The Survival Buzz #180: Being a Prepper Means Being a Pack Rat

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.

The most significant prep around here this week was to dig out my old Sony eBook reader and load it up with all of my preparedness related eBooks as well as 200 novels that will help me while away the time if there is a disruptive event.  I then stowed it away in my Faraday cage and set up a reminder to dig it out and add new material every six months.

Being a Prepper Means Being a Pack Rat | Backdoor Survival

As much as I hate being a pack rat, being a prepper means that I feel compelled to store a bunch of “just in case” stuff.  Old but serviceable clothes and linens, toiletries I don’t care for, and even food items have been stowed away in boxes to be used for barter purposes.  Because I have a small house, these boxes are in the garage.  We actually had to build a loft area for this purpose.

Even so, I feel blessed that I even have this extra space since I know that a number of you are even more crammed than I am.  Space concerns are a real dilemma and often, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of is dictated by where we live.

Other preps this week included a trip to the mainland and Costco where I stocked up on dog food and paper products.  I now have 200 rolls of TP set aside for an emergency.  Do you think that is enough.

And finally, Mr. UPS arrived with a bunch of stuff from Amazon: two more Lifestraws, some Amazon Basics branded rechargeable batteries, and this really cool multi-function jump starter for testing.

I need to say a word about the batteries.  I have researched these batteries and from what I can ascertain, they are a rebranded version of the Panasonic Pro (formerly Sanyo eneloop) High Capacity AAs only cheaper.  Supposedly they are good in flashlights and I since I wanted to use rechargeables in my flashlight faceoff, I chose these.  Hope this makes sense; I will have more information when I am done comparing the Mini-Cree with the Coastal HP1.

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

[clickToTweet tweet=”Being a prepper sometimes makes us feel like a Pack Rat!” quote=”Being a prepper sometimes makes us feel like a Pack Rat!”]

In the News

The New Yorker came up with a follow-up piece on their story about a potential mega-quake of the coast of the Western US.  The author starts by saying:

“… for journalists, or at least this one, fear is not an end in itself. At best, it is a means to an end, a way to channel emotion into action.”

I say “Amen to that!”.  As Preppers, that is what we are doing and will continue to do. Anyway, there are some good, action-oriented, suggestions in the article including a couple I had not thought of.

Here is link:  How to Stay Safe When the Big One Comes.

Speaking of the Cascadia Fault, I want to remind you that J.A. Charnov’s book, Cascadia’s Curse, will remain everywhere through August 3rd.


In another piece of news, Richard Broome alerted me to this MSM news story:

Secret NSA Map Shows China Cyber Attacks on U.S. Targets.  In the story there is a map of all the places in the US that China has conducted a successful cyber attack. It looks like they only missed North Dakota.  None of us are safe from prying eyes, whether it is the NSA or someone else.



Backdoor Survival Mail Bag & Reader Tips

Last week I received the following email from “Mary”:

This is very interesting as was the solar oven webinar.  However, many of us do not have available to invest in these devices.

Would love to see more DIY articles on things like this that would be less costly. I searched and found several different articles on DIY distillers but am curious which ones readers think would be best or easiest to use and construct.  Thanks for the great articles and information.

I took this email quite seriously because, in fact, it is true.  Here was my response:

I have taken your email quite seriously and next month (August) I will be featuring a number of articles on water and places to find information to help with your water preps.

In addition, I have reached out to other website owners that have posted instructions for building their own water distiller but none of them have done it themselves.  As you know, I refuse to share something that “might” work.  If  I have not done it myself or if I don’t know someone who has,  I don’t post it.

You speak, I listen.  August is going to be emergency water month here on Backdoor Survival.  I have enlisted the help of Daisy Luther, author of The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource to assist me in compiling some free resources to help you learn more about safely treating and storing water to use during a disruptive event.

In the meantime, if any of you have personally built a solar water still, please do let me know.

