3 – 2 – 1  STOP! Now load everyone you’re responsible for into your vehicle and start driving. See you in a week!

Sounds like a militant drill carried out by those who actually thought they were preparing for a zombie apocalypse. However, once you fully understand that for which you are really preparing, the idea of being on “Ready Alert 10” will change your life for the better.

In our opening paper on preparedness “Stop Preparing For Emergencies” we determine that the practice of readiness is more about recreation than it is about preparation. Today we’re unpacking the first item from the truck: the Harry Potter Pantry. Yes, sounds a bit lame; but, before you start questioning whether I was a SEAL or a seamstress, let me explain. It’s all about being ready, not ready to survive a disaster, but ready to live life at a moments notice.

Consider this option. It’s Friday, your vehicle is perfectly packed to head outdoors: kids in their seats, spouse riding shotgun and Pandora playing your favorite station. Is there any way you wouldn’t be sleeping under the stars that night? Of course not, and that’s what we’re talking about. Being active is all about being ready.

1 – Structure: We’re using the Pelican 1550 Case. Waterproof, bear proof, crush proof, customizable, lockable and it looks cool. Face it. Things that look cool get used more.

Pelican specific inserts allow you to create compartments needed to keep your food and supplies neat and organized. This means no lists, no packing and no worrying. Just go! 

2 – Inventoriable: (yes a new word) Because of the cases design and customization you can organize everything in a way that allows you to perform what I call a “Visual Inventory”.

This is a system of inventory I developed in Sniper school. Modern day Snipers use incredible amounts of digital photography equipment so we had to devise a way to quickly and reliably keep it inventoried and ready. If it works for a $12,000 dollar camera it can work for a bag of freeze-dried stroganoff.

It’s important that everything has its place and purpose. This is why I started calling it the “Harry Potter Pantry”. If you organize your food, utensils, batteries, cleaning and cooking supplies in a way that allows you to visualize anything that is missing, inventory becomes a snap and replenishment seems to happen without effort. If you empty the space, refill it when you get home. The best way to keep your food fresh is to use it, so get out there!

3 – Content: This is the food and equipment that is kept together for the purposes of nourishment, cleanliness and relaxation.

A word about simplicity and relaxation. Often I’ll go camping with friends who try to bring out the latest recipe for outdoor cinnamon buns or something else they found on Pinterest. Yes, I like cinnamon buns – who doesn’t? What I don’t like is the complexity such things bring to the situation. If you feel the need to mix it up invite this guy.

“Core” Must Haves:

Having “Core” content ensures that you survive and keeping supplemental content allows you to thrive.

Fuel – Jetboil – it’s just too fast and easy to boil water this way.

Food – Mountain House -they taste so much better than MRE’s, are lightweight, and only require water. No dishes!

Stop Preparing For Emergencies, Prepare for Adventure

Read Next: Stop Preparing For Emergencies, Prepare for Adventure

Water – MSR dromedary bags – they were issued to us in the teams and not a one has leaked or failed me a single time in over 5 years.

Plastic Spoon – Okay I know there are some amazing titanium spoons out there; but after I lost the second one I remembered how long a plastic MRE spoon would last me on patrol – forever.

Sometimes it’s better to use stuff that you can just toss without worry. I found this true with spoons.

Wipes – I like Charmin over the antibacterial ones. Any “wipe” with antibacterial stuff in it can sure burn your… well, let’s just say it can burn sensitive areas.

So the above list is the “Simple” version and it’s important to start there. The moment you try to complicate this you’ll find that you lose the ability to easily maintain readiness.

But what about the weeny roast and smores? Of course, don’t be silly; but make those things optional. The stuff you grab on your way out if you think about it. After a while, they’ll work their way into the “Core” section. Just let it happen naturally. Don’t force the Marshmallow! I learned that one the hard way.


  • S’more kit
  • Dog roasting sticks
  • Clif bars
  • Instant coffee
  • Fresh bag of your favorite nuts

That’s it – keep it simple.