Don’t Drink the Water (Unless You Have One of These)

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

In this week’s mailbag alert, you’ll discover an essential apparatus that lets you drink clean water from anywhere, the best gas mask to buy if you wear glasses, the first thing you should do if someone you love has been kidnapped — and more.

Remember, if you have a safety or survival question — or you’re looking for a specific gear recommendation — send an email to

Now, let’s get started.

I bought one of your SurvFilters but I threw away the packaging before I realized I needed to put it together. Can you give me those directions?

— Greg K. 

I’m glad you invested in such a quality water filter — the fact is all water filters are not created equal. But the SurvFilter has been independently tested and proven to remove 99.99% of contaminants.

I’ve trusted the SurvFilter to provide me with safe drinking water from some of the most disgusting sources I’ve ever seen — including this McDonald’s toilet.

Here are the simple instructions you need to get your SurvFilter up and running:

  1. Remove the filter from the protective wrapping.
  1. Attach the tubing with the mouthpiece on one end to the top of the filter by pressing the quick-connect onto the connection on top of the filter. It will click when it is securely in place.
  1. To use the extension tubing, connect the quick-connect fitting to the top of the filter and then connect the mouthpiece section of tubing to the extension tubing.
  1. To drink through the mouthpiece, open the mouthpiece valve by holding the bottom part of the mouthpiece with one hand while lifting up the top section of the mouthpiece.

The filter insert is designed to last for 250 gallons before you need to replace it. Since the average person needs one gallon of water per day in an emergency situation, a family of four could use the SurvFilter for over two months.

Not only will the SurvFilter provide clean drinking water in a crisis, but it will also save you a ton of money (and space!) because you won’t need to store as much bottled water in your home.

That being said, I have a limited supply of these amazing filters and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Click here now to claim yours.

I agree that a good gas mask is essential for chemical protection. But I wear prescription eyeglasses and I cannot find a gas mask that allows for them. Is there such a thing? Or do I need to go with a full body suit that has a hood? 

— Nancy F.

Some gas masks are designed to be used with glasses. However, to eliminate the risk that it still won’t fit properly, I recommend purchasing a full hood such as the Honeywell Emergency Escape Hood.

One drawback with a hood is they are effective only for a limited amount of time. The Honeywell is designed to offer escape from many contaminants — chemical, biological, environmental — for 30 minutes.

Now, this is definitely a more expensive option (it sells for around $200) but it may be your best bet in a survival situation.

Just imagine if the bridges across the Mississippi River were destroyed, either through natural causes such as a major, long-overdue earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, by the deliberate and coordinated efforts of a terrorist group or through neglect due to lack of repair and inspection. The country is so dependent on the east/west transport of goods across the river, our ability to receive foods and necessities on demand would be greatly diminished, probably for an extended period.

— Diane R.

You are absolutely correct. This type of disaster would have far-reaching effects on the economy and our ability to purchase goods.

The fact is militaries around the world often use this very tactic to win battles. This is why you should have a large supply of food storage (at least 30 days’ worth) so you can ride out one of these major disasters.

Storing enough food for 30 days may sound daunting, but it is not a difficult task at all. I recommend making a 30-day meal plan, factoring in all three meals each day. That will give you a good idea of how much food you need. If you generally use a cup of rice for dinner each night, you’ll need 30 cups of rice for 30 days of storage.

Also, don’t forget about food storage for your pets. Make sure you have a 30-day supply for them, too.

My job requires me to travel 22 weeks out of the year — all within the U.S. 100% of the time I carry my tactical pen in my backpack and I have never been questioned. Wife and I are planning a trip to Europe this summer (Italy and Switzerland). Would I be able to pack the tactical pen for this trip?

— Nolan P.

I’ve had many friends and family members who have traveled abroad with their tactical pen — as have I. Almost all of my international travels have been to Europe, and I’ve never been stopped or had my pen questioned.

However, remember that customs agents can use their discretion when it comes to confiscating “dangerous” items. Some agents won’t raise concern over a tactical pen, while others will take it away in a heartbeat.

I don’t advise getting into a prolonged argument with them, because you really have no chance of winning — even if you’re right. If you’re ever questioned over your tactical pen, just casually insist it’s a pen you use for writing.

Great article on options for the best knife. I have a Hoffman Richter Wolf fixed blade. Thoughts? Obviously, it is all dependent upon user and needs… Without putting it through the piece of metal and then cutting my steak, what’s your opinion on it as an EDC, hiking, zombies-show-up, etc. knife?

— Chris F.

The Hoffman Richter Wolf is full tang, which is critical for any knife you depend on to save your life. However, a survival knife is not something I would skimp on…

Now, I don’t personally own this knife, but the fact that it sells for $30 tells me it’s probably cheaply made overseas. I would be concerned about the durability if I were forced to rely on this knife in a crisis.

I realize most people don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a knife. But it’s important to spend decent money for a quality knife — especially if you expect it to save your life one day.

Can you give insight on recovering a kidnapped loved one?

— Donald C.

The first thing you should do if a loved one is kidnapped is contact law enforcement. One thing the FBI does right is hostage negotiation. The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) is one of the best-trained tactical units in the world. These guys are the best of the best — on par with some of the U.S. military’s elite Special Forces.

Also, unlike what you see in Hollywood movies, NEVER pay a ransom. If you do, the kidnappers will most likely ask for MORE money and you may not see your loved one again. There is a reason the U.S. government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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