Tuesday, December 11, 2018

My next level bug out trailer

Ok, I finally am sitting still long enough to put some details on this new trailer up.  I already talked about the how and why I landed on the Intech, and now that I have used it a few times I have begun to tailor it to my needs.   In theory if the SHTF day ever came, this is my "hook up and go" giant bug out bag. But lets be honest, the SHTF on a regular basis all around the world on a local basis.  From California wild fires to hurricanes battering the coast, to any number of regional events, things happen, people need to evacuate, and a lot of times lives get lost.  The faster you can vacate a danger zone, the better.   Sometimes you get a lot of fore warning, but not always, and my new trailer upped my readiness and survivability.

Of course the trailer is a transport method for my gear, and I keep it loaded and ready.  Yeah, some of this is my camping gear that I use anytime i'm out, but a lot of it is emergency and survival gear that is just stored in the trailer instead of on a shelf or in my basement. I have to unload it before a recreational outing, and thats a complete reversal of the norm by unloading to go, but it keeps me in a constant state of readiness.  

I still keep my totes loaded like previously wrote about. They stay in the basement ready to be loaded in the truck bed, but things that are not temperature sensitive, I store in the trailer.
This trailer is not just a gear hauler, it also serves as base camp.  With its 270 degree foxwing awning, attachable tent, and wind breaks, it gives my family ample shelter from the elements.  On TV its marauders, or aliens, or zombies, that are the enemy, thats fun and glamorous but in reality weather, exposure, and the environment will and has killed more people then anything else.

If I ever have to evacuate my home, I don't want to be sleeping on the floor of some school gym, or a FEMA camp.  If anything was ever to be learned from New Orleans and the response to Hurricane Katrina, its you do NOT want your fate to be in the hands of the government. Thats not to say they may not have the best intentions, its just not how I roll.

Now this piece of gear also has a huge impact on me in another way.  It allows me to get out and enjoy THIS!  You can not overestimate the value of recreation, and recharging your mental batteries.  Being able to comfortably get away and enjoy this view does more for my mental stability then all the prozac at the nearest pharmacy.  The joy this brings me is immeasurable, AND at the same time it stands ready to shield me in case I have to evacuate.  

Thursday, October 4, 2018

I huge investment, or a new toy...

I'm not sure which this is classified as?  I think investment, prep gear, recreation, even mental health. My wife says "toy".

Ok, so if you've seen my previous blog posts, you've seen my camping/bug out trailer, and how I keep it staged and loaded with all my gear. Its basically my bugout bag, because I can hitch it to my truck almost as fast as I could grab a backpack if there were a crisis.   Well after many MANY hand wringing sessions and late nights of research, I made a significant upgrade.

I had a very specific criteria. I wanted a larger trailer, but I didn't want a "project" like building out a empty equipment trailer.  I wanted it to use it for camping, like a teardrop, and sleep in it, but it had to have full open access so I could easily and quickly load all my totes of gear in an evac situation. It needed to fit in my garage otherwise it was useless.  You can't have bug out gear, then store it away from your primary residence where you would be bugging out from.  I have been to a couple of years of RV shows looking a Popups, and all sorts of travel trailers and none of them fit the bill, then I found it.  The perfect trailer, perfect, perfect, PERFECT!   an Intech RV Flyer!

Its absolutely PERFECT!  Well its almost perfect, but its absolutely checked of every box I had, and gave me stuff I didn't even know I wanted, and its a blank canvas for additional upgrades.  

You can go to Intech's website to see all the specs if that turns you on, but IF i had a magic wand, THIS would be what I would create.   

Anyway,  This has improved my camping game tremendously, but just like the previous trailer, its the fact that I keep it at home, fully prepped and loaded with all my survival gear, that makes it a prep.  Its a giant bug out bag! I can literally hitch up and go, and never look back.     I watched family and friends in North Carolina struggle over if they should leave.  You never know what way these storms will go, and the expense of an evac can be daunting to say the least.  I can wait longer, to make that final call to evacuate because I've prepaid the expense.  (yes, the old preping is time shifting thing again)

Ok, there are a lot more details to come, but this has been a game changer.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Its been a crazy year...

Work has kept me from getting any keyboard
time.  My new position over facilities and operations at a long term acute care hospital gives me no free time, but it has "professionalized" my prep game.

