Top 5 Molle Mag Pouches For Your Ammo Magazines

mag-pouch-outry

I love Molle compatible pouches because they’re so versatile. I can strap them to my loadout vest or my 5.11 rush 72 and hit the road at a moments notice. There’s a ton of high quality Molle mag pouches available and in this post I’m going to cover some of the best.

1.) Condor tactical double kangaroo mag pouch

condor-double-tactical-pouch

Go double duty with the condor tactical mag pouch. Condor makes great tactical products and I’ve covered much of their quality gear in other posts. It’s no surprise to see the same build quality in their mag pouches as well. This particular pouch easily stows away 2 regular magazines as well as 2 pistol sized magazines and attaches to any other Molle compatible hardware you have. The pistol magazine pouch is secured through a velcro flap while the other 2 main magazine pouches implement a secure bungee system.

2.) High Speed Gear double pistol mag pouch

high-speed-mag-pouch

Another tactical magazine pouch fitting most standard pistol magazines. Built rugged and tough for the 1911, HK 45, M9/Beretta 92, Glock and other similar magazine sizes. This is one of the more rugged and durable Molle pouches on the market. The magazines lock into place and stay there but are easily removed via the bungee system. You can do this one handed with no problem. Check it out here.

3.) Condor Triple Stacker M4/M16 pouch

mag-pouch-condor-triple-stacker

For those of you with M4’s and M16 this is one of the best pouches out there for these rounds. Similar to the other Condor products this pouch implements a bungee system to secure your magazines in place. This one can load in a total of 6 magazines. Some have noted a tight fit for certain model magazines but it isn’t a problem for most.

4.) Outry AR-15 Mag holder

mag-pouch-outry

For those with the AR-15. This fits a standard AR-15 magazine as well as the M16 and M4. This is perhaps the most versatile pouch for rifles. The pouches are large enough to fit other mags but it certainly fits the AR-15 magazine like a glove. The material is 1000D nylon. This stuff is extremely durable and won’t be busting anytime soon. This pouch also implements an elastic bungee system to keep the mags in place.

5.) Voodoo Tactical triple mag pouch

mag-pouch-voodoo-tactical

I introduce you to the Voodoo triple mag pouch. For those of you wanting to shoot your way out of a fully blown SHTF situation. This pouch holds any standard pistol magazine but known to fit the 1911 mags like a well worn baseball mitt. This is military grade nylon we’re talking about outfitted with quality Molle webbing and belt loops if you want to go strapped to the hip. The over top velcro system makes it easy to remove magazines and put them back. Out of all the pouches I really like the color on this one.

What to attach the pouches to?

Now that you’ve got a couple mag pouches what are you going to do with them? After discovering Molle I specifically look for Molle compatible gear I can use to attach my loads with. For me personally I like the 5.11 Rush 72 backpack. I take this bad boy out to the range, when I go camping, and I use it as a general bug out bag.

I’m also a big fan of the Condor Tactical Molle vest. When it comes to a full loadout the vest is something that can’t be overlooked. It’s extremely versatile and strong enough to attach steel plates for full blown body armor. With enough Molle pouches you can turn this thing into a full loadout and skip the backpack completely. That speaks to the true versatility and the genius behind the Molle technology.

Further reading…

If you’re interested in other Molle gear posts check out my best Molle backpacks post for a list of backpacks with loads of Molle. I’ve also got a similar post for the general Molle pouches for other load bearing options. Thanks for reading!

The Complete Go Bag List For Getting Out of Dodge

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Every able bodied human being needs to have a go bag in case of emergency. Your go bag will contain everything you need for at least 72 hours including some gear for long term survival. Let’s explore the elements of a go bag with a basic packing list of survival supplies.

The Go Bag Itself

rush-72-survival-backpack
The 5.11 Rush 72 Hour Tactical Pack

You’ll need a decent bag to grab in case TSHTF. Maybe you were thinking about using that ratty old Jansport you’ve kept since college. This is fine if that’s all you have but consider making an investment into something that isn’t going to bust the moment you crawl under a barbed wire fence. The go bag carries all your gear and I recommend looking into a quality pack. Read my post on the best Molle packs. Long story short, the 5.11 Rush 72 is a perfect go bag and features tactical elements not seen in other bags.

The Go Bag Survival Gear List

Here’s a quick and dirty list of the essential gear you need in the go bag. I’ll go over each of these items below the list.

  • 72 hours worth of food and water
  • Critical documents (ID, Passport, etc)
  • $100 spare cash
  • LED Flashlight
  • Camping cup
  • Knife
  • Multi Tool
  • Light poncho or trash bag
  • Duct tape (not a whole roll)
  • Lighters and fire starters
  • Water filter (either a Lifestraw or Sawyer squeeze)
  • Drinking canteen
  • Basic first aid
  • Emergency radio
  • USB charging bank for smartphone
  • Chargers for electronics (Micro USB or Iphone)
  • Paracord
  • Change of clothes

The logic Behind The GO Bag

A lot of the bug out bags (go bags) I see are completely overloaded. They include tents, sleeping bags, compasses, and a bunch of other crap you don’t need. You see, the go bag isn’t designed for the end of the world. It’s there to assist you in getting to a safe destination. Maybe your car broke down in a storm or your house got flooded. Perhaps a fire ripped through your area and a mandatory evacuation was issued. The go bag in these cases will see you through a temporary situation. In most cases you won’t be camping in the woods or living off pigeons in the city like some of these apocalyptic crackpots will have you believe.

