8 Paracord Ideas For Survival/SHTF Situation

paracord-ideas

You’ve done the research and assembled one hell of a bug out bag according to expert bloggers. Pack paracord they say. It will come in HANDY they say. I had to do quite a bit of research before I understood why I actually needed any paracord at all. In this post I have assembled 8 practical examples of what you can use your paracord for in a survival situation.

Shelter – This is a big one so I put it at the top of the list. With only a tarp and some paracord you can fashion yourself a nice shelter from the elements. Forget about lugging around a heavy tent. Hell, if you really want to go RAMBO you can forget the tarp too and simply forage what you need from the city or wilderness. Don’t, however, expect to find you some decent rope. Pack a good bit of paracord and you can rest soundly at night knowing how prepared you are. There are lots of ways to create shelter with paracord. You can create an A-frame structure by tying the paracord to two supporting pillars (trees, poles etc) and then just throw your tarp over it. Stake off the corners and you’re right as rain.

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Bear bags – If you find yourself in bear country don’t forget to bear bag your food. Throw whatever goodies you have in some kind of sack and hoist it high in the air with your paracord. Don’t keep open food containers in your tent unless you want a 3am wake up call from Yogi Bear himself.

Cliff loads – This one is simple. Attach one bit of paracord to a heavy load and use the other end to drag that sucker up a cliff, steep mountain, or other natural or man-made obstruction.

Boot laces – Another timeless tip from my paracord ideas VAULT. If you have boots with metal eyelets it’s only a matter of time before you go to lace things up and the whole lace rips apart. Patch things right up with a good bit of paracord and you’re GOLDEN. This will save you from tromping through the zombie apocalypse with a boot that constantly falls off. Don’t forget to burn shut the other end so the paracord doesn’t unravel.

Swedish fire torch – Take a log and split it into 4 equal pieces. Secure the pieces together at the bottom of the logs with your paracord. Stuff sticks and anything else that will burn inside of the cracks. Light the material and sit back as your Swedish fire torch burns from the inside out. This method of fire making allows for a flat cooking top and is completely self feeding and contained.

Swedish fire torch hard at work

 

Fishing line – Imagine, you are stranded in the middle of a wilderness DEATH TRAP. All you have is 10 feet of paracord and a river rushing with the worlds FRESHEST salmon. You might be thinking that 10 feet of paracord is not nearly enough to test your fate at the hands of the fishing Gods. But did you know? The inner strands of any 550 cordage can be turned into fishing line with a surprising amount strength. Just 10 feet of paracord can easily turn into 80 feet of line with 50lb test! Lash the inner strands together and put a hook on the other end for a fishing experience straight out of Huckleberry Finn.

Self extraction – steeped deep in an urban DEATH TRAP? All hell breaking loose? Fight for your life and use that paracord to descend down the side of your burning apartment building. But can it hold your weight you ask? It’s called 550 cord for a reason – 550 cord is rated up to 550 pounds. I doubt you’re that fat my friend.

Citizens arrest – Tie up that bandit and question his motives with a good length of paracord. In a SHTF there isn’t going to be anybody to save you. You may find yourself in a group and one of them goes nuts – experiences a mental BREAKDOWN from lack of nutrients and death showing his teeth at every corner. Tie him up and calm him down – or force him out of the group.

Conclusion

You can see that paracord is a truly versatile piece of gear. It’s super light so there’s literally zero excuses not to have any in your pack. Paracord can easily be had on Amazon for cheap. Get some today before shit gets REAL. You don’t want to be scrounging for important gear when all hell breaks loose. You want to grab your gear and go – so don’t forget the paracord my friend!

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Best Molle Backpacks

Molle backpacks are functional military-spec bags that allow you to attach gear to the outside via specialized webbing. Molle has been the standard tactical choice for military personnel — and for a good reason. Molle is versatile technology that easily extends the carrying capacity of any backpack. Let’s look at 5 of the best Molle backpacks out on the market in 2016.

Spec Ops T.H.E. Ultimate Assault Pack

spec-ops-backpack-molle

The Spec Ops Assualt Pack is a versatile Molle designed pack that works well for a number of applications. This is the bugout bag of choice for many survival enthusiasts. Super durable self healing zippers (the last thing you want to bust) and unique features you won’t find in other packs — the high visibility meshing on the inside of the pack for example. This makes it easy to grab what you need from the pack as fast as possible — especially in the darkness of night. Also, the buckles on this pack are insane! Extremely durable. The problem I have with most packs is that the buckles bust too easily under load. You can tell right away that these buckles won’t be busting any time soon. Use this pack as your GOTO bugout bag, camping bag, or even your everyday recreational bag (it carrys my 15″ laptop perfectly.)

This pack does not have any organizational pockets on the inside. If you’re an organizational freak of nature than one of the other packs in this review will be more satisfactory. However, you can easily attach multiple organizer pockets to the outside via the molle webbing. This pack has the best Molle layout I’ve seen on any pack.

It should be noted…this pack is overbuilt. The heavy duty quality of everything on it means that this pack is HEAVY. Not advised for the lightweight backpacker but highly advised for anybody that values insane durability and longevity.

