Champion 3500 Watt Generator Review

champion-3500-watt-generator

In this review we’re taking a look at Champions most popular generator. This is the Champion 3500 watt generator. Looking around at other brands I noticed the Honda And Yamaha varieties appeared to do the same thing but cost way more. I found the Champion and must say I am impressed overall. I will tell you a few snags you might hit along the way though.

First let’s take a look at the features and dimensions. Like I said, it’s very similar to other generators on the market but much more affordable. The specs are as follows:

Specifications and Features

  • 3500 watts max load capacity
  • 26.8 x 20.9 x 22.8 inches
  • 105 lbs
  • 3 outlets – 2 regular and 1 single RV receptacle
  • Gas powered
  • 12 hour run time on 50% load
  • Pull start

Full Review

champion-3500-watt-generator

The Champion 3500 watt generator surprised me in a number of ways. First, the unit came in 2 days which is very fast for something like this even with Amazon prime. The whole thing was boxed up nicely and came with extensive documentation about using and maintaining the unit. I was worried it would have a big problem starting up in cold weather but was happy when it fired right up with only 2 pulls. I hate pull starts. I was thinking about getting something with a push to start switch but these are expensive and heavy due to the extra battery.

Dare I say the Champion 3500 watt generator fired up like a true champion. Of course I first added the oil and then the gasoline. Be careful when adding the oil. It’s easy to overflow so just go slow and don’t add too much. Basically from the unboxing of the generator to starting it took no less than 5 minutes. Seems like with other generators they can get fussy and require all sorts of carb and choke adjustments just to get going. The supplied manual tells you to put the choke in “choke mode” I found it much easier to start the unit with the choke closer to run mode. You’ll probably need to adjust this depending on the temperature of where you live.

Then it came time to test the unit in a real world scenario. Of course there was not real power outage but I wanted to at least see if this bad boy could power my fridge and some other essential items. It was more than happy to power my fridge, deep freezer, a couple lights and fans, and also powered various electronics like smartphones, tablets and computers. I was impressed.

While I didn’t test the total run time, I trust the documentation where it says you have a full 12 hours of run time on a 50% load. I imagine a near 100% load would cut this time down considerably. Not a problem if you have plenty of gas on had. Could be a problem if all you have is a gallon. Gas goes bad and so not many people have stores and stores of this precious commodity.

But what about noise level? I’ve been on construction sites where the noise of the generators was enough to scare the raccoons and rodents deep back into the holler. While no gas powered generator is completely silent, the Champion 3500 watt was considerably more quiet than some of the others I’ve ran across in various places.

One feature I like is the fuel shutoff switch. This allows you to burn any excess gasoline in the carb so it’s not sitting there and gumming everything up. The unit is also very easy to maintain and light enough for 2 people (or even one if you’re strong) to carry the generator wherever you need.

Conclusion

For an affordable SHTF generator you can’t go wrong with the Champion 3500. Champion is quickly becoming a well known brand for providing top notch generators at prices that undercut huge competitors like Honda and Yamaha. While these higher end generators come with other attractive features, Champion keeps it basic and gives you raw reliability and performance at a price you can afford. Grab one today and finally be prepared for that next power outage!

 

 

Top 5 Best SHTF Generators For Power Outages

shtf-generators

Chances are you’ve experienced a power outage in your lifetime, maybe even many of them. You know what it’s like to be thrown back to the dark ages. There’s the process of asking what is happening, and then a frantic hunt for flashlights and batteries begins (unless you’re a prepper of course!) A generator can solve most of your power outage problems in the event of SHTF or in the event of a downed tree over a power line.

If this is your first generator you probably have a lot of questions. What brand to get? What features to look for? How do they work?

The 2 Types of SHTF Generators

Traditional gas powered – Let’s take a look at the types of SHTF generators you’re going to no doubt come across when you shop. The first and most common generator is the simple gas powered engine variety. You typically see these at job sites and there is one thing you’ll notice – they are very loud. They do however output a ton of power and have a fairly long run time due to the expansiveness of the gas tank. Simply fill her up and start plugging in what you need.

Inverters – Somewhat new to the market is the inverter generator. These typically run on a 4 stroke fuel mix or a 12v battery provided by your car, bot, or RV. The advantage of the inverter is the power coming out is very clean and consistent. You can plug in your electronics without worrying about damaging the components. Inverter generators are much more quiet then the traditional generators. They quietely hum along while they power many of your electrical devices. The disadvantage of the inverter is the low power output compared to the traditional generators and limited run time. Because they tend to be smaller and portable in design, the fuel tanks are not nearly as large. And if you’re running one off a battery you’re limited to the charge capacity of the battery.

How many watts?

Power output is measure in watts. The amount of power a generator can produce determines how many appliances you can plug in and run. Certain appliances draw more power from the generator and therefore require more juice. Ask yourself, if the power goes out what things do you want to keep running? Most would like to at least keep their fridge online and power a few lights. Those are the essentials.

Here’s a reference table to give you an idea of what each of your appliances power requirements are:

appliance-power-requirements-1

appliance-power-requirements-2

Top 5 Best SHTF Generators

Let’s take a look at some hardware now that you have an idea about what you need.

1.) WEN 56200i Inverter Generator

This is a 4 stroke gas powered generator outputting extremely clean power. The WEN 56200i is extremely portable weighing in at a mere 48 pounds. It can produce 2000 watts of power which means you can power your fridge, the TV, and a couple lights no problem. If you want to move it to another part of the house simply pick it up or run extension cords to where you need power. On a half load you’ll get about 3 hours of continuous power before needing to refill the 1 gallon tank. The nice thing about the inverter is how quiet it hums along as opposed to the noisy generators that sound like garbage trucks.

2.) DuroMax XP4400EH

This is a multi fuel traditional generator. You can run the generator with either standard fuel or liquid propane. This gives you a bit of flexibility and redundancy as a prepper. As far as generators for preppers go, this is a no brainer. Maximum output is 4400 watts doubling the amount of the generator listed above. The larger gas tank also means you’ll be providing consistent power for much longer. This generator is also extremely quiet as far as traditional gas generators go.