GO Bag Tips

Food and water will be your number one priority here. While true that lack of shelter will kill you faster in some environments, in most cases you’ll just be hungry and thirsty. This can lead to you making wrong decisions or even death in some extreme cases. A solid GO bag has 72 hours worth of food and water. Think about food you would take hiking. I like the Mountain House packets because they’re easy and they taste good. You can also include other non-perishable items like dried fruits and nuts, peanut butter, tuna packets etc.

Mountain-House-Foods
Mountain house makes great go bag goodies. Just add water and chow down.

Documents and cash are crucial to you not getting hassled by cops and paying for things when there might not be any electricity. You should always keep things like your passport and a spare ID in your GO bag for situations where the originals are at risk for getting destroyed. Your documents give you access to services and can verify your identity to the authorities and possible medical personnel.

go-bag-spare-cash

Electronics will of course come into play. A spare prepaid burner phone is a good idea along with all the chargers you need. A battery bank to recharge a dead cell can be a life saver. You have surely felt the fear of a dead cell phone in normal circumstances – only imagine the level of fear in a full blown SHTF situation!

smartphone-battery-charger

Basic survival gear like the stuff they give to the boy scouts. These include pieces of gear used to make fire and purify water. With fire you can stay warm and cook food. With water you can cook and also keep yourself hydrated. Also having a method to purify dubious water sources is crucial. I like the Lifestraw as a cheap option but prefer something more robust like the Sawyer squeeze. Added to this section of the list is a knife, a multi tool, a first aid kit, and a good LED flashlight.

go-bag-survival-gear

The Enhanced GO Bag List

It’s easy to go beyond what is on this list and overload your pack with useless junk. For instance, most people don’t even know how to use a compass but pack one anyways. Why? In most cases you need a map and general sense of where you are for a compass to be reliable. Tents and sleeping bags sound like solid “shoe ins” for the go bag but only weigh you down. Like I said, the likelihood of you having to bug out to the woods is very unlikely if you live in the first world. These are nice to have just in case but they serve little purpose in a go bag.

However, if you’re one to go all out I can recommend some “advanced” pieces of gear not needed but nice to have.

  • Compass
  • Map of your area
  • Fishing kit
  • Trapping kit
  • Ham radio
  • Tent / Sleeping bag
  • Shovel
  • Sewing kit
  • Tactical gloves
  • More food than 72 hours worth

As you can see the pack is starting to get very heavy at this point. Think about the likelihood of you ever needing any of these things. Firstly, who knows how to fish and trap game in the modern world? If you have the skill than obviously include these things. But for the average Joe, the reality is that even with the best fishing or trapping gear it’s very unlikely you’ll catch anything more than a hook to your own lip.

Same goes for the compass and ham radio. These are all items requiring a certain level of skill to be effective. If you don’t have these skills than do your back a favor and don’t add them to the GO bag.

Conclusion

Having a GO bag around might just save your ass one day. If anything you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you’re prepared to make a long trek across town or through a storm and survive. With a good GO bag you’ll have 3 days worth of food and water and the gear required to secure more. It’s very easy to filter water if you’re in a pinch. Put one of these together as soon as you can to ensure your safety during an emergency

Best Long Range Walkie Talkies Reaching 100 Miles

I’ve owned many walkies over the years. I’ve used them on the ranch and around job sites to communicate with other workers. It seems there was always an issue with range. After a certain distance the signal would drop significantly forcing me to retrace my steps until the signal improved. I realized I needed something more robust to use in situations requiring long distance communication.

The problem with traditional walkies is even the most powerful models have a theoretical distance of 36 miles – and this number is very generous. To achieve a number of this distance would require absolutely ideal conditions – no wind, no obstructions, and a clear line of sight.

With that said, there are some walkie talkies known to blast a signal slightly farther than others. The Midland GXT1000VP4 boasts a very decent range and incorporates the max wattage allowed for 2 way FRS standard radios (5 watts.) When looking for good 2 ways you want to make sure you’re getting a pair with the most power output. Since these types of devices can’t exceed 5 watts, that’s what you’re aiming for. Many walkies I’ve seen fall short of this power output resulting in lackluster communication range.

But, even with these 5 watt walkies you’ll be lucky to reach such a lofty range. To truly reach the 100 mile distance requires something a little more serious – a ham radio. These types of radios operate using a higher power output and increased frequency range. They can tap into local repeaters which amplify the signal to send your transmission hundreds to thousands of miles across the globe. Ham radios can communicate worldwide with other ham radio operators.

**NOTE** In order to operate on the many available frequencies of these powerful devices you need a Ham Radio operators license. Do people use these radios unlicensed everyday? Of course. But so you don’t get spanked by the FCC strongly consider taking the test. The test is relatively inexpensive and once you pass you can operate and transmit on a number of frequencies. Whole communities have sprung up around ham radio and it’s one of the largest niche hobbies in the world.

Now let’s take a look at a couple handheld hams to get you communicating long distances.

Baofeng UV-5R

baofeng-ham-survival-radio

This hand held radio is the most popular on the market. The UV-5r has versatile range of available frequencies and powerful programming features. Easily communicate with short range walkie talkies and program local repeaters to communicate with other ham radios hundreds of miles away. You can set it up as a scanner and listen in on local fire and police channels. The UV-5r makes a great emergency radio and NOAA reciever. If there’s a local emergency you’ll be the first to know if you choose to scan those frequencies. It’s also very inexpensive for the features it packs. Grab two of them to test out with a friend. You’ll certainly achieve a much longer range of communication than you could with a traditional walkie talkie.