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Direct Action Ghost Tactical Backpack

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For the average height survivalist who wants to go GHOST MODE. I say average height due to the detachable hip belt. I am 5.11″ and the hip belt almost doesn’t fit my torso. If you’re tall the detachable hip belt probably won’t fit. Not a big deal since you can remove it from the pack — less weight means faster bug outs anyways.

I got to say, I’m a fan of the super slim/taller profile of this bag. I think the bag looks better than any other Molle backpack I’ve seen. But that is just aesthetics…let’s talk about function.

Basically this bag is 31.5 liters (including the detachable organizer pouch) and has Molle in every damn place imaginable. And we’re talking LASER CUT Molle. More functional than the original Molle while looking 10X as cool.

As for as pockets go, the Direct Action Ghost Tactical backpack has a few. In the main compartment you have a deep pocket for your hydration bladder and a zippered organizer pocket on the front flap. I have a 2.5 liter hydration bladder that still has plenty of room.

On the outside of the main storage pocket is a sunglasses pocket and 2 expandable zipper pockets for water bottles or whatever else you want to stuff in them.

Also on the exterior is a secondary 3.5 liter detachable organizer pouch. This makes the pack extremely versatile depending on what you want to do with it. You can grab just the main pack when you don’t need the added space and then attach the pouch later in situations where you do. This organizer pouch has multiple pockets that make it easy to keep important gear in order.

Out of all the packs I’ve tried, this pack is probably the most comfortable. Both the back and the shoulder straps are padded to the max. There’s nothing worse than a pack with shoestring shoulder straps that dig deep into your traps and deltoids with every step. They are also ventilated to air out your sweaty pack during a long bug out session.

A+ for comfort most definitely. Once again, these Molle packs are extremely high quality and the Ghost is no exception — using military grade hardware for the zippers, buckles, and everything in between.

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Kelty Tactical Falcon 4000

 


The pack (Now called the Kelty Eagle 7850) built for MOUNTAIN OPS. Boasting a 66 liter pack and rocking the coyote brown color, the Kelty Tactical Falcon was built for an extended camouflaged stay on the high mountains — or any place you need to carry in a LOT of gear. We’re talking about going full on STUFF MODE with this thing because it lacks serious storage pockets aside from the large “dump and go” style ruck sack compartment.  People cry about this thing having zero organizational space but that’s what the MOLLE is for. If you want organization then you can purchase MOLLE packs that can attach to the outside — and this pack has plenty of MOLLE to go around. At the top of the sack you will find a detachable lid style pouch that converts into a fanny pack, or, if that’s not manly enough for you, a shoulder bag. Like all Kelty gear, this backpack is extremely well built and very padded in the shoulder straps and back area. A lot of backpack companies add extra bullshit to their packs for flashy purposes. I like the Kelty because it keeps things simple, functional, and no-nonsense.

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ILBE USMC Assault Pack

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Now we’re talking. This pack is standard issue for the United States Marine Core. I like to think of it like the Kelty falcon 4000 on steroids. It’s a similar style rucksack (70 liters) with an internal frame and top detachable lid. This pack is BOMBPROOF. I am too afraid to throw around the fragile packs I have from REI but not this one. I treat it like a red headed stepchild and it still comes back for more punishment. BOMBPROOF I tell you. I think the U.S. military knew what they were doing when they made this pack. MOLLE webbing runs the side of the pack by the compression straps. It has the digital style camouflage if that’s your thing.

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5.11 Tactical RUSH 72

The tactical 5.11 Rush bag is a great hyrbid option

This is the most popular bag on this list. It’s also a bag that people have very strong opinions about. Some love this bag while others absolutely hate it. I personally really enjoy this pack and it’s my favorite on this list (saving the best for last.) It’s truly the best of both worlds — not too big and not too small. It’s coined as a 72 hour bag, meaning you can fit 3 days worth of gear in it. I have taken this thing on 3 day backpacking trips and can attest to this statement. Rock solid durability. Tons of Molle. And, if you want to take this pack into town you don’t look like you’re leading an armed cavalry to take down the local bank. It looks very civilian while staying true to military spec:

  • Made in USA
  • Large, external shove-it pocket, Top exterior crescent-shaped organization pocket, two exterior, side, gusseted zippered pockets
  • 1050D nylon with water-repellent PUx2 coating on main body, 210D 118T water-repellent PUx2 coating on inside pocket flaps and pocket bags
  • Closed-cell foam back padded hydration pocket with two back-to-back zippered pull tabs
  • Top, quick-access non-scratching fleece-lined sunglass pocket
  • Generous web-platform on three sides with additional attachment points

A great pack for bugging out, multi-day camping trips, or recreational use. The best Molle backpack for your money in my opinion.

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Conclusion

Did I miss anything? Let me know what you think of these Molle backpacks in the comments below. That’s a direct order soldier.

And if you liked this post, check out my post on the best tactical backpacks too. Thanks for reading!

 

The Best All Around Survival Knife

best-all-around-knife

Imagine yourself in a heated survival situation. Let’s say you have gotten lost because you wandered off from your hiking buddies. You have sustained a couple minor injuries including a sprained ankle. It’s getting dark, drizzling and you have to build a shelter and do camp stuff. A survival genie appears and grants you one wish — but the catch is…you can only wish for a knife. ANY knife you want. So, which knife do you choose?

