Today’s Prep: Refining Gasoline Storage Plan

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There I was, with a 5 gallon plastic gasoline container hoisted up on my shoulder, spout down into a funnel which was in my truck.  Glug glug glug….pause, glug glug.  PAINFULLY slow transfer of my storage gas to the truck, I made the decision right there that I would no longer use plastic storage containers and migrate to all Eagle Safety cans (metal).  I have one can which I keep in the bed of my truck at all times and with the provided funnel mated to it, I can dump gas into my truck relatively quickly.  I’ve used it to help others on the side of the road and I like the fact that it’s nice a robust and won’t swell in the heat like pastic cans.

The one thing that stopped me from transitioning was price, the Eagle cans are between $50-$60 locally and part of me just didn’t want to dump (no pun intended) $200 on 4 cans for storage.  Off to Amazon I went and behold, the cans are there with free shipping for $33 each.

Here is a description from the manufacturer.

Eagle Mfg UI-50-FS Gasoline Can, Type-I, 5-Gal

“Type I Safety Can, 5 gal. Capacity, Red, Used For Flammables, Material Galvanized Steel, Height 15-1/2 In., Outside Dia. 12-1/2 In., Standards FM, UL, ULC, OSHA 29 CFR 1910.106, NFPA Code 30, Includes Polyethylene Pour Funnel.

Eagle 5 gallon Type I red safety cans (UI50FS) are constructed of 24-gauge hot dipped galvanized steel, are the only deep drawn seamless can made, have a double interlock no-weld bottom seam, a baked on powder coat finish with a trilingual label, have a spring closing lid with neoprene gasket that vents at 5 psi internal pressure, have a non-sparking flame arrestor and pour spout and are 100 percent made in the USA. Eagle Manufacturing Company’s 5 gallon, Type I red safety can (for flammable liquids) meets OSHA and NFPA Code 30 requirements and are UL and ULC listed and FM approved for safe handling and storage of gasoline and other flammable liquids (Accepted Under CARB).”

The Bottom Line

I’ve been rotating gas out for a number of years now, I like to keep it stored on site for generators or other emergency situations.  Yet one thing I always found annoying were the plastic containers, the now impossible “safety” spouts and even when aftermarket spouts were purchased the ridiculously slow pour rate. Not to mention I feel like plastic just is not as safe as metal, call it a hunch.  If you can swing it I suggest moving to metal can storage as well, even if it’s just one single can.  Remember to store the gas in the appropriate place (read these tips on storage) and cycle through it frequently!

 

Bugging OUT is for REAL

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I’ve written some articles in the past and shot some video related to bugging out, there are always the naysayers who scoff at the idea.  I think what needs to be understood is that the concept of bugging out needs to be kept in context, I’m not talking about some fantasy out of a prepper book where one narrowly avoids government opporession and with $200 of REI gear heads to the woodline to foster a community and live off the land.  Um….right.  What I AM talking about is the fire that’s burning approximately 2 miles from my location and the level 1 evacuation emergency that has just been put out by local officials.  Mostly likely this 2+ acre fire (which I believe was started by lightning) will be contained, I count 2 helicopters, 2 airplanes and who knows how many are on the ground currently.  Yet, there could be a real need to pick up and leave in a short amount of time, hence….a bugout.

Currently around the country there are many who have faced bugout situations, some on much shorter notice than others.  Hurricanes coming up through the center of the country, massive flooding on the east coast and oh by the way a volcanic eruption still ongoing in Hawaii.  Get your stuff, get out and you may or may not be able to come back to your home.  Decisions must be made, what’s important and what’s not, how much space and time do you really have.  Will roads be closed and are there alternate routes, where is the final destination and much more.  Having stated all that here are a few considerations I’ve come up with, this is not an all inclusive list.

Bugout Considerations

  • Tiered bugout strategy, by that I mean have a 1 day, 1 hour, 5 min strategy to get out.  This is all time driven.
  • Have essentials pre-staged or at least identified, know what you need to take…what you want to take…and what gets left behind.
  • Yet another reason why you never park your vehicle with less than 1/2 a tank of gas in it just in case
  • Talk through with your family what to do if everyone is home, everyone is not or you are split up
  • Rally point primary and alternate (where are you bugging out to)
  • Consider a safe deposit box at a local bank for critical documents just in case you are not home and can’t get out what you need
  • Rehearse and validate load plans, do all of those containers actually fit in the back of your SUV along with the dog(s) and other items?
  • Sign up via your smart phone for text alerts from local agencies, this is helpful in many instances

There are more considerations but those are just a few, please feel free to add your own in the comment section.  I think more than anything we just need to acknowledge that, driven mostly by natural events / distasters, the need to bugout could certainly arise and we mut be prepared.  I’m happy to report that in my instance the smoke seems to have died down but the planes and helo’s are stilly flying, hopefully it will be all contained in a few hours.

 

Preparedness Foods: 10% Off Coupon at Rainy Day Foods

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I’m pleased to annouce that I’ve partnered with RainyDayFoods.com to bring you all a 10% off Coupon to be used on their website.  Storage foods / supplies are an essential part of the preparedness process, be it for short term outages or the localized natural disasters that we see manifesting themselves throughout the country.  I have personally spoken with the owners of Rainy Day Foods and vetted them before presenting them to you all, they have been in this business for decades and have sent semi truck loads of food storage supplies time and time again.  They live what they preach and I do hope to continue to do business with them going forward, a owner/operator company vs one of the larger big box store types I’ve worked with in the past.

COUPON CODE: “BEPREPARED” for 10% Off!

Please use this coupon code while on their website to save 10% off your purchase.  They have all sorts of food and water storage products, grinders / mixers, dryers, emergency medical and other supplies.

RainyDayFoodsWebsite

Rainy Day Foods

Soup and MRE’s

I was able to secure a few supplies for my own prep stash while working with the folks at Rainy Day Foods.  I needed a new box of MRE’s because some of the supply that I have are currently coming up at the end of their shelf life (5-7 years or so).  Additionally I do like buckets, they store easily and have a nice (longer) shelf life, in this instance I went with a soup mix which will compliment the other supplies I have nicely.

ABC Soup Mix and MRE’s

The Bottom Line

Storage and emergency supplies are just one part of a balanced prep plan, but an essential part nonetheless.  As I type this folks are facing serious flooding in some parts of the country and wildfires and other disasters are waiting just around the corner.  Stay ready and have what you need on hand, don’t be the guy standing in the long line at the grocery store trying to snatch that last case of water or canned food.

 

When you are NOT at the top of the food chain

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People want to move out to the woods, people often do not understand what that means.  By that I mean that wild animals often call the shots and while unlikely could turn the tables on the almighty human.  Here are a few examples I’ve seen / observed in the last 2 weeks.

  • Bear:  There has been a big bear stalking our trash, he even opened a “bear proof” locking trash container and had his way with everything inside.  It was NOT left out overnight.
  • Bear x2:  Dog going crazy out on the deck at night and I went outside, there was the same bear about 20 yards away just staring at me before slowly walking off like he didn’t have a care in the world.
  • Lion:  Recent snow (yes it still snows at elevation) revealed mountain lion tracks close to the homestead, a neighbor up the road lost a goat to said lion recently.  More than the bear these are freaky because you never see  them.
  • Fox, Turkey, Deer, Elk:  Not exactly a threat but nonetheless still around which do draw the larger predators in.

I love living out here and when I go outside, especially at night, I’m overly cautious and have a firearm on me.  The chances of getting assaulted by a bear or lion are slim but they are still there and under cover of darkness they have the advantage.  We humans believe we are all powerful and run the show but reality is out here, we could be nothing more than a meal.

Good times.

 

Handguns: You Will NOT Rise To The Occasion…

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Allow me to paraphrase a few choice things I’ve heard over the years from folks with respect to handgun usage / training / personal defense.

  • I’ve been around guns my whole life
  • I’ll take a CCW course, I wouldn’t need to shoot though
  • I carry a gun but keep it locked in my glove box
  • I do have a gun, if something happens I’m sure I’ll know what to do when that time arises

I once spoke to a very nice lady who takes her dogs on a walk while carrying a pistol….that she has never fired.  As a matter of fact she has never once fired a gun at all!  Now imagine something were to happen, be it wild animal encounter or bad guy, I suspect she would have a better chance of throwing the gun at the threat than actually employing it in the manner prescribed.  It is mind boggling to me how many folks almost NEVER train but do carry a gun for self defense, citing some of the reasons I listed above.  When the chips are down, stress levels are high and there are mere seconds to react, one can only hope that all the time spent purposefully training will pay off.  If there is no training to fall back upon, failure will be the likely outcome and as the quote goes: you will not rise to the occasion but default to the level of your training.

I’m fortunate that I live in an area where I can shoot just about any time I want, the main constraint is ammunition because to date I have yet to find someone to give it to me for free.  Yes I know there is an option to reload, which I do for precision rounds (.308) but plowing through 4,000 rounds a year of 9mm I have no desire to stand over my turret press plugging away at an average of 100 rounds per hour.  I shoot a variety of drills and scenarios both on paper and steel, strong and weak hand and also with a shot timer.  I’m no pro out there with my Glock 19 but I do what I can to keep my level of proficiency up, including dry fire techniques while at home.  It’s a skill set that must be constantly honed otherwise the rust starts to set in, I know this from personal experience as well.

I train with the mindset that while I want to be proficient I truly hope to never have to use my pistol in a personal defense situation.  Yet should that day come,  even with all the training, there are still no guarantees.  Imagine how far less prepared the average person who shoots 50-100 rounds of year at a giant paper target at the indoor range would be.  Someone who carries concealed but never practices draw from the holster, someone has never fired a single round under stress or experienced a malfunction.  This is what perplexes me, why is there no emphasis on training?  These folks carry a gun to protect themselves or their family but actually do not possess the skills to employ the gun in a proficient manner.

Through no fault of their own I truly believe that good people are just ignorant with respect to what needs to go into becoming remotely proficient with a firearm.  Unless their target is a static full sized “person” at 7 yards under full lighting in a climate controlled range with an NRA instructor standing over their shoulder they wouldn’t have a clue.  Some folks wouldn’t even have that experience in their kit, owning guns they have never even fired.  Ridiculous!

These aren’t issues I can solve, all I can do is emphasize to everyone reading this how important the training is.  On a local (read: what I can actually control) level I do take folks out and teach them how to shoot, help them refine their skills while always keeping the fundamentals at the forefront.  Currently there is around 6 inches of snow on the ground and the temps are hovering in the 20’s, I’l be out today ringing steel and running drills.  It’s always a good day to train, get out there yourself and stay safe.

 

 

4 Reasons You Need to MOVE

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Yesterday I loaded up in the truck and headed up to the transfer station to dump off some trash, dog hanging his head out the back window.  About a mile up the dirt road I ran into a neighbor who was taking a walk, I stopped and we chatted for about 10 minutes with no worries about any other vehicles coming or going.  I love living out here in the mountains and while there are risks and inconveneinces it is far superior to the subdivision life I lived before.  While I understand everyone is in a different place in their life here are, in my opinion, 4 reasons you need to leave the traditional life behind and move out into the wide open spaces.

1- People.  I’m not a big fan, I try to avoid them as much as possible.  For sure if I have to go “into town” and interact with folks I’ll play nice and I do have a tight group of community that I’m working with but generally I like to avoid crowds / traffic / people as much as possible.  Living out here provides the opportunity for me to disconnect as much as I want and control my interactions.  There are no cars driving by, no sounds of other folks, no stores or other commercial outlets within my AO.

2- Freedom of Maneuver.  I remember living in my subdivision, we had a stupid HOA which controlled what we could or could not do.  Permits for everything, licenses, local sheriff, township police, city police and state troopers always lurking in case you set off a firecracker at the wrong time or have a mischevious dog and your neighbor wants to report you.  Not so out here, I could (and have) literally walk out onto my deck and take a piss off of it in only my underwear with no worries.  Build a pole barn, set in some fence, take a shot at a target 500 yards across the gully to the other hillside.  Whatever, nobody cares….and oh by the way the law consists of the Sheriff and they might be 45 min away depending.

3- Self Reliance.  Living out here has been quite the learning experience and I enjoy the challenge.  From well water to a septic system, not being close to resupply for most things and surrounded by wild animals (bear, coyote, deer, elk, turkey et al) it has been a change.  We have had to work a bit harder at things but I value it and much prefer it to punching a button on my iphone and having it done for me.  I must clarify, in no way are we homesteaders but we are much further along than we used to be.

4- Personal Gratification.  I sit on my deck in the morning and watch the sun rise over the mountains and take it all in, so thankful for everything we have and hoping that we never ever take any of it for granted.

Final Thoughts

Living out here is not a panacea, we could still be suspectable to major or minor SHTF events (biggest being fire, water shortages).  Yet when it comes down to it I feel like we are much better off than we used to be, I was not a fan of being surrounded by neighbors in cheaply built homes and well manicured lawns.  At least out here we have the abilty to succeed and/or fail mostly on our own terms, and can do so in relative peace and quiet.  Right now the snow is falling hard and the wood stove is roaring, I wouldn’t go back to a 5000 square foot house in XYZ subdivision in whatever town for anything.  They can have it, all of it.

 

Climbed Pikes Peak: Lesson’s Learned

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Around 13,500 ft, close to the summit

Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs and the Barr Trail to the summit: 13 miles, 7500 ft elevation gain (to over 14k ft) and the last few thousand feet fighting snow and ice.  Many folks who do this trek take 2 days choosing to overnight at the Barr camp about 7 miles in from the trailhead.  Why make it easy, we decided to do it all in one day stepping off promptly at 6 am.  10 hours later (including breaks) we made the summit which was no small miracle.  I have often said that a cornerstone to preparedness is mental toughness because when the chips are down and all the cool gear purchased at REI is lost and the realization that nobody is coming to save you sets in, the mental game begins.  Only those who can steel their mind and push through the suck will persevere, and the older I get the more of a reality that becomes.

The Plan

We would step off at 6 am, take a 5 to 10 min rest stop at each mile marker and a 20-30 min stop at Barr camp to refuel on ramen noodles and hot cocoa.  We had our small backpacks with the essentials and crampons for the snow and ice that awaited.  Everything going as planned the summit would be hit before the road closed at the top and we would catch a ride down around 3:30-4pm.  Back in town for dinner, no big deal.

Tossed these on around 12,000 ft

Murphy’s Law

I knew there would be struggles with the altitude, especially above 10,000 feet and admittedly I’m not as  young as I once was but I’ve made it through worse in my military career.  What could go wrong?

Mile 6 is when I started to feel the ache in my knee, an ache I hadn’t felt in many years and originally developed at a rather rigorous military school I had attended in my younger days (torn meniscus was the end result).  I could push through I told myself, discomfort and “hurt” are different than “injured”, I had to keep going.  By the time I reached 13,000 feet I was almost dragging my right leg and trying not to get caught in the snow or move laterally, otherwise stabbing pain would hit.  I resorted to walking in a peg leg fashion, more hips and almost no knee bend.  The go was slow and the pain, if I slipped or stumbled into deep snow, was terrible.  All this time my hiking buddy was stopping to throw up every few hundred yards between bouts of dizzyness (he had flown in from sea level), we were a hot mess.

Someone to Lean On

If you haven’t done work at altitude I’m here to tell you there are very few folks, probably sans olympic type altheletes, who are immune to the thin air.  Physical prowess and how “in shape” one is usually doesn’t matter, your body just has to work super hard to complete the most basic functions.  It’s exhausting and some do throw up, fight dizzyness and have other debilitating symptoms.

As previously stated I was fighting knee pain and my buddy was hurling his lunch at every opportunity, we suffered and persevered together.  It was surreal, for a few hundred feet I would be motivating him as we moved along.  Another 50 feet, let’s get to that next bend in the switchback.  We can do it.  Then seemingly the tables would turn and I would be in pain struggling to walk, he would take the role of motivator despite stopping to hug a rock.  Heck, we both would stop to lean on big rocks every 50 feet or so to catch our breath, especially the last 1500 feet up which took us almost 2 hours to complete.

In Retrospect

There was very little celebration when we got the top, we were just glad it was over.  Bear in mind this isn’t something we typically do, and other mountains in CO over 14k have trail heads that start at much higher elevations, so a much quicker hike.  Pikes Peak made us earn that one but I did have some thoughts on the whole experience.

  • Age is just a number: FALSE.  Broadly speaking I tend to disagree with the whole age is just a number.  If that’s the case why don’t we see any 75 year old NFL players, or 3 year old stock brokers, or issue driver’s licenses at 8 years old.  You get what I’m saying.  As we get older the body is capable but not quite as capable, my 40 year old self is definitely not my 20 year old self.   Like Toby Keith said, I’m not as good as I once was…but I’m as good once as I ever was.
  • No such thing as a one man army.  I made that climb because my buddy was with me, I have no doubt about that.  I have often said that the whole one many army is a fallacy, after all you have to sleep sometime (think security).  In addition when the times get tough having someone to help motivate is absolutely critical.  Buddy team for the win.
  • The Bugout on foot fantasy.  “When the SHTF I’ll leave my suburban home, toss my BOB on my back (that I’ve rarely worn) and hike into the woods – live off the land and cover 20 miles a day.”  Right.  I don’t care if you are a hardcore Infantryman who has done countless roadmarches in a controlled environment the reality of the wilderness would no doubt be different.  Combine that with other factors like altitude and injury and all of a sudden that sweet plan just turned sour.
  • Mental Toughness.  I cannot emphasize this enough and I believe that as I have gotten older and my body has worn down my capacity to push through mentally has indeed enhanced.  Those of us who have been around for a bit have experience to call upon and a mental toughness that has been forged in the fire, it really is an asset that can be called upon.

The Bottom Line

Get out there and challenge yourself once in a while physically and by that I don’t mean going for a PR on the bench at the gym.  Do something that pushes your personal limits for an extended period of time, understanding  each of us are at different places in our lives.  I climbed Pikes Peak which wasn’t exactly easy but others might scoff at that and need to do something much harder.  Or maybe you are that guy who has 40 lbs of beer gut hanging off the front end who carries a gun because hey, a 1911 solves everything (or so one might believe).  Maybe a walk around the block is in order.  In any event I think soley relying on supplies as a preparedness strategy without giving thought to the physical and mental is a massive miscalcuation.  Take care and stay safe.

 

SHTF Threats OFTEN Overlooked

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Look up a preparedness forum or check out some of the comments on a preparedness article after a major event.  Common themes involve guns, ammunintion, stocking food to the ceiling and water in tanks, some medical supplies and other misc items.  Skills are always relevant so there could be some discussion surrounding that (i.e. how to articles or other various sharing).

One of the biggest threats which I have discussed in the past is often overlooked because it is not “sexy” to prepare for and folks don’t give it much thought.

Infection. 

Before you dig into your stash of fish antibiotics and declare yourself immune consider theory vs reality.  Studies by folks you may or may not know and have read about online vs practicing medical professionals in your community.  Allow me to relate my recent story.

A few days ago I felt the tip of my finger start to get sensitive, no big deal I thought it will go away.  I went shooting over the weekend and did some martial arts training, the finger persisted and it became slighly painful to dig into my left pocket for my phone.  Two days ago I started to notice my finger swelling on the left side of it accompanied by some discomfort, like the typical man I thought it would probably go away at some point, maybe I got a splinter from stacking wood.  Yesterday my wife, who is a practicing medical professional in the Operating Room, saw my finger and said “you have an infection and you need to get it checked out ASAP.”

I made it to the DR’s office today and sure enough an infection that somehow made it’s way into my finger (they think through the cuticle).  Had I let it go for another week or two, they said it would have gotten very inflamed, restricted motion, pain, red streaks up my hand and they might have had to cut it open to drain it.  Wow.  Good thing I caught it early enough and via antibiotics should be good to go within a few days.

Now imagine: no antibiotics and no local Doc to visit with a quick script and trip to the pharmacy.   In the span of a month my left hand would be in constant pain with restricted motion, who knows how far it would spread.  All this off of something I had no idea I contracted and seemingly innoculous at first.  A simple infection much more powerful than any hoarde of fantasyland hungry and armed roving bands of evil doers just over the next horizon.

In retrospect I think about this and wonder what I could have done to prevent it, I truly have no idea since I don’t recall what exactly happened to initiate it.  What I can think of with respect to SHTF is one word: Community.  Community is everything and with that multiple talents, most importantly a Medical Doctor / Surgeon with access to prescription medications.  I’d rather have one of those on my squad than 6 light infantry types, think about it.

 

Water Shortages: Preparing For The Worst

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I have always said that it’s the localized disasters which have the most impact on folks, not the major event that may or may not come in the next year or decade.  As such it’s our duty to prepare for the most likely events in the best way we can, for me it’s currently water shortages.

There is no water on my land here in the mountains and my well is 500 feet deep, powered by an electric pump.  Rain is scarce here and there truly hasn’t been much snow either.  While that combined with blue skies and mild temps make for nice weather it also could mean a very dry summer.  There are already homes in the mountains that have gone completely dry, no water coming up from the wells at all.  Talk about SHTF.

For certain water is still readily available through other means be it on site water storage, or running down to town to obtain more in larger containers.  Still I don’t think most understand the major inconvenience a long term water “outage” would be when you consider each person uses roughly 2-4 gallons a day.  Those stats take into consideration drinking, bathing, cooking and even doing things like flushing toilets.  It adds up quick especially for a family, those handful of water bottle 40 packs end up being gone really quickly.

So what is there to do?  I do have a moderately substantial water storage plan in place on site and since I can’t make it rain or snow, that really is my best option should things get super dry at some point.  I continue to add to the storage by using 7 gallon containers or 3.5 gallon water bricks, just easier to move around and transport if necessary.  While I do have large 55 gallon barrels once they are filled they aren’t going anywhere and you have to pump the liquid out of them.  Side note:  There is a river about 15 minutes away, I don’t forsee myself driving down there to load up containers but it’s always there as a last resort.

The most optimal course of action is to do what I’m doing at this point, recognize the potential for disaster and get out ahead of it as much as possible.  That takes prioritization and the understanding that even one’s best efforts might not be good enough.  There is no way I have enough water on site to outlast a multi month outage with no other means of obtaining more, I suppose it if comes to that it will be time to load up and head out.  Hopefully it won’t come to that, we shall see.

 

2018 Preparedness Goals

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Here we are halfway through March but I suppose it’s not too late to post about preparedness goals for this year.  At a time when things seems to be going well it’s often easy to place preps on the back shelf because hey, could spend that money on something other than supplies and would rather head downtown than spend a day working on some skills.  I’m sure we’ve all fallen victim to a little complacency but it’s essential that in some respect we keep plugging along.  What follows are a few of my goals for 2018.

Wood Gathering / Networking

In the year and some change that I’ve lived here in the mountains I’ve gone through roughly 5 cord of wood.  Being busy and also with plenty of locals who split and deliver it per specs, I’m sort of ashamed to say that I’ve purchased all of it and had it delivered.  Sure, the stacking sucks but that’s the easy part.

I’ve met a nice like minded individual who frequents a large ranch every month or so, assists with bringing down trees / splitting and stocking the barn.  They need another good man he tells me, all the dry wood you can haul once the day is out.  I like that plan and am not opposed to hard work, will definitely be participating going forward.

Long Range AR10 Dope

You already know this story.  Spend some money tinkering and build a nice rifle, load catridges for it…barely shoot it (safe queen).  I do train quite a bit with my M4 and especially pistol(s) but have neglected my AR10, I need to get out and get some data on it this year and there are no shortages of places I can get out to 500+ yards.  Fortunately I’ve found another buddy who has a chrono and also loads, we are going to head out together soon.

Concealed Carry: Full Steam Ahead

2017 was a great year for training, I hosted quite a few pistol and rifle courses as well as traveling to the east coast to train with my recently retired GB (Green Beret) buddy to hone my skills.  2018 will mean more courses but I’ve already secured a space and have gone full steam into teaching and certifying for CCW.  I enjoy empowering responsible citizens and helping to make them more self sufficient.