Yaesu VX-6R

yaesu-vx6r yaesu-vx6r

The Yaesu VX-6R boasts every feature in the Baofeng UV-5r but is a much higher quality radio. It’s meant for easy programming and has superior scanning functions and capabilities. Ham enthusiasts also note the many ways the device can be hacked through software to perform advanced functions (don’t get yourself in trouble!) It’s also much more expensive but you get what you pay for. Again, using only a couple of these bad boys you can achieve impressive distances as standalone 2 way walkie talkies. Remember, we’re talking hundreds of miles here if you’re close to a local repeater.

Conclusion

The hardware inside of traditional walkie talkies simply cannot muster the power to transmit over a 100 mile range. If you require this type of communication you’ll need to look into the radios I listed above. Both Baofeng and Yaesu make great entry level radios to communicate across those types of distances. In fact, many have found a great hobby in HAM radio and are hooked! Do the research and don’t forget to get licensed for this type of equipment. While rare, the FCC has prosecuted individuals for transmitting over protected frequencies – especially those frequencies allocated to the local police and fire departments.

 

Top 10 Fixed Blade Survival Knives 2017 Edition

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When TSHTF your knife will be your most important piece of gear. A good knife is versatile and holds many uses in a survival situation. There’s a lot of knives out on the market and finding the right one can be tough. Use this guide to choose the best fixed blade knife for you and your situation. Please note – this list is in no particular order. All the knives discussed have their own unique strengths and weak points. I will illustrate these as we move through the guide.

Also be sure to read my primer on choosing a survival knife so you know what you’re looking for.

Fixed Blade Survival Knife Comparison Chart

 ESEE 5Ontario Rat 5Gerber LMF 2SOG Seal PUP EliteESEE 6 Fallkniven F1Morakniv Bushcraft BlackCondor BushloreKabar Bk7Kabar BK2
Blade TypeFixedFixedFixedFixedFixedFixedFixedFixedFixedFixed
Blade Length5.25 inches5.0 Inches4.84 Inches4.85 Inches6.5 Inches3.8 Inches4.3 Inches4 5/16 Inches7 Inches5.25 Inches
Total Length10.88 Inches10.5 Inches10.59 Inches9.5 Inches11.75 Inches8.3 Inches9.1 Inches9 5/16 Inches12.75 Inches10.5 Inches
Blade Thickness0.25 Inches0.188 InchesNA0.19 Inches0.188 Inches4.5mm3.2mm3mm0.188 Inches0.25 Inches
Blade Material1095 Steel / Sabre Grind1095 Steel / Full flat taper / Drop point420 HC Stainless SteelAus 81095 Steel / Flat GrindVG-10 Stainless SteelCarbon Steel with anti corrosive coatingCarbon Steel with Scandinavian grind1095 Cro-Van1095 Cro-Van
Weight16 oz11.5 oz11.67 oz5.4 oz20 oz6 oz5.7 oz10 oz0.85 lbs1.0 lbs
TangFullFullFullFullFullFullFullFullFullFull
With SheathYesNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

10.) ESEE-5

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The ESEE 5 Survival Knife

The ESEE 5 is a brute force knife designed to crack out of any full blown SHTF situation. It’s original design was to assist a downed pilots escape from his aircraft and out of enemy territory. The ESEE-5 is overkill for most people but perfect for those who want a bombproof knife that will never break. The blade is the thickest on this list and made of time tested 1095 carbon steel. While the blade is thick, it can take and hold a wicked edge. The handle is canvas Micarta. It’s a heavy beast but perhaps the most reliable knife on this list. You could pry, dig, and do anything to the ESEE-5 and it’s not going to show any signs of wear. One final feature I like about the ESEE-5 is the glass breaker pommel on the end of the handle. This is not only a great way to break glass but a formative self defense feature as well.

9.) Ontario Rat 5

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That’ll do Rat…that will do.

The Rat 5 is the budget version ESEE-5. It’s identical in many features right down to the 1095 carbon steel and Micarta handle. It’s even got the classic glass breaker pommel on the end too. The ESEE-5 is significantly heavier however and still remains the top dog between the two. However, the ESEE-5 is quite heavy and difficult to use for finer tasks such as skinning and making feather sticks. The Rat 5 is a lighter and more agile alternative to the ESEE-5 and many people spring for this knife over the ESEE for this reason. It’s also significantly cheaper than the ESEE which can make the Rat 5 a no brainer for the budget conscious prepper. Without comparison, the Rat 5 can easily stand on it’s own as a competent survival knife.

8.) Gerber LMF 2

Gerber LMF 2...a fully blown survival knife
Gerber LMF 2…a fully blown survival knife

The Gerber LMF 2 is a truly unique blade with one of a kind design features. It was forged by the minds of the U.S. Special Forces who needed a knife that could cut through electrical wire without getting electrocuted. This led to a partial insulated tang design which does not come into contact with the sides of the handle. This allowed troops to hack and slash their way through enemy territory with ease. Staying to their red blooded roots, all Gerber knives are made right here in the U.S.

7.) SOG Seal Pup Elite

SOG-seal-pup-elite-review

This knife is first and foremost a combat knife. Everything from the bowie blade design to the finger grooved handles makes this blade perfect for combat. I wouldn’t say it’s the best bushcrafting knife by any means but it’s a formative combat knife you don’t want to be on the business end of. The handle is extremely grippy thanks to the checkered print and fits your hands like a glove. The serrated edge comes in handy for tearing through cordage and other material. The SOG is a great tactical knife and very affordable compared to some of the other knives on this list.

6.) ESEE-6

esee-6-review

The ESEE-6 is my favorite blade from the ESEE line of survival knives. I find it far superior to the bulky and weighty ESEE-5. This knife is much lighter and features a longer blade – making it very easy to baton wood and carry out general bushcrafting tasks. It’s made of all the same high quality material but designed in a way that makes using the ESEE-6 a joy. The lightness of the knife keeps you agile while the thinner blade lends itself well to skinning and other micro tasks. Referencing the comparison chart above you can see similar materials but very different specs and dimensions.