Obviously, you want to maximize your chances of survival. What you need is the best all around survival knife. You need a knife that can take on the following tasks:

  • Batoning wood
  • Falling small trees
  • Cutting rope
  • Digging (if you have no other tool)
  • Self defense
  • Skinning game
  • etc

Now, choosing the best all around knife means the knife will be a jack of all trades knife. Since you want a knife that can do all of the above tasks, the knife you purchase must be well rounded.

I can think of no better all around knife than the Kabar Bk2. There’s a good reason why this knife has been issued to all branches of the military. Hell, it even sees widespread use in the police force as well. The Bk2 is simply the best jack-of-all-trades knife that does many jobs very well. Yes, maybe not as well as a knife made specifically for a certain task but it will get many different jobs done with zero complaining.

Check it out…

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The Kabar Bk2

 

What makes this knife so great?

First off, this knife has the two basic elements of any good survival knife: a fixed blade and a full tang. Fixed blade knives are superior over the folding type varieties. Folding knives introduce a vulnerable weak spot in the blade while fixed blades have no single point of weakness. Full tang means the blade metal runs the length of the entire knife — from the tip of the blade to the bottom of the handle. This makes for an extremely durable blade that isn’t going to break on you when you need it most.

A folding knife with a half tang won’t even get through a single piece of firewood before it shatters — along with your hopes of surviving.

tang
A full tang blade runs the length of the handle

Blade length

The length of the Bk2’s blade is 5.5 inches. This makes it an adequate companion to chop wood. I found the blade to be just long enough to make wood chopping easy. While a longer blade would make processing firewood easier, this isn’t the only thing you’re going to need it for — especially in a survival situation.

The length of the blade makes this knife extremely easy to work with. It’s long enough to chop wood yet short enough to skin fish and perform finer, more delicate tasks without being awkward to use. You can put a nice edge on this sucker too, that’s for sure.

Specs

kabar-bk2-specifications

The best knife for your belt

There are other knives out there that do specific jobs very well. But I got to say, the Bk2 is the one knife I would take with me into a survival situation. It’s lasting durability and versatile design make this knife a must have companion for your belt. By the way, Kabar makes another great knife called the Bk7. This is another great knife you might consider as well. Click here to check out my comparison post between the Bk2 and the Bk7. Long story short, I would still recommend the Bk2 if you had to choose between one or the other.

Let’s hear your comments and criticisms below.

 

Must Have Equipment For Urban Surival

Heavy-Equipment

What are you going to do if SHTF and you live in the city? If you don’t have the right equipment you’re going to be in for a hard time. Surviving in an urban environment requires that you have a bug out bag filled with all the essentials.

Here a few absolute necessities:

Backpack – You’re going to need to shove all your gear in a backpack. I’ve previously thought that the style of backpack you bring was important but now I really don’t think it matters that much. Just make sure you can carry the thing. It also has to be super durable. You don’t want it breaking on you half way through your bug out.

Knife – Yes, the knife still remains at the top of the list. The knife is an extremely versatile piece of equipment and I guarantee, you won’t want to bug out without one. The knife can be used for self defense purposes along with a host of other survival tasks. The knife just might be the single most important piece of equipment you have.

Cellphone – Short of a nuclear bomb going off there is a good chance the cell towers will still be functioning. It’s much easier to phone a friend to come save your ass then it is to Rambo your way through a disaster site. You’ll also want to call your family to make sure they are okay or to arrange to meet at a bug out location. It would also make sense to stock a portable battery charger so you can charge up if your phone happens to be dead.

Trash bags – You might be laughing but trash bags are another versatile piece of urban survival gear. They can be used to rig a temporary shelter, a poncho, or a rain water collector. Stuff them with leaves to create an insulated sleeping pad. Believe me, the ground will sap the warmth right out of you if you sleep directly on it.

Lighter – Basic firestarter. Fire is an obvious aspect of survival and making one in the city is no different than making one in the wild. You need some form of firestarter, some tinder and some good ol fashion night logs.

Food and Water – Bring 72 hours worth of food and water. Do you really want to start eating street pigeons right out of the gate?

Flashlight – If the power gets cut and it’s dark, you’re going to have a hard time getting to safety. If you’ve lived in the city for a while perhaps you have forgotten how dark it gets at night when there arent any lights.

Proper clothing – Get some solid clothing that makes sense to have in a bug out situation. This usually means layers. Tactical hikers pants with zip offs are good options. Good shoes. Good socks. I like merino wool as a base layer and some kind of water resistant jacket. This really depends on your location. You will have to dress warmer in colder climates.

Bear Mace – No, not for bears. If you don’t know how to defend yourself the traditional fist to face way then your going to need an alternative. I guarantee that whoever trys messing with you will back off right quick when they get maced right in their face.

Gloves – Protect your hands from broken glass and whatever else you encounter in the city.

A Plan – The most important piece of equipment but the most overlooked.. Where the hell are you going to go if disaster strikes Start preparing now. If SHTF right now would you know what to do? Having a plan is the only way to ensure that you get to safety. This means knowing how to contact loved ones and having a plan of where to meet up.

