Financial Survival Kit

What do you need to be prepared for the future financial turmoil? How can you survive?

Should I Buy Gold?

It seems like everyone is a gold bug these days, but is it the right thing for you?

What Are The Chances?

With all this "end of the world" hype going on, maybe we should consider the chances. What are the chances of a civilization threatening event?

How Much Insurance Do I Need?

Insurance is an extremely broad topic. Hopefully this generalization on the different types and amounts will help straighten things out a bit.

Iraqi Dinar: Scam or Scoop?

Some say it's an easy way to make a million bucks! But do you understand currency markets enough to take advantage?

The financial world we live in is just as wild, if not more, than the mountains and woods we walk through. We are told that the fundamentals of our economy are strong, but we can feel that something is wrong. My unique financial background and survival passion make Financial Survivalist and excellent place to learn and share.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Government Gets Bigger, Not Smaller!

Government gets bigger, not smaller. It takes far more to decrease the size of government than increase it. Think about the new deal act. Many people think it helped fix the great depression, but really all it did was grow government. That's why Obama has his own "new deal." It's also why we haven't began recovery. The following is my reasoning on the subject.

1. Politicians have a vested interest in larger government.

More Power

The larger the government the more control it has. The more control it has over regulations, industry, and individuals lives, the more power they have. Power corrupts because it brings money and ego.

More Dependents

The larger the government welfare programs are, the larger the number of people that accept aid from the government. This leads to them being dependent on the government. When someone is dependent on government they will vote for the politicians promising to protect or increase government aid. Power hungry politicians gravitate to this kind of politics causing government to grow whenever those individuals are in power.

More Money

Congress has made insider trading LEGAL for themselves. If I gave a congressman $10,000 cash, he and I would go to jail. If I gave them stock options on a IPO (initial public offering) that were worth $100,000 it would be perfectly legal.

If a congressman is writing a law that affects the financial industry or even a specific company, they can legally trade on the information they acquire while that law is being written. If you or I had the same knowledge and traded on it, we would go to jail. This is only one example of the corruption in Washington that allows congressmen to enter congress with a net worth of $0 and leave a few years later millionaires.

2. Once expenses are established they are not removed. Politicians don't dare face the backlash of cutting benefits of their constituents. Just look at Greece and the EU.
  • Greece is trying to cut government expenses (ie austerity). An example of this is Greece trying to raise the retirement age from 58 or 61 to 63. 
  • These kind of cuts are causing citizens to rebel. Is 63 such a late retirement? Is it unacceptable? Only to people that have been planning on retiring at 58. 
  • Cutting government programs risks angering constituants. Politicians want to be reelected, so they don't want to risk this.
3. Politicians want to bring money to their districts so they have something show for their service.

When politicians head to Washington they bring a standard quo that measures the politicians performance in the amount of money they get the federal government to spend in their district. When politicians write a law, the goal isn't governance. The goal is getting money to their district usually in some form of earmark. This is another reason why expenses continually rise.
    4. Name one government that got smaller on it's own.
    • USSR?
    • China?
    • North Corea?
    • Greece?
    It doesn't happen. That's why Greece is struggling so much. It is a one way cycle. They never get smaller on their own. They only get smaller when they fail by revolution, war, or economic collapse. 

    In conclusion, history can give you an idea of where we are headed. It can't predict the future, but it gives us a general direction. It only get's worse from here.

    It is imperative that you be smart and thrive.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Good Debt VS Bad Debt

    There is a difference between good debt and bad debt. Although many people feel all debt is bad, there are few people who made a financial difference in this world without debt. Even Dave Ramsey wouldn't be who he is without taking on a bunch of bad debt and going bankrupt.

    Bad Debt

    Bad Debt is easy to recognize. Any debt used to consume is bad debt. It really doesn't matter how this debt is structured. Even fixed low interest mortgages can be bad debt if you purchased a home you cannot really afford. If debt is used to consume then it is bad debt. By "consume" I mean purchase non-necessities. For example jet ski, snowmobile, vacation home, car, electronics, or my wife's favorite, clothing.

    Any Bad Debt should be treated like the plague. Burn it! Throw it out. Stay away from it. If you have it pay it off as soon as possible. Even if you eat only bean and rice until it's gone, it is a curse and will inhibit any financial progress in your life.

    Good Debt

    Good debt is debt that makes money. If I purchase a multifamily property I'm going to try and borrow as much of the money as possible. By doing this I can keep my capital liquid allowing for more flexibility. The multifamily property is an asset that will make money every month. It will also pay off all my expenses.

    If the debt is used wisely as part of a larger wealth building strategy than it is Good Debt. Structured properly, good debt doesn't need to be paid off quickly. Some people may never want to accelerate payments.

    Good Debt Can Be Bad Debt

    If I choose a multifamily property that doesn't make money (ie too many expenses, doesn't rent well) than that mortgage could quickly turn into bad debt. Any debt, including "good" debt, that feels like a burden is bad debt for you.

    Every situation is different. Every one has a personal debt choice. Become and expert so that you can manage and minimize your risk. Have your Financial Survival Kit, so that if something goes wrong you will be ok.

    Be Smart and Thrive.

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    2nd Home as an Investment?

    Hi Financial Survivalist,

    I was wondering if I could get your take on a question I'm pondering over my financial situation.  Right now, I have about $65000 in the bank and could probably get to $80,000K saved in the next year, if I continue living with my boyfriend.  (His house is paid off). 

    I've thought about buying a house of my own, but real estate prices where we live are just outrageous (in my opinion), due to the low supply of houses.

    I've seen houses in Florida and South Carolina which are nice for less than $200,000.   I know I'll have to pay what the market dictates;  what scares me is that I'll buy the house and then the prices here will "adjust" to incomes (they aren't even close now where I live).

    I have a really secure job and have no concerns about income over the next 5 years. I AM concerned about inflation eating up my cash, and I know I should act on it now.

    I just wanted to get your take on my situation.  Do you think real estate is a wise investment at this point?   I could either live in the house, or rent it out.

    Thanks for your thoughts
    A Concerned Prepper

    Let me start out by saying I LOVE real estate. Also, as long as you have a Financial Survival Kit, it looks like you are at the point where you can start speculating a bit on your investments. Good job. It takes a lot to get there, and a lot of people never do.

    1. When choosing an investment, the first step is to educate yourself. The risk of an investment is directly related to the ignorance of the investor. Make youself an expert before you invest and you can manage and minimize your risk. For example, you mentioned that your market may be a little overvalued. This tells me that you have taken the time to get familiar with that market. That's really good and very important. Also, my favorite real estate book for beginners is Wall Street Journal Complete Real Estate Investing Guide.

    2. A home is not an investment. It is an expense. Even in the best markets, you will put so much money into maintenance, taxes, interest, utilities, insurance, updates, decorating, etc, that you will never get a good interest rate. Any one that says they have, probably didn't keep records every time they went to Lowes. The only way to fix this problem is cashflow.

    3. When I invest in real estate, I do so carefully. I will never buy a property that doesn't cashflow and cashflow well. By doing this, my tenants pay all those expenses I just mentioned. On top of that it doesn't matter if the property value goes up or down, because I still make money on rental income. This way even in an overvalued market you can find good buys.

    You can "invest" in a single family home, but if you have difficulty renting it you eat the costs. With muti-family properties, you can loose one tenant and still have others to pay your mortgage.

    4. Take your time. There are more variables to inflation than just money supply. I think we still have at least a year, maybe two, before inflation really starts to pick up. The Fed will do everything in their power to prevent it. I aslo don't think the housing market is going to recover any time soon, if ever. Historically bubbles never re-inflate. I don't see why the housing market is any different. It will take years for income to catch up with prices and demand to catch up with inventory. However, there are good deals in every market.

