Ready Blog

Preparedness information from around the internet and around the world.


National Geographic PDF Quad Trail Maps

Ric Hubbard - Friday, May 19, 2017

Maps are an important tool in building preparedness plans. Knowing the terrain around you will help you find resources and the fastest way to your retreat site. Good maps are also a part of planning for camping trips, hikes and other outdoor activities. Obtaining a collection of maps can be a bit expensive.

National Geographic has stepped up with a free service that we should all know about. Their website is offering downloadable PDF files of maps from the United States Geological Survey. These maps are topographical that show topographical features, water sources, highway details,  and political boundaries. Each PDF file has 5 pages. The first is the whole quad and the following four are one quarter of the area showing greater detail. Each of the pages are sized to print on standard 8.5" x 11" printer paper and are full color. They also have all of the legend information such as declination and scale that you would expect on this kind of map.

Today's technology provides a number of options to use these maps. The cost of home printers is a low as they have ever been and the choices in tablet devices at affordable prices allows you carry all of the maps that you might need for an entire trip.

If you are looking for a good source of topo maps you should check out National Geographic's website.

Pain Control with OTC Pain Relivers

Ric Hubbard - Thursday, May 18, 2017
A few years ago I developed a severe ear infection, one bad enough that I need to see a doctor for treatment. The pain was pretty strong and I needed it managed while the infection was being treated. There was a time that doctors prescribed strong pain killers for situations like this but they are starting to be more careful in how often they use them. I myself prefer to stay away them. They are often opioids and the risk of addiction can be pretty high.
I discussed my aversion to opioid and narcotic pain management with the doctor and asked his advice. His reply was a little surprising. His prescription was a dose of Acetaminophen taken in combination of Ibuprofen. According to this doctor taking this combo was safe, far safer then a narcotic pain killer, but just as effective for pain management. I have continued to use this cocktail when some stronger pain relief. I have had some dental issues recently and pain management became necessary and this managed my pain quite well while I waited for a dental appointment.
Long-term use of both of these drugs have side-effects to be aware of. They can both cause Gastrointestinal issues and urinary problems. Ibuprofen has far more potential side-effects than Acetaminophen, but you should know about the effects of both. It is a good idea to keep a supply of both in your survival medical kit to help you manage pain in an emergency situation. If you suffer chronic pain though, you will need a supply of your prescribed medications because the side-effects of using this combination can be pretty uncomfortable if you use it too long.
The advantages of these products are obvious. You do not have to go through the trouble of getting a prescription for pain meds or breaking the law to obtain them. They are also substantially less expensive. As with all medications, follow the instructions and use wisely.

Where Skills And Gear Collide

Ric Hubbard - Friday, December 25, 2015

Articles about survival skills are all over prepper sites, it’s our reason for being. They are also filled to the brim with gear reviews and kit articles. What I haven’t often seen are articles exploring how the two combine and function together.

To a well-trained prepper, equipment can be minimal to the point of being non-existent. This is possible, but you have to have spent years practicing bushcraft and wilderness survival skills. If you have a good understand of nuclear weapons you can even use these skills to build a shelter that will protect you. Just read Cresson Kearny’s Nuclear War Survival Skills to see how.

My point is this. Most of us have to use various pieces of equipment to make survival easier. We carry tents to make shelter faster and easier on camping trips. We carry knives and axes so that we don’t have to knap stone blades. This list can go on and on, but the point is that equipment makes things easier. It can, to an extent, cover for weak skills in some areas.

On the other hand, strong wilderness skills can make up for a lack of equipment. An understanding of shelter and how to build it will keep you safe and comfortable is you have no tent. You can use these same skills to contain livestock in a pinch.

My plan is to build my skill set in parallel with my kit. Make a list of the gear you intend to get and then a list of the skills that you need use it and a list of skills that can stand in place of your equipment. Building each in concert with the other will lead to proper preparedness, piece of mind and self-confidence.


