2018 Survival Bug Out Bag Guide

511-rush-72-admin-pocket

The year is 2018. Do you know where your bug out bag is? If you don’t have one it’s time to take the first step. The bug out bag is the entry point that gets most people started on the path to prepping. Getting together a solid bug out bag is a super actionable step you can take to ensure your safety in the event of meltdown. A bug out bag secures you with the necessary resources to withstand and survive power outages, automobile breakdowns, civil unrest, and disruptions within the municipal systems which keep society civilized.

Your bug out bag is your main companion and great thought must be put into making something useful.

Let’s start with some basics.

Backpack

direct-action-ghost-review

The backpack is perhaps the most crucial aspect to the bug out bag. Obviously, it holds all of your gear. There are certain elements which make a bug out bag great.

A good bug out bag is:

  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Big enough to stow all your gear (30L+)
  • Comfortable
  • Proper weight distribution

There are military grade backpacks and civilian varieties. The differences between these 2 are not as diverse as you’d think. Even civilian made packs can withstand the rigors of daily use. There are also best of both worlds backpacks which combine the most functional elements of both camps. The Rush 72 is the most praised pack in the survival community and for good reasons. 

I am also a big fan of the Direct Action Ghost (full review here.)

If you don’t want to waste hours on end hunting for the proper pack definitely spring for the Rush 72.

The main idea when purchasing a pack is going for durability, comfort, and adequate storage space. Good shoulder straps and a cushy back are most CRUCIAL.

Gear

Next up is proper gear. I recommend reading my SHTF gear guide. For practical purposes, the list below is more than adequate to get you started:

  • Fire making gear (matches, extra lighters)
  • Plastic baggies (waterproof your gear)
  • Black trash bags (store water, create shelter, poncho)
  • Powerful flashlight (tac lights double as self defense weapons)
  • 72 hours worth of food and water
  • Cooking kit
  • Water filter
  • Change of clothes (socks if nothing else)
  • First aid kit (Learn about the IFAK)
  • Batteries and chargers for your smart phone/electronics
  • Paracord (always useful)
  • Knife (read this)

The bulleted list above is the bare essentials. It has everything you need to secure water, make fire and shelter, and defend yourself. There’s also a few core essential items like chargers and battery packs. If there is still reception your smartphone could be your number one life saver.

The food and water are super crucial. Make sure to stow at least 72 hours worth of food and water. Having food and water when there is nothing is psychologically important to your survival, not just physically. Think about food that won’t spoil – clif bars, tuna packets, dried fruit, nuts, and peanut butter are all very good choices. Mountain House has some tasty options. Add hot water and you have yourself a tasty feast.

Also consider an emergency radio system like a Kaito radio. These devices tap directly into the NOAA emergency stations so you can stay up to date with what’s going on. They can be solar, AC, Battery, and hand crank powered. There’s also a powerful flashlight built in and you can charge your phone via USB. Ultra versatile for those times when the power is out.

Final thoughts

Putting together a bug out bag is not rocket science. Knowing how to use the gear is much more difficult. Your first step is making sure you are prepared with the proper gear. The second step is securing the knowledge required to act on your feet and use the gear properly. That only comes with practice my friend.

Thanks for reading.

Guardline Wireless Driveway Alarm System Review

One thing always stressed when it comes to prepping is OPSEC (operational security.) It’s crucial to understand what is going around your perimeter at all times. If you do not have security measures in place you run the risk of a potential breach. This could be somebody sneaking on to your property or a number of other threats. There’s a ton of useful applications for something like Guardlines Wireless Driveway Alarm System.

In this review I take a deep look into this particular long range alarm system and discuss whether this is a solid product to maintain a secure perimeter at your house, shop, or base camp.

Features and specifications

There are 2 primary driveway alarm products from Guardline. There’s a $99 dollar model and a $159 dollar model. Both of these models share similar features except for the range capabilities from the sensor to the receiver. In the $99 dollar model the maximum range from sensor to receiver is 500 feet. In the premium model the max distance measures at a whopping 1/4 mile. This is well over double the range of the entry level alarm system. Your choice of model depends on how much range you need. In other words, what do you want to monitor and how far will you be away from the sensor?