    5. The only secure job is one that you provide. If you still bend to the will of another person, they can lay you off at a moments notice. Please make sure that you have a Financial Survival Kit. Also, seek out other forms of income so that you are not dependent on a pay check.

    I hope I have given you a good place to start. I apprecite the opportunity and hope I have helped. Let me know how it goes.

    As always Be Smart and Thrive.

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    Getting Rid of the Junk

    Often times we spend a lot of money on un-necessary and un-needed things. This can represent a huge drain on our income. It also clutters our lives and makes everything more difficult. Sometimes when my house is a mess, I can't even think straight.

    So how do you separate junk from the usefull stuff? The problem is that when we look at something, we see the $$$$$ we paid for it.

    Recently, my wife and I committed to simplifying our lives. It just makes everything easier when you don't have as much stuff. There is less junk to pick up, less clutter and everything just looks cleaner.

    When deciding what to toss, what to sell, and what to keep we asked a few simple questions:

    1. When did I last use it?
    2. How likely was I to use it again?
    3. How much could I sell it for?
    4. How much space did it take up?
    If we could do without we considered getting rid of it. If we hadn't used it for 6 months we really considered getting ride of it. Everything from our giant beanbag chair to our kitchen table was on the preverbal chopping block.

    We had a garage sell two weekends in a row and then donated the rest to a second hand store.

    The next time you are considering buying something that isn't a necessity, think again. Sleep on it. If you still want it further down the road, then maybe you will buy it then. If not, then you shouldn't buy it at all.

    Consider looking around you and wondering what you could do without. If I'm right, in a few years all those things won't matter. Consider what you could sell and get some extra money for food storage or emergency survival gear.

    Be Smart and Thrive

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Wall Street Journal Complete Real Estate Investing Guidebook

    Some poeople think the real estate market is hopeless. I say, "You can make money in any market." So if you're wanting to jump into real estate investing the first thing you should do is become an expert. Even in the best markets I have seen poeple make horrible real estate decisions. By educating yourself you can manage your risk.

    The first place you should start educating yourself if in the library. WSJ Investing Guidebook is by far my favorite real estate book for beginer and experienced real estate experts. It has concervative, applicable and accurate advice. It is a quick read with easily undertable charts and diagrams to illustrate the principles.

    This book is an excelent start to know what to look for, how to find it, and how to manage it. It covers a lot of principles that other books ignore. It also covers a lot of misunderstood principles and misconceptions about real estate.

    Now a days, everyone has an oppinion. We are bombarded with endless ammounts of information and it is difficult to know what advice to filter out and what to heed. This is especially true of beginners that are just starting to learn. That is why I am careful to recommend books I think are a good use of your time.

    This book is a must read and I would trust recommending this book to anyone that wants to get started in real estate. However, I wouldn't stop after reading this book. You must continue to educate yourself and seek out new resources. This is a perfect base for that continued learning.

    9/10 stars

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    The origin of Thanksgiving is tied back to new settlers and their American Indian allies celebrating a war victory over a rival tribe. Nevertheless, we put more focus on this holiday than other holidays like Veteran's Day or Labor Day. It is likely because of the commercial focus. The same reason why Valentines Day envolves greeting cards and candy.

    Regardless of the origins or commercialism of the holiday, it is all worth it if we take the time to be grateful for all the things that we normally overlook. Our world is quickly changing, and the things we enjoy today may shortly be gone. This Thanksgiving, make sure you take the time to look around you and appreciate all the wonderful things you have. From indoor plumbing to simple employment. We take for granted hundreds of things every day, but not this Thanksgiving.

    Be smart and thrive.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Who Will Survive the Financial Apocalypse?

    The answer to who will survive depends on what you think is going to happen.


    In the past, the people that survive inflationary period the best are entrepreneurs that have an essential product on which they can raise the price to match inflation. Though inflation may make obtaining food difficult for the majority, but everyone needs to eat.  What about toilet paper manufacturers? Do you think they will survive? The trick is to find the right product. I personally like real estate.


    In the event of hyperinflation, the buying power of the currency is eroded so quickly that even product prices can't keep up with the increasing cost of raw goods. In the end the currency is destroyed and has to be replaced. The people that financially survive hyperinflation are the gold "horders." As long as they get in early enough, the intrinsic value of gold protects their wealth. There is quite a bit of other preparations like food storage that are also necessary.


    The United States has less than 10-20 days of grain in their silos at any given time. Lately the reserves have been getting smaller. We are one disaster away from a food shortage. The United States produces about 2/5's of the worlds grain. So if we experience famine here, the world will experience famine. The people that will survive famine are farmers and food "horders." I am a food horder and have enough food to feed my family for a year. I also have enough seeds to plant 5 acres of food. has some really good deals on food storage. Other resources are my Financial Survival Kit.


    Especially with the engineering of our food supply, the likelihood of a pandemic hasn't been so great since the dark ages. Then there are biological weapons and terrorist to worry about. If you are prepared you shall not fear. Those that will survive a pandemic are the ones that are prepared to "shelter in." See for information on how to survive a pandemic.

    Pollitical Collapse

    Occupy Wall Street is a small but frightening example of the frustration and resentment building in the citizens of the United States. Let's face it. Our political system is broken. Our elected leaders are corrupt. The only thing that can fix it is an uprising of citizens. Either through revolution or the more preferred uprising at the ballot boxes. Unfortunately, I think it will be a revolution within our lifetimes. The only thing you can do to survive a political collapse is be internationally diversified. I'm not talking about your portfolio. I'm talking about citizenship. is an excellent source on this kind of survival.

    Social Unrest

    Social unrest will happen as a result of any of the above items. It could also be a catlyst of it's own. The people that will survive social unrest are the Urban Survivalist. Know how to survive and protect your family and your home in the event of social unrest by visiting


    The bottom line is that we don't know what will happen. What I do know is that the government will do what ever it can do to prevent this kind of collapse. However, it is inevitable. They may be able to buy time, but it will only make it worse. In the mean time, all we can do is prepare. The people that will survive are the people that are prepared. That's you, and that why you should stay tuned to Financial Survivalist.

    Be Smart and Thrive

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek

    F. A. Hayek was a world renowned and highly decorated economist. After serving in WWI he decided that he would spend his life working for a better world. He began to study with a focus to learn what causes society to degrade as far as it had durring WWI.

    After WWII, he was inspired to write The Road to Serfdom by his dislike of the current British economic thought.

    Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which included the labor of serfs occupying a plot of land owned by a lord of the manor in return for protection and justice and the right to exploit certain fields within the manor to maintain their own subsistence. (Wiki) Essentially the "lord" gave them security and use of land in exchange for their servitude. However, they were not free to leave, to own, or to better their position.

    The title "Road to Serfdom" is very appropriate. The book is about economic cycles and how man finds himself traveling the road to serfdom again and again. There is no on off switch for the light of freedom. It's more like a dimmer switch.

    Freedom is gained through great sacrifice and much bloodshed. It is claimed by individuals that desire freedom more than life. However, as time goes on people forget. They forget how important freedom is and they begin to desire security more and more.

    Slowly but surely they rely upon the government (the lord) more and more to provide for them. They expect the government to give them security, housing, jobs, healthcare. And of coarse those things aren't free. So in exchange they give up their right to better themselves (through burdensome taxes), privacy (through searches like TSA) and eventually out right freedom.

    This is a difficult book to read because there is a lot of extravagant and intellectually stimulating verbiage. He after all was a very well educated and extremely intelligent economist. However, if you can understand the book, it gives you great insight into our current condition; where we are and where we are headed.

    This definitely on my must read list especially for anyone who isn't sure how they feel about all the government intervention in to our economy. It's a great book anyone that is interested in politics or economics.

    8/10 stars

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Bear Safety

    Whether you are lost in the wilderness or brushing your teeth in a developed campsite, you never know when you will run into a bear. Actually, the closest I ever got to a full grown grizzly was while brushing my teeth at a campsite in Yosemite Valley. It was an arms length away and didn't care I was there. It just walked right by.