Good luck with your kit.

 

Cold Steel SRK Survival Knife Review

cold-steel-srk-survival-knife-review

The Cold Steel SRK (survival rescue knife) fixed blade survival knife has been an all time classic choice for survivalists looking for a jack of all trades knife. This blade is extremely versatile and multi-purpose. The SRK has been embraced by the military and Special Forces due to the blades tactical applications and is standard issue for the U.S. Navy Seal Team training program. In this review I will break down the features of the SRK and demonstrate why this blade is a worthy companion for your belt.

cold-steel-srk-knife-review
The Cold Steel SRK survival knife in all its glory

Cold Steel SRK Specs

  • Type – Fixed
  • Total Weight – 8.2 oz
  • Blade Material – VG-1
  • Tang – Full
  • Blade Length – 6″
  • Blade Thickness – 5mm
  • Total Length – 10.75″
  • Handle – Kraton material with bottom guard
  • Point Type: Clip

The Blade

The blade on the Cold Steel SRK survival knife is stainless steel. The exact material in question is VG-1; a durable Japanese blend of carbon and molybdenum. This combination is very resistant to corrosion. The unique blend also holds a razor sharp edge and a strong clip point. The blade itself measures in at 6″ and the entire length of the knife checks in at 10 3/4″. Blade thickness is 5mm. Personally I think it’s the perfect length and fits right between the Kabar Bk2 and the Bk7. Not too short, not too long. I can easily baton wood with this thing and turn right around to carve up some game. The razor sharp clip point also makes this knife your right hand man in a combat scenario.

cold-steel-srk-blade

The Handle

The handle on the Cold Steel SRK measures 4.75″ and it’s made of a synthetic polymer material call Kraton. I love the handle on this knife for a couple reasons: The rubberized material of the Kraton is ribbed and checkered for a nice grip and there’s just enough space hanging off the back when I have a good handle on it. It’s a no nonsense handle with a single bottom guard. A lack of a top guard makes it easy to find the right grip depending on how you want to use the knife. This adds to the overall versatility of the SRK.

The Sheath

The sheath is hardened plastic made out of Cold Steel’s secure-ex technology. I like that you can hear the blade snap into place. The Nylon belt loop makes it easy to attach to your belt for both lefties and righties. The sheath also comes with Molle webbing so you can attach it to your pack or pretty much anything else. One minor thing I noticed was the Kraton handle rubs against the sheath and with continued use becomes worn and doesn’t fit as secure and snug. I’ve heard some people say the sheath dulls the blade overtime but I have not experienced this. Overall the sheath is well designed and a nice fit for the Cold Steel SRK.

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The Cold Steel SRK next to the secure-ex sheath

Price

As of this writing the Cold Steel SRK is going anywhere from $85 – $90 USD.

Video Review

Final Thoughts

The Cold Steel SRK survival knife is a great jack of all trades blade for multiple tasks. I feel comfortable taking it into the bush and using it around camp. If you need a knife specifically for the bush I would opt for either the Kabar Bk2 or Bk7 but the Cold Steel is much more versatile. A survival knife should do more than just baton wood and this is where the Cold Steel SRK shines. Not many knives can effectively operate in the wild while also being a stellar combat companion. For the knife that does it all you can’t go wrong with the Cold Steel SRK.

Kabar Bk2 vs Bk7

If you had to choose between the Kabar Bk2 or the Bk7 which one would it be? Both of these knives are superior in quality and you simply can’t find a better fixed-blade knife for the price. Let’s slice into the meat of the matter and compare the qualities and features of both.

The Sheath

The Bk2 and the Bk7 share many similarities but the sheath is not one of them. The sheath that comes stock with the Bk2 is a hard plastic material that fits the blade like a glove. You can feel the blade lock into place and you could turn it upside down without the retention strap and the knife would hold. The sheath on the Bk7 is a nylon/polyester material that somewhat loosely fits the blade. While the Bk7 sheath is good enough for the job it does not secure the blade like the sheath on the Bk2. One thing I do like about the Bk7 sheath is the Molle webbing on the back. You could easily attach it to the outside of your pack or anywhere else. Yes, you could go buy a custom sheath of your own but with the added cost you could buy a better knife.

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Sheath styles for the Bk2 and Bk7

The Handle

The Bk2 and the Bk7 use the same handle design and material. The material in question is a hard plastic known as Ultramid. Both knives feel good in the hand. The material does become slick with sweaty palms but this is easily remedied by wrapping a few rounds of athletic tape around the handle or by using gloves.

The Blade

Both the Bk2 and the Bk7 use 1095 Cro-Van steel. You can see in the spec sheets below that the Bk2 has both a thicker and shorter blade. This could easily sway your decision towards the Bk7 if you prefer a longer blade. Certain tasks like batoning wood and carving are easier with the Bk7’s longer blade. However, the shorter length and thicker blade of the Bk2 make this knife damn near indestructible. Tasks like processing firewood and carving are still possible but the Bk7 certainly makes life easier.

