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Best Handheld Ham Radio for Survival in 2021: Expert Analysis



Communication is critical.  In an emergency, communication is even more critical. Area-wide disasters can cripple our ability to communicate.  Recent events show us how quickly we can lose cell phone service, the internet, and even traditional telephone service.  Maintaining communication with your family and friends must be a priority in these kinds of circumstances.

Best Survival Handheld Ham Radio

Ham, or Amateur Radio, can provide the best and most reliable communication in the event of an area-wide disaster. Handheld Ham radios are ideal for this purpose.  Handheld HAM radios are battery-operated, free from wires, and other supporting systems.

Handheld radios don’t need cell phone towers or internet providers. A handheld HAM radio can keep you in touch at the press of a button.

Before diving deep, here is a summary of our top picks. We spent countless hours narrowing down this list.

#1 Radio


What is a Handheld Ham Radio?

Ham radio, properly known as Amateur Radio, refers to the use of a specific range of frequencies set aside by the International Telecommunications Union and regulated in the United States by the Federal Communications Commission.

amateur ham radio

The range of frequencies, or the frequency spectrum that is
allocated to Ham radio operators stretched from the high frequencies to the
ultra-high frequency bands giving Ham operators a wide range of
capabilities.  A properly equipment Ham
operator can talk across town, across the country, or across the oceans.

These capabilities make handheld radios operating in the Ham
radio frequencies a perfect choice for anyone preparing for an emergency.  I have been a licensed Ham radio operator for
many years.  I was drawn to Ham radio
because I wanted to be able to stay in touch no matter what the

How I Choose a Handheld Ham Radio for Survival

I base my choices on my expectations that, at some point,
the handheld radio may be my only source of information and communication.   I look for several features in any handheld
radio I put into my bugout bag, my get home bag, or for my everyday carry.   Yes, I do try and carry a handheld Ham radio
with me.  You never know when you may
need it.

Rugged and durable – I carry a handheld radio every day.  It goes in my EDC bag, briefcase or backpack.  That means it takes some abuse and it needs to be able to withstand that kind of wear and tear and operate consistently. 

Easy to use – Many handheld Ham radios on the market are loaded with extra features that you won’t ever use in an emergency.  These extra features add cost and can decrease battery runtime significantly.  The more features you add, the more complicated it gets to operate the radio.  In an emergency, I want the easiest to use handheld Ham radio I can find.

Dual-Band Capability – Handheld Ham radios are designed to work in the UHF and VHF bands.  Any radio that goes into my emergency kits must operate on both bands.  Each band has capabilities that make it preferred under certain conditions.  It is important to have the option to switch frequency bands when necessary.

Emergency Frequency monitoring – The FCC has set aside certain bands and frequencies that are used by government agencies for emergency broadcasts.  The best known of these is the NOAA weather frequencies.  I want my emergency handheld Ham radio to be able to receive these broadcasts.

Accessories – There are certain accessories that I want for any handheld Ham radio I put into my kit.  At the bare minimum, I want a spare battery.  I also look for charging adapters that will let me recharge batteries under emergency circumstances such as an adapter for a car data power port or solar.

Cost – Last on my list is cost.  Budget is always a consideration for most of us.  I look for the best balance of features and cost that I can find.  Fortunately, in the past few years, the cost of handheld Ham radios has come down drastically, and the quality of these cheaper radios has increased dramatically.

Best Survival Ham Radios for Preppers: My Top 5 Picks

There are hundreds of handheld Ham radios on the
market.  A quick search on Google or on
Amazon returns a huge number of brands, many with what are obviously of Chinese
origin.  There are a few caveats about
buying these radios.

  • Check the shipping point – Many of the
    handheld ham radios being sold on Amazon are shipped from China.  This can add weeks to getting your
    radio.  More importantly, it makes
    getting service on the radio almost impossible. 
    Buy from a dealer who warehouses the radios in the US, ships from a US
    location, and is reachable if a problem arises.
  • Its what’s inside the case that matters – Many
    of the radios being sold on Amazon and other places are the same radio with a
    slightly different case and faceplate.  I
    have found when disassembling some of these different brand name radios that
    they are identical under the skin. 
    Buying from a known reputable firm is your best method of getting what
    you pay for.
  • Make sure your radio is FCC approved. – All
    Ham radios approved for us in the United States will have, and FCC imprint on
    the packaging, printed in the user manual, and a sticker attached somewhere on
    the radio indicating that it has passed the FCC inspection. 

With those cautions out of the way, let’s look at my choices for the best handheld HAM radios for survival situations.

1. Best Handheld Ham Radio For Survival (Overall) – BaoFeng BF-F8HP Review

BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz...

This is my go-to radio for everyday carry.  One of these goes in my day bag when I leave
the house.  The get home bags in our
vehicles are all equipped with a BaoFeng BF-8HP.  I bought my first BaoFeng radio when my store
was open, and it was my first Ham radio. 
I upgraded each time BaoFeng released a newer and better model.

The BaoFeng is an 8-watt handheld Ham radio on VHF, drops to 7-watts on UHF (read about VHF vs UHF here).  Most other handhelds only produce 4 watts of output power.  The frequency range of the BF-F8HP covers the UHF and VHF frequencies.  The emergency bands are also available for monitoring as well as the frequencies used by the sport type walkie-talkies in the GMRS and MURS frequency ranges. 

You can also tune in your favorite FM radio station.  This may seem strange, but remember that the
emergency planners in most cities and states will rely on FM broadcasters to
deliver emergency information.  This can
be an asset.

The features on the BaoFeng BF-F8HP include:

  • 8 watts of output power
  • Hardened case
  • V-85 high-gain antenna included
  • Three power settings enable battery saving for
    extended run time
  • FM Frequencies (commercial radio, receive only)
  • VHF Frequencies (receive and transmit)
  • UHF Frequencies (receive and transmit)
  • Narrow/Broadband switchable
  • Computer programmable
  • Wide range of accessories available

One of my favorite things about the BaoFeng radios is the
huge number of accessories that are readily available.   You can easily source extra batteries, a
variety of adapters to charge the batteries from any power source, headset and
microphones, upgraded antennas, carrying cases, and much more. 


