Friday, February 16, 2024

Guest Post: Car Roof Cargo Bag Review

by George Groot

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

Due to the price of gasoline (and airline tickets over the holiday season) my wife and I decided to take the extra time and drive from Georgia to Washington state. The problem was that our two vehicles aren’t great options for a family of 4 on a long road trip. My Nissan Frontier is fine, but doesn’t have a canopy over the bed and the gas mileage is not great (seriously, it’s shaped like a brick; not the most aerodynamic option). The wife’s Subaru Outback is better on gas by about 5 miles per gallon, but even with the station wagon-level storage, there wasn’t enough room for everything we’d need. We looked at hard-shell roof cargo options, but I ended up purchasing a soft roof cargo bag.

The Good
These are cheap, and you get good quality for the price. They also fold up into a really small storage bag so you can throw one on the shelf in the garage, or toss it inside the car if you need to bring it with you to pick up stuff.

The Bad
These aren’t very secure at all; anyone with a knife or improvised cutting tool can get into your stuff. They also aren’t convenient to access routinely, and they can slip a bit over a 3,400 mile drive (we had about two inches of slipping, as the front straps got tighter and tighter).

The Utility
You can hold a lot of stuff in these bags. About five fully packed out green GI duffel bags fit snuggly, which represents a lot of sleeping bags, tents, and other stuff you might need to bring along, so long as you don't need it inside the car for immediate access.

Over the course of 3,400 miles the Subaru Outback averaged 23.7 miles per gallon. This didn’t concern me too much, but it does represent a drop from the 30 - 32 miles per gallon a Subaru Outback would normally get on mostly freeway driving. Even with that decrease, it was still more efficient than using my pickup. With the bag installed and filled, the Subaru's top profile only came up to match the Frontier).

The Interesting
I went with the “international safety orange” version since I plan on re-using this bag to support my local Trail Life troop in the future. Having a great big, highly visible beacon has a lot of utility for normal outdoor recreational activities. However, if you wanted to be more clandestine, there is a grey option available. If you need to camouflage an orange version, keep some olive drab spray paint on
hand, or actual fabric paint to reduce the visible signature.

The Final Verdict
If you have a car with a roof rack or rail system, this is a great option. Even beyond using it to haul stuff from point to point, having a weather-resistant storage bag has plenty of utility at a campsite or location where some additional protection from the elements is needed (such as hand tools, spare batteries, extra rope, etc).

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Rotate Your Carry Ammo

We've talked at length about rotating your preps to keep your supplies fresh and at maximum benefit to you. While most of the time this applies mainly to food and fuel, it really should apply to all consumables you stock, even ones not traditionally considered perishable.

This point was driven home to me on a recent range trip. Having acquired some new carry ammunition for my 10mm, I decided to shoot the old ammo in my magazines, just for the heck of it. It's pretty well established that modern ammunition stored properly will last almost indefinitely, but while that is indeed true, it isn't foolproof. 

The rounds in my magazines were a couple years old, from a major US manufacturer. In the 15 rounds in my primary magazine (the one actually in the pistol) I had 3 failures to fire. On the range, this is an annoyance; in a hunting scenario, that 20% failure rate is bad, but recoverable. In a self-defense situation, however, a failure rate like that has an unacceptably high chance of being fatal.

While I don't have any conclusive answers what caused my failures, ammunition in magazines is subject to the conditions that tend to cause failure, namely humidity and heat changes. Even here in the desert, being out and about means you'll encounter some increased humidity, and obviously temperature swings are a thing.

Ammunition is definitely less perishable than food, and good ammo is expensive to rotate every range trip, so the schedule I'm implementing at home and proposing here is to shoot through your magazines of carry ammo on the same schedule as you change the batteries in your smoke detector, and for the same reason. Having fresh consumables in life-saving hardware can mean the difference between seeing another sunrise... or not.


Friday, February 9, 2024

Some "Must Have" Pack Items

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

These are some of the things that are really high on my list of "Must Have" items. All of these items are in my Get Home Bag and in the bag Purple Pack Lady has in her car. In no way is this the most thorough, amazing set of items; they're just what fell out of my bag as I was switching out some smashed energy bars, and inspired this article. 

