How to Choose the Best Air Mattress for Your Bug Out Shelter

How to choose the best air mattress for your bug out shelter

Written by James

After spending about 10 hours in total putting together this guide about sleeping arrangements for your bug-out shelter (air mattresses to be specific)…I spent 5 minutes researching what happened across the USA in those 10 hours.

Here are a few events that struck us while I was hitting the plastic buttons on my keyboard:

  • Major eruption of the Pavlof volcano near Anchorage Alaska
  • A tornado in Louisiana
  • Earthquake in Oklahoma

So, before sharpening our blades and looking at the best scopes for our semis, let’s take a moment to be practical and talk probabilities.

Most realistic bug-out scenarios we can think of right now will drive us to our shelters to weather the storm. It’s a common mistake (although probably more fun) preparing to rough it up in the woods and fail to prepare for urban or shelter survival.


Sleeping arrangements for your shelter

While crashing at your friends’ house or in a cheap motel room will probably have the sleeping arrangement covered, for your shelter, a good airbed is a piece of the puzzle we simply can’t ignore.

So, let’s take a moment and talk about what to look for when choosing the best air mattress for your situation.

Think quality

Words like “quality” have never been thrown around more easily by the companies trying to sell us the products.

It’s understandable, it’s their job to get us to buy.

It’s also our job to be educated consumers and make sure we are getting our money’s worth. So, let us do that – let’s separate marketing blabber from what you should be looking at when choosing and air mattress:

Look past phrases like “high quality” or “puncture-resistant” and look for specifics:


Most of the inflatable beds will be made out of PVC, look for the ones that are textile or rubber-enhanced and the ones that are specific about the PVC being thicker (the ones that do make them thicker will go out of their way to brag about it).



It’s a much lesser concern than it used to be since the air mattress companies started using fumes-free materials for all their products and since a few studies emerged showing that an air mattress has the lowest off-gassing of all the mattress types (research below).


Still, your shelter is not likely to be as ventilated as your bedroom and when choosing a blow-up mattress, take a look at the specs to make sure that it lists BPS-free or phthalates-free – these are the chemicals that used to be an issue.

Power source

Do you have an electric power source in your shelter? What’s the likelihood of it being cut off at some point?

Those are the questions to ask you before choosing an airbed…

Since being prepared means thinking in advance, you will want an airbed that’s versatile when it comes to the way it’s inflated. You are probably better off with one that can inflate both using electric power, batteries and by using a manual or leg pump when push comes to shove.

Make a wrong choice here and you might be left with a piece of useless plastic…


Air mattress has gone a long way from being beach fun and has moved many homes as a permanent bed, mainly with the people who enjoy the fact that you can choose your level of firmness.

But in your bug-out shelter, the level of firmness is not going to be such an issue – you are trying to survive after all and comfort is not a priority.

On the other hand, you might be sleeping on the bed for weeks, months, years in the worst case scenario.

Chambered design is the name of the game here.


The main issue with airbeds used to be the lack of support and it was all about the inner structure.

Modern airbeds that will keep you sound asleep (the good ones) are designed to address just that, using air chambers to mimic the springs of a regular mattress.

Bottom line – every brand has their own pet name for the chambered design but in reality, they are pretty much the same thing. What you should be looking at is the number of the chambers – the higher, the better.

As a rule of thumb, go with 30+ chambers. These beds not only sleep better, but are more durable.


Think space and size

Air mattresses do pack small and you’ll probably be able to stuff 3 of them in that small locker and that’s not really an issue whether your shelter is your apartment or a cabin in the middle of nowhere.

What you should be looking at is to optimize the space, where the mattress(es) would go and how many people they can accommodate.

Twin size is the sweet spot – it comfortably sleeps two people.

Go down a level (single) and you have a mattress that sleeps one person and two of them take significantly much space than a twin.

Go up a level (full) and you still have a bed that sleeps two people but, again, takes up much more space than the twin.


To sum up

We might think we have it all figured out, we have our energy bars, we have our water filtration systems in place but it’s not uncommon for some essential survival needs staring us in the face to be overlooked – like proper sleep.

Choosing smart when getting a portable airbed can make all the difference.

Stay safe,



About the Author:

James is the editor-in-chief of, a site focused on adventure stories, tips and reviews of air mattresses and sleeping pads. He’s a zealot for all things outdoors and an established authors in a number of online publications like TGO Magazine, Klymit blog and Gear X. As he says, his adventure days are behind him, but the days of talking and writing about the lessons he learned over the decades are just starting out.


Super Simple Tips to Trim Ounces from your Bug Out Bag

Super Simple Tips to Trim Ounces from your BugOut Bag

Written By Morry Banes

What’s the difference between a really smart prepper and an average one?

Let me get straight to the point, I believe that a really good preppers out there take things a step further. That one extra step is being prepared for the fact that a real life situation will probably prove that you can never be completely prepared.  Sounds complicated but it really comes down to making your bug out bag (BOB) more flexible.
Do not take what I just said the wrong way and start packing things for every scenario that you can think of, but think in terms of what you can do to include things in your BOB that can be used in more scenarios.  This will help you trim weight off your bug out bag, making it easier to carry.

Let’s take a step back here and look at the basic things that are most likely in your BOB right now and see if we can spot places where you could’ve done a better job.  So, it all comes down to walking straight down that yellow brick road that stands between having a BOB that’s versatile enough on one side and having one that will be bulky and heavy and only make things more difficult on the other.

1. Water – you would think that everything there is to say about water needs has already been said, but we are looking at things from a different angle here, trying to trim down some weight and bulk.
We can’t shrink down our 3-4 liters of water but we can:

  • Use a collapsible water bottle to save space
  • Extend the life of our water purification filters by adding coffee filters

2. Food – Think dense. When I say “dense” I mean calorie density.  I am all for simplicity here – to cover my food needs my 3 day BOB only includes: energy bars, 3 cans of anything protein (one for each day) and a light backpacking stove.  It’s so easy to overkill with bulky backpacking meals.

