Suburban Survival

How to Survive Lost Without a Compass

Woman hiking and reading map in forestYou have decided it is a good day for a short hike on a well-known trail. A trail well known to you anyways because you have hiked it numerous times and you know every twist and turn. You know how long it takes from start to finish and you have your survival gear down to a science. You know how many bottles of water you will need as well as number of protein bars. Because you are, so familiar with the terrain a map and compass is just added weight and you see no need to pack then for the hike.

After an hour along the trail, you notice storm clouds gathering and realize it is an hour walk back to the trailhead and your vehicle. Getting soaked out here is not ideal because it is getting cooler so you begin to search for shelter, you veer off the trail, and soon you spot a downed tree that may offer some protection if you get under it.

The rain pelted down for the better part of an hour and the mist rising from the ground made seeing the ground difficult. You set out for the trail and after 10 minutes of hiking you realize you must have went in the wrong direction because surely you did not walk ten minutes to the downed tree. Twenty minutes in the other direction and still no trail and for some reason you have the urge to run in another direction to find the trail, you do not however because panicking is dangerous and it will only move you farther from the trail.

You Are Lost What to Do Next

Like most people, you probably get in your vehicle and drive to your destination. You know the way because of landmarks and street signs. Directions are not given like in days past where someone would tell you to walk north for 800 paces and turn south for 300 more. Frankly you have no idea if the trailhead where your vehicle is, is north or south of the trail and certainly no idea where it is from your current location.

How to Find Civilization

Man checking compass for right directionSome people naturally assume a compass is no good unless you know which direction to travel in and that you need a map to find your way. Granted a compass is ideal for finding locations if you know the grid coordinates and know the destination as marked on a map. However, a compass also allows you walk in a straight line.

The bezel of a good compass will have degrees marked on it that correspond to the direction of travel and is lined up with the needle that points in that direction. When walking you glance at the needle to ensure you are always moving 180 degrees south, for example, and this makes it easy to adjust course and of course ensures that you are walking in a straight line.

It is nearly impossible to walk in a straight line without a compass or some visual landmark that you can focus on with your eyes.

Lost Without a Compass

Why is walking in a straight line important. If you cannot walk in a straight line, simply put, you will never get anywhere and ultimately will walk in circles and end up back where you started. You can literally walk for days, be less than five miles from civilization, and never find it because you walked in circles. Hikers, hunters and others lost have been found in some cases just a few miles from camp, their vehicle or a town. They had succumbed to the elements or dehydration because they could not stay pointed in one direction long enough to reach their camp or the town.

Assumedly if you walk in any direction in a straight line for 10 to 15 miles or more in some cases, you will come upon a road, highway or some other evidence of civilization. It is simply a matter of maintaining course, and it can be done with a compass or map.

Find a landmark that you can walk directly to and once there find another and do the same and repeat this process to walk in straight line. Use the sun during the day to maintain course by walking with the sun over one shoulder and once the sun begins to go down either walk into it or have it centered on your back as you walk, which will require that you glance back often to stay on course.

Waterways can lead to towns and homes. Simply follow any river or stream downriver. Many cities and towns grew up around water because water is essential to any community’s survival and many communities sprang up around water.

Railroad tracks either lead to or are coming from a settlement and once you come upon a set of tracks it really does not matter which direction you travel in, one way could have a town just around the corner or several miles around the next corner.

Overhead power lines and oil pipelines will lead to civilization, repair huts, homes and transfer stations where help may be found.

If you know or suspect you are in a coastal area walk into the wind to find the coastline or follow birds. Birds will fly inland and then return to the coast. Prevailing winds blow inland so if the breeze is at your front then you are walking toward the coast where help may be found.

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Suburban Survival, Survival Gear Comments Off

Testing Your Preparations

Testing your PrepsIt is not enough to realize that you need to prepare and gather certain items you also need to know why you need to do certain things. Knowing why something is important allows you to make contingency plans. If you do not know how to use certain things or even know what they are used for, means you will not be able to find a substitute for that item.

Survival is about adapting and using what tools and materials may be available. You need to practice, and test items and plans. You are never going to be prepared unless you know that your plans, tools and equipment actually work.


Emergency plans like anything else must be adapted as the situation changes. If you have an emergency escape plan from your home, it should be tested under various conditions such as in cold weather if applicable, during a thunderstorm/snowstorm and at night. You have to keep in mind it is not likely that you will need to escape your home unless there is an ongoing disaster, so your training must be as realistic as possible. Adapt the plans as the weather changes and plan for certain disaster to create structural damage that must be accounted for. What happens if a large tree blocks one of the escape routes out of the house?