I have previously used a much larger battery storage box, but due to a change of circumstances I've gone back to a much smaller set of boxes for my standard batteries. These fit into any size pouch or side pocket, and I like how the latch is reasonably positive for a simple box. I also like how the colors show up well in low light, and even the clear box is easy to find!
From the Amazon ad:
  • Package included:4 pcs of battery cases
  • Convenient and intuitive to use, can combine in row
  • Holds either 4 AA or 4 AAA rechargeable batteries
  • Colors: Clear, Pink , Blue, Green
  • Batteries are not included.

One of the first First Aid items I bought to go into my GHB after a basic kit full of band-aids was this handy pouch right here. I've had one in my work gear for several years now, and actually used the gauze and QuikClot once, even though it probably wasn't necessary for how big the cut was.
From the Amazon ad: 
  • Includes QuikClot gauze, trauma pad, triangular bandage, and other key supplies for your trauma kit
  • Nonallergenic QuikClot first aid gauze speeds up natural clotting and stops bleeding within minutes
  • Used by hospitals, EMS/first responders, military, law enforcement, general public & outdoorsman
  • Fits perfectly in any first aid kit, suture kit, medical kit, iFAK pouch, EDC pouch & survival kits
  • Travel safely with QuikClot in your car first aid kit, camping essentials & backpack emergency kit
You can see a more detailed description of contents, and a very nice video showing what is included in the pouch, by following the link to the Amazon listing. 

While this isn't what many would call a starter Individual First Aid Kit, if I were to try buying all these bits and pieces separately they would certainly cost a lot more than the kit itself. I keep one of these and the Adventure Medical pouch above, in my work supplies and another in my motorcycle saddle bags with a mini zip-tie through the pouch top and the kit carry handle to make pulling them out fast and easy. 

As my fellow bloggers have mentioned over the years, North American Rescue makes very high quality equipment that isn't cheap. This leads to a problem when shopping for their gear: counterfeit goods sold with the NAR logo. I was pointed to this website for a nice writeup on how to tell the fake from real NAR tourniquets, but the short answer is "expect to pay no less than $30-$40 for a genuine NAR CAT tourniquet".

   From the website:

  • NAR's most compact, versatile Mini First Aid Kit
  • Contains the First Responder's most requested critical point-of-wounding medical equipment for treating penetrating, blast or other traumatic injuries in the line of duty
  • Super compact, rugged nylon platform that allows attachment both vertically (MOLLE backing) and horizontally (3 in. belt loop)
  • Clam shell configuration utilizes (2) two main sleeves that open on both ends for easy access
  • Multiple elastic loops for secure gear organization
  • Vertical mount can be set to open left-to-right or right-to-left based on shooter preference
  • Horizontal mount on a belt allows opening directly to your C-A-T. tourniquet

Kit Contents:
  • 1 x C-A-T (Combat Application Tourniquet) Orange
  • 1 x 4 in. Flat Responder ETD
  • 1 x NAR Wound Packing Gauze
  • 1 x HyFin Vent Compact Chest Seal, Twin Pack
  • 1 x Pair, Responder Nitrile Gloves, Large
  • L 6 in. x W 3 in. x D 3 in.
  • Weight: 13 oz

Some Closing Thoughts
Even in the middle of winter it's a good time to go through your gear and see what might be out of date (first aid cream, pain relivers, etc.), what is damaged or broken (my energy bars), and what might need recharging or fresh batteries, like flashlights.

After being reminded by seeing the IFAK, I looked through the paperwork in my wallet and saw that it's time to go back to the Red Cross and re-up my First Aid training. During Covid, no one was doing classes for the general public and a blogger didn't qualify for special treatment. If my work would have certified it was necessary I could have gone, but no such luck.

Stay safe and expect the best, but plan for less that that!

* * *

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 6, 2024

Prepper's Pantry: Corn

In my earlier post about the Three Sisters planting method, I mentioned how corn (also called maize) was an integral part of that cooperative gardening system.