Quarterly fire and life safety drills, FEMA manuals, active shooter drills, emergency response training.  Even though we aren't a level 1 hospital, we still are listed as a triage response location so if there were an explosion at any of the near by factories or a tanker train derailment and chemical spill at the local rail yard, we would be where authorities would set up shop.  I got two whole rooms of FEAM supplied decontamination gear just in case.  Talk about being ready for zombies...

Think I was excited to get my 2200 watt Ryobi generator for camping? imagine the grin on my face standing in front of a Caterpillar 750,000 watt diesel generator, powered by 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel in my own storage tank.  I've got a round the clock security team, 72 camera digital video security system, an armory with full emergency response gear (i know right!), a morgue...  

I've been in prepper "fat hog heaven" my friends.  I've also had to learn a crap load of Hospital Joint Commission and Commission of Accredited Rehabilitation Facilities rules and regs, no fun and no free time.  BUT, I did get a discount on my MREs and canned water by adding what I needed at home onto the order when we rotated inventory.so that was nice

Anyway,  Its taken months, well actually a couple of years, but its finally settled down to where I can think about other things creatively.   I never stopped prepping, camping, or training,  I just didn't have time to put it into words (and there is some stuff I had to go through and learn that I'm not suppose to share.  So.... I'm back.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Ok, I cracked! The Photobucket bastards beat me

The Photobucket bastards beat me into submission.  I completely capitulated and paid their blackmail so my links are active again.  I feel so dirty...

Anyway,  I'll be back to sharing my mental wanderings, purchases, and gear tests.

Monday, February 19, 2018

My deepest apologies...

If you have been reading any of this, because I have been extremely negligent.  A huge project at work has sucked up most of my spare time, and i didn't want to give up my other activity so my post have suffered. BUT, I have continued my prepping and my gear tests and evaluation, so i have a ton of info, just no time to write.  I also have been rather depressed about the whole thing because Photobucket decided to go to this fee based system and block everything.  it just ruined my whole blog.  I'm looking for a replacement or alternative, and i will have to go back and redo every single post and link.  Bastatrds! Wait, can i say bastards on the internet? Yeah, its my private blog so... You Photobucket BASTARDS!.  

Quick update to a product I love, and you saw me rave about.  The Slumberjack Sleeping bag.  Well, I had my Ronin, and i ended up getting a Lapland on close out.  Both are -20 with the same design, just one is more synthetic fill, and one has down.  Anyway, my son and I were camping this weekend (first weekend in February) in mid Michigan.  Military Bivy sack covers in improvised lean-to shelters and single man tents, no heaters, no luxury "Glamping" stuff, low teens at night.  These bags were amazing.  I actually had to vent with the bottom zippers inside the bivy in 14 degree weather to stay comfortable. And again, pop you arms out the arm holes and stay warm while you make the first "cup of joe".  Money was well spent on these Slumberjack bags.

Anyway,  I did a big investment in my gear, after i find a image site to host, i have some amazing things to share.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A tent for all seasons...

or maybe i should say "a tent for EACH season".  As I've continued to learn, train, and experience the outdoors, i have "collected" a lot of equipment.  Some of it integrates into my prepping plan as it serves a function in a survival situation, and some of it is a tool for training.  a wet stone for me to sharpen my personal skills on.   This is important because its not the gear that will save my family in a crisis, it me and the skills i've develop.   One of the areas that has exploded in terms of gear is my tent collection.

Being involved with the Boy Scouts, we camp one weekend a month while school is in, and almost two weeks in the summer for summer camp.  The joke in our troop is its like the Army reserves. Thats no disrespect to reservist, those folks do a tough job, and have my full respect, but the point is we campout A LOT.  We're talking 20 plus days a year of just scout camping. Multiply that by the years from Tenderfoot to first-class and thats a lot of time in a tent sleeping on the ground.  Well one of the things a senior scout leader told me when i first got involved was "spend the money and get good gear to make yourself comfortable. You're out here more then you realize, and being comfortable will make it much more enjoyable".

I've also come to the conclusion that there is no shame in "Glamping".  I have a full size pick up, and i fill that sucker with gear.  I take a cot, and heater, my goal zero solar gear, and whatever i need to be comfortable.  The tent i use the most is a Coleman instant 6 person, that weighs a ton, goes up in a snap, and i can stand up fully and walk around and get dressed in.  I'm part of the Quartermasters equipment team and we work hard the whole campout, and getting a good night sleep and not being hunched over putting on pants may seem like a small thing, but when its month after month it gets old.  Weight or size is not problem because we drive to our camp sites and i'm moving heavy gear all day anyway.

