Prepping for Disaster: MM’s Assignments 1–3

Max Moore is a former Intelligence Specialist in the U.S. Navy and a former Hospital Corpsman in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is currently the owner of Maxwell’s Soaps and works with homeless veterans.

MM is ex military and his bag includes several weapons, hand tooled knives given to him by a fellow soldier in Afghanistan, three pairs of socks, waterproof paper and pens, an extra phone, instant coffee packets, marijuana, a beer, and a cigar.

Assignment #1: BAG AND BOOTS

Intro: Understand that this is a kit that you’ll need in case of an emergency.

So all this stuff with any luck will be gathering dust in the trunk of your car or hallway closet. Yes, taking this stuff down to rotate batteries or foodstuff is a great idea, as is taking a hike with it to practice living out of it… But DO NOT start a habit of tearing into this stuff whenever you want a snack or can’t find a lighter.

Pack it, and for the most part?

Leave it alone.

This is your life support gear.

Respect it.

Ok, here we go…

To start, get yourself a good 3-day hiking bag.

Something in the 2000–300cubic inch, 30–40liter size.

In a pinch, your Jansport high school backpack will work, but it’ll be tight and not that strong.

There are some ultralight designs I’ve seen recently which are pretty great… But whatever you go with…

Look for bombproof zippers and double stitching on seams.

A nice hip pad is helpful to help spread the load.

Overbuilt padding on the shoulders will make a big difference.

Most packs nowadays will have a camelback-style bladder

Included, which is not to be passed up on.

The majority of the weight in this pack will likely be water, which gets heavy fast…

I like the Kelty Map backpack, or the medium military ALICE pack with external frame. The Kelty will cost about 150.00 but if you hike, you probably have something that’ll already work, but if not, start by looking on Craigslist and EBay. There’s always a TON of really deeply discounted packs on there.

If you want to buy new, try outdoor outlet in Alhambra.

Something with a semi-rigid frame is great.

If you need help tracking down a pack, let me know.


Assignment#2: WATER

There’s a rule of 3’s they teach in survival school. Goes like this:

3minutes without air

3hours without shelter

3days without water

3weeks without food

After air, after shelter, and before food… Water.

I personally would never wanna try to go a day without water, 3 days?

Fuck that.

So let’s start talking about water.

In the event of an earthquake or natural disaster, this will be the first thing to fly off the shelves at the store.

You REALLY don’t want to be fighting to the death over a bottle of Sparkletts in the grocery store parking lot.

Point is? Buy it early. Today.

Store a case in your vehicle.

Store a case in that too-high shelf in your bathroom closet.

Store 3 cases under your bed.

Then get rid of the dumb shit under your bed and store another case.

Your kids drink water.

Your dog drinks water.

There’s a lot of dead space under your sofa.

Crawl spaces, attic spaces.

Look at it this way…

When the shit hits the fan?

It’ll be the most important asset you can have. Basic survival insurance.

10 gallons per person in your house.

That’s my minimal goal.

If FEMA were to follow the Katrina Superdome model, the FEMA recommended 3gallons per person isn’t going to cut it. Not even close.

I’m personally storing a minimum of 10–15 gallons for myself in my home.

Now, a smart bunny knows there’s treatable drinkable water in the toilet tank.. Not the bowl. That’s poo-water.

Don’t drink poo water.

And there’s also drinkable water in your hot water tank and the pipes.

Useful places to salvage drinking water for your canteens if folks have abandoned their homes or they’re burned down. Check the burned out abandoned houses for water, which will likely still be in a wreck of a house.

Ah, canteens. You’ll need at least 3 liters of water for your bug out bag.

No less than 3 liters to run with in your bag…

No less than 3 gallons in your car…

No less than 10 gallons in your house..

This setup means you can stay put in the house for at least 10 days(@1gallon/day) avoiding problems outside.. Failing that, You can drive for at least 3 days, getting past most problems(gas becoming the pinch point in that plan), and should all that fail, you can walk for 1–2 days on the water in your pack.

Canteens cont.

Nalgene style are great,

GI issue canteens are great.

Get the cloth cover that has the fuzzy liner.. You can saturate the inner fuzzy liner with a few splashes of water, and as it evaporates, it pulls the heat out of the canteen.

Science! :)

I use an old wool hiking sock on my nalgene to create the same effect.


Oh my sweet camelback.

They can and will fail. So ALWAYS carry a canteen or rigid walled backup.

