Winterland Survival Kit




I lived in Colorado for nearly 15 years, in the time I lived there; there were several times I would find myself traveling along the highways and byways in rough winter driving.  In the fall of 1991, I decided I needed a kit in my vehicle; after all I was a Boy Scout leader teaching First Aid merit badge and a member of Mountain Search and Rescue.   What would become routine for me would continue in variations about twice a year.  I put together my Winterland Survival Kit, which I would change which kit and contents I would carry about twice a year.  My Winterland Survival Kit would go in on October 1 each year and would be made of a heavy wool blanket, a spare winter jacket, with a pair gloves and a wool hat stuffed into the pockets, I would place 1 gallon of water with a little salt to change the freeze level.   The next and most important item was the 50 caliber ammo can, which I strapped down on the back (of my Isuzu Trooper II) which contained: 100’ 550 Parachute cord, a 100 hour candle, space blanket, Calcium Carbide (which was in three plastic film containers), waterproof matches (in another plastic film container), some Powerbars, a metal canteen cup, some Richmor Food, Signal Mirror, a small first aid kit, flint and steel and a flashlight.  The idea of this kit was to keep me alive in the event I became mired on the road in a winter event.  The key when running a vehicle while sitting in the snow, is too keep the windows cracked, in case the tail pipe gets blocked with snow.

As you look for through my Winter Survival Kit, you see Calcium Carbide Lumps 50g Bottle and you may ask what is it and what is it for?  Ever hear of a Carbide Lamp or Lantern?  Probably not, unless you were alive in 1894 or so, the lamps were originally made for early bicycles and in about 1900 they were introduced for use in lighting until about 1950, they were also popular with miners and cavers, however, the light produced comes from the material when it is wet and burns with an open flame.   So, if you had a gas leak in your home or underground gasses, the potential for disaster was high to say the least.


In the kit, Calcium Carbide was used to make heat, or cook with.  I could take a snowball outside, make an divot or rounded hole in the top, drop in some Calcium Carbide, which would activate with the water, giving off a flammable gas, which I would light with a match or flint and steel and I would have a “flaming snowball” (Papa Bear Whitmore, 1991).  More importantly, I would have a way to melt snow for water or to cook with or to make a fire outside with.  I carried Calcium Carbide in all my gear everywhere I went, but you had to make sure you used water tight containers.  While Calcium Carbide is a Hazardous Material, it is invaluable in your kits, but use Caution with this, like all things can be dangerous in the wrong hands and can injury or maim or worse.  You are responsible for its use or misuse.


As for my May 1 to October 1 Winterland Survival Kit, while it was not winter in Colorado, we only really had two seasons, one being winter and the other being summer and depending on the day, it could be either or both at the same time.  For my “summer” kit, I exchanged the one gallon of water for two sealed gallons, exchanged the perishables in my kit, changed batteries and removed the coat and blanket.  If I was planning more than a day trip up the hill other than to Georgetown or Idaho Springs, I would take more gear.  There is really no such thing is a little more gear, than not having it and wellbeing found after the spring thaw (which does happen more than you know).


The extra items which were not really part of my kit, but I would add depending on where I was going, I would include my Sorel Snow Boots (which I still have), extra wool socks, E-Tool, a snow shovel, kitty litter and a couple road flares.


Being Prepared is a State of Mind as much as it is having the right Gear.

Food Stores


I have been asked more times than I can count about Food Stores.

I suggest:  You have on hand at least one case of MRE’s, pouched food by Mountain House, Alpine Air, Backpackers Pantry or another brand you know and trust.  Pouched Foods can last usually seven years if stored correctly.

Next, I would have bulk supply, whether it be beans and rice or what have in mylar double sealed containers.  As for Mylar you will want FDA grade both in the bags and in the buckets.  Most people do not consider this, if they are not FDA grade the previous contents or the containers themselves can leech into the food you have stored.  For a five gallon bucket you will want a liner, such as a 7mil mylar bag, and smaller interior bags.  You can bulk pack gallons of rice, but for waste and vermin reasons, I recommend you pack in smaller quantities so you can only use as much as you need at one time.  Each bag should have an O2 absorber inside, from the smaller bags to the bucket itself.  If you are short on space, but have a strong metal container you can use the 7mil mylar bags without a bucket.  Depending on where you plan on storing your bulk food supply you will want a metal container to keep out larger pests.

