Saturday, November 23, 2013

INFORMATIVE - History Repeating - The Real Picture: Part II

This article is a follow-up to our previous article, History Repeating - The Real Picture. Please read that article first if you haven't already.

The phenomenally-sized Typhoon Haiyan which hit The Philippines in early November wreaked considerable havoc, as we discussed in the previous article, leading to massive loss of life, missing persons, food shortages, clean water shortages, mass evacuation and eventually looting, excessive criminal activity and botched aid efforts. In this article we discuss how the country now stands a fortnight post-event. As we mentioned in the last article, this sort of event - while horrific - can be learned from by those able to observe it from a distance. If a significant disaster were to hit your own neighbourhood, then studying the events in The Philippines will help you learn what to expect.

So what has happened in the longer-scale aftermath?

Firstly, the devastation was so large-scale that relief efforts have not managed to make it all the way through. The storm surge left flooding as high as 5 meters (17 feet), moving rapidly enough to sweep away cars, houses and huge amounts of debris.

Particularly affected by the aid shortage are the more remote, rural areas of the country due to the inaccessibility resulting from storm damage and low population density meaning less local aid.

In addition to this, the local power companies predict that they will be unable to restore power until Christmas Eve, nearly two months after the disaster first struck. This has long-term ramifications such as the shutdown of sewage treatment plants and reduction in efficacy of hospitals in a nation that has reported over 12,500 individuals injured by the typhoon and over 4,200 dead.

Searches are still underway to locate more than 1,100 people that are still reported as missing since the event, and given the rate that they're still finding bodies amongst the debris, that number will shrink as cleanup efforts continue.

Over 3,000,000 people - all needing food, water and shelter - have been displaced due to the storms damage and after-effects, over 360,000 of which are pregnant or lactating mothers.

Disease is continuing to spread rapidly, with Tetanus and waterborne illness outbreaks occurring across the country. Aid stations are still being set up and operated, but staff and resources are easily outnumbered.

The cramped conditions of the aid centers is leading to other issues, such as respiratory tract infections and pneumonia. Also prevalent is the need for psychological aid to help the civilians deal with the trauma of losing their homes, loved ones and livelihoods. This aid, however, is of too low importance, comparatively, to get much attention.

Outside of the aid situation, however, is a much more grim story, with streets being dotted with police checkpoints in order to attempt to quell the massive amounts of looting ravaging the country.

Eight people were crushed to death during a large-scale raid of a food storage facility by looters attempting to get rice to feed themselves and their families. The desperation led to violence and the violence led to deaths. Still the looters managed to get away with over 33,000 large sacks of rice, and other, similar, events have tarnished the country in the wake of the event.

Locals have even resorted to digging up mains water pips in an attempt to procure clean water to drink, leading to large-scale water distribution crisis.

But it is not just food warehouses that are being raided. Even the large, retail shopping centers have become targets by looters who are taking advantage of the crisis and taking unessential items such as jewelry and electronics, perhaps in an attempt to use them as bartering tools to get food and clothing.

"When survivors (of a disaster) feel they are confronting 'absolute chaos' their perception of what is permissible can change. There’s no infrastructure, no authority and no regulation. Everyone fends for themselves." - Prof Daniel J. Kruger

When aid arrives, little distribution happens and the food is simply taken by the crowds that gather. Away from aid centers, in populated areas unaffected by the typhoon, residents are being robbed at gunpoint in their own homes by desperate people looking for food. The looters will simply kick in people's front door, or break through a window, and rob a family of their food at gunpoint.

“There are armed thieves going about. If they know that you have food stored away, they will force their way into your house and rob you at gunpoint. We're helpless here. We are so few and they are so many.” - Tacloban resident

While it looks like the aid will triumph over the chaos at this point, it is impossible to tell at this point how many will have died or had their lives ruined in the process of it reaching them. The only way that it has managed to happen at all has been due to the overwhelmingly high donations from other countries. If it wasn't for that money coming from outside, and the manpower, and the resources, then the current state of the Philippines would be substantially different to the picture we see now.