3. Clothes – boots, military style pants, a poncho, 2-3 pairs of socks, 1 pair on long underwear and one pair of thermo skin tight underwear suit, 2 short sleeve t-shirts.
Mentioning thermo skin tight underwear here might raise some eyebrows, but it packs so small and can make so much of a difference that it’s shame not to have it there.
Most of the preppers I know and talked to had significant space to peel in their BOBs just by cutting down on those 5 t-shirts and that second pair of pants. A skin suit a huge space-saver and much more versatile.  And yes, if you don’t have a bandana in your BOB, it’s back to the drawing board for you.

4. Shelter and sleep – again, simplicity is key to effective packing. Two tarps, a thin foam pad and a light sleeping bag adjusted to the temperatures you are expecting. I’ll never get onboard with the concept of a tent in a 3 day BOB.  A simple tarp is much more versatile.

As I said, when thinking about your BOB, don’t list endless scenarios in your head but think about items that can cover scenarios you’ll probably never think of.  You might want to read that sentence again.

5. First aid – one more thing that I’ll never get on board with is getting a factory made, pre-packed first aid kit. Building your own kit will not only save you space but the research alone will develop neurological pathways that will just deploy in the time of need.

6. Tools – this one is a biggie. First of all it’s essential to get it right because it’s the “outer wall” of everything we talked about and secondly, it’s the single point that can shave the most weight of your BOB.  If you are thinking screwdrivers, scissors, knives, bottle and can opener, let’s take a step back.

How about a multi tool?   I have to tiptoe in my wording here because many preppers might be offended if I talk about a multi tool like I came up with the idea.  But you would be surprised how many people aren’t really awake to the true value of a multi tool, and a lot of those who are don’t give that much thought to two basic questions:
1. multi tool pieces vs. standalone pieces
2. survival knife vs. a multi tool

Let’s get some clarity here:   If you play your cards right and choose wisely you’ll probably be able to replace a lot of standalone pieces of tools like pliers and wire cutters with a single tool.  No beating around the bush, my BOB includes a regular heavy-duty multi tool, a medical multi tool and a survival knife.

Allow me to give you my reasons here that also might give you some pointers for choosing your tool:

  • I stay away from glitter and shine and go for sheer usability in a multi tool (think Leatherman and Gerber).
  • Scissors in a regular multi tool will never be sturdy enough for your BOB. So, I’ll need standalone scissors. But instead of getting regular scissors I go for a medical multi tool that comes with sturdy heavy duty scissors. This covers the scissors issue but gives you so much more.
  • There’s no way around a proper survival knife for your BOB. None of the blades in the multitools are not even close to being as sturdy as that in standalone knife.

Getting things right here will probably cut the weight of the tools you carry in half.
I promised some clarity so let me share my choices:

Gerber 600 with a blunt nose
Leatherman Raptor
SOG Seal pup knife

Final thoughts

You can trim some serious “fat” from your 3 day BOB just by rethinking a few things using the pointers I offered in this article.  The end result – a lighter more flexible BOB free of fluff that you’ll probably never use and packed smartly with things you’ll really need and use.

Live smart and survive smarter,

About the author:
Morry Banes is an blogger in the field of multi tools, safety and preparedness. He runs a multi tool blog at

Morry is an ex multitool factory worker and today he owns a small hardware store in Tigard, Oregon, collects multitools and shares his passion by writing about them.



Budgeting for Emergency Supplies – the 60% Solution

This is a reprint of an article I wrote a few years ago and it originally appeared on Modern Survival Online.

One of the issues to consider when preparing for a disaster is where to focus your spending:

  • Do you focus most of your money on buying supplies to prepare your house or apartment (Shelter in place)?


  • Do you spend money on gear so you can leave your area when disaster hits (Bugging Out)?

We’ve struggled with this question ourselves.  Naturally you want to cover both scenarios all at once, but resources are limited so there has to be some direction to your spending.

Your choices will depend on your own particular situation, and on what you feel is the most likely emergency you will be facing.

Here are some considerations:

  • Do you live in or close to a major city?   Think about what will is likely to happen in your surrounding area if a disaster were to hit today.
  • Can you defend your home or neighborhood if necessary?  If you live in a close- knit neighborhood near people you can rely on, then you can potentially band together and protect your neighborhood and homes.  This would allow you to be able to stay in your home a lot longer.
  • Do you have a place to go in the event of a major disaster such as a cabin retreat or relatives you can stay with?  You do not need a cabin or retreat out in the woods; you just need to have a plan.  Identify friends and relatives you can potentially stay with should your area become uninhabitable.  Or plan out a route to a hotel in another town.  In either case you will need cash for gas and a hotel stay.
  • Would your family be able to leave on foot if needed?  There is always a chance the roads become impassable and you have to walk out of your area.  Would your family be able to leave?  If you really cannot leave, then you will most likely need to shelter in place.

In our case, we live in an apartment, in the middle of a large city.  We know that the city can potentially degrade into an unruly, crime infested area when a major large-scale disaster occurs, as in Hurricane Katrina.  We would want to leave before a powerful hurricane directly hits our city.

On the other hand, it is not always necessary to leave when an emergency occurs.  In 1992, we experienced the Los Angeles Riots.  For six days, thousands of people rioted, looted and burned parts of the city.   We got sent home early from work and drove for hours looking for a route around the rioting areas.  But once we got home, we stayed home until things calmed down.  Because the emergency occurred in another part of the city, and our utilities and infrastructure was not affected, it was a “shelter in place” type of situation.

