and crank lights are junk. If you are planning for a short to medium camping trip you are better off with a few led flashlight with batteries that have long run times (also have some spare batteries) If you are planning for the power grid to go down and never work again (no electricity from the wall outlets) there are solutions to this problem that will provide minimal lighting, without batteries, reliably for years. That will be for another letter some other time.

Candles for lighting are dangerous in my opinion.

Toilet Paper: Stock up. You know you will use it anyway. If you run out there are leaves and things. T.P. is better.

Sanitation: I am planning on cutting up trash bags to use as liners for the toilet if there is no running water.  I have stocked up on rolls of trash bags. I think I need more tape.

Cooking: Or not. Most of what we have can be eaten raw. I did some testing with candles and found that you can heat up a can of ravioli with a single candle flame in about 20 -30 minutes (just very warm. I don’t think it ever boiled). Multiple flames can be used for larger meals (I need to do more testing). I also have a single burner Coleman stove and some of the 1 pound tanks of propane that are used with it. Both are cheap. Never leave your fire unattended in a “camping” situation. Never use propane stoves indoors.

Communications: I have a couple of battery operated radios. I also have a power converter that plugs in the cigarette lighter outlet in a car. It is the type where you dial in the voltage and it has 4 or 5 different plugs for different portables. You can easily fry your radio with one of these due to the wrong voltage dialed in or the wrong polarity.

I also have a cheap tiny short wave radio (receiver only) to find out what is going on around the world and a small hand held CB transceiver to find out what is going on around the neighborhood. I bought the CB over 20 years ago for fun. I probably would not buy one today if I did not have one.

Fire Fighting: I have about 5 fire extinguishers around the house. They are good to have around anyway. I think that having at least one for ”at home camping” is essential because you can’t call 911 if the phones don’t work.

“That’s it?” you say? No. Next are helpful suggestions to implement the above list and increase the odds of you having a good “camping trip”.

Suggestions for a Successful Camping Trip

1. Test and use your equipment and supplies. Don’t just buy a Coleman stove. Use it now and then at least until you burn through one tank so you have an idea how much cooking you can do. Don’t just by seeds and beans to sprout. Do some sprouting. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation with tools and food that you can’t use.

2. Step through a day of camping.  What I mean is, write down what you think you are going to do, step by step throughout the day. As you do this, you don’t need to do each step but you do need to go get the stuff for each step. For example, you are going to get a drink of water. So you go to where your water is supposed to be. Is it there?

You are planning on running water through a Brita filter since it has been sitting around for a while. Do you have a filter? You step through the alternate steps also. The water is running but the water may not be safe to drink because of a quake. Or you know it is not safe because it cloudy. Do you have your Red Cross instructions for water purification? Do you have bleach? Later, you want to cook something. Do you have matches? How many?

3. Decide how many days you are planning to go “camping” and how many people may be along for the trip. This will help a lot with planning for water.

4. Decide now if you are going to be overly helpful to the neighbors. I would suggest to initially be as low key (out of sight, out of mind) as possible and also hide the presence of your supplies and equipment. You can always change your mind later. But if everybody knows you are the go to guy for supplies they will go to you repeatedly and later on not accept “no” for an answer. As the saying goes in this situation,” If you help someone once you will help them again”.

I would prefer that people who find themselves in a desperate situation and are going to cross the line of what is and is not legal to their thing during the wee hours of the morning at a closed grocery store or restaurant rather than at my house.

5. Deal with all of this like a hobby. You don’t have to do everything tomorrow (I say that now but I could be wrong) and you can look for deals on what you want to buy. Every time our Wal-Mart has those big seasonal candles with 3 wicks on clearance I buy a few.

6. If you are serious about this, don’t lose your vision. Why are you pursuing this? If you forget, keep in mind that in the last 100 years there have been 2 world wars, one worldwide killer flu epidemic, the use of nukes as weapons of war, the great depression, lots and lots of natural disasters, regime changes, revolutions and genocides, more natural disasters.

