5 Vacation Ideas for Survivalists and Preppers

With summer approaching, now is the perfect time to plan your next vacation. Here are a few ideas that will allow you to have fun and practice your survival skills at the same time!

1. Roadtrip – But with a twist!

Desert road

Is there anything better than the Great American Roadtrip? It’s a chance to explore new destinations, take in the scenery, and get off the beaten path. This summer you should take a roadtrip to somewhere you’ve never been. But here’s the twist: you have to do it without a GPS or any kind of pre-planned directions. You can use a map if you’ve already got one of the area but this will be a great test of your navigational skills.

To make it extra challenging and fun, try taking off with nothing but your Bug Out Bag. If you want to take it one step further, imagine you’re in a bug out scenario where you need to get away from civilization as fast as you can. You’ll want to avoid crowded highways and may need to head directly across country to get to your final destination. This will be a fun but practical way to test out your bug out plan, gear, and physical/mental fortitude.

2. Hiking the National Trails

Hikers

If you haven’t hiked one of the National Trails before, there’s no better time than the present. These trails are a great way to test your endurance, survival skills, and will in a safe, semi-controlled environment. While some like the Appalachian Trail can get busy during peak season, you’re still able to enjoy them in solitude if you desire. And if something goes wrong, it won’t be long before other hikers stumble upon you to offer assistance. My personal favorite is the Pacific Crest Trail. Once completed, the feeling of accomplishment and pride you will get can’t be put into words and it’s a great way to mentally recharge and be inspired by the nature around you. You can read more about the National Trails here.

3. Fishing the Colorado River

Fishing buoy

Fishing is a great outdoor activity that can be enjoyed on your own or with friends and family. It also teaches a valuable survival skill that you might need to get food some day. The beauty of fishing the Colorado River is that it’s so diverse. You’re not just going to be sitting on the dock like you usually would. You’ve got to get out there and hike to some remote areas where you might even need to camp for the night. This is the perfect weekend trip to get away from it all and practice your survival skills all while enjoying the great outdoors.

If you’re up for a detour while you’re out there, try driving through the nearby Alpine Loop. It’s about a two and a half hour drive from Grand Junction to Silverton but it’s well worth it. The Alpine Loop is a 65-mile system of unpaved roads in Colorado where you will see stunning vistas of treeless tundras and towering mountains. It’s been dubbed the “Switzerland of America”. Along the way, there are many abandoned mining towns that you can camp in. The best time to go is between June and September, a narrow window where there isn’t much snow. Regardless of when you go you’ll want a 4×4 as there is some difficult terrain to cross. A 4×4 is also necessary to visit the famous ghost town of Animas Forks near Silverton.

4. America’s Toughest Road

James Dalton Highway

The James Dalton Highway in Alaska is also known as America’s Toughest Road. It is the longest stretch of unserviced gravel road in the country. Many of the inclines are very steep (up to 12% grade) and much of it is passable only in a 4WD vehicle.  It starts just north of Fairbanks and goes 414 miles to the small town of Deadhorse along the Arctic Ocean. It’s mostly used as a trucking route for the nearby oil pipelines. There are only three towns with gas and supplies along the entire route — survival supplies and skills are a must. It’s often seen as the ultimate road trip because proper planning and preparation are that essential. If you decide to embark on this adventure, plan to take it slow and remember that big trucks have the right of way.

5. A Deserted Island

Deserted island

What could be a better test of your survival skills than having to survive on your own on a deserted island? You will need to establish shelter, build fires, find drinking water and food. If you want to role play a scenario, you can also think about how you would escape the island or signal for help and practice those skills. There are many places where you can rent your own island but if you’re looking for the ultimate challenge check out Devil’s Island. This remote island has no beaches, is miles from the nearest coast, and will truly give you that feeling of being a castaway. It’s the ultimate survival destination.

Thanks

Special thanks to Rob at OFFGRID Survival and the folks over at The Prepared for helping contribute to this article. Check them out if you haven’t already!

Huckleberry Tactical Light Bearing OWB Holster Review

Editor’s note: Huckleberry Tactical was kind enough to offer our readers 10% off all orders with coupon code “BLUERIDGE”. We purchased this holster on our own and will receive no compensation for this review.