Here is a general list of features:

  • Driveway alarm system
  • Sensor and Receiver
  • Long range
  • 500 feet range ($99 dollar model)
  • 1,320 feet range ($159 dollar model)
  • Battery powered sensor (4 AA batteries included)
  • Batter powered receiver (4 AAA batteries included)
  • AC adapter also included with receiver
  • Easily mounts to post or other structure with mounting bracket and screws
  • 30 different alarm sounds
  • Good audible sound
  • Supports up to 16 zones with different sensors
  • Easily use 1 sensor with multiple receivers for different parts of your location
  • Easily use multiple sensors with a single receiver
  • Comprehensive and easy-to-read manual
  • 2 year warranty

Setting things up

the guardline wireless driveway alarm mounted on tree

The system works off a sensor and a receiver. You will place the sensor on the section of property you want to monitor and the receiver close by to you. When you open the box you’ll notice both the sensor and the receiver. It’s very easy to pair the two together. On the receiver there are 5 buttons. On one side you have a ON/OFF toggle switch, a volume control, and the AC adapter jack. On the opposite side you have the controls related to the communications between the sensor and the receiver. The most important button is the learn mode button. This is the button you will use to pair the sensor with the receiver.

It’s actually quite simple to pair the sensor and the receiver in just a few steps:

  1. Turn on both the sensor and the receiver.
  2. On the receiver, hold down the “learn mode” button until the zone 1 LED begins to blink.
  3. At this point the receiver is in learn mode and you can select a tone for the alert. Cycle through the 30 sounds using the “melody” button until you find a sound you like.
  4. Now, cycle through the zones with the “learn mode” button until none of the zones are blinking. Once the light shuts off, the device has exited learn mode and is ready for testing.
  5. Wave your hand over the sensor to verify a successful pairing. If everything goes correctly you should hear the sound for the melody you selected and the ZONE 1 light will begin to blink.

Full review

Rarely does a product stand up to what it claims to do. This is why I am always surprised when I find a product that does exactly what it’s supposed to. No more, no less. The Guardline driveway security system is a simple piece of technology you can use to monitor your driveway or any other piece of property for that matter. This thing is great to alert you when someone is driving up. I can see this being used by business owners to alert them when a customer or delivery man pulls in, or as a fully functional security system. Use this device with a camera system to get instantaneous data on what is going on around you.

I found the system is actually drop dead simple to setup as I explained above. Everything can be powered off of the included batteries and the mounting system allows for a number of different setups. For most applications you can simply screw the mounting bracket into a post and be good to go. You could also use a piece of rope or string to lash the sensor to a tree or anything else. The housing of the sensor is fully weather proof so no need to worry about water or anything else.

The logic behind this driveway alarm is simple. When something passes the sensor, beep at me! I found the device just does that, and it does it very well. I actually found the sensor performs well past the documented ranges. With a direct line of sight you can get the receiver to detect from impressive distances.

My favorite aspect about this product is you’re not just tied into 1 sensor. You can purchase multiple sensors and sync them up to the same receiver. On the receiver you have 4 different zones that support 4 sensors in each zone. This means a single receiver can monitor 16 separate locations on your property. Purchasing multiple sensors allows for a truly robust monitoring system. You can have one sensor monitoring the driveway and another sensor monitoring the front door.

False positives and other considerations…

As with most sensors, you have to be aware of false positives. The Guardline system will occasionally pick up false positives like moving branches, small animals, or anything else that passes through the sensor. It’s crucial to ensure the sensor is mounted straight at what you want to monitor. Clear out any branches that might cross the sensors path. Otherwise, your receiver will have no problems beeping at you all day!

Customer support and warranty

I should also mention that Guardline security has great customer support. They are a small business based in the USA and have a real telephone number you can reach them at. You can tell they truly care about creating a top notch product and delivering over the top customer service. All across social media you can see them helping their customers around every turn. On YouTube you can see them helping out users on their channel. If you have a problem with the device you can simply call them up or send an email.

There is also a 2 year warranty on all of their products. This is a considerable length of time considering this is an outdoor product that is sure to take some flack! I have no doubt this alarm system will stand the test of time.

Wrapping up…

The Guardline Wireless Driveway Alarm System is a fully functional piece of equipment that does everything it says it does. Setting it up is drop dead simple. The product is a bit on the pricier side but the reliability and performance of the system is unmatched. You also won’t find better customer service for a product in this category. I have to say this is the best driveway alarm system you can buy on the market today.

Snugpak Scorpion 2 Tent Review ACTION REPORT

In this review I take a look at the Scorpion 2 from Snugpak

Searching for the perfect tent is a long process chocked full of rigorous research and mulling over every design element. Snugpak has a complete line of tents to stop the buck. The Scorpion 2 is Snugpaks signature 2 man tent boasting design features not seen in even the most expensive setups. In this post we dive into the elements of this tent and take it out deep into the bush for a proper test.

