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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Medications

There's more than one reason to prepare. Yes, we spend a lot of time getting ready for disasters and emergencies, but there are several things which don't quite reach that level that still need to be on your radar. Having a stockpile of your daily medications is one of those oft-neglected preps that I think should be kicked up a notch or two on your priority list. While not as important as air or water, a lot of the medications we take on a daily basis are life-saving.

A Little Background
My wife is disabled due to some serious damage to her spine. Surgery is not an option that any doctor we've seen is willing to attempt, so she lives with a lot of pain. As a way to manage that pain, she has taken legal opiate-based pain killers for over a decade.

About four years ago, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) started threatening small-town doctors who were prescribing opiate-based pain medications with “Stop writing prescriptions (Rx) or face the wrath of the federal government.” They swooped in and made examples of a couple of known pill-pusher doctors, which scared the rest into submission -- which isn't really hard to do when there are three corporations that run every hospital and clinic within 75 miles. Instead of a 15 minute drive to our local clinic, we had to find a pain specialist and the nearest is an hour away.

The DEA also changed the prescription rules: No more than a 30 day supply on a single Rx, and opiates require a paper Rx (no faxing or emailing), so every month we have to drive to the city to pick up a piece of paper.

Three weeks ago, the DEA led a “raid” on the pain management clinic we've used for those four years. They gathered up all of the patient charts (records) and computers and took them away, effectively shutting down a clinic that has been running for 25 years without a problem. No arrests, no indictments, no reason given; they just shut the clinic down without having to go through the hassle of pulling licenses. This is a form of “lawfare” that is being used to fight the “war on drugs” and battle the “opiate epidemic”. The process becomes the punishment, without any need for frivolous things like actual evidence of a crime. These imaginary wars and epidemics are great for funding and time in the spotlight, so I don't expect them to ever be won or cured, but that's getting close to our self-imposed prohibition on politics so I'll leave it alone.

This is an emergency on several levels for us:
  • Without any control of her pain and the likely withdrawal symptoms from running out of a very addictive medication, her life becomes torture.
  • We're looking into other local options as there are a few other pain clinics around, but the DEA still has all of her charts. This means that any new doctor has to start from scratch, something which isn't going to be pleasant.
  • Being a bit pig-headed, my wife has not been listening to me and only had about a week's worth of pain meds left, so it's been a scramble to find another doctor.
  • The DEA now has my wife's medical records and that doesn't fill me with joy. No politics, I know.
The same thing could happen to anyone who takes a life-saving medication. Blood pressure meds, diabetes supplies, anti-rejection drugs for transplants, and the like are all things that you don't want to run out of. Certain common anti-depressants come with a warning that you should never stop taking them abruptly, as the withdrawal effects can be deadly. It might not be a federal agent cutting off your source of the medications you need to get by (or stay alive); disruptions caused by any major disaster would have the same effect. Losing your job and/or health insurance will also put a crimp in your medications (been there, done that for two years.)

How to Prepare
  • Have a stockpile if at all possible. If you take a medication on an “as needed” basis, it's possible to set aside a few doses every month until you have a safe stockpile. I like 30 days, but you need to decide for yourself.
  • Talk to your doctor, see if they will write your Rx for several months at a time. Many insurance companies require mail-order Rx service and they like to deliver several months worth in one box.
  • Renew your Rx as soon as they will let you, and you should gain a few days each time. For example, my insurance will let me renew a 30 day RX after 28 days
  • Look into alternative sources for your meds. I did an article a long time ago about mail-order meds. The information is still valid, even if the names have changed over the years. 
  • Look into alternative medications. Not every ailment is treatable by herbal or alternative medicine, but some are. Medical marijuana and derivatives are spreading, so check their many uses. Don't forget the less-than-legal options; what they may lack in quality control they can make up for in lack of records. Getting meds from someone who no longer needs them may be possible as well.This is generally illegal, but you have to be alive for them to charge you.