Wood Stove Cleaning

I need to clean my stove after the weather warms up, I paid around $250 for a chimney sweep crew to come out and inspect / clean it last season and after observing them I think I’ll be good to go.  Climbing up on the roof shouldn’t be an issue, one man up top shoving the brush down and another at the stove with a shop vac.  Just one of those self reliance things that I never had to do before but want to pick up on.

Gasoline Storage

Currently I have four 5 gallon containers and a 5 gallon safety can which stays in the back of my truck.  I’d like to have all safety cans stored in a lockable container but once again, there are costs involved with that.  Each one is around $50, x 4 and a $300 or so locker.  All in due time but I’d feel much better about that setup than my current one.

More Wood Working Projects

Last year I picked up a compound miter saw and table saw to compliment my other tools and have been hitting several projects around the house.  Everything from small tables to exterior well covers, I really enjoy buiding these sorts of things and hope to do more in the future.

The Bottom Line

Life has changed since moving out to the mountains but it’s all been for the best.  The conveniences are less, the drives to town are longer and the *somewhat* isolation is real.  I enjoy it and am happy to share it with my family.  2018 will be another year where we continue to gain more skills and prepare for something that may or may not come.  It’s the way we choose to live and are definitely thankful for it.

 

Self Defense: If You Don’t Train to Fight, You Cannot Fight.

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You played high school sports, you consider yourself athletic, you still hit the gym for some cardio and lift some weights.  Maybe you hit the punching bag hanging out in the garage too and oh by the way, that 6 month stint in Karate back in the day.  Guess what, it’s not enough.  Most trained folks would make quick work of those who are not, this of course unless you come across someone else with the same background, in which case its a bunch of wild haymaker punches and / or football tackles and headlocks.

So often in the world of preparedness we like to think of self defense in terms of using weapons, but guns (concealed carry or other) should be an absolute last resort unless in a life or death situation.  There exists a wide spectrum of possibilities where one might have to simply use some self defense techniques to tone down a situation, protect one’s self or a loved one.  Remember, lethal force is always last…solve it at another level.

This past weekend I had an unfortunate altercation with a drunk tough guy, someone who provoked and provoked while I mostly remained calm.  When I knew that the inevitable was going to happen I accepted it (I think I remarked, I’m standing right here man to the threat of “I’m going to beat your ass!) and sure enough, he bull rushed me with everything he had.  10 seconds (probably less) later, he was being choked almost unconcious, my hat never fell off, I never hit the ground and I passed him off to some folks and gathered my friend and left.  Nobody really hurt, no police called, situation resolved.

I’m not some great fighter, I’m rather subpar actually.   Combatives and such in the military and 5 years of Brazilian Jiujitsu, nothing amazing but still much more than chest thumping tough guy had.  It allowed me to assess the situation, remain completely calm and simply react to his actions via countless drills on the mat over years of training.

The reality of the situation is that most folks who actually know how to fight are NOT looking for one.  They will avoid, concede and walk away but when pressed…finish it.  You have to ask yourself, when considering your self defense arsenal are you prepared to defend yourself outside of using a firearm?  Adrenaline won’t help you, neither will being able to rep 315 on the bench 20 times when going against a practicioner of a solid martial art.  Think about it and seek out the appropriate training.  Good luck.

 

Self Defense: If You Don’t Train to Fight, You Cannot Fight.

You played high school sports, you consider yourself athletic, you still hit the gym for some cardio and lift some weights.  Maybe you hit the punching bag hanging out in the garage too and oh by the way, that 6 month stint in Karate back in the day.  Guess what, it’s not enough.  Most trained folks would make quick work of those who are not, this of course unless you come across someone else with the same background, in which case its a bunch of wild haymaker punches and / or football tackles and headlocks.

So often in the world of preparedness we like to think of self defense in terms of using weapons, but guns (concealed carry or other) should be an absolute last resort unless in a life or death situation.  There exists a wide spectrum of possibilities where one might have to simply use some self defense techniques to tone down a situation, protect one’s self or a loved one.  Remember, lethal force is always last…solve it at another level.

This past weekend I had an unfortunate altercation with a drunk tough guy, someone who provoked and provoked while I mostly remained calm.  When I knew that the inevitable was going to happen I accepted it (I think I remarked, I’m standing right here man to the threat of “I’m going to beat your ass!) and sure enough, he bull rushed me with everything he had.  10 seconds (probably less) later, he was being choked almost unconcious, my hat never fell off, I never hit the ground and I passed him off to some folks and gathered my friend and left.  Nobody really hurt, no police called, situation resolved.

I’m not some great fighter, I’m rather subpar actually.   Combatives and such in the military and 5 years of Brazilian Jiujitsu, nothing amazing but still much more than chest thumping tough guy had.  It allowed me to assess the situation, remain completely calm and simply react to his actions via countless drills on the mat over years of training.

The reality of the situation is that most folks who actually know how to fight are NOT looking for one.  They will avoid, concede and walk away but when pressed…finish it.  You have to ask yourself, when considering your self defense arsenal are you prepared to defend yourself outside of using a firearm?  Adrenaline won’t help you, neither will being able to rep 315 on the bench 20 times when going against a practicioner of a solid martial art.  Think about it and seek out the appropriate training.  Good luck.

 

What Happens When You ARE NOT on Social Media.

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I already know what you are thinking: But I use Facebook to keep up with my relatives and close friends.  Why?  If they are really your close folks wouldn’t you be able to keep up with them otherwise, didn’t folks keep up with each other prior to the internet and social media?

Personally I do not have a Facebook account, Instagram, Snapchat or any of the other stuff and yet somehow the folks I need to keep in touch with still manage to share pictures with me and generally communicate with me.  Bonus points because I avoid all the stupid Facebook vomit / drama or Instagram fake trash.  Nobody cares about the link you posted, or the “thoughts and prayers” while hitting the like button.  Political posts are a dime a dozen, nobody is changing anyone else’s mind.

There are other better reasons to avoid social media, mostly because all of those platforms are logged and monitored in one way or another, yes I realize this blog is too but you get my point.  Additionally it’s just a time suck, energy poured into something with very little value on the back end.

I should point out that I rarely watch the news anymore either, had no idea the stock market dipped and was a few days late on this latest school shooting.  Amazing how, when you control what you can and worry about what is actually within the sphere of your own influence how much less seems to matter.

Log off of Facebook and the others, you’ll be better off for it.  Cheers.

 

Apartment Prepping: Not Optimal BUT Possible

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I recently helped someone set up their apartment,  someone who understood the value of preparedness but was just not at a point in their life where a home away from things on some land was possible.  Let’s face it, some might not even want that in their lives or other circumstances could force them to live in an apartment.  Personally I had to live in an apartment just outside of Washington, D.C. for a year, it was not optimal but I made it work the best I could.  I had several systems in place in my apartment, routes identified locally for egress and a storage unit within walking distance which had quite a few necessary supplies contained within.  Making due with what I was given, it’s what we do right?

Let’s take a look at some of the problems apartment living poses to the prepper.

Security

Literally surrounded by people, living above / below / next to you.  Parking usually open to the public and at any given time who knows what type of guests (invited or univited) might be in or around the facility.  Some complexes strictly regulate what you can and cannot do, cameras or even a simple security system could be disallowed.  Other folks (read: maintenance) have the keys to your door, not exactly a castle on a hilltop if you know what I mean.

Population Density

This is what I always cringe at and it bleeds over into the security and privacy aspect, the fact that apartment complexes are literally a place where the most people are crammed into the smallest areas in order to maximize revenue for the management group.  Depending on the type and caliber of complex you could have multiple families living in one unit, usually foreign nationals.  When I lived in D.C. I bet there were 1000 people within one square block, here in the mountains there might be 20 people within 1 square mile but I highly doubt it.

Privacy

This is the biggest issue,  at any given time a notice could go out for whatever reason and there will be folks coming into the apartment to repair something, check something, whatever….and there is nothing you can do about it.  “Make sure dogs (if allowed) are secured, maintenance will be in the change filters and genereally snoop around between 9-5.”  I hated it but there was nothing that could be done, think about any preps or even firearms that might be secured or otherwise.  Not an optimal situation.

So What Can Be Done?

I have made the best of a bad situation and have helped others to do so as well.  Sometimes living in an apartment is a necessary evil, here are a few tips that I have passed along.

Security System:  If possible and allowed try something easy to install like Simplisafe or others.  Many of these systems have duress signals which can be enabled and panic buttons, great for notifying the authorities.  Also use those door bars that go under the knob, truly prevent unwanted entry and are around $20 at Home Depot.

Dedicated Parking:  If possible pay extra for the garage or carport.  Having to drive around looking for a space, especially at night which might include a long walk is not optimal.

Dog:  Get a dog and put a beware of dog sign up.  Dogs are wonderful companions but also great deterrants for the average crackhead.  Nobody, myself included wants to get bitten by a dog.

Off Site Storage:  A small storage unit will typically run less than $100 a month and can be very useful in the event of a natural disaster or simply a backup plan.  Extra clothing, food and water, your imagination is the limit.  Piece of mind is what the storage unit is all about and if things went sideways and the apartment burned to the ground what would you need in the storage unit that was absolutely essential?  Take it from there.

Detectors:  This is the easy stuff and by that I mean don’t trust your neighbors.  In this other apartment I set up I installed CO2 detectors, additional Smoke Alarms and added things like fire extinguishers.  When you live around 50 other people in one building you never know what could spark off especially in the middle of the night so additional detectors are a must.

Firearms:  Use your best judgement, obviously one of those things that someone must be comfortable with.  Personally I prefer 00 Buckshot over trying to beat an intruder with a wooden spoon.

Egress:  Know how to get out and more than one way to do so.  Know were to go (read: rally point) if it’s the middle of the night and you are clad in boxer briefs and sandals.

The Bottom Line.

I have to believe that given the option there is no prepper out there who would willingly live in a crowded apartment complex versus a home out on some land.  However life happens and there are instances where apartment living is necessary and unavoidable.  Given that we have to make due with what we have, doing the best that we can.  Take some of the tips listed above and add your own, it will only make the experience more manageable.

 

The Hierarchy Of Friends: Next Level Preparedness

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When I moved to the mountains I came with my family and dogs and knew nobody, which was a less than optimal situation.  While some might subscribe to the lone wolf concept I realize that I cannot be all things, know all things and quite honestly have to sleep sometime.  Friendships must be established with key components being trust and mutual respect.  Yet there are layers, or a hieracrchy that exists within my new circle in that not everyone gets full access as they are role players.  On one end of the scale you might have someone who comes over and shares a meal with my family, discusses preps and checks out my guns (and I could do the same at his place).  On the other end might be someone I train with and could call in a time of need but would definitley not have the level of access as the other individual.

Vetting Process

When dealing with people I think it’s important to vet them, or rather gain an understanding of where they stand on issues and what they bring to the table.  Even things like personality play a factor, are we compatable and can we work as a team.  I do this by sometimes offering up bits of info to start a conversation, or maybe I let them work it from their end.  Regardless here are some of the topics I like to work through.

Practical Preparedness:  This is important as I need someone to be grounded and practical, are you working towards the threats we face here in our community or are you busy digging that bunker for when the bombs start dropping.  I met with one guy who was obsessed with nuclear fallout and EMP’s, while those are certainlly in play I think a more probable scenario would be getting snowed in or working out of a bad fire.

Freedoms:  Thoughts on carrying a gun for protection, property ownership, the use and reach of government at the local and higher levels.

Skills:  Maybe they are a general contractor or just super handy, in the medical field / LEO / engineer / some other sort of trade.  In other words do we have skills that can mesh in order to boost our overall effectiveness, or are they a cubicle type with no real expertise in anything at all.  Not saying there can be a use there but skills are a very important factor.

Consistency:  What are they like over time and multiple interactions.  I’m looking for consistency and depth, a surface player who is limited in scope is not someone I’m interested in.

Comfortable with Ambiguity:  This is probably the hardest to evaluate but the most important.  Are they comfortable in situations that could be considered gray areas, not necessarily breaking the law but interactions / scenarios which test one’s mental agility.  It’s easy to ride around with pro (insert politician) stickers, NRA, 2A all over the windshield on one linear plane of thought.  “I am who I am and think what I think and everyone else be damned because the only right answers are those I subscribe to etc…”  Those folks have a use but are almost as bad as the other end of the spectrum, if you know what I mean.  Mental agility and being able to operate in and around ambiguous situations are not things most are able to do because it pulls them outside of their comfort zone.

The Bottom Line

Develop relationships, know who you can trust and how you can best place them on your own hierarchy list.  Do you eventually give them complete access and vice versa or are they held at a distance yet still part of the team?  What methods or gates have you put in place in order to work this process?  This is next level preparedness, not just stacking ammunition to the roof and slapping a Molon Labe sticker on the back windshield.

 

The Hierarchy Of Friends: Next Level Preparedness

Click here to view the original post.

When I moved to the mountains I came with my family and dogs and knew nobody, which was a less than optimal situation.  While some might subscribe to the lone wolf concept I realize that I cannot be all things, know all things and quite honestly have to sleep sometime.  Friendships must be established with key components being trust and mutual respect.  Yet there are layers, or a hieracrchy that exists within my new circle in that not everyone gets full access as they are role players.  On one end of the scale you might have someone who comes over and shares a meal with my family, discusses preps and checks out my guns (and I could do the same at his place).  On the other end might be someone I train with and could call in a time of need but would definitley not have the level of access as the other individual.

Vetting Process

When dealing with people I think it’s important to vet them, or rather gain an understanding of where they stand on issues and what they bring to the table.  Even things like personality play a factor, are we compatable and can we work as a team.  I do this by sometimes offering up bits of info to start a conversation, or maybe I let them work it from their end.  Regardless here are some of the topics I like to work through.

Practical Preparedness:  This is important as I need someone to be grounded and practical, are you working towards the threats we face here in our community or are you busy digging that bunker for when the bombs start dropping.  I met with one guy who was obsessed with nuclear fallout and EMP’s, while those are certainlly in play I think a more probable scenario would be getting snowed in or working out of a bad fire.

Freedoms:  Thoughts on carrying a gun for protection, property ownership, the use and reach of government at the local and higher levels.

Skills:  Maybe they are a general contractor or just super handy, in the medical field / LEO / engineer / some other sort of trade.  In other words do we have skills that can mesh in order to boost our overall effectiveness, or are they a cubicle type with no real expertise in anything at all.  Not saying there can be a use there but skills are a very important factor.

Consistency:  What are they like over time and multiple interactions.  I’m looking for consistency and depth, a surface player who is limited in scope is not someone I’m interested in.

Comfortable with Ambiguity:  This is probably the hardest to evaluate but the most important.  Are they comfortable in situations that could be considered gray areas, not necessarily breaking the law but interactions / scenarios which test one’s mental agility.  It’s easy to ride around with pro (insert politician) stickers, NRA, 2A all over the windshield on one linear plane of thought.  “I am who I am and think what I think and everyone else be damned because the only right answers are those I subscribe to etc…”  Those folks have a use but are almost as bad as the other end of the spectrum, if you know what I mean.  Mental agility and being able to operate in and around ambiguous situations are not things most are able to do because it pulls them outside of their comfort zone.

The Bottom Line

Develop relationships, know who you can trust and how you can best place them on your own hierarchy list.  Do you eventually give them complete access and vice versa or are they held at a distance yet still part of the team?  What methods or gates have you put in place in order to work this process?  This is next level preparedness, not just stacking ammunition to the roof and slapping a Molon Labe sticker on the back windshield.

 

The Daily Prep: Winter Preparedness Tasks

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I’ve been traveling but am home now, a few tasks to accomplish as the weather has definiely changed from mild to extremely cold.  The only snow that we have gotten has been sporadic but in this area we are one front away from getting dumped on by the feet.  A few key tasks that I have on my agenda today are:

  • Drain all gas cans, refill at pump.
  • Run generators, make sure that I turn them off by cutting the fuel source instead of just hitting the off button.
  • Charge devices in vehicles, the jump start / extra power packs.

I typically try to rotate through my gasoline, at any given time I’ll have 25 to 30 gallons on site in containers but this time I got lazy and all of them need cycled through at once.  The annoying thing about it is actually holding the can up while it slowly dumps into my truck’s tank, although I have started migrated towards safety cans which have a better flow rate.  These cans are much more robust but that comes with an extra cost obviously.

The generators are definitely something that I need to conduct regular maintenance on, they are my short term / power out SHTF solution.   Being that I have a wood burning stove I wouldn’t really need them to heat the house but keeping all of the meat that I have in my freezers cold as well as running the lights (via a transfer switch) is definitely a must have.  In my mind I could probably run the generator for the house around 4 hours during the day in an outage and then shut it down for the evening.  Hopefully we won’t have to test that theory but having options is a good thing.

With respect to the powered devices in the vehicles, we all have variations of a jump start pack in addition to the standard jumper cables.  These devices will drain over time if not used and especially in the cold so I try to dig them out every few months and plug them in until back to green status.  Quite honestly I’ve never seen anything jump a vehicle as well as another vehicle and standard cables but once again it’s nice to have options just in case.

With that the sun is just beginning to expose itself over the mountains, time to get started on the chores and finish another cup of coffee.  Better to do the extra work now and not have need for the efforts in the future than to unexpectidley get in a tight spot without recourse.

 

The Daily Prep: Winter Preparedness Tasks

I’ve been traveling but am home now, a few tasks to accomplish as the weather has definiely changed from mild to extremely cold.  The only snow that we have gotten has been sporadic but in this area we are one front away from getting dumped on by the feet.  A few key tasks that I have on my agenda today are:

  • Drain all gas cans, refill at pump.
  • Run generators, make sure that I turn them off by cutting the fuel source instead of just hitting the off button.
  • Charge devices in vehicles, the jump start / extra power packs.

I typically try to rotate through my gasoline, at any given time I’ll have 25 to 30 gallons on site in containers but this time I got lazy and all of them need cycled through at once.  The annoying thing about it is actually holding the can up while it slowly dumps into my truck’s tank, although I have started migrated towards safety cans which have a better flow rate.  These cans are much more robust but that comes with an extra cost obviously.

The generators are definitely something that I need to conduct regular maintenance on, they are my short term / power out SHTF solution.   Being that I have a wood burning stove I wouldn’t really need them to heat the house but keeping all of the meat that I have in my freezers cold as well as running the lights (via a transfer switch) is definitely a must have.  In my mind I could probably run the generator for the house around 4 hours during the day in an outage and then shut it down for the evening.  Hopefully we won’t have to test that theory but having options is a good thing.

With respect to the powered devices in the vehicles, we all have variations of a jump start pack in addition to the standard jumper cables.  These devices will drain over time if not used and especially in the cold so I try to dig them out every few months and plug them in until back to green status.  Quite honestly I’ve never seen anything jump a vehicle as well as another vehicle and standard cables but once again it’s nice to have options just in case.

With that the sun is just beginning to expose itself over the mountains, time to get started on the chores and finish another cup of coffee.  Better to do the extra work now and not have need for the efforts in the future than to unexpectidley get in a tight spot without recourse.

 

The Daily Prep: Winter Preparedness Tasks

I’ve been traveling but am home now, a few tasks to accomplish as the weather has definiely changed from mild to extremely cold.  The only snow that we have gotten has been sporadic but in this area we are one front away from getting dumped on by the feet.  A few key tasks that I have on my agenda today are:

  • Drain all gas cans, refill at pump.
  • Run generators, make sure that I turn them off by cutting the fuel source instead of just hitting the off button.
  • Charge devices in vehicles, the jump start / extra power packs.

I typically try to rotate through my gasoline, at any given time I’ll have 25 to 30 gallons on site in containers but this time I got lazy and all of them need cycled through at once.  The annoying thing about it is actually holding the can up while it slowly dumps into my truck’s tank, although I have started migrated towards safety cans which have a better flow rate.  These cans are much more robust but that comes with an extra cost obviously.

The generators are definitely something that I need to conduct regular maintenance on, they are my short term / power out SHTF solution.   Being that I have a wood burning stove I wouldn’t really need them to heat the house but keeping all of the meat that I have in my freezers cold as well as running the lights (via a transfer switch) is definitely a must have.  In my mind I could probably run the generator for the house around 4 hours during the day in an outage and then shut it down for the evening.  Hopefully we won’t have to test that theory but having options is a good thing.

With respect to the powered devices in the vehicles, we all have variations of a jump start pack in addition to the standard jumper cables.  These devices will drain over time if not used and especially in the cold so I try to dig them out every few months and plug them in until back to green status.  Quite honestly I’ve never seen anything jump a vehicle as well as another vehicle and standard cables but once again it’s nice to have options just in case.

With that the sun is just beginning to expose itself over the mountains, time to get started on the chores and finish another cup of coffee.  Better to do the extra work now and not have need for the efforts in the future than to unexpectidley get in a tight spot without recourse.

 

Thanksgiving 2017: Prosperity, Collapse and the Future

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I’m sitting here on my deck looking out over thousands of acres of wilderness, a cool breeze blowing and my dog at my feet.  Today being Thanksgiving I sat here for a while pondering what I am thankful for, and also wondering why we need a specific day to remind us to be thankful altogether.  Nonetheless I thought back over the last couple decades and the ebb and flow that my life and that of my family and I consider myself very fortunate to be where I am today.  As a matter of fact I am thankful for that fact every single day, although sometimes the rat race clouds my vision and things that probably don’t really matter at all get way too much attention.

I shot a text to my family earlier and mentioned that although there are many issues, we are blessed to live in the greatest country in the world.  Our freedoms are unparelled, our ability to succeed or fail is tied (mostly) to our own willingness to grind.  This allows for great success but also provides none if not very little in the way of a backstop when failure occurs.  I prefer it that way actually, having been on the serious struggle and hustled into a better position (no doubt not totally of my own volition, I believe in Divine help as well) over time.

The Calm Before the Storm

With the exception of a few outliers the audience for this type of publication is rather narrow I would suspect, this because folks are enjoying the times of plenty.  The harvest is in so to speak, the barns are full, the outlook is promising.  Yet throughout history times of plenty are always followed by times of want, need and desperation.  Folks get lured into thinking that prosperity will last forever and when it stops they are left wondering how things crashed so quickly.

Who among us even considers that what happened during the last crash could happen again and maybe even to a greater extreme?  Could the market continue to rise without end?  Consumer confidence and the economy forever expanding?  Limitless profits and prosperity for decades to come?

To believe the above is rather foolish in my opinion, but who am I as I certainly do not fall into the economic expert category.  Granted I do not have a crystal ball but we all know the best indicator of future performance is past performance.  Or…what goes around comes around.  Or….what cannot go on forever, WILL STOP.

Decisions Decisions

Here’s what not to do:

1- Live every day in fear of what may or may not happen.

2- Completely ignore the future and the potential for disaster that it holds, with no plans / preps in place.

What do to:

1- Be the squirrel, stack the nuts.  Supplies, monetary items, etc.

2- Educate those you live with and care about, as to the potential that exists.

3- Control what you can, what happens 1000 miles away in Wall Street certainly is out of the span of control but the 2nd and 3rd order effects can and will eventually trickle down.

4- Enjoy the good times because they could last for another year, 5, decade or more.

5- Understand when the bad times come, it will be every family for themselves.  Have a backup plan, and then a backup to that backup.

Final Thoughts

There is a great amount for all of us to be thankful for on this day, of that I’m certain.  I have often stated that our greatest threats are localized distasters and stand by that statement.  Yet another “big one” is on the way, when it actually occurs is anyone’s best guess.  Today take the opportunity to reflect on where you are and where you want to be if/when things go south and what actions you can take to mitigate those risks.

 

The Daily Prep: Firewood, water, tires.

