Survival Skills Blog & Off The Grid Guides

SURVIVAL TIPS: 6 Things You’re Not Doing That Will Bite You In The Ass


There’s a ton of survival tips and tricks out there that focus on lists of junk you don’t need and forget about the small things.

Sure, there are lots of items that would be great to have around in a post event environment.

Does this mean you should be focussing on these lists of gear and other items as a means of preparation?

My answer to this question will always be, “no.”

To really stay prepared, try to integrate these habits into your life to improve your chance of survival when the SHTF.



1. You’re not incorporating solar electricity in your daily life.

Incorporating solar into your daily life is easy, relatively cheap, and important to do. It’s going to get you into the habit of being battery-conscious and sun-conscious. You need sun for electricity so you’ll begin to look out for it and learn what works for your solar kit and what doesn’t. Also, you’ll begin to be conscious of how much battery power you’re wasting because you’ll need it to last longer when the SHTF. You’ll save a little on electricity charging things with solar every night. Yes, this is going to be a negligible savings, but its a savings nonetheless. What do I need to do?

Buy a small, relatively inexpensive, and versatile solar kit and use it to power your small electronics. I power my kindle, iPad, and iPhone exclusively with solar. Why will this bite me in the ass? If you don’t incorporate this into your daily life, then when the SHTF, you’ll have no idea if your solar kit works, what the best practices are for your particular kit, and not pay as close attention to how much battery power you’re wasting.




2. You’re not cooking one meal a week with your bug out kit.

Cooking just one meal a week using your bug out cooking gear can make a drastic difference in the comfort level and safety of your bug out group. You need to be an expert at cooking using the things you’ll be stuck with if the SHTF. You also need to know if that gear is crap and needs to be replaced, upgraded or downgraded. Finally, it’s going to take a ton of stress off of you during an already stressful time. When your whole world changes in a matter of (weeks, days, hours), you’re going to be one cranky jerk. Dinner time needs to be as peaceful and stress-free as you can make it.

If you kick off dinner by cursing at your stove and throwing utensils and end up eating a burnt meal, you’re unnecessarily adding to your stress. Remember, morale is important for yourself and your group. If you’re not the warm and fuzzy kind, just remember that stress can drastically impact your health – especially your immune function and risk of heart attack or stroke. That’s important if you’re the leader of your bug out group (family) and there aren’t any hospitals.

What do I need to do? Cook just one meal a week (preferably a dinner meal, as they tend to be larger and more complex) using the cooking items in your bug out kit. Notice I said cooking items and not food items. Your stove, cookware, utensils, etc are cooking items. The point here is to be proficient with your tools. Why will this bite me in the ass? If you don’t, then when the SHTF you’re going to have no idea how to use your gear (assuming it works), you’re going to jack up your already limited food supply, and you’re going to add to your stress and that of the group.




3. You’re not incorporating your prepping food into your routine meals Incorporating your prepping food stores into your regular meal plan will reap large benefits post- SHTF.

You need to know what’s in your food stores and what is not. You also need to learn to cook with that type of food (be it dehydrated, freeze-dried, etc). Water-absent foods like those we popularly use for food storage require extra steps in the meal-prep phase. You need to know how to get the best results from your food before the SHTF. This is going to keep you from ending up with water-flavored strawberries – and anyone who has reconstituted freeze- dried fruit knows exactly what I’m talking about. It is also important to rotate your food stores. Believe it or not, that shit goes bad eventually.

Don’t assume everything in your storage has the same expiration date. Check, label, know. Finally, you need to know what is working in your food store and what is not. You also need to know what you need more or less of. Some families (like mine) like waffles for breakfast. So I’m going to have more Bisquick-like stuff in my storage than someone who hates waffles. This is going to make your life easier when the SHTF and suddenly omelets come from a powder, blueberries need reconstituting, and your chicken parmesan is made with diced chicken. Appetizing meals post-SHTF will help raise morale, keep your group healthy, and decrease stress. What do I need to do? Incorporate your prepping food into your regular meals.

This could be once a week or once a month, but you need to occasionally cook one entire meal completely from your food store. By “completely,” I mean that you can use no ingredients that don’t come from your food store. It’s a good idea to rotate the meal, as well. Cook dinner this time, breakfast next. Why will this bite me in the ass? If you don’t use your food stores routinely, you’re not going to know what’s in there, and not going to know how to use it. This is going to frustrate you in the post-SHTF environment when you’re messing with a whole new culinary realm. What’s worse, it’s going to make for some crappy meals for your group – and that’s not going to help morale. Keep morale in mind because humans can do anything with hope and a positive attitude, and can do jack without them.