If you take any medication on a daily basis, you should know as much as possible about what it is, how it works on your body, how it's made, what can be used as a substitute, and where to get it. Supplies and gear aren't going to do you any good if you're not around to use them.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Prudent Prepping: Splinter Removal

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

I went to my local knife shop last month to hang out and see all the cool things I couldn't (and still can't) afford. I've been doing a little metal working lately, and while using one of my knives to dig out splinters is always an option, seeing them has been getting harder and harder. I need glasses to see down the road, and lately the close-up stuff has needed 'cheaters' for the fine print... and okay, some not-so fine print also.

I saw these on the shelf and took a set home.

SZCO Supplies Magnifying Tweezers 
I needed a set of tweezers that day and couldn't wait to see if Amazon had some. As with most things, Amazon carries the complete line of SZCO tweezers.

https://amzn.to/2Ss8Y8B
From the SZCO Tweezer Amazon page:
  • A powerful 3X magnifying glass and needle-tipped tweezers combine to make this one of the handiest items in the tool box or first aid kit
  • This product is easy to use easy to install and highly durable
  • Item is manufactured in Pakistan
  • 3.5 Inches in length
  • Magnifying glass
  • Stainless steel composition

I reviewed a set of tweezers many years ago, but these are different and maybe even better, since I can now easily see even the finest splinter in my hand. The points are sharp and fine enough that I think I could easily remove anything buried in my skin, although I haven't yet needed to try. The tweezer part collapses down to sit close to the glass, so they fit into a very slim pouch and take up no more room in my bag than my pen and pencil set.

I'm going to order at least one more set to keep in my GHB first aid kit.

The Takeaway 
  • While tweezers aren't a necessity, I like being able to remove irritants easily.
  • I'd have no hesitation loaning these to someone, since not everyone wants to dig for splinters with your (or my) Tacti-Cool folding knife.

The Recap

Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running! 

If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

How to Change an Automobile Air Filter

Automotive maintenance is a necessary evil for folks who own cars, but it can also be incredibly expensive. While certain maintenance tasks require special tools or skills which justify the cost, some tasks extract their price based solely on convenience or ignorance. Today, we'll look at one of those tasks.

While I was doing seasonal maintenance on my truck, I noticed that my engine air filter needed replacement. A clean and unclogged air filter helps extend the life of your engine and maintain fuel mileage and power. Replacing it is a quick and easy task that requires no special tools, so I headed to my local parts house to get a replacement. As I did this, it struck me during this that people actually pay for this service, and I was curious what the charge would be. From the estimates, I could expect to pay in excess of $100 for a $13 part and 5-10 minutes of my time. Since this is a task that has to be performed at least yearly, those dollars add up quickly.

Also note that when purchasing an air filter for your vehicle, prices can range wildly. For my 2005 F150, a basic paper element filter costs the aforementioned $13. Since my truck is being prepped to regularly haul 6000 pound loads, and since I come from the land of the sand and snow, I chose to upgrade to a washable, cotton-element K&N air filter. (If you drive in extremely dirty conditions, or work your engine harder than the average Joe, this is an easy and worthwhile upgrade.) However, for your average A-B commuter vehicle (such as my wife's car) the basic paper filter matches what comes from the factory and will work just fine -- don't spend 3-5x the money if you don't need to.

To replace your air filter, follow these simple steps:
  1. Locate your air filter box. Locations vary by model, but expect it to be on top of the engine and readily accessible. If you aren't certain or can't find it, the location should be listed in your owner's manual.  Mine happens to be above the engine in the rear-center of the engine bay.

  2. Open the box and remove the old air filter. On most cars, the top lifts off and the filter lifts out, but on my truck, the filter is contained in a sliding tray. Some vehicles use clips to hold the air filter box together, while others use screws and will require a basic screwdriver to open.

  3. This filter is obviously dirty and in need of replacement.

  4. Insert the new filter into the air box and close it back up. Your filter box should go back together easily with almost no force needed. If you feel like you're having to force things, check that your filter is fitting into the box correctly and that nothing is obstructing the lid.