Oh yes, and as the world’s supply of non-renewable sources of energy decline while populations increase and third world countries try to modernize, the governments, corporations and consumers of the world will push against the physical limits of the earth in what will eventually be a self-defeating death spiral to preserve the impossible paradigms of continual improvement (I must have things better than my parents had and my kids must have things better than I have)and continual growth (“nothing can grow forever” ), self sufficiency, preparedness and frugality will go a long way.

Or I could be happily mistaken. Let’s hope so.

7. Your life and your well being are your responsibility. Whatever you decide to do or not do is entirely up to you and you will have to live with your decisions. I have decided to not spend a lot of money, and make what I do spend really hit the mark. I think what I have, might look small in comparison to what I expect to be able to do. If I come up short, that will be my problem.

That’s all for now. If you want “more” just try this: Google: 100 things preparedness or Survival or emergency kit. You can start reading and never stop. If you want, I can dive into the subject of “What poor folks like us can do “on the cheap” to have at least a fighting chance to survive if the supply chain stays broken for months”.

Note:  My friend got back to me a week later and told me he had not thought through or planned for the toilet paper issue. That made this worth the effort.

The Final Word

I have always stressed the importance of becoming familiar with your gear and practicing your prepping skills.  And on more than one occasion, I have suggested a family camping trip.  But camping at home?  What a great idea.

Now I suppose there is a risk of falling back on your day to day conveniences and comforts while camping at home – or “CAMPING IN PLACE” as I call it.  That said, even the weakest willed should be able to handle a 24 hour period of roughing it at home.  Think about it, in just 24 hours your will know not only how far you have come but also how far you have to go.  Just don’t forget to include plenty of toilet paper!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you have not done so already, please be sure to like Facebook which is updated every time there is an awesome new article, news byte, or link to a free survival, prepping or homesteading book on Amazon.  You can also follow Backdoor Survival on Pinterest.

In addition, when you sign up to receive email updates you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Bargain Bin:  Below you will find links to the items related to today’s article as well as some additional resources  to help you with those all important prepping skills

Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: You can’t beat a Kershaw knife for quality at a reasonable price point. Typically very affordable, this knife will become your favorite for every day carry. And that includes the ladies, too.

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way: By Joe and Amy Alton, this book will teach you how to deal with all the likely medical issues you will face in a disaster situation, and including strategies to keep your family healthy even in the worse scenarios. It covers skills such as performing a physical exam, transporting the injured patient, and even how to suture a wound. This medical reference belongs in every survival library.  (This is the Third Edition.)

Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart: This is an excellent book for learning how to defend your homestead.

Sabre Family Home & Property Protection Pepper Spray: This small fire extinguisher-style pepper spray delivers a strong blast covering an entire doorway. Offering extremely practical protection, SABRE provides distance from your threat with its 30 foot range. I like that it includes a wall mount.

Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: This light is awesome. I use mine on the stairway and also downstairs in my main living area.  When I get up in the middle of the night, it comes on automatically. It is quite unobtrusive (I own two in black) and gives off a ton of light. Runs for a year on 3 D size batteries.

Midland 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios: These are the handheld radios that I own. There are lots of good uses for the these radios. Handy while hiking, traveling, or simply keeping in touch with your partner while out shopping.

Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden:  Getting started gardening using organic methods is not at all difficult.  This is a great guide for anyone that wants to start but needs some guidance.



