The Survival Buzz #192: The Gear That Made the Journey

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Jul 1, 2019

Welcome to this week’s Survival Buzz with an update on my own preps plus news and announcements from the Backdoor Survival blog.

Last week I told you about phase one in starting to acquire preps from the ground up here at my temporary home in Central Arizona.  As promised, this week I am showing you the gear that made the journey along with as many personal items we could stuff into a Subaru.

Survival Gear That Made the Journey | Backdoor Survival

Here is the list.  The items were chosen based upon one of three factors.  First was the cost to replace them in the event I had to leave them behind, second was anything and everything water related, and third was size and form factor.  If I could squeeze it into an empty pocket of space, it made the trip.

All-American Sun Oven
EcoZoom Rocket Stove
2 Solo Stoves; including one “Campfire” with stainless pots
Lifestraw Family
Berkey Sport Bottle
Sawyer Mini-Water Filter
Solar Bag Water Purifier
AquaPod Emergency Water Kit (Bathtub Liner)
Katadyn Water Purification Tabs
Sun Shower
Sun Bell Solar Light and Charger
Little Sun Solar Light
Portable LED Camp Lantern
MayDay Portable Potty and Survival Kit
2 Mora Fixed Blade Knives
Ontario ASEK Survival Knife
Mtech USA Machete
Infidel Body Armor
My Own Customized Bug Out Bag

Although it is difficult to see in the photo, my newly reorganized Bug Out Bag, or, as one reader called it, a “Just in Case Of Kit”, was the foundation of my traveling preps along with our Ammo Can First Aid Kit and various firearms.  I have not included those items in the list above.

Before you ask me about it, yes, within the next few weeks I will go into detail regarding the items I selected for my kit but for today, just know that it was part of mix of gear that made the journey.

Prepping wise this week, we continued to fill our pantry with canned goods.  Having learned my lesson in the past, everything was dated and neatly organized from the get go.  One have learned that if you do not organize your preps the day you get them, you will have a big mess on your hands.

That about covers it for me this week.  Now for some announcements.


Backdoor Survival Mail Bag & Reader Tips

I recently received an email from Larry, who is new to prepping.  Here was his question:

I’m one of those people who has thought about this for years and now I find myself thinking I should have started this months ago if not years ago.

So the BIG question…Where first (with limited funds), water, food, other?

I’ve always been a do-it-yourselfer so I have tools, things which I’ve saved (in spite of my wife), I have knowledge, etc. so where do I really want to start?  I hate to spend money on info when I can use it for supplies. I rent so gardening is limited and I live in N.E. Ohio so climate can be an issue.

I’m thinking those five gallon bottles of water like they use for water coolers (they may store easy enough).

I know canning so I am capable of that but what about prepackaged foods?

One thing I love about the readers and fans of this website is that they are so willing to step up and help the newbies.  With that in mind, here was my emailed response:

Let me direct you to 12 Months of Prepping if you have not already seen it.  Here is a link.  //

With limited funds, I would bottle my own water for storage and then invest in some canned goods as well as inexpensive rice, beans and oatmeal.  Stock condiments (spices, sugar, salt) and then learn how to cook these items  They may not be gourmet delights, but for just a few hundred dollars, you could have food to eat for a long time.  Be sure to have some method for cooking outdoors.  You can build a rocket stove (or even purchase one) for very little money, especially if you are handy.

Check out many of the survival basics articles on my website for ideas:  //  There is no charge for anything and I refuse donations.  The other thing is to ask questions in the comments.  There are a lot of readers willing to offer suggestions that will help you reach your goal.

If you are new to prepping, please feel free to ask questions and to use the search box on the right hand side of the page to find what you are looking for.  Although I can not respond to every single comment and email, with a little bit of digging, you should be able to find what you are looking for.

Backdoor Survival Mail Bag & Reader Tips (Cont)

Two weeks ago John E. posted this tip in the comments of 39 Fantastic Prepping Tips.  It was too good to leave buried so I share it here for all to see:

A mistake many beginners make is to think that prepping has to be expensive.  It’s all about priorities, really.

The first thing that I had to ask myself when I decided to become a prepper is, “Are you serious about doing this?”  Would I pass up my morning latte? Not buy those chips that are bad for my health anyways?