4. You’re not taking one day a week to be free from all electronics

Disconnecting from the electronic world for a day can help you in the post-SHTF world. I could tell you about the scientific research showing how occasionally “disconnecting” is having a profoundly positive impact on people, but I’d rather state the obvious. Going from a world where technology permeates every part of your life to one where technology is almost entirely absent will be a massive culture shock – and one that can be avoided by learning to live without the tech. This is going to make your life much easier when you don’t have a phone to quickly call someone, quickly google that question or hop on youtube for a ‘how-to.’

You need to learn to replace those things and you’ll never learn what needs replacing until you ditch the tech. What do I need to do? One day a week, turn off your phone, leave the computer alone, keep the TV off, and get out of your house. Go to the park, go canoeing, anything but interact with technology for 24 hours. Basically, be Amish for one day each week. Why will this bite me in the ass? If you let technology permeate your life until the very last day, you’re going to have a hell of a hard road to go post-SHTF when you can’t entertain yourself to keep you morale up, you feel utterly lonely without social media, and you have lost all of your survival knowledge with that dead battery or lost internet.




5. You’re not buying knowledge preps, you’re buying gear preps

The internet will be no more post-SHTF, so all the things you use the internet to learn are going to be replaced by books, which will become your new lifeline. Stock up on books that cover any major survival factor you’re not a total expert on. Succeeding in adverse environments (ie a post-SHTF environment) depends very largely on two things: one’s knowledge and one’s motivation. If someone is a survival genius but is depressed and believes it’s all for naught, they will sit down and die.

If someone is highly motivated but has no survival knowledge, they will waste away all their energy and die trying, having accomplished nothing. You’re obviously motivated or you wouldn’t be on SurvivalLife, but I’m guessing you don’t know everything. Building up a library to replace Google in the post-SHTF world. What do I need to do? If you find a piece of knowledge online. print that shit. I say “paper saves” and offer my articles as clean PDFs to help you out.

Buy books in areas that you lack knowledge. If you can’t tear apart your car’s engine, go get the book from Autozone. If you’re not a master gardener, go get an organic gardening book. If you know nothing about electricity, canning, or medicine, buy books. You don’t have to read them immediately (although it would help you later) but you do need to have them. The best thing is to write down all the topics you read articles about online and get books to cover them. Post-SHTF you’re going to need this library to replace Google.

**Bonus tip: throw in a few fiction books from authors you like but don’t read them. This will help you ease your mind later when you truly need a mental escape.**

Why will this bite me in the ass? If your primary source of survival information is the internet or the only survival book you have is the SAS Survival Handbook, you’re going to be royally screwed post-SHTF. You aren’t going to know any remedies for headaches, ways to repair things, gardening tips or any number of other things you’re not an expert at.



6. You’re not embracing the suck

Do things the hard way, the more productive way, the way that instills discipline and character in yourself. This will help you adapt to rapidly changing, often uncomfortable environments post-SHTF. I love a hot, hot shower. Conversely, I hate cold showers. It isn’t just uncomfortable, it puts me in a bad mood. However, I know that post-SHTF, my beloved hot showers will be a faint memory. So I make it a point to take cooler (even borderline cold) showers occasionally. Another thing I loathe are wet clothes – shirts, underwear, socks, anything.

I hate it when my clothes stick to me and I have to peel them off. My goal is to make myself endure uncomfortable things and find some sort of aspect to them that ‘isn’t so bad’ – some sort of mental solace. This way, when cold showers are the standard, I don’t dread them and then act like a jerk to my bug out group afterward. Morale is a crucial element to survival and learning to find the positive in the things you dislike will be easier to do pre-SHTF than it will be post-SHTF. 

What do I need to do? Deliberately put yourself in situations and environments that force you to overcome your discomfort and find ways to mentally cope. This could mean taking cooler showers, eating food room-temp or cold, or walking to the store instead of driving. You could also eat foods you dislike, sleep with lights or noise, or choose the longest line at WalMart to learn patience.

Why will this bite me in the ass? If you run up to the day that the SHTF enjoying all your modern comforts, then it’s going to be culture shock when they disappear and you’re going to hate every aspect of your new, crappy environment. You’re going to be negative, cranky, and depressed – none of which are going to help you, or your group, survive.