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Woke up this morning to some ominious looking clouds over the mountain horizon, snow inbound.  The wind was such last night that it (once again) wreaked havoc with my tarps covering the wood pile, among other things.  I’ve learned quite a bit since moving to the mountains about managing wood for the stove, it turned out to be a little more complex than I thought.

  • 2 cord would be plenty for the cooler weather I thought, I was wrong.
  • Stacking the wood nice and neat satisfied by OCD, but not that practical.  If you don’t pull from the pile evenly it starts to get a nice lean to it, resulting in frustration.
  • Original tarps with bungee cords was great, but as the pile shrank constant adjustments and moving of anchor points was also a pain.
  • New approach was to build a big box to hold 1 cord (this will make a total of 3), just cover that box with a tarp and toss the wood in there any old way.  We’ll see how that goes.

With the wind last night and weather moving in I knew I had to adjust my tarps and also cover the new wood box.  Some old sandbags came in handy to keep things secure along with some well placed deck screws and bungee cords, this between constant requests to throw a log down the hill from my dog.

With respect to water I’m refilling (via well) the large basin / stone pool that is near the house, I’d say it easily holds more than a medium hottub but every few weeks need to add more water as it gets lost to evaporation and animals drinking out of it.  I have a pump that keeps it constantly moving so that’s a good thing.  The reality is I have a well and plenty of storage on site but it’s always nice to have this as a backup to the backup plan because…you never know.

I inspected my tires on my truck and am due for a new set of 2, I’ve staggered purchasing and rotate on a consistent basis but these are not going to get me through the winter.  Something like having good tires on a vehicle is essential to preparedness, can’t tell you how many folks I see on the side of the road when the big snow comes because they neglected to shod their vehicle with the appropriate tires.

That’s pretty much it for now, maybe I’ll include a daily prep segment once a week or so as it’s always good to get folks thinking and keep focused.

 

Victim of Success: Hosting Shutdown (I’m back!)

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Hello all –

Just a quick note, this blog got a little too popular with website traffic and my hosting company shut it down.  We were getting around 100k or so unique visits a month which put a load on the server, they (hosting company) wanted me to shell out a few hundred bucks a month or more for a dedicated server.  I refused to do that but have since had the site allowed back online so I can weigh my options and try to streamline things.

We’ve had quite a bit go on with the hurricanes, especially in Puerto Rico, while this blog as been offline.  That in addition to serious fires out west and multiple shootings.  I’m sure that it goes without saying, a little preparedness goes a long way.

I’m working on a few projects and hope to have some regular posts up in the future.  In the meantime just wanted to drop a note, hope all is well!

Victim of Success: Hosting Shutdown (I’m back!)

Hello all –

Just a quick note, this blog got a little too popular with website traffic and my hosting company shut it down.  We were getting around 100k or so unique visits a month which put a load on the server, they (hosting company) wanted me to shell out a few hundred bucks a month or more for a dedicated server.  I refused to do that but have since had the site allowed back online so I can weigh my options and try to streamline things.

We’ve had quite a bit go on with the hurricanes, especially in Puerto Rico, while this blog as been offline.  That in addition to serious fires out west and multiple shootings.  I’m sure that it goes without saying, a little preparedness goes a long way.

I’m working on a few projects and hope to have some regular posts up in the future.  In the meantime just wanted to drop a note, hope all is well!

91 Gallon Gasoline Storage Project for Emergencies

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Preparedness is always about improving your foxhole, going from where you are to the next level bit by bit based on prioritization and available resources.  I currently have multiple 5 gallon containers on site which I cycle fuel storage through, but with three vehicles with a total tank capacity over 70 gallons plus two generators I need more improve my position.  We all store food, water, medical supplies and more but tend to neglect fuel which is a life source for many in times of need.  Granted unless one has a thousands of gallons on site it’s not a long term solution but for immediate needs when faced with natural disasters having a fuel source beyond that of the standard 5 gallon can be an enabler.  Here are a few factors that I considered when building my fuel storage plan.

  • Affordable (Less than $1k total).
  • Mobile, not buried in the ground.
  • Relatively easy to build, instead of buying a more expensive all inclusive option.
  • Minimum of 50 gallon storage capacity which does not require cycling through every few months.

My plan involves taking my existing 5×8 trailer which I bought from Lowes a number of years ago and adding a tank and pump to it.  This 91 gallon tank will weigh around 675 lbs full and that’s easily accomodated with the 1600lb trailer capacity, it will be a unit I can keep on the property or take with me if I need to go mobile.

The Trailer

 

The Fuel Tank

Concept

I plan on mounting this fuel storage container to my trailer, but only after laying wood down on the trailer to create a more sturdy surface.  This container will be able to provide a reasonable amount of fuel storage on site and will also be portable in case we have to bug out with multiple or even one vehicle.  In instances were gas stations are out of fuel or lines are long this would be a a huge advantage, along with having more storage on the trailer for other items.

Bottom Line

Self reliance is a massive advantage when it comes to preparedness, whether it be generating one’s own food or having a fuel source on hand.  While not the best solution possible this project will provide my family with some piece of mind knowing that we do not have to rely on local sources (in the short term) in times of need, and should the power go out for a few weeks at a time we will be able to run our generators with no problem.  Anyone else have a fuel storage plan or project?  Let me know!

 

91 Gallon Gasoline Storage Project for Emergencies

Preparedness is always about improving your foxhole, going from where you are to the next level bit by bit based on prioritization and available resources.  I currently have multiple 5 gallon containers on site which I cycle fuel storage through, but with three vehicles with a total tank capacity over 70 gallons plus two generators I need more improve my position.  We all store food, water, medical supplies and more but tend to neglect fuel which is a life source for many in times of need.  Granted unless one has a thousands of gallons on site it’s not a long term solution but for immediate needs when faced with natural disasters having a fuel source beyond that of the standard 5 gallon can be an enabler.  Here are a few factors that I considered when building my fuel storage plan.

  • Affordable (Less than $1k total).
  • Mobile, not buried in the ground.
  • Relatively easy to build, instead of buying a more expensive all inclusive option.
  • Minimum of 50 gallon storage capacity which does not require cycling through every few months.

My plan involves taking my existing 5×8 trailer which I bought from Lowes a number of years ago and adding a tank and pump to it.  This 91 gallon tank will weigh around 675 lbs full and that’s easily accomodated with the 1600lb trailer capacity, it will be a unit I can keep on the property or take with me if I need to go mobile.

The Trailer

 

The Fuel Tank

Concept

I plan on mounting this fuel storage container to my trailer, but only after laying wood down on the trailer to create a more sturdy surface.  This container will be able to provide a reasonable amount of fuel storage on site and will also be portable in case we have to bug out with multiple or even one vehicle.  In instances were gas stations are out of fuel or lines are long this would be a a huge advantage, along with having more storage on the trailer for other items.

Bottom Line

Self reliance is a massive advantage when it comes to preparedness, whether it be generating one’s own food or having a fuel source on hand.  While not the best solution possible this project will provide my family with some piece of mind knowing that we do not have to rely on local sources (in the short term) in times of need, and should the power go out for a few weeks at a time we will be able to run our generators with no problem.  Anyone else have a fuel storage plan or project?  Let me know!

 

Hurricane Irma: This is why we PREPARE.

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I’m preaching to the choir but it had to be stated.  If you take a look at what is going on right now in Florida it is a classic case of why preparedness should be a critical part of one’s life.  Folks are lined up around the block for bottled water that they will never get a chance to buy because the shelves are already empty, the next opportinuty to collect supplies probably coming when the National Guard sets up a distro point.

Long lines form at Costco in Florida as residents brace for Hurricane Irma. Image @ KITV Channel 4

Think about these components of preparedness and how they could apply in this situation.

Bugging In:  Having the necessisary supplies (food, water, even gasoline) on hand to stay in place for weeks even without power and without having to rely on outside sources.  Even if the water supply became unusuable for a period of time it would not be a major factor.

Bugging Out:  Having all of the necessary supplies to quickly displace, be self sufficient while on the move knowing that critical items were along for the ride.  Ability to move without having to stop to refuel until out of the danger area, secondary location already identified and ready / willing to accept visitors.

Security:  Understanding that in long term power down scenarios there will be no shortage of folks looking to take advantage of thin law enforcement coverage.  Having a security plan in place in order to address this.

First Aid: Folks could get hurt, not only having the equipment on hand (not just a first aid kit, but things like IFAKs, IV kits etc) but the training in order to employ these properly.

Communication:  Cell phone coverage most likely will go down, having a secondary and tertiary plan (HAM radio).

I could go on and on but the main point is this:  taking initiative and remaining proactive while times are good so that when the tough times come, the only difference is this is now a time for execution and not rehearsals.  I’ve stated this many times, if one is primarily prepping for EMP strikes and WW3 / Martial Law, priorities are misplaced!  The greatest threat all of us face come in the form of localized or even wide spread natural disasters.  Hurricanes, flooding, tornados, wildfires, earthquakes etc.  It’s too late for the folks who are just now lining up hoping to catch a case of bottled water at the grocery store but hopefully many will learn from this experience….sadly most will not.

 

Your Bugout / Survival Vehicle Achilles’ Heel

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I have a large truck, it’s capabilities are extensive.  I can haul people and gear with the full size cab and large bed, I can tow or even winch my way out (or others) of trouble.  The powerful V8, 6 inch lift and large tires have gotten me through all sorts of mud, deep snow and even difficult off road trails where airing the tires down was a necessity.  Large steel bumpers with beefy mounts on the front and rear not only improve the look of the truck but are much more sturdy than the standard plastic / thin aluminum near worthless bumpers that come standard on most trucks.  Yet with all of this, my truck has a major vulnerability that has showcased itself 3 times in the past year: flat tires.

Yes, I have a full size spare and the equipment to change it out but that takes time.  Also if you are on a slope or any sort of area that is not flat pavement it can be a huge challenge to jack up a lifted truck with all that weight.  The point being that all of our vehicles, to include those with run flats (yes, I’ve owned a car with run flats that actually caught a flat) have this similar vulnerability.  In a bugout or survuval situation, all the prep and planning can be stopped short by a simple roofer’s nail.  What if there is a fire, flooding or some other natural disaster and you have to make a quick exit and whoops…tire sensor comes on and now you are on the side of the road at a stop where every minute is precious.  You need to be able to recify this quickly in order to get moving, here are a few items that I have in my vehicle which can help with this.  You will notice some redundancy built in here, that’s intentional.

Slime Flat Tire Repair Kit:  All the basics to repair / seal flats with a small compressor to assist in airing up the tire.  Relatively cheap and good for most vehicles, easy to use.

ARB Tire Repair Kit:  I found that I needed a much more robust tire plug kit when I snapped the handle off of my cheap plastic kit trying to plug a tire.  Trying to ream and subsequently plug a 10 ply tire required the use of a rubber mallet and some force, better to have this kit on hand when the chips are down vs something of lesser quality which could (and probably would) fail.

Smittybilt  5.56 CFM Air Compressor:  This is my primary compressor and it is very powerful, easy to use and quite handy.  My wife messaged me via her satellite communicator that she had a flat tire (no cell service) a while back.  I hopped in the truck and went to her location, an obvious hole directly in the sidewall of her tire which was not repairable.  I looked at my watch and knew the tire shop was 15 minutes away and would be closing in about 25 minutes.  I had 10 minutes or less to make something happen, as we live in the moutains it is not like our options are that of those who live in the city or suburbs.  I quickly plugged the hole and pulled out the compressor, it aired the tire back up in seconds…we were on the road very quickly headed to the shop.

The Bottom Line

This isn’t a new topic and almost borders captain obvious territory, but I know everyone who has been driving for a while has caught a flat and there is never a convenient time for this to happen.  I would also guarantee that a few choice words accompanied the realization that a tire was flat, because it always sucks.  Folks in Houston had to evacuate under duress, I was discussing the possibility of having to evacuate our location if fire ever threatened.  In times like these calling for AAA, waiting for a tow or even taking the time to jack the car up and swap to a spare (that might be buried in the trunk under lots of gear or supplies) isn’t optimal.  Time is of the essence and having the right kit to deal with a flat quickly can make all the difference.  I’ll leave you with this with respect to a spare tire, should you need it…when was the last time you checked the psi on that bad boy?

 

The Danger of Too Much Preparedness

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I know a guy who entered into the prep world maybe 6 years ago, and boy did he ever. He absorbed every bit of information from all of the alt news websites and prep blogs, ran up his credit cards over the course of a year buying up stacks of supplies and guns and knew without a shadow of a doubt that SHTF would be happening in the next year (but surely not more than two). One year passed as he bought more storage food and other supplies, two years passed and then three. Fast forward to year five and he began selling his guns and preps as other priorities in his life came into play. Now 6 years later he is no better off than when he started and probably still has quite a bit of debt. Too much preparedness and not enough balance / perspective and this is what you get.

The story above is not dissimilar from many out there, folks who jump out of the gate at full speed gobbling up supplies and knowledge almost in the hopes that some sort of catestrophic event will take place in order to justify their actions.  In contrast if my body of work, in the form of many years of preparedness, results in no action take and dusty emergency supplies I’ll happily take it.  That would mean that my family never had to endure the hardships which I was preparing for, that I got it wrong and those who live their lives only worrying about the next day were right (or lucky).  Yet as demonstrated by the hurricane that is pounding the gulf coast as I type this and those who will be facing lengthened power outage / bugout situations, the need for balanced preparedness comes around more often than many like to acknowledge.

The Need for a Baseline

There are basic prep needs that are readily known to most in the community, some people probably meet these needs without even calling themselves preppers as most are/should be common sense.  While it won’t require one tuning into Alex Jones and maxing out the Visa card at the prepper convention, a certain mindset and acknowledgement that one could end up in at bind is necessary.  Those facing the aforementioned hurricane would have done good to have a few days of food and water, a decent first aid kit stocked with necessary meds and a vehicle with a full tank of gas / a few extra full gasoline cans.  Basic stuff.  Folks actually can go from zero to having a good baseline in one afternoon with a couple hundred bucks and a trip to Costco.

Analysis and Prioritization

This is where things get a little sticky and folks tend to go overboard.  What are you preparing for?  “Everything!  EMP, Nuclear War, Supervolcano, Martial Law, Drought, Stock Market Crash and ohbytheway that thing were the poles reverse.”  While I must admit there have been a few times where I got spun up (if you recall Ebola) for the most part I’d like to believe things remained practical with respect to preparedness around here.  Sure one can acknowledge the EMP threat and war game it, but to dwell on it seems like a waste of time and energy.  What we don’t want is to be like my friend where things spiral out of control and we get burned out in a sprint, disappointed and disollusioned when the big one doesn’t take place.  If you’ve been around this for a while and have checked some other blogs / alt news sites you can go back 10 years and without exception predicitons of calamity / collapse are in no short supply.    “There is no way we get through _______ (whatever year) without a major collapse and here are the key indicators!”  5 years later…

In order to avoid all of this it becomes essential to conduct an analysis of YOUR situation and prioritize accordingly.

  • What are the biggest high probability threats in your local area?
  • What resources do you have: Time, Money, Friends etc?
  • How can you mitigate the top 3 threats via 2 courses of action?
  • How can you monitor if those threats are going to manifest themselves?
  • What’s the 6 month, 1 year, 3 and 5 year plan to shore up things, acknowledging all at once is not an option?
  • Taking all of the above into account, is there a numbered checklist which prioritizes efforts toward the goal?

The above is just a sample I came up with but as an example, my threat list would include forest fires and being snowed in without power for a few days or weeks at time.  Flooding, hurricanes and tornadoes not so much.  Based on my threat analysis I would begin to prioritize and plan in case I had to take action..and on it goes.

The Long Game

I believe one of the shortfalls that we all can fall victim to is not taking account the long game and by that I mean years or even decades.  Unfornately there are those out there who want to justify their preps, hoping for an EMP to hit (yes, those morons exist) or some similar calamity to befall their area.  We need to play for the long game, constantly shoring up our preps / skills / relationships / resources over an extended period of time understanding that yes indeed at some point something could happen.  This is why preparedness should be a lifestyle and a balanced one at that.  Enjoy life, take the family out, don’t be afraid to travel beyond a 20 mile radius of the homestead.  The long play wins in this scenario and it probably always will.

The Bottom Line

All of this circles back to one thing: practical preparedness.  Once a baseline is established this is a race that the tortise is poised to win, not the hare.  Sound discipline, logic and a good plan of action are key in a successful preparedness journey.  Those who jump out of the gate and overload themselves with “I’m a prepper!” are only setting themselves up for disappointment.

 

3 Tactical Preps You Probably Do NOT Need

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Tactical preps are ultra cool, always good to have some extra kit laying around because…”better to have and not need than need and not have.”  Right?  Or maybe time and money could be spent elsewhere, after all very few of us have money to throw around at whatever our tactical heart desires.  What follows are thoughts on preps that I actually own, things I’ve aquired over time and have a perspetive on and can give everyone (read: you who are new to the game or on a more restricted budget) tips concerning.  I’m not saying that one should not aspire to own these items but I can without a doubt state that most of us do not need to have any of these on the “must have” prep list.

Night Vision Goggles

Pro: See what goes bump in the night

Con: Good (or even cheap) ones are expensive, also need extras like mounts, helmets, IR lasers etc.

If night vision goggles were $300 a piece almost everyone would have a set, they are after all very cool and in areas where the bad guys might need some fixin under cover of darkness they are handy.  I get it…just in case right?  What if you have to jump out of bed and there your night vision will be on your bump helmet ready to go to defend you family etc etc.  A valiant effort at justification but unless you have the other skills / preps checked off the list, you don’t need these.  Save the $3000 to $10,000 and put it toward something with a better return.

Plate Carrier with Plates

Pro:  Level IV Body Armor, stops multiple hits of various rifle rounds

Con:  Total package kinda pricey, maybe $1,000 or so.

What’s your plan, jump out of the car and toss the body armor on?  Maybe toss it on when jumping out of bed at night when defending the homestead.  The reality is more like this:  wear it a couple times a year on a flat range for a couple hours and watch it collect dust otherwise.

10 AR’s, 10 Glocks

Pro: Redundancy

Con:  Unecessary, unless arming small militia after SHTF

I have multiple weapons in multiple calibers but the reality is I train with my G19 and M4 99.99999% of the time.  The rest collect dust in my safe, I train with what I’ll use and only shoot the others for novelty.  I look at each of those other guns and remember the rationalization for buying each and think, I fooled myself.  No problem collecting what you like but to buy all sorts of the same gun because you “need” them, it’s a bit of a stretch.

The Bottom Line

Consider what you want and what you need and balance that against your budget.  It’s not that you shouldn’t own a set of night vision goggles but if you are struggling to make that $250 car payment and put groceries on the table what the F are you doing buying NODs?  Prep accordingly.

 

3 Tactical Preps You Probably Do NOT Need

Tactical preps are ultra cool, always good to have some extra kit laying around because…”better to have and not need than need and not have.”  Right?  Or maybe time and money could be spent elsewhere, after all very few of us have money to throw around at whatever our tactical heart desires.  What follows are thoughts on preps that I actually own, things I’ve aquired over time and have a perspetive on and can give everyone (read: you who are new to the game or on a more restricted budget) tips concerning.  I’m not saying that one should not aspire to own these items but I can without a doubt state that most of us do not need to have any of these on the “must have” prep list.

Night Vision Goggles

Pro: See what goes bump in the night

Con: Good (or even cheap) ones are expensive, also need extras like mounts, helmets, IR lasers etc.

If night vision goggles were $300 a piece almost everyone would have a set, they are after all very cool and in areas where the bad guys might need some fixin under cover of darkness they are handy.  I get it…just in case right?  What if you have to jump out of bed and there your night vision will be on your bump helmet ready to go to defend you family etc etc.  A valiant effort at justification but unless you have the other skills / preps checked off the list, you don’t need these.  Save the $3000 to $10,000 and put it toward something with a better return.

Plate Carrier with Plates

Pro:  Level IV Body Armor, stops multiple hits of various rifle rounds

Con:  Total package kinda pricey, maybe $1,000 or so.

What’s your plan, jump out of the car and toss the body armor on?  Maybe toss it on when jumping out of bed at night when defending the homestead.  The reality is more like this:  wear it a couple times a year on a flat range for a couple hours and watch it collect dust otherwise.

10 AR’s, 10 Glocks

Pro: Redundancy

Con:  Unecessary, unless arming small militia after SHTF

I have multiple weapons in multiple calibers but the reality is I train with my G19 and M4 99.99999% of the time.  The rest collect dust in my safe, I train with what I’ll use and only shoot the others for novelty.  I look at each of those other guns and remember the rationalization for buying each and think, I fooled myself.  No problem collecting what you like but to buy all sorts of the same gun because you “need” them, it’s a bit of a stretch.

The Bottom Line

Consider what you want and what you need and balance that against your budget.  It’s not that you shouldn’t own a set of night vision goggles but if you are struggling to make that $250 car payment and put groceries on the table what the F are you doing buying NODs?  Prep accordingly.

 

Water Storage Tips and Techniques

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I typically store my water off of the ground, whether it be in the basement or garage.  The main reason I do so (no matter the type of actual storage device) is primarly to avert the leaching process: concrete to plastic to water.  If you search the internet there is no shortage of folks who believe in mitigating the leaching process and others who say it’s not true, in any event it doesn’t take much to elevate storage containers off of the ground like so.

Method 1: Wood.

I like to cut 2×4’s for my large 55 gallon drum containers, usually 4 per container.  The wood is obviously very sturdy and helps to distribute the weight of the drum which can come in around 380 lbs (each).

Method 2:  Foam Boards.

Local big box improvement stores have foam project boards which can be purchased for cheap, I use these primarily for water bottles, jugs and water bricks.  Truth be told there could be chemicals leaching from the foam boards into the chemicals from the plastic into the water, I try to mitigate all of this by simply cycling through my water storage supply.

I recently had an experience which made me very thankful that my items were up off of the ground.  We had a clog in our septic system which resulted in a backup and rather disgusting overflow in our garage.  While it flowed out of the garage and into the rocks outside it passed right under my water storage.  All of the items which held the water bottles / jugs etc became rather soaked with the nasty liquid but the bottles remained unscathed.  I was able to toss out all of the nasty stuff, clean the floor up with bleach and put the storage items back in place.

If I had to wager a guess I probably have around 600 gallons of water stored on site, while I do have a well if the power goes out and the generator runs out of fuel we’re screwed.  I cycle through my water and also protect it by keeping it up off of the ground using two methods.  Think about this when you address your own storage needs.

For more tips on food and water storage for emergencies check out the FEMA website here.

 

4 Storage Food Mistakes You Might Be Making

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This past weekend my wife and I organized our storage / preparendess area.  We did this together so that we would both know where items of note where, instead of me just taking on the task and her having to dig for something in my absence.  We have various storage items sorted by category on heavy wooden shelving (or on the floor, example 55 gallon drums of water) and other items on commercial grade restaurant stainless steel shelving.  Mostly these are canned food items which are within easy reach, useful when making spaghetti and one is out of Ragu.

While organizing the stash we discussed where our current needs were, mostly this revolved around items we constantly use and did not have enough of. Various spices, cans of vegetables or even things like Nutella or bottled Mayo.  I think folks need to have these conversations and evaluate what their food storage situation is like, not just for some major SHTF event but a 2 week power down scenario.  The worst thing one can do is get online, drop a few grand and toss some food storage boxes in the corner just in case.  What follows are a few other potential mistakes folks might be making with respect to food storage.

Buying in Bulk

Don’t get me wrong, I too buy in bulk so let me narrow this down a bit.  For everyday items like the aforementioned can of corn, it’s nice to be able to go down and grab a can for the evening meal.  Yet if all you have are the giant bulk cans of corn, the type that would feed a family of 10 or would have to be tossed in the fridge for leftovers (for days) it might not be the best idea.  It is a bit more expensive to buy the smaller cans but that will ensure that you actually cycle through the food instead of looking at a giant can of yams and thinking, I’ll never eat all that (and moving along).