3.) Champion 3500 Watt

The Champion is a popular one among RV enthusiasts but doubles perfectly as a great survival generator as well. This will run all of your crucial appliances with 3500 watts of sustained power. The Champion also features a built in surge suppressor to protect your appliances from sudden surges. On a half load, the Champion will run all your equipment for an entire 12 hours before needing a refill. Also very easy to start in cold weather.

4.) Honda EU2000I

Honda makes some of the best and most reliable generators out there. In return, you will be shelling out more cash. The Honda EU2000I is an extremely quiet inverter generator with the best fuel efficiency on the market. 1 gallon of gas will you get a solid 8 hours worth of run time. This is unheard of for typical inverter style generators. You can also connect multiple generators in parallel for even more power. This is the perfect generator for the minimalist prepper who wants the best. Easily power your fridge, lights, and electronics with super clean power output knowing all your equipment is safe.

5.) Honda 7oooW

I’m including this one for those of you who demand the best and most. This is the Honda 7000W generator. Of course, 7000 watts of output makes this the most powerful generator on this list. However, it also boasts a number of features that the others don’t. The electric start is a nice touch. This Honda includes a battery allowing you to start the generator at the push of a button rather than a pull cord. It does have the pull cord as a backup just in case the battery dies as well. The engine is fuel injected as opposed to a standard carburetor. This makes the Honda 7000w generator extremely fuel efficient. The design is well thought out with the service compartment easily accessible and the oil drainage in a spot that’s not going to make things messy. Very smooth to roll around throw in the back of a truck with a little help, or simply wheel it up yourself.

Conclusion

When TSHTF it’s good to have a generator to run basic appliances until power is restored. Generators last a long time so they are a worthy investment – especially if you’re a prepper or just getting into preparedness in general. Remember the two types of generators available to you and you can’t go wrong by selecting a generator from this list. I as well have done my own thorough research and found these generators to be the best in the business.

Any questions? Please let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Is Bear Grylls Survival Gear Worth The Money?

bear-grylls

These days even those living under a rock know who Bear Grylls is. In fact, Bear has turned over many rocks looking for the nastiest bugs to eat. He’s a celebrity survivalists well known as the lead survivor in Man vs Wild. The show takes viewers on a fantastic expedition of survival and Bear pulls out all the stops with his legendary survival stunts.

This has prompted Bear and his marketing team to unleash a plethora of survival gear to the market. All the classic pieces of survival gear are here. The only question is, is Bears survival gear worth the money and how does his gear stack up to the better brands?

Let’s start exploring this gear with a nice list of everything Bear has to offer:

  • Bear Grylls hatchet
  • Bear Grylls knife
  • Bear Grylls compact scout knife
  • Bear Grylls Ultimate Kit
  • Bear Grylls basic kit
  • Bear Grylls sleeping bag
  • Bear Grylls firestarter
  • Bear Grylls backpack
  • Micro torch
  • Machete
  • Survival bracelet
  • Canteen
  • Tinderbox
  • Survival belt
  • Survival blanket
  • Multi tool
  • Pocket tool
  • Water bottle
  • Sliding saw
  • Signature pants

Bear Grylls Survival Gear Review

On the site I’ve reviewed a number of Bear Grylls signature survival gear. I have full reviews of the Knife, sleeping bag, ultimate kit, and even his pants! What surprised me most about Bear Grylls products is the price. They are extremely comparable to top brands and even offer better value. The Bear Grylls multi tool is up there with the best Leatherman and you can get one for a mere fraction of the price. The knife, while dubious in blade material, can sharpen up to a razors edge and makes a great survival knife.

I’ve also reviewed his kit and while I had a number of concerns I concluded it to be a fine kit for the price. It’s something easy you can throw into your truck or tuck away to a corner of the house for a rainy day. You can even see on YouTube he makes a decent pair of survival pants as many other enthusiasts have noted.

If it’s one thing you want in a survival situation it is quality gear. Skimping out on your survival gear is a recipe for disaster. Even if you don’t know how to use the gear, having gear that can stand up to the pressures of you learning is crucial.

Perhaps my favorite 2 pieces of gear from the Bear Grylls survival line of products is the backpack and the sleeping bag. The backpack features all of the elements I like to see in a traditinal hikers pack. Compression straps, lots of space, quality zippers, and good design. It’s extremely lightweight and durable. Would I use it as a bug out bag? perhaps not. But the Bear Grylls backpack makes a great pack to take out on the trail for a 2 – 3 day expedition into the wilderness.

The sleeping bag is warm as hell. Rated at 30 degrees it compares quite nicely to even the more expensive 30 degree bags. In the review I liken it to the Marmot Cloudbreak 30. This is a top brand in hiking gear and you can snatch up the Bear Grylls sleeping bag for pennies on the dollar.

However, the most infamous piece of gear Bear Grylls has put out is his signature knife. It’s one of the cheapest survival knives on the market and comes fully loaded with a sheath and other survival goodies like his ferrorcerium striker. For the price you simply can’t beat this knife. Perhaps the one other knife I’d compare it to is Les Strouds very own knife. I’ve compared the two knives here.

Long story short they are very similar in design and price points. It really comes down to who you think is the greatest survivalist of all times!

Final Verdict On The Bear Grylls Gear

Like many of you, I had many reservations about buying any of the Bear Grylls gear. I expected to receive plastic trinkets instead of full blown survival gear made out of heavy duty materials. I was surprised to find the quality was up to par with even some of the best gear out there. With that said, don’t be hesitant to try out some gear for yourself. It’s much cheaper, heavy duty, and while it’s not the BEST of the best, it’s better than most!

Have you used any of the Bear Grylls survival gear? Let me know in the comments what you think about his stuff.

 

 

Bear Grylls 30 Degree Sleeping Bag Review

bear-grylls-sleeping-bag-review

Bear Grylls, man, beast, and myth. A hunk of survival glory and legend in his own mind. He has set out to do it all and that includes gracing the world with some of his top notch survival gear. In this review I take a look at his sleeping bag to see if it’s up to snuff. It just so happens I’m in the perfect climate for a bag like this so let’s put it to the test.