So what happens when something like this happens and no help comes? That's up to you, the people.

- CumQuaT

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

OPINION - How to Take Over the World

Some quotes for you...

“The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”

“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

“When an opponent says: 'I will not come over to your side,' I calmly say, 'Your child belongs to us already. You will pass on. Your descendents, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time, they will know nothing else but this new community.'.”

If you didn't know otherwise, the above quotes could very easily seem to be attributed to many current world leaders or significant politicians: any of the nation and state representatives currently getting attention for all of the wrong reasons for their implementation of totalitarian laws and restrictions upon their populace - you see and hear of it more and more, in The United States of America, in Australia, in Russia, in North Korea, in Uganda... And you may feel that it is very wrong to group democracies such as America and Australia in with a dictatorship such as North Korea, or with a communist nation such as Russia, or whatever Uganda happens to remain as for the duration of you reading this article - but when you look at it separate from a national issue, and put it into the perspective of a purely human rights issue, then it all looks the same.

After all, if it looks like a duck, it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it's fairly safe to assume it's a duck.

In this case, our duck - who is the one behind those eerily familiar sounding quotes listed above - is none other than one of the most vile, soulless monsters to ever live - Adolf Hitler.

Shocked? You should be. Because his own predictions and methods are being used more and more closely by some of the world's most influential governments.

Let me give you a few choice examples, starting with some of the worst:


- Round up 80 people who own Western or South Korean media such as movies/music and have them publicly and violently executed in front of an audience of 10,000 citizens forced to watch. [reference]
- Actively and repeatedly threaten all-out war on opposition if their demands are not met. [reference]
- Performs under-handed weapons deals with other nations such as Cuba. [reference]
- Maintains a militarized dictatorship, keeping its people in poverty. [reference]


- They are, without consequence or reprimand, singling out and removing members of a minority group, much like Hitler did. [reference]
- Outlawing the use and possession of certain foreign currencies. [reference]
- Heavy tracking and surveillance of own citizens. [reference]
- Engaging in nuclear weapons practice drills with a closely allied nation (China) [reference]

These are terrible things to be happening, and that's not even scratching the surface of the ridiculous levels of rule in various countries around the world. The Republic of Sudan is under constant oppression from the various militarized warlords that rule through force. Much of the Middle-East is beset by militarized independent governments who violently enforce an unnecessarily fundamentalist rendition of Sharia Law on the populations of those countries in the area. Egypt is in a permanent state of civil unrest due to a floating government whose status can change by the day, leading to thousands of innocents being caught in the crossfire.

But to the average citizen of somewhere such as Great Britain, The United States of America or Australia, all of this may seem very far away and unrelated to the free and civilized countries that they live in.

They would, however, be wrong. Not only would they be wrong, it is important that people know why. Let me give you some examples of what's going on right in your very back yards:


- They are going through a very under-publicized economic failure, leading to mass unemployment and high poverty rates. [reference]
- Drastic increases to public surveillance networks for civilian monitoring. [reference]
- New police laws allowing the arrest of citizens without criminal justification. [reference]
- Record numbers of new "anti terrorism" legislations being introduced without being discussed first by the government. [reference]


- Massive levels of unwarranted civilian surveillance. [reference]
- Disastrously overpowered police powers. [reference]
- Defiance of own congress for their own gain. [reference]
- Overseas actions unsupported by the population. [reference]
- Crippling debt to the verge of government shutdown. [reference]
- Multiple attempts to disarm their population. [reference]


- Ever-increasing laws put into place to keep population as disarmed as possible. [reference]
- Unwarranted levels of civilian surveillance. [reference]
- Unreasonable powers given to law enforcement. [reference]
- New laws passed without legal approval to legalize discrimination of minorities. [reference]
- Violently increasing levels of policing and control. [reference]
- Removal of key citizens' right to freedom of speech. [reference]

People often forget that the original point of a civilian population having access to weapons is to be able to protect their country. Who they need to protect it from differs case by case; sometimes it is an invading force, sometimes it is from those seeking to conquer or take their lands, but sometimes it is against their own government. Anyone, no matter how pure of heart and morals, can be corrupted by power, and the purpose of having an armed population is to ensure that their government be there to help and guide the people, not control them.

