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Friday, May 22, 2009

Survival Kits (Personal) Part 1

Much is made of survival kits; many people rely on store bought kits that they have no experience with or have not actually used before to save them when they need it most. The simple fact is that companies need to make money; they will compromise the integrity of a component in a heartbeat if it makes them a nickel more on every sale.

My advice is never buy a ready built survival kit; you are much better off building one from scratch. You can hand select the components and spend more on the items you know are more critical to you. Let's face it, no two people have the same idea of the perfect survival kit and they are as personal as they are diverse. There have, in fact, been entire books written on the subject.

In a series of several posts (this being the first) I am going to recommend a pocket survival kit and a slightly bigger personal survival kit. The focus of the first couple of posts will be the larger personal survival kit.

Keep in mind my kits will NOT include luxuries and will provide the basic and most important tools to survive. These are strictly recommendations and you should adjust anything to fit you personally.

There are several components that need to be covered in the personal survival kit. It should be compact, taking up no more space than a small backpack.

The focus of this post will be the container that holds all of the components of your survival kit...the bag. This is one of the areas where choice and diversity are your friends. There is a bag for everyone out there somewhere.

Some people prefer a fanny back but I like the idea of a small backpack myself. The bag should be sturdy and NOT cheaply constructed and I like Camelbaks because of the integrated hydration bladder. Two of my favorite models are the:
CamelBak M.U.L.E 3-Liter Hydration Pack
CamelBak HAWG Hydration Pack - 3L

The HAWG is bigger and will give you more room to play with, the key being you don't want something so HUMONGOUS that is you stop somewhere and walk into the woods and say "Screw this, I ain't lugging that thing in this heat!" That defeats the purpose of even doing this because a survival kit in your trunk when you are in the woods is as useless you know what on a bull.

I like the bladder idea because if you know you are going somewhere, you can pre-fill the pack and have three liters of fresh water to start off with. Many pump filters have adaptors to fill these bladders as well.

That being said, any good quality bag will do; I do recommend a backpack or fanny pack though. It needs to be something that can be fastened to your body and not something that needs to be carried and can be accidentally forgotten.

The bag is one of the most important and personal decisions that must be made in the beginning of constructing your kit. Its size will directly affect the amount you can carry and how comfortably you can carry it, so it is VERY important that you get it right. I recommend you do some dry runs walking around with some weight in the bag to see how it feels carrying it for a period of time.

One other piece of advice, concerning your selection of a bag, get something sturdy but weather resistant if possible. Nothing will be entirely waterproof but something that can keep the contents of your kit dry during a mist or drizzle will help you worry less and focus more on your situation at hand.

Once you have your bag selected and in hand there are several other critical components to a personal survival kit. They will each be covered in deatil in upcoming posts so be sure to check back shortly.

...that is all.

Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/BeASurvivor/~3/aeVr48TCf68/survival-kits-personal-part-1.html

Basic Firearms Part 1: Safety and Parts of a Gun

Over the next little while, I'll be doing a series of firearms informational posts. If you have any questions, PLEASE ask. No question is a dumb question here. I'm keeping it basic and simple, so those of you with tons of firearms experience, try not to get bored on me, okay?

Here's my short background--I shot very little growing up, but really enjoy it now. I am NOT a certified firearms instructor, nor have I received formal training outside of my concealed weapons course and hunter's safety although I would love to. I have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) which means I am licensed to sell guns and get your background check done. Enough for now? On with our first lesson.

First, before anything else, we must cover safety rules. Safety is deadly important with any type of gun. Learn it, practice it, teach it to your kids. We'll keep things simple here. If you want serious training, I suggest calling a local range or firearms training center in your area and getting information on courses--a lot of places run ladies only classes if you ladies don't want to be in a class with a bunch of guys.

Rule number 1: Every gun is always loaded. EVERY GUN is ALWAYS loaded. Let me say that again another way--Every gun is always loaded. You have to believe that every gun you handle, come across, look at, breathe on, dream about has live ammunition in it even if it doesn't. Always.

Rule number 2: NEVER point a gun at something you don't want to destroy. Keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Guns are made to destroy stuff. Imagine a laser beam coming out of the barrel of your gun that will obliterate anything it hits. Never point it at anything you don't want destroyed.

Rule number 3: Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. That means you have the gun in position, sights lined up, the whole deal BEFORE you even put your finger on the trigger. Practice picking up your gun with your trigger finger pointing straight to the front. You can usually rest it alongside the gun just above the trigger area very comfortably. This needs to be your natural grip. I even noticed myself grabbing our screw gun with my trigger finger straight--it's habit.