Current Backdoor Survival Giveaways

Here is this weeks’ Book Festival giveaway.  The PrepSmart books are outstanding.  If you have any interest at all in learning more about Shotguns, you will want to read the interview and enter.

Prepper Book Festival 9: Shotguns: A Comprehensive Guide + 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. 

Essential Oils: Shield Protective Blend

For August, the Spark Naturals Oil of the Month is Shield Blend.  This is such a fantastic deal that I want to mention the savings.  The 15ML bottle is normally $28.80 but as part of the OOTM Club, it is $15.99 with free shipping.

Shield Protective Blend is based upon an ancient legend that has its roots in 15th century England during the time of the great plague. Supposedly, grave-robber thieves developed their own blend of Clove, Cinnamon Bark, Lemon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary to protect them while robbing the plague victims.

I seriously doubt that this is much more than a legend although with a bit of research, you will find that indeed, oils of various types were used to ward off sickness in ancient times as were tonics made from herbs and vinegar.

OOTM is a great value and shipping is free!
Spark Naturals Oil of the Month Club | Backdoor Survival

I use Shield in a protective spray instead of hand sanitizer and also in my cold and flu bomb.  In addition, this is one of the go-to oils blends that I recommend for the first aid kit as well as the travel kit.

If you would like to make up a bottle of Shield Protective Spray. try this recipe:

Shield Protective Spray
2 ounce glass spray bottle
30 drops of Spark Naturals Shield Blend
Optional:  1 drop Oregano Oil

Top with Witch Hazel and remember to shake before using.

With the Oil of the Month Club, discounts are included but for all other orders, remember to use the code BACKDOORSURVIVAL for an additional 10% off your entire order.

The Final Word

Why is it that every week is a wild and crazy week?  In the old days we would call in “Nutsy Coo Coo”.  Does anyone say that anymore?

I find it difficult to believe that it is already August.  Although I have enjoyed the sunshine, I know that the lack of rain is wreaking havoc with water supplies and that wildfires are showing up at apartment buildings, shopping centers, and even along freeways here in Washington State.  I know it is worse elsewhere.

As we count down the remaining months of the year, let us be water smart.  If you have some questions regarding anything water-related, be it storage, conservation, or something else, be sure to let me know by email or in comments.  I want water month on Backdoor Survival to be all about you, and the information you want to know.

So now, 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 voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates  and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

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Here are items mentioned in today’s article.

Alaska May 2013 312 Lifestraw

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 2oz. 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.

AmazonBasics AA High-Capacity Rechargeable Batteries (8-Pack):  For the past year I have been making an attempt to reduce my dependence on Alkaline batteries.  Not all rechargeable batteries do well in flashlights but because these are high capacity, I am cautiously optimistic.  The reviews are excellent and to day, everything I have used that is branded “AmazonBasics” has been outstanding in quality.

Coast HP1 Focusing LED Flashlight: I am having a “flashlight faceoff” with the UltraFire Mini Cree Led Flashlight I love so much.  Is it worth the extra cost?  There are BDS readers that swear by the Coast HP1 and so far, it is performing well.

Smart Portable Multi-Function Power Charger:  I am currently testing one of these charges.  I love that it is not big and bulky. Not only will it start my car (yes, I do get a dead battery from time to time) but it integrates a high-output LED flashlight and USB battery pack for charging gizmos.

The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource:  Water Month on Backdoor Survival is going to focus on free resources, this is the book that I recommend.  It will also be featured in this week’s Prepper Book Festival

UltraFire Mini Cree LED FlashlightFAVORITE! Here we go with another flashlight.  It is super mini sized, bright and waterproof.  Plus, it uses a single, standard AA sized battery.

mini Cree_0         

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




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34 Responses to “The Survival Buzz #180: Being a Prepper Means Being a Pack Rat”

  1. Found your site this week and found it to be such a great source of information. As you have said, it can be a little overwhelming but have been feeling like I needed to start doing something. There’s not a lot of money but have started buying a few extra canned goods, started storing water, bought fresh batteries for the many touch lights and flashlights, got my first package of emergency mylar blankets, started putting quarters and one dollar bills aside. I already had a small garden and a flourishing grape vine. Starting reading up on edible plants that I can easily recognize. And got a start on a BOB. Thanks for the great information.