  • Most affordable radio with these kinds of
  • Good battery life
  • Relatively easy to program
  • Two-channel monitoring capability
  • FM receiver built-in


  • The programming cable is not included
  • Not waterproof

Last update on 2023-05-30 at 01:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For more information, read our detailed hands-on review of the Baofeng UV-5R vs BF-F8HP radios.

2. Runner Up – Yaesu FT-65R Review

Yaesu Original FT-65 FT-65R 144/440 Dual-Band Rugged & Compact Handheld...

Yaesu is one of the best-known brands in the Ham radio world, so it is no surprise that their FT-65R handheld Ham radio comes in at the runner up spot on my list.  I have used the FT-65R during disaster drills and other evolutions, and I have been impressed with the operation of this little radio. 

The Yaesu FT-65R has almost all the features of the BaoFeng BF-F8HT, with exception of it’s power being 5 watts and a limited 200 channels.  The Yaesu doesn’t include the FM receiver into their radio.  This was the biggest factor in my decision to make the Yaesu the runner up instead of my top pick for best overall survival handheld Ham radio.

Yaesu doesn’t skimp on quality or features.  Buying a brand name can be a big part of a
purchase decision for some people and you won’t go wrong choosing a Yaesu
radio.  A look at the features included
with the Yaesu FT-65R should convince you.

  • Aluminum case
  • Water-resistant
  • 5 watts of output power
  • Three available power settings
  • Great battery run time
  • Dual-frequency operation covers UHF and VHF
  • 1,000 memory channels
  • Emergency frequency receiver operation

I do like the rugged aluminum case on the FT-65R.  It is certainly more durable than radios with
plastic cases.  On the other hand, I have
never cracked or broken one of my handheld Ham radios with a plastic case.


  • Great display that is easy to read even in
  • Locking mode prevents inadvertent frequency
  • Easy to program
  • Accessible and simple controls and knobs


  • Doesn’t include the programming cable
  • The menu structure can be hard to navigate and understand
  • Only show (and listen to) one VFO or frequency at a time (e.g., can’t listen to weather on one channel and your frequency on another, only one at a time)

Last update on 2023-05-30 at 01:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Best Digital Handheld Ham Radio – TYT MD-UV 380 Review

TYT MD-UV 380 Review

TYT has established itself as a real competitor in the
handheld and mobile Ham radio markets. 
TYT first came to my attention with their mobile line of radios, and I
mounted a TYT-9800 tri-band radio in one of my vehicles for many years.   It proved to be tough and reliable.  But that is a review for another time.

The TYT-MD-UV 380 is a full-featured handheld Ham radio plus
it includes many of the new digital ham radio features that are becoming more
and more popular among Ham radio operators. 
If you must have DMR digital capability, this is probably the radio you
should consider for your survival handheld radio needs.

DMR is an acronym for Digital Mobil Radio.  This technology harnesses the latest
innovations in combining ham radio technology with the internet.  When you have access to a DMR repeater
station, you can communicate with other DMR radios around the world.  Your radio transmission is converted to
digital signals and sent over the internet to all the other DMR stations in the
net, where it is rebroadcast over the radio.

This is a great technology in a lot of ways, but in a true emergency,
this technology doesn’t gain you much, especially if the internet is down or
you don’t have access to a DMR repeater. 
However, the TYT MD-UV 380 is certainly well worth a place on our
list.  Digital capability, along with a
full feature list, gets the TYT MD-UV 380 a place on our list as the Best
Digital Survival Handheld Ham Radio.

  • Digital and analog Combined
  • 3000 programmable channels and up to 100,000
  • Firmware upgradeable
  • FCC Certified
  • 5 watts of output power
  • Long-lasting 2000mAh battery
  • Easy operation
  • High-resolution screen

The other major downside to the TYT MD-UV 380 is it is a single frequency radio.  It only operates in the 400-470mHz range limiting its usefulness in an emergency, in my opinion.

Also, note that there are multiple digital radio formats available in the market that don’t easily talk to one another. So if one user is using a MotoTrbo type radio (be it TYT) and someone else in your group is using D-Star digital, they cannot talk to one another using those digital formats.


  • Digital and analog operations
  • Includes the programming cable and software
  • Long battery life and runtime
  • Easy to see screen in all light conditions


  • Single-frequency operation
  • The programming software can be confusing and
    hard to use.

Last update on 2023-05-30 at 03:33 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Best Ultimate Handheld Ham Radio – Kenwood TH-d74A Review

Kenwood Original TH-D74A 144/220/430 MHz Triband with Ultimate in APRS and...

Kenwood is one of my favorite Ham radio brands.  Their equipment is hard to beat in any of the
many configurations available.  I have a
Kenwood high-frequency radio in my Ham station and use it regularly. The
quality of the handheld Ham radios doesn’t suffer either.

The Kenwood TH-d74A is our premium pick.  I will warn you before you go and check
prices that this is not a cheap radio. 
It doesn’t even qualify as a moderately priced radio.  However, if you want a radio that is loaded
with features that you don’t normally find in a handheld Ham radio, this is the
pick you want.

Not only do you get digital and analog radio functions
including compatibility with the D-Star digital radio system, but the Kenwood
TH-d74A also has a built-in GPS position receiver that allows you to use APRS,
the advance packet reporting system, to send location information automatically
to other radios equipped with this feature. 
The feature list continues with:

  • SiRFstar III GPS receiver
  • GPS logger functions
  • Built-in TNC means direct GPS communications
    with no external or extra equipment needed
  • Stand-alone digipeater functions
  • Computer programmable
  • MIL-STD810 weatherproofing
  • High capacity battery for long operation
  • Multiple power modes
  • Dual receive function
  • 1000 memory channels
  • Nine scan modes

This is just a shortlist of the vast array of features and
capabilities of this radio.  The Kenwood
TH-d74A is on my personal wish list to add to my collection of Ham radios.  It is, without a doubt, my choice as the Best
Ultimate Survival Handheld Ham Radio.