Features and specifications

  • 2 man tent
  • Fully waterproof
  • Fly first setup
  • Freestanding design
  • Dual layered
  • Shelter weight 3.80 lbs
  • Trail weight 4.93 lbs
  • Pack weight 5.83 lbs
  • 1 door
  • 3 vents

Full review

The Snugpak Scorpion 2 comes well packed straight from the factory. The packs size and weight makes it a solid choice for backpackers and hikers. The full setup weighs just under 6 pounds – this will be heavier for some folks but just right for some. When it comes to packing light you end up trading comfort for a lighter pack. I like the design of the Snugpak Scorpion 2 because it offers a ton of features and shelter in a lightweight profile.

The first design element incorporated into the Scorpion 2 is the dual layer fly first setup. When pitching the tent you setup the external rain fly first and then move inwards to setup the second waterproof layer. The 2nd layer attaches to the fly through fast connecting toggles.

scorpion-3-inner-mesh-attachement
Attaching the inner mesh to the fly

This dual layer design creates air space between the layers keeping you toasty warm even in the coldest climates. The Scorpion 2 has 3 vents to serve as the main ventilation channels. Next to zero condensation is seen on the inside after a restorative nights sleep.

The tent is advertised as a 2 man tent but I will be the first to point out this false advertisement – sure, the Scorpion 2 could easily fit 2 guys but I will tell you that neither of them will be comfortable. This is more like a 1.5 man tent to be quite honest. In fact, it’s the perfect tent for a single person and large enough to stow them and all of their gear. If you have a 4 legged friend you both will stay nice and cozy.

Overall I love the stylish look of the Scorpion 2. It has all the right angles and turns heads around the campsite. I’m usually not one for looks but the Scorpion 2 is aptly named the Scorpion for good reasons – everything about the design screams Scorpion. It has a certain desert/military/utilitarian look I absolutely enjoy. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of the bulky WalMart designs from tent makers like Coleman and Ozark Trail. Snugpak has outdone themselves and entered into the market with serious competition. All of the Snugpak products retain this high level of quality and attention to the details.

The Scorpion 2 also comes in at a very reasonable price point. At the time of this writing you can get the Scorpion 2 for about $280 bucks – this is a fair price for everything you get. I will always pay more for something of enhanced quality than to suffer with an inferior product. I’ve slept in cheap tents before and believe me – this is one aspect of camping you DON’T want to cheap out on. Cheap tents will leak on you, collapse, are difficult to setup, and made of heavier materials. Snugpak uses the best materials to keep you dry, comfortable, and LIGHT on the trail.

Final thoughts

Any product you get from Snugpak is going to be solid and this includes the popular Scorpion 2 tent. You can see from the other reviews that people absolutely rave about this thing. Sure, it’s definitely NOT fit for 2 men but it’s perfect for you and your gear…possibly someone else if both of you don’t mind not having much space. I recommend reading my review on the Scorpion 3 if you like the 2 but need a slightly larger configuration. Overall, the Scorpion 2 is the best setup you’re going to get in a freestanding 4 season tent.

 

Snugpak Stratosphere Review ACTION REPORT

full review of the snugpak stratosphere

There are two schools of thought when choosing shelter – go light or go big. A heavy shelter provides ample room for sleeping and storing gear. A light shelter makes for a pleasant hiking experience at the expense of a comfortable shelter. The Snugpak Stratosphere is a lightweight sleeping system designed for those who demand nothing but the lightest setup – but also a system with built in design elements to keep dry and well protected from the elements including the bugs.

Features

  • Bivvi system
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Mosquito net
  • Sturdy aluminum poles
  • Taped/sealed seams
  • Snagless zippers
  • 2.44 lbs
  • Room even for large guys

Full review

full review of the snugpak stratosphere

Sleeping in a bivvi is quite the experience your first time. Bivvis are lightweight and are easily transportable but most fail to keep you dry and are extremely cramped. The Snugpak Stratosphere is more like a tent/bivvi combo. It’s not quite a tent yet much more expansive then your standard bivvi sack. The Stratosphere comes with sturdy aluminum poles to prop up the head end of the bivvi sack. There’s a surprising amount of head room and space to keep even the most claustrophobic person satisfied and sleeping soundly. On the tail end of the bivvi are nylon loops where you stake down the tent. This prevents the bivvi from rolling around and makes it feel like an actual tent rather than just another layer around your main sleeping bag.

Check current price on Amazon. 

The material is waterproof and will easily withstand rain storms. The heat you generate will cause a bit of internal condensation but overall the Stratosphere is well ventilated. The mosquito net allows for ventilation while simultaneously keeping the critters and crawlers at bay. In warm climates you don’t need much to stay warm in this bivvi.

