Category Archives: Seventy-two hour kits

The SilverFire Scout Biomass Stove is very Efficient

SilverFire Scout

The stove and the pan in the bag

I recently received a new stove to test, this is the SilverFire Scout.  Now before I say too much about the stove I want to explain a bit about my background.  I have served in the fire service and for the last 17 years of my career, I was with a state arson and bomb unit.  I have a background  in fire science and I understand how a stove of this type works.  In addition, I have tested many of the small stoves that are currently on the market, so I feel qualified to review this stove.

 

I like the whole concept of using biomass to fuel your stove.  Biomass stoves are fueled by twigs, pinecones, smaller sticks etc.  A handful of twigs and leaves and you can cook a meal.   A small stove like the SilverFire Scout works well in a bugout bag, you have an almost endless supply of fuel.

SilverFire Scout

The stove inside the pan with the lid off

SilverFire Scout

The stove inside the pan with the lid on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SilverFire Scout is sold in three different configurations, one just the stove by itself for $59.99, the second the stove and the MSR Alpine Stowaway 775 ml pan for $79.99 and the third is the stove, MSR pan, silverware and a nice fire starter for $99.99.

The one I am testing is the stove and the MSR pan.  As you can see in the pictures, the stove fits inside the pan and it all fits inside the bag.  The pan and SilverFire Scout stove weighs approximately 20 ounces,  the stove by itself 12 ounces.

SilverFire Scout

The stove set up next to the pan

SilverFire Scout

The stove loaded with wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The biomass fuel that I used was the dry materials that I found while out with my wife in the rain, see this post,  Finding Dry Wood in Wet Weather

For simplicities sake I used a vaseline soaked cotton ball to start the fire.  I followed the directions on the correct way to load the stove, which is to put the biomass in a vertical position and place small tinder on the top.

SilverFire Scout

SilverFire Scout

The pan on the the stove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of the way, this stove draws; this stove will smoke if overfilled.  You have to practice with this stove to learn how much fuel to add.  Twigs placed in the firebox in a vertical position, with good dry tinder placed on the top seems to work well. After playing with the SilverFire Scout, I have to give it a very high rating, it was able to bring a pan of water from 45 degrees F to a full rolling boil in under seven minutes.  The stove is sturdy and is made of stainless steel.

SilverFire Scout

The water at a hard rolling boil

The design of this stove is unique and makes this stove very efficient.  Rather than try to explain why this stove works I am going to say that while I have not tested this stove head to head against others, based on my experience this is the most efficient stove that I have encountered. I will recommend it.

Howard

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Bugout Bags, Another Look

bugout bag

This what you should avoid, items still in the wrapper that you have never used. Don’t buy the assembled bags that are sold by many different companies, build your own and you will know what is in it.

Bugout bags are a very personal item and what is good for one will not work for the next.  Each one of us needs to build a bag in which we are familiar with the contents and know how to use everything in it.  Some of us can get by with very little, others require more.

The following is a list of items that you may want to consider putting in your bugout bag.  The contents of your bugout bag will vary depending on your physical condition, age and size of your family and the weather conditions in the area in which you live.  In addition, finances will play a part in determining what goes into your bag.

A list of suggested items for your bugout bag.

Large rucksack or other means of carrying your bugout bag

Food and cooking supplies 

Three days’ supply of food minimum, ( I carry more) to be determined by size and age of family and personal needs.
Suggested items

      • MRE’s (meals ready to eat)
      • Canned food – meats, tuna, sardine, fruits, vegetables chili etc.  I avoid these as to heavy.
      • Hard candy dried fruit, etc.
      • Granola Bars or Power Bars
      • Instant Breakfast
      • Fruit bar or fruit rolls
      • Grab & Go buckets from FreezeDryGuy
      • Mountain House or similar freeze dried or dehydrated foods
      • Jerky or pemmican
      • Beans or pasta

U.S. military surplus mess kit or similar backpacking set
Knife, fork & spoon set
U.S. stainless steel canteen cup can be used for drinking or cooking.

Water purification

One Qt. Military canteen.
One Qt. Nylon canteen cover.
Aquamira or Katadyn water treatment tablets 50 per bottle, 4 year shelf life or a good quality water filter like the one made by Sawyer, Platypus,  Katadyn or First Need.  I like the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System which only weights 2 oz and if used correctly will filter up to a hundred thousand gallons of water.  The cost is only about $25.00.