  • Too many features to list adequately.  This is a do it all handheld Ham radio
  • Digital and analog operation
  • GPS, APRS, D-Star function built-in
  • Easy to navigate menu structure
  • Great programming software


  • Complicated and has a steep learning curve
  • The manual that is included is not well written

Last update on 2023-05-30 at 03:33 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Best Budget Handheld Ham Radio – BaoFeng UV-5R Review

Baofeng UV-5R Two Way Radio Dual Band 144-148/420-450Mhz Walkie Talkie...

Want a budget handheld Ham radio without a budget list of
features.   To be honest, this is
probably my favorite handheld Ham radio.  
There are 8 of them sitting in a rack charger at the back of my
office.  In an emergency, I can hand them
out to friends and neighbors so I can keep the lines of communications open.

The budge price of these little radios makes that possible.  There is no cheaper way to get into a handheld Ham radio than the BaoFeng UV-5R.  Just because they are cheap doesn’t mean you have to give up features, reliability, or capability.

  • 128 programmable channels
  • Dual-frequency operation
  • Dual display
  • Scan and monitor functions
  • FM radio receiver
  • Flashlight
  • Emergency locator sound
  • High and low power operation
  • Wide and narrowband operation
  • Computer programmable
  • Wide array of accessories
  • Optional larger battery for longer runtimes

These are great radios. 
If you are on a budget but want to add emergency Ham radio capabilities
to your kit, you can’t go wrong with the BaoFeng UV-5R.

NOTE:   If you opt for the UV-5R, I suggest you also purchase at least one of the extended batteries.  You can find them on Amazon here.


  • Metal case for durability
  • Color Display for easy reading
  • Built-in flashlight is handy
  • Perfect beginning Ham radio


  • The programming cable is not included
  • The buttons on the keypad are small and hard to
    find with gloves on.

Last update on 2023-05-30 at 05:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For more information, read our detailed hands-on review of the Baofeng UV-5R vs BF-F8HP radios.

Open Questions About Ham Radios

Do I need a License to Operate a Handheld Ham Radio?

Yes.  You are required to get a license to operate a Ham radio.  For the basic operation of the radios I have reviewed, you need at least a Technician license.  The new licensing rules make it easy for anyone to get into the Ham radio world. 

For more information about getting an Amateur Radio License, check out this website. Also, check out this YouTube channel for various videos on the topic.

Why can’t I use the radios sold at the big sporting goods stores?

The walkie-talkies sold at the big sporting goods stores and
other retailers are not meant for true emergency communications.  These lower power (often only 2 or 3 watts)
operate in a completely different range of frequencies that limits their reach
sometimes to less than half a mile. 
These types of radios are meant for very short-range casual use by
hikers, campers, and other outdoor uses.

Why do I need a license?  My friend told me that in an emergency, it is legal to operate a Ham radio with one.

It’s true.  The FCC
regulations have a provision that anyone can use a Ham radio in an emergency
without a license.  The key here is the emergency.  To learn and understand how to operate your
radio properly, you need to practice and train. 
To operate that radio legally during practice and training, you need the

How far will a handheld ham radio transmit?

When you buy a handheld ham radio, the range of transmission you are told that the radio unit has is merely it’s “theoretical range”.

This theoretical range is best described as an equation, which goes as follows:
D = √H x 1.415
Where D is the distance to the horizon in miles and H is the height of your antenna in feet.

Most handheld ham radios typically have a theoretical range of between 2 and 18 miles.

But to be honest, it’s quite rare to get such good conditions that you can actually transmit on your handheld radio through the full theoretical range.

In addition to depending on the height of your antenna, the real range of transmission also depends on the terrain around you and whether there are any obstacles, and so on.

In order to maximize the range of your handheld ham radio, you need to operate it on the frequency that’s most appropriate for your location. VHF is better over longer distances.

Do you need a license for a handheld ham radio?

The short answer is yes. You do need a license for a handheld ham radio…

The good news is that getting a ham radio license is not that difficult. To get a ham radio license all you will need to do is to pass the required exam.

Unfortunately you can’t take the exam online, and you will have to attend in person. The exam fee is easily affordable, but the cost for the Technician class license itself is a little more. You will also have to consider the cost of the learning materials.

In order to pass the ham radio operator exam you have to answer a total of 35 questions on radio theory, regulations and operating practices.

If you were to use a ham radio without a license you will receive a cease-and-desist letter demanding that you stop using the radios illegally. And if you don’t respond in a timely manner, you could be fined.

Can a ham radio be traced?

The short answer to this question is Yes…

Your transmission signal can be traced by a method referred to in the amateur radio world as Direction Finding, or DF for short. 

People often make a game of tracking ham radio signals, and they call it “fox hunting”. The “fox” hides their transmitter and transmits at certain intervals. The hunters then use different methods to trace a signal to its source. 

Although it’s just a game, some preppers who own ham radios argue that not only is it fun, but it also prepares you for when someone is jamming a frequency.

Basically anyone determined enough to triangulate your signal and find you, can.

Besides, in the US, your ham radio license information is public record. People find you in the FCC database and get your address.

That said, You’re probably much more likely to get ‘tracked down’ by someone you cut off in traffic than someone who heard you say something on the radio.

Do police use ham radios?

The short answer to this question is Yes…

The vast majority of US police agencies still use handheld ham radios. Police broadcast on frequencies in the UHF (ultra high frequency) band, and it’s perfectly legally allowed to listen to unencrypted transmissions in these bands. So you can listen to as much police communication via ham radio as you like without getting a warning or a fine.

However, transmitting messages on a ham radio is illegal if you don’t have a licence, as we covered earlier.

In an immediate emergency however, there is an exception and you are allowed to transmit messages on the designated emergency channels, UHF channels 5 and 35. However this is only deemed acceptable when no other communication method is available and attempts to get help via proper ham bands have failed.