Intro

Holster next to Glock 19

I recently started getting into action shooting at my local range and found myself in need of a new holster. My standard defensive setup is a Glock 19 with a Surefire XC-1 weapon light and I knew I wanted to use this same setup for competition so I could get the most practice with it. I don’t really care about having the fastest times, I want to be able to use my defensive weapon effectively in a real world encounter. However, my range had a few restrictions on the types of holsters they allowed, namely it had to outside the waistband and could not have any cant (it had to be perpendicular to the ground), thus my quest for a new holster began.

Finding an OWB holster that fit the Glock 19/XC-1 combo was surprisingly tough but eventually I stumbled across Huckleberry Tactical. They seemed to have everything I was looking for so I decided to try it out.

Now this is not a cheap holster by any means. It sells for $85 which is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum. So the question is going to be, is it worth it? In my humble opinion, absolutely. Let me tell you why.

Purchase Experience

Glock 19 in holster

First, the purchase process was extremely simple and the array of customization options is incredible. They support over 100 different guns and 15 different lights. They allow you to pick your carry side and whether you need an optic cut or have a threaded barrel. They have 60 different color options for your kydex and even let you choose the color of your rivets!

When choosing your holster you also have three options when it comes to a sweat shield: full-slide coverage, half-slide coverage, and no slide coverage. I’m not a fan of slide coverage so I ended up going with no slide coverage but their half-slide coverage is the most popular. Either way, this is a great option to have.

My favorite customization option, however, is that they let you choose your mounting option. So you can decide if you want to attach your holster via belt loop, paddle, Tek-Lok, or even Molle. This is fantastic because you can really tailor the holster to what you need it for and how you like to carry. I really wish more holster manufacturers offered this option. I chose the paddle option because I like being able to easily put the holster on and off if I need to.

Lastly, let’s talk about delivery time. A lot of custom holster makers struggle here but not Huckleberry Tactical. They offer a quick ship option so if you’re like me and like plain, boring holsters you can grab one of their most popular selections that’ll ship to you in just a few days. I received mine just 3 days after placing my order which was very impressive. Even if you go the full custom route, they take just 3-4 weeks compared to other manufacturers that take up to twice as long.

The Holster

Inside of holster

As I said, I received the holster in just a few days. It came with a few Huckleberry stickers and handwritten thank you note — a nice touch. Obviously, the first thing I did was grab my gun and slide it in. It fit well and had just about the perfect retention setting. It had a positive locking sound so you knew when it was set, would not come loose from vigorous shaking, and still slid right out when pulling it from the belt. Just for fun, I tried removing my weapon light and was pleasantly surprised to find the gun still fit with positive retention.

The holster comes with adjustable cant, ride height, and retention through a few sets of screws. However, mine came just the way I need it to with no cant out of the box so I didn’t have to fiddle with it too much. The screws are just a standard Phillips head.

Looking down sights in holster

The kydex is tough and well molded. It seems to be fairly scratch resistant. I like how they cut around the mag release so that you can do administrative reloads if needed. Some holsters will cover the mag release which means you may have to do some cutting with a Dremel. One thing I didn’t like though was the amount of room given for the front sight. You can see there’s quite a big gap above mine and I do wish this was a bit less to give it a smaller footprint. Not a deal breaker for my purposes though.

The paddle it came with has a nice Made in USA emblem. It’s slightly curved to fit your hip and comes with two hooks on both ends to positively attach to your pants or gun belt. The paddle doesn’t require a gun belt, it will hook onto your pants just find but I still recommend wearing one just for that extra bit of assurance.

Holster side view

One thing to keep in mind, is that this holster does not fit as close to the body as ones specifically designed for conceal carry. In the winter time, you’ll definitely be able to conceal it with a jacket but in the summer you will definitely print. It’s perfect for the range or open carry though.

At the range, the holster was just what I was looking for. It gripped my Glock snugly as I was moving around but let it slide right out when I pulled on it purposefully. It felt sturdy and well made and I expect it will last a very long time.

Final Score: 9/10

Holster outside

Overall, I think this is a wonderful holster. It’s pricey and isn’t the best for concealed carry but if you’re looking for a premium, highly customizable, light bearing, OWB holster, I highly recommend the Huckleberry Tactical Light Bearing OWB holster. And if you’re looking for something that is more concealable, check out their IWB options.

Why You Need a Bug Out Bag (And What You Should Have In It)

Some of my non-prepper friends give me funny looks when I tell them they should have a Bug Out Bag. They don’t see the need and always seem to think they’ll have time to pack up what they need when disaster strikes. However, this goes against the core mindset of being prepared. If you take the time to pre-plan what you’ll need in an emergency scenario, you can save time when one happens and greatly increase your odds of getting through one unscathed.