    Every situation you encounter a bear is different. Once I was mountain biking down a mountain trail behind my friend. We were flying through a wooded area when a black bear came out of no where. It rand onto the trail between me and my friend and started chasing him on his bike. I quickly realized I was chasing the bear and hit the brakes. That was enough to startle the bear and he ran off back into the forest.

    Below are some general rules to follow if you do happen to run into a bear.
    1. Don't look the bear in the eye.
    2. Back away slowly. Never turn your back and NEVER RUN!
    3. If the bear begins to follow drop something to distract it; hat, bandana, anything but food!
    4. If he charges, stand your ground. It's probably a roux.
    5. If the bear doesn't turn or stop it's charge use bear spray. Bear spray is very dangerous and wind increases the danger. Make sure you know how to use it properly. If you use bear spray, it is likely you will get some on you too, so only use it if really needed.
    6. If the bear does attack, and you don't have bear spray, lay face down with your hands locked behind your head protecting your neck. Play dead. Use your elbows and legs to keep the bear from turning you. Once the bear thinks the threat (you) is neutralized, he will likely leave.
    Generally speaking, bears won't attack. However, there are some specific situations that they are more likely to at least charge.
    1. Food: Bears often sit on a carcass until they can eat it all, sometimes days. They will protect it from any perceived threats.
    2. Cubs: Mother bears are EXTREMELY protective. If found near or between a mother and her cubs you will most likely be attacked.
    3. Humanized bears, that is bears that are not afraid of human, are more likely to attack.
    These tips are not a guarantee that you will not be attacked or that you will survive an attack. The best type of bear safety is prevention and preparedness.

    1. Always be aware of recent bear activity in your area. 
    2. Know what to do if you run into a bear. 
    3. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. 
    4. Travel in groups. 
    5. Use proper food storage. Never cook in camp.
    6. Make a lot of noise when walking through dense vegetation.
    As always, be smart and thrive.

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Ignorance isn't Bliss, it's BLIND!

    Ignorance is not bliss, it's blind! What I mean is that if you are ignorant you generally don't realize it. Before you continue reading, watch the video below.

    If you missed the gorilla the first time, so did I. I also counted the wrong number of passes. This is an example of how blindness is part of the human condition. We choose what we want to see; sometimes subconsciously, and some times consciously.

    A common example how ignorance is blind is big government. A lot of people think government is the solution; more spending, more programs, more regulation. We constantly see messages about how government has to feed the poor, save the earth, and save the farmers. How many people out there expect the government to give them security, jobs, electricity and housing? However, the reality is big government gets in the way and causes problems.

    From farming subsidies that have changed our food supply, to governments forcing banks to write bad loans causing the current crisis. Big government gets in the way. GOVERNMENT CAN'T CREATE ANYTHING! It only can take from someone and give it to someone else; the poor, the needy, etc. However, the people they take it from eventually stop creating. Then the government can't take or give anymore.

    I'm not saying government doesn't have it's place. Of coarse it does. However, any attempt at social or economic "planning" will always leads down the road to serfdom. It causes more problems than it fixes.

    Maybe I'm ignorant and thus can't see, but I don't think so. If you try to educate ignorance they put up the walls that are the very source of their ignorance. I read books from conservatives and liberals. I feel that by seeing both side I can make an educated decision. However, ignorance reads truth and sees lies. Maybe we should all ask ourselves now and then, "Am I ignorant?"

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    How to Build a Live Bird Trap

    So recently, a bunch of house sparrows have been eating my grass and garden seeds I had put down for late fall planting. Finally I got pissed off enough to make a bird trap. I've been super busy with my most recent real estate purchase, so I cut some corners. However, it turned out nicely and worked well.

    How to Build a Live Bird Trap

    1. Make the basket. I used a shopping basket.
    2. Make a balance stick that looks like a 7. Place a notch in the right place and angle the bottom.
    3. Make a stick to put into the ground and on top of which the balance stick will rest.
    4. Find a wishbone type stick for the trigger.

    All of this requires a little finagling in order to get the right sizes and shapes of sticks.

    How to Set Trap

    This part is a little tricky. Notice the shim board I used as a post. I forced it into the ground for stability. The balance stick (backward 7) is balanced on the post. The top holds up the basket, and the bottom holds the trigger. The trigger wedged at the back of the basket. Weight of the basket puts force on the trigger. When a bird steps on the trigger, the basket falls.


    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Financial Industry = Educated Guessing

    We are told our entire lives to go to school, get a good job, save for retirement in an IRA or 401k. If we are really lucky we may need to hire a Financial Planner to help us with all our "extra" money. Having spent some time in the financial industry, I know first hand that it is less than perfect. Financial entertainers get paid big money to "entertain" you. Financial Planners get paid money even when you lose money. They get paid just by having your money. Life Insurance guys get paid big commissions up front.

    I hear a life insurance guy on the radio rip on Dave Ramsey like he's a couple cans short of a 6-pack. Then I hear a Financial Planner rip on the life insurance guy because he's the scum of the earth and in it for big commissions. Then I hear Dave Ramsey rip on everyone because they have credit cards.

    None of them are affected if they are wrong or right, and what no one will tell you is that they don't really know. They think they know. They act like they know. They believe they know, but in the end they feed you a bunch of educated guesses that are all based on the same inadequate statistics. The financial planner is no surer than the life insurance guy and no less evil.

    I know a lot of people will be mad at me for saying that financial planning/advising/entertaining amounts to nothing more than educated guessing.I often find that I have that effect. In fact, when you meet me you either love me or hate me. That's because I'm a know it all and I'm always right. Of coarse, most people hate me at first, but learn to love me in the end.

    In college I majored in finance, and as part of my major I studied portfolio therory. I could go on for hundreds of pages explaining the faults of portfolio theory, but that is boring, it's been done before, and not what this post is about. Any way, statistics are awesome. I had the flew durring my last statistics final. I threw up in the garbage can, almost passed out AND got 104%. I learned a few things about investing from statistics:

    1. Statistics does NOT equal reality. A good financial planner can give you a mathematical solution to your investment problems. Statistically you will win, get a good return and die rich. That's on paper. So they will have you sign a waver that basically says if you loose all your money you can't sue. If it's such a sure thing then why do you have to sign the waver?
    2. There is no such thing as a sure thing. No matter how much math you do to lower your risk it doesn't mean it's safer. The only way to lower your risk is by educating yourself. Even then, there is no "sure thing," but at least you can manag your risk. 
    3. Numbers are easy to manipulate. All you have to do is skew the sample, or use a different kind of average and the next thing you know you have the results you want. Most financial planners base their guesses on previous performance, but there are so many variables involved it is impossible to accept that as a guarantee of future performance.
    4. Statistics have nothing to do with what I'm trying to say.
    What I AM trying to say is that no one has a crystal ball. No ammount of statistical profession, computer programming, or investing genius can know the future. If the person giving you advice is a good advisor, then they will do their best to help you make wise investing decisions. However, there is little difference between the different types of advisors other than the method they believe in.

    So what do you do? Invest In Yourself. Get a Financial Survival Kit. Do your best to educate yourelf and manage your risk. The people that will succeed in this financial world, are the ones will to educate themselves and be responsible for their financial future.

    As Awlays, Be Smart and Thrive

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Security is the Opposite of Freedom

    Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." This is because Security is the Antithesis of Freedom. A few examples of this are below.

    Job Security

    We trade our time and our freedom for a "secure" paycheck. We agree to be at a certain place, for a certain amount of time, doing whatever our employer tells us. We may have a little more income security, but we have lost some freedom. The sad part is the job "security" is just a ruse. You can be "let go" at any point in time for almost any reason no matter how long you've been with them.

