Edible Wild Plants: Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis)


Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis) is a member of the honeysuckle family that grows up to thirteen feet high, with smooth, gray bark. Corky bumps cover the slender branches, and there is a spongy, white pith inside the twigs and branches.

Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis)

The opposite, feather-compound leaves may be over three feet long. The leaf is divided into 5-11 opposite, coarsely toothed, pointed, short-stalked elliptical leaflets, each 3-4″ long.

In late spring or early summer, the elder bears tiny, branched, white, lacy flowers in flat-topped to slightly rounded clusters (panicles) that spread over 6″ across.

It is readily found in swamps, wetland margins, stream banks, mesic openings. It is hardy to zone 4 and warmer parts of zone 3. This shrub grows up to 10 feet tall and likes full or partial sun and a moist, loamy soil. Once established, it is easy to grow and generally problem-free. Bloom petals are white. Fruit is bright red prior to turning purple-black.

Ripe berries and flowers are edible, but other parts of the plant (raw bark, root, and leaves) and unripe berries are poisonous, containing toxic calcium oxalate crystals.

Gather the berries like the flowers. This is quick. The real work occurs at home: Pulling small bunches of berries from their stems, and sorting the fruit from the debris on a tray, takes time.

Wild Edible Elderberry has Medicinal PropertiesAvoid unripe, green berries they’ll get you sick. Even raw ripe elderberries make some people nauseous Cooking or drying dispels the offending substance, and greatly improves the flavor. Baking this fruit in muffins, cakes and breads imbues them with a piquant crunchiness. They become the central ingredient whenever you use them in baked goods. Elderberries arenít sweet and contain no thickeners. Rely on other ingredients for these elements, especially if you’re making the European favorite, elderberry jam.

The berries have few calories and lots of nutrition. They provide very large amounts of potassium and beta-carotene, as well as sugar and fruit acids, calcium, phosphorous and vitamin C.

Looking at or even thinking about the elderberry bush evokes a flood of magical associations and images of the past, European ladies dousing their white skin with elder flower water, and crystal goblets filled with elderberry wine. In European folklore, fairies and elves would appear if you sat underneath an elder bush on midsummer night. The lovely elder possessed potent magic, with the ability to drive away witches, and kill serpents. Carrying the twigs in your pocket was a charm against certain diseases. One of these tales bears some truth: Sleeping under the elder supposedly produces a drugged, dream-filled sleep, the fragrance is actually a mildly sedative. Perhaps the visions of fairies and elves resulted from dreaming under an elder bush.

Elderberry Bush in Field

My experience with the elder indicates that much of its charmed reputation among Europeans and Native Americans comes from its ability to heal. The flowers and fruit are medicinal. Hippocrates already recognized this in 400 B.C. (He used a smaller European species with similar properties, that doesn’t grow in America.)

Due to their diuretic and detoxifying properties, people eat elderberries to lose weight. The flowers have been used in cosmetics since ancient times. Distilled elder flower water softens, tone and restores the skin. Elder flower infusion cleanses the skin, lightens freckles, and soothes sunburn. Its Bioflavinoids promote circulation and strengthen the capillaries.

During the Civil War era, it was brewed as a tea and used as a diuretic and laxative. In the 19th century, the Shakers of Shirley, MA, sold elderberry wine. They also used the bark to cure dropsy, the berries for rheumatism, and the flowers for fevers and constipation. S. canadensis was used in a wide range of Native American remedies. The Iroquois boiled the inner bark for pain and swelling from toothache.

Elder flower extract from S. canadensis and the non New England native S. nigra is currently thought to induce sweating in lower fevers and to aid in healing of colds, flues, and bronchitis. It is also used in a treatment for poison oak and ivy.

The flowers  also make a wonderful food. Try elder flower (sometimes called elderblow) fritters using your favorite tempura or pancake batter. Make a light, mild batter, so you don’t overpower the delicate flowers. Try sauteing them.

Elder flowers make a pleasant tasting tea, especially with mint. They also make a potent, fragrant wine. Steeped in vinegaróthey add flavor and strengthen the stomach.

