SafeGuard ARMOR TacPro offers Level II and IIIA soft panels and Level 1 and 2 edged blade and spike protection. Vest has plenty of MOLLE webbing, so user can configure it to his needs.

People who prepare usually tend to focus on the survival basics: security/self-defense, water, food, first aid, sanitation/hygiene, knowing when to get out and when to stay put. This represents a great start, and if that’s all you do, you’ll still be far better off than the majority of the population.

But if you stopped there, you could be putting yourself at a disadvantage and not know it until it’s too late. Preparedness is about giving yourself every possible advantage. If there were a way to improve your chances for survival, why wouldn’t you grab that opportunity with both hands? To achieve these higher levels, you and your plans, skills, and preparations need to constantly improve and evolve.

In this article, we go beyond the basics and explore survival gear options to help take your preparations up a notch in two very different areas of higher-level survival planning: security/self-defense and disaster recovery. Some of these recommendations may seem obvious, but others address hazards and situations you might not have previously considered.

U.S. PALM Defender AR-15 with front and rear Level IIIA soft armor protection set up with two AR magazines, pistol, and spare pistol magazine.


With very few exceptions, security and self-defense will always be the first priorities in any survival situation. People sometimes have difficulty with this concept, especially those who have never been in a real life-or-death struggle.

Many of these folks adamantly insist that shelter, water, or some other aspect of survival must somehow be addressed before all else. But consider the following: if you’re dead or seriously injured, will anything else really matter? The answer to this question should be painfully obvious. It should also be obvious that once you have avoided, dealt with, or neutralized whatever immediate threat confronted you, then you absolutely need to focus on the other survival essentials such as water, shelter, and food.

While there’s no substitute for having a realistic, well-thought-out security/self-defense plan, you can still take your efforts further. When lives are at risk, it makes sense to do everything you can to stack the odds in your favor.

During times of turmoil and crisis, you need practical, real-world solutions—enter body armor. Although not a miracle solution, when used properly, body armor can help save lives. Consider it an added layer of protection to be employed in addition to your other security preparations.

I have often run a mental scenario of what it might be like to come face to face with armed intruders in my home, and how best to respond. As much as I would prefer to lock my family inside a secure room and call the cavalry, deep-down inside I know this amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking. Even though the best fight is the one that never happens, to survive you need to be well prepared for the very thing you hope to avoid.

When the fight comes, you want the necessary gear easily at your disposal—at minimum your rifle, pistol, extra loaded magazines, and a flashlight. I’ve been looking for a rig that provides not only ballistic protection but also all the pockets and pouches needed to hold my SHTF gear.

Oh, did I mention the rig also has to be lightweight and not restrict movement? My idea was to strategically stage this rig for immediate deployment, any time, day or night. Let’s face it, when you need to confront a threat in a hurry, you don’t have time to be stumbling around looking for your gear. It has to be grab-n-go.

Here are two different options for two different situations. Although quality armor is not cheap, I sought out products that provide a balance of protection, comfort, and affordability.

GasTapper Pro transfers up to 30 gallons per hour of gas or diesel. Multiple fuel-line attachments provide options for accessing modern fuel tanks.

U.S. PALM Defender

The U.S. PALM Defender AR-15 provides Level IIIA soft armor protection (front and rear) and an excellent platform for your gear. The Defender is compact, lightweight, and can be configured to accommodate your personal needs and preferences. It holds three AR-15/M4 magazines and one pistol magazine. You can also use one of the AR magazine slots to hold a pistol.

Made of 500d Cordura Nylon, it comes in two sizes, large and extra large, and is available in Black, Coyote, Multicam, and Ranger Green.

The Defender AR-15 is extremely comfortable and allows an extraordinary range of movement. These factors offer huge advantages to the wearer: extended wear and the ability to train and use your gear in realistic scenarios.

The value of a comfortable rig becomes apparent after a few difficult hours of hard training in tough conditions. The Defender is affordable and also functions as a plate carrier for times when you may want extra protection. All in all, it’s an attractive and highly adaptable product to incorporate into your self-defense and security plan.

SafeGuard ARMOR Tac Pro

An important part of that plan is conducting a candid assessment of the threats you will potentially face. If there’s a likelihood of encountering multi-threat situations, you need to consider options beyond ballistic protection.

Though there are some excellent options, higher levels of protection almost always increase weight and cost, and you will give up some level of comfort. But if you anticipate needing the extra protection, it’s a small price to pay for increasing your chances of surviving a violent encounter.