    Terror Security

    Another form of this is when we empower our government to protect us. We give Homeland Security the power to listen to ANY phone call and arrest ANY citizen suspected of terrorism. The possibility for abuse of this power is monstrous and horrific. However, I like to assume the best. So let's assume the government never has and never will abuse this power. Who defines terrorist? Our founding fathers could have been considered terrorists by their government. Obviously there is a difference in the tactics of our founding fathers and modern day terrorist, but the line could be blurred.

    True Security

    Any time we empower our government we loose freedoms. If we empower them to feed us, cloth us, educate us or house us, we loose those freedoms. Power corrupts, and ultimate power corrupts ultimately. As history has proved, time goes on and power will be abused. That is why our founders limited the powers of our government. They empowered the people, but we are and have been for a hundred years, headed away from individual liberty and toward government "security." Just like job "security," the security our government offers us is a ruse.

    The only true security is in yourself, your family and your God (if you believe). If you have the ability to create your own employment, THAT is job security. If you and your family are self reliant and can provide for all your needs on your own, THAT is security. If you are right with your God, THAT is eternal security. No one else can provide true security.

    Be Smart and Thrive

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    North Face Tadpole 23 Tent Review

    The North Face Tadpole 23 tent is a smaller version of the North Face Big Fat Frog 24 Tent. I purchased this tent as a upgrade from a really cheap tent I got on ebay. Don't get me wrong. I loved the no brand tent from ebay. It was super light with an attached rain fly. It was very compact and had plenty of room for our (me and my wife) packs. The downside was that it wasn't very weather resistant. I remember one time I woke up in a puddle. I thought, "no wonder I was so cold." Another night it was windy and sand was blowing up the vents and into the tent. We had to duct tape them shut. Once, we slept in our car because the wind was so strong it just folded our tent over.

    No more of that. I did a lot of research, and I chose the The North Face Tadpole 23 Tent. I first tried it out in my back yard. I set it up and turned on the sprinklers. I got inside and stayed completely dry. Next I took it to the Uintas. By this time it was late fall. I slept with the fly off and the stars were the most beautiful I'd ever seen. I took it to the Uintas again, and this time kept the fly on. It was incredibly warm.

    Though, I haven't used it in terrible weather, I have used it and loved it. It has a fully tubbed base and taped seams. One user woke up and opened the tent to find himself surrounded by water, but completely dry. The fly covers the top completely and comes almost to the ground, still leaving enough room for venting, but keeping sand out.

    The only downside is that it is small. There is plenty of room for two people to sleep but your packs will stay outside. Luckily the fly includes a vestibule. The vestibule is actually about 1/2 the size of the tent. That means that there is plenty of room for your packs and whatever else you want to put in there. The only downside I see is that if you wake up surrounded by water, your packs will be soaked. I personally am not a huge fan of vestibules, but I certainly am willing to compromise.

    All in all, it is a bit heavier than my last tent. It is also a bit less compact and smaller. I know, it's ironic; Heavier and less roomy! It actually isn't that heavy for a backpacking tent. Only heavier than my last one. On the plus side it is far more durable and weather resistant. I'm excited to go backpacking in BAD WEATHER! I know! I'm confident I will stay dry and sand free. Plus it won't blow over! Definitely a good choice. I really like it.

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Dear Financial Survivalist

    Dear Financial Survivalist, 

    I recently found out that my wife and I will be receiving a good chunk of money from some inheritance. Our plan is to zero out credit card debt and student loans right away. However, we will still be left with about 30K once those obligations are taken care of. 

    I'm wondering what you where you would suggest that we invest extra money, and why?

    I'm leaning towards real estate because I know that cash is REALLY king right now in real estate, and because I like real estate. But we're also thinking about investing in some physical precious metals, and our own physical preps like food storage (you can't eat money or even gold if a giant collapse happens). 

    We are both in our early 30's with no kids and a lot of life ahead of us. We both have Roth IRAs set up that we have been contributing to. I'm curious to know what your suggestions are.

    Thanks in advance,

    -A proactive prepper 

    Proactive Prepper,

    Thank you for the letter. The answer to your question is different for every situation. Before anyone begins traditional "investing," including an IRA/401k, they should build a strong "Financial Survival Kit." It sounds like you have the right idea considering food storage and eliminating bad debt are part of a good financial survival kit. The last item in a Financial Survival kit is "Essential Product." In my opinion this would be a good start for investing. Read more about a Financial Survival Kit here.

    I strongly believe you should "Invest in Yourself." The risk of an investment is based on your knowledge or ignorance of that investment. For instance, an expert art dealer would probably be able to choose better art than I. If I tried to invest in art, it would be a stab in the dark. If you are an expert in coins, for you, investing in coins will not be as risky as investing in art. So, what a person should invest in depends on the person.

    I love real estate. If you do it right, real estate is a win win. Not only is it a great investment but it is an excellent hedge against inflation and economic uncertainty. Read how to use Real Estate to Protect Against Inflation. If you are interested in real estate, but are not an expert, become one! My favorite book to get someone started is Wall Street Journal. Complete Real-Estate Investing Guidebook.

    Gold has been used for centuries to protect against economic uncertainty and inflation. However, I have several issues with gold. It has little intrinsic value other than it's scarcity. It is super popular and as it becomes more popular will become more volatile. Plus, in the event of total economic collapse, bread will be just as valuable as gold. That doesn't mean gold is a bad investment. Just make sure you are buying it for the right reasons. Read Should I Buy Gold.

    I hope I have answered your questions, and at least given a good place to get started. Remember, there are three types of people in this world: Those who things happen too, those that watch things happen, and those that make things happen. Make it happen.

    Be Smart & Thrive.
    Financial Survivalist

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Invest in Yourself: Why I Don't Have an IRA

    Retirement is a Flawed Concept!

    We sell the best, most productive years of our life, by the hour and to the highest bidder, just in the hope that we will save enough money to allow us to spend the last years of our life doing what we really want to do? Wow, that was a long sentence. Run on maybe?

    Retirement started when older workers could no longer work because of health and age reasons. Somehow, probably thanks to socialists, over the years it has envolved into our "prime time." Now we spend the majority of our lives looking forward to the time that we will likely be in the worst physical and mental state of our entire lives. How does that make sense?

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying, "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die." Nothing of the sort. I'm just saying life is precious, and we live it in the present. It is a shame to spend it thinking and hoping for the future or the past.

    Do what you love, and love what you do!

    Have you ever notice how millionaires work until they die? If you follow your passion you will be happy. What else matters? Money? The weird part is that you are more likely to become rich doing something you love than doing something you hate. If money is your motivation you will fail. If you do it because you love it you will likely succeed.

    A 401k/IRA has never, and will never make anyone rich!

    Think about it. Have you ever heard of any multi-millionaire that can thank their 401k or IRA for all their riches? However, we still throw our money at "tax advantaged" accounts, hoping that they will make it possible for us to retire someday. We put up with a lot of problems and restrictions for a measly tax advantage that we could likely get in many other ways.

    • Limited Contributions
    • Restricted Investing Options
    • Early Withdrawal Penalties
    • Required Minimum Withdrawals
    • Future Tax Obligations
    "But tax advantaged accounts grow faster," you say. "I can put off taxes," you say. Well taxes are at historical lows and, considering government debt, will only increase. By deferring taxes you will likely pay more. Also, tax advantaged accounts grow faster only because you can defer capital gains, but there are many ways to defer capital gains. There are many alternatives to a traditional retirement account.

    The only time I EVER agree with contributing to a retirement account is to get an employer match. However, you MUST be sure that you will vest these contributions. Vesting is a legal ownership of the employer contributions. It is usually based on length of employment. If your employment is less than 5 years, you may not get to keep the employer contributions when you leave.

    Become an Expert!