Caution: If you have food allergies we recommend that you do not eat any part of the Elderberry plant

Warning: Elderberries with red fruit that grows in rounded clusters may make you sick. There is another shrub that looks somewhat like the elderberry. It is called herculesi club. It’s important to note the differences since this shrub has poisonous black berries. The herculesi shrub has a thorny, unbranched trunk. This is the main difference to look for as the elderberry has no thorns. Also avoid unripe green berries as they will make you sick. Sometimes the ripe berries will make you nauseous. Cooking and drying elderberries removes any harmful effects you might experience from eating them raw.

Edible Parts

  • Flowers
  • Fruits
  • Leaves


Fruit – raw or cooked. A bittersweet flavor, the fruits are about 5mm in diameter and are borne in large clusters.

They are at their best after being dried, the fresh raw fruit has a rather rank taste. The fruit is normally cooked and used in pies, jams, jellies, sauces, bread etc. Rich in vitamin C.

Some caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity.

Flowers – raw or cooked. They are often covered in batter and made into fritters. The flowers can be picked when unopened, pickled and then used as a flavoring in candies etc. They can also be soaked in water to make a drink.

A pleasant tasting tea is made from the dried flowers.

Young shoots are said to be edible when cooked and to be used as an asparagus substitute though, since the leaves are also said to be poisonous, this report should be viewed with some doubt.

How To Make Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Put ripe elderberries into a large saucepan with half their volume of water. Simmer and stir for twenty minutes. Allow to cool, then squeeze out the juice using a jelly bag or fruit press.

Measure the juice, and for every 500ml of juice add 250g muscovado sugar, a stick of cinnamon, a few cloves and a few slices of lemon. Sim­mer for 20 minutes, then strain and pour while hot into sterilized bottles.

Elderberry Syrup Dose: Take 1 teaspoonful neat every few hours for colds and ‘flu, or use it as a cordial and add boiling water to taste for a hot drink.

Where Does Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis) Grow?

Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis) Growing Area

How To Identify Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis)

Elderberry Identification - Leaves

Elderberry leaves are oblong and have ‘sawtooth’ sharply serrated edges. They are arranged in opposite pairs with 5 to 7 leaves on each stem. The veins of the leaf are most prominent as they leave the lighter green midrib, they tend to fade off and narrow as they reach the edge of the leaf and there is NOT the noticeable characteristic of the vein ending in the valley of the sawtooth edges.

Elderberry Identification - Flowers

The elderberry plant products a flattened cluster up to 10 inches in diameter of tiny creamy white flowers. The flowers have rounded tipped petals and there are five. There will typically also be 5 thin white filament tubes arising from near the center of the flower and ending in a pale yellow anther tip although it is often common to see 3 or 4. The flowers bloom in late spring.

Elderberry Identification - Fruit Berries

Elderberry berries (or fruit) start out as flowers then change from green into deep purple/blackish berries when ripe and are about 1/8th of an inch in diameter or the size of a BB. The tip of the rounded berry will have a bump where it was formed from the flower. The taste is a bit tart and they are not to be eaten RAW, more than a few can make you nauseous. They grow in a flat cluster up to 10 inches in diameter.

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Maps You Should Have In Your Survival Gear


One of the most overlooked parts of survival gear, whether in your bug out or get home bag, is the physical map. A critical part of survival is knowing your surroundings! You may know your immediate area like the back of your hand but if you need to leave that immediate area due to a disaster (natural or otherwise) or threat you will need to know where to travel safely; that is where a map will come in hand. While GPS is a great technological achievement they cannot be relied on as they need to be powered. Once a source of power is gone, they are dead weight.

SHTF Traveling with Maps

However, if you have one of those hand crank flashlights that have USB, the GPS out of your car would work great. In times of catastrophe, the power may be down but satellites will be in space for years and most car GPS’s can be loaded up with topo maps as well as SD cards for e-books, pictures of documents and other pertinent information.

But if the event happens to be something solar-related; such as a solar flare or increased solar radiation that saturates or destroys the GPS satellites all bets are off!

So make sure your bug out or get home bag has at least one map in it!

Detailed Local Map (City/Town/Township Map)

You need the most detailed local street map you can possibly get. By local I mean just your town, or if you are in a large city, your neighborhood and the areas you frequent. Many people may know their local area like the back of their hand but in an emergency situation you may be nervous, stressed, etc. and having a map will guide you better than your already stressed brain.