  2. I will be watching for information on safely treating water. I have done many searches on the web trying to find out if it is possible to treat water collected in rain barrels to make it drinkable, if necessary. My barrels end up with a bit of algae, which doesn’t bother me for using on the garden. But for drinking purposes I am supposing this is no worse than treating water from a stagnate pond or puddle?? I just can’t find any thing documented that it is safe to do so. Thank you for all your hard work in researching, testing and sharing!! I have learned a lot.

  3. I think it is common knowledge that I have run off a few batches of Ky’s finest, and I made my still out of a large food canner. Take out the do-dad that your giggler sets on and replace it with a connection for a coil of copper tubing. They come in a 10 foot roll and this is sufficient. Run the coil inside a 5 gallon bucket to use as a condenser. I’m sure I can raise the heat higher than for alcohol and use it to distill water. Putting the do-dad for the giggler back on, I can still use the canner for what it was made for.

  4. I saw an oven somewhere, – possibly here -, a clay oven that one can build cheaply where you burn wood in it for 30 minutes, put the fire out, then cook I. It with the door closed and no fire. Perhaps that would be helpful to the woman that wrote in about $300 solar ovens?

    Also, one can make a decent solar oven out of a cardboard box and aluminum foil.

  5. Regarding August being water storage month, I spoke with the Berkey company to clarify a question I had. They told me that the Berkey DOES remove BPA, so it is safe to use plastic bottles to store water, then filter it before drinking or cooking with it. This is great! I just spent $80 to get three 3-gallon jugs made of a new non-BPA material (Tritan, or something.) That’s $80 to store nine gallons of water – a drop in the bucket of what we need to have on hand. Gaye, I LOVE your site! You are an inspiration and a very entertaining writer!

    • It is sometimes difficult to separate fact from marketing hype. I am glad you were able to get a response from the Berkey people. Just be sure that you periodically perform the red dye test on your black Berkey filters. If the water being filter comes out pink or red, it is time to give them a good scrubbing and back flush. After doing so, test again just to be sure the filters are still viable.

    • Hi Susan, if you have room for one, a 55 gallon water barrel would be a huge improvement, both in quantity of water you can store and in cost per gallon. Even some apartment dwellers could use one if they have a storage room in the basement.

      Lacking space, there are smaller alternatives such as 5 gallon water fountain jugs which are available at places like Home Depot. We have some space in the back of our carport, so put one barrel there, covered with two plastic garden trash bags over it to keep it clean and to reduce even indirect light, and have several of the 5 gallon water fountain jugs in the bottom cabinets of the kitchen.

      We also have a WaterBob tub liner and some five gallon collapsible jugs which we plan to fill if an emergency like a hurricane gives some warning. It might be possible to fill them even after an earthquake, tho I would be less inclined to trust the water quality without sterilizing before drinking.

      One issue with WaterBobs: While they are frequently stated to hold 100 gallons, in reality they are limited to holding as much as the tub they are used in. That’s probably more like 30 gallons, altho I haven’t measured our own tub capacity.

  6. Okay I’m new at survival but I’ve been on this website for awhile now. I started on a bunch of different survival, from starting on saving bottles and putting water in them and hiding them, to starting on a BOB bag, first aid kit still working on that. That’s about it. But I have a question. Where I live in Kansas my town is prone to flooding so the town made like these trenches to help with the flooding and one of those trenches are in my backyard less than a block from my home is a creek. The air is sprayed for mosquitoes to help kill them. I was wondering the creek and trench water if I collect it and boil the water would it be safe for drinking? Also I live nearly 20 minutes from Marion Reservoir and a few years back there was green algae growing there they tried their best to keep it under control if I boil that is it safe to drink that too? Its also filled with different fish and turtle so I have my food source there as well. Sorry its long and thanks for the help Heather! 🙂

    • Hi Heather, It sounds like you have made a good start. Even the most prepared people were there once, and making the decision to start is the most critical part.