The Stratosphere has also seen extensive use with many search and rescue teams worldwide. The lightweight footprint makes for the perfect hiking experience. There’s nothing worse than lugging around a 6 pound tent all the way to the campsite and then back. The Stratosphere weighs in at a mere 2.4 pounds and packs down to basically nothing. When fully compressed it easily stuffs deep into a backpack or happily lashes to the externals with a bit of paracord. You will question the true durability of the Stratosphere as soon as you pick it up – it’s light as a feather. But as you set it up and use it, the ultimate utility of this bivvi will blow your socks clean off.

Perhaps the greatest fear of many people is becoming stuck inside the bivvi itself. How easy is it to get the bivvi sack open again after you’re all zipped up? It’s actually very easy and the zippers are specially designed to not snag on the fabric. This leads into one of my favorite elements of the Stratosphere – the zippers. They’re extremely durable and smooth open and closed like a hot knife through silky butter. Anything that zips I want to make damn sure the zippers aren’t going to bust on me the first time I go to use the product. The Stratosphere over delivers with solid a solid zipping experience.

But can it fit the big guy? I am not a big guy myself (5’10”) but I can tell you this – there is AMPLE room in this thing and it’s quite easy to tell that the Stratosphere will stow away the larger guys too. As a guy with a medium build the Stratosphere bivvi is the perfect size for me and my gear. I’ll thrown my entire backpack straight in with zero problems.

Final thoughts

The Snugpak Stratosphere is hands down the best bivvi you can get on the market today. The genius design actually resembles a bivvi/tent combo while still staying true to the lightweight and packable footprint. The Stratosphere is a solid sleeping system for the lightweight hiker or anyone requiring a no-nonsense waterproof sleeping setup.

 

Choosing the Rush 72 vs the Camelbak BFM

In this showdown we pit 2 of the most solid backpacks on the market against each other. The Rush 72 and the Camelbak BFM represent the best in military grade backpacks. Both of these packs are built for long term use and have seen extensive applications in the military. Both are versatile and have similar features – but both also have significant differences that will surely sway the decision of those with specific requirements. Let’s take a deep dive into both of these packs and discover the core differences and features of both.

Comparing features side by side

Rush 72

Camelbak BFM

The Camelbak BFM

 

**Note** I have individual reviews of each of these packs. Use them to gain a deep dive into each pack and see a comprehensive breakdown of what both bring to the table.

Rush 72 review

Camelbak BFM review

Starting off with the raw carrying capacity of each pack we see the Rush 72 can cram a few more liters of storage. The Rush 72 supports up to 55 liters while the Camelbak BFM clocks in around 51 liters. 3 liters is quite a bit of space but not quite enough to make or break a decision. An extra 3 liters could easily be added to the externals of both packs by making use of MOLLE compatible pouches. Speaking of MOLLE, it’s visually obvious that the RUSH 72 has much more MOLLE than the Camelbak. You can barely find a section of the Rush 72 not completely covered in MOLLE webbing. On the BFM, MOLLE is only seen on the front of the pouch and in some versions there’s MOLLE on the side pockets. The Rush 72 is the obvious choice if you rely on MOLLE.

Pocket configurations on both packs are extremely comparable except for the side pockets. The BFM has 4 side pockets (1 big and 1 small pocket on each side) while the Rush 72 has 2 large pockets. The large side pockets on the Rush 72 are slightly bigger. Personally I would rather have the single larger pocket on the Rush 72 than the 2 pockets with the smaller bigger pocket on the BFM. The mini pockets are basically useless for storage. Each admin pocket (the large front pockets on the packs) boast a versatile arrangement of storage options. Each backpack also has a top pocket designed for sunglasses or NVG’s (night vision goggles.)

Both packs are also hydration ready but this is where the Camelbak BFM delivers a crushing blow to the Rush 72. The BFM supports not one, but 2 hydration bladders in the designated storage compartment with multiple spots to feed the drinking tubes. The Rush 72 is compatible with any standard Camelbak bladder but the feeding system runs through the top admin pocket, getting in the way and taking up pocket space. Not a major problem but a slight annoyance.

The Rush 72 and BFM also come fully equipped with a hip belt and chest strap. The Rush 72’s padding is much thinner but the chest strap is adjustable. Using the C-Clamps you can adjust the strap up and down the shoulder straps. This makes getting a solid fit very easy. The BFM does take the cake for ultimate comfort. Everything on the BFM is extremely well padded and comfortable. If you’re doing extremely long hikes comfort is key. While both offer ample padding, the BFM goes an extra step to deliver the most comfortable experience.

$$Price$$

As of this writing (Jan 2018) the Camelbak BFM is significantly more expensive than the Rush 72.