In an urban survival regional emergency, like a flood, hurricane, or other man made disaster any number of things could happen that will be much easier navigated with a super-local map. Maybe a couple of the roads you usually take are blocked or flooded. Maybe you need to get out of town in a direction you don’t usually go. (One of these should also be in your Get Home Bag)

Maps You Should Have In Your Survival Gear
Regional Topographic Maps (State Map)

If you think of the maps you need in an expanding circle, after your detailed local map you are going to need a regional topographic map. In the event of a serious regional problem or a total collapse scenario you are going to need to head towards important natural areas like a water source.

Whether walking or driving there will certainly be chaos on the major roads and the smart people will be cutting across country. You need to be able to plan around mountains and rivers.

Extended Area Maps (Other States)

Wherever you might be going, it’s almost certain that once you get outside of your local area you don’t know all of the roads. Taking an extended area road map, like your state road map that I mentioned earlier, and the surrounding states if applicable, just makes sense. This can be an important tool, not only for roads to follow, but for noticing cities and roads to purposely avoid.

Additional Maps

Maps of railroad track routes are useful too. If everything around you is going to hell roads may not be safe to travel on. Trains run to and from large and moderate sized cities and could provide a safer, more stealthy alternative if you find yourself on foot.

It also allows you to bypass checkpoints and road closures. Some state Department of Transportation websites offer them for download at no cost.

In Conclusion

While it is a good idea to get all three maps DeLorme publishes state specific gazetteers that are topographic and give most roads.

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Edible Wild Plants: Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago Odora)


sweet goldenrod (solidago odora)

Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago Odora) leaves make a great herbal tea, also called a tisane. The leaves, when fresh picked have a delicate anise-like aroma, mixed with a bright green herbal hints as well. the leaves can be brewed into tea, whether fresh leaves, or dried. The fresh leaves make a delicate tea with more of the anise-like flavor, but I prefer the leaves dried. When slow-dried they have a light anise and bright green/gold flavor. If you dry them in a low oven with the door ajar, watching them carefully so they don’t scorch, you get a more pronounced, warm , golden, deep, anise and hay complexity; with a touch of agreeable bitterness. A bare hint of sugar or honey round it out and make for an exceptional tisane.

One of the first Europeans to record the use of the Sweet Goldenrod in making tea was Johann David Schoepf, who was chief surgeon of one o the bodies of German troops sent to America by George III during the American Revolution. Writing from Bedford County, Pennsylvania, Schoepf said:

Here we were introuced to still another domestic tea-plant, a variety of Solidago. The leaves were gathered and dried over a slow fire. It was said that around fort Littleton many 100 pounds of his Bohea-tea, as they call it, had been made as long as the Chinese was scarcer. Our hostess praised its good taste, but this was not conspicuous in what she brewed.

Sweet Goldenrod Wild Edible Plant

The account given only a few years later by the globetrotting botanist, Frederick Pursh, was very different; and, in view of the facts that nowadays we are wont to despise all native substitutes for tea and to demand that our tea come from China or adjacent regions, it is worth while to repeat Pursh’s statement:

The flowers, gathered when fully expanded and carefully dried, give a most agreeable substitute for tea, which for some time has been an article of exportation to China, where it fetches a high price.

Edible Parts

  • Leaves
  • Seeds


Leaves – Cooked and eaten

Seeds – No more details are given but the seed is very small and fiddly to harvest. An aromatic, anise-flavored tea is made from the dried leaves and dried fully expanded flowers. The blossoms are used as a flavoring.

Medicinal Uses

An infusion of the dried powdered herb is antiseptic.

The leaves make a very pleasant-tasting tea that is mildly astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge and stimulant. It is useful in the treatment of coughs and colds, dysentery and ulceration of the intestines.

The essential oil has been used as a diuretic for infants, as a local application for headaches and for the treatment of flatulence and vomiting.

The flowers are aperient, astringent and tonic. An infusion is beneficial in the treatment of gravel, urinary obstruction and simple dropsy.

The root can be chewed as a treatment for sore mouths.

Other Uses

An anise-scented essential oil is obtained from the plant. It is used medicinally and in perfumery – especially for scenting soaps. Mustard, orange and brown dyes can be obtained from the whole plant

Where Does Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago Odora) Grow?

Where Does Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago Odora) Grow?

How To Identify Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago Odora)

Sweet goldenrod is a great plant to grow alongside a sandy trail or driveway. Ample plants for a colorful show will spring up if seeds are generously scattered into the loose soil. The flowers will attract ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies, and other garden-friendly insects.

