Bug Out Bag

Be careful, it’s sharp!

Right out of the gate I would like to apologize for the delay in getting a post made.  Life got hectic as it can do sometimes.  I’ve decided to go ahead and share another product review.  I’m always on the lookout for great deals with gear or supplies.  I might not always buy the brand name gear, but quality and value are my first priority.  There is a lot of great gear available for a lot less money than the big name providers.  You have to be wary though, as there is a lot of junk out there as well.  I know this because I’ve bought some and wished I would have spent a little more.  This time is not one of those situations.

I’ve always had an infatuation with knives.  I’m not like some folks that collect the biggest, weirdest knives I can find.  I like the nondescript functional knives.  I’ve never seen the need for an 18 inch bowie or a miniature samurai sword.   Solid design and good materials are more to my liking.  I have countless knives ranging from a few bucks to well over 100.  All of them have served me well, but I seem to favor the ones that don’t cost as much.  Years ago you had to pay good money to get good steel, but this has changed for the better.  With new alloys and cheaper machining methods, even the inexpensive knives can be made durable and to keep an edge.  For years I’ve heard about the legendary knives from Sweden that were incredibly well made, incredibly sharp, and incredibly under 20 bucks.  After talking with Jeff from P3Gear, I noticed he had some in his store.  I place the order and receive 2 Mora knives a few days later.  I bought two because I plan on one going in my BOB, and one to go in Sarah’s.

 

As I opened the box to get them out, the first thing I noticed was the unique design of the molded plastic sheath.  It reminds me of a Glock factory pistol holster.  It has a belt hook that looks like it would be impossible to pull it off by accident.  The knife slides in and clicks into place, much like a passive retention holster.  The bottom of the sheath has a small drain hole in case you need to submerge yourself or the knife.
The knife itself has a polymer handle with a black rubber grip.  It feels natural in the hand, and the grip is a perfect texture and material for a solid, slip free grip.  The blade a shiny stainless steel and measures just a touch under 4 inches.  It features a Scandinavian grind, which refers to the way the blade is ground.  Most knives have an angle that tapers down to the edge, while the actual cutting edge is a sharper angle.  The Scandinavian is a consistent tapered angle all the way to the cutting edge.  This is supposed to offer a stronger blade and should keep an edge better.  I haven’t abused it enough yet to test the theory, but it sounds reasonable.  A word of caution… from the factory, this knife is the sharpest I’ve ever seen.  I’m used to having to tweak the edge on a new knife, but this one is impressive.  We all have knives that are sharp enough to shave with, but this thing shaves as close as a Mach 3 razor.  You could shave your face with it, but I won’t be.  One slip and you’ll need to refer back to my article about stopping a severe hemorrhage.

Like I said earlier, I haven’t had a chance to really abuse the Mora knife, but I have run it through some of my non scientific tests.  I like to test a blade’s ability to hold an edge by cutting some common items that are notorious for dulling a blade.  Leather and cardboard are my favorite test media.  It glides right through both with almost no effort.  It’s rare for me to find a knife that can handle thick cowhide without binding up or requiring a lot of force.  This particular knife cut without a raged edge to be found.  I’ll probably end up using it to cut out patterns when I’m doing my leatherwork.
On the cardboard, it has the same effect.  It’s like slicing butter.  I reduced a box to a few dozen pieces and rechecked the sharpness.  There is no hair on the back of my hand, even after hacking up the box.  For practical purposes, we’re safe in saying this little knife will hold an edge.  It would be a pleasure to use it for normal tasks ranging from camp duties to kitchen use to field dressing a critter for dinner.

In closing, I’ll have to say that this knife is one of the best values in cutlery I’ve seen in a long time.  It might just be the best value period.  I’m happy to have it with me on this trek to survive modern life.  Here is a link to where I bought mine.

 

You’re ready for a disaster! Even in your car??

We put a lot of thought in our preparations for emergency and disaster.  A lot of us keep food on hand, have a flashlight handy, and know where our first aid kit is.  Hopefully we feel ready to tackle any problems that life throws at us. Do we have that same feeling in our vehicle when we’re driving around or commuting to work?  A basic car kit can go a long way toward gaining that same feeling of security.

I find myself in a position that’s different from what I’m used to.  For years I’ve driven a big diesel pickup everywhere I go.  If you know anything about diesel pickups, you know they can carry a lot of stuff.  When I’m in my truck I feel comfortable to face situations ranging from having to overnight on the side of the road to heading into the woods and starting society over from scratch.  You might think I’m joking, but I really do carry a LOT of stuff in my truck.  I literally have the equipment and tools to do major motor work, hunt large game, build a log cabin, and communicate with the outside world by a host of different means.  I even have solar battery charging capabilities.  My truck truly is a rolling bugout location.  The only downside…  it’s not my daily driver any more.  When I took a job 45 miles away, the price of fuel was draining my budget.  I opted to buy a little used car that gets excellent mileage.  I now spend 10 times less on fuel, but at the cost of that peace of mind I have in my truck.  I’ve really started to put a lot of thought into what the perfect car kit for emergencies would be and I’m starting to put this kit together.