Features

  • 30 degree rating
  • Thermolite fiber material
  • Mummy style fitting
  • Tapered design
  • Anti-snag zippers
  • Hood with drawstrings
  • Lightweight
  • Compression pack included

Review

bear-grylls-sleeping-bag

I live on the central coast of California where temperatures usually don’t drop down to the 30 degree level. Perfect spot for a bag like this. I know from experience that the rating system for these bags is largely untrue. Your own body heat and temperature output play a major role in keeping you warm. With that said, the Bear Grylls sleeping bag stands up next to the best of them as far as being warm and comfortable out in the great outdoors. I have extensive experience with my very own Marmot Cloudbreak 30 bag. The Bear Grylls sleeping bag stacked up nicely and even kept me a bit warmer. I will say that this might be due to the fact that I’ve put the Marmot through the ringer.

I’m about 5.11′ and 155 pounds and had more than enough wiggle room. I can tell this sleeping bag could easily accommodate someone up to 6 foot but perhaps any larger and you’ll run into problems. I like to toss and turn in my sleep and I found the sleeping bag was happy to roll around with me.

I’m also a big fun of the mummy style sleeping bags. I like to take the hood and really cinch it down when it gets cold. This, plus I like to roll into the fetal position to reduce the amount of heat I lose to the ground. (I actually sleep like this normally.) The hood cinches right down over your head quite nicely.

What else to say? Well, most sleeping bags claim to have “anti-snag” zippers. I’ve found this to largely be a marketing scheme as I’ve never ran across a sleeping bag that holds up to these claims. While the zippers zipped up with ease I can tell with extended use they will begin to snag. This is not a fault of the Bear Grylls sleeping bag but a simple matter of a functional design flaw. The zippers are extremely high quality though.

You will find the sleeping bag bears (no pun intended) the classic Bear Grylls orange and grey color including the logo imprinted towards the left side of the shoulder portion. I imagine this wouldn’t bother anybody actively searching for a Bear Grylls product.

Lastly, the pack rolled up nice tight and is easily stored in the included stuff sack. Once everything is rolled up you can throw it straight into your Bear Grylls backpack and call it a day!

Conclusion

For the money this is an absolute steal. Considering any top brand 30 degree sleeping bag will cost you upwards of $150 bucks, the Bear Grylls sleeping bag is a no brainer. In fact, it’s easily comparable to the top brands and I’m finding many of the Bear Grylls products are on par if not better than the competition. Show Bear some love and throw him a couple bones for this sleeping bag. I guarantee you’ll stay warm in a reasonable climate not going below 30 – 40 degrees.

Have something to say about this sleeping bag? Let me know in the comments and let’s start a discussion!

Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit Review

bear-grylls

Bear Grylls. The man, myth, and legend in the survival industry. Noted for his extreme survival antics (Repelling down a cliff with bailing wire anybody?) and his complete willingness to drink his own urine at a moments notice. Bear has amassed a large following in the survival community prompting his marketing crew to release a plethora of survival products with his name stamped straight in.

One of his most popular products is his signature Bear Grylls ultimate survival kit. The kit contains a collection of 16 survival tools to aid your extraction from a survival situation. Let’s explore what is in the kit and determine if it’s worth the cash.

What’s in the kit?

bear-grylls-ultimate-survival-kit

There’s a total of 16 gear items in the kit including 2 survival related instruction manuals:

  • Gerber Miniature Multi-tool – A surprisingly capable multi tool comparable to a mid grade Leatherman. The best piece of gear in this kit by far.
  • Waterproof Bag – Everything in this kit fits conveniently in the waterproof bag. There’s also enough room left to add some gear of your own which I address later in the post.
  • Miniature Light – Fairly bright light. Good enough to find your way around camp and navigate around your gear. No substitute for a decent flashlight or tactical light however.
  • Hand Saw – Leaves more to be desired. Basically useless.
  • Signaling Mirror – Good signal mirror. Bravo Bear, Bravo.
  • Survival Blanket – Not the best in the business but made out of the same material is any other standard space blanket. I figure you could a weeks worth of use out of it before it begins to fall apart. These are cheap enough to replace with something better like the Survival Frog Tact Bivvy.
  • Fire Starter – High quality fire starter better than most. I actually recommend the Bear Grylls fire starter any chance I get.
  • Waterproof matches – Good stuff. Hard to go wrong with these.
  • Cotton Ball – Fire Tinder – Basic cotton ball. Not much to say.
  • Snare Wire – Meh. Somebody with proper snaring skills might balk at the quality but could still catch something with them. Useless unless you have snaring skills.
  • Emergency Cord – Shoelaces? It’s definitely not paracord which is the industry survival standard. Would have been nice to see paracord but I guess that would have gone over budget.
  • Waxed Thread – I’m assuming used for sewing and patching up clothes.
  • Fishing Kit – Once again, worthless unless you know how to fish and not exactly a comprehensive kit.
  • Sewing kit – Good if you know how to sew. Useless if you don’t.
  • Lanyard Whistle – Standard survival whistle. Surprisingly loud and useful.
  • Lightweight, ripstop nylon bag with waterproof zipper – High quality pouch.
  • Land to air rescue instructions – Comprehensive and detailed instructions for signalling aircraft and other vessels.
  • Priorities of Survival – Pocket guide contains Bear’s survival essentials – Essential survival advice and wisdom.

Full review

If you’ve read my recent review on the Les Stroud survival kit you know I had a couple concerns about the contents. The Bear Grylls survival kit will receive the same scrutiny. I believe there are a few fundamental mistakes made with these types of prepackaged kits. There are a number of items in this kit I believe will be no use to the types of people buying this kit which brings me to my first point – this kit is being marketed to people who understand very little about survival. That being the case, why include a fishing and snaring kit which require serious skills and knowledge to use? This type of gear is worthless unless you know what you’re doing. Those who do know what they are doing in this area of expertise would never use the inferior gear found in the Bear Grylls kit.