Training is gathering information to use during a real life crisis. You cannot train for a few days and declare yourself trained. Training should be a constant so it brings you to the point where actions become natural and instinctive. Practice is important for retention of information as well. You gather the knowledge and then apply that knowledge during your training sessions and then in real life situations. Have practice runs every 60 days.

Equipment Materials and Supplies

prepper pantryToo often families and individuals will stockpile supplies and then become complacent when nothing happens. Soon the emergency supplies are being used for backyard adventures or weekend camping trips and some items may deteriorate from improper storage and items may have gone past their use by date.

Inventory your supplies every 90 days and make on an index card for each item or batch of items. Information on the card should include who checked for expiration dates the date of inventory, when to inventory again and how much is on hand and amount you want to have on hand. Attach the card to the outside of any backpacks, storage bins or shelves.

Item Identification and Usage

You may know how to use everything but does everyone else. You can be hurt during the crisis, and if you are the only one that knows how to purify water, or make a water filter or any number of things then your family or group will suffer. Does everyone know where the main gas meter is and how to shut off the gas service for example?

As a leader, you need to train others to take over for you if something happens to you. It is not a plan if only one person knows, it is a secret, so you must not keep things to yourself, make sure everyone has the same level of knowledge as you. Of course, not everyone will achieve the same level of training, but everyone must enough knowledge to carry on and keep the family alive. Test for knowledge on how to use all of the equipment and tools every 90 days or when a new item is obtained. Use a training sheet that indicates everyone is proficient with each item and identify members that may require further training.

Keeping Track of Progress

logbookEvery member of the family should have their own logbook. The book should have important numbers, rendezvous points and school and work emergency plans. Older children should know where all emergency shelters are located in your community and must know how to get there under any conditions. You need to know where schools will take children during a crisis so you do not waste time searching frantically. You must have a plan for getting home from work during a crisis.

Everyone in the family should have a 24-hour bag in their car or at work.

• You will need communication devices that do not rely on cellular towers or the power grid

• Food and water for 24 hours and a thermal blanket along with a multi-tool/knife these items will be needed if you have to walk from work to home

Walking/hiking shoes, gloves, bandana, hat and cold weather coat if applicable

• Rain Poncho

Logbooks should also track training schedules and have an inventory of all your supplies. Remind everyone that the logbooks are confidential you do not want people outside of the family knowing your plans and level of readiness.

Controlled Testing Environments

Unless you have survived through a catastrophic event, you can only imagine what it is like and imagination has a way of blurring the rough edges. You should have training weekends where you shut off the water, electricity and all electronic gadgets to get a feel for what it is like surviving without utilities.

In a controlled environment, you can use mistakes as tool to improve your readiness and no one suffers from those mistakes. You have to know what to do, how to give baths, cook meals, and do all of the needed tasks without using modern conveniences. The entire world is just one disaster away from waking up to 150 years in the past. The things you do during the normal course of a day will still have to be done during a crisis.

Going off grid if you will is the only way to test your preparedness plan. You get to experiment to some extent with alternative power sources such as solar or gas operated generators, fire starting methods and surface water collection and purification and so on down the line.



Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Planning, Survival Gear 1 Comment

Body Armor Guide For Dummies

Our friends over at have graciously provided us with a guest post this week.  They have shared with us a prepper’s guide to body armor.  I am sure you will find it very informative.  Feel free to visit their website and tell them what you think. -SP

Guide to Body Armor

Body Armor With SAPI Plate Pocket

Body Armor With SAPI Plate Pocket

There’s no doubt that you know that the federal US government seems to intentionally violate US residents’ integral right for self-defense. Body armor can at times be a crucial prep for people who want to secure themselves from an unfortunate event. This article, this guide, is meant to be a simple explanation and introduction to body armor for the average person. This is for anyone who is not familiar with body armor. It is designed to help you choose the appropriate body armor for your specific needs.


Body Armor Rating System

There are two protection levels for stab proof armor that are managed by Home Office Scientific Development Branch of the UK, whereas protection levels for bullet proof vests range from level IIA to level IVA and are managed by the US National Institute of Justice. In general, body armor is manufactured from three materials: Kevlar, steel, and ceramic.