Ham radios are not just used by the police, an array of “First Responders” also communicate over certain ham radio frequencies. These include firefighters and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers.

Can I use a ham radio as a walkie talkie?

The short answer is Yes…

You certainly can use certain handheld ham radios as a walkie talkie, and many of them are designed for that very purpose. But you have to get the right sort. You will need to look for a two way handheld ham radio, and ideally buy them as a pack of two.

Here’s a link to a very good pair: Baofeng Radio Tri-Band Walkie Talkies Ham CB Portable Two Way Radio with Dual Band Antenna.

It comes from one of the top brands in the industry, and is very easy to use. Each device comes with 2 antennas and you simply choose the one which best suits the frequency at which you want to send and receive messages.

Each device can double as a flashlight, and they also come with several accessories, such as belt clips and ear pieces. And it’s all backed by a 3-month warranty.

Other Alternative Radio Options

HAM radios not ideal for you? Let’s discuss some alternatives.

The three most readily available radio options are GMRS or FRS radios, CB radios, and of course ham radio as we covered.


These survival radios are good for short distances with little terrain interference. Used as pagers/communicators inside a building or a camp, GMRS/FRS radios offer low-cost & convenience. Small and easy to carry, GMRS/FRS radio family biggest drawback is their range and their battery life.

Some of the manufacturers report that these survival radios will work up to 35 miles, but that is 35 miles over a flat surface with no interference.  Once you start putting trees, hills, houses, etc in the way the range drops dramatically.  While fine as a short range group communications tool, they lack the ability of medium or long range communications.


CB radios

Around for several years as an offshoot of Ham Radio, CB does not require a license and unlike amateur radio, it may be used for business as well as personal communications.  Enjoying a boom in the mid-seventies and are readily available today, CB radios are still the main short-range communications choice for truckers.

You can find CB’s fairly cheaply at yard sales, craigslist, eBay, and flea markets.  Mandated by regulation as a low power device, the range on these radios is much greater when combined with a signal amplifier, or “Linear” Amp.  It is not advocated using a linear amp, however for the most part, enforcement of the restrictions are few and often only when an illegal stations signal interferes with other communication methods.

Long-distance communication is possible when atmospheric conditions permit.  CB radios come in many different forms, ranging from legal 40 channel/4 watt models to a grey-area type of “export radio”, that skirts legality by being built for ham radio use, but are easily modified for the CB band. Operating within the 10-12 Meter HF Band, CB radios need a longer antenna than UHF/VHF GMRS/FRS radios.

Things to Keep In Mind About Communication

Text Messaging

It has been reported that during Hurricane Katrina, the only reliable way to communicate was by Text Messaging.  This is a good piece of information to know if you are caught off guard in the next crisis.  While everyone else is desperately trying to call, you might be able to get your messages through via text.  I would recommend planning as if Text Messaging will not work and if the crisis spills into multiple weeks you can bet that the service will no longer work at some point but this is still good information to know.

EMP Blast/Solar Event Considerations (Electromagnetic Pulse)


Because we are talking about electronics and two of the scenarios which many people plan for is an EMP type blast or the more likely scenario, a Solar Storm Event like the one that took place in 1859 (Carrington Event).  Because these threats are very real, you should try to store your critical electronics in a protective case.  One of the ways you can protect yourself from this scenario is by storing your survival radios and critical electronics in a Faraday cage.  While we are not going to go into “How to Build a Faraday Cage” in this article, I can assure you that there are a lot of examples out there, such as this one:

Getting On The Air

Staying in touch with family and friends when every other form of communication is unavailable is a situation that requires planning and preparation.  Having the equipment and the knowledge to make that communications work is part of being prepared. For me, the best way for anyone to begin that preparation is to purchase the right radio, get the proper license, and then train with that radio on a regular basis.

The BaoFeng BF-F8HP will get you the most features I feel are important in a survival handheld HAM radio at the best possible price.  This little radio is great for the beginner and has a place with the most experienced amateur radio operator.

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people’s lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.

Source link: by Dennis Howard at

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Igniting Hope in Damp Desolation: Mastering Fire Starting in Wet Conditions



man warms himself by the fire in the forest, rain

Imagine being stuck in the wilderness. Your surroundings are damp and cold… and you have no heat source. These are the times when mastering the art of starting a fire isn’t a “nice to have”… it can make all the difference between life and death

It doesn’t matter if you’re a camper, a hiker or getting ready for the end of the world as we know it. Understanding how to get a fire starting in wet conditions is absolutely crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we will explain the principles involved in getting a fire started in even the most damp conditions.

Why You Need To Know How To Light A Fire In Damp Conditions

Fire serves multiple roles in the outdoors. It provides warmth, cooks your food, boils your water and even provides you with comfort and protection. Fire is always a survival necessity, but this becomes a serious challenge in wet conditions, be it rain, snow, or even high humidity.

Modern Need's Emergency Sleeping Bag

Preparation Is The Key to Success

Before getting into the meat of specific techniques, it’s crucial to prepare properly for fire starting in damp conditions. Here are some essential steps to follow:

You Need To Have A Fire Kit

Reliable fire kits are not expensive, so you should invest in a good one, rather than just the cheapest one you find. A good fire kit will include waterproof matches, fire starters, a butane lighter, and dry tinder. Store them in a waterproof container or a sealed plastic bag inside your bugout bag or hiking backpack.

Tinder and Kindling

Gather and prepare your dry tinder and kindling in advance. It’s one less thing you have to do to stress yourself out in a survival situation. Good tinder and kindling includes dry leaves, birch bark, small twigs, or wood shavings. Keep them in a waterproof bag.

Shelter Building

Setting up a shelter or even using a tarp to protect your fire-starting area from rain or snow can be a real game changer when it comes to not only making a fire, but ensuring that your fire stays lit. 

Techniques for Starting A Fire in Wet Conditions

There are a number of effective techniques for getting a fire started in less than ideal conditions. The more tools you have at your disposal, the more options you can have when it comes to getting your fire started, staying warm and cooking food. 