Corn is an ancient cultivated new world plant, descended from wild grasses. It was discovered by Europeans during the Age of Exploration in the fifteenth century, and was quickly accepted in the old world. Corn became a staple in many areas with remarkable speed, and is now the most popular grain in the world by weight, with an excess of one billion tons produced each year. 

Corn is consumed in many different forms, some seasonal, such as corn on the cob, and some year round, such as dried, canned, and frozen. Baby corn has become a staple of Asian cuisine, especially in America. Corn meal and corn flour are commonly found in the recipes of several ethnic groups, whether traditional Mexican tortillas, Italian polenta, or American grits. (As I live in the south, I am required by law to speak out against instant grits.)

Corn can be eaten as is or used as an ingredient in many recipes. I always add some to my Shepard's Pie, certain soups, my chili, and of course, my corn bread. Also, right next to the corn meal in the cupboard, I have a bag of corn masa for when I have an urge to make tortillas at home. While we generally use fresh or frozen corn in our household, we also keep a supply of canned corn in our long term food storage.

Corn Tortillas
While somewhat labor intensive, these flatbreads are really quite simple to prepare, with a tortilla press being the only special item called for. I don't own one, so I use two cutting boards and my body weight to similar effect.

Homemade Taco Bar


  • 2 cups corn masa
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups hot water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together masa and salt. 
  2. Gradually add the hot water, and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until an evenly-mixed dough begins to form. 
  3. Use your hands to knead the dough for 2-3 minutes in the mixing bowl until it is smooth and forms a cohesive ball. 
  4. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel (or paper towel) and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Portion the dough into 2-tablespoon balls (about the size of a golf ball), then use your hands to roll the ball until it is nice and round.
  6. Place the dough ball between two pieces of plastic in a tortilla press. Then gently press the dough ball until it forms a 4- to 5-inch tortilla.
  7. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, peel the tortilla away from the plastic wrap and lay the tortilla flat in the skillet. Cook the tortilla for about 40-60 seconds per side, flipping it once speckled brown spots begin to appear on the bottom of the tortilla. The tortillas will likely bubble up while cooking, especially on the second side.  
  8. Once it's cooked, transfer the tortilla to a tortilla warmer or a bowl wrapped in a clean kitchen towel, so that the tortillas do not dry out.
  9. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Keeping the cycle going by cooking one tortilla while pressing the next dough ball at the same time.
  10. The tortillas will continue to soften a bit more as they sit in a stack in your tortilla warmer (or wrapped in a towel). So use the tortillas at the bottom of the stack first, they'll be the softest.

Remember, with only a little effort, any day can be Taco Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Prepper's Armory: Muzzle Devices

Last year I wrote about the history, use, and acquisition of suppressors, which are a small subset of the larger umbrella of muzzle devices. There are several categories within this general classification that serve a variety of different purposes, with some overlap, but along with the previously mentioned suppressors, the main categories are flash hiders, compensators (also known as muzzle brakes), thread protectors, and muzzle adapters.

Flash Hiders/Suppressors
I'll begin with the flash hider or flash suppressor. Contrary to popular myth, this barrel attachment does not generally reduce muzzle flash signature from the target side of the gun. Instead, its primary purpose is to disrupt the globe of burning gasses that would otherwise form at the muzzle and interfere with the shooter's ability to use the sights. This is especially important on shorter barreled rifles; I'm sure most of our readers have heard jokes about AR pistols or Mosin Nagant carbines stating "If you miss your target, you'll still set it on fire," or have seen the Rico Special from Forgotten Weapons.

The classic A1 or A2 M16 flash hider has regularly-spaced slots around the circumference, and the end is completely open. As the superheated gases exit the barrel, and attempt to form a sphere, they are instead diverted into those cutouts.

Brownells A2 Flash Hider

It's important to clock this type of muzzle device correctly when attaching it. This means making sure none of the slots point straight up, as this would send some of the muzzle flash directly into the shooters line of sight.

The big difference between the A1 and A2 flash hiders is that the latter version has a solid section without slots that's meant to point straight down, which helps prevent a dust cloud when shooting prone.