Overview

Simply put, a Bug Out Bag (or BOB) is a bag with essential items you would need to survive for 72 hours. The rationale behind it is that if disaster strikes you may need to flee to somewhere safe and it could take up to 72 hours for rescue workers to get to your area to provide aid. You would need to be able to survive on your own for those 72 hours.

Why You Need One

A lot of people think that they are safer than they are. When bad things happen on the news, they think it’s awful that that could happen to someone but aren’t able to see it happening to themselves. The truth is bad things can happen to anyone, even you. The most basic rule for preppers is to be prepared and the Bug Out Bag is one of the most basic preparedness item one can have, even if you don’t want to identify as a prepper.

Disasters are more common that you might think. Every region in the US is susceptible to natural disasters. There are earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes, flooding, the list goes on. They don’t need to occur often in your area, it just takes one to put you and your family at risk. Aside from natural disasters, there are also threats of what I’d call man-made disasters: riots, civil unrest, terrorist attacks, mass shootings. The point being, there are many reasons you may need to get out of dodge. Even if the chance of any one of these things happening to you is just 1%, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have one happen in your lifetime.

When disaster strikes, time is of the essence. Do you really want to be struggling to pack when you could have done that ahead of time and been able to go immediately? Every minute saved increases your chances of survival. It’s a chance to beat traffic or recover from a mistake. Being prepared is not hard to do, it just takes a little planning. Why wouldn’t you do it if it could save your life?

What’s in your bag?

What You Need In Your Bug Out Bag

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to keep a bug out bag handy and now you might be wondering what you need to have in it. Remember, as a general rule you should keep anything you’d need to last for 72 hours. These may include:

  1. Water or water purification tablets – Whether it’s a pack of plastic water bottles or a stainless steel bottle and water purification tablets, water is essential.
  2. Energy bars, snacks, non-perishable food – Pack food that has a high calorie to weight ratio like protein bars.
  3. Spare clothes – Pack a pair of solid outdoor-worthy clothes. Also, a shemagh and sturdy gloves are recommended.
  4. Fire starter – Take two types of fire starters: whether it’s firesteel, weatherproof matches, or just Bic lighters.
  5. Prescription drugs and vitamins – If you take any prescription drugs daily, make sure to pack them! Pack some vitamins too. I recommend taking a week’s supply of both.
  6. First-aid and trauma supplies – A good medical kit is essential and we’ll cover exactly what you need in a future post.
  7. Toilet paper – ‘Nuff said
  8. Wet wipes – I absolutely love these wet wipes. They are an easy way to stay clean outside.
  9. Map and compass – Keep a map of your local area and a compass handy in case you don’t have access to GPS.
  10. Emergency blankets Emergency blankets have many uses and take up virtually no space at all.
  11. Crank radio with phone charger – Get a high-quality crank radio to keep you informed. Make sure to get one with a USB charger to charge your phone like this one from Midland. Don’t forget to pack a charging cable too!
  12. Fixed blade knife – Pick up a good fixed blade knife that you can use to cut brush if you need to. I like the Gerber Strongarm as an affordable but well built option
  13. Multi-tool – A good multi-tool like the Leatherman Sidekick is always handy to have.
  14. Duct tape – Duct tape has so many uses, you’ve got to have it.
  15. Paracord – Good cordage can be invaluable so pick up some good paracord that you can use to strap things together when you need to.
  16. Flashlight – Pick up a solid flashlight in case you need to find your way around in the dark.
  17. Trash bags – Pack a pair of heavy duty trash bags. They’ve got many uses from acting like a makeshift poncho to an improvised rucksack.
  18. N95 contractor masks – You don’t need a gas mask but these contractor masks will help protect your family from smoke and dust in the event of a fire.
  19. Cash – I’d recommend at least $500 in cash as you’re probably not going to have a chance to get to an ATM.
  20. Copies of important docs – Photocopy your birth certificate, driver’s license, and passport and put them in a ziploc bag so they’re waterproof.
  21. (Optional) Firearm and ammo – If you don’t own a firearm don’t worry about this. If you do I recommend a handgun or takedown rifle and 3 mags. Anything bigger and you need to sacrifice too much on weight and concealability.