Waterproof Matches

Waterproof matches are one of the best things you can have in wet conditions. These matches will light even when wet and can be an excellent backup source of fire even when they’re not. However, it’s essential to store them in a waterproof container to prevent accidental exposure to moisture. There’s only so much moistures the matches can stand before they don’t work. 

Modern Need's Emergency Sleeping Bag

Ferrocerium Rod

A ferrocerium rod, also known as a firesteel or ferro rod, is much more durable than waterproof matches and a highly reliable fire starter. Scrape the rod with your pocket knife or a special striker to create sparks. This can be used to ignite your tinder.

Fire Piston

A fire piston is less common than some of these other options, but a highly effective tool for starting fires when it’s damp. The fire pistol rapidly compresses air, igniting the tinder inside the piston’s chamber. This method can be used successfully even in wet conditions if you have a dry tinder source to get things started

Solar Fire Starting

On a sunny days, you can use a magnifying glass or even a clear plastic bag filled with water to concentrate sunlight onto your tinder. Again, you’re going to need the sun for this and it helps if it’s directly overhead. 

Fire Plough and Fire Saw

The fire plough and fire saw are primitive methods for starting a fire that work just as well as they did thousands of years ago. The fire saw and plough work together to create friction between two pieces of wood, which  generates intense heat. These methods don’t work as well in damp conditions, but if you prepare your dry tinder properly, they can still work.

Fire From Electricity

If you have no other options, you can attempt to generate fire using a battery and steel wool. Touch the battery terminals to the steel wool, which can ignite and can be used to light dry tinder. Exercise extreme caution when using this method. 

How To Build A Fire In Damp Conditions

Regardless of how you start the fire, the key to success is building and sustaining the fire. Here are some effective techniques for getting a fire going and keeping it going under wet conditions:

Teepee Fire

The teepee fire is the classic method for arranging kindling and fuelwood. Arrange your fuel in a cone or teepee shape. This structure allows for proper airflow, which dries out damp wood more efficiently.

Lean-To Fire

The lean-to fire places a long piece of kindling against a larger piece of fuelwood, which creates a sheltered space under itself. This structure helps protect the fire underneath from moisture and rain, just as a lean-to protects people inside from the elements.

Modern Need's Emergency Sleeping Bag

Upside-Down Fire

An upside-down fire is also known as a “self-feeding fire,” which stacks the largest fuelwood at the bottom, with progressively smaller pieces on top, ending with the tinder on top of the kindling. This method prevents the fire from being smothered by damp or wet fuelwood.

Platform Fire

A platform fire is built on a flat, elevated surface preventing the fire from sitting in water or on the damp ground. Rocks or logs can be used as a base for your fire.

In damp or wet conditions, fire starting can be a daunting task, but is possible. Using the right techniques, tools, and general preparedness, you can ignite that crucial flame. It doesn’t matter you’re camping, hiking, or facing down the end of the world as we know it; understanding how to start a fire in adverse weather can save your life. Hone your fire-starting skills before you have to. This will ensure they’re at your disposal when the time comes. 

Have you ever had to light a fire in damp conditions? What methods were most effective for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Food, Water and Medicine: Long-Haul Survival Prepping For The Whole Family



A disaster supply kit

No one wants to think about it… but modern civilization is built on a flimsy foundation that could come crashing down at any moment. 

Think about it: The power grid is extremely fragile. North Korea’s nukes aren’t for taking out cities. They’re for taking out our power grid with an EMP. What’s more, sophisticated hackers already have access to the American power grid… and can shut it off at a moment of their choosing.

Speaking of nukes, the international situation gets more and more tense with each passing week. The Russo-Ukraine War could easily spill over into a neighboring NATO nation, triggering a response from the nuclear-armed powers of NATO. Non-state actors are always in pursuit of nuclear weapons and it’s only a matter of time until they get them. 

Civil unrest is another strong candidate for collapse, alongside its close cousin economic meltdown. It doesn’t matter which side of the political fence you fall on, the writing is on the wall: America is more polarized than ever and our currency is rapidly inflating thanks to the unprecedented money printing that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. This sets the stage for a perfect storm of civil unrest and economic collapse. 

We’re not saying any of this to scare you. In fact, nothing would make us happier than for you to live a happy and prosperous life with your family with absolutely no collapses, calamities or catastrophes to deal with. 

That said, however, it’s much wiser to be prepared for a disaster that never happens than it is to be totally unprepared when the SHTF. 

To that end, you’ve got three things at the very least that it’s absolutely essential to stockpile, whether you’re worried about the lights going off for a couple weeks or the rest of your life: food, water and medicine. 

How Much Water Does My Family Need?

Before you even start thinking about food, you need to think about water. You can last a lot longer without food than you can without water. What’s more, water is probably going to provide challenges you haven’t properly considered even if you’ve done a bit of research into the topic of how to survive a major natural disaster. 

The general guideline for water is one gallon per person per day. This includes drinking water as well as cleaning water, including personal hygiene and things like doing the dishes. 

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However, this is not an adequate answer because if you’re subsisting on a lot of dehydrated food, you’re also going to need water for cooking with. So do the math on how many people there are in your family times how many packets of dehydrated food you’re each going to eat in a day and add that to the gallon of water per person.

Just knowing how much water you need isn’t nearly enough, however. That’s because water is extremely bulky and heavy. Stockpiling water isn’t an effective solution for getting your water needs met. Even if you have a massive three car garage and use it to store absolutely nothing but water from the floor to the ceiling, you’re eventually going to run out of water in the event of a long-term collapse. 

So where are you going to get water from?

We’ve got some bad news about that: There’s a very good chance that the local rivers and streams aren’t going to be a viable source of clean water in the event of a total collapse. That’s because when the power grid goes off, it’s not just the water pumps that stop working. It’s also the water treatment centers and sewage systems. When this happens, the sewage that you mostly forget about the second that you flush the toilet is going to start backing up into your home, but also into those rivers and streams, making the water undrinkable. 