5.) Fallkniven F1

fallkniven-F1-review

This knife was designed in Sweden and issued to all Swedish Army personnel. Sweden brings not only some of the nicest people in the world, but some of greatest and sharpest knives in the industry. Morakniv knives are also forged in the country so suffice to stay the Fallkniven F1 is one hell of a blade. The knife has a basic look but feels great in your hand. The blade material is a form of stainless steel known as VG-10. The blade features a convex grind which will make sharpening the blade more difficult but not too much. The Convex grind is efficient at batoning wood. The convex curve literally acts as a wedge and makes batoning wood an effortless endeavor. The Fallkniven F1 is a good basic knife.

4.) Morakniv Bushcraft Black

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Another all time classic from Sweden. Morakniv knives are extremely sharp. The Bushcraft Black features a carbon steel blade with an anti corrosive coating. Carbon Steel is a high maintenance material and easily gathers rust if you don’t take care of it. The powder coating does a good job preventing the rust and keeping the blade in ship shape. The handle is ergonomic and fits nicely in your hands. My one gripe about this knife is a partial tang. The tang only runs 3/4 down the handle. While I would prefer a full tang, this knife still feels very solid even when doing serious damage in the bush. The raw sharpness of this blade makes up for the tang. Be careful not to slice yourself when you unbox this bad boy.

3.) Condor Bushlore

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A true bush knife through and through. The aesthetics on this knife scream bushcrafting. The handle is wooden and almost looks like a rustic steak knife. Not that I would hesitate to slice into some meat with this thing out in the bush! One thing to note – it’s a lightweight knife. You won’t be batoning anything crazy but the Condor is a fantastic general purpose bush knife. The blade is carbon steel and sharpens up like a straight razor. A solid knife to keep on your belt especially if you plan on bugging out to the woods.

2.) Kabar BK7

The legendary Bk7
The legendary Bk7

Now here is a knife that rivals even the legendary ESEE-5. I give you the Kabar BK7. Some consider this the ultimate survival knife. The blade is long and the 1095 Cro-Van steel sharpens up to a razors edge. This knife also features a glass breaking pommel with which to bash and hammer anything in your way. The Bk7 is a beast when it comes to batoning wood and being an overall bombproof knife. Will it cost more than most of the knives on this list? Yes it will, but the Bk7 is well worth it if you want a knife to stand the test of time.

1.) Kabar BK2

Bk2-wilderness-survival-knife
The Kabar BK2 Survival Knife

 

Perhaps the most popular survival knife of all time is the Bk2 – the little fat brother of the Bk7. Despite having a shorter blade, the Bk2 actually weighs more than the Bk7. This is thanks to the extra thickness given to the blade. Many people note the Bk2’s resiliency out in the bush. You couldn’t break this thing even if you wanted to. I have a post comparing the Bk2 and Bk7. If you have the money these are the survival knives I recommend the most on the site. They’re tough as nails and sharp as a razors edge – a formidable survival companion in the bush or in a fully blown SHTF situation.

Final Thoughts

The preceding knives represent the absolute best of the best. You could go with the cheapest contender and still have a knife that will stand the test of time and do everything you need it to do. The survival knife is one piece of gear you can’t afford to miss if you’re serious about putting together a survival kit. Good luck in your choice and put the knife to good use when you get it!

 

Big Berkey Water Filter Review

Water is the most essential element to the survival of you and your family. On this site, I’ve discussed various methods for purifying water via smaller filters such as the Sawyer Mini or the Life Straw. These are great options for a single person who isn’t concerned with storing too much water at once.

But what if you have a family and want many gallons of fresh water available at one time during an emergency? Or maybe you don’t want to painstakingly pump water through a tiny filter while you’re out camping?

The Big Berkey water filter fits the bill for preppers and families who need on demand water that’s been cleared of harmful viruses and bacteria.

In this review I take you through the Big Berkey water filter and give my thoughts on whether the Berkey is a good investment.

What is the Big Berkey water filter?

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The Big Berkey is a water filter designed to remove harmful bacteria, viruses, and chlorine from any water source. The Berkey is split between two parts. On the top you have a container where the Berkey filters attach. Up to four filters can attach. On the bottom is the collection reservoir where the clean water collects. After the water is filtered you can draw from the Berkey just like any old office water cooler.

Specifications and features

  • 2.25 Gallon capacity
  • 10.2 pounds
  • 14.1 x 12.7 x 10.5 inches
  • Gravity fed
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Filters viruses, bacteria, fluoride, and chlorine
  • 2 included black filters (a single one filters up to 3000 gallons)
  • 2 included Fluoride filters (these attach to the bottom of the regular black filters)
  • 4 included 12oz stainless steel cups
  • BPA free
  • Great for small – medium sized families
  • Filters harmful elements while keeping healthy minerals
  • Fresh and nourishing water for everyone

First impressions

Unboxing the Big Berkey was exciting. The weight of the box told me I was tearing into something weighty and extremely durable – and that’s exactly what the Big Berkey is! The entire product minus the spigot and filters is completely stainless steel. You would have no problems throwing this thing in the back of a truck and worrying about damage. Absolutely bombproof.

With that said, it looks very clean inside the home. If you have a wife (or maybe you are the wife) the Big Berkey looks great anywhere you put it.

This is how the Big Berkey works. On the bottom is a reservoir that catches the water. On the top is a separate piece fitting into the bottom. This top piece has filters attached which clean and purify your water.

The filters themselves screw in. The Big Berkey comes with two filters and there are 4 available spots. Any remaining filter holes not taken up by a filter are blocked by plugs.