      Boiling will take care of the biological pollutants, but won’t remove dissolved chemicals. Also, it will do nothing to remove algae, just kill it.

      While there are a variety of water filters which will remove bacteria, viruses and cysts, relatively few will remove dissolved chemicals such as insecticides. You might take a look at AquaPails, which are advertised as not only actively killing microbes, but as removing chemicals as well.

      I see only the 400 gallon capacity model on Amazon at the moment, but there are larger versions available. You may want to shop around. We have a 1000 gallon version for filtering neighbors’ swimming pool water after a hurricane or earthquake, and there is at least one bigger version than that.

      If you have the ability to purify water not only for yourself during a crisis, but for neighbors, too, you might be able to prevent some real tragedies, and prevent some level of violence by decent but desperate people.

    • Heather – The advice from Penrod is good. In addition, think about a four step process: Pre-filter to remove visible gunk and sediment, filter, boil, and chlorinate (using commercial products, chlorine bleach, or pool shock).

      Distillation is also good but does take an investment in equipment plus a fuel source unless you can rig a solar distiller.

    • Sorry for the late reply been busy prepping and what not. Also sorry but since I’m new at this I don’t even understand half the things you have said. Especially about the biological pollutants and dissolved chemicals. Thanks!

  7. ok i’ve been laughed at for this…take tp roll inserts and fold up old into new and continue until you can’t fold any more and start on new one…emergency firewood at least

    • I am not laughing. That is a great idea!

  8. I stopped stocking Toilet paper. Sure, I have several big packages on hand, cuz I think someone in my family snacks on it while in the bathroom. We go through a lot. Since I don’t have water issues in my location I am using the idea of someone else who said “cut up old T-shirts instead of TP in long term situation”….But I feel T-Shirts should be worn, so I have purchased several bundles of cheap ($3.94 for 18) wash cloths and put them away for TP use in long term situation. These 54 wash cloths take up a whole lot less space than a year’s worth of TP. They come in multi-colored packages, so you could give each family member a specific color and only wash when soiled with solid material. (Which will probably be one a day, but if you have a place to hang them to dry, you don’t have to wash them after every single wipe.) Another thing I have started doing is saving water in laundry detergent bottles for washing clothing; thereby saving my potable water containers for drinking water.

    • Your post made me smile. I had my six babies before disposable diapers & baby wipes. I had two dozen cheap white washcloths for nothing but baby bottoms. They went in the diaper pail with washing soda solution right along with soiled diapers. They were washed with diapers, hung in sun to dry & guess what? All my kids had happy bottoms without overloading a landfill.

    • I’ve done something like your idea, only I bought mechanic’s cleaning cloths, sewed them to my old towels. Now, when someone uses or sees one, they know what it’s for and where to put the used one. 🙂 Of course they get special laundry care too. lol Meanwhile, I have the luxury of using tp while it’s around. Have you thought of reusing your laundry water for your toilet? It’s about reusing a valuable resource as many times as possible before releasing it. 🙂 O and that bath/shower water can go for the toilet too if you have a way to do so.

  9. The table has turned, I’m using stuff and skills, not acquiring them. …It’s a different kind of ride.

    RE: water, I still haven’t found an answer about what exactly happens to a never used water filter, such as Lifestraw, when it freezes. And, if the Lifestraw was used once or twice and air-dried will there be any difference from the never used one? Is there a time limit of sorts? I mean, if it was frozen for an hour, is that as bad as ten minutes, or two days?

    If a filter gets frozen while totally wet, do you just automatically throw it away, no questions asked?
    Can you tell that I live in the Northland?