 

One of the most important aspects to consider is what you might need this kit to do and what situations you might face.  Some of these will be unique to your circumstances, but some items will be universal to all vehicles.  The first, and most likely scenario I prepare for is being stranded.  There can be a few reasons why I might get stranded, but the result is the same.  I might be there for a while, and want to make the best of the situation.

We know that we have basic needs in any survival situation.  I could go as basic as possible and say that the most important is air, but unless you drive your car into a lake, that shouldn’t be a problem.  Water, as basic as it sounds, is very important.  The old standby advice is one gallon per person per day.  Generally, we won’t need to store a lot of water since we aren’t planning on multiple days in the car.  One gallon per person should be more than enough.  I personally keep a few 20 ounce bottles of water in my little car.  Having water in the car saved me from a major inconvenience just recently.  I didn’t need the water to survive, but when my car decided to spring a leak in a hose I was able to repair the leak on the side of the road and top the radiator off with some of my storage water.

Another consideration is protection from the elements.  It rarely gets really cold here in Texas, but we do see some cold winter weather.  Cold isn’t really an issue when we can keep the car running and the heater on full blast, but if we can’t for some reason, that cold can become a serious problem.  Every year when we get ice on the roads, there are people that skid off in the ditch and can’t get back on the road. And it seems to happen at night more often that not.  Some will probably be waiting hours for help to come get them.  In a situation like this, running out of gas can make for a very uncomfortable night.  It might even be fatal.  A simple solution would be a blanket of some sort.  Wool blankets are pretty inexpensive and will help you stay warm in some pretty low temperatures.  Emergency blankets work too, but they aren’t very comfortable and you have to cocoon into them for them to work well.  If this breakdown is in the Summer here in Texas, there’s not much that can be done.  It’s going to be hot.  Be glad for that water!

After the initial stress of ending up in this predicament fades, you might start to get a little hungry.  Some snack foods might come in handy to make the time go by a little easier.  I know I certainly function better when I’m not focusing on an empty stomach.  Any non perishable food will work for the vehicle, but you have to apply common sense.  What works in the house for food storage might not work well in the vehicle.  Temperature is one of the biggest concerns.  Where I live and drive the most, temperatures can range from 5 degrees in my vehicle all the way up to close to 200 degrees in the truck or passenger cabin.  Freezing or extreme heat can break glass containers, and the heat can certainly turn an aluminum or tin can into a food grenade (ask me how I know!)  Plenty of options are available that will handle these temperatures.  Cookies and crackers come to mind first.  Beef jerky is another.  I know these aren’t the healthiest choices, but we’re in a survival situation that hopefully won’t be lasting too long.  Besides, you can go weeks without food before you die.  These are here as a comfort item more than anything.

Now that we can make sure we aren’t going to be miserable or die from lacking basic needs, we can look at other items.  Sanitation needs might want to be covered.  If you are stranded on the side of the road away from everything when nature calls, a roll of toilet paper in a ziplock bag is about to become your best friend.  Keeping it in a ziplock bag will keep it clean and dry while it rides shotgun with you waiting for that moment of need.  Some basic hygiene items tossed in might round out the package and come in handy even if you aren’t forced to stay in your car.  There has been more than one occasion where I’ve stayed the night somewhere unexpectedly and having a few items in my car saved a trip to the store so I could brush my teeth and apply deodorant.

Once these needs are all met, lets figure out how to get ourselves out of the situation.  Communication is key.  Most all of us have cell phones these days, and they make life more convenient than ever when they work.  Its a good idea to make sure you have a way to keep it charged in the car.  A dead battery makes the smartest of phone as useful as a rock in no time.  For most situations, a working phone will get word out and get help on the way.  But in true prepper fashion, I like to have redundancy.  CB radios and other two way radios can get word out in emergencies, and they don’t rely on the wireless network that cell phones depend on.  Handheld CB radios can be had for almost nothing and make an excellent source for secondary communication.  Remember, channel 9 on the CB band is for emergency use only.  Channel 19 is known as the “trucker channel” and generally has a lot of traffic, especially near major highways.  I go a step further and add HAM radio to my arsenal, but this isn’t practical for everyone.  For one, its a licensed band, meaning you have to take a test and get your license to transmit.  This rule doesn’t apply in an emergency.  In a true emergency, you can use any band or frequency available to call for help.  Make sure it is a real emergency (defined as threat to life or property).