Additional Tips

  1. Bag recommendations – I love both Maxpedition and 5.11 Tactical as makers of sturdy, high-quality packs.
  2. Build, don’t buy – While you can buy pre-made bug out bags, I highly recommend building your own so you are familiar with what’s inside and have to force yourself to think about what you really need.
  3. Don’t overdo it – Remember that you are going to potentially have to lug this pack around for a few days. Don’t overpack and avoid items that are not essential so you can keep the weight down and have more room for what you do need.
  4. Bonus tip: keep the gas tank in your vehicle filled. Always leave enough gas in the tank to travel at least 50 miles. The last thing you want to have to do in an emergency is visit a gas station.

Conclusion

For those of you who made it this far, thanks for reading. If you don’t have a bug out bag already, I hope I’ve convinced you to get one. If you do, please share this so we can convince others they need one too!

Must Have Summer Gear

Summer is right around the corner and in addition to your knife, fire starter, and cordage, here are some items that will make hiking, camping, and surviving that much smoother.

1. Bug Spray

My least favorite part of summer is the bugs. Here on the East Coast it gets hot and humid — perfect weather for mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. You might not think bug bites are bad but they carry the risk of disease which could change your life permanently. Mosquitoes can infect you with West Nile virus and dengue. Ticks can transmit lyme disease and alpha-gal — which means you can no longer eat red meat! Protect yourself and pick up some bug spray for a few bucks.

2. Stainless Steel Canteen

When it’s hot out it’s easy to get dehydrated. Keeping a stainless steel canteen with you lets you replenish your water supply if you run out. I prefer stainless steel over other materials because it can be heated in case you need to boil it, is easy to clean, and doesn’t have any funky aftertaste that some plastic bottles do. A good stainless steel canteen should last you a lifetime so think of it like an investment.

3. Shemagh

Sun protection in the summer is very important. A shemagh can provide shade for any exposed skin and act as a dust or smoke cover if needed. When it gets cold at night, it can act as a scarf to keep you warm too. You can also use them to make a makeshift rucksack to carry things. There are so many uses for a shemagh and they can be rolled up into basically nothing. There’s no reason not to bring one.

4. Sunglasses

Again, sun protection in the summer is very important. Your eyes are very sensitive to sunlight and can be damaged if left unprotected. Make sure to get polarized lenses for the best protection and try to get something that covers as much of your field of view as possible. In addition to their protective properties, sunglasses are scientifically proven to make you look cooler.

Hope you have fun this summer and don’t forget the sunscreen!

The 3 Guns Everyone Should Own

1. A Shotgun

Remington 870 Wingmaster

The number one gun everyone should own is a shotgun. Shotguns are incredibly versatile tools and the availability of different ammo types enables them to serve all sorts of different roles. You can use birdshot for hunting birds, small game, and pest control. Buckshot can be used for hunting larger game and home defense. And you can use slugs to hunt even larger game.

I would personally recommend a 12 gauge, pump action for most people. Smaller framed folks or guys who want something their wife can handle may want to consider a 20 gauge. Semi-autos tend to cost more and the cheaper ones tend to jam. A good shotgun should last you a lifetime and you can get a quality one from Mossberg or Remington for under $500.

2. A .22 Rifle

Ruger 10/22 Breakdown

The number two gun everyone should own is a .22 rimfire rifle. Why a .22? A few reasons:

  1. Cost-effectiveness – .22 ammo is cheap and takes up little space. This means you can stock up on it and store it easily. It also means you can practice with it more and for less money.
  2. Portability – .22 rifles are smaller and therefore more portable should you need to take them with you on a trip. Additionally, their low-recoil means that anyone in the family can use one and it’s a great starter gun to teach gun safety.
  3. Versatility – While you’re not going to be able to take down large game with one, they can be used for small game, pest control, and even self-defense in a pinch.

Henry and Ruger both make quality rifles at an affordable price. Personally I would go for the Ruger 10/22 Breakdown for extra portability and a fantastic after-market support system.

3. A 9mm Handgun

Glock 19

The third gun everyone should own is a 9mm handgun. There are a ton of options to choose from here and you really can’t go wrong with anything from Glock, Smith & Wesson, Sig, or any of the other big manufacturers. 9mm is the most widely used ammo in the world. That means you can get it for cheap and stores will always have it in stock. More importantly, 9mm is an extremely effective round. It’s low recoil and hollow points will stop any two-legged threat you come across. Additionally, guns in this caliber are not too big and you can easily find something that you can conceal and still holds 15+ rounds. Simply put, if you can only own one handgun it should be a 9mm.