    Is there a heat limit, from say, sitting on a car dashboard in the Sun, or being too close to a campfire?

    Also, other than low output, what happens when water filters such as Berkey (or other similar counter-top types which plug into the faucet) go unchanged for longer than is recommended? [And, do they have the same freeze limits as others?] I have a counter-top-to-faucet type I let go for too long,, one year or so longer than mfg rec., I expected to find goop all over the filters, or mold, or a bad smell. The only thing I noticed was a slightly yellowish slime on the mating surface of the gasket-to-housing of the filters. There was no bad taste or cloudy water. Was that real bad? What would be worst case if I let it go two years past mfg rec? Or, more? Prolly depends upon water quality, I’m guessing. The o-rings were as clean as new, using coconut oil as a lubricant.
    In the owners manual mine says not to run hot water through it, I wonder what happens if you do? For any filter?

    If your filter developed a crack somehow or other, would you put duct tape over it, if things were real bad? Marine grade JB Weld would likely be the better option, I think, but that takes awhile to cure.

    What else, besides coconut oil or olive oil, can be used to lubricate the o-ring seals on counter-top type filters besides vegetable oil?

    I imagine that in a pinch a counter-top-to-faucet type filter could be turned into a gravity type filter, anyone ever try?

    Is there anything else besides food coloring that can be used to test the seal of Berkeys?

    Lifestraw sells a product with the filter inside a water bottle, which seemed kind of cool and more versatile, can they be taken apart and used in the same manner as the original for say, drinking out of a puddle?

    Generally, what do you think of storing water in beer bottles? If you didn’t put the bottle caps on real tight, would that be ok? Could you re-use the caps a second or third time, for water, or for beer? Seems like it would be a good move to have a few cases of water in water bottles next to a few cases of beer bottles with water in them for when/if your non-prepping friends or heating and air-conditioning guy, et al saw them,… more culturally acceptable and less likely to raise an eyebrow than would a wall of cases of water? And, if you didn’t drink/make beer, the bottles might be good for barter to those who do. ?

    A friend of mine uses an aireator type thingie when drinking red wine (as you pour into a funnel type thing, tiny holes on the side allow air to be drawn in and mixes with the wine) says it improves the taste or something. Would that work well to improve the taste of older stale water?

    I once read you could turn a pressure cooker into a distiller by replacing the wiggle thingie on the top with a nipple to connect a copper tube to. In order to locate one, is there a name for the nipple piece that screws into the wiggle thingie hole? And, are there any everyday appliances which have one to parts-rob from?

    Lastly, will tuna packed in olive oil last longer past its exp date than tuna packed in water?

    • Oh my gosh – fantastic questions. I know the answers to a few of them and but will find answers to as many of the others as possible.

      The one thing I will say now is that red food coloring is the only color that works to test the Berkey. I forgot why but will find the answer to that as well.

  10. The best and longest lasting oil I know of for lubricating mechanical parts or anything else is castor oil. Also, if you want to seal the beer bottles tightly there are rubber bottle stoppers made for soda, wine, etc. in most grocery stores. They come in various styles & prices.

  11. I was just thinking could a fireproof safe be used as a faraday cage for radios and small electronics? We have three safes of different sizes….it would be easier to use those instead of making a cage…

    • One method you could use to test is to put your cell phone inside and then call it. If it rings, you know that it will not be suitable as a Faraday cage. If it doesn’t ring, it will probably work.

      BTW, our microwave did not work. The cell phone rang.

  12. I have a question for water month. I live rural and have a well which relies on electricity. I have researched buying hand pumps and they are very expensive. My husband is very handy but needs plans to follow. I have hunted but been unable to find plans for a DIY well pump. Any help you can give me, Gaye, would be much appreciated. Look forward to all things water.

