Yes, I’m back

Hi everyone! I realize it’s been a while but I have been busy with many things, not the least of which has been prepping! Due to the recent flurry of firearms sales and financial meltdowns, I have been busy picking up deals on gear to combat both such emergencies. In the near future, I hope to do a series on some of the new gear I’ve picked up, as well as some more videos. Also, I’d like to do a post covering silver, and how it relates to prepping. So if there’s any of you who still follow along with this blog, yes I will be posting more content soon!!! Keep watching for more updates! Also, you can check out my YouTube channel at

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Pocket stoves and food preparation solutions

I’d like to discuss the means of preparing food in a survival situation. This post will focus primarily on the scenario of bugging out, where you’re actually taking the food and means of cooking with you in your pack or web gear. We’ll cover long term food storage at a later date.

Whatever your choice for survival food, you’ll probably need to take several important items along with your food. The first would be a means of cooking it. If you’ve got MRE’s, you don’t need to worry about that; there’s already a heater built into the kit. For many other foods, such as canned food, freeze dried food, and instant coffee, you’ll need a way to cook it. While you could just build a fire to do so, there are several other means of cooking which are advantageous in their own ways.

Pocket stoves

Pocket stoves are sold in most ordinary camping stores and departments. Typically, these fold to a rectangular shape about 4x6inches for easy carrying. They run around $10, and are very light. The heat is generated from solid fuel tablets, called trioxane tablets. You light these with matches, then let them burn. The tablets put out an intense heat for several minutes, which heats up the metal stove, and whatever food you’ve put on it. The system is very basic, and not adequate for large quantities of food. However, it is advantageous due to its low weight and size, and its relative lack of smoke production versus a regular campfire. I carry a pocket stove in my bug-out bag. A variation of this system is part of the US military canteen cup setup. There’s a small stove component that holds the canteen cup about 3 inches off the ground, allowing you to heat the contents of your cup. The stove component also protects the burning trioxane tablet from the wind. I carry one of these setups in my canteen pouch on my web gear.

Alcohol soda can stove

An alcohol stove (popularly called a hobo stove), is a small device made from a soda can. Essentially, you take the top and bottom inch or so of the can, solder it together, punch some holes in it, and fill it with denatured alcohol for fuel. Although I generally steer away from Wikipedia, the article there gives a good idea of what I’m talking about, if you’ve never seen a hobo stove: . The alcohol stove is an excellent small cooking apparatus. All you need for fuel is alcohol. The extremely small size of the stove makes it an excellent choice for you web gear, and it will fit in the side pocket of the MOLLE 2 canteen pouch. It takes a while to make large amounts of food with though. I personally have one in my bug-out bag as a backup to my pocket stove. They are simple to make, and the material is easy to find.

Propane/ gas stoves

Propane stoves have been the mainstay of campers and hunters for decades. Popularly called ‘Coleman stoves’ after the most famous brand of them, they usually run off of a can of propane or ‘white fuel’. They come in several sizes, from one burner, all the way up to four or more burners. These stoves are fairly mobile; they an enclosed in a metal box about one foot by 20 inches or so. They usually have a carry handle. Larger quantities of food can be prepared on them than on the pocket stoves. The downside is that both stove and fuel are very heavy-probably close to 20 pounds combined. This much weight is not ideal for your bug-out bag; however, if you’re taking a vehicle, or have a bunker/cabin setup, these larger stoves can be a good choice. I have two, which along with my cot and lantern, would form the basis for a more permanent setup such as a base camp.

However you choose to cook your food, consider weight in your decision. How heavy is your stove, and its associated fuel? If you’re planning on bugging out for several weeks, it may not be practical to carry enough fuel to last for that long. If you’ve got a vehicle based bug-out solution, you may enjoy more flexibility in your cooking system. If you can’t afford to bring along a stove, always remember that a good fire, with a wire rack over it, will do just as well as any stove will!

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Top Gear-The multi-tool

The multi-tool, as it is popularly known, is a mainstay in the packs of many preppers. There have been many different configurations and types of multi-tools over the years, including pliers-type, such as Leathermans; and knife-type, or the so-called ‘Swiss army knives’. I’d like to review my multi-tool, and give some suggestions on what to look for when buying one.