At this point in time, we consider the highest risk to be economic in nature:  with high unemployment, rising fuel and food prices, and the country’s debt piling up.  So we concentrate 60% of our emergency preparation fund toward staying in our home.  We are purchasing food in bulk, storing water, having back up sanitation methods, communications, fuel, first aid and other supplies that may be too expensive or hard to come by, should there be a financial emergency.  Our supplies are also a hedge against inflation, since we are buying at today’s prices and using them sometime in the future if prices go up.

We also know that there could be a chance we may have to leave our home, such as a Category 4-5 hurricane, fire, civil unrest, etc.  The other 40% of our budget for supplies is going toward gear that will be needed to leave the area, such as hiking shoes, backpacks, portable food, a portable water purification system, First Aid kit, fire starter, tent etc.  We are getting our gear as inexpensively as possible, by shopping sales and buying quality used items where available.

One thing to remember is, the two options do not have to be mutually exclusive:  many items such as “Meals Ready to Eat”, portable water purifier, first aid kit and other light weight supplies can be brought along with you should you have to leave.  Just make sure you have all your supplies in one area that is easily accessible so you can grab them quickly.

You may feel differently and decide on a whole different set of threats to prepare for.   I would not recommend “putting all your eggs in one basket.”  Regardless of what area you focus on, the items that you buy now will be good insurance against whatever comes your way:  economic collapse, natural disasters or man made threats.

Get the real deal. Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:

 For beginning preppers



Why Books Should Be Part of Your Bug Out Bag

Survival booksWhy Books Should Be Part of Your Bug Out Bag, Guest Post by Chris

Are you prepared for disaster? Do you think you will cope if the ‘big one’ strikes tomorrow? If you have answered ‘yes’ to those questions you most likely already have a ‘bug out bag’, a pack containing everything that you might need in the event of a catastrophe; food, water and emergency supplies to last for up to 72 hours following the breakdown of urban infrastructure.

Many people purchase electronic gadgets that can contain a great deal of information, including disaster plans, satnav apps and a wealth of other vital information, and are quite content in the belief that these gadgets will be enough to see them through difficult times until normal life can be resumed. Sadly, these people do not think about what would happen if those electronics are affected by the disaster and do not function when the time comes to use them.

It is wise to choose a small, but important selection of books to put into the bug out bag, regardless of the room they take up and extra weight that they add – these books can save your life just as much as the heavy water that is vital to survival.

Maps and an Atlas

Knowledge of the terrain and surrounding environment can save time and energy, helping a party of survivors make their way directly to a designated meeting point or safe haven. Without a map to guide them, in the event that satnavs are not operational, it is entirely possible for a party to get disoriented and lose their way, even in a relatively small and well-known area.

Medicine and Emergency Treatment Books

There are volumes available on the market, which provide a full comprehensive list of common illnesses and injuries and, more importantly, how to treat these conditions both initially and as a long term measure. This kind of information can save lives as shock, blood loss and sepsis can kill injured people once the excitement and drama of the disaster has passed. Knowing how to recognise early warning signs and stave off impending infection is an important factor in surviving such an event.

Survival Manuals

A good survival manual should cover the three basic needs of man: food, shelter and warmth. Hopefully, you will not have to resort to trapping wild rabbits or eating insects, but in the event that it does become necessary, the information on how to build effective traps and which insects can be safely consumed will come in very handy indeed! Shelters can be constructed from a variety of materials and a survival manual should have a host of handy tips to aid in construction and make the shelter sturdy and effective against wind and rain. Some of the contents of the bug out bag should be something to make fire, from the more primitive but still effective flint to modern lighters and fluid to refill them. It is always useful to know another way of making a fire, either rubbing two sticks together or by focusing a beam of sunshine through a magnifying glass or pair of glasses, and the manual should detail all that information and more.

Your bug out bag must be ready and waiting at all times, and should be kept somewhere easily accessible. A disaster can occur without a minute’s notice and can have a completely devastating effect on your regular, everyday life. By preparing a bug out bag, you are displaying your readiness to accept the inevitable and move on – ensuring your survival in the days and months before normal life can resume.

Author bio: Thanks for taking the time to read my article! I’m Chris an outdoors enthusiast and a keen survivalist and work at I’ve been writing and blogging about the great outdoors for the last two years and you can find more of my articles at

Get the real deal. Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:

 For beginning preppers


Don’t Become a Boiled Frog – The Need to Respond Appropriately to Problems


Boiling water

   It is said that if you slowly increase the water temperature, a frog won’t notice and will eventually and passively die in the pot.


The following is a guest post from David Spero at Code Green Prep.

Yesterday, Bernie wrote about Five Reasons Why You May Have to Bug Out Even Though You Don’t Want To.  It is very important to realize that sometimes we need to bug out, but our inertia, our fear of change, and our positive hope that problems will quickly abate – all these things prevent us from responding as quickly as we should.

Much of what we think about and prepare for involves a sudden massive disaster that occurs with little or no warning.  We consider the effects of a sudden EMP or power grid failure that almost literally switches our lives and lifestyles from normal to nothing as quickly as flicking a light switch.  Not only is the event sudden, but it is also ‘in your face’ obvious, and we know we have to respond urgently quickly.

But we sometimes overlook the slower sorts of disasters that might also overwhelm society as we know it, and end up, not immediately, but gradually over time, with a Level 2 or 3 scenario [ed: see David’s definitions of Level 1/2/3 scenarios here] just as seriously as a sudden unexpected disaster.

The real danger of the slower unfolding disasters is that by the time we even realize they are enveloping us, we might find our options have become constrained and reduced.  This is akin to the story of how to kill and cook a frog – you place it in warm water, then very slowly increase the temperature.  The frog won’t even realize it is being cooked, and by the time the water has reached boiling point, the frog has succumbed.