Sweet Goldenrod Leaves

The leaves are toothless and can be 7.5-10 cm (3-4 in.). A good detail from the Peterson’s Guide is that when held up to light, there are tiny transparent dots.

Sweet Goldenrod Fruit

The fruits are cypselae, which are narrowly obconic to cylindric in shape, they are sometimes somewhat compressed. The cypselae have 8 to 10 ribs usually and are hairless or moderately covered with stiff slender bristles.

Sweet Goldenrod Flowers

The flowers are in a panicle of heads, usually bent to one side as pictured above.


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Edible Wild Plants: Bunchberry (Cornus Canadensis)


Bunchberry (Cornus Canadensis) in FieldThe familiar, bright-red clusters of the Bunchberry (Cornus Canadensis) always attract attention and, although the berries of the more southern species, C. Canadensis, are insipid an dry, with a very large stone, the berries of the more norther C. Suecica, which bears its clusters from the axils of the small opposite leaves, are slightly tart and more palatable.

Linnaeus describes the use of the latter berries by the Laplanders in making a dessert which might well be prepared from our common Bunchberry, with the addition of lemon juice. The Lapland method of making what Linnaeus described as a “dainty” was to mix the berries with whey, then to boil them until the mass was as thick as a “flummery”. This pudding (preferably with the stones strained off) was eaten with cream.

Bunchberry (Cornus Canadensis)
The Bunchberry can be eaten raw as a trailside nibble while hiking. Although many people find the Bunchberry tasteless; but if one slows down long enough, he will find they have a delicate taste beyond description, a sweetness of the faintest essence.

Despite its lack of powerful taste, packs a good nutritional value. Be careful not to eat the unripened berries, as they may cause stomach upset in some people.

Edible Parts

  • Fruit
  • Leaves


Fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit can be dried for later use. A small berry about 6mm in diameter. The fruit is rich in pectin.

Leaves – can be eaten raw while on trail or boiled and eaten.

Other Uses

Pectin for canning and other pectin based uses.

The following use is for the closely related C. suecica, but it almost certainly also applies to this plants. The fruit is rich in pectin. A good ground-cover plant, succeeding under trees and shrubs.

Medicinal Uses

Tom Brown writes in his Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants book that he “used the bunchberry successfully in the treatment of small localized first- and second-degree burns. The berries can be crushed or lightly chewed, and pressed over the burn like a poultice.

Where Does Bunchberry (Cornus Canadensis) Grow?

Where Does Bunchberry Grow?

How To Identify Bunchberry (Cornus Canadensis)

Bunchberry is a low, erect perennial herb standing 5 – 20 cm high. The flower cluster is made up of small greenish flowers subtended by four white or cream coloured, petal-like bracts. The lower leaves are opposite whereas the upper leaves are in a whorl. The fruit is bright red, forming in a bunch.

Bunchberry Leaves

Evergreen, opposite; 4 to 6 leaves in a whorl at the top of the stem, often with 1 or 2 pairs of smaller, leaf-like scales on the stem below; elliptic or egg-shaped, 2 – 6 cm long, margins tapering to a point at both ends, veins parallel.

Bunchberry Flowers

Dense cluster of small greenish-white to purplish flowers above the leaf “whorl”; consists of 4 large (1 – 2 cm long), showy, tinged, white to purple petal-like bracts; appearing early summer.

Bunchberry Fruit Berries

Bright red, fleshy, berry-like; in a terminal cluster; ripening by midsummer.

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How To Make Homemade Ice Packs


How To Make Homemade Ice Packs

Ice packs are used on injuries where swelling has occurred, because the ice packs numb the pain while bringing the swelling down. They are used for 20 minutes at a time. If you don’t have the time to run to the store to purchase an ice pack, you can make one at home. Homemade ice packs work just as well as store-bought ice packs.

Also if you are outside of civilization you can use these methods to create an expedient ice pack for your needs!

Reuseable Gel Type

Method #1

2 cups water
1/3 cup vodka (80 proof)
Food coloring (any color you like)
Ziploc Freezer Bag

  • Pour liquids into ziploc freezer bag, add food coloring (you’ll know at a glance that it’s your ice pack and not something to consume) then freeze.