Now on to the stuff every car should have before it ever gets on the road.  A lot of these will seem obvious, but I’m shocked at the people that don’t have any of them.  Make sure your vehicle has a spare tire.  Make sure it’s aired up!  Even if you aren’t much of a mechanic, you should keep a basic tool kit in your car.  It will come in handy for minor repairs. If you can’t perform the repairs, that good Samaritan that stops to help might be able to if only he hadn’t forgotten his toolbox.  You can fix that at least!  We all forget to turn off the lights or we leave something plugged into the cigarette lighter.  Then we have a dead battery.  Its much easier to get someone to give you a jump start if you have your own jumper cables.  Most people are willing to help their fellow man, but no one seems prepared to these days.  If you want to go all out in being prepared, there are power packs available that allow you to jump start your own vehicle.  Here are some examples. 12 volt air compressors can be had on the cheap and will save your bacon in case of a flat.  I bought one in new condition at a flea market for $7 and its paid for itself a dozen times over.   All of us understand the need for a good first aid kit.  Have a better one in your car at all times.  You never know when you might be the first to respond to an accident or need to use it for yourself.  Having a good flashlight really comes into play if you are stranded after dark.  Not being able to see might have you believe you are stuck when you really aren’t.  It will also help with those minor repairs and avoiding that rattlesnake if you need to use that toilet paper.

I could continue this article for pages about other survival items you might need; like matches and lighters, signal mirrors, emergency whistles, etc.  Those are items you will have to decide if they are worth keeping in you car.  Look at your bug out bag and see if there are items that would serve you well if duplicated in your vehicle.  I didn’t really cover much about vehicle safety in this article because I’m planning in covering that in a separate article in the near future.  In the meantime, use your head and practice common sense around traffic and vehicles.  Also, stay tuned for articles about vehicle self defense, and bugging out in your vehicle.

 

 

UltraFire Flashlight Review

I’ll preface by saying I’ve developed a flashlight addiction over the past couple of years.  I love knowing there is a light handy wherever I am that can turn night into day.  I especially love lights that are really bright that I didn’t have to spend a ton of money on.  There are some incredible lights on the market from some very reputable companies, but they can quickly get crazy on price.  I would love to have a top end Streamlight or Surefire in every vehicle and all over the house.  Spending thousands on flashlights just isn’t going to happen though!  I’ve found a few good LED lights that have found a home in my preps, but this new one from UltraFire (model WF-606A) is quickly becoming my favorite.  When you pick it up, you can tell its well built and strong without being too heavy.  This thing is metal and glass.  I may be old fashioned, but I like things built from materials known for strength and durability.  The LED module is made Cree, which is an industry leader in LED technology.  The light also has o-ring seals where it should.  I don’t know how waterproof it is, but I’m comfortable calling it very water resistant.  Another feature (that I’m sure was unintended by the designers) is that the body of the light will fit right into MOLLE webbing on your pack, bag, or vest.  The only drawback I see is that the rear clicky push button is not recessed.  This could lead to the light being turn on by accident, but I haven’t had this happen yet.

One of the coolest features is its’ multiple settings.  It burns at 230 lumen on full power, but has 4 other settings.

1. Full power (230 lumen)

2. Medium power (150 lumen)

3. Low power (60 lumen)

4. Strobe at full intensity

5. S.O.S at full intensity

I’ve had it out at night and to say its bright is an understatement.  It has a narrow beam so it can really reach out and illuminate things at a distance, but it throws enough light out to light up a good portion of the front yard.  There are some cottonwood trees down the road several hundred yards.  You can make out individual branches with this light.  Even on low power, there is plenty of light to see well enough to walk around or work on something after dark. I was told to expect an hour of battery life at full power, so the lower power settings will probably get used quite a bit.  The strobe is a feature I probably won’t use much other than for showing off or playing around.  Some self defense experts say that it can be useful to disorient a would-be attacker, but I would much prefer to hit them with pepper spray or employ a firearm in extreme situations rather than hoping for disorientation to save my life or that of a loved one.  The SOS is a neat little feature that could have a very practical application.  I’m sure the light could be seen for a long way at night and having the light automatically key out an SOS signal means it could be pointed in whatever direction you wanted to signal and let it signal for help while my attention is on the emergency.

I purchased mine from a gentleman running a flashlight table at a local gun show, but they are available online in the $20-25 price range.  My take is that you won’t find a better light for even double the money.  I plan on picking up enough to have one on the nightstand, in the BOB, and one for each vehicle.