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What should i include in my survival bags?

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I live in northeastern rural Pa. the winters here are ridiculous. we are constantly loosing electric or having water pipes freeze up despite precautions. i am a 27 year female with physical disabilities and live with my mother in law who is also handicapped. and my two children ages 5 and 9. my husband lives here but he is most often on the road as a truck driver. i need to know what to have on hand as a bug out bag, a shelter in place bag, and perhaps an auto emergency kit. i find the prefilled packs too heavy for me, and filled with a bunch of useless stuff i dont need. our area is prone to blizzards, flood, tornado, power outages. i know the basics, food water and shelter. but then what? i am considering pepper spray for protection, as i cannot shoot a gun. also wondering what kind of knife would be best for defense. our water is unsafe to drink so i must rely on bottled water. if we had to evacuate the bags cant be too heavy due to our disabilities. i realize that we would need our medications, i was considering water filtration straws. i just dont know what i need. i tend to over prep and pack a lot of useless things that i will never need, and i was wondering if someone could help me nail down the details of the ideal.

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Welcome Jessie. I'd like to caution against a knife as a means of defense first of all. It's more of a last ditch tool, but if you're sure you want to go that direction, I'd recommend a small machete because they can be used for a multitude of daily survival chores as well as to protect yourself when the chips are down. With it being PA I'd recommend a Malaysian style, or certain African designs. PM me if you'd like more info on that particular subject so i don't belabor the thread with chopper talk.


For pepper spray I'd recommend a big can of bear spray, it has good reach and good quantity, also works on... well bears.


Now depending on why your water is unsafe I'd like to suggest taking about a half a gallon or so of chlorine bleach, you can disinfect about a gallon of water per 10-15 drops of bleach, an eyedropper is handy there. So a half a gallon of bleach will produce a lot of disinfected water and won't hurt you. Read up on it to get the particulars. Now my thoughts would be to get a one quart stainless steel water bottle with a wide mouth for everyone, because you can boil the water in them, and then add a bit of chlorine to each, 3-5 drops, bleach is next to useless against against things like Giardia, hence the boiling. If filtration is a must due to pollution something like this could be your solution


Another thing I'd recommend is a small hand cart, or drag sled depending on your terrain.

Edited by Vicioustom

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what are the best options for firestarters? i am considering a magnesium one, but am unsure of how easy they would be. i already have a lighter but i want better options. also need tinder advice. planning on using wood as heat source. where can i find a small, portable can opener. our house ones takes up too much room. i was hoping to get one like they use in military. i dont mind using the bare essentials. i want items that serve more than one purpose but i realize that some things cant be that way. still on the lookout for the type of compass i like. my dad has a wonderful one for his ginseng hunts, but i cant remember what its called. it has a thing on it that you can mark the position you came from. im not sure what other items would be useful. a camp axe is definitely on my want list. figuring on a collapsible bucket, to save room. trying to find where i put my spork like utensils. gotta get dust masks, safety goggles too. does anyone have any ideas? any thing i havent mentioned that should be brought to my attention? saving up for a good pair of hiking boots too. going to try and get my old hiking pack from my father in law, cause that thing was a beast. large size but lightweight, with waist strap. and lots of storage. has clasps on sides to clip stuff to. looking to upgrade my tent to something bigger. my last one fits 2 to 3 people. we have 5 people.

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Jessie, I don't believe going to a larger tent for 5+ people is the correct decision. It will be heavy and difficult to carry unless you decide to purchase one of the more expensive ones like the Sierra Designs WuHu tent.


I can vouch for the WuHu tent based on my experience but it does eat up a bit of budget.


I think you might be better off with two or three small tents. That way the load can be divided up better, there is redunancy, and you simply have to add to the one you have.


The BlastMatch fire starter (available at a good price on this site) is easy to operate as it is a press and release mechanism.


There are some really good lists of items on this forum. You might want to look them up to compare to the one you are developing.


Hope this helps a bit. :)


BTW I am in NE PA also. Mild winter, eh!

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Another fire starter to consider is the fire piston, you can make one yourself if you like. For tinder I like jute twine, break the fibers up and it's ready. Charcloth is also easy to make and accepts a spark readily. As for can opener a USGI p38 is simple, small, and rugged


As for compasses, that's going to depend on how deep you want to get into orienteering. I personally like USGI type lensatic compasses, because they are like the swiss aremy knife of compasses and it's what I'm accustomed to using


I can't really help you too much on the axe front, I'm not an axe guy. But for a quality axe Eastwing, Wetterlings, and the cream of the crop Gransfor Bruks comes to mind. Just going off recommendations I've received from friends that were axe users. I prefer a quality machete myself.


Rod is on the mark with tents imho. Large tents are a poor way to travel any sort of distance. I personally like to travel as light as possible, so I only use a poncho and natural materials to set up my shelter. Look up hooch building if you're interested in that method. Take a look at the gear forums, there's a good chance one of your questions has been addressed in there as Rod said.

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