Method #2

1 cup rubbing alcohol
2 cups water
Ziploc Freezer Bag (1 quart size)

  • Pour liquids into freezer bag, remove air and seal bag. Place bag seal side down into another ziploc freezer bag, remove air and seal that bag. Place in freezer and use (and reuse) as needed (nice and slushy!).

Liquid Soap Ice Pack
Method #3

Liquid Dish Detergent
Ziploc Freezer Bag

  • Squirt liquid dish detergent in a double zip ziploc bag until the bag is about 3/4 full, seal and then freeze.


When taking them from the freezer to use, wrap in towel first before applying to body. If they freeze too hard and aren’t slushy, simply allow them to melt and then add more alcohol.

Single use method:

  • Prepare jello as usual, pour liquid into double zip ziploc freezer bag and put in freezer. Wait till the jello gets really cold and gels, then use.

Lunchbox ideas:

  • Just freeze juice boxes the night before and toss in the lunch bag, or buy reuseable plastic drink boxes, fill with juice and freeze overnight (make sure to leave room when frozen juice expands).
  • Fill small ziploc freezer bags with water, freeze and use as needed (solid block).

Camping cooler ideas:

  • Clean empty plastic pop bottles, fill 3/4 full with water, twist cap back on and place in freezer. Take out and use as needed.
  • Large double zip ziploc freezer bags, fill with water and seal. Freeze til needed (this will be a solid block).
  • Wash empty milk cartons, fill with water, close carton and freeze (leave room for expansion).

No time to freeze and need something in a jiffy? Here are some ideas:

  • You can use a bag of frozen vegetables (bags of peas or corn work best)
  • Fill a double zip ziploc freezer bag with some ice (crushed or cubed), add cold water, seal bag, insert seal side down in another double zip ziploc bag, seal that bag, then apply.

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Vacation Preparedness: Traveling With Your Bug Out Bag


Vacation Bug Out Bag, Vacation Preparedness, Preparing for Vacation, Safety During Vacation, Prepping Vacation

The weather is starting to get beautiful and we are itching to take a week off of work and head somewhere with the family on the yearly Vacation! Ah, yes, vacation… that once a year oasis of fun to get our mind off the stress of work, finances, family and just every day life.

But what if disaster strikes while you are in paradise (or on your way to paradise)? Will that beach towel, sunscreen and wallet full of cash help you survive?

These are the questions I asked myself while planning my families vacation this year. I did a quick Google search of the worldwide web but could not find a good forum discussion, blog post or anything regarding “How to prepare for your family vacation”. So that is why I decided to do a write up about this topic because I think it is very important. Why? Because we are extremely vulnerable during vacations. We are for the most part hundreds of miles from home (and sometimes familiar ground), we have our family with us, guaranteed to stick out as “tourists” and our minds are most likely relaxed.

Vacation Disaster Preparedness
Disaster Scenarios While On Vacation

There are hundreds of possible disaster scenarios while on vacation; ranging from something as small as a bee sting or cut that needs minor medical attention using a First Aid Kit that you have in your Bug Out Bag (BOB) or Get Home Bag (GHB) to something severe as an earthquake or tsunami.

One easy step that can help mitigate vacation disasters is to check with the United States Current Travel Warnings website. This vital information can help you plan a safe vacation and avoid possible disasters. Also on the same website, the section Emergencies and Crises has a wealth of information that you should read about regarding possible Lost or Stolen Passports, Death Abroad and even Arrests Abroad.

Recently in the news as of August 2013 is a massive travel warning in the Arabian Peninsula for a potential terrorist attack. Imagine being overseas in either of those countries. US Embassy’s closed and you are there to fend for yourself. What would you do?

White House: Terror threat emanating from Arabian Peninsula
August 3rd 2013

The White House late Saturday said President Obama had been briefed on the potential threat by National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counter-terrorism. Earlier in the day, Rice chaired a meeting with 12 administration officials including the secretaries of State, Defense and Homeland Security and the directors of the FBI, CIA and NSA.

And if you think bugging out to your hotel is safe when traveling abroad? Think again! In November 2008 the news was filled with reports of a massive attack on two five-star hotels in Mumbai, India.

Mumbai Terror Attacks - Vacation Preparedness
At Least 100 Dead in India Terror Attacks
November 26 2008

Coordinated terrorist attacks struck the heart of Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, on Wednesday night, killing dozens in machine-gun and grenade assaults on at least two five-star hotels, the city’s largest train station, a Jewish center, a movie theater and a hospital.