Not Layering Your Storage (Diversify)

I’ve preached this from the beginning, having various types of layered food storage.  You need items which are ready to eat with no prep at all, think MRE’s or even some canned food items.  These can also be easily transportable if the need arises for a quick bugout.  Next in line would be meals that must be prepped but are still easy to utilize, think Mountain House meal packs or similar, boil some water and you are in there.  A final option would be the large #10 cans where actually going through a decent amount of meal prep would be required.  Layering food storage allows for optimum flexibilty and that is a good thing.

Not Buying What You’ll Eat

There you are walking through the dollar store and cans of potted meat are on sale for 50 cents each, you buy $100 worth with the thought that if times ever get tough you won’t mind eating potted meat.  10 years later all those disgusting cans of potted meat are still sitting on a shelf with zero chance of being cycled through.  When it comes to our canned food storage we typicallly buy items that we can cycle through and eat on a regular basis, while I believe that canned food expiration dates are suggestions I’d like to keep things moving on a first in first out basis if at all possible.

Not Cycling Through Food

I sort of touched on this in the previous bullet point but for many of the items which are considered perishable, it’s important to cycle through them.  This evening we made some tuna salad with cans of tuna that expired 2 years ago, I feel perfectly confident that they will be fine but I might have been a bit overzealous in my tuna purchases originally.  The point is if you buy things you will not eat willingly you’ll end up wasting food as it essentially sits on a shelf and rots.  Cycle through it replacing with never items to keep things as fresh as possible.

The Bottom Line

Wait until the next big storm in your area and then go to the grocery store, watch the folks scramble to fill their carts and baskets with items that will probably only last their family another 3-5 days at best.  Having a good storage food cache on site at your location is a key component of prepardness, while building that stash try to avoid many of the mistakes listed above.

 

4 Storage Food Mistakes You Might Be Making

This past weekend my wife and I organized our storage / preparendess area.  We did this together so that we would both know where items of note where, instead of me just taking on the task and her having to dig for something in my absence.  We have various storage items sorted by category on heavy wooden shelving (or on the floor, example 55 gallon drums of water) and other items on commercial grade restaurant stainless steel shelving.  Mostly these are canned food items which are within easy reach, useful when making spaghetti and one is out of Ragu.

While organizing the stash we discussed where our current needs were, mostly this revolved around items we constantly use and did not have enough of. Various spices, cans of vegetables or even things like Nutella or bottled Mayo.  I think folks need to have these conversations and evaluate what their food storage situation is like, not just for some major SHTF event but a 2 week power down scenario.  The worst thing one can do is get online, drop a few grand and toss some food storage boxes in the corner just in case.  What follows are a few other potential mistakes folks might be making with respect to food storage.

Buying in Bulk

Don’t get me wrong, I too buy in bulk so let me narrow this down a bit.  For everyday items like the aforementioned can of corn, it’s nice to be able to go down and grab a can for the evening meal.  Yet if all you have are the giant bulk cans of corn, the type that would feed a family of 10 or would have to be tossed in the fridge for leftovers (for days) it might not be the best idea.  It is a bit more expensive to buy the smaller cans but that will ensure that you actually cycle through the food instead of looking at a giant can of yams and thinking, I’ll never eat all that (and moving along).

Not Layering Your Storage (Diversify)

I’ve preached this from the beginning, having various types of layered food storage.  You need items which are ready to eat with no prep at all, think MRE’s or even some canned food items.  These can also be easily transportable if the need arises for a quick bugout.  Next in line would be meals that must be prepped but are still easy to utilize, think Mountain House meal packs or similar, boil some water and you are in there.  A final option would be the large #10 cans where actually going through a decent amount of meal prep would be required.  Layering food storage allows for optimum flexibilty and that is a good thing.

Not Buying What You’ll Eat

There you are walking through the dollar store and cans of potted meat are on sale for 50 cents each, you buy $100 worth with the thought that if times ever get tough you won’t mind eating potted meat.  10 years later all those disgusting cans of potted meat are still sitting on a shelf with zero chance of being cycled through.  When it comes to our canned food storage we typicallly buy items that we can cycle through and eat on a regular basis, while I believe that canned food expiration dates are suggestions I’d like to keep things moving on a first in first out basis if at all possible.

Not Cycling Through Food

I sort of touched on this in the previous bullet point but for many of the items which are considered perishable, it’s important to cycle through them.  This evening we made some tuna salad with cans of tuna that expired 2 years ago, I feel perfectly confident that they will be fine but I might have been a bit overzealous in my tuna purchases originally.  The point is if you buy things you will not eat willingly you’ll end up wasting food as it essentially sits on a shelf and rots.  Cycle through it replacing with never items to keep things as fresh as possible.

The Bottom Line

Wait until the next big storm in your area and then go to the grocery store, watch the folks scramble to fill their carts and baskets with items that will probably only last their family another 3-5 days at best.  Having a good storage food cache on site at your location is a key component of prepardness, while building that stash try to avoid many of the mistakes listed above.

 

4 Storage Food Mistakes You Might Be Making

This past weekend my wife and I organized our storage / preparendess area.  We did this together so that we would both know where items of note where, instead of me just taking on the task and her having to dig for something in my absence.  We have various storage items sorted by category on heavy wooden shelving (or on the floor, example 55 gallon drums of water) and other items on commercial grade restaurant stainless steel shelving.  Mostly these are canned food items which are within easy reach, useful when making spaghetti and one is out of Ragu.

While organizing the stash we discussed where our current needs were, mostly this revolved around items we constantly use and did not have enough of. Various spices, cans of vegetables or even things like Nutella or bottled Mayo.  I think folks need to have these conversations and evaluate what their food storage situation is like, not just for some major SHTF event but a 2 week power down scenario.  The worst thing one can do is get online, drop a few grand and toss some food storage boxes in the corner just in case.  What follows are a few other potential mistakes folks might be making with respect to food storage.

Buying in Bulk

Don’t get me wrong, I too buy in bulk so let me narrow this down a bit.  For everyday items like the aforementioned can of corn, it’s nice to be able to go down and grab a can for the evening meal.  Yet if all you have are the giant bulk cans of corn, the type that would feed a family of 10 or would have to be tossed in the fridge for leftovers (for days) it might not be the best idea.  It is a bit more expensive to buy the smaller cans but that will ensure that you actually cycle through the food instead of looking at a giant can of yams and thinking, I’ll never eat all that (and moving along).

Not Layering Your Storage (Diversify)

I’ve preached this from the beginning, having various types of layered food storage.  You need items which are ready to eat with no prep at all, think MRE’s or even some canned food items.  These can also be easily transportable if the need arises for a quick bugout.  Next in line would be meals that must be prepped but are still easy to utilize, think Mountain House meal packs or similar, boil some water and you are in there.  A final option would be the large #10 cans where actually going through a decent amount of meal prep would be required.  Layering food storage allows for optimum flexibilty and that is a good thing.

Not Buying What You’ll Eat

There you are walking through the dollar store and cans of potted meat are on sale for 50 cents each, you buy $100 worth with the thought that if times ever get tough you won’t mind eating potted meat.  10 years later all those disgusting cans of potted meat are still sitting on a shelf with zero chance of being cycled through.  When it comes to our canned food storage we typicallly buy items that we can cycle through and eat on a regular basis, while I believe that canned food expiration dates are suggestions I’d like to keep things moving on a first in first out basis if at all possible.

Not Cycling Through Food

I sort of touched on this in the previous bullet point but for many of the items which are considered perishable, it’s important to cycle through them.  This evening we made some tuna salad with cans of tuna that expired 2 years ago, I feel perfectly confident that they will be fine but I might have been a bit overzealous in my tuna purchases originally.  The point is if you buy things you will not eat willingly you’ll end up wasting food as it essentially sits on a shelf and rots.  Cycle through it replacing with never items to keep things as fresh as possible.

The Bottom Line

Wait until the next big storm in your area and then go to the grocery store, watch the folks scramble to fill their carts and baskets with items that will probably only last their family another 3-5 days at best.  Having a good storage food cache on site at your location is a key component of prepardness, while building that stash try to avoid many of the mistakes listed above.

 

4 Storage Food Mistakes You Might Be Making

This past weekend my wife and I organized our storage / preparendess area.  We did this together so that we would both know where items of note where, instead of me just taking on the task and her having to dig for something in my absence.  We have various storage items sorted by category on heavy wooden shelving (or on the floor, example 55 gallon drums of water) and other items on commercial grade restaurant stainless steel shelving.  Mostly these are canned food items which are within easy reach, useful when making spaghetti and one is out of Ragu.

While organizing the stash we discussed where our current needs were, mostly this revolved around items we constantly use and did not have enough of. Various spices, cans of vegetables or even things like Nutella or bottled Mayo.  I think folks need to have these conversations and evaluate what their food storage situation is like, not just for some major SHTF event but a 2 week power down scenario.  The worst thing one can do is get online, drop a few grand and toss some food storage boxes in the corner just in case.  What follows are a few other potential mistakes folks might be making with respect to food storage.

Buying in Bulk

Don’t get me wrong, I too buy in bulk so let me narrow this down a bit.  For everyday items like the aforementioned can of corn, it’s nice to be able to go down and grab a can for the evening meal.  Yet if all you have are the giant bulk cans of corn, the type that would feed a family of 10 or would have to be tossed in the fridge for leftovers (for days) it might not be the best idea.  It is a bit more expensive to buy the smaller cans but that will ensure that you actually cycle through the food instead of looking at a giant can of yams and thinking, I’ll never eat all that (and moving along).

Not Layering Your Storage (Diversify)

I’ve preached this from the beginning, having various types of layered food storage.  You need items which are ready to eat with no prep at all, think MRE’s or even some canned food items.  These can also be easily transportable if the need arises for a quick bugout.  Next in line would be meals that must be prepped but are still easy to utilize, think Mountain House meal packs or similar, boil some water and you are in there.  A final option would be the large #10 cans where actually going through a decent amount of meal prep would be required.  Layering food storage allows for optimum flexibilty and that is a good thing.

Not Buying What You’ll Eat

There you are walking through the dollar store and cans of potted meat are on sale for 50 cents each, you buy $100 worth with the thought that if times ever get tough you won’t mind eating potted meat.  10 years later all those disgusting cans of potted meat are still sitting on a shelf with zero chance of being cycled through.  When it comes to our canned food storage we typicallly buy items that we can cycle through and eat on a regular basis, while I believe that canned food expiration dates are suggestions I’d like to keep things moving on a first in first out basis if at all possible.

Not Cycling Through Food

I sort of touched on this in the previous bullet point but for many of the items which are considered perishable, it’s important to cycle through them.  This evening we made some tuna salad with cans of tuna that expired 2 years ago, I feel perfectly confident that they will be fine but I might have been a bit overzealous in my tuna purchases originally.  The point is if you buy things you will not eat willingly you’ll end up wasting food as it essentially sits on a shelf and rots.  Cycle through it replacing with never items to keep things as fresh as possible.

The Bottom Line

Wait until the next big storm in your area and then go to the grocery store, watch the folks scramble to fill their carts and baskets with items that will probably only last their family another 3-5 days at best.  Having a good storage food cache on site at your location is a key component of prepardness, while building that stash try to avoid many of the mistakes listed above.

 

Preparedness = 2 Sets of Binoculars

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I’m going to make a suggestion: own two sets of quality binos, keep one set in your home and the other in your vehicle.  Quite often the focus is on weapons in vehicles, survival bags and various other items but binos are often overlooked.  Unless you were born with the eyes of an actual eagle, here are a few reasons why I suggest owning some decent binos and keeping them within arm’s reach.

In the Home

  • I live in the mountains, can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone out on my deck and done a quick survey of the surrounding area.  Sometimes it’s general observation or because I thought I heard something during daylight hours.
  • Wife has come home before and notified me of a few vehicles or personnel not local to our area, pull the binos out and scan.
  • Threats in my area include fires, binos allow me to reach out beyond standard visual range in order to look for smoke signatures.

In the Vehicle

  • There have been a few times where I thought I was being followed, one turned out to be a reality.  In both instances i performed some standard procedures, made my way to a vantage point and was able to observe who I believed to be following me with detail because of the binos.
  • Overwatch.  There are several vantage points which allow me to overlook my property prior to entering the AO, sometimes I’ll pull off and scan with my binos just to make sure everything is good to go before driving down into the area.

Recommended Binos

I currently use the Nikon Trailblazer 10×25 variants from REI, I own 2 pair.  These are fantastic and allow you to be a little more low key than pulling out a giant rifle with a scope on it in order to glass something.  REI also has a great return policy, in case something goes wrong with them.

Bottom Line

I really hate the term combat multiplier, but binoculars are just that.  They are relatively cheap and compact and allow one to see far beyond normal eyesight range in order to assist with situational awareness.  I highly recommend picking up a pair or even two and keeping them in the home and vehicle.

 

 

Building a Preparedness Community from Scratch

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I am in the preliminary stages of building a preparedness community, assembling a contingent of like minded individuals / families which can trust each other when times get tough, be it a localized disaster or something greater.  The reality of the situation is that no matter how much training or preps you have, a community will be more of an asset than trying to go it alone.  The time to find out if your neighbors can or cannot be trusted or might have skills which are valuable isn’t after a major event has occured.

My journey to start this process began a few weeks ago with a handful of people around a table sipping on coffee and discussing likely vs unlikely events and how we could address them.  I hope you will follow along as I continue to document the progress we make and setbacks we face.  What follows below is a brief synopsis of how I got the whole thing off the ground to begin with.

Putting out Feelers

I rather dislike social media but also understand that it can be a good tool for open source communcation, I also understand that big bro also knows most everything about me anyways so whatever.  I put out a feeler on a local community FB page asking if folks would like to meet to discuss preparedness with the caveat that this wasn’t some doomsday / anti government type of thing, but rather a practical exercise with hopes of meeting some folks who would like to chat about some of our threats and what we can do to address them.  I had an overwhelming response to this post and it was mostly positive, we set a time and date and went from there.

Meet and Greet

We decided to meet for coffee at a local shop, turns out there were about 10 of us that showed up.  Not bad for strangers all unsure of who else might attend or the actual intentions of the person who set the whole thing up (me).  There was a feeling out period where we shared information about ourselves, backgrounds, why we thought preparedness was important and what some of the largest threats were that we faced.  While there was some mention of low probability, high impact events (WW3, Supervolcano) we mostly agreed that things like fire and localized power outages were top of the list.  From there we took a look at wasy to mitigate those risks (brainstorming).

Path Forward

In the hour or two that we sat at that table we weren’t going to solve the world’s problems but we could prioritize a list of what we could address on the local level immediately.  One thing we decided was that we needed to have consistent meetings, we also needed a better way to communicate other than social media.  Another longer term goal for all of us was getting set up on HAM so that we could have consistent communicaiton and situation awareness (SA) with our surrounding community and even outlying areas.  We agreed to work on many of these things and exchanged contact information and called it a successful meeting.

The Bottom Line

I have no idea if I can trust any of these people quite yet, nor do I know if any of them actually truly want to put in the work to do what it takes to build a solid community.  What I can tell you is that by establishing gates with solid action items it will weed out those who are actually about doing something, and those who are in it for the free coffee.  What I know to be true is that there are folks like me with other skills who can be an asset to my family and together we can be an asset to the community as a whole.  This time will be filled with trial and error but if say, 6 to 12 months from now we have just 3-5 families who have started to work together toward a common goal it will be more than we started with.  I hope to keep everyone updated on the progess as we move along.

 

A Comprehensive Bugout Strategy

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I’ve written about bugging out in the past, it’s a popular concept with many relevant ties to everyday life and unfortunately it’s also a concept rooted in many prepper fantasies.  Realistic bugouts happen quite frequently due to localized natural disasters, folks have to leave their home with very little notice hoping that it will be there when they are allowed to return.  Forest fires, flooding or even chemical spills come to mind when considering the need to get out and quickly.  Many folks prepare for these scenarios and many do not, those who do not are usually the ones on television telling the news how all they could salvage was what they could grab in a few minutes.

I should dedicate at least one paragraph to the prepper bugout fantasy, the one where martial law is declared and the suburbanites pack up the pickup trucks and head to the woods to establish a community.  Crops are gown, shelters are built and the resistance war is waged in a glorious effort, something something et al.  It’s a good fantasy but not one grounded in reality, I’ll just leave it at that.

My Bugout Necessity

I’ve you’ve been following along recently you’ll know I’ve relocated to a pretty remote area of the country, one where fire is certainly the biggest threat to our existence.  Fire can happen quickly and when it’s dry, as it is now, it is a huge consideration which must be taken very seriously.  Evacuation (read: bugout) plans are standard in this part of the country and one must be ready to execute at a moment’s notice.

Time Sensitive Plans

In speaking with my wife we have determined that we should have layered plans in place which are all predicated on the amount of time available.  Certainly if we have a day to leave there are actions we would take and also items we would pack which would far exceed those determined necessary if we only had 5 minutes to leave.  The point is that we have gone through the home and identified those items and also the load plan (single or multiple vehicles) associated with taking various items.  Generally we lean towards irreplaceable things (photo albums, heirlooms) and vital documents as top priority and work our way down from there.  In a zero time available scenario its ourselves and the dogs, everything else can meet the fate of the flames.

Multiple Courses of Action

Our first choice would obviously be vehicle transport out of our location.  However there is truly only one way in and one way out, so if that is blocked moving on foot has to be an option.  We have scouted this possibiliy and included it in our plan and a second course of action should the road be blocked and impassable.  It is important to consider the highly unlikely and plan for it, never assume that because something has always been….that it always will be.

Off Site Storage Redundancy

I suggest this for everyone reading this post.  Have multiple sites away from your primary residence were you can store goods and supplies or vital docments.  We have a backup storage facility as well as a safe deposit box where we keep vital documents, never keep all of your eggs in one basket so to speak.  If we were away from the home and it all went up in flames we would have redundacy off site.  This is a crucial capability which ties in to continutity of operations.

General Preps

It should go without saying but there are some generalities that go with being prepared to bugout which transcend location.  A list of these follows, this is off the top of my head so it is not complete.

– Vehicles never parked without a minimum of 1/2 tank of fuel

– All family members briefed on bugout strategy

– Rehersals of bugout strategy

– Predetermined linkup or destination points

– Items identified and staged for quick loading

– Load plan (how you will pack) rehearsed and understood

– Multiple Egress points identified and understood

– Communication plan understood and rehearsed

The Bottom Line

The necessity for bugouts is a very real one and should not be overlooked.  Have a comprehensive bugout strategy which ties in more than one way to get it done.  Speak with your loved ones about it and conduct rehearsals, it could save your life one day.

 

SHTF Gear Box Unvieled: $154 worth of stuff for $89

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Two bladed instruments which were in the box

I finally got around to opening the gear box from SHTFClub.com and was pleasantly surprised at the contents contained within.  Remember, this is a subscription program and there are three tiers:

  • Basic Plan: $19.99/mo
  • Pro Plan: $49.99
  • Elite Plan: $89.99

Originally I was a bit skeptical because after all, why would I pay to receive a box of unknown items when I could simply go to the store and do it myself.  The reason I believe is threefold.

1- Convenience.  Every month you’ll have a box arrive on your doorstep of items which adds to your stash, many of these items you probably would not get for yourself in the first place.  Additionally since you can cancel at any time, let’s say you don’t want to continue after 3 months it’s no problem.

2- It’s like Christmas, every time.  I’ll admit there was a part of me that enjoyed opening the box and then being surprised at what was contained within,  the crossbow pistol had the little boy inside of me ready to plink at trees all around the house.

3- You get more than you pay for.  I added up the individual retail cost for all items contained in the Elite ($89) box and came up with $154.  That’s a pretty decent savings if you ask me.

Full Contents of SHTFClub Box

Pictured above are all the contents of the box, what follows is a list of each and the retail price which I found online.

Cobra Crossbow: $32
S&W Field Watch: $22
M48 Sling Bag: $29
Survivor Knife: $14
Tomahawk Axe: $17
Splint: $10
UV Glostick: $6
Keychain: $5
FM 5-31: $13
Kale Seeds: $2
Wise Foods: $5

Total: $154

Some general thoughts about the contents of the kit are that while not  the most highspeed ever, almost all of it could be useful.  I’ll admit the crossbow is sort of a novelty item but the watch would make a great backup and the Sling Bag is already in my wife’s car as a replacement trauma kit bag.  Both blades are backup and not primary tools but the UV Glostick is something that I have used successfully in the past on backpacking trips, I’ll definitely strap it to the outside of my wife’s pack.

Over the shoulder bag

The real question is, do I think there is value in this program and would i continue to participate in it going forward?  The answer is yes, but I would have to see what the second and third box contained before deciding to move forward with the subscription, or maybe scale back to the Pro ($49) program.  If you are on a tight budget this might not be for you, but if you have a little bit to spend knowing that you will get more than you pay for I’d say give in a shot for a month or two.  I was pleasantly surprised at the contents of the box and I think you would be too.

 

SHTF Mystery Gear Box: Worth It? Maybe.

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If you are like me you’ve spent countless cumulative hours in various big box stores, outdoor stores, dollar stores and even at swap meets looking for useful or even just cool preparedness items.  It can get to a point where you are once again standing in front of that vending machine in the break room, you know everything that is in the machine but you stand there anyway pondering your next move.  Boring.

Why not let someone else make that choice for you with respect to your next move?  Granted I wouldn’t roll the dice and let a stranger mail me my next firearm (even if they could) , but for smaller less “big decision purchase” items why not give it a go.  There is something to be said for anticipation and the unknown and at the price points offered by SHTF Club one really can afford to take a leap of faith…besides you can cancel at any time per their website.  Here are the plans they offer as well as some additional information.

A new mystery box every month. (Usually ships around the 15th.)

Three tiers – Basic: $19.99, Pro: $49.99 and Elite: $89.99.

The $19.99 box is guaranteed to be worth more than what you pay.

The $49.99 box is guaranteed to be worth more than $80.

The $89.99 box is guaranteed to be worth more than $120.

Cancel or renew at any time.

So your next question is probably going to be, what’s in the box?  According to their website it’s some variation of (but not limited to): knives, fire starters, emergency prep (SOS), hydration, survival gear, hard use tools, paracord and other accessories.   You are probably thinking, well that’s cool but how good is this stuff?  I’m glad you asked because I should be receiving a box from them in the next few days and will be reviewing the contents inside.  Some of my thoughts are:

Are the contents worth the price of admission?

What about the quality of the contents?  Good knife or $5 OTC at Ace Hardware type knife?

Relevant to preparedness?

Presentation:  How packaged, as in neatly with applicable instructions for those who may need them or dumped in a box?

I am fairly confidence that I will be pleasantly surprised with this product, after all they have good reviews out there and seem to be serious about advancing the preparedness message.  I will follow up shortly with a review but in the meantime, check out their website for yourselves and see if anything strikes your fancy.

 

EveryDay Carry (EDC) Long Term Review

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Everyday carry is a popular subject, often interlaced with the two is one and one is none concept.  There are multiple ends of the spectrum as with anything, folks who go bare essentials and others who have 2 or 3 of everything they carry (read: redundancy) complete with stuff loaded into cargo pockets and strapped to their ankles – or in the pockets of their super incognito fisherman’s vest.   I must admit that my EDC loadout changes sometimes as I tweak things or change out kit, what follows is a long term review of the items I have carried on my person for at least the last year.  I should add one note in that I do not believe my personal loadout is the be all end all, everyone has their preferences which align with their comfort level and training.

EDC Loadout

You’ll see in the above picture my basic loadout, I’ve included my belt because I think that is a very important and often overlooked item.  After all almost everything pictured hangs off of my belt, that leather braided belt from 1991 won’t cut it in 2017 if one is serious about stability and comfort.