There is no reason to pay exorbitant prices for basic work and inexpensive parts. Do simple work like this yourself to save substantial money.

Lokidude

Friday, February 22, 2019

Tips on Filling Your Emergency Pantry


Many beginning preppers want to know how to create a food reserve but don't know how.

Fortunately, it's easy to do. Watch this video and I'll show you how.




Thursday, February 21, 2019

Li-ion Batteries in Winter

After listening to my coworkers whine about their cell phones going dead in the cold, I decided to look up an explanation for why it happens. (Keep in mind that I work outside a lot of the time and this has been one of the coldest winters in a generation. Temperatures hovering around 0° F every morning is getting monotonous.) It turns out that my habit of keeping my phone in an inside pocket, where it won't get lost, also protects it from an issue arising from the chemistry and construction of lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are becoming ubiquitous; they're what power most cell phones, small electronic devices, and common cordless tools. Chances are that your rechargeable flashlights, radios, etc. all have lithium-ion batteries in them and they are becoming common as replacement batteries for motorcycles and ATVs. Lighter and having a higher power per pound than lead-acid or nickel-cadmium batteries, they are also the choice of most electric car companies, but after looking into the issue of phones “losing” 70-90% of their charge when exposed to temperatures below freezing, I don't expect to see very many electric cars this far north. I know the cars have a heating system to keep the batteries from freezing, but since it uses power from the battery to produce the heat, that will drain the battery and reduce the range of the car even further.

The problem comes from the way all batteries work, with a slight twist on the lithium-ion system. Batteries work by storing energy in the form of a chemical reaction that is reversible; when you charge a battery, you are forcing electrons into it to move ions from the cathode (positive post) to the anode (negative post). In Li-ion batteries, the ions actually squeeze themselves into the spaces between the molecules of the anode and cathode instead of chemically reacting with the materials (bumping other ions off and taking their place). Incidentally, this is why some Li-ion batteries will swell as they age -- the graphite that the anode is made of doesn't contract to its former size once the Lithium ions have left during discharge. Samsung has a bad reputation as a battery maker because they ignored this tidbit of information.

Cold temperatures slow down all chemical reactions. In the case of Li-ion batteries, as the temperature drops the Lithium ions may follow an alternate reaction and “plate” out on the surface of the anode as metallic lithium during charging. This “plating” is not fully reversible, and the battery will lose some of its charge capacity because of the lack of free ions to be moved around. The layer of metallic lithium will also create a barrier to the free flow of ions which increases the internal resistance of the battery, causing heat. A much bigger problem is that you now have a layer of pointy, conductive, metal crystals on the anode, and if they puncture the insulating barrier, being forced against it by the normal swelling of the anode during charging and the thermal expansion from the added heat, they will cause an internal short-circuit which can be very energetic.

“Energetic chemistry” is a euphemism for an explosion. For this reason: NEVER CHARGE A FROZEN LI-ION BATTERY. It is theoretically possible to charge a frozen Li-ion battery safely, but the charge time would be measured in days instead of hours. Always warm the battery up to as close to room temperature (70°F) as you can before trying to charge it. A much more technical explanation can be found here.

A secondary problem with the slowed-down reaction inside a cold Li-ion battery is the fact that the battery won't be able to produce the voltage that a cell phone expects to see, with the circuitry inside the phone seeing the reduced voltage as an indication that the battery has lost its charge. Once the battery has had a chance to warm back up, the phone should read the charge more accurately. This is what is affecting my coworkers who keep their phones clipped to the outside of their coats, and once they let their phones warm up, they usually show most of the charge that they should.


The main reason I keep my phone in an inside pocket is because I have had them fall out of pockets in my outerwear without my noticing. When I'm wearing four layers of clothing, I lose some of the cues that something is missing. Keeping it warm is a side effect that ensures I have a working phone when I need it. If I'm carrying a radio for communications and it uses Li-ion batteries, you can be assured that it will be kept warm as well.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Prudent Prepping: The EDC First Aid Kit, pt. 2

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping. 