Examples of Boiled Frogs

Although there is some debate as to the truth of being able to truly boil a frog this way, there is no debate that society as a whole has experienced some amazing 180 degree turns on issues.  Activists seeking to bring social change have learned that the best way to make a major change is not to attempt a sudden revolution in public thought, but rather to make a series of gradual changes.  There are many examples of this.  To offer up several – and without expressing any moral judgment, but merely observing the huge change in social values that have occurred, we point to :

(a)  Drunk driving.  Two or three decades ago it was normal and acceptable for people to drink as much as they wished and then to drive home, somehow.  People would boast about their crazy/dangerous driving the next day; and if they were pulled over, they’d usually be let off with little more than a warning.  As you surely know, today people are ashamed to admit to driving drunk; the fines and penalties (including imprisonment and alcoholism treatments) have gone up and up, and the permissible levels of blood/alcohol have gone down and down.

(b)  Gay marriage.  It is not all that long ago that people could be sent to prison in some western nations if they admitted being homosexual, and it was widely ridiculed and decried by most people in general.  Now the opposite applies – people can be sent to prison for ‘hate crimes’ if they express a dislike for gay people, and society is inexorably tilting towards allowing not just gay relationships but also passing to such people all the rights and privileges of marriage and allowing gay people to be married.  One advocacy method used by gay rights advocates is to ‘name and shame’ people who oppose them – people are now embarrassed and ashamed to admit they dislike the thought of gay sex.

(c)  Guns.  A couple of generations ago, gun ranges were to be found in the basements of many schools.  Guns were common in schools and in society as a whole.  Nowadays, if a child even draws a picture of a gun in a schoolroom, they are liable to be expelled under a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards guns in schools, and anyone bringing guns into a school is likely committing both a federal and state crime.

Okay, enough on that – point well taken, we hope.  In all these cases, the changes did not occur overnight, but have instead evolved, little by little, over years and even decades and common social custom now is pretty much the complete opposite of what it was a generation or so back.

It can be the same thing with negative situations – they start off subtly and slowly, and at first seem temporary, but as time passes, what was temporary becomes permanent, what was a problem becomes the new normal, and so it goes.  By the time we realize we’re in a severe situation, our options and ability to respond positively have diminished.

We’re not saying that an EOTW disaster would happen quite that slowly (although it might), but we are pointing out that things have a habit of ‘catching us unawares’ if we’re not closely monitoring whatever the process is that is evolving and thinking through its implications.

Furthermore, the reality is that no matter how keen a prepper we are, few of us really want to activate our prepping plans, possibly prematurely, and there’s also a subconscious inertia and resistance to change that will unduly delay our responding to events that need a timely response.  We need to be alert to changes and ready/willing/able to respond to them at the appropriate point – a point which of course should be before rather than after the time at which it becomes too late!

Some Slow Disasters

Let’s now think about some types of slowly evolving ‘disasters’ that might occur.  These tend to be more economic in nature than anything else – the first two examples are country-wide in nature, the third is regional, and the last two are more personal.

Electricity cost/shortages

We have seen electricity shortages come and go over the years, particularly in California in 2000 – 2001.  With the continued restrictions on building just about any type of new power station these days, it is far from inconceivable that electricity may not become in short supply again – a situation initially masked by it simply becoming more and more expensive, and then perhaps becoming rationed.

The ugly flip-side of the moves towards ‘smart energy management’ is a shift away from our universal expectation that electricity should always be available to us, whenever we want it, and for whatever purpose we need it for.  As we know from our planning for ‘grid-down’ futures, at present electricity truly is one of society’s greatest blessings, and whether we pay 5c or 50c per kWhr, it is a great value.

At what point would you decide that electricity had become too expensive and too short in supply, and in effect respond by going ‘off-grid’ and ‘growing your own’?  For an apartment dweller, this is of course more difficult because you don’t have vast expanses of roof to line with solar cells, or much control over the energy efficiency of your dwelling.

Petrol cost/shortages

Some parts of the country have seen gas prices brush and even break through $5/gallon on occasion in the past, sometimes for months at a time.  How long will it be before gas prices reach $5/gallon, all the time, everywhere?  And then $6?  And $7?  Even $10 and $15?

If that sounds unlikely, think of this.  Less than 25 years ago, gas was under $1/gallon.  It has gone up in price almost five-fold in 25 years.  For decades, petrol and other oil products were steadily reducing in price each year (in real terms after adjusting for inflation), and then they sort of flattened out, and now they are increasing at rates greater than inflation.  Here’s a useful graph showing prices from 1896 forwards in the UK, and here’s a spreadsheet of prices in the US from 1949.

Proponents of the ‘peak oil’ theory predict that gas prices will skyrocket in the next decade or less.  At the same time, it will become in shorter and shorter supply.  The latest move towards shale recovery has bought us some more time, and some more oil, but the ‘greenies’ are objecting and fighting this as furiously as they can.  A large – and growing – sector in our society doesn’t wish us to have access to cheap oil products.  They wish us to become oil-poor, as a way of – they believe – ‘saving the planet’.  In any case, as we’ve seen, even our domestic oil is going up in price, simply to match the market increases in oil prices worldwide.

At what point, at what price, will you say ‘enough already’ and give up on your present gas-based lifestyle?  What will you have/use/do as an alternative?  If your apartment isn’t centrally located, or at least close to good public transport, how will you respond?

Water cost/shortages

One of the biggest constraints on growth in much of the country is the availability of fresh pure water.  It is hard to know which is the bigger blessing in our modern lives – abundant affordable electricity, or abundant affordable water.  Happily, we presently have both, with the worst form of water shortages typically being nothing more severe than some restrictions on washing our cars during some of the summer months.