All I needed to come up with when I started was an extra $5 a week, that’s all.  I think just about everybody can come up with that much cash, don’t you?

I had always loved going to the dollar store and Goodwill.  Now I took it to the next level and started prepping on the cheap with a vengeance.

Visited a dollar store lately?

It’s not just cheap trinkets or flimsy items that will break when you breathe on them.  Most of them actually have a surprising number of stuff that we preppers can use.  For example, you can pick up rice, beans, oats, and pasta all for a buck a bag.  For your five dollars, you will get a good head start on your long term food supply.

By the end of three months, you should have a pretty good stock of dry goods in your pantry.

One of the reasons I like to share reader tips is that the encouragement of others will often times give us that wee bit of motivation needed to take our preps, and our lives, really, to the next level.  Don’t you agree?


Ed has shared a unique tip for using a AAA battery in a device that holds AA batteries.  I have not tried this myself.

I did a 9 month wilderness experiment a couple of years ago and made the mistake of not packing enough AA batteries for my radio. I had plenty of AAA batteries, but AA’s were all gone, I found that by placing an AAA battery negative post down inside a .45 Colt cartridge it makes the AAA fit perfectly inside the battery compartment of the AA powered radio.


And last for today, this in from David.

I liked the comment about prepping being hard work, but to remember to live, love, laugh. Keeping your life in balance is critical.

This is something I personally struggle with daily.  Just when I think I have it covered, there is a disaster somewhere (or a government snafu) that puts me into ultra-prepper mode.  Perhaps that I why I play cheerleader so often; as much for myself as it is for you.

Current Backdoor Survival Giveaways

Prepper Book Festival 11: Failures of Imagination + 12 Book Giveaway

This is an article you will not want to miss.  In addition, there will be 12 winners in the book giveaway.

With all giveaways, winners are notified by email and have 48 hours to claim their prize or an alternate will be selected.  Once selected, the names of winners are also displayed in the Rafflecopter on the original giveaway article.  This usually happens on the Friday following the end of the giveaway.

Current Backdoor Survival Giveaways (Cont)

Giveaway season is back and I have a fantastic lineup of gear and books that will carry us out until the end of the year.

First up is this Marsboy Portable Folding Solar Charger.  Who wouldn’t want one of these?

No Power? No Problem! The Marsboy Portable Solar Charger+ Giveaway

With all giveaways, winners are notified by email and have 48 hours to claim their prize or an alternate will be selected.  Once selected, the names of winners are also displayed in the Rafflecopter on the original giveaway article.  This usually happens on the Friday following the end of the giveaway. 

A Note About The Mobile Washer

Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.

Mobile Washer

Mobile Washer

This is hand operated washing machine. Like a plunger, it uses a technique of pushing and pulling the water through clothes to clean them well without wearing them out. It uses a minimum of water and less soap due to the agitation motion. Use in a bucket (5-gallon suggested), sink or tub. The best part is that it is only $14.95 at Emergency Essentials.

Other Announcements

For those of you that pay attention to such things, I have updated the Top 10 to include the most wished for and the bestselling emergency and survival kit items.  These are the items that your peers are choosing for their own preps.  Check it out.

The Final Word

Next week I hit the road and head back home to Washington State.  My fingers are crossed that I will have decent internet service along the way as well as when I get home. These days I never take internet service for granted which also means I never assume the proverbial “cloud” will be available.

For that reason, I have set aside an abundance of reference books and printed materials so that I will have them if and when the time comes. But that’s not all.  I also have numerous old laptops that are loaded up with electronic versions of my books, photos, and important documents. Some are ancient by today’s standards but they still work just fine and don’t take up a lot of room.  And yes, I do have the means to charge them when the grid goes down.

How about you?  How much redundancy do you have relative to your electronic books and other documents? And the biggest question of them all:  are you prepared to get by without the internet?

The Final Word (Cont)

I am starting to feel a little less panicked about this prepping from scratch business.  I still have quite a bit to do but at least food and water wise, I feel like I have a good start.  I have been venturing out into the desert and indeed, finding lots of dry brush to use as biomass.  With boots and gloves, I should have no issues at all gathering what I need to keep those rocket stoves burning.  Heck, I may even get some cinder blocks and build a DIY version of my own.