This is a continuation of this post from several weeks ago, using the included links to previous BCP posts and the posts of friends and readers. All of the links to sites other than BCP worked as of last weekend.

To quote the featured author Jonathan Sullivan:
I AM NOT A DOCTOR, NURSE, OR EMT. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. SEEK TRAINING IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE IT.

What I Carry
My preference, which I've stated plenty of times, is not to look like I'm carrying enough stuff to be mistaken for Batman. To me that means small, light and not bulky.

Not this:

Cool, but not for me










But this:

https://amzn.to/2TZ32FJ
This Maxpedition PHP phone pouch was first seen in this Home Hardening post written by Jonathan Sullivan several years ago. I tried wearing it back then, but I don't think I gave it a good enough trial to see it it was easy to carry.

I have to admit my job then was slightly different from what I'm doing now; currently I do much, much less bending, kneeling and climbing ladders, all of which required me to adjust the pouch out of my way. Since I am less active now I am re-thinking my carry strategy.



One thing I have done differently than Mr. Sullivan is to add one of the tourniquets I purchased in January, a North American Rescue CAT.

https://amzn.to/2T1C2rO



Also carried is a pair of nitrile gloves like these. They aren't the actual gloves I own and use, since the brand doesn't seem to be listed on Amazon any longer. They are however the same thickness and approximately the same price for 200 gloves, if you adjust prices from 3 years ago to now.

https://amzn.to/2GSPqbe


Another item in my PHP case is an Adventure Medical Kits Advanced Clotting Sponge. Of the two options from Adventure Medical, I chose the 25g sponge for its smaller overall size. I need to keep everything as small as possible, and the slight difference in size between the 25g and the 50g model would more than likely be a deal breaker with the Maxpedition case I have.


https://amzn.to/2GSPqbe

I also have about 6' of duct tape (wrapped around a piece of kydex) in place of any other wrap or tape. It has been noted by many that duct tape is a 'less than optimal' choice for holding a bandage in place. I understand and agree with that, but if I'm using my first aid gear in an emergency, things have really gone bad and the trained professionals can deal with a little tape residue. I'm also dealing with almost no extra storage space for another style or type of wrap.

How It Works
Pretty well, actually. I've worn it for almost two weeks now, and I think it's acceptable. My current phone pouch is horizontal and carried right at my appendix, and I've placed this pouch right behind my right hip. In that spot it doesn't seem to be in the way, and I very seldom have to move it around during my day.

The strap/opening on the back of the Maxpedition is a bit wider than my belt, but since it is stiff plastic, I don't feel it moving, which I have felt with MOLLE style straps. The tourniquet is a tight fit in this case and I have ordered a larger version to see if there will be more room to add one or possibly two more items.

Stay tuned as there is definitely more to come!

The Takeaway
  • I need to give any new item, whether shoes, tools or clothes a fair shake to see it I like it. That might take longer than I expect or want, but I just need to relax and live with it.

The Recap
Nothing was purchased the week, but here is the listing for the featured items:


And once again,

I AM NOT A DOCTOR, NURSE, OR EMT. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. SEEK TRAINING IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE IT.


Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running! 

If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

UST Fire Kit Unboxing

Unboxing videos are rare from me, but I was able to be patient and get the camera out when I opened this kit. Enjoy!



Lokidude

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Hiatus

Due to a variety of factors -- Scott is dealing with a death in the family, David is packing and moving to a new place, Chaplain Tim is sick and I'm going to Utah for a week -- I have given our authors the week off.

Have a great week and a happy Valentine's Day, and we'll see you all on Monday the 18th.