Check current prices for the Rush 72

Check current prices for Camelbak BFM

Final verdict

Overall these are 2 very comparable packs in terms of features. With all that said, can you truly justify the hefty price tag of the BFM? This might be the case if you value Camelbaks top of the line hydration system and superior padding. However, if you simply need a durable pack and don’t care about the hydration system, the Rush 72 is the obvious pick. It has more space, much more MOLLE, and it’s much cheaper.

My choice? I have to go with the Rush 72.

 

Camelbak BFM Backpack Review

Camelbak is well known for their popular hyrdation packs. When you think of Camelbak you typically think of those low capacity hydration bladders you see on runners. Recently I discovered Camelbak has a line of military grade packs geared towards the serious hiker, backpacker, and prepper. The Camelbak BFM is well bolstered and padded in all the areas that count, perhaps too padded as I will illustrate in the review. Let’s crack straight in to the goods.

Features

  • Military grade
  • 51 liter cargo pack
  • Clam shell style opening
  • Internal compression straps
  • 3 liter hydration capacity
  • 100% nylon
  • MOLLE webbing
  • 5lbs 2oz
  • 7 exterior pockets
  • Room for an extra 3L bladder
  • Good fit even for larger guys

Review

Pure ruggedness…Like Oliver Twist, this pack will always come back for more.

Starting off with raw carrying capacity we see the Camelbak BFM has 50 liters of storage available. 50 liters is a ton of space. With this space you can easily stow away 2 – 3 days worth of gear and food for any kind of trip you can think of. The pack is versatile enough to be used as a carry on for your luggage and also a seasoned backpacking companion. As you’ll see, the ample pockets and storage allow for creative packing configurations.

Pockets…

The main compartment is where the bulk of your gear will be stowed. This compartment opens up like a clamshell revealing massive storage space with internal compression straps to lock down gear. On the flap are 2 meshed pockets for organizing gear you need quick access to. I can tell you this – the zippers on this pack are pure bolstered insanity. One thing I ALWAYS look for in a pack is strong zippers. The zippers on the BFM are indeed military grade which is good – there’s nothing more frustrating than a busted zipper.

On the outside of the pack are 7 pockets of varying sizes. The 2 big pockets on the side are large enough to carry a liter of water or anything else you can think of. Both pocket setups are identical on both sides. Above the larger side pockets are 2 small pockets for extra goodies. On the front you have another generously sized zippered pocket with tons of MOLLE on the front. Inside this pocket is even more mini pockets – there’s a large meshed pocket and 2 separate pockets for additional organization.

On the top you’ll notice a special pouch designed for goggles or sunglasses. This pouch has a soft yet durable material to protect important gear from scratches. I keep my keys, glasses, and wallet in this pouch because it’s easy to get to.

Comfort

You won’t see thin spaghetti straps on the Camelba BFM. Instead, well padded shoulder straps grace your shoulders making it easy to carry heavy loads with zero pain. The padding comes EXTRA thick. While some don’t like this amount of padding I prefer it because I know it will eventually wear down over time.

The same level of padding is felt on the back plate. We’re talking supreme comfort here. In fact, I’ve only worn a handful packs I would considerable comfortable. The BFM is one of these packs. This pack was designed for military personnel who would no doubt be lugging large amounts of gear.

Rounding off the support and comfort is the extra padded belt strap. The belt strap does its job taking the bulk of the weight and placing it on your hips. Carrying the bulk of the weight on your hips allow you to bear even the largest loads with relative ease. This is certainly not that old Jansport you had back in highschool.

Hydration ready

The BFM comes ready to stow not one, but two hydration bladders. The bladders fit nicely in their designated section of the pack. The Camelbak has dominated the hydration market for years. Their bladders feature quick lock technology making it easy to disconnect from the feeding hose and refill. The mouth to the bladder is the largest in the industry and features a locking mechanism that refuses to leak. At the end of the day, the hydration pack makes it easy to rehydrate without taking off your pack and digging for water.

MOLLE and compression straps

Another feature I love to see in packs is MOLLE compatibility and compression straps. With the MOLLE you can add on additional storage space with compatible packs. Very cool to store your medical kit or other crucial gear in this way. Sometimes it’s conveniant to drop your pack and simply carry needed gear in a small MOLLE pouch.

The compression straps secure your gear and allow you to store additional gear on the outside. Things like tents and sleeping bags stow very well when compressed to the outside of the pack.

$$Price$$

Check current price on Amazon

Final thoughts

The Camelbak BFM is an overall solid pack. This pack is probably overkill unless you need something with this level of storage and durability. The BFM is the obvious choice for the serious backpacker who appreciates the Camelbaks genius hydration system. It’s also an easy choice for a bug out bag. Having this amount of storage space and hydration at your disposal in a bug out situation is priceless.