George Washington, founding father of the United States of America said it beautifully in his first annual message to congress on the state of the union:

"A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined" - George Washington

It was from this belief that President James Madison included his second amendment to the US bill of rights.

It should be noted here that Australia is the only Western democratic country which does not hold a bill of rights for its population. In that capacity, these quotes seem a little more appropriate:

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe." - Noah Webster

"If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves." - Joseph Stalin

Especially considering that not only do these countries seem intent on having their population not able to defend themselves, they seem to want to drive their rights and freedoms so far into the ground that there will be absolutely no chance of them ever climbing back up again. Why would they want this? To stop the people from being able to fight back against totalitarianism.

But disarming a population isn't just a matter of taking their weapons. Much of the time it is done via disarming them emotionally and psychologically. The best way to do this is via the use of propaganda, media and education.


This was one of Hitler's favourite methods of disarmament, and the more modern world governments have built on his work and fine-tuned it to an art form. It links strongly in with my other two points here, media and education, but it comes down to controlling perspective. If you repeat a lie loudly and often enough, people will believe it.

Not a week goes by without another news story carefully telling you about how scary something is. Perhaps to do with terrorism, or war, or famine, or disease, but it quickly goes on to tell you that you'll be perfectly safe so long as you do exactly what you're told.

A good example is the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic. How much fear was circulated regarding that? Everywhere you looked were terrified people wearing masks, pulling their children from school, shutting themselves in, and all because there was propaganda everywhere telling you how nasty it was.

The fact of the matter is, H1N1 was relatively harmless. In fact, the standard seasonal flu does more damage than Swine Flu ever did. But if people are scared of something outside of their control, then they trust in their government to protect them and keep them safe, and so the propaganda poured forth.


The media is controlled by the government. Everyone knows this by now, but people ignore this fact more and more, trusting that the news they are given is relevant, accurate and without bias.
Too often, however, we see headlines of inconsequential drivel such as entertainment news - the music star who has done something embarrassing, the latest winner of some reality TV show, some scandal involving a rich actor - while there is a market for this kind of news, why does it keep making headlines over serious events such as the threat of war, natural disasters and pressing local issues?

The reason is that it is an emotional sedative. It keeps the people calm, in line, and away from asking questions. A people who are fed what they want to see and hear will not step out of line if their bowl is kept full. They will not challenge the information they are given if they learn to trust what the media tells them. Like Pavlov's Dogs they learn to droll when the bell is rung and no more.

We in the Western World laugh at places such as China, Russia and North Korea who strictly control their media to limit what their people see, but places such as the USA, UK and Australia are no better. Even the internet, long thought to be a bastion of freedom of information, is slowly being censored, restricted and monitored.

The grip is tightening daily, and the saddest part is, no-one is lifting a finger to stop it from happening, because no-one believes anything is wrong. The TV hasn't told them so.


Education is taken very seriously in some parts of the world. There are countries where teachers are some of the most valued members of society, being paid richly and held in the highest regard, but that is not the case in much of the Western World. Teachers are treated like dirt, paid little, considered to be expendable, and educations are treated as trivial things - despite being made mandatory.
The standards for education, however, are slipping drastically. Schools are being pressured to lower the benchmark for grading when too many students are failing. 
On top of this, government funding of education is being lowered or removed entirely in places such as Australia, moving financial assistance into the private sector, leaving many current students in a lifetime of crippling debt. This has led to large-scale student protest, but since when has protesting stopped a totalitarian-bent government from doing what they want to do?
It's clear that the higher-ups are simply waiting us out. Fairly soon they will have populations of uneducated, spineless clay that they can mould to do whatever they want. A world that knows no different is unlikely to try and change.