Kevlar Body Armor

Kevlar was created by DuPont back in 1965. This material is the most common one used in soft body armor. Kevlar is an aramid, a polymer chain, which aligns parallel to the fiber. The extra strong chemical bindings permit the fiber to be incredibly strong elastically relative to weight. These fibers are joined into a thick cloth, creating the layers that are employed in modern Kevlar body armors.

Most of the time, Kevlar is good at stopping bullets. The material is much lighter, comparing to any other material used in body armor, and is mostly reputed for stopping rounds from a handgun. For example, an IIIA protection level body armor set is able to stop up to a .44 Magnum bullet from permeating it. Kevlar is flexible and adjusts to the bodyshapes of its owner, when worn. Kevlar body armor is concealable, so it might be worn regularly.Body Armor Levels



Ceramic Body Armor

The majority of ceramic plates (frequently referred to as trauma plates) are manufactured of a boron-carbide blend. This material’s structure is crystalline. Ceramic plates are very hard and are known for absorbing bullet’s impact.

Generally, ceramic plates are rated III and IV by the NIJ. They can absorb the impact of bullets that range between .308 and .3006. The impact to the body is highly reduced by the body armor that breaks up and absorbs the impact. This is referred to as “fracturing”. Also, ceramic is much lighter, comparing to steel, so wearing ¾ inch plates ads about 4 lbs. less, than steel. Ceramic isn’t affected by moisture or heat and doesn’t spoil very much with the lapse of time.


Steel Body Armor

Barely any introduction is needed for steel. The only thing that should be noted is that a wide range of steel trauma plates are manufactured from AR500 steel.  Among the available hard armor, steel plates are the most elastic. Numerous strikes to steel plates won’t compromise armor’s integrity. Steel isn’t fragile and won’t crack, if shot at or dropped. Also, steel is cheaper, than ceramic and is obtainable from a broader band of manufacturers.

Body Armor


Should You Get Yourself Body Armor?

It is advisable, but there are a few cautions. In extreme situations, like WROL, a bullet wound will probably be a death warrant. Unless it’s a clean subcutaneous wound, it is improbable that most people would have the skills or tools needed for recovery. Fragments of bullets and tissues of bone, muscles, and organs would have to be removed or fixed to avert sepsis or even death from bleeding, not to mention the recovery of a limb’s or organ’s function. Slow moving ammo is known to tear clothes and bringing their fragments into the wound, increasing infection risk even more. How many people have a shotgun that is loaded with several shells? Also, consider the fact that the person attempting to treat you could be your friend or family member with limited first-aid knowledge and could easily overlook some of the birdshot grains stuck in you. Lead isn’t a vitamin you should be taking for better brain function.

Like all good preppers know always prep the essentials before anything. Never buy body armor before getting food, water, medical supplies, and firearms. Prep wisely, before getting a million rounds ammo, make sure you have enough food and water to feed your family. You must know your priorities. You won’t be able to eat Kevlar for lunch and bullets won’t keep you hydrated. Body armor is a great item to have when you need it but don’t over look the essentials.

Kevlar’s lightweight properties make this type of armor ideal for children, women, the elderly and for those who want to avoid carrying an extra 20 pounds on them. Kevlar prices ranges from $150 to $300+, Prices vary from each manufacturer and the type of carrier in the set. When buying Kevlar, don’t forget to check the manufacture date. There are quite a few different Kevlar Made Body Armor options for all current occupations or requirements.

The more robust individuals can carry serious hard armor protection with carriers, most of which have MOLLE webbing. Ceramic plates cost about $200 per plate, so a set would cost about $400+ and don’t forget about at least $75 for the armor carrier. Steel armor certified by the NIJ costs about $100 per plate, in general, which means they cost about half the price of ceramic armor. Most of the steel and ceramic armors isn’t protected from spalling.

Stealth Body Armor

Stealth Body Armor


What Armor Should You Get?

There’s no magic body armor that will protect you 100%. The perfect body armor is the right balance of protection and mobility. It must protect against incoming fire and at the same time keep you mobile.

For suburban preppers that live in suburban areas, where you are in minimal risk of being shot at with larger caliber rounds, you can choose to wear soft body armor for its concealment features and mobility. However, in a rural area, where many people are hunters, the probability of rifles and larger calibers increases and makes the use of hard body armor a better choice. Hard armor is also a better option for a firefight, where you can’t disengage, stationary security, or reconnaissance over flat land or in an unfriendly environment.

For more information please visit online in the United States or for UK residents.