There are all sorts of flash hider designs on the market. Some, like the A1 and A2, are quite simple, while others are considerably more complex.

Compensators/Muzzle Brakes
Compensators, also called muzzle brakes, are similar in concept to a flash hider in that they also redirect some of the escaping combustion gasses. However, instead of primarily working to break up the flash, these devices act as a sort of maneuvering jet, pushing the firearm to help counteract recoil.

Compensators are generally identifiable by their closed front, with a small opening just larger than bullet diameter, and frequently with large side apertures. Some designs have additional small openings on top as well. But for the most part, they resemble miniature cannon muzzle attachments.

As with flash hiders, the orientation of a compensator is important to proper function, perhaps even more so due to the pushing force imparted on the barrel.

Compensators need to be selected based on a variety of factors, including barrel length and cartridge size, as these will affect the amount of gas pushed out the muzzle and through the device. While ideal compensator performance is neutral vertical movement, overpowered muzzle breaks have been known to cause the muzzle to dip when firing.

Thread Protectors and Adapters
Thread protectors are simply threaded collars (similar to a standard nut) that attaches to the muzzle and are usually knurled on the outside to make tightening or loosening by hand easier. They cover the threads, but don't provide any additional benefit to the function of the firearm.

Adapters also cover the threads, but in addition offer the ability to attach different muzzle devices. Some adapters are thread converters, where one end has an internal thread for attaching to the barrel and the other end has an external thread in a more readily available pattern. There are even muzzle adapters with bayonet lugs for use on firearms that don't come with them. Adapters can often be found with some sort of flash hider or compensator, but there are still plenty that don't.

I hope that this post, while not exhaustive, has helped to clear up the often confusing and sometimes overlapping world of muzzle devices.

Have fun, and safe shooting.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Any Time Prepping Gifts

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

Due to unforeseen circumstances, my second post with suggestions for Christmas presents wasn't able to be written in time. This is what I wanted to post, with several more suggestions to come for either building a bag (of any type) or adding to your gear.

This is just one of the styles and colors available from Rite In The Rain that I have purchased. Since I'm redoing several bags, I'm buying 3 packs to save a little money and to have uniform colors for the same objects in each location.  

I can't recommend these notebooks enough for everyone to place in your bags, purse, car door pocket or even pants back pocket. You can choose a top spiral, side spiral, hard cover, in 3" x 5", 5" x 7", 2" x 3 3/4", in yellow, orange, black, blue and tan.

From the Amazon ad:
  • WEATHERPROOF PAPER: 100 pages / 50 sheets per pocket notepad. All-weather paper won’t turn to mush when wet and will repel water, sweat, grease, mud, and even survive the accidental laundry mishap. Make sure your pocket notebook stays RIGHT in the Rain.
  • WIRE-O BINDING: Tough impact-resistant Wire-O binding won't lose its shape in your back pocket or backpack. Unlike a standard spiral notebook, Wire-O keeps your open pages aligned and intact.
  • WRITE IN THE RAIN: When wet, use a standard #2 pencil or an all-weather pen. Standard ballpoints and permanent markers will work when paper is dry. Water-based inks will bead or wash off Rite in the Rain Paper.
  • WATERPROOF NOTEBOOK COVER: Polydura material creates a tough but flexible outer shell. Whether you're needing a hiking journal, outfitting your police gear, starting a golf journal, or just keeping a shower notebook, the Polydura Cover material will defend your field notes from scratches and stains.

Did you know that they also make tactical range cards? Paired with a Rite In The Rain pen or pencil (with optional red lead refill), you are set for taking notes and kicking something in any weather.  

This is another triple purchase item for me. I take one with me to work, there's one sitting beside me right now, and the Purple Pack Lady is supposed to have one either in her car or in her purse. (No comment as to the actual location.)

I no longer need a backup this big for my job, but the size is handy for topping off everyone's phones or giving my laptop an almost 50% charge.