It’s funny to even think that somebody brand new to survival could catch a fish even if his life depended on it. Give him the right gear and bait and my bet is he still wouldn’t catch anything. If he can’t even do it with the proper gear how the hell could you expect him to do it with the dinky little hooks found in the Bear Grylls Ultimate kit?

One more thing to gripe about is the cordage included. It’s not even real 550 paracord and there’s not even enough of it to do anything useful. It’s laughable really.

Okay Bear, I’m done bashing your kit…for now.

Aside from these gimmicky type of inclusions there are a few pieces of gear I really like. The Bear Grylls Multi tool is actually very high quality and comparable to any decent Leatherman. Considering a Leatherman Wave will cost you nearly $20 dollars more than this kit you can see why the Bear Grylls kit is probably a good investment despite some of the gear leaving much to be desired. The waterproof matches, firestarter, and signalling mirror are also top notch. The included survival manuals are also decent enough and include detailed information.

I also love how the kit is highly portable and self contained. The waterproof case is roomy enough to add some of your own gear if you wanted. You can easily buy this kit and shove it tightly away for a rainy day.

This brings us to the next section of the review…

What I would change about the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit?

For a measly $60 bucks you can’t really complain too much about this kit. As I mentioned before, A decent Leatherman costs more than this kit and the Bear Grylls multi tool is honestly just as good. Sure, you could build this kit yourself for much cheaper but do you want to take the time?

There’s a few things I would change about this kit. First, let’s get rid of the fishing and snaring kit completely or replace them with high quality alternatives. Once again, unless you have the skills to use this gear you are wasting space and in for a world of frustration as you spend all day trying to catch food to no avail.

Second, this is an “ultimate survival kit” but where the hell is the knife? Really Bear? You’re going to sit there and pawn this off on us as an ultimate survival kit and not have the decency to throw in your signature knife? No survival kit is complete without a good knife and it’s laughable that this kit doesn’t have one.

Also, how about let’s throw in some real paracord and include enough length to make it useful? As far as I can tell the cordage might as well be shoe lace and it’s seriously lacking in length. Cordage is far too important to skimp on and this kit fails to include anything useful.

Conclusion

So, is the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit worth it? Taking the points I have mentioned in this article I still think the kit is worth the money. If anything this is a great kit to purchase if you simply don’t have the time to go out and find each individual piece of gear yourself. However, if this is something you want to do I recommend reading my post on Les Strouds survival kit. Not only is it a more comprehensive kit but I have links to each individual item for purchase.

This kit also makes a great gift idea as a stocking stuffer or birthday present. All in all, I think the kit is mostly well rounded if you add the gear I mentioned above.

What do you think about Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit? Let me know in the comments below!

What Is In Les Strouds Survival Kit?

les-stroud

In his best selling book Survive, Les Stroud shows you exactly what it takes to survive in different survival scenarios. In an early chapter he dedicates an entire section to what he considers to be a highly efficient and lean survival kit. In this post I will explore the contents of Les Strouds survival kit and shed light on different ways you can use each piece of gear.

5 lb coffee container

survival-coffee-container

Les recommends keeping all of the following gear in a 5lb coffee container. This serves to house the gear in a compact space and also to protect the gear from outside elements like water. Les fails to mention just how you are supposed to transport this container. Are you supposed to hold it in your hand or keep it in your cargo pockets? I doubt a coffee container of that size will even fit in the most baggiest of pants pockets. It would be wise to store the container in a bug out bag or stash it somewhere safe. In the event you need the items within you can easily retrieve the contents and use what you need. However, if you’re venturing out into the wilderness I can’t see how carrying this thing around is practical. I do see the importance of keeping your gear stored in a safe container though.

Folding metal cup

Stanley-Cooking-Cup

Some kind of stainless steel or metal cup is a versatile piece of survival equipment. The cup can be used to boil water and also doubles as a drinking and eating cup. I’ve used cheap metal cups in the past which tend to warp and degrade overtime. These days I’ve been very pleased with this camp set from Stanley. It comes with a handle so pulling it in and out of the fire is no problem. Without a collapsible handle you’ll be waiting a long time for the cup to cool down unless you have gloves or something to protect your hands.

Multi Tool

leatherman-wave-multi-tool

A good multi tool or Swiss Army knife is always a lifesaver. The pliers on the multi tool especially come in handy for a number of situations. I use mine to take hot gear out of the fire like my cooking pieces and also to bend metals into place. You’ll never know what you’ll need the multi tool for but you will always be wishing you had one if you don’t.

55 gallon trash bags

garbage-bags-300x300

These thick industrial size trash bags can do a lot of good in a survival situation. You can easily create a shelter or use the bags to waterproof your gear. Crossing a river and don’t want anything to get wet? Throw everything in one of these trash bags and call it a day. You can also wrap your shoes up to create instant waterproof footwear during a storm. They also function very well as a makeshift poncho

Cotton bandana

Survival-Bandana
A cotton bandana in the signature Bear Grylls orange color. Oh the irony!

 

Use a bandana the traditional way as a means to keep your head from getting sun burnt and to wipe the sweat from your brow. They can also be used to filter sediment and debris from a water source. Note that this does not purify the water. Be careful to boil the water before hand and then filter through the bandana to remove the debris.

Ziploc bag

ziploc-survival-bag

The rest of the items below fit conveniently in a large Ziploc bag. The Ziploc bag further waterproofs your gear and protects from the elements.