Rule number 4: Be sure of your target and what's beyond it. Your bullet will not always hit your target and can often go through it. Make sure you know what you are shooting at (no guessing--"well, it could be a deer, or it could be a cow, or a big raccoon . . .") AND what is behind it (and in front of it for that matter) that could also be hit. Also be aware of what could come between you and your target. Make sure the path from you to your target is clear and behind your target is also clear of things that don't need shot. You also want behind your target something solid like the ground to stop the bullet if it passes through or misses the target.

That's the basics, I think common sense also dictates that if you don't know what you're doing, just don't mess with a gun.

Now on to lesson 2. Parts of a gun. We'll just cover this now and get it out of the way so you will know what I'm talking about when I say "trigger guard" "muzzle" "sights" and all those fancy gun words. Study the following picture very carefully:
Wow! What a crazy lot of pieces! That was fun, now we'll move on to the parts of a gun we'll actually be discussing. The following pictures are of a bolt action rifle, a semi automatic handgun, and a revolver. They all have the same basic parts, they just look a little different on each of them.

1. Barrel. The barrel is the part the bullet moves through after it is fired. The muzzle is the open end of the barrel that the bullet exits the gun through.
2. Action. The action is the part that has the mechanism that fires the bullet. My rifle picture is a bolt action. There are also lever action, semi automatic, break action single shot rifles. The top handgun is a semi automatic. The bottom is a revolver.
3. Grip or Stock. The grip or stock is the part you hold onto. Generally it's a grip on a handgun and a stock on a long gun.
4. Trigger Guard. The piece around the trigger that protects it from getting bumped.
5. Trigger. The part your finger pulls to make the gun fire.
6. Sights. Sights come in various styles also. Most firearms have a front sight at the muzzle end of the barrel, and a rear sight at the back end of the barrel. Funny thing, the rifle picture I used has no sights (it wants a scope real badly) so I just put the arrows approximately where the sights would be if it had them.
For those of you who are crying about the magazine release button not being included, remember we're keeping things simple here--it's our first lesson!
Any questions? I'm sure I missed something.
Here's your homework assignment:
Teach your kids what to do if they find a gun (from NRA's Eddie Eagle program):
If you see a gun:
Don't Touch.
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.
And have you joined the NRA yet? Use my Join NRA button at the top of the page or click here to join or renew if you haven't already!

Original: http://selfrelianceadventures.blogspot.com/2009/04/basic-firearms-part-1-safety-and-parts.html

Recipe: Crockpot Beans and Salt Pork

I just discovered this recipe - found it in a pioneer book and modified it to suit me. Before bed on Friday, I placed all of the ingredients in the crockpot and let it simmer on low all night. The house smelled wonderful! Hubby and I ate on it all day; VHTS is a very picky eater and had to be coerced to eat any, but he loved the "bacon" taste.

For this recipe, you need to use a large-sized crockpot, and trust me, it will provide many meals! Well worth it.

  • 1 pound of dry (picked-through) kidney beans
  • 1 ham bone or a big ole chunk of salt pork or bacon
  • 5 cups water or broth or red wine or any combination thereof!
  • 1/2 cup various spices (you choose from: tobasco sauce, bay leaves, garlic, onion, thyme, sage, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, marjoram, etc.)
  • 2 cups miscellaneous dried vegetables (bell pepper, celery, carrots, potatoes, etc.)
  • Garnish: chopped parsley, grated cheese, chopped scallions
Put the beans, pork, spices and liquid in the crockpot on low heat. Cook covered for 8-10 hours. Then check the liquid level - add more if you need, to cover the beans. If it's too liquidy, you could add a half cup of rice or pasta. Add the dried veggies (if you do it at the beginning, they'll be mush!) Cook another couple of hours - beans should be very tender. Remove bones and any bay leaves. Sometimes I thicken it up by adding 2 tablespoons of rice flour (you could use wheat flour but we're gluten-free here) and cook for another 30 minutes or so. Serve in bread bowls or regular bowls, and add garnish just before serving.

This is a really cheap dish. Sometimes we get cheap bacon end pieces for $4.99; we could use a fifth of the package for this, so $1.00 plus $1.27 for the beans, and another $2.00 for the various dried veggies and spices + nothing if you use water instead of broth = $4.27 for a big crockpot that makes 8-10 servings. Add in bread and you have a well balanced meal for around $5.00 for 8-10 people!

This soup can be made so many different ways, just by varying the beans, spices and veggies. Enjoy!