From the Amazon ad:

  • Ultra-High Cell Capacity: The massive 20,000mAh cell capacity provides more than 5 charges for iPhone XS, almost 5 full charges for Samsung Galaxy S10, more than 4 charges for iPhone 11, and over 2 and a half charges for iPad mini 5.
  • Advanced Charging Technology: Anker's exclusive PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technology combine to deliver an optimized charge to your devices, while the trickle-charging mode is the best way to charge low-power accessories.
  • Simultaneous Charging: Twin USB ports allow you to charge two devices at the same time. The USB-C port cannot charge other devices.
  • Versatile Recharging: With both a USB-C and Micro USB input port, you have more options over how you recharge. Recharging PowerCore with a 10W charger will take approximately 10.5 hours, while recharging with a 5W charger will take approximately 20 hours.
  • What You Get: Anker 325 Power Bank (PowerCore 20K), Micro USB cable (to charge the power bank), welcome guide, our worry-free 18-month warranty, and friendly customer service. (USB-C cable, Lightning cable, and wall charger not included)

Finally, a note regarding the Streamlight Pocket Mate I mentioned in my previous post: I now need to order another light (or possibly 3-4) as my wonderful sister now has the red version on her keychain. This, after I purchased a pink model to give to the Purple Pack Lady to reclaim the red one. I'm a really easy push-over.

(Editrix's note: One of our readers wrote in to say the following --
Since I couldn't quickly find an email link for David Blackard on the BCP site, please tell him that the "Streamlight Pocket Mate" has been the Christmas hit of my friend circle. I'm consistently seeing the guys fiddling with them during our gaming sessions, those whose wives haven't already stolen theirs from them. The damn things are crazy bright and pocket friendly.
Furthermore, our own Lokidude has confessed that he bought his wife a different model of Streamlight (a USB MicroStream) to prevent her from taking his. 

Moral of the story: cute Streamlights are irresistible to women.)

* * *

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.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Prepper's Pantry: Twice-Baked Bread

In the past I've done posts on various types of baking, such as yeast breads and quick breads, and one thing all these recipes have in common is a relatively short shelf life. This is due primarily to the inclusion of fats such as butter and oil. While these serve to help retain moisture and keep baked goods soft for longer, they (along with sugar) are also more likely to result in mold if not eaten quickly enough, especially in a humid environment.

Back in the age of sail, various methods were devised for preserving food. One of the more difficult items to make last for long was bread, which was referred to as "soft tack" to differentiate it from "hard tack", a tooth-breakingly tough addition to issued rations.

Hard Tack
A simple combination of flour, water, and salt, hard tack got its long shelf life from being baked twice to drive as much of the water as possible out of the dough.

Hard Tack


  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 ° F.
  2. Combine the flour, water and salt and mix well.
  3. After mixing, the dough should be slightly dry and not sticky. If it is too sticky, add small amounts of flour until the dough holds together, but is still dryer than traditional dough.
  4. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 1/2 inch.
  5. Cut the dough into 3" squares.
  6. Poke holes in the dough with a fork. Make sure the holes go all the way through. This helps prevents the biscuits from puffing up while baking.
  7. Place the hardtack biscuits on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the biscuits from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, then flip and bake for another 30 minutes.
  10. When done, place the hardtack biscuits on a cooling rack.
  11. Once they are completely cooled, store in an airtight container.

Another twice-baked item that is much more palatable, biscotti is less likely to go bad than other baked desserts. This is partially due to the two trips through the oven, and partially due to this delicious treat being eaten quickly.



  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Anise extract
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 egg plus 1 tsp water for egg wash


  1. Combine sugar, baking powder, butter, and eggs.
  2. Blend in the extract.
  3. Mix in the flour one cup at a time.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  5. Form dough into two logs on a greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. 1" high by 1 ½" wide. For a better finish, wet your hands and pat the top and sides of the dough.
  6. Brush the logs with egg wash and bake for 20-22 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let the logs cool for two minutes.
  8. Cut the logs diagonally into slices 1" thick.
  9. Lay the slices on their sides, and re-bake at the same temperature for 15 minutes.

This is a basic biscotti recipe; there are many optional ingredients, such as dried fruits, nuts, and spices, like cinnamon or ginger. Biscotti are also frequently dipped or coated in chocolate.

Share and enjoy.

The Fine Print

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