-- Erin

Friday, February 8, 2019

Old School Gas Can Hack


Here's a handy little modification for old school gas cans along with some thoughts on my current preps, future demands, and what I’m going to do about it.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Updates and Misc

Since I'm battling the various colds and flu that are making the rounds in my family, today's post is going to be a recap or update of some of my older posts. This is the beginning of my 6th year of writing here, and it takes more concentration than I can muster right now to come up with new material, so please accept my apology for not having anything new to say. 

UXO in the News
I wrote about the dangers of UneXploded Ordinance a while back, and it looks like they are still being found in various places. 
  • A WW1 grenade made the trip from a potato field in France to a potato chip factory in China. The field the potatoes had been grown in was a WW1 battlefield, complete with trenches that had been filled in, and 100 years later they're still finding live munitions from that war. I'm amazed that the grenade made it through the harvesting machinery, the packaging, and shipping half-way around the world without detonating.
  • A WW2 grenade was found in Florida by an man “magnet fishing”. He tossed it in the trunk of his car and drove to a local Taco Bell before deciding to call police. This is a good example of how the stupidity of others can place you in danger.
  • WW2 mortar round was pulled out of a river in England by another magnet fisherman. It's common for people using magnets to find discarded firearms when trawling through the mud in rivers and lakes. The length of time the firearms have been in the water will determine their value as weapons, and they will likely have been used in the commission of a crime and/or were stolen. Those “unfortunate boating accidents” where people have lost their firearms do happen on occasion.

Permanent Matches #2
I picked up a round version from Amazon. Other than lacking the sharp corners of the square ones, which tend to wear on pockets, there is no functional difference. Cosmetically I actually like the round ones better, as the striker bar is attached to the side of the tube which means it won't roll away if you lay it down. The design and manufacture is very similar, so there should be no difference in how they stand up to my testing.


BCP Discord
My attempt to foster communications between writers and readers about 6 months ago was a dismal failure. Other than a few of the other writers and maybe two readers, there has been no activity on the server since I started it. The Discord server is still active and I get notified if anyone uses it, but so far most of the activity has been spam-bots looking for places to advertise porn sites. I may reach out to a wider audience in the near future just to see if anyone is interested in the idea.

Guns
I did acquire a new-to-me EDC pistol that is currently being tested. Initial findings for the Springfield XDS-45 are:
  • Common ammunition with my other EDC guns
  • Lighter than my alloy-framed 1911A1
  • Extended mags carry 7 rounds, standard mags carry 5
  • The 3.3 inch barrel is as accurate as my 5 inch barrel on the 1911A1 
  • With a standard magazine, the pistol is a lot easier to carry IWB than a 1911A1. 
  • Holsters are not as common, but the two I have work well enough.
  • The fiber optic front sights helps my old eyes acquire a good sight picture, even in moderately low light.
  • It has a grip safety similar to my 1911s, so I feel more secure carrying it in Condition 1 (cocked with a round in the chamber). This is just an old habit, but I do like having the extra safety.

Once I get rid of this virus that is making life miserable, I'll get back to new content. I keep doing my research and finding new things, so I have a few years' worth of writing left in me. If anyone has questions or topics they'd like to see covered, please let us know by commenting below, dropping us a note on our Facebook page, or try out the Discord app (https://discord.gg/5NvEWZd).


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Prudent Prepping: Moving On

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping. 

Not moving on from this blog, but rather moving from where I currently live. My landlord has sold this house to move into a much smaller place in a retirement community. What bothers me the most about this is that the Master Chief will be moving as well, into the same community as the landlord. It's a change that I knew could happen, but I really wasn't expecting it quite this soon. Now I have to get serious about my plans.

Cleaning Up
I've lived here almost five years now, and while I'm reasonably organized, I've collected things that I don't use regularly. Last summer I did something that's been advised on the Internet for a long time: I hung up all my clothes hangers backwards and only turned them around as I wore the clothing. Other that my suit and two sport coats and slacks (which I'm keeping), well over half my closet did not get worn in over six months. I have some really nice shirts that will end up being donated, some of them several years old but hardly worn.

