Prepper’s Survival Hacks Gives You DIY Projects to Help You Survive and Save Money

Do it yourself now, and survive later. That’s the idea behind Jim Cobb’s latest book, Prepper’s Survival Hacks. It gives you creative DIY projects to help you survive and save money.

Jim is my guest on this week’s DestinySurvival Radio. What follows is a summary of our visit mingled with my comments about the book.

Incidentally, as our language continues to change, you may have noticed the word “hack” has taken on new meanings in recent times, as evidenced by its use in the title of Jim’s book. I’ll make use of the word below in a few of my headings. I don’t know if I’m using it correctly, but who knows what that is anyway?


Hacking the Author

Jim Cobb has been on DestinySurvival a number of times to talk about his books and advice on preparedness. We always have good conversations.

In case you’re not familiar with who he is, here’s a bit of background info.


Jim Cobb is the author of several books focused on disaster readiness, such as Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide, Countdown to Preparedness, Prepper’s Financial Guide, and the #1 Amazon bestselling Prepper’s Home Defense. He has been a student of survivalism and prepping for about thirty years. He is the owner of, a rather popular disaster readiness resource.

Jim and his family reside in the upper Midwest and he is currently working on several more books.


Hacking the Book


Prepper's Survival Hacks


Prepper’s Survival Hacks offers a wide range of creative ideas for transforming cheap and widely available items into lifesaving gear. Find 50 nifty D I Y projects related to water, getting food, cooking, starting fires, having light, and more. It’s not marketing hype to say you’ll want this book in your survival library.

This is different than any of Jim’s other books, and he acknowledges that in the introduction. In our conversation we talked briefly of how this book came to be.

If you’re looking for hands-on, how-to projects while saving money, you’ll want this book in your survival library. Plus, the projects would be great to do with your children or grandchildren, whether you’re home schooling or getting the family prepared on weekends.

The book has plenty of pictures, unlike Jim’s previous works. They’re in black and white which is less expensive to produce. Otherwise, this could have been a coffee table book, but it would have been priced out of the reach of mere mortals. It’s meant to be a practical book, not a museum exhibit.

Headings for chapters and individual projects are large, making it easy to find your way around. A list of materials is given near the beginning of each project, which is helpful, too.

Jim’s intention is for this book to be a reference, especially when the Internet isn’t available. As I’ve said before about books, the advantage of having print is that it will be around if everything online ceases to exist.

Even before that time, you have no need for batteries or connectivity with a book. Plus, a book allows you to read the info about each project as many times as you like. If you’re like me–not very handy–you’ll appreciate the need to go over something several times before it soaks in.

I haven’t tried most of the projects, so I can’t say they’ll all work for you. But Jim and his family have tried them all, and you can have confidence, knowing he’s not just recycling theoretical stuff from other books or the Internet.

I venture to say some projects will work better than others for you, depending on the materials you have available and your ability for DIY projects.

Jim believes a big part of what we do to get prepared should make life easier for those times we’re facing down disasters. The less stress the better. Life is going to be abnormal enough without making things complicated and difficult.

Rekindling creativity in our imaginations is one reason Jim wrote Prepper’s Survival Hacks. You may see things you hadn’t thought of. And you may get ideas for projects of your own. What can it hurt to try something that could prove useful when the chips are down?


Hacking the Hacks

Below I’ll give you the headings of each chapter, followed by a bullet point list with a few of the projects it includes. Projects not bulleted are mentioned in the paragraphs that follow, along with a few more observations from my chat with Jim.



  • Transpiration Bag
  • Osmosis Water Filter
  • Layered Filter
The fact that projects on water filtration are given first shows the importance of water. After all, we’ll each die without it.

Should you build a solar still? We spent a few minutes talking about why Jim included instructions for a solar still, but doesn’t recommend making one.

This led to Jim’s thoughts on the importance of credible, tested information. was created to combat bad information because people’s lives are at stake. Maybe your own.


Food Acquisition

  • Pocket Fishing Kit
  • Bola
Why make your own MRE’s? Jim made a good case for this in his book and in our discussion. A word of caution–don’t buy cases of MRE’s (or any other storage food) without trying it first to see how it works out for you and your family.

That’s good advice for buying other prepping supplies as well.

We talked about making your own seed tape using toilet paper folded to half width. Jim gets a lot of favorable comments on this one. Consider this. It’s a project you can do this winter while binge watching your favorite shows.

You’ll find tips on making cold frames as well as small greenhouses from food containers you get from restaurants. We expanded on the notion of using containers for starting seedlings.

If you’re going to take his suggestion to grow your own potatoes from those you buy at the grocery store, you may have trouble. They’ve likely been sprayed with substance that prevents them from sprouting. I’d suggest checking for organic spuds at a local farmer’s market.

Jim says he’s had mixed results raising potatoes over the years, and he can’t grow enough to suit his likes. My experience has varied, too. This year was a bust.



  • Buddy Burner
  • Brick Rocket Stove
  • Hobo Stove
  • Altoids Tin Alcohol Stove



  • The Original DIY Fire Starter
  • Egg Carton Fire Starters
  • Self-Igniting Fire Starter
  • Cotton Pad Fire Starter
  • Fire Straws
  • Fire from Electricity
  • Fire Kit
Jim admits he loves fire and making fire starters. If you’ve seen the Panteao Make Ready to Survive DVD’s where he’s featured, you’ve seen him make some of the fire starters he writes about.

Since melting wax is essential for several of the fire starter projects, he puts info on how to do that in the first part of the chapter.

Dryer llint was the focus of our conversation for a while. Who knew there could be a difference in kinds of dryer lint?

Why aren’t magnifying glasses included in Jim’s chapter on fire starters? Hear his answer in our visit.

The fire kit described includes several kinds of fire starters and various types of tinder.



  • Altoids Tin Candle
  • Altoids Tin Oil Lamp
  • Solar Landscape Lights
  • Milk Jug Lantern


Survival Kits

  • Altoids Tin Survival Kit
  • Workplace Emergency Kit
  • Belt Pouch Survival Kit
A couple of these survival kits might be used for everyday carry (EDC). The brevity of the chapter on this may be disappointing to some, but Jim recommends a couple of books with thorough survival kit building info.



  • Gift Card Cordage Storage
  • Bucket Clothes Washer
  • Portable Heat
  • $1 Door Fortification
  • Coupon Stacking
Be sure to look carefully through this section because several gems which defy categorization are hidden away there. For example, don’t miss the tips on improvised gear or the numerous ways to use aluminum foil and garbage bags.

During our visit we discussed the idea he shares about using a pool noodle or pipe insulation to make a toilet seat on top of a bucket toilet. That’s one small, but important means of providing comfort which family members may truly appreciate.

You’ll enjoy Jim’s comments from our chat about the clothespin alarm trigger.

You’ll like the bucket mousetrap project in the book. Could this be the proverbial better mousetrap?

If you haven’t yet saved copies of your important documents on a flash drive, you’ll want to give heed to Jim’s advice in the book concerning the preparedness flash drive.


Hacking Deeper

What’s Jim’s favorite project from the book? You’ll have to hear his answer in our conversation on DestinySurvival Radio for October 22, 2015. (Right click to download.) Check out Jim’s site– Sign up for his newsletter there. And catch up with him on Facebook. Also, check out

Order Prepper’s Survival Hacks by clicking on its title wherever you see it in this post.

There’s room for your comment below if you have thoughts on what you’ve read above or heard in my conversation with Jim Cobb. What’s your favorite DIY project for making life easier after a disaster?


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.