The short fact of the matter is, if something isn't done soon, the world will be past the point where it can be brought back from - if it isn't already - and unfortunately, it isn't protesting or angry phone calls that will do the job. Only full-blown revolution can bring down a totalitarian government - a revolution that cannot happen without a people armed with knowledge, weapons and the will to see change.

The sad part is, it may already be too late.

- CumQuaT

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

INFORMATIVE - History Repeating - The Real Picture


Typhoon Haiyan - the strongest typhoon to reach land in recorded history - has been causing ridiculous levels of destruction through Micronesia, the Philippines, Southern China and Vietnam. The destruction is of an untold scale. Mere days into the typhoon making landfall, and as of this article's creation, more than 10,000 people are reported dead with damage costs closing in on one billion US dollars.

The damage has been caused by the ferocious rainstorms, lightning strikes and winds in excess of a phenomenal 315km/h (195mph), enough to fling cars, uproot trees and level buildings within moments.

The phenomenon is unprecedented, though not entirely unexpected, as we've explained in a previous article.

In short, rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have reached an imbalance point which is leading to the planet trying to regulate itself. It's a force of nature, and we can only expect things to get worse as CO2 levels keep getting higher. It's not global warming, it's global resetting.

But to read more about that, check out the other article. This article is about the after-effects of a disaster like this.

Many preppers stockpile food, equipment, knowledge and skill in order to ride out something like this happening to them, however events like this, horrible though they are, give us a rare window into a post-catastrophe world that we would do well to learn from.

As we have explained in past articles, speaking about Hurricane Wilma as it ripped through the Atlantic Basin in October of 2005, things turn from bad to worse in a situation like this, and things can quickly change as the threat changes from the disaster itself, to the sanitation, to the food and then to each other.

This happened after Wilma, it happened after Katrina, it happened after hundreds more throughout history and now history is repeating itself with Haiyan. The biggest threats simply don't always come from the disaster itself.

After Haiyan swept over the Philippines, the people there banded together to help rescue each other, feed each other, shelter each other, and all was working well. Foreign aid was on the way and the worst had passed. The response from the world was massive, with many countries offering up tens of millions of dollars in aid for those left stranded, injured or without food.

Unfortunately, the infrastructure to dispense such aid simply couldn't cope with the demand for it, and things have since turned quite nasty.

Keep in mind that all of the following has happened in the span of days. Not weeks, not months. Days.

Firstly, there was the destruction to deal with. That much debris was thrown into the streets that there practically WERE no streets left by the end. People were simply having to walk on, around and amongst the rubble of what once was there home.

Risks of injury are high at this point, as moving around can be treacherous at best. Structures can not be assumed to be sturdy or load-bearing anymore, and roofs may offer a crushing death rather than shelter.

Many of the survivors were quick to build new, temporary shelters amongst the wrecks of their homes, partially so that they would have the shelter they needed, but also because many of them don't know what else to do. The shock of having this happen would immobilize many for a long while.

Crude structures such as tents would go up quickly:

Many, however, didn't build. They left, in a mass exodus, to parts of their home that were still intact. This mass movement of people blocked up major roads and limited the ability of aid workers to reach the places they needed to be, but desperate people do desperate things.

Aid centers were quickly overwhelmed. Trucks bringing supplies were swamped. The people were, understandably, desperate. They had no homes, no food, no clean water, and yet still had children and themselves to feed. Many realised that help was limited and started pleading with outsiders for help.

And despite the outside world's best efforts, that help has been limited in its arrival due to the sheer levels of devastation of the typhoon. It was at this point that things started becoming more desperate and more internalized, as the people started seeing that outside help was limited.

The people, forced to fend for themselves, started realising that the danger wasn't over. The death toll was catastrophic, and with the sheer levels of destruction, death was all around them. Fresh corpses of animals and fellow humans were dotted throughout the soaking wreckage, slowly becoming bloated from the flood waters and rotting fast.

