Survival Library

Tomorrow, the end of the world won’t happen. Even world economic collapse, or the total failure of the US government won’t happen without preliminary disruptions. Prepping now for that vague doomsday scenario is plain nuts. But regional natural disasters are almost a certainty. Prepping for survival of a large-scale hurricane, tornado, earthquake with a few days backup at home is a good idea. How do you prep? Most die-hard survivalists take the the “stockpile and defend” strategy, constructing doomsteads, which may or may not work in a natural disaster. Usually going with a “mobile and agile” strategy, with a ready “bug-out bag,” is better — but this is mostly a matter of temperament because we don’t have a lot of data of what actually worked in actual past disasters. (If you know of real data examining the value of home preparation please leave a link. Most of the evidence used in the survivalist prep world is Hollywood movies.)

But at the very least you should know what your survivalist options are. There are a zillion “prepper” books each one with more elaborate schemes and crazier than the one before it. Underground bunkers are only the tip. Selling doomsday (vs wilderness) survivalist advice is big cottage industry. I refuse to pay for this nonsense. The Survival Library is an open online archive of self-sufficiency, self-reliance instructions, PDFs, and videos that appear on other sites for free. It is easy to weed through. Some of the information, like welding instruction, or raising rabbits, or how to start a fire with no matches is useful whether or not you believe that the UN is sending black helicopters to take away your machine gun in the basement. The free downloadable PDF of the 500-page LDS (Mormon) Prep Manual is particularly interesting and for most normal people, all the prep literature you’ll ever need.

-- KK  

Sample Excerpts:

Gift Ideas for the Outdoors Enthusiast

Filson Mackinaw Jacket

Filson jackets are bar none the best wool jackets for the hunter or outdoorsman in the family. Warm when wet, silent in the woods, and classically designed, these jackets are made to be inherited.

Available from Amazon


Fiskar’s Pruning Saw

This lightweight pruning saw is great for cutting up small and medium size limbs for the campfire. Coming in at 6″ or 10″, it’s light enough that it won’t slow you down in the backcountry.

Available from Amazon


Petzl NAO

This nifty next-generation LED-headlamp provides more usable light when you need it, and will make a perfect gift for anyone who spends a lot of time in the dark. For those on a budget, check out the more affordable Petzl Zipka.

Available from Amazon



The Best in Tent Camping

Not everybody needs to haul their camping gear into the backwoods to enjoy the outdoors. For those that prefer some creature comforts, these state guides detail the best car-camping sites a region has to offer.

Available from Amazon


Snow Peak Starter Kit

Lighten the load of your favorite camper with this 9-oz set featuring a piezo-ignition Gigapower stove, a 700-ml titanium cup, and titanium spork.


Available from Amazon


Have other gift ideas for folks who love the great outdoors? Let us know in the comments!


Leatherman Squirt

When saving ounces, this is the lightest multi-tool kit to carry. It’s got your knife, pliers, wire cutter, scissors, file, and two screwdrivers in only 2 ounces (57 g). Some folks use it as a keychain fob; I primarily carry it while backpacking and biking. The current best model is PS4.

-- KK  

Leatherman Squirt PS4

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Leatherman

Nemo Obi Elite 1P

This is a fantastic featherweight self-supporting one-person tent. It is among the lightest tents you can buy. Together with its fly and tent stakes (but minus its compression stuff sack), the Obi Elite 1P weighs only 2 pounds (0.91kg)! Having an ultra-lightweight tent makes a huge difference when you’re on a long hike or bike trip. There are lighter tents that re-use hiking poles for support, or don’t have an outer fly cover, but none that are self-supporting and double-walled like this one. (A double wall really minimizes moisture buildup.) The Obi gives me enough room to sit up inside, so I can change clothes and store some gear and be covered by a fly and withstand a good rain and wind.

I used this everyday for a month on a recent trip. I would giggle each time I set it up because it practically assembled itself. I could set up the tent and fly in less than 3 minutes, and pack it up even faster. The technology of all the best lightweight tents is primarily made by one Korean company which manufactures the precision poles, elastic, hubs, and very clever fasteners called Jake’s Feet which make it so easy to erect and strike. A great tent these days is a precision collapsable machine. Nemo has arranged these parts into a super design. Every detail is well-thought out, from the placement of zippers, interior pockets, color coding of poles. I can not think of much to improve. For instance it has a large side entrance making entry and exit a breeze, whereas many other lightweight solo tents have an narrow end entrance.

The Nemo Obi Elite 1P is expensive; you can get great one-person tents only a few pounds heavier for hundreds of dollars cheaper, such as the previously reviewed Sierra Designs tent. But over decades of hiking I have discovered a direct inverse correlation between the amount weight I carry and my happiness. And like the best tools, it gives me pleasure each time I use it, and with care will last a long time.

Nemo makes a regular, non-Elite 1P version with slightly heavier hi-tech fabric (total weight 2.7 pounds) and a slightly better pole arrangement that is $50 cheaper. I have used this one with satisfaction. In fact, if you can spare the few extra ounces, the Obi 1P is for sale at substantial discount from Amazon, and is the one I would recommend.

-- KK  

Nemo Obi 1P

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Nemo

MEC Duffle Bag

The MEC Duffle Bag is simple, inexpensive, light-weight and very well made.

Compared to suitcases and rolling duffels, these bags are light-weight, and useful for flying if you need to transport a lot of “stuff” (particularly if the stuff is only accompanying you in one direction).  The bags collapse, and can be stuffed away when not needed for storage or transport.

I have used the extra large model for a variety of journeys over a couple of years.  There are handles on top and at the ends for easy grabbing, and a removable shoulder strap is included. The carrying handles are serviceable as backpack straps, if needed.  The zippers are solid (YKK), and haven’t caused me any problems.  Heavy duty nylon and webbing is used for the sides and the straps, and though not waterproof, the materials are highly resistant to tears and pulls… and washable.

In Vancouver, Mountain Equipment Co-op is legendary for high quality, inexpensive outdoor and active gear (see Turtle Light, previous Cool Tool) and they have started expanding across Canada.

-- Christopher Walks  

[Note: If there is an American equivalent for this product let us know and we'll update the post. --OH]

MEC Duffle Bag

Available from and manufactured by MEC

LT4 Trekking Pole

Insanely light trekking pole. The lightness (less than 4 oz) means you can twitch it really fast to catch yourself because the pole doesn’t have a lot of inertia to overcome. It means your arm and hand tire far less in a day of swing-and-place. It means when you lash it to your pack, it adds little to your burden.

This pole has proved its durability for me on a range of hikes from casual to intense, in a variety of terrains. Adjusting the length with an untwist and retwist to lock is easy and reliable. Since they’re usually sold by the pair, you have a spare in reserve. (Trekking with two poles feels like skiing without snow for me; awkward and hand-encumbering. I like to be a three-legged creature in the bush, always able to brace for stability, striding like a pilgrim with staff.)

-- Stewart Brand  

LT4 Trekking Pole (adjustable)
Available from Gossamer Gear

LT4S (adjustable, with strap)
Available from Gossamer Gear

LT3C Fixed poles
$110 per pair
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