One last thing.  I had no idea so many of you lived in Arizona!  Thanks to all of you for your hints and support as well as an open invitation to give you a call if there is anything I need.  You are the best!  Know that although I have been unable to respond to all of you, you are in my heart and are appreciated.

So what about you – what did you do to prep this week?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to email updates.  When you do, you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-Book, The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

You can also vote for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!

Since I provided links above to most of the items that made the journey south, I hesitate to gild the lily with more stuff.  That said, if you are interested in more information on any of the items.  In the meantime, here are some of my favorites.

Portable LED Camp Lantern:  This TaoTronics Lantern is collapsible, super bright, and water resistant.  It is powered by 3 AAA batteries that will provide brightness for 40 hours. To use this lantern, just pull it open; there are no power switches to mess with.

Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Carbon Steel Blade: I can not say enough good things about the Morakniv.  I have a number of them including the “companion’ with a 4.1 inch blade and the “Craftline” with a 3.6″ blade.  I use them in the kitchen as paring and utility knives and with the included sheath and carbon steel blades, they stay super sharp.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter:  The LifeStraw contains no chemicals, no batteries and no moving parts to wear out. It features a a high flow rate and weighs only 2 oz. It works quickly, taking roughly 3-5 seconds of sucking to start the flow of water through the filter. It’s ultra-light and inexpensive but effective.  There is also the LifeStraw Family that will purify up to 12 liters per hour.

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System: Fans of the Sawyer water filtration systems are evangelistic in their praise.  Did you know they only weight 2 ounces and fit in the palm of your hand?  The price is right.  Be sure to also check out the Family Color Coded Gift Pack which looks nice.

BaoFeng UV5R Dual-Band Two-Way Radio:  I own two of these.  Something to keep in mind that if you are just planning to listen, you do not need a license.  Still, it is a good idea because it will make understanding the technical aspects of HAM radio a whole lot easier.

Special Note:  BaoFeng and Pofung radios are one and the same.  Newer units are branded with “Pofung”.  Here is the Pofung UV-5R.

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!


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19 Responses to “The Survival Buzz #192: The Gear That Made the Journey”

  1. Here is some advice for Larry the newbie who ask where to start with limited funds. When I started out, I bought so much equipment and goods that were not needed. With limited funds myself, needless to say it didn’t take me long to learn that lesson.
    You mentioned you were handy. That being the case, do what we did and save by making your own sun oven (ours cost $20 and has twice the space), and throw together a few rocket stoves out of things you probably have available already. Being prepared isn’t about fancy prepping stuff, it’s about the stuff of survival! Good luck!

    • Great advice, Jo. Rocket heaters, rocket stove hot water heaters, carbon felt alcohol stoves, silver solution generators, windmills using auto generators, carbon steel fire strikers, solar water stills, fish/animal traps, making cordage, shelter building and tons of other do-it-yourself activities can cut the need for expensive gear that you’ll likely have to leave behind anyway. If you can’t make shelter and fire, obtain food and purify water with nothing but a knife your education is incomplete.

  2. Watch your thrift stores for cheap hand tools and cook ware, esp cast iron. Cheap and last forever.

    • While ok for basic cast iron cookware, I haven’t seen any tools worthwhile at the thrift stores here in years. Hardly any cheap worthless ones either. Maybe someone buys the quality ones up quick, but I doubt that’s the reason. I think either the stores sell all the valuable stuff online via bids, or people aren’t donating, they’re selling it online too. (They’ve all been watching too many picker/pawn/treasure shows with Dollar gleams in their eyes.)
      The exception – for finding quality goods and tools – is estate sales. Not garage or yard sales. While they can be good, it’s not often, imho.

      Anyway, this week I dug in the dirt, learned a little from it too, and rode my bicycle. I am amazed at how much more comfortable it is to ride a bike a longish distance with higher handlebars, as opposed to straight mountain-bike style handlebars. 5 or 6 inches higher makes all the difference in the world… takes the weight off your hands, and seems to lower the stress in your shoulders. I think I can carry a heavier pack now too, higher up makes the load more centered. Or so it seems. I’m no expert.