Sanitation

Toilet paper
Bar of soap
Towel
Feminine supplies
Personal items
Insect repellant

Warm and shelter

      • Sleeping bags are the best choice for warmth and comfort; go lightweight
      • 100% wool blanket is the best second choice for warmth.  Check the military surplus outlets.
      • A bivy bag, this will keep you dry at night
      • A self-inflating sleep pad
      • Space blanket, emergency use only, poorest choice
      • A poncho liner, ok in warmer climate
      • A good poncho, it can also be used to keep you dry in the rain or to make a temporary shelter.

Fire starters

Waterproof match case containing strike anywhere matches
BlastMatch, Strike Force and a Sparkie are all commercial manufactured fire starters that will work after having been wet. I carry one of these in addition to matches.
A small container of cotton balls impregnated with Vaseline.

Miscellaneous

Legal papers, insurance policies and other important documents
Large trash bags
Battery or solar power radio
A good sharp knife
A good LED flashlight and spare batteries
50’ hank of parachute cord, has many uses including helping to construct shelters
Small shovel for burying waste

Clothing

This will depend on the area in which you reside, and the time of the year.  Be sure and pack warm clothes, if you have to stay outside all night it can get cold even when it seems hot during the day.

First aid kit

The bugout bag should contain a minimum of the following items.  If possible package them in a water proof container. A doubled one-gallon zip lock bag will work

  • Surgical dressing, approx. 4” x 6
  • Band-aids assorted sizes
  • Gauze pad 4” four each
  • Gauze pad 2” four each
  • Adhesive tape ¾”
  • First aid book
  • Vaseline, doubles as a fire starter
  • Ace bandage
  • Triangular bandage
  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine
  • Aspirin and acetaminophen
  • Calamine lotion
  • Cotton swabs
  • Ace bandage, 3”
  • Moleskin for blisters
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Prescription medicine as needed

The above list is by no means complete there are many other options depending on your skills.  I have not made any suggestions on the subject of self-defense, there are many other good articles on this that I am not going to try and duplicate.  My only cautions would be to advise you to obey the law.  The important thing is to get started on your bugout bag, even if you just use items you already have at home.  Remember an 80% bag on time is better than a 100% bag too late.

Howard

 

Howard

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Dutch Desert Camo Pack

Dutch Desert Camo PackThis Dutch Desert Camo Pack is being sold by my friend Freezedryguy.  Now he is an old Special Forces soldier who spend many years in the military, and knows packs well.  Now I know for a fact that he is currently using one of these packs himself and he only uses the best.  If he says it is a good pack you can bet on it.  You can reach his website by using the links at the bottom of this page or by clicking on his add located on the right hand side of this page. Howard Dutch Desert Camo Pack

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School Lockdown, How One affected My Family

school lockdown

Students being removed from the school and taken to a secondary location at which they were released to their families.

Recently one of my grandsons was caught in a school lockdown.  This was caused when an illegal alien shot and killed two police officers, wounded a third and one civilian.  One of the officers was shot and killed, and another wounded near the school my grandson attended.  Place County Sheriff’s Detective Michael David Davis who was killed near the school was a good man with a family and did not deserve to die at the hands of an illegal alien.

The shooting caused the high school to go on full school lockdown and to remain in this condition for about 5 to 6 hours.  During this entire time the students were kept locked in their classrooms most without access to water, food or toilet facilities.  Now needless to say this became a problem.  My grandson was one of the lucky ones in that he was in a small separate building with a bathroom attached.  The students in some classrooms ended up using trashcans for toilets.

The high school is now trying to take action to be prepared for this type of event in case it happens in the future. According to an article in the Auburn journal,   dated Nov 12, 2014.

“With hindsight, Placer High educators are now asking for the public’s help to fund lockdown emergency kits in each classroom to help students and teachers more easily get more comfortably through what could be a period of several hours without access to food, water or restrooms.

Placer High has started a fundraising campaign asking parents and other members of the Auburn community for donations to pay for the kits. Each kit – which includes a bucket with snap-on toilet lid, energy bars, water, toilet paper and other lockdown gear – costs $72.

A lockdown kit is designed to aid a classroom of 30 students. Placer High is hoping that donations will fund 70 kits, Assistant Principal Steve Caminiti said.”

Even at the end of the lockdown, the school refused to let the students leave until a responsible family member showed up and signed for them.  This led to long lines and took several hours.

Now this brings up several questions for you, about school lockdowns.

      • Should you include some emergency supplies in your child’s school backpack?
      • Should you encourage your school to stock supplies?
      • What type of a plan does your school have for releasing children to their parents and how does it affect you?
      • If you plan to bug out, how will a delay caused by a school lockdown affect you?