Each filter can filter up to 3000 gallons. So with the 2 supplied filters, that’s 6000 gallons of water. This should last a long time if you’re only using the water for drinking purposes.

Big Berkey Filter Time

berkey-black-filters

Through extensive testing, the Berkey averages about 3.5 gallons per hour. This is a gravity fed system so the less water inside the top container the slower it will filter.

Berkey water filter FAQ

1.) How does it work?

The Berkey system works through a gravity and filtering system. There are 2 containers stacked on top of each other. The top container filters the water and the bottom container collects it.

2.) How do you use it?

Simply fill the top of the Berkey with water and wait until all of it is collected at the bottom. There is a spigot on the bottom similar to your standard office water cooler.

3.) What does the Berkey filter exactly?

The berkey filters bacteria, viruses, fluoride, and chlorine.

4.) Does it leave in the good minerals?

Yes. The Berkey filtering system leaves all the good minerals in the water.

5.) Is it BPA free?

Yes. The entire Berkey system is made of stainless steel!

6.) How many gallons can it hold?

The Big Berkey can store up to 2.25 gallons

7.) How long does it take to filter?

On average, the Berkey filters at a rate of 3.5 gallons an hour. With 2.5 gallon resevoir it takes less than an hour to completely refill itself.

8.) Can it filter dirty pond or creek water?

Yes! The filter catches even the smallest forms of viruses and bacteria known to stagnate in dirty water. These include things like E.Coli which are very dangerous forms of bacteria. This is why the Berkey filter is great to have in your survival and prepping arsenal.

9.) Is there warranty?

Yes. You get a warranty of 12 months on the system itself and 2 years for the Berkey filters.

Final thoughts

The berkey water system is a great way to provide you and your family with clean drinking water. It’s a great method of purifying clean drinking water from a variety of sources. With each filter capable of filtering up to 3000 gallons of water, you won’t be needing to replace the filters anytime soon. It looks sleek in the house and the construction is such that you won’t have to worry about damaging the exterior.

This thing even makes L.A. tapwater taste like you’re drinking straight from a mountain stream! You can can purchase Berkey straight from the manufacturer or go to Amazon to lock in the best price.

If you enjoyed this review, leave a comment below and let me know what you think! I am happy to answer questions when I can.

Thanks for reading.

 

Top 5 Best Kaito Emergency Radios

kaito-radios

What happens when SHTF and the entire electrical grid pops? How will you tap into critical broadcasts and frequencies to know what’s going on around you? NOAA radios like the ones Kaito makes provide the durable hardware required to pull in information about the weather and other emergency situations happening around you.

Kaito has a number of products on the market with different features. Let’s explore some of the core features of the models and then crack straight into the products themselves.

Multiple power methods

Any quality emergency radio is going to boast a number of ways to charge the device. It doesn’t make sense to rely on a single source. In case of emergency, that source can go out and now what are you going to do? All Kaito radios can be charged via hand crank, batteries, USB, AC, and solar. Meaning even if all you have is the sun you can still use your radio!

You should also note that the AC adapter for the Kaito radios is sold as a separate unit.

Multiple radio bands and NOAA frequencies

As a radio, the primary method of use is tuning into radio frequencies. Aside from your standard run-of-the-mill AM/FM stations, Kaito radios can tap into both shortwave and all 7 of the NOAA emergency weather service channels. The NOAA stands by 7 days a week / 365 days a year to broadcast emergency weather conditions. In places like Katrina and the surrounding areas, an NOAA radio broadcast could have saved your life if your power went out and you lost your television connection.

Not all radios can tap into the NOAA frequencies so having a radio like a Kaito is a crucial consideration.

Other features

Classic to all Kaito models is a built in LED flashlight and USB port to charge USB powered devices like your smartphone. This can come in real handy especially for camping trips and situations where you don’t have an AC outlet to charge your phone. You could be only one call away from saving yourself if only your phone had a charge! Not to mention a flashlight that doesn’t have to rely on batteries going dead is an absolute dream. The flashlight is very high quality and charges up faster than other hand cranked light on the market.

Unique differences between each model

As you’ll see below, each Kaito radio has a few differences when you compare them to the last. As you progress through the models you’ll see some have enhanced batteries while the higher end models like the KA700 have some true bells-and-whistles items like built in Bluetooth. At the core of each model however is to relay critical information from the NOAA and provide multiple powering options for both the radio and your devices like phones and electronics. Very cool stuff indeed!

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the models.

1.) Kaito KA500 Voyager

Kaito-ka500-emergency-radio

Perhaps the all time classic Kaito radio is the KA500 model. This model features a full band radio and ability to tap into all 7 NOAA channels for emergency information. It features a number of design elements including:

  • 5 methods of power (hand crank, solar, batteries, USB, AC)
  • Rechargeable Ni-MH internal battery
  • 11.1 x 5.8 x 3.3 inches
  • 1.6 pounds
  • Multiple Signals (AM, FM, NOAA, Short Wave)
  • LED Flashlight
  • Red Flashing LED for emergency signaling
  • Low level Red LED for reading
  • Cell phone charger

The KA500 is a durable and versatile radio. It’s one of the cheaper models with only the emergency survival features built in. In fact, few other radios can rival the KA500 when it comes to raw reliability and quality signals. You can check out my full review of the KA500.

2.) Kaito Voyager Pro KA600

Kaito-ka600-emergency-radio

The popular successor to the classic Kaito KA500 is the KA600 model. This model has features seen in the KA500 but includes beefier hardware and a digital display, making it easier to program and tune into what you need. Tests have found the KA600 charges quicker and receives higher quality signals. Here’s what you’re looking at with the KA600 Pro in addition to all the original features of the KA500.