    Can you make a better hamburger than McDonalds? Or a better burrito than Taco Bell? I sure can. So why should I trust them with my food? Only when I'm lazy and don't want to cook. It's the same with investing. If you can choose an investment better than the institution, why trust them with your future?

    The risk of investing is directly related to the ignorance of the investor. A random person buying a random stock or real estate property, might as well go to Vegas. When it comes to the future of my family, I don't mess around. Invest in yourself by educating yourself. Become an expert on a type of investment you like. Then you can invest like a millionaire and manage your risk.

    I Don't Have a Retirement Account

    I don't have a retirement account because I can choose an investment just as good as the professional. I was going to be a professional until I decided to do it for myself. Though a hobby of mine is equities trading, my favorite form of investment is real estate. Lookout Trump! Here I come! Real estate offers more tax advantages than any retirement account, and if I want to, I can avoid capital gains with a 1031 exchange. PLUS, live in the property for two years and sell it tax free.

    If you're average, busy, or just plain lazy, then get a retirement account. If you'll be at your job for more than 5 years, take advantage of your employer's matching. But if you believe in yourself, then invest in yourself. Follow your passion and you'll never work a day in your life. Become an expert and manage your risk. Let other people trade their best years for their twilight.

    Be Smart and Thrive

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Financial Survival Kit

    I graduated in 2009 at the peak of the financial crisis. I remember in my last semester, standing in awe as the U.S. financial system crumbled. Even though I graduated Magna Cum Laude, I quickly came to the realization that my BS in Business Finance was worthless and would only depreciate. I might as well have gotten a liberal arts degree. I knew that the financial world was changing, and it would never be the same again.

    I decided time was of the essence. I had to figure out where the world was headed, and fast. That way I could know how to take advantage of the change and ensure prosperity for my family. I began working at a Financial Planning firm and undertook a personal study of economic, financial and political history. Soon I found myself looking for ways to assure my financial survival. I ended up with what I call the Financial Survival Kit.

    The Financial Survival kit omits the traditional BOB / 72 hour kit items, and just like an emergency survival kit is not a permanent solution to life and is not an investment guide. Rather the Financial Survival Kit is a way to survive our increasingly volatile financial world.

    The Financial Survival Kit

    1. Emergency Fund: This is one of the few things I agree with Dave Ramsey on; an emergency fund of 6-12 Months expenses. Keep most of it in an online or credit union savings account, because they tend to pay higher interest rates. I use Mountain America Credit Union. They pay one of the highest interest rates for a savings account (currently .17%). Through the combination of a large branch network and a checking debit card, I can have my money in a matter of minutes.

    Because bank runs are still possible, you also want to keep at least a couple hundred for each person in your 72 hr kit. Some people feel comfortable with more. It's up to you, but make sure this is in small bills. I keep mine in junk silver. It will be accepted as US currency and or silver. However, silver is quite heavy.

    If you don't have a 6 month emergency fund, get one! Do what you need to do in order to save this money. As Dave Ramsey puts it, "Rice and Beans, Beans and Rice!" That means even if you have to eat only rice and beans for a few months, do it!

    2. Debt Free Lifestyle: Debt is enslavement. It hinders your freedom to make life decisions and inhibits your wealth building ability. For example, if you have large debt obligations, you might feel like you need a paycheck so badly that you would fear leaving a bad or abusive job. However, there is a difference between Good Debt and Bad Debt. Good debt makes you money and is usually tied to a safe and secure stream of passive income. Bad debt is an expense. It is a burden and should be avoided like the plague. An example of good debt is wisely acquired mortgages. Some examples of bad debt are; credit card debt, any type of title loan, car loans, boat loans, and pay day loans. Just remember that any debt used to consume is bad debt. If you have any bad debt, lose it! "Rice and Beans, Beans and Rice!"

    3. Food Storage: Until recently, the most likely financial crises a family would experience would be income loss or a large unexpected expense. Either way, being able to fall back on food storage can be a life line. Having food storage on hand gives you financial and emotional security. You know that when the SHTF (Shit Hit's the Fan), you can still feed your family. I recommend enough food storage to feed your family for 1year minimum. This includes toiletries and food for pets. You can start by buying a little extra of the food you keep in your pantry. About the first three months of food should be made up of food you eat every day. You can rotate through that food as you cook and prepare meals on a daily basis. The rest should be long term storage. The cheapest place to get long term food storage is at the LDS cannery. You can find your local cannery at You don't have to be LDS to get food there.

    4. Seed Bank: Though gold will have it's place, in the event of total economic collapse, food will be more valuable than gold. As well as food, non-hybrid seeds will be very valuable. A lot of companies are promoting gold to protect your wealth in the event of total economic collapse. But gold is expensive and volatile. For the average person with not a lot of cash, seeds are an excellent alternative.

    Seeds give you a source of food for future. They are not a sure thing, because some disasters will render your soil useless, but they will be seen as valuable and possibly tradable.

    5. Essential Product: In dire economic situations, from a depression to all out economic collapse, the individuals that survive financially are the entrepreneurs. Not just any entrepreneur, but ones with products that are considered necessities of life (ie food, shelter, clothing, etc). Also essential is the ability to change the price of the product along with inflation.

    I didn't have such a product, so I thought long and hard. I decided what I would do is purchase a multi-family home (shelter), and live in one of the units. If done properly, not only will the rents of the other units cover all expenses, but your rent will be paid for and you'll make a little money. In the event of economic collapse it is likely inflation will be a factor. You will be able to pay off your mortgage with inflated dollars, and maybe barter for rents if necessary. If inflation isn't a factor your food and seeds will still be worth more than gold. Have some extra of that to sell if needed to pay your mortgage. See "Real to Protection Against Inflation."

    6. Self-Reliant Living: Chances are nothing completely devastating will happen on a large scale. However, economic booms and busts are certain. One of the best ways you can protect yourself and your family is self-reliant living. If you can grow your own food, produce your own power, and purify your own water you are a long way towards prepping for anything. You also are very close to what most people consider retirement. In the post, "What is Retirement" I talk about reducing expenses to meet passive income. Doing this frees up free time and allows you to do what you want (ie retire).

    So there you have it. Your Financial Survival Kit. Remember our economic situation is ever changing, and as such this Financial Survival Kit is a constant work in progress. Just like wilderness survival, you are always improving your skills. As I do so financially, I will continue to update this page. If you have any suggestions, please email me at or comment below.

    As always, be smart and thrive.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Super Light and Easy Pack

    As I was doing research on my new tyvek bivy, I stumbled across These guys have developed a super light, super convenient backpack for short or long trips. The pack essentially takes advantage of the gear you are already carrying. By doing this you can eleminate unnecessary weight and save time packing up camp. See the pack below or go to

    ~ Gearskins ~

    Video now available - $10.00 )

    gearskin assembly animation

    A "Gearskin"
    is a harness/compression system that acts like a pack.

    It is a piece of material that is roughly the size of a ground pad, with compression straps, and harness (shoulder pads, hip belt) attached.


    By leaving your ground pad and sleeping bag inside of your shelter...
    these can be folded and the gearskin clipped around, with food and other items placed inside the fold.

    It has the ability to carry all of your present gear as you would use normally , but with the advantage of the

    "powerpac system"

    Weighs 1 to 1.5 lb.

    Adjusts from 2500-6500 cu. in.

    Custom fit shoulder straps and waist belt.

    Made from siliconized rip stop or packcloth...your choice.

    Other options available.

    Here's how it works:

    Step 1
    Lay the Gearskin open as shown
    IMGP0814 copy (3).jpg
    Step 2
    Now add your ground sheet / tarp / bivy / tent - whatever shelter you are using. In this example, we'll demonstrate a ground sheet.
    Step 3
    Place your ground pad on top (or in shelter).
    Step 4
    Now your sleeping bag.
    Step 5
    Fold the ground sheet over the sleeping bag and place your food on top.
    Step 6
    Continue folding.
    IMGP0822 copy.jpg
    Step 7
    Bring beavertail up and clip two top buckles.
    Angled Side View.IMGP0824.jpg
    Step 8
    Clip side buckles loosely and evenly at first and position gear inside properly before the final cinch.
    Step 9
    Gear can now be accessed from the top.
    Step 10
    You have successfully assembled your custom Gearskin Backpack.

