Survival Defense

All posts tagged Survival Defense

By Carmela Tyrell – SurvivoPedia

Fighting off an attacker isn’t just about hitting your opponent hard enough to make them stop trying to hurt you. It is also about making sure that any blows sent your way don’t harm important parts of your body.

When you are in this kind of fight, some of your efforts will aim defending vital body parts even if you’re also trying to strike your opponent. Staying safe comes first!

Here are five body parts that you must defend regardless of the nature of the attack. While not using other body parts will spell trouble, harming these five parts can cause permanent injury or loss of life. Keep reading!

Continue reading at SurvivoPedia: Survival Defense: How To Keep These Weak Spots Safe


Wood and stone underground shelter

By  – SurvivoPedia

How do you protect your home, retreat or homestead if it is underground or if it is of different design and construction than a regular house? What about improvised shelters in the woods or temporary camps?

Many self-reliant people build homes of unconventional materials such as CONEX container houses, underground houses, earthbag domes or earthship houses to make use of their passive solar features, insulation, low cost, non-flammable properties, or the fact that they provide better hard cover against small arms fire than wood-framed homes. Many readers have also asked about how to defend campsites or improvised wilderness shelters.

Tactics and strategy for the two scenarios have some differences, but correct principles of home and retreat defense apply to both, so I will lay out some pointers for retreat defense then and list some specific tactics for camps.

Defense of Irregular Shelters

Maintain Mobility

Do not let yourself become boxed-in. This is common mistake in bunker design. Building a safe room or bunker with a…Continue reading at SurvivoPedia: Survival Defense For Uncommon Shelters



We’ve discussed all manner of barriers, ranging from dry-laid stone walls to anti-vehicle fortifications, but today we’re taking a look at a type of wall that not only defends you, but also replaces and expands its protection over time! Rather than relying on the durability of stone, metal or wood, a living wall relies on the tenacity of certain kinds of dense plant life that grow together and impede enemies from moving forward against you. Let’s look at how a wall of this kind can be formed, and which plants are best for a given situation.

Disclaimer: Many jurisdictions have laws regulating hedges and living walls, so make sure you check those before purchasing plants. Furthermore, plants that cause harm to others by their fruit, sap, thorns, or other means may leave you liable for harm to others so check with a lawyer if that is a concern.

Why a living wall?

Also known as hedgerows, Bocage, and a variety of other names, living walls have unique strengths and weaknesses that are different from more conventional ones:

  • Hedgerows are innocuous and even beautiful. Nobody bats an eye at plants, even ones covered in evil looking thorns, the way they do at military-style barricades. Even plants that are particularly hardy and covered in thorns can sometimes be carpeted in lovely flowers which disguise their true purpose even further.
  • Hedges can grow back if damaged. If you get a hole in your concrete wall, you’ll need concrete to fix it. If a hole is cut in your hedgerow, you need only guide some branches down to fill in the gap and let nature do the rest. When in a survival situation where a trip to Home Depot for a bag of cement is out of the question that could be a big deal.
  • Living walls can hurt. Generally speaking stone walls rely on their defenders to hold them, as stone isn’t well suited for forming tiny spikes. Many plants that form living walls are covered in thorns that stab through even thick clothing with ease. Furthermore, some of them put out berries or fruits that are unpleasant or even deadly for a looter to consume.
  • Living walls can feed you. Other plants in a hedge can easily provide you with a bounty of blackberries, honey locust pods, or other edibles. If grown together with the poisonous ones, you may have a good situation for tricking unknowing thieves into stealing the bad stuff because of easily spotted blackberry plants growing among them. It hardly needs saying, but your stone wall won’t provide you much to eat unless you need more granite in your diet.

Weaknesses to the wall

As with all things a living wall also has weaknesses that a stone one would not have, such as:

  • Vulnerability to fire and hedge clippers. Stone is durable and it’s unlikely that you could cut through it with a pair of hedge cutters. Plants, on the other hand are often readily cut and if all else fails most of them will burn readily. In some cases the thorns will remain even when burned, but it won’t be nearly as effective.
  • No bullet stoppage. Bullets aren’t much slowed by most of the plants in a living wall. Vines, branches and leaves may slow a bullet some in large numbers, but even a BB gun will probably be able to penetrate it. Some plants are thicker and may stop smaller rounds, but generally this is unreliable.
  • Poorly situated hedges may conceal enemy approach. They cannot stop rounds but a hedge can certainly hide someone, which may make it easier for you to be ambushed if you are not able to see over it. Technically this may also be true of a stone wall, but at least an enemy can’t shoot over stone walls that are sufficiently tall.
  • Thorns show no mercy to their owner. If you have to make a quick escape, those hedges may well hem you in, and while you’re still getting used to them you may end up sticking yourself a few times. It is also possible that you could poison yourself if you consumed/touched the wrong fruit or berries, but generally if you bought the plant you should know which are poisonous and which aren’t.


How to build a strong, solid wall out of plants

The first and most important part of building any living wall is to choose your medley of plants. You will want to include plants that grow in “vines” or “branches”, filling in the gaps between bushes or trees that you plant. Blackberries, raspberries, Pyracantha (aka Firethorn), and other flexible plants make good gap fillers. Note that some of these (like blackberries) are able to grow vertically unsupported while others such as some varieties of thorny vine may require either staking or trees and bushes to cling to.

Honey locust trees are formidable in their own right, and form a great barrier in a hedge.