    In addition to our well, we have access to several run-off creeks which never go dry that run into a wetland in the field behind our home. I have lived here for almost 25 years and watched industrious beavers start with a small dammed area which has now turned into a pond with fish from the creeks. I’m not sure it can be made into potable water, but I have sat on my back porch and seen deer and moose come to drink. So at least early on in a SHTF situation there are some advantages.

  13. Do you have a solar charger for your E-Reader?

    • Here is a link to my review: //

  14. Yes I do. Actually, I have 3 or 4 different types so I am covered there. The real issue, however, is not having a solar charger, but what to do if the internal battery is toast.

    Were you looking for a recommendation? My current favorite is the RavPower. You can’t beat the price and it works great. //

  15. helot,
    From experience, yes tuna in oil will not stay good as long as tuna in water. We found a can in the cupboard(round about shelves) that got stuck in the WAAY back corner of the cupboard under the round shelves that was way past expiration date but hadn’t started to bulge or look bad from outside the can. DH opened it (Wrong move lol) Stunk to high heaven, even the cats ran from the odor, sneezing.
    we don’t stock tuna in oil now 😉

    • Great lesson Kathy. I’ll remember this one. I do wonder, you think it might have worked as bait for fishing? Just curious. 😉

    • The crabs will love it.

    • No tuna for me since Fukushima.

  16. “comparing the the $4 Mini-Cree with the Coastal HP1.”

    I’ll be interested in that one, Gaye. We have a number of the Coasts, and like them a lot.

    I use flashlights a lot, and have found that universally the weak spot is the switch. They are designed for a certain number of on/off cycles, and at some point stop working. The more expensive flashlights tend to use switches designed for more on/off cycles than the cheaper ones.

    So, one could reasonably take any of at least three approaches: a few expensive lights, a lot of cheap ones, or a mix. My personal preference is for the better quality ones on the theory that they will usually be more reliable in a pinch, but reasonable people may choose differently. I do keep HP1 back ups to my pocket HP1 in my EDC bag, my GHB, vehicle First Aid kit, and bigger D-cell MagLights in the vehicle, so I may be a little over the top on lights

    At least whenever we walk past a store’s flashlight display, my wife tends to take my hand and say things like “It’s OK, dear. Just keep walking, it’s OK. Keep walking…breathe deep…” 🙂

    • Penrod – You are one the main reasons I purchased the Coastal HP1. Saturday night we left all lights off starting about 8PM when it was still daylight out. We had the mini-cree, the Coastal, and this new collapsible lantern I purchased. The combination of the 3 was perfect. (I did not fire up any of my solar lanterns or other lighting sources.)

      I have more testing to do but one thing that was obvious is that the width of the beam and range of the Coastal was wider and longer. To closer objects, the brightness was comparable. The other thing is the lens on the mini-cree scratches which does affect the beam when it is on “focus” mode.

      Still working on it. I am also a sucker for flashlights. I must have been afraid of the dark when I was a kid although I do not recall that specifically.

    • Hi Gaye, I’m glad you found things to like about the Coast HP1. One feature I like a lot is the flat beam Coasts throw: no dark spot in the middle, no dark ring. Makes it a lot easier to see what is lit up.

      I have noticed that the HP1, unlike the bigger Coast lights, does have a dark spot when it is on the ‘spot’ or focus setting, but the wide angle is really good.

      The switch issues may not be a big deal for people who rarely use flashlights, but I use mine a lot, so it is a big deal to me. Different situations, different criteria. Or at least different weights given to the same criteria.

      I’ll also be interested in hearing what you think of the collapsible lantern. I’ve been toying with getting one.

  17. I haven’t built a solar water distiller, however, you might check around the Burning Man forums. Burning Man is a massive get-together held in the middle of the desert for a week. Since it’s all camping with just the supplies you and your neighbors bring, there is a lot of creative and inspirational ways to conserve, recycle, and purify water (and everything else, for that matter). A lot of inventions get stress-tested hard at Burning Man, and I’ve found more than a few useful and workable ideas cruising their boards.

    • Thanks for the tip. I will check out the Burning Man forums.

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