What do you think of this pack?

 

InstaFire Firestarter Review

Fire is one of those ancient elements man was born with and something which still sees daily use. Man has learned to harness the power of fire and control it to a precise degree. Every man should experience starting a fire from scratch at least once in his life. The thing is, starting a fire from scratch takes a bit of skill and experience. The modern man or millennial probably couldn’t start a fire if his life depended on it. Even with a lighter and all the right materials there are many ways to mess up and become frustrated.

Fortunately we have products available that make firemaking much easier. Now even the most boneheaded among us can get a roaring fire blazing with little to no effort – and make all the ladies swoon for him in a very primal way.

InstaFire makes starting any kind of fire drop dead simple. This stuff is so easy to use even the boneheads are making the expert firemakers look bad.

Is InstaFire Up To Snuff?

Looking at the package you can see the company makes some bold claims about the product. The package claims the granules will burn wet wood, will burn on water, and is made of completely natural materials with zero harmful chemicals. That is indeed a tall order. In my extensive testing of the InstaFire I can say most of these claims are true. The granules will burn up to 20 minutes or so and the stuff DOES in fact float and burn on top of water. The flames are weather resistant but I found they had a difficult time staying lit in heavy winds.

The InstaFire will NOT catch a wet log on fire. While the package claims that the InstaFire will burn wet wood you’ll soon discover what a frustrating experience this is. Wet wood simply doesn’t catch unless you already have a blazing fire going.

With the InstaFire you still have to practice the basic principles of fire making. Simply shoving the granules under a massive log and lighting them is not going to do jack. You must start small and be sure not to smother the fire by attempting to light a piece of wood too big.

With all that considered the InstaFire will make your life a lot easier if you already know how to structure a campfire. The flames stand up well to mild wind and you can pile the granules on wet ground and they will still light. The package itself is both flammable and waterproof. There’s no need to open the pouch if you don’t want to – simply light the whole damn enchilada and watch as a roaring fire magically appears before your eyes.

Different Size Options

InstaFire comes in either packages or buckets. The packs work well for camping/backpacking trips while the buckets are great for in-home storage. Here is what’s available:

Final Thoughts

My thoughts about the InstaFire are you sure as hell don’t need them but they certainly make starting fires a LOT easier. Maybe you are not that great at lighting fires or you simply don’t feel the need to “man up” and light a fire the old fashioned way. The InstaFire is a great product and has been thoroughly tested and accepted by thousands of happy product owners. The thing is, it’s so cheap if you’re even on the fence about picking some up you should do it. Nobody wants to be that guy who can’t get the fire going!

 

FiveJoy Military Shovel Review

Fivejoy-shovel-review

One of the best tools to have at your side in a camping/outdoor/survival situation is a solid shovel. Better than having just any old shovel is having a shovel that folds and hosts a number of crucial survival tools within the frame. The FiveJoy folding shovel is a military grade tool designed for maximum durability and versatility.

Let’s cracks straight into the features and specifications

Features

  • Sturdy folding shovel
  • Carbon steel / aerospace grade aluminum (virtually indestructible and extremely lightweight)
  • Compact design easily fits in backpack or under the seat of your car
  • Angled spade adjustments (40, 90, 180 degrees)
  • Hidden rescue knife with saw, survival whistle, firestarter and bottle opener.
  • Highly resistant to corrosion and rust
  • Industrial strength foam handles prevents slipping and ensures solid grip

Full review

Fivejoy-shovel-review

I’ve always been a fan of the humble camp shovel. Years before we had the technology I would lug around a regular shovel spade with the wooden handle cut down to a manageable size and weight. I used the shovel for many camp tasks and found endless uses and applications for the tool. Recently companies have started to release lightweight folding shovels you can easily pack straight into a backpack or keep in a car. Unfortunately, most of these implementations have been lacking in many key areas.

The FiveJoy Military shovel puts the military back in military grade. The design and materials come together to form the perfect camp/survival shovel for your bug out bag or bug out vehicle. The shovel feels strangely light yet durable. Usually you can feel how cheap something is by the sheer weight. While the FiveJoy shovel feels light I can tell you this – you can abuse the hell out of this in the bush and it will continue to come back for more.

One feature separating the FiveJoy from the rest of the pack is the adjustable shovel angles. Using the locking mechanism you can adjust the shovel to 40, 90, or 180 degrees. This increases the versatility of the shovel for different types of digging tasks.

Also included with the shovel are a number of other handy survival items. Concealed withing the frame itself is a saw, magnesium firestarter, survival whistle, and bottle opener. The magnesium firestarter throws a considerable amount of sparks making it easy to get a fire going. Overall, these items are a nice addition to the main shovel.