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13 Responses to “Learn to Prep by Camping at Home”

  1. After having been robbed before, I don’t keep everything together as you describe. I have two sets. A standard set for camping and taking the time to gather what’s not stored inside. That’s the one which anyone can find quickly. BUT I have a light tent and smaller list of items that should anything happen that I can’t get inside my house; this one is outside stored in a hidden place. Twice a year I check it to rotate the food and check for damage just in case. Otherwise, no one knows it’s location but a select few. I started doing about 25 years ago and it’s stood me well in event of possible evacuations etc. BTW: my cast iron is in the kitchen, getting used. 😉 LOL

  2. what do ya’ll keep your camping gear in???

    i bought a couple of the big blue plastic foot lockers at walmart to store my camping gear in, they have wheels and built in handles anything that can get damaged by getting damp or wet i put in plastic garbage bags, ie. sleeping bags, portable radio, i even put my camp cooking utensils in plastic bags and taped those shut to keep the bugs out, my matches, spare stick lighter. if i want or need to go in a big hurry all i have to do is grab them, bags and tent and i’m gone in hardly no time at all. and every thing is stored in the same spot so i don’t have to dig around to find anything. the only things i don’t have in the foot lockers is my cast iron cookware. that’s in the house!!! LOL

    • echo, if you are physically strong, well-armed and/or part of a group, that sounds great. i am none of the above, so i keep my most important stuff stored in places where it doesn’t look like survival stuff. both roving gangs and the gummint are likely to abscond with my stuff if it’s obvious and the emergency goes on for a while. naturally, i keep a small stash in obvious places for others to take, if necessary. just thought i’d add a different point of view.

  3. Marvelous idea! (am gonna set up all four of my tents in the backyard- just after the first snowfall- and see how many neighbours I can con into spending the nite outside.) This could be hilarious, ( hope the cops don’t get called).

  4. prepping and camping. a few added things – a tarp and some bungee cords, a variety of knives and make sure that you have at least one good heavy duty knife, a camp hatchet and a can opener.

  5. Mindy said “the idea of redundancy – have more than one way to treat your water…Bleach…the SODIS method. …the Life Straw that Gaye has told us about.”

    I agree. Redundancy for water is critical. We need to store some, be able to store more, and purify still more.

    The Life Straw is now also available in a Family size which will filter 18,000 liters of water, so you can take care of quite a few people. That is a great way to stave off violence by desperate people, and Amazon has them for c. $75, free shipping with Amazon Prime.

    The flow rate of the Family size is a greater limitation than the amount it will filter. At the stated flow rate you would have to run it 24 hours a day to produce roughly 60 gallons of water. Still, that is a lot better than not having clean water. We have a neighbor with a swimming pool, and there is a community pool nearby, so after a hurricane or major earthquake, I think we will have enough water. The issue is making it drinkable. We have filters and bleach.

  6. Camping out at home or elsewhere is a huge help. We go heavy camping (i.e. drive to a prepared site at a camp ground) a couple or three times a year for several days, and one wilderness camp for several days once a year (also a drive up, but no prepared site, just a flat spot by a stream).

    Camping is a great way to discover what you need, what you want, and what is superfluous. It is also great for discovering that you want at least one X, but not THAT X. Or you figure it is adequate, but you get a better for primary, and retire the first to back up status. It is also a great way to get familiar with your gear. That really reduces stress when you need to use it in an emergency.

    Camping is also a good time to test samples of whatever you are considering for emergency food. If you are planning for strictly short term emergencies, that isn’t so important as you will likely not need much other than your normal canned goods and pasta. However, if you want stored food in depth, you may want to try freeze dried packets of food to see which ones you prefer. Then you can buy #10 cans of the same for deep storage.

    If you are near an LDS (Mormon) store, you can buy a Starter Kit of canned dry food, sample them and then decide if you want to buy any of them by the case.

    LDS Store Locations: (if this link doesn’t work, just go to the main site and look for “Home & Family”, then clik on “Self-Reliance”


    LDS long term storage food (some wards sell to anyone, some only to church members. You’ll need to check):


    Bleach: It’s deterioration is true (the Chlorox site says so) but it is also a bit of a misnomer. It loses potency over months, but it is still OK for sterilizing water: You just have to add more to make up for the weaker solution.