  • 180 degree adjustable solar panel
  • Digital display
  • 4 tuning methods with memory programming
  • Auxiliary input jack for headphones or auxiliary audio devices

3.) Kaito KA700

Kaito-ka700-emergency-radio
Note the SD card slot and the built in Bluetooth on this model!

Kaito went all out with this one. Including the features from the previous 2 models, the KA700 supports MP3 playback from an SD card and contains an internal bluetooth speaker. If the power goes out you can use the supplied USB charger to charge phone while listening to music via the bluetooth connection. This is the radio for the ultimate nerd who demands the best. Sure, these are not required features of an emergency radio but some people want the core product with the bonus stuff baked straight in.

  • Built in Bluetooth
  • MP3 player via SD card
  • All the classic features of the original KA series radios.

4.) Kaito KA550

Kaito-ka550-emergency-radio
Same as the KA500 except with a better battery

It took me a while looking at this model to understand what the difference was between the Kaito 500 vs the Kaito 550. It appears the Kaito 550 has an enhanced internal battery which is longer lasting and also self charging. At a $10 dollar difference you must ask yourself if this higher quality battery is worth the extra money. The thing is, for a little bit more than the 550 you can get yourself a KA600 or 700 which has a lot more features and value, as I’ve demonstrated above.

However, at the heart of any electronic device is the battery so don’t pass up splurging a little extra for a better one.

5.) Kaito KA500IP-RED

Kaito-500IPRED

Same exact model as the KA500 except in a red color and slightly smaller dimensions profile. Same price. Same exact features and configuration. Many requests to Kaito prompted them to offer the same classic model in a more popular color. I for one prefer the original black and green models but some of you might prefer the red.

Just to reiterate the features of the radio:

  • 5 methods of power (hand crank, solar, batteries, USB, AC)
  • Rechargeable Ni-MH internal battery
  • 8.3 x 2.3 x 5.3 inches
  • 1.2 pounds
  • Red color
  • Multiple Signals (AM, FM, NOAA, Short Wave)
  • LED Flashlight
  • Red Flashing LED for emergency signaling
  • Low level Red LED for reading
  • Cell phone charger

Which model to choose?

Honestly, the core model that is the KA500 showcases everything you need in an emergency radio. It’s the least expensive of all 5. You must ask yourself if the bonus features in the other models are worth the extra money. The KA550 for example has a better internal battery. The KA600 has a digital display. This display is both easier to use and you can program your radio stations easily. The KA700 is the top model. You’ll be paying an extra $30 bucks on average but you’ll get all of the features in the other models plus Bluetooth connectivity.

The choice is yours my friend! Just know that Kaito radios are best in class and you aren’t going to find a better brand on the market especially for emergency radios

 

USMC ILBE Gen 2 Assault Pack review

When things go fully blown you must have 100% trust in your gear. The United States Marine Core knows first hand the cost of using gear that can’t stand up to the rigors of daily Marine life. Who knows what you’ll need your pack to carry and what kind of situations you’ll be dragging it through.

With this in mind the USMC ILBE Assault Pack was born. This pack is tough as nails and features a number of battle hardened design elements. It’s also the standard pack issued to the United States Marine Core.

Introduction

The 2nd generation ILBE pack replaced the ALICE pack back in the early 2000’s. These new packs were designed with enhanced load bearing features and included other core design elements like MOLLE and external compression straps. Currently the 2nd gen pack is issued to all of the USMC.

Specifications and features

  • ILBE (Improved load bearing)
  • Waist and chest straps
  • Drag handles
  • Side pouches (designed for mortar rounds)
  • Compression straps (lots of them)
  • Molle webbing
  • Detachable Assault Pack (hydration compatible)
  • Nylon

Detachable Assault Pack

detachable-assault-pack
The detachable assault pack

Aside from the massive main compartment, the ILBE has a detachable assault pack designed for small gear and a hydration bladder. This is useful in situations where you don’t want to lug the entire pack around. You can detach the assault pack and carry only the essential items needed for whatever you are doing. The pack clips on and off very easily.

Waist and chest straps

The 2nd generation ILBE includes a number of features designed to make the pack more load bearing. A set of detachable waist straps come with the pack to properly distribute the weight of your load. If you’ve ever hiked without waist straps you know how useful they actually are. They do a great job at setting the bulk of the weight around your hips where you have more strength. The chest straps further serve to decrease the amount of weight on your shoulders for proper distribution.

MOLLE webbing

Molle webbing is all over this pack. With the Molle you can attach compatible pouches for increased load capacity. Molle compatible pouches are relatively cheap and extend the functionality of any pack with the webbing. While this pack can certainly carry more than enough gear, it’s sometimes convenient to have the more important items attached to the outside where you can easily get to them.

Versatility and design

Between the compression straps and the Molle you can choose to get very technical and creative with how you pack your gear. Longer items like walking sticks, sleeping bags and tents can easily be strapped to the externals of the pack. The buckles on the straps are extremely durable and cinch down even large bulky items. The two side pockets located at the bottom of the pack can be used as rifle holsters for the butt of your weapons or slots for hiking sticks.

Personal Review of the USMC ILBE Assault pack

My personal opinion of this pack is strong. It’s perhaps the strongest backpack I’ve ever come across in my testing. Coming straight from the military you can see why this is the case. When the U.S. military decides to do something they don’t mess around and they think of everything.

This pack makes a great tactical backpack and it’s versatile enough to be used in many different environments. It functions very well as backpackers pack. I like to set up camp and then use the assault pack to explore with a few basic things including a hydration bladder.