My family camping gear has an even bigger Coleman instant tent from the same line. That one has a divider making two rooms.  I also have a huge Coleman weather master that was such a deal i couldn't pass up, and a screen room for eating and other activities without the usual bugs that are part of camping.  This is also the gear that stays loaded in my trailer and would be base camp in an evac situation.  Weight is not a concern as much as comfort and stability, so carry whatever i want.  These are my shelters for my loved ones, and i have space for equipment and tasks inside because weather could be a factor.
Much like boat owners get 2 foot-itis and upgrade over time, the same happens with tents.  The only advantage is Coleman Tents are cheaper then Searays.   I will have to admit i miscalculated the value of standing and bought the 4 person instant tent first.  Its a great tent.  The foot print is just a few feet smaller then the 6, and they are almost identical at a distance, but the 4 is roughly 5'5" at the center.  I figured if i'm going to have to sit down to get dressed, i may as well be in my dome summer tent.   This is the tent my son and his buddies use on our personal outings, it fits them perfectly, and they get all the advantages of the instant tent design.   
Speaking of my Dome tent, a lot of other Scout Masters use them every outing.  Mine is nice for a couple people, and the ventilation is great for summer camping.  Its not my main stay, since we do most of our camping during the school year, but it has seen a few weekends.  The main reason i have it is it was one of the last 2 at Sam's club and they were almost giving it away at the end of season.  It practically leaped into my cart.  If i never sleep in it again, i got my money's worth.  I will say, when its a hot night, and the bugs are biting, sitting in that little screen porch is great.

When weight and size is an issue, i have 2 options.  The first my Vango Banshee 300.  I have another post about this tent, but is simply amazing.

The second is a Snugpak Scorpion 3.  Its self supportive structure makes it perfect for backpacking in the winter months.  It can support the weight of snow, and requires minimum ground stakes if the surface is frozen.

Both of my backpacking tents are 3 man for several reasons. Manufacturer's "tent math" not with standing, the chances are slim that i would go on an overnight hike alone. Its far more likely that my son and I will hit the trails together. A 3 man tent may not fit 3 grown men, but its perfect for 2 and a couple of back packs.  The weight difference is almost a zilch issue for me.  I'm not hiking the Appalachian trail or anything that adventures. so whats another 6 or 10 oz for a weekend. When he and I hike, I usually carry the tent, my sleeping bag, and a larger proportion of the gear.  He carries his sleeping bag and gear, and the food.  A 3 man means you share the load by splitting the gear.

At the end of the day, all these tents are just a way for me to be comfortable and get outside more so i can train and do more.  If you're uncomfortable, and not happy, you won't go do it.  Skills beats stuff, so don't let little things get in the way getting better skills.

Friday, January 6, 2017

I gotta stay off the internet...

Sometimes i get too much time, and I end up finding things that solve problems i didn't even know i had.  This is one such problem.   I was watching Canadian Prepper's Youtube channel, and he went through his torch survival box.  I was just amazed at his flameless cook system.  While i'm not in the middle of nowhere like he is, so i won't need to cook if i got stuck and had to hike home,  I thought what a great way to heat up a quick bed time snack in my tent.   

Now, any expreianced camper will tell you one of the tricks to sleeping comfortably on a cold night is to "feed the furnace".  That is to eat something just before tucking into your sleeping bag to give your body fuel to keep you warm. Well, a warm snack is much better then cold, but coking on a jetboil is way too much trouble just before lights out, and depending on what tent i'm in i don't always have the room either.

Well this little flameless cook system is the perfect solution.  It will work in confined space, gives off no gas or fumes, and won't set my tent on fie.  Don't laugh, we have had a tent 

I tried it out with mountain house's grilled vegetables. They are a great dehydrated side dish that works on the trail, and i know how they cook up with hot water rehydration the regular way.

Just a little bit of water in the base is enough to start the reaction and get the heater going.  Then you close it up with what you're heating in the pan that goes on top.

I tried to show the steam coming out of the side.  Trust me, this thing gets hot!  It also stays hot for about 30 min, so IF you were stuck out in the cold, it would keep your meal warm so you could enjoy it.

my test meal rehydrated perfectly.  A great solution, to a problem i didn't even know i had.