    Use a packliner for additional protection of your sleeping bag. 


    Options abound, such as a variety of pockets, loops and lashings,
    Pack covers, VB liners, Waterproof stuff sacks. You name it!

    For convenience, a "gearskin"
    can be permanently or semi-permanently attached
    to existing gear.

    Prices start at $180.00.                 Contact us for a quote.

    How to order a Gearskin


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    ~Tool belts ~ Juggling equipment ~ Musical Instrument Cases ~ Flags, Banners ~ Computer cases, totes and protective covers ~

    contact us:

    ©1999-2011 The Moonbow Company 603-744-2264

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Real Estate to Protect Against Inflation

    What is going to happen to real estate as our economy unwinds? There will likely be inflation because the government has tripled our money supply. Read more about this by clicking inflation. How will inflation, unemployment,  and social unrest affect real estate?

    Traditionally, to protect against inflation an individual would invest in a physical asset with intrinsic value. I feel that real estate is an excellent choice for this. Real estate provides shelter, and no matter what the economy is like, everyone needs shelter. As inflation begins to affect the buying power of our dollar, the value of real estate in terms of dollars will increase. Also, most real estate is purchased with borrowed money. In an inflationary situation the amount of money you owe will not increase. You can pay off the loan with inflated dollars.

    So, should you invest in real estate? The biggest problem with using real estate to protect against inflation is indirect factors. In the event of inflation, the government will likely raise interest rates in an attempt to control inflation. This will make any type of new borrowing extremely expensive. The amount of real estate buyers will shrink. When there are more sellers than buyers, prices fall. So, even though the price of real estate will rise, it may not keep up with inflation.

    How can I use real estate to protect me from inflation? The key is cash flow. If you purchase a rental property that cash flows sufficiently, you can raise rents with inflation and pay off the loan with inflated rental dollars. How quickly or slowly the price of the property inflates doesn't matter, because you win three ways; 1. Pay off loan with inflated dollars. 2. You can raise rents with inflation. 3. The intrinsic value of real estate will help protect you from inflation.

    Remember, your home is NOT an investment. Even in the best market, the best "return" is not enough to offset the money you spend in the form of maintenance, taxes, interest, utilities, decorating, landscaping, and purchase. Your home is an expense and will NOT protect you from inflation. However, if you are planning on staying in your home for a long time than feel free to find a good deal and stay there. Interest rates are low and there are a lot of good deals out there. There are a few good government programs that don't need much down. Invest that money somewhere else.

    The reason why I like real estate instead of gold is because no matter what happens, I win. If the economy recovers, my property values go up. If the economy crashes my property value is protected. Either way, my tenants pay the mortgage, insurance and taxes and give me some passive income. It's a win, win, win.

    Investing in real estate is far from risk free. You can't just decide to go out and buy an investment property. I've seen plenty of people do that and loose everything. You MUST educate yourself, at least a little bit. You have to be able to recognize good deals and good properties. My favorite, all encompassing real estate book is The Wall Street Journal: Complete Real-Estate Investing Guidebook. It isn't everything you need to know, but it's a dang good start.

    Do it right, be smart, and thrive.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Why Dave Ramsey is an Epic Fail: Mortgage Fraud

    I hear people talk about Dave Ramsey like he is the smartest guy around. He actually has a lot of good things to say. I've listened to him help a lot of people get out of debt. I've heard him give a lot of good advice. He has done a lot of good. However, Dave and I differ on quite a few things.

    Tonight, on my way home from a meeting, I was listening to the "Dave Ramsey Show." Yes, I, the Financial Survivalist, listened to the Dave Ramsey show. He got a call from a guy that was underwater on an investment property. The caller asked about note acquisition. Dave then told the caller he should get a lawyer to go to the bank and act like a different buyer in order to acquire his own note from the bank at a discounted value. Basically, deceive the bank into lowering the amount of money he owes the bank.

    Especially if you are in an underwater position on your own home, you might wonder, "What's wrong with that?" Well, a loan is a legal agreement between two parties, and in general I believe you should honor your agreements. Also, this is mortgage fraud. It is using a third party to try and get out of your loan and keep the colateral.

    It's a good thing Dave advised him to get a lawyer. A good lawyer will tell him that he can't do this. A bad lawyer could get him in a lot of trouble. In fact, depending on the loan terms, this could put the caller into default and the bank could call his loan due. Then the caller could lose the property.

    Now, Dave isn't without real estate experience. He built a real estate empire and lost it all because of bad investing (see future post). As he makes apparent, he hasn't used any financing for a while, and therefor has been "out of the loop" for a while. In fact, he hasn't been up to date on the applicable laws for over 20 years! These laws have changed quite a bit in the last 20 years, especially with the recent real estate crash.

    Like I said before, Dave has a lot of good things to say. However, take his advice (and mine) with a grain of salt. Hear it, and then do your own research. Learn for yourself so you can make your own decisions. In today's financial world there is nothing that will compensate for financial ignorance. Visit our book shelf and educate yourself. It's the only way to financially thrive.

    Be smart and thrive.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Clear2Go Water Bottle And Filter Review

    When I first started back packing I used one of those old school pump filters. I did a caving trip through a major caving system in the Tetons using the same kind of pump. A little silt or separation of the the parts, and the next thing you know you have a non-functioning pump and contaminated water. It happened both times.

    Soon after I started looking for alternate ways to filter water. I quickly found the Clear2GO Water Bottle. The Clear2GO Water Bottle is a food grade sports bottle with an integrated filter. I had seen similar water bottles with filters, but most did not filter microbes sufficiently. The Clear2GO Water Bottle filters 99.9% of microbial cysts including cryptosporidium and giardia. It also filters up to 100 gallons before a filter change is necessary.

    I have used this water bottle in Canyon Lands NP, Yellowstone NP, Teton National Forest, Bear Tooth Wilderness, Wasatch Mountains, Uinta Mountains, and around town. It is always clean tasting water. I am always the first to fill up and be ready to go at the water source, and I have never experienced a clogged filter or contaminated drinking water.

    The only down side is the size of the container. If hiking through a dry or hot area you may quickly empty the 1qt water bottle. To solve this problem I have carried an additional Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantene or other soft water container. Also available is the Hydration Technology Innovations Expedition Water Filter. This is basically a water bladder with an integrated filter. It also has a sports drink option that turns dirty water into a clean sports drink. I haven't used it yet, but will post a review as soon as I do.

    As always, be smart and thrive.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Types of Shelters

    There are several different types of basic shelter. If found in a survival situation, the best type of shelter is the type that Mother Nature provides. Any type of cave or rock formation that provides a wind break and rain shed is best. By finding something created by mother nature you can save valuable calories otherwise spend constructing a shelter. Usually a complete shelter is not found and some sort of improvised shelter is made using a natural formation. has an extensive list of different types of shelters and how to build them. Complete with diagrams and directions is an excellent reference.


    When looking for a shelter site, keep in mind the type of shelter (protection) you need. However, you must also consider--
    • How much time and effort you need to build the shelter.
    • If the shelter will adequately protect you from the elements (sun, wind, rain, snow).
    • If you have the tools to build it. If not, can you make improvised tools?
    • If you have the type and amount of materials needed to build it.
    To answer these questions, you need to know how to make various types of shelters and what materials you need to make them.