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    Many years ago, I interviewed a tech guru that’d been hired by a major bank to look into whether offering dial-in-modem banking made sense. He told them it didn’t because people would never grow comfortable when something they used rarely. Only with the Internet and web-pages did online banking make sense.

    You make precisely the same useful point. We’ll only respond well to a crisis if what we do in that situation is a part of our normal lives. I especially like the fact that you note that doing that will get some return on our investments. Using solar to charge our gadgets in normal use may not offer a really good return on the investment, but it does provide some. And eating from our emergency stock will probably consume them fast enough that getting rid of those past their use-by date won’t mean tossing food out.

    I’d just add a suggestion that lies between your ‘do it all the time’ and ‘at least have books on the topic.’ Even if you don’t have the time or inclination to can your food, for instance, find a friend who cans each year and offer to help them in exchange for instruction. When push comes to shove, there’s a world of difference between having only what you read in a book and ‘yeah, I remember she did this….’ even if what’s remembered was years in the past. Seeing and doing always trumps just reading.

    Or as it’s commonly put, once learned, you never forget how to ride a bicycle.

    –Michael W. Perry, Across Asia on a Bicycle

  • leo says:

    Where is number 6?

  • StarvinLarry says:

    Books are a great investment,and that’s pretty much your only source of info in a SHTF scenario-unless you have a computer shielded from an EMP,and can power it up using solar.
    The problem with that is if you have to go to a different location-you may not be able to take it with you.
    That’s also the problem with books-if you have to move from your first bug-out location,it’s gonna be real hard to carry a lot of of books.
    Learning how to do everything needed to survive a SHTF scenario before it occurs is better than books-you still need books to learn,and may be able to use them for a while-but you have to understand that you may not have access to your books for long.
    A good back-up plan is to have different family members,or members of your group learn different skills,it’s better if you have someone with more than basic knowledge of each area,ideally you have people with above average skills in their areas.
    Learn the skills-use the books as a learning tool-then as a back up.
    Testing all your gear is a great idea too-you do not want to discover something does not work when you need it most.
    Take the don’t rely on technology thing even farther-learn to do it without using any technology at all,don’t rely on a bunch of gadgets-just use the basics for everything you can in your daily life.
    Not for everything,and not every day,at least the one day a week suggested,I would rather go 2-3 days per week with no electronics,air tools,cordless drills,logsplitters,even no electricity,or natural gas-use what you plan to use for heat and light during a SHTF scenario,hike with your bug-out gear at least one day per week-having all the gear does you no good if you can’t carry it on a hike.

    Keep up the good articles-everyone can earn a lot from them.

  • elisabeth says:

    I’d love a list of good, general knowledge reference books to have on hand. Can anyone recommend a few excellent go-to references?

    • toptones says:

      The Foxfire series of books is an excellent start

    • Deborah says:

      There are several. I have several of the “back to basics” books. The encyclopedia of country living. The ultimate guide to homesteading. And if you want to raise any animals ( chickens) first get any Storey’s Guides. They are great books.

    • DT says:

      I would suggest you do some searching for publications aimed at those in the military/field ops. There are many pocketable, waterproof, spiral bound books that cover a multitude of topics. Depending on your scope of current knowledge/readiness, my recommendations would include first aid, field medicine, common survival handbook, edible plant guide, ect.
      We are lucky to live in a society where we have access to all to tools necessary to learn how to live outside the norm, and easy access to those tools.
      Acquiring hardback, large volume publications is good for in-depth knowledge, but these “field manuals” are worth their weight in gold – without the weight and space.

    • Kim says:

      Have a look at Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living. Also, Countryside Magazine is good.

  • Miss Shaw says:

    Another great stress buster is knitting or crocheting. It puts the mind in a soothing state and produces a useful item. You don’t have to know any fancy stitches…just basic ones will product a comforting scarf or hat. It’s amazing how much this repetitive motion calms the mind and reduces boredom. Vanna White did it for years before going on stage to calm her nerves. Now she is a spokesperson for a big yarn company. It’s a skill that even young children can master and feel like they are contributing to the rest of the group. It’s also a useful skill that once learned you don’t forget.