You can see the bk2 and the bk7 utilize the same handle but differ blade width and length
You can see the Bk2 and the Bk7 utilize the same handle but differ in blade width, length and point style

Drop point vs clip point

Looking at the spec sheets below you can also see that the Bk2 features a drop point blade while the Bk7 features a clip point. The difference? Drop points are stronger than the clip point variants and well suited for tasks like skinning, carving game and general bushcrafting. Clip points feature a sharper point and are designed for piercing. This makes sense on a combat knife like the Bk7. If you require a sharper point than the Bk7 is the knife for you.

Video Comparison

Kabar Bk2 Specs

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Kabar Bk7 Specs

kabar-bk7-specifications

Price

As of this writing the Kabar Bk7 will run you just over $20 more than the Kabar Bk2. This price difference is significant enough to sway your decision towards the Bk2 but it really comes down to what you need the knife for.

Bk2 vs Bk7 Final Thoughts

Both of these knives are beastly and extremely high quality. Other than the length and thickness of the blades both of these knives are similar and stack up comparably. In my opinion I believe the Bk2 is a better all around bushcrafting knife. The Bk2 blade is strong enough to handle chopping wood and short enough to not be cumbersome for preparing small game. With a longer blade the Bk7 batons wood like a mad man and the clip point makes it a great piercing knife. If I was in a self defense situation I would prefer to have the Bk7 on my belt. Knowing what you need to do with your knife will help you make the right choice. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think in the comments.

Choosing a Portable Water Purifier

shtf-water

Choosing the best portable water purifier is an essential step in building a fully functional survival kit. In this post I examine the best portable water purifiers and compare the pro’s and con’s of each. See my post on purifying water for an in depth article on the water purification process and why it’s important.

Water Filters

Portable water filters are the most common solution to treat dubious water sources. Water filters work by forcing water to pass through a fine porous material that literally filters out harmful bacteria and protozoa down to certain number of microns. Microns are very tiny units of measurement. Good water filters can filter bacteria and protozoa down to 0.1 microns. This takes care of pretty much all strains of bacteria and protozoa you find in rivers, streams and other sources of water. In this section I will be comparing the Renovo Trio, Lifestraw, and Sawyer water filtering systems.

[c5ab_box title=”Note” type=”alert-info” ]Water filters do not filter out viruses or chemical toxins.[/c5ab_box]

Lifestraw

The Lifestraw Portable water filter has received raving reviews from backpackers and world travelers. It’s a lightweight and simple solution for filtering water from sources that are possibly laden with bacteria. The Lifestraw is capable of filtering up to a 1000 liters of water and filters out bacteria down to 0.2 microns. Simply fill a water container with water and drink through the straw or drink straight from the source.

The Lifestraw hard at work
The Lifestraw hard at work

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Convenient
  • Extremely Lightweight
  • Filters 99.9999% of possible bacterial pathogens

Cons

  • Only filters down to 0.2 microns
  • No charcoal filter
  • Does not thread on to a water bottle or hydration bladder
  • Limited filtration capacity compared to other systems
  • Can’t filter viruses

Sawyer

The Sawyer water filter is widely considered the standard for portable water purifiers. In fact, it outshines the Lifestraw in most of the areas that matter. The Sawyer can filter up to an incredible 100,000 gallons of water and filters out bacteria down to 0.1 microns! Most conveniently, it can screw on to most water bottles and easily attaches inline to a water bladder. Alternatively, you can use the Sawyer to drink straight from your water source like the Lifestraw.

Sawyer-Water-Filter
The Sawyer water filter is the standard for filtering dubious water sources

Pros

  • High capacity (filters 100,000 gallons)
  • Filters bacteria down to 0.1 microns
  • Attaches to standard water bottles and hydration bladders
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Won’t filter viruses
  • No charcoal filter

Renovo Trio

The Renovo Trio portable water filter is the new kid on the block but brings heaps of value and innovation to the table. The Renovo Trio features a 3 stage filtration system: The first stage could be likened to a coffee filter and removes large particles and debris from the water. The second stage introduces an extremely fine hollow fiber membrane that filters microbes down to 0.05 microns! The last stage contains a layer of charcoal that removes heavy metals and dramatically improves the taste of the water. Use the Renovo like a straw or attach it to a water bottle or hydration pack.

The Renovo Trio Water Filter
The Renovo Trio Water Filter

Pros

  • Extremely porous membrane filters down to 0.05 microns
  • 3 layer filtration system makes this the most effective portable water filter
  • Includes replaceable layer components
  • Charcoal layer improves taste of water and removes heavy metals
  • Attaches to both water bottles and hydration bladders

Cons

  • You’re going to be shelling out more bucks for this filter
  • limited to 1000 liters

Chris from Preparedmind101 did a great video review on all of these filters:

UV Devices

UV devices are an ultra cool way to remove bacteria, protozoa AND viruses. As I’ve mentioned in my guide to purifying water, these devices only work with clear water and they require batteries to function. These are two limiting factors when choosing a portable water purifier. However, with these factors covered they are perhaps the most convenient and most effective method of purifying water.