Now I don’t have all the answers, I do applaud the preparedness efforts, even if they are a bit late.  But I still have several unanswered questions; do you include extra supplies with your child and what kind of problems will this cause them, when they pull them out?  My second question is how do I get my child out of school in a timely manner?

As to how getting a child out of school will affect your personal preparedness plans, I have no idea.  But you need to take this possible time delay into consideration, when making plans.  Keep in mind that they had numerous police officers on hand to enforce these rules.

Let us know if you have any ideas.

Howard

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Bugout and Get Home Bags Need to be Updated For Winter

bugout

A small Alice Pack makes a good bugout bag.

Winter is coming and with it cold or wet weather.This is the time of year you need to go through and update your bugout and get home bags.  Make sure that you have the clothes that you need to survive outside in the winter.  Hypothermia, How to Dress to Avoid It 

It does not matter whether you are bugging out by car or on foot.  You still need to check your bags once in a while.  For me spring and fall works.  I look at a bugout or a get home bag as something to get me to a safe place in a short period of time.  They are different from an INCH bag or I’m never coming home bag.

Whether you are bugging out by foot or in a vehicle, you still need to carry similar items.  The vehicle just lets you carry more of them.

Here is a suggested list of items for your bugout or get home bags

FOOD -Three days’ supply of food minimum, (I carry more) to be determined by size and age of family and personal needs.
Suggested items

• MRE’s (meals ready to eat) or LRPs (long range patrol rations)
• Canned food – meats, tuna, sardine, fruits, vegetables chili etc, (I avoid these as to heavy) .
• Hard candy dried fruit, etc.
• Granola Bars or Power Bars
• Fruit bar or fruit rolls
• Mountain House or similar freeze dried of dehydrated foods
• Jerky or pemmican
• Home dried fruits
• Beans or pasta

U.S. military surplus mess kit or similar backpacking set
Knife, fork & spoon set
U.S. stainless steel canteen cup can be used for drinking or cooking.

WATER PURIFICATION
One Qt. Military canteen. At least one depending on availability of water.
One Qt. Nylon canteen cover.
Aquamira Tablets, 4-year shelf life, or a good quality water filter like the one made by Aquamira, Katadyn or First Need. I like the Aquamira’s Frontier Pro which only weights 2 oz and will filter 50 gallons of water. The cost is under $25.00.

SANITATION
Toilet paper
Bar of soap, small. I use the little ones out of motels.
Towel small
Feminine supplies if needed, they can double as first aid dressings.
Personal items, tooth brush etc.
Insect repellant, many some insect repellents will double as a fire starter, check yours.

WARMTH AND SHELTER
Sleeping bags are the best choice for warmth and comfort, keep it light
100% wool blanket is the second best choice for warmth. Check the military surplus outlets and thrift stores.
Space blanket, emergency use only, poorest choice
A good poncho, not the cheap plastic ones. They can also be used to make a temporary shelter.

FIRE STARTERS
Waterproof match case
Strike anywhere matches
BlastMatch, Strike Force, Sparkie or varies fire steels are all commercial manufactured fire starters that will work after having been wet. I carry at least one of these in addition to matches.
A small container of cotton balls impregnated with vaseline.

MISCELLANEOUS
Legal papers, money, insurance policies and other important documents.
A large trash bag
Battery or solar power radio, if weight allows
A good knife
A good LED flashlight and spare batteries. I carry a Powerfilm USB+AA solar charger and Eneloop batteries. It weighs 6.2 ounces including two batteries.
50’ hank of parachute cord
Small shovel for burying waste
Large rucksack or other means of carrying kit.

CLOTHING is an item that depends on the area in which you reside, and the time of the year. Be sure and pack warm clothes, if you have to stay outside all night it can get cold even when it seems hot during the day. Keep the weigh as light as possible.

FIRST AID KIT
The kit should contain a minimum of the following items. If possible, package them in a waterproof container.

• Surgical dressing, approx. 4” x 6 or feminine hygiene pads
• Band-aids assorted sizes
• Gauze pad 4” four each
• Adhesive tape ¾”
• Ace bandage
• Triangular bandage
• Antiseptic
• Anti-diarrhea medicine
• Aspirin and acetaminophen
• Calamine lotion
• Moleskin for blisters
• Sunscreen
• Prescription medicine as needed

PERSONAL protection or hunting items of your choice.