Final Thoughts

Some people ask – do I really need a shovel of this caliber? My reply to that is only if you want the best. You don’t NEED a high end shovel like this to dig a hole to crap in. In fact, any shovel will do. But do you really want to lug a regular shovel spade all the way through to your camp spot? I’m a huge fan of lightweight gear and always looking for the latest and greatest methods to save on pack weight. Usually this means sacrificing on quality. This is not the case with the FiveJoy shovel. Even if this will be a shovel to keep in your vehicle, It’s a good idea to go for something compact, lightweight, but also a tool that can withstand serious abuse. The FiveJoy folding shovel is all of these things and overall an extremely useful and high quality tool.

 

Gerber StrongArm Knife Review

gerber-strong-arm-review

Gerber continues to pump out quality product after quality product. Knives like the Gerber LMF2 stand as some of the best knives in the business and have seen extensive use by the military. This time they have released one of the best budget knives on the market with the Gerber StrongArm. The StrongArm is a serious knife lending itself to many survival and tactical scenarios.

Check out the specs below and see Amazon for the current price.

Specifications

  • Blade Length – 4.5″
  • Total Length – 9.8″
  • Weight – 7.2oz
  • Blade Material – 420HC Stainless Steel
  • Blade Thickness – 3/16″
  • Grind – Saber
  • 90 degree spine
  • Handle Material – Glass filled nylons with rubber overmold
  • Sheath included – YES
  • Made in USA

Full Review

Gerber strikes a great balance of high quality and affordability. Gerbers reputation as a solid brand shows once again with the StrongArm. There are a number of things I love about this knife. The first thing I noticed picking up the knife was the extremely comfortable grip material on the handle. The rubberized diamond grip makes it virtually impossible for the StrongArm to slip out of your hands even in wet weather. When I look for a knife I always make sure the handle is ergonomic and designed to grip as much as possible. On the end of the handle is a reinforced pommel for smashing through glass, hammering objects, or for self defense. Having that reinforced pommel on the butt-end of the blade comes in might handy in lots of survival/outdoor situations. That pommel is also a very effective self defense weapon. If you don’t want to kill the guy simply deliver a couple skull crackers with the pommel.

Now…the blade itself came out sharp straight out of the box. I was worried about how sharp the edge would be considering the blade is 3/16″ thick. I was surprised to discover the overall sharpness of the blade was on par with thinner blades made of traditionally sharper materials like carbon steel. The blade on the Gerber StrongArm is made of 420HC stainless steel. Stainless steel doesn’t quite sharpen up as fine as carbon steel but it tends to hold edges longer and is much more resistant to corrosion. With a carbon steel blade you almost have to babysit it and always wipe it down after use. A quality stainless steel blade like the StrongArm can get nearly as sharp and you can put it through much more abuse. I found the blade also held its edge for a considerable amount of time even after putting it through several cutting, hacking, slicing, and wood splitting tasks. One last design I like to see on a blade is a 90 degree spine. This makes it easy to use with a ferrocerium rod and always comes in handy in the bush.

On to the sheath…

If a good woman makes the man, a good sheath makes the knife. The sheath sets the Gerber StrongArm apart from even the ESEE line of blades. The Gerber sheath included with the StrongArm is best in class and features design elements you simply don’t see in other sheaths. The versatile design allows you to mount the blade vertically or horizontally on your belt or mount to any MOLLE compatible attachment systems.

Final Thoughts

The Gerber StrongArm is a competent knife and is comparable to much more expensive knives like ESEE. For the price this is one knife you can’t pass up on. Plus, the sheath is the best in the business. All Gerber products are made in the USA and many of the Gerber knives have seen use in the military for training purposes. Gerber stands behind their products and the reviews for the StrongArm are very good. You will not be disappointed if you choose to purchase this knife.

 

Gerber Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit Review

gerber-zombie-apocalypse-survival-kit-review

The survival and prepping scene has exploded with the rise up of survival awareness and popular shows like “Doomsday Preppers.” With this rising a surge of survival products has flooded the market. Having used many of these survival products I’ve concluded most of the premade survival kits are completely garbage except for these.

In fact, I gave up on buying these types of kits for a long time until I ran across the Zombie Apocalypse Kit from Gerber. Gerber has been a giant in the survival industry and consistently produces high quality products. The Gerber LMF2 knife is one of the best knives in the industry and included in the kit. I’ve used and reviewed this knife in another post. 

The thing is, I like the idea of a survival kit that has everything you need to maintain all the elements of survival.