  • 550 cordageParacord. Essential for stringing up a survival shelter and other uses to long to list. As they say, you never know what you’re going to need it for but you’re always going to need it.
  • Small led flashlight – Any kind of flashlight will do. When darkness hits and there is no electricity the night will be very dark. To navigate your way around your gear and camp you’ll need some illumination. I like a good tactical light like the Fenix PD-35 but any cheap flashlight will work.
  • CandleCandles are the old school way of lighting camp and home. They’re drop dead simple to use and are extremely practical as part of a survival kit.
  • Lighter or butane blow torch – Something you can use to light a fire with. A lighter works but a butane blow torch is nearly unphased by wind and other external elements.
  • Space blanket – A space blanket will reflect the heat you lose from your body right back at you. This creates a cycle of warmth even in extremely cold conditions. While you might not be comfortable, a good space blanket can keep you warm enough until the morning – and that’s all that matters. Survival is not a 5 star experience at the Ritz-Carlton.
  • Ferrocerium Rod – A ferrocerium rod is a man made metal used to create sparks which ignite a fire. The nice thing about them is they can get wet and will still be usable. This is not the case with lighters and matches. With a little practice in the wild you can easily create fire from dry tinder found locally in the environment.
  • Strike anywhere matches – A basic set of strike anywheres to add a little redundancy to your fire kit. Keep these in a metal container because plastic has properties which can ignite the matches.
  • Signal whistle – Has anybody ever been found by using one of these? I have no idea but Les recommends having one. I can see if you broke a leg in the wild how this might be your only way out.
  • Compass – Almost useless without a map but Les still recommends having one. This is one of those pieces of gear requiring proper training to be used correctly. If you choose to get one this compass is the best in the business.
  • Painkillers – Ibuprofens, Advils, Tylenols etc. Useful for minor ailments of the human body including any aches or pains endured in a survival situation.
  • Knife – Need I say anymore. A good survival knife is worth its weight in gold out in the bush. If there’s one thing you’d want on this list it’s a solid knife at your belt. I’ve written a post on choosing the right survival knife to give you an idea about what kind of knife you want. There’s thousands of knives out there but if you follow a few basic principles you can’t go wrong.

My Review of the Les Stroud Survival Kit

Les Strouds survival kit has taken a lot of flack from the survival community. Either people don’t understand why a certain piece of gear was included or they think his kit is completely missing critical gear. I will say this – The Les Stroud survival kit is extremely lean. This means you’ll need to rely more on your skills as a survivalist.

Everything you need to survive is there. Most importantly you have the means to secure clean water and shelter. Without these 2 elements in place survival is highly unlikely. People wonder why there isn’t 72 hours worth of food in the kit as recommended in most bug out bag guides. The thing is, this is not a bug out bag. This is a survival kit. Man can go 30 days without food but will quickly die without shelter or water. Everything you need to survive is here.

Would it be nice for the kit to have a water filter and everything else that goes into a full blown bug out bag? Sure, but why make it so easy on yourself? This is not a stay at a 5 star hotel. This is survival. With the right skills anybody can survive with the Les Stroud survival kit.

Conclusion

I think the Les Stroud survival kit is good enough for most people with basic skills. The thing is, there is no such thing as the perfect survival kit and who am I to judge one of the best survivalists out there? The nice thing about this kit is everything on it is very inexpensive. You could easily pick the stuff on this list up for less than $50. A good bug out bag with all the goodies will easily run you a few hundred.

What do you think about this kit? Let me know in the comments below.

EDC Backpack List | Essential Items

backpack-edc

My backpack goes everywhere with me. In fact, I look out of place if my backpack isn’t somewhere close. My friends give me a hard time about carrying it everywhere but since I don’t drive it’s the only way to carry gear around. In my Osprey Momentum 30 I can haul roughly 40 dollars worth of groceries home if I have to. The backpack is such a practical piece of gear.

In this post I’m going to cover what what is in my EDC backpack and offer a list of essential gear items everybody needs on the day to day.

The EDC Backpack

osprey-momentum-30-edc-backpack

The backpack I use is the Osprey Momentum 30. This was a gift to me and turned out to be the perfect EDC bag. It has a 28 Liter capacity and numerous pockets for storage. The size is perfect. Anything less than 28L I’ve found to be too small. You can’t carry as much EDC gear as you would want. Anything bigger than 28L and now you have a cumbersome backpack with too much space. You also look like a backpacker and you don’t blend in as well.

The Momentum 30 has a number of features I like:

  • 28L storage capacity
  • Lots of pockets
  • Compression straps
  • Reflective stripes (more visible at night to cars especially when riding a bike)
  • Padded pocket for laptop and other electronics
  • “airscape” technologythe pack sits away from your back to promote airflow
  • Chest strap
  • Rain cover

I can recommend this pack having used it for many years. Throughout all it has been through it has held up quite nicely with little wear or tear. Too be honest, any 30L Osprey pack is going to be high quality. I suppose you could use any old backpack but for everyday use it simply won’t hold up very long. With a high quality pack I can do anything from camping/hiking trips to making a run to the grocery store.

That’s enough about the pack. Let’s crack straight into the EDC backpack list.

The Essential EDC Backpack List

  • Wallet, smartphone, keys – not much to say here. You are probably already carrying these items everyday and don’t need a laborious explanation as to why.
  • Chargers – Leaving home with a full charge is not enough anymore. If you stay over somewhere you’ll need a charger to have a full charge in the morning. I carry something like this so even if I’m not near an outlet I can still get charged up.
  • Nalgene water bottle – keep yourself hydrated especially during the summer seasons. I like the Nalgene water bottles because they’re lightweight, BPA free, and they don’t become odorous like other bottles do.
  • Protein bars – Just to have a snack if I’m on the bus or possibly stranded somewhere. I prefer Clif Bars but there are lots of options out there.
  • Multi-tool – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed a multi-tool and didn’t have one. Great stuff for cracking open boxes, working with the occasional screw, and the pliers have a million different uses. Essential piece of gear. I like the Leatherman Wave.
  • Tactical flashlight – Flashlights like the Fenix PD35 pack in a lot of illumination in a slim profile. They’re strong as an ox and won’t bust when you drop them. They also function as self defense tools because many of them have a serrated edge protecting the light. You can easily blind an attacker and then go in for a quick crack.
  • Knife – a good folding knife finds lots of use especially out in the country. You probably won’t need one in an urban edc backpack unless you’re thinking of self defense or maybe you work with a lot of boxes.
  • Lighter – not just for the smokers. A lighter is an essential survival item too small and light not to consider. It finds many practical uses from lighting pilots, making fire, making friends (who smoke), and lots of other scenarios.
  • Spare socks and underwear – For my current lifestyle I do not have transportation. If I’m across town I may crash at a friends place for the night where I can shower. Not a bad idea for the occasional hook up either.
  • Condoms – Haven’t you heard of the new Gonorrhea super strain?
  • Cash – Carry cash in numerous denominations. If the power goes out nobody can process credit cards. In fact, you still occasionally run into places that only except cash. Taco trucks come to mind. Mmm…tacos.
  • Pen and paper – to take notes on. I know everyone likes their smartphones for this but I still find the pen and paper reigns supreme for jotting down quick bits of info or giving someone directions. Especially if you’re on the phone with someone and you need to take down a note.