This is just a suggested list for a bugout or get home bag; yours may vary depending on local conditions or your own level of experience.  Try to keep them on the light side, unless you are in good condition and are used to carrying a pack.  Remember even if you don’t have everything on this list, anything you can put together is better than nothing.

Howard

 

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Using Man Powered Vehicles can Make it Easier to Bug Out

man powered vehiclesThe ingenuity of man never fails to amaze me.  The older I get the more I realize that my body is beginning to limit my activities.  Gone are the days when I can strap on a 70-pound pack and happily walk of with it.  My pack would now be limited to more like 25 pounds.  So I have been doing some research on man powered vehicles.  In this, I have included bikes and all types of carts.

With a little effort, I was amazed at what I found.  Many of the small carts that tow behind bicycles are capable of carry up to 130 pounds.  They can provide plenty of room for clothes, gear and much more.   Here are a couple of links to some previous articles I have posted on the use of bikes Survival Bicycles Can be a Good Idea  ,  A case for the bicycle as a survival vehicle 

With bikes or any man powered vehicles that use bike tires, you need to get the best Kevlar puncture proof tires that you can afford.  Another option is to use tire liners.  These are fairly inexpensive.  There are other options that include thorn resistant tubes and various sealants.

The following are some of the man powered vehicles that I found.

man powered vehicles

Jon Muir not to be confused with John Muir, did the first unassisted crossing of Australia,  from Port Augusta to Burketown,  2500km in 128 Days. The cart was made with ATV wheels.

man powered vehiclesRipley Davenport in his Walking Across Mongolia used a rickshaw style cart with 4 mountain bike wheels.man powered vehicles

Lucas Trihey crossed the Simpson Desert with a rickshaw style cart with super fat mountain bike tires. He also organizes trips in the Australian desert with the carts.

man powered vehicles

Karl Bushby is walking from coast to coast of the United States with the above cart.

These are just a few of the ideas that I found.  Others include game carts, wagons and Mormon style handcarts.  With the wide variety of man powered vehicles that are available to us, except in unusual circumstances we should do all we can to avoid carrying a lot of weight on our backs.

Wheels permit us to carry more weight, use less energy and protect our backs and knee joints. You will notice as you study the history of the American West that very few of the early explorers carried much on their backs.  They used wagons, hand carts, horses or mules. Send in your suggestions or pictures of ones, you have made.

Howard

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Poncho Liners are a Must have Piece of Equipment

poncho liners

In the past I have written about the many uses of the poncho. Ponchos are an Excellent Multi Use Piece of Equipment.Today I want to discuss the poncho liner or woobie.

The poncho liner is a piece of field gear originating in the United States military and intended to provide warmth in mild temperatures when used as a field expedient sleeping bag.  It can be attached to the standard issue poncho by means of ties which are fastened to the poncho’s eyelets.  The poncho liner consists of two layers of quilted nylon encasing a polyester loft filling.

The originals poncho liners had olive drab on one side and camouflage on the other; currently they are available in several patterns including woodland, MARPAT and Universal Camouflage Pattern.

The poncho liners have generally been popular with the troops.  Because of its lightweight and compact size, it is easy to carry.  In temperatures above 45° F, I have found it keeps me warm.  You can attach it to the poncho and wrap yourself up in it in rainy or damp weather, but I prefer to use the poncho to make a shelter and then wrap myself in the liner.

There are civilian knock offs on the market, some of the better ones like the Wiggy’s and the Kifaru Woobie, may be an improvement over the military issue one.  Some of them have better insulation and are slightly larger than the military issue one.  The size of some of the commercial ones preclude them being used as a liner to the issue poncho, since they are larger.

The issue poncho liner does not have a hole for your head so you can’t wear it under the poncho.  Some of the commercial ones do, some even have zippers.

I have not tried the various commercial versions, but I have used the issue one and consider it an excellent must have piece of equipment.

Howard

 

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Hydration Packs can Prevent Heat Related Illnesses

hydration packs

This inexpensive pack that I bought at a discounts sports store has served me well for many years

Summer is here and I believe it will be a hot, dry one.  It is time that we start to think about avoiding dehydration.  Water is a critical element in the body, and you must have adequate hydration for the body to function properly.  The human body contains up to 75% water.  A tool that I have found very useful to help keep me hydrated is the hydration packs often referred to as Camelbaks.

Dehydration occurs when the body looses water faster than it takes it in.  The human body loses water for many reasons.