Glock 19 / Surefire XC1 / G Code XC1 Inside the Waistband (IWB) Holster

Glock 19 with Surefire XC1

I won’t spend much time here as everyone has their personal preference with respect to weapons but I totally dig the Glock 19.  I’ve carried many other weapons and I think the Glock 19 offers the best combination of concealment and performance.  The Surefire XC1 is a great light which isn’t too bulky, I’ve seen folks run a Streamlight TLR IWB and it’s just too much for me.  Granted the XC1 doesn’t put out as much light but it does the trick.  All this fits nicely into the G Code holster, a nice sturdy holster which is also very comfortable and functional.  I’ve run many holsters in the past and my current favorite and go to is the G Code (I have two of them).;

Benchmade Mini Barrage (Serrated)

Benchmade Pocket Knife

This has been a fantastic pocket knife which I use almost on a daily basis.  I’ve done everything from start fires with it to cut gouda cheese on the countertop.  I have carried a few knives in the past and for me this size (2.91 inch blade) is perfect, I’ve yet to encounter a situation where I wished I had a larger blade.  The blade does keep its edge very well, I use a Spyderco Tri Angle sharpener to tighten it up occasionally.

Casio Pro Trek Watch

Casio Pro Trek

I’ve worn this watch just about every day for over 2 years and have found it to be a key addition to my EDC.  Although it has a boatload of features I primarily use it for: current time and date, stopwatch, altitude check, compass (occasionally).  The fact that it keeps a charge via the sun is a bonus, no batteries to worry about changing out.  I’ve worn it on long hikes and jumped out of airplanes with it, it’s a great watch at a decent price point.

KA-BAR TDI Law Enforcement Knife

KA BAR TDI Self Defense Knife

I run this knife on my left side, pretty much centered between my spare mag holder and belt buckle.  Good placement for a quick grab with my non-dominant hand but still accessible with my other hand.  Fortunately I’ve never had to use this knife but it is there in case I need it.  The small kydex holster with clip work well and slide in and out nicely.

Bravo Concealment Spare Mag Carrier

Bravo Concealment Mag Carrier

Lots of options out there for spare mag carriers, all of which pretty much do the same thing.  I will say that I prefer to run a single mag carrier, OWB, on my left hip.  It’s what is comfortable for me and even though I carry my Glock 19 IWB (Appendix) I still prefer my spare mag to be in the traditional location.

5.11 1.75 inch TDU Duty Belt

5.11 Duty Belt

Simple, sturdy, effective.  This belt really doesn’t have any of the fancy features of many other duty belts but at $15 who is going to complain?  These can be picked up just about anywhere and are reversible for all of those who need to color coordinate.  Great belt which I highly recommend.

The Bottom Line

There is no one right answer to EDC, what I run and you run may be completely different.  What I run today I might not be using in 6 months or a year as I try out new gear or make adjustments in what I carry.  I do believe the most important thing is that the gear you carry is tested, ready to use and comfortable in an all day (wearing it) setting.  On a final note I should mention that I sometimes run a CAT-TQ and Quikclot Combat Gauze on my person but when I do not it’s always within reach.  Since I do not carry those items 100% of the time I intentionally left them out.  Good luck with your own EDC and remember to train with it!

 

The Complacent Phase vs Prepping When Times Are Good

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On the surface things seem to be moving along rather swimmingly.  The story line goes something like: improving economy / Dow trends / more jobs / less National Debt / and just a general feeling that things are going better, whatever that means.  I for one can appreciate that gasoline is not $4/gallon but that doesn’t make me any sort of expert.  A quick browse of the standard prepper-ish websites reveals mostly the same headlines that were there in 5-7 years ago, not so much on TV about prepping anymore because life is good.  It’s so easy to get complacent in times like these after all, Trump is Prez and he will make America great again….right?

Complacent:

adjective
1. pleased, especially with oneself or one’s merits, advantages, situation,etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied:

It’s tough to prioritize prepping when there really doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency.  Back in 2010 folks were snapping up a years worth of food for storage and plotting potential bugout locations if and when T-SHTF.  Now a new car in the drive might not necessarily be a bad thing, along with that trip to the Bahamas.  Previously prioritized preps (maybe a solar addition and gardening) are on the back burner and the discussions among friends about potential courses of action with respect to threats have all but subsided.  The planning and execution phase has been replaced by the complacent phase.

I believe there is a huge opportunity now to advance prep priorities while maintaining a good life balance and still enjoying the fruits of one’s labor (read: nothing wrong with vacation).  Here are a few reasons why.

  • The pressure isn’t there.  A few years back when people believed the sky was falling folks were scrambling to play catch up, tossing credit cards at preps and making poor decisions.
  • Demand is relatively low for whatever products / materials you might need or what to stock up on.  Ammunition, storage food, water storage devices, medical kits.
  • It’s ok to experiment.  Start that garden now and see just how difficult it can be to grow your own food, try planting various seeds to see if store bought perform better than those stored prepper seeds you have on a shelf in the basement.
  • Save Money.  Pretty self explanatory but needed to be mentioned.  If the job is paying more try to save more when times are good.

The above listed are just a few reasons why I believe that now is the time to take advantage of this lull in the action, calm before the storm if you will.  I’ve often quoted Mark Steyn when he stated (reference the economy): “Something that cannot go on forever, will stop.”  Any number of things could happen to disrupt this current state of relative calm which we are in and it might be next week, 2 years, 5 years and so on.  If you look at some of the major prep blogs out there folks in the comments section have been calling for a collapse based on evidence every year for the past 10 years….”surely 2010/11/12/13/14 is the year” they said.  Here we are in 2017 coasting along on what I believe to be ice that is thicker than others would imagine.  If it all comes crashing down at that point we’ll all have what we have and it will be the mad scramble once again.  Use this time wisely for surely, at some unknown point in the future things will not be so great.  The expanse and impact of whatever it is that will occur, maybe the economy contracting or even collapsing, is anyone’s best guess.

 

 

SHTF: High probability low impact vs Low probability high impact

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What are you preparing for and how do you prioritize accordingly?  There are some very real threats out but all of us are limited on time and resources.  Even the independently wealthy prepper with all the time and money in the world could not prepare for and mitigate risk for every potential disaster which exists in the world today.  With that in mind there must be a calculated balance, prepping for threats in a common sense way which does not over extend our resources or take up too much time (read: getting bogged down).

I see this two ways: High Probability / Low Impact vs Low Probability / High Impact.  Where you are in the world and you current state of readiness determines how you break the threats out and prepare for them.  A few examples follow.

High Probability / Low Impact

  • Bugout necessary because: forest fire, flooding, train wrecks and spills chemicals etc.
  • Storm causes power outage for a few days or even a couple weeks
  • Job loss
  • Stuck on the side of the highway broken down in winter storm
  • Droughts cause water shortages

Low Probability / High Impact

  • Supervolcano in Yellowstone erupts
  • Total financial collapse globally
  • Asteroid strike on earth
  • WW3 with nukes
  • EMP Strike destroys the grid

From the list above (and there are many more) you can see that “impact” to us is relative, you might think a job loss is tough but indeed it is relatively low impact compared to the Supervolcano erupting (especially if you are in the fallout zone).

I’m sure at some point most of us used to watch the OPSEC fail show Doomsday Preppers, where people would state which disaster they were preparing for.  Countless time and efforts were being poured into prepping for that one thing but what if that one thing never came to fruition?  What if all that time and money toward an underground bunker could have been redirected toward something(s) which would have a better impact to mitigate more plausible scenarios?  Granted there is some definite crossover with respect to preps but all of those hand crafted Faraday cages probably won’t come in handy as supplemental income if a job loss happens.

There are no guarantees with respect to preparedness.  You could be that guy with seemingly everything going right: community, preps, land, crops, animals, et al and that flood / fire comes through and wipes it all out.  With that in mind I think it is important to strive for excellence but also have the mental agility to be flexible, to adjust and prioritize as necessary in order to remain effective.  All of the items I listed above could happen so I’m not discounting any of them, yet as stated time and resources are limited so use them wisely.  Make your own high prob / low impact vs low prob / high impact list and plan accordingly.

 

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Review: Power in a Pinch

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Behold, the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus in all its glory, but is it really all folks state that it is cracked up to be….?

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus

Before we get into this, straight from the Goal Zero website.

With the Guide 10 Plus Recharger and Nomad 7 Solar Panel you have a portable, rugged charging kit as adventurous as you are. Charge AAs from the sun or any USB port, then power your phone, MP3, GPS, or perk up your tablet in a pinch.

Let’s cut to the chase here before I get into my detailed review.  This thing is indeed great for power in a pinch but can be a chore, might not even be necessary for the simple weekend trip.  Obviously we are not talking SHTF here because if that were the case, are we truly concerned about charging cell phones when the entire grid is down.  Overall I’d have to say at this price point (around $100) it’s affordable, if you spend more than a few days out in remote areas it can be a nice to have item but don’t go out of your way to snag one up.

I spend a good amount of time out in the wilderness but never for more than a few days at a time (for the most part).  In those instances I usually leave my electronic devices off because…there is no cell phone signal.  I do carry a Delorme InReach Explorer on my person but the battery life of that device is more than sufficient for a 2-3 day trek.  For me and what I do the Goal Zero is a nice to have but also not a necessity.  I could hang it off my pack as an insurance plan knowing that power would always be there, no outlet needed, but again I’ve yet to run into an instance where I NEEDED power.

The Experiment

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Hooked Up

I charged up the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus to full power (indicated by the green LED on the device) and connected it to my cell phone which was sitting at 17% charge.  16 mins into this the battery pack was showing red, no more charge and my phone was up to 24%.  Interesting.  I then plugged my phone into the wall and 1 hour and 2 mins later it was at 76% (I had to leave).  I set the Goal Zero back out on the deck to recharge.

Indicating Red Quickly

Round Number 2

I decided to give the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus a second chance later in the day after letting my phone battery drain and the GZ battery pack charge.  My iPhone was at 15% when I hooked up the GZ device, it only took 15 mins for the green light on the battery pack to turn amber (30% charge on my phone).  It did last significantly longer this time, running a full 1 hour and 25 mins before turning red (no more charge) and bringing my phone up to 87% charge.  Decent but not exactly earth shattering.

Final Thoughts

As previously stated I suppose one would benefit from having this device versus not having it for longer periods out in the wilderness.  It will limp your small mobile devices along but isn’t exactly a power plant, nor was it probably designed to be.  If you are the type to take a weekend trip I suggest making sure you have a full charge on your phone and bringing along a small power pack which will probably give you 1-2 full charges, less space than the solar panels and more effective.  If you are the type to spend more than a few days out there, you probably already have this and have figured out a way to make it work.  Personally I was a bit underwhelmed but hey, solar is…solar.

 

Travel Preparedness: Airports and TTP’s

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Traveling is something that millions of people do every day and while not as frequent I too suck it up and play the airport / airline game.  Herded like cattle through various checkpoints, lines of people hustling to one location or another.  Stand here, sit there, and don’t move unless you are told to do so.  If you comply all is well, if you do not comply or even give the perception that you might not feel like complying well then…it could be a bad day.

Most of us carry a gun for our own personal protection and while traveling with a gun inside checked baggage is allowed outside of that firearms are a huge no-no inside airports and airplanes.  Combine that with the fact that parts of the airport (in my opinion) are extremely soft targets and the stakes rise when traveling to grandma’s house.  A quick threat assessment would reveal a most likely course of action:  Single shooter as we saw in Florida.  Most dangerous course of action:  Coordinated attack as we saw in Belgium and Turkey.

I believe there are two components/concepts which we can harness when traveling which would greatly increase chances of survival should a worst case scenario occur.

  • Situational Awareness. Should go without saying but it’s an important one.  Paying attention to one’s surroundings, avoiding grouping together in areas like baggage claim, understanding where the good guys with guns are and the exits nearest your location.  If you are with family or small ones, having a plan to get them out quickly if a stampede starts.
  • Trauma Kit / Training. How many lives could have been saved post event in the examples I listed above if a few survivors had an improved first aid kit (IFAK) and the ability to employ the equipment inside such kit?  Think CAT Tourniquet, Quikclot Combat Gauze, Israeli Bandages, Gauze, NAR Field Dressings, chest seals and more.  Hemorrhaging can kill quickly and the ability to stop it only in the short window between the event and when First Responders arrive could save others (or your own life).

Back in the day I never used to travel with an IFAK but thankfully I made the transition and it’s standard on the packing list these days.  I keep the components on our near my person in a carry on bag at all times.  I should stress once again that proper training on how to employ these items is crucial, otherwise you’ll have people attempting to TQ a neck or wipe blood away with combat gauze.  A good place to source many of these items is North American Rescue, check them out when you get a chance.

 

I’ll wrap it up with some final thoughts.  Many of us tend to be action oriented in that if there is a threat we feel as if we could / would do something about it to mitigate the threat or even eliminated it.  The reality is that some will slip through the cracks, some will get past the gates and into the village and maybe even get away.  It’s at that point where we have to remain action oriented but now it’s about saving lives until help arrives.  I strongly urge everyone to seek basic training with respect to utilizing the components in side of an IFAK and to stay aware and safe when traveling through airports.

Next Level Prepping: A Life Changing Event

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I sit and type this with a cool mountain breeze coming through the open door.  Only the sound of the keys clicking and birds chirping, along with the wind pushing the trees around ever so gently.  If I take a moment to glance up from the keyboard, as far as the eye can see and from left to right is National Forest.  No other houses in view, only God’s creation and the sun beaming down rather intensely.  I’m not sure if this is the perfect prepper paradise but for my wife and I it’s very close.

Let’s recap shall we.

I’ve always been one of those self reliant types but could never break the mold society had for the family.  Our last home was great but it was the typical suburban, strip mall a few miles away, totally reliant on the grid and surrounded by neighbors establishment.  I’ve always said that our (then) circumstances reflected the majority of preppers out there, you play the hand you were dealt and do the best with what you had. I believe that’s why this blog continued to be so popular, even when my own posts started to get few and far between.

The Present

If you’ve been reading along over the last year or so you’ll know that my wife and I made a cross country move.  It was a big leap of faith as we had been at our previous location over 12 years and had established roots.  Yet the desire to do something more and to finally do what we’d always discussed, to take the risk and let come what may.  Now we are here and it’s a very different life, one filled with challenges which we continue to learn from (and which I want to share with you all).  With respect to prepping in general I feel that this new life sets us up for success in ways we could not have imagined before, yet it’s also about a desire to generally break the mold which modern society has set for people.  Since moving here we’ve given away one TV and rarely turn on the other, my cell phone doesn’t ring because there is no signal.  The nearest store is a gas station and that’s 5 miles away, most of it being dirt roads winding down the side of a mountain.  We can’t order food, we can’t grab an Uber ride to go out, we can’t order PPV movies or stream Netflix because the Sat Internet is too slow, we can’t do many of the things that were available to us before but it’s been amazing stepping away from all that.

There are benefits that we are quickly discovering with this new life as well.  Our home is position in such a way that it is very secluded.  We do have a couple neighbors on our “street” (more like a trail with drop offs and various wildlife within view) but they are spread out and all very self sufficient.  Anyone that comes down toward the house either lives here or they had better be delivering a package.  My wife once said as we were looking at the place, “well if T-SHTF not too many folks will be coming up here.”  Absolutely.

There have been some lesson’s learned thus far and I’d like to share them with everyone, some might be able to relate or even provide tips as well.

Help is a long way away

  • Where we used to live there was State Patrol, Township Police, Sheriff, City Cops.  Now there is the local Sheriff and Deputies and a few remote fire stations, the nearest level 1 trauma center is over an hour away.  What does that mean:  be extra careful when doing things like splitting wood, cutting with miter or table saw, handling firearms, et al.  A call to 911 means someone could be here in…20-30 minutes?

You have what you have

  • This is a common phrase with respect to prepping in general, if the balloon goes up you’ll have what you have and make due with it.  Living out here in a relatively remote situation it has become evident in everyday life.  There is no running to the store to pick up that thing which was forgotten, a stockpile of most used items (toilet paper to coffee creamer and everything in between) is a reality now more than ever.

Community is key

  • I have met my two neighbors, which I’ll refer to them as even though they aren’t exactly close.  They are very handy and used to this life which is a great thing.  I was briefed on the importance of being ready to bugout in case of fires, it’s for real up here.  I should point out that I have always advocated that localized natural disasters are a more relevant reason to prep than wondering if an EMP strike will take out the grid (although that is still a possibility).

Wildlife is a very real consideration

  • I carry a gun every time I’m outside the home and it isn’t for people.  Maybe I’m a little paranoid but I have been warned that mountain lions have been spotted in the area, by that I mean next to my home.  I think awareness is key obviously but running around with the dog(s) you can never be too careful.  I’ve also been told that if the garage is left open, bears will be inside poking around.  Fantastic.

Communication plans are very important

  • This one is huge with respect to my wife and I and how we travel.  We have layers of communication which I’ll probably write about later, whether around the home (2 way radios) or going to and from (sat commo).  Cell phones just aren’t reliable and if one of us gets in a pinch we need to be able to reach out.

Nice to have is now essential to have

  • Backup generators come to mind immediately.  Getting snowed in with no power for a week or so is a very real possibility.  A winch on the truck is another item, I’ve already used it twice to recover stuck vehicles.  A third item would be a deep freezer full of various meat (in addition to all the other supplies) and the list goes on and on (trauma kits, air compressor, a cord of wood outside for the wood burning stove…)

New ways of doing things

  • Getting used to the wood burning stove has been a fun experience.  It will heat most of the house if done correctly using a fan.  Before anyone mentions it we have had it inspected and cleaned out, safety first!

Fitness

  • We live at almost 9000 ft elevation.  Simple things like splitting wood can become a challenge up here, even walking the dog over uneven terrain takes much more effort than it did at sea level.  While there is a “get used to it” component fitness is huge.

I’ll wrap it up and change gears for a bit.  Across our country for many life seems to be good right now.  People have become complacent once again and long forgotten the very real economic issues we faced less than 10 years ago.  Threats to our society are greater than ever and I would be lying if that did not factor into the decision to make the move we did.  If nothing happens and we simply enjoy the mountain life and learn to be more self reliant that’s fine with me.  Yet if any number of the threats that exist do materialize I’d like to believe we are better positioned to face them than where we were before.  It’s always about improving your “fighting position” and we continue to do so, I hope you will too.  More to follow as we continue on this journey.

 

Happy Thanksgiving! The Way Ahead (new articles coming out).

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Hello all, it’s been quite a while but as most are aware I’ve transitioned across the country and am setting up shop in addition to providing training for folks via another platform.  Before I go any further I want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving, we have much to be thankful for in 2016 and moving into the new year.  Mostly, even though I was wrong with my Presidential Election prediction we now seemingly have more time to prep before things get crazy (maybe).

I hope to be settled in during the month of December, it’s been quite a transition for the family but something we’ve been chasing for quite some time.  A home which is in the mountains, miles at the end of a dirt road and decently isolated…backed up against thousands of acres of National Forest.  Once settled I hope to pick up regular posting as we work through many of our projects, these will include but not be limited to:

  • Chickens
  • Greenhouse
  • Solar power
  • Managing new devices (wood burning stove, well pump, septic system)
  • Range card creation for area
  • Shooting range setup and creation
  • Reloading bench fabrication and setup
  • Night vision use

In addition to all of the above expect regular posts which deal with everyday life, a life where there is very little to any cell phone signal, a few sporadic neighbors and the nearest gas station is miles down a dirt and then county road.  The nearest store of any sort will be 15 minutes away on a good day.  It will be challenging but I am looking forward to it, finally getting the space we want and associated benefits and challenges.

As a final note I’ve been getting tons of requests for folks to write guest articles, I’ll probably select a few good ones that aren’t too spammy and toss them up to keep some recurring content on the page.  Thanks for everyone’s patience as it’s been a very sparse year for me with respect to posting but I hope to resolve that very soon.

4 Things Wrong With Your BugOut / Survival Bag

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I recently spent a few days out in the backcountry wilderness living out of my bag, miles away from the nearest town and long out of cell phone range.  It was myself and my dog hiking a few miles a day at over 10,000 feet in elevation, getting in touch with nature and evaluating some gear. When out in that sort of environment one figures out really quickly what is essential and what is fluff with respect to gear, what works and what doesn’t.  Since the bugout / survival bag is what we rely on to hold all of our essential equipment it stands to reason that this piece of kit should be near the top of the list with respect to how well it is taken care of.  Unfortunately that isn’t the case in many instances, so here are 4 things that might be wrong with your bugout / survival bag.

1- It hasn’t been unpacked in 6 months

Cooler temps are approaching so does the gear in your bag reflect that?  How long has it been since you completely emptied your bag, took and inventory and re-packed it?  Far too often gear is packed and then allowed to sit which means folks forget what is where and items often expire.

2- It doesn’t have hydration bladder pockets

Water is everything out in the wilderness and you must have a good way to not only carry it but access it while on the move.  Many good packs have built in hydration bladder pockets on the sides allowing for a 2 or 3 liter hydration bladder to be stuffed down in them.  Run the hose down over the shoulder and drink while on the move, hook up a mini sawyer in line water filter for drinking river/lake water.  The days of strapping canteens to a belt or the back of the pack are long gone for most, as there are much improved methods for carrying water.

3- The gear inside it has been chosen based on theory, not practical application.

Folks tend to buy gear based on other people’s opinions and there is nothing wrong with that, but has that gear been tested out in the field?  Has the tent actually been set up, fire starting material tested, stove been used to cook food?  Maybe there is a hatchet or other cool looking tool in there that is completely unnecessary, only way to find out is to get out there and test the gear.

4- It was purchased wholesale for $25 online.

It’s true, you get what you pay for.  To build a quality pack you need quality materials and folks who know what they are doing.  Time for design, R&D, manufacturing and advertising.  All of these things are built into the cost of the product (a good bag in this case) so that the company can remain profitable.  I know this seems like basic information but it stands to reason that a bag that runs $25 on the rack cannot possibly hold a candle to a pack that runs $350 or more.  The type of materials in the more expensive pack will be more durable, the zippers and fasteners will be better, the internal frame and shoulder straps will be much more comfortable and on it goes.  There are some good compromises out there which folks on a budget can look into but one must be careful when choosing a good bag.  Go cheap and by the time mile 5 arrives you’ll be sorry you did.

 

KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Review: AKA “The Mandal”

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Mobility is important but so is being comfortable.  While wearing flip flops isn’t exactly optimal neither is sporting a dedicated full hiking boot while in warmer temps.  There has to be a good solution, a hybrid of sorts which would allow one’s feet to breathe but also be sturdy enough to navigate some decent terrain or even jog through broken glass and jump a fence (think worst case scenario).  Enter the Keen Newport H2, referred to by many as the mandal.

Keen Newport H2

Keen’s in action while in a river

I’ve had my Keen’s for 6 months and have worn them in a tropical rainforest, in the rocky mountains, in pools / waterfalls, everyday around town wear and have even jogged in them (long story).  They are a great all around sandal/shoe hybrid which allows one to recreate while still providing a decent amount of support and protection for the feet.  Here’s the rundown.

The Good.

  • Closed in toe box just like a regular Keen hiking shoe which is great for protection, unlike a standard sandal which leaves the toes exposed.
  • Great fit all the way around, no sliding around while wearing them.
  • Sole is great, nice grip for moving around over land or in a stream on slippery rocks.
  • Good arch support, definitely not an afterthought when producing this model.
  • Webbing material which the sandal is made of dries easily after getting wet.

The Not So Good.

  • It’s a sandal and therefore your foot is not entirely closed in while wearing it, as such if you are on a dusty trail little rocks can get inside and get under your feet which can be annoying.
  • Not the most fashionable sandal ever, pretty ugly as a matter of fact.
  • You will drop over $100 for a pair of these so they aren’t exactly cheap.

The Bottom Line.

