Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hydration Technology Innovations: AnyWater AnyWhere

I just received several samples of a product I had not seen before that I think will be of great interest to preppers as well as adventure travelers needing a safe and reliable water source in questionable areas.  A box of these samples was sent to me by the editor of Sea Kayaker magazine, a publication I've been contributing to on an occasional basis since they published an account of my solo Caribbean sea kayak journey back in 1990.  I will be testing and reviewing this product for the magazine, so I can't publish the review here until after it appears in print, but I did want to share some photos and a link to the company website with you, and I'll post a link to the article here when it's available.

The Hydration Technology Innovations HydroPack Water Filter is a self-hydrating drink pouch/emergency water filter that is claimed by the manufacturer to produce a refreshing drink while removing viruses, bacteria, cysts and parasites from the water.  The small pouch on the left contains six individual packets that produce 12 fluid ounces each when hydrated.  The larger package on the right is a 10-day water filtration system that weighs less than 5 pounds in your pack and is claimed to produce up to 8.5 gallons of safe drinking fluid in the field. 

This system, by Hydration Technology Innovations is in use by Marine, Air Force, Army and Special Ops personnel.  If it works as advertised, it could be a useful addition to the bug-out bag in many situations.

Even more interesting to me, the company also manufactures a reverse-osmosis water filtration system that works in a similar way.  Shown below is the Emergency Desalinator foward osmosis membrane filter and the SeaPack Crew Emergency Desalination Pouch

These SeaPack self-hydrating pouches work like the HydroPak pouches for freshwater, but create a clean drink that contains electrolytes and other nutrients from seawater by removing up to 97% of the salt from the water.  All this  comes in a compact package that can easily fit in the storage compartments of a sea kayak or in a life raft or abandon ship bag, without the complication of an expensive reverse-osmosis pump system.  I can't wait to see how it works.

I plan to put all these units to the test in the coming weeks by seeking out the nastiest Mississippi swampwater I can find for the freshwater systems and heading south to the Gulf of Mexico for some salty seawater to sample with the desalination systems.  If they work as advertised, I'll let you know here, and I'm sure I'll be adding some to my gear collection - especially the desalination units.  One can never have too many back-ups when it comes to a freshwater drinking supply when venturing out to sea on small boats.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Review of The Prepper's Pocket Guide

I spend a lot of time here talking about my own books, of course, which is part of the reason I started this blog - as a platform upon which to expand on the material covered in those books and to connect with readers.  When I first conceived the idea of my first Bug Out book in 2009, I knew that interest was growing in all aspects of survival topics and I was surprised to see how many new survival books were appearing on bookstore shelves.  Now, two and half years later, this trend has not only continued but has gained tremendous momentum as the survival and prepping community's appetite for this kind of information seems insatiable.  This interest is no longer limited to a small segment of the population, however, but has really started to become mainstream in the last year or so, and for obvious reasons.  

Some of the newer books coming out on the topic are aimed squarely at those mainstream readers who may just now be beginning to realize they need to take a few steps in the direction of disaster and emergency prepardness, as well as address concerns caused by the new economic reality.  My own publisher, Ulysses Press of Berkeley, California, has recently released just such a book: The Prepper's Pocket Guide, by Bernie Carr, and it has been a bestseller from the start.  

I’ve been following the author’s Apartment Prepper blog since she began posting and have enjoyed reading her thoughts on the topic of prepardness from the perspective of an urban apartment dweller rather than the typical wilderness survival guru or retreat survivalist living in an isolated bunker in the middle of nowhere.  She relates to many readers who may not be interested in that kind of hard-core survival by describing her own journey that began with a growing feeling of insecurity in an uncertain world and how she started taking the steps to address her concerns for herself and her family.  I am pleased to see that journey lead to this excellent book that I think will benefit her blog readers and many, many more people who may not have given this topic serious thought because of misconceptions they may have about preppers.  

She dispels many common myths about prepping right in the beginning, such as:   

Prepping is Expensive

Prepping Takes Too Much Time

You Need a Lot of Space for Storage

You Need a Farm or Retreat Location

Prepping Will Turn Me Into One of Those Crackpots Living in a Cabin in the Woods, Dressed in Military Gear and Threatening People with Explosives. 