    So, if you know that a hurricane is one the way, you should try to buy some fresh Chlorox before the stores run out, but if you can’t, use the old stuff you have. The trick is to add the Chlorox and wait a half hour. If you can’t smell the bleach, add more and wait again. And so on until you can smell it.

  7. Lots of neat ideas here. I don’t have anything to add except the idea of redundancy – have more than one way to treat your water, for example. Bleach has a viable shelf-life of 6 months I have read, so how else could you treat your water? Look up the SODIS method. Sounds technical, but just stands for Solar Disinfection, and it is very efficient, and very cheap. And the Life Straw that Gaye has told us about. It would be great to have a couple of those to use while you are waiting for you SODIS set-up to work.

  8. I was brought up in a home where Dad would come in and announce, “Get your things together, let’s go fishing” or “Let’s go for a ride.” We had 15 minutes to get our stuff and be in the car; that included a pit stop (in a large family with 5 children, the time limit was a challenge). I have kept that up within my family as to spontaneity. So…….if the city is flushing the water lines, the power goes out for any reason, or any out of the norm situation arises, just like in a fire drill; all these become practice with what we have available. Yes, those times when the children wanted to camp in became those moments too.
    The benefit, then, became when we did go camping. We had routines which just fell into place as to who did what and when.
    Now, I don’t have much $$ for buying much of the stuff here, so I am very selective. Something has to have more than one purpose or it doesn’t work then I don’t buy. My preference is for bugging in…BUT I keep informed and watchful because if/when the time comes I have to evacuate for any reason, I want to be ahead of the crowd, not IN it. If I don’t have that option, I will be going light. I am prepared to live off the land, but I know it won’t be easy. The idea of sprouting is good, sprouts can also be ground down and made into a bread if moving is what is needed too. You might try googling pemican and hard tack so you know how to make them if you need to. By using what you already have or what you know, you can survive. I keep brushing up on my skills and teaching the young ones.
    As to candles, a buddy burner will slip into a pocket for light and fast traveling. It’s something to cook by and the little flame is emotionally comforting too. In times of stress, fires helps keep us calm. 🙂
    Just like in any disaster, we are all different and have different views as to what’s important. The key is practicing with what you have to know what you need. In addition to buying, what skills do you have for bartering after the disaster? So much to learn and this is one place to open my minds to other ideas I hadn’t thought of but am expanding my mind. Thanks Gaye. 🙂

  9. Love the idea of Camping in Place to test ourselves! We’ve spent a fair amount of time camping and learned early which items we were desperately short on. We continue to build our supplies and have stashed a fair amount of propane, in both sizes 1 pound and the smaller one (for the Coleman miniature single burner).
    On the question of battery operated devices, I’ve found potential solution. Rechargeable batteries. How do you recharge in a grid down scenario? Amazon carries a solar battery charger that manages AA and AAA sizes. (One of these days I have to test it.) For $20, it seems a reasonable “what the heck, why not” test. Find it here:

    I have also collected a lot of information from the web. Some of it I have consumed, some I have not. However, it’s all in electronic form. While I’ve printed some, for reference later, most is still electronic and stored in my tablet. Grid goes down and you can’t charge your electronic device? Again, solar power to the rescue! There are two versions of this device, this being the large (and more costly) of the two. However, the ability to charge a cell phone (our backup alarm clock) AND a tablet at the same time, made this a viable option, in my opinion.

    It wasn’t purchased as a survival accessory though. My wife wanted to be able to read her Nook/Kindle books while camping. If it works for that, I thought, why not for the stored survival resources? 🙂

    Thanks for all your great posts and information!

  10. I share Luxstar’s view on remaining at home through any situation unless forcibly removed. There are too many useful items at home and you cannot bug out with enough stuff. I also believe that trying to travel in any type of physical disaster, i.e. storms, terrorist, quakes will only add to confusion and put my family in a more dangerous situation. I too use the gradual approach to prepping, working on my timeline and budget. Your site has been very helpful and full of great information. Thanks.

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