It’s nasty to think about, but it’s a contingency that you must be aware of, because sewage will not just be gross and smelly, it will also contain toxic gasses that can kill you and your family. 

So the rivers and streams are off limits. What are you supposed to drink, then? There are two main options for making sure you and everyone else in your family has enough water to drink. 

  • Personal Filtration Systems: Some of these are no bigger than a straw, while others are more robust. You can learn how to DIY a water filtration system if you want – and frankly, that’s an excellent skill to have. A better alternative, however, is just buying one, given how inexpensive and readily available such supplies are these days. 
  • Personal Well: You’d be surprised how close you are to the ground water depending on where you live. That water under the ground will need to be cleaned, treated and filtered, but it also is right there under your home, saving you a potentially dangerous trip somewhere to get water. Use a hand pump system or have some kind of backup power supply that’s not reliant on the power grid to get the water out of the ground. 
  • Water Purification Tablets: Water purification tablets can be purchased on Amazon or down at the local Walmart. They can take what would normally be toxic, fetid water and make it into something drinkable for you and your family – and it takes up way less space than buckets of water. 

Water is arguably the most challenging part of survival when it comes to a post-collapse scenario. In addition to having a source, you also need a method for purification. It’s difficult to store and you’ll run through it a lot faster than you think.

How Much Food Does My Family Need?

Food is the next layer on your survival pyramid. Technically you can go about three weeks without food, but after three days you’re going to enter a world of hurt. You’re going to be hungrier than you’ve likely ever been in your life and surrounded by people in the same situation. 

That kind of hunger – with no easy end in sight – creates anxiety, panic and desperation. Your formerly likable friends and neighbors will now be willing to do absolutely anything for just one morsel of food. 

It’s going to be absolute total chaos. The less you can go out in that, the better. 

72 Hour Food Kit

Beyond the simple safety issues associated with leaving your home, there simply isn’t going to be any food to be had through normal sources. Modern supply chain technology delivers new stock as soon as old stock has been sold. The local supermarket and even the distribution centers that supply them will be stripped clean in a week tops. 

So you need some kind of food supply that’s all yours at home or at your bugout spot. The big thing most preppers do wrong, though, is they think they have to rely entirely on a massive cache of dehydrated food. In fact, this should be part of your prepper plan but it absolutely should not be your whole plan or even the base of your pyramid. 

The main thing that you should be stocking up on is non-perishable goods that your family eats regularly anyway. This provides your family with some degree of comfort and “normality” at a time when they’re going to need it the most. Introducing an entirely new menu into your family’s life at a time of crisis is only going to increase stress at a time when you probably won’t have much extra stress tolerance to spare. 

You’re going to want foods that is both calorie and nutrient dense and you always want to have some variety in your food – nothing is going to make post-collapse life more miserable than relying entirely on a supply of canned beans, rice and dehydrated milk.

Next up, you’re going to want to have lots of ingredients on hand to help you to cook things from scratch. This might not sound like the most fun way to feed yourself, but it can help you to really stretch out your pantry, as well as giving your family something to do to avoid thinking about the collapse of everything you ever knew happening all around you. This is where things like freeze-dried meats and vegetables and even more basic ingredients like salt, flour, baking soda and the like come into play. 

After that you’re going to want to fill in the gaps with that pre-made, dehydrated “prepper” food that we talked about above. It’s great as a supplement for your supplies, but it’s not the whole ball game. It’s expensive, requires a lot of water and instantly marks you as a “prepper” to anyone who sees it in your home. The last part can be big trouble in the event of a catastrophe because you become the local supermarket, but instead of trading for it, your neighbors are likely going to beg, demand and then take whatever you have. 

What Should You Eat?

When everything is collapsing around you, it’s more important than ever to make sure that you’re eating properly. So what should you eat and how much of it should you have? 

The main thing is this: not only does your body need a certain number of calories every day, you also need a certain amount of protein, fat and carbs to stay alive and healthy. It’s all about proportion and ratio, but you’re not going to last long on a diet entirely made up of spaghetti and nothing else. 

The problem is that the macros that work in your normal, everyday life are not the macros that will work in a survival scenario. For example, the Harvard School of Public Health recommends about 130 grams of carbohydrates per day for an adult human, but admits that you might need almost four times that – 500 grams a day – in a time of high stress. There is no time more stressful than when all the supermarket shelves are bare, law and order has broken down and there’s no indication that “normal” life is coming back any time soon. 

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What’s more, you’ll want to be carrying around more fat in a survival situation than you would for a day at the beach. That’s not just because fats provide you with twice as much energy per gram as carbs, it’s also because having a little extra padding can help to keep you warm when the heating doesn’t work. 

The main thing to remember is that fats provide long-term energy that your body can live off of during the lean times, while carbs are your short-term energy supply for bursts of activity. 

As far as protein is concerned, it’s probably going to be in short supply so “as much as you can get” will likely be the order of the day, but beyond that, about .8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. For pregnant women, you’re going to want to get between 75 and 100 grams of protein every day. 

72 Hour Food Kit

One quick hack to start getting more healthy calories in your food? Adding olive oil to MREs… or just about anything else. It’s nutrient dense and a super healthy source of fat that can keep you moving when you’re scraping by. 

How Much Food Do You Need?

How much food you need is an extremely complicated topic. It’s obviously dependent on a number of factors including how many people you believe you’re going to have to feed in the event of an emergency and how long you plan to feed them for. However many people you have in your family, plan to feed more. 

There are a couple reasons for this. 

First of all, there’s a very good chance that in an emergency you’re going to have some unexpected family visitors if you have even the slightest reputation as a “prepper” in your family. So it’s not just you and your spouse and maybe your kids – it’s also prudent to prepare to feed siblings and their kids, grandkids, parents, spouses of siblings and so on. Your budget might not allow for this and that’s fine if it doesn’t, but you’ll still want to prepare to have more than “just enough” food for you and your family because in a world where the supermarkets are closed and show no signs of opening up again, food and other supplies are going to be the coin of the realm.