Lastly, you will want Bulk Heirloom seeds.  When it comes to seeds, you need to buy quality over quantity and make sure you are getting the seeds which are zoned to grow in your area.  I would even later add seeds for areas which you might travel by foot or animal, only for the reason they are tradable and you might want to move some distance away at some point.




When the power goes out most people start with the fridge and the dry goods, which you should as well, but what happens if the power stays out, or there is a larger natural or worse unnatural disaster?




You will want to crack open your MREs first; you can eat these 3,000 calorie meals for about two weeks, but no longer.  MREs have been longing called “Meals Refusing to Exit” but for this scenario, it would be best not to consume more than one per day and not longer than two weeks.  Next, I recommend you break into the pouched food, while some are awesome; some others leave something to be desired or disgusted later.  I have had all the Wise Food, most of the Mountain House and Backpackers Pantry as well as some of the Alpine Aire.  I enjoyed all, but one of the hardest things to get over is how it looks and tastes as compared to your regular fair, but it will keep you alive and this is numero uno.  You can eat this for the next two to three weeks.  By this time, services should be restored, if not, time to change your menu again.  After thirty to forty-five days you will start breaking into your bulk foods (#10 canned or dry bulk), once you decide to do this, watch how much you are making and reduce waste by only opening what you absolutely need.  An opened #10 can will last about a year and half and sealed can 20+ years (if stored correctly); properly sealed bulk mylar or buckets will last 20+ years as well.  After breaking into your bulk foods you should be planting your “Victory Garden” with your heirloom seeds.  Save MRE’s and pouched foods as supplements when you have to move or to “patrol” your area as the disaster continues.  Last thing you want to be is waiting in line for the National Guard or FEMA to dole out supplies.  With any of my suggestions, you will need Water and a clean source of it.


Prepper and DIY Basics

How to Find, Make and Purify Water


You may not have ever thought of yourself as a prepper, or maybe you have, but either way, learning how to find and purify water in both the wilderness and urban areas is an essential survival tactic that everyone should needs to know. We can survive quite a while without food, but without water, we’re doomed within days. It’s critical to learn some do-it-yourself skills that don’t require modern technology, and that can help you survive in the event of any kind of disaster.

When it comes to finding water in the wilderness, the first step is being able to recognize the clues as to where water hides, and the different types of water sources. Many times water may be found hidden in tree holes or the roots of plants, but it may take a great deal of work to extract it – and sometimes you just don’t have the tools or the time. Additionally, you may be able to find water by following birds and animals (or their tracks) to their water source, but this may also take a lot of effort and time. Instead, probably the easiest way for a survivalist to find water is to make a below-ground still. In order to do this, you just need a few items: something to dig with, a small container to collect the water in, a drinking tube (optional), some plastic sheeting (ideal, but in the absence you may use any synthetic material), and a rock.

To get water by using a below-ground still, you first must choose a section of the ground that is not only moist, but gets a good deal of sunlight for a majority of the day. You then dig a hole into the ground approximately two feet deep and three feet across, with a little extra depth right in the center where you put your holding container. You need to make sure that the soil below the container is as flat and level as possible, so you don’t lose any of the water you have gained.

If you have a drinking tube, you will put it in the container and run it up the side of the hole. Although it is more beneficial to have a drinking tube so you can keep the evaporation and condensation process continual, if you do not, you can always remove the container to take a drink in an emergency.
Once you have placed your drinking tube, the next step is to place your plastic sheeting over the hole and cover the sides with rocks, soil, or any other items to secure it. Then put a single rock in the center and let it hang down several inches until its low point is centered just above the container below. To finish it off, check the edges to ensure they are secure. If they aren’t, add more soil and rock to stabilize the sheeting.

What you have just created is essentially a DIY solar still; it is probably one of the easiest ways to obtain water, because it works without a lot of effort. As the water evaporates in the hot sun, it is trapped and condenses on the plastic sheeting, eventually running down the slope of the sheeting and dropping into the holding container. One other way to get additional water into your container is to fill the hole with some moist leaves or foliage. They will provide additional moisture, but this should not be done unless you are certain the plants are not poisonous.