    Poncho Lean-To

    It takes only a short time and minimal equipment to build this lean-to (Figure 5-1). You need a poncho, 2 to 3 meters of rope or parachute suspension line, three stakes about 30 centimeters long, and two trees or two poles 2 to 3 meters apart. Before selecting the trees you will use or the location of your poles, check the wind direction. Ensure that the back of your lean-to will be into the wind.
    To make the lean-to--
    • Tie off the hood of the poncho. Pull the drawstring tight, roll the hood longways, fold it into thirds, and tie it off with the drawstring.
    • Cut the rope in half. On one long side of the poncho, tie half of the rope to the corner grommet. Tie the other half to the other corner grommet.
    • Attach a drip stick (about a 10-centimeter stick) to each rope about 2.5 centimeters from the grommet. These drip sticks will keep rainwater from running down the ropes into the lean-to. Tying strings (about 10 centimeters long) to each grommet along the poncho's top edge will allow the water to run to and down the line without dripping into the shelter.
    • Tie the ropes about waist high on the trees (uprights). Use a round turn and two half hitches with a quick-release knot.
    • Spread the poncho and anchor it to the ground, putting sharpened sticks through the grommets and into the ground.
    If you plan to use the lean-to for more than one night, or you expect rain, make a center support for the lean-to. Make this support with a line. Attach one end of the line to the poncho hood and the other end to an overhanging branch. Make sure there is no slack in the line.
    Another method is to place a stick upright under the center of the lean-to. This method, however, will restrict your space and movements in the shelter.
    For additional protection from wind and rain, place some brush, your rucksack, or other equipment at the sides of the lean-to.
    To reduce heat loss to the ground, place some type of insulating material, such as leaves or pine needles, inside your lean-to.

    Note: When at rest, you lose as much as 80 percent of your body heat to the ground.

    To increase your security from enemy observation, lower the lean-to's silhouette by making two changes. First, secure the support lines to the trees at knee height (not at waist height) using two knee-high sticks in the two center grommets (sides of lean-to). Second, angle the poncho to the ground, securing it with sharpened sticks, as above.

    Poncho Tent

    This tent (Figure 5-2) provides a low silhouette. It also protects you from the elements on two sides. It has, however, less usable space and observation area than a lean-to, decreasing your reaction time to enemy detection. To make this tent, you need a poncho, two 1.5- to 2.5-meter ropes, six sharpened sticks about 30 centimeters long, and two trees 2 to 3 meters apart.
    To make the tent--
    • Tie off the poncho hood in the same way as the poncho lean-to.
    • Tie a 1.5- to 2.5-meter rope to the center grommet on each side of the poncho.
    • Tie the other ends of these ropes at about knee height to two trees 2 to 3 meters apart and stretch the poncho tight.
    • Draw one side of the poncho tight and secure it to the ground pushing sharpened sticks through the grommets.
    • Follow the same procedure on the other side.
    If you need a center support, use the same methods as for the poncho lean-to. Another center support is an A-frame set outside but over the center of the tent (Figure 5-3). Use two 90- to 120-centimeter-long sticks, one with a forked end, to form the A-frame. Tie the hood's drawstring to the A-frame to support the center of the tent.

    Three-Pole Parachute Tepee

    If you have a parachute and three poles and the tactical situation allows, make a parachute tepee. It is easy and takes very little time to make this tepee. It provides protection from the elements and can act as a signaling device by enhancing a small amount of light from a fire or candle. It is large enough to hold several people and their equipment and to allow sleeping, cooking, and storing firewood.
    You can make this tepee using parts of or a whole personnel main or reserve parachute canopy. If using a standard personnel parachute, you need three poles 3.5 to 4.5 meters long and about 5 centimeters in diameter.
    To make this tepee (Figure 5-4)--
    • Lay the poles on the ground and lash them together at one end.
    • Stand the framework up and spread the poles to form a tripod.
    • For more support, place additional poles against the tripod. Five or six additional poles work best, but do not lash them to the tripod.
    • Determine the wind direction and locate the entrance 90 degrees or more from the mean wind direction.
    • Lay out the parachute on the "backside" of the tripod and locate the bridle loop (nylon web loop) at the top (apex) of the canopy.
    • Place the bridle loop over the top of a free-standing pole. Then place the pole back up against the tripod so that the canopy's apex is at the same height as the lashing on the three poles.
    • Wrap the canopy around one side of the tripod. The canopy should be of double thickness, as you are wrapping an entire parachute. You need only wrap half of the tripod, as the remainder of the canopy will encircle the tripod in the opposite direction.
    • Construct the entrance by wrapping the folded edges of the canopy around two free-standing poles. You can then place the poles side by side to close the tepee's entrance.
    • Place all extra canopy underneath the tepee poles and inside to create a floor for the shelter.
    • Leave a 30- to 50-centimeter opening at the top for ventilation if you intend to have a fire inside the tepee.

    One-Pole Parachute Tepee

    You need a 14-gore section (normally) of canopy, stakes, a stout center pole, and inner core and needle to construct this tepee. You cut the suspension lines except for 40- to 45-centimeter lengths at the canopy's lower lateral band.
    To make this tepee (Figure 5-5)--
    • Select a shelter site and scribe a circle about 4 meters in diameter on the ground.
    • Stake the parachute material to the ground using the lines remaining at the lower lateral band.
    • After deciding where to place the shelter door, emplace a stake and tie the first line (from the lower lateral band) securely to it.
    • Stretch the parachute material taut to the next line, emplace a stake on the scribed line, and tie the line to it.
    • Continue the staking process until you have tied all the lines.
    • Loosely attach the top of the parachute material to the center pole with a suspension line you previously cut and, through trial and error, determine the point at which the parachute material will be pulled tight once the center pole is upright.
    • Then securely attach the material to the pole.
    • Using a suspension line (or inner core), sew the end gores together leaving 1 or 1.2 meters for a door.

    No-Pole Parachute Tepee

    You use the same materials, except for the center pole, as for the one-pole parachute tepee.
    To make this tepee (Figure 5-6)--
    • Tie a line to the top of parachute material with a previously cut suspension line.
    • Throw the line over a tree limb, and tie it to the tree trunk.
    • Starting at the opposite side from the door, emplace a stake on the scribed 3.5- to 4.3-meter circle.
    • Tie the first line on the lower lateral band.
    • Continue emplacing the stakes and tying the lines to them.
    • After staking down the material, unfasten the line tied to the tree trunk, tighten the tepee material by pulling on this line, and tie it securely to the tree trunk.

    One-Man Shelter

    A one-man shelter you can easily make using a parachute requires a tree and three poles. One pole should be about 4.5 meters long and the other two about 3 meters long.
    To make this shelter (Figure 5-7)--
    • Secure the 4.5-meter pole to the tree at about waist height.
    • Lay the two 3-meter poles on the ground on either side of and in the same direction as the 4.5-meter pole.
    • Lay the folded canopy over the 4.5 meter pole so that about the same amount of material hangs on both sides.
    • Tuck the excess material under the 3-meter poles, and spread it on the ground inside to serve as a floor.
    • Stake down or put a spreader between the two 3-meter poles at the shelter's entrance so they will not slide inward.
    • Use any excess material to cover the entrance.
    The parachute cloth makes this shelter wind resistant, and the shelter is small enough that it is easily warmed. A candle, used carefully, can keep the inside temperature comfortable. This shelter is unsatisfactory, however, when snow is falling as even a light snowfall will cave it in.

    Parachute Hammock

    You can make a hammock using 6 to 8 gores of parachute canopy and two trees about 4.5 meters apart (Figure 5-8).