Camelbak All-Clear UV Water Purifier

I’ve personally used the Camelbak UV purifier and I really liked it. Simply fill the bottle from your water source, screw on the lid and hit the button. In 60 seconds the entire 32 ounces of water is safe to drink. I liked this device for a number of reasons: One, the process is quick taking only 60 seconds to complete. The digital display on the cap reads out the battery life and the 60 second countdown so you know exactly when the water is drinkable. You can also see the UV light shining through the water even on a bright day. There are measurements on the side of the bottle. The cap is designed so you can easily attach the bottle to your backpack via a carabiner or a length of paracord. The battery life is also quite extensive and charged via the included USB charger. I used this device on a 3 day camping trip more times than I could count and the battery didn’t even drop half way.

Camelbak-UV-Water-Purifier
One of my favorite hi-tech methods to purify water.

Pros

  • More effective than a filter as UV light also destroys all pathogens including viruses
  • Self contained – no need for an extra bottle and no need to hunch over your water source to drink

Cons

  • Batteries can die
  • Water must be clear
  • Expensive

Steripen Opti Water Purifier

This is a unique little gadget. Works exactly like the Camelbak without the heavy footprint. It’s basically a UV pen you dip into your water bottle. The Steripen purifies one liter of water at a time and takes 90 seconds to do so. The batteries are good for about 50 liters until they need to be replaced. The Steripen also has a built in flashlight although if you’re concerned about battery life I wouldn’t recommend using it.

Pros

  • Kills all water born pathogens including viruses
  • Lightweight
  • Extremely portable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Batteries required
  • Requires a bottle to hold the water you need to purify
  • Batteries drain faster than most UV solutions

Chemical Purification

Purifying water via chemical means is another solid strategy to ensure you don’t catch an explosive case of diarrhea. Iodine tablets are the name and killing everything (including viruses) is the game.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Kills everything

Cons

  • Can take up to half an hour to purify
  • Unpleasant chemical after-taste
  • Cannot be used by pregnant women or individuals with a thyroid condition
  • Tablets lose potency over time

So…which to choose?

Depending on your scenario some of these methods might offer more of an advantage over the other. If you absolutely want to be 100 percent safe you could opt for the Renovo in combination with Iodine tablets. In reality, having multiple water purifiers in your survival kit is your best bet. You could use a standard water filter to purify cloudy sources of water and then further remove pathogens with a UV device. You could even go crazy and pop in a Iodine tablet for good measure! Weigh the pros and cons of each of these devices carefully and make a decision that works best for you. Thanks for reading!

5 Glamorized Items You Don’t Need In Your Survival Kit

Putting your first survival kit together is an exciting time. You have undoubtedly spent a lot of time researching the best and most effective survival gear – and there are a lot of ideas out there. It’s easy to get overzealous and include gear in your kit that sounds cool but actually provides little value. Let’s dive into some of these survival impostors.

1. 9v Battery and Steel Wool

Here is a classic “firestarter” that has been wasting precious space in survival kits for years. I won’t lie, when I first came across this crafty combo I felt a little Macgyver-like toiling aimlessly to get a fire started. I eventually got it going but I realized the process was way harder than it needed to be. If all you have is a 9v battery and steel wool and you need to make a fire by all means do so; but I can’t imagine a scenario where you would have these items but not a lighter or something better. Yes, this is a legit way to get a fire going but don’t make your life hard if you don’t have to.

2. Button Compasses

Just as useful
Just as useful

Another shoddy survival item hogging space and giving people false hope. These buttons are complete crap and rarely work as a functional navigation device. It’s also a good idea to avoid anything that has a button compass built-in. With the emergence of popular survivor shows marketers have been slapping these buttons on everything in the name of “survival.” Beware of the button compass!

3. Knives with hollow handles

There are lots of knives with handles you can unscrew in order to stash stuff. You might be thinking “wow, I can use this space to stow my 9 volt battery and button compass!” I am here to save you from making this grave mistake. These knives break the moment you try to do anything useful. As I’ve outlined in my guide to choosing a survival knife, you want a knife with a full “tang.” This essentially means a knife where the blade runs the length of the handle. This adds strength and resilience to the knife so it won’t break easily. You can’t have a full tang with a hollow handle. Do yourself a favor and avoid hollow-handled knives.

4. Cheap Multi-Tools

Multi-tools are versatile and I recommend that you have one; but this is one piece of gear you don’t want to cheap out on. The variety of cheap multi-tools from off-brand companies are garbage. If you’re going to get a multi-tool, just make sure you buy from a reputable brand like Leatherman.

5. “Survival” Credit Cards

I was going to give this thing the benefit of the doubt until I noticed the button compass
I was going to give this thing the benefit of the doubt until I noticed the button compass

Now we’re getting to the truly useless crap. I don’t know who cooked this stuff up but the internet is flooded with these things. They aren’t completely useless however; I’ve gotten more than one chuckle at some of tools they try to cram into these things. They’re more of a novelty “fun” item than anything else. These might make for good stocking stuffers but you certainly don’t want to be in a survival situation with one.

 

Conclusion

Don’t realize the uselessness of these items until after it’s too late to buy proper gear. Stick with the tried and true gear that pulls its weight in a survival situation!

What do you think about these survival items? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Choosing The Best Bug Out Bag: Military or Civilian?

military-vs-civilian-bug-out-bag
What is the best choice for your bug out bag?

