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Welcome To Next Step Survival?

Last updated: January 30, 2022

Next Step Survival is here to serve as both your library of information and a helpful guide to help sort out the truth from the fluff and help you focus on what you feel is most important.

You will find practical information, tactics, and resources for survival, bushcraft, prepping, homesteading, protection, and gear reviews.

Next Step Survival Mission Statement

Why Another Survival blog?

My first post just happens to address that very issue – “Another survival blog? Really?“. Basically, I am convinced I can add value to an already crowded space by reducing the noise and guiding you in the direction you want to go at a pace set by you.

Who Is Behind Next Step Survival?

Brian at the RR Xing

Hi, I’m Brian Hawkins. I’m a father, grandfather, Veteran, law-abiding taxpayer, homeowner, trucker, and a United States Citizen.

Oh, since we’re applying labels here, I’m also a prepper, gardener, beekeeper, responsible gun owner, and hiker.

I was in the Army during peacetime, in the ’80s, as a truck driver. For you fellow veterans, I was a 64C, MOS later changed to 88M.

I never saw combat and I didn’t train with the cool kids for the Special Forces, Delta Force, Rangers, or even the Infantry. Nope, I was a gear grinder, and proud to support the 197th Infantry, 82nd Airborn, and The 3rd Ranger Battalion.

I wouldn’t call myself a wannabe but I was one of the guys that loved the field and training in the woods. I loved the challenge, the gear, and the experience.

Little did we know the next war, which I missed by a year, would have few trees and a lot of sand. I feel fortunate to have missed it but have respect for the brave soldiers that did go.

I spent a little over six years in and left in 1989 as a sergeant with two honorable discharges. I wanted to try driving a shiny truck for more money.

It didn’t take long to start missing a lot of the Army way of life. The transition into the civilian lifestyle was difficult. It turned out I didn’t really care to spend a lot of time with the other truckers, still don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a ton of respect for those guys and, honestly, America would fall flat on its face without our truckers. True story.

I just wasn’t the perfect fit for telling trucker stories at the diners and spending days on end keying the mic.

Nope, I was better suited to grab some gear and find a quiet spot in the woods to relax and explore. Antisocial? I guess, but it is what it is and I don’t pretend to be something I’m not.

For the next decade, I drove for several companies, coast to coast, including Canada, and spent many a weekend in the forests, mountains, lakes, and even the desert. I loved hiking and I loved the wilderness and I had no idea what a survivalist was.

I wouldn’t have known what you were talking about if you started talking about prepping yet I squirreled months of food and supplies away, almost instinctively.

This is before personal computers, cell phones, and GPS. But the top bunk of my truck cab was loaded to the top of the ceiling with survival and hiking gear.

Later, in 1999, I went local (driving locally) and discovered computers. I didn’t lose interest in hiking but the opportunities certainly dropped away, all the while I began focusing on new adventures – online.

I eventually lost a bunch of gear, gained a bunch of weight, and lived the easy life for a while.

A few years ago I started getting back into hiking and outdoor survival, only now it is both complemented and complicated, by a wealth of online information.

Now I have enough gear, food, and supplies to fuel my renewed passion for a very long time. I’ve learned more in the last few years than I have my entire life when it comes to survival – and I feel a very strong need to share it. Maybe it has something to do with 17 years of blogging, but that is just a guess. 😉

I hope you’ll join me as we sort through the confusion and make the best decisions based on our and our family’s needs.

Especially if you’ve read this entire story because now I owe you – you’ll never get that time you just wasted back. LOL

Let’s Get You Started Prepping, Shall We?

Next Steps:

When Did I Start Prepping?

One of the questions I get most often is, “When did you start prepping?“.

For some reason, that was always a tough question for me, because I hadn’t really noticed a set time etched in the universe that set me off on my prepping journey. It felt like it just happened organically.

Just today, January 30, 2022, I realized that was not entirely the case. Sure, there were little seeds planted over the years.

  • Hiding cans of soup and boxes of cereal in the walls of my Father’s house, as a teenager, so I’d have something to eat after the other kids raided the kitchen.
  • Keeping a real 72-hour pack (Standard issue Army rucksack) with gear and food within reach for years as a member of the 72-hour Ranger Support Team in Ft. Benning, GA in the 1980s.
  • Months of driving a tractor-trailer across the Sinai desert moving gear and cargo between camps as a member of the United Nation’s Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) and gaining a real-life understanding of what true dehydration feels like and how dangerous it can be. Carrying an amble supply of food, and especially water, was critical along the MSR (Main Supply Route) between North Camp and South Camp, where the sand dunes literally changed to roads daily, with daytime temperatures above a hundred degrees Fahrenheit and dropping into the forties at night.
  • Living out of a pack for a decade as an over-the-road truck driver and carrying enough food and survival gear to make Kurt Saxon (Paid Link) proud.
  • Sitting for hours and hours (18-hours at one point, if memory serves) in four separate interstate shutdowns with thousands of stranded vehicles. Once each, in Wyoming, Illinois, Indiana, and an ice storm in Kentucky that shut down the state for three days. In Indiana, on either I-94 or I-80 (I don’t remember which), I had people and families climbing into the cab of my truck on several occasions, to get warm, a bottle of water, and sometimes a little food. I was well-equipped with food, water, microwave, refrigerator, even a TV and VCR. Oh, and hundreds of gallons of fuel, so idling wasn’t an issue.
  • Experiencing firsthand the little hiccup now called Northeast blackout of 2003, as well as several other power outages over the years, both in the heat of the summer and during Michigan snow storms.

Sure, those experiences had a lot to do with being a prepper today, just like watching my parents garden and can, hunt and fish, and live more frugally than most do today.

Then I ran across an old post (Why I Cooked Ramen Noodles In My BackyardSeptember 20, 2015), almost 6½ years old, that helped me realize that that was probably the pivot point when I started prepping in earnest. It’s pretty cool to be able to skim back and see my thought process because it was recorded on a personal blog.

I’m not going to go into that blog post, you can read it for yourself, but that led me to yet another blog post that I wrote over 7-years ago (What Is Freedom To You? Is Your Freedom Secure?January 3, 2015) that, at the very least, was another stepping stone.

So, now when someone asks me, “When did you start prepping?“, I can confidently say, around seven years ago in 2015.