  • Renegade says:

    Very good points. We will all be under enough stress as it is. The more we can make it “normal” the better. I would add a few more to your list.
    7. Test and use your equipment. i.e. that nice tent still in the box. Pitch it in the back yard. See how it hold up to rain and high winds. Even sleep in it. Afterwards, replace the cheap stakes with better ones.
    8. Get in shape. It is amazing how many people have a BOB, GHB but will not walk a mile to the grocery store, because the bags are too heavy. Whaaaa. Even if you have a disability, get into the best shape you can.
    9. Appreciate what you have now, but hold to them loosely. God gives and God takes away. The old saying is most people don’t know what they have until it’s gone is true. So I have been very grateful and give thanks to the Lord each night I have a warm bed, food, hot shower, electricity, flushing toilet, clean clothes. I try not to take it for granted. I know it can be gone any day. There are personal disasters too! In fact, instead of complaining I have to do laundry, or clean the commode, I am thankful I can. Further, it is just “stuff”. Life is more than stuff. If you are not grasping material things too tighly, then it is not as difficult to lose them. Someone said: God cannot put a blessing into a closed hand grasping something tightly. We should hold onto our things in an open palm, allowing God to take out and put in as He deems best.
    Hope this does not sound to preachy.

    • DT says:


      As a former Disaster Recovery Planner, I can tell you from direct experience that all the planning in the world will amount to jack if you dont DRILL-DRILL-DRILL! Remember when we were in grade school, and we had “fire drills”? Most of us took those as a great excuse to go out side and get a break from class (at least I did!). But now we know (or should have remembered) what to do in the event of a fire, right? Drilling for a large scale, personal survival situation is ABSOLUTELY no different! The individual, and or family, can (and should) make these drills enjoyable. Not only do we learn better, but we retain more for future recollection. Make it a game: hide and seek, or capture the flag, adlib geo cashing, something of those sorts. The point is to than what you have, and put to to actual use, in as close to an actual scenario as possible. Train, eat well, learn and use your gear, get rid of the needless BS, EMBRACE THE SUCK! – then repeat.

    • Tombo says:

      I really like #9. Rings so true, and it is a valid piece of wisdom. Thanks for sharing!

  • john says:

    Putting stock in the cliché that “necessity is the mother of invention”, will rear it’s creative posture during WTSHTF. Too bad there isn’t the same enthusiasm before that, for public exposure, before that takes place. We will most likely, not have the communication reach that we’re accustom to. I’m in a senior center and limited to creative ventures. I think that there is a way that the small, gun powder primers, can be used for a trip warning device or a low yield scare/warning device. If anyone can respond to this potential idea, it could be shared with other survivalists.

    • Eric Tilley says:

      “Necessity is the mother of invention” but my BP doctor and I came up with the axiom that “Communication is the father of prevention” after I finally realized how important proper maintenance of our bodies increases as we get older and how easy it is to be taking in dangerous levels of sodium in our diets without even realizing it, after a close call with out of control blood pressure.

      My family’s backup food supply is now being re-examined for ways to help cut down or eliminate excessive sodium content in order to combat hypertension. Sure, some sodium will be needed in a SHTF situation, but those of us who suffer from high blood pressure still need to keep an eye on the amount. As someone who is very new to this life-changing diagnosis, I now have to make sure I have a good supply of medication in my BOB. (This goes for my wife’s diabetes meds as well!) Crucial yet easy things to overlook.

      Getting older does indeed suck, but I am reluctantly learning to “embrace the suck” and articles like Dylan’s here are really helping. Please keep up the good work, guys! You wouldn’t think that six little reminders could potentially save lives, but I am living proof that they can. Thank you!

  • radarphos says:

    I differ with the suggestion of getting used to cold showers. I spent 6 months (Army)bathing out of a plastic DIY “oil change” bucket. I let it sit in the sun till the water was warm (though I wouldn’t make this a BOB gear item). But what I would include in BOB gear is a solar shower that is a heavy plastic bag with a dark backing, and a tube to a spout. It rolls up fine, doesn’t take much space. Can sit in the sun and warm up. You open it up and “wet up”, then close it and soap up, then open it and rinse off, then close it and dry off. Its a moral booster; and even used by truckers (parked for the night often in obscure places) and wearing swim trunks for an after dark wash off of the daily grind. Just like you said about “solar”, you shower when your water’s warm, and make use of what the day brings. Resigning to cold bath or showers, when you can be smarter and do better for yourself is absurd.

    • DT says:

      Good idea!
      Hot showers are not difficult (location and season dependant, of course), and add a level of moral boosting and basic hygiene/sanitation to the survival situation.
      There many “solar showers” readily available in the marketplace, which are little more than black plastic sacks with a hose that you suspend. Everyone should (I would expect) have h2o storage in a well supplied BOB, and in mine, I use a solar shower just for this – multipurpose use!