Heated debates surface rapidly when the subject of bug out bags enter the battlegrounds and for obvious reasons; you want your gear stowed in the most practical bag possible. You have two choices available when choosing a bug out bag: The Military style ALICE/Molle packs or the civilian backpacking varieties like something you’d see on the wall at REI. Both certainly have pro’s and con’s but as I will show you – making a decision is not as black and white as many of these discussions would have you believe.

The Argument

Opponents of the military pack suggest that using a camouflaged pack draws too much attention to yourself – especially in a city. In a survival scenario others might take notice and assume you have important resources. This could result in a violent encounter with individuals desperate to survive or acquire resources. Proponents of the military pack think this argument is overblown and a non-issue. They cite the durability of the military pack and its other advantages which I will cover in this post.

Military Packs

Lets take a look at your garden variety military pack. These packs have literally been battle tested. Mil-spec packs are issued to all branches of the military and designed to withstand the pressures of a combative environment. This makes them extremely durable and resilient. Two styles of military packs are available: the ALICE and the Molle (pronounced like “Molly”.)

ALICE

Alice-pack
The Military issued ALICE pack

The ALICE (All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) packs were introduced to the military in 1973 but have been phased out in favor of Molle. ALICE packs spawned from the radically different fighting conditions present in the Vietnam war that weren’t seen in WWI and II. Conditions had switched from trench warfare to jungle warfare and this meant soldiers would be carrying their packs greater distances. In 1965 the military began working on a new load-bearing design that eventually became the ALICE.

The ALICE introduced a number of changes from previous military packs: Water absorbing cotton material was replaced with nylon and all of the steel components present in older models were replaced with aluminum. These changes made the pack lighter and extremely water resistant. ALICE packs work with a specialized external frame designed for heavy loads. ALICE packs are easily had for cheap online or at your local military surplus depot.

Molle

molle
The Molle pack is the new standard for the military and noted for its external webbing system

Molle (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) style backpacks are the latest iteration of load bearing backpacks used by British and U.S. military forces. Molle packs use a specialized webbing system known as PALS (pouch attachment ladder system.) This webbing is used in a modular fashion to attach gear to the outside of the pack giving the Molle increased versatility over the ALICE.

Pros of using a military pack:

  • Extremely durable
  • Built to last
  • Lots of space
  • External webbing system is very convenient
  • Camouflaged (if you’re going woodland stealth mode)
  • Water resistant
  • Dirt cheap
  • External frame allows you to carry massive loads

Cons of using a military pack:

  • Not as comfortable as civilian packs
  • Less pockets for organization
  • You can’t easily get to your gear with it on
  • Looking military might draw unwanted attention
  • Beware of Chinese knock-offs!

Civilian Packs

Many individuals choose to keep their bug out gear in a civilian backpack. Backpacks like the Kelty Redwing are durable, offer lots of space and come fully loaded with a variety of organizational pockets for all your gear. The options available for civilian packs and all the various designs can be mind boggling. If you have requirements civilian packs give you many unique options. I’ve experienced both military and civilian packs and I can say this; civilian packs can rival the durability of their military counterparts while offering increased versatility and comfort.

Kelty-Redwing-32
The Kelty Red Wing 32 Liter backpack is a roomy and sturdy pack that won’t draw attention from desperate citizens.

Pros of using a civilian pack:

  • Comfortable
  • Many options to choose from
  • Versatile
  • Lightweight
  • Blends in well with the city

Cons of using a civilian pack:

  • Expensive
  • Less durable than a military pack (marginally)
  • No external webbing system (Molle)

So which to choose?

At the end of the day it’s all about surviving. Whatever pack you choose make sure it’s strong, comfortable, large enough for your gear and suited to the pressures of a survival situation. In a rural area with lots of woodland available you might opt for an ALICE for it’s durability and storage capacity. In the city you might choose a civilian pack if you think the argument I mentioned above holds water.

The 5.11 Rush – best of both worlds?

The 5.11 Rush is a bag I really love and use. It features all the best aspects of a civilian bag with the strength and durability of a military pack. The external Molle webbing system on the outside of the pack is an absolute game changer. Webbing isn’t something you see on civilian backpacks. The pack is pure black so even in the city it looks like your run-of-the-mill day pack.

The tactical 5.11 Rush bag is a great hyrbid option
The tactical 5.11 Rush bag is a great hybrid option

 

What do you think?

Let me know what you think about this debate in the comment section.

 

 

 

Choosing The Best Survival Knife In The World

best-all-around-knife

I know it sounds like a tall order; Choosing the best survival knife in the world. Nobody will argue however with the fact that the knife is the most important piece of gear in your survival kit. If you are putting together a survival kit for either an urban or wilderness environment, it makes sense to choose the best. In this post I will cover what factors need to be considered before you make a purchase.