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

Original: http://www.survival-cooking.com/2009/04/recipe-crockpot-beans-and-salt-pork.html

Water filter review

I bought a water filter called the Pure Easy Camper’s Micro-Ceramic Filter. The reason that I bought it was because of its diminutive size. The filter only weighs three ounces and measures about 5 1/2″ * 1″ * 2 1/2″. It will fit inside of a hardcase for sunglasses. That’s pretty small. I wanted something that I could p6use when I want to travel really light. I thought that a filter like this would be ideal for those one or two night solo camping trips. When you don’t have a buddy to split the load with, you really need to pay attention to the weight of what you carry.

The other nice thing about this filter is that it filters down to .1 microns. That’s about as an effective filter as I’ve seen. The MSRs and Katadyns go down to maybe .2 microns. I also thought it would be good in the Get Home or Bug Out Bag. I paid $65.00 for it, which isn’t too bad for a filter. It’s made from some sort of polymer.

So of course I had to try it out at home before depending upon it for a camping trip. It was easy to assemble. Not much to it really, just snap the tubes on. The tubes are smaller than all of the other water filters that I’ve used. The tubes are pretty much the same size as aquarium tubing, so you can’t pump a lot of water through them.p4

Here’s a shot of the filter with the tubes attached. I should have placed a ruler next to it for scale, but remember it’s about the size of a pair of sunglasses. The intake tube has a little screen pre-filter on it. It’s that little green triangular thing in the bottom left of the picture and it also has a float that you can slide up and down the tube to keep the pre-filter off of the bottom of the source of water that you are filtering. It’s that kind of charcoal colored thing in the right side of the picture.

My first crack at filtering didn’t work out so well. No matter how I tried I couldn’t get it to develop any suction. I disassembled it, applied some silicon sealant and tried to prime it. All to no avail.

I ended up sending it back to the manufacturer – Middleboro Water, LLC. These folks were very responsive. They said that they never had a manufacturing failure before. They replaced it free of charge and FedExed the new filter to me free of charge. Middleboro Water is a great company with great service. Like I said no hassles (other than having to pay for postage there), no questions and I had the replacement filter within days.

Lesson here though, like I always say – is to try everything out before you depend on it. Whether it’s ammo, a sleeping bag, stove, flashlight, firearm or a water filter. You can’t depend on something if you haven’t tried it.

I tried the replacement filter in some stream water. The stream really wasn’t that dirty and I would consider drinking it untreated if need be – either let it settle in a container or dig a hole next to the stream and let the water perc up. It did an adequate job, but I didn’t think the water tasted as “sweet” as an MSR filter. This may improve with usage and time. It also took an enormous amount of effort to get a glass of water, probably three minutes of pumping. The pre-filter also clogs up pretty easily. Next time I use it I think that I would tie a bandana around the pre-filter to act as a pre-pre-filter. Strange enough, the collar that screws down to hold the pump handle in place kept coming loose while I was pumping. Also, with just a little bit of use I could tell that the ceramic element was starting to get clogged i.e. it became increasingly more difficult to pump.

As you might expect due to this filter’s small bore and stroke, you have to pump a lot for the amount of water you get. Not good for a group of thirsty people. You have to pump maybe 200 times (although I wasn’t counting) to fill up a one liter bottle. You have to pump much more with this filter than with other larger filters. p7I’m thinking of replacing the aquarium type tubing with some wider surgical tubing with the hope of getting a better flow rate.

The filter also came with a nice little storage bag with pull ties on it, a little bit of sandpaper to clean the ceramic element with, some special silicone sealant and simple, easy to follow directions.


It does disassemble very easily. You just unscrew the collars and can pull up the pump handle and the ceramic element. You can see how dirty the element got with minimal usage. This is crap that you don’t want to drink.

All in all, the filter was a bit of a disappointment. It will get the job done, but it’s small size isn’t a big enough benefit to make up for its shortcomings. I think that you are better off sticking to a normal size filter. I like the concept and the company seems like a good company, but I would wait for the second generation to come out. There are still a few kinks that need ironing out. The company, Middleboro Water, LLC, did back up their product 100% so I would not hesitate to buy another of their products. Their service was also great. I just think this particular filter needs a few more design improvements.

However, if you need to travel fast, light and solo the Pur Easy Camper may be the ticket for you, but make sure that you have a back up means to clean water too.

In summary, it’s a good filter for specialized purposes, (light and fast solo on foot travel) otherwise carry a larger filter.

Get outside everyday!

P1010101This little tree is a survivor. Look at it growing through a crack in this rock.

And this was just a cool looking root that was all worn down. It reminded me of a topo map.


Original: http://hotdogjam.wordpress.com/2009/05/20/water-filter-review/