Contents of the kit

Here is the Zombie Kit in full glory. The kit includes 3 knives, 2 machetes, a camp axe, and Bear Grylls signature parang. It’s got everything you need to establish a camp from nothing in the woods. The versatility of the kit lends itself well to many tasks. Let’s explore the in depth details of this kit.

Gerber LMF2 Infantry knife – The LMF2 infantry knife is one of Gerbers signature survival knives. The knife boasts a number of hardened features including a full tang, a partially serrated edge, and a design that makes it completely shock proof when cutting through electrical lines. In fact, the Gerber LMF2 has seen extensive use in the U.S. military and was once issued to active duty personnel. A civilian will find the knife just as useful.

DMF Folder – The Gerber DMF folder is a folding knife making it a formidable sidekick to the beefy LMF2. While the LMF2 is best carried in a sheath, the DMF folder can easily be stowed in cargo pockets or simply clipped to your belt. The knife opens with a manual action, features a very comfortable grip, and includes both a serrated and standard edge. The pommel (butt-end of the blade) is fortified and makes for a strong and sturdy blunt force weapon. This end of the knife is often used for breaking through thick glass, self defense, and hammering jobs.

Gerber Epic – The Gerber Epic is the knife in this kit you leave around camp. It’s a light low-profile blade for small jobs you might find around the campfire. Crack open a cold one with the built in bottle opener or make a fast job of a skinning job for the days catch. It’s a unique design and a great addition to the other 2 knives in this kit.

Camp Axe – The included camp axe is a force of nature. A good axe is sharp and well balanced. Out of the box the Gerber camp axe feels absolutely lethal. The balance and grip combined with the sharp edge makes quick work out of any bushcrafting you’ll be doing in the wild. You can easily fall branches, small trees, and split firewood with great precision and ease. Let me tell you, having a solid axe in your survival kit is an absolute must.

Gator Machete – The Gator machete looks like it crawled out of the Walking Dead and into the realm of mortals. This is a dual purpose machete designed for serious bushwacking and breaking through even the toughest thickets of brush and foliage. On one end is a fine edge blade and on the other is a full blown saw. The ergonomic handle fits perfectly in your hand. The metal is forged of high performance carbon steel so it not only maintains an edge, but gets wicked sharp too. Any type of natural obstacle in your path does not stand a chance.

Gator Machete Pro – A truly powerful tool for clearing brush. The Machete Pro features a sharp edge that curves into a hook. The hook is useful for dragging brush out of the way and digging deep to get at roots and other hard to get obstacles. Wielding both machetes in the Gerber Zombie Kit you will become a wild machine of the wilderness, chopping down anything and everything in your way. This machete also comes with a military grade sheath for safe keeping and transportation.

Bear Grylls Parang – The Parang features a dominant curved element not seen in the other machetes. Traditional tribesman of the deep jungles are often seen with a curved blade when clearing brush and jungle obstacles. The curved blade naturally slices deep into branches and foliage making clearing a much easier job. There is a technique to using the Parang that once mastered makes you unstoppable in the bush.

Full Review

gerber-zombie-apocalypse-survival-kit-review

Usually I am not a fan of these premade survival kits. Most of the time the companies get everything wrong and include a bunch of worthless trinkets always proving themselves useless. These kits might have a couple solid items but generally lack anything of high quality. The Gerber Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit gets a lot of things right. First off, this is the only survival kit I’ve seen that focuses on solid bushcrafting and camp craft items. With this kit you have everything you need to establish a base camp, defend yourself, skin fish and game, fall trees, split firewood, etc.

Second, Gerber is a high quality brand that makes high quality gear. You simply feel the quality when you pick up anything made by Gerber. The grip and balance of all these tools has been carefully calculated. As mentioned, some Gerber products like the LMF2 have been used by active duty military personnel.

The versatility of the tools is also something to mention. There isn’t a whole lot you can’t do with a decent knife and machete. This kit has 3 machetes, 2 knives, and a solid Parang. This is the kit to get if you want it all.

This kit is an easy choice especially if you don’t want to hunt around for each individual product in a survival kit. With this kit you have a sense of continuity as you switch from say the machete to the knife. The feel is familiar. The materials are common. The balance is there. Not all of us want to spend weeks searching for the “perfect” items with exact specifications. The Gerber Zombie Apocalypse Kit is a get it and forget it package. You can buy the kit knowing that what you are getting is high quality and adequate for most applications. The kit is a huge time saver at the end of the day.

Final thoughts

I recommend this kit to anyone who wants a high quality survival kit with items that will last for the long haul. Looking through the hype of the whole “Zombie kit” angle lies a solid kit with superb tools needed for hardcore survival.

Even if you never face off with a zombie in your life, this kit from Gerber gets 5 out of 5 stars.