Clearing bodies takes infrastructure, manpower, resources. None of which were available to the stranded populace, and as more wreckage was cleared and filtered through, more and more corpses were found, in various states of decay. Because of this, insects became a major problem, leading to fast-spreading sickness and infection.

Authorities of course moved to clear dead bodies as fast as they could, but there is only so much they could do with the resources they had considering the sheer scale of the devastation. This led to rushed jobs, with the general public being exposed to sometimes very graphic scenes, which further expanded the growing panic.

It is at this point that people started to move again, but there was no-where to go to, and disease was spreading quickly, causing much illness. People tried to get away from it but the scale of the disaster was too large, and there was no-where to go to.

When people need to be herded, countries get the military involved, and this was no exception. They were brought in to help assist with directing civilians, dispensing rations and cleanup. But though they were there to help, the presence of the military can make tensions run high.

There are few forces as destructive as desperate, panicked people. At this point, just a handful of days in, what meager food people had was gone, disease was rampant, their homes were gone and the military was between them and their food. At this point things started to get uglier.

It was at this point that major violence started breaking out. Looters started breaking into stores to take what they could. Family-owned businesses had to either abandon their businesses and flee, or protect them as best they could.

This is a tentative situation, however, as the act of a single person, such as discharging a weapon or taking a life, can spark a much larger scale event as it unifies people into an "us and them" mentality, or strengthens it further if one already exists.

Nevertheless, looting has become rife through the devastated areas, as desperate people have a growing need for food, medication and other supplies, and as of writing this article, at least seven people have already been confirmed killed in the ensuing violence.

More bodies means more panic and more infection. More wounded means more relief workers being distracted from helping elsewhere. The problem compounds upon itself and grows exponentially as time passes. The death toll from Haiyan is already catastrophic, and it will continue to rise as time passes.

So what can be learned from this horrendous experience? It is most important to remember that disasters such as this, and the populations response to them, follow a set pattern, regardless of culture, religion or geographic location. What is happening in the Philippines right now is no different to what happened in New Orleans after Katrina, or Florida after Wilma, or the Tsunami in China or any other major natural disaster.

It is true that Typhoon Haiyan is unprecedented in its scale, but that does not mean it can't and won't happen again. It does not mean that smaller-scale disasters can't wreak as much havok.

When disaster strikes, large-scale devastation WILL occur...

Facilities and conveniences WILL be destroyed...

People WILL become disenfranchised...

And they WILL become desperate and violent if resources are scarce...

If it is serious enough, the military WILL be mobilized...

And given enough time without facilities, bodies WILL pile up and disease WILL spread...

So use what has happened. Research it. Read about it. Plan for it. You're seeing a real, live situation unfolding which is what you yourself have planned for. Study it, and you will be that much more prepared.

Ask yourself hard questions. What in my load-out would be useful if I lived in the Philippines? What would I never touch? How would I do for food? How would I protect it? Where would I go? How would I control infection and disease? How would I defend myself?

If you don't ask yourself these questions, and you don't prepare properly, you'll end up as a statistic. It may be untested gear, it may be the wrong gear, it may be a lack of knowledge, or perhaps a lack of practiced skill. Maybe you don't have enough bug-out routes. These are things you must clarify, memorize and test regularly. The Philippines had 4 days notice to prepare for Haiyan's destruction. This kind of thing can happen at any time, anywhere.

Be prepared, not scared.

- CumQuaT

Sunday, November 3, 2013

INFORMATIVE - Six Months Later...

Virtually every survival guide and site will show you what a good prepper's equipment will look like, but it's always from a standpoint of BEFORE an event hits.

But what will you still be carrying six months after the "shit has hit the fan"? It will be very different, I can assure you. Your food supplies will have run out, half of your gear has failed and been abandoned, more of it has been taken from you by force due to bad luck or wrong-place-wrong-time. You may have made it to your home base and survived there for quite a while, but eventually roving gangs and other dangers will have forced you to bail out when the situation didn't get better.

Vehicles would all be out of fuel by this stage, and traveling openly on roads via other means would be too risky. Because of this, you will - by now - be on foot, carrying your whole world with you.