The threads don’t tolerate cross threading . The hose connection at the base of the bag should get a liberal application of duct tape, or hit it with superglue. Same with the bitevalve. I use electrical tape to keep mine on. Always hang these things from something like a tree branch or a vehicle doors mirror. Don’t let it rest on the ground, tiny thorns that are all over California will punch through the carrier and cause a pinhole leak in the bladder. The weight of gear will also press the fluid out of the bite valve. Rookie move.

Ah yes, don’t put any sugar product in your camelback. It’ll just get gross. Water or ice. Nothing else.

I cheat with the bottled lemon juice. In the cool lemon shaped squirter.


So if you’re going to run your bail out bag with a camelback? (Good idea) just Make sure any electronics or water-sensitive gear in your bag are in a ziplock(including paper products like asswipe and maps) if the camelback fails it’ll swamp your gear.

(Canteens cont.)

There’s a vodka company called kru vodka. Decent booze, comes in a nice aluminum water bottle. Perfect as an up cycled canteen.

Check the surplus store, but test the canteens at home for leaks. Save your receipt.

Really, go to goodwill.

They’ve got a decent selection of hiking flasks usually.

I find steel ones in there all the time(great for boiling water on a flame!) never paid more than 3 -5 bucks.

Once filled, screw the caps on and give them a squeeze to check they hold pressure and don’t drip.

Lifewater makes a thicker mil plastic bottle. I re-used one of their 1 liter bottles for 5 months before losing it.

Life water has Stronger plastic than the arrowhead bottles. I’ve been told the chemicals leech out of the plastic, but they’ll work in a pinch.

Whatever you choose, fill 3 of them, stuff them in your pack.

Enough on bottles and canteens.

Bugging in and water:

I figure if things get bad, i would rather stay in the house, and unless it burnt down, try not try to leave my house unless I had to. (Air, shelter, water, food)

But in order to stay in your shelter, to wait out problems, you’ll need water.

When the shit hits the fan?

Run, don’t walk to your bathroom, plug the tub drain and turn on the tap. Same with the sinks.

Keep duct tape under your sinks to make an expedient plug so they’ll be holding water.

Collect all the water you can in your tub and sink before the mains lose pressure, not all that likely, true.

but it’ll keep you out of the Sparkletts fight we talked about.

Earthquakes cause fires and possible ruptures in the main. If the pressure bleeds down, no more tap water. Firefighters bleed down pressure on the same main you drink from.

I should sidebar here.

We’re gonna talk about food in assignment 3…but, if you’re storing dry food,(good idea) you’ve gotta remember to allocate the water you need to boil or reconstitute the dry food!

All the dry beans and rice aren’t worth shit if you only stored 3 liters of water.

And then there’s hygiene issues to consider. You can wash with wet-wipes, but you’ll need to brush your teeth with water.



Get more than you think you need.

Then get more. If you take in friends or neighbors it’ll be the first thing they ask for.

Buy yourself some water purification tablets. Throw those into your bug out bag from lesson 1.

Consider investing in a Steri-pen and /or a Katadyn water filter. These are limited but good as portable options for filtering water on the go.

There is a Berkey filter which is supposedly very good and some great vapor distillation products I’m looking at for in the home.

But mostly?

All that filtering and purification if you live in an urban area is going to be a last resort problem… if you’re out of potable water and trying to filter the water in the LA river… Well, you’re well-fucked. So my money is on stockpiling it now. Filters and purification pills are tools that you really should hope not to need.

Large volume

For the bug in scenario, go get a bottle of bleach and leave it with your emergency gear.

I think it’s a capful of bleach to a gallon of water.. This will be a great start to cleaning questionable water supplies. Keep pots and kettles for boiling.

You can get yourself a food grade blue water barrel on craigslist for less than 20 bucks, btw.

I figure signing on with arrowhead and stockpiling the water they deliver is a great cheat..

There’s is also large volume water storage tanks. I like the 275gallon tank with the steel ribs that are commonly lifted by forklifts. Personally, I like the idea of storing my water in manageable portable portions. So I go with the 5gallon arrowhead delivery bottles as my largest vessel. Also like the1 gallon bottles available at smart & final in 6gallon cases. Affordable and convenient.

That’s it.

That’s all I have on water.

That’s assignment 2.


This ones easy.

We all eat.

You just have to shift towards storing more than you usually consume, buying shelf stable foods, and planning on

Start building a more than modest pantry.