But the cost of water is steadily increasing, while its availability is becoming more and more constrained.  Last year (2013) we saw some of the worst droughts in decades affect crop production in much of the mid-west; all that means to us as consumers currently is little more than increased prices for meat, wheat and corn based products.  But with a decent steak now costing $15/lb or more – three times what it cost a decade or so back – how much further will we allow the costs of the basic essentials of our diet rise?

Even if water (and sewage) costs are built in to the rent you pay, you know that if the landlord has to pay more, then your rent is going to go up too.  At what point do these costs (and possible use restrictions) cause you either to move to a new region, or to retreat from normal society and to set up an alternate lifestyle, independent of your increasingly problematic and expensive city water and sewer services?


Maybe you lose your job.  Maybe you don’t get another job.  Month after month, you see your savings dwindle, and also, month by month, as time passes you become less and less appealing to potential employers.  All employers prefer to hire someone who is already employed, and all employers feel uncomfortable and worried if they see a person who has been out of work for many months.

As each month passes, you have less and less remaining capital.  At what point do you switch gears and change objectives and either move to another city to find work there, or instead ‘bug out’ for economic reasons, and switch to building a self-sustainable low-cost life elsewhere?

Neighborhood Decay

This is an interesting one (it has happened to me).  What happens if the area you live in starts to suffer from evolving urban demographics and becomes increasingly down-market?  The good news is your rent might stay the same or drop.  The bad news though – the nice middle class people who used to be your neighbors are leaving, and are being replaced by people you’re less comfortable living alongside.  Crime rates start to increase, and so on and so on.

At what point do you bail out yourself?  Do you simply move across town, or to a different city entirely, or is that the point where you move to your retreat?

Faster Evolving Disasters Can Catch You Unawares Too

Although we’re talking primarily about how a slow change in something can catch you unawares, by gradually evolving from insignificant to significant without you realizing or anticipating it, similar affects can come from faster developing problems too.

For example, and as Bernie mentioned yesterday, a forest fire heading your way.  At what point do you respond to the potential of being trapped?  Sure, you could rely on waiting for the authorities to officially notify you and command you to evacuate, but you might then find yourself with too little time to do a well planned well prepared bug-out.

The Longer You Wait, the Fewer Your Choices

The longer you wait to respond to a negative event, the less well able you can do so.  As you burn through your cash, it becomes harder and harder for you to consider options that don’t immediately start to bring in a cash flow again; and as you get closer to certain doom, your alternative options become fewer in number and less desirable in nature.

Furthermore, when it comes to an actual bug out situation, there is a world of difference between getting out of Dodge a day before the hordes all start to mass-migrate, or being part of the throng of evacuees because you dithered and delayed.  The day before, you can drive out of town on relatively uncongested roads and with the rule of law still more or less in place.  The day after, the freeways will become parking lots, the mobs will be rioting, and the rule of law will be disintegrating.  Any successful bug-out plan must have, at its core, the ability to act quickly and before the main mass of people slowly sluggishly start to respond.

We’re not saying you should panic the first time things turn sour on you in any part of life and living.  But we are saying to be careful about slow creeping problems that take away your independence and freedom, little by little.

The biggest problem people face is knowing when to say ‘enough, already’ and to activate some sort of formal response to a problem that has been gradually worsening.  Let’s look at one more example before considering a solution.

Don’t Lose ‘The Auction of Life’

If you’ve ever attended an auction, or browsed eBay, you’ve probably ended up buying something you didn’t want to buy.  I’ve bought a ridiculous car that I could barely drive off the lot, and I’ve paid way more than I told myself I would for things that I didn’t need.

Even when not being foolish yourself, you’ve surely seen countless examples of other people getting caught with the ‘auction fever’ which is the reason why auctions can work so well (for the auction house and seller).  We get caught into the excitement of the event, and we are also influenced by the people around us.

How many times have you told yourself ‘I won’t bid on this because I have no interest in it, nowhere to put it, and no need for it’ and ended up leaving the auction with the item under your arm?  How many times have you told yourself ‘I’ll bid up to $xx and then stop’ and ended up bidding way over that amount?

We all know how and why this happens.  But somehow, that knowledge doesn’t stop it from continuing to happen into the future.  Now for the ‘Auction of Life’.  This is one auction you can’t afford to mishandle.

The real trap in the ‘Auction of Life’ is that we keep revising the ‘trigger events’ we set ourselves.  We run the risk of recalibrating them and pushing out further and further the scenario which triggers our response.  We keep ‘bidding’ more and more in the ‘Auction of Life’ long after we reached the point where we’d dispassionately and originally told ourselves we’d stop.

How can you prevent this from continuing into your future?  That brings us to :

The Need to Create Lines in the Sand

Enough of auctions.  Let’s look now not at an example of the problem, but an example of the solution.

If you’ve ever attended a good self-defense class, you’ve been taught about the need to create clear ‘lines in the sand’ – events that clearly signal that the person who you are concerned about has evil intent, and events which cause you to confidently respond appropriately.

For example, you don’t like the look of the people walking towards you, so you cross the road.  If they cross the road to intersect with your path, that’s a clear ‘line in the sand’ that has been crossed.  You then might choose to turn the corner or cross the road back again – if they cross the road again too or follow you around the corner, then you know, for sure, this is not random circumstance.  Two lines in the sand have been crossed.  You might then call out – ‘Stop, Back Off, Go Away’.  If they continue towards you, you then present your pistol and say ‘Stop or I shoot!  Back Off!  Go Away!’

If the person still moves towards you, you then know ‘Okay, so he crossed the road to follow me when I did, then he crossed the road back to keep following me when I did, he ignored my warning, and now, with my gun pointed at him, he is still ignoring me’ and that gives you the confidence to know that your next action – an extreme one, but now an essential one, is justified and appropriate.