Six months after an SHTF event, the way the world works will have changed considerably. By now, the population may be down to as low as 10% of what it was due to mass deaths caused by starvation, infection, worsening of preexisting medical conditions, viral pandemics and pure mob violence born of desperation.

By this stage, new communities will have sprung up, controlled by force. The leaders will be the ones with the most food, the most guns, the access to clean water.

Many trained preppers will opt instead to go lone wolf - act on their own. This will mean that they will have to fend for themselves, provide for themselves, feed themselves, treat themselves, shelter themselves and defend themselves.

It's excellent to get the appropriate equipment ready for a worst case scenario, but once you've had to live off it for several months, what you have in your kit becomes a very different story, especially when you have to carry it with you regularly.

There are two main scenarios in which a lone-wolf type survivalist would find themselves, and they would end up with very different gear load-outs after a few months of fending for themselves:

The Woodland Survivor (modeled by Burt)

Click to zoom for more detail
Going bush is a smart option, but it comes with some very serious challenges. It isn't entirely without merit, though, as the isolation from other people gives you the ability to establish a long-term camp to use as a central base of operations.

The woods can be plentiful in terms of resources, but only to the trained eye and the alert of mind. Knowledge of woodlore and bushcraft will become a necessity, as well as hunting skills, edible plant recognition and herblore. Depending on your geographical location, one or more of these may actually be unavailable to you, making your life that little bit harder.

The Urban Survivor (modeled by CumQuaT)

Click to zoom for more detail
Urban centers such as cities will be where most of the remaining survivors will congregate. For many it will be out of a sense of safety, for others it will be from the familiarity. Many who live in a given area will know the roads and the cities well, but not so much the beaten track, and so they will keep to the familiar. This makes the urban environment a difficult one to survive in, as it presents the dangers of the human element, and the rolling effects of that element, such as the human waste, the bodies and the abundance of disease-bearing pests such as feral cats and rats which follow where humans go.

While useable resources will be plentiful in a city, the risk associated with rival groups, desperate wanderers and disease will be just as high. Due to this, it will be nearly impossible to establish a long-term camp, and your home will have to travel with you. Building temporary shelters, or using heavy ponchos and the like to keep yourself sheltered will be the norm, as you may have to get up and run at a moment's notice. Body armour will need to be worn due to the increased number of physical altercations that would ensue over turf and resources. Air filtration and gloves would need to be worn at all times when outside to prevent the catching of airborne diseases and viruses.

Blending In

The key to survival in either case will be your ability to blend into your environment. To disappear when it is needed. Using the correct colours, breaking up your silhouette, covering exposed skin and knowing how and when to move will be your greatest allies in remaining unseen.

Here you can see Burt blending in with his chosen habitat

CumQuaT uses darkness and shadow to his advantage to hide

You need to stay hidden so that any threat will not realize you're there until it is too late. Someone stumbling along, looking for food or other resources, should walk right past you and not even know you were there. It only takes one person to alert a larger group, and then a man-hunt may ensue. A community leader - leading by force and manpower - will not want a solitary lurker on in territory, so it is best to keep out of sight, keep your head down and keep to yourself if you don't plan on joining them.

I hope that this article has been an interesting insight into the topic, and was as much fun to read as it was to do up. Any excuse to get the gear on!

And remember, be prepared, not scared.

- CumQuaT

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

TUTORIAL - Guest Article: The Bug-out Vehicle - Part 1

Preparing a live-in, self dependent bunker is ideal, but what if you need to get out of civilisation all together, be it for a short or prolonged period.  A 72 hour bag will get you so far on foot, but to truly have the versatility to bug out for long stays, or cover long distances, you might consider a bug out-able vehicle.

Regardless of what you have to work with, be it a hatchback or an F-truck, the principles are the same.  First and foremost, you need to consider your vehicle strategy and how that is going to guide any preparations and/or modifications you will need.  You will effectively be turning your vehicle into a “Tourer”, be it 4WD, 2WD, 2 wheeled or otherwise.  The setup will be largely dependent on the vehicle, but only limited by your imagination and ingenuity.