I purchased the Keen’s because I was looking for a good warm weather shoe/sandal which would still allow for good mobility while not sacrificing comfort.  They have exceeded my expectations and have proven to be one of my favorite pair of footwear.  If you are in the market I highly suggest checking them out at your local retailer.

 

 

Split Operations: Separated from your home base.

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Home is where the heart is and for most of us where our preparedness stash is.  Should some localized or regional disaster (or worse) take place I’d like to think we would feel better about addressing that situation surrounded by what is familiar to us (read: having loads of preps and self sustaining infrastructure in place).  While this does not guarantee our safety or survival it truly is a best case scenario, the opposite end of that spectrum being 1000 miles away from your home with a paperclip and pack of bubble gum if T-SHTF.

There is a sobering reality to all of this and that is the fact that being in and around home base constantly is not practical for many.  Travel dictates that we need to be away from home and in some instances for months (or more) at a time.  That is what I will address in this post, running split operations with the reality that you just might not be able to get back to your home and family if something bad happens.

Here’s the Setup: Split Operations

I’ve lived apart from my home, preps, family for months at a time.  Usually work related, it means that we could be hours or even days away when it comes to drive time.  While I’d like to believe that if something bad were to take place I’d be able to drop what I was doing and rush to my wife’s side in a flash that is simply not the reality of the situation.  When living apart necessary steps must be put in place to ensure sustainability for the short and potentially long term.  What does that mean?  It’s like this, if the power goes out for two days because of storms have I set my wife up for success with our backup power situation?  What if a snow storm cuts power and access to basic necessities for 2 weeks, will she be able to get through it with minimal stress and discomfort because of preparedness steps previously put in place and rehearsed?  These are highly probable and relatively low impact events.  Yet what about a truly worst case scenario which would mean us hoping to reunite at some point but being forced to make it on our own in the near term?  Who truly knows how things would play out as there are so many variables but I have to be confident in the fact that I’ve done everything in my power to set both of us up for success.

Tips for Split Operations

Essentially this boils down to common sense and understanding that one cannot guarantee success for any given scenario, but putting measures (and backups) in place certainly increases one’s chances.  Below are some tips that I’ve come up with over time for running split operations.

90/10:  When I roll out I usually take the equivalent of 10% of my preps with me, leaving the majority back home with my wife.  Those preps that I have are usually what I’d need when mobile and once I get to my destination I can supplement by purchasing new.  This usually means snagging enough supplies to sit out a localized disaster for a few days or even weeks (at most).  Again the majority stays back home with my wife as she would need it, it’s not practical for me to haul around and should I be able to make it back to my place I’d want all my supplies waiting on site for me.

Rehearsals:  It’s one thing when I’m home and am able to do most of the heavy lifting but what about when I’m not?  This is not to say that my wife isn’t perfectly capable of doing some hard labor but let’s face it, I’ve spent more time doing it and she doesn’t mind that.  A perfect example would be when I was almost 1000 miles away and a storm hit knocking power out.  We had rehearsed the procedure for moving the generator out, hooking it up, starting it using the choke and fuel shutoff valve and operating the transfer switch.  When the time came she was able to accomplish this task and all was good.  Had we not rehearsed it the task would have been exceedingly more difficult I’m sure.

Worst Case:  In a worst case scenario it’s understood that we’ll simply have to make due in our own set of circumstances.  That is a reality that many fail to acknowledge and as such they never prepare for it.

The Bottom Line

There are folks out there who haven’t spent so much as a weekend away from their spouse or kids, I am not one of them.  If you are like me and travel for work or have to live away from your family for months at a time because of other circumstances put some thought in to your split operations plan.  Set yourself and those left behind up for success with the understanding that you might not always be there for them.

 

Fear Not! I’ll be back on a regular basis very soon.

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WOW.  Things have been busy, I just logged in and saw pages of comments to approve and for that I apologize.  The good news is that these months that I have been away from the blog will serve to rejuvenate my writing interest and that combined with a few other changes should make for some interesting content.

I hope everyone out there has been getting on well, as stated in another post I’ve been busy working with folks in person on other projects both training and preparedness related.  It’s been very fulfilling but I can’t let (literally) years of work in this blog and all the contributions go to waste.  The writing will continue soon enough but not before I make a move.  That’s right I’m moving WEST, into the foothills of the Rockies.  Setting up the compound (that’s what I’ll call my house) and getting accustomed to living out there will be great, lots of prepper projects on the way!

On a final note there is quite a bit going on in the world today that surely has people spinning.  Various attacks on the populace, a crazy election and who knows what with the economy.  Stay the course, control what you can and maintain situational awareness.

Chat soon.

PJ

 

Alps Mountaineering Lightweight Air Pad Review

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Some of you might have had the privilege of sleeping on the hard ground in your life, I know that I have and still do occasionally.  The older I get the more I dislike it, heck the older I get the more experiencing the “outdoors” from a $500K RV hooked up to power and internet seems appealing.  The good news is that I don’t own a rig like that so roughing it in some capacity will always be part of the plan.

Alps Mountaineering Lightweight Air Pad

Alps Mountaineering Lightweight Air Pad

Recently I was contacted by my friends over at Sole Labz, they wanted to know if I would review one of their air pads.  I figured I would give it a go since there would be a few times in my near future which would demand that I actually use the thing, this versus a living room review and thoughts based on theory instead of practical application.  Insert the Alps Mountaineering Lightweight Air Pad.  From their website:

 

When you’re away from home and want some added comfort to your cot or sleeping bag, try an ALPS self inflating air pad. With the lightweight series, the pad will inflate and deflate quickly with the jet stream foam and roll up compactly to fit into the stuff sack. The top fabric is tough, lightweight Ripstop and the bottom is polyester taffeta. Another benefit of adding an air pad is that it will help keep you warmer… essential to a well rested night.

A free stuff sack, compression straps, and repair kit are included with every pad… something many other companies make you pay extra for.

Features
  • Jet Stream Polyurethane Open Cell Foam
  • Faster Inflating and Deflating
  • Diamond Ripstop Top Fabric
  • Strong and Lightweight
  • Polyester Taffeta Bottom Fabric
  • Durable and Abrasion Resistant
  • Non-corrosive Brass Valves
  • Long-term Durability

Why an Air Pad?

Quite frankly, sleeping on the ground sucks. There are plenty of air pads out there, my personal one which I keep in my survival bag is about half the size of a 1 liter bottle when put away so it doesn’t take much space.  The Alps version is larger but both get me up off the ground which is more comfortable and in cooler temps (which I did experience) can keep me from losing body heat.

My Experience

I was able to use the Alps air pad for two nights when out doing some camping.  Temps were unseasonably cold so what I believed would be acceptable (Jungle Snug Pack + Alps Pad) turned out to be woefully inadequate.  Temps were near freezing and I was hurting for certain.

My first night I laid the pad out on the ground and simply put my sleeping bag on top of it.  I recall it taking a while for me to blow up, to the point that my jaw was getting tired.  Slight inconvenience but not a game changer.  My next observation was how narrow the pad seemed to be, I did not have my other one out for comparison sake but from looking at the Alps model I knew even attempting to turn on my side in the night would have me off of the pad.  The pad was comfortable enough during the first night but as stated, the near freezing temps made for an uncomfortable sleep.

Jungle Snug Pack and Alps Pad

Jungle Snug Pack and Alps Pad

The second night I punked out and decided to sleep in the back of my truck with the seats folded down.  I placed the Alps pad on top of the seats and it obviously was a more comfortable experience than the previous night on the ground, but it was still very very cold.  I did not run the truck during the night, the whole carbon monoxide thing…but the pad did fine.

The Good

  • The price is right, around $25 (as compared to $100 for the other pad I own).
  • It looks nice and the material is easy to clean.
  • It does work in that it was more comfortable than the ground itself and did help me retain whatever body heat I was able to generate without it getting leached away.

The Not So Good

  • It is very narrow, I found myself constantly rolling off the side of the pad throughout the night, you had to twist in place to go from one side to another.
  • It is large, even when completely rolled up and stowed.  Not sure if I would strap this thing to the outside of a pack because it certainly would not fit inside one.  Additionally I had trouble getting all of the air out of it in order to fit inside the provided stuff sack.
Tight Fit

Tight Fit

The Bottom Line

For $25 you really can’t beat it.  It’s not as great as some of the more expensive models out there but better than nothing at all.  My recommendation?  Save your chips and get something in the $100 range, buy once cry once.

 

Where is PJ? What I’ve been up to.

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All-

Just a quick note as I’ve been AWOL lately.  I’ve been very busy and thought to give you all the inside scoop in order to reassure you that I haven’t abandoned this blog.  I’ve recently started training local folks in all aspects of preparedness and firearms (within my scope of knowledge) and it’s been very gratifying.  However building the courses along with interacting and training has proven to be much more time consuming than I ever would have thought.  The good news is that I’m touching folks in person at the local level, helping to educate them.  I haven’t forgotten about the online presence and hope to update more in the future.

Thanks

PJ

Smart Prepper’s Guide to choosing the Best Tactical Boots

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By: JM @ Sole Labz

Smart prepper’s guide to choosing the best tactical boots

Navy Seals have a saying: “There are two ways of doing things, the right way, and again”. Smart preppers know, however, that SHTF scenarios leave no room for do-overs.

Your top sidekick in all-hell-broke-loose scenarios is a good pair of tactical boots. Call me crazy, but you’re only as strong as your feet in a bug out situation. Better make those two soles and a bit of leather count since all of your agility, speed and overall performance will depend on them.

War, hiking, army and people concept - close up of soldier's foot in army boot

War, hiking, army and people concept – close up of soldier’s foot in army boot

Being on your toes equals being ready, like a racer itching for that gun to go off. It means you’ll have a proper response no matter what happens, and that’s what prepping is all about for me.

Your feet are a crucial bug-out tool

Benjamin Franklin said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

As I see it, a large part of prepping IS preventing. Not to mention there is no “cure” when bad times catch you with your pants down.

Bottom line – no matter how good of your bug out plan is and how safe your potential refuge is if your feet can’t take you there. So, let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

What to look for

Good tactical boots should keep all feet maladies at bay (blisters, plantar fasciitis, sore spots…); protect you from the elements, the surrounding terrain and possible toxic spills. They should feel like second a skin whether you’re darting through a concrete city labyrinth or taking a slow rural hike to your shelter for bugging out.

Most importantly, they must be a good fit to your scenarios, so what we’ll do in this guide is go through the types of tactical boot and analyze the potential scenarios and surroundings it’s right for.

Human foot pain with the anatomy of a skeleton foot

Human foot pain with the anatomy of a skeleton foot

With those criteria in place, we can tackle tactical boot types and situations they “live for”.

Let your tactical boots “rise to the occasion”

Military or tactical boots have gone a long way from combat hotspots around the globe to civilian feet.

Well known for their rugged build, they offer superb protection without sacrificing the functionality. They were made to fit the needs of soldiers/marines in terms of war and that speaks volumes about why they should be one of the paramount of your bug out plans.

Let’s go over basic types…

Standard issue tactical boots

This combat boot is manufactured from waterproof, hardened leather. It’s designed for extra ankle and foot stability on the nasty terrain, encountered often during training or combat. They also offer good foot protection and grip.

Image3_standard_issue_boot

The first known combat boot comes from foot soldiers of Ancient Rome. Their hobnail boots were named caligae.

In the USA, infantry regiments of the war of 1812 wore calf-high combat boots. Until American Civil War, ankle-high boots made of lasts were issued. There was no left or right boot, rather, they molded to the feet of the wearer over time. Needless to say, they were a pain to wear. Jeff Davis boots were introduced in 1858, and that’s where our story really begins.

These would be your jack-of-all-trades among tac boots. They’ll do just fine if your main concern is dreadful terrain standing between you and safety.

Jump boots

Standard gear for airborne forces and paratroopers, they were first introduced during WW2.

The US Original M1942 “Parachute Jumper” featured reinforced, rigid toe caps and extended lacing. This was aimed at providing better support for toes and ankles during rough landings. They’re often laced in cobweb or ladder style for even more ankle support.

Image4_jump_boot

They were developed simultaneously in numerous countries, but as far as the USA goes, it all starts with William P. Yarborough. He designed them for 501st Parachute Test Battalion in 1941.

As far as prepping goes, these will offer excellent protection from rugged, uneven terrains that’ll cause you to jump constantly from one area to the next. They’ll be lifesavers if your bug out includes a parachute jump and terrible if you take off on a longer march. They are heavier and less flexible than standard issue, especially if they’re cold or still breaking in.

Tanker boots

They saw mass production back when George S. Patton was still a captain.

Their main thing is using straps instead of laces. That made sure nothing will get caught into the moving parts of the machinery. It also comes handy when you’re sprawling through dense bushes or area filled with tree roots and branches.

Image5_tanker_boot

They’re almost fireproof, so if high temperatures are a part of the scenario… The material is leather, so toxic chemicals won’t reach your feet in case of a spill.

They feature gusseted tongue, so no debris will get inside. Steel toe guards are also there for extra protection paired with steel or plastic guards for shank and heel. Metal inserts are in the sole ensuring perfect pierce resistance.

Tactical boots for extreme weather

War is always about location, reaction time and preparedness. Here are some combat boots that’ll give you an upper hand when temperatures go sky-high or sub-zero.

Jungle Boots – Made before WW2 in Panama. They weigh aprox. 3lbs and were designed for optimal drainage while keeping insects, sand and mud out. They don’t keep the water out but drain it through the eyelets and dry up really fast afterward.

They saw the battlegrounds of WW2, Vietnam, 1st Indochina war, Operations Iraqi Freedom, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom…

Image6_jungle_boots

So, if you’re running for your life through jungle-like areas, these are your ticket out. They’ll also do nicely in cold weather since you’ll be insulated from the ground by breathable insoles.

Desert boots – An improvement on Saudi Arabia recipe made by Norman Schwarzkopf.

They are made of rough suede and feature nylon siding and laces. The thread pattern is Panama-styled. There are no steel plates or drainage vents, which prevents heat retaining and sand from getting in.

Image7_desert_boots

Iraq and Afghanistan come to mind as perfect examples where US forces used these.

They’ll keep you running in high temperatures without much maintenance. Bottom line, if desert or some tropical areas are your bug out chess board, these are the way to go.

Military boots for extreme cold- There’s not a single positive way cold weather affects our feet. Plenty of negative ones, though.

This is where we want proper insulation provided by GoreTex. It’s a waterproof Teflon-coated membrane with microscopic pores for breathability.

They can also feature insulating layers made of wool, rubber or felt, depending on the model and purpose.

Let’s wrap up this run down of tactical boots

I learned a long time ago that ill-preparedness always gives birth to despair once the disaster strikes; it doesn’t care whether you’re counting on it or not or whether you’re ready or not. It just happens.

I’ll leave you with one of the great truths of life: “Unspectacular preparation is always followed by spectacular achievements”.

Stay safe

 

2016 Predictions

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted but thought to come back strong with some 2016 predictions.  Let me know what you think!

1- There will be no economic collapse.  The stock market will not crash, at least not in 2016.

2- Hillary will be president.  Read that again.  Hillary will be president and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.  She has been anointed by TPTB and quite frankly I believe that none of our votes matter, the whole thing is an exercise in futility (read: sham, rigged, smoke and mirrors).  She will advance the agenda, not of the people but of those who are truly in charge.  I should note it is my personal belief that all of the other candidates are assholes and would do no better.  If I am wrong and Trump / Cruz et al gets “elected” we are equally as screwed.  Trump is an elitist D bag of the highest order and if you think he gives a damn about you…

3- Gun Control will move forward slightly and then gain even more traction.  The current President will do what he can with Exec action which probably won’t amount to much, but after bullet point # 2 happens….

4- A run on all things guns and ammo, believe it.  If you don’t have it stock up now, you have been warned.  Once she is elected guns and ammo will fly off the shelves like nothing any of us have ever seen before.

5- Terror attacks.  I hate to say it and I don’t want to believe it but the reality is we as a nation are vulnerable.  Look for more terror attacks by assholes screaming about their god in 2016.

6- People like you and I will take the above into consideration but continue to prep wisely and in moderation.

Any thought to add, leave them in the comment section below.

 

Back To Basics: 5 Things You Should Stockpile For Bartering

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Note from PJ:  This article is a guest contribution and while brief does touch on a good topic.  Lots of opinions floating out there about what to stockpile for bartering, or if one should even attempt to barter at all after something like SHTF.  Read the article and then post comments / opinions below.  Thanks!

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As a student of life you probably already have a basic idea of the barter system. If you are getting ready for its advent in the near future, you need to start stocking up as soon as you can. The items you stockpile have to actually be useful for bartering with. Before you go out and buy gold by the truckload, stop and think.

What do you need?

Ask yourself what exactly you are looking for in a barter trade. If your plan is to trade something you have for something you don’t, it would be easier to simply get the item you won’t have right now, wouldn’t it? Well, this is true but it simply can’t be done for everything. You would have to have a pretty massive space (preferably underground) if you wanted to store all the items you think you would need when the collapse of the economy occurs.

5 Necessary Items

There are some items that are extremely valuable when it comes to bartering, such as guns and ammunition. In a world without law and order, you are going to have to be able to defend yourself after all. While the 5 items listed below probably won’t get you weapons or ammunition, they are going to help you immensely in the fight for survival that is soon to come. All you have to do is make sure you store these for a “rainy day”.

1 – Food: This is one of the hardest to get out in the untamed world. There will be people who don’t have enough food to survive. Of course, some decent folk will probably give up their food to help a family in need. For the most part though people will be trading out their essentials in exchange for food. If you are lucky enough, you could probably get a weapon in exchange for a big portion of your food supply.

2 – Water: Potable water is one of the most important things in a post-apocalyptic world. Diseases are the biggest risk factor after a natural disaster occurs and there isn’t enough healthcare to go around. The water supply quickly becomes contaminated, especially if a factory nearby collapses and starts leaking waste into the nearby rivers. Thankfully, you can stock up on water filters to clean the water supply for you. Trading these can be the difference between life and death for a lot of people.

3 – Ammunition: This is more expensive than gold in a new world without currency. Ammo is going to be at a premium soon enough, as people struggle to stay alive and defend themselves. For every community of decent, peaceful people, there are bound to be bands of criminals, murderers, rapists and thieves roaming around.

4 – Antibiotics: Medication is going to be one of the hardest things to stockpile. You are going to have to steal the better painkillers from a hospital if you really need them at the time. For now, try buying over the counter antibiotics and painkillers for the bad injuries.

5 – Candles: These are going to be far more valuable than you think. The power grid is going to go down. There isn’t going to be electricity. People are going to need candles instead. If you can figure out how to make them, you are going to be wealthy.

There are tons of other items you can stockpile. However, think about priorities and get the essentials first. These are bound to be the most valuable.

 

Tactical Boots review – Under Armour RTS Valsetz

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The review of the RTS Valsetz is brought to you working closely with SoleLabz.com, a website that reviews and rates best hiking and tactical boots.

Under Armour RTS Valsetz Review

Under Armour RTS Valsetz Review

Under Armour 101

UA is your true “humble beginnings to stardom” story.  Kevin Plank, the founder of UA, was just a University football team captain with a problem. He’s had it with soaked cotton T-shirts constantly slowing him down and started a company to try and make a better version. UA is making around 4 billion dollars per year now so I think we’re safe to say he did something right. UA was founded in his grandmother’s basement in 1996, and quickly released its first T-shirt, HeatGear compression. The rest is for the business history books.

Some RTS Valsetz fundamentals

UA puts forth a combination of light weight, durability and water-resistance and the main selling point of these tactical boots. The uppers are a textile-synthetic leather combo paired with welded film surrounding the boot for optimal abrasion-resistance. They say the initial idea behind the RTS was that “second-skin” feeling.

Further down the product specification, they discuss all the patented technologies aimed at superior shock-resistance, softer landings and outstanding stability by “locking” your foot inside the boot. When it comes to shanks, they’ve opted for TPU (meaning plastic, not metal). They’ve used molded Ortholite for sockliners, EVA for midsoles and spiced things up with special technologies for odor-prevention.

Let’s see if this Valsetz is all it’s cracked up to be by giving it a proper spin.

Real-life review of the RTS Valsetz tactical boots

Initial Impressions of the RTS Valsetz

Upon receiving the boots I had mixed emotions, was this a tactical boot or a tennis shoe?  Was tactical a label that applied only if it were a bright sunny day on paved surfaces or could there be other applications that this boot might be of use in.  You see it’s always a trade off in that boots which are lightweight, super comfortable (like tennis shoes) and require no break in are usually prone to falling apart after a year of use.  Nike SFB’s and Blackhawk boots come to mind because I’ve owned several pair of them.  Great right off the bat but not sturdy enough to hold up to repeated abuse.  The opposite side of that coin would be standard GI Issue boots, boots that require some decent break in or they will tear the skin off of your heels but they are relatively bullet proof over the long haul.

As I held the RTS Valsetz in my hand a few things struck me immediately.

  • Laces:  The lace seemed pretty thin, not a big deal to most but I like fatter laces which make them easier to knot/lock into place.  The absolute worst is looking down and seeing your boot  laces dragging on the ground when you are in an area where stopping to re-tie them is a hassle.  Petty I know but it’s the little things.
  • Flat Sole:  Looking at the sole and sliding my foot into the boot I wondered just how much arch support it would truly have.  I’m not a fan of the minimalist shoes with no arch support, it’s why I like Keen boots and Asics running shoes.  The RTS Valsetz boots didn’t exactly blow me away initially with the support provided but I would have to wait until I wore them out in the field, sitting on the couch with one foot in a boot was hardly a true test.
  • Grip / Stability:  The sole of the boot it did appear to provide the user with some decent traction and side to side stability.  I’ll once again reference the Nike SFB’s, while a great boot to wear around for day to day use in the mud over uneven terrain they were absolutely awful in that they provided very little traction or support.  Hopefully the RTS Valsetz boots would be a notch above the NIke’s in this respect.

Out in the Woods

I wore the boots around town for a day or two just to get an initial impression of them.  Quite frankly I was sort of on the fence in that they were very comfortable but I worried about how they would perform once I was out in the woods with a heavy load on my back.  I must admit I shouldn’t have been so quick to doubt the boots as they were surprisingly good.

Under Armour RTS Valsetz

Out in the woods for a hike

It was a very cool Saturday morning when I set out with my dog to hike a 5 mile loop at a local nature preserve.  In order to make things more interesting I strapped my survival bag to my back, which came in around 50lbs or so.  This loop had some small elevation changes and the terrain was a mix of dirt, loose rocks, tree roots and fallen leaves with very slick mud underneath.  This would be a nice testing ground for the RTS Valsetz boots, while 5 miles isn’t that great of a distance with my experience I would be able to immediately ascertain if they were something I could endorse.

I was pleasantly surprised with how these boots performed.  Some things that I was looking for:

  • Hot Spots:  This is exactly what you think it is, that feeling of hot spot on that ball of your foot or heel from the friction of the boot and sock against your foot.  While 5 miles might not seem like enough distance to determine if a hot spot will develop trust me it is, especially under load and especially with boot that does not perform well.  Take a pair of GI issued boots and go walk 5 miles in them straight away, you’ll be limping for the next week.  Fortunately there were no hot spots or even a hint of one during my time with the RTS Valsetz boots.
  • Comfort:  Out of the box comfort which I really appreciate.  Again it’s a trade off in that I’m not sure just how durable these boots will be yet I’d rather look at them as expendable items and just replace them as necessary.  I know there are guys out there who still get their boots resoled over and over again, I’d rather just buy new if no break in is required.
  • Stability:  Good side to side stability especially when encountering rocks or tree roots hidden by piles of leaves.  The flat sole and grip provided does the job, really coming into play when out in the woods.  Again I was pleasantly surprised!
  • Climbing / Descending Hills:  Here is something most overlook.  You need to have a bit of play front to rear in your boot BUT with the foot still being relatively secured in place.  If a boot is a perfect fit or too tight when descending hills you get the old toe smash going on, not a pleasant experience.  While going uphill if too loose your foot could slide around a bit maybe even causing your sock to bunch up in places that would start to form hot spots and then blisters.  I have to state that the RTS Valsetz boots performed well in this area allowing my feet just enough room to move around while still keeping everything secure.
  • Water Resistance:  While I chose not to dunk my feet into the creek that was running near the trail UA does claim that these boots are water resistant, with water proof being another thing altogether I suppose.  What I can state is that since these boots are so lightweight if they do get soaking wet the dry time should be relatively short compared to heavy leather boots which is always a good thing if one is pressed for time.