Bug Out On A Budget: A Grocery Store Fire Kit

Ric Hubbard - Saturday, December 12, 2015

The popular opinion in the prepper is that bugging out should be the last resort. We here at Ready Magazine could not agree more. Being prepared, though, requires that the prepper is ready to bug out should things at home become untenable.

In any survival situation, fire is important. There are a staggering number of tools out there to help build the fire and most of them are not overly expensive. I am not going to go into how to build a fire here, but the first level of building a fire is having tinder to get it going. One of the best natural tinders is know as Fatwood.

Fat Wood is the resin impregnated wood from the center of a pine tree. This resin is highly flammable and burns fairly well even when wet. Using fat wood has many advantages, the most chief being the lack of chemicals used in the process. If you live in an area with pine forests obtaining fat wood is pretty simple. If you don’t then it can be hard to come by. Fortunately, it has become so popular that you can not find it on the shelves in grocery stores.

Looking to improve my personal kit I have been on the look out for a source of tinder for my fire kit. I came across B&B brand fat wood. It contains about a pound of fat wood sticks about 8 inches long. In the space of about 45 minutes working with a pocket knife and the saw on my pocket tool, I broke down several sticks into short tinder sticks and a small tin of shavings. For under $4 I have greatly improved my fire making kit and increased my survival chances should I ever have a need for an emergency fire.

As you can see from the picture it is a very compact kit. It will make a great addition to your kit, too.

How Much Does Brand Matter?

Ric Hubbard - Thursday, December 03, 2015

It is a common thread in preparedness that good quality equipment is important. It goes without saying that the most important step is to build a strong skill set, one that will allow the prepper to respond in a flexible manner. I will be getting more into a discussion on skill sets in the future, but for now let's talk about equipment.

I first became interested in prepping very early in my life. Because of this I did not have a large amount of available funds for equipment so I have developed a tendency to be frugal in my prepping purchasing. The problem with inexpensive gear is that it often lacks quality.

I will relate an experience that I had a few years ago related to this. There is a forum on the internet devoted to AR-15 rifles. The stated purpose is to educate users about them and share information. While good data can be found, the forum in practice is an advocacy for certain brands. This forum has had me thinking about the value of this kind of “brandism” for awhile now.

I have been improving on my EDC kit recently. On of the items that I wanted to add was a quality small flashlight of the “tactical” variety. There are a number of brands of this kind of light that have price tags that give some people, like me, pause. Price tags over $200 for a flashlight feel a little too much to me.

I am not trying to disparage the companies who produce this product. They have valued the product at this price point and for years the market has accepted and supported it. In a free market, a product that is overpriced compared to the quality will not survive. The light I chose is a Bushnell that came as a pair with a mini-light and cost just over $30. After a non-scientific cost/benefits analysis, I decided that this was the top price range I was willing to pay.

I was looking for a quality product that fit my price point and my needs. I feel like I found it, but time will tell if I am right. Would a high price point light provide good service? Almost certainly. Do I need that high of a quality for the mundane tasks that I perform on a daily basis? No, I don’t.

Going back to the AR-15 forum I was discussing earlier. On this site you will find a lot of threads asking questions about so-called second tier rifles. These are mass market items that carry a price tag well under the $1000 price point. The bone of contention here is that most of them do not carry the magic words “mil-spec”, meaning that the materials are not the same as those called for by the government specifications. I huge part of the membership of this forum look with disdain on the second-tier product and become very insulting toward those who discuss them with anything other the same disdain.

The question for me has become are the lower tier products of any value to the prepper? Not in comparison to the first tier product, but just in and of themselves. Is my new Bushnell flashlight of sufficient quality to fill needs? Am I putting my life in danger if I do not buy a first tier rifle?

Brand fanism is all well and fine, but the average prepper has to balance price and quality when making decisions. So yes, brand matters but not as much as some like to believe. A product must hold up to the intended use or it has no value. If you are not putting the item to regular, repeated hard use then the lower price ranges are probably going to serve.

I am not saying that the lower priced product is just as good as the higher price brands. What I am saying is that they can provide more than enough quality for average use. Brand should be a guide, it can not become the only reason to buy.