The key thing is having the confidence to act decisively on a major life-changing event.  In the example above, if you don’t have the confidence to act decisively, you risk becoming a victim rather than a victor, and if you don’t have the clear decision making process in your mind, you’ll be dithering for too long and suffer the consequences.  If you keep ‘raising the stakes’ in this ‘Auction of Life’ you’ll find that you’ll be the loser.

It is the same with anything else.  You need to set lines in the sand so that when they are crossed, you are aware of the event and ready with an appropriate response.

For example, you might decide ‘If gas prices reach $x, I will get an ultra-fuel efficient car’ and you might further decide ‘if gas prices reach $(x+y) then I will move from my current suburban lifestyle in which I need a car to an alternate lifestyle where the essential things are either within walking distance or conveniently served by public transport, or reachable by bicycle’.

There are other things, too.  You might decide ‘When the taxes in this state exceed the taxes in (another state you’d like to live in) then I’m going to make the move’.  You might decide ‘If this state restricts firearms and my right to self-defense, then I’ll move to a state with a more enlightened social policy on such things’.


Don’t risk becoming a boiled frog.

Create ‘lines in the sand’ that will sound alarms in your life when events cross over them, so that you realize ‘Hey, this is very different to what it used to be and what I want it to be’ and to allow you the freedom and flexibility to respond to changes in your life and lifestyle and life standards before it becomes too late to do so.

In particular, monitor the changes in your local environment and compare/contrast them to the changes in possible bug-out locations.  Maybe things truly are better somewhere else in the US, and maybe you should act positively to respond to the chance of a life-style improvement in such a better location.

David Spero publishes the Code Green Prep website.  He has a masters degree in business, has lived and worked internationally, speaks several languages, is a nationally accredited firearms instructor, a licensed ham radio operator, and a respected voice in the Prepper community.



Get the real deal. Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:

 For beginning preppers

Visit SafeCastle for your preparedness supplies:

Visit SafeCastle for your preparedness supplies
Good ideas for building a food storage plan can be found here:


5 Reasons Why You May have to Bug Out Even Though You Don’t Want to

This post is by Bernie Carr,

One of the most hotly argued points in the prepping community is whether it is advisable to “shelter in place” or stay in your home or bug out when there is an emergency.  Many preppers would readily choose to shelter in place to be close to their emergency supplies.   Staying put would also be easier if you have no bug out retreat or destination.  I say it really depends on the type of disaster you are facing, so there is no definite answer to the shelter in place versus bugging out question.  Even though we would all rather stay at home, there are five reasons you may have to bug out:

1.  Natural disaster in your immediate region.   When hurricanes approach, people are asked to evacuate if they are in the direct path of the storm.  We’ve seen from previous disasters that in some cases, people in the worst hit areas who decided to stay put and become stranded and drowned.

2.  Fire approaching.  If you live in an area prone to wildfires, and one is headed in your direction, you will be asked to evacuate.  Authorities go around the neighborhood announcing the threat and give residents about 15 minutes to pack up belongings and head out.

3.  Industrial accident causing chemical spills, poisonous emissions or nuclear disaster.  We’ve all heard about the recent anniversary of the Fukushima, Japan earthquake and many of the areas affected have still not recovered.

In Houston, certain neighborhoods that are close to industrial sites have been affected by chemical spills and noxious gases.  In some cases, these neighborhoods have been evacuated.  Residents are able to return only after the “all clear” has been issued.  If you live in an area that can potentially be affected by these short term emergencies, have your go-bag ready and in a handy place at all times.

4.  Infrastructure has widespread damage.  If you live in an area that was hit by a disaster and has no electricity or water, with no estimate on when the fix will be made, you may want to get out and stay with relatives or friends for a while if you can.  If there is no water for a long period of time, sanitation will become compromised.  Similarly, if you live in an area where it gets hot or cold enough to endanger your health, and there is no power to make the house liveable, then you will be forced to leave the area.

5.  Post disaster, widespread looting/crime with no law enforcement available.  If you decided to stay put during a disaster but later find that there is no longer any “rule of law” being enforced in the area, then it will become too dangerous to stick around.  You may want to stay and defend what’s yours but if there is a risk you become overrun by a greater number, then you must consider bugging out.

No one wishes for any of these situations to happen, but the possibility exists.  The choice whether to stay put or bug out is entirely personal and will change according to circumstances.   Picturing various scenarios and what you would do in each one will help you make your own decision when the time comes.

© Apartment Prepper 2013


ReadyMade Resources is a trusted source for your preparedness supplies:






What to Do if Your Bug Out Vehicle is Too Small

This post is by Bernie Carr,

Prepping in small spaces is a topic we’ve discussed, but we have not discussed space issues in a bug out vehicle.

Many city dwellers are trying to save on gas, and are downsizing to a smaller vehicle.  Several relatives have switched to small economy cars or hybrids after getting tired of high gas prices.  If you live in a city, there is always a chance you may need to get out, hopefully you will be able to drive out while you can.

Now is a good time to evaluate your bug out vehicle, before any emergency happens.  Here are some considerations:

  • Number of people riding with you.
  • Trunk/storage space
  • Gas mileage
  • Ability to drive in flooding and rough terrain
  • Height of the car
  • Condition of the car

How much supplies you want to take with you?  You’ll need to be choosy about what will go into your bug out vehicle.  I realize many preppers favor “bugging in” instead of driving out.  I can understand it is much easier to shelter in place.  But everyone needs a “Plan B” in case you have to flee an immediate danger in the city.  You will need essentials such as water, food, shelter (tents etc), your bug out bags.  If you have pets you will also need space for them and their supplies.  You may also need a gas can or two, depending on the situation.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Clean out your car thoroughly.  I know people who carry a lot of clutter in their trunk such as sports equipment, bags of clothes they need to donate or take to the cleaners, even trash.  I’m not judging anyone, but if you happen to have junk in your car, get rid of it.
  • Maintain your car.  Are you overdue for an oil change or tune-up?   Do your brakes need replacing?  Are your tires balding?  I have been guilty of all of the above at some point in my life when I kept putting off repairs due to budget constraints.  Do your best to get your car serviced.  You don’t want your car to break down when you are trying to get your family to safety.
  • If your car lacks space for emergency supplies, now is the time to look into ways to increase storage space:

Roof luggage rack

Roof luggage rack

Roof Cargo bag Rooftop cargo box or rooftop cargo bag

Cargo Carrier

Cargo carrier

Before you buy, check the specifications carefully to make sure the space extender you are buying will fit your car.