    • In all the years have looked, I have never seen cast iron cookware or mason jars at thrift stores. My guess is that when they come in, they fly right back out within hours.

    • I’ve occasionally seen cast iron pans at thrift stores and often see mason jars there, but the price of a single jar is frequently higher than the price per jar of buying a pack of new ones. Thrift stores are not always thrifty. The only other things I’ve found of value for prepping have been the large tins that are sold at Christmas with food in them. I have about a dozen of them, along with many slightly smaller ones, that I fill with food. They’re great for this use because rodents can’t eat through them. You can also line them with cardboard and use as faraday cages.

  3. I cleaned closets and cabinets, I found so much extra storage for water, food and first aid and general prep stuff.
    Larry, start at the dollar stores. For $20 you can get a great start on canned meats, veggies and fruit. Oatmeal goes along way as well as Ramen soup.
    Don’t get discouraged, just get started. Have a designated space for your food stores that are safe from critters. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress, you’re not alone on this journey.

  4. It’s sad to see that you trust your life to that LifeStraw and encourage others to do the same. In a grid down situation, viruses will be one of the #1 killers and those straws do absolutely nothing to eliminate or even mitigate that danger. Yes, in a life or death situation they would be better than nothing but we aren’t in a life or death situation, we’re preparing for that possibility and our preps should at least do no harm.

    • Correction, those filters would not be better than nothing. The only guaranteed way to eliminate the threat of biological disease from water borne pathogens is to bring the water to a rolling boil (then turn off the heat – no need to waste fuel).

    • Hi prsmith, You wrote: “It’s sad to see that you trust your life to that LifeStraw…viruses will be one of the #1 killers and those straws do absolutely nothing to eliminate or even mitigate that danger.””

      However, the Amazon page for LifeStraw Family makes this claim: “Surpasses EPA standards for water purifiers: removes 99.99% viruses, 99.9999% bacteria and 99.9% protozoan cysts to 0.02 microns”

      If you have evidence that LifeStraw is making factually untrue statements about their product, statements which could cost customers their lives, I really want to see it, because my family has LifeStraws and we do rely on them for emergencies.

      If you meant to type “chemicals” instead of “viruses” you are correct: LifeStraw filters don’t remove chemical pollutants, nor do they claim to. They do claim to remove virtually all viruses, though, so if they are misrepresenting their product, you should notify the federal government so the officers may be charged, tried, and imprisoned.

      LifeStraws have been around quite a while. If they failed to remove viruses I think we would have a considerable number of lawsuits and criminal charges by now.

    • I did not mean to type in chemicals rather than viruses. You are correct that chemicals are a significant issue in some locations and nothing fixes that except distillation and even then you’ve got to know what you’re doing.

      You are correct that the Family unit is safe from viruses where the Personal unit is not and it is that unit to which my remarks were directed. Gaye does herself and her readers a disservice by advertising such a potentially deadly piece of kit.

    • Hi prsmith, Thanks for pointing out the differences between the LifeStraw models.

      From Amazon:

      The personal size: “LifeStraw filters to 0.2 microns through the use of hollow-fiber membranes, which are small tubes with even smaller pores. These pores allow water to pass, but prevent contaminants larger than 0.2 microns from flowing through….The LifeStraw will not desalinate salt water, remove dissolved chemicals or minerals, nor remove viruses. If drinking from water which may have viruses in it (e.g. contaminated by human sewage), pre-treat with water treatment tablets….filters particles of approximately 0.2 microns.”

      Family size: “Filters up to 18,000 liters of water to 0.02 microns…Removes minimum 99.999% of viruses…”

      That seems very odd: They filter the same size particles, but one removes viruses and one does not.

      Does anyone know why?

      In any case, I think that “Gaye does herself and her readers a disservice by advertising such a potentially deadly piece of kit.” is a bit overwrought, given the length of time this has been on the market, its widespread use in 3rd world countries, and several thousand positive reviews it has gotten on Amazon.