  • SteelWolf says:

    “You’ll save a little on electricity charging things with solar every night. ”

    Sure you won’t. You really can not charge by moonlight.

    • SteelWolf says:

      You probably meant something like “Charge up your batteries using the solar panels in the day. Then at night charge your tech off those batteries at night.”

  • Catherine says:

    Absolutely a great article that more people should read. Practice is not just for weapons!

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  • Lisa-Anne Mosher says:

    #6-We have 2 1/2 & 5 gallon solar hot water bags, they work excellent and conserve water! No need to go without that, lol!

  • DT says:

    Personal, id not embrace #1 all that much. Here’s why: reliance on electronic gadgets is overrated. They take up too much space, are heavy, and typically too fragile for real survival situations/ heavy outdoor use. Also, in a worst case scenario, they may be all but useless. No WiFi, no cellular data or communication, you’re relying on what’s stored in that device for what purpose? Consider the fact that solar panels could also make it look, to an adversary, that you have something of value. I dont want to seem disenchanted, but I dont want myself or my family to look like any bigger a target to those who may wish us harm.
    That said, small, portable solar panels coupled with rechargeable batteries for things like flashlights, walkies, sterilizing pens, and the like, make more sense in the long term.

    • lavendersilk says:

      Also a reminder when you carry electronic devices, it can be a tracker device for people (for ex: government or etc) to track you. So it may be wise not to carry ipad, cell phones and such.

  • Diane says:

    I have to tell you a funny story. I went backpacking in Lassen National Park once by myself. Not the best idea, but I didn’t have anyone to go with me. Anyway, I had everything I needed…except for eating utensils! Now what to do? I was ready to cook something. I grumbled for a bit and then started looking around for what I could use. I found a piece of bark that was just the right size and shape to use as a spoon. I found a nice stick I could use to stir with. So, I had utensils after all. :-) If you forget something, look around and you may find a good substitute.

  • Left Coast Chuck says:

    I had a CO in the Marine Corps who had a very sensible attitude toward pain. He was a survivor of the Chosen Follies, so he knew misery first hand. His quote: “You don’t have to practice to be miserable. You can be perfectly miserable the very first time you try.”

    If he could control it he never scheduled a field maneuver in bad weather. His axiom: “All you Marines practice in bad weather is getting in out of the bad weather. You mother should have taught you how to do that by the time you were eight years old. I’m not going to waste perfectly good Marine Corps training money practicing something your mothers should have taught you before you joined up.”

    IMO taking cold showers when you don’t have to is practicing to be miserable. On our Taiwan jaunt in ’58 we took showers from a hose bib that I swear was connected to a mountain spring. We didn’t get used to it. We practiced strict water discipline because no one wanted to stand under that frigid deluge one second longer than necessary. When it turned out we were going to be there longer than 90 days and we got hot water showers installed no one complained and insisted on going back to the spring water shower.

    One thing we did learn is that sanitation is paramount. The whole air group came down with diarrhea and we were not operation for five days. Had the Chinese chosen to invade on day one of the trots problem we would have been without air cover. No pilot could fly and pull G’s suffering from the trots. Most of the first couple of days were spent standing in line so that by the time you had to go again you were near the head of the line. Had we actually been under attack and had to defend ourselves, piles of you know what would have been spread everywhere and we would have been ineffective longer than the five days. We didn’t get invaded because the Chinese had health problems themselves and were out of combat condition due to infection from water borne parasites. HEALTH IS NUMBER ONE.

  • Cheryl says:

    I would add “Staying fit and exercising regularly.” I’ve seen a lot of guys with tons of really cool gear, but they get winded walking up one flight of stairs.

  • Michael Phillips says:

    Good advice

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  • Lisa L says:

    Great article! Very enlightening! Thank you.

  • Teri LeMay says:

    Great advice. Not the usual stuff I read and very insightful . This was very valuable info to me . Thank you so much.

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  • Kim says:

    I love my books and have many many useful books. But I know I could never take them all with me. What do you think about getting some kind of e-reader and collecting useful books on there, along with some kind of solar charging system?
    I would, of course, take a handful of essential printed books just in case the e-reader dies.

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  • Norma says:

    This. Is awesome. When can we expect “6 MORE things?”

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