Bottom Line

Do I recommend these boots?  The answer is yes but with a catch.  Everyone has different feet so what feels great to me might feel awful to you, but I’d venture a guess that most would be pleased if purchasing a pair of RTS Valsetz boots for everyday light duty and some adventures in the woods.  I now have these boots in my truck as my standby pair of footwear, tucked under the seat next to my survival bag for those instances where a quick change of footwear could be necessary.  Keep in mind that the one thing I could not test was the durability of this boot over an extended period of time.  Thanks again to Solelabz.com for providing the boots (and socks) that I used in this review.

 

How To: Vehicle Gun Holster in 10 Minutes

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So you have a concealed carry permit and your gun is on your hip while belted into your seat but the question I have is: how fast can you access it?  No really, if your gun is IWB on your hip and you have a seat belt on give it a try sometime, see if you can have your gun out in seconds…I doubt you can.  Maybe you are at the ATM pulling out cash and someone pops out behind the bushes and sticks a gun in your face or maybe you are sitting at an intersection and two guys run up on either side of your vehicle with guns drawn, car jacking attempt in progress.  At that point you don’t have 5 to 10 seconds, you have 1 to 2 and you’d better make a move or become a victim.

Sage Wisdom

Recently I was texting back and forth with our resident expert, The Maj, and going through the pro’s and con’s of a vehicle gun holster.  Obviously something quickly accessible vs what is on your hip but where should it be?  What about caliber, should it be the same as what you carry?  Is this a get out and fight gun or simply a quick deterrent which would allow someone to step on the gas and make a quick exit off the X.  What about getting pulled over, a gun in plain sight might make a cop a little nervous even if you are legally allowed to have it there right?

Here’s what I finally was able to come up with.  There are more pro’s to having a gun which is exposed in a good holster versus having something in a center console or on one’s hip which could take a few more seconds to access.  That said I set out to mount a holster inside my truck and found that it was easier than I ever thought it would be.

The Concept

I regularly carry a Glock 19 with at least one spare mag and sometimes two.  It would be stupid of anyone to assume there are no threats out there especially with the ISIS A holes and wannabes (read: lone wolf) lurking about, so the Glock it is.  I do have several Glocks but wanted something with some more punch for my truck gun, something I could grab quickly and do serious damage with (even through a window) so naturally my choice was a 5 inch 1911 which happens to be a Springfield TRP Operator.

If I encountered any of the situations that I listed originally in this article (car jack, ATM jack) I would be able to quickly grab the gun and put down the perp before taking next steps.  This is not a “get out of the truck and fight” type scenario but rather a “ward off the threat, make my escape” type thing.  The Maj really helped clarify this and I appreciated that.  If you think you are going to dismount and shoot it out with the bad guys chances are you are probably going to die.  Remember a pistol is a defensive weapon, better to sling some lead and then stomp on the gas.

The Truck Holster

The Parts I Used

The Parts I Used

All of the above in mind I decided to make my own truck holster.  The parts are as follows:

  • Blade Tech 1911 holster, procured from Cabela’s for around $60.  I chose this because I like the material and that it is black, it is also ambidextrous so I can mount it next to my right leg with no worries.
  • Rubber grommets from Lowes.
  • Self tapping screws from Lowes.

The Method

I simply removed the belt loops from the Blade Tech holster, took the alternate set which came in the pack and drilled them (so you have holes on both sides).

Drilling Holes

Drilling Holes

I ran the screw through the holster, through the plastic loops and the rubber grommets.  Here is a pic of the test fit.

Test Fit: Like A Glove!

Test Fit: Like A Glove!

On the Vehicle

Originally I wanted this down low to keep it out of sight but the problem I ran into was that in order for my hand to get in there and get a strong grip, the gun and holster would need to be away from the console at least 3 to 4 inches.  Not good.  So I decided to mount it higher so that the grip was exposed, this meant that I could just snatch it quickly and bring it up with nothing impeding my right hand. I can’t emphasize enough how well the rubber grommets worked as they really helped keep things in place and since the surface was not totally vertical (a slight cant) it made things much easier.  Yes it meant making 4 holes in my console but if I ever have to remove the holster I can simply put 4 black screws in there, or some plastic automotive tabs and it truly won’t look that bad.

Side View

Side View

Easy Money, Holster On Console

Easy Money, Holster On Console

Finished Product

Finished Product, Easy Access!

Finished Product, Easy Access!

So here you have it, sorry about the dark pictures but it was late in the evening when I decided to start this project.  The gun is held in there very sturdily and the holster does not move.  Quick draw easily and while driving the barrel does not point at my leg.  All in all….a great project!

 

Watched a Man Get Killed Today: Misc Thoughts and AAR Comments

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Today I was witness to a very violent car accident which left one driver literally in pieces, it happened right in front of me on the highway while traveling around 75 mph.  Since I was on the scene immediately I was able to quickly assess the situation and provide help when necessary before first police/fire arrived around 5 minutes later.  Once everything was wrapped up (which included putting the deceased guy’s parts and pieces into bags) I had plenty of time to sit and think about how I should have done things differently, including how my kit is structured within my vehicle….specifically my emergency first aid kit.

A Normal Day…Or Not.

It was early afternoon and I was traveling on the highway about 1 hour away from my destination, cruising at 75 mph and thinking about the various activities I needed to conduct upon arrival to my destination.  I already had a hotel room booked and it was going to be a late evening, the plan was to grab a few hours and then hump it back to the office in the morning to continue to work back near home.   At that point I saw the tail end of a white van shoot across the median about 300-500 meters to my front followed instantly by an enormous cloud of white smoke as it hit a semi truck just rear of the cab at full speed.  Flying debris scattered everywhere and I immediately glanced and caught what mile marker I was at while hitting the 911 button on my phone.  In that split second I knew there were some seriously injured or dead people just up ahead, that’s how huge this impact was.  911 answered the call I I quickly blurted out what mile marker I was at on the highway while rolling to a stop and opening my door…I was sure they would get other calls.

Assess

My mental checklist was running as I jumped out of the car, I had surgical gloves in the side door pocket and everything from quik clot, Israeli bandages and a tourniquet in the trunk within reach.  No matter that stuff would take precious seconds to gather up, I needed to get to the van which was 20 meters to my front and sitting sideways across the lanes and smoking with the semi sitting another 20 meters beyond that.  The passenger side of the van was in bad shape but as I came around to the driver’s side (with the intention of checking on the victim) it became immediately clear that I needed to move on to the semi.

The driver’s side looked like it had been peeled back with a can opener.  The driver was sort of still in the seat but hanging down to the ground, almost cut in half, insides on the outside, anything above the shoulders completely unrecognizable.  Limbs were sort of….well they were not in good shape.  Nothing I could do here so I quickly moved to the semi which was literally gushing diesel out of it’s tank.

I came around to the passenger side and there was already another guy attempting to help the driver out who was clearly in shock.  He was worried about grabbing all of his things, mumbling about this and that while his truck was smoking and leaking, the only good news being that diesel is not as flammable as gasoline but still I did not want to take any chances.  Once the driver was out I went back to the van and started to warn some curious onlookers who started to wander up that if they went around to the other side of it, they would probably see something that they did not want to.  I also interacted with some traffic from the opposite lane telling them everyone who was there was alright and that help was on the way.

Action or Observation?

I don’t consider my actions remotely special but rather what I believe almost anyone would do in a similar situation.  People are hurt or potentially in need of assistance given the severity of the accident and location (not close to any major cities), who wouldn’t jump out of their car and run to assist?  Apparently not that many at all.  One guy was on scene to help me with the semi driver and a couple others migrated up asking what was going on but even 1-2 minutes after the accident with traffic stopped both ways on the highway the VAST majority just sat in their cars.  Maybe they were calling 911, maybe they were taking pictures, maybe they figured there was nothing they could do.  In any event I just remember wondering why more people weren’t running up to offer assistance.

After Action Review

I sat in my car about 20 yards from the van watching the firefighters cut out and then place the body parts of the deceased into a bag wondering what I could have done better.  Sure I was fortunate enough to be on the scene very quickly but I did make a few mistakes which mostly revolved around my emergency supplies.

What happened:  While I had all the right kit in my car it was dispersed all over the place.  In my door, in trunk in my survival bag.  I would have had to run back to the car, dig around and the run back to the victim.  Not good.

What should have happened:  As soon as I jumped out of the car I should have been able to yank on a small bag full of quick access emergency supplies, maybe just laying on the back seat.  Quick Clot, gloves, tourniquet, bandages et al.  EMS personnel took almost 5 minutes to arrive in this instance so what if one of the injured had an arterial bleed?  Bad news.

The Bottom Line

I thought I had it covered with respect to emergency medical supplies but when I had to move quickly today I realized my setup wasn’t optimal.  I know that there are quite a few EMS  types who read this blog so maybe you all can respond with tips as well.  I’m not thinking any of us need a super high-speed $500 medic bag in the back seat but it wouldn’t hurt to have all necessary items consolidated in a small pack which one could grab on the way out the door.  Thoughts?

 

The BugOut Land Fantasy

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The S hits the fan and you pack the family into your 4wd, drive an hour to your bugout location (BOL) just before the crazies overrun your suburban house.  The property isn’t much but it’s yours, 20 acres with some water and deep in the woods.  You then build a shelter, plant crops, establish a community and thrive as the pioneers once did.

The-Most-Interesting-Man-In-The-World

Reality or Fantasy.

The real scenario (for most of us) looks more like this.

1- Property already occupied by armed locals and you are not invited.  But that land is yours you say, you bought it 2 years ago and have the title you say.  They say (while they point various guns in your direction) that possession is 9/10th’s  of the law, they know the local Sheriff and you can go pound sand (or get shot).

2- You get to the property and set up a tent (or maybe you have a small hunter’s cabin).  After two weeks of living in the woods the suck factor starts to set in, your kids are complaining and your wife is restless.  Nobody likes those stupid freeze dried meals and all your attempts at hunting and trapping have failed even though you brought a lot of books which were supposed to help you succeed.  Someone finally gets injured / sick and supplies are running short, this is not what it was supposed to be.  You need help and realize that this in fact is much harder than you thought it was going to be.  There is no internet, youtube, cell phone service and everyone hates every minute of every day.  Did I mention your dog got killed in the night by Coyotes?

3- You bought this land because it was very isolated and you finally made it there shortly after T-SHTF with all of your supplies in tow.  The only problem is, Cletus and the locals know that you just arrived with all of your supplies in tow as well.  Chances are Cletus and his 30 cousins will wait to take advantage of you and your family because they know every inch of the land and well….you have to sleep sometime.

SHTF / Bugout / Recreation Land: The dream for most of us

I’m an advocate for having some land to move to if things get nasty or simply to have for recreational and educational purposes in the meantime.  My wife and I are currently on the hunt for some of this land ourselves and after viewing some this week (which turned out to be unsuitable) I wanted to share some things which we came across and discussed.  We’ve been searching for a couple years now but have only recently gotten serious and started meeting with folks to turn our dream into a reality.  Just to frame this up, our goal is to purchase a piece of raw land which we can improve upon in stages, maybe even over years.  So if you are in that position or plan to be soon maybe this article will help you out.

Owner Financed vs Traditional Financing

I get it, buy everything in cash.  Well sometimes there are exceptions to that rule and in my opinion a nice land purchase which could be paid off in 10-15 years (or sooner) is one of those exceptions.  Maybe I could buy it in cash but I don’t want to drain my savings account, there are a multitude of reasons for wanting to finance but if you are thinking of going that route keep reading.

I’ve never really purchased land before so I wanted to check out my options and initially the idea of owner financing seemed pretty good.  By owners I mean the types of companies which purchase up large tracts of land and then split them up and sell them for a markup.  Nothing wrong with that, it’s a free country.  In researching some of these companies it appeared that they did their own financing with as little as 10% down.  On the surface it seemed good but if something seems too good to be true…

First of all the interest rate for the remainder of the purchase was very high, sometimes 10% or more.  Secondly in researching some of their properties there were very strict protective covenants in place which were obviously there to protect their interests.  These were very restrictive limiting just about every activity on the property, from what type of structures to logging timber to what type of recreational or commercial activities one could participate in.  No thanks.

I then looked at traditional financing, not through a bank but rather an organization called Farm Credit.  In speaking with their loan officer I would be able to put down 15% of the price, finance the rest at a reasonable rate for the next 10-15 years.  Additionally the property would be mine with no protective covenants, I would be much more “free” to do whatever I wanted as long as it was in line with the local ordinances / law.  A much better option in my opinion but it did required going through the more aggressive loan approval process: similar to buying a house.  In contrast the owner financed process was easier than getting a TV from Rent A Center (at least that’s what they told me).

Lesson Learned:  Do your research, make phone calls, ask questions.

Distance

The land we looked at was 1.5 hours away (75 miles via back roads) from our home which doesn’t sound that bad.  Heck I drive 1.5 hours (or more) one way for meetings throughout the week, what’s 1.5 hours to a piece of land.  Actually, it kind of sucks.  The distance involved means weekend visits probably will be intermittent and weekday visits will be just about non-existent.  Also the chance to get to know the neighbors will be tough since we would be spending much less time at the property which is not an optimal scenario.  Lastly and worst case scenario, 75 miles on foot after SHTF means quite a bit of walking and who knows if we would even make it there after passing through all of the small towns or privately owned land along the way.

Lesson Learned:  Get something closer, preferably 30 minutes or less drive.

Purpose

For us the plan is to secure a piece of land which has a minimum of 10 acres, maybe 20-30.  We could get a small camper to tow to the land for the first year or two where we would make improvements and enjoy it (hiking, shooting, burning stuff in large piles and consuming adult beverages).  During this time we could look at building a permanent structure and maybe further down the road bringing utilities online and an ever larger structure which we could occupy full time.

When we were out at the property today we knew that it would not fit our purpose, although it had plenty of woods and was isolated the terrain was very unforgiving which meant the opportunity to build was restricted.  The only place which might have been acceptable to build looked as if it could be a flood risk as it was close to a creek.  Not a good fit.

Lesson Learned:  Topo maps, google images and pictures are great but you need to WALK the piece of land before making a decision.  This piece looked great until we got there and then it was like….um….no.

Neighbors

Make no mistake we were in God’s country out there.  American and Confederate Flags out in yards with mobile homes (broken down vehicles and tractors too) and pole barns dotting the landscape.  I wondered if this was how my grandparents grew up in the hills of West Virginia and in some aspect I felt a little sad that just two generations later I was so far removed from that lifestyle.  These were hard working folks scraping by to making a living, far removed from the mostly stupid problems that most of us stress about every day.  For me it would be important to get to know a few neighbors surrounding the property, this for the simple reason that I would not always be there and I’d want an ally near my land.  This would would be very difficult if we were so far away from the property, once again distance factored in.

Lesson Learned:  The land itself is just ONE component of the overall strategy.  The people / neighbors are a massive consideration when going through an exercise like this.  If one thinks he/she will simply circle the wagons and rely on the AR15 out there in God’s country, one will have another thing coming (many many other things).

Commo

15 to 20 minutes before we got to the property we lost all cell phone signal, both on AT&T and Verizon.  This is a big deal for us because while it’s nice to get off the grid one still needs reach back capabilities when it’s NOT SHTF and something happens.  Maybe our daughter needs to reach us while we are away for the weekend because she is in trouble. Then what?  Maybe someone gets injured and needs medical attention ASAP, how long would it take to walk to a home with a land line?  Yes I realize there are gadgets out there that do not rely on cell phone towers but this was a consideration which we had a tough time budging on.  As a matter of fact we did get into a tough spot with our vehicle at one point which had me wondering, if I can’t call anyone should I just start walking down the gravel road until I come to a house and then knock on the door?  How would that work out?

Lesson Learned:  For us, having commo capabilities is a big deal.  While it might not matter after SHTF it does matter now.  Best bet is to get out there and check out the land, see if you have connectivity.

Bottom Line

This whole thing has been a learning experience for us, we’ve been researching this for years and finally started to make moves in the last few months.  What we have found is that things are not always as they seem and plans made on the couch do not always reflect reality when actually out standing on the ground.  While the land we looked at was indeed isolated and in a decent area it would be useless to us, especially after T-SHTF.  It’s too far away, it would be too hard to build anything and we just aren’t equipped to make it suitable for family living.  The pioneers were able to live the hard scrabble life back in the day but let’s not kid ourselves…pioneers most of us are not these days.  Plus I do enjoy some creature comforts every now and then.

 

Everyday Carry (EDC) Has Gotten Ridiculous

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My personal EDC has changed over the years and I’m sure yours has too.  You carry something which you like, maybe you find out you don’t need something else or whatever.  It’s constantly changing based on one’s personal preferences and desires.  YET…it seems that EDC has gotten out of control lately with dudes carrying almost the entire contents of a bugout bag in their pockets: “Just in case.”  Just in case what, in your daily commute on a 6 lane interstate you break down?  Because the entire time you are traveling around throughout the day there aren’t houses, businesses, shops and such all within a 2 minute walk?  Do you really need that fire starting tinder in your cargo pocket?  Do you really need that paracord bracelet just in case you get stuck in line at Chipotle and need to tie a few bowline knots around a Tabasco bottle to burn some time?  Seriously, enough with this crap already.  Sure, have all the goodies in your pack in the trunk but in your POCKETS?

Blackhawk Down

I once knew a really good dude who said that the movie Blackhawk Down was the worst thing to happen to the average Infantryman and I know exactly what he is referring too.  There was a scene in the movie where some of the Rangers left gear behind because the mission was supposed to be a short one, no need for NODs or extra ammo, or a back plate etc etc.  Of course this didn’t work out as they thought it would, I suppose it’s true that no course of action survives first contact.  What that spawned was a ridiculous surge in the amount of STUFF that the average dude had to carry.  Two is one and one is none to a whole new level.

Two is One and One is None

I do believe in having backups, the whole two is one and one is none theory but there is a limit.  Should I wear two belts?  Should I carry two guns, have 4 spare mags instead of 2, have 2 cell phones, drive a car and tow a second one just in case?  I mean seriously this could get out of control which is why there needs to be some common sense injected into this madness along with the reality that one cannot prepare for every scenario.

Pocket Dump Madness

I’ve seen quite a few vids on EDC and some pictures of pocket dumps and I am amazed at how much STUFF people carry.  Yes if you are venturing out into the wilderness on a hunting excursion you’ll probably want more than the average suburban joe, but even then how much would be in your pockets vs pack?  Even the average dude can probably get away with carrying minimal stuff in his pocket and have a backpack (not the survival bag) with standard stuff in it: flashlight, lighter, multi-tool et al.  It’s almost like it is a competition, how much crap can you carry in your pockets.  But wait what if you are driving to work in suburbia and an EMP hits and you veer off the road and end up in a field, tossed from your vehicle with only what you have in your pockets?  Well…I guess you are just going to have to deal with it.

The Bottom Line

Sometimes less is more.  A gun, knife, knot of cash, watch, wallet and phone will get you by in just about every single circumstance.  Most phones have a flashlight on them and if you need a lighter one is probably within reach in your car or bag.  Think about it.

 

Gear Review – BONL Hydration Bladder

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By Jay Jay

BONL Hydration Bottle on Amazon

BONL Hydration Bottle on Amazon

I bought 2 of these for my daughter and myself to use on a backpacking trip and they are great.  Most I have seen are usually 2 liters as opposed to the 3 liter size you see here.  We ended up going on a trip where there was no drinkable water (I found this out after the fact) and was very glad I opted for the 3 liter size.  Material is very durable, the top opens up for easy cleaning and drying, hose is durable and most importantly, NO nasty plastic taste with this model.

We both had different types of backpacks and this fitted into them easily, giving us both a solid 2 days’ worth of water, with common sense rationing.  It struck a good balance between having enough water and not being so much it weighed us down too much.

If anyone is looking for a water bladder, I would recommend taking a serious look at this one.  It runs about $25.00 on Amazon.

 

Field Tested: MilGPS App, Eberlestock V69 Destroyer, Salomon Quest Boots

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Last week I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to put three products through their paces while on a military land navigation course.  While I’ve owned them all for a little while now it felt like this was a chance to solely focus on how well they helped (or hindered) me when it came to accomplishing a GO/No-GO task, this versus toying around with them while on any old trail.  I’ve written about how much value I put in great shoes/boots (specifically the Salomon’s), the same for my Eberlestock pack and I may or may not have touched on the MilGPS app available for both the iPhone and Android devices.

The Task: Land Navigation

I’ve been walking land navigation courses with a map, compass and protractor since I was in JROTC in the early/mid 1990’s.  Anyone remember Tenino, Washington?  Where is the water tower?  Sorry…inside joke.  Last week’s land navigation course would be an intermediate course by my standards, not an overly difficult tast but the elevation changes/underbrush and wait-a-minute vines were slightly annoying.  I should add that while I do value old school land nav and think it’s a great skill for any prepper and not just the military types, this time old school would take a back seat to technology.  I needed to find out if the MilGPS app was legit and could be relied on even with the cell signal fading in and out.  I also needed to shun standard mil issued gear for my own swag which often results in one wondering how in the world aftermarket gear can be so much better than issued stuff, but I digress.

Salomon Boots:  Just ridiculously good.

First up were the Salomon boots.  I’ve been wearing them casually to work and for some light hiking but nothing like what the land nav course would offer, additionally I’ve yet to wear them while carrying somewhere in the neighborhood of 60lbs on my back.  To complicate things a bit more I’ve been fighting a very sore/tender Achilles tendon for a few months, a byproduct of age and trying to sprint out of the batter’s box during a beer league softball game.

Salomon Quest Boots

Salomon Quest Boots

The boots (paired with Smartwool socks) performed flawlessly all day long under all conditions.  The footing was uneven and unpredictable for most of the day and the ankle support provided by the boots was superb.  Descending into dry river beds or climbing up the side of steep spurs did not present an issue either, grip was fantastic and support was there.  My foot did not move around inside the boot and that was definitely a bonus, if you’ve ever had that happen you’ll know it can get very annoying. No hot spots during the entire event and my feet were able to breathe quite nicely.  Great boots overall although a longer term test might reveal some shortcomings.

Eberlestock V69 Destroyer: Amazing.

Eberlestock V69 Destroyer

Eberlestock V69 Destroyer

You don’t know what you don’t know, a saying that originated somewhere but has since been repeated through the years.  I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the old school ALICE pack and had even continued to use that after being issued the newer model.  Yet even with aftermarket shoulder straps and other additions the ALICE pack is like a rusty Ford Pinto when compared to a new supercar:  the Eberlestock pack.  As a veteran of many, many movements under load I know how the discomfort starts to set in and how to deal with it while wearing an ALICE pack.  I can assure you that NONE of this was present while wearing the Eberlestock pack so much so that I wore it all day long.  I never took a moment to drop my pack for a breather, I just motored on because the level of comfort was simply amazing.  No pressure points at all, it was like the pack was part of my body and moved with me.  Truly I believe the combination of their internal frame design, waist strap and shoulder straps really contribute to a world class experience for the wearer.  I should add one caveat in that while it was a long day it was only ONE day.  To truly get a feel for this pack I would have to wear it every day for a few weeks, so take that in consideration with my endorsement.