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Suburban Survival, Survival Gear, Survival Kits 1 Comment

3 Things You Should Always Carry With You

Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife

Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife


3 Things You Should Always Carry With You

An emergency is a serious, unexpected and often times dangerous situation that in most cases requires immediate action on your part, action that can save your life or the life of others. Everyone hopes that he or she will react in the right way, and will know exactly what to do. However, knowing what action to take and having the necessary tools, or equipment to accomplish that action is another thing altogether.  I will give you my top three items you should always carry with you.  Let me know your top three items in the comments below.


1. Quality Knife and Multi Tool

A knife is one of the most versatile tools you can carry. It can be used for personal defense, extraction from a vehicle or building and can be used to make other tools.

Leather man Multi toolIn a wilderness survival situation, a quality knife will ensure you have a shelter, protection and food. You can make spears for fishing, hunting and self-defense. Your knife can also be used to help start a fire by creating a spark when struck against other steel or a hard stone.

Knives can be used for emergency extraction from buildings by cutting through dry wall and wood paneling. Keep a knife close in your vehicle to cut seatbelts or use the handle to smash window glass. Carry a multi-tool knife on your key chain, the tool blades can be used for many projects such as cutting wire, sawing through rope and wood and cutting plastic wrists restraints.

The file blade can be used to sharpen other tools to include knives and axes, and most multi-tools will have several screwdriver heads for emergency repairs to other tools and equipment.

Know the laws in your particular state or city on the legalities concerning carrying certain types of knives. In many cases, there will be a restriction on the blade length.


2. Communication devices

Motorola Walkie TalkieThere are various ways to receive and transmit information today. In an emergency, you may need to receive emergency instructions/information and to transmit information as well. Most cell phones today allow you to receive information either through a web browser that connects to the Internet or through certain applications.

Use the camera on the phone to document an emergency or to pass relevant information to others. There have been reported cases where kidnap victims have been able to text to law enforcement or to families that they have been abducted.

Some cell phones have Global Positioning Systems (GPS) integrated into the system (or use an application) where rescue personnel can track you and in some cases, you can retrieve your longitude and latitude from the phone to give to rescue personnel. Use the GPS system to find your way if you do become lost. Know the longitude and latitude of your city or home and store the coordinates in your phone. Some cell phones have a flashlights built in or you can use the lighted screen as an illumination device.

Walkie-Talkies (two-way radio) can be carried in your car, kept in your office, purse, or clipped on your belt. You would have one device and the other would be at home where the device can be monitored or carried by a spouse/partner. In certain emergencies, the cell phone towers may be not be operational so a backup communication device is recommended.


3. Bandanas

Camo BandanaYou can carry other types of material (cloth) but bandanas are sized for various applications such as for slings to immobilize sprained or broken limbs. You can easily carry several in a purse, pocket or store in a glove compartment. Use a bandana as a compression bandage to stop bleeding by folding into a square and securing directly over the wound.

Bandanas can be used as an emergency water filter, and for carrying items. Wrap items in the bandana and leave enough of the ends free to tie together to form a handle and you have essentially made a small satchel for carrying water, food or other items.

Use your bandana, for head protection from the sun or cold winds and place around the neck to keep warm in cold weather. Wrap the material around your hands to protect the knuckles and hands if you have to break glass or handle sharp objects.

In certain situations, you can use a bandana to collect morning dew for hydration by absorbing the moisture off surfaces and squeezing the moisture into your mouth. Use a bandana to restrain the hands and feet of an individual. The uses for a bandana are only limited by your imagination.




Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Survival Gear, Survival Kits 7 Comments

How To Prepare Your Vehicle For Emergencies

emergency vehicle PrepsPreparing Your Vehicle for Emergencies

Many of us living in suburbia that commute to and from work sometimes take for granted one of the most important preps, YOUR CAR.  It is critical that you remember that your vehicle in a survival situation is your shelter and it will protect you from the elements, insects and predators. There has been case after case of people becoming stranded in their vehicle because of a mechanical breakdown, or they took a shortcut, got lost and their vehicle became stuck.

In many of these cases, individuals left their vehicle to find help, and succumbed to hypothermia, dehydration or from injuries. They simply could not find their way back to civilization. Rescue personnel only managed to find an empty vehicle because the occupants decided to abandon their shelter. One of the reasons they may have left their vehicle is because they did not have any provisions such as food, water and blankets. Read more

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Get Home Bag, Prepping 101, Survival Gear, Survival Kits, Vehicle 4 Comments