I really like the format of this book because it is just what the title says it is: a pocket guide packed with useful information that spans just about every aspect of survival and disaster planning.  Each of the 101 tips is solidly researched and clearly presented in a way that is easy to read and easy to understand.  While no pocket guide can go into great depth in any one subject area, the value of this book is that it introduces readers to ideas and concepts they may never have considered, opening the door to further research and reading on the topics they want to know more about.  Some of the major sections include: Financial Readiness, Water Needs, Food Supplies and Personal Health and Safety. 

As the author of this blog and two books on the subject of bugging out, I could especially appreciate Chapter Eight: When You Have to Get Out.  The tips in this section introduce those new to prepping to the concept of bugging out and manage to distill the essential elements of it in a few short pages while still covering the important points like what to pack in a bug-out bag, transportation, safety, exit routes, communication and navigation. 

Whether you plan to bug-in, bug-out or just want to learn more about what this “prepping” movement is all about, I highly recommend ThePrepper’s Pocket Guide as a handy reference and a permanent addition to your library. This little book also makes a great gift for $12.95, if like all of us, you have friends and family that cannot understand what this "prepping" stuff is all about and are looking for the perfect book to help them out. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fast Escape Vehicle or Self-Contained Mobile Retreat?

In deciding how to organize the information on various vehicles in Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters, I had to separate the various modes of transportation covered in the book into three major categories:  Escape Vehicles, Mobile Retreats and Alternative or Back-up Vehicles. 

While any vehicle of any type could be classified as an "escape" vehicle because it could be used to make your escape in a bug-out situation, the primary difference as defined in the book is that for the most part an escape vehicle is the type of conveyance that will enable you to make a rapid exit from a danger zone, or perhaps reach your pre-planned bug-out location or retreat or even get home to your family if you are caught out away when the event happens.  The generally means you won't be thinking of the vehicle itself as a shelter and won't be spending any time in it except for travel.  If the situation calls for more than one day of travel, you'll likely be camping out of rather than inside of the vehicle, simply because it won't have accommodations or be set up for self-contained travel.  Examples of escape vehicles include most passenger cars, pickups and SUVs - the sort of vehicle most people use for everyday transportation and already own.  Other escape vehicles for overland travel on highways and roads include many types of motorcycles and escape vehicles for travel on the water include small powerboats and runabouts, as well as some classes of small sailboats and personal watercraft. 

Those utilizing a fast escape vehicle to bug-out of a SHTF situation will likely be doing so specifically because they have planned their bug-out strategy around quickly reaching a specific bug-out location or prepared retreat, or in the worst case, because they were caught totally unprepared and have to quickly throw some gear and supplies into whatever vehicle they have and go.  In either case, there are all sorts of contingencies to consider and anyone planning to bug out in a vehicle that cannot also double as a retreat shelter should have the basic gear and supplies they need to survive without the vehicle if for some reason it has to be abandoned. 

Mobile Retreats, on the other hand, can be defined as those vehicles which offer both transportation and shelter and can provide long-term support for you and your family both while you are on the move and after you reach a safer location.  A key difference as opposed to escape vehicles is that you can live in them rather than relying on a tent or other temporary shelter.  The ability to sleep inside the vehicle means that it can be set up for more comfort as well as more security, and you don't have to stop and unpack everything to set up camp and repack it to get on the move again.  The smallest mobile retreats will have at least as much storage space as the largest escape vehicles, and the larger ones will have many times more.  Some can carry everything you need for months of self-sufficient travel or living.  Examples of mobile retreats covered in the book include a broad range of manufactured RVs from pop-up campers to motorhomes, DIY mobile retreats such as converted buses, house trucks and home-built camper trailers, and liveaboard boats, including motor and sailing cruisers and houseboats.

Mobile retreats, like any other type of vehicle, can certainly have their drawbacks as well, and among these are the fact that larger vehicles will generally require more fuel, be more difficult to maneuver in evacuation traffic and will be more conspicuous and harder to conceal, which could attract unwanted attention and even attempts by those less prepared to take all the gear and supplies you are obviously carrying.  Deciding to utilize a mobile retreat as your bug-out vehicle will require careful planning and tailoring of the vehicle and its gear to your specific situation.

The bottom line is that any sort of travel after the SHTF will present problems and challenges that have to be overcome and risks that have to be assessed and dealt with.  But in some situations, mobility could be the key to survival.  What kind of vehicle options are you considering?  Do you lean more towards fast escape vehicles to Get Out of Dodge in a hurry, or do you plan to hit the road or waterways in a well-stocked mobile retreat and try to stay away from the danger zones for as long as it takes?


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