The same thing is happening in my dresser, cleaning out things  that I haven't worn or are looking worn out. I have a tall stack of logo tee shirts from various old employers, plus plain white ones I wear under my company polo, and any that show wear are also going out. Underwear and socks are also getting a pruning, but the 'going to donate' stack of socks is not as big as the others, since I keep different socks for all the different shoes and boots I own. Regardless, any socks with a hole, rip or worn and frayed is definitely being tossed out and not donated. I see no reason for someone else to double or triple handle useless items.

Packing Up
I've started de-junking (that's a real word) and pulling out donable clothing, and I've come to a shocking realization regarding exactly how much stuff I actually have. I've collected a black trash bag of disposable things like old catalogs, magazines that I don't need for reference any longer, and the start of the junk clothing purge. The donable clothing so far takes up a black trash bag all by itself, with very little visible results. If I don't end up with 2 or more bags,  I'll be shocked.

I have to say this is very difficult for me, since many of these things have some history, mostly good, tied up in them. Convention shirts from several of the great companies I worked for; t-shirts from events and concerts; some leftover clothing from being married.

All of these are being inspected with a microscope and boy, is there stuff to see. One very good thing about all this is that I never had enough wall space to unpack my books here. They're still in totes (12, in fact) which will eliminate the mental and physical drain of packing them up and knocking down my shelves.

Where To Next?
That's still to be determined. As most of you know, the greater San Francisco Bay area has some of the highest prices and scarcest rental stock in the nation. This means that if I rented a place by myself, I would be making a one-way commute of almost 2 hours. Adding the extra gas and wear on my car, that just isn't workable.

I'm looking to friends and asking if they know of anyone who has a room or wants to share a rental. Barring that, there are several very good sites here that have 'Share Rent' and 'Room To Rent' listings. Since I'm now officially old (quiet in the back!), there are places that help seniors find places too!

I have until the end of the month to get out of here, but I've family and friends that will put up with me sofa surfing for a while.

I'll keep everyone posted.

The Takeaway
  • It seems that cleaning out my stuff is something I need to do every year. That way I don't have to do such a gigantic job all at once while stressing over everything else.

The Recap
  • Cleaning up should be a normal and scheduled job, just like checking and rotating supplies.
  • Nothing was purchased this week, and nothing is planned for next week.

Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running! 

If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Throwing Motions: Precise and Accurate

This week we have a video demonstrating the short, precise motions involved in using small tools accurately.




Lokidude

Monday, February 4, 2019

Guest Post: Light Weight, Low Bulk, Cold Weather

by George Groot
George is a member of our Facebook Group and has written for us before.

In the Infantry there is a phrase: "Travel light and freeze at night." It’s true that there isn’t a lot of room or weight left over for creature comforts when you have to carry lots of military gear, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t add in a few pieces of "snivel gear". After graduating Ranger school, I decided that I would never again be cold, wet, hungry, and tired all at the same time if I could possibly avoid it. I can’t always avoid the hungry or wet or tired, but there are some things I keep on hand that help in the cold.

A sleeping bag is unfortunately a big, bulky, and relatively heavy thing to carry around, so if you have to travel light and freeze at night, the sleeping bag is usually the first thing to get left behind. After all, as your Platoon Sergeant will remind you, the rucksack you carry is for supporting the Platoon, not yourself. Fortunately, you don’t have a platoon sergeant deciding that you need to carry an extra 800 rounds of linked 7.62mm instead of a sleeping bag, but you still have the same problem: a sleeping bag is a hell of a luxury item to carry around.

Here are a few tricks to get some sleep at night,without carrying around the full weight or bulk of a sleeping bag or having to spend hundreds of dollars on a high-tech lightweight hiking bag that you only have as an insurance policy in a bug out bag.