Sometimes just obtaining water isn’t enough. There are times when you must filter your water, if possible. Making a DIY water filter is simple to do, and may be put together with a plastic bag, a hollow log, a can, or any other similar item. Just layer rocks, sand and cloth a few times within the container, poke 5-6 holes in the bottom, and hang it from a tree branch. When you pour the water in the top, it will filter naturally and come out through the holes in the bottom. You can also boil your water to purify it, but in the absence of an ability to build a fire, sometimes a filter is all you’ve got.

Preparedness is important, and it’s not something anyone should put off learning about. Preppers aren’t just about preparing for long-term disasters and living off the grid, most often they are just regular people with a DIY curiosity, and a desire to understand critical survival techniques in the event of a natural disaster. Finding water is an important skill – and now you know.

Choosing a Gas Mask

Choosing a gas mask is an important choice as it may become a vital piece of lifesaving equipment in the future. It is imperative to choose a mask that will not only fit your needs but also will function at peak efficiency in the event that it is needed. There are a huge number of variations in gas masks, be sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with what will be needed for your individual situation. Ideally a gas mask should be included in a get home bag and another in a bugout bag. This provides protection against chemical and biological agents both at home and on the go.

Common Purchasing Mistakes


  • One common pitfall when purchasing a gas mask is trying to save money by buying military surplus or New Old Stock (NOS). These masks can be purchased at a steep discount when compared to others on the market. The problem is that they are cheaper for a reason or variety of reasons. In the case of military surplus, it does not necessarily mean that the armed forces just have extras. These are masks that tend to be out of date, ill-fitting or take filters that are not as effective as newer models. Purchasing an ineffective gas mask could annul your plans and make your 72 hour kit completely ineffective.


  • Gas masks must be purchased within a time frame where they are still effective. Just as an example, the very widely circulated Israeli military gas masks have a 20 year life span. Anything beyond this has a good chance of failure and should not be purchased. Some older gas masks have not only degraded to the point of being ineffective, they can actually be harmful. This is generally seen in the WWII era masks and older Russian masks. They may contain asbestos in the filters which is extremely hazardous to the user. Do not purchase masks that are not currently being used, there is a reason that they were taken out of use.


  • Another problem with outdated gas masks (aside from the fact that they are significantly less effective) is that they may use 60mm thread filters. Modern masks almost universally use 40mm filters and these two are not interchangeable. NATO gas masks use the standard 40mm filters and many vendors will refer to NATO filters, meaning that they use the same thread that is common to most masks.

Protection Levels


There are various types of protection offered by gas masks. It is important to understand the threats that you might face and purchase the proper mask accordingly. Some masks, such as the outdated and defective ones mentioned above offer almost no protection while others can keep the user safe from a wide variety of environmental hazards and toxins.

It is possible to acquire masks that offer protection similar to a HEPA filter. This may be suitable for some needs, but it is not recommended for anyone preparing for catastrophe. This type of mask might be effective against something like mustard gas, but is very limited otherwise.

In order to be protected to optimum levels, a mask and filters should be certified for NBC. This means that the mask will protect the user from nuclear, biological and chemical threats. Of course there is nothing that can be bought which will completely guarantee safety, but getting a mask with NBC protection will give the best chance of surviving any catastrophic event.


Donning and Proper Fit

Donning the gas mask is one of the most important parts of having a mask. Without the ability to get the mask on your face properly, there is no point to having one in the first place. The military has all personnel practice donning gas masks because practice is the only way to learn the proper procedure. Otherwise when it comes to a stressful, life or death situation it is all too easy to freeze up or panic.

Ensuring that a gas mask is fitted properly is more difficult than it sounds. There are things that some people do not consider, for instance some models will not fit over eyeglasses. Taking off the glasses is fine, though this will leave the user able to breathe but not see. Another important consideration is that facial hair will interfere with the mask having a tight seal to the face. Masks were designed to fit against skin, hair can interfere with this and leave small gaps where contaminants can seep in.


In order to learn proper fitting for a gas mask, it is highly recommended to get training from a professional. If this is not a possibility, be sure to at least practice donning the gas mask at home. This will prevent simple things from interfering with your survival. Without practice it is possible that forgetting to remove the cap from a filter could prevent air flow from the mask. In the event that a mask is needed, it will not be possible to just remove the filter and try again.


Checking proper fit goes along with this practice as well. A mask that does not fit is no better than not having a mask at all. Several videos are available online showing the ways to check the fit of a gas mask. A simplistic way to check for fit is to cover the filter and breathe in, the mask should collapse down a bit. Then breathe out and check to see that the mask bulges out.