Land Nav With Eberlestock V69 Destroyer

You’ll notice in the picture that I have my tent strapped to the outside of my pack, that’s because I took it out to make room for my Kelly Kettle.  Look for a review on that soon although The Maj used it with great success on his bugout journey last year.

MilGPS App: Surprisingly Good.

I can hear almost any instructor ever in the history of land navigation right now: “all those gadgets are great but if they fail what will you do then?”  I get it.  I GET IT.  It’s great to know the old school methods but let’s face it, technology is here and the MilGPS App can be a great addition to any prepper plan of action.

I will admit that I did plot all of my points and kept my grids, distances and directions just in case while out on the course but I absolutely did not need them.  I punched in the 10 digit grid on my app and hit “navigate to” and just followed the arrow.  I saw the distance, direction and in every instance the app brought me to within 10 meters of the point.  If there were instances when I did not want to break brush I would skirt it via a ridge line or riverbed and just cut through back to the point when about 100 to 200 meters away.  It was excellent and there was no remembering pace count, trying to box obstacles, shooting azimuth’s with the compass.  Just type in the destination and start walking.  Bingo.

MilGPS App Screenshot

MilGPS App

Now I do understand some of the constraints associated with using an app like this.  You’d better have a good battery and a way to recharge your battery if out in the woods.  While having a cell phone signal is nice according to the developer it isn’t exactly required.  Also if you don’t know how to utilize the military grid reference system or have access to maps with that date, that could be a slight problem.  More info here under the Land Navigation category of this blog.

Final Thoughts

I’m not sure how many times I’ve stated this before but you must get out and test your gear in the field.  It doesn’t even have to be a week long excursion deep into the Rocky Mountains, maybe an overnight hiking trip or even an all day through your local national forest.  It’s at that point when theory turns into practical application, when that fancy piece of equipment starts rubbing you in the wrong spot or doesn’t work as well as you thought.  Or maybe you’ll find ways to reconfigure your gear based on how you utilize it, or in many instances you’ll figure out that you can leave certain things home next time.

Nobody says you have to run out and drop $500 on new boots and a new bugout bag which you may or may not use in the next 6 to 12 months, but if you do decide to upgrade you really can’t go wrong with the items I’ve reviewed above.  The good news is that the MilGPS app is relatively inexpensive, so start with that!

 

CCW: When Your Wife Carries

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If I could summarize this article in once sentence it would be this: what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for her, and although I considered that going in the actual application of this premise was eye opening.

The Background

My wife has had her CCW for quite a few years with her primary weapon system being a Glock 26.  She has trained quite a bit with this platform and knows it well enough to be “dangerous”, in that she can load/unload and correct simple malfunctions (and shoot it rather well by the way).  For the longest time her primary carry method has been purse carry, which I despise, but given her job and a multitude of other factors I suppose it’s better than nothing.  Additionally if you have a wife who likes to dress fashionably (read: tight fitting clothes) a gun might as well be a toaster in that there is no concealing it.

Small Victories

Recently my wife has been accompanying me to various contract jobs which require her to be by herself, often in other locations which are a few minutes from my location.  This has led her to have the desire to carry her gun on her person instead of in her purse for quicker access of course.  This meant that she would have to alter her wardrobe a bit to conceal the gun and that we would have to find her an acceptable holster which she liked.

The clothing wasn’t a big deal as we often go hiking together so she had no shortage of prepper-ish type pants, hiking shoes and loose fitting tops.  That combined with the temps dropping meant she could wear a light zip up sweater or hoodie which adds to the concealment factor even more.  The holster was another ordeal altogether and I quickly found out what I preferred did not work for her.

Preferred Carry Position

Personally I like IWB at 4 o’clock or OWB at 3 o’clock, although I have tried appendix carry and while I’m not opposed I’m just not a huge fan.  I like hybrid and kydex holsters with my primary being a Crossbreed.  My wife on the other hand….not even close!  She tried OWB and hated it.  Hybrid was too big.  Finally she settled on the Galco Stow N GO IWB holster as it was the most comfortable at the 2 o’clock position.  The 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock looked ridiculous on her (especially OWB) and even with IWB if she leaned over to grab something the gun would print horribly.  At the 2 o’clock position the gun was comfortable and very concealed, much more than I would have originally thought.

Body Types and Preferences

I think it’s important to remember that we all have different body types and preferences with respect to how we carry, women in particular.  I like traditional methods of carrying a gun while my wife simply hated them, and she shunned the higher dollar “cool guy” holsters in favor of a cheaper more comfortable (for her) holster.  One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to CCW.

The Surprise

If there is one complaint that my wife has about the 26, it is that the gun is a tad bit wide.  She doesn’t know it but the G43 (single stack 9mm) is on the list for a Christmas gift, hopefully she’ll like it and if not I suppose it would make a nice backup gun for me.  :)

 

Personal Defense: Ka-Bar TDI Knife Demo

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Check out this demo video about the Ka-Bar TDI knives, a good backup option if your main weapon (and strong hand) are disabled.  The timed demos are pretty cool to watch, i.e. the slowest person with a TDI knife is faster than the fastest person with a folding knife.

After exchanging some messages with resident expert “The Maj”, I decided to pick up one of these knives and should receive it in a couple days.  For around $50 with shipping, it’s not a bad deal.  Just another tool in the tool kit which can be worn every day in conjunction with spare mags on the offhand side.

Ka Bar TDI LEO Knife for EDC

Ka Bar TDI LEO Knife for EDC

Info on the knife can be found here.

I bought mine off of Amazon here.

I will report back after I’ve worn it daily for a few months.

***Update 8/28/15***

I received the knife yesterday and it looks great, clips on easily enough and I barely feel it wearing on the weak-hand side just behind spare mag pouches.  Will add this to my EDC and see how it goes!

Ka Bar TDI LEO Knife

Ka Bar TDI LEO Knife

Ka Bar TDI LEO Knife and Sheath

Ka Bar TDI LEO Knife and Sheath

Ka Bar TDI LEO Knife and Sheath Clip

Ka Bar TDI LEO Knife and Sheath Clip

 

 

Shooting Tomorrow: Fundamentals / Fundamentals

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Sometimes it’s fun to get out to the range and shoot up multiple targets with different weapons, various distances, all sorts of drills.  After all if you are spending the time and your own money to get out and train some element of it should be entertaining.  Yet there are points in time when it’s all about the fundamentals and repetitive drilling, continuing to build that foundation on which all shooting skills are based upon.  I remember someone once saying that there was no such things as advanced shooting, but rather doing the fundamentals faster.

In any event I don’t consider myself a great shooter but I do try to train when I can and (in addition to cool guy drills) focus on the fundamentals.  Before the first round goes down range I spend time dry firing and working my presentation, target acquisition and all the other important tidbits (stance / grip / sight alignment / trigger squeeze),   I’ll then work in 4-5 mags of ball and dummy drills where I load the mags with live and dummy ammo (randomly), hoping not to flinch when I pull the trigger and no live round is fired.  Once all that is over with I’ll move on to my one drill, which requires one target stand and a 3×5 card.

Items Required:

– A place to shoot where you can draw and fire (most stupid indoor ranges won’t allow this, btw I hate indoor ranges and shooting around people I don’t know).

– Target stand

– 3×5 Card

– Shot Timer

– Ammunition of preference

The Drill:

– Start at 5 yards, draw and fire 1 round into the 3×5 card which is placed between chest and eye level on the target.

– Start very slowly at first, checking the time of each shot.

– Gradually ramp up the speed until the rounds start to impact outside of the 3×5 card, and then back it down until you are within the comfort zone.

– Once in the zone I’ll work through 4 or 5 mags, 1 round at a time.  Timer goes off, draw and squeeze off a round while working the fundamentals.  Reholster and do it again.

– Back up to 7 yards, repeat process, times will be greater.

– Back up to 10 yards, repeat process, times will be even greater still.

– Replace 3×5 card as necessary.

The Bottom Line:

This is a great drill that works the fundamentals and although it can be somewhat repetitive and “boring” as compared to other stuff seen on YouTube, I guarantee you it’s worth the time and effort.  I have to give credit where it’s due, frequent contributor The Maj turned me on to this and it’s really increased my proficiency and especially my first shot hit percentage.  If you can draw and put 1 round into a 3×5 card at 10 yards in a decent amount of time on a flat range consistently, out on the street if the real deal goes down your chances of success are greatly improved.  Give it a shot sometime, pun intended. :)

 

Scottish Highlands Backpacking Trip: What Worked and What Didn’t.

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From PJ:  Thanks to long time reader and contributor J for taking the time to write about the gear he utilized while on a trip to the Scottish Highlands.  It’s one thing to have a bunch of cool gear sitting in the corner for emergencies, it’s another thing to get out in the bush and test the equipment  to see what works and what needs replaced.

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Had a great trip to the Scottish highlands and tested out most of my gear under some fairly grueling conditions and wanted to share my evaluation of the gear I had for those that might be interested. I spent a week out in the elements, rough camping the nights and hiking most of the days. Most of the gear I had held up very well happily. No one wants to get out and find they have made poor choices in that area. Also most of this gear is reasonably priced; you don’t have to spends thousands of dollars on gear to get by with in my opinion. Here is what I used and my thoughts on it.

karrimor boots

Karrimor Notus Weathertite Hiking Boots

Karrimor Notus Weathertite Hiking Boots. – First rule of hiking is take care of your feet. I got these boots in the UK and have nothing but good to say about them. They are water proof and come with comfortable soles in them. I got them for about $50.00 and put them through some pretty rigorous testing; everything my body could put them through and still manage to halfway function, anyway. To clarify I climbed a 15 mile mountain path in them and had no blisters or problems with my feet. The rest of my body is another matter.

Alpaca Socks

Alpaca Socks

Alpaca wool socks. – I have mentioned these before and can say they are well worth the $20.00 or so a pair that you pay for them. No itch as sheep wool tends to give and keeps your feet warm even when wet.

Primus Backpacker Stove

Primus Backpacker Stove

Primus Classic Backpacker Stove. – I have nothing but good things to say about this stove. It was perfect for making coffee and cooking small meals over. There was literally no fuel to burn to start a fire with around and everything was soaking wet even if there was. An 8 oz. fuel can lasted me the 4 days, using it sparingly.

Stanley Adventure Cook Set

Stanley Adventure Cook Set

Stanley Adventure Cookware set – A cylindrical cookpot with 2 hard plastic cups that fit inside it. Great for use on the stove listed above, easy to clean and large enough to heat pretty much any single person meal. Handle gets pretty hot if you’re not careful so make sure you have something that can be used as a pot holder handy.

Teton Sport Explorer Packs

Teton Sport Explorer Packs

Teton Explorer 4000 backpack – This brand of pack seems to make a lot of people nervous due to the price (around $80.00) but I have no complaints about it. It took some pretty rough treatment and held everything I needed. It has adjustable straps, lots of various sized pockets and an adjustable internal frame. It has a 65 liter capacity which is not too small and not so large that you overload yourself.

UV Paqlite Set

UV Paqlite Set

UV paqlite scout setPJ reviewed this product some months ago and I completely endorse this product after using it a week in the field. I had small LED light in my tent that I hung next to these articles and elt them charge for about 15 -20 minutes. After my eyes adjusted, I had several hours of working light in my 3 man dome tent. Well worth the money and they are light and durable. I would estimate that they would easily double your battery life in your flashlights and lamps if used conservatively.

Coleman Dome 3

Coleman Dome 3

Coleman 3 man dome tent– this was probably my worst choice in equipment, more for me using it outside [in bad weather] contributed to the rating than anything else. I packed it along because I have a couple of them and didn’t expect any heavy weather. I got caught in a pretty strong storm in the highlands, winds 40 MPH and higher driving rain through the zippers and such. I had to break out the paracord to tie it down and keep the top from literally hitting the ground from the wind gusts, but managed to weather to storm ok. Was pretty damp after but it was better than the alternative. The mosquito netting is not midge proof, either; they are small enough to get through it.

 

WHOOPS: CCW License Expired

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I’ve been sans pistola for the last week, much to my own chagrin but hey I only have myself to blame.  For some reason I thought that my CCW license renewal coincided with my birthday this year but then last week I happened to pull it out: it expired in the last week of July!  Simply outstanding, good thing I thought to check (read: I’m an idiot).  This will be the second renewal of my CCW and I believe they are good for 5 years, you would have thought I had this process down by now.

I am a huge advocate of carrying a gun whenever possible so you’d better believe that NOT carrying a gun has bothered me.  Murphy’s Law would probably dictate that in all the years I’ve been (thankfully) free from having to use a weapon something would happen in the 2 week span when I wasn’t able to carry a gun.  Fortunately nothing has happened, my appointment is tomorrow for my renewal and in many instances my wife has had her gun (and current CCW license) on her person when we are together.

This brings me to the point of the article.  I’m not a huge fan of the way our current government (read: self serving politicians) operates, I believe that “maximum freedom / minimum gov’t” is consistently being tested and I do foresee a tipping point in the near future.  However all that said, the current state of affairs demand that I abide by the law and that’s what I’ll do.  My license expired and it was my own fault, I’ll have to carry my Benchmade knife and no gun.  To use the popular phrase: it is what it is.  There are many other instances where I have to travel for work and go into environments which do not allow firearms, I suppose this is just an extended version of that.

Final thoughts:  Don’t be me, check the expiration date on your CCW license so you can avoid the inconvenience of going sans gun in public.

 

Prepper Mentality: Good Samaritan? YES.

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I pondered writing this article because I absolutely do not want this to come across as a “hey look at me” moment.  Yet I think if we can examine what happened today it will shed light on what I believe is another slice of the proper prepper mentality: the good Samaritan role…something I do not excel at but am constantly trying to improve upon.

The Caveat 

Allow me to toss in a clarification paragraph before relating my story, in that there are two sides to this assertion: that being the PRE and POST SHTF role of the prepper good Samaritan.  Pre SHTF when times are good is one thing, post SHTF when everything could be in short supply would demand a tighter hold on things and extreme justification of action (especially if one’s own family is at risk).  Heck I’ve even written articles which borderline endorse taking necessary items after SHTF if the circumstances are right and absolutely all other options are off the table.  It’s all dictated by METT-TC, for now I won’t overthink this and get right into it.

The Situation

I was to meet my wife at the supermarket this evening, she was going to grab some supplies to cook one of her fantastic dinners.  These are one of those dinners where you can smell the aroma of the food and it’s like oh my….delicious is right around the corner!  I got to the supermarket first but as I was pulling into the lot I saw a family of 4 standing on the corner holding a sign which had something about money needed for food on it.  This struck me as strange, while I don’t live in what I would consider an upscale area sights like this are very uncommon.  That combined with the fact that the whole family was sitting there which included two small boys.  Not exactly the “crackhead begging for cash” situation, it weighed heavily on my mind as I parked and entered the store.

My wife linked up with me in the store about 10 minutes later, the first thing she mentioned was the family standing on the corner.  At that point I knew I had to do something so I excused myself and went outside to assess the situation.  I knew that if this was legit there was absolutely no way I could in good conscience drive away and leave an entire family in need.

I approached the family on foot, they appeared to be foreign and my initial instinct was middle eastern although the woman did not dress in this manner.  I introduced myself and tried to start a conversation there on the busy street corner.  The man said that they were from Romania and on their way to California and in need of food, he pointed to their old beater minivan (with Cali tags) and indicated it was theirs.  I took a look at the wife and two boys who were now sitting in the grass and knew that I had to take this at face value and do something about it.

The Outcome

Language barrier aside I had them follow me into the supermarket, pulled a cart out and gave it to them.  I spoke and motioned with my hands while indicating that they should go shopping and that I would pay for everything.  They nodded and went about their way and I went to find my wife to make sure she didn’t forget the COFFEE.

I linked up with the family at the other side of the supermarket and knew that their story was legit.  What was in the cart?  Lots of bread, sandwich meat, various cheeses, a balloon for one of their boys.  This was a family clearly on the road and one who did not want to take advantage of me and for that I was thankful.  We checked out and I think the total was around $70, I selected the debit option and pulled out another $40 and gave it to the husband because I figure he might need gas.  They thanked me over and over again, I told them no problem and wished them good luck…and that was that.

Key Takeaways

Once again please don’t take this as me tooting my own horn, believe me when I write that I’m no perfect person and I honestly know that many of you would have done the same thing. I felt compelled to do this for those people, not because I was seeking anything in return but because it just seemed like the right thing to do.  I’m not sure what will happen if SHTF but as preppers we are likely to be in a situation where we are able to help those in need much like how I helped that family.  Now this doesn’t mean that I line the entire neighborhood up and disperse MY family’s supply of storage food just because I’m a nice guy, absolutely NOT.  Yet I think we have to keep some form of positive intent in our minds, that willingness to be someone’s helping hand if needed and if only briefly.  My efforts surely did help the family but only for a few days at best, yet I feel like I was able to fulfill my part…one that was placed in front of me and I recognized (as opposed to the potentially hundreds of people who drove by that family before I got there).

The Bottom Line

For me being a prepper means being both ends of the spectrum: I can be kind, helpful and more than willing to give someone the shirt off of my back.  Yet if tested I will flip the blinders down and become the epitome of ruthless and calculating, especially if my own family is involved.  I’m not perfect but I can tell you that when presented with the right set of circumstances I think it only serves us right to remember that being a good Samaritan is something we need to hold ourselves to…if only because it seems like the right thing to do.

 

A Gun NOT ON YOU = No Gun.

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I remember attending a funeral recently during which quite a few HD riders showed up to pay their final respects.  Myself and some buddies were standing off to the side as the HD’s lined up and the riders dismounted, chatting and just milling about.  One of the riders opened a top case about 6 feet in front of me, revealing a Kimber 1911 laying in the case.  Not that I have a problem with him owing a pistol but I remember thinking, what good is that pistol if it’s locked in a top case?  Seriously if your gun is not on your person it might as well be no gun at all.  If you believe in the phrase “when seconds matter, the police are minutes away” then you’ll have to agree with my assessment.  If seconds DO truly matter, the extra time fumbling through luggage, glove box, dresser drawer, backpack could mean the difference between life and death.  Why train to draw from concealment if the gun is in the parking lot locked in the trunk?

Today’s Lesson Learned

This evening I was out grabbing some dinner for the family when I got a text from my wife, immediately I recognized it as a license plate number.  That’s strange, what does that mean?  I shot back a text and it turns out she felt as if she was being stalked in our neighborhood while walking one of our dogs (not the German Shepherd unfortunately, but a much smaller one).   The vehicle was a white construction van with blacked out windows and it had driven by her multiple times, even making U turns up the street to come back by her location.  I asked her if she had her gun on her (she is a CCW permit holder)  and well…of course she didn’t.  She did immediately make her way back to our street at which point the van slow rolled by her AGAIN!  Once up the street and out of sight she made a dash for the house and safely made it inside, at which point she grabbed her Glock 26.

My Take On It

Good for my wife, she was situationally aware of her surroundings.  She recognized the potential threat and made a point to reach out to me so that in case something happened I too would be aware.  However I feel like she made two mistakes which I have since discussed with her.

1- Gun not on person might as well be no gun at all.  A gun back in the house did her no good while out on the street, and while a gun is no guarantee of safety it certainly gives one a better chance.  If 3 guys would have jumped out to roll her up I’m not sure if the gun would have mattered (given the reaction time) but it certainly could have made a difference.  This versus a scream and an attempt to run away.

2- The wrong dog!  I’m here to tell you if you have a big dog which is protective it can be a great deterrent.   The average joe blow criminal wants nothing to do with a dog bite and will seek out a softer target.  I told her if she wants to go for a walk, take both dogs or just the German Shepherd.  Either way always make sure the German Shepherd is with her.  I swear if anyone gets within 20 feet of her with him on the leash he will make sure to display his displeasure with that.  He is much more protective of my wife than he is of me.

The Bottom Line

Crime doesn’t only happen at 0200 in a dark alley whilst in the hood during a crack cocaine deal.  Crime can happen anywhere, to anyone and in broad daylight when you least expect it.  Be prepared at all times!  If you have a gun….CARRY IT!

 

You THINK You’ve Stored Enough Water: WRONG!

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I’ll be straight up with this one: I forgot to pay the water bill.  As sure as I’m sitting here at my desk I can see the notice sitting next to me, the one that says something about paying by a certain date or a disconnect will happen.  What can I say, we were out of town and then had family in town, life got busy and I blew it.  This has never happened to me until today and it was and continues to be an eye opening experience with respect to water storage for SHTF.

I Screwed Up

Today my wife and I got home from work about the same time.  I usually go inside and crack a cold beer, sit on the couch and flip on the local news to see who got shot/stabbed or similar.  My wife doesn’t even come inside but instead starts to water her flower pots or whatever it is she does outside.  She came in the house and went to the sink and then turned to me and said: “hey, our water isn’t working.”  I stood there for a minute wondering how this was possible, did a water main break somewhere that we didn’t know about?  After 30 seconds she stared a hole into my soul and said: “DID YOU PAY THE WATER BILL?”  Ouch…that shook my memory and I immediately knew I had screwed up.  I ran upstairs, called the water company and paid the bill.  Thank you sir, but your water won’t be turned on until tomorrow.  Yikes!

The GOOD News

We have plenty of water stored on site, at least I thought so.  Cases and cases of bottled water which we rotate out frequently.  55 gallon drums of water which are treated and good for at least 5 years and additionally, 10 water bricks which I wrote about in a previous article.

Water Brick Standby

Water Bricks on Standby Outside the Bathroom

Theory vs Application

I did the calculations and thought that we had a good bit of water on site, not even taking into account that I have a river close by which we could access (and I have tested for potability).  I suppose I didn’t realize that when the taps really go dry just how fast what you have stored goes away.  I mean I thought about it and thought I was prepared, but when I saw it in action it was shocking!

Currently the taps are dry at my house.  We have pets that need water, we need to take showers and there are toilets to be flushed…and I’ll be needing some coffee in the A.M.  Before you get started I know what you are thinking, when T-SHTF less showers will be taken and water conservation will be at an all time high, but for now we can relax a little and use a bit more for luxury type functions (showers?).

The Plan

I decided that we should use the water bricks as they are the easiest to transport and utilize.  My wife and I both smelled pretty terrible from previous gym workouts, needed a shower and toilets needed flushed as I didn’t plan on utilizing a hole in the yard just yet.  On a side note I thought we had one of those hanging camp showers, turned out we didn’t (maybe I need to buy one).

Water Brick in the Tub

Water Brick in the Tub

The shocker was this: just how fast the water goes away.  We almost entirely drained one water brick after both taking rather quick showers using sparse amounts of water and refilling the toilet tank after a flush.

1 Toilet Tank Refill, 2 Showers, What Remained

1 Toilet Tank Refill, 2 Showers, What Remained

Cold Water to the FACE

I keep all of our water storage in the basement.  I have to tell you that splashing that cold water on me while taking a shower was definitely an “ah ha” moment.  It was cold, almost ice bucket challenge cold!  At first I tried using the spigot that came with the water bricks to regulate the flow but that was useless, I just opened the top and dumped it on me in quick bursts.  As someone who has taken many cold / field showers, that was VERY cold indeed.

The Bottom Line

This little experience was a real eye opener.  Here we are barely 5 hours into a “no water” experience and we are through 1 of our 10 water bricks via normal operations and that doesn’t even account for cooking food, hygiene, animals etc.  I had always estimated 2-4 gallons per person per day but when seeing it in action, after only one day, it has been a real eye opener.  My only advice would be this: when you think you have enough water stored…GET MORE.

**Update**

Another 5 gallons used this morning for various tasks: hygiene, toilet use, dish washing, general consumption.  Bear it mind it hasn’t even been a full 24 hours!  Water goes very quickly and you use it for more things than you might realize, something I’m finding out right now at the house.

One other point: portability.  I’m glad I have the water bricks and 1 gallon jugs, makes hauling stuff up from the basement easier.  If all I had were large barrels it would mean pumping the water out into another bucket etc etc.