For a full range of upgraded protection, one outstanding choice is the SafeGuard ARMOR TacPro, which offers Level II or IIIA soft-panel ballistic protection, along with options for Level 1 and 2 edged blade and spike protection. It also has neck, groin and upper arm protection, giving it comprehensive protection.

The TacPro features MOLLE webbing so you can customize your vest to your particular needs. This is not a vest for the faint hearted and is definitely meant to be worn over your clothes.

The advantages of wearing a full-size vest are obvious the moment you put it on. Knowing you’re wearing a higher level of multi-threat protection is reassuring and more than makes up for the added weight and cost.


After a disaster, you often find yourself completely without power or other utilities. There’s not much you can do to prevent this, but you can certainly be prepared. Planning at this level requires a thorough analysis and understanding of the potential difficulties and how best to address those challenges. The next two products act as force multipliers to provide viable solutions to problems you may not have considered.

Cooler Shock packs store dry. Fill with water to activate the gel, seal and freeze it, and it will be ready to use in 24 hours. Pack measures 14x10x1 inches and fits easily in most coolers.


Whether it’s for your get-out-of-Dodge vehicle, your generator, or a chainsaw to help clear your path after a storm, you need gasoline. The problems are (1) having enough fuel during a crisis and (2) being able to safely move it to where you need it.

If the power is out, chances are your local gas station will not be open for business, and storing, transporting and transferring gasoline can be problematic and potentially dangerous. Finally, and most troublesome of all, is having a vehicle with a full tank of gas but not being able to access that gas for your other fuel needs.

Most modern vehicles are equipped with a one-way spill prevention system as a safety measure to prevent fuel spillage during a rollover event. Try using a standard siphon on one of these vehicles and the only thing you’ll get is frustrated. This is a problem that many of us never even consider until we find ourselves in the middle of a crisis.

But with the right gear, all these issues can be quickly resolved. Enter the GasTapper, a device that allows you to easily and safely transfer gas or diesel (up to 30 gallons per hour for the GasTapper Pro) using the multiple fuel-line attachments included in the kit to provide options for accessing modern fuel tanks. Forget the old “suck on the line until you get a mouthful of gas” technique.

The 12V model uses a fused auto adapter power plug, while the Gravity model uses a high-efficiency squeeze bulb. Either way, you can move a considerable amount of fuel without all the usual headaches and complications. The GasTapper comes in an air-tight, fume-proof carrying case and is reasonably priced.

Heavy-duty box with gasket and tight latches contains fumes and secures all GasTapper components when not in use.

Emergency Cold Storage

When the power goes out, all bets are off. A refrigerator can maintain its internal temperature for many hours if it’s kept closed. But keeping a refrigerator door closed is no easy feat. The alternative is to run a generator, which brings further complications. If you want to maintain your perishables, you need other options.

Having a cooler to keep your food, medicine, and other essentials from spoiling is a big plus. It’s a lot less costly than running a generator around the clock to keep the refrigerator going. And during an emergency, a cooler allows you to consolidate all your perishables into a smaller, more efficient space. The problem with coolers is they require ice—lots of ice. And when the ice starts to melt, your perishables are floating in an unsafe, watery mixture of bacteria.

Keeping that cooler fed with ice is a whole other story, especially in hot weather. Cooler Shock is an ice replacement cooler pack that uses Phase Change Technology to cause intense cooling at 18 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time. That’s 12 degrees cooler than regular ice.

Cooler Shock is a gel when warm and hard when frozen. According to the manufacturer, one Cooler Shock pack represents the equivalent of six pounds of ice in a 16-quart cooler. These packs not only stay colder longer than ice, but they also keep the contents of your cooler dry—a big plus.

Cooler Shock packs arrive and store dry. When you’re ready to use a pack, fill it with water to activate the gel, seal and freeze it, and it will be ready to use in 24 hours. It’s that simple. Each pack is approximately 14x10x1 inches and fits nicely in most coolers.

Cooler Shock is intended to be used by itself, but can also function as an ice extender or be employed to consume substantially less ice over the same period of time. Having a number of these packs frozen and ready to go provides a substantial advantage over traditional cooling options.


Survival preparations are about careful planning and even more careful selection of gear to give you every possible advantage. The choices you make today may affect the outcome of your tomorrow. Now is the time to consider your options and plan accordingly. In survival planning and preparation, never leave any advantage on the table. Stay safe and be prepared.

Richard Duarte is an urban survival consultant, writer, and firearms enthusiast. He’s the author of Surviving Doomsday: A Guide for Surviving an Urban Disaster, and the Quick-Start Guide for urban preparedness. For the latest news and updates, connect with Richard on


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