Mormon websites are a wealth of knowledge about food storage.

Buy more than you will eat in a week till you go shopping again. Buy stuff you wouldn’t be tempted to mow through when you come home drunk.

So, there’s a few sources to think about.. Costco is a pretty obvious one. But so is 99cent store.

In my bug out bag, I run MREs, tuna packets, Tasty Bites and powerbars.

I don’t want to have to pause to cook, start a telling fire, or carry fuel and a stove. I don’t wanna have to dirty a spoon or fork. Tear a corner off the package and squirt the chow in your mouth. Everything in your BOBag should be something you can eat as you’re walking, driving or working. Trailmix, granola bars, cookies, etc.

Survival hack?

With a splash of water to wash it down? I think the sweetened oatmeal packages are great. Really dry, but you kinda chew the oats with water as you walk.

I also like protein powder on my oats if I make them in a wet bowl.

In the car keep a small foods storage box.. Trailmix, peanuts, etc.

Enough for 3–4days.

In the house keep a large rotating store of canned foods.

Buy a second can opener for when the one you have breaks.

Practice getting into a can with a multi tool.

Again, like water.. Stuff food wherever you have room.

Supplement with dry stores like pasta, rice, flour, sugar, coffee and teas. Don’t forget olive and vegetable oils for cooking. Also powdered milk and jars of jelly and honey. Add to that Gatorade powder.

Coffee, salt, sugar, hot spice, tea, coco… All very big morale boosters!

Your house might burn down, your dog might die, but it’s incredible how much better a warm cup of cocoa makes your day.

Sriracha sauce. It’ll make anything taste better..

For wet foods I lean towards canned corned beef hash, tuna,peanut butter , chunky soup, stag chili, pasta sauces, peanut butter, instant miso soup,pickles, jerky, fruit cocktail in heavy syrup, pineapple chunks, canned veggies.

Basically look into anything Jenny Craig and weight watchers tells you to avoid.

For dry food





Banana chips

instant rice,

mahatma rice&beans


Tins of Danish sugar cookies

Spicy almonds

Backpackers pantry and mountain high dehydrated foods. Check online for sales. Costco too.

Store this stuff in hardened plastic bins so pests don’t get to it.

Set a few mouse traps all around and on top and tape the boxes closed do they don’t spill on transport. It’ll also alert you if they’ve been tampered with.

I drop a few cubes of rat poison in the corners on my storage facilities and especially near the sealed boxes of my survival food cache.

Rats will destroy your pantry in very short time, what they don’t eat, they’ll piss on. Kill them.

You’ll know your own gluten, vegan, allergic conditions, so I won’t get too far into it.

But consider a bottle of mylanta or maalox or pepto. Or a roll of tums.

Or Benadryl.

The preservatives in this food give my guts issues.

So if you eat, you poop.

If the water is off, where do you flush your poop?

Go buy a shovel.

A nice one.

Add to the cart a few Home Depot buckets with lids, a roll or 2 of garbage bags, another bottle of bleach, and 2 big bags of kitty litter.

Then add some hand sanitizer, some latex gloves, and some toilet paper.


Dig a slit latrine for urine.. Pick the furthest spot in the backyard from the house. 50 yards from where you sleep or eat.

1 foot deep, 1 foot wide 4 feet long.

Ladies will squat, guys will stand.

A spadeful of earth on top of the puddle you make, Keeps down the smell and flies.


Line one of the bucket with the lawn and leaf trash bag.fold the edges of the bag over and outside of the bucket.

After you poo, throw a bit of kitty litter on top, then twist the bag, cinching the last load into a mostly-airtight space.

Put the lid back on to keep everything from attracting bugs.

Ditch your bag into the street side garbage at the end of everyday after tying it in a double overhand knot(airtight). Or be responsible and take the risk properly handling your own hazmat when everything’s all fucked up?

I’m only coaching you so far with handling poop!

If it all goes terrible, you’ll need to consider outhouse designs and or a steel barrel to catch and burn shit in.

Hopefully it’ll never get that far gone.

Setup your hand sanitizer in close proximity to your slit latrine and your poo bucket. Practice strict hygiene.

MM’s assignments are included in Bug Out Bag: The Commodification of American Fear, a documentary photography book that examines of the prepping habits of 13 different Americans in the event that power, communications, emergency services, and/or social order fails.

See more of the project at



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