Even by the standards of terrorism in India, which has suffered a rising number of attacks this year, the assaults were particularly brazen in scale and execution. The attackers used boats to reach the urban peninsula where they hit, and their targets were sites popular with tourists.

The Mumbai police said Thursday that the attacks killed at least 101 people and wounded at least 250. Guests who had escaped the hotels told television stations that the attackers were taking hostages, singling out Americans and Britons.

A previously unknown group claimed responsibility, though that claim could not be confirmed. It remained unclear whether there was any link to outside terrorist groups.

Gunfire and explosions rang out into the morning.

Hours after the assaults began, the landmark Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel, next to the famed waterfront monument the Gateway of India, was in flames.

Guests banged on the windows of the upper floors as firefighters worked to rescue them.

Why Does The Article Say Bug Out Bag In It?

Depending on the level of disaster you may not be able to get home. For 99.9% of the time a standard Get Home Bag is perfectly applicable during vacation trips. But what about the ones across oceans on different continents? You may need a little bit more gear to sustain your families survival.

How To Get Your Bug Out Bag To Your Vacation Destination?

While some bug out bags can easily go through airport security, due to heavier than normal airport security it is best advised to ship your bug out bag to your hotel or vacation destination PRIOR to leaving.

One option we have used in the past is FedEx drop box sent before hand to your destination and repeat process on the way home.

What To Put In Your Vacation Bug Out Bag?
What To Put In Your Vacation Bug Out Bag

  • First Aid Kit
    Or First Aid Items For Everyone Traveling With You
  • Quality LED Flashlight
    AA or AAA preferred as they are most commonly found
  • Map of Your Surrounding Area
    Who needs a GPS? When it hits the fan, I’d rather have a map of the city, state and/or country than something that requires power and communication with a satellite.
  • Multi-Tool*
    Leatherman, Gerber, etc.
  • Glow Sticks
    Great if you run out of batteries for your flashlight.
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
    Be sure to have this one hand in the event you or a family member does suffer from diarrhea, which can lead to life-threatening dehydration very quickly in a survival situation.
  • Water purification tablets/drops
    Boiling water is the most effective way to reduce the risk of ingesting a parasite. However, purification tablets are a close second when boiling isn’t practical.
  • Cash and coins
    We keep a couple hundred dollars in cash in a waterproof tube (originally purposed to hold waterproof matches). Also consider taking along a roll of quarters for any coin-operated vending, or to make change.
    When traveling to other countries make sure you have ample supply of their currency as well as US Dollars.
  • Roll of duct tape
    Duct tape is the do-it-yourselfer’s best friend, at home and in an emergency situation.
  • Hand sanitizer
    We personally packed a few bottles of Purell hand sanitizer. If you shop the cheap stuff, just be sure it has a alcohol content between 60% and 95% to maximize germ-killing effectiveness.
  • A safety whistle for each family member
    Safety whistles can be used to attract attention from rescuers, and to communicate with family members if separated. Plus, they take a lot less energy and make a lot more noise than screaming.
  • Signal mirror
    Putting a signal mirror’s reflection on a rescue pilot or boat captain is one of the best ways of attracting attention. Signal mirrors can also be used to communicate with family members far away.
  • Compass
    Nothing fancy needed here. Just look for a compass that can reliably provide a north heading.
  • Emergency blankets
    These Mylar blankets help hold in heat in an emergency. In addition to those in our bug out bag, we also have a couple in the glove compartment of our car, just in case.
  • Spare Pre-paid Cell Phone
    Leave it in your bag in case you have to leave quickly or lose your phone during your vacation.
  • Rope/cord
    Some 550 paracord is a must-have in your survival kit for tying up food, making a shelter, and plenty of other uses.
  • Plastic Fold-able Water Containers
    You should have at least two plastic, fold-able water containers such as the Platypus Water Bottle or Platypus Water Tank. One for gathering contaminated water and the other for purified, clean water.
  • Deck of cards (to fight boredom)
    Don’t discount the psychological aspects of survival. After a day or two, boredom will set in and you’ll be glad to have a deck of cards to pass the time.

* While these items may not be permitted during travel you can ship your bag with these item(s) to your destination prior to your trip.

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Raisins: A Survival Superfood


Raisins were invented (probably by accident) to remain fresh. The fact that they’re dehydrated, along with their sugar content, preserves them without the need for refrigeration.