There isn’t anything this pack couldn’t do and it’s extremely durable. The Nylon is super thick and would take serious force to tear any of the material.

I do think this pack is overkill for most people. Unless your planning on prepping for a full blown SHTF situation or taking off into the wilderness for a long length of time, there are probably better options out there.

But, If you want a pack that will stand the test of time and handle everything you can throw at it, the USMC ILBE Assault pack is the one for you.

It will outlast you and your future generations.

Kaito KA500 Voyager Radio Review

kaito-radios

In the aftermath of Katrina and the more recent hurricane Matthew, we saw the importance of having a survival radio on hand. Those on the outskirts of the storm without power were able to listen in to critical broadcasts from the NOAA. These broadcasts allowed them to make decisions about staying in or bugging out. Those without a self powered emergency radios were quite literally left in the dark.

One of the best survival radios out in the market is the Kaito KA500. This emergency radio offers a number of features to help you blast through any fully blown SHTF situation. Or, at the very least, provide you with a few radio waves when the power goes out.

In this review I take you through the features and benefits of the Kaito KA500 emergency radio.

Specifications and Features

  • 5 methods of power (hand crank, solar, batteries, USB, AC)
  • Rechargeable Ni-MH internal battery
  • 11.1 x 5.8 x 3.3 inches
  • 1.6 pounds
  • Multiple Signals (AM, FM, NOAA, Short Wave)
  • LED Flashlight
  • Red Flashing LED for emergency signaling
  • Low level Red LED for reading
  • Cell phone charger

Multiple Signals

The Kaito KA500 receives multiple signals including AM, FM, All 7 NOAA channels, and short wave frequencies. This gives you a full spectrum of options to pull in crucial feedback from what’s going on around you. From my location most of the frequencies came in strong. I was surprised at the clarity and sound quality of the Kaito. Attaching earphones to the supplied audio jack boosted the quality even further and added some bass to the transmissions.

Here is a list of frequencies the Kaito KA500 can access:

  • AM – 520-1717 KHz
  • FM – 88.00- 108.00 MHz
  • SW1 – 3.20-9.00KHz
  • SW2 – 9.00- 22.00KHz
  • All 7 NOAA weather bands

Multiple charging methods

Adding to the redundancy of the Kaito is 5 different methods of charging and powering the device. You can pop in 3 AA batteries, plug in to a USB port, plug into AC, solar charge, or hand crank yourself to charge the internal Ni-MH rechargeable battery.

A solid minute of good cranking gets you about 10 – 15 minutes of battery life. This can fluctuate depending on what you’re using the Kaito for. Using the LED flashlight and listening to the radio will drain the battery faster.

Note that the AC adapter is sold separately.

NOAA ready

The Kaito comes locked, cocked, and ready to rock with all 7 of the NOAA emergency frequency bands. These transmissions broadcast critical information about emergency weather events in your area. Tuning into your area i simple as changing the Kaito into weather mode and then cycling through all 7 signals until you hear a broadcast. The NOAA operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week so you always have access to the broadcasts.

Personal review of the Kaito KA500

This is a great survival radio for anybody going camping or preparing for a disastrous event. The signals are clear and redundancy is built into every aspect of the device. It is slow to charge a smart phone but it does work – only needs a little patience! You can definitely get a decent charge with some time.

The hand crank actually works and gives you decent charge with minimal effort. A little red LED alerts you when you have a full charge.

The built in LED flash light is a lifesaver especially for those times when the power goes out. Now, hopefully this isn’t your only option when it comes to illumination – but it can work in a pinch. Using the flashlight will certainly drain the battery a lot faster than if you were only listening to the radio.

Overall the quality and build of the Kaito is extremely rugged and the antennae strength is decent enough to catch a crucial broadcast when it comes through. As I mentioned, sound quality is improved when used with ear phones.

I give the Kaito KA500 a 4.5/5 stars.

Check Amazon for the best price.

 

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack Review

condor-3-day-assault-pack-review

Today we’re talking about one of the most rugged and heavy duty packs in the business. The Condor 3 day assault pack is a no nonsense pack to hold all of your gear. Especially in a fully blown SHTF situation, having a strong pack that can carry all your gear and not bust is a very crucial survival factor. In this full review I’m going to dive deep into this pack so you can assess whether or not this is the pack for you (it’s probably overkill for the average citizen.)

Specifications and Features

  • 50 Liters
  • 1000D Nylon
  • Internal Frame
  • 7 Total Compartments
  • Drag Handles
  • Molle Webbing
  • Padded Shoulder Straps
  • Adjustable Sternum Strap
  • Padded Hip Belt
  • Hydration Bladder Ready (Support For two 3L bladders)
  • Drainage holes for each compartment
  • Compression Straps

Load Capacity

Condor 3 day assaualt pack main comparment
The main compartment

 

One of the defining features and selling points of the Condor is the large load capacity. The entire capacity checks in at 3038 cubic inches or 50 Liters. That’s a ton of space. Opening the main compartment is like staring into an endless abyss of storage space for all of your gear.

The internal frame does a good job at supporting any load you can throw at the Condor. At 50 Liters the internal frame becomes an absolute necessity especially if you plan on stuffing the pack completely full of supplies.

Storage Pockets

Many large packs like the Condor only offer a simple dump-and-go style rucksack compartment. I like the Condor because there is a lot of pockets for organizing all of your gear.

Main compartment – The main compartment consumes roughly 40 Liters of the total space. Inside are a number of organizing pockets and tie down straps to lash your gear. As a bit of a neat freak myself, I like having the option to organize my gear in places where I know I can find things. One large pack with no pockets proves to unwieldy and it always takes too long to find gear. This can be crucial in a fully blown SHTF situation where time is of the essence.