    Field-Expedient Lean-To

    If you are in a wooded area and have enough natural materials, you can make a field-expedient lean-to (Figure 5-9) without the aid of tools or with only a knife. It takes longer to make this type of shelter than it does to make other types, but it will protect you from the elements.
    You will need two trees (or upright poles) about 2 meters apart; one pole about 2 meters long and 2.5 centimeters in diameter; five to eight poles about 3 meters long and 2.5 centimeters in diameter for beams; cord or vines for securing the horizontal support to the trees; and other poles, saplings, or vines to crisscross the beams.
    To make this lean-to--
    • Tie the 2-meter pole to the two trees at waist to chest height. This is the horizontal support. If a standing tree is not available, construct a biped using Y-shaped sticks or two tripods.
    • Place one end of the beams (3-meter poles) on one side of the horizontal support. As with all lean-to type shelters, be sure to place the lean-to's backside into the wind.
    • Crisscross saplings or vines on the beams.
    • Cover the framework with brush, leaves, pine needles, or grass, starting at the bottom and working your way up like shingling.
    • Place straw, leaves, pine needles, or grass inside the shelter for bedding.
    In cold weather, add to your lean-to's comfort by building a fire reflector wall (Figure 5-9). Drive four 1.5-meter-long stakes into the ground to support the wall. Stack green logs on top of one another between the support stakes. Form two rows of stacked logs to create an inner space within the wall that you can fill with dirt. This action not only strengthens the wall but makes it more heat reflective. Bind the top of the support stakes so that the green logs and dirt will stay in place.
    With just a little more effort you can have a drying rack. Cut a few 2-centimeter-diameter poles (length depends on the distance between the lean-to's horizontal support and the top of the fire reflector wall). Lay one end of the poles on the lean-to support and the other end on top of the reflector wall. Place and tie into place smaller sticks across these poles. You now have a place to dry clothes, meat, or fish.

    Swamp Bed

    In a marsh or swamp, or any area with standing water or continually wet ground, the swamp bed (Figure 5-10) keeps you out of the water. When selecting such a site, consider the weather, wind, tides, and available materials.
    To make a swamp bed--
    • Look for four trees clustered in a rectangle, or cut four poles (bamboo is ideal) and drive them firmly into the ground so they form a rectangle. They should be far enough apart and strong enough to support your height and weight, to include equipment.
    • Cut two poles that span the width of the rectangle. They, too, must be strong enough to support your weight.
    • Secure these two poles to the trees (or poles). Be sure they are high enough above the ground or water to allow for tides and high water.
    • Cut additional poles that span the rectangle's length. Lay them across the two side poles, and secure them.
    • Cover the top of the bed frame with broad leaves or grass to form a soft sleeping surface.
    • Build a fire pad by laying clay, silt, or mud on one comer of the swamp bed and allow it to dry.
    Another shelter designed to get you above and out of the water or wet ground uses the same rectangular configuration as the swamp bed. You very simply lay sticks and branches lengthwise on the inside of the trees (or poles) until there is enough material to raise the sleeping surface above the water level.

    Natural Shelters

    Do not overlook natural formations that provide shelter. Examples are caves, rocky crevices, clumps of bushes, small depressions, large rocks on leeward sides of hills, large trees with low-hanging limbs, and fallen trees with thick branches. However, when selecting a natural formation--
    • Stay away from low ground such as ravines, narrow valleys, or creek beds. Low areas collect the heavy cold air at night and are therefore colder than the surrounding high ground. Thick, brushy, low ground also harbors more insects.
    • Check for poisonous snakes, ticks, mites, scorpions, and stinging ants.
    • Look for loose rocks, dead limbs, coconuts, or other natural growth than could fall on your shelter.

    Debris Hut

    For warmth and ease of construction, this shelter is one of the best. When shelter is essential to survival, build this shelter.
    To make a debris hut (Figure 5-11)--
    • Build it by making a tripod with two short stakes and a long ridgepole or by placing one end of a long ridgepole on top of a sturdy base.
    • Secure the ridgepole (pole running the length of the shelter) using the tripod method or by anchoring it to a tree at about waist height.
    • Prop large sticks along both sides of the ridgepole to create a wedge-shaped ribbing effect. Ensure the ribbing is wide enough to accommodate your body and steep enough to shed moisture.
    • Place finer sticks and brush crosswise on the ribbing. These form a latticework that will keep the insulating material (grass, pine needles, leaves) from falling through the ribbing into the sleeping area.
    • Add light, dry, if possible, soft debris over the ribbing until the insulating material is at least 1 meter thick--the thicker the better.
    • Place a 30-centimeter layer of insulating material inside the shelter.
    • At the entrance, pile insulating material that you can drag to you once inside the shelter to close the entrance or build a door.
    • As a final step in constructing this shelter, add shingling material or branches on top of the debris layer to prevent the insulating material from blowing away in a storm.

    Tree-Pit Snow Shelter

    If you are in a cold, snow-covered area where evergreen trees grow and you have a digging tool, you can make a tree-pit shelter (Figure 5-12).
    To make this shelter--
    • Find a tree with bushy branches that provides overhead cover.
    • Dig out the snow around the tree trunk until you reach the depth and diameter you desire, or until you reach the ground.
    • Pack the snow around the top and the inside of the hole to provide support.
    • Find and cut other evergreen boughs. Place them over the top of the pit to give you additional overhead cover. Place evergreen boughs in the bottom of the pit for insulation.
    See Chapter 15 for other arctic or cold weather shelters.

    Beach Shade Shelter

    This shelter protects you from the sun, wind, rain, and heat. It is easy to make using natural materials.
    To make this shelter (Figure 5-13)--
    • Find and collect driftwood or other natural material to use as support beams and as a digging tool.
    • Select a site that is above the high water mark.
    • Scrape or dig out a trench running north to south so that it receives the least amount of sunlight. Make the trench long and wide enough for you to lie down comfortably.
    • Mound soil on three sides of the trench. The higher the mound, the more space inside the shelter.
    • Lay support beams (driftwood or other natural material) that span the trench on top of the mound to form the framework for a roof.
    • Enlarge the shelter's entrance by digging out more sand in front of it.
    • Use natural materials such as grass or leaves to form a bed inside the shelter.

    Desert Shelters

    In an arid environment, consider the time, effort, and material needed to make a shelter. If you have material such as a poncho, canvas, or a parachute, use it along with such terrain features as rock outcropping, mounds of sand, or a depression between dunes or rocks to make your shelter.
    Using rock outcroppings--
    • Anchor one end of your poncho (canvas, parachute, or other material) on the edge of the outcrop using rocks or other weights.
    • Extend and anchor the other end of the poncho so it provides the best possible shade.
    In a sandy area--
    • Build a mound of sand or use the side of a sand dune for one side of the shelter.
    • Anchor one end of the material on top of the mound using sand or other weights.
    • Extend and anchor the other end of the material so it provides the best possible shade.

    Note: If you have enough material, fold it in half and form a 30-centimeter to 45-centimeter airspace between the two halves. This airspace will reduce the temperature under the shelter.

    A belowground shelter (Figure 5-14) can reduce the midday heat as much as 16 to 22 degrees C (30 to 40 degrees F). Building it, however, requires more time and effort than for other shelters. Since your physical effort will make you sweat more and increase dehydration, construct it before the heat of the day.
    To make this shelter--
    • Find a low spot or depression between dunes or rocks. If necessary, dig a trench 45 to 60 centimeters deep and long and wide enough for you to lie in comfortably.
    • Pile the sand you take from the trench to form a mound around three sides.
    • On the open end of the trench, dig out more sand so you can get in and out of your shelter easily.
    • Cover the trench with your material.
    • Secure the material in place using sand, rocks, or other weights.
    If you have extra material, you can further decrease the midday temperature in the trench by securing the material 30 to 45 centimeters above the other cover. This layering of the material will reduce the inside temperature 11 to 22 degrees C (20 to 40 degrees F).
    Another type of belowground shade shelter is of similar construction, except all sides are open to air currents and circulation. For maximum protection, you need a minimum of two layers of parachute material (Figure 5-15). White is the best color to reflect heat; the innermost layer should be of darker material.