  • You lose moisture every time you take a breath
  • Sweating from exercise, you can sweat 2 quarts of water per hour.
  • Urination or bowel movements
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

To protect yourself against dehydration in a hot environment, if hiking you should drink 1 gallon of water for every 20 miles you hike at night and 2 gallons per 20 miles during the day.  This is a minimum.

hydration paxks

100 ounce Camelpak

Over the last 20 years or so, I have spent a lot of time hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the temperatures at the lower elevations often exceed 100° F.

One solution I have found is the use of hydration packs. I currently have two different styles that each serves a purpose.

I have an off brand one that I bought at a discount sporting goods store made by Outdoor products.  I have carried it for about 10 or more years and it has held up well.  It actually is a small backpack and lets me carry a few emergency supplies.  I usually, carry snacks, water purification pills, fire starter, space blankets, a small first aid kit with moleskin and maybe an extra long sleeve sweater.  This works well for day hikes.  The reason for the water purification pills is that I have had to refill my pack from the river on extremely hot days.

The second one I have is 100 ounce Camelbak that I can attach to a larger pack for overnight hikes.  This is a low profile pack that I have had for some years and I have no idea what model it is. The large size is good when water is hard to find.

One thing that I have found is that having a cleaning kit for hydration packs is a good idea.  I like the one sold by Camelbak.  This cleaning kit comes with special disinfectant tablets, a drying rack and scrub brushes too so you can clean the interior well to prevent the growth of mold.

If you run out of disinfectant tablets, you can use a small teaspoon of bleach, baking soda or dish soap diluted.  Go light on the cleaner; the most important part is scrubbing it out thoroughly with the brush.

Let the bladder sit with the cleaning solution in it for a while.  Then scrub the bladder out with the brushes. Hang it up to dry using the included reservoir dryer.

These have kept me hydrated and prevented from having any heat related problems while hiking.  In a bug out or even while out working in the field these can help keep you hydrated.

Howard

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Why You Want a Family Picture in Your Bug Out Bag

family pictures

A friend of mine has a large and young family, in case of a disaster his plan A is to bug in, but there is always plane B, bugging out.  His children run in age from four to fifteen, so all but the very youngest can walk a fair distance and even he can carry a small pack.  One of the first things he does when building a bug out bag or seventy two hour kit is to put a family picture in everyone’s pack.  He considers these family pictures one of the most important items in the pack.

While you will always strive to keep your family together, there is always the possibility that you will become separated. In the confusion of a bug out you never know what will happen, especially if there are a large number of people traveling on the roads. This is one of my friend’s biggest fears, losing a child.  At this point, you may have to ask strangers if they have seen your family members.  This is where a family picture comes in handy.  The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is very true when it comes to a young child trying to describe his parents.

A family picture is best, since it shows you all together and may make the difference between whether or not your family becomes reunited.  Don’t ‘forget to update the pictures every one to two years.  Appearances can change rapidly.  Put the names on the back of the picture.

If your child is separated from you, a family picture may be a great comfort to them as well as a tool to get you reunited.  It is probably a good idea to laminate the pictures to protect them from damage.

Howard

 

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Homemade Fire Starters are Easy to Make.

fire starters

Today’s post is on homemade fire starters.  In the past I have experimented with different ones, but in my opinion  this one stands out above the others, for ease of use and manufacture..

It is cotton balls and Vaseline.  Simply impregnate the cotton balls with Vaseline.  This can be done easy by rolling the cotton ball in warm Vaseline.  By warm, I mean set it out in the sun to warm, I do not recommend liquefying the Vaseline on a stove; this can be a fire hazard.

For years, I have carried these in my bug out bag by stuffing them in a 35 mm film can.  You can squeeze quite a few in one.  But with the advent of digital cameras, film cans are no longer easy to obtain.  Pill bottles work quite well, but I was talking to a friend who has been individually wrapping his in aluminum foil.  To use them he cuts an x in the foil package and pulls a small amount of cotton out and lights it.

fire starters

A cotton ball wrapped in aluminum foil

Both methods work quite well, a cotton ball if properly impregnated with Vaseline will burn for almost 10 minutes, with a good hot flame.  The foil wrapped cotton ball will burn for a longer period.  Both can be ignited with a match or a fire starter (spark producing device).

Using damp wood from my yard, it was easy to start a fire using either device.

I have in the past made other types, but have never found any that worked any better or were easier to make. There are many natural fire starters that are available in the wilds and we will cover some of these in the near future.

 

Fire starting is an art that needs to be practiced, there is a learning curve and you never know when you might need to start one on a cold windy, rainy night.

Howard

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