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 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.

Slow and steady...

So its been really busy the last few months.  I barely have time for my Scouts, because work has got me so busy, but I always keep an eye on the clouds ever lurking.  I seems the ammo crisis has completely subsided, IF it ever really existed.  The conspiracy theorist in me says the company just used the media to rake some easy money off the table.  That being said, i have been picking up a few boxes of ammo and increasing my inventory.  One of the newest and interesting products I've come across is American Eagle's Syntech range ammunition.  Instead of a full copper jacket, the bullet is coated with a polymer.  Theoretically the typical fouling and deposits that occur from shooting will be reduced.  The manufacturer also says they are made with a special "cleaner burning" powder that will reduce the deposits.

I have only been to the range twice with them, but i will say that cleaning was easier.   Its not a full scientific comparison, because since i have switched to frog lube, any cleaning is far less of a chore.  In any event,  I have added "a few" 😉 boxes to my inventory, taking full advantage of Gander Mountain's introductory sale price.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Finding a home for my Eberlestock Halftrack

So the Eberlestock Halftrack has been haunting me in my dreams for months.  Like any good gear addicted prepper i tried to tell myself i didn't need it.  I drooled over the 1000 denier fabric construction, the pals webbing, all the little compartments and features that make it an outstanding pack.   Well, i could't hold out any longer.  

With only 35 liters of internal space in the main compartment, it surely would not carry the load out my Kelty  Coyote 80 liter pack would. With that in mind, I have set about creating a light weight minimalist load out designed around the Halftrack.  I know it was designed as a tactical pack or day pack, and not a multi-day hiking pack, so i have my work cut out for me.    

I know the Multicam screams tactical, but my revised load out will work equally well in my Kelty Redwing 50.  Its not totally practical, but its off the chart in the swag department.  Sometimes my ego just runs amok, I think this was one of those times.

I've done some work on "shrinking" my gear, picking up a micro-lite stove in place of my full jetboil, a new ultralight camp light, adding some other stuff that ultralight backpackers use in place of traditional equipment.  I've also added a matching compression sack to carry my hiking tent outside the main pack to squeeze some extra room out of it. I also have become strategic in how i fit gear into it to make the best use of the packs potential.  The two side pockets/pouches are the full height of bag.  I'm playing Tetris with my support gear like Klymit Sleeping pad, Sea to Summit bag liner, MSR water filter, and other stuff to see how i can maximize these compartment.

One thing I can say, is even if i can't fit my gear all in it, I LOVE THIS RUCK!