The Ultra Enhanced EDC Backpack List

The above EDC list is a great start. With those items you are well prepared for many different types of situations when out and about. I will now present an enhanced list. These items are not required but will certainly round out the pack and give you peace of mind if you find yourself in a real bad situation.

  • Water filter – a water filter like the Sawyer Squeeze is a low profile device to secure clean drinking water wherever you are. For the average Joe carrying one of these around sounds insane. For anybody who’s experienced an extended interruption of power you know how fast the store shelves get completely cleaned out. Scary stuff to run out of water. With a filter you can go to any old local water source and get clean water.
  • Sillcock key – now this is an interesting tool. Go to any school or urban shopping center and you’ll see water faucets without the handles. When the maintenance guy needs to use the water he uses a sillcock key to access the supply. This is one more way you can secure clean drinking water.
  • Shemagh or bandana – A shemagh has a number of tactical and survival applications. Use it to cover your face from dust (burning man type places), use it like a scarf to keep warm, use it as a tourniquet or a sling in medical situations. A truly versatile piece of EDC.
  • Hygeine kit – Travel size toothbrush/toothpaste, chapstick, hand sanitizer, deodorant, etc.

Conclusion

All of the items in the EDC list above fit perfectly into a 30L backpack with lots of room to spare. Most of the items are very lightweight leaving you lots of room to add things you might need wherever you go. I will also add one last little tip – any medications you need should be on you at all times. These are specific to you. You certainly do not want to be stranded without your medication if a condition begins to flare up and you’re away from your medicine cabinet.

Thanks for reading and let me know if I left anything off the list!

 

 

What Pants Does Bear Grylls Wear?

bear-grylls-pants

On this blog I’ve discussed Bear Grylls in a number of posts. I’ve given you guys a review of his knife and compared him to the classic celebrity survivalist Les Stroud. Despite many of his survival techniques being outright dangerous and misinformed, a lot of his survival products are actually quite decent.

Bear Grylls wears a particular type of pants made by Craghoppers in every one of his episodes. The pants are well suited for survival situations and have a number of crucial survival elements weaved right into the fabric (pun intended.)

Let’s go over the pants he wears and discuss if they’re worth spending the money on.

Features at a glance

bear-grylls-survival-pants
Elements and features of Bear Grylls survival pants.

 

  • Polyamide material
  • Quick drying
  • Stretch technology
  • Reinforced buttons
  • Extra layer of webbing around waist and heel
  • 9 pockets featuring zippers and buttons
  • Belt loops double as hanging loops for quick drying
  • Lightweight yet sturdy

Review

The pants are a polyamide material – extremely tear resistant, flexible, and quick drying. These are all great functions of a good pair of survival pants. I particularly like how the material doesn’t irritate the skin like other synthetic materials. I can also be completely stealthy unlike many pants where you can here a man coming from a mile away. The knees are reinforced with stretch material with a total of 9 pockets. The cargo pockets are generously sized so you can easily stow a good amount of survival gear.

There are also a few small details I like. All the buttons are reinforced with nylon webbing. I can’t see this thing snapping off anytime soon even if you’re a little thick down the middle. The rear pockets are double buttoned with the same nylon design is the front flap. Whatever I cram in these pockets I know will stay there indefinitely. All the edges of the pants such as the bottoms and the waist band have been lined with webbing to keep from tearing.

Overall these pants have held up to standard and come recommended by many who purchased the pants.

Final thoughts on Bear Grylls pants

Bear Grylls pants hit all the spots I look for in a good pair of survival pants. They’re very light yet tear resistant and I know I will dry off quick if I come into contact with rain or water. They’ve also got plenty of storage compartments for all my gear. I always say you should completely avoid regular jeans pants for a number of reasons. They don’t stretch and if you get them wet you’re staying wet. If you’ve ever been soaking wet before you know how miserable you become.

These are one pair of pants that will last you for a long time. One last thing I will note is the size of the pants. They run VERY small so when you order be sure to order a couple sizes up. I would error on the side of ordering too big just in case. You can always pair them with a good belt which can also double as a great piece of survival gear.

Do you own a pair of Bear Grylls’ survival pants? Let me know in the comments what you think of them!

Complete Contents of the IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit)

us-army-ifak-pouch

The IFAK – or Individual First Aid Kit is a pouch one keeps on their person to combat two of the most common fatalities in times of war – severe hemorrhaging and blocked airways. The U.S. Army have deployed IFAK’s to soldiers with well over 900,000 issued pouches over the course of military history.

For the layman, an IFAK proves just as useful when venturing out into the wilderness or as part of a bug out bag. The contents of the IFAK can vary (depending on the branch of military who issued the pack) but I will extensively cover the core supplies needed in the list below. Let’s start with the basics and move up from there.