It doesn’t matter if you’re into gold, silver, Bitcoin or even think that good old U.S. dollars will still maintain some kind of powerful psychological value in the event of a major catastrophe. You can’t eat any of these and you can’t shoot them at deer to put food on the table. So durable goods like ammunition and, yes, food are going to become extremely valuable. Having something that you can barter for other supplies that you need is always a smart move whether we’re talking about food, ammunition or even little odds and ends like sewing needles or toilet paper. 

Briefly, on the subject of barter food, it’s worth considering whether or not you want to stockpile alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, candy or other similar goods for the express purpose of bartering them. 

In any event, the main way to plan for how much food to have is the most basic guiding principle of “you can never have enough.” But, of course, space and money is limited. So with that said, it’s important to know how much of various foodstuffs can feed a fully grown adult human over the course of a year and then multiplying that by three or even five years. 

72 Hour Food Kit

Look at how much beef, pasta, bread and other staples your family goes through in an average week. Then multiply that by 52 and you have how much you’re going to need of everything for the course of an entire year. You can then extrapolate out from there how much food you’re going to need for a long-term emergency. 

When Your Supplies Run Out: Hunting, Fishing and Farming

Ultimately, though, like your water supply, your food is going to run out on a long enough timeline. And while you might be able to forage and barter some, the best thing you can do is become as self-reliant as possible.

That means growing your own food supply to the extent that it makes sense. This is a great way to grow some fun stuff for the family to eat to spice things up from the usual rotation of food. Hunting is also one of the best skills you can have as a prepper, ensuring a supply of fresh meat no matter how long the grocery stores are closed.

Now we know that not everyone is able to move off-grid to a 100-acre homestead and become a farmer because the end of the world might come one day. However, even if you live in the city or the suburbs, there are some ways that you can prep for your food supply in the event of a short-term or long-term collapse. 

We’re talking, of course, about hunting, farming and fishing. You need to start thinking less in terms of how you can stockpile food from now until kingdom come and more about how you can quickly become self-sufficient in the event of a disaster. 

Experienced hunters, anglers and farms can probably scan this section quickly. But it’s worth remembering that you’re not going to be out hunting for sport with a license in competition with other responsible sportsmen who would never dream of bagging and elk without a tag. Instead, you’re going to be competing with people who are absolutely desperate for food and will do completely stupid stuff like bag 10 deer even though 9.5 of that is going to go bad before they can eat it.

So even if you already have what it takes to bag game big and small alike, you need to put a bit of planning in and assume that hunts might be 10 times as hard as they are now when people start overhunting and depleting the available supply of game.You also have to remember that for others, you will be the quarry – and transporting game from the kill site to your home is going to be a heck of a lot more difficult when the world has descended into “eat or be eaten.” 

Depending on the nature of the disaster, it might just be a simple fact of life that there isn’t as much meat to go around, such as in the event of a nuclear disaster or a tsunami or something else that takes out a lot of the available game in a given area or even across the entire United States.

For the rest of you who have never had the pleasure of hunting or fishing before, there’s no time like the present to learn. 

It’s not quite as simple as happening upon an animal and shooting it. Fortunately, there are a number of inexpensive courses you can take that will help you to obtain a ready made source of protein in your backyard in the event that you can no longer go to the deli section and pick out your favorite cut.

72 Hour Food Kit

Gardening is also important and you don’t need a huge tract of land to make it worthwhile. World War II-era “Victory Gardens” are an excellent guide to how you can grow a lot of nutrients in a very small space. If you live in a more urbanized environment you can still get a little windowsill garden going on for herbs and spices that will add a little extra flavor to your meal and keep spirits up when you don’t have any idea when the supermarkets are opening up again. 

Keeping Your Food Fresh: Long-Term Storage Of Food

It goes without saying that in a collapse scenario you’re not going to be able to rely on your fridge or coffin freezer if you’re relying on the grid for electricity. To that end, you’re going to need to know how to store food over the long term if you want to be able to eat any of the stuff that can go bad, whether you bought it at the store before the collapse or grew or caught it afterward. 

First, when you’re making your purchases at the grocery store (while they still exist), you’re going to want to lean heavily on things that are “non-perishable.” While this is a bit of a misnomer (on a long enough timeline almost everything will go bad, especially if not stored properly), you’re looking to fill your larder with foods with extremely long shelf lives. 

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  • Six Months: Potatoes, dry crackers, dried fruit, powdered milk.
  • One Year: Condensed soup, canned fruits and juices, instant cereal, dry cereal, peanut butter, chocolate, jelly, canned nuts.
  • “Indefinitely” (Two To Three Years): Wheat, dry pasta, rice, bullion, salt, wheat, baking powder, instant coffee, corn. 

You should also acquaint yourself with various methods of increasing the shelf life of your food. This can make food you prepare, grow, catch or kill after the collapse last longer. 

Dehydration is great for both fruit and meat, giving quickly perishable food a much longer shelf life. Canning is another way to keep your food fresher longer. You can learn this for free at one of hundreds of Latter-Day Saints canning centers around the country, whether you’re of the LDS faith or not. 

If you’re in a situation where you have to start hitting your reserves or are at least concerned about this being an issue, start with the food in the fridge that’s perishable, then the freezer food then they dry food that you specifically bought for long-term storage. 

Preparing Your Food In A Survival Scenario

Of course all the food in the world isn’t worth squat if you don’t have some way to cook and prepare it. 

No matter how you break it down, you need two heat sources to cook and heat water from. This is in case one breaks down or doesn’t have the appropriate fuel supply you need. Now you might be thinking of propane or a wood stove, but both of these require a steady supply of a large amount of fuel or they stop working. So they might be good for one cooking and water heating food source, but you’re going to want to have at least one more. 

72 Hour Food Kit

There are a two main options that we like a lot for a backup source or even an alternative primary source: 

  • Solar-powered ovens that allow you to store the energy of the sun and use it later. No electrical grid, propane, charcoal or wood required!
  • Fuel-efficient rocket stoves are another option. These require wood, but when we say “wood” we don’t mean you have to build a huge campfire. You might be able to cook an entire dinner for your family with just a few twigs.

