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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wallet Urban Survival Tricks

Follow up from my post from yesterday on Urban Pocket Survival Kits. Check that out first if you haven't already read it.

So, after trying to make an standalone urban PSK work, I realized that I could actually just combine most of the contents into a wallet - something I already pretty much have to carry every time I leave the house. Here's what I've come up with so far, which is by no means final and by no means the end-all-be-all. These are ideas for a starting point-- some may or may not be useful to you. Oh, and know your local laws. Anyways, check it out.

This is an Eagle Creek bifold I've had for years. Pretty average, non-descript wallet. I could have just loaded up one of those giant Maxpedition/Spec Ops wallets, but that's too easy, and too bulky to actually carry around anyways.

Comparison shot next to an iPhone 3GS. The wallet's a bit thicker, but not too much. Easy for me to front pocket carry.

Wallet opened. You can see there's still plenty of space in left here and it looks pretty mundane and average. Most of the various card slots have room for cards in 'em. 
Top view to give you an idea of the thickness. Still looks pretty mundane, huh?
Contents of the wallet's currency pocket - a Shivworks Lil' Loco, a ferro rod and a half-spool of Kevlar survival cord from SerePick. The Lil' Loco's kydex sheath is pinned into the wallet and the knife can be drawn quickly, one-handed. There's about 8-10 feet of cord on the spool - it is very strong and has a 135lb test strength. There's still plenty of space for currency or whatever in this pocket.

Moving to the next card slot in the wallet: SIM Card to another cell network, 2GB MicroSD card, baggie with water purification tablets and $125 in emergency cash ($100, $20 and $5 bills). The SIM Card is backup in case there's problems with my normal network (network outage, no signal, want to call from a different phone #), the MicroSD card is encrypted and loaded with some important documents, PDFs, etc. It will probably turn into a more common SD card or maybe a micro USB drive - something that's more universal to use/doesn't require an adapter.

Next slot forward, two small zip ties, a safety pin and a set of SerePick stainless bogota picks, held together by a small spring from a mechanical pencil. The safety pin can be used to attach the picks to you clothes, concealing them pretty much wherever. Don't remember where I saw this trick, but it's a good one. The bogotas are awesomely made and small enough to hide pretty much wherever. This stuff takes up minimal space in the slot, so there's still room for a couple cards.

Standalone shot of the picks.

In one of the credit card slots: a piece of hacksaw blade (idea from snakedr666), a Mastercard gift card and a prepaid phone card. The hacksaw works surprisingly well at cutting a variety of materials. The gift card works basically just like a credit card and is for use at a sketchy place I'm concerned might try some funny business or have lackluster security measures(run down gas stations/convenience stores, websites I haven't shopped with before, etc.). I've had credit card #'s stolen twice, and while the situation has always been quickly resolved, it's still frustrating. Phone card is for making international calls, payphone calls, whatever. I've written the cards' expiration dates on them.

And in another one of the card slots: two more safety pins, P38 can opener, and gorilla tape wrapped around one of those little keychain membership cards. Still room in this slot for a card to two as well.

Group shot. It looks like a lot of stuff, but it's all pretty flat and small, and fits in without too much trouble. Like I said, there's still plenty of room for all the actual wallet contents.

Not pictured - a couple bandaids that I forgot about until now.

So, there you have it -- my take on an urban PSK. Even if you've got no interest in adding this much stuff to your wallet, you can take some of the ideas and tricks and apply them to your own situation.

The hacksaw blade is super thin and handy, and you can pick up two for like $3 at a hardware store. If you're into lock picking, the bogotas are awesome and just disappear in your wallet. There are even smaller ferro rods that likewise disappear along the side of a credit card slot. The Loco is pretty cool, but there are lots of other designs out there that would work, like the credit card style blades from Spyderco, Microtech, Snody and others, I'm sure. Heck, even a razor or exacto blade could be handy.

I really like using a wallet vs. a standalone kit for a number of reasons. It's a pretty painless addition to an EDC rotation; you've got to carry your wallet anyways, why not add some extra, useful tools to it? It's also pretty grey man - everyone carries a wallet, so it's not going to raise any eyebrows or draw unwanted attention. If someone mugs you and takes your wallet, then you're out all of this extra gear, too. If you're concerned about getting mugged, maybe take a look at a money belt - you could conceal most of this gear in one without too much trouble.

I will have more detailed posts about the Lil' Loco, bogota picks and survival cord in the near future. Keep an eye out.
I'm still thinking this through and refining--planning on adding a mini pen of some kind and maybe a pre-threaded needle. Thoughts, suggestions and ideas are welcome in the comments.

Advanced Prepping 101 - Part Two - Long Term Shelter

Your home will generally be the safest and most comfortable place to stay in most emergency situations but an extended power outage can quickly change your home into little more than a big, dark box. Without the necessary power for cooling, heating, to run appliances or to furnish lighting, you might need to seek other options. This could include an extended visit to relatives or a stay at a hotel or motel that could be even more costly. The loss of power for a few hours is often quite manageable for the majority of people but an extended power outage could become a life threatening situation that could eventually force you to leave the safety and security of your home until the power is restored to the grid.
Having a home power generator can help you in numerous ways if an extended power outage occurs. There are several options when doing some advanced prepping to help cover your needs when a loss of grid power strikes.
The first option is a portable home generator and is probably the most affordable for the average person. While most portable home generators are not large enough to power everything in your house, but they can be used to keep a few items (like your freezer) functioning until power is restored. There are many types available that run on a variety of different types of fuel and most can be easily hooked up during an emergency.
The second option is a stationary home generator that can be hooked up directly to your home power system through a power transfer switch that can be set to start automatically during a power outage. These systems are quite a bit more expensive and usually require a direct connection to a long term fuel supply.
A third option is to include solar power as a back-up. Solar systems that can satisfy your total power needs can also be quite expensive but a small solar back-up system can offer you another option for maintaining your power needs during an emergency.
One of the things that will take you beyond the basics when being prepared is to have some means to re-establish power to what will be your best form of long term shelter… your home.
You can download a free guide for the safe use of a home power generator here:
Using a Generator During Power Outages

Staying above the water line!