      Even if the personal size doesn’t filter out viruses, it is still provides an enormous improvement in water quality. It may allow one to get viruses, but I’d rather risk getting those alone than risk getting them along with Escherichia coli (“E. Coli”), Campylobacter, Vibrio cholerae (“Cholera”), Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shigella, Salmonella, Giardia lamblia (“Beaver Fever”), Cryptosporidium parvum (“Crypto”), and Entamoeba histolytica.

      I noticed that most of the 1 star reviews are from people who almost certainly did not read or comprehend the instructions to prime the filter for 30 seconds before using it, because the descriptions of failure to be able get water through it were virtually all on their first attempt to use it. Some reviewers made it quite clear they either did not read the instructions, or actually ridiculed the need to follow them.

      Knowing the personal size doesn’t remove virus allows one to treat the water for them. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Whoops! My bad: I missed the placement of the decimal point on the Family. Obviously the Family size uses much smaller pores than the Personal size. That is why Family size gets viruses while the Personal size does not. My apologies.

    • Glad I could help a bit, Gaye.

      You said, “Even if the personal size doesn’t filter out viruses, it is still provides an enormous improvement in water quality.”

      A T-shirt folded up over the mouth of a container provides improvement in water quality but it provides no protection. If there are no viruses in the water, the Personal will certainly make water safe to drink but there is no way to know that there are no viruses present thus boiling is an absolute requirement making the filter virtually useless. Not doing so could easily kill and I consider it unacceptable – especially if that defect isn’t made clear to the purchaser. Frankly I believe that it should be pulled from the market. I think you’ll find the Sawyer unit a much better personal filter.

  5. For value prepping quickly, rice and lentils along with salt and maybe some hot sauce as a splurge are a great way to get longterm storage foods for minimal cost. But the best way to get inexpensive food with variety would be to watch for supermarket sales and any coupons in local papers. If your markets are stingy with their sales, just try to pick up a can or two of soup, ravioli, spaghetti, canned meats, etc each time you shop. Just two extra cans a week adds up to 104 cans by the end of a year.
    Alternatively, you can try to earn extra money on the side by leveraging any skills you have. Fixing broken bikes, lawnmowers, snowblowers, etc. can be great if you can get broken ones free. Or if you’re handyman handy then doing odd jobs for neighbors can earn you cash while you get to see if any of them could be helpful in a disaster. Flexibility and creativity are great skills for any prepper, newbie or old hand. 🙂

  6. Larry, don’t forget to use coupons/store coupons when shopping. Some of the $ stores often will take manufacturer coupons, IF they carry the item. Using sales and coupons we have saved a little over $2,400.00 since January using store coupons, sales and manufacturer coupons for our groceries. Unfortunately we live in a state where the stores changed their policies a couple of years back, due to that extreme coupon-er show so the savings aren’t as good as it was in the past. No double coupons,no more taking a store coupon AND Manufacturer coupon on a single item. limiting coupons to only four per transaction, IE one coupon for each item limit of 4 coupons for the same item in one transaction. So If I have 6 coupons for cans of soup, I have to split the transaction into 2 to use all six coupons.

  7. Check with family and friends to see if anyone is getting rid of anything useful. My sister regularly purges her house of unused items and she calls me when she is ready to remove everything to thrift stores. I catch the sales at area supermarkets on canned goods. Everything else mentioned from other people in the post is good advice. Cover the food, water, shelter, light, first aid, protection categories and branch out from there. Don’t forget warm clothing, gloves, hats, boots for the cold spells. Pick up some playing cards for entertainment. I know how the winters are in Ohio as I live close by. Just do the best you can as funds permit and don’t forget to take a breath every now and then. I started out slow in 2008 and have finally got a lot of things under control without fully buying tons of stuff since 2012. It just takes time to evaluate and plan but you will get there. I attended my first Prepper’s Expo in Ohio this spring and purchased my food grade buckets at the expo for $3.50 each. Now I am working on what I want to store in them. I do have prepackaged foods but I scan the shelf at the store for the farthest out date I can find and make sure to buy what you eat and rotate and replenish.

  8. Is Fiskars a decent brand for an axe etc or should I go with another?

    • Fiskars is the best. I choose Fiskars for all of my garden tools as well. You will not regret your purchase (my opinion).

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