IFAK Contents List

  • IFAK pouch – The pouch holding all of the supplies below. Check out my post on the best Molle pouches for a number of Molle compatible options. This pouch for example would function perfectly for these supplies. Molle (if you don’t know) is a military grade webbing used to attach gear and other storage compartments to your backpack or other Molle compatible product. Very useful.
  • Nitrile gloves – Any good pair of nitrile medical gloves. Gloves serve to protect the treated wound from receiving bacteria from the hands as well as protect yourself from mixing blood with another person. In the medical field proper protection is a must and the gloves are your first line of defense.
  • Hand sanitizer – Hand sanitizer kills germs on your hands and can even be used to treat smaller scrapes and wounds for infections. Once again, proper medical procedures place sensitization at the core of their practice.
  • Band Aids – Nothing fancy here. Basic band aids can be life savers. Even small cuts and scrapes can become severely infected if not treated and covered with a band aid. Too small and light not to have in your IFAK.
  • Dressings – Dressings are used to cover larger wounds. The main job of the dressing is to shield the wound from oxygen and keep the area moist and protected from infections. Dressings also absorb any excess blood and promote the clotting process so the wound can heal. In your IFAK should be a number of different types of dressings.
    • 2X2 – for treating small wounds
    • 3X4 – for treating medium wounds
    • 4X4 – for treating larger wounds
  • Closure supplies – Once the wound is wrapped it should be properly secured into place with medical tape or self adhesive ACE bandage. Waterproof medical tape is available and works great for securing dressings around small cuts and scrapes. The ACE adhesive wrap is well suited for wounds requiring pressure to stop bleeding. Any good IFAK will have the following closure supplies:
  • Clotting agents – Medical products like Quick Clot will quickly stop any bleeding in seconds. Celox is another cheaper alternative (and doesn’t burn as harshly.) These can be life savers out in the field where simply dressing the wound and applying pressure is not working.
  • Shemagh – A shemagh has so many uses even outside the medical applications. In the IFAK context a shemagh can be fashioned into a sling or makeshift tourniquet.
  • Medications – Advil, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Tums, etc. I would also throw in a few Q-tips and some essential oils to top things off. Clove oil works miracles for tooth aches and functions as a powerful antibacterial agent. Other essential oils like lavender can treat and heal burns.

US Army IFAK

us-army-ifak-pouch
The contents of the US Army IFAK 2 pouch on full display. Note the signature velcro straps that fly away from the sides of the pouch.

Each branch of the military implements their own version of the IFAK. The Army calls their IFAK an improved version of the original design. While the old kit was originally stored in a pouch designed for SAW (squad automatic weapon) rounds, the supplies in the Army IFAK are packaged in a modified top loading Molle pouch with two velcro flaps on either side. This configuration provides rapid access to medical supplies during battle. A comprehensive breakdown of the IFAK 2 and the core differences between the older design can be found here. The pouch the Army IFAK includes the following contents:

  • Tourniquet
  • Bandage Kit
  • Bandage Gauze 4-1/2″ 100/Pkg
  • Adhesive Tape Surg 2″ 6’s Roll
  • Airway, Nasopharyngeal, 28fr, 12s
  • Glove, Patient Exam 100/Pkg (4ea)
  • Pouch, IFAK
  • Insert, IFAK (has folding panels, with cord attached)

US Air Force IFAK

us-airforce-ifak

The US Air Force appears to implement a larger kit which includes a full blown trauma kit alongside other medical supplies not seen in other IFAK configurations. Here’s what’s inside their unique IFAK:

  • TRAUMA Module (Surgical tools, gloves, various bandages and tourniquets)
  • Israeli Bandage
  • Pri-Med Bandage, Gauze, Cotton
  • EMS Shears
  • Nasopharyngeal Airway
  • Adhesive Tape
  • Zip Lock Poly Bag
  • Quick Clot

USMC IFAK

usmc-ifak-pouch-contents
Note the inclusion of the water purification tablets which are absent in the other IFAKs.

Another robust medical kit.

  • IFAK A1 Component Individual First Aid Kit
  • TK4 Tourni-Kwik Self-Application Tourniquet
  • “H” Compression Bandage
  • Primed Compressed Gauze
  • Adhesive Bandage 2″ x 4 1/2″
  • Adhesive Bandages, 3/4″ x 3″
  • Adhesive Bandages, 3/4″ x 3″
  • Triangular Bandages, 40″x40″x56″ Non-sterile
  • Combat Reinforcement Tap 2″ x 100″
  • Burn Dressing 4″ x 16″
  • Bacitracin Antibiotic Ointment 0.9 gram
  • Povidone-Iodine Topical Solution USP 10% 1/2 floz
  • Water Purification Tablets 10 Pack, Katadyn Micropur, Sodium Chlorite

A full breakdown including NSN numbers of these IFAKs can be found here.

Using the contents of your IFAK

Most of the contents found in your IFAK will prove useless unless you have basic first aid training. Below you will find a solid video on using many of the common supplies found in the standard IFAK. Thanks for reading and pop me a comment if you have any questions.

 

SHTF Loadout For Rapid Response Action

Watching the news everyday continually reminds me why everybody needs to consider their SHTF loadout. Shootings are becoming commonplace to the point where the American people are numb to the news. Emotional intelligence has taken a backseat to knee jerk violent reactions. Man is slowly reducing himself to the violent ape and the general population lives in terror of his neighbor. Even our own government clearly doesn’t have our back as demonstrated by policies which line the pockets of rich politicians. Cops have Carte Blanch to do as they please and shoot who they want with no repercussions. On top of this we have a population spiraling out of control and live in a world of finite resources.

All these things come together to create chaos and disorder. How do you prepare for such chaos? In this post I’m going to cover a few SHTF loadout configurations. These various setups will help you understand what type of loadout is best for you.

What is an SHTF loadout?

First off, what the hell is an SHTF loadout? An SHTF loadout is the gear you strap to your person when TSHTF. It’s the gear you put on when all hell has broken loose and your only option is blasting through the madness like Kurt Russel in Escape From New York. Your loadout is there to give you rapid access to ammo and supplies and protect you from the violent environment around you.

Choosing a Weapon

best-shtf-weapons

The best SHTF weapon to have during a full blown SHTF situation is the one you have on you. The second best is the one you prepared to use and practiced with. Without a weapon all you have is a bug out bag (hopefully) and a greatly reduced chance of survival. Your weapon is your first line of both defense and offense. Even a fake weapon is better than nothing as you introduce an element of intimidation to the crazy people around you.

You can find lot’s of discussions online about what kind of gun is best in an SHTF scenario. The truth is, they all have their merits. In this post I won’t confuse you by giving you a thousand choices. I’m going to tell right now to go out and grab yourself an AK-47. Why? Because it’s a damn good weapon with serious stopping power and reliability. You’d be hard pressed to find anybody who denies the power of the AK.