Raisin the Survival Food

There aren’t many foods that contain a majority of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fiber, sugar and fats) and the necessary micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) that are necessary for good nutrition. In a survival situation, good nutrition is essential in order to maintain your health, especially during the stressful situations that you will encounter in an emergency or crisis. Raisins are a survival super food as they contain most all the necessary nutrient contents for good health.

Raisins are also fairly sweet. This is due to a high concentration of fructose (sugar). When stored for a long period of time, the sugars inside the raisins will crystallize. This does not affect their use as the sugar grains can be dissolved by soaking the raisins in warm water or when used in cooking or preparing a dish with raisins as part of the ingredients. They may still be eaten as is but may have a grainy consistency due to the sugar crystals.

Hiking & Camping with RaisinsA single serving of raisins contains approximately 110 to 130 calories, has a fairly high water content per serving, most all of the essential macro and micro nutrients that are required by the body and only lack significant amounts of vitamin A. They also are low in cholesterol. This makes raisins a true super food. Hikers and backpackers have known this for years. Raisins, a dehydrated form of grapes, are a main ingredient of the trail mix often used when hiking or camping.

An unopened package of raisins will stay fresh for years, if it’s kept in a cool, dry place. Once the package is opened, air, moisture and bacteria can get to the raisins, which can shorten their useful life.

Raisins will freeze very well, because they’re so low in moisture. Frozen raisins ought to last (technically) forever.

So start stocking up on raisins! They are relatively inexpensive and have a shelf-life (if stored properly) similar to honey.

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Review: NDuR Survival Straw Water Purification


NDuR Survival Water Filtration Straw

Water is essential to life. The average person can survive for three days without water. Don’t wait until you run out of water before you look for more. Your body loses 2-3 liters (4-6 pints) of water each day through sweating and urination, more if you are hot or exerting a lot of energy. This water must be replaced.

NDūR’s straw is built around water filtration technology from Seychelle, a company which also produces its own Pure Water Straw. NDūR claims its device eliminates up to 99.9 percent of of micro-organisms, up to 99.99 percent of all chemicals and heavy metals, and up to 99.9999 percent of viruses and bacteria before the water hits the inside of your mouth. You can drink your fill with the straw filtering up to 25 gallons (95 l) of water before needing replacement.

NDuR Survival Straw vs LifeStraw
Key Factors for the Survival Straw:

• Made from BPA-free plastic
• Filter Life: up to 25 Gallons or more, depending upon the quality of the source water
• Ideal for those traveling abroad

Removes up to 99.9999% of:
• Virus
• Bacteria
– E-Coli

Removes up to 99.99% of:
• Chromium 6
• Chlorine
• Lead
• Mercury
• Cadium
• Aluminum
• Copper

Removes up to 99.9% of:
• Micro-organisms, such as
– Giardia
– Cryptosporidium

Bug Out Bag SHTF Bag Water Filter Straw

Like the Lifestraw, the NDūR Survival Straw is a water filtration system built into a device that is as easy to use as possible. You’ll still have to avoid splashing around in questionable water and getting it on the mouth of the straw, but otherwise, it’s pretty much just dip and drink.

While there are many water filtration devices on the market there is few that are water purification devices, such as the NDuR Survival Straw, that purifies the water by removing viruses along with the other nasties.

One of the most heavily marketed ‘water filtration straws’ on the market is the LifeStraw. It boasts are huge following as well as a lower cost. However, with that lower cost comes the lack of purification. While the LifeStraw does have iodine beads to purify some of the viral pathogens out of the water it does not do an adequate job and thus they must state that it DOES NOT remove viruses from the water.

Pros of the NDuR Survival Straw

  • Removes viral pathogens
  • Ability to filter out radiation in their radiation model
  • Compact
  • Relatively inexpesive
  • Lightweight and easy to pack

Cons of the NDuR Survival Straw

  • Low amount of water it can clean (25 gallons)
  • More expensive than other water filtration straws

The Survival Straw is marketed at everyone from outdoor enthusiasts building a survival kit or preparing for the apocalypse, to travelers puddle-hopping through country where clean water might be hard to come by. It could also be of use in third world countries.

The NDuR Survival Straw Costs just $24.65 at our online store and the NDuR Radiological Survival Straw is only $44.95 at our online store.

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