Parts of the knife

Parts-Of-A-Knife
Anatomy of the standard survival knife

 

Lets examine what we are working with here full circle starting from the tang and working our way counter-clockwise:

Tang – The tang is the part of the blade secured into the handle. Tangs come in a few varieties: full, tapered, hidden, partial, rabbeted, or threaded. For all intents and purposes, choose a knife with a full tang. (see below)

Pommel – The pommel terminates the knife and secures the tang to the handle (Partial tang only.) The tang is threaded or sealed onto the pommel which strengthens and bolsters the knife. On some knives the pommel functions as a balancing piece although this is mainly seen in swords. The Pommel is strong and it’s a great part of the knife to pound with. It should be noted that on a full tang knife this part of the blade is simply called the butt.

Quillon – The quillon is the curve in the handle that keeps your hand from sliding onto the blade. Sweaty hands make this a common injury on knives without one. Cuts inflicted in a survival situation can become infected and you may lose the ability to use one of your hands. Your hands are too important to buy a knife without a quillon.

Bolster – The bolster does exactly what it sounds like. It strengthens the crucial point of the knife where the blade meets the handle. This part of the knife is very strong.

Ricasso – The ricasso is the unsharpened length of the blade between the blade itself and the bolster.

Choil – The choil is the area between the cutting edge and the tang. The choil often designates the specific point where the blade begins to take an edge. Even though many choils appear grooved out to fit a finger, this is not the case and shouldn’t be used this way.

Edge – The cutting edge of the blade.

Tip – The end point of the knife often used to start a cut. Also the part of the blade most vulnerable to fracturing.

Spine – The spine of the blade is especially strong and serves to strengthen the whole knife. Parts of the spine are thicker in crucial areas like the area between the blade and the handle.

Thumbrise – this part of the knife allows the thumb to apply exact pressure and precisely guide the blade for the desired cut.

Fixed Blade VS Folding

These are the two common varieties of knives you will come across. A folding knife might sound convenient (and they are) but nothing beats the strength of a solid fixed blade knife. Folding knives have a joint that makes them vulnerable to breaking. The folding knife can easily stow away in your pocket but doesn’t have the resilience needed to handle many of the tasks around camp. With your survival knife you will have to baton wood, make shelter, cut cordage, dig holes, prepare wild game, and a host of other tasks crucial to surviving. If your knife breaks these jobs become extremely difficult. Choose a fixed blade knife and you won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget the sheath!

Handle

Handle material varies widely but most are very strong and robust. Avoid knives with hollow handles designed to stash small pieces of gear. If a knife has a hollow handle you know right off the bat that it’s not a full tang knife (which you want.) Hollow handles sound cool but they don’t stand up to the pressures of survival. As I mentioned above, a handle with a quillon will prevent your hand from slipping down the blade. Consider a handle with a quillon when selecting your knife.

Tang

Full tang all the way – and by tang I’m not talking about the delicious orange drink with the monkey on the container. A full tang blade runs the length of the knife including the entire handle. This makes the knife extremely robust. Even if the handle breaks you still have a usable blade.

tang
A full tang blade runs the length of the handle

Carbon vs Stainless Steel

There are endless debates online about which type of steel is better but here are the raw facts: Carbon steel will take an edge easier than a stainless steel blade but is prone to rust. Stainless steel won’t rust and is virtually indestructible but doesn’t hold as sharp of an edge and is harder to sharpen. If you get a carbon steel knife you must maintain it and keep it dry. You won’t have to babysit a stainless steel knife but you trade off for a duller edge on the blade. However, as knife manufacturers begin to use proprietary steel blends this debate is becoming less of a hot issue.

Length

As a rule of thumb your blade should be large enough to handle larger jobs like batoning wood and small enough for the smaller tasks like carving up small game. In an ideal world you would have multiple knives on your person but this may not be practical. A 5 – 6 inch blade is a well rounded length that can handle most survival tasks.

Flat Spine

A flat 90 degree spine on the back of your blade works well with a ferrocerium rod. Ferrocerium rods with a good knife provide an effective way to make fire even in wet weather. A rounded or beveled spine on your knife will make this nearly impossible and ineffective.

Top Contenders

Kabar Bk2

The BK2 fixed-blade knife from Kabar is widely regarded in the survival community. Outside of the survival niche the BK2 has also been issued to all the branches of the military including police forces. It features a 5.5 inch blade made of Kabars specialized 1095 cro-van steel. The BK2 has been well tested in many environments and remains an extremely competitive and affordable knife.

BK2-Ka-Bar
The BK2 from Ka-bar

 

 

Cold Steel SRK

I have met die hard fanatics who absolutely swear by this knife. I will admit, I’ve never personally held one but the internet is flooded with positive feedback and rantings from raving knife lunatics. I have to admit, it does look really clean.

cold-steel-srk-survival-knife
The Cold Steel SRK

 

ESEE 6P-B

This knife looks good, feels good, and the edge is sharp as hell. Baton some wood and turn right around to slice into a nice summer sausage. You can feel that this knife won’t be going flaccid anytime soon. A Well balanced and well rounded knife from a reputable company.

esee-6-survival-knife
The ESEE 6P-B

 Conclusion

Choosing a survival knife is a no-brainer if you stick to a few basic principles. If you remember anything remember this: Fixed-blade, FULL-tang. A good survival knife could be boiled down to those two characteristics. Everything else is an added bonus.

Did I miss anything? Let me know what you look for in a survival knife in the comment section below!