First off, I make no bones about the fact that my main multi-tool is not a great one. It’s made by Winchester, and it cost $10. You get what you pay for. It came with a carrying case, as well as several common screwdriver bits, which fit into a small pocket on the front of the case. These connect magnetically to a main screwdriver tab on the tool itself. There are a number of tools included in the setup; these are: pliers, a wire-cutter, a knife blade, a bottle opener, a saw, a very small flathead screwdriver, a serrated knife blade, a Phillips screwdriver (which doubles as the driver for the bit set, and a small 1-inch knife blade. Also included are metric and standard measuring lengths along the sides of the handles. The entire thing folds flat to fit in its case. I’ve used it a few times, and I’ve had no problems with it. However, the capabilities it affords are not as extensive as more expensive tools; therefore, I am planning to upgrade.

Personally, I have a few issues with this multi-tool. The pliers are very close to being needle-nose pliers, which is not the best thing for all-around repair jobs. They simply can’t grip or fit around many bolts well enough. Also, the knife blades are not very sharp, and must be sharpened prior to use. So I’ve developed a core set of tools that I plan to look for in my next multi-tool. These are: rounder pliers; sharp, replaceable wire cutter blades; a sharp knife; a good saw (possibly a hacksaw blade); a file; a bit set that locks in place like a socket, not one that relies on magnetism; and a bottle/can opener. Ideally, it would have a leather/MOLLE case, and have rivets which wouldn’t loosen up over time (this is a common flaw with many multi-tools I’ve used). Personally, I’d like one of the handles to contain a small ferro rod as well.

I’ve found multiple good multi-tools, made by companies such as Leatherman, Gerber, SOG, and others. Unfortunately, there are also many cheap ones out there. One thing I question is the usefulness of the ‘mini multi-tools’, those that are about 3 inches long fully extended. Unless you’re working on a model airplane, you won’t be doing too many survival tasks with one of those! If a cheap one is all you can afford, get the best cheap one you can. Plan to upgrade as soon as possible though. $70 might seem like a lot to pay for a multi-tool, but it can be one of the most useful pieces of gear you have. Check out my video review of my Winchester tool, and several other multi-tools I have. It’s over on the YouTube channel, here:

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Top gear-magnesium fire starter

I’d like to share one of my other top pieces of gear with you. Fire is an important part of survival. For those of you bugging out, you’ll need multiple ways to make fire. Perhaps one of the best is the magnesium firestarter.

The US military has been using the magnesium firestarter for a long period of time. Essentially what it is, is a block of magnesium, with a ferro rod inset into the top of the block. The entire thing is about 3 inches long by 1 inch tall. There’s often a hole in one side, allowing the user to carry the firestarter on a chain.

The principle of this firestarter is as follows: one uses a knife to shave magnesium off of the main block onto a pile of kindling, such as dead twigs. Then, one aims the ferro rod at the pile of shavings, and sharply scrapes a knife downward, at a 90 degree angle to the ferro rod; this produces a shower of sparks. These sparks ignite the magnesium, which burns intensely hot, and this flame should ignite your other kindling. The number of fires which can be lit varies by firestarter, but usually the number is somewhere in the hundreds.

I carry this firestarter in all my kits. It’s flat enough to fit in an Altoid tin, thin enough to fit in an EDC pouch, or small enough to be carried in a pocket or compass pouch. It’s also very light. If you buy no other firestarter, buy this one. It usually runs anywhere from $7-$10. Here’s one on CheaperThanDirt: . There are other firestarters out there, but for the most part, these do not include magnesium; they only have the ferro rod. That’s probably the thing I like most about the magnesium firestarter; it has fuel, and ignition source all in one package. Consider adding one to your firestarting kits; at the very least, you’ll have a backup way of making fire, other than matches.

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Top prepping gear-ammo cans

Perhaps one of my most useful pieces of gear as a survivalist, is my ammo cans. If you’re a prepper/survivalist, and you haven’t discovered ammo cans yet, go out and buy a good one, and put some of your supplies in it. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Many of us (myself included) have ‘bugging-in’ also known as ‘sheltering in place’, as our primary survival plan. Therefore, a lot of our supplies can be less mobile than those who plan to carry all their gear and supplies with them into the boonies. Ammo cans fit perfectly into this plan. They provide good storage capability, while retaining a level of mobility by way of a carry handle.