That’s all for today. Please share your thoughts below!

Top 5 Items You Should Have in Your Car

1. Portable Jump Starter

The last time your car battery died did you have to call someone to get it jumped? Well not anymore!. Advances in battery technology have enabled devices that let you jump your car all by yourself. Most of them have charges that last 30 days or so. Some even have built in flashlights and USB chargers for your devices too!

2. Emergency Blanket

These emergency blankets take up practically no space and could be the difference between life and death if you get stranded. They can keep you warm when you’re cold, give you shade when it’s too hot, and act as a poncho in the rain. Having a set of these in the car for you and your family is a no-brainer.

3. Trauma Kit

A good trauma kit is a must have for any vehicle. Accidents happen and you never know when you’ll be a victim or when you might witness one and have the chance to save a life. Many people prefer to assemble their own trauma kits which is great. Just make sure to include a tourniquet.

4. Fire Extinguisher

You don’t need to carry a full-size extinguisher but you should definitely keep a small one in you car just in case. Make sure the extinguisher you pick is rated for both flammable liquids and electrical fires. We recommend placing it close to your driver seat if possible so it is within easy reach.

5. Water

Water is something that most people take for granted. They never realize how important it is until they need it. I recommend carrying at least 2 gallons with you at all times, more if you have a family. Water is cheap so you really have no reason not to stock it!

That’s all for this list. What else do you like to keep in your vehicle?

Why YOU should be a prepper

These days “preppers” and “survivalists” have gotten associated with a negative connotation, conjuring up images of crazy apocalypticists hoarding for the end of the world. Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, however, most preppers (like me) are people you wouldn’t even realize are preppers. We’re folks who believe that being prepared is important because we want to take care of our families should the worst arrive. Prepping for us isn’t a lifestyle but a responsibility — but it can still be fun!

I started prepping when I first got married. I love my wife and I realized that I needed to be able to protect her now matter what situation arrived. At it’s core, that’s what being a prepper is all about — being prepared for whatever might happen. The beauty of it though is that you get to decide what scenarios you believe are likely to happen.

After we got married, my wife and I moved into a small house in the country. We were new to the neighborhood and while it was a safe one, I still worried about potential break-ins because I had heard stories from some of our neighbors. This was a perfect scenario for something unexpected that could happen that I wanted to be prepared for. So knowing that I had a duty to protect my wife and our property what did I do? Well the first thing I did was have a security system installed. Nothing crazy, just some basic door and window sensors to alert the authorities in case we weren’t home. The second thing I did was to buy a gun — a Glock 19 which I felt was sufficient for warding off one or two bad guys.

Now I did what I needed to do to feel comfortably prepared for the threats given my unique circumstances. Other folks might have chosen to get a more robust security system with lights, motion sensors, and cameras. Others may have decided they don’t even need a security system, maybe they have a guard dog that can do better. My choice of a handgun for home defense was what worked for me. Others might have been more comfortable with a shotgun or a rifle. The point is you can choose how you want to prepare for your scenarios they key is to be prepared.

Now preparing for a break-in is something that one might find a little paranoid. Break-ins are rare but could have severe consequences. But there are also less severe scenarios that are worth prepping for. A couple months in to living in our new home, my wife and I experienced a terrible storm which led to our first power outage. It lasted about one day power outage which is not much more than an inconvenience but it’s still something you want to be prepared for. Luckily for us, we’re avid campers so we had lanterns, portable stoves, and a cooler for the contents of our fridge. How would you have fared?

To anyone reading this who isn’t a prepper I offer you this challenge. Think of three or four scenarios that could happen to your family and ask yourself if you’re adequately prepared for them. They don’t have to be major or severe. Just like my power outage example above they could be small like a kitchen fire or a flat tire. And they might be bigger like a natural disaster. If you’re reading this and you are a prepper then I’m preaching to the choir and I ask that you please share this with your non-prepper friends in the hopes we help them.

You don’t have to prep for the end of the world but you should absolutely prep for the unexpected.

A New Adventure Begins

Today is an exciting day. Survival has been a long time passion of mine and I’m excited that I finally get to work on it full time. It is my great pleasure to welcome you to Blueridge Survival.

At Blueridge Survival, we believe that survival skills are critical for everyone to know. Survivalists and preppers have gotten a negative connotation over the years (we’ll discuss that more in a future post) and our mission is educate everyday folks on the rationale and important behind being prepared and having basic survival skills and gear.

More to come…