The most important thing is getting to know your vehicle.  This includes its basic mechanicals, its fuel economies (on road, off road, highway driving) and its operating limits.

Mechanically, understand where basic things like fluid levels can be checked and topped up, along with what type of fluids are required (engine oil grades, hydraulic fluid, radiator coolant), spark plugs, tyres and tyre changing, batteries and fuses.  Many roadside breakdowns can be attributed to simple things that could be easily fixed, if you had the gear available (broken fuses, change a tyre, spare oil, etc).  Also, familiarise yourself with things like the steering system, suspension, drive-line components, exhaust system and the chassis and bodywork.  You don’t necessarily need to be a qualified mechanic, just be confident enough to recognise if something isn’t as it should be, which is as simple as doing a visual inspection, checking bolts, nuts and generally poking things.  If you consider yourself “mechanically challenged”, next time you have the car in for a service have a chat to your mechanic about what was done.  They do it for a living, and you pay them for their expertise, so why not pick their brain a bit too.  Most are more than happy to have a chat about car stuff.

Fuel economy is probably the most vital part of any vehicular planning.  It will determine how far you can get, where you will go and how much spare fuel you might need to carry.  If you have a secluded spot in mind, ensure your vehicle has the range to get there AND get back again.  As a rule of thumb, consider your vehicle’s normal range to be reduced by at least 25% when loaded up, and even further reduced depending on the terrain you are travelling on.  Dirt roads may not seem that much worse to drive on, but your vehicle does work harder in all respects, using more juice in doing so.  Carrying spare fuel is a good way to increase your range, but be aware of the safety aspects involved.

 Carrying fuel inside a vehicle is not only illegal in most places, it’s downright stupid.  The fumes are poisonous and the material highly flammable.  Petrol fumes can be ignited by a spark up to 20m away, so seriously consider how you handle and store the stuff.  You can buy behind seat tanks that have external venting kits, but this is probably not a viable option for most.  A good sealing jerry can strapped onto a roof rack is a very simple, economical solution.  Always check your local regulations regarding fuel transportation (see your transport department or auto club).

Operating limits are something that any driver would experience whenever they get behind the wheel of their vehicle.  It comes down to knowing how your vehicle responds to your inputs and how it all feels when driving.  This includes, but is by no means limited to; the pick up when you accelerate; how responsive the brakes are; how responsive the steering is; what degree of body roll you experience when loaded (especially at speed); what is the most ergonomic and comfortable seating position.  Understanding your vehicle allows you to tailor your driving style, be it focussing on economy, long distance driving or dirt and off-road driving, just to name a few scenarios.  Whilst Australian highways often have a limit of 100km/h, most vehicles run at their best economy doing 80-90km/h.  Whether you’re in a survival situation, or taking the family on a weekend drive in the country, it’s always better reach your destination in one piece than not at all.  The difference that travelling 10km/h faster actually makes is roughly 5 minutes over a 100km distance.  What are those 5 minutes really worth?

Also consider your vehicle’s limits on different terrains.  In the instance of off road vehicles, know when a track is not worth attempting to drive.  It’s really not worth damaging or wrecking your vehicle, especially if you’re in the middle of nowhere.  If you do intend to embark on serious off-roading, try to travel in convoy, or at least gain experience beforehand.  You wouldn’t take up mountain climbing and attempt Everest as your first climb, unless perhaps you’re suicidal!  Experience will teach you to think about where your wheels are, where your diffs and underbody components are and their clearance, how your vehicle tackles rough terrain, and so on.  Experience is invaluable when it comes to off road driving, as much as recovery equipment in case it goes wrong, so ensure to have both before jumping into the deep end.

We will go into more specifics regarding setup in future articles, but for now, get under the bonnet, get under the car, get behind the wheel, and really get to know that useful lump of metal that sits in your driveway.

- The Mad Wog