Militaries the world over use ammo cans to store more than just ammo. Basically, if you’ve never seen one, it’s a metal box, with a hinged lid secured by a clasp on one of two sides. Under the lid, there’s a rubber seal, which keeps the box airtight and water-proof. Usually there’s one or more carry handles on the sides and lid of the can. On many of the smaller cans, the lid is removable, by simply sliding the lid to one side; the hinge comes apart.

Ammo cans are plentifully available; if you don’t have a military surplus store near you, check online, Craigslist, yardsales, swapmeets, gun stores, and at places such as Cabellas’. Many places sell brand new cans, but the bulk of what you’ll find is used surplus. Three major things to look for when buying an ammo can: (1) Does it have a handle? (2) Does it have more than a spot or two of rust? And (3) Is the rubber seal intact, or is it rotted and cracked? Also, when you buy one, apply some petroleum jelly to your seals about once a month. It will keep them rubbery, and protect them from cracking. An excellent seal is the only way your cans will stay air-and water- tight.

Ammo cans come in many sizes. Usually people familiar with them will refer to them by the calibers of ammunition that they commonly hold, such as .30 cal, .50 cal, 20mm, and so on. You can find all manner of different sizes and shapes. Pick one that will fit the needs of whatever you intend to hold in it. There is also several aftermarket locking systems for ammo cans, if you don’t want anyone but yourself to have access. Also, a word to the wise: prices for ammo cans can be all over the board. Usually around $7 for a .30 cal and $10 for a .50 cal is a good price (although I’ve seen both listed for $25!). Since you’re usually buying a used item anyway, try to find the lowest price on it.

I’d strongly urge you preppers who haven’t yet discovered ammo cans to pick a few up. They make supplies much more manageable to store and transport, giving you a level of mobility and storability unmatched by many other containers (like 50lb buckets!). Be sure to check out my Ammo Can Special on the YouTube channel! I’ll be demonstrating the various types I have.

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Gear review-Surefire and Krill light

I’d like to do some reviews on the five items which I consider to be my most essential pieces of gear. Since I’ve been prepping, I’ve gone through the journey from junk to quality with my gear. At least for these items, I have judged them to be some of the best (and most important) I currently have in my survival systems. Please don’t think that I’m saying these items ARE the most important things for basic survival-but they do make things a lot easier in a survival situation. FYI, The items are in no particular order of importance.

Surefire G-2 Nitrolon

My Surefire flashlight is one of my top pieces of gear. I use this light as part of my everyday carry kit, as well as around the house. It’s compact and sturdy; made of solid plastic, there’s not much that can break if this light gets dropped. It’s OD green in color. Surefire lights typically have the on-off switch located at the back of the light. There’s actually two ways to turn them on. You can either hold the button down, or screw in the cap that the switch is a part of, for a constant-on capability. My light runs off of 3volt, 123 lithium batteries. These are rather pricey compared to normal batteries, but they give a good deal of useful life. The bulb is a high-powered Xenon, which puts out around 65 lumens. It is one of SureFire’s cheaper lights, but I got an especially good closeout deal on mine–$20!! This light is very powerful, and I consider it my primary survival flashlight. I use a MOLLE ACU flashlight holster to carry it around.

Krill Light

I bought my Krill light close to a year ago. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what a Krill light is, it’s basically a battery-powered lightstick. Now, it might seem strange to carry one of these when you’ve already got some conventional, 12-hour lightsticks available. The Krill light runs off AA batteries, and so can last much longer (up to 120 hours) than the 12 hours of standard emergency glowsticks. It also sheds a stronger light, making it perfect to use as hanging illumination in your tent or lean-to. The Krill turns on with a simple twist of the bottom cap. It’s very sturdy. The bulb apparently runs along the side of the glass, with a colored filter between it and the glass. Several color options include green, red, and orange, which is what I have. I found mine for around $7 at my local military surplus store. I’ve been very satisfied with it so far, and it is a primary piece of gear in my web gear setup. Check out the Krill website for more info:

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Survival Tool Kit

So I’d like to stay on the topic of tools. Tools are often one of the most over-simplified aspects of survival. I’ve seen multiple videos of bug-out gear which included the Big Three survival tools: a ‘multi-tool’ pliers contraption; some sort of folding or wire saw; and an E-Tool or folding shovel/ax. Occasionally, some real woodsman will include a machete. Beyond that, duct tape is the only other tool included. While that may suffice for your bug-out bag, many of you (myself included) need to re-evaluate your car survival kit. Ever try to work on a car using your multi-pliers? It’s darned near impossible to fix something major with one tool. Many of us include our vehicles in our bug-out plans. Seeing as cars usually break down at an inopportune time, I present some ideas for more supplies to carry in your car kit.

You should include a set of both standard and metric sockets or wrenches. If you have space for an actual toolbox, include all of the above. If not, try and acquire some ratchet wrenches. They make life VERY easy when trying to undo bolts in the tight spaces where engineers put them. If those are too expensive for you, go with a good socket set of each type. And include a breaker bar if possible; some bolts are near impossible to loosen without one.

For pliers, a large pair of visegrips are indispensable. These can clamp onto a bolt, providing gripping power that your hand can’t with a regular pair of pliers. Do include some regular pliers though, and some large channel-locks. Adjustable wrenches can be useful if you don’t want to bring an entire wrench set along; thereby leaving space for other supplies.

Screwdrivers and bit sets are required for nearly every repair. You don’t really need many different sizes of flat head and Phillips screwdrivers. However, you should provide drivers with both short and long-length shafts. Increasingly, manufacturers are using hex and star bolts on their cars. Be sure to include a bit set that has a full range of these type of bits. I’ll cover these in more detail in the video. Allen wrenches (large hex wrenches) are a useful way of filling this requirement as well.

As far as other tools, you’ll want to bring a hammer, jumper cables, duct tape, WD-40, a knife, extra oil and antifreeze, HOSE CLAMPS (useful for non-auto applications), a flashlight, and gloves. Keep some rags or degreaser on hand-you won’t want to waste precious water supplies to clean greasy hands. Consider a jack that will fit your vehicle. Keep a lug wrench to remove tires. And include a small gas can, and warning signs or road flares. This list may sound like a lot, but it will make working on your car in adverse conditions MUCH easier than using your multi-tool to pull out your radiator. If you pack it well enough, in a tin or compact toolbox, you should have plenty of space left over for the other supplies you want to bring with you when you bug out.

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Survival gear in strange places

So, as you know, I’m always looking for a deal on good quality equipment to be used for preparedness. Yesterday as I was out shopping, I happened to find some decent equipment for cheap, at a store I never would have considered when shopping for such items: Ross. Yes, that’s right, Ross, the clothing discount store. They happen to have some home goods in there as well, and on closer inspection, a lot of it was useful for prepping.

I found two sizes of Coleman first aid kits, which both actually had decent contents (like tweezers, sting gel, butterfly bandages, etc). I also found a large selection of multi-tools. Now, as you may have found by now, there are dozens of low quality multi-tools out there. I’d always suggest buying Leatherman or Gerber or SOG, but if you can’t afford one of those right off the bat, get the best cheap one you can. I personally have a Winchester at the moment. Ross had several that were worthy of use, including one with a full set of screwdriver and hex bits. They also had a variety of small tool sets from Skill. I don’t think any of them were over $10. These included a precision (small) screwdriver set, full bit sets, an LED screwdriver, and jumper cables. I saw several flashlight sets. Perhaps most interesting was a steel flask set with four mini steel shot glasses. Certainly useful for a refreshing break while fighting zombies!

While none of this gear was top-notch, tactical-rated equipment, it was still very useful, and certainly something I would have incorporated into my survival kits. I always advocate getting the best gear that you can; however, sometimes you have to do your prepping on the cheap. If you can’t afford the best all at once, start off with basic gear, then work your way up as you have the means. If you have children that you’re building a kit for, then you may want to incorporate some of this lower quality gear into their kit, due to the fact that kids often lose their possesions. Certainly, losing a $5 multi-tool is less disastrous than losing a $70 multi-tool. So, if you’re prepping on the cheap, check out Ross; you may be surprised at what you’ll find.