The AK is a high capacity and high powered rifle. You really don’t want to be using a weapon that doesn’t have 30 round mags. This means constant reloading and downtime during firefights. The very nature of the piston driven design makes the AK extremely reliable even when submerged in sand. The AK is also one of the cheapest rifles around and you can find them for roughly $500 bucks depending on where you look. It also doesn’t matter where you find one or the manufacturer. Get one from Yugoslavia, China, Russia, or wherever. Ammo is also cheap and readily available. There’s also something about the AK that signals danger to those around you. Nobody is going to mess with a man wielding an AK-47.

And here’s the secret…

You don’t have to use the AK.

What matters most is your skill and comfort level with whatever gun you have. If you can hit a target 200 yards away with a shotgun then by all means use the damn shotgun! YOU are the weapon and the gun is the tool. However, if you’re starting from ground zero and on a budget (who isn’t these days) the AK represents a powerful weapon and delivers the most bang and versatility for the buck.

The setup and loadout for an AK-47 is drop dead simple. Get a folding stock to move through buildings and fight in close quarters. Get a good set of optics for increased accuracy. Attach a tactical flashlight to the rail mount. Aside from these basic mods make sure to have plenty of mags and ammo. Once again, practice shooting your weapon as much as you can. Your skill level is the most important factor. Mods and the other fancy things you can do to your weapon matter very little. A man who is skilled with a crossbow will easily take down a man with a gun who has never shot one in his life.

This leads us into the next part of the loadout…

Lightweight SHTF loadout

camelbak-mule
The light as a feather Camelbak Mule. Hydration ready and perfect for bugging out quick on your feet.

When speed is of the essence you can’t load yourself down like a pack mule. When you need to get from point A to point B ASAP you cannot afford the extra weight of all those survival widgets. You may be able to come back for your gear but at this point all that matters is MOVEMENT. Especially when on foot you’ll need to make good use of those chevrolegs.

Now, if this means bugging out of your home the answer is simple. Grab your weapon of choice along with as many mags you can carry on your belt. Molle mag pouches attach straight to your belt and hold any type of magazine you can imagine.

What about a backpack? Sure, but let’s keep it light.

I personally have found the Camelbak Mule to be a loyal lightweight companion out on the trail. It’s a 12.5 liter pack with a 3L hydration bladder. Throw in a couple Clif bars and a water filter and you have yourself a powerful lightweight survival B.O.B. The hydration bladder means you don’t need a water canteen and the filter gives you the ability to replenish your resources. Sure, you might be hungry but man can survive a long time without food. water? Not so much. Plus in a fully blown SHTF situation your security is the most important element of survival. Everything else takes a backseat behind your physical safety. This is why you need to be packing heat.

The compact size of the pack means you can only pack essential survival items. There’s no room for a tent and sleeping pad in this setup. This is a raw SHTF loadout with only the essential pieces of survival gear.

This setup will keep you light on your feet and ready for rapid movement.

The SHTF Battle Belt Loadout

shtf-loadout-battle-belt

In this setup we expand upon the lightweight loadout by adding a battle belt. A battle belt is usually a MOLLE compatible belt you can use to attach compatible pouches, magazines, and other storage containers. It’s a versatile setup giving you easy access to ammunition and other supplies. Your waist is the best spot to store your gear because of the natural center of gravity. This is still a lightweight loadout and does a good job at not restricting your movement or weighing you down. Range of motion is crucial when using and weapon especially longer rifles.

A battle belt will make good use of Molle pouches to stow crucial gear:

The Plate Carrier Loadout

shtf-plate-carrier

Now here is where things get heavy duty. A plate carrier like the Condor MOPC is a Molle compatible vest which supports steel ballistic level plates. These plates are designed to protect both your back and chest from pistol and rifle rounds. In the event you get shot at, most people aim for the chest. In fact, even police and military forces are trained to put 2 in your chest first before they go for other vitals like the head. Center mass shooting training is effective against unarmored assailants but ineffective against someone with plate armor.

The plate armor gives you a defensive advantage against enemy shooters. Downsides include the weight of the vest of course. A fully loaded carrier vest can weigh up to 50 pounds and reduce your speed and ability to run fast. The vest could however save your life especially in a combat zone where you’re taking heavy fire. If you’re going to take this route I recommend wearing the vest and going for runs and hikes. This will acclimate your body to the weight and chisel you into shape.

A good plate carrier vest will have Molle webbing allowing you to attach other pieces of gear to both the front and the back. If you’re in shape this is a serious loadout. Like the battle belt you can attach a med kit, multiple ammo magazines, a good knife, and spare supplies. The plate carrier would make an excellent addition to a bug in setup where you’re being over run by hoards of lunatics. Strap that thing on and prepare to give them hell (final stand style) knowing you’re fully protected and ready to go.

Weapon + Bug Out Bag Loadout

rush-72-survival-backpack
The 5.11 Rush 72 Hour Tactical Pack. Grab and go bug out bag for your loadout gear.

 

Lot’s of preppers are big fans of the above loadouts. If you’re anything like me though you prefer to keep things simple. I find a high powered rifle and a basic bug out bag to be a very effective setup. Sure, you don’t have armor plates protecting your vitals but I value speed and versatility over chest protection. The lightweight loadout above is a great option but I find it lacking in crucial gear. I have confidence in my physical ability to move quickly even with a bag on my back. One of the best SHTF tips I can give is get in shape. Going for daily runs and hikes will put you in the top 10% of people who will actually have a chance of outrunning danger.

Moving right along, I have a number of gear items in my bug out bag:

One thing to note is you can purchase backpacks with the Molle webbing. One of my favorite tactical backpacks is the 5.11 Rush 72. This thing is loaded with Molle webbing and built durable. You could throw it threw a wood chipper and watch it come out the other side unscathed. This is great for people who like the Molle setup but don’t want to wear the battle belt or the vest.

SHTF Loadout Summary

Here’s a few bullet points to memorize about your loadout setup:

Pair this loadout with a solid SHTF plan and you have yourself a tasty recipe for survival.