Continue To Learn

New technology is always being developed and it is up to each person to remain up to date with what products are available for critical survival needs. Hazards related to war and terrorism are always changing as new technology is made available. This makes it of paramount importance to remain in stride with these new hazards by possessing the most current gas masks available.


Be sure to follow the advice contained within this article, but also continue to learn and research what steps can be taken to survive a catastrophe. A gas mask is an integral part of survival and a correct, properly fitted gas mask is the only type that will be of use.


Updated considerations, if you are prepping to survive in a city environment, you will want to have at least a BC Rated Mask and filter to protect against Biological and Chemical agents.  A Gas Mask may not filter out the smell of decay, but it will protect you from the hazards associated with inhaling biologicals.

Fitment with glasses- you will need to consider the kind of mask in which you are going to purchase, most will need an insert to use your glasses with, otherwise you might be protected from the environment, but if you cant see, well that would be a major problem.

While Gas Masks protect against inhaled NBC microns, you will need additional gear to protect your skin.

Critical Survival’s use of Gas Masks is to allow you to move away from the threat- I keep one in my Get Home Bag (Israeli Version)  and I have another in my Three Day Pack which can be used with a rifle- which makes placement of the filter on the mask important as well.


Seeds, Seeds, Everywhere Seeds.  The Problem is seeds are not all equal.   The seeds that are sold at your big box retailer are non-heirloom seeds.  Well what does that mean?  Non-heirloom seeds or hybrid seeds are not designed to have seeds that will produce viable plants after the initial crop.  So, how do you get great seeds and plants every crop?  You need to use Heirloom seeds so that you, your family and love one’s can survive.


We personally recommend Wabash Feed Store.  The main reason we support this store is the quality of the seeds are great, pricing is awesome and you have to support your local business wherever you may be. When buying heirlooms you need to make sure you are buying seeds to be grown in your zone. It would be pointless to have Red Wheat in southern Texas, which will not grow here, but will grow in Colorado in the winter time.


Wabash Feed Store

4537 N Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77018

Phone: (713) 863-8322

Cold Blast Lanterns

I was recently asked about kerosene Lanterns or White Gas lanterns, and while this not a subject I have thought much about in the past. I recommend either, but for more robust use, I would highly recommend the Cold Blast Hurricane Lantern. I first used the Cold Blast Hurricane Lanterns while I was at Camp Powhatan on the Blue Ridge Mountains Council Reservation Scout Camp. I worked here as the Camp Quartermaster for four summers as well as during Order of the Arrow events. Part of my job there was to maintain the lanterns and rebuild them as necessary.



The globe was really the only part you had to be careful with, unless you were trying to use it for a hammer..but you would be amazed at what people do sometimes. The only other hazard was to make sure you did not turn the wick (flat type) down too far it fell in (takes a bit to fish out) or across thread the cap. If you someone you know in your survival group collects Aladdin Oil Lamps, these will work well, except they are prone to breakage easily-but parts are readily available until the lights go out for good.


In a survival situation having light, when there is none available will help boost morale, but used improperly can lead to disastrous situations. Kerosene if properly stored has a shelf life from three years to many years. We had a 55 gallon drum of K1 we used for over five years in the woods of Virginia and it only became questionable at the tail end of the fourth year, but still was usable until the fifth year.

Recommend Books


Survival Education


When the store was open I was frequently asked about which books  I would recommend, so here they are in no particular order.


The 2 oz Backpacker I have carried on every camping trip for the last 30 years.   The Papa Bear Whitmore book, W.I.S.E Guide I recommend from the standpoint that while I was with Search and Rescue in Colorado, my team and I took one of his classes and the knowledge he shared with us was invaluable.  Papa Bear Whitmore passed away in 2003.   The Rawles books are fiction, however, they are informative and a good read.  There is no one book out there that will contain all the information, but consider many sources for your Survival Education.

Click the Book name to be linked to Amazon.  



Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, Bradford Angier


Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants, Bradford Angier


Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, James Wesley Rawles


One Second After, William R. Forstchen


The Art of War, Sun Tzu


The 2 Oz Backpacker: A Problem Solving Manual for Use in the Wilds, Robert S. Wood


The W.I.S.E. Guide to Wilderness Survival, Papa Bear Whitmore / Jim Bunstock