Since the dawn of mankind, humans have been making and using tools. And there’s good reason for that—without the right tools self-sufficiency can, and will, quickly become unhinged. Because feeling confident in the Great Outdoors is paramount, our belief is the more robust your bushcraft knowledge and survival skill set, the better equipped you’ll be to manage the unknown.
So, we often lean on field experts for their fail-proof survivalist tips and tricks. Take, for example, author and survival guru James Wesley Rawles—a former U.S. Army Intelligence Corps Officer and founder of SurvivalBlog.com —whose new book, “Tools for Survival,” takes the guesswork out of off-the-grid sustainability by exploring the essential tools one would need to thrive on his own if disaster struck. Because we learned long ago that disaster isn’t choosy, we were eager to connect with this preparedness fanatic.
Here’s the wisdom and know-how Rawles recently dispensed to GrindTV.
Why is survival preparedness gaining popularity?
We live in a complex and increasingly interdependent global economy. With each passing year, dependence on the power grid and within telecommunications increases. Urbanization is also continuing. At present, in the United States just 1 percent of the population is now feeding the other 99 percent. This disconnect from traditional farming, ranching, and fishing clearly illustrates just how vulnerable our society has become to any major socioeconomic disruption. People have woken up to the realities of this new paradigm, and in that light, survivalism is just a manifestation of our rational self-interest.
The survivalist mentality has expanded; who do you credit for igniting that growth—the Discovery Channel?
Yes, television shows dedicated to preparedness have helped, but another component has been expanded offerings on The Weather Channel that underscore vulnerabilities. Global news coverage of Hurricane Katrina, the Fukushima meltdown, and the war in Ukraine have also contributed. Anyone who has watched these incidents who hasn’t been alarmed and motivated to prepare must be outstandingly oblivious.
Where have you noticed the greatest gain in survivalist growth?
In recent years, the most noticeable growth has been among liberals and atheists. The prepper movement is no longer predominantly the realm of conservatives, libertarians, and Christians. Liberals have shown that they are just as capable of displaying common sense. Most of them are just getting a later start on prepping, so they have some catching up to do.
How should someone new to survival preparedness begin their education?
Take a look at SurvivalBlog’s Quick-Start Guide for Preparedness Newbies.
Two statements from your book resonate: “Survival isn’t about stuff; it’s about skills.” and “Tools without training are almost useless.” What’s the distinction between them?
Some skills can be self-taught, with simple hands-on experience and repetition. But others require learning from an expert. For the latter, find the very best experts you can.
What are the top three to five survival skills all women should commit to memory?
1.) Practical self defense shooting should be at the top of their list, since their gender’s smaller size and less muscle mass per pound puts women at a disadvantage in physical combat. Firearms are indeed the great equalizer.
2.) Gardening for self-sufficiency.
3.) Food storage (canning and dehydrating foods).
4.) 19th Century hand crafts (these are skills that do not require electricity).
What essential skills come in handy for youngsters?
The most important skills are learning how to take directions from adults, and learning old-fashioned patience. A post-disaster world will be a dangerous place, and children need to learn to take orders immediately, and not make a fuss. The same world will be one without electronic gadgets, so kids need to learn to enjoy reading and playing traditional games, or they will be very frustrated and unhappy.
National debate about firearms continues to spark controversy. Share with us your thoughts on the subject?
To my mind the debate has been settled. Pre-gun legislation, legal precedents, and common sense have prevailed. Open carry is legal in most states, concealed carry permits are now readily available in 48 states, and permits are no longer required in several states. Meanwhile, the street crime rate has been steadily dropping. More guns mean less crime. (An armed society is a polite society.)
What’s in your first aid kit?
Beyond a typical store-bought “boo-boo kit,” a proper first aid kit should be upgraded to handle burns and traumatic injuries. This means adding a Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT), battle dressings, rehydration solutions, coagulants (such as Quik-Clot or CELOX), and plenty of gauze. A full chapter in “Tools For Survival” describes these items in detail.
What essential books should be on a survivalist’s reading list (other than this one!)?
As a general reference, I highly recommend Carla Emery’s “Encyclopedia of Country Living” (published by Sasquatch Books). It’s an amazing compendium that belongs on the bookshelf of every prepared family.
For more on GrindTV