Low budget idea:  If you have a built in roof rack, mount items on the rack with rope and a black or brown tarp,  but you will will need to practice doing this to make sure everything is secure.  Not very attractive, but if you are trying to leave in a hurry then you may not care about appearances, just try to avoid attracting attention.

You could also find these items used.  As people change cars, they will not be needing the old rack for the old car.

I’m not an expert on cars, and you may find other solutions work better for you.  Space in your car may someday be as critical as the space in your home.  The good news is, these space extenders are useful to have even if no emergency ever happens.


© Apartment Prepper 2016

For beginning preppers



Can You Evacuate Your Home in 90 Minutes?

Dog and cat emergency sticker

This post is by Bernie Carr,

Listening to the news today about flooding in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, we heard about residents near Lake Tangipahoa Dam in Mississippi being ordered to evacuate, due to damage to the dam and possible flooding.  About 60,000 people were affected.  Fortunately, as of this writing, the dam has not failed as emergency management personnel are trying to patch it.

Mr. Apt Prepper and I had a long discussion about what we would do if were in that situation.  I was getting stressed out just thinking about it.

We came up with a plan on what we would do.  Here are some thoughts and ideas:

  • If you live in the ground floor or even the lower floors of the apartment building, in a low lying area, your home is at a high risk of flooding.  If you lived in a higher floor, your belongings may be spared getting soaked, but you’d still have to evacuate to avoid getting stranded.
  • Even if the home is spared from flooding, there is always a possibility of looters taking advantage of empty houses.  You’ll want to lock up your home as well as you can.
  • Make as list of anything you would not want to lose so you know what to grab in an emergency.
  • To avoid panic, each family member should have a designated task.  One can grab the computer and any small electronics, someone else can grab the safe that has important documents, smaller kids can go to their room and take their favorite stuffed animal etc.
  • Having a bug out bag or go bag ready for each family member will also save time, instead of having to pack clothes, shoes, first aid kit etc.
  • Most emergency shelters do not allow pets.  Make arrangements with relatives now, just in case.  Or, look up hotels or motels that are pet friendly, so your family and pets will have someplace to stay until it’s safe to return.
  • If you had to leave your pet behind, leave plenty of food and water.  Window stickers indicating the presence of pets can be left for emergency personnel.
  • A cash stash would really come in handy for a hotel stay.     Don’t leave home without it.
  • Most renter’s insurance does not cover flood damage – review your policy on what is actually covered; if you live in a flood prone area, you may have to consider flood insurance.
  • Don’t forget to notify family and friends regarding your whereabouts.

Hurricane and flood prone areas are not the only ones at risk for evacuation.  Brush fires, hazardous chemical leaks can also cause a sudden evacuation.  Everyone has different circumstances:  it is up to each of us to come up with a plan.  Give this some thought now, before anything happens.

© Apartment Prepper 2012

Help your College Student Prepare for Emergencies


This post is by Bernie Carr,

Back to school season is in full swing, and these last few weeks were spent preparing kids for the first day of school.

We have a couple of nieces and nephews who are going away to college in a few weeks.  This got me thinking what can be done to at least get them prepared for emergencies.   I’ve listed a three layered approach, with the third choice is the most extensive but also the most encompassing.  It all depends on your relationship with the teen, the extent of their involvement with prepping, what you want to prepare for and how much you wish to spend.

I.  Give a prepping themed “going off to college” gift that will be useful in an emergency or at least get them started to think about being prepared:

  • solar cell phone charger
  • multi-tool or Swiss Army Knife
  • paracord bracelet

II.  Assemble a Power Outage/Earthquake/Hurricane Emergency Kit

Include in a small decorative box or basket, items that they will be able to use for a variety of emergencies such as power outage, earthquake or hurricane.  Include the following:  at least three days worth of water bottles, water purifier, easy to prepare foods (canned foods with can opener) or food bars such as Mainstay Energy Bar, high energy snacks such as peanuts, flashlight/radio/charger and batteries, and pocket sized First Aid kit.  Remember most dorm rooms or off campus apartments are small:  everything has to be reasonably sized and efficiently packed. The items have to be simple to use and do not require special preparations.  They may be in a panic when the emergency happens, so include a note with some instructions.

III.  Assemble a Get Home Bag

In the movie Zombieland, the beginning scene showed one of the main characters getting attacked by a zombie in his dorm room.  After this horrible experience, his first instinct initially was to just get home.  This is fiction, but in a real emergency, anyone would want to get home as quickly as possible.  I think the most efficient way to prepare in a dorm would be to assemble a Get Home bag.

In a backpack, include the following items:

  • personal water filter or set of Hydropacks
  • food bars
  • cash (to be used for transportation)
  • First Aid kit
  • a change of clothes and underwear (weather appropriate)
  • good wool socks
  • comfortable shoes
  • rain gear (umbrella and rain poncho)
  • flashlight/weather radio
  • solar charger
  • utility knife (check campus guidelines) or multi-tool
  • signal mirror
  • whistle
  • lighter or matches
  • tarp
  • self protection such as pepper spray
  • small hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, floss, toilet paper (with cardboard removed), liquid hand sanitizer or wipes, contact lens solution etc.