Beanie or Watch Cap
"If your feet are cold, put on a hat" is actually pretty decent advice. Fleece beanies are lighter weight and more compact than knit watch caps, but once synthetic fleece gets wet with sweat, it’s not as good and insulator as wool. But if ounces make pounds and pounds make pain, a less than six dollar fleece beanie is a good investment for your go bag, especially if you really only need it for when you go to sleep.

Wool costs more and weighs more than fleece, but not much more. If you're in a climate where you’ll need to retain heat throughout a day of strenuous activity, then I recommend you spend the extra money on this wool cap.

Neck Gaiter
You lose a lot of your heat from your neck, which is why scarves are a thing. A neck gaiter has all the warmth of a scarf without all the bulk and weight. You can find them at most surplus stores, but Amazon has a polyester military style that works well and folds very flat.

I've been using a shemagh in cold and dry conditions for a few years, as wrapping it around the neck and tucking into your coat or sweatshirt retains heat well enough. But in reality it’s just a cotton scarf, and a cotton scarf is inferior to a polyester neck gaiter for heat retained versus weight and bulk. If you happen to live someplace where having a cotton scarf makes more sense to you than a poly neck gaiter, ten bucks isn’t a bad price for something that can keep you warmer at night and show off your keen fashion sense during the day.

Base Layer
A silkweight base layer of thermal underwear is great for staying warm while  sleeping in, hanging around camp, or light activity outdoors. If you don’t want a military surplus color, you can even save a little and buy a top/bottom set for a little less. Believe me, the military doesn’t buy the best, so I have no reservations recommending people purchase civilian products for enjoying the great outdoors. 

The military surplus base layer has thumb holes on the sleeves to help keep heat in at the wrists, but if yours doesn’t, then a 6 dollar set of wrist gaiters will help a lot. 

Sleeping Gear
When bugging out and carrying gear you’ll really want something to sleep in, just maybe just not a whole sleep system or full winter sleeping bag. During the summer I’ve used just a Gore-Tex bivy cover to stay dry at night, as the best way to stay warm is to stay dry.* There are alternatives that are lighter and smaller, and if you only plan on getting to a cache point/bug out site, then an  emergency bivy might be a better choice for you. 

No matter what you carry to sleep in, I recommend some sort of ground pad for thermal insulation. I’ve used closed cell foam and inflatable, and I think the closed cell foam is more durable, but the inflatable is definitely lighter and more compact for being on the move.


* Hence the reason that when stopping for the night I change out of my sweat soaked uniform and put on the dry spare to sleep in. The next morning it always sucks to put on that wet uniform before you move out, but really that’s the only way to have a dry uniform to sleep in the next time you stop.


Tallying the Weight
If you purchase a beanie, neck gaiter, silkweight base layer, bivy cover, and inflatable sleeping pad, your grand total will be less than 8 pounds in your pack and you can fit it all inside of a backpack that wouldn’t look out of place in a suburban or urban setting. If you're in an area that consistently gets below freezing at night, you’ll want more than this; probably a 30 degree sleeping bag to put inside the bivy cover.


So there you are. You’ve been on the move all day wearing some clothes soaked with sweat and you've decided to get way off the beaten path for the night. You find a nice spot where you're unlikely to be noticed, so you strip off the wet layers and put on dry clothes, inflate your thermal pad, put it inside your bivy so you don’t roll off it in the night, and then get snuggled up inside for some shuteye with a neck gaiter and wool cap helping you stay warm. It won’t be a stay at the Hilton, and you may wake up cold and shivering after a few hours when your sleeping metabolism slows down, but you’ll be a lot better off than the folks who just threw a six pound sleeping back in a hiking pack and let the ground suck out their body heat because they didn’t have a thermal pad, and who couldn’t pack enough food because the bulk of the sleeping bag took up so much space in their ruck. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

No Gas, Frozen Feet, and 2019 Snowpocalypse


I discuss the gas shortage in Michigan, then demonstrate some lightweight preps to keep you warm and dry if you're caught in a snowpocalypse at work.


The Fine Print


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