Then you will want strong bushes or small trees that act as a wind and “bulldozer” barrier, slowing ramming vehicles and the like. Honey locust trees are wonderful for this, are nearly impossible to kill, and even provide barnyard nails in the form of the mature red thorn clusters that surround them. If you grow dwarf trees of some kind avoid cedar trees as they tend to kill lower growth plants around them which could severely impact your hedge. Fruit trees can sometimes do well, as can hardy “scrub trees” like the Osange Orange (aka brain fruit tree) owing to their rapid growth. Generally speaking it is more important for the trees to be strong and hardy than for them to have thorns or poisons to deter enemies, as the vines and branches should be able to surround and cover most of the trees and shrubs in the hedge.

Finally, you can plant creeping juniper, giant rhubarb, and other annoying plants to act as groundcover. They will fill in loose parts in the bottom of the hedge with their thorny leaves, keeping looters from crawling underneath. Stinging nettles are a good favorite here as well, as are poison ivy vines.

Generally speaking you will have to provide at least some artificial support in the form of posts for vining plants and the like until they grow enough to surrounded the trees you’ll be using as a permanent support. Once the hedge has reached a given size, you need only ensure that it is properly fertilized with compost for maximum growth and trimmed to keep the thorns and vines pointed in the right direction.

Your thoughts?

What else could improve a hedge? Would you take the time to grow one to protect your household? Let us know in the comments below!

This article first appeared at Prepared For That: Survival Defense: Forming a Living Wall



Although being prepared generally means having the best means of defense available, there may be situations where you need a more primitive means of defense. The spear was historically used from the earliest times and even into the modern era in some places, and it still has its place when you’re stuck in the wilderness and in need of a weapon. Of course you can just use a knife or some rocks to shape a stick into a spearpoint, but a little bit of hardening by a campfire can drastically improve the durability and performance of your spear, making it a highly recommended step.

How to create your spear

A spear is one of the simplest weapons possible, but for proper fire hardening you will want to use good, solid wood that is durable and hard. Oak or ash wood are both excellent candidates, and you should cut down a fresh and fairly straight branch for your spear. In this case the moisture in the wood is actually to your benefit, so if you are unable to find a suitable branch still growing on the tree, be sure to soak any dead wood in water thoroughly before taking the time to shape and harden it.

Once you have the proper material, you may find it easier to strip the bark from the tip although it is not required. Once you can see what you’re doing, perform the first pass of fire hardening. This is done by alternating between placing the wood above the flames and burying it for a few moments in the heat of the coals. You should constantly rotate it in order to spread the heat appropriately, and make absolutely sure that you only heat up the wood rather than burning it. Burning wood turns it into charcoal which is brittle and worthless for a spearpoint, and you just want the wood to harden as it dries and the fresh sap inside crystalizes. The tip will turn black, but it should still have the full strength of wood once it is done with the first pass. To ensure you’re doing it right, stab the hardened end into a rock or other hard surface. If the end crumbles and breaks apart you burned it into charcoal, but if it remains intact without breaking down you probably have a nice hardened end to work with.

Taking your new hardened end, begin shaping the wood into a spearpoint using whatever design you wish. Fishing spears tend to have barbs to hold the fish, while self-defense spears tend to be one single hardened point. Regardless of design you will probably need to harden the point at least twice more: once when you have the rough shape of the tip formed from the hardened end and again once you have the final sharpened point. So long as you don’t turn the wood into charcoal it can be hardened several times as you go through the process and the number of times needed will vary depending on the wood you use, the humidity in the air and a variety of other factors. It is important to experiment and craft several spears even in an emergency, since the force of impact can easily break even a well-made weapon.

Optionally, you can also harden the rest of the spear if you wish once the tip has been completed. Some argue it helps improve durability while others feel that having some flexibility in the wood is more desirable so the choice is up to you. I wouldn’t worry about the weight of the moist handle of the wood unless your spear is particularly long, since fire-hardened tips are not really suitable for throwing.

Why craft a spear?

Let’s assume that you have a knife or even a hatchet or axe on hand to protect yourself, so why would you want a spear? Spears can be better for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Disposability. Aside from the time spent preparing the spear you won’t lose much if it breaks in half when you stab a dear or if you trip and drop it down a chasm. It also keeps you from wearing down your metal tools over time.
  • Intimidation. A knife is dangerous, but most knives don’t exactly look threatening and are rather small. A spear is large and wicked looking particularly with a black fire-hardened tip on it, and it can be scary to other people and even animals.
  • Ease of creation. A few hours with a sharp rock and a green piece of wood will make a spear, so it doesn’t require a lot of technical skill or woodscraftiness to find the proper materials. Short of being stranded in a desert you should be able to find at least one tree with suitable branches for your work.
  • Utility. A spear can be used for hunting, fishing, as a walking/fighting staff, and in a worst case scenario you can break it down and use it for firewood.
  • Deadliness. Spears have been used to bring down everything from a rabbit or squirrel to elephants, so there aren’t many threats that are immune to a good jab from that sharp tip. Depending on the design of the head, you can add barbs that enlarge wounds, penetrate thick hides/clothing, or even coat it in poison.
  • Easy to use. A spear is one of the simplest weapons to use, since it boils down to “stick the pointy end in whatever you want to kill”. It also makes good use of your fight-or-flight response since the increased strength can be used to stab all the harder.
  •  The skill transfers over to other defenses. Learning to make a spear isn’t all that different from learning how to build punji stakes or any other defense involving pointed sticks. Mastering the art of hardening a spear over a fire can be used to improve your traps as well, making them more potent.

A spear is easy to make, easy to use, and the materials are literally growing out of the ground. Make sure you know how to craft one of these makeshift weapons, just in case.

Your Thoughts?

Would you use a spear for defense? Are there any other design tips you would include? Let us know in the comments below!

More at Prepared For That: Survival Defense: Crafting a Fire-Hardened Spear