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Car survival/repair kit-TEST YOUR GEAR!!!!

I’d like to return to a topic that I posted about several months ago: the car survival kit. I recently experienced several ‘everyday’ challenges which required me to use my kit for a variety of situations. These experiences allowed me to evaluate my kit firsthand, and identify (unfortunately multiple) weaknesses.

The first situation was my friend blowing a jetski trailer tire on the freeway. I confidently went to assist him, as my car is equipped with a jack, and he did not have one with him. Turns out, the very small scissors jack which came with my car couldn’t lift the trailer high enough to pull the tire off. I checked the heights of both vehicles, and determined that the jack would doubtless struggle to lift my vehicle, should I ever get a flat. So, I determined to pack a studier jack-possibly a bottle jack- for future needs.

The second situation was me locking my keys in my car. I went to the local swapmeet, and my electric locks clicked shut before I retrieved my keys, thereby locking me out. I was forced to call home and get my spare set brought to me. Previously, I had considered and rejected the idea of keeping a spare somewhere on the vehicle; some people tape them under the bumper. However, a device popularly called a slimjim would have come in handy, had my kit been equipped. This tool fits down in the space next to your window glass panel, and can be maneuvered to pull up on the door’s locking mechanism. I searched the various tool vendors at the marketplace, but to no avail. I am now seeking to include some means of gaining entrance to my car other than the keys in my survival kit.

The third situation involved a friend’s car, which had blown out a minor radiator air bleeder valve. It was a simple repair, right on top of the engine. Unfortunately, my tool bag was not equipped with standard ratchet and sockets, only metric. We ended up having to find other tools in someone’s house to complete the job. Had the repair taken place in a remote location, I would have been in trouble. I repacked the bag the next day, and made sure to include a wider range of tools.

So, what I’ve learned from all these situations is: test your gear!!!! You’ll never know how your kit will stand up to real emergencies unless you test it. Testing can be beneficial, not only for correcting deficiencies in certain tools, but also for identifying objects that should be added and deleted. I’ll be posting a video of my new and improved car kit on the YouTube channel. You can check it out here: .

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Preparedness Fair-Use your government resources

Today I had the opportunity to have a more unique lunch hour than normal. The college I work at was having a ‘preparedness fair’, with free pizza. It was a collaboration between the local fire department, and my state’s branch of the Citizen Corps. This was the first I’ve heard of the Citizen Corps; you can read more about them on their website: . Basically, it’s a government volunteer preparedness group. They handed out literature with general guidelines for survival situations. The fire department gave a very informative talk on the various types of fire extinguishers, and demonstrated how to use them. This was beneficial to me, because I haven’t paid much attention to how to use fire extinguishers before.

I browsed through the emergency preparedness guide I was given, and stumbled upon the list of what the government suggests you keep in your disaster supply kit, or ‘go-bag’. Most of the items were either food or water related, along with disposable silverware and personal identification items. However, I found several interesting differences between their first aid kit and mine. They added a thermometer, anti-diarrhea medication, laxatives, petroleum jelly, and sunscreen. All of these are things I hadn’t thought of when preparing my kits. The medications will certainly help, as your body may react adversely to eating MRE’s or freeze dried food. The petroleum jelly is useful for a variety of applications, not all of them medical. And the sunscreen should have been a no-brainer. I plan to incorporate some of these supplies into my first aid kits, and I’d suggest you do the same.

Another major item that the guide suggested was an AM/FM radio. I have some of these at my house, but none of them are mobile enough to fit in my pack. I plan on picking up one of the Red Cross recommended weather radios as soon as I can get money for one. They are hand-cranked, and are small and mobile. If some of you can’t afford that, hit up the dollar store and buy one of the small units made for joggers. I used one daily on my bus commutes during college, and it worked well. They’re usually no bigger than one’s hand.

The entire event was a good reminder to look up survival guidelines and information put out by the authorities. While many of us read blogs or scan YouTube for the latest survival ideas, many of the best tips can come from the local fire department or preparedness agency. Make sure you utilize those resources as you put together your own plans for survival. Remember-survival gets easier the more you know!

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