Communications compartment – This is a 10 X 14 pocket designed to hold a radio and a set of maps. Honestly, you could shove anything here but it would fit a small radio and map perfectly. There are 3 nylon separator pockets in this pouch for organization.

Front compartment – an 11 X 12 dump and go style pocket. Great spot for your first aid kit or anything you will need on a regular basis. Items like food bars, headlamps, and fire starters would go great in this pouch. On the outside of this compartment is 6 rows of Molle webbing. This great stuff to add additional pouches/attachments to the externals. Read my post on the best molle pouches for some ideas.

Side pockets X2 – On the sides of the Condor 3 Day Assault pack are 2 storage pockets measuring 9 X 5 X 2.5. There is nothing fancy about these pockets. They can easily fit a 1 Liter water bottle or anything else you can manage to stuff inside of them. Also on the outside of these compartments is more Molle webbing for additional gear attachments. You can really load this thing out if you want.

Hydration Pockets X2 – In the main compartment are two separator pockets for two 3L hydration bladders.

Condor 3 day assault pack with hydration bladder
Hydration compatible

My Personal Review

There are a lot of things I love about the Condor 3 Day Assault pack. The large storage capacity means I can basically stuff as much gear as I can carry. The Molle webbing means I can pack this thing out to back breaking proportions.

Even so, this pack was made to bear a heavy load. The shoulder straps are extremely well padded and the back plating is also padded to the max. The pack is indeed a comfy one. The hip belt takes most of the weight from your shoulders and distributes onto your hips. This makes carrying a heavy load much easier.

The adjustable sternum strap slides up or down to accomadate different body types. Once again, very comfortable.

For you organizational freaks out there, the Condor delivers with 7 pockets to stow and micro manage your gear. Just don’t forget where you have put things!

The entire pack is practically bombproof being made of 1000D Nylon. You could throw this thing through a wood chipper and it would come out unscathed.

With that said, a durable pack like this is not without weight considerations. The condor is going to weigh more than your average pack because it is made so durable. If weight is a consideration you might want to look at other lightweight options.

Is the Condor 3 Day Assault pack for everyone? I don’t think so. This is a serious pack useful for serious endeavors only. I wouldn’t even think about using this as a daypack. This is for the person going into the deep woods for weeks at a time, or for the person preparing to bug out and never return.

Final Thoughts

This is a serious pack designed for serious tactical applications or extended trips into the wild. I have no doubts this pack will stand up to anything you can throw at it!

The best price for this pack can be found on Amazon.

Thanks for reading the review and please leave a comment if you have any questions!

 

Survival Frog Tact Bivvy Review

survival frog tact bivvy review

Perhaps the lightest piece of survival gear you can stuff in your bug out bag is the emergency space blanket. These little guys are great to have on hand. They are extremely lightweight and do a great job at reflecting the majority of your body heat back to you.

The only problem I have with most emergency space blankets is they tear too easy. They also feel like you’re wrapping yourself in a bunch of tin foil.

The better option is the Tact Bivvy by Survival Frog. The Tact Bivvy uses high quality material to keep you warm and completely dry. The seams are sealed with heavy duty and despite the reinforcements, manages to stay completely lightweight and compact coming in at a mere 3.8 ounces.

Full Specifications

survival frog tact bivvy dimensions

  • Emergency Bivvy Bag Dimensions: 7′ x 3′
  • Emergency Bivvy Bag Weight: 4.7 oz.
  • Emergency Bivvy Bag Comes with Stuff Sack: Stuff sack included for easy storage

Features

The bivvy is a bright orange color and features taped seams. The material is tear resistant, waterproof, and completely windproof. It comes with its own stuff sack and conveniently stuffs into even the smallest corners of your overloaded bug out bag. The durable material won’t tear even when layed on sharp elements and reflects 90% of your bodies heat back to you. This means you stay toasty warm even in the coldest conditions. The material is an ultra thin polyester film

Personal Review

I live in generally cold conditions especially in the winter time. The ultimate test was to take this thing out in 30 degree weather and see how warm I stayed. I got to say, this thing kept me surprisingly warm. Was I as snug as a bug in a rug? Certainly not. But I was warm enough to catch some shut eye and not completely freeze to death.

I’m confident the Tact Bivvy will see you through even the roughest conditions. When combined with a regular sleeping bag this is a truly powerful combo for staying nice and toasty through brutally cold nights. The material is not the most comfortable but what do you expect from an emergency bivvy sack?

This thing is designed to see you through an emergency survival situation. If you want comfort it’s time to book a room at the Ritz and place and call in room service.

One thing to note is the bright orange color. This is not a bivvy sack you want if you need to go grey man or stay invisible. It’s bright orange so in an emergency someone can find you and signal for help.

With that said, the Survival Frog Tact Bivvy is a quality piece of survival gear. It’s so lightweight and cheap it would be dumb not to pick up a few of these bad boys and keep them in all of your vehicles and bug out bags.

Final Thoughts

The Tact Bivvy is the emergency survival blanket done right. It’s fully sealed and functions like a very thin and efficient sleeping bag minus the comfort. As tested, this bivvy will certainly keep you warm and see you through rough conditions. Waterproof, tear proof, and windproof. There isn’t a whole lot you need in a shelter solution.

Plus, combine this with your bushcrafting skills and prepare to see yourself out of any full blown survival scenario. In the urban area, duck into a dark alley way and catch some shut eye before daylight. In the morning, you’ll be surprised at how warm you were throughout the entire night!

The Tact Bivvy gets 5/5 stars and glorious review. Thanks for reading and be sure to check this thing out for yourself!