Adjust the items according to the student’s needs and situation. Have a conversation about what is included in the backpack and situations where it may come in handy.  Include them in your texting tree and explain how it works as well as plans where the family can meet in case of extreme emergency.  As with any emergency preparations, we hope to never have to use them, but  good to have just in case.

© Apartment Prepper 2012






We’re Still Talking to Nobody – Part 2

Today we continue with our interview with Joe Nobody, author of multiple survival books.  If you didn’t catch the first part, please visit the previous post.

4. What are some key features that you look for in a bug out location?

 A: Here is what I look for in a BOL:

– Is there good water and the potential for non-linear food sources (fishing, hunting, gardening, fruit trees)?

– Does the location support hiding in plain sight? Stealth is always the best defense

– Can I defend the location if eventually discovered?

 People, in a long term collapse, will be the problem. Always keep this in mind when selecting a location. I don’t like sounding heartless, or as if I dislike my fellow man, but unless you are worried about the dead rising from the ground, what else is going to threaten you? Packs of wild dogs?

5. Most city dwellers feel they have to remain within, or close to the city due to their jobs, kids’ schools – how do you work around this?

 A: Let me be clear. I find the chances of collapse, SHTF or TEOTWAWKI very unlikely. The sky is not falling, and the United States Government will not disappear overnight. With that being said, my preps are always dual purpose. My bug out equipment is also camping equipment. Camping is fun for my family, so I get a dual usage from the time/investment.

If my job required me to live in the city, then I would live in the city and prepare as much as possible to bug out. I would pick some recreational activity that I felt added value to my life – something that my family and I enjoyed. Hunting, fishing (boats make an excellent bug out location in the right circumstances), bird watching, rock climbing…you get the idea. I would focus on what was good and fun and yet still helped with my preps. Probably 99% of the population loves some aspect of nature. Embrace that aspect, and use it to motivate you to prep. Just going camping for one weekend will teach you so much about preparing you won’t believe it. 

 Don’t let preparing run your life. Make preparing, and the peace of mind that comes with being prepared, a natural by-product of your life.

6. If you had the freedom to do it all over again, which state in the United States would you pick to have your bug out home and why?

A: To quote Davey Crocket, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” For me, Texas offers the best compromise of life, both pre-collapse and post-collapse. Since I find it unrealistic to plan for a bug out location that is far from my everyday home and work, Texas just fits.

Really, different folks prefer different areas based on what is important to them and how they want to live. Some people avoid states with strict firearms ownership laws. Another valid consideration is the average annual climate as northern environments might not provide year-round food gathering. A high population density is a negative variable as well. Some folks would prefer to “close ranks” with just their immediate family, while others prefer the security of a group of people sharing resources and skillsets at the same bug out location.

Personally, I would choose friends, family and local knowledge over some perceived prepper panacea thousands of miles away. 

7. In a large scale disaster, grid down situation, if you don’t have a bug out location, is it better to stay put OR take your chances bugging out and finding a spot far from dense population?

A: This is a very difficult question as the circumstances of both the event and the skills/equipment of the individual come into play. Some people may become refugees, while staying put may result in becoming causalities. Each individual should make a plan based on that person’s own capabilities and skills. JOB ONE: HAVE A PLAN

(Editor’s note:  I asked for “just one” for the next two questions as apartment preppers tend to have limited space and may not be able to keep multiples)

8. For those readers of my blog who love weapons, if you were limited to one rifle and scope, which one would you pick and why?

A: This is a “loaded” question (pun intended). No matter what I answer, I’m sure to get hate mail over this one. Regardless – here goes:

Rifle – A Patriot Ordnance Factory 7.62 (.308) with a 16.5 inch barrel. I would mount it with an ELCAN Specter DR 6x optic in .308 reticle. Now, this weapon is not for everyone. I just described over $5,000 in equipment. But, you said “one rifle,” and this would be it.

Why? Like everyone else, I study forums, reviews and blogs before I purchase weapons. But the ultimate evaluation comes from my own personal experience. I have several POF rifles and have found them to be the most reliable, longest-lasting AR15/AR10 long guns made. There is little compromise between accuracy, reliability, and combat power, and that is VERY rare in the world of weapons. Both my son and I have this exact model, and both are sub-MOA weapons that NEVER fail with quality ammo. What more can you ask for?

As far as the ELCAN goes, I first saw these being used by the Canadians in Afghanistan. (A salute of respect to our northern cousins – you fight well) I like the ELCAN over an ACOG or other holographic optics because:

–         I can change it from long-range scope to close quarter optic in less than a second.

–         The ELCAN gathers light slightly better than an ACOG, so it works better at long range when using night vision or at dusk/dawn.

While the Aimpoint T1 is king of the hill concerning battery life, the ELCAN’s aren’t bad either. The ACOG, of course, doesn’t require any batteries but the light strip eventually will wear out. While I have several ACOG optics on various rifles, again, you limited my choice to a single piece.

9. If you had to choose just one pistol, what would you choose and why?

I would go with a Glock 23 (Gen 3). Now, before a riot breaks out over this pick, let me say I don’t even own a Glock. I only carry 1911 model pistols for fighting. So why would I switch if I could only choose one handgun? The Glock’s reputation for ease of use and reliability are well-earned. If I had family members who might have to use the weapon, I want something that is simple, safe, holds a ton of rounds and has reasonable fire power. I would probably go with a 9mm due to commonality of ammo. While I would never carry a 9mm onto a battlefield (I’m a .45 bigot), we are talking survival and preparing here, and this would be my choice. 

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to let your readers get know Joe Nobody a little better. If the ideas above help a single person with their preps, then we have all had a good day.

A big Thank You to Joe Nobody for your willingness to answer a bunch of questions! 

Click on the image below to visit Joe Nobody’s website.