New technologies are making it easier than ever to get ready for the end of the world as we know it and nowhere is this more true than with regard to cooking your food. A generator is also great to have for a variety of reasons, including helping you to cook and prepare food. If you can’t afford one, consider making friends with someone who already has one. 


One very scary thing about a collapse scenario many people fail to properly consider is this: The drug stores and hospitals won’t be around, either. That means something as simple as a small cut or abrasion can go horribly wrong and take you out of action for weeks or even result in your death. 

Another factor important to remember is having enough medical supplies around for a disaster. This can mean your regular medications but it can also mean simple supplies like bandages as aspirin. 

You might be worried about expiration dates, but studies show that most medications retain 90 percent of their potency for five years after their alleged “expiration date.” 

In addition to food, water and bullets, you should stockpile the following over-the-counter medications:

  • Aspirin: Everyone knows this and it’s great to have around in abundance for the end of the world as we know it. Aspirin fights fevers as well as reduces pain, inflammation and swelling. Low doses help to prevent strokes, heart attacks and blood clots due to its blood thinning properties. 
  • Acetaminophen: Sold under the brand name Tylenol, this pain reliever is not an anti-inflammatory. It doesn’t irritate the stomach like many other over-the-counter pain relievers.  
  • Ibuprofen: The brand name for this is Motrin or Advil and the U.S. Army prescribes it for just about everything. It reduces fevers and relieves just about any kind of pain you can imagine. 
  • Naproxen: Commonly known as Aleve, this does much the same thing as ibuprofen, but it lasts for 12 hours at a time. 
  • Loperamide: Sold under the brand name Imodium, this is an anti-diarrhea agent which is worth its weight in gold in a world where the water treatment plants aren’t working. 
  • Diphenhydramine: While it’s scientific name is a mouthful, you already know this one as Benadryl. You also probably know it’s great for hay fever and allergies, but it also helps combat insomnia, anxiety, nausea, hives and itching. 

You should also have a big supply of laxatives, antibiotic and antifungal creams or ointments, antacids, and whatever prescription medications you need. If you can find a legal way to stockpile antibiotics, those are also great to have around both for personal use in case of an emergency or for barter. 

Much like food and water, your medical supplies are eventually going to run out. Fortunately, there are a number of natural sources that can act as substitutes for the medications that you stockpiled. 

You can grow some of these in your garden, but you should also be aware of what medicinal herbs grow in your area. Many basic medicines are provided to you for free by Mother Nature. We’re not suggesting you skip a trip to the local pharmacy, but when you don’t have any other options these will do in a pinch:

  • Burn Treatment: For burns you can apply a mixture of 2-4 drops each of frankincense, helichrysum and melaleuca. 
  • Diarrhea: When the runs come calling drink water with a couple drops each of lemon, clove, wild orange, eucalyptus and cinnamon. For more severe cases up the dose to five drops and add fennel, peppermint, ginger and coriander. 
  • Infections: You can treat infected wounds with myrrh, lavender, frankincense and melaleuca. 

To get into each and every plant or oil that can treat each and every illness would be a whole other book altogether. Fortunately, there are a number of books out there that teach just this. Equally fortunately, much of this grows wild around you or can easily be grown in your garden. 

Preparing for food, water and medicine in the event of a disaster isn’t difficult, but it does take time and attention. No matter how much prepping you’re able to do, you’ll likely be miles ahead of everyone else around you who didn’t take any actions to keep themselves and their family safe in the event of the unthinkable.  

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Earthquake Safety for Families from Preparation to Protection



After the earthquake

Gearing Up to Guard Your Family Before Trouble Strikes

In the ever-changing world of survival and preparedness, earthquakes pose a unique challenge. Unlike many natural disasters, they give no warning. One moment, everything is normal, and the next, the ground shakes violently beneath your feet. For families, especially with young ones, the unpredictability and potential severity of earthquakes require specific planning and preparation. Here’s your guide to fortifying your household against the potential devastation of an earthquake. BE PREPARED: Claim Your Ready for Anything Kit Here!

Recognize the Reality

Firstly, realize that earthquakes can happen anywhere, not just in historically active areas. While places like California are notorious for seismic activity, other areas are not immune. This broad-reaching potential makes understanding and preparing for earthquakes essential for every family, no matter where you reside.

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  • Secure Your Spaces: Begin by anchoring tall furniture to walls. This includes bookshelves, wardrobes, and any other pieces that can topple. Make sure heavy items are placed on lower shelves.
  • Safety Zones: Identify safe spots in each room, like under sturdy tables or against interior walls, away from windows and items that could fall.
  • Emergency Shutoffs: Familiarize yourself with the gas, water, and electricity shut-off points in your home. In the event of a significant quake, you might need to turn these off to prevent fires or flooding.

Survival Supplies: The Essentials

Every family needs an emergency kit specifically tailored for earthquakes. This kit should be easy to grab and should include:

  • Water and Food: At least a three-day supply of water for each family member and non-perishable food items.
  • Medical Supplies: Basic first aid items, a week’s worth of prescription medicines, and any special-needs items for children or elderly family members.
  • Communication Tools: Battery-operated radio, extra batteries, and a whistle to signal for help if needed.
  • Documentation: Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records in a waterproof and portable container.
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Train, Practice, Repeat

Have regular family drills where everyone practices the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” method. This ensures that, in the panic of the moment, every member knows what to do instinctively.

Stay Informed

Lastly, stay abreast of geological surveys and updates for your area. Many governmental and independent agencies provide updates on seismic activities, and some even offer apps or services that send alerts directly to your mobile device.

The very nature of earthquakes – sudden and unpredictable – means that preparation is key. It’s not about living in constant fear, but rather ensuring peace of mind knowing your family is ready to face whatever seismic challenges come your way. With the right knowledge, tools, and practices in place, you can stand firm